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|Tales of Yukio, Prologue|
January 6, 2014
"Anana, my name is Sister Hitomi. I was Lyn-Chen's older sister," a new nun said to a young mother holding her baby boy in her arms.
"I'm sorry for your loss," Anana said, speaking about the tragic death of the past Avatar.
"Thank you. But this trip isn't about my sister. But it is about the Avatar. And your son."
Anana grew tense at the mention of her son, Yukio. She tugged at a strand of her brown hair that had fallen out of her braid. She looked around her modest home in the South Pole. She was already nervous enough with her husband gone, and having a strange visitor made her nervousness transform into anxiety. But add them all together, plus her son becoming a part of the conversation, it was just too much for her. "What do you want with Yukio?" Anana asked, clutching her baby tighter to her chest.
Hitomi hesitated. She was having trouble with her anxiety, too. She took a deep breath, then spoke. "I was reading Lyn-Chen's diary, and I discovered that she received vivid visions of the future. She described her death years before it happened. And the identity of the next Avatar. Yukio is the Avatar."
Anana looked at Yukio and remembered the intense dreams she had while she was pregnant. She had visions of Yukio as a young man using all the bending disciplines -Water, Earth, Fire and Air – with great skill along with six other friends, four bending Earth, two bending Fire. Anana had originally passed them off as her pregnancy qualms, but she never truly believed that dreams were just dreams.
"Do the White Lotus know?"
Hitomi shook her head, "They don't know. But they're curious. Ani is the only one who knows about Lyn-Chen's gift."
Anana was surprised to hear her Ani's name. Ani was Anana's eldest sister, the favorite child of her parents. Anana had gotten over her bitterness toward her sister until Anana heard that Ani was Lyn-Chen's Waterbending master. Anana's dream was to teach the Avatar, but it was crushed by Ani, as usual. "Of course she does," Anana mumbled.
"Lyn-Chen had visions of you, too. She said that 'a Southern Water Tribe woman of twenty seven years of age, whom is a master Waterbender, will give birth to my successor'. You are one of six female masters," Hitomi answered, "The White Lotus are coming." Anana immediately knew that she didn't want anyone to take Yukio away from her. She clutched him tighter. "Sister Hitomi, what should I do to keep him?" Anana asked. She couldn't stand the thought of Ani raising Yukio.
"If you want to keep Yukio, move to the North Pole immediately. I have a ship waiting for you," Hitomi answered quietly, "and don't explain to anyone why you left. Including you husband." "Okay. Let's go."
Seventeen years later
I looked up at the clear blue sky over my head. Here you could always see the moon, even in the brightest of days, like today. The sky was mocking me: Enticing me to stay home and never even think about the city of Ba Sing Se. But I had to finish my training. I had to become the fully realized Avatar. It was my destiny. It was my job to restore balance to the dangerous world that I lived in. My mother had kept me safe for my whole life, but she couldn't save me from this. This, dreadful task looming, figuratively, above me.
To make matters worse, I was replacing the beloved Avatar Lyn-Chen. She was an Air Nomad. An absolute beauty and a prodigy. She mastered Airbending at age seven. She was perfect. She became the youngest nun in history. She would've continued with her training, but she died months after she started Waterbending training. She drowned. It terrified the world. In her thirteen years, there was peace. But my time wasn't so lucky. Just then, I felt a sharp slap on the back of my head. Water splashed to the ground. "Yukio, I have been trying to get your attention for the past ten minutes. We need to go down to the canal so you can catch your airship. Everyone is already down there. They aren't going to wait for you all day, sweetie," my mom said.
"Actually, I'm the only reason they're here, so they have to wait," I answered.
"Don't get smart with me, young man. Go!" I sighed. The canal wasn't far from my house, but I still hated to walk there. The Order of the White Lotus had sentries following me everywhere I went. I tried to tell them that I was a master Waterbender and I could take care of myself, but for some reason, they never seemed to listen to me. They also never talked to anyone but my mother and themselves. My mom scolded me every time I was 'rude', but I was still annoyed by them. After all, they were sent by my annoying aunt (my mother's eldest sister), and a Grand Lotus, Ani. My mom sighed, as if she read my thoughts about Aunt Ani. They'd been feuding for years. When I got to the canal, Aunt Ani was waiting for me, along with all the citizens of the North Pole. She wrapped me in a hug when I reached her. I didn't hug her back. "How's my favorite nephew?" she asked, pushing me away by my shoulders. "You're so tall now! Just like your father!" My mom sighed again.
"Hello, Ani," my mom said half-heartedly.
"Ani, I'm your only nephew. My cousins are all girls," I pointed out, ignoring the fact that my mother had said anything. She just laughed, "You're funny. Just like your father!" I sighed internally. Ani was always too excited. And she always talked about my father. I wasn't completely over his death yet (my mom hadn't either), and Ani always brought it to attention. My mom sighed louder and rolled her eyes in my direction. I chuckled once, but disguised it as a cough. Today, I just didn't want to deal with Ani. I wanted to be sad and miserable. I had never left the North Pole, let alone been on an airship.
"You're going to love this airship. The Lotuses borrowed it from Fire Lord Dukran! She has great taste. You could even use a portable telephone in here!" Ani gestured to the airship. I glanced at my grandfather, who was admiring it. "Well, get in! We'll be on here for about thirty minutes," Ani said, as if thirty minutes was an eternity. I didn't even want to think about how rich she was. "You'll meet your Earthbending master soon. Did you talk to her on the phone yet?" I nodded. I had talked to Master SoonMin on the phone a few weeks before. She sounded very kind. She said she knew how nervous I felt. She said that she had to leave her home to learn Earthbending, too. It made me feel slightly better. She sounded motherly, even though she had no children of her own. "Why didn't she come to pick me up?" I asked, trying not to sound unhappy. "SoonMin is the trainer for all the Dai-Li agents and the Kyoshi Warriors in Ba Sing Se. She is also a general. She wanted to pick you up, but she's in a military meeting all day. She sends her apologies," Ani said, officially, "She says that her other students will show you around the palace."
"The palace? Why the palace?"
"That's where you'll be staying, Yukio," Ani answered. Okay, here goes everything. I thought. I turned around to face the whole Northern Water Tribe. They were all smiling. I was going to miss them. They were all my family. I grew up with most of their kids and babysat a lot more. And since my grandfather and I were the only healers in the tribe, I delivered many of the young children. My mother hugged me and took off my parka. She took another parka from my grandfather's -who had come to stand at my side, without me noticing, apparently- arms. She handed it to me. "Yukio, this was your father's parka from when he was in the Navy. He told me to pass it down to you in his place. He loved you so much," she said crying, but also smiling. "You probably won't need it much in Ba Sing Se, but I want you to have it just in case." I put the parka on. For a moment, I imagined all his adventures in it. But I also imagined all my new experiences in the Southern Water Tribe-style coat. I remembered how my father looked in it. My mom laughed, once again, as if she read my thoughts. "You look a lot like him, Yukio," she said.
"I really think I look more like you, Mom," I said, smiling at her. Her eyes – the same color and shape as mine – sparkled.
"Well, you see me every day," she said, smiling back.
My grandfather cleared his throat, catching my attention. "Here, Taylor," He said, using my rarely used nickname. He shook a vial of water out of his pocket. "I thought that you might want some of the water we use for emergencies. This is water from the Spirit Oasis. Since it's brought other Avatars some use, I figured I'd continue the legacy," he said, in his gruff voice.
"Thank-you, Grandfather," I said bowing I bowed to the Tribe, then turned and got on the airship.
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