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Previously on: Avatar: The First Skybender
Northern Waterbender Koori Kumo and his cousin Ame Suiki spy on the Watchers' reunion with the aristocracy families leaders about the upcoming war against the unknown foreigners of the Sky Parliament. The Southwestern Storm that rises high above near the Fire Nation Islands and terrifies all three territories. Besides all these political issues, there are no known airbenders living, and the cycle of the Avatar is said to be broken.
Chapter Two: Flying Cloud Odin
Exile is the worst punishment for anybody among the ancient nations. Though, since a very long time ago, it's not been done this kind of individual society exclusion frequently. Then came the prisons. The exiled people had been led adrift, whether it be to deserts, or to be thrown at open sea. No one could predict their destiny.
Our predecessors tell us about how we came landing here, alongside with refugees, on the Sky Parliament territory. They tell us about our role and duty in the process of keeping on moving this society.
Here the nobility live protected by an almost invisible glass dome, called The Bell Jar Palace. While we are left outside, subjected to fearful tempests, windstorms, and, of course, celestial creatures, most of them real infernal monsters. Inward the dome, noble youngsters learn to ride and fly on Dragasus, quite beautiful draconian winged horses, which they own for their lifelong.
Right there is where the Skybenders Aerial Fleet are chosen and put into training as the most powerful protectors of their way of life. Can you imagine being able to tear apart a slice of the sky itself and open gigantic cracks on earth using just pure static electricity? And yet so far, being capable of walking over the thin sky air, as if gravity wouldn't attain your body? And even further I've already heard that Skybenders might create their own shooting stars...
The history books we get to study the origin of the Parliament say a different kind of story on how our mentors try to make us all believe. For that's why I cannot blame people here for hating firm land inhabitants.
While the pure-blooded live inside the glass dome, having comfort and being treated with the most resourceful education and stability; the people who live outside have to gain life in a sort of not so honoured way. There are thieves, murderers, and even an assassins guild. But we do have normal lives, at least up here we can use that word instead of slavery.
We are the ones who live on The Flying Islands, and for generations we're used to the clouds. It's been said that we were the closest nation to the Air Nomads. In a certain way, today its reason is on our half-blooded lineage. Us, The Outsiders. Not them, the Skybenders are not crossbred.
But we don't look like our distant cousins from firm land anymore. Because we've been touched by the Sky. Through the centuries we became more like the original Celestials.
The Celestials are considered the new Heaven-chosen ones to descent on earth, for once and for all. Their skin is the whitest, the colour of their eyes can go from light blue to dark shades of green and yellow. And their hair is mostly blond, platinum tones, and even some are golden or silvery.
There's a kind of Skybender that's born only once in each generation, obviously a pure-blooded Celestial. This person has not yellow hair, neither platinum, silvery nor golden. The hair of this particular Skybender is ginger (sometimes with crimson, scarlet, cinnabar, vermilion highlights), his or her eyes are bloody red, and they're called The Igneous. But only one is born, and as long as they live, no other may come into the world. However, since the death of the last Igneous quite a few years ago, there hadn't been any news about a successor.
When I was a baby, my mother left me at The Heaven Portal, the very front Bell Jar Palace's door (the higher, and thicker one of its doors). And from this episode on I've been risen and educated in shadows of The Celestial Elite's eyes, the rulers of our Sky Parliament. So I have to dye my hair every now and then, thank the stars my eyes are gray...
Today I can practically come and go anywhere as I please, but always in sort of a disguise obviously. I wander around this place a lot, and there was this specific day when I kind of sneaked into one of the Celestial Elite's dorms, there I found a parchment. And I know the strategy of how we were supposed to come back to our ancestors land.
A few weeks ago, before the archiurano began moving again, I was going back home from the gathering fields of grains and vegetables. It was a beautiful sunny day, and most clouds were creating a thin fog layer down people's feet on the ground.
Though I've been raised by a Celestial family, I don't feel part of them entirely. Since I can remember I know that I've been adopted. I think my wanderings are some strategy an unconscious part of my mind inherited for me to try to find from where I came, whose origins lay on my generators history; and who I am to be. So, from time to time I change my whereabouts. But when I'm under the house I've grew up I have to dance to the music.
It's curious how a place might get us to feel both safe and caged at the same time.
Our life here may be hard, but we don't know another kind, or we'd go elsewhere. We are the outsiders, so it is upon us that are the obligations to feed, to clean, to serve the Celestials, or how we call them: the Glassy. I have a friend that is housemaid to some army women and to a few ones from the Skybenders' Fleet force, however on that day she was in bed taken by fever hallucinations and I knew I had to do something. Otherwise, she would get not only herself into real trouble, but her family as well.
Then I took her robes, dressed up as she would; they say we look too much alike, so I hoped that people from the Bell Jar Palace thought this themselves. Every time being forced to try to be untold from the distance or among the others had came up into handy; this time it wasn't just a disguise. Really I was taking not only her clothes, but also her identity. I had to not only look like her, I had to be her. So, rule number one: don't speak at all, only mumble if necessary; number two: keep looking down, don't stare at anyone in the eyes; number three: get inside, do the job, get out, as fast as it can be.
We live on one of the smallest islands around the central one. After coming to the marketplace with her so many times; I knew what I had to do by heart. My goal there was to buy some flowers for my newly gained employers — among them Jasmine-Lynxes, Cheetah-Orchids, Rose-Panthers, Sabre-Tooth-Peonies, Snow-Dandelions and, specially, Tiger-Lilies.
The crowded market, with all those people speaking loudly and pointing at the products, mostly food or fruits and herbs, and gesticulating made me feel covered. In no time I'd gone to the flower store tent and went inside barely unseen.
"Young lady, good morning, may the Skies be gentle to you and your loved ones..." The flower store seller was a very young girl, younger even than me indeed. Her long hair was dark greyish blonde, matching the eyes of grey green.
No word came out my mouth, unfortunately, because the little girl had been so polite to me.
I'd nodded in response instead, and ran toward the flower pots, made myself some bouquets, Showed them to her, grabbed a few coins in my cloak inside pocket to pay her, and finally gone walking the central aisle to face the exit door.
Then I've turned around looked to the left, opened a smile, caught one of the blossoming and threw at her direction with a silver star-shaped holed-coin, right onto her lap. She smiled back a thank you at me holding the bloom of the Fiery-Poppy.
Fiery-Poppies meant to us: "Even if all skies are torn apart and this very land collapses, I'll make a way out the raging storm."
So, I took off to the Bell Jar Palace using one of the wire-wagons lifts that there are between every two flying islands.
Arriving up there, I put out my identification collar from under my robe for them to see how attached to my duties I am. The ones who work on the main island wear these collars since every one of them gets to the age of seven, and they are supposed to never take them off. Taking them off is the one major insubordination to the government, punishable by death. I, myself, saw when the former Minister Skywing applied a sentence himself. So, from that day on, I cared more about my safety when sneaking into new territory. I'd had to protect her collar from any and everything the Sky God may inflict to us. I don't want her to die, not by these terms, nor without a reason, neither for a meaningless law.
As if she were the only one who would die. If they discovered that I wasn't who I was supposed to be, my head would be rolling in the deep wells along with hers.
Passing through the Heaven's Gate I entered the wonderland that is life inside the translucent glass-walls isolating the central island to a proper world; blindfolded but still a stable one. There on the Circle Square everyone could see the marble statue of the Heavenly-King Skywing the Eighth, one of the ancient rulers from many centuries ago. Former Minister Skywing belongs to this same family-clan, although I'd not had been seeing him lately that time when I went and came through my tiptoes into and from the Bell Jar Palace Inners.
I had headed to the soldiers' dormitories; entered, cleaned, put the jasmine-lynxes on the first, the cheetah-orchids on the next one, and the last got the rose-panthers. Then I'd gone up to the second floor dorms, the ones of the Dragasus Riders; there I'd left the sabre-tooth-peonies, and the snow-dandelions.
So, I'd hurried up once more, to my special assignment; as her usual maid had told me before, but I don't know who it was exactly.
The highest tower is the place where all most talented skybenders are set to habit. This particular troop is only composed by women; they're prohibited to have family bonds since they have chosen that way of life. All of them are trained to be bodyguards for the members of the Parliament, and each one has at least two of these soldier girls. Being apart from family ties, all of them are decreed to have no contact with men. The only men they see after their consecration are the ones they are assigned to protect in a lifelong term; or his or theirs.
My mistress on that sunny day had been the youngest Skybenders' Fleet Major of the whole history. She's a prodigy. It is said that she can condensate the space gas particles into a cloud so dense one may sit upon it as a normal seat. And even beyond this, some people say that in times of dark storms a small figure riding, nor a Dragasus but a balloon-form tracing the night-sky in shades of gold vapour trails, is seen facing creatures in the midst of the uproar gale cumulus.
Every door of that tower is made of glass, like almost every army department installation, however all of those ones had unique handmade marble doorknobs and platinum borders. And so, I entered her room.
It was untouched, the four-poster bed sheets without a single mark of night presence, the bay side windows partially opened, from where I could sense a thin air breeze whistle. On the other hand what really got my attention had been the untidily papers on the writing desk. I had gone to the windows to close them. When I was turning the lock on, I saw a black point in the wholeness of the light blue sky; it was an unidentified flying object to me, though as soon as it came closer, I could perceive its wings flapping, until it reached the sight from that window's view.
I had stepped back a bunch of paces as it has burst into the room and has laid upon the mattress an ancient-coloured parchment rolled and tied with a red lace and sealed with a wax badge sign of a crest of arms. That was a kind of bird I had never seen before, but I knew what it was. It was a Raven-Eagle. I knew from some very old books from the black-market I had hidden back at home. And there weren't any raven-eagles native from the Sky Parliament.
Seeing that on the bed my curiosity didn't leave me in peace, until I unrolled the message.
"I know what you have in your hands. It's better for you and your family if you don't lay your eyes on that." A high-pitched voice accompanied with metallic sounds of armour parts crashing one another entered the room.
I could feel the icy blade touching my bare skin on the back of my neck and drops of sweat had started on my forehead.
She ordered me to turn around, and so I did back then. My face hidden under the tissue mask and hood, I also wore a bonnet to cover my hair that was already growing again.
I recognised her.
"What are you looking at maid?" Her tone changed from frighten to doubt just as the look in her eyes.
But would she have recognised me the same? So much time had passed, and why was she the one here now? At all this time I didn't worried about what had succeed to her. And at that very moment she stood right in front of me, and she looked awe-inspiringly marvellous. Her beauty mark stayed the same right under the left under eyelashes.
The sword firmly pointed to my chin making my tissue mask tore apart, then with it she uncovered my head pulling the hood back in just a sway of her wrist.
Her pupils contracted in amusement, like if an erased memory could've just been rewritten; recovered from the numb vagueness of her mind.
The sunset watched us staring each other for an uncounted time span. The first star showed her glowing brilliance near the horizon, and the dusk brought purple to colour the sky. Soundless conversation crossed the thin air between our eyes. And no other sound could be heard until the night had filled the room. When voices came up the stairs and steps resonated in echoes through the tower, the identification collar I had on wouldn't work for longer than the time allowed passed.
She lowered the sword, grabbed my hand, looked right through my eyes saying: "You shouldn't have come here, don't you know that I'm not allowed to get in contact with my family?!?"
Hearing her breath so close to mine, I could smell ginseng tea, her favourite breed. The message kneaded tight in my hand. She burst the windows open, grabbing a small pack that have been laid on the couch by the window sill.
There was a shining star pulsing in red up in the sky on that dark night. And a comet tail cut the sky dome from one end of the horizon to the other. And we knew that every new Avatar is alternated from generation to generation. It is predicted a time when the Air Nomads will be needed again.
Gold steam started to gather and form a massive cloud. She grabbed me and leapt onto it and we took off the Sky Parliament leaving everything we knew as life behind, descending the skies, going down to the old world.
At that very instant I knew for certain that all the fairy tales I've been told were true. The Avatar was down there, and we had to find whose body received the honour to shelter the spirit of all elements.
I was speechless, for beside me there she was, my older sister: Odin, the Bearer of the Flying Cloud.
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