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|"I am the victor in spirit, even if my body is broken and beaten."|
|— Sakodi, on the nature of defeat.|
Hell Hath No Fury is the third episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender Revised.
|Hell Hath No Fury|
January 17th, 2011
Behind the Scenes
Theme Song: "Love is a Battlefield," by Pat Benatar. Relevance: It certainly is a battlefield when the lovers in question are a warrior and the leader of an Amazon-esque warrior clan.
Sleepless in Rhao Han
A bout of insomnia was once again plaguing Kyasin, restricting her from the relief that sleep would bring. At this time of night back on the island, she would be the only restless soul wandering about. But a village in the process of revitalization cannot rest. Workers were scattered throughout the town, reversing the damage that the firebenders had wreaked. She could not find solace with so many other equally sleepless souls around her. As she passed the town's quaint hospital, the gaunt faces of untreated and clearly famished burn victims pressed against the glass and stared at her, the healthy and well-fed water tribal. The misery and envy in their eyes would haunt her dreams for months on end. Above her, Ain dropped from his perch and gently hovered downward, legs crossed and palms pressed together. He withdrew from his meditation as his feet touched the unkempt dirt road, and began strolling beside her.
The monk and the waterbender walked in tandem, synchronized as if this whole scenario had been laid weeks in advance, far from the truth that these two had been on entirely separate pathways through life merely days ago. Ain spoke up, "We haven't had the opportunity for an actual casual conversation since we met, you know. Technically, we could have chatted while flying, but Appa soars far too swiftly to allow that." He then paused, realizing that he neither possessed any conception of subject about which to speak, nor did he know what to say when she would respond.
Without looking at him, Kyasin coolly replied, "Thankfully."
Distressed and surprised, Ain glanced at her and asked, "Why do you say that? Do you not you wish to be friends, Kyasin?"
She looked back at Ain and gave him a brief but warm smile. With kindness and grace, she said, "Of course I do, Ain. I'd definitely like to get to know you better. You're the last remaining survivor of the most serene and spiritual culture this world has ever known. I am sure that you have led an interesting life, but if Appa had not flown so quickly, this village would be as much of a relic as you are."
Possibly even more perplexed than earlier, he attempted to interpret what she was feeling, utilizing his years of conditioning in emotional reading. Her face was like a two-sided mirror, veiling what lied beneath in her thoughts as effectively as a shield would, while allowing her to peer into his own thoughts. The aura of confidence that she emanated came off as natural, rather than inflated in any form. There was no way he could rebuke such a warm and logical response, thus he merely remained dumbfounded, walking alongside her without speaking.
Recognizing that he was still needing to be eased into friendly conversation and out of spirituality and philosophy, Kyasin spoke up again. "Neither my brother nor I bite, Ain. You can take all the time you need to think of something to say. Don't feel pressured into responding as instantaneously as possible, that isn't how conversation works. I can help you get used to speaking casually, to new people. You really never left the temple when you were a monk, it seems."
Ain was grateful at how welcoming and patient she seemed to be. "Yes...essentially my entire life revolved around being taught by Grand Monk Gyatso, my mentor and guardian. All we would talk about was philosophy and aspects of the lifestyles and cultures of the other nations. He did not prepare me for a life outside of the temple's walls. I heavily appreciate your offer to provide guidance in speaking to others to me, and I will take any and all advice you will give me." Their conversation continued to be disjointed and slightly awkward, but it was still a great comfort to the two uneasy souls, both of which were lonely and out of their respective elements.
Powered by an engine that was likely crafted alongside those that powered the Fire Nation's warships, the ferry sped away from the island as Sakodi marvelled the island that he had been left on with his sister, Ain, and the girl who had chosen to follow them, Miza. A lush forest, which was compiled of towering redwoods and dense foliage, surrounded the beach. Sakodi had spent each and every single day of his seventeen years on an infertile and often frost-ridden island. He was not accustomed to such an overwhelming sight. On the tribe's island, it was a rarity to see green, even in the summer when the trees between the rock crags sprouted some leaves, let alone a verdant ocean of wood and dew. The joyous mood that he bore, akin to a child seeing something new and wondrous, was cleansed away when he thought of forests like this being razed for what was deemed civilization's progress by the Fire Nation.
The troupe left Appa on the shore, and marched through a thin path between the densely packed trees, with Sakodi closely following Kyasin, who was leading, and Ain and Miza walking side by side behind them. Sakodi's thoughts turned to the last words that had been spoken to him by the living legend that was Hakido. He had been the valiant guardian of the Southern Peak tribe, had repelled the Fire Nation's soldiers and mercenaries for 26 years until handing the reins to Kyasin, and leaving with half of the village's soldiers to serve with the Earth Kingdom military. With all of his loyal men and women patiently waiting for him, Hakido had turned to his son and embraced him. He had whispered in Sakodi's ear, "A warrior has never felt such pride for another as I do for you, Sakodi."
This had confused the adolescent, so he told his father, "I don't think that I understand what you mean, dad."
Hakido looked into his son's eyes, as several tears slowly drifted out of his own. "A warrior's sense of pride is his or her greatest handicap. It is a pestilence that must consistently be kept in check, if the warrior is to be pure of heart. Pride convinces a warrior that he or she is unstoppable, that he or she is invaluable and deserving of more than all others. Warriors must embrace selflessness and generosity if they're going to keep the overwhelming power of pride at bay. Never allow yourself to be tainted by an overbearing sense of pride, my son. It nearly destroyed me, as it has obliterated the souls of countless others throughout the entire passage of time. Defend the people of this village, your brethren, as if you were defending yourself, or Kyasin, or me. Swear to me that you would give your life, your final breaths, for anyone in this village."
"I solemnly swear to give my life for each and every person in this village, if it be needed." He had recited the oath of a water tribal warrior. Since that day, doubt had bitten at Sakodi's feet, daring him to prove that his vow was genuine.
A pack of warrors clad in armored green uniforms lunged from the apexes of the trees, in a sudden ambuscade. The Avatar's troupe had been brought down, with their heads pressed into the grass. A woman adorned with a golden headpiece spoke up. "You all are intruding within the sacred forest of the god Kyoshi. State your reason for visiting our humble island, or we will be forced to hold you prisoner, and interrogate you under harsher conditions."
Ain responded, "Our mount, a sky bison, was shot down by the Fire Nation, and needs treatment for his burns."
The leader of the warriors stamped her foot against Ain's face. "You utter weakly-constructed fabrications. All of the sky bison reside in the Avatar temples, which can only be reached by an airbender or flying vehicle. Unless..." She pulled her foot off of Ain's face and recognized the tattoos of an airbender. Ain looked up at her and said, "I am the Avatar's host, ma'am. I have no ill intentions against your people. Once my bison is treated, we will proceed northward to the Ice Citadel."
The warrior leader pulled Ain off of the ground, and gestured to her followers to do the same with the other three. "My name is Sokana, and I am the high priestess and head warrior of our people, the followers of Kyoshi. The Avatar is most definitely welcome on our island. We will provide any hospitality you require, and all the treatment your bison needs."
The group was brought to the center of the ring of villages built from auburn wood, that made up the Kyoshi Island settlement, deep within the confines of the forests. The entire populace of the island was gathered around Sokana, who stood with confidence and regality as she addressed her people. "For the next few weeks, the Avatar host and his followers will be staying on our island. I expect each and every one of you to treat them with the same respect that you would give to myself, or each other." She called for the warriors to bow toward Ain in honor, which she did as well. "You have inherited the role of guardian of the natural world and its people from the Fire Sage Roku, and before him there was our god, Kyoshi. We expect you to do everything necessary to end this disgusting invasion, as she would do so."
A young man from the crowd excitedly cried out, "Oh my spirits, is he really the Avatar?" He began to convulse and froth at the mouth, before he was taken away by medics. . . .
Sakodi strode down the pathways of the Kyoshi Island's settlement, passing various people, each dutifully attending to whatever was needed to be done. After an hour of aimless wandering, he came across the island's town hall, within which the leader esided. A pantheon of civilians surrounded him, each clad in the same attire as the that which had been worn by Sokana and her group. Everyone in the village wore the same uniform, that marked them as warrior of Kyoshi. He had noticed that men were few and far between on this island, which puzzled Sakodi, as both genders evenly made up the warriors of his own tribe. When he arrived at Sokana's office, he was told to remain in interim until she could speak with him.
As he anticipated his discussion with Sokana, Sakodi admired the grand mural of a woman's face on the walls, that seemed to glare out beyond its own dimension and into Sakodi's heart, judging his worth. Her expression was stoic and elegant, and gave the impression that this had been a woman with unimaginable power. It was merely colored ink brushed onto the wall, but the painting sent reverberations of tension through Sakodi's body, making him feel inspired, as if he needed to prove his potential for greatness to her, and her followers. Sakodi was called before the young woman who solely led those who followed the teachings of the God on the Wall. Sakodi said to her, "Appa's recovery will be slow and monotonous, and I seek to use this leisure time to better myself with valuable experience. The combat and stealth prowess of your people is spoken of in hushed tones in my land. The rigorous training is said to be the roughest in the world.. I would like to be personally taught by you Sokana, and brought into the circle of the Kyoshi Warriors." He kneeled in respect of her, as she acutely studied Sakodi's face, which bore a wide and eager smile.
Sokana said, "I believe that your intentions are genuine and innocent, but be aware, once you begin the trials of Kyoshi, you must uphold your dedication to the course. There is no retreat or pulling out once you have accepted your regimen and begun training. All of the rumors whispered about our training course are accurate. We will test your vigor, combat skills and stealth ability without mercy or pity. If you are declared fit, you will undergo Kyoshi's Rite to determine if Kyoshi herself accepts you as well. The penalty for rejection at the hands of our god is...severe, fittingly so. Are you physically prepared and truly willing to undergo the harshest drilling and discipline your body and mind are able to endure?"
Sakodi gave this a moment of mock consideration before exclaiming, "I am, absolutely and enthusiastically so."
The Trial of Stealth
The trees around him seemed to extend endlessly into the infinite black void of space that hung over their world. Sakodi was attempting to synchronize with the natural world that grew around, as he had asked Ain to teach him to do earlier. He was meditating in the forest at the stroke of midnight, just as Sokana had instructed him to do so in preparation for the first session. She would arrive for his training in stealth momentarily. From out of the brush an arm erupted, pressing a thin and sleek blade against his throat. "Before you can master the art of stealth, you must be able to counter it as well. Always remain aware of your environment, and utilize your senses to detect unseen foes, as you should have here. With a flick of my wrist, I could end your life Sakodi."
He pulled the blade out of her hands and grabbed her shoulders, then lifted himself and her up whilst bending his body forward, tossing her over his head. They proceeded into a chess match of sorts, each taking turns at making strikes, counters, and movements in order to best the other in a grander fashion than their preceding attempt. This went on for over an hour before Sakodi finally asked, "Are you not supposed to be teaching me of stealth, Sokana?"
After she bent backward, twisted around him and pulled his arms back, then kicked out his legs, Sokana responded with the trace of a glint in her eye. "I am already teaching you of stealth, Sakodi. We are engulfed in the shadows of the canopy, it is the dead of night but the stars cannot shine through. I am forcing you to detect my presence and counter my attacks without the use of sight. This skill is a necessity for encounters with others that are disciplined in stealth, like the warriors of my island." She pulled him off of the ground and pointed to one of the numerous trees that encompassed them. "Climb that tree and meet me above the canopy of the forest, Sakodi." She leapt and grasped onto a strong branch, then began to pull herself up the side of the tree, occasionally bending her limbs in unnatural ways, like a simian, to maneuver around obstacles such as large bushels of leaves.
Once Sakodi had managed to bring himself onto the top of one of the trees, he nearly fell and painfully tumbled through the branches. Grasping the fringe of the top branches for dear life, Sakodi turned to Sokana wearing an inquisitive face, as if to ask, "How in hell does this improve my stealth ability?"
Sokana cheefully explained, "The peaks of trees serve well as platforms to move across without making detectable noise, especially the canopy of our forest. As long as you maintain a light form and internal balance upon the tree, and stay on each tree for no more than two or three seconds, your body doesn't make enough impact to cause the tree to bend and produce soundwaves." She spread her weight as evenly across the tree as possible, then launched herself by bending her knees back. She gracefully passed from tree to tree in leaps and bounds without making any impact or noise, seemingly soaring through the air like a majestic eagle. Sakodi realized that she carried a regal beauty upon herself, even in the midst of combat, with her precise and graceful movements.
Soon enough, he was moving in tandem with her across the canopy. They began to discuss their lives leisurely as they propelled themselves through the air. "How long have you led the Kyoshi Warriors?"
"Only for the last several years...the previous leader was my mother, she was butchered when she led a group of warriors to defend a neighboring island, that the Fire Nation was raiding. That was four years ago."
"My empathy goes out to you, Sokana. My mother was killed in a raid when I was just a toddler. My father, who was the chieftain, left the tribe three years ago to serve with the Earth Kingdom military against the Fire Nation. Kyasin has been the chieftess since he departed. She's done a great job protecting our people and keeping order. I'm sure you have as well."
"The loss of a loved one is like having a vacant cavity being formed within your thoughts, like life has become incomplete because someone who was such an important part of it for so long just evaporates into the atmosphere. Having that hollow cavity drains out some of my potential for giving true leadership, I think... I'm sure Kyasin served well though. She seems immeasurably independent and capable of overcoming hardship, even if it is as devastating as the loss of a parent. You know, she's taken quite a liking toward Lia, one of my disciples..." She halted herself in mid-air, and brought Sakodi crashing down through the canopy with her. Once they had landed on the ground, she told him that they would continue with the dead-of-night combat the next day, and once he succeeded at bringing her down in that, he would be instructed on camouflage and infiltration.
[Six days later...]
Sakodi knew the parameters of this assignment. To finish the trial of stealth and begin the second trial, he was required to infiltrate a building and neutralize his target, who had been selected by Sokana. He was suspended in the air, with his hands desperately gripping the branches of the upper canopy. His body was shrouded by the foliage of the trees. As the patrolling guard passed by him for the umpteenth time that hour, Sakodi sighed inside of his mind. This tedium was unfortunately a necessity, as Sokana had told him that precise timing is needed to dismantle a guard. He swung himself forward and tackled the guard, choking him out with the wire that Sokana had provided him with. He went to the blind spot where he could not be sighted through any of the various windows on the house, and scurried up the wall like a rodent of sorts.
He peered through the window on the roof and realized that his target was Kyasin. Sokana knew exactly how to pull him into a precarious conflict. He considered his options for several moments. In a fair fight, Kyasin would bring him down almost immediately. If he leapt through the roof window and attacked her, she would instinctively hurt him more so than if he attacked her directly. Finally, Sakodi deduced exactly how to handle this situation. He returned to the ground and knocked on the front door. When Kyasin opened it, she asked him why he was there so late at night. Sakodi said, "I just wanted to see my favorite older sibling with magical powers. Isn't that acceptable?" and shined the most persuasive and innocent face he could muster. She sighed and turned around to allow him in, upon which he plunged the tranquilizer Sokana had given him into her back and ran in the other direction as fast as possible. Sakodi muttered, "I'll do whatever she wants if she holds this against me...but at least my training can continue..hopefully..I am so screwed otherwise."
The Trial of Strength
She caught his punch in her palm, then kneed him in the gut, spun him around, and kicked him away from her. Sakodi staggered for a few moments, then regained his footing and turned around, roundhouse kicking her in the process. The warrior cringed and clutched her side as Sakodi thrusted punches into her chest and midsection in rapid succession. She fell to her knees and told him that she tapped out. Sokana had been watching the match, and said, "Solid performance Sakodi, but you'll have to fight your way through each and every one of our duelists if you expect to reach the third trial. Nothing proves a warrior's ability to endure pummelings quite like dueling all afternoon. You can fight the second tier of duelists tomorrow, Sakodi."
The two walked away from the ring of stones that he had fought in for hours on end that day. Sakodi asked, "Exactly how many tiers of duelists are there?" Sokana laughed enthusiastically. "You have plenty more to get through, Sakodi. I expected you to be curious about who the current champion is. My mistake..."
Now Sakodi was perplexed, suspicious, and heavily concerned for his safety all at the same time. He tried to think of a word that matched all of those feelings, but to no avail. Sakodi muttered, "Susplexed, susplexious, perspiced? No..." Then he recalled that Sokana was right there to answer any question for him. "Okay, first of all, can you think of a word that means being perplexed suspicious and concerned for your own safety all at the same time?"
Sokana considered this for a few seconds, and then responded "That's what you want to know? Not about who is the dueling champion?" She sighed heavily and turned away from him for a second. "What's the point of messing with your friend's head if he's not going to even play along?"
"Oh very well then, who is the duelist champion?"
"I'm not going to tell you now..you'll have to wait until you fight her."
Exasperated, Sakodi said, "Damn it Sokana...you know, you and Kyasin will get along really well. Both of you just love to take advantage of my gullible and friendly personality..."
Sokana contorted her face from an expression of joviality to that of concern. She wrapped her arm around Sakodi's shoulder and pulled him closer to her. She cocked her head toward him and gave Sakodi a bright smile. "Calm down tribal boy...I would never stress you out intentionally like that..unless it was really funny. I'm sure Kyasin thinks the same way."
Sakodi smirked at her and said, "You know, that's entirely reassuring Sokana."
"That is what I was going for...so Sakodi, did you ever become this interested in a girl back in the tribe?"
Sakodi rolled his eyes, but kept right on wearing his wide grin. "I was always either too young or too busy for any sort of romantic attachments."
She teasingly asked, "Since when is this a romantic attachment? We've known each other for what, a week and half? Pace yourself, Sakodi."
"It seems like life itself has been put into an accelerated time frame by this invasion..."
"That may be true Sakodi. But let's wait until one of us saves the other from a highly dangerous situation. You know how these stories go." The two split away, each walking to their designated residences. [Two more days pass...]
Sokana stated, "To be fair, Lia has offered to let you use your club in the duel, Sakodi."
Sakodi gave a bitter response. "Oh, that's just so...kind of you, Lia...after all, you're just, you know, a swordsman...blunt object versus broadsword is completely fair, don't you think so Kyasin?"
Kyasin responded apathetically to Sakodi's remark. "Let him use his machete Lia, then he'll shut up and get this over with...or you could just throw him off a cliff...that always gave him the message back home..."
Sokana sighed and said, "Very well, machete against broadsword it is. Begin the duel..."
Lia lunged forward with her blade, then began rapidly slashing at Sakodi. Whenever the blade came within Sakodi's contact, he deflected it with the broad side of his machete. He hinged out of her pathway, but Lia continued to stab and slice with ferocity. Sakodi taunted her, "Congratulations Lia, you have successfully conquered the ultimate foe...air. What an accomplishment." He kicked out her legs from behind and wrenched the broadsword from her hands. "Checkmate." Lia brushed the dirt off of her uniform and walked toward Kyasin. "I have much more important matters anyway...farewell." The two walked away together, hand in hand.
Sakodi turned to Sokana and asked, "All that's left is the champion, right?"
She strode toward him and pulled his weapons from him, and set them outside of the fighting arena. "Indeed..and the final match will be hand to hand."
Sakodi's curiosity overwhelmed his sense of self-restraint. "You're the champion...right?"
Sokana shook her head...and then began to dash around him, kicking up dust to obscure his vision. Her fists began to sporadically cut through the cloud of detritus in the air and strike Sakodi in the midsection, chest, and face. She swept his legs out and slammed her heel into his gut. She dropped her knees onto his groin and began to batter him, smashing his face with her elbows and fists, leaving him bruised and bleeding from thin cuts. Sakodi was paralyzed from the sheer pain...he cringed as she pulled herself off of him, the relieving of the pressure on his groin left a sore feeling throughout his torso. "I am the best warrior on our island, the embodiment of an insurmountable obstacle for many. You failed Sakodi...your pride is likely as beaten as your body."
Sakodi painfully rose off of the ground and walked toward Sokana. "I am not shameful for my defeat at your hands, Sokana. I am the victor in spirit, even if my body is beaten and broken. My father told me that a warrior must restrain his or her sense of pride. Pride can overwhelm a warrior's spirit and spoil his or her soul, transforming them from good-natured men and women to selfish, pompous narcissists. If you look down on your opponents simply for their being defeated, then you are no better than those responsible for the invasion of our homelands. Defeat is a natural and acceptable part of being a warrior. If this is the end of my training, I will humbly thank you for your time and turn my attention elsewhere."
The Trial of Vigor
That evening, Sokana turned up at Sakodi's doorstep. She pulled him outside and said, "Your and your father's words rang true in my thoughts when I reflected upon them, Sakodi. They captured the true nature of the way of the warrior, and the ways of Kyoshi herself. In a moment of poor judgment, I reflected not the teachings of my god, but the vain teachings of Earth Kingdom military. I was mistaken...you did not truly lose, your victory was in maintaining the strength of the pure spirit of a warrior. You will make a fine follower of Kyoshi's teachings, Sakodi. When the war is over, I'll teach you of our culture. You will continue your training with the third trial at the break of dawn tomorrow." We will meet on the shore. She leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. "You are pure of heart and of spirit, Sakodi. I would be proud to be with you some day."
Sakodi wandered along the belt of sand on the edge of Kyoshi Island, staring out at the sun, which was highly obscured by the horizon. Sokana was a kind a powerful woman...he was now grateful that they had been forced to come to this island. By happenstance, the singing of their mount by Fire Nation soldiers had led to both Sakodi and Kyasin finding women they were quite fond of, who were as beautiful as the sunrise that was unfolding before his eyes. Sokana suddenly unearthed herself from the sand and tackled him, slamming Sakodi against the cliff face. She looked into his eyes with a smirk on her face, and said, "You still need to work on handling ambushes, Sakodi. You'll be as helpless as an infant surrounded by a pack of rabid wolves if you cannot recognize ambushes ahead of time."
"Well...maybe I'll find someone who can detect anything that touches the ground. Right, that sounds completely reasonable..in my dreams."
She let him off of the cliff's wall, and turned to observe the orb of heat and metals that was still gradually rising above the skyline. "Where do you think you'll fly to after your bison as healed, Sakodi? For that matter...what exactly is your long-term plan for stopping this war?"
He wiped droplets of sweat from his brow and sighed. "We'll go wherever the Fire Nation's soldiers are...and we'll repel them from the Earth Kingdom. We will do anything and everything to force the Fire Nation to retreat, and we will gather an army of resistance-supporters to lead an assault against the FireLord's Imperial City. I guess...we'll take him prisoner...or, if that isn't enough...one of us would have to kill him. I don't think killing is part of Ain's philosophy, but Kyasin would be willing to do it. Her willingness to go for the kill can be rather intimidating...but she's still a good person."
Sokana considered his words heavily....and then spoke. "The warriors of Kyoshi would be proud to be the backbone of your army. Now, it's time for your final trial before the Rite. One of a warrior's greatest handicaps is exhaustion. One of Kyoshi's favorite war tactics involved forcing the opponents to remain constantly on the run from her soldiers' pursuit until they were overwhelmed by lack of rejuvenation. You must prove that you possess the self-motivation to endure the perils of exhaustion, as each Kyoshi Warrior has before you. For the next 60 hours, you will be hunted by my disciples without rest. If you are captured, or succumb to fatigue, then you will have failed the trial, and there will not be enough time left to attempt the trial twice. If you falter here, then your opportunity to become a Kyoshi Warrior will be washed away like the sand on this beach. Start running Sakodi."
A confederation of warriors descended from the cliffs and surrounded him. Sakodi was reluctant to hurt these people, so he chose to charge through them and flee rather than fight. He scaled the side of the cliff frantically, desperate to elude the predatory matching set of his pursuers. He pulled out his machete and erratically slashed through the brush, attempting to forge a pathway for himself by pureeing the foliage. He sprinted through the woods endlessly and tirelessly, believing that his hunters had long lost track of him. Then he realized that the green of the bushes did not match the green around it. Sakodi pulled out his club and began to swing aimlessly, striking back the warriors. He escaped from their snare and reached a cliff that hung over the ocean. He mumbled "Falling off of a cliff into the ocean...for the second time in the last month...what did I do to piss off karma? Or Kyasin, for that matter..."
He dove into the surging tides and began to swim, consistently keeping his head above the water line. By the time he had found a cove for shelter, it was already late in the evening. Disillusioned about the prospects of being able to successfully evade Sokana's followers for another...approximately 35-40 hours, he considered taking a rest...just for a few hours...he had nearly closed his eyes when a trio of Kyoshi Warriors rose from the still waters of the cove. Sakodi was unable to flee or retreat...he had no alternative options. He reached for his club..but he had lost it in the woodland. His machete was gone as well...he pulled out his boomerang (thinking to himself "This is actually going to come in handy? Go figure..thanks Suun.") Sakodi hurled the boomerang and managed to disable all three warriors. He proceeded to swim back out...right into a raging rainstorm.
"Okay...karma really does hate me...." After nearly falling unconscious, he aroused himself to alertness by lightly smacking himself upside the head. After tiresome effort, he finally reached the southern tip of the island and pulled himself onto the shore. As he wandered the grasslands on the southern part of the island, Sakodi began to experience delusions of Kyoshi Warriors attacking from all directions. Hysteria had began to claim his mind. Then Sakodi realized that they were not hallucinations...he was completely surrounded. Unwittingly, he managed to evade them by leaping into a tunnel system that he had found. His mind was barely strung together as he trudged through the earth. His psyche was close to collapsing into a myriad of fragments.
. . . [many hours later...]
He fell to his knees...his entire body was flimsy as seaweed. He could not clench a fist if he needed to fight...he could not lift his legs if he needed to run. The warriors dropped from the sky all around him. He was drenched in sweat and grim and looked irredeemably pathetic in the iridescent moonlight. Sokana stood stoically in front of him, expressionless. "You were so close Sakodi...I'm sorry." She grabbed his shoulders and began to lift him up...and Sakodi smashed his forehead into her face, breaking her grip. He sprinted off with a newfound sense of purpose...as his arms hung limply at his sides. Sakodi bolted through the bushes, crashing through any branches in his trajectory. Unfortunately for him, the full moon set a spotlight on him, leaving him as an easy target for Sokana and the others to follow in dogged pursuit, as she clutched her head. In the dead of night with the glow of the moon cast on them, the trees of the forest appeared gnarled and grim, foreboding and uninviting.
Sokana called to Sakodi "It has been seven hours since the trial exceeded its time, Sakodi...you're free to go. I said that you were close to mess with you..."
He drowsily remarked "I am in a highly volatile mental state right now. I need to sleep off the torment you've put me through." He succumbed to his vast exhaustion instantaneously. He was carried to his residence by some of the warriors.
He knelt in front of a court of dozens of warriors, with Sokana at the forefront alongside the woman who would be speaking. In the arched wooden gateway behind them sat Ain, consumed in meditation, concentrating his energies so that he could use them to unseal the barrier between the island and the Spirit World. The warriors that encircled him sat down simultaneously, as Sokana and the Speaker rose from their positions and looked out over the considerably large crowd. The Speaker began to prepare her words under her breath.
"The tale of our god, the Avatar host Kyoshi, is truly an ancient and legendary story. It has been passed down from generation to generation on our island since its inception. By being told of our history, our legacy, you are bound in loyalty to the warriors and to Kyoshi herself for the rest of your days. By undergoing Kyoshi's Rite, you will be assimilating into our civilization. You will be among the mere two dozen men who have aligned with the Kyoshi Warriors before you. Our leader has declared you exceedingly worthy of joining our clan, but it is you whose feelings are the most important. Above all other principles, Kyoshi flouted self-worth and independence. If you believe that you are unworthy of our legion, then you are right."
"I believe that I have earned the right to join your people's union of trust."
The Speaker stepped down from her podium to allow Sokana to take over. "Then prepare for possibly the most devastating judgment of your life. For if you, who has been trained under our wing and will be taught of our past, do not pass Kyoshi's Rite, then you will be executed as She dictated centuries ago. Let the tale of our god fall upon the once-unenlightened ears of Sakodi, the water tribal."
"Centuries ago, gender-equality and sexual-equality were not accepted outside of the Avatar's temples, because the Avatar hosts of the past had failed to enforce the laws of the spirits. It was the Fire Nation that first adopted the Avatar's laws, in the time of Avatar Sailong. After the Air Avatar Yangchen had passed, Avatar Kuruk brought the laws to the Water Tribes. Kyoshi was the Earth Kingdom's pioneer for equal rights. Our land is highly conservative, traditional, and politically slow-moving, but Kyoshi captured the minds of the Kingdom with her raw furious power and stellar peacekeeping abilities. It was she that first enforced the laws upon the Earth Kingdom, and for it she was celebrated, but there were dissidents among the adoring public."
"A highly aggressive warlord of low physical stature named Chin was enraged at the social progress that Kyoshi had spread in the Earth Kingdom, and was infuriated at the concept of a woman being the most powerful being on the planet. Undoubtably, he was a failure of our primitive civil system. To incite the rage of Kyoshi and offend her personally, Chin selected a peaceful island near his homeland and conquered it, enforcing the outdated inequality-based laws of our past upon the innocent civilians of the isle. Kyoshi's immeasurable fury towards Chin sent the global population into awe. In retaliation for his insidious actions, she obliterated his entire army, and brought the island that he hailed from sinking to the bottom of the ocean depths. Chin was brought on trial and imprisoned for the rest of his miserable life on a prison island for exiles. Kyoshi was truly a god among men."
"In regards for her liberating our people, the people of Kyoshi devoted themselves to her principles and her legacy. The first warriors were her own disciples, and the tribulations that they went through were passed down to each subsequent generation of warriors in training. Those on the island that were reluctant to train as soldiers chose to simply leave the island. Our dedication to Kyoshi and her memory has never wavered for the last four centuries. And now, it is time for our god herself to pass judgment on you, Sakodi." Ain began to channel his essence into the wooden gateway that had stood on the island for centuries, and from out of the haze came a titanic woman, towering over Sakodi by at least two or so feet, and bearing the same garb as the warriors, complete with makeup.
"Your spirit captures the best qualities of humanity, and the very principles that I taught. I will gladly accept you as a disciple of mine, Sakodi of the Southern Peak." And with those words she faded into the mist of the spirit realm once more.
"And so it has been determined that you will indeed join our circle, Sakodi. Congratulations..." With a wide smirk (or was it a grin?) she ordered her warriors to tackle him and pin him down, donning him with the same attire that they wore, including makeup. Kyasin tauntingly remarked that he looked natural in makeup. Sakodi replied, "It's just facepaint, like the warpaint I wore when Fire Nation mercs attacked the tribe."
"Oh, alright....it's warpaint, but with mascara and eyeliner. I completely understand now, little brother." She gave him a wide smile, hoping to ensure that he knew she meant no offense. She was incredibly proud of her brother for his accomplishment.
Sakodi unfolded his arms from around Sokana. He quickly pecked a kiss upon her cheek and then climbed onto Appa. Miza had been the first to board him, and now Sakodi was on as well. He turned around and saw Kyasin in a passionate embrace with a Kyoshi Warrior. She gently pressed her lips against Kyasin's, and Kyasin gently whispered, "When I've returned from the Citadel, when the Fire Nation pulls out and ends the war..."
The warrior intervened with another kiss, and finished her sentence for her. "You'll come back, and then we can be together. Goodbye Kyasin." Both wore bright smiles on their faces. The two had grown quite attached in the three weeks that Ain's group held residence on the island. Kyasin pulled herself into the air and onto Appa's back. Before he could climb on, Sokana tapped on Ain's shoulder. When he turned around, Sokana, Lia, and a third warrior bowed in respect to him. "We are enternally thankful for the kindness that your people have shown us. Do you wish us luck in ending the war?"
In a somber tone, Sokana said, "Luck is as vague an idea, and as mythical as omnipotence, or infinite power. Trust and loyalty are truly great values, and we are as trustful and loyal to you three as we are to each other. Sakodi is the only one who has joined with us, but each of you will be welcomed with open arms on Kyoshi Island for as long as I stand and lead our people. Those who have earned their allies may always find a true friend. Farewell, Avatar Ain, waterbender Kyasin, and Kyoshi Warrior Sakodi." Appa launched into the air, and began to slowly drift through the clouds that hovered above the coastline and the outstretching seas beyond it.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|Fanon: The Undesirable Destiny - Fanon:The Journey Begins - Fanon: Hell Hath No Fury - Fanon:Revolution 1 - Fanon:The Mad Genius - Fanon:The Runaway - Fanon:The Winter Solstice|