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|An Earthly Child|
Foundations of Stone
20 January 2011
An Earthly Child is the first regular chapter of, and the first chapter in the serial Foundations of Stone.
Hi readers, Will94 here. I know, it has been a long while since I last wrote an 'Author's note', and I apologize for that. But school holidays restricted my writing time. Eventually, I finished, with a little cliffhanger again, just to keep you reading;) Anyway, without further to do, here it is, ladies and gents, I introduce to you, An Earthly Child! -
The body of a waitress is found in Ba Sing Se, and the murder is believed to be linked to a series of nine killings. When the local investigative department is out of their depths, it is time to call in the Avatar.
The blackened night sky loomed over the city of Ba Sing Se, the light from the moon shone down onto the streets below. Lining the cobblestone streets were weatherworn wooden houses, resembling more of a shack. Every light in the Lower Ring was out or dimmed, except for that of the candle lit lampposts, lining each side of the stone street.
All lights except one. A small restaurant on the corner of two streets sat squashed in between two larger houses on each side. Outside of the restaurant could be heard the clanging of dishes, and the splash of soapy water.
All of the customers had left, and standing alone in the kitchen was Mrs Hakiru with her assistant Naru. Mrs Hakiru washed the dishes from that nights' service, whilst Naru took the dripping wet dishes from the frail old lady and dried them, putting them on the shelf above his head. The two spoke together quietly, the sound of which echoed down the street.
"Thank you dear," Mrs Hakiru said as Naru took a wet plate from her hands.
"No worries, Mrs Hakiru," Naru said, drying the plate.
"You do not have to stay here with me," Mrs Hakiru said, washing knives and forks. "I pay you to cook, not to wash."
"Then do not pay me to wash," Naru said, placing the dried plate on the shelf above his head. "Consider it a gift," he said smiling. Mrs Hakiru chuckled also. "Anyway, you know how dangerous it is on the streets at night these days. As soon as it hits seven o'clock, everyone leaves for home."
"You are a good boy," Mrs Hakiru said endearingly. "But what would a thief want with an old lady such as me?" she asked.
"You're not that old," Naru said smiling. Mrs Hakiru laughed.
"Oh ho ho, if you think that is going to get you a raise, think again!" Mrs Hakiru said laughing, walking Naru out of the kitchen. "Now go on home, boy."
"I can't leave you here by yourself," Naru pleaded.
"Oh don't be so silly. There is only a little bit of cleaning left to do," Mrs Hakiru reached into the pocket of her coat. "Now go home or I won't pay you!" she said, throwing ten silver pieces over to Naru, who caught them.
"Thank you," Naru said, walking out the front door, and closing it behind him. Smiling, Mrs Hakiru walked back into the kitchen, and finished the washing up. Humming to herself in silence, until she heard the front door of the restaurant slide open. She looked over her shoulder to see Naru's coat still hanging on the coat rack. So drying her hands, Mrs Hakiru walked over to the rack, picked up the coat and walked around into the main dining area.
"Did you forget something?" Mrs Hakiru said turning into the room. But it was not Naru who stood before her, but a tall man, hooded and cloaked in black, hiding his face in shadows.
"No, no, no!" Mrs Hakiru said stepping backwards, dropping the coat in horror. "What do you want?" she said, pleading.
"Ba Sing Se will fall," the man said.
"Please I'll do anything!" Mrs Hakiru said, tripping backwards onto the ground.
"Ba Sing Se will fall," the man said calmly, whilst pulling out a knife.
"Please, no! Don't do this!" Mrs Hakiru pleaded, her face stained in tears.
"Ba Sing Se will fall," the man said as he raised the knife above his head.
"GOOOOOOOOO!" Mushi ordered, and Teru along with the five other men pulled the carriage as hard as they could in the heat of the burning sun. Slowly the carriage moved in the wet, sloppy dirt, and strains of seed began to pour out of the rigging on the carriage, falling into the dirt. "Pull!" Mushi yelled again, as he sat on his Ostrich Horse yelling out commands.
The carriage had at least seventy kilograms of seed on it, slowly pouring into the soil. Teru took one sweaty hand off of the carriage and brushed his fringe out of his face.
"STOP!" Mushi screamed, and the six men ceased pulling the carriage, falling onto the ground from relief. Mushi looked at Teru from under his straw hat. "BOY! COME HERE!" Mushi screamed. Teru clambered to his feet and slowly walked over to Mushi, who was staring him down with his thin eyes. "What do you think you're doing?"
"Pulling seed, sir," Teru said.
"Then why did you take your hand off of the carriage, boy?" Mushi asked, his fat cheeks blushing red from the heat.
"To wipe my fringe out of my face sir," Teru said.
"And why, boy, did you do that?" Mushi said. Teru smiled.
"Because it was in my face, sir," Teru knew Mushi would be angered at this comment.
"ARE YOU BEING SMART BOY?" Mushi spat. "HOW DARE YOU!"
"No sir, not smart sir," Teru said looking at his shoeless, dirty feet, smiling.
"Then GET BACK TO WORK!" Mushi said, riding off on his Ostrich Horse. Teru grunted and walked back over to his carriage, and together the six men began to pull it, spreading the seed for the spring harvest, which will arrive in six months time.
After three hours of grueling and tedious labor, Teru and the other men were able to sit down under a large oak tree, resting in the shade. Mushi road over on his Ostrich Horse.
"Hmm, good work boys," Mushi said reluctantly. "Now, before I pay you, there is a fence over there that needs to be fixed," Mushi stared at Teru menacingly. "You can do it, boy." Teru grunted as he climbed to his feet and began walking in the direction Mushi had pointed.
After five minutes of walking, Teru found Wooly-Pig pen, and sure enough, a section of the fence had collapsed. The Wooly-Pigs had not tried to escape from the broken wooden enclosure yet, so Teru had to work quickly.
Picking up a hammer and some rusty nails left next to the broken fence, Teru held the nail against a plank of the fence, and pulled back his arm to hit the nail. As he swung the hammer towards the head of the nail, he heard a voice from behind him.
"You're doing it wrong," said the voice of a girl. The surprise of the voice made Teru miss the nail and hit his thumb instead.
"ARGH!" he yelled, wincing in pain. Teru then turned around to see the girl. She was tall, but not taller than Teru, her brown hair waved in the breeze, and her green eyes sparkled in the sunlight.
"Look out, don't hit yourself," the girl mocked.
"Oh, yeah, thanks a lot," Teru replied sarcastically, thumb in his mouth. "Who are you?" he asked.
"Look how adorable the Wooly-pigs are! All fluffy, and round," the girl said.
"Yeah, they're adorable," Teru said sarcastically again. "But who are you?" he asked once more.
"Oh, I'm just passing through," the girl replied, hanging off an intact part of the fence. "I came to see the animals here on the farm."
"Umm, okay," Teru said a little confused. "And Mushi just let you in here?"
"No," the girl replied.
"Well then how did you get in?" Teru asked. "The entire farm is surrounded by a stone wall."
"I climbed it," the girl said, still staring at the Wooly-Pigs.
"It's twenty feet high," Teru said still confused. The girl looked at him.
"Well then I climbed it twenty feet high," she said, turning and walking off.
"Wait!" Teru yelled, the girl turned around. "Who are you?"
"A friend," and with that, she turned and walked off into the distance. Teru watched the girl walk off for what seemed like hours, until he heard the crunch of leaves behind him and he turned to see Mushi sitting on his Ostrich Horse.
"Have you done yet boy?" he said, spitting.
"Almost sir," Teru said, walking quickly over to the collapsed fence.
"You haven't even started yet!" Mushi spat. "That is pretty pathetic."
"Yeah, pretty pathetic," Teru said, mind drifting.
Back in the Lower Ring of Ba Sing Se, Naru had discovered Mrs Hakiru's body, the day after her death. Standing in the restaurant was Master Jiaoshi, who had been called in to investigate the murder. Around him were Royal Earthbender Guards, who kept the public outside of the venue. One of the guards approached the master.
"Sir, a crowd is forming outside," the guard said. Jiaoshi thought for a moment.
"Well then create a perimeter, and keep them out," Jiaoshi responded. The guard nodded, signalled to three others, and then ran outside. In the corner of the room stood Naru, shaking from shock. Jiaoshi walked to him.
"Are you okay?" the master asked.
"Umm, no, I'm not," Naru replied quietly. "It's my fault, I shouldn't have left her on her own."
"Nothing you could have done would have saved her," Jiaoshi reassured him. "If you had stayed, I would be investigating double homicide." Naru looked at the master, and nodded. A guard approached Jiaoshi.
"Sir, this is the tenth murder this week," the guard said. "Are we going to tell him?" Jiaoshi stood silently in thought.
"Yes, bring him in."
"Hurry up boy, I need that fence fixed before the sun goes down," Mushi spat. Teru hammered nails into the fence as fast as he could, as he wanted to catch up with the mysterious girl.
"Yes, sir," Teru said, hammering away. Behind him, Teru could hear footsteps approaching, footsteps that did not belong to Mushi. Turning his head, Teru saw Mushi swing his Ostrich Horse around to face the owners' of the footsteps. A procession of Royal Guards, and members of the Council of Five.
"What do you want?" Mushi said, spit raining from his fat mouth.
"It is time for the Avatar to come forward," a councilman at the front of the group said.
"Sir, we have found something," said a guard standing behind Jiaoshi. The guard led the master into the kitchen, and then pointed to the floor.
"What does it mean?" Jiaoshi said, kneeling before the carved writing.
"The Avatar?" Mushi said, shocked. "Well what do I have to do with the Avatar?"
"We believe, he is here on this farm," the councilman said.
"Oh really?" Mushi said, smiling. "And who is he?"
"We think the message is from the murderer, and by the looks of it, the message was carved recently," the guard said.
"We believe the name of the new Avatar, is Teru," the councilman said. Teru's jaw dropped as did Mushi's multiple chins.
Jiaoshi stared at the message carved into the wooden floor, and read it out aloud. "Ba Sing Se will fall."
For the collective works of the author, go here.