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October 7, 2013
When Devion reached his house, the sky was already starting to turn the gray color it was before sunrise. Dawn wouldn't be far off, which meant that he had to hurry and get packed.
He walked into his house, a simple, three-roomed hut with a straw roof. The kitchen and sitting room was right out of the door, while his room and his mom's rooms were on either side of the main room.
Laona was sitting at the table in the kitchen, staring at the door with her hands folded. "I was worried about you," she said when he walked in. "When you didn't show up last night."
"I'm sorry," he told her honestly. "I had to get back up to the Air Nomads and I needed to hear what the stranger had to say."
"I wish you would have told me what you were doing," Laona muttered.
"Again, I'm sorry. It was urgent." A bubble of guilt was rising in Devion's stomach. He realized he must have made his mother endure the pain of worry and confusion about her own son.
As Devion moved towards his room, Laona grabbed his shoulder. "Please tell me you aren't going to Palua." Her voice was almost pleading.
Devion's shoulders drooped. "Mom," he said, his mind racing. "I have to. I need to see what the Fire Nation is doing."
"But it will be dangerous."
"I'm seventeen, Mom," he told her, turning to face his mother. "I can handle it."
"Your father—" began his mom, her eyes watering.
"He would want me to go," said Devion, looking her straight in the eyes. "Mom, it's fine. I'll come back soon and I'll be safe. I need to defend my nation." He paused, looking for what to say. "The spirits want me to go to the Fire Nation. From the moment I stepped onto that beach, it was decided that I would go with Chief Moi and the warriors. I have to do this. It's my destiny."
Laona wiped her eyes with the sleeve of her dress and smiled at her son. "And it's a noble destiny," she murmured, her voice choked up. "Hurry up and pack a bag. I'll get together a bit of food for you."
"Thanks, Mom," he voiced. Then Devion turned and pushed open the door to his room, grabbing a leather bag by his bed. He pulled out a box from under his bed, grabbed the small knife he would occasionally use if he went hunting, the sharpener for it, and picked up a necklace his dad had given him before he died. It was a simple chain with a circular pendant on it. One side had the symbol of the Island Water Tribe, and the other side had a dolphogator etched onto the back.
Devion placed the necklace around his neck and then grabbed his compass, a sheath for the knife, and a spare change of clothes for the boat. Looking at the necklace made him realize he hadn't visited his dolphogator, Molaka, in a few days. He promised Molaka in his head that when he returned from Palua, he'd ride him around.
Grabbing a small sleeping roll off of the floor, Devion stepped into the main room where his mother stood with half a loaf of bread, a few fruits, and some dried seal jerky. She grabbed his bag and placed the food into one of the side pouches before throwing a canteen filled with fresh water into the main pocket.
Laona kissed her son on the cheek and then wrapped him in a hug. "I love you," she whispered to him.
"Love you too, Mom," Devion responded quietly.
"Stay safe, and come back quickly," said his mother, pulling away from the embrace. "Do what you have to do, but don't do anything rash!"
Devion nodded a few times and then pushed open the door as his mother waved to him. He raced through the crowded, busy streets until he came out on the open path before the harbor.
Half a dozen docks protruded from the rocky shore, with eighteen boats moored against it. Five Water Tribe warships sat at the end of each of the docks, swarming with men as they loaded up for battle. They tossed crates, weapons, and other materials and supplies up onto the deck where workers grabbed them and carried them down below deck.
A guard walked up to Devion and said, "Everyone under twenty is going on that ship over there." He pointed towards the farthest dock where the final sailing ship was tied to the wooden walkway. Some teenagers were already there, including Makanui and his friends.
"Thank you, sir," Devion muttered, shouldering his bag and starting over towards the dock.
"What was that about?" Kialuk asked, jogging up behind Devion with a bag of the same likeness.
"He was telling me anyone under twenty is going on that ship," Devion repeated, pointing at the same boat the guard had gestured to.
Kialuk nodded and they walked down the long dock towards the boat. When they got close, some of the people Devion recognized started greeting him, while Makanui and his friends stood at the end of the dock, staring at Devion.
"We'll be boarding in ten minutes," said one of the warriors standing on the boat. More teenagers started arriving as the ten minutes were ticking away. Just before the ramp up onto the boat was lowered, Devion spotted Waipae walking onto the dock with Nani right beside him.
"What is Nani doing here?" he asked quietly.
"What?" responded Kialuk. "Nani's here?"
Strapped to Nani's back were two swords. Her hair was tied back in a ponytail and a red bag was slung over her shoulder. She wore light clothing that would allow her to move with ease. Devion's mouth dropped open. Nani, the most beautiful girl in all of Kiolu was coming with them to a potential battle? And she knew how to fight with swords?
She caught Devion's eyes and walked over to him, her face slightly annoyed. "When you didn't come back last night, I thought you'd ditched me," she said. "But then I heard what happened. Count yourself lucky that I'm a forgiving person." She flashed a half serious, half joking smile towards him.
A bit confused, Devion chuckled. "Great," he stated, gesturing at the katana swords on her back. "I don't want to be on your bad side if you know how to use those."
"A girl?" shouted one of Makanui's friends, looking over at Nani. "What is a girl doing here?"
Nani's face turned from humorous to pissed in a split second. She took a few steps towards Makanui and crossed her arms.
"She won't be able to fight," the man continued. "It's not safe for her!"
A few of the other boys started to laugh loudly and Nani narrowed her eyes angrily.
"You want to bet?" she asked defiantly. "Come and fight me!" She bent down and grabbed two wooden rods off of the dock and tossed one to the boy and then swished hers in the air a few times.
The boy caught the stick and then shrugged, taking a step forward as everyone else respectively made a circle around Nani and the boy.
"Come on, Le'o!" shouted some of Makanui's friends. "You can beat her!"
Devion nodded his head and told himself he had faith Nani would win. It would be quite embarrassing if she didn't, but he suspected that she was quite a good swordsman. Or swordswoman.
Le'o made the first step, lunging towards Nani. She nimbly dodged and hit him squarely in the shoulder, lightly, but enough to make a small bruise. Before he could even swing his stick to where she was, Nani hopped out of the way and ducked under the wood as he jabbed it at her. She crouched on the ground and swung her rod, swiping his feet out from under him. Le'o stumbled and Nani shot up and planted her foot in his chest. With a grunt, he wobbled backwards and tumbled down over the edge of the dock and landed in the water ten feet below.
Devion laughed loudly alongside many of the other teens as they clapped and cheered for Nani. She threw her stick into the water and then wandered back over to where Devion, Kialuk, and Waipae were standing.
"That was great!" exclaimed Devion, his lips stretched in a wide smile. "I had no idea you knew how to use a sword." Although he didn't mind that Nani was a girl and she was coming to a potentially dangerous event, he still worded his sentence carefully.
"My uncle taught me," she replied casually. "I started learning when I was five. Now, let's get on the boat."
They stepped up onto the ramp and picked a spot near the front of the boat to sit down and talk to each other, partially hidden by two stacks of boxes. Everyone else was loading onto the boat, settling down around the deck. About fifty other teens had showed up, making the boat seem cramped and tight. But it would only be for a few hours, Devion realized, as he yawned widely. He was exhausted and needed to sleep. As soon as the boat started sailing, he was going to lay out his sleeping roll and use his bag as a pillow before taking a long nap.
The captain of the boat, one of the senior warriors in Kiolu, stepped out at the back of the boat. "Settle in. We're about to leave," he announced as the other warriors started to work with the sails and the steering.
Just a moment later, the four other boats took off into the bay, sailing close together. Quickly, the boat filled with teenagers pulled out from the harbor and set off after the rest of the fleet. The boat with Chief Moi was in the center of the group, and Chief Moi was standing in the crow's nest on the mast.
"Today, we set off to defend our tribe from the Fire Nation," he began, his voice loud and clear. "They have attacked our people and threatened our great nation. We will show them who they are fighting with, and that we of the Island Water Tribe are strong. To victory!"
"To victory!" the men roared back as they started to cheer loudly. Devion clapped along with them, smiling widely as he settled into his bed and closed his eyes, falling asleep almost instantly.
Θ Θ Θ
"Devion, wake up. We're almost here."
Someone was gently shaking Devion. He groaned and opened his eyes, blinking a few times as sunlight filtered through. Waipae leaned over him, his large hands on Devion's shoulder. "Palua is just up ahead."
Crawling to his knees, Devion looked up and sure enough, there was land. A tropical green island sat a few miles ahead of them. It was a very mountainous isle, but the beaches were long and wide. The island of Kohana was much different than the island of Nunui, where Devion came from. Instead of relatively flat land around the beaches, Kohana was basically beach and mountain, at least at this part of the island.
"Look, over there!" someone shouted.
Devion turned his head to where the boy was pointing. A thin strip of land connected the main part of Kohana to a small piece of land occupied by one mountain. Sure enough, nestled between two mountains and located on the strip of land was the city of Palua. It was quite a sight. Simple wooden huts like the ones in Kiolu were scattered around the town, but there were also large, grander wooden homes. There were even houses built on the sides of the two mountains, bridges connecting the gap across the hills. Wooden stairs led the way down the mountainside to the main part of the town.
The city was beautiful. It was unlike anything Devion had ever seen. It was located in a perfect spot. Flat land between two steep mountains, with water accessible to the east and west. Not to mention, it was ideal for having two different levels. There was the surface town, and then up above were dozens of buildings connected to each other by swinging rope bridges and wooden walkways. Devion was eager to explore the town.
"Alright," came the voice of the captain, standing on top of a crate to get the attention of the gathered teens. "We need to start getting ready to unload this ship. Chief Moi wants to quickly get everything off the boats. So, everyone, grab something, whether it's a crate or a box or a basket. I don't care. Get to work."
Devion and the others popped up. He and Kialuk moved towards a pile of crates stacked in a sort of pyramid and started to slide the one on top off. A shower of dust fell from the crate and down below the wooden box and Devion swore he heard someone in the pyramid curse. Curiously, he peered down into the gap.
"What the—?" he gasped, astonished.
The young Air Nomad, Kayun, was crouched down in the small, hidden nook.
There are 2,206 words in Departure.
|Flames on the Horizon Chapters|
|Book 1 - Embers|
|~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~|
|Book 2 - Flames|
|Book 3 - Inferno|
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