|More from Bomochu||Adventure/Drama/Tragedy||PG||None||No update page|
|Visitors from the East|
4 September, 2014
"The great city of Utadano. I was there during the Barbarian Wars, fighting against those who wished to claim this wondrous city. I only hope that from this great city in the north, that both the Southern Earth Kingdom and the North will one day finally be reunited as one nation." –From the Book of Tutorik.
The great councilman of Manirak, warrior, master waterbender, and husband of the beautiful Buniq, sat at his designated spot at their table. Reading through a book that he had picked up from the library detailing the history of Chang the Powerful, a great leader and fire bender during the Shung Bu uprising, he quietly drummed his fingers in perfect timing against the table. His wife was nearly done with the cooking, and the fragrant smells of garlic, honey, lemon, and a variety of others made their way into their dining room.
Buniq was talking to her husband from the cooking pot, and as usual he was in a world of his own. It took five repeats of his name and a gentle touch on his shoulder to finally snap him back to reality, "Onartok, it's ready. You mind clearing the table?" She motioned to the book in his hands.
"Oh, yes... sorry," He apologised. Junetsu wouldn't appreciate if he spilled anything on the books from the library, even though he was one of the few people who read anything from there. The villagers in Manirak just weren't as keen on reading as other activities, and the library was mostly used by the Earth Kingdom delivery service who stopped by every once in a while.
Bringing in the delicious smelling meal, Buniq hummed a soft tune to herself. She had a beautiful singing voice, the soft melodies and tenderness of each note as it passed her lips made Onartok fall in love with her all over again, every time he heard her voice. The bowl was placed in front of the councilman, the succulent bush turkey-gull cooked to perfection, resting on a bed of seaweed noodles and fresh, crisp vegetables. All lavished with a honey and soy sauce which Buniq had learnt to make from her mother. Onartok took one look and knew he had married the right woman, though obviously for more reasons besides her cooking.
The couple paused and thanked the spirits for the food before them, and then started eating. The smells Onartok had caught a whiff of earlier were nothing compared to the actual taste, and with every mouthful he made known how great it was. "Mmmm," He would hum as he ate, and Buniq would look up each time and smile.
After a few more minutes had passed Buniq finished her last mouthful, "I wonder how Keiro's daughters are doing?" She asked rhetorically. "It's good that June has been around to help them. It must be hard."
Onartok finished his meal with one last slurp, "I'm sure they will be fine. Their father taught them well, even going against the traditions of our tribe."
Buniq frowned, her pale blue eyes reflecting her disapproval of Onartok's comment, "Dear, don't say that. I know you two weren't exactly friends but still, they must be hurting."
"What?" Onartok quizzed defensively, "Of course I know they are hurting, even I find it hard to believe that Keiro is no longer with us. In some ways I do miss the old fool too," he replied, his expression much more saddened. "I just hope he hasn't started a trend with his eldest daughter; women who defy our tribes traditions."
His wife rolled her eyes and proceeded to collect the bowls. "I've heard this before Onartok," She said with an exasperated voice.
Onartok didn't seem to pick up on the cue, "Well, do you see Tui taking on the responsibilities of La? Does the moon decide one day to tell the ocean that she can also provide food, and seas, and life just like La does? No, Tui does what she needs to and La does what he needs to. In the same way our men learn how to waterbend and our women how to heal. It makes sense..." Buniq had already stopped listening to him and began to wash the dishes.
Realising his mistake, Onartok stopped and knelt down next to his wife, who was washing the dishes in a bucket of water. "I'm sorry, thank you for the lunch. It was absolutely delicious and perfectly cooked," He then leant in and kissed her on the cheek. Buniq smiled and kissed him back, their lips pressed together while she stoked his sideburns until she reached his beard. After they pulled away the couple gazed into each other's eyes for a moment, Onartok holding his wife's hand in his.
A knock at their front door interrupted them, and Onartok stood up and walked over. Chief Iluliaq was the visitor, along with two other council members, Tookha and Noarah. Although slightly surprised, Onartok smiled and welcomed the visitors, "Chief Iluliaq, Tookha and Noarah, nice to see you. Buniq has just cooked us lunch, though I'm sure there are some left overs."
Smiling, the old chief raised his hand, "Thank you Onartok, that's very kind of you. But we aren't here to stay."
Onartok looked a little confused, and Tookha provided an explanation, "We have some visitors from Utadano who just arrived a few minutes ago."
"But the next supply shipment isn't for another week?" Onartok quizzed.
Iluliaq narrowed his eyes, "They're not here for supplies. It is best that you come with us and not tell anyone else just yet about their visit."
Nodding to his chief, Onartok walked back inside and grabbed his jacket, exchanging a worried look with Buniq. The only time anyone from Utadano would visit was when they traded supplies with Manirak. They would spend a day or two here, staying at the inn, visiting the library or doing anything else Manirak had to offer before leaving with the supplies Manirak had paid them. They would never turn up a week before a shipment, or at any other time. Once he had his jacket on, Onartok closed the door to his home and followed the others.
The chief led the others to the defence building in the southeast. The southern and south western borders or Manirak were covered with the expanse of alpine trees, and the logging plant also served as a defensive building on that side. The only other area to defend was the southeast, which was why this building had been constructed here. There was a tall watch tower which marked the border of Manirak, and was often manned by a group of guards. Just before the tower were the barracks and meeting room, where the leaders would usually meet with the suppliers from Utadano. As they advanced towards the meeting room, Onartok noticed the five ostrich-horses in the animal pen. Instead of the carriage they would normally be pulling for supplies, these animals were clothed in gold-trimmed emerald coloured armour, classic Utadano colours. These visitors they were about to meet were soldiers.
Once the chief opened the door, the other council members followed him in. The room was quite large, and the walls lined with decorative weaponry. There were five Utadano soldiers, and four of them stood near the other entrance opposite them, their wide brimmed hats covering their faces, while the other, presumably their commanding officer, was seated at the table with his hat laid on the floor next to his cushion. The last council member and waterbending teacher for Manirak, Kesaq, was already seated at the table. At each seating space a teacup had been placed, and the smell of jasmine and other herbs wafted from the pot in the centre of the table.
The leader of the Utadano soldiers placed his fist into his other opened hand, and bowed to his hosts. "It is a privilege to meet with you men, the entire council of Manirak village. I am General Huode." Once he raised his head again Onartok began to recognise him. His pale greenish-grey eyes, his goatee, his long mustache neatly organised into two strands with green bands near the tips. This man was Huode, a minister of foreign affairs and a general in the Utadano military. He had accompanied the supply crew a few times on their visits to Manirak, though Onartok didn't know him well.
Huode's introduction had elicited a cynical grunt from Kesaq. Onartok glanced in his fellow councilman's direction, wondering why he would respond that way. Kesaq had been here waiting for Iluliaq to gather the others, so perhaps the Utadano soldiers had informed him of their reasons for visiting already.
Chief Iluliaq nodded out of respect as well, "It is also our privilege to meet with such an esteemed guest. Is it true that you are in charge of much of Utadano's military?"
"Indeed, though I can't take all the credit," Huode laughed, "Admiral Akumah taught me about military strategies and battle tactics when I was just an earthbending foreign affairs minister, so I owe a lot to him. He's also nearly six years younger than I am," The general laughed loudly again, this time more obnoxious than before. "He's also my superior, but this message I bring you comes from his mouth and with the authority of King Songshou of Utadano himself."
The chief smiled politely and leaned his walking staff against the wall behind him. Tookha and Noarah sat in the two seats in between Kesaq and Iluliaq, and Onartok took the last seat on their side. The whole Manirak council sat opposite the visitors from the east, with Iluliaq directly opposite Huode.
"We have a proposal," Huode began, though was interrupted by another laugh from Kesaq.
"Chief Iluliaq," Kesaq interrupted, "May I suggest that we throw these despicable men out of our village, and send them on their merry way without letting them utter another word?" He leaned over the table and drilled the general with his stare, his teeth clenching, "How dare you fiends come here onto our land and demand such requests of us!" He hissed at them.
The old chief raised his hand, looking in the direction of his fellow angered councilman, "That's enough Kesaq. Although you have heard already, we have yet to hear this man's proposition, and we can at least let him have that." Iluliaq turned back to his guest, "Though I do warn you General Huode to choose your next words carefully, as if they have already upset councilman Kesaq over here than it is likely they will upset all of us," He responded sternly.
Huode chuckled a little, "Of course, and might I add that this doesn't have to be such a problem. We are perfectly happy to..." The general paused as if he had taken Iluliaq's warning seriously, "...Resolve this situation peacefully."
"What kind of proposal also comes with a threat if we don't comply?" Kesaq questioned, his voice bitter. Despite interrupting General Huode again, Iluliaq made no comment to settle the other councilman this time.
General Huode sighed, "You have hopefully all heard of the war between the Northern and Southern Earth Kingdoms and how it was gone on for a long time, even before the Barbarian Wars of Avatar Furuki's time," It was typical for people to use the Avatar's lifetime as a descriptor of a time period, especially when that Avatar was from the same nation as the one using it. "This war is becoming increasingly damaging to both sides; we have lost many soldiers, some of our villages near the border have been attacked, and our resources are running thin. And we suspect that the same has been happening to the Southern Earth Kingdom, since we have heard rumors that they have been turning to other nations for aid."
"Well," Onartok interrupted, "They did build their capital Sha Yao in the middle of a desert, so I suppose they would be short on supplies."
The general laughed, "You are right, and due to this an attack on their capital should have been successful," His smile finally faded, and formed a much more serious expression, "So why is it that they are so powerful and seem to defend every attack we throw their way?" At least one of the councilmen were thinking of responding with some smart comment, like perhaps it was the lack of skill of Utadano's military that caused them to lose, but Huode didn't give them the chance, "It is because they are receiving help from others. There are at least five major cities in the south, and we believe that the Southern Earth Kingdom have made alliances with all of them."
"Excuse me for my interruption," Onartok apologised, "But we know about this war between the two Earth Kingdoms. Why does it concern us?"
"Straight to the point I see," General Huode smiled. "Our proposal is to unite the entire northern hemisphere into a coalition under Utadano's rule," Gasps surfaced from the other councilmen, while Kesaq continued to glare at the general as he continued, "We propose that all the cities and villages of the north unite and pool our armies and resources together to stop this threat."
"But there are so many cities in the North," Onartok commented. "The Northern Water Tribe, us here in Manirak Village, the Northern and Western Air Temples, and all the other Earth Kingdom villages which are not part of Utadano's rule yet."
"Many of the Earth Kingdom villages have joined, "Huode answered, "But the Western Air Nomads have decided to remain neutral in this war, as has the Fire Nation, and these two nations have joined their own coalition. Regrettably, the Northern Air Nomads have made themselves enemies of everyone, and refused to join either side after we visited them with this proposal. That leaves Manirak and the Northern Water Tribe as our last option."
Onartok seemed to be becoming the spokesperson for the council. He leaned in closer to the general, "It seems to me that this war, which should only be between the two nations in disharmony, is turning the other nations against each other. The Air Nomads are meant to be a peaceful and united nation, yet you would have them separate themselves into different sides of a war which they shouldn't even have to be a part of?" He challenged angrily.
General Huode answered with his own angry response, "It was not our choice for Jing Xuan, King of the Southern Earth Kingdom, to force the Eastern Air Nomads into a partnership with them. But our King Songshou of Utadano has made this choice in response to what our enemies have decided to do; our enemies have forced the Eastern Air Nomads to help, so we in turn are seeking aid from those around us," The general finished, his pale eyes fighting back Onartok's words.
"I find it hard to believe that the Eastern Air Nomads would be involved with a war," Tookha stated in reply, his expression much calmer than the other councilmen.
"There were forced to," Huode shot back. "They were offered a choice; they could take a non-violent role in supplying the Southern Earth Kingdom with islands from their archipelago, and helping them manufacture weaponry, or become their enemies. I thought you said you knew about this war?" The General glared at Onartok, who made no reply. "Anyway, we decided to contact the Northern Air Nomads giving them the same proposition as we give to you, but instead they chose to make themselves enemies of the Northern Earth Kingdom. This then split the Air Nomads into those who wanted to remain neutral and those who wanted to help the Northern Air Nomads keep their temple independent from Utadano's leadership. We haven't heard anything from the Southern Air Temple, except that they have tried to stay out of the war like the Western Temple. We believe this could be due to one of these temples harbouring the next Avatar."
"The Avatar? You mean Avatar Furuki's successor has been found?" Iluliaq seemed more interested in this Avatar than the war between the Earth Kingdoms.
General Huode nodded, "Yes. It has been sixteen years since Furuki died has it not? So it stands to reason that his spirit has been reincarnated into another. It is based on much speculation, but that is one reason why we believe the Western Air Temple have aligned with the Fire Nation, since the new Avatar has been born from this nation, and given that he would be old enough to begin his training he could be learning to master airbending, the second bending discipline for this Avatar to learn," The general lifted his hand and shook his head, "But that is beside the point. The point is that we, the Northern Earth Kingdom, are up against not only the Southern Earth Kingdom but also the Eastern Air Temple, and perhaps other nations we have yet to find out are allied with the Southern Earth Kingdom. And this is where you come in."
"So let me summarize," Onartok spoke, his eyes narrowing as he grew more suspicious with the claims of these Utadano soldiers, "The Northern Earth Kingdom is fighting the Southern Earth Kingdom, who are allied with the Eastern Air Nomads. The other Air Nomads have split apart, the Northern Temple being allied only with themselves, the Western with the Fire Nation, and the Southern we are not sure about?"
"That is correct," Huode answered. "All that's left are the Water Tribes."
Onartok stroked his beard, "But I still find it hard to believe that the Air Nomads would just abandon each other. Yes, they live in Temples far away from each other, but they are still a nation that strives for harmony, peace, and unity."
"Well, the other Air Nomads do not have as much reason to engage in this war as the Northern Air Nomads do," The general answered, his arms gesturing as he explained, "The other Air Temples have their own archipelago's, and so for them to pull out of the war is no big deal as the war is not being fought on their homeland, except for the Eastern Air Nomads who have been forced into this war. But for the Northern Air Nomads, their temple is the only one to be situated on the mainland, and so if a war did break out it could very well reach their borders. But the main wedge that was driven between the Air Nomads happened when the Western Air Nomads offered the Northern Air Nomads a home near their temple, and asked them to leave their temple to avoid being part of this war. Of course they declined, and now as far as we know the two temples have lost contact with each other." Huode shrugged, "Don't those Airheads believe that 'Possessions are an illusion' or some strange philosophy like that? That's why the Northern Air Nomads were expected to just leave everything behind, and it was a surprise to the others when a small group of them didn't leave."
"The Air Nomads do teach many wise proverbs regarding worldly possessions," Iluliaq stated, "Though I have never heard of that before General Huode."
The general was clearly annoyed that he had been corrected by the chief. But his arrogant smile soon returned, just in time for Onartok to quiz him further, "So now we know how the Air Nomads have separated. But there's still one unanswered question."
Huode chuckled, "Really? You seem to have quizzed us like an investigator of a crime scene."
"Quite fitting really," mumbled Kesaq from the other end of the table, still refusing to lift his glare from the general.
Onartok looked General Huode in his eyes, "What was so bad about your proposal that caused the Northern Air Nomads to become your enemies?"
General Huode didn't immediately answer his question. He breathed loudly while leaning back, and once he had relaxed after doing so, the Utadano general looked back into Onartok's blue eyes. "Their decision to become our enemy was not made by them, but by us. We declared war on them, since they refused our proposal." He concluded with a wicked smile, even more menacing than before.
Even the other councilmen who had remained fairly calm this entire time couldn't help but react to his statement. Did Utadano really possess that kind of power to make enemies with entire nations? Noarah finally spoke up, his voice rising, "And will you do the same to us? If we refuse your proposal will you make us your enemy?"
"That was the threat I mentioned earlier," Kesaq answered his fellow councilman. "These devils will declare war on us if we refuse to help them."
"Kesaq, was it?" The general attacked the councilman with his pale green eyes, "We did give you some of the details of our proposition while we were waiting for the other councilmen to arrive, but by no means was it extensive," He leant in, staring down Kesaq until he was sure he could silence him, "So how about you pipe down until you have actually heard what we have to offer." Kesaq looked a little shaken by Huode's response, but still maintained his furious stare.
"There's no need for bickering," The old chief tried to defuse the tension. "But what exactly do you want from us, General Huode? We already have a partnership with you; we supply wood and foods, and you supply us with other essential items."
"To put it bluntly, this arrangement that we have with your village has always been heavily one-sided," After he had said this some of the other councilmen looked rather offended, and even more angry than before. Huode took no notice however and continued, "The wood supplies have been a blessing, but everything which you can offer us can be found in our own kingdom. We have wood and food of our own."
Tookha frowned, "La has blessed us with the ocean, and in it an abundance of life for us to use as for our own life, nothing like any other food source."
General Huode almost rolled his eyes at the mention of the spirits. "While that may be true, we are not after your food supplies or any other kind of supplement." He paused a moment, stroking his chin and goatee before he resumed, "Have you ever wondered what a healer would be like in an infirmary?" Huode asked the councilmen. "You do teach your women how to use healing, don't you? Your warriors are also notorious for being fearless, and well trained. To win this war will take more than just large shipments of supplies. We want your soldiers, your waterbenders, your healers, and we want them to join us in this war."
Onartok slammed his fist on the table, "And so if we refuse you will wage war on us as well?" He looked up and stared at the general before him, "You already have the entire Southern Earth Kingdom as your enemy, and now the Northern Air Nomads, so I don't think you are in a position to be making such threats against us."
A sinister laugh made its way from the general's mouth, "Do you realize who you are dealing with? We don't need you to win this war. We don't need anyone else to win this war. We, Utadano, are the largest and strongest civilization that this world has ever seen." The others looked confused at his claims. Why was he here if he believed that Utadano and the rest of the Northern Earth Kingdom needed no help to win the war? "But to do so would completely ruin our entire kingdom," Huode explained. "Young children would be forced into our armies to try and make up for the lack of soldiers. Untrained civilians would be needed to enter the war. There would be much bloodshed, hundreds, even thousands would die. But we would still win; there is none like our great Utadano. But both the Northern and Southern Earth Kingdoms would be decimated, and so any nation could simply stroll into our territory and take whatever they want." General Huode held his arms out as he continued, "But our glorious King Songshou has the future in mind; although we could win this war on our own we would be reduced to virtually nothing. But he sees a great vision for the world. A great nation which would rise from the ashes of war. This coalition that we plan to form with the entire northern hemisphere is not temporary, but permanent. We plan to rise as a grand empire, a kingdom of at least three different nations; the Water Tribes, Earth Kingdom, and the Air Nomads. Can you see it too? A prosperous and glorious nation led by the grand city of Utadano as its leader. And we are offering you peasants the chance to be a part of this."
"Is that extreme patriotism or blind ignorance that spills from your mouth?" Onartok replied. This whole thing sounded insane. There was no way that Utadano was strong enough to take on the whole world. "We may have increased our supplies given to you, or even sent some of our own to help out and fight in your war. But the fact that you now want us to permanently join your new 'empire', abandoning our own nation, the Northern Water Tribe, and then become a pawn in your war is something we will not do!" As he finished the other councilmen nodded and chimed in agreement. "And the fact that you are threatening us to comply with your demands is outrageous. Do you take us for fools?"
General Huode seemed to ignore Onartok's outburst, "Utadano will become the capitol of this empire, and through us all resources will be given out judiciously to the other cities that are a part of our empire." More outraged sounds and disapproving faces surfaced after he had said this. Huode shrugged, "Well, we need a head to this body of an empire we wish to create, especially since we are at war with another monster of an empire."
"We are perfectly capable of managing our own resources thank you very much," Even Iluliaq appeared quite angry now, his eyebrows furrowed and a grimace across his face. "We and the Northern Water Tribe. And as for joining your cause I seem to find myself agreeing with Onartok over here. We are not without heart, and may have helped you even a small amount, but to think you would treat us as your subordinates and make demands of us which we clearly are not able to fulfill."
The Utadano general was visually becoming more frustrated with these councilmen. After rubbing his eyes and pausing a moment, he glared straight in Onartok's direction, "You owe us. Your village rests on Northern Earth Kingdom soil."
That was the last straw for Onartok. He stood up abruptly, bumping the table and spilling some of the tea cups on top which no one had had a chance to drink from yet. He drilled the general with his eyes. "How dare you say that! You know very well how Manirak came to be where it is," As he yelled he pointed his index finger at Huode as if it were a dagger, "Our forefathers long ago watched from the North Pole and the oceans. They saw the mainland expanding with the coasts of ice forming along the northern border. They watched this happen for many, many years, and took this as a sign from the spirits that a prosperous village should be built here. And the Northern Water Tribe has been blessed ever since!" Iluliaq had to stand up as well, just so he could place an arm on Onartok's shoulder to calm him. "Our village has been predestined by the spirits themselves and we are not on your land!"
General Huode wiped his cuffs with the cloth that had been provided, the spilled tea having made its way over to their side before Huode had time to move. "While it is... Somewhat admirable, though very ignorant and primitive that you would place such emphasis on the spirits in your village, I live in a world of reality. Where bisento clashes with the sword. Spear against shields. Earthbender against Earthbender. Iron against flesh. I live in a world where nothing is unseen and mystical but what we see in front of us, in this war, is what we must devote ourselves to. We will defeat our enemies in the south; we are already working to unite all of the other villages in the north and even that in itself is a more formidable force than any other in this world. And as you are one of these villages on our northern continent, we expect you to join us in our vision."
Despite the fact he was still raging with fury, Onartok had managed to compose himself a little. He sat back down at his seat, though he revealed to the Utadano soldiers his true feelings through his enraged facial expressions, "So what are they specifics of this proposal?" He asked irritably.
The general held three fingers out as he replied, "Three weeks. You have three weeks to meet our demands, at the end of which we will give you two options," After his moment of anger before, his proud grin full of evil and malice slowly revealed itself once more. "The first week you will organize you soldiers. Send word to the Northern Water Tribe if you have to, but we expect you to gather all able bodied men and skilled healers at your village. The next two weeks you will train them extensively, honing their abilities and teaching them how to survive in a war. Then at the end of the third week we will return to collect them, and turn the tides of this war in our favor."
Huode stood up, picking up his hat from the floor, "We will return in three weeks. And if we do not see an able bodied army trained and willing to go to war, and the great flags of Utadano perched on your highest buildings and waving so high in the air that those foolish Airheads in the north can see them, than we will be forced to crush you." He finished his words with a menacing tone to his voice, a look of dominance and evil flashing in his pale green eyes. Two of the guards opened the door on the general's side, letting some of the cold air outside enter the room, sending chills up everyone's spines.
"Hold on a moment," The chief stopped General Huode, "You said that you would give us two options at the end of the three weeks." Illuliaq stood up and faced the general. "What is our second option?"
The general smiled, almost laughing at the question, "It is the same proposition that we gave the Air Nomads in the North. If you choose to not join us, than we will allow you to vacate your entire village within the three weeks, taking nothing with you." All the councilmen lept up at this statement, furious expressions on their faces and angry sneers and grunts escaping their mouths. The general ignored the rising tension and continued, "Well, if you are not willing to be part of our future empire than you have no place occupying our land."
Onartok took a few more steps towards Huode, his fingers curling into a clenched fist. "And how do you expect us to train and give you an entire army in three weeks?" His words were hot with enmity, so much that they came out like a steaming whisper. "You've really made this difficult for us, haven't you? It is near impossible to meet your demands in such a small space of time, and if we choose not to - which we most certainly will - than you threaten to destroy us?"
"Do not fear," The general began, "I hear you have the spirits to help you," a sinister chuckle burst forth from his lips, and the general turned around to leave. Though he wasn't finished yet, "I also hear that there is someone unusual in your tribe," He paused in the doorway, turning his head back slightly to the councilmen. "A girl who has been possessed by spirits and given terrifying powers so I hear. She is able to move another's body at will, and possess dangerous animals and force them to become her servants. She goes by the name of... Hmm, what was it? Spirit of the North maybe?"
Chief Iluliaq decided to correct him, "There is a girl named Miki, who possesses such powers. Though over the years she became known as the 'Hooded-She Spirit' by outsiders and many in our village," The chief replied, his eyes still cold and sharp like shards of ice.
General Huode nodded, "Personally I like the name I suggested better. Rolls off the tongue," He smirked, turning to leave again. "Someone like her would make a great addition to our growing forces. I expect to see her on the frontlines." He called back to them. Three of the soldiers filed out into the snow before him, while the other two waited for their leader to make his way down the steps. But before the doors were closed, Huode made one last remark, "Avatar Furuki once believed in our cause, and so did his good friend, Tutorik. They hoped that one day Utadano would rise up and unite the whole Earth Kingdom into one nation, providing a world of peace and free from war. If our cause was once good enough and reasonable enough for the Avatar, than I expect it is good enough for you savages too." He didn't wait for a response from the councilmen. The other two soldiers filed out, closing the doors on their side, and the sound of squealing ostrich horses being mounted could be heard a few seconds later.
There was at least two or three minutes of silence before any of the council members said anything. So much had happened in such a small space of time. The leaders had found out that the whole world was being dragged into this ongoing war between the Earth Kingdoms, including their own village. Onartok swept his hands through his hair, all the way to his wolf's tail at the back of his head, playing through the different options in his mind.
Kesaq finally broke the silence, "They won't get away with this," He threatened. "They can't afford to attack us. It must be a bluff; they would never wage war against us knowing that our northern capital would strike them down."
"Utadano has always been a prosperous and powerful nation," Iluliaq began, "And the largest this world has ever seen. Unfortunately I do believe that they possess that kind of power to make enemies of other nations besides the Southern Earth Kingdom."
"But there's still something they're not telling us," Onartok joined in. "There must be another reason Utadano would want to take us out."
"They never said they wanted to destroy us, but they did want us to join them in this 'empire' of theirs," Tookha stated.
Onartok turned to his fellow councilman, "But come on, do you really think they want us to be part of their empire? They gave us only three weeks to assemble an army knowing that such a feat is next to impossible. It takes months, even years of training for a waterbender or healer to learn the basics of their disciplines, and Huode expects us to train every one of them in three weeks' time? And remember what Huode said about how they believe Manirak rests on their soil? What if this is just a way for them to take us out?"
Noarah finally broke his silence, "But perhaps they are just misguided; you heard all he said about Avatar Furuki approving of their cause. Maybe the short time period is only due to the fact that they need an army soon, and they do want us to become part of their empire as they believe that the Avatar would approve of this."
Onartok said nothing in reply, but faced the wooden boards below him. Something didn't add up. Why would Utadano be so hell-bent on getting rid of Manirak? He ran his hands through his hair once again, unable to extinguish his gut feeling that something was missing.
"They do have a motive for wanting our demise," Kesaq blurted, almost as if he had somehow heard Onartok's internal questions. "They may blame us for the Barbarian Wars only a few decades ago."
Tookha and Noarah both exchanged quizzical glances with Kesaq, prompting him to expand, "The Barbarians were once criminals from the Northern Water Tribe who were exiled. That's how they came to be the wandering clans of savages they are now. And since Utadano were attacked by them maybe the blame us for not imprisoning these criminals hundreds of years ago instead of exiling them?"
It was a bit of a stretch, but at least some of the other councilmen where thinking along similar lines to Onartok. Chief Iluliaq grabbed onto his walking staff which helped him stand up. The other councilmen followed suit, and Iluliaq addressed all of them, "Whatever the reason, we must respond as we always have. We will hold an emergency tribe meeting tonight, and put it to a vote. Tookha, Noarah," He motioned to the two councilmen, "Spread the word through the village that there will be a meeting tonight after sundown in the meeting hall. Do not panic people by telling them what the meeting is about, but only give enough details as necessary." Tookha and Noarah left quickly.
"So it seems we have three options," Onartok suggested, the other two remaining councilmen moving over to him. "We can try and meet their demands, and join in their war. We can refuse to join in the war, and vacate our village. Or, we can stay put and fight these bastards till the bitter end."
"It seems that whatever we do there will be fighting," The old chief pondered, his hand on his chin stroking his long beard. "But there is one other option that was not discussed in the meeting. Though I do not think you will like it very much Onartok."
|Spirit of the North|
|• Chapter 1 - Manirak • Chapter 2 - Memories • Chapter 3 - The Librarian • Chapter 4 - Liberation • Chapter 5 - Guilt • Chapter 6 - A Final Goodbye • Chapter 7 - Reconnection • Chapter 8 - Visitors from the East • Chapter 9 - Avatar • Chapter 10 - The Dream that Led to a Journey • Chapter 11 - Promise • Chapter 12 - The Vote • Chapter 13 - Unspoken Desires • Chapter 14 - Beyond the Borders • Chapter 15 - Foreseer of Futures • Chapter 16 - The Warrior Within • Chapter 17 - First Blood • Chapter 18 - Victories and Defeats • Chapter 19 - Secrets of the Book • Chapter 20 - Entering the Earth Kingdom• Chapter 21 - The Dream Nobody Thought Would Come True • Chapter 22 - The Great River City: Part 1 • Chapter 23 - The Great River City: Part 2|
For the collective works of the author, go here.