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One: Mel of the Earth Kingdom
This is the fifth chapter of Book One: Mel of the Earth Kingdom. It tells of Mel's past. It is told from his perspective.
The map Yangchen gave me was a curious one – it had no split regions and seemed older than Avatar Korra. She was quite sure that it was accurate, but there was no explanation why, much less did she tell me who it was that she had acquired it from. So you could view my situation as this – a desperate man going after some heatbending teacher, female according to one of my previous reincarnations, that I knew nothing of, but that she was skilled enough to extend her bending beyond just fire. Now I was truly hoping that all the direction I had was accurate, because it was nothing more than that that I could do. And if it was not accurate, I would be stuck in extremely dangerous Fire Nation territory, for all the Air temples were well put to use, being recreated into factories. That would be because I had no money to pay the ship I had hired to wait for me. The ships were getting quite expensive these days, with the war and all. But for me this ship didn't just remind me of those fifty gold pieces I would owe after reaching the Air temple, but also of my dear father, ex-admiral. He held that post until the very day of his... end.
My father was a great many, a true man, a brave man. He cared much about me and my mother, and he provided us with everything, being an admiral. My mother, being Toph Beifong's granddaughter, was a famous teacher in the land, but when she married my father, she quit her job and had enough time to train me. Earth came naturally to me. I found it still and reliable – I loved it.
But all happy days meet their end. Mine, being far too happy, ended in a single day. Just to image that everything I knew, everything I loved, I had lost in that one single day. And to think that that was the day my father came back... or was delivered back. He was brought to us in a sack, cut into pieces. My mother saw him first; I witnessed it long after her. After she was dead, too.
She ran out of the back door, through the yard and her garden of flowers. I followed her, for I had never seen her crying before, much less step on her precious flowers. She ran fast, but I was catching up. She led me to the famous Blue Spider-snake cliff, where the seas meet the Earth Kingdom near our village. It was a curious place to run to when so upset, but I did not know what the package had contained, so I did not know of what was to come.
"Mom!" I yelled. "Why'd you come here?"
"I'm sorry," she said. "I love you. Never forget it."
I was confused. Why did she sound like she was saying farewell? It was all going to be fine. Why would she say that? Maybe it was the flowers she was grieving over. She was very strict about no one stepping on them, but she had never seemed this distraught. I should have known...
It took her less than a single second to make that forty degree tilt that took her down faster than my legs could run and my arms could reach.
I ran toward the cliff, and, without thinking, bended a bed of rocks on which she would fall on. I was hoping it was just a test. She was checking my earthbending skills, right? But if it was, I never learned, for it was the last time I ever saw my mother.
Everything began changing after I discovered that I was he Avatar. It was a good feeling at first, but I got to taste the bitterness of it very soon. It took just another day for the newspaper to persuade the entire town that I was a failure. And to think that I had worked so hard for the last three years, yet all it took was having "Avatar Mel a Fail?" on the front cover and have the subtitle of "Republic City and the Northern Water Tribe conquered!".
Thinking back I cannot remember a single case in which I had felt happy, and the feeling wasn't ruined. But now there was the hope of finding that teacher and mastering—
"Sir," interrupted my guard (he and the rest of the crew were masters of ruining the nice few minutes I had by myself). "A Fire Navy ship is coming our way. It seems to be from the older fleet."
So the Fire Nation was plotting to use their old ships, too? That made sense – unite both the new and the old navy and invade the Southern Water Tribe. There was no way that the tribe could survive the mutual attack.
"Interrogate the ship," I said. "Then sink it."
Attacking one ship wasn't too big of a deal; we could handle it. Plus, if it would reveal the plans of Fire Nation, it was quite worth it.
"Yes, sir," answered the guard.
I closed my eyes and entered a meditation position and relaxed my body. A couple of minutes later, I heard a clicking noise. It was a peculiar sound, for it was not a chain, yet it was a familiar sound with no visual in my mind for it. And then I came to the realization that it was the catapult. Had they truly interrogated the ship so fast? I did have a very decent crew indeed. But I still did not trust my belief, that they did quite that good of a job that I decided to check. It couldn't hurt.
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