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|The Campaign of Two Nations: Part 2: A Divided Nation|
Book 2: Water
August 8, 2014
Even in times like these, the Earth Kingdom is truly never one nation.
Chapter 20: The Campaign of Two Nations: Part 2: A Divided Nation
Book 2: Water
Chapter 20: The Campaign of Two Nations: Part 2: A Divided Nation
Morning arose, in the Northern Water Tribe the wedding party was over and the palace was trashed although there were servants working all night to clean up the place. Trying to make everything nice and tidy before Chief Cupun had awakened.
In Tulok's chambers Tulok and his newly wed wife slept in the same bed cuddling under a large lion seal pelt. The candles had given out, and no light had shined within the chamber. It was dark, until the sun actually began to rise, the cool weather was now starting to cool down and get a little warm each day. Which was a good thing for some folks, that goes to show that winter is coming to an end and the spring is beginning return.
Chief Unirak, and his son Unaraq were the first awaken followed by the adviser of Chief Cupun, who would daily wake the Northern Water Tribe chief from his sleep and been doing so for decades. Chief Unirak, began to lace up his boots, as his men were awaiting outside to escort to the front gates of the capital city.
It was time for Chief Unirak to return to the South Pole. Unaraq had assisted his father by carrying his belongings to the carriage. Tanaraq and Tulok, had awakened to lightly kiss each other.
Dressing up they had gotten out of the chamber and into the throne room hopefully not missing the departure of Tanaraq's and Unaraq's father. Unirak opened his arms and both Tanaraq and Unaraq hugged their father goodbye.
Unirak and Cupun had hugged each other and shaken hands, "That was one wild dance off last night!" Unirak mentioned.
"Don't remind me..." Cupun had rubbed his head.
Unirak had laughed it off, he walked up to Tulok and his shook his hand and hugged his son-in-a-law. Unirak whispered in Tulok's ear, "Take good care of my Tanaraq...or else...."
Tulok was left with a face of fear after what Chief Unirak had whispered in his ear. Unirak looked back at Tulok giving him a gesture that he knows when Tanaraq is upset, Tulok nodded quickly. When Tanaraq turned to look at her husband, she asked, "What's wrong?"
"No, no, no noth- nothing's wrong." Tulok lied.
A Southern soldier had opened the door of the carriage for Unirak, the chief had gotten in and the soldier had closed the carriage door. Climbing on top of the carriage, he told the driver to go. The carriage had departed, Unaraq had began to pack his things and get ready since the gang were heading for the Earth Kingdom.
"Avatar Rong Yan, we need to speak." Chief Cupun said.
Rong Yan nodded, and the chief had sat down on his throne, attending this small meeting was Tanaraq, Tulok, Aloi who had just awakened and Unaraq who went off to pack his things. "What is this matter, Chief Cupun?" Rong Yan asked.
"An important matter discussing your future. Where are you heading now?" Cupun inquired.
"I am heading to the capital city of Ba Sing Se soon. I want to speak with the Earth King myself." Rong Yan replied.
"Of course that is a brilliant idea, having the Avatar speak with the Earth King and try to end this war soon would put a lot of relief to my troops and our nation." Chief Cupun excitedly responded.
"I will try to reason with the Earth King, hopefully his scribes will send a courier bird over here to send the news that he chooses to end the war." Rong Yan says.
"That would be most appreciated, Avatar Rong Yan." Chief Cupun thanked Rong Yan.
Meanwhile, somewhere in between the waters of the Northern Water Tribe and the Earth Kingdom. Palartok, Senlin, Kimaru, and the young couple are on their boat. In the distance Palartok could see a small boat coming towards them. He was barely able to see three soldiers on the boat, and the boat captain.
The medium-sized wooden boat, had a carved maiden decorating the front of the boat, and on the side he saw that the Earth Kingdom symbol was carved into the boat. Palartok, had run over to the boat's captain on old man's boat.
"Who are those men?" the old man asked concerned.
"It is best you go below deck, my friends and I will handle this." Palartok replied.
"Will do." the old man answered back as he headed below deck.
The boat's soldier crew deploy anchors on the boat, there were three men in uniform, each having the Earth Kingdom insignia worn on their chest gear. Two weren't wearing a helmet and the other was wearing the traditional soldier hat. The captain, had a hammer at his side.
When the boat had stopped moving, they looked at the waterbenders with no fear in their eyes. The one with the hat on his head stepped forward and told them, "You must turn back now, the Earth King has decreed that any Water Tribe folk coming into eastern Earth Kingdom waters, or land must turn back and never return. This is your only and final warning, turn back now or face the consequences!"
Senlin, stepped from below deck, as the other two men eyed the former general, when he entered the top deck both men had their hearts in their throats. But they tried their best to shrug it off and show no fear.
"General Senlin! You traitor! Men attack!" their leader shouted.
The leader began to chuck boulders at the boat, making holes on the sides in hopes of succeeding to sink the boat that Senlin and his cronies were in. Palartok, and Kimaru had frozen the water on the sides of the boat to prevent any leaks and slow it down from sinking too fast.
Palartok and Kimaru, then moved both arms in circular movements, lifting up the waves, finally bending their own separate waves, they look at each other and nod. They both thrust the water forward, as they shoot the water turrets at the two soldiers beside the leader, knocking them off the boat.
One was struggling to swim as he could not swim, the other swam to the other to calm him down, and prevent him from drowning. The captain, came to the aid of the leader, grabbing onto a rope and jumping decks over to the boat.
Senlin, was countering all the boulders that the leader was chucking at the boat, finally he had enough, when the leader threw the next boulder Senlin had stopped it and crumbled it to small pieces, he then shot his fists forward. The small earth bullets had shot forward at a high speed, instantly killing the soldier. The captain of the enemy boat, had began to swing his hammer at Senlin, hitting him in the stomach and dropping Senlin to his knees.
The captain had him there but then suddenly Palartok had curled water around the captain's rest yanking the hammer out of his hand. The hammer fell yards from the captain's feet, sliding across the deck. Kimaru, walked up and kicked the captain in the chin to knock him out. Palartok, had bent water from the ocean to refill his waterskin.
Kimaru, had then bent water from his waterskin, to freeze the captain to the sail of the boat. Palartok looks over at the Kimaru, "You should refill it, in case we run into anymore." Kimaru nodded, and began bending some water into his waterskin.
The old man had come out from below deck asking, "What the heck just happened?!"
"The eastern Earth Kingdom has declared war on the Northern Water Tribe..." he says, he walks over to the hammer and bends over to pick it up, walking back to the old man he hands him the weapon. "..here take this and use it just in case more come."
"But I don't know how to use this." the old man answered.
"I'm sure you've tenderized fish, just imagine an Earth Kingdom soldier is a fish." Palartok said.
The old man listened to Palartok's orders, and nodded, walking over to the unconscious ship captain. He removed the hilt from the captain, and wrapped it around himself and then placed the hammer in the hilt.
"Kimaru create an ice bridge over to their boat, its much bigger than ours and might have supplies. It should be easier to get into Earth Kingdom territory, if they think we're returning patrols." Senlin ordered.
"Yes, general." Kimaru responded.
He began to bend the water from beneath the boat and form and ice bridge, Senlin then orders Palartok, "Palartok, get the old man, and the young couple onto the other boat. Then investigate it for any supplies."
"Alright." Palartok said.
The ice bridge was formed, and Senlin walked across it he lifts the dead soldier over his shoulders and tosses him at his shipmates who have been thrown overboard. The men scream as the lifeless body is tossed into the water.
The young man and Palartok assist the young woman across the bridge as the old man follows behind. The old man opens a door, and it was a small cabin, he takes the young couple inside. Kimaru crosses the ice bridge and crumples it behind him. The captain gains conscious but can't break himself loose.
Senlin, and Kimaru lift the anchors on the much larger boat, as the old man steers them towards Earth Kingdom territory. Palartok while below deck, finds a create full of Earth Kingdom ware. Collecting some he continues to look for food, entering a small room it turned out to be a small kitchen where the crew cooks their food and eats. Looking through small cupboards he finds raw meat, and grains along with fruits that could be squeezed into the wooden cups stacked on the counter and made into drinks.
He walked up to the top deck where Senlin was, awaiting Palartok, "I found a small kitchen with raw meat, grains, and fruits, and I found clothing within a few crates." Palartok reported, tossing a shirt, and pants to the old man to put them on. He walked into the cabin and handed the young couple some clothing.
"Put these on..it should at least disguise everyone to prevent any further attacks from Earth Kingdom naval forces." Palartok explained.
"Why do we have to disguise ourselves?" the young man asked.
"We believe that these past few days the Earth Kingdom and Northern Water Tribe have waged war on each other. Putting this on will lower any suspicions they may have on us, when we reach the shore." Palartok explained.
The young man signaled Palartok to leave the cabin, so that his wife can have some privacy on changing. Palartok walked out the door, and closed it shut. As he walked out Senlin walked up to him and said, "Our plan worked out well, Admiral Palartok...the eastern Earth Kingdom and the Northern Water Tribe are at war..again!"
Senlin, had taken a good whiff of the fresh air and exhaled, "Ahh yes the fresh smell of war!"
"Now we just wait to see if the Southern Water Tribe and the western Earth Kingdom get involved." Palartok added.
"Let's hope they do, we need to dethrone the Earth King and start a new dynasty after me..but first we need to get rid of the Avatar." Senlin said.
"And how do you plan on doing that, general? We haven't seen the Avatar in months." Palartok replied.
"We just have to track him down again, while we're in the Earth Kingdom, he's bound to come back here. The Avatar needs an earthbending trainer, well we can find out information on him and where he's at, then the three of us end his miserable life." Senlin planned out.
"What if the Avatar masters the four elements, we wouldn't stand a chance." Kimaru added.
"Kimaru, even the Avatar is a mere man, the people of this world treat the Avatar like he is a god. If we kill him, that is our advantage to win the war. The Avatar is, the key to this war...he needs to finish what Ku Tei could not. The young Avatar, must take the responsibility of his predecessor." Senlin answered to Kimaru.
Although Palartok, had no fear over the Avatar who was just some kid, he respected the almighty power of the Avatar. He doubted himself and his friends for a second, maybe the Avatar will end Senlin, Kimaru and himself. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the almighty Water Tribe Avatars from Anana to Manirak one of the Northern Water Tribe's most famous Avatars of all time. Even to way back thousands of years prior today the notorious Avatar who split the Water Tribe after he killed the twin chiefs.
Later that day, in the palace of Omashu....
A tall formidable old man, who's muscles were bulking out of his body, he was bald but had white hair around the sides of head. The liver spots on his bald cranium indicated the venerable man's age. He must've been at least a century old. The old king wore green royal robes that were passed down through his family in many generations. His dynasty was long lasting to the founders of the great city of Omashu.
He belonged to the family of the first two earthbenders known as Oma and Shu, his ancestry was ancient and historic. The king was a well renowned earthbending master, and his been in three wars himself. Stories around the western Earth Kingdom, have been spread out throughout the years of the almighty Earth King, reigning from his city of Omashu.
Two guards came through and into the palace halls where the royal king was lounging around in his throne disgusted by his surroundings that needed more dusting. They both bowed to the old man.
The guard on the right then said, "King Gao Zu, your escort of guards have arrived to escort you to the capital city of Ba Sing Se in the eastern Earth Kingdom. Let us know when you're ready to depart."
The old man, clapped his hands and out of a nowhere a servant appeared with luggages of the king's clothing. He runs out the doors of the huge palace, and nods at the escort guards, the guards try to help the king to his feet once again. But he lightly pushes them away, and stretches his body out.
"I'm not THAT old!" Gao Zu said to his escorts.
"This meeting with this new Earth King is a waste of time for me." Gao Zu added.
"But you agreed to have an audience with, my liege." Gao Zu's adviser said.
"Fine I will, Naoren De you're taking the throne while I am gone..but don't do anything I wouldn't like..." Gao Zu said.
Looking back at Naoren De in the eye, "On second thought you're coming with me! Knowing you, you would do something I wouldn't like."
"Yes, my liege!" Naoren De responded.
"Uhh King Gao Zu, I will watch your throne for you." a man in flashy armor said.
"Ahh general yes, you will do a good job." the old king agreed.
The old king and his advisor was escorted out the door by the guard that had picked him up for departure. The guard led him out to his royal carriage, that will take him on the two week trip to the city of Ba Sing Se. The carriage began to leave the palace where a group of soldiers had mounted on their ostrich horses to protect the carriage at all times until it reaches its destination in the eastern Earth Kingdom.
Meanwhile, back in the Northern Water Tribe, in the palace's training grounds stood Rong Yan in one side of the large octogon-shaped ring where most soldiers and guards sparred within to better their skills. On the other end stood his bending teachers Tanaraq and Aloi.
Tulok arrives and sees Tanaraq ready in a fighting stance and runs on over to stop her, of course now that she is married to Tulok, she is going against the Northern Water Tribe's customs of Waterbending women using their abilities for fighting and not for healing like they're supposed to.
"Tanaraq!" Tulok shouted out.
"Yes, Tulok?" Tanaraq answered.
"Come over here please." Tulok said, hand signaling his wife to walk on over to him.
Aloi glances over to Rong Yan and then says, "She looks angry, what do you think they're arguing about?"
"I don't know, let's go check it out." Rong Yan responded.
Rong Yan and Aloi, walk over Tulok and Tanaraq are arguing, concerned Rong Yan speaks first, "What's going on here?"
"Sorry Avatar, you and your friends couldn't understand some of the rules and customs of our Tribe. But now that Tanaraq is my wife, she can't use her bending for fighting...nor training. Northern Water Tribe customs, strictly prohibit women to fight with waterbending. Women can only use their abilities to heal the ill and wounded." Tulok briefed.
"Well that's stupid!" Aloi added.
"I am sorry but I cannot allow my wife to train with you, Avatar Rong Yan. I will let one of our waterbending masters train with you though." Tulok suggested.
"But Tanaraq, is my waterbending teacher she needs to train me so that I may prepare myself for this war!" countered Rong Yan.
"Look I apologize for the inconvenience but please understand she cannot and will not help you anymore." apologized Tulok. Tulok grabbed Tanaraq by the arm and pulled her away, Tanaraq attempted to pull away from his grip and falls to the ground. Tulok, helps her up but she smacks his hand away from her.
"Don't touch me!" Tanaraq shouted at Tulok. Tulok just looks at his wife with a saddened face and sighs, as Tanaraq storms off somewhere else. Tulok, walks back into the palace as a stout, light brown skinned, black haired man sporting a long goatee on his chin walks out from the barracks. The man pulls his shirt off, showing off his muscly toned body to Aloi and Rong Yan.
Reaching out his hand, Rong Yan shakes his hand he turns around to shake Aloi's but she ignores him. The man still eyeing Aloi says, "Very well then, little lady."
"I'm going to help you train, Avatar." the man informed Rong Yan.
Rong Yan, nodded and took his firebending stance, Aloi had done the same, the waterbender had done the same thing. He looked at Aloi giving her a slight nod that he was ready. Aloi jumped into the air and started blasting air at Rong Yan, while the waterbender had bent torrents from nearby vases that carried water within them.
Rong Yan dodged the air blasts that Aloi had thrown at him, but not so quick that the water torrents had hit him. The waterbender had then used his hands to freeze the water around Rong Yan. Entrapping the Avatar, and unable to bend, the ice began to melt suddenly, when Rong Yan was able to break free, all the shards shot at Aloi and the waterbender.
The waterbender turned some water into an ice shield, and Aloi deflected the ice shards with an air shield. As the shards hit the strong gusts of air they had redirected at Rong Yan. He then melted them and he bended them into a water whip to smack Aloi's elbow.
The shards had hit the waterbender's shield, each hitting against it and piercing into the shield. The last shard had shattered the shield, but the waterbender still had use for the shattered ice melting it once again and using it to form a water whip, as he lashed it at Rong Yan, Rong Yan had countered by kicking the whip with one of his legs.
Creating a water tentacle after melting some of the snow around himself, he wrapped it against Aloi's right leg, and made her fall on her rear. Going up to Aloi, he chuckled heartily.
Aloi inhaled some air and blew Rong Yan into the air, Rong Yan had then done a front flip and released a wheel of fire. The waterbender and Aloi had jumped out of the way to avoid from getting any burns.
The waterbender had formed a wall out of snow to protect himself, Rong Yan being clever had shot out a spin kick released a fire blade the slashed the top of the snow wall, melting some of the top parts of the wall. The wall had risen even higher, as the snow had formed around both the waterbender and Aloi.
He picked up some snow and shaped it into a ball and he shushes Aloi. Peeking above the now small snow fortress, he throws the snow ball as Aloi makes one. The waterbender makes another one, and uses waterbending to create a few. Rong Yan dodges the snow ball by jumping into the air a few feet.
Scratching his head, he wondered where the snow ball came from, another one flys into the air, and hits him on top of his head. The fort wall explodes, as a large snow cannon is seen filled with multiple snowballs. Aloi, continued to shape balls of snow and loading them into the cannon. Rong Yan looked at both of them then gasped, "You wouldn't."
"Oh yes we would!" Aloi replied.
The waterbender had pushed his hands forward, as the volley of snowballs had shot forward towards Rong Yan. Trying to block them away from his face, they all hit him. The snow surrounded him, he popped out his head with an annoyed look on his face. The waterbender and Aloi, began to laugh and clap for their enjoyment making enough sound for the snow on top of the branch above Rong Yan's head to fall on top of him.
Meanwhile, within the city Unaraq was taking a stroll on his own walking by shops, and taverns. He walked into one of the taverns, the name of the building was, 'The Bloated Urchin'. Walking within there were several tough men within, sitting down on the counter's chairs the waitress had her back turned as she was looking for a drink to serve one of her daily customers.
When she turned Unaraq was a little startled when he saw that the waitress was actually a hairy man in a wig, with a hairy mole on his upper lip. He also wore eye makeup, and looked at the startled Unaraq, "Hey bub, you got a problem on what I look like?" the man lady blurted.
He let out a loud belch before placing his hands on the counter and staring Unaraq in the eye, Unaraq then bellowed, "N-no no nothing's wrong...y-you're a very uhm...pretty man."
Unaraq gulped, the man still staring into his eyes attempting to instill fear in the young man. He turned back around and got a drink out and pour it into a wooden cup and slid it over to Unaraq.
"This one is on the house, sweetie." the man lady smiled.
"Uhm..th-thank you." Unaraq shuddered.
Unaraq looked down at his wooden cup, seeing the exotic grog swirling within the cup, the drink was green and it smelled awful. He took a light sip of the drink and began to gag and cough. After that he pushed it aside, the guy right next him shrugged at the drink that appeared right in front of him. The man opened his mouth and tossed the drink down his throat slamming the cup onto the counter.
"HEY! No slamming the cups onto the bar counter!" the man lady shouted at the drunk.
The drunk grabbed, the man lady by the shirt and pulled him/her towards him lifting up his fist. One of the bar's daily customers saw what was happening, then shouted, "BAR FIGHT!" The man next to him hopped off his stool and broke it over the guy who yelled for a bar fight, knocking him out unconscious.
Everyone within the bar including the bar "maid" began to ensue in an insane bar brawl. Unaraq screamed at the top of his lungs as he darted through the bar dodging chairs, tankards, cups and flying drinks. Shooting out of the front door like a bullet.
Getting up from the snowy ground, he wipes himself off of anything that might have landed on him, and/or snow. Fear instilled within him he ran in another direction. Unaraq looked back to see a small squad of guards rush into the bar with their armaments in hand pointing the spears at the bar brawlers.
Turning around to look at the scene, a guard had collapsed to the ground, his screams being heard as he clawed at the snow as he was dragged back into the bar. More guards had run in, bending the snow and melting it into water before freezing it on the bar brawlers to arrest them.
Continuing to look at the scene as he walked backwards Unaraq bumped into someone a much larger man, than the patron within the bar that sat to his right. Looking up he smiled at the big fat man staring down at him.
He quickly darted back in the direction he came from running past the bar, as the huge man scratched himself on the head confused as to why the young man ran off. Shrugging it off he continued on to his duties. Jolting past people, as some of them dodged him as well to avoid colliding with him, he darted behind a wall to his left, and hid in the shadows to catch his breath. After five minutes he looked behind the wall to see if the large man was chasing him. Seeing nothing he gives a sigh of relief, and wipes the sweat off his forehead.
Meanwhile, many troops were leading a large caravan towards Ba Sing Se, it seemed as though there was something very important within that caravan. Within the large cart sat two older men, one of the men was Naoren De, the adviser to King Gao Zu of Omashu. Across him was the king himself, staring at his adviser sheepishly the old king asked, "Are we here yet?"
Peering out the window Naoren had seen the gargantuan walls of earth that protected the capital city of Ba Sing Se. The caravan was driven to a halt atop large earth platform, from there twenty earthbenders, lifted the large platform to the very top of the walls.
Where the caravan carrying the King of Omashu was lifted off by the platform and onto the floor of the wall. The rider on top of the caravan carriage had snapped the reins as the ostrich horses had gone down a large set of slopes that eventually led them down to the agricultural section of the city.
Where farmers were tending to their crops, farmhands were tending to the soil with hoes, and the cattle were grazing. Other men, women, and children were running around picking at the plants to gather fruits, and vegetables. Other men were carrying scythes and began to chop away at the wheats, to collect this year's harvest of wheat. Some children were shooed off the streets by a lady so that the caravan could continue down the road to its destination.
As it reached the beginning of the lower ring, elite soldiers of the Earth King, had helped escort the caravan to the manually driven train, that was invented by an old Earth King's nephew. The soldiers had asked for all civilians to leave the train as the King of Omashu was boarding the train.
As he sat within the train he sat across from a commander within Qiang Zhen's army. Blinking as he stared at the middle-aged man he glanced out the window as the train moved quickly towards the upper ring where the palace was situated.
Chewing on nothing but pretending like he was he spoke, "What is this contraption, you have me on?"
"This is called a monorail, King Gao Zu." the commander answered the old king's question. Wondering as even if the old king had ever ridden one, he shook his head and paid attention to something else.
Letting the words 'mono' and 'rail' roll in his wrinkly, dried mouth, he spat on the floor of the train, and slowly worded it. "M..mm..mono..r..mono..rail..monorail..Naoren, please add that to the list of things we can add to Omashu!"
Slightly nodding his head, Naoren scrawled the idea down a small notepad before placing the pad back inside his robes. Gao Zu then mentioned what he called the mail system, "We have something similar to this, but as fancy.."
"Uh sir, we've told you many times before that its the mail chute system, not the world's largest slide." Naoren added.
"Shh..I am the king of Omashu, and if I say its a slide, then it is a slide!!" shouted Gao Zu.
"Aye, I apologize, your Majesty." Naoren apologized.
The monorail, begins to slow down as it reaches the destination for the King of Omashu, the Upper Ring where the palace is at, and the other higher nobles reside. Another carriage awaited King Gao Zu at the monorail station. Escorted by four elite guards, standing at each corner of the carriage protecting it. As the carriage moved on throughout the Upper Ring, he could see various nobles eating, laughing and walking around attending to their errands.
Continuing the Upper Ring there were at least two garrisons near those garrisons were more than 500 soldiers both non-benders and earthbenders. Their official superiors training with them. Various were running laps around the large garrisons, Naoren was shocked to see that all of soldiers training seeing as how Gao Zu nor Naoren really pay attention to what goes on in their military.
Gao Zu, is too busy to check up on his military..he has placed various high-ranking officials on the job to make sure that the western Earth Kingdom had the top notch army in the entire Earth Kingdom, if not the entire world. The prison, the very same facility that former General Senlin had escaped. The wall was still being fixed but they had stronger patrols within the area.
Pointing at the prison Gao Zu laughed, "What kind of idiot puts a prison close by to his palace? Isn't he afraid that the prisoners may escape and cause harm and destruction to the city and/or the man himself?"
One of the soldiers overhearing he tells the other, glancing back and pointing at the carriage saying, "Hey soldier, get a hold of this guy...having the guts to call our recently passed King, an idiot for putting a prison near the palace."
"Well you should know Gao Zu, is extremely rude and arrogant.." one guard mentioned.
"Pfft, I hope something happens to that old bat!" the other added, looking at the guard who mentioned Gao Zu as being arrogant and rude, with an offended facial expression. They reached the beginning of the long, long staircases that led towards the Earth King's palace. Instead of having to walk the entire way up, two earthbenders lifted them up to the very top of the stairs.
The new Earth King Qiang Zhen, sat on the opposite sides of the palace halls where his large throne sat on. Behind the large throne was a mural of a huge golden badger mole, to the left and right of it were golden plagues written on those plaques were the names of the previous Earth Kings, by their names were the years they reigned the eastern Earth Kingdom. Freshly etched on the plaques was the name 'Ta Po'.
Picking his teeth with a small wooden stick, the palace guards opened the large palace doors, the silhouettes of short man, and a tall hunched man stood in the doorway. The doorman led them down the halls to the throne room where the new Earth King sat. Inhaling a large amount of air the old king of Omashu whispered to his advisor, "It smells like noodles in here..I want noodles, Naoren!"
Another servant arrived in front of the young Earth King, he knelt before him holding out a tray, the Earth King had place the little wooden stick upon it. The servant slightly bowed his head and stood up to walk away. Qiang Zhen, rose to his feet to greet his grandfather's ally King Gao Zu. He slowly bowed his head at the old king to show his respect for his equal. Naoren and Gao Zu, had returned the greetings with a bow as well. Qiang Zhen, had placed his hands behind his back and walked towards Gao Zu. Approaching him he shook his hand and the hand of Naoren.
Speaking to the old king he said, "It is good to see you have arrived safely to Ba Sing Se, Gao Zu. I was afraid of your old age you couldn't make the trip..you could have sent your ambassador on over to do the arrangements and the meeting.
But please, I am assuming you are very hungry from the long trip that you had just survived. My servants will send you to the feasting hall, and my guards will direct you and your advisor to the guest chambers after your meal."
"As good as any, young man. I was afraid with your young age you'd be a foolish king, just like your ancestor Yao. But you've tightened up the place I am quite impressed, I do sure hope you're serving noodles for dinner?" responding rudely to the young King.
"Ahh yes of course...please never compare me to my ancestor Yao, let him rest in peace..sure he has done wrong in his life but he was just a man." countered Qiang Zhen.
"Just a man? Y-" he questioned before being interrupted by his advisor.
"Truly sorry about my King, your majesty. Being famished makes him a little....grouchy!" Naoren interrupted.
A little upset about what the old bat had said to Qiang Zhen, he accepted the apology and nodded to Naoren. He signaled his servants to escort Naoren and Gao Zu to the feasting hall, when they reached the entrance, they were shocked when they had seen the large table that was in the feasting hall owned by Qiang Zhen.
"Mine is a bigger.." Gao Zu blurted out.
"Sir.." Naoren began.
"Yes, yes I know I know..I'll be quiet and eat!" Gao Zu replied.
They sat down side by side as the servants walked in to place variety of different foods only native to the eastern Earth Kingdom. The servants had given the old king and his advisor wooden eating utensils to consume their foods and large silk cloths to clean themselves up.
Meanwhile, the night fell while out sailing at sea, the misty fog clouds had appeared around the new military ship that Senlin, Palartok and Kimaru had taken from the soldiers. Inside the warm cabin slept the young man and his pregnant wife. Where a small fire was lit in the small fireplace inside the ship cabin.
Many, many yards away atop of a watch tower sat two soldiers, one with a scope, the other sat there with some spark rocks in had. Opening the scope up he placed his left eye upon it, his comrade inquired him, "Do you see anything?"
"I see a small Earth Kingdom military ship, set the signal bonfire ablaze!" he commanded his comrade.
The man quickly rubbed the spark rocks together as sparks flew to the large bonfire, as the bonfire turned ablaze with a raging fire. Palartok wearing a military Earth Kingdom uniform shouted and pointed, "There!"
Senlin looked up, signaling Kimaru who ran into the cabin to awaken the man and his wife. Waking them up he tossed Earth Kingdom attires at them, "Wake up, we're entering eastern Earth Kingdom shores. If you don't put these on, they'll kill you!"
"Why?! Why would they kill us?!" the young man freaked out.
"The Water Tribes and the Earth Kingdom have waged war on each other!" he shouted the news out.
The woman screamed when she heard the news, as Kimaru sped out in the his own military uniform. She dropped her clothing and quickly changed attire, as did her husband. Her husband bundled up the Water Tribe styled clothing and tossed it into the small fireplace within the cabin. The clothing immediately caught on fire, Kimaru came back and gave the man a small dagger.
Placing it into his hand, the man looked into Kimaru's eyes, giving each other a slight nod, the man hid the dagger into his new garbs. Holding his wife, while they walked out into the breezy night outside on the ship's deck.
The ship arrived on the docks, the two soldiers stepped down from their tower and walked on over to the docks as Palartok anchored the ship on the docks. Walking down the plank were Senlin disguised himself in an Earth Kingdom warrior's armor, covering his face with a helmet, Palartok and Kimaru in earthbender armor, and walking down the plank were the young couple who seemingly looked like Earth Kingdom civilian refugees.
The soldier who had the spark rocks took out his hand in front of Palartok and asked for the orders. "Orders." he demanded.
Looking beneath his belt, there were the orders rolled up in a double roll scroll, he took out from underneath the belt and handed it over to the soldier, trying to keep a straight face on as the soldier opened the orders and began to read. He looked up and saw the young couple.
"Where did they come from?" the other soldier asked.
"Uh..these are refugees coming in from the western Earth Kingdom, their village was burnt down these were the only two survivors we found and rescued." Senlin echoed behind the helmet.
"Tragic. Carry on to HQ, and get these refugees to the nearest town, which is Chu Shi. It is northeast of these docks. Be safe." the soldier said.
"Aye thank you. You too." Senlin echoed behind the helmet, they continued up the path with the young couple leaving the two soldiers stationed at the watchtower and the docks to do their duties. Kimaru looked over to Palartok, "Well that was easy.."
"Certainly was." Palartok said.
"How did you guys know that the two nations are at war?" the young man asked.
"Well when you get around, you hear rumors. Word is, some waterbenders had assassinated the Earth King's nephew, and the same had happened in the Northern Water Tribe to the chief's nephew." Palartok explained.
"Strange how the nephews of the leaders were killed." the young man thought.
"I doubt the killers knew that, I believe they just wanted to kill a random person and plant evidence that the other nation supposedly committed, only to cause an outrage." Palartok finished.
"We're certainly in for some hard times.." the young man sighed.
Senlin just nodded as the group continued to walk up the path and continue down the road and find Chu Shi, the town that the soldier had mentioned where refugees were left at. They found a small pond where they camp for the night it was a few miles down the road they had taken. It was smart to sleep by the pond so that Palartok and Kimaru had a resource to bend from, although with Palartok's skills he could bend water from the air's moisture.
Morning came as the Sun quickly rose over in Ba Sing Se, two men were riding quickly through the streets of the Lower Ring when walls of earth had then surrounded them, a loud voice from the other side of the walls was heard suggesting them a choice they had to either surrender or die trying.
"Hand over the sacks of gold, fugitives! You are surrounded with no way out! Surrender or die trying!" a guard yelled out.
The Lower Ring, was oppressed by the guards who treated them all like thieves, murderers, and criminals all alike. The poor were treated like animals and it didn't matter IF they died. Qiang Zhen, knows nothing of what happens beyond the Upper and Middle ring. Although, he has power through his entire city and kingdom, there were a lot of things he didn't know.
The people of the Lower Ring have lost their faith on the young Earth King, crime rates within the Lower Ring, since the six months of silence have excelled high than when Ta Po was in power. The people have grown to like the gang members who have actually controlled the Lower Ring.
Many even had pictures within their homes of the various crime lords of the Lower Ring. Many of which a few know of, like Baotu of Dixia, and Ying Xiao of the Hei Shichang, Just recently, there was a knew uprising in the Lower Ring, a small group of fresh criminals and former guards that once controlled the Lower Ring during the Period of Silence within Ba Sing Se.
This new group was called, the Yapo and boy, did the people love the Yapo. Just like the Dixia and the Hei Shichang, who supported and protected the people within their controlled sections of the Lower Ring. The Yapo and the two remaining gangs really have not had any problems with each other.
Ying Xiao, had gotten out more for publicity, the people know what he looks like now. Although he was scary guy he actually was really down to earth the people who really knew him like Baotu. Baotu and Ying Xiao have been seen sharing meals in the public with various gang members guarding the restaurants they were eating at.
The leader of the Yapo is a former guard captain, named Sunhuai, when the Dixia and the Hei Shichang were still in hiding he alongside with his fellow guards were the oppressors within the Lower Ring. Terrorizing the citizens there as if they were nothing but disposable trash. Then as the Period of Silence began to finish the guards had gotten paid so little even for long shifts and longer days.
As the guards became outraged, for their small salaries that the Earth King had given them, they began to grow corrupt. There were the good guards and then the bad guards, months passed as a guard captain had broke and quit the legion of guards. And with him he took like minded individuals, eventually finding former Mousha Quan members and offering them a deal to join them in creating the Yapo.
Although the Yapo are nothing like the Mousha Quan, they still stick to contract murders, and seem to be highest ranking criminal group in Ba Sing Se to have a large number of murders.
One by one, new criminals and oppressed people began to join the fight with the Yapo. The two Yapo members looked at each other as the people surrounding the scene had began to clap, woo them and cheer them on. The two men looked at each other and nodded.
They were twins, both stocky, short, brown skinned men with long black hair, black mustaches, with similar tattoos though one had his tattoos on the opposite side of his body unlike his brother.
The two stretched their right arms out together, copying each other's techniques they sank the earth walls, and bent large earth waves to push them up into the air, and onto rooftops, where they ditched the ostrich horses they had stolen and stuck to the roof tops and disappeared into thin air after that.
The crowd went wild, as the guards at the scene had then signaled the citizens to back up, "Alright, alright back up citizens, your precious saviors the Yapo don't care about you." one of the guards stated.
A large man had thrown his left over pig chicken leg at one of the guards, the guard frowned and walked away with a little temper as the people laughed. The group walked away to another section of the Lower Ring, and then the crowd dispersed.
Meanwhile, back at the Ba Sing Se palace, Gao Zu, Naoren, and Qiang Zhen were feasting on the large feasting table that Qiang Zhen owned in the palace's feasting hall. Qiang Zhen, grabbed his light green cleaning cloth, and cleaned the food around his mouth, clearing his throat and looking over to Gao Zu.
"Gao Zu, we will have the meeting after this breakfast here. I hope you and your adviser are prepared for the council." Qiang Zhen began.
"Aye, my liege and I will walk with you to the council room." Naoren said.
Qiang Zhen, nodded and finished the last portion of his meal as he waited for Naoren and Gao Zu to complete their meals. Minutes later Gao Zu ended up being the last to finish his meal picking at his teeth with a tiny wooden pick. Dusting his robes off as he stood up and followed his adviser, and Qiang Zhen to where this council room was located at.
Qiang Zhen, gave a signal and five Earth Kingdom palace guards followed behind them. He led them out of the palace and towards the council room on the north eastern end of the Upper Ring. It was large building, with a large green flag styled with the eastern Earth Kingdom insignia on it. Two guards that were standing at the large metal doors had both opened the large doors at the same time, allowing the two kings into the building.
Gao Zu, and Naoren were led down the long hallways of the council room building by Qiang Zhen, arriving with the large meeting room the place had. There were large seats on one side, five seats, each seat belonged to a general within the eastern Earth Kingdom army. In the middle sat the leader of the Council of Five.
From behind a curtain the green armored clad men walked out towards their seats and sat down. In front of them was a large diagram of the world made from earth. Gao Zu, looked at the large map in the middle. The head general named, Qingbao lifted up his palm as the green and blue markers on the map stood up and slid over to him.
There were six Water Tribe ones, splitting them into three he bent three to the northern part of the map and other three to the southern end. Then bending three markers on Ba Sing Se, and three on Omashu. Qiang Zhen, walked over to his generals and stood by Tsuyo-sa's side of the seats. On the southern end of the map stood Gao Zu and Naoren. General Ren bend a chair made of earth so that the old king didn't have to stand.
Naoren began to help Gao Zu sit on the throne, but Gao Zu lightly smacked Naoren's hand to back off. "Back off! I'm not that old!" Gao Zu said.
"Sorry, my liege." Naoren apologized.
"What is this about, Qiang Zhen?" Gao Zu asked.
"General Qingbao, was just getting to that.." Qiang Zhen answered.
"It is an honor meeting you again, King Gao Zu, the matter we have invited you here for this war that is now occurring. I'm sure you have heard around that Earth King Qiang Zhen's nephew Baotong, who was ordered to carry special orders around the eastern Earth Kingdom, later to be assassinated in cold blood by Water Tribe?" Qiangbao began.
"People die every day, no need to start a war over it." Gao Zu complained.
Naoren facepalmed and frowned shaking his head, at what his king had just said. Qiang Zhen, sighed and walked out of the building for a few minutes. In disbelief of what the heartless king of Omashu just blurted out.
"Aye, that is true but what outraged us is not only the assassination but the bastards also claimed we killed the Northern Water Tribe Chief's nephew as well, planting the evidence that we entered their lands only to do so. Strong evidence shows that waterbenders also killed and robbed a merchant caravan around the area heading towards Lu'an." Qingbao explained.
"And what does this have to do with me?" Gao Zu asked.
"Well I'm glad you asked, as part of the treaty that was made thousands of years ago..we have to agree upon the offer of aid in case there was a war. You remember what the Water Tribe are capable of, Lord Gao Zu." Sudu said.
"I do not care what the Water Tribes have in common, I am at peace with the two tribes and I want to stay that way. Do not involve me in your fights!" Gao Zu's voice rose.
"Lord Gao Zu! Please let us reason about this first, you haven't heard all of it! Your people could die! The blood of your people are on your hands, milord." Ren added.
"We must stand united as the almighty Earth Kingdom, we can't allow these primitive snow men to have victory over us!" General Rongyu shouted.
"United? We are a divided nation, and we always will be..this is what I think of your filthy treaty!" Gao Zu shouted.
Gao Zu signaled Naoren to begin to walk away, as he spat on the floor, Ren smirked at Gao Zu's words and mentioned the Thirty Year War. "The old legendary King of Omashu, is nothing but a myth..the old arrogant bastard is a coward..pulled out his troops in the middle of the war because he was too afraid to fail!"
Something snapped within Gao Zu, as he quickly turned around and sent an earth pillar towards General Ren, encasing the young general, a small blade formed pointing towards the general's throat. Tsyuo-sa looked over to Gao Zu, taking a stance and saying "Enough! Leave now!"
Gao Zu bursted out of the building Qiang Zhen sitting down against the wall with his head in between his knees. Naoren, bowing down to the generals and then saying as he walked off, "I am truly sorry for what has just happened. I hope you can forgive my liege, generals."
Gao Zu walked back into the palace grabbing his things and heading to the monorail that would lead him back to the walls of the city where his carriage was awaiting. Naoren ran right behind him, the Omashu soldiers bowed at Gao Zu as he stormed out the door and followed closely behind him, escorting them to the top of the wall, so they could head back to Omashu right away.
Later that afternoon in the Northern Water Tribe, Rong Yan, and Aloi were packing things on Shen, the red dragon that Rong Yan owns, and the flying dragon that everyone has been riding on for the past year or two.
As for Tanaraq who headed to Shen with her things, as well as Unaraq who showed up back from his stroll in the city, were interrupted by Tulok who asked Tanaraq what she was doing. "Tanaraq, what are you doing?" Tulok looked at her confused.
"Uh..packing my things to travel with the Avatar." Tanaraq replied.
"Oh no..no..no.. as wife of the crowned prince of the Northern Water Tribe, you must remain here. It would look bad on me if you did not attend any meetings or parties with me, or if at all if you weren't living here in the North Pole." Tulok explained.
"What? I can't even do that? I can't bend water, I can't even travel the world with the Avatar, and help him master the four elements?" Tanaraq asked a little upset.
Turning to eye Rong Yan, Tulok asks him, "Avatar Rong Yan, are you a master of waterbending as of yet?"
"Yes, I have gotten a hold of the ropes, I feel proficient at the art." Rong Yan responded.
"She's my sister, she needs to be by my side!" Unaraq argued.
"And she's my wife..she now has a new life and new duties to tend to, she agreed to these things when she married me. In fact she's more importantly needed here in the Northern Water Tribe. Truly sorry, Prince Unaraq." Tulok apologized.
"I don't see why you need my wife helping you master the four elements, if you have already mastered waterbending. She has done her job, such as any Avatar you respect my wishes." Tulok added.
"I respect your wishes, but tieing her down like this..it..its just not right, Prince Tulok. I am sorry but I cannot fully agree with your wishes. I may need your wife in the future." Rong Yan answered.
"Aye, and should you need her for healing purposes I will allow her to leave on such occassion, but as for now..we must teach her the Northern Water Tribe culture and customs. Please take this, my personal chef wanted me to hand you three this large sack of dried foods." Tulok commented.
He handed the large sack of dried foods to Rong Yan, who then tossed it to Unaraq. Unaraq opened the sack of food, then tied the strings around it to tighten the ends. Tanaraq let out a tear, and ran into her brother's arms, Tulok looked down and felt bad, quickly shaking them off.
Squeezing each other Unaraq whispers into Tanaraq's ear, "I'm going to miss you, sis. Be strong."
"I will." Tanaraq let out.
She shared her last goodbyes with Aloi and Rong Yan, turning around she gave Tulok and unpleasant look, she was obviously angry and sad that she could not continue to venture out with the Avatar.
Regretting just a bit about marrying the crowned Prince of the North Pole. But she believed doing this even if it was for lust, could be good politically for the Southern Water Tribe, even perhaps in uniting as one tribe. Although she never cared much for politics she left that to her father, his adviser and Unaraq.
Wiping a tear, she looks back at them and says, "I love you guys, and I'm going to miss all of you. And Rong Yan..."
"Yeah?" Rong Yan asked.
"Promise me you'll bring peace to the Water Tribes and the Earth Kingdom." She asked, bowing down to him.
He returned the favor as well, the Northern chief came out running with a scroll in hand reaching out to hand the scroll over to Rong Yan. Panting as Rong Yan took the scroll to open it.
"I am so glad I have caught up with you Avatar, this scroll take it to a man who lives in the city of Han Tui, his name is Sun Wu. He is an old friend of your past life Ku Tei, I am sure he would be more than happy to teach you earthbending. Reading this scroll he will know that you have come here to master Waterbending, and being successful at mastering the element. I will not stall you more. Good luck Avatar Rong Yan, and may destiny help you defeat General Senlin." Chief Cupun said.
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