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2 January 2014
"Have you heard? Yangchen has been settling quarrels all over the Fire Nation and western Earth Kingdom. She's turning out to be a pretty decent Avatar."
"Where have you been, she's had enough of dealing with the greed of people. The latest news is that she has decided to remain in hiding and meditate in solitude," Pahno interjected.
Another man joined in saying, "Yeah and no one knows where, just that she said that she'll return when she reaches 'inner peace', whatever that means."
Two other men approached, one of which appeared somewhat suspicious, wearing all dark clothing with his hood up to hide his face in its shadow. The mysterious man simply walked up to the side of the stand, hung a flyer, and continued on down the street. The other man approaching curiously walked up to the recently-hung bulletin.
"I would bet good money that we never hear from..." Pahno was cut off by the man reading the flyer.
"Uh, you guys might want to come read this." All four men gathered around the notice and were joined by the owner of the small stand. Pahno began to read aloud.
"'Dear citizens, it is to our great misfortune that we inform you of the premature death of..." He paused for a moment, but continues thereafter, "...of the young Avatar Yangchen. Her death comes with much sorrow to the world, including our tribe, and this news is even more burdensome due to the nature of her passing. The late Yangchen was in fact murdered two nights ago in a plot to assassinate her that has since been exposed and traced back to the esteemed tribal elder, Alraq. In a hunger for power, Alraq had the Avatar killed at this time in an attempt to ensure that his pregnant wife would give birth to the succeeding Avatar. Alraq has been justly executed for his treacherous and inhumane act. Due to the fact that Alraq's wife had passed away during childbirth, the young Avatar Hulzaq will be raised and trained by his uncle, Ballaq. We offer all of you our sincerest condolences during this sorrowful time. Good day.'"
Elsewhere in the Northern Water Tribe, there were children playing in the streets while Udokka sat inside by himself practicing his waterbending. At only four years old, he had already mastered the ability to make sharp ice-daggers, which lay scattered around his room. His mother walked in the room and approached him.
"Udokka, why don't you go outside and play with your sister," she suggested in a soft, gentle tone.
Udokka responded, sounding slightly frustrated, "I'm practicing."
"Still having trouble with getting the ice to melt?" she inquired compassionately.
"Yeah. I don't know why I can't get it."
Khala put her arm around her son to comfort him. "Don't worry. It just takes time you'll get it eventually."
Sixteen Years Later
"Stop thief!" Udokka shouted as he chased after the delinquent. He was catching up to him, skating down the street in his uniform, bending the water from the canals into a frozen path in front of him. He rounded a sharp turn on the path of ice just in time to see the criminal run into a nearby alley. "I've got you now," he whispered to himself, knowing that the thief had nowhere to go. He formed the frozen path into a ramp as he approached the alleyway, gliding off and landing right in the middle of both the street and the only chance of escape. Udokka froze the man in a block of ice, leaving only his head uncovered, but as he neared the end of the alley he realized that the man whom he had been pursuing was just a child, no older than fourteen and was holding nothing more than a few pieces of blubbered seal jerky. The child's face exhibited a look of extreme hunger; Udokka could not bring himself to arrest the young man. He turned and walked out of the alley as the water, which had previously held the child in his place, splashed to the ground, and the boy slipped away.
As Udokka walked down the street in the direction from which he had come, his superior officer approached him.
"What happened? Where's the thief?"
"I lost him, sir; he got away," Udokka responded in a believably disappointed voice.
"That's the third time this month you lost your man. If you don't get it together, you'll never get off street patrol," the angered officer exclaimed while still sounding slightly concerned for Udokka.
"Yes sir, it won't happen again." Just as the officer turned and walked away, Udokka's sister, Yarra, approached him.
"Wow Dok, you made quite a mess with that ice, huh?" sounding slightly sarcastic.
"You know I've always had trouble with the unfreezing part."
"Is that so? You didn't seem to have any trouble unfreezing that criminal."
"Oh, you saw that?"
"He was just a boy."
"I know, I'm just saying you should be more careful. You never know who might be watching." She paused briefly to let him think, but quickly changed the subject to lighten the mood. "Anyway, I was wondering if you wanted to come with me to see the unveiling of the next Avatar?"
"No thanks, I don't really feel like going anywhere." He was somewhat depressed from the situation that had previously taken place, but also genuinely disinterested in the subject.
"C'mon it'll be fun, plus how many times in your life do you get to see an Avatar from your own tribe?"
"No buts, once, the answer is once."
"Well, you never know, with the way the last Avatar went." He commented with a smirk on his face.
Yarra did her best to hold back a smile, "That's not funny," she said, but could not help but let out a small chuckle.
Udokka, eventually conceding, arrived at the ceremony with his sister. There were already hundreds of people there, so they stayed toward the back, but Udokka decided to make a small ice platform on which they could stand so he and his sister could see.
Ballaq started the ceremony, "Thank you, citizens, for joining me today, the day of my nephew's sixteenth birthday. Avatar Hulzaq has been studying under my tutelage thus far in his life, but he will now reveal to you the next step that he is about to take in his quest to become a fully realized Avatar; something that I, myself, could not teach him." Ballaq paused for dramatic effect. "Earthbending! Yes, my nephew will now demonstrate his newfound skill. Please welcome your new Avatar." Hulzaq took to the stage as the audience applauded, seemingly just to prevent an awkward silence. Hulzaq first performed a magnificent display of waterbending, whirling the water around in every direction with such speed and precision and finally sent it splashing high into the air, applying a cool breath to the many water droplets, causing it to snow on the nearby audience members.
Udokka just rolled his eyes, appearing unimpressed and a bit annoyed, while the rest of the crowd seemed to be warming up to him. Hulzaq stepped off the stage and planted his feet firmly on the ground, standing perpendicular to the stage. Udokka raised the platform a bit to get a better view. The people stood there, more anxious than ever, Hulzaq suddenly raised a block of earth into the air and sent it hurtling through the air across to the other end of the stage, where it smashed straight through a large ice urn, and everyone cheered. Everyone, that is, except Udokka.
Udokka just stood there; squinted eyes, no expression, and silent; not dumbfounded from the display, but rather deep in thought. Everyone else saw an amazing display of earthbending by an underdeveloped Avatar, but as for Udokka, he saw something...something peculiar.
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