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|Myths and Omens|
Sand and Steel
October 16, 2012
Centuries ago, the world changed with the Hundred Year War. The Air Nomads were wiped out, leaving only the Avatar, Aang. The Fire Nation brought war for a hundred years until Aang defeated the Fire Lord. He and the new Fire Lord helped create a new nation centered around Republic City, a metropolis of both technology and culture. Aang and his successor, Korra kept balance in the world while also aiding the new Republic City. Peace has come to the world again. But peace is an illusion the new Avatar cannot afford. With Korra's inevitable passing, the new Avatar has cycled into the Earth Kingdom born into a girl named Tala.
Chapter 9: Myths and Omens
Snow was pouring on the lands. From the tip of the Southlands, to the Coastlands, to Ba Sing Se. Too much snow, people hid in their homes and the war across the Earth Kingdom was on hold. This was a colder time than most, so cold that the planes couldn't run without fuel freezing. So cold that no one wanted to move. So cold.
Tala stood out in the open square practicing her elements. She bent her arms and angled them up. She curled one up to the opposite shoulder and mirrored the action with the other arm. The two digits of each hand met and separated, raw energy escaped into the sky, forking out into the clouds.
"Tala! What are you doing?!" Hava came from the Nomad's enclave. He was dressed for winter but not nearly as thick as most residents.
"Practicing, I haven't generated or redirected lightning in so long, I had almost forgotten."
"Now is not the time for a refresher course for such a technique. Anything could happen with such a powerful ability."
"But I can feel something. Something more than just lightning, but its just beyond my reach." She prepared her stance again, "If I can just get to the right level I think I can-"
A hand grabbed her wrist, preventing her from continuing her form, "That's enough, Tala. Firing lightning into a snowstorm can have unforeseen consequences." It was Grand Lotus Kuel who spoke.
"But I need more. I'm not powerful enough to fight our enemies."
Kuel put a reassuring hand on her shoulder, "In time, you will be more powerful than all of us, even this Black Dragon omen you believe in." He led her back into the warmth of the palace.
Musings of a Dragon
A lone man stood out in the snow as the soldiers kept warm by fires and heaters. He wore only the most common of ceremonial robes, though its base color was black instead of red. The reflection of the sun in the snow made the gold lining appear white. He saw lightning strike in the city, but it didn't come from the sky.
A massive man approached, "Honestly, does nothing affect you? Its cold enough to freeze a man solid out here."
"Go inside Kuir, its too cold out here."
"I'm properly clothed." He gestured to his winter gear, "You are not."
"There is more than flame to keep warm."
Kuir looked to the city as the Black Dragon did, "You know its soon. We could lose secure emplacements across the land. Republic City is still in a state of guerrilla war, without a key part of our force, we may even lose that and this siege."
"All the preparations have been made for the eclipse."
"Really? Even for you? You'll be powerless."
"No warrior studies only one art."
"Ha! I guess you're right."
Tala wove through the offices reaching her destination. She knocked on the door, "Come in."
Tala entered, Kuel looked up from some scrolls and other paperwork. "Ah, Avatar, how can I help you."
"I wanted to ask you about something you said to me before."
"I apologize if I was blunt but practicing that technique in a storm is dangerous."
"No, something else. You said that I believed in a dragon omen?"
"Ah yes. You and Hava seem to buy into that superstition about the skin of dragons, right?"
"No, that's the thing, I don't. Its just that between my visions and everything I hear, this Black Dragon is behind the war."
"Well, this man is smart. He chose a symbol of unspeakable power as the inspiration of his name to bring fear to any who know its history."
"And what's that history?"
"Its a long story"
Tala sat down, "I have time."
Kuel sighed, "As you know, Dragons are rare now, only some dozens of them left. But when they prospered, there were rumors of more than your common red and blue dragons."
"Personally, I think it was just blue dragons seen in a dark night mistaken. But the myth holds that the Black Dragon is no ordinary dragon. They are rare, one in centuries at best. They are believed to be spirits taking a dragon's form and an omen for great change."
Tala spoke up, "Why?"
"Rumor is that the first Black Dragon taught men to firebend and that another told the Fire Sages to leave for new lands. Both events greatly changed the history of the world. Men learned firebending and the Fire Sages left to found the Fire Nation."
"So that's why the Black Dragon is revered?"
"And feared, yes. But its not the only instance of their supposed appearance. Several civil wars cite that they were started because a Black Dragon told them to. Most had confessed in later years this was false, others succeeded and held to their claims."
"How many times has the Black Dragon appeared in Fire Nation History?"
"I'm not absolutely sure, I was raised in Republic City. But I believe it was twelve claims and five that have yet to be proven true or false."
Tala felt there was more, "Is there anything else you may know?"
"A Black Dragon hasn't been seen in over ten generations. The superstitious believe that would mean one is destined to return."
"What makes a Black Dragon so different from any other dragon?"
"Dragons while isolated are said to be a tough but communal race. They will teach to your level and converse with you as they judge worthy. But Black Dragons are different. Unless they will it so, they live in seclusion, killing any who trespass. If they deem you worthy of their knowledge, they give you everything, all they know, not just the meaning of firebending, but its peak. Its claimed, that to be the Apex of Fire, you must be a student of a Black Dragon."
"Apex of Fire, that some honorary student title?"
"In some way, yes. They're supposedly a prodigy of such great power that, only an Avatar stands a chance against them." Kuel saw the look on her face, "And that's why this man chose this title, to spread fear. He's claiming that he is the teacher. Its a trick."
Musing on Dragons
Tala sat in the stables as others worked to keep it warm. Ilan coiled himself around her, to keep both of them warm. She thought on her talk with Kuel. He certainly knew more and less. He wasn't Fire Nation, so did not have the in-depth history as someone from the Fire Nation would.
But even then, Kuel was probably right. Were it her, she would have created a 'Black Dragon' Persona behind which to plot a massive war. She knew things were slightly different in the Fire Nation. The primal benders of fire, Dragons, were nearly wiped out and only number a few. Their return revived certain things in the culture, some of which was frowned upon in today's world.
She scratched Ilan's head, "I don't know, buddy, this is an awful lot to take in."
Ilan growled his annoyance. She could hardly blame him, she spent so little time with him since the war started, and with this cold, she wouldn't risk running him out there. Ilan was meant for running, fields and massive cities with great streets. Omashu was too compact and tightly built for that. She knew that if she could get beyond the city again, her and Ilan would run and run.
"I thought I would find you in here."
Tala looked up, the young airbender approached and scratched Ilan's shoulder. "So, keeping warm with bison and Ilan."
"Been too long since I sat down with him, he needs to be out of this stable. Kulek, do you think we can break the siege on the Day of Black Sun."
"I don't know. The last time a battle occurred, the Fire Nation was expecting it. They may know and simply wait for it."
"But even when expecting it, they won't have power, can they expect to hold the siege without firebending?"
"We'll see soon enough. Then we can go to Black River and finish that vacation that the twins cut short."
She chuckled, it was a long time since she heard anything funny. Even the weather reflected that. When summer ended, it seemed to skip autumn entirely and go straight to winter. The people around her were sullen between the weather and the siege.
A young man bustled through the snow in a thick coat, trying to stay warm as he ran through the open courtyard. He felt a shake and looked for the source. His head turned to see a pile of snow fall his way and bury him. "Hey!"
He melted his way out with firebending and looked for the culprits finding two up above him, "What do you kids think you're doing!"
The two ran off along the roof of the Square. They jumped down and the first to land crashed into a person. He ricocheted off the man and rolled into the wall, bringing a fresh pile of snow on himself. The effect was comical, as it looked like a melted snowman.
"What do you think you're doing, Kilidi?"
Esas landed much more gracefully than his twin, "Hey Uncle Suun. We were just messing around with a Lotus Guard."
"No. You were interfering with his duty. That guard may need to take shifts with another soon and you're slowing him down in this cold. That is irresponsible and unacceptable."
"You can't tell us what we can and can't do, uncle."
"Well, obviously the man who can ignores your misdeeds, so I will tell you what you can and can't do. My brother has given you too much leniency, its time you grow up. There is a war outside this palace and you are dropping snow on soldiers like you were ten years old?"
"If we do as you say, then we'll just be soldiers with boring lives." Kilidi finally dug himself out of the pile of snow.
"No, you'll be responsible young men who respect that all these soldiers are risking their lives following your father, despite the fact that he has defied the Earth King's command."
"He is a king too, so he can do as he wishes."
"That is where you are wrong boys. Urri is King because the Earth King allowed it, as per treaty and custom. Omashu answers to Ba Sing Se. Defying that law is what gives the soldiers out there conviction to fight us, because they're right and we're wrong."
"If we're so wrong, then why don't you join them."
"Because my king is also my brother and I will not abandon him. That also means I will remind him and you of what loyalty is." He grabbed the two young men by the ears and dragged them off, much to their complaining and groaning.
A Warm Day
The next day warmed up from the freezing week. While not warm out, it was so stark a difference that the people were happy with the change. Kids ran out and played in the snow. The courtyard was soon covered in snowmen. After about an hour of this hard work, the kids decided to play another game and started throwing snowballs at each other. The kids played happily, using their snowmen for cover.
What made the game humorous was when the sentries got involved. They didn't throw any themselves but instead bended the snow to fly different ways often hitting unintended targets. The kids were perplexed and the sentries high above laughing at it all. It was a good day.
Tala took Ilan out and ran across the city, even when guards and sentries tried to stop her. Ilan was both happy and annoyed. He didn't much care for the snow as it was harder to run on, but he was happy to sprint at breakneck paces again.
The mood was relaxed, even on the other side of the siege. The men were cooking big meals and playing games. The commanders did not begrudge their armies this; the next day would be war again.
After running Ilan to exhaustion, she returned to eat with her friends, enjoying merry times and good cheer. All the city and its invaders enjoyed that dinner. Only the Black Dragon looked on, disconnected from the people around him. Simple meals and cheer did nothing for a man free of emotions and bonds. Nothing held him to this world, only his will. His master would be proud.
He looked at the skies, it was warm enough to take to it again with aircraft, an important factor in the coming battle. Seven minutes of a solar eclipse was dangerous. The defenders could send an all-out assault and break the siege. But it couldn't be allowed to happen, too much was riding on the success of this war. The inevitable counter-attacks could not give the enemy new ground.
And worse, the Black Dragon must ensure the line was held personally. He could not hide behind shadows anymore, he never wanted to. But he would leave his perch and enter this battle powerless, a new feeling for him. And knowing was the worse thing he could fathom. Knowing of inevitable weakness and no ability to stop it.
He reflected on the outcome of this future battle, if they won, all the fears of the entrenched would be realized and they would be emboldened to fight harder, if they lost, the Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom could lose its hold of the Coastlands and maybe even Republic City.
"Were I my ancestors and I could just burn this place to the ground."
- Tala says she feels something more when generating lightning in the traditional method but can't reach that point. This refers to Iroh's lesson about energy and is important in Book III when Tala has a new instructor.
- Kuir's concern of the Day of Black Sun is valid. All the defenders had successfully received a message to attack on that day. A continent-wide counterattack could turn against the Fire Nation/ Earth Kingdom Alliance.
- As time goes on, we will learn more about the Black Dragon, both the man and the omen.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
Storms of the Future Cycle
|The Journey of Tala|
|Book 1 - Sand and Steel|
|- - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
|Book 2 - Blood and Swamps|
|- - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
|Book 3 - Pyres and Storms|
|- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
|Fates and Vows|
|- - - - - - Ilera - Solace Fade - Scions - Sovereign|
|The Rise of Lirin|
|- In the Morrow - The White Dragon - Faith in Blood - The Great Gates - Lord Avatar - A Red Sun - Faceless - Faction - Tempest - Rally of Crows - Rally of Eagles - Dragons and Serpents - Kings and Men - Storms of a Spirit - Princes - A Battered Land - Seas of Ichor - Arbiter - Return to a Grave - Declination - Disaffection - Epilogue|
|Myths of the Empire|
|Pacification - Assassins - Empire - Red Sun Under The Empire - White Snow - Heirs|
|The Reclamation of Arein|
|Book 1 - Chaos|
|Refugee - Rogue - Ghosts - Dark Roses - Doyen - Divulgence - The Plan - Abscond - Mists of Illusion - Madonna - Syndicate - Playing the Stakes - Purge - Brothers|
|Book 2 - War|
|Alliance - Temple - Tensions - The Fall - Hunters and Prey - Lussuria - Shades of Relevance - Broken Star - Defiler - Strikeforce - Secrets of the Lair - Eminence - Swarm - Wanderer|
|Dreams of Melasa|
|Book 1 - Servant|
| - - - - - - - - - - - - -
|Book 2 - Shadow World|
|Faint but Clear - Ghost in the Steel - Kurotama - Loyalties - Servants of Shadow - Game of Fate - Shadows and Reflections - Tomb of Blood - Broken Blades - Hill of Shadow - Souls and Swords - Home|