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29 August 2014
Chapter 2: Icy Land
"Who are you and why are you here!" he said angrily.
"Calm down, my friend. I am just a mere traveler. My name is Pathik," Pathik calmly replied.
"He is Fire Nation! Check his boat!"
"What's the matter?"
"We want to make sure you are not from the army, and do not have any messenger hawks. We do not welcome spies. You might be the last Fire Nation man to ever step on this land."
"All clear, chief! He has nothing but this flute," screamed a voice from the boat.
"Demolish the boat! There's no way he should go back to the Fire Nation!"
"Excuse me chief, I've been sailing for the last 2 days.. Can I know what is happening?"
"Well, well, well. Your Fire Lord has wiped out the entire population of the Air Nomads in only one day. We believe that the Water Tribe is next. There is a great war coming up and we should be ready. You fire people should never enter this land again, Go back to your Fire Lord and tell him that the Southern Water Tribe has officially stopped welcoming Fire Nation people."
"Chief, calm down. I am a friend. I feel disgraced by the actions of my nation, and I wish to be Fire Nation no more. Inside this bag I have Air Nomad clothes from an old friend, whom I believe has died while I was travelling..." Pathik lowered down his tone, bent his head down in shame, and started crying. "Please, chief..," Pathik picked up, in an effort to stop the tears, "Whatever you do, try to keep as peaceful as possible. Peace and harmony are always an option."
"Tell that to your Fire Lord. I don't have time to waste right now, take your flute and go inside the city. I have more important things to do."
"It was nice to meet you, chief," Pathik bowed down as a sign of respect. His boat was already destroyed by now. "I am sorry, father," Pathik said in a quiet, sad voice. He wanted to cry, but he knew he shouldn't. His boat, the last thing he ever possessed that reminded him of his father, was gone. His friends in the Fire Nation, his homeland, how can he ever return? He has already declared his shame of the Fire Nation's actions, and he already said he doesn't want to be Fire Nation. But what would he be? What would his identity be?
Pathik quickly entered an abandoned igloo, grabbed some scissors, and made a few cuts in the Air Nomad clothes, until he felt the outfit suited him. He wore his new clothes, feeling a little happier. Pathik knew he had to let go. Like everybody else, he knew the Fire Nation is attacking the other nations, so he had to become neutral, unlike anybody else. He's just.. Pathik the student.. or.. Pathik the spirit. Okay maybe that was a stupid idea, so for now he only kept going with 'Pathik the traveller'.
Meanwhile, in the Fire Nation capital...
People of the Fire Nation! We have reached an extraordinary level of power, and your Fire Lord Sozin wants to share it with the world! Today we declare the start of a great war! The Fire Nation is taking over the world! This speech soon broke out of the capital and the news started to reach the whole Fire Nation ever so quickly. The Air Nomad culture has fallen! Hail Fire Lord Sozin! Wohoo's and hurray's were very loud, everyone was happy. Fire Nation people are known to be very fond of their Fire Lord at the time, because their civilization has reached an advanced level of development during Sozin's and his predecessor's reigns as Fire Lords. They followed him blindly in whatever he did, even in the small villages, like Pathik's village.
Pathik however, was a very educated man, especially in the spiritual domain. He considers himself to be spiritually enlightened enough not to be a follower of any nation. He's just a peaceful man who despises imbalance. "My thoughts and studies are beyond national borders, I don't seek any glory. I don't seek any war. I seek philosophy, I seek beauty, I seek truth," that's what Pathik told the librarian, who tried to stop him from entering the library because he's Fire Nation.
"This stupid talk won't get you in my library. I saw you earlier today at the harbor, you can't deny you are Fire Nation!"
"I beg your forgiveness, mister. but.."
"We hate the Fire Nation!"
"What's going on!?" it wasn't Pathik who said this. It was a man of about sixty or maybe seventy years of age, with big calm hazel eyes. The librarian stopped awkwardly and bowed showing respect to the man.
"I am sorry, master Kiro. But this Fire Nation man is trying to enter our library to steal our knowledge and spy on our culture."
"Let him in, Lu. I feel he is not that type of fire people..."
"Listen carefully, you. I'll let you in my library, but take one step backwards to the Fire Nation and I'll kill you."
Pathik silently and calmly bowed in respect, walking into the library. But before he could start picking any scrolls or books, he was quickly confronted by a friendly conversation with master Kiro.
"Hello. My name is Pathik the traveller. I want to thank you for letting me in here."
"Nice to meet you, Pathik. My name is Kiro, waterbending master. I let you in because I noticed something about you.. How well educated are you?"
"My dad was never a good fighter. I inherited that too. The only way for me to survive was knowledge, knowledge is power. I studied wherever I went, I had friends in the Southern Air Temple who taught me a lot about their culture. Unfortunately, I have no one to teach me anymore, I have to do this on my own. I live to study, I came here seeking knowledge and enlightenment and I plan to do so all over the world."
"Impressive. Sorry to interfere with your studying schedule but, mind if I teach you a bit about Pai Sho?"
"Pai Sho is a very good thinking and spiritual trainer. I would be glad to accept the challenge, master."
"Follow me to my house."
Pathik took his travelling backpack and followed Kiro, whom he felt was a very knowledgeable person. On the way, people gave Pathik weird and puzzled looks. At least it was better than the skeptical looks that showed an immediate connection to the Fire Nation. They finally reached Kiro's house and went inside. Pathik started the game on Kiro's request. Pathik placed a jasmine tile. Kiro followed with a white lotus tile. The game went on, but it was not long until Kiro beat Pathik.
"Good game, Pathik."
"I was no match for you, master Kiro, and I wish you could teach me about this game."
"I actually was just about to say it. I am willing to teach you a lot about Pai Sho. First thing, don't call it a game. Pai Sho is a lot more than just a game."
Kiro threw a white lotus tile to Pathik. "You see this tile? The white lotus. It's the most important tile in the game... and in the world."
"What are you talking about?" questioned a puzzled Pathik.
"Welcome to the Order of the White Lotus, Pathik. We share ancient knowledge that transcends the national borders. We are all scholars who secretly meet up and protect the world from its own self."
Pathik was amazed. He was very proud of himself. He just earned a place in an ancient secret society that does exactly what he believes in. It's just what he wanted, "seeking philosophy, seeking beauty, seeking truth."
"My life I give to my country, with my hands I fight for Fire Lord Sozin and our forefathers before him. With my mind I seek ways to better my country, and with my feet may our March of Civilization continue". Ton Rha turned his face back at the other wall, after bowing down to Sozin's picture. "I'm sorry you died, Pathik. But It's time the Fire Lord shows the world that we are the best nation, and I'm with him." Ton Rha put his Fire Nation army mask on his face, his sword in his belt, and looked at his scared wife and said: "Please, make my wish come true. Even if I don't ever return."
"I will, Ton Rha," she said, while breaking into tears.
"I love you." That's what he said before leaving, to sail with the rest of the recruits for the army. Ton Rha wanted to go to the army because he wanted to serve his nation and his Fire Lord. He wasn't taken against his will or anything, like Pathik's father. Apart from Pathik's family, the whole village followed the Fire Lord blindly. Now with all of the family gone, the village's marketplace turned into an army food and drinks point. Some shops even lowered their prices for soldiers.
Ton Rha's wife looked at her pregnant belly while crying. "Don't worry, Yon Rha, you're going to be a great soldier just like your father."
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