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|The Swamp Avatar|
November 25, 2013
"What brings our Northern kinsman to our swamp?" asked a man. He was kind of like the leader of the tribe.
"Sorry to bother your... party," said one soldier, "but we are looking for a girl named Misty. I heard it's her sixteenth birthday today, no?"
Everyone tensed. One girl with black hair and gray eyes stepped forward. "Yes it is. I'm Misty. Is there anything I can help you with?"
"Misty," answered another soldier, "when you were born, the moon and ocean spirits told us you are our new Avatar."
"My little girl—" asked the tribal leader.
"Our little girl," corrected his wife.
"Our little girl is the Avatar?"
"Tomorrow Misty will be on her way to the Northern Water Tribe," said a soldier, "She will have tonight to say her farewells."
On that note, the feast ended. Misty climbed with her screeching bird, Shrill, to the top of the Banyan-Grove Tree. Me, the Avatar? She thought, Of all people, me. There must be a mistake. But the spirits said that, those guys were just messengers. Does that mean I have to leave everything behind? My family, my friends, everything? I can't do that, can I? She looked at Shrill. "I'm not going to leave you. You're coming with me no matter what." Shrill didn't argue.
The next day Misty went to the soldiers' boat and was greeted by an old woman. "Hello, Avatar Misty," she said.
"Hello..." said Misty. She never met this woman in her entire life.
"I'm Kara," said the old woman, "I am your healing instructor. I'll be teaching you healing while we are on the boat. Do you understand?" Kara was kind enough, but she talked to Misty like she was a little kid. Is that how Northerners talk to other people?
For the next six months, Misty learned healing on the boat and was given a makeover by the servants on the boat. They taught her how to be a "sophisticated young northern woman". They gave her new clothes, a new hairstyle called "hair-loopies", and make-up on her face. They even taught her how to read and write. They tried to get rid of her accent but it stubbornly wouldn't go away. She learned healing from Kara, but that's all she learned and that's all she was allowed to learn. When she asked when she would learn other types of waterbending, everyone looked at her like she was weird, well weirder. One day the shores of the North were in sight. All of a sudden there was a battle cry and many warriors climbed on board the ship. Someone cried "Barbarians!" so Misty took her chances and guessed the ship was invaded by barbarians. While the soldiers fought, everyone else gathered on their version of life boats. The soldiers refused Misty to fight saying it "isn't your place to be fighting" so she was put on a life boat with Kara and Shrill. At first they drifted slowly but Misty decided to show Kara her waterbending by piloting the boat like it was a swamp skiff and zipped right through the ocean and the city until they arrived at the royal palace.
"What did you think, Kara," Misty asked, "Cool, right? I could teach you that, if you want."
Kara was in shock. "How did you do that? You're not supposed to do that."
"Because it's against the law."
"Waterbending's against the law?"
"For women, yes. Women are only allowed to heal, not fight."
"Do men learn healing?"
"No. That's ridiculous. Why would men need to heal?"
"Wouldn't it be better if both men and women learned both ways?"
"No, it wouldn't. I don't know about your little swamp tribe, but here men and women their place."
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