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|It's All Behind Us|
Even after traveling for days with K'rin, her origins still remain a mystery to them. Meanwhile, Zaheer is endeavoring to understand more about the spirit he encountered several days ago. Anu though has come in contact with an unlikely companion who may be the key to the block on his earthbending.
The skies were painted yellow but waxed in gray. K'rin stood in front of the Earth Queen's temple, alone. The rest of world seemed empty. She turned to see all that surrounded her for a second time, and was surprised as suddenly, from below the horizon, riding the earth, warriors in black and green uniforms, with only their eyes visible, began to stand in lines around K'rin. She was familiar with them in a way, but they were archaic, and so were their outfits. But she was promoted of something. Their eyes were surging with ill intent, and they were fixed on a figurehead. Of course, she thought. The old Dai Li. And almost emphatically, the Dai Li sensed she had come upon realization of who they were, and they broke their lines in an instant, grabbing hold of K'rin before restricting her arms and legs. She herself had just realized she was in a tattered Kyoshi Warrior uniform with empty weapon holsters and nonexistent weapons. Suddenly, out of the silence, birthed a voice which K'rin felt mirrored her own in some form. It was antiquated and stern, but feminine and ethereal. "You. You betrayed us, betrayed me." The voice was followed by Kyoshi Warriors with sadness and anger evident in their eyes. These warriors were a specific few. She recognized them, regardless of their time periods. She recognized warriors only heard of in legends, and even her own friends. A woman with short brown hair, looking as if in her prime stood. Suki, one of the greatest Kyoshi Warriors in history. She saved the Earth Kingdom from total annihilation by helping destroy an entire fleet of Fire Nation blimps. Ty Lee, who introduced chi blocking to the Kyoshi Warriors was there.
Even some of her own friends were there.
Still, the voice came from none of them. They formed a line, concealing whoever was really speaking from eye's view. The voice came again. "You, K'rin. Born to one day lead your warriors and protect the homeland from invaders. You left us alone."
"The current leader, Hou-Sung, forced the Kyoshi Warriors to go back into seclusion after the Hundred Year War and the foundation of Republic City. I wanted to leave because that rule was made ignorantly. Even Suki knew of that. I've spoken with her -"
"And yet her wisdom did not rub off on you. K'rin, you were not born to do what you have done. You have to inherit your birthright."
"And what would that be? I'm no leader."
"But you are," the voice echoed. Her body was finally revealed as she stepped ahead of the Kyoshi Warriors. She was tall and lean with a poised form. Her makeup was done to perfection, and she stood in authority. It was none other than Avatar Kyoshi herself. She continued speaking. "You and I, we were both born to be leaders of these warriors."
"Because you and I are alike in more than a statistical relation. You are my descendant, and one of a few. Sure you and I are not of the same Avatar lineage, but indeed, yours and my blood are partly the same."
K'rin's stomach sank. "You're lying."
"No, I speak of only the truth. K'rin, you may have run away from your future, but your is inescapable, and only will you be able to embrace that you were born to take back the leadership of the Kyoshi Warriors when you return. K'rin, you are not beyond redemption. You must forgive yourself."
K'rin refused to believe this. "This isn't real. You're not real."
But the voice of the female Avatar continued to echo in a faint whisper in K'rin's voice. You cannot run away from this We are the same. We are the same.
"NO, WE ARE NOT!!! GET OUT OF MY HEAD!!!"
K'rin awoke in the darkness. It was not even dawn. She looked to Zaheer and Anu, who she had now been traveling with for days, and still, she addressed the fact they knew almost nothing about her. They were still asleep. The fire had died down. K'rin stood and wiped the sweat off her face, and she wallowed through the density of the forest, tired of constantly having to relive the same nightmare, surprised every time though whenever it recurred. She wanted not to believe the ugly truth, that she might have ties with the Earth Avatar, regardless of the many signs that it was true. She wanted to not to think that she was meant to lead the Kyoshi Warriors. How could she have been placed with such a responsibility. She knew well that she was one of their finest women, but it was all too much to handle.
Many a time, she wanted to run away from Zaheer and Anu. She would think sometimes that not even they could grant her freedom, and all of the endeavors she had to get to them were useless. But no. They were her only chance.
K'rin walked to the edge of the forest, where she saw a lake. She sat beside the lake and stared into her reflection, prompted of her leave from Kyoshi Island. She stood in front of the statue of Kyoshi, wearing her new outfit she had been secretly designing, ready to leave the island and never look back. Hou-Sung had approached her.
"What are you doing, K'rin?" Hou-Sung questioned.
"I'm leaving, Hou-Sung. I'm leaving Kyoshi Island, and I'm not coming back."
"You can't just leave. You have a responsibility to your people."
"No! I have a responsibility to the world. Hou-Sung, I used to thing that Suki was the greatest Kyoshi Warrior that ever lived. Only now do I see that she was wrong to choose you to be her successor. Still though, I have to believe that she was wise."
"Suki was a fool to leave for Republic City. Her only wise decision was choosing me to be the new leader."
"You forced the Kyoshi Warriors into seclusion, and you've forbade us from leaving the homeland!"
"I'm only enforcing the will of Kyoshi herself! Our duty is to the island. Should we leave it, it becomes vulnerable to attackers. I will not allow you to leave!"
"I'm sorry Hou-Sung, but the Earth Queen is destroying our nation! I'm not going to let that happen. It's time to help the Earth Kingdom in prevailing against her."
"I'm sorry, K'rin——"
"No, I'm sorry." I turned from Hou-Sung and started walking away. Suddenly, I could hear metal slashing through the wind, and I cartwheeled while doing a full twist, watching in amazement as a metal fan grazed my cheek. I stood up to see that Hou-Sung was falling from the air, about to plummet over me, I dodged her as she forcefully dropped down, grabbing hold of her right arm and turning her body to the side. I then pushed her out of the way. She charged once more, and I had been unready. She took my arm and bent it into her knee. It felt as though it was no longer movable. "I'm sorry, K'rin, but this is how it has to be," Hou-Sung told me leveling two daggers at my chest and head. The fight continued to grow in intensity, and the townspeople rallied around us, even the Kyoshi Warriors, who didn't know who to route for.
"Give her a right! A right," one of the villagers said.
I had warned K'rin. "We can end this if you just let me go."
"Not a chance," she told me. "You can't be allowed to leave."
"Very well. And even with my arm only slowly regaining feeling, I ran towards her. She threw her daggers at me, but I evaded both of them and lunged towards her. My new outfit allowed more movement, which I took advantage of when chi blocking both her arms. I then through her daggers along the side of the wall and climbed them until I reached the roof of the building. I retook hold of the daggers before jumping off of the roof onto the statue of Kyoshi. I scaled the statue until I reached the shoulder of Kyoshi. I looked down to Hou-Sung. She screamed from below. "You traitor!" I had ignored her and vanished from behind the sculpture, and left Kyoshi Island, unable to look back.
I looked away from my reflection in the water to hear the crackling of leave trudging through the forest. She turned to see Zaheer who wished to sit beside her. "Can I sit?" he asked.
He took a seat on the ground next to K'rin who asked the question, "What is it?"
He answered her, "Well, it's been days and all we know about you is that you came from Kyoshi Island. I mean, we know your name and all, but, we don't know about you."
"Unsatisfied much? I go through all the trouble to bust my butt for you, ad it's still not enough."
"Sorry, so sorry. All I wanted was more clarification. But okay. I mean, I don't even know why you freed us."
"Yet, you follow me blindly. For all you know, I could be a Dai Li agent in disguise. Ha! Well, I'm going back to sleep. Enjoy looking at the river." She walked away, her final words being, "I'm amazed at how you and Anu must have been bored with each other while you were traveling. I mean, I seem to be the only one with secrets around here!" She walked off back to her sleeping bag.
Zaheer answered her bluntly. "Your not the only one with secrets, K'rin." His words seemed to stop her, for a moment at least, but at last, she went back to her sleeping bag, awaiting a long due rest.
Zaheer left K'rin to her business before closing his eyes, and resting his balled fist together in front of him. Almost indefinitely, Zaheer felt a sort of lightness, as if he was no longer in control of that which transpired. Even after so many times, being pulled into the Spirit World by a spirit is always a surprise. Zaheer was proud of himself though, for discovering that if you were to have the spiritual potential, you could be pulled into the Spirit World by a spirit if you tried. Zaheer stood in the heart of a forest along a dirt road which he was led across by Kane a spirit that embodied freedom, his only cage being the Spirit World itself.
There Kane stood, in front of Zaheer, awaiting his return to the Spirit World. "Greetings, master," Zaheer called the spirit.
"For the last time, Zaheer, I'm not your master."
"Yet you refuse to show me who he really is."
"Master is . . . ill . . . well, not exactly on his feet. His trips to the Spirit World are . . . sporadic at best, and his time is limited when he does arrives."
"So, he's not a spirit?"
"No. He's human. A nonbender as a matter of fact, but he and I share common interests. He waits for the solstice, when our realms will be significantly more connected to each other. On that day will you hopefully be able to see him."
The two continued treading the road, Zaheer still wondering. "Well, why do you follow him? I mean you're a spirit of freedom in your own right. Why choose to follow someone and limit your own freedom?"
"Trust me, Zaheer. If you knew him, you'd follow him blindly." Did he just hear what he said?
"Yeah," Zaheer started. "I'll keep you to that."
* * *
Anu have been waving his hands in front of Zaheer who's crisscrossed body intrigued him. "Yeah," he concluded. "He's not waking up." Anu quickly scaled the tree's until getting above their leaves and branches and breathing the fresh air. He loved to feel the wind against his face and the warmth of the sun which sat lazy in time. He began shooting the black crystals from his hands and let them boomerang in the sky until they returned to him. He could so easily manipulate the crystals and even shape them to create constructs. He could feel them everywhere. They rested within every mountain along the skyline, just waiting to be bent. Well, that was every mountain except for one. Anu was intrigued. What made this mountain so special. There was a hollowed out cave within it, which ultimately got the attention of Anu. He crawled through a hole and pressed his hands against the side. Nothing, he thought. Just then, the ground became weak from under him until it gave way. Anu screamed as he fell through a hole in the mountain, down into an inescapable cavern of earth.
Anu woke from unconsciousness, rubbing his full head of hair and looking around. His vision blurred. The cave was dark and inaudible, at least he thought. He could feel the amounts of earth randomly placed, and then he heard a pile being dismantled, and he could feel the presence of a monster approaching him. But unlike the ordinary monster, this one was warm and innocent. Anu focused hard on the creature to see that it had not black, but brown fur, with eyes remote and without colorful pupils. "You're blind," he told the creature. It's large tongue rolled over his face. Anu was utterly disgusted and ready to leave that place. There was only one problem, he had assumed after scouting the area. "How." He turned to see the cryptic animal. "Well, it looks like we're stuck together. Umm, you know a way out of hear. The creature stared dully at him. It then walked right past him. Anu blindly followed. He knew that whenever he spoke, the thing couldn't understand a single word, still, it gave him reassurance that this encounter was real. Not soon after their crawl through the tunnel, they approached a dead end. Anu stood beside the creature. "Sorry little buddy, but there has to be another way." It turned from Anu and lifted its bare brown paw which possessed three appendages with sharp black nails. The creature brought down his paw to the side of his body, and the earth submitted. Now, an entryway was clear as the giant creature had earthbent the wall to the side of the cave. "Of course!" Anu concluded. "You're a badgermole!" The badgermole licked him once more, and this time, Anu licked back at the black nose of the creature. Anu now had the full and undivided attention of the creature. Although Anu may never leave that tunnel, he knew something good would come out of this experience. The creature was obviously good at earthbending. It was the original earthbender. "Look, I know you don't understand me, but with you, I could get rid of the block in my earthbending." The creature had not even singly comprehended Anu. "Okay, let's see. How can I get you to understand me? Ah!" Anu stood to his feet. He took his stance position, his hands loose and his feet only skimming the ground. He then sent his arm flying, and in that entire structure of earth, only a single pebble turned over. The badgermole hissed and spit at the sight of it. He then stood on his hind legs and embraced the ground quickly. He did this a number of times until Anu understood and got into a crawling position. The badgermole motioned for Anu to follow in his pawsteps. Anu understood this and crawled like the badgermole, feeling his connection to the earth strengthening. The badgermole had obviously wanted Anu to know something: if he was to be getting out of that cave, he'd have to do it himself.
K'rin rested on the branches of a tree, looked beyond it to a cloud of stirring dust as someone rode over the earth. She knew that the Dai Li were looking for them, and it wasn't enough that an old and bitter innkeeper was also on their trail. She had not known the danger of her enemy, well, the old one at least. What was his game? What made him any more special than the ordinary order. She knew they would find out soon, and when the time came, she would be ready.
She jumped below the tree branch and began sprinting in the direction of the Dai Li. She was going to handle them herself. She sped past Zaheer and Anu, wherever he was and went far beyond them until the dust clouds ceased, and she was now directly facing six Dai Li agents. One stood up to her and uttered, "Move aside, girl, unless your involved with those fugitives who came this way."
K'rin had her head facing down, concealing her eyes which surged with excitement. She looked up to the agents and answered, "This'll be fun." She dashed forward and jumped high, ready to drop on the one who had questioned her. He fired his glove, as a matter of fact, they all fired their earth gloves at her, and seeming like out of thin air, one of two metal fans slices though every single one. She successfully roped on the Dai Li agent, before turning to her right and attacking. She dodged the attacks they had, and chi blocked another one of them. The remaining four caught the earth and rode around K'rin, encircling her and keeping her unable to escape. They began shooting chunks of earth at her, which she tried dismantling with her fans. They then locked her hands, but the fan was lodged between them. They went for her legs a number of times but she jumped them and used her fan to slice the earth around them. One of them charged at her, she swiftly turned and chi blocked his arm and leg. She turned and kicked at him chi blocking the other side of his body and holding him in front of her. The Dai Li were ready to all at once attack her. She told them, "Ah ah ah, you wouldn't hurt your friend, would you?" The Dai Li lowered their rock gloves and stopped stirring the dirt. They were lost and knew not of what to do. K'rin slowly inched her way towards the Dai Li, thinking there was no way they'd try to attack. She thought wrong. In a total surprise, they sped behind her and together, fettered her arms and legs in earth. She fell to the ground. One stood close to her and told her, "Hmm. No ordinary girl would go through all the trouble to confront the Dai Li when there's no need."
K'rin responded weakly, "Oh c'mon. Do I really need a reason to mess with the Dai Li." The Dai Li wondered if this was really a trick and she knew nothing of the fugitives. Still, they took her captive. They told her, "To confront the Dai Li is a crime on its own. You'll be put right in a cell next to those fugitives." K'rin was smiling though. Even if Zaheer was captured, Anu was out there somewhere . . . lost. And suddenly, she grew nervous.
Zaheer treaded the dirt road that, Kane, his spirit companion, led him on. "So, where exactly are you taking me?"
"Actually, nowhere in particular."
"What! Then why'd you send for me if all we're going to do is walk?"
"Zaheer, continue to follow me, and you'll learn the importance of taking time to admire the Spirit World."
"I do admire the Spirit World. I just don't see the point of doing all this. I mean, if you want me to see your master when the time comes, then shouldn't I be ready?"
Kane fretted in his mind whether it was right to disclose this information, but he then ended up giving in. "Look, I really didn't want to tell you this, where we're going exactly, but yeah, you are extremely impatient. Look, the truth is, we're going to the underground library of Wan Shi Tong?"
"The library of who now?"
"The library of Wan Shi Tong is the most magnificent library in the world, with the knowledge spirit, Wan Shi Tong, as its founder and guardian. If it is freedom you want, Wan Shi Tong and the library is the key."
"I still don't get it though. Why Wan Shi Tong?"
"The library of Wan Shi Tong once rested in your world. But after humans began raiding it and taking advantage of it, he returned it back to the Spirit World through a fissure in the desert. That fissure acts as a passage in between worlds Spirit and Human and is open on one of two days in the year."
"If this spirit sunk his library because of humans, I'm pretty sure he'd hold a grudge against me."
"After he knows why you came here, he'll allow you to search his celestial calendar, the only one in existence. By doing this, perhaps, in time, we'll be able to keep this passage open permanently, but only with Wan Shi Tong's knowledge can we know for sure."
"Kane. You don't understand that I'm in the middle of something. The Dai Li, the people who've been after me, they won't stop hunting us. And I'm sorry, but I can't just drop everything for some spiritual passageway. I'm sorry, but I have problems of my own in my world."
"Oh Zaheer, you can't expect to solve these problems and free yourself without growing in spirituality because it's all about detachment, freeing yourself from the problems of the world. I beg of you, please."
"I'm sorry, Kane, but - " Zaheer was interrupted. Something was wrong. He looked to his hands to see his image was fading in and out. "What, what's happening to me?"
"Your body is in danger, someone's tampering with it."
"Well then I need to get back to it. Help me get out of here!"
"The process of going in and out of the Spirit World has to come naturally. You should have had someone guarding your body, because sometimes, you can't just will yourself out of the Spirit World."
"So when can I get out of here?"
"I don't know."
"You brought me in here. Now get me out!"
"I can't do it on my own," said Kane. "When the time comes, though, I'll know how to get you out of here."
"You know Kane, I thought all this spiritual stuff was good for me, and that your master, was worth. But now I see that maybe I don't even need it! Now I'm figuring this out on my own. Go back to that tree of yours."
Kane turned away from Zaheer, nodding his head in distraught. His hopes for Zaheer had died.
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