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April 18, 2011
Distant Memories is the first chapter of the series.
An amnesiac Earth Kingdom soldier,, and his friend Kuro go through a day of training. After their brief rest, they are alerted to a Fire Nation camp that must be raided.
The thin figure jerked abruptly from his tormented slumber. Wiping a bead of sweat from his face, he opens his eyes to see the sun rise. He shakes his head briefly to reacclimate himself to his surroundings before stepping out of his bed. He approaches the other side of the room, where makeshift desk of stone stood against the rock wall. He reaches into his bag, pulls out a scroll, and begins writing the details of his dream. All he remembered today was screaming; fire and screaming. The faceless Firebender mask still haunted him, reminding him of his hatred of the Fire Nation.
After he wrote down every detail he could remember, he read it over, along with the manuscripts of the past week's dreams: nothing, as usual. The routine was growing bothersome, though it was all he could do to retain his sanity. By the time he had finished the cycle, he noticed that the sun was rising in the sky - he was almost late. He quickly threw on his light armor and picked up his war hammers before exiting his room.
Sprinting out of his humble residence, he notes the soldiers walking their way to camp. He fails to see his friend, and runs across the street towards his friend's house. "!" he calls as he runs through the curtain separating the house's interior from the outside.
"What, Shenji? Haven't I told you to say something first?" the man says while putting on his final arm brace.
"I said something before I came in," Shenji replies jokingly. "Just not that long before," he adds. Kuro sends his friend a smirk and motions for the two to leave.
As they make their way towards the base, Shenji lets out a yawn. "Rough night?" Kuro asks.
"Any new revelations?"
"Just the usual: opposing Firebenders attacking me. It's getting to be pretty boring, actually."
"You should be paid overtime. We have to fight the Fire Nation all day, and you still fight at night!" As the pair laughs, Shenji realizes his lack of memory. The War had been raging for nearly a century, and had decimated the Air Nomads, as well as the Southern Water Tribe. Even the Earth Kingdom was feeling the damages of the conflict; the entire land was being forced on the defensive.
"Anything about your family?"
"Nothing. Odds are, since no one recognized me, my family was killed by the Fire Nation."
"That's why we're fighting - To make sure no one else loses their family." Shenji only nods as Kuro motions for him to move on. "Come on, we've got some training to do."
The pair splits up after their entry; Kuro falling in with the benders while Shenji left for the remaining group. He looks over the crowd, eying each soldier and his weapons. There are several soldiers with spears, while others had various forms of swords. The soldiers waited calmly for the platoon's captain to arrive. "Today, you will be battling each other in order to prepare yourselves for the heat of battle. You will each find a partner, and will duel him into submission. Any tactics are acceptable, so long as they are not fatal. The winner of each fight is to select another victorious soldier and repeat the process. Fall out!"
Shenji waited, glancing around the group to see how many opponents were worthwhile challengers. As he waited, he watched his captain's calm expression; clearly hardened from many tireless years on the front lines. Shenji was eventually approached by a warrior with a straight sword and promptly challenged. Lifting his hammers from his side, Shenji nodded to accept.
Shenji's opponent swiped first, slashing diagonally at Shenji's chest. He effortlessly dodges while swinging his hammers at his foe's sword. The weapons create a deafening sound as they collide, with Shenji knocking the blade to the ground. He proceeds to kick his opponent onto the ground while loosening his stance. "Nice job," he says, leaning over to pick his comrade off the ground.
The rest of the day passes by quickly, with Shenji defeating each of his foes with relative ease. His current opponent had a spear with a strange handle. The entire staff section of the weapon was made of a flexible material that remained sturdy yet prevented breaking if struck. Shenji ducked to avoid a stabbing motion aimed for his head and saw an opportunity. Shenji swung his hammers into the sky, locking the spear's blade between his weapons. As his opponent looked on in fear, Shenji twisted the weapon out of his hands. Dropping his hammers, he took hold of the spear and whipped it around him, knocking the wind out of his foe.
As Shenji knelt to the ground to pick up his hammers, he wiped the sweat from his face. He rose to find a single warrior in the middle of a circle of defeated soldiers. "I hope you're worth all the effort," the lone soldier scoffs, placing his hand on his sword hilt.
"Likewise." Shenji paces towards his opponent, staring him down. The soldier raises his hammers and charges, letting out a powerful battle cry. His opponent drew his sword, pulling the Dual Dao blades apart and blocking Shenji's strikes, pushing him away and slashing at his torso. Shenji manages to dodge all his attacks, though he sees no openings for retaliation. Eventually, as he brings his blades back for a vertical strike, Shenji moves in for the final blow. He catches the blades under his hammers, thrusting the blades out of his opponent's hands and onto the ground. Shenji moves forward, using the top of his hammers to push his opponent backwards while kicking the blades out of reach. "I win."
"Not yet!" his opponent yells, charging forward and attempting to thrust his fist into Shenji's torso. As he dodged, his opponent attempts to kick his face. Shenji quickly raises his hammer, striking his shin and knocking him off balance. As he collapses in pain, the soldier finally yields to Shenji.
"You win!" he gasps, while holding his leg. Shenji helps the soldier stand, and others quickly help him to the base's infirmary.
"Nice match," a friendly voice calls from behind. Shenji turns to see Kuro pacing up from behind. Turning away from his friend, he begins addressing the entire group. "The General has called for a speech. Everyone, fall into the main plaza to hear him!" The entire group slowly moves to the open area, ready for a dull oration.
The General's Folly
As the two friends went towards the atrium, they begin to joke about the General's incompetence. "Remember when he suggested bringing wild hog monkeys and letting them run loose in the capitol?" Shenji recalls.
After laughing for a few moments, Kuro recalled another moment of hilarity. "Ever since he suggested finding a Waterbender to bend glue, preventing the Fire Lord and his armies from bending, I look forward to his ideas."
Every so often, General Shou would come up with an idea that he felt the need to run by his underlings. He would announce the ideas to all of the soldiers, and have their commanders report the soldier's opinions. Due to the general distaste for his plans, they were never implemented. As he began his announcement, the soldiers quieted their chatter. "Today, I have formulated a plan that ensures the victory of the Earth Kingdom over the Fire Nation! As we all know, Fire Lord Azulon is the supreme ruler of the Fire Nation. It is his will that allows the War to continue, so to force an end, his life must be ended!"
"Yeah, that's kind of one of our stated war aims," Kuro whispers to Shenji. The two miss Shou's plan for Azulon's death, but they heard comments that clearly signified that the plan was as ineffective as his previous ideas.
"Thank you for your time, and long live the Earth Kingdom!" The conclusion of his speech is met with massive cheers from his underlings; all of whom agree with his sentiment, yet appreciate the end of his idea.
The troops are dismissed by their division, so Shenji and Kuro leave with their group. The entire way back to their camp, the soldiers joke about Shou's incompetence. As they filed back into their residences, the soldiers decide to gather around a fire. The warmth of camaraderie revitalized their spirits, and the stories livened the night. "Then, Shou suggested using Badgermoles to cave in the Fire Nation Capitol!" Kuro says, barely able to speak between his own laughs.
"No way," Shenji counters, but the others in the circle confirm Kuro's story. "There's no way that could work!"
"That's why it didn't happen," a soldier from the far side of the fire adds. As time passes, many soldiers leave the fire to rest up for the next day.
Eventually, only Shenji and Kuro remain. "I'm heading to bed now," Shenji says, getting to his feet and dusting off his pants.
"Night Shenji," Kuro says, rising from his seat and kicking a pile of dirt into the fire. The two head their separate ways, each entering his own dwelling in silence.
Shenji paces through a vast expanse of darkness; his head constantly turning to try and find a light source. "Hello? Is anyone here?" he screams into his abysmal surroundings. "Anyone?"
As his voice echoes through the void, Shenji sees a circle of light emerge around him. The light fades into the forms of various caldrons of fire, all directly in front of a masked Firebender. The benders simultaneously raise fire from their containers into the sky, encircling Shenji within a cylinder of flames. The fire falls down, consuming Shenji's body while somehow making him plummet through space.
When his body makes contact with the ground, he realizes that he is within his first memory. He rises to see the various figures battling in the distance and recognizes his Fire Nation uniform. "Hey, Shenji," a voice calls from behind him. When Shenji turns around to see the speaker, he realizes it is Kuro. Before he can speak again, Kuro collapses to the ground, overcome by a fire blast from the rear.
Shenji reaches for his hammers, but they are no where to be found. He charges the bender, but the masked soldier sends a jet of fire at Shenji, engulfing his vision in a burning orange glow.
Jolting up from his sleep, Shenji slowly catches his breath. He realizes the middle of the night is not the time to be awake, so he tries to go back to sleep. After a few moments of restless tossing and turning, Shenji again sits up.
As Shenji wipes the sweat from his forehead, he hears a knock on his outside wall. "Shenji, mission," Kuro's droggy voice calls from outside. He quickly runs to his desk, using the moonlight to scribble down the foggy details of his dream before dressing himself for battle. When he exits, Shenji finds Kuro bent over touching his toes.
"What are we needed for?" Shenji asks. "Is this a joke?"
"No, sorry. No time for jokes. Everyone else is on their way already." The two move out, arriving at the rendezvous point just before the briefing began.
The Captain's face was barely visible with the poor lighting. Upon realizing that everyone was within his voice's radius, he begins speaking. "All right, men. This is an ambush mission. We had some scouts locate a Fire Nation camp. A captured messenger has told us that they are carrying a special message for the officers in charge of a small for south east of here. This information is vital to the war. If this information gets through, we have no idea of the terror these merciless thugs will bring upon this land. We will all march a mile towards the river, then half a mile west. The Fire Nation only has one camp there, and we know that the scroll is within one of the tents. Once we arrive at their location, the Earthbenders will raise a wall of earth around the camp. We need to ensure that they don't send the scroll away once you attack. This is a full on attack; Code level Wasteland. Good luck, and may the spirit of the Earth be with us all."
Mysteries of My Past was conceptualized while The Bos wrote Book 1 of his first series,. While writing the series' first book, he began writing the first chapter of Mysteries on the side, originally entitling the chapter 'Mysteries' despite its relation to the series' title. He eventually completed six chapters of the series before developing writers block.
The Bos eventually decided to put the project on hold to focus on the overall quality and scheduling of Avatar: Guardian. Finally, a week after Guardian's conclusion, The Bos revisited the series. After finding the chapters of an almost laughable poor quality, The Bos realized he had to redo all of them. He began the rewrite soon after, improving on both quality and quantity. He added some content to Shenji's dreams, altered some information about various other events, and included some events scheduled for the original chapter 2.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
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