|By Jason xing||Genre||Rating||Reviews||Updates|
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|The Spark Ignited|
August 3, 2014
Fire, air, water, earth.
In such a booming age, people are so indulged in their new gained wealth that they oftentimes forget how fragile the balance of the world is. But under the façade of great peace, lies great danger. When this danger emerges to the surface, people would realize that they would need someone to represent them, to end the madness. This is when they need...... the Avatar.
A gush of sharp piercing wind howls over the fortified walls of the Southern Water Tribe. Above the sprawling city, a bleak white moon hangs high in the ink-black night sky. It's nearly midnight, the hustle and bustle of the city died down hours ago and only few lights are still on as if stars in the sky of a fine, cloudless evening like tonight. The only sounds are the sound of tides gently lapping on the walls and the wailing of the frigid wind.
Near the ice cliffs that shine a jade-like white reflecting the beams of light from the moon, a speedboat skimming across the calm sea headed towards land. Five men clad in Southern Water Tribe armor sat in the boat, they all had masks on and wore fur overcoats to protect them from the hostile wind. Two of them carried silenced submachine guns and the others are seemingly unarmed. At the front of the speedboat sat a tall, strong man, anxiously looking at his watch as if he is late for the tram. He had his eyes firmly fixed on the white walls, and the guards patrolling on it.
The speedboat pulled over at the snow covered shore. The five men leaped out and gathered around into a circle.
"Time check," the tall strong man said to the others.
Five mechanical watches shone under the moonlight. The minute hand pointed to halfway between 9 and 10. It was 11:47 at night.
"We have only 13 minutes, this is our only chance, make haste." The tall man waved at the others and pointed at a corner of the ice cliff.
They hurried to the corner. Two of the unarmed men took stance and water-bended at the facade. A door slid open slowly, accompanied by the freezing wind wailing to squeeze inside. The five men proceeded through the door into a small room with a spiral staircase leading upwards.
"Close the door, quickly! A patrol is coming our way!" The tall strong man raise his head as he heard leather boots tapping on the wooden staircase and metal weapons clanking against armor.
The five men hid in a corner where the light from the lantern could not reach after the two bended the door back. The clanking became louder and louder as a guard clad in armor and armed with an assault rifle appeared at the staircase. Having not seen anything, he walked further into the room to examine the door.
"Take him down," the tall strong man ordered. One of the men put down his submachine gun and drew out an electric-charged kali stick. He sneaked behind the guard while he was looking at the door and jabbed the guard in his waist with the kali stick.
The sudden great flow of electricity knocked the guard out. The five men cautiously walked up the staircase.
"Hey, what are you doing up here?!"
A guard leaning on the wall on the staircase halfway up spotted the armed group and pointed his rifle at them. But he was quickly pinned to the wall with ice by the tall strong man.
The group dispatched another guard by knocking him out with water-bending during the climb. After about five minutes, the group arrived at the top of the staircase.
"After I open the door, rain every bit of firepower you have on the guards. There'll be many of them and nothing to take cover with." The tall strong man pointed at the door as he said to his associates, "Are you ready?"
The others nodded.
The tall strong man drew a deep breath, then exhaled. He opened his water bottle, bended a water whip and aimed at the joints between the door and the frame. One single vertical slash broke both joints; the door crashed down outwards.
While the guards were unable to respond to the sudden situation, the two non-benders already fired a burst with their submachine guns, hitting the nearest guard on his breastplate and knocked him off balance. He fell and was quickly frozen to the ground by one of the water-benders.
The tall strong man then rushes into the open and broke a large ice brick off the wall and raised it in front of him. The ice brick effectively shielded him from a volley of bullets fired from the guards' rifles. He then smashed the brick into a guard and knocked him off of the wall and into the sea.
One of the guards dropped his rifle and attempted to attack the tall strong man with a water whip. But one of the benders acted first and tangled the guard's wrist with another water whip and threw him at the guard beside him who was aiming his rifle at one of the men, knocking him down. They were frozen to the ground as well.
At the other side one of the guards ran to raise the alarm while the other guards provided cover with gun fire. The tall strong man knelt down and focused all his energy, just as the guards were about to open fire, the tall strong man raised both gloved hands above his head. A giant tidal wave smacked into the part of the wall where the guards were standing, flushing them off their feet.
"Raise the signal!" The tall strong man commanded.
One of the non-benders nodded and took out a signal gun from his coat, pointed it at the sky and fired. A bright blue flare went shooting up the sky.
After a few seconds, a few other flares shot up one after another. Multiple gun shots were heard in the city afterwards. Then there were explosions. Black smoke rising from the flames shaded the moon.
The tall strong man stood on the wall, watching down at the city.
"What now, sir?"
The tall strong man clutched his hands together behind his back. He pulled down the edge of his cap——unlike the other men; he wore a Southern Water Tribe military officer cap instead of a helmet, signifying his role as the commanding officer in the coordinated attack.
"Now, now we go get the prize."
The towering glass building at the end of the city is the chief's governing building. Chief Anarack awoke to the sound of an explosion outside. He got up from his bed and walked to the windows to check out what was going on, and there he stood, shocked.
Several places in the city had already caught fire, red flames dancing in the pitch dark background of the city. Gun shots are constantly ringing here and there.
"What......is going on?"
As Chief Anarack reached out for the telephone on the night stand, the moon door to his bedroom was shattered with a strong blow of water-bending. The masked men were standing outside the door.
"Stand back!" Chief Anarack took stance ready to water-bend, but all of a sudden he lost control of his body, his limbs were twitching as he was forcibly pinned on the ground. He knew that technique——Blood-bending.
Two of the masked men apprehended the chief and brought him up to his feet. The tall strong man stood in front of him.
"Who......are you?" Chief Anarack frowned as he asked. He knew that the man was not an ordinary military officer, "How come you know blood-bending?"
The tall strong man laughed wryly: "There isn't only one blood-bender in this world, Anarack." He turned to the associates: "Take this man away!"
"Wait......Who are you?!" Chief Anarack demanded to know the tall strong man's identity as he was dragged away.
The tall strong man raised his head and stared at the moon: "I......am the dawning of a new age."
The warm, soft breeze of spring washed against the branches of the blooming pear blossoms, lifting up the petite white pedals and spreading them into the rice fields of Tsingchen village. The fertile land covered in the fresh verdant color of newly grown grass and shoots that burst out from the branches of trees.
On top of a small hill overlooking the orderly divided rice fields, stood a large cottage built on a wooden platform. Numerous basins of fine porcelain carrying lively plants stood on the porch of the cottage, giving it a touch of tranquility and leisure.
The doors of the cottage slid open. A beautiful girl dressed in a light green aoqun and beizi emerged with a porcelain bottle in her hand. She was about 18 of age, average height. Unlike most middle class Earth Kingdom citizens, who tend to have darker complexions, her milky white skin resembled the fine jade Earth Kingdom nobles wore on their belts, almost luminous under the bright sunshine. She squatted down and carefully poured the water in the bottle into the pots, addressing each plant with a motherly gaze from her bright, watery eyes greener than the newly planted rice fields. After watering all the plants, she sat on the front porch quietly, dangling her bare feet and staring blankly at the rice fields where her father and the other farmers are planting the seedlings. A breeze of cool wind blew through, bringing her slick, black, waist-length hair up as they fly in the air like moving tentacles of an octopus. She swayed back and raised her head to feel the wind stroking her delicate face, her soft, pink lips drew back and formed a grin, her eyes closed with long lashes thick like curtains, her elegant nose sticking up trying to capture the fragrance of the pear blossoms. Such heavenly features with her Hime Cut hairstyle, people would think she was of aristocratic background. Accompanied by such beautiful scenery of lush grass, snow white pear blossoms, turquoise mountains shrouded in thin clouds and skies blue as sapphire, one may think he had arrived in bliss.
"Shizumi! You're going to be late if you don't go now!" A gentle reminder came from the kitchen.
Suddenly realizing something, Shizumi stood up from the porch and walked inside. She took a glimpse at the clock, slid on a pair of embroidered shoes and opened the door.
"I'm going, mom." She informed her mother as she walked outside.
Her mom turned around and gave her a big smile: "Okay, have fun, sweetie!"
Shizumi pushed her bicycle onto the dirt road covered with pear blossom petals, got on, and started riding downhill.
The mild, bright yellow sun shone upon the rice fields and the hard-working rice farmers who are bending over to plant the seedlings in the fields. The wind from the bike's motion whipped Shizumi's hair on her back and picked up the tail and broad sleeves of her beizi as she rode on the ridge of the fields.
Occasionally, a rice farmer would straighten up to relieve his sore back, wipe off the sweat on his forehead with a towel draped across his shoulder or shake off the pear blossom petals on his straw sunhat, he would wave "Hello" to Shizumi and show her a wide, modest smile.
"Hi, nice day today, isn't it?" Shizumi would reply with an evenly humble smile.
Her bicycle brought her pass the big pear blossom tree in the middle of the field, where under its shade the farmers would rest at noon when the day is hottest. She rode out of the rice fields and onto the cobblestone roads of the village, carefully navigating through the crowds of biandan-carrying vegetable vendors, travelling merchants with their ostrich-horses and wagons and early rising villagers looking to buy some deep-fried dough sticks and cups of soymilk. Inns open their doors to welcome a new day, potboys dump out the used water from last day, the innkeeper sits behind the counter calculating his accounts on his account book with an abacus, educated men wearing changshan sit on separate tables, drinking yellow wine from a bowl and reading the daily newspaper, a wandering swordsman checks out from the inn and gallops away on his ostrich-horse.
As Shizumi was focusing on the road, a young boy ran out of the crowd suddenly. Shizumi promptly squeezed the brakes, the inertia almost sent her flying off her bike.
"Watch out, kid! You might hurt yourself!" Shizumi recognized the boy as the newsboy in the village.
The newsboy gave an innocent, carefree smile: "Hello, Avatar Shizumi, I've got something that you're gonna be thrilled about." He pulled out a scrolled flyer and poked in under Shizumi's chin.
Shizumi took the flyer and expanded it, her eyes lightened as she read out the information:" International Pro-bending Tournament? Two weeks later? Sign up at the Tiger's Maw Inn?! Last Day for subscribes?"
"Uhuh, and I know you're gonna sign up, right?"
Shizumi laughed awkwardly, "Of......Of course, I just have to talk it through Master Rohan. Anyway, thanks, kid! Later!"
Master Rohan is going to be pissed off if I sign up, I really shouldn't. Shizumi said to herself. But she found herself in front of the Tiger's Maw Inn anyway.
The admission officer was sitting behind a collapsible table, reading the daily news as people seem to ignore him when they walk by. He put down the newspaper and adjust his glasses when Shizumi headed over.
"Hello, Avatar Shizumi, I've been expecting you." The man said politely, "Just like your father. He'll be very proud of you. You've got pro-bending running in you, Avatar Korra was a pro-bender as well, she almost took the Future Industries Fire Ferrets to the champion. I'm sure she would hope that you would win too. You have a competitive spirit inside. Besides, you've been training with your father for the tournament for a long time, have you not?"
"Yeah, but Master Rohan wouldn't be too thrilled......"
The admissions officer laughed: "The old man would realize that you would need a hobby sooner or later. He's a wise man. Anyway, sign up or not? Your choice."
Shizumi hesitated for a second, but just a second: "Yes!"
"Pick an element."
"Weapon of choice?"
"Okay......You have two weeks for training before the tournament, good luck."
"Thank you." Shizumi rode off, wondering how Master Rohan would think about her entering the tournament. Seems like class time just got longer today......
Three minutes' ride out of town, standing on top of a small hill, is an old elm. Under the shade of the elm's branches, stood a small temple. Shizumi parked her bike beside the doorway to the yard and quietly walked inside.
A young man draped in a long jacket bearing the pattern of a white lotus greeted Shizumi with a smile:" Greetings, Avatar Shizumi. Master Rohan is expecting you. Come this way." He proceeded to lead Shizumi through a series of twists and turns clasped between scripture halls and monk dormitories.
"So, how's your training, Won?" Shizumi asked as they went through an ancestral hall that enshrines Avatar Yangchen.
"Fairly well, Avatar Shizumi. The master said that if I pass my test next month he'll admit me into the Order as a formal member."
"Good luck to you then."
"Thank you, Avatar Shizumi."
The twisted alleyway leads to a large mass of yard. In the middle sits an abbot dressed in a kasaya, facing Shizumi with his back, apparently meditating.
"Don't worry, Master Rohan knows that you are here, go on."
Shizumi skipped to his side, Master Rohan raised a brow, but did not open his eyes. He is about 75 of age, the tip of his white beard almost touches the ground. However his physique still seemed strong for a haggard old man and the arrow tattoos on his hand and shaved head indicated him as an airbender.
"Good day, young avatar."
"Sorry I'm late Master Rohan."
"Technically, you are 5.437 seconds early, so I'd consider that to be 'just in time'. Now, are you ready for today's training, young Avatar?"
Shizumi sat down beside him:"Yes, Master."
"Good, we'll begin today's session with a ten-minute meditation. After that we will continue to practice where we left off the day before."
After ten minutes, Shizumi and Master Rohan were standing side by side on the concrete yard.
"Now let us revise the basics. Imagine the air flowing inside your body, think of it like water. Now, I want you to focus on this flow of air, guide it to your palms, and then......"
Master Rohan opened his eyes and all of a sudden gave a firm push out, a strong gush of wind expelled from his palms and twirled the leaves on the ground into a small whirlwind.
"Now you try."Master Rohan took a step back and smiled at Shizumi.
Shizumi took a deep breath, focus for a moment and mimicked what Master Rohan did, but nothing happen.
"Try again; try to picture the flow of air in your mind if it helps."
Shizumi tried again, this time focusing even more, but still nothing happened.
"Uhhhh, I just can't get it." Shizumi sighed with frustration.
"Don't worry, everyone has to go through this stage. We'll work this out together. You just need time."Master Rohan gently laid his hand on Shizumi's shoulder.
"But I don't have any time, I enrolled in the International Pro-bending Tournament and it's two weeks away......" Shizumi murmured.
"What?!" Master Rohan sprang back as if shocked by a current of electricity.
"Now I came to mention it, I think I was supposed to talk to you about it." Shizumi frowned as she looked at Master Rohan's distorted expression, and added, "Which you don't seem to be too thrilled about."
"Of course I'm not! At least you should talk to me BEFORE you sign up!" Master Rohan turned his back to Shizumi.
"But today's the last day for signing up and you know I've been training with dad for this..."
"But what about your training?!" Master Rohan gaped at Shizumi, his green eyes wide open, "You're already spending too little time and now you want two weeks off for the competition?! Shizumi, you're 17 years old and you only possess one kind of bending!"
"But I'm proficient at it and......"
"Being proficient in one type of bending isn't enough for the Avatar, only by mastering all four elements could the avatar keep the balance of the world. Shizumi, you have to understand your responsibility and know how to prioritize."
"No 'but's, young lady. You're not postponing your training for the competition, have I made myself clear?"
Shizumi hung her head and sighed, "Yes, master."
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