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|Tales of Yukio, Chapter 1|
January 6, 2014
When I arrived in Ba Sing Se, I was immediately taken to the palace. I had never seen a Satomobile, so I was surprised to see so many in the city. We didn't have roads in the North Pole (because we still used gondolas for transportation around our village) let alone Satomobiles. It was a strange feeling to ride in one. The idea of moving while stationary baffled me. It just didn't seem natural.
Also, from what I could tell, all of the houses looked the same. They were sectioned off by walls. Each section had its own name. One area was called 'The Garden Village', which I didn't think was suitable because there were no visible gardens. And some houses were one building, several stories high, and each contained several homes. And all buildings appeared to be made out of stone. In the North Pole, our houses were made of wood, bricks, and ice. Of course, the biggest difference was that there was no ice. There was grass and earth. The city also had no oceans. Just walls that separated people. The city was so large, that I assumed people would get lost if there weren't any walls. Of course, there was that nagging feeling that the walls served other purposes, as well. But the weirdest thing of all was the palace. I thought it would be a beacon, like the temple in the North Pole, but the Ba Sing Se palace was surrounded was tall, red, stone walls. They were so large and wide that I thought they were actually the palace. It was distressing.
When I got inside of the walls and saw the actual palace, I was left speechless on the steps at the South Entrance. I just looked around and tried to think of words to describe the beauty of Outer Court. There were so many green and gold buildings. I saw the New Dai-Li training on the lawn and Kyoshi Warriors practicing Chi-Blocking in the square. There were four massive, golden doors into the palace, each at the cardinal directions. "It can be a bit overwhelming," A girl's monotone voice came from behind me.
I turned around and saw a Kyoshi Warrior. She looked younger than the other girls I saw in the outer court. She was also dressed differently. Instead of a kimono, she wore a green robe with a thick vest over it. Her sleeves were loose, but close-fitting at her wrists. She wore boots with thick soles and a gold headdress. She wore her black hair in a long, thin braid.
"I'm ChoHee. I'm one of SoonMin's students. She's in a meeting right now, so she sent me to show you around the palace," she said, dully. "We just have to wait for my sister. Let me apologize in-"
A girl ran toward us, turning cartwheels as she went. "Hi, ChoHee!" She said in between cartwheels. She didn't even sound like she was doing any activity because her voice was so even. "Advance," ChoHee finished weakly.
The girl did a final backflip when she was next to her sister. "I'm MiHee!" She said, happily. She grabbed my hand a shook it really hard. Then, she pulled me into a chokehold hug. ChoHee pulled her off of me. I mouthed 'thanks' at ChoHee and she nodded back. "I'm so excited to meet you, Avatar!" she shouted.
All the people who were in the square turned to look at us. Even the focused Kyoshi Warriors practicing and some Dai-li agents who were sipping tea. I looked down. I wanted to cover my face and run, but I would've gotten myself lost. I could see the headlines, "Avatar Arrested For Running Around Palace Grounds". I shuddered at the thought. "Nice to meet you, MiHee and ChoHee." I said, trying to sound as if I'd ever had a fan.
MiHee just giggled. ChoHee looked embarrassed. "Well I suppose we should get going," ChoHee said, tugging at her braid. She grabbed her sister's hand and they walked me around the grounds.
"We're the only people who aren't royal who have been in the King's personal home," ChoHee said, turning down a long, wood-paneled, dimly-lit hallway with no doors. At the end of the hall, she pulled a brass key out of her pocket. Then I understood why the hallway was so dark: ChoHee put the key into a piece of the paneling and a big metal door slid open.
We walked through the door and into another small hallway. "This is where the boys' rooms are located," ChoHee said, "The girls' rooms are at the other end." Then she pointed to the middle of the hallway. "Those are the bathrooms. You aren't allowed to pass them unless you have permission. No boys allowed in the girls end."
"Of course," I said.
"Well, we have to go," ChoHee said. "Get-"
"We don't have to go, ChoHee," MiHee interrupted, winking at her sister.
"-settled in," ChoHee said, once again, with no vocal inflection. She didn't acknowledge her sister's awkwardness. "MiHee, you have climbing practice in five minutes. And I have Archery. So we do have to leave. So we'll see you later, Taylor." They turned to leave, but I stopped them.
"Why'd you call me Taylor?" I asked.
"That's what SoonMin told us to call you," MiHee said.
I was stunned. I didn't realize that I had introduced myself to SoonMin as "Taylor". It was a name that my father had called me. My mom didn't use it at all because she said it was a title between me and my father. My grandfather only used it occasionally. I decided then that I would keep the name.
"Is that okay?" MiHee asked, "'Cause if you prefer something else..."
"Uh. Yeah. Taylor is fine," I said.
"Oh good! That would've been really embarrassing if I called you the wrong name for the rest of my life," MiHee said laughing.
"Nah. I'd tell you eventually," I said, laughing quietly. "And I'm sure my real name would get out eventually. The Avatar has no secrets. Trust me. The White Lotus' sentries followed me everywhere in the North Pole."
"SoonMin is a Grand Lotus, so the sentries hang around here. Even though she's a master Earthbender," ChoHee said. "Did they do that to you, too?"
"Yeah! They even followed my mom and grandfather. It makes sense for them to follow my grandfather because he can't use offensive Waterbending, but my mom is one of the best Waterbenders in the world," I answered.
I was glad that I could finally tell people about my frustration. I didn't really have friends that were my age at the North Pole. The kids were all younger than me. And I was too socially-awkward to make friends anyway. I was completely introverted. My friends included my mom and my grandfather. Of course, I had a naturally friendly personality, I just never had the chance to use that trait unless I was working in the hospital (Which wasn't much more than a hut) with my grandfather. I thought, at least all the toddlers like me.
"Well, we'll see you around," MiHee said.
"Yeah," I responded.
ChoHee and both MiHee waved awkwardly, but ChoHee was the girl that I was watching. She smiled slightly. She turned around, opened her Kyoshi Warrior metal Tessenjutsu fans (which gave her a boost), and ran swiftly down the hallway. She did a back handspring over a chair in her way. I didn't notice how graceful her movements were. She seemed to be dancing. She seemed completely focused, yet, somehow peaceful.
Behind the Scenes!
- Anana's name is inuit. It means 'mother'.
- MiHee and ChoHee were born on Kyoshi Island, but they grew up in Omashu.
- The Kyoshi Warriors and Dai-Li agents in Ba Sing Se make up a new faction in Yukio's time called the New Dai-Li.
For the collective works of the author, go here.