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March 15th, 2013
He sniffed the air. Nanuk loved the smell of a new place. Kyoshi Island was one of the few areas of the world that he had yet to visit in his travels. As a child Nanuk had been raised in the Southern Water Tribe. His life was relatively peaceful during that time. It wasn't until his sixteenth birthday that things began to get rather complicated for him.
More and more his mother would encourage him to go hunting with the other tribesmen, but Nanuk was unenthusiastic and unwilling to participate. It would be shameful for him to admit that the reason was because he felt intimidated. Their tribe's most skilled and valiant warrior was often called "the greatest Water Tribe hunter since Avatar Kuruk"—and was also Nanuk's father.
And Nanuk had long ago decided he would never live up to his parents' expectations.
Then, the unthinkable happened: His parents set up an arranged marriage for him. It was like a slap in the face. He had never been the best warrior, the best hunter, or even the best waterbender, but he thought he could manage to at least find love on his own. In a heated argument with his parents, Nanuk tried to convince them that the betrothal was unnecessary. In his fury, Nanuk somehow managed to collapse all the igloos in the village, which only served to strengthen his next decision: it was time he left.
Nanuk idly wondered if his parents regretted their stubbornness. Sometimes he thought back to that day, replaying that scene in his mind over and over again. The only thing he could ever seem to remember were the angry, disappointed faces of his mother and father and the outcome of the cruel words that were passed between the three of them. Nanuk hadn't seen his parents since, but he wasn't sure that six years was enough time apart for everyone to calm.
He sighed contently, listening to the sounds of crew members shouting to one another as they made to dock the boat. Things were probably better this way, Nanuk thought. The world had so much to offer in the way of enlightenment and diplomacy. Nanuk was certain that leaving his tribe had been the right choice. From his world travels he had acquired a knowledge and understanding that he would not trade for anything.
Nanuk tied his auburn hair into a quick warrior's wolf-tail before exiting the ship. He had heard rumors in Ba Sing Se that Kyoshi Island had somehow stayed without influence from the outside world for several generations. The fashion may not have been quite the same as old times, but apparently the culture and traditions of the island were said to have remained very much unchanged. Nanuk watched the tourists bustle around, toting their bags and screaming for their children to get off the ship. He could only guess the primitive ways of Kyoshi Island was what attracted all these sight-seers.
The waterbender passed a large crowd of people gathered around the old wooden monument to Avatar Kyoshi who were bobbing around each other and snapping photos. Nanuk wondered if that was the original statue from the time of Avatar Kyoshi, or if it had been restored between then and now. He shrugged the question off, watching more tourists swarming the souvenir kiosks. It quickly became obvious to Nanuk that Kyoshi Island wasn't as "untouched" as the rumors had led him to believe.
He followed a group of people that looked as though they were from the Fire Nation territory up to the training grounds of the Kyoshi Warriors. He wasn't really interested in seeing a performance, but perhaps he could gain something from the experience.
The girls there demonstrated forms and sparred with one another to appease the masses. When the presentation was over, Nanuk stepped up to the leader. "Nice show. You ladies do this everyday?"
"Hm? Of course."
"So where are the real warriors?"
She looked confused and laughed at his comment, thinking it some sort of joke. When she realized he was serious, she took in a nervous breath and gestured toward the girls still sparring. "These are—"
"Talented actresses." He finished for her, "So where are the real Kyoshi Warriors?"
Refusing to admit the truth, she asked Nanuk to leave the building before security got involved. Nanuk hardly believed that was necessary and left quietly—and a bit disappointed. He sighed, leaning against the side of the old building and watching the tourists enter. It was a shame that many of them would be duped by the girls in this hut, but he knew better. He glanced to his left and noticed a young woman watching the performance from the window. The waterbender decided to approach her. At first she was startled by him, but she welcomed the company. "Why not go inside?" He asked.
She smiled at him, slightly embarrassed. "I'm a bit of a klutz; they sort of kicked me out."
"Well then, let us not spend time where we are not wanted, shall we?" He offered her an arm and a charming grin, "It would be my honor and pleasure to escort you, Miss...?"
"Megumi," he repeated, tasting the sound of her name.
Her laughter was cheerful and full of mirth. "You can call me Meg, if you'd like."
"Meg?" The name was a little sweeter on his tongue, "Alright, Meg it is! Stick with me, Meg—if Nanuk's around adventure can't be too far away!"
First was screaming, then a panicked rush of people came swarming down from the mountain path. Cries of monster and beast rang out in the terrified voices that ran past them. Nanuk's mouth gaped in awe at the size of the saber-tooth mooselion chasing the tourists away from the mountain. He gestured toward the herds of people racing against the creature, "See what I mean?"
He felt like a fish swimming up river as he took off into the sea of people. He could hear Meg's voice calling him, asking him where he was going. "Where else? I'm gonna stop that saber-tooth moose lion!"
Meg looked around nervously. She could feel the fear and anxiety from the people as they ran for their lives. Nanuk had disappeared in the waves of the crowd and she struggled to decide if she was going to run after him or join the numbers headed for the little village. She was reluctant in her decision, but she pushed aside the frantic people as she hurried after Nanuk. Her heart pounded faster against her chest with each step she took toward the danger. She was out of breath by the time she reached Nanuk, and she could see he was waterbending in an attempt to keep the creature away from the village. He smiled widely when he heard her tired gasps for air beside him. "Come to join me, have you? So what element do you bend?"
She grabbed his arm, successfully breaking his concentration and setting the saber-tooth moose lion free. "I'm a nonbender! Now let's get out of here!"
He stopped and she whipped her terrified face around to see him standing before the creature once more. His voice was tinged with determination as he spoke to her, "I won't let such a majestic creature soil it's pride by harming an innocent. Someone taunted this poor beast, but surely that someone has long fled. Go back to the village without me. I will stay here and see that the village remains intact."
It was a noble speech and a worthy cause, but in taking the time to speak it, the moose lion was given an opening to strike at him. Meg was paralyzed with fear. She could not move her legs to run away as the moose lion's shadow towered over her. She could see Nanuk trapped beneath the paw of the beast, and her mind raced with panicked thoughts: she had to save Nanuk, but who would save her? She was a nonbender and she was alone.
Nanuk felt crushed beneath the great paw of the moose lion, he felt like his lungs were collapsing and he was struggling to breathe under the weight. He tried to call out for Meg to run, but no sound came from his mouth. Just when he had resigned to the notion that hope had been lost, he could see a white light. It took him a moment before he realized the source of it was actually Meg's eyes. No way—that wasn't possible. It was true that Avatar Korra had passed away twenty years ago, but the world was expecting another Avatar Aang situation since in those twenty years the next Avatar had yet to be found.
Any knowledgeable person recognized the glowing eyes as a sign she was connected with her past lives. He felt relief as she blasted the moose lion off of him with airbending. Quickly, Nanuk got out of her way. He could tell she was not the one in control, however. Fire, earth, water, all were used in great magnitude to attack the creature. At this rate, she would—Nanuk didn't finish that thought. The saber-tooth moose lion had been dealt its lesson; it no longer sought revenge on the village or people, therefore battle was no longer necessary. The Avatar did not see this though. She seemed determined to put an end to this creature, and Nanuk simply would not allow that. He put himself as a barrier between the fearsome Avatar and the frightened moose lion. "Stop it! Can't you see how scared it is! You don't need to keep fighting!"
He idly wondered if she was going to attack him for his defiance, but was relieved when she airbent herself to the ground. The glowing eyes had vanished and she was herself again. Weak from the amount of energy she had used, Meg fell to her knees. Nanuk hurried to make sure she was okay. He helped her to her feet again and smiled. "That was incredible! Why didn't you say you were the avatar?"
"Don't you remember?"
"No," her face turned red, "I thought I fainted."
She felt a hot puff of air from above her and jumped at the sight of the saber-tooth moose lion. Nanuk laughed. "Don't worry, you showed it who's boss. I don't think we have to worry about the moose lion anymore."
Meg reached out a hand to pet the large creature's muzzle. She could hear the loud purring and the saber-tooth moose lion licked her hand affectionately. Nanuk laughed, "I think it likes you!"
Meg smiled and leaned on the moose lion for support. Nanuk had dropped the conversation about her bending abilities entirely, but it still bothered her that he now believed she was the Avatar. What exactly had she done? She listened as he went on about the benefits to having a moose lion as a member of their group and she laughed. "What are you talking about?"
"If you're the avatar, then you're going to need a team! I volunteer, of course. So if we add Moosey to the team we'll have three groupies—every avatar has a spirit animal, maybe Moosey is yours!"
This was all too much for Meg to comprehend. She looked at the tamed beast at her side. "I'm not naming him Moosey," she bit her lip, scouring the depths of her mind for a better name. Finally she smiled, satisfied with one. "We'll call him Lahn."
Nanuk pouted, obviously he had much preferred Moosey, but Meg could tell it was only because that was the name he had thought up—Nanuk did admit that he liked the name Lahn a lot better, though. Meg couldn't even begin to think of where she was going to house her new pet; Kyoshi Island's village was much too small for such a big creature to take residence there. Nanuk scratched the light scruff on his chin. "Maybe we should just leave now and take him with us?"
"Leave? But this is my home!"
"So were you a Kyoshi Warrior?"
Her eyes became very sad. "I was—but those days are over. Everything is now a sham; faked for the pleasure of the public. My generation was the last of the Kyoshi Warriors."
Nanuk scratched his head awkwardly. He couldn't imagine what it was like to have everything you believed in stripped from you and replaced with artificial lies. He rested a hand on her shoulder. "Meg, I know you still don't believe you're the avatar, but I know what I saw—I've been around the world and I've seen many things, and today I saw someone who can fix the corruption that this world has become."
"How? The avatar is supposed to be the master of all four elements—I can't even bend my birth element."
He clapped her on the back. "We just have to find you a master!" His classic smile spread onto his face, "And I know just the place to start looking!"
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