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June 23, 2012
Three years have past since Avatar Aang defeated the Fire Lord and ended the Hundred Year War. But the world is not at peace. One hundred years of brutal fighting has left the world scarred and damaged. Because of the Earth Kingdom's focus on defending themselves, they had little attention for regional conflicts. In the Si Wong Desert, the sandbending tribes that have lived peacefully for centuries are at the brink of war. What will the future bring for these tribes, and with the world distracted, who will save the desert from war?
Previously on Sand Dunes:
Mein is the son of Chief Ta-Min of the Hami tribe. The Gobi tribe has accused the Hami tribe of abducting one of there members, Ghashuin. They have threatened to attack the tribe if he is not returned. The Hami tribe is preparing for war.
Chapter 2: Shifting Sands
I waved my hand downwards and a blade of sand followed. The sand pierced the rock and sliced it clean in half. I shifted my weight and pushed my arms forward. A gust of sand shot forward and cleared the broken rocks out of the way. I then waved both of my arms up slowly causing two balls of sand to form and rise upwards. I clenched my fists and the sand hardened into sandstone. I moved my arms yet again and the stones shot forward.
"Excellent Mein you did well, however you seem to be more tired the usual," said Master Won in his usual curious tone.
"I couldn't sleep last night. My dad was up all night with his men working on battle plans, and defensive strategies. He seemed to forget that I was trying to sleep just one room over," I said.
"Well, how about you go and get some rest. There is no point practicing here, anyway," Won said.
The flats were full of people. Nearly every sand bender in the tribe was practicing with a Master. Anyone that could fight and was over the age of thirteen was preparing for battle. My dad stood at the top of the highest rock watching over every one. He was considered one of the best sand benders in all of the Si-Wong Desert. But he was always to busy to train with me. I left the flats and walked back to the tribe. When I got there some of my friends were sitting on a sand sailor.
"Hey Mein! Come here!" Tio yelled "Were going to the Oasis! Wanna Come?"
Tio and I used to get into so much trouble together. We have been friends since birth. Lately I have avoided hanging out with him and my other friends, I just haven't felt social lately.
"I really don't feel like it right now," I responded.
"Come on, just think, a nice cool drink on a hot day like this, it'll be great!"
"Isn't it a bit risky with everything going on?" I asked cautiously.
"Oh come on, it'll be fine," he said lazily.
"All right," I said. "But we can't be to long." And with that I stood up and bent a funnel of sand near the sail and we were on our way. It took us about 25 minutes to get there. When we did it was as run-down and grimy as ever. There was fallen down signs and broken glass every where. An old merchant approached us and asked if we wanted to buy any "Worldly gifts or souvenirs," Tio responded by loosening the sand under him to make him fall. As they walked away laughing I helped him up and said sorry. We walked into the cantina and sat down. The usual crowd was there. Travelers, hider-outs, and nomads. I walked up to the bar.
"One Mango, please," I asked and tossed a gold piece to the bartender.
He waved his swords and chopped up some fruit. He then passed my drink over.
"Hey your one of them desert folk, aren't ya," a man sitting down said.
"Yea, I'm a sand bender," I said.
"Ahh right, I was talken to one of your people in the corner there. She was tellin me stories about sand spirits and a bunch of other crazy stuff. Haha Good talks!"
"She isn't from my tribe," I said slowly.
I walked away and sat next to my friends.
"Don't look now, but I think there's someone from the Gobi Tribe over there.
Instinctively they all looked over as soon as I said that. They all quickly retreated and huddled back together.
"Should we go say something?" Tio asked.
"I think she might be one step ahead of us," someone said.
I turned around and she was walking towards us. She sat down at a Pai sho table and glanced at us.
"Is that a challenge?" Tio asked.
"I think she wants one of us to play," I said.
"Well then go!" Tio said to me.
"Oh come on, you really think I can play Pai Sho?" said Tio.
"Fine I'll go." I then cautiously walked over to the table and then sat down.
"May I have this game?" I asked.
"Of course," she responded.
We then started placing tiles. We both didn't take our eyes off of the board. We both moved with strategy and devotion. We were both focused and concentrated. I saw an opening and jumped at it I moved my piece and had a look of confidence. Then with a graceful move she won the game. I flushed with embarrassment. "You know, I have never met another sand bender who plays Pai Sho," she said.
"I guess we are special then," I responded. "What's your name?"
"My name is Mina."
We then started talking, and talking, and talking, we must have talked for an hour. We talked about sand bending, Pai Sho, the Avatar, among other things. Tio and the others just dat back and watched as I was conversing and laughing about with the "enemy". Twice Tio walked over and asked if I was ready to go . I just kept saying "Five more minutes or "in a little bit" We went on this whole time and then It just kind of slipped out.
"So you're from the Gobi tribe?" I asked.
Her face fell.
"Sorry, I diddnt mean...I meant...Just never mind."
She paused for a minute and then looked into my eyes she then started nodding.
"Yes, I am," she said.
"It was good getting to know you. But I must leave now," I said calmly.
We both stood up and looked into each other's eyes. I turned around and started walking away.
"You know I may be part of the Gobi Tribe, but that does not change anything," she said as I was walking out.
I couldn't see her, but as I left I think I felt a tear drop to the ground from her eyes and hit the sandy floor. I walked out the cantina door and got on the sand sailor.
"You ready to go, Mein" Tio said.
"Yea...let's go," I said.
Later on that day we sat down for dinner. My dad stood up like normal and began to speak.
"We don't have long. The Gobi Tribe is supposed to be coming to get their people. When they come, I will give them a message. I will tell them that the time of there crime is over. I will tell them that if they want a fight then the Hami tribe is ready."
Several people cheered at that.
"Today we all came together, experience met youth, benders met non-benders. We all worked together and we became stronger. When the Gobi tribe comes they will have to choose. They will have to choose to fight or leave. When they make that choice we will be ready for anything. We will be ready to finally take back civilization. We will be ready to avenge our ancestors and bring justice to the Gobi tribe. It will be hard but we are closer then ever and I know we will get through this and we will prosper. I now call upon the great spirits of this desert to help us with this task. I also thank them for allowing us to live here, and giving us this food to eat."
With that we all started to eat. We had our dinner and dispersed for the evening. I went to my hut and lied down in my bed. I was thinking about everything. My father spoke about the gobi people as if they are animals. But I sat down with one just a few hours ago and I felt like I was talking to a friend. I started to doze off. I slept well for a few hours. It was the first time I had gotten rest in a day or so. I was awoken abruptly in the middle of the night. I could hear the sound of the gong from the watch tower signaling something was going on. People were running out side my hut. I got dressed quickly and ran outside. I could see several torches outside the walls. My father and several other men were standing on the wall yelling at the people beyond it. I could just barely hear what they were saying. "What we did was purely out of defense! You people are criminals and we are putting down the law!" A huge wave of sand erupted from behind the wall and smacked the men down. My father was ling face down on the ground. He got up and yelled.
"For the Hami tribe, ATTACK!"
But he was to late. The Gobi sand benders had made it to the wall and were blasting it down. They were hurling massive sandstones into our wall and onto our huts. One section of the wall had collapsed completely. Huge clouds of dust and sand were expanding from all over. People were running and yelling. I ran towards the back of the tribe to find cover. I could just barely hear over the chaos.
"Mein! Over here!" I ran towards the person yelling.
It was one of the tribes elders. He was in his hut. "Come inside!" he yelled.
I ran inside and looked around.
"Down here!" he said.
He bent the sand to form a tunnel underground. I slid down to find there were several people down below. Mostly women and children. They were all frightened.
"What are you doing!" someone yelled. "You should be fighting!"
I was confused, but they were right. I walked back up to the surface, but as quickly as it had started, it had finished. All the fighting had ended. Several people were injured. The dust had lifted off the tribe. The wall had completely collapsed. I ran to find my dad. I eventually found him. He was with a group of men shouting orders.
"They caught us by surprise! We have to be ready next time," he yelled.
He walked away and I ran after him.
"What was the damage?" I asked.
"They took six of our men. The same amount of people we took from them," he said with clenched teeth.
"Dad. I'm sorry for everything. I shouldn't have yelled at you. I know your under a lot of stress and..." He interrupted me before I could finish.
"Don't be sorry. I should listen to you more. You have grown up so much, I just forget that you are only 14. Ever since your mother died I have struggled with being a single parent. I have had to balance the demands of being Chief with the demands of parenthood, and I am failing at that." He was trembling at the end.
For the first time ever I saw a tear run down his sweaty face and touched his bushy black beard. It dropped and hit the warm desert sand.
"Dad...I don't know what to say"
"You don't have to say anything. Tomorrow I want you to come with me. Just the two of us. I think its time I take on the role of your sand bending master.
I had a look of pure joy on my face. I walked back to my hut, but on the way some thing caught my attention. I felt a object a little ways away in the sand. I walked over and picked the object up. It was a pai sho piece. No one in this tribe plays pai sho except myself and then I remembered what Mina said.
"I have never met another sand bender who plays Pai Sho."
I turned it over and on the back there was something carved into it. It was a picture of a peacock dove. This was Mina's piece, and she was trying to tell me something.
For the collective works of the author, go here.