|More from Sep0815||Adventure||PG-13||None yet||~fortnightly|
Legacy is the epilogue, or thirty-second chapter of's .
The characters were artfully placed upon the paper, Kabura saw instantly. Yet, unlike it was often the case with calligraphy, they were perfectly legible – it wasn't hard for her to recognise Skado's hand. Three letters she had received in answer to those she had sent, one from Shizon and Zoruka, one from Ranju, and one signed only by Skado, all of which were addressed to Chieftess Kabura of the South. She couldn't help but smile ever so slightly as she thought about it.
"Mum, what is your judgement in the dispute between the Supik and the Anguta clans?" Senqok's voice pulled her from her thoughts. Senqok the second's, she had to remind herself, for the older her son got, the more he resembled his father.
"Er... " Kabura tossed the letters aside and thought for a moment. "It's about that land Gangtok gave the Angutas, but that's been the Supiks' for, like, ever? Yes. Let's say... " She sighed. "Let's divide the land. Half of it shall go to each. And by that, I mean, half of the arable land, and half of the hunting grounds." She took a look at her son, who towered over her semblance of a desk. "Because, well, it's the Supiks' by ancient right, but it was the Angutas' effort that made it worth something."
"I doubt they'll accept it in mere spoken form," Senqok mused, seemingly unable to take his gaze off the blade that rested on Kabura's hip. Vengeance, Senqok the Elder's blade she had named. "Can I have it written?"
Kabura rolled her eyes, and fetched the nearest blank piece of paper, took her brush, and ink, before scribbling it down at a speed that made the characters illegible, and in a style that reeked of bureaucracy so much an Earth Kingdom official would've envied it. Done with her sentence, she pressed a seal at its end, and rose with it in her hand. She dreaded staying in the dark chambers of the palace – dark, for the pelts and beams of wood and bone it was built from absorbed most light, and ice helped little – and thus walked into the courtroom, where two entire clans, and influential ones, were gathered, as well as many others, all awaiting her sentence.
"The lands in dispute shan't remain the Angutas', for they received them due to powers not even a chieftain should posses." Kabura's start made the Supik Clan cheer. "However, they discovered hot springs there, and made a good portion of the land arable, and used it for exactly that, thus aiding in the South's rise as a considerable power. Therefore, I have decided, considering both, the accomplishments of Clan Anguta, and the ancient right of Clan Supik, to divide the land, both the arable land, and the remaining hunting grounds, in half. One half, Clan Supik shall receive, the rest, Clan Anguta shall remain in possession of. Such is my final judgement in the dispute." Had anyone else been in her position, they would've rioted. However, all she needed to do is to lay her hand upon Vengeance's hilt to silence them. It was her power, determination, and wilfulness that had earned her the position she was in, for how many could claim to have slain a tyrant during pregnancy, and later given birth one day, and hurrying to the moot the next day? It hadn't been an easy road, but she had walked it, with her son more a companion than a child. "Come, Senqok."
"What? Why? Where?" inquired the ordered as his mother dragged him out of the palace.
"To the docks. We're having visitors today." Kabura, once more, couldn't help but smile. She had managed to arrange a meeting, a reunion. More or less, at least.
The smell of fish and whale blubber was omnipresent throughout the town, for these were keeping the tribe alive. And the lamps lit, in the latter case. The icy path was crowded with merchants making deals or selling, whalers and fishermen taking a rest before their next journey, taking in as much sunlight as possible – for soon, the days would shorten again - and sipping liquors, and the area was always full of customers, of course. That, or almost as certain, could a storm approach, and hinder them greatly.
"COD AND TURNIPS! FRESHLY CAUGHT, REAPED, AND FRIED!" one voice cried out with the strength of a typhoon, advertising the newest dish the past years' abundance, and some would say decadence, have left the South with. Senqok could only shudder at the thought of eating it.
Kabura noticed it. "Remember when we were stranded in winter? When that storm smashed our ship against icebergs and we had to find our way through a blizzard? And the first proper food you tasted was cod and turnips?" Kabura teased her son. "And how you wolfed down, like, a kilo of it?"
"Desperate times, desperate measures!" defended Senqok himself, inching away from his mother, when they, at last, arrived at the docks, where more than half the ships were not Water Tribe, but foreign trading ships, flying flags of red or green, or others yet, like of various companies. One ship was making its way into the harbour, flying crimson pennants, while another, with square green and gold flags, was docking. Royal Fire Nation and Royal Earth Kingdom ships. Kabura smiled, for she knew they weren't there only for commerce. She saw herself proved when soldiers were the first to go off board, even if only four of them.
"Your Excellency!" greeted Kabura her old companion, almost impossible to recognise in his robes, and in his office. "It isn't everyday that a Chancellor of the Earth Kingdom pays a visit to the Southern Water Tribe, is it Skado?"
"Says the first Chieftess in, what, world history?" shot Skado back. Neither could hold back smiles, and the two hugged when they were close enough. Only then did Kabura notice something was amiss.
"So where's Noki?" she asked after Skado had retreated to some distance. Meanwhile, Senqok the Younger stood in the background, attempting to follow whatsoever of a conversation there was, and failing.
"Our mother, the late Queen of Omashu, fell ill after giving birth to me," spoke a voice that Kabura at first mistook as Noki's, but revealed to be of a girl around ten, who even looked a bit like her in her combination of tunic on top of her dress. She looked down all the time, Kabura noticed, and sniffed as well.
"Her state worsened all the time," declared a slightly older boy, whose robes marked him as a noble, and who did look slightly like Wei had.
"She passed away, after four and a half years of misery, in her sleep." The lad, who seemed an exact copy of young Skado, was the only one who not only was still downcast, but who also shed tears.
"It's true, sadly," Skado agreed, "She was losing her seismic sense, she was growing deaf, infections spread all over her, leaving her in agony. So she decided to take poison so she wouldn't have to be utterly blind, so she wouldn't jeopardise us." Silence, as far as it can be achieved in a busy port, then followed. After several minutes, Kabura decided to break it.
"So... I take it these are your children?"
"Indeed," agreed Skado, the words bringing the smile back to his lips. "This little rascal— " he motioned to the girl " —is Sora. She will one day – or rather, in six years or so – rule Wa Peninsula. The nobleman – er, noble... boy? – who looks like his grandfather is Chao. Who was made the heir of the richest nobleman in Gaoling. And our only bender here is His Majesty the King of Omashu, Yong." The children bowed when mentioned, and Kabura returned the greetings. "So... I believe this lad here is your son or...?"
"Oh, he? Yeah, he is mine." Senqok listened up and presented himself as his mother spoke. "This bastard's name is his father's."
"Oh, you, like... married?" Skado was surprised to say the least.
"No, Senqok," was all of a reply he received when the Fire Nation ship arrived.
"Your Majesties!" Kabura faked a bow when Shizon and Zoruka, accompanied by four guards as well, descended from deck on the pier.
"Your... " Shizon intended to return the favour, but failed, just as his mind did. He turned to Zoruka. "What's the proper address for a chieftain— er, Chieftess?"
"Eh. I doubt there is any. They're mostly seen as a first amongst equals, at least in the Southern Water Tribe," Zoruka explained, disregarding the question.
"Well, hello I guess. Long time no see." Whatever Shizon spoke, it only served to increase awkwardness. And greeting Kabura formally by bowing didn't make it any better.
"Competent as ever," sighed Zoruka, rolling her eyes, before walking over to Kabura, whom she greeted simply by hugging. When they broke apart again after several seconds, the Chieftess saw something unexpected, even more unexpected than the fact Noki had apparently allowed herself to get pregnant not once, but thrice – five issues, undeniably of the union of Shizon and Zoruka, trailing after them.
"Yes, these are ours, and yes, I'm their mother." Zoruka sensed the question arising as her two sons and three daughters lined up after them. "And yes, the guards are here to make sure they don't trail off."
"Good day, I am Crown Prince Izarion, first-born of— " introduced their eldest son, about as old as Yong, himself, cut off by his eldest sister.
"Oh, shut up. I'm Naila, by the way." She was an unfortunate combination of both her parents, as was evident.
"Let the twins have it their way, eh? Whatever," another of the girls commented. She appeared to be the youngest. When everyone seemed to stare at her, expecting, she spoke, "I'm Lazima. Hello, I guess."
"My turn? MY TURN!" shouted the remaining girl, who seemed only slightly older than Lazima. She cut off the other boy every time he attempted to begin. "I'm Tahira and I'm, like, eleven, and I'm—"
"Stopping to cut Sorin off, right?" cut the younger boy her off. The quarrel continued and escalated, when the last one missing arrived at last, not alone either.
Ranju landed, and noticing she was the last, greeted them, "Sorry I'm late."
"So this is the Southern Water Tribe? It smells like... I don't know, it smells disgusting here," the girl by whom Ranju was accompanied complained.
"It smells like the two main components of Water Tribe economy here – fishery and whaling," explained Ranju. "And yes, disgusting to the unused one."
"So, who, if I may inquire, is your young companion?" asked her Zoruka, curious, as the girl looked pubertal, but already had the markings of an airbending master.
"My foster-daughter." Ranju messed up the girl's – relatively short – hair. "I promised her an excursion for her sixteenth birthday, so here we are."
The girl bowed to the others, realising their stations. "I mean no disrespect, Chieftess, er... Kabura? ...but your town here smells, like, er, disgusting."
"So? Have you ever been to cities like the Fire Nation Capital, Omashu, Taku, Gaoling or Ba Sing Se? They smell far worse. Tenfold, if not even more." Kabura shuddered at the thought of smelling the odours of the Lower Ring. "Anyway, may we request the revelation of your identity?"
"Why, of course." The girl was courteous enough for the court of Gaoling, if not the one in Ba Sing Se, though something made her seem rebellious, and not only her hair. "I am commonly known as Yangchen."
"So, you're turning sixteen today, eh?" Senqok was bored. He was the second oldest in the group that had gathered, found it hard to talk to someone far younger than him, and was tired of formal speech he had to use with Crown Prince Izarion. Thus, he turned to the airbender who had introduced herself as Yangchen.
"Yep," replied she instantly, courteously returning the question, in adapted form. "So... you're, er, how old, exactly?"
"Fifteen. And a half, or near enough, anyway." He seemed to take pride in the sole fact he was second in age only to her, in the gathering at least.
"So... " Yangchen seemed to have encountered the same problem as he had – boredom and a lack of topics to converse about.
"I think you weren't exactly pleased by the smell 'round here?" Senqok's boredom made him uncreative.
"Indeed." She chuckled slightly to dissolve some of the awkwardness, instead increasing it. She sighed. "It smells like... I don't know..."
"Old grease? Ancient fish? Sweat from ages long gone?" Senqok couldn't help but laugh. "Sometimes, when I come back from hunting, I too think, like, how can anyone live here, but ten minutes later I'm used to it again. If you stay for longer, you'll get used to it, trust me."
"I hope not." Her face showed pure disgust, which dissolved quickly. Senqok offered her a piece of fish that he had roasted above the fire, akin a pyre indeed, that formed the centre of not only the hall, but the entire palace. Yangchen declined with a slight wave of her hand. "Thanks, no. We Air Nomads are vegetarians."
"Have a nice time starving down here, then," retorted Senqok, his tone harder than he had intended. He devoured the piece he had roasted whole, and put another above the fire. "Besides... " He grinned a rather queer grin, approaching her. " ...what happens down south, stays down south." After a split second, he realised how wrong it had sounded, and retreated to his initial position, ceasing his smile. "I just didn't say that, a'ight?"
"Fine with me." Yangchen giggled slightly at first, but whenever Senqok looked, refused to have it acknowledged. "So... I think I heard someone call you 'The Younger'. Why is that?"
Senqok handed her something that may or may not have been seaweed, and immediately afterwards addressed her question. "I'm named for my father, whom they mostly call 'The Elder' or 'Old Man Senqok' or something. Just to avoid confusion, I guess."
"I mean no offence, but... I've never heard of anyone being named after their parent, maybe after grandparents, but... parents? Seriously?" Yangchen found naming someone for anyone close kin weird, obviously.
"My father died before I was born." Senqok was downcast instantly, for even though he had never met the man, he found it saddening. "That's all I know." He continued to brood on all kinds of possibilities had he met his father, before adding, as-a-matter-of-factly, "That, and that his father was Chief Gangtok."
"Oh. Sorry." Yangchen regretted asking.
"Ah, not a problem, it's a legitimate question." Senqok cheered her up almost instantly, or at least tried to. "So... since the parents and everyone seems so busy, how about we sneak out?"
"You're not hinting what I think you are...?" Yangchen was somewhat disgusted and intrigued by his suggestion. But mostly, disgusted.
"Why do you have such a dirty mind? I thought you Air Nomads were, like... I don't know... " Senqok was at a loss of words.
"...celibate? Maybe, maybe not. But why shouldn't we be allowed to have dirty minds? We go through puberty like everyone else." Yangchen was relived when Senqok was shocked, and glad to explain.
"So, what I was trying to say is, er, how about we sneak out? You'd like to explore a bit?" Senqok genuinely smiled at Yangchen. "If you know where to find them, the tundra is full of wonders. And as it happens, I know some."
"Er... why not. But I want to be back for breakfast." Yangchen's resolution made it impossible for Senqok to deny her the one condition she demanded.
"All right then. Let's just stick together, that'll make it all easier." Senqok rose, careful not to make anyone else notice. Luckily for the two of them, some of the others were fighting over food, and the rest attempting a mediation. He motioned for Yangchen to mirror his action. "Now follow me."
"Is there any particular reason why you wanted to gather us here?" Kabura was tired of politics for the day, if not the week, and Ranju might just have soured any hopes of a rest, for, as much as Kabura was dutiful, she did need to take a break.
"There is. Remember how I told you Yangchen would turn sixteen today?" Ranju had a reassuring smile on her lips.
"No." Zoruka was the first to understand. "No, no, no, no you didn't!" She couldn't help but laugh, "You filthy little ingenious bastard!"
"What...?" Shizon was always slower, but quicker to take action. "So today is just the anniversary of the Battle for the Fire Nation, what else do you— oh. Oooh, wait. Wait a bloody second." He paused. "So how should we reveal it to her?"
"She's mastered air, yes? She'll need a master for water." Kabura crossed her arms. "If you'd allow it, I'd be honoured to take her as a student."
"So that's what you're talking about, eh?" Skado smiled slightly. "Earth will be next in line. I could arrange a visit to Omashu... or any city known particularly for earthbenders."
"The governance of the Fire Nation can be left in the hands of either of us for some time," decided Shizon. "Should we be required, as masters, or guardians, or whatever, just message us."
Ranju hadn't expected such a reaction. "Well... Kabura, you'll do...? And splendidly, I guess? Just take it easy. We don't have to make arrangements already, I merely wanted to tell you. There's time for more tomorrow, when we've told Yangchen, and she's had time to take it. Don't forget, she'll be part of every decision."
"...which is why you took her here instead of letting the Elders reveal it to her?" presumed Zoruka, knowing how Air Nomad Elders treated the matter of revealing an Avatar.
"Indeed. Also, I want to ensure she is trained as an Avatar keen on saving the world, not some delusional nun who severs every tether to it." Ranju had an obvious dislike for the latter, and given the context, rightly so.
"I guess we'll just leave the revelation stuff to you, then," declared Skado, earning agreement.
"So, let's go." Ranju rose from her almost ducking position, parting from Kabura's table, and headed for the exit, when a man burst in through it, a man in armour.
"Ma'am, your son and the Air Nomad girl were just seen leaving town to west-south-west!" reported the soldier, breathing heavily from exhaustion. No doubt had he run from his post all the way to the office. Or rather, solar.
"Oh, spirits bloody DAMMIT!" yelled Kabura. "Mind if I borrow your bison?"
"Not to worry, I'll come," announced Ranju, leading Kabura outside, before the rest hurried after them.
"We're coming too!" commanded Zoruka, pushing Shizon and Skado forwards.
"So where are we going?" Yangchen glanced around, worrying slightly, for what the dark clouds on the evening skies heralded could hardly favour their endeavour.
"West-south-west," stated Senqok, when he noticed she expected a different answer. He stopped in his tracks, briefly, the slight breeze forming small snowdrifts around his feet. "To some hot springs. You'll like it."
"Some hot springs?" Yangchen raised an eyebrow, and poked him, thus making him walk on, other than she had intended. "How far are they?"
Senqok remained silent. Outside their settlements and off board, that was what dominated Water Tribesmen's and Tribeswomen's communication. He walked on, forcing his way through fresh snow. The was close to the horizon, but it wouldn't set, Senqok knew. He climbed the ridge they had been approaching for half an hour, and declared, "Hardly an hour from here."
"Are you certain?" What lay behind them made Yangchen doubt that very much.
"Why, yes. I've walked there quite often, though we usually use sledges to move about." The lad was oblivious to what Yangchen observed, moving on.
"Stop you fool!" The Air Nomad hurried after him, only to find a steep descent on the other side of the ridge. Too fast she was by then, and she made a fast descent, managing to stop before Senqok, who carefully climbed downwards. "Get back up there, take a look around, and tell me we'll make it there!" As she spoke, she attempted turning him into the direction, but this only made him fall, and as he caused quite an avalanche with his descent, took her with it. After a minute, both of them had struggled out of the snow, some of it fresh, some ancient. The light the midsummer sun had cast on the land was gone then, replaced by greyish beams of light shooting through the dark clouds, and the cloud beneath them, darker yet, which brought with it cold and snow, and storm. Yangchen began to shudder heavily, and Senqok's neutral expression morphed into something akin to fear instantly.
"Oh, fuck!" exclaimed the Water Tribesman, his voice soon outdone in volume by the ever picking up winds. He climbed from what was left of the miniature avalanche, took Yangchen by her hand, and ran to the ridge they had been following. "Why didn't you tell me about this?"
"I TRIED TO!" shouted the Air Nomad, only to be heard.
"WHY DIDN'T I SEE THIS COMING!?" Senqok saw it was his fault and his alone, which didn't exactly help them. They ran, desperate to keep their footing, and always having to concentrate on it, lest they would either be swallowed up by the snows, or flung around by the winds. And that, even though Senqok did his best to press the snow in front of them so they would have a path, and even though Yangchen tried to bend the wind away to the best of her abilities. The ridge, merely the peaks of a mountain range swallowed up by snow and ice, was only hundreds of metres away. Out of nowhere, a massive crevasse appeared in front of them, and when Senqok found it too late to stop, and almost fell down, it was his firm grip of Yangchen's hand, and her fast reaction – sending an air blast against the opposite side to propel him out of there – that saved him. With only the foot of the ridge in sight, the two fled there, into uncertainty. When suddenly their feet slid from beneath them, taking them with them through the snow, Yangchen found her powers useless, and Senqok himself too slow. When they found themselves stopped by rocky ground, they saw it was their rescue, unless of course whatever cavern they had found themselves in would be sealed off by snow and ice.
"What would I give to be a firebender now... " noted Yangchen, knowing nothing of her surroundings except that somewhere close, there was Senqok, that the ground was solid rock, and that there was no wind to speak of.
"You were saying?" Senqok's question was rhetorical, the Air Nomad found, when she was presented with burning blubber. "You don't have any wood, by chance?"
"No, I left my staff at home," retorted Yangchen sarcastically. She turned from him, shaking her head. "Why did I even agree to this?"
"Boredom," stated Senqok, knowing well that both knew this was the reason.
"Shut up. You'll make your little light go out." Yangchen could've gone on a rampage there and then, had she not learnt to control herself, thus great was her sudden anger at herself and the fool Senqok was apparently.
"I merely answered your question." Senqok retreated, just to be safe. "My apologies should that have angered you."
"ANGERED ME? THIS? HAH!" Yangchen turned around, her skin paler than usual – a sign of hypothermia, Senqok judged. She almost would've struck Senqok, but couldn't bring herself to let anger rule her. Silence settled, and Senqok decided to light a spare piece of cloth on his dwindling blubber light, to take a look around. When he saw it was merely the entrance to the cave they were in, he shuddered.
"What is it?" The Air Nomad inquired, suddenly concerned.
"We're in a cave. A big one." He was quick to throw the burning cloth away before his gloves would catch fire, and took a few more pieces of blubber, putting them next to the burning one.
"So?" Yangchen inched closer to the tiny fire, which only gave off some light and far more smoke. "It doesn't look like it's been used by anyone for quite some time, like, decades."
"Even so... " Senqok glanced around into the darkness, before sitting down next her, taking off his fur coat, and throwing his arms around her, trapping her in a bone-crushing hug.
"Why are you doing this?" Yangchen found it uncomfortably pleasant.
"Look at your skin. You must be horribly cold," stated Senqok. "It's something I'd do for anyone, should the need present itself."
The flame dwindled before dying, and with it all warmth save for theirs, and cold settled in.
"How did they even get thus far?" Shizon was astonished at how extreme polar weather could be as Ranju's sky bison fought its way through the storm. The flame he hovered over his hand was warm, but not warm enough for the warmth to reach him.
"First of all, they started before the storm came. Second, they're an airbender and a waterbender." Kabura attempted to track what little traces the two had left, or rather, what little was still left of them. They passed over a ridge, where an avalanche seemed to have occurred, beginning with footsteps of what appeared to have been Senqok. "We need to land. I can't make out anything from here."
"On it." Ranju steered her obedient companion downwards, to the ground, where the massive beast almost sunk into the snow, for it was too light. Kabura leapt off the saddle, and found the answer to her question instantly, as she destroyed Yangchen's tracks when landing. She took a look at them, her attention shifting to the miniature avalanche, and back to the tracks, which she then followed. Everyone hopped off the bison, which trod next to them, saving them from much of the wind. When they came to a crevasse, both the tracks first led to it, and then, it seemed, hastily from it, allowing them to easily reconstruct what had occurred.
"So... Yangchen and Senqok walked ordinarily until they came to the ridge, where something made them trip, or near enough, causing an avalanche, and then, they attempted to flee from the storm, coming upon this... What's it called?" Zoruka voiced what everyone had thought in one way or another.
"A crevasse," answered her Kabura absently.
"They came to the crevasse. Apparently, one of them slid, and had to climb back up or something. Then, they fled from it, apparently." Zoruka took a look around when Kabura, speechless, stopped. The tracks ended then and there. "To this point."
"Let me see." Shizon pushed his way through, setting each step exactly like he thought Yangchen had. When he set his foot beyond the tracks' end, however, he vanished into the snow with a cry.
"SHIZON!" cried Zoruka, running after him, before being swallowed up by the snow just as well. Kabura decided to bend it aside, revealing a cave entrance. She allowed Skado and Ranju to enter before her, and let the bison guard the entrance before descending herself. There, she found the two lying on the floor, clutching each other, both somewhat paler than normal. Both Shizon and Zoruka, the latter of whom was more than relieved to see the former doing well, lit fires in their palms, warming the two. Skado lit a lamp he had brought, and took a look around, seemingly freezing before a certain part of the cave wall. Ranju was with Yangchen and Senqok instantly, but Kabura was caught by the same part of cave wall as Skado was.
"Senqok... " was all she could utter, a tear streaming down her cheek.
"Yes?" her son hurried to her side, and she threw her arms around him.
"It's time you learned about your father," she decided, tears still in her eyes. She motioned to a carved part of cave wall, where characters were engraved into the stone. "Here lie the ashes of Senqok, son of Gangtok" she read. Everyone fell silent. Kabura took Vengeance and handed it to her son. "This was his blade... though it bore no name then." She smiled slightly.
"He slew many with it," stated Shizon, "And battled many more."
"He indeed was a fine warrior, though not so fine a soldier," found Skado, "And a great friend. And though no inventor, had ideas that were a true break-through."
"He was kind hearted, yet slow to forgive," spoke Zoruka. "He helped save— no, saved me when I still would've obeyed Yi Ming, but wouldn't show mercy to others who did."
"He was great warrior, friend, and fool." Tears still glistened in Kabura's eyes as she remembered. "He was brave, witty, but near unforgiving, and even less calculating."
"He was far from perfect," remembered Ranju.
"But he was a great lover." With a laugh she couldn't hold back, Kabura finished the description. "And disgusting, at times."
Senqok the Younger stood before what remained of his father, speechless from the description, and touched the inscription, for a second seeking to see what was beyond, when he remembered it was only ashes. He retreated from the cave wall, shaking his head, and turned from it as well, before delivering one more bone-crushing hug, this time to his mother, who returned it.
Smiles crept on everyone's faces, and when they broke apart again, all of the adults nodded to each other, having almost forgotten the reason for Yangchen's presence.
"Happy sixteenth birthday, Yangchen," Ranju congratulated her, before turning away, leaving her somewhat dumbfounded. "Close your eyes, we brought a surprise."
Yangchen did as she was told, and when she opened them again, found everyone, except for a confused Senqok, who, after putting one and one together, joined them, bowing to her.
"It is an honour of knowing and serving you, Avatar Yangchen." Senqok was the first to speak the words and to rise, too. He took Yangchen by her hand, and yanked her from the circle of bowing ones, declaring, "Now let's go home!"
He closed the book. The last of its kind he thought, It's almost a shame. It was in a bad state as it was – entire chapters were missing, pages burnt or had fallen victim to mildew, or characters simply illegible. It was the manuscript, he knew, the first of its kind, and now the last. A TALE OF REBELS – An account of the Earth Empire's and Liberation Alliance's final years was its title, hinting neutrality. Why, it is almost neutral. Too bad we don't seek neutrality in our books. were his thoughts as he read the title one last time. It wasn't a dry account, but a novel, told from the eyes of those involved who had set it down during the events concerned, or afterwards. Many details were missing in this one, but it mattered little, for he had held complete editions of it, and read them, and the new, his version included everything there was in the original. Or rather, there had been. Those filthy rebels thought they could've make their order last, when they knew that all it took to topple it was some... dedication. He took a look at his version, complete with illustrations, approved by the Grand Secretariat. No longer. The very idea of the systems these fools tried to build must be exterminated. One more time, he browsed through the pages of the original. From the first chapter, which actually was number four, he knew from complete editions, of Senqok's arrival, to the great uniter Yi Ming's death at an Air Nomad's hands, it was all there. For a split second, the thought occurred to him that he could take the book for himself – it wasn't complete, anyway. But the thought was unacceptable, so he brushed it aside. To make sure everything was rewritten as it was meant to, he browsed his own version quickly. The arrival of Zoruka, for example, he had made the infiltration of the Imperial Palace. He was proud how he had managed to turn the work of rebels into one against them.
Without further ado, he took the book. The last in the entire world... he thought with a hint of sadness, but mostly with pride. The fire outside his quarters raged, with ever new codices and scrolls being cast into it. Thus, all he needed to do was to open the window, and fling it into its centre, which he did, as not to raise suspicion. He did watch for some time, however, as the flames consumed the paper and parchment and ink, and mildew. The greedy flames made no difference, and neither did he. It was what had been requested, and he obliged. He was proud of how well he had done his job.
For as the flames ate up the last page, the last character, nothing proved it ever had been different from what he described. He smiled, for he had just changed history.
Notes and Trivia
- "Cod and turnips" is a reference to the (stereo)typically British dish Fish 'n' Chips.
- While the names of Noki's and Skado's children are taken from Japanese and Chinese, Zoruka's and Shizon's children bear names influenced by or taken from Greek, Arab, Persian and alike, simply because they seem to fit better, in my humble opinion at least.
- Noki's and Skado's children are meant to found three important bloodlines: Sora is meant to be an ancestor to Kyoshi, Chao would found the Beifong family, and Yong merely continues the line of Kings of Omashu.
- The last section is one of the oldest ones, in terms of getting the idea, and is heavily, and by that I mean really heavily influenced by George Orwell's 1984, especially the protagonist's (Winston Smith's) job in the Ministry of Truth, which consists mainly of altering the past by modifying past reports and alike to fit the Party's current course etc., and eliminating every proof of it ever having been different.
- Last but not least, I must thank everyone who truly read it for putting up with my constant delays, and with my, at times, inconsistency. You bloody bastards are awesome!
For the collective works of the author, go here.