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Chapter 3: Invasion
The muted voices wormed their way into Yun's ears as darkness coated everything else. He opened his eyes in response, and light flooded in, temporarily blinding him. Once they adjusted to the light, he noticed two figures standing above him.
"He's waking up."
The one on the right raised a finger to his lips. "Shh... quiet down, the patient must have rest."
Yun sat up slowly and looked around. Where am I? And why does my head feel like it's been pummeled by rocks?
"Ah, you're awake." A man with spectacles and a medical bag came to his bedside. "I am Doctor Ting, King Bumi's medical advisor; it seems you've had a rough couple of days."
"Days?!" Yun exclaimed. "What...what happened to me?"
Ting adjusted his glasses. "Yes, it would seem you're attempts at Earthbending caused you to almost... how shall I put this... expire."
Yun rubbed his temples. "What are you talking about?"
The medical advisor put a comforting hand on Yun's shoulder. "I'm sorry, but this might be a little difficult to--"
"What happened?" The young man asked, with an edge in his voice.
"It appears you have a disorder that prevents you from lifting or moving anything except the smallest of rocks. If you do, it could very well kill you. Simply put, you cannot effectively Earthbend."
Yun leaned back against the pillow and stared at his trembling hands. "So, what now? Am I some kind of invalid? Someone useless in a fight?"
Ting bowed his head. "I am sorry; I truly am. Now, I've been asked to inform you as soon as you were able to go to the arena; King Bumi wishes to see you."
As Yun moved out of the bed, he lost his footing temporarily. "If you would like to have someone accompany you..." The doctor began.
The young man held up his hand and gave a weak smile, "No, it's—it's fine. I've got it under control." With that, the once hopeful Earthbender staggered out of the Medical Quarter.
Yun's shoulders slumped as he stepped into the arena. Bumi stood in the middle of it while wearing his signature lopsided grin. "You wished to see me, King Bumi?"
The old master chuckled and snorted. "Yes, yes I did. If you are up for it, I would like to continue with your Earthbending training."
Yun exhaled slowly. "Didn't you hear; I can't Earthbend."
Bumi began to chuckle, but was unable to contain himself, and the chuckle morphed into a full-blown laugh completed by a snort. "Is that what they told you?!"
"Well, Doctor Ting said that I would no longer be able to Earthbend effectively..."
Bumi whirled and shot Yun his lopsided glare. "Why? Because you can't throw big rocks? There is more than one way to Earthbend, kid!"
"But how am I supp—?"
"If you'll quiet down, I'll show you." He shoved his fists into the ground and brought them out again, but they were covered in earth. "The rock glove technique is one that most Earthbenders don't know about or don't use because they are too busy learning to throw rocks. It requires precision and control, and it isn't used by most combatants, at least by my knowledge."
The young man's eyes widened. "Whoa! I can do that?"
Bumi smiled. "Yes, and it won't break your threshold. Try it."
Yun concentrated and slammed his fists into the earth. He could feel the rocks forming the gloves around his hands; he pulled them back out. His hand was now protected by a thin layer of rocks, and it only required a minimal amount of focus to keep them in place. "This is amazing!"
Bumi whirled to face the nearest wall and fired several of the tiny rocks into it with enough force to penetrate it. "These little things certainly won't cause you pain, and it gives you earth to bend on the go."
"What else can I do?"
Bumi began to cackle. "Well, I'll show you."
Over the next couple of days, Bumi continued to help Yun overcome his disability. He taught him the further intricacies of the rock glove, and he also showed him how to submerge someone in earth, a far easier way to disable a non-Earthbending opponent.
Yun picked up at each new principle or lesson fairly quickly; it seemed like earth was his natural element. Every day taught him new moves or new ways to read the earth beneath his feet.
"If you keep to the principles of neutral jing, you will—." A large fireball suddenly burst through the wall, causing Bumi to jump backward and avoid the deadly projectile. As it smoldered on the stone floor, Bumi motioned for Yun to follow him outside.
Captain Yung sprinted toward them. "King Bumi, the Fire Nation has begun a siege of the city! We must prepare to fight!"
Bumi turned back to Yun Zhen. "Go to the edge of the city; I will have someone meet you there to guide you out.""What!" Yun protested. "I can help you fight! I can fight!"
"That is not your duty." The king of Omashu grew serious for a moment. "I need you to warn the Earth King that Omashu has fallen."
He blinked quickly. "Fallen? But—?"
"No buts!" Bumi turned back toward Captain Yung. "Go to Ba Sing Se and warn the Earth King that war is coming to his front doorstep. Go!"
As Yun bowed and turned to leave, he heard Captain Yung, "What are your orders? What are we going to do?"
He twisted briefly to see King Bumi with a large grin on his face. "I'm going to do...nothing!" He then began to laugh and snort like he always did.
- I had the idea to force Yun to Earthbend differently by giving him a handicap. Needless to say, he'll have a varied skill set.
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