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|Handle with Care|
Book One: Rise and Fall
This is the second chapter of.
Also, be warned of the shifting points of view.
Po (a new character) learns an astonishing truth from his dying grandfather; Lin "buys" passage east with pirates.
Gust, former Northern Air Temple
It was Po's seventeenth birthday, but even Po himself had forgotten, at least until Su had given him a present.
"This is for you, Po," she said sweetly while handing him a small package wrapped in paper.
"Thank-you, Su," said Po. "What's this for?"
"It's your birthday, isn't it?"
Po simply looked confused; he racked his brain, trying to recall. . .
"Oh," he finally said. He unwrapped Su's gift to reveal a yellowed parchment scroll. His eyes widened in astonishment. Su had given him a priceless treasure!
"Do you like it?" Su asked, watching his reaction.
"It's amazing!" Po exclaimed. "How did you get this? I thought documents this old had been destroyed."
"It was my great-grandmother's," said Su rather sadly. "She hid it after the Old Days ended." The Old Days was the era of the four nations, bending, and the Avatar, before revolts tore the world apart.
Po gently unrolled the scroll and saw to his delight that it was a history of the world from the beginning, starting with the initial division of people into four nations. "I can't wait to read it," he told Su.
"I'm glad you like it," she said, "but it's a good idea not to show it to anyone else." She glanced around furtively, illustrating her point. No one could be trusted, especially since government spies could be lingering anywhere.
Po then said, "I should go. My grandfather needs to take his medicine." He turned around and headed home.
Po's grandfather was almost eighty years old, and he was dying.
"Here's the water you asked for, Grandfather," Po said as he walked into the small, dimly lit room holding a cup filled to the brim. Po approached his grandfather's cot and helped him sit up to drink.
"Thank-you, Po," his grandfather rasped after he drank. He lied down again, then glanced at his grandson. "What's that in your shirt, Po?" he asked, pointing to a rectangular lump in the front of Po's shirt.
Po placed his hand on the lump. He answered, "It's something Su gave me for my birthday."
"It is your birthday, isn't it?" clarified the old man.
"Yes, I'm seventeen now," said Po in a patient tone. He raised his eyebrows, accustomed to his grandfather's lack of astuteness.
"It seems as if I have broken a promise, Po," his grandfather said somberly.
Po, confused, asked, "What promise, Grandfather?"
"Remember when you had that nightmare six years ago?"
"You told me it was about the storm that killed your parents."
Po recalled that day long ago, when he had awoken from sleep to see his grandfather's frantic expression.
"You must tell no one!" his grandfather had hissed.
"Tell no one what?" Po had asked groggily. His body had ached, despite his rest, his muscles weary as if he had sprinted around the world five times.
His grandfather had refused to tell him, saying he'd reveal a secret to Po when he turned sixteen. He had been adamant about that particular point, apparently an old tradition.
Po's sixteenth birthday had come and gone; now he was seventeen. "You told me you'd tell me when I turned sixteen," he accused. "I did," his grandfather said despondently, "but I didn't want to because I was afraid about what it would mean to you." "Are you going to tell me now?" His grandfather sat in silence for a moment, the only sound that of his hoarse breathing. Finally, he asked Po, "Do you know anything about the Avatar?" "Not much," Po admitted, wondering where his grandfather was going.
"Well, the last Avatar was from the Fire Nation."
"The Fire Nation doesn't exist anymore, Grandfather."
"But descendants of the people do. Besides, that's not the point. The next nation that was in the cycle was the Air Nomads."
Po sighed. "They aren't around anymore, either." "Po, their descendants are still around," said the elderly man impatiently. "You and I are among them." "But isn't the Avatar a bender?" Po asked. "All the Airbenders here are either hidden or dead." "Po, you're a hidden Airbender." "But I'm not the Avatar." Po's grandfather sighed. "That's not true," he said. "I'm not the Avatar," Po repeated. "Yes you are, Po," his grandfather said. "When I woke you up from that nightmare, your eyes were glowing. You were obviously in some sort of danger inside your dream." "What does that prove?" Po demanded. "I can't be the Avatar! I'm a pathetic Airbender; the only reason I haven't been discovered is because I barely know how to bend!" "That's only because you haven't been taught." "I'm not convinced, Grandfather," said Po in an irritated voice. "Even if I am the Avatar, what am I supposed to do?" "Restore balance," he responded simply. "Return the world to its former glory, before its face fell apart." "And how do I do that?" Po asked skeptically. "Consult the scroll Su gave you." "How'd you know—" Po cut himself off as he caught sight of his grandfather's vacant expression. He felt a lump build in his throat as soon as tears started to pool at the corners of his eyes.
Minh, former Fire Nation
I pulled my hood closer to my face, wary of being recognized as a foreigner. I then glanced around the marketplace in Minh City as I hid in a side alley. I caught sight of a peculiarly dressed man. The man wore a blue and yellow cloak, rather than the usual red and gray. The design was intricate and geometric, circles and curves weaving in and out of each other. His hair was cropped short and he was clean-shaven, something else unusual, as I had noticed that most men in Minh wore top-knots. I knew if anyone could help me, it would be the outsider. I took a deep breath and walked into the marketplace, making my way past shoppers examining wares. I approached the odd man and put my hood down. "Excuse me," I said, standing directly behind him. He turned around and eyed me suspiciously. "What do you want?" he asked gruffly. "Some information," I replied. "What's my incentive?" the man wondered. He met my eyes with a menacing expression. His eyes were blue, another strange feature. I sighed and placed a silver coin in his hand, which he held out expectantly. "You're not from here," I told him. "Who are you with?" "What makes you think I'm not a lonely traveler?" "It's not safe to travel alone into another country, even if you are a merchant." The man slipped the coin in a pocket and scrutinized me. "I could ask you the same thing, little girl. Why do you want to know?" "I'm looking for a way to cross the ocean," I reluctantly told him. His blue eyes widened slightly, but he nodded. Then he leaned forward until his mouth was beside my ear. I tried not to flinch at his warm breath. "Go to the East Marina. The shop is called There and Back. Find Sao Feng." "Thank-you," I said and left, heading straight for the port.
There was truly no other way to describe it; it was simply the strangest day of Sao Feng's life. First, he had succeeded in selling a hundred-year-old history book for a high price, a rare occurrence since most consumers were too cautious to own such a forbidden item. Second, a crime he and his minions had committed had not been traced anywhere near them. The man that had been accused was a baker from the port-town, and his bread had supposedly had traces of cocaine in it. In reality, Sao Feng had his right-hand-man plant false evidence to shield them of a possible incrimination. He was starting to think drug-dealing was quite a profitable business. . . But by far the most peculiar thing about Sao Feng's day was the girl. She drifted into his shabby little store shouldering a worn tote with the hilt of a sword poking out. She emanated self-confidence, and she held her head high as she walked up to the counter. "I need passage to the East," she told Sao Feng quietly, "and I know you can get me there." "What makes you say that, little girl?" he countered. A smirk spread across his face. "I know you have a ship, Sao Feng," she said menacingly, a cold smile creeping over her lips. "How do you know my name?" he asked, shivering slightly. "It doesn't matter," the girl told him. "All I know is that you have a ship that few navies would dare to attack. I want passage." "Let's say I have a ship," said Sao Feng, gaining his composure back. "How much would you be willing to pay?" The girl reached with one hand to grasp the hilt of her sword. She pulled it out and pointed it at Sao Feng. "I'll warn you now, Sao Feng," she said. "I'm practically penniless, but if you value your life"—she pointed the sword tip to Sao Feng's throat—"then you'll value my demand." Sao Feng gulped and struggled not to let his fear show on his face. "Fine," he said. "We'll leave tomorrow."
Lin smirked in satisfaction as she stood on the deck of the buccaneer ship. She inhaled the sharp, salty marine air as she thought of the fright she'd given Sao Feng the day before. In all honesty, she wouldn't have killed him, but at least she was a good actor. Now, all that was left was to wait patiently until she arrived in the East. But in the meanwhile, she'd have to keep a wary eye on Sao Feng's crew; she'd caught one of them giving her a funny look. She'd have to sleep with one eye open as long as she was on the ship.
- Don't worry; you'll find out exactly what Po's dream was about.
- Sao Feng is named after the Asian pirate captain from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.
- A critique would be much appreciated!
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|Fleeting Peace Chapters|
|Book 1: Rise and Fall|
|Disagreements - Handle with Care - Glimpses - Alliances - Curses - Idle - Half-Empty - Addition and Division - The Snitch - Revelations|
|Book 2: Success and Failure|
|Explanations - Omens - Looking Back - Factors - Ulterior Motives, Part 1: Jealousy - Ulterior Motives, Part 2: The Grandson - Shifting Tides - Repetition|
|Book 3: Cause and Effect|