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"Father! Father! Excellent news! I have a-" Ischi was wheezing excitedly as she ran into the Earth King's chamber with Prince Zuko's proposal letter still held close to her heart. She stopped when she saw that her father, Bure Bei Fong, barking orders to a troop of Earthbender soldiers.
"I want all units stationed at the walls of Fire Fountain City by sundown tomorrow! If you must, entice some assistance from the Northern Water Tribe! Do whatever you need to do to get to that island quickly!" Bure was yelling to the commander of the soldiers.
"Father? What is going on at Fire Fountain City? I've never seen you so worked up before."
"The Fire Nation has done it again. They have once again ended an era of peace!" Bure seethed.
"Calm down and explain from the beginning, father. I'm sure it's not that bad."
"This morning, at the dawn of Sozin's Comet, a powerful explosion completely leveled the city of Bure Ku! Traces found at the crater tell us that the explosion was caused by a homemade bomb, but not just any bomb. A bomb of such magnitude could only be created by a Firebender!"
Ischi gasped and covered her mouth.
"The Earth Kingdom will not sit down and accept having our largest industrial city torn down, so we're retaliating by destroying one of THEIR coveted industrial cities. The Earth Kingdom has moved to war! *phew* Alright, I'm let off enough steam. What were you going to tell me? You have a what?"
Ischi had intentionally hid the proposal letter behind her back to surprise her father with it, but now she had a new reason to hide it.
"I...*cough, cough* have a cold?"
"Hm? How is that excellent news?"
"Because I...won't...have to go to the Ba Sing Se University today."
"Hm hm! Always the devilish one, you are! Well, not to worry, dear daughter. My best doctors are now in the process of fixing up some medicine, isn't that right?"
Bure's last three words were directed at an advisor standing at his throne, who bowed, then ran toward the door.
"Just stay in bed today and get some rest. A maid will bring you up some hot soup and Jasmine Dragon tea later on."
"Sir, we found this in Lady Ischi's windowsill." a guard said, holding the Fire Nation messenger hawk that was previously perched in Ischi's room. The bird was obviously upset, squawking and flapping its feathery wings all over the place.
'Darn it! Now how am I going to get me answer to Prince Zuko?' Ischi panicked.
"What should I do with it, sir?" the guard asked.
"I've got it! Send it back to New Zuko with a declaration of war against the city of Shu Jing, a domestic city. Fire Lord Houja is so considerate of HIS people, he won't take the chance and arm his defenses there, while by that time, we'll have stormed the defenseless city of Fire Fountain Island! Oho ho! Devious!" Bure plotted.
"I'll send it out." Ischi said, reaching for the opportunity that her father just gave her. "I know that messenger hawk. I made friends with it on my last trip to New Zuko. It trusts me and it'll be sure to get the message to it's proper destination. You know how devious messenger hawks are. You ask it to send something bad to New Zuko, it takes it to the Southern Water Tribe."
"Excellent, Ischi. You're my little genius! If only your great-great-grandmother could see you now!"
"Father, great-great-granny Toph was blind, remember?" Ischi joked, reaching out her arm. The guard let go of the messenger hawk and it flew onto Ischi's finger, nuzzling its head on her cheek and crooning again.
"Oh, yes, right! I forgot! Silly me! Now, send the war declaration, but don't strain yourself, please. You're sick."
"Yes, *cough, cough* yes I am. I'll get right on that war declaration."
Ischi pretended to walk slowly out of the room until she was out of sight, then she broke into a sprint. Once she reached her room, first things were first. She took the proposal letter and quickly circled 'Yes' with a fur quill. On the bottom of the letter, she wrote the words 'EVERY FIFTH WORD'
Then she grabbed a new sheet of paper and began to write rapidly. Once she was done with both letters, she tied them to the messenger hawk's legs and sent it off.
"Fly straight and true, my feathered friend! Make sure those messages gets to Prince Zuko!"
Kohi and Suni walked glumly up to a large, hollow stone with three entrances. All three had large gusts of wind burst forth from them, almost too powerful for even an Airbender to withstand. This large landmark was what the Eastern Air Temple knew as Windy Rock.
"How can anyone meditate in THAT?" Kohi asked.
"Ask Meiya after you apologize to her." Suni said.
Kohi steeled her nerves and walked toward the rock.
"Tell me how it goes. This wind is ruining my hair." Suni said, walking away from the rock.
Once Kohi had reached the center entrance, she was struggling to stand, let alone walk. She tried to use her Airbending to calm the winds, but they were just too powerful for her.
Kohi clutched the entrance of the rock and pulled herself in, pressing her back to the wall just inside to keep from flying out of the rock.
"Whee!" yelled a spirited, happy voice.
'That can't be Meiya. Who's in here?' Kohi asked. She opened her eyes as much as she could, and as soon as she confirmed who was in the Windy Rock with her, they widened completely, ignoring the stinging winds that were pushing them further into their sockets.
Kohi watched Meiya as she gleefully flew around on wind wings, almost impervious to the gale-force winds. Kohi almost didn't recognize the happy, cheerful expression that covered Meiya's face. She twirled around freely, and even spelled out her name in the air.
"No way!" Kohi said, louder than she had intended. Meiya stopped and looked directly at her with a look of surprise first, but then the surprise quickly gave way to rage.
"What are you doing here!" Meiya screamed.
"I just came to-" Kohi started, but a powerful gust of wind that came from Meiya lifted her into the air and threw her out of the Windy Rock.
"Why can't you leave well enough alone?" Meiya shrieked with rage again, throwing a ball of wind that sent Kohi flying further backwards.
"What do you want with me? I'm not a closed book! I don't have any secrets! THIS is me! I'M Meiya, so just leave me alone and MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!" Meiya yelled uncontrollably.
Even though she knew in the back of her mind that Meiya was a pacifist, Kohi couldn't help but feel the obligatory fear of death, especially when Meiya's brown 'hairrow' began to glow bright white, along with her eyes and the other blue arrow tattoos on her hands and feet.
All of a sudden, in an anticlimactic twist of fate, Meiya fell down to the ground, unconscious, and the horrible winds that whipped around ceased. Her tattoos and hairrow were still glowing, so Kohi didn't dare approach.
"Help! Someone help! Meiya knocked herself out!" Kohi yelled to whoever was around to listen.
On the once-small, now-larger island that held the Southern Water Tribe, a very elderly man stood at the sea, watching the red sky in the distance. A much younger woman walked up to him.
"Rodik, you've been standing here for hours. I don't think she'll come back anytime soon. She did go to find a great white whale shark, after all. That could take days, maybe weeks more."
Rodik dipped one hand in the water, then quickly took it out.
"She's coming back, with her mission succeeded." Rodik said. "By the way the water currents are moving, I'd say she'd arrived within the hour, Kandice."
"As Khole's mother, I'm supposed to be enthusiastic, but you make it very difficult. How could you possibly know that just by poking the water?" Kandice asked.
"And how good is your Waterbending, considering you haven't used it since you were a child?" Rodik asked with more than a hint a sass in his tone. "I've been Waterbending since before you were born. Since before anyone on this ice rock was born. I personally knew the great Waterbender Katara, who you know is Khole's great-great-grandaunt."
"I know. You were the first love of her first Waterbending daughter. I'm not an idiot. I know my Waterbending history, but what's your point?"
"Khole has Katara's wits about her and has her great-great-grandfather Sokka's blood coursing through her veins. I believe that she can accomplish her mission, and she has. Just look. There she is, riding the great white whale shark."
Kandice looked out at the water and gasped.
"Rodik, you're right! There she is! Everyone! Khole has returned with her mission completed She's a full-fledged Sea Beast Pacifier!"
The rest of the village ran up to the shore, watching as the dim grey shadow in the distance grew larger. Once it got close enough, Kandice managed to head a loud shout.
"Hey, everyone! I'm back at last! Look, Master Rodik! I've tamed the whale shark!"
After about a minute of well-deserved showboating on the whale shark, she leaped off and Waterbent all the way down to earth.
"Bye, Majesty!" Khole yelled to the whale shark as it leaped into the air one last time and dove again, returning to where it came from.
"Well done, Khole. You have earned your title of Sea Beast Pacifier." Rodik said with a proud nod.
"Yes! I feel so happy that I finally finished!"
"Finished? Oho ho ho! You're not finished yet, young lady!"
"Ha?" Khole asked, her jaw dropping to the ground and shattering.
"This is just the Sea Beast Pacifier title. There are two more titles to go. Land Beast Pacifier and Sky Beast Pacifier. After you get those titles, then you'll be done."
"Aw! Well, how do I get the other titles?"
"That I cannot teach you. You must travel to the Earth Kingdom to learn to tame land beast, and the Western Air Temple to learn about Sky Beast taming. Now, since me work is done, I'm going to take a long nap. If I don't wake up in three days, you know what to do."
Rodik began to slowly hobble toward his house.
"Master Rodik's got the right idea. I'm going to sleep, too." Khole said, falling backward on the snow and beginning to snore.
"You sure do have Sokka's blood." Kandice said, lifting her daughter off of the ground and carrying her back to her house.
Prince Zuko walked on the long wooden platform just outside the palace, watching the palace workers as they cleared the gazebo rubble. By this time, Sozin's Comet was about to complete its pass and leave for another hundred years. Zuko say on a bench and watched the sky as it slowly shifted from a bright and piercing red to purple, and then back to calming blue once again. He stood when we saw a messenger hawk fly down and alight on the bench next to him.
"Ah, my forward." Zuko said with excitement in his voice. He looked at his previous message and smiled when he saw the 'yes' circled, but frowned when he saw the words 'EVERY FIFTH WORD' written on the bottom.
"I wonder what that means." Zuko said, unraveling the other letter and frowning as he read it.
As you read this, the Earth Kingdom plans to attack Shu Jing, for real, on tomorrow. Oh, you savage Fire Nation brutes cry a fountain of blood on the city of Ba Sing Se. Is it not that our tomorrow has no importance, but at the coming of near sundown, you strike, without any warn. Yes, the savagery of the dreaded, accursed, downright despicable Fire Nation. But the Fire Lord ''STOP'' cares nothing about peace. All he wants is power.
Well, the Earth Kingdom is sick of it. I, Ischi Bei Fong, remove myself from the war, but be warned, fair prince. Your life and our life together hangs in the balance. Remember the code, my fiancé.
Zuko had a very hard time reading and understanding the letter.
"Is this a...war declaration against Shu Jing? It's mostly complete gibberish. And what is this random 'stop'? Wait..."
Zuko looked back at the bottom of the proposal letter.
"Every fifth word."
Zuko scanned the letter again, taking out every fifth word until the letter put in 'stop'
"The attack on Fire Fountain City is tomorrow at sundown. Warn the Fire Lord." he read once he was finished. "Thank you, Ischi. I promise, I'll make this up to you."
Zuko took the paper and ran back inside the palace, just as the sun dropped below the horizon and the world went dark.
"Well, I think that it's time to pack it in for today, boys. We start construction on the new gazebo tomorrow morning." the leader of the reconstruction team told his men. They nodded and walked back into the palace.
All was quiet in the palace garden, until three dark shadows slithered up the wall and into the garden. The shadows grew up out of the ground, and Reigo, along with her two associates, took their true forms.
"Split up and locate Prince Zuko. We must make sure that he does not get that letter to the Fire Lord." Reigo ordered. Her two men nodded, then sunk back into shadows and 'swam' into the palace, taking a left right at the door. Reigo sank as well and traveled into the palace, making a right.
'Ugh. I feel terrible. Where am I?' Meiya thought as she woke up
'You are in my domain, young one.'
Meiya threw her eyes open and saw that she wasn't at the Eastern Air Temple any longer. She was sitting on a blanket of golden clouds. On all sides, she was surrounded by the same type of clouds. She looked around to see who had spoken.
Suddenly, almost from out of nowhere, a tall, bald man with a blue arrow tattooed on his head stepped form the clouds.
"Hello, Meiya. Do you know who I am?"
Meiya looked closely at the stranger and matched him to a large state that stood at the base of the temple.
"Avatar Aang. The greatest Avatar to date."
"Very good. Now, do you know why you are here?
"I think I freaked out about something and accidentally entered the Avatar State."
"Oh, did you ever!" Aang said with an impressed tone. "Your Avatar State is pretty well-controlled for your first time entering it, but you were still a loose cannon, so I pulled you into the Spirit World before you could do harm to yourself or anybody around you."
"Thank you, I think. But what's the real reason you brought me here, great-grandfather?"
"To tell you that you are now ready to begin your Avatar training. I've heard a lot about you, Meiya. Mostly bad, however."
"I know. The jerks back at my home just don't know when to leave me alone. It's always Avatar this and Avatar that."
"Did you know that you're a special one, Meiya? You had a very unorthodox way of choosing the relics that signified that you were the Avatar.
"I can't remember that far back."
"When you were analyzed with the relic test, instead of choosing the Avatar relics, you broke every single toy that wasn't a relic. You stared at the real relics as if they were made of shining glass."
"Why bring this up?"
"It means that you may grow to be a very unorthodox Avatar. But, we'll see as time passes. Tell Naga that you have successfully entered the Avatar State and that you are ready to begin your training." Aang said, walking back into the clouds.
"Wait! There's still some stuff I want to ask you!" Meiya called, but Aang was already gone. Suddenly, the world around her began to blur, and in a flash of light, the cloud world was gone and Meiya was sitting face up in her bed.
"Ah, finally. You were asleep for seven whole hours. Sozin's Comet has left already, and it's getting close to midnight." Naga said. "You should probably go back to sleep."
"Mother, did that girl tell you what happened to me?"
"She said that you passed out after screaming at her." Naga said.
"I entered the Avatar State, mother. I met with Avatar Aang and even asked him a few questions. He says that I'm ready to begin my Avatar training to learn Water, Earth, and Firebending."
"That's amazing, Meiya. You can tell me all about it tomorrow morning. Now, get some rest." Naga said with a believing expression. She stood and walked out of Meiya's room.
The young Avatar turned her head toward the window, and was lulled to sleep by the twinkling stars.
For the collective works of the author, go here.