The Birthday
Chapter information

The 96th Avatar


Book I:Earthbending



Written by




Release date

April 10, 2012

Next chapter

Chapter Two:The Raid

This is about the 96th Avatar, a waterbending male named Maku. Keep looking for updates. He discovers he is the Avatar on his sixteenth birthday, as the elders of his Southern Water Tribe village discovered it many years ago. Maku is a great warrior, one of the nine waterbenders of his village. Spread across the South Pole are other small villages, and then the actual Southern Water Tribe city where twenty waterbenders reside. Over the past five decades, the population of waterbenders had multiplied by twenty-two times the amount. Shortly after, Maku is forced to flee his town along with some companions and his flying polar dog, a rare species of polar dogs found only in the South Pole. He then travels around the world to master firebending, earthbending, and airbending. This fanon will be comprised of three books and probably ten chapters in each book, most likely more. Stick with the story of Maku and his friends as they travel across the world to fight evil and learn all four elements.

The Birthday

Maku stepped out of his igloo and looked about the his village, one of the several scattered across the South Pole. His village seemed to be prospering, just like the rest of the tribe. Fifty years ago, there had only been a couple waterbenders in the entire tribe. Now, there were nearly seventy, Maku being one of them.

Two young children, Sora and Lilen, were the youngest waterbenders in the whole tribe. They sat on the ground, giggling as they moved small water droplets through the air. Maku smiled. He had been like that not too long ago. When he was two, his parents discovered him waterbending behind the igloo and he was immediately put up for training. At the time, there was only one other waterbender in the village, the across the tribe. Now he was fifteen, just three days from turning sixteen.

However, some earthbender bandits had attacked his village and killed both of his parents in the battle, leaving Maku alone and abandoned. Ever since their death, he was made fun of for being an orphan by boys in his tribe. Fortunately, he was a little more respected because he was a waterbender. He couldn't imagine how much tougher they would be on him if he couldn't freeze the, in ice and whip them with water.

"Maku!" cried Sora. "Look what Lilen just did!"

"Be right over, Sora!" he called back. He looked at the village around him. A couple of the village elders were up and the six other waterbenders of the village were out. Three warriors stood in the snow towers looking out at the tundra beyond. Several young children played on the walls, occasionally jumping off into snow drifts ten feet below.

Maku rushed over to Sora and Lilen. All the six waterbenders of the village helped to train them, but he was the one who spent the most time with them. They seemed attached to him, and he found them interesting and funny.

"Maku!" giggled Lilen. "Look what I just did!"

Maku stood a couple feet away from the duo and watched them. "What is it, Lilen? Show me."

Lilen stood up and picked up a handful one snow, packing it into a loose ball. She threw it up in the air, watching it scatter about while she spread her hands, a fierce look on her face. Quickly, she brought her hands together like she was playing. The snow rushed together and formed into a tight ball. Lilen scrunched her hands together and the ball turned to water, hovering in the air. Lilen swiftly pulled her hands apart, the water shooting out in all directions. Some of it splashed Maku in the face. He winced in pain. The water felt like needles on his skin.

As soon as the pain ebbed away, Maku nodded in approval. It was a good move, one he had never seen before. He was surprised that Lilen, only five years old, could create or copy a move that complex. He had barely begu to learn three step moves by that age.

"Hima, Shera, come here," he called to two of the nearby waterbenders. "Look at the move Lilen just showed me. Did you two. Show her that?"

"Show us the move, Lilen," said Shera, her blue eyes staring at the little girl.

Lilen nodded and bent to pick up the snow. Quickly, she went through the advanced move for Hima and Shera, as well has several other waterbenders and elders.

Hima and Shera both had their eyebrows raised at the complexity of the move. They looked slightly puzzled by it. Maku presumed neither of them taught her this.

"Lilen, did you make this up?" asked Hima.

Lilen smiled and nodded, her braided hair bouncing up and down. "All by myself," she said proudly.

The elders bean whispering among each other. Lilen had just demonstrated extraordinary skill and the airbender Avatar, Kachen, had died almost two decades ago. Perhaps they were discussing that Lilen could potentially be the next Avatar? After, water was the next in the cycle.

But I thought the Avatar was an immediate reincarnation, thought Maku.

"You try it, Maku," said Hima. "After all, you have seen it twice."

Maku nodded and told the others to step back He knew if he successfully completed this move, it would be much more powerful than Lilen's. He scooped up the snow and threw it up, instantly transforming it into a ball of water. He spread his hands and . . .


The water turned to snow and flew outward with amazing force. Several of the spectators flew to the ground and a few empty tents collapsed. A block of ice rammed through the wall, causing a small portion to cave in on itself. Two children gleefully slid down with the collapsing wall. Maku stood back up, looking in shock at the damage he had caused.

Hima stood up from the ground, shaking his head. Maku rushed over to him. "Are you okay?" He asked desperately.

Maku nodded. "A bit dizzy, but otherwise unscathed," he replied. "I hope that can apply to the others."

Shera had gotten up and rushed about, helping the elders and older waterbenders back up. She kept glancing back at Maku, a slightly mad look on her face. He made a guilty face and began to help with some of the other elders.

Akkos, a sixteen year old boy who made the walls, rushed out of an igloo. "I just fixed that part of the wall!" he cried, holding his boomerang. "Maku! Why did you do this?" he screeched, much too dramatically.

One of the elders walked over to Maku. "Was that waterbending?" she asked glaring deep into Maku's eyes.

"I-I-I think so," Maku stammered. "I am not sure what happened."

The elder walked back over to the three other elders and they began to whisper among themselves. Shera turned to Maku.

"Maku," she said, "what was that?"

He shrugged. "I don't know. Weird waterbending, I guess."

Shera laughed and Hima joined in on their conversation. "That was really weird Maku," he said. "The elders are entirely confused and now Lilen and Sora are telling everyone you're an airbender."

Maku smiled a nervous smile. "Right," he said. "Next they're gonna be saying I'm a polar bear dog!"

Hima and Shera laughed at Maku's remark Maku smiled but walked away to his igloo and crawled inside. The ice structure was comfortable, a penguin skin rug covering the floor and several other animal skins hanging on the sides. A large lantern burned, spreading heat throughout the igloo.

Maku grabbed his sealskin journal and picked up his pen and ink. He was one of the only waterbenders in the entire village that knew how to write. His father had taught him and gotten him the ink and pen for a gift.

Maku began to write the events of the morning in his journal. He described in gear detail how the movement he performed did not feel like waterbending, but rather something else, a sensation he had never felt before. It felt like. . . air.

After filling a couple pages in his journal, Maku crawled out of his igloo and emerged back into the village. Snow was lightly falling to the ground, the sky turning a silvery gray. Children rushed about, laughing gleefully and playing in the snow. Mothers sat in front of the igloos and tents, watching their children. Five men patrolled the walls, bone spears, boomerangs, and scimitars in their hands.

Normally, the village defenses weren't so strict. But in the past five years, several raids from Earthbender bandits had stricken fear into the villagers. Defenses had been constructed and a few families had joined their village from other villages around the tribe. Me had come with them and joined in to protect the village.

Maku went out fishing with Hima and Shera in the ice patches and the took Lilen and Sora penguin sledding. By the time they came back, it was dinner and the village was having a small feast for no particular reason. The five of them joined in and began to eat the delicious seal meat stew and the whale steak. Grilled fish freshly caught that morning was a popular choice for dinner. Dancing and singing took place after the meal and the Hima, Shera, and Maku performed a waterbending show.

Some time later that night, Maku wandered back to his igloo and fell asleep. He dreamt of waterbending fish sliding down to the village on penguins. He slept fitfully and comfortably.

Maku woke up, his sixteenth birthday one day nearer. He was excited to turn sixteen and he would be eligible for marriage. He could also truly become a warrior and fight for his tribe when raiders came. It was what he wanted for his whole life; to help his tribe. Ever since the raids had started, his village had grown considerably weaker and three whole families left to live in the one, large city that represented the Southern Water Tribe. He needed to help his village and he could, for he was a waterbender with extraordinary skills.

Nothing very interesting happened that day. Maku played with the little kids and practiced waterbending for hours. He did not see Shera at all and only saw Hima once. The village seemed very lonely that day.

Maku was extremely bored and wanted something to do, but there wasn't anything to do. A fishing patrol had just gone out and a hunting party had left two hours ago. He strolled around the village for a bit, but went to be early that night. He was excited to turn sixteen.

He woke up and lifted his head, eyesight blurry and disorienting. A figure stood over him, too blurry for him to be able to identify. Finally, his vision cleared and he recognized Hima standing over him.

"Come on," Hima said. "I have somewhere I want to take you."

Maku sat out of bed and quickly changed into warmer, everyday clothes. He stretched and grabbed his spear and scimitar. Yawning, he crawled out of his igloo. Shera stood outside, Sora and Lilen bundled close to her. A fair distance away stood Nia, a fourteen-year-old waterbending girl. She was quite pretty, her dark brown hair braided against her back. Hazelnut eyes beamed with a force of positivity and happiness. Maku didn't know much about her; she was shy and only came together for training. He felt kind of bad for her because she didn't have any friends.

"Where are we going?" he asked, stifling a large yawn.

"To a special place Shera and I discovered a couple months back," Hima replied. "Remember when we got stuck during the blizzard and were missing for a week? We're taking you to where we stayed. Sora, Lilen, and Nia are coming with us."

Maku nodded and the six of them walked out of the village towards the bay. There, they hopped into two canoes, Nia, Hima, and Lilen in one, Maku, Shera, and Sora in the other. They baddled down the coast, heading south for a long trip. Maku noticed that in both the canoes, there were two baskets filled with food and provisions. He shrugged and paddled on, admiring the scenery around him.

After half an hour of traveling down coast, Hima turned into a large crack in the ice resembling a river or stream and paddled down it. Maku assumed the place was inland, possibly hidden by ice cliffs and glaciers. He wondered what it could be. A ship? A structure? Another village? The possibilites were seemingly endless and he was dying to know.

After two hours of travel, Hima grounded his boat and Maku followed. He hopped out of the boat and stood on the crunchy snow next to Hima.

"Grab the baskets," said Hima. "We're going to have a picnic."

"Fun," Maku said.

Sora and Lilen beamed with joy. "Picnic!" they cheered happily.

Maku reached inside the canoe and pulled out both the baskets. They were fairly heavy, so Shera offered to carry one of them. Then she and Hima took the lead.

"Follow me," said Hima.

Him walked off the shore, heading to some ice cliffs a mile away. They walked quickly over the snow, ready to get to their picnic. Soon, the cliffs were near and there was a path through them, like a canyon.

Maku stared in awe at the surrounding cliffs. It was beautiful in the little cleft. Everything glowed blue and a quiet step on the snow echoed around the entire area. It was truly beautiful. For two miles they walked until they reached an ice cavern.

"Wow," said Maku. "This trip is just amazing. Icebergs, canyons, and now a cavern. This is amazing."

"But we're not there yet," Hima responded. "We are close."

The group strolled through the caverns, marveling at the majestic beauty. Ice stalagmites and stalactites hung from the roof or protruded from the ground. Cracks in the ice above let a large amount of snow to fall in and cover the floor in a soft coating of snow.

They walked into a cave with a dead end. Maku stood around, looking confused. "Are we here?"

Shera shook her head. "There's a small passage way that'll lead us there. Hima will open it."

Hima took a stance and stood in front of the wall. He stomped with his right foot on the ground and pushed his hands to the left. A splitting and cracking sound echoed about the chamber as the ice on the wall began to move away, revealing a tunnel wide enough for one person to walk in. Hima led the way, Shera backing it up.

After five minutes of walking, the tunnel opened up into another cavern. It looked like a giant bowl; the floor curved inward and snow piled up on the sides. Maku noticed that the whole cave had a bluish tinge to it and he looked up the ice walls that stretched for hundreds of feet up. At the top of the walls, an opening in the ice resembled a series of jagged knives protruding from the sides. Snow lightly drifted down, small white angels falling from the heavens.

Nia gasped as she followed Maku's gave. "This is beautiful," she said in her soft, kind voice. Sora and Lilen gave screeches of delight and ran out towards the middle, sliding down the slopes. The four others followed, setting the baskets down in the middle.

"Look at that!" exclaimed Nia, pointing to the far wall.

Rocks piled up for ten or fifteen feet, lichen covering them like blankets. A small trickled of water tumbled down the edge, collecting in a pool at its base. Hima and Shera both looked puzzled by that.

"That wasn't here last time," said Shera. "How could liquid water be flowing in a place this cold?"

"It's amazing," said Maku. "A miracle."

"Let's eat," Hima said. "I'm starved."

The six of them set down the blankets and pulled out the food, digging into their delicious meal. They told stories and talked about petty matters. Sora and Lilen were especially fun to listen to. They always talked about tundra rabbits eating polar dogs for dinner and then turning into polar dog rabbits. Maku laughed at their silly demeanor at the picnic.

When lunch was finished, Hima stood up. "Time for the real fun to begin." He looked happily around at the five others. "Notice how all of us are waterbenders."

Maku nodded. "Yeah, I realized that."

"I brought the five of you here to have a picnic and practice some waterbending through a bit of friendly competition. We are having an every man for them self bending battle," Hima explained.

Maku smiled and clapped. Sora and Lilen bounced up and down excitedly while Shera and Nia nodded approvingly.

"All materials are at your disposal," said Hima. "But try not to collapse the cave in on us. Alliances can be made and there is one more rule. Do not try and hurt anyone Pick your starting position and we will go on Sora's count."

Maku leaped up and ran as fast as he could to the waterfall. He would use that to his primary advantage to get a lead in the battle. He was a huge competitor, but was never a sore winner or loser. By the time he reached the waterfall, which was farthest away, everyone else was at their position. Shera was closest to Maku and he decided to hit her first.

"Sora, start counting," Nia said.

"Three, two, one!" began Sora. "Go!"

Maku immediately formed a water whip and slashed it at Shera twenty feet away. Shera, unprepared, rolled out of the way. Maku reacted by changing the direction of the whip and splashing it down on Shera. She gasped and created three snowballs from the snow and forced them at Maku. He jumped away from one, sidestepped the second, but the third hit him square in the face. He flew backwards onto the ground. Shera laughed at him, taking her attention off the rest of the battle.

Sora came from behind Shera and launched three small ice darts in Shera's back. Shera screeched and jumped forward. Maku rushed at her and sent of a column of snow at her. The column moved extremely fast and knocked into Shera. The snow collapsed in on her and buried her.

Sora laughed but Maku took advantage of him. He pulled up some snow and dumped it down on Sora. He fell down, his head poking out of the snow. He glared at Maku with a joking evil in his eyes but was stuck in the snow.

Maku jumped over Sora, loosening the snow just a bit and rushed towards Hima. Hima was locked in a fight with Nia. The young girl was having trouble holding his attacks back and Maku jumped in to help her.

Hima was running at her with a ball of water by his side. Maku could tell he was planning to get close to Nia and then splash her and he came up with a plan. He willed the snow Hima was running on to be turned into ice and a couple moments later, it did. Hima cried out and staggered for a moment before falling on his back. He lost control of his water ball which splashed down on him right after.

The next thing Maku knew, water hit him behind his knee, causing him to collapse on the ground. He heard Lilen giggling behind him, meaning that she probably just used her new move on him.

Maku growled playfully and hopped up, heading to Lilen. He picked her up and tossed her in the air. She screamed and laughed as she flew fifteen feet up. Maku shot some snow up, transformed it into water, and caught Lilen in a spinning vortex of water rising seven feet off the ground.

She laughed and giggled, distracting Maku with her pleasure. Hima came up behind him and took control of his water, splashing the vortex down onto Maku. Hima darted forward, caught Lilen, and set her down on the ground. Maku stood there, sodden and wet. He shook his hair and then rushed at Hima. He scooped up some snow and tossed it into the air, turning the snow into ice. The ice locked onto Hima's hands, freezing them. Hima looked shocked at this, but quickly responded by kicking out with his feet, sending threw ice disks at Maku. Maku dodged all three of them and melted the ice on Hima's hands. Before Hima could use the water, Maku turned it back onto Hima and splashed him in the face.

Hima fell down and Maku ran over to where Sora and Lilen were fighting, throwing small water bullets at each other. Maku bent two snowballs together and threw one each at Sora and Lilen. The children dramatically collapsed to the ground, laughing all the while.

Shera and Nia were having a fight with snow, although Nia had the upper hand. She had backed Shera into the corner and was now barraging her with snowballs and waterballs. But Shera was not giving up. She blocked two snowballs, dodged a third, and fired a fourth one back at Nia. Nia rolled out of the way, but it hit her in the side, slowing her down for a moment. Shera raised her arms, palms turned up, and caused the snow around Nia to turned to ice. She then effectively locked Nia in a prison of ice.

Proud of her work, Shera watched Nia struggle to get up. That was when Maku ambushed her. He bent the water from the waterfall over to him and created two water arms. He then shot them forward by extending his arms. When they neared Shera, he brought his arms closer to his chest and the water arms curled around Shera's wrists.

Maku took a graceful step forward while wiggling his fingers slightly. Shera looked back at him and attempted to free herself, but Maku moved too fast. The water crawled up her palms and soon covered her hands. He pulled his hands closer to him and forced Shera's hands behind her back. Then he changed the temperature of the water, turning it to ice. He connected the two blocks of ice on her hands and then stepped back.

"Try getting out of that," he teased.

Shera smirked at him. "When I do, you're gonna resembled a drowned kitten."

Maku laughed. Suddenly, he saw water zipping towards him. Nia was controlling a water whip and trying to capture Maku. Maku jumped out of the way and rolled on the ground, forming an ice shield with the snow. The whip came flying back towards him and he rolled out of the way. Then he snapped off a piece of his shield, turned it into water, and sent the ball flying towards Nia. Nia prepared to block it, but at the last moment Maku made the ball turn into three smaller balls that zipped around Nia's head. She spun to watch them, loosing control of a good portion of the whip. The water fell to the ground, but Maku instantly began to bend it as well as the three balls.

He made one of the small balls zoom at Nia's face, while a second one came from behind. She was concentrated on the one heading for her face, so she failed to notice it when the ball headed straight for the top of her neck. The water splashed onto her skin with force, sending shock up her body. She gasped at the cold temperature, momentarily distracting her. Maku made the ball hit her in the face, water dripping down onto her collarbone. She shivered in cold and threw her whip at Maku. It struck Maku across the thigh, but his thick pants stopped most of it. He still felt the coldness, though.

Suddenly, Maku felt ice creeping up his legs and arms and he spun his head to see Hima, Sora, and Lilen all bending the ice to trap Maku. Maku tried to get out by waterbending the ice away, but the three overpowered him in his weakened position and left him trapped on the ground.

"Nia!" he cried. "Help me!"

Nia smiled and put her hand up to her chin. "Hmmm," she said. "Considering you just hit me with two water balls, I'm gonna not help you. But maybe Shera will help you," she added maliciously.

Quickly, she released Shera from her bonds and allied with her. Now it seemed as if it was five against one. And that one happened to be lying on the ground, trapped by ice.

Shera inflicted the first water move. She sent a snowball flying towards Maku and hit him in the face. Maku shook his head, trying to get the snow off. Then she sent another flying towards him, again striking him in the face. She repeated this four more times until handing it over to Nia. Nia sent her first snowball at him, but all of the sudden it changed courses and hit Sora in the head.

Sora fell backwards but quickly got back up. "Hey watch where you're bending!" he cried, sending a water ball back at Nia. Nia, shocked and confused, had no time to react, thus getting hit with water in the face.

Angered slightly, Nia sent a waterball towards Sora, but again it went off target and struck Lilen in the face. Confused, she sent a third one, hoping to hit Sora again, but this hit Hima in the face.

Hima wiped the water off his face and glared at Nia. "Oh, no you didn't," he growled. With a flurry of graceful arm movements, he sent a snow column flying towards Nia. Nia partially dodged it, but her left leg and hip were hit by the tall column. Then another snow column shot towards Shera. Shera rolled out of the way and fired a water jet at Hima. Hima blocked it and returned with a stream of water to Shera.

Shera flew back five feet and landed on the ground, soaked to the skin. She got back up and instantly sent a pile of snow zooming at Hima. Hima rolled out of the way and whipped at her with a water whip.

Sora and Lilen teamed up on Nia, plaguing her with snowballs the size of their heads. Nia was having a hard time fighting back and dodging the snowballs at the same time. She got hit once in the shoulder, a second time in the neck, and a third time in the gut. She fell to the ground, playing dead. Sora and Lilen bounced on her, throwing more snow at her.

Sora sent a snowball flying down at Nia's stomach but in the last second Lilen moved in front. The snowball splattered against her head. Lilen turned on Sora and pushed him into the snow. "Watch where you're throwing those!" she growled.

"It was an accident!" said Sora, giggling.

Lilen pushed Sora again, but Sora sent a snow cloud flying into her face. She fell back and Sora piled more snow on her. Meanwhile, Nia had gotten up and accidentally threw a snowball at Shera, who was having a hard time fighting Hima. That ended their alliance. Shera shot a blast of water into Nia's face, knocking her to the ground.

Nia got up and quickly ran at Shera. Shera attempted to stop her by bending icicles up out of the snow to stick out. Nia nimbly dodged all of those and tackled Shera. She screamed and pushed Nia off. Nia backed away and sent a snowball spinning at Shera. Shera blocked it and returned fire with a shard of ice that she turned to water in the last second.

While the free-for-all battle was going on, Maku managed to escape by wiggling his fingers and wrists out of the ice manacles. Then he stretched to his feet and quickly waterbent the ice away from his ankles. Then he crawled over to the corner and sat there, waiting.

Hima ran over to Sora and Lilen to get them to surprise attack Nia and Shera, but Sora and Lilen both shot water spouts into his face. He staggered back, unprepared by the onslaught of the two children. They began an intense three'way battle, fighting to stay dry. Then, a stream of water meant for Lilen flew past her and hit Nia in the back of the head. Nia spun around and threw a snowball at Lilen. Lilen dodged it, but it sparked a battle. Nia rushed over and hit Hima with a waterball and then ducked as he swung a whip at her. Shera ran after Nia and tried to knock Nia to the ground, but she missed. Sora jumped in the air and whacked Shera with a water arm. Shera gasped and jumped backwards.

Maku stood up and slowly walked over to the group. All five of them were totally unaware that he was coming. Then he rapidly shot a waterball at Hima, followed by three snowballs to Shera. A shower of water tumbled down upon Lilen and Sora. As a final move, Maku extended his hands and turned his palms down. Then he clenched his hands together and flipped them up so the palms were facing the roof of the cave. A dome of ice rose out of the ground and quickly grew over the five fighters. Inside, more ice rose out of the ground, capturing all the waterbenders' hands and feet, making them incapable of bending. Happily, Maku strode over to where they were trapped. With a flick of his hands, a small hole opened up in the dome.

"Safe to say I won, I think," he teased.

The five of them just stared at him, but finally Hima spoke. "We all displayed tremendous waterbending abilities today," he said. "I think it's safe to say we all won," he added, staring at Maku.

Maku smiled and released them from their prison. Then he melted away their ice shackles and let them walk free. Maku turned and viewed the scene around him. It was total carnage. The walls were dented and cracked, the snow was piled unevenly in some places and shards of ice were sticking up out of the ground in very many spots. It looked as if earthbenders had destroyed it.

"I'll fix this right before we leave," said Maku. "It's a little. . . unorganized."

"I agree," Nia commented. "It resembles a polar dog's cave after it sees a scorpion mouse."

Maku looked at her, puzzled. "When have you ever been in a polar dog's cave?" he asked.

Nia smiled. "That's a story for another time."

They group quickly packed up and walked to the exit of the cave. Maku stood at the back and waited till everyone was out. Then he jumped in the air, spun and flipped with moving his arms. He landed on his knees and looked up. The cave now looked neat and tidy, as it had been when they first walked in.

The group quickly walked through the ice caves and caverns on their way back to the canoes. After an hour, they were there and they began paddling for the two hour voyage home. It was a quiet two hours, but Sora and Lilen did comment on how fun that was several times.

By the time they got back to the village, it was almost dusk. The villagers were settling down for the night as Maku, Hima, Shera, Nia, Lilen, and Sora walked in. Some of the villagers looked at them but didn't day anything. It seemed quiet, very very quiet.

Maku said goodnight to his friends and crawled into his small igloo, writing the day's events in his journal. Then he fell asleep, his candlelight still burning.

Maku woke up, his eyes gleaming with excitement. It was his sixteenth birthday! Finally! He quickly changed into fresh clothes and then walked out into the village center.

"Happy Birthday, Maku," one of the waterbenders, Jik greeted. "Sixteen. That's a big year."

The village elders looked at him carefully, smiling. He smiled and waved, but continued walking. He was hungry. He found some fish stew and happily gulped it down.

"Happy birthday, Maku!" cried Hima, emerging from his tent. Shera came out from her igloo, shooting the same thing. Maku ran over to them.

"Hey, guys," he said. "How was your night?"

"Good," replied Hima. "I slept well after the fight."

"Me too," Shera said. "That was tiring yesterday, but so much fun."

"I agree."

"Well," Hima said, slapping Maku on the back. "Feel any different being sixteen?"

Maku laughed. "Yeah," he responded.

"How so?"

"I can now beat in a real waterbending match!" Maku exclaimed.

Hima laughed heartily. Once a waterbender turned sixteen, they could challenge another waterbender to a waterbending match for honor. Maku had seen Jik fighting an older bender named Pokkau on his sixteenth birthday. Jik could never stay out of a fight like that. However, he had lost to Pokkau and been embarrassed in front of the whole village. Still, he was one of the best waterbenders in the South Pole.

Hima, Shera, and he talked for a while and then Nia came over. They went into the training igloo, a large snow structure used for waterbending and practiced for two hours. It was good to be with the three of them while training. Over the past day, he'd had come to know Nia much more than he used to. It was surprising how much she grew on him in one day.

Akkos stood on the wall when Maku came out, watching over the bay. He had finished rebuilding the section of the wall Maku had destroyed. He was acting like a guard now, because all the others were eating off duty.

"Your brother is obsessed with the village defenses," Maku said to Nia.

"Yeah, I try to tell him that," she replied, "but he doesn't really think so. He believes he is occasionally working on them, but not obsessed. That's all he does."

Maku laughed. "Well, at least he is concerned for our safety."

Nia raised her eyebrows as they walked into the village center. The elders stood there, all watching Maku. Then the youngest one, a man named Mokuin walked over to Maku.

"Maku," he said. "We would like to speak with you."

Maku shrugged. "Okay," he said. "See you later, Nia," he called back as he walked towards the elders.

There were four elders of the village, Mokuin, Adia, Ji Lan, and Ea were the oldest members of the village and were the main sources of knowledge. They always picked the chief of the village and made sure he was a good chief. If not, they would throw him off of chiefdom and appoint someone new, exiling that chief to another village.

Maku walked with them into their igloo, the third biggest structure in the village. It had a cozy feeling to it; a nice, polar dog fur rug and a shelf of many book and scrolls. It was large enough for ten people to fit inside, so today only half the capacity was filled up.

"Sit down," said Ji Lan, a very old woman with gray hair.

Maku nodded and sat in a chair, one of the six throughout the room. He barely sat in chairs because he didn't have one and he didn't need one. There weren't many in the village, either.

The other elders sat down, too and all looked at Maku. He felt uncomfortable under their intense gazes burning into his skin. Maku felt as if they wanted to know everything about him by staring at him and he felt exposed, scared.

"Maku," said Adia, "do you remember when you were three, you picked out four toys from a trader?"

Hesitantly, Maku nodded. Where those toys stolen goods? Was he in trouble for having them?

"What were those toys?" she asked.

"Umm," said Maku. He thought back to the last time he saw the toys. "A clay turtle, a hand drum, a pull string propeller and a monkey figurine."

Adia, Ji Lan, and Ea nodded. Mokuin stared at him, stroking his gray beard.

"Do you know what those toys were?" Ea inquired.

Maku laughed nervously. "They were just toys," he huffed. "I played with them like any other normal child."

Ji Lan put her head in her hands and sighed. Ea rolled her eyes and Adia frowned. Mokuin's position did not change. He sat, stroking his beard.

He said, "Maku, those toys belonged to very special people many years ago. What do you think about that?"

"I don't understand, sir," Maku responded. Special people? Who cares if special people owned those toys? How did that affect him?

"A few days ago," said Ji Lan, "you showed us a strange bending move that Lilen performed. But yours was much, much different. There was something. . . airy about it."

"It was just a powerful blast of water that turned into snow, I guess," said Maku.

"We think different," Ea replied. "Maku, there is something different about you. Something that sets you off from everyone else in the world."

Maku shrugged. "And what would that be?" he asked. "My name? My parents? My face?" He was getting a little annoyed that they kept telling him random, useless things.

"No, Maku," said Mokuin. "You are the Avatar."

Maku gasped and shook his head. It couldn't be him. That was impossible! "No, you've got the wrong guy," he said, sweat trickling down his forehead. "No, I am not the Avatar."

"Maku, listen to me," Mokuin urged. "You are the Avatar."

Maku widened his eyes. Mokuin was right. He was the Avatar. He, Maku, was the Avatar.

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