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|Memories of Change|
A Story of Light and Hope
Book 1: Sorrow
Chapter 1: Out With the Old (A Story of Light and Hope)
A Story of Light and Hope:
Book 1: Sorrow
Prologue: Memories of Change
I had to congratulate my brother, Arosha, for becoming the Head Elder of the Southern Air Temple. I find he has come so far! He was always an excellent airbender, but he was never an Air Nomad before we adopted him. It was only two years ago that we encouraged him to join the Air Nomads, and upon joining the Southern Temple, the monks and Elders were very impressed with his technique, but also the fact that he was vegetarian without being instructed to be one, and that he did not know his parents without joining a Temple. However, the most astonishing reason he became an Elder, was because a Guru found him worthy, destined to be one.
Arosha became the youngest Air Elder in history, at 24 years of age! At first, it was strange to have someone so young be an Elder, since being an Air Elder comes with being elderly, having a lot of experience. The Guru deemed him worthy because of a boy who fended for himself for 16 years before being adopted, a boy who lived alone, detached from all humanity, never eating meat, and not knowing his own true parents. The Elders finally agreed that he was going to be an amazing Head Elder of the entire Temple, teaching everyone his way of thinking.
Despite all of these factors, I never imagined Arosha would be an Air Nomad the first time I met him, when I was 11. He was an active teenager, one that taught me many things about nature, one who loved using sarcasm and making jokes. Arosha was an amazing bender, and an even better fighter. After joining our family, he became a huge part of it, which didn't resemble being a monk. However, the whole family grew to see that it was his calling, as he slowly grew interested in their culture. I remember that first day we got him an airbending scroll. He went crazy and he picked up the techniques quickly, now being a master today after learning at the Temple for only two years!
Arosha had smaller things that were similar to the Air Nomads, too. He always told me how he wondered about the stars out there, how he wanted to travel the skies, reaching for the heavens. He also couldn't ever stay put! He convinced my family to take many vacations and to travel around Huoshan Island, at least before the Rainforest ecosystem was wiped out by the volcano. Now that Arosha is a Head Elder, I know I obviously won't see him as much, so I'll have to treasure the times I have with him, and my entire family...
The late spring breeze passed by us as Buniq and I walked down to the Oasis Camp on the eastern shores of Kaigan Island. The place was very full today. Many of the tribesmen and women were adapting to the new trading routines brought here by the Fire Nation upon their colonization a few years ago. Buniq had just told me her secret about having become pregnant by a man who wrongfully abused her. I was shocked because everyone would think she was a prostitute and it was illegal to be pregnant before being married, even among our "primitive" people. That's how the Fire Nation likes to describe us.
"Should we gather some food and then head back to Huoshan?" Buniq's question didn't exactly process in my brain. I was still thinking about her problem involving her illegal pregnancy. I looked around the camp and saw how men and women were treated equally. What I loved about living with the Ruviks was that their ways of life always brought me hope for a future without injustice. I noticed how the Fire Nation Army consisted solely of women, and how they treated us like a race of peasants to their mighty power.
"Siberlik!" Buniq yelled, grabbing my shoulder. "You almost ran into the wall!" She exclaimed, looking at me sternly.
"Oh, yeah..." I said, nervous. It's very common for me to remain lost in thought for way too long that I forget I'm physically moving.
"Did you even listen to what I said? Are we going back to Huoshan or staying here?" This time, Buniq's question stuck.
"Don't worry about it," I replied, "We can buy our food and then relax on the beach. There is no reason to be in a rush."
I knew what Buniq was thinking after hearing my reply. That did not sound like me at all! She knew I wasn't being myself, meaning something was wrong.
"Siberlik, if there's something on your mind, you have to tell me." Buniq's concern for me made my heart beat. For a very long time, I had a crush on Buniq, but no one other than my brothers knew about it. I had to focus on the situation, however, because I had to get back to the Rainforest Tribal Capital, Wito, named after my father, and then I would have to try to protect Buniq for the next few months until she could have given birth to the baby.
"Buniq, I'm just worried about you," I started, "You can't tell anyone about your illegal pregnancy, so we have to find a way to cover it up."
Buniq looked at me again, with more concerned eyes, but then she looked down. I have a feeling she was thinking about it as well.
"Look, it's not hard to hideaway somewhere and give birth where no one can see me, but it would be hard to be away for so long and to explain where the baby came from."
I was thinking of many ways to fix Buniq's problem. I could get engaged with her and then explain that her baby was my doing. No one would have a problem with that, except maybe Buniq and I, because I don't think she feels the same way about me.
"I know!" Buniq thought aloud. "We can tell the people in this small Oasis Camp! It is the perfect place for relaxing, plus the Ruviks won't tell the Fire Nation."
"Buniq, maybe we can tell them, but let's wait a few weeks, for the commerce to die down..." I don't think she was listening. She was mounting herself onto the settlement's central platform!
"Can I have your attention, people of this precious beach oasis camp. I want to ask for your aid in protecting me from the world. As a Ruvik, I know that it is our duty to protect one another when we are in need of each other. Now I need you to help me out. A man has sexually abused me, and now I am pregnant! I need your help to keep me away from the Fire Nation so they don't know about my situation."
Everyone was gasping. Obviously, in their heads was a great feeling of disgust to Buniq and her situation. The looks on their faces hurt Buniq as she looked around the camp. I had to do something!
"You all have no right to look at Buniq this way! If you were in the same situation, you would want help, as well. Besides, we Ruviks stick together as a family!"
Buniq was very happy to hear me supporting her, and I was glad to see everyone's face change to be very determined. One man yelled, "Yeah!" and two women yelled, "For Buniq!" Buniq and I were really happy to see so many supporters. A group started yelling, "For the Ruviks!" We all started yelling it after that! We were so happy people were being supported.
As it started to die down, we heard loud, but raspy, feminine voice; "Which!"
Everyone stopped. An old woman emerged from the crowd. "You bring misfortune to the Ruviks!" I could tell Buniq was uncomfortable now. Her face turned very red.
"Excuse me, but she has every right to be treated equally as you do!" I yelled towards the woman.
"She's not married! She had no right! She doesn't deserve to live!" The old woman got closer to us.
I stood between Buniq and the woman, which I clearly realized was very old. Buniq started to back away. "The man hurt her! What was she supposed to do!"
After saying that, I heard a scream... From Buniq. I turned around to see a man, with a bloody knife, stabbed Buniq in the womb area. "No!" I grabbed Buniq, and then bend water from a palm tree into my hands. I blasted it at the man, as he tried to run off.
I turned to the crowd, to find everyone backing away. The old woman from before was gone! The froze the man's feet, and I approached, bending water out of my water skin. I didn't notice he was pulling a knife from his pocket, but Buniq surely did. She threw her metallic throwing stars at the man's knife, hurting him in the process. I backed away once more, the ice breaking from his feet, he ran off laughing.
I ran toward Buniq, we were both crying for what just happened. Some of the people who were currently in the camp came to help her. I used the little healing abilities I knew to heal her, and we were able to clear up most of the blood. With the help of healing, her skin tissue slowly recovered, but there was much internal damage, as well as external damage, that I couldn't fix; notably her baby.
We planned on bringing Buniq up to the main Ruvik town, where my mother could heal her.
The Fire Nation ordered us to stay on Huoshan Island for almost a month now, still accusing us of destroying their prize ship, the Mumbiao while it was on patrol near our borders. They suspected that we, the Rainforest Tribe, were started little events that would lead up to an insurgence against the Fire Nation Colony, but now I'm headed there to negotiate with them. Arosha was also coming, as he was on the Island when they announced that we were blocked from leaving until the investigation was complete.
However, despite breaking Fire Nation laws, I had to visit Buniq on Kaigan Island first. She seemed to be healing, but the day is coming near where she has to deliver the dead baby, as we couldn't remove it with healing and waterbending without killing her. Arosha and I took the boat the long way, as there was less Fire Nation patrol along the southeastern coast of the Island.
Today, we arrived on Kaigan, and I met with Buniq at the Infirmary.
"She hasn't opened her eyes in five days," a nonbending nurse told me. My mother was in the other room, having just completed a healing session. I walked in with Arosha.
"Buniq?" I whispered calmly. She was sleeping peacefully, she didn't look like she was in pain. Her stomach was large.
My mother put her hand on my shoulder. "The baby didn't die when she was stabbed. It's still alive." I didn't know about that. However, I still felt really bad about what happened, and wanted to go back and fix it.
I held onto Buniq's cold hand, and I noticed her eyelids flutter. "Buniq?" I whispered a little louder this time.
"Si..." She was starting to speak, "Siber... Siberlik?"
"Yes, Buniq?" I was so happy to see her awake!
"It's going... To come out..." she said, this time with a voice as if she was forcing on something.
"Buniq, are you alright?" I asked, starting to panic. "Is the baby coming out now?"
"Yes... It is..." she said, her voice becoming more faint each time.
"Kanna, come here!" Arosha yelled, "It's coming!" Arosha was way ahead of me on this one. "Don't worry Buniq, you're going to be all right."
"I don't... Think so..." Her face was becoming very red. Her fingers started gripping the bed. She was fully awake now.
"Buniq, whatever happens, I will make sure it doesn't change anything between us," I said, as my mother and a few nurses came into the room with her healing supplies.
"You two are going to have to leave for a short time," my mother addressed to Arosha and I. I didn't want to leave Buniq, but it was only for a little bit, I had complete confidence in her. Our eyes met as I left the room.
After a few minutes of loud noises, the door opened. "The baby didn't make it." Tears came to my eyes, but I wasn't very concerned about the baby, my only concern was Buniq.
Upon walking into the room, Buniq looked extremely pale and weak. My mother continued to heal her stomach area. I approached Buniq's bed.
"Buniq, how are you feeling?" I asked to her, carefully. I didn't want to tell her how skinny and feeble she looked.
"Free!" She whispered. She was losing her voice. "I knew the baby wouldn't survive." Buniq seemed very confident, but every second I noticed she was slipping away. My heart started to ache.
"Buniq, I need you to know..." I had trouble saying it, but I've had a crush on Buniq for a very long time. "That... I-I... I love you!" My brother suddenly looked at me while she continued to heal Buniq. Arosha knew all along, so he wasn't shocked. Buniq wasn't very shocked. She laughed a little, and then coughed.
"I'm going to miss you... Siberlik... And Arosha.... Tell Vihn... I say goodbye..." Buniq's words were becoming very faint, I was starting to cry. She was remembering our childhood together, and memories started flowing through my head as well.
"Too much damage was done to her, she can't hold on much longer." My mom said, as she healed. She looked ready to stop though, and it worried me even more.
"Don't forget... All the times we had together..." Buniq said, she was becoming unnaturally pale, and start coughing a lot more. "Come here... Sib..." I walked over to Buniq's bed, trying to wipe away my tears. They just kept flowing. She held onto my hand. "I will really... Miss you... Never stop fighting for what you feel is right..." Her cold hand became soft. I put it back on her body, her eyes were now closed. I didn't feel a pulse.
Today, at Fort Dao, Arosha and I had the meeting with Fire Lord Haruki and Admiral Kasai. Our case brought new info into the investigation of the bombing of the Mumbiao. The Fire Lord gave us the liberty to travel within the Fire Nation Colony and Kaigan Island for now, as he is a good man, and also gave the liberty for the Lake Haruki Company, a company that gives the Ruviks and Rainforests Tribesmen and women work by trading with the Fire Nation, which has helped start some industries that are giving my people a more modern life.
It wasn't easy going to the meeting. I had just suffered the loss of Buniq, and I couldn't tell the Fire Nation about it because they hadn't given us clearance to go to Kaigan Island prior to the meeting. It's also hard because I don't think I can handle being Chancellor of the Rainforest Tribe and the Ruviks any longer. My dad introduced the new democratic lifestyle we live in today, and elections occur every four years, but I need someone to take over as it has only been a year and a half where I have been in office. I can't place this duty into the hands of the Council of Founders, as only Haneul and Wito, my father, remain in the Council, as the others; Ila, Asami, and Taiko are all gone. I need to think of someone else, but I'm not leaving until the Fire Nation truly frees my people from someone else's mistakes.
For the collective works of the author, go here.