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|The Historical Saga|
The Historical Saga
Air Temple Island, 169 AG
The whistling gust sang in her ear drums like a sky bison's howl in the light of the sun. Her legs lay over the surface rather than being curled up on top of a saddle. Soaring through the air, the breeze ruffled her air with calm, yet foreboding affection. Beneath the girl flew the being that she rode. Its long, massive, scaly form that continued to hold her up, the lusty red-scaled body of the dragon weaving up and down over and under the clouds. Every few seconds, it breathed a steamy burst of breath out and warmed the very atmosphere around them. It was a relaxed, comforting warm. However, each of these gave a mere faint hit of the potential power that resided with the fiery innards lying within its body. The girl was both excited and terrified in regards to witnessing that full-on flame.
In the background were the many mountains of the Earth Kingdom, the poetic green landscape, the bright shards of the sun floating down to the lakes from the sky above. It was tranquil in its own way. The girl that rode the dragon was in love with something greater than she had ever known, bit she had trouble recalling what exactly it was as everything about this was both foreign and familiar to her. Beneath her lay a massive city with quaint, archaic architecture lining it. It was strong, yet stubborn, like the rocks that made it up.
Beyond the city, a once-peaceful mountain top that had lurked quietly in the background mere moments earlier burst, splitting itself wide open. The brownish white top instantly turned a fiery, radiant shade of red, and that red began immediately to creep unmercifully down the mountainside, preparing to strike the unsuspecting ground like a pouncing predator. The deafening noise of the burst had jolted the girl out of her stance at once, and then, all that she saw before herself instantaneously turned into complete nothingness.
In that instant, her position shifted her body awkwardly in a numb trance. A light weight from covering held her down, contrasting to the massive weight that had previously just held her up above the clouds. Blinking, she tossed and turned side to side and clucked her eyes up, spreading her eyelids apart one heartbeat at a time. Suddenly, the hazy mixture of dream had melted itself back into the cooler, more clear viewpoint that represented reality. Life begun its active role in her once again, and the airbending child shoved the covers from her torso and leapt out of bed, groaning in deep sigh for the premature end of a great adventure in her mind.
Jinora got up and took a look at herself in the mirror. The nine year-old airbender bore witness to just how loud and messy the state of her hair was at this time. For this short part of the day alone did her hair resemble that of her sister Ikki. Once she had slid into her Old Air Nomad-style tunic from her pajamas and curved her hair with her favorite bun atop into place, she hurried herself down the hall of the dormitory reserved for the girls and women of Air Temple Island.
The young airbender maneuvered her way around the older Air Acolytes who towered over her. She broke into a run, gathering an energetic gust in the air currents around her legs and sped into the dining area, finding her family at their usual table, amongst the crowd. It was under the newly-risen sun, like it had always been, that the family of airbenders and the Air Acolytes that surrounded them gathered for a vegetarian breakfast like an early morning ritual, remembering the old ways of the bygone culture they were heirs to.
While Jinora had relied on the use of her airbending to run faster than most other young ladies to the center of the isle, that same ability was now all around her as Ikki and Meelo ran circles and laps in front of, in back of and all around the sides of the table where she and her parents now sat. If her mother Pema ever got pregnant again, there would be potentially yet another ball of air present amongst them.
"Good morning, everyone," said the girl's composed father, Tenzin, the bearded and bald airbending master. Although the Air Acolytes had no formal leadership, Tenzin was an unequaled senior amongst the tight-nit community. "Sleep well?" he questioned, almost rhythmically. He could tell the answers of his children just by looking at them.
So, too, could their mother Pema. "It seems these two got just enough last night," his wife gestured to Meelo and Ikki. "This one, I'm not quite as sure of," she indicated toward her eldest child.
"I slept fine," said Jinora, shaking herself further out of her daze as she noticed looks of skepticism staring from all directions. "Really," she added assertively and somewhat more convincingly. "It was a good sleep. It just ended all too soon. That's all."
"Ah," said Tenzin. "Sounds like you were having a dream."
"I wonder if it was related to any of the boys at the other side of the island," Pema suspected with a wink of her eye as she voiced her theory aloud. "I saw you and bore witness to you staring at those Air Acolyte boys your age yesterday." The non-bending woman in her mid-thirties laughed as her husband glared at her.
"Oh, someone's got a crush!" chimed in Meelo.
"Who is he, Jinora?" the double-bunned Ikki asked in playful interrogation. "What's he like? Have I met him?"
"It's nothing to do with that," Jinora jolted herself finally wide awake and took her family aback in unison and at the same time. "I was thinking back to that last story book that I was reading a while ago."
"Which one was that, dear?" asked Pema.
"Dragons, Sieges and Volcanoes," replied Jinora.
"Ah," said Tenzin. "Of course, I remember you mentioning that. Weren't you reading it a while ago?"
"Didn't you finish that yet, Honey?" asked Pema. "You're quite a fast reader by now, aren't you?"
"I finished the first book of three," Jinora clarified for her mother. "That was months ago, though. It's been a while since I finished the ending of Book 1 - Dragon. The next book of the historical saga is Book 2 - Siege. I haven't been able to find it."
"The Siege of Ba Sing Se in the Hundred Year War lasted for six hundred days," said Tenzin. "It was a long, drawn-out battle which claimed many lives from both sides."
"I wish that we had a copy," said Jinora.
"Maybe it's for the best," said Tenzin. "As one of those bearing the legacy of the Air Nomads, you have your training to focus on. Having sworn an oath of nonviolence, our nation has a far different approach to life."
"Why don't you check the island library, Jinora?" asked Pema.
"Daddy, can we go ride our gliders now?" Ikki interrupted.
"Not until you have finished your breakfast," Tenzin said sternly. "We have fine meal of of tofu and fruits that was nicely prepared for us today. Now, let's say our blessing."
And so the quaint family of the airbending successors to the Air Nomads and New Air Nomads finished saying their prayer to the spirits above and enjoyed their delectable delicious vegetarian feast at one another's side. Then, at the suggestion of her mother, the little airbender girl used the intermission between breakfast and airbending practice to venture up to the library on Air Temple Island, where she would find the Air Acolytes' vast collection of literature, including Air Nomad history, rituals, ancient airbending scrolls and a healthy dose of fiction.
The keeper of the library was an elderly Air Acolyte by the name of Old Man Trin, or as Jinora's brother Meelo liked to call him, "Old Purple Eyes". Every Air Acolyte that resided on Air Temple Island had an occupation or a task to perform while they were there. Some cultivated food, some looked after the quarters, some specialized in medicine, etc. The worldly, but highly eccentric Trin's job was to be the island's librarian. One could tell by his demeanor that he had been through a lot during his lifetime and that his journey had more to it than that of the average Air Acolyte held.
"Hello," Jinora called out upon entering the room filled with book shelves. "Trin?"
"At your service, my young damsel," the old man with violet-colored eyes uttered as he appeared promptly by her side, so quickly that he made the little girl jump, in fact. "What can I do for you today, my favorite customer?"
"I'm looking for a book," Jinora told him.
"Well, in that case, you've come to the right place, young lady! What sort of book is the one that you are looking for today?" he asked. "I know that you already read the story about how your grandparents and their friends saved the world, and also the tale documenting all of your grandfather Avatar Aang's struggles with energybending. Hmmm...let me think. Have you read The Legend of Ong, Jinora?"
"No way," the airbender shook her head. "I started that but never got into it a while ago. I'm way too old for it, anyhow."
"Your dad liked it when he was older than you," said Trinley. "And I liked it myself...still do. But I'm sure we can find something new that you haven't read before, something that'll take you someplace new."
"I had a bizarre dream about going someplace new last night," Jinora confided. "Instead of riding on a sky bison though, I was riding on a dragon."
"I see," acknowledged Trinley once again. "I understand you, little girl...young airbender. Jinora, I know what it is like to grow up on an island such as this, isolated but with the constant urge inside of you to get out there and spread your wings to the world. It was like that for me right up until the day I was a few years older than you when I met your grandfather Avatar Aang."
"Wait," Jinora raised an eyebrow, confused, as she knew that Trin was older than both her parents. "Did you grow up on Air Temple Island, too?"
"No, I grew up on Faxian Island," stated Trinley. "It's a long ways from here. But later on, I did come to this place with him when your grandfather and I first discovered Air Temple Island. Your aunt and the Fire Nation Princess Azula were with me at the time."
"That must have been quite an adventure," remarked Jinora.
"It was," Trinley conceded. "You did read about it, of course. Though adventures aren't always as fun as they are made out to be in books," he added, drawing back the sleeve of his shirt, revealing a scar. "Your father has a mark just like this, as do everyone else who was there on that fateful day, save for your grandmother."
"Right, it was historical," uttered Jinora. "It's another historical saga that I was looking for, actually."
"Historical stories may get really good another century from now. We are in the midst of approaching a great spiritual event or convergence, and the world is feeling it already. It may be possible for an Avatar to speak to a past life more than four generations back, something thought impossible during my time with your grandfather."
"Anything in particular that you're looking for today?" asked Trinley.
"It's has the Siege of Ba Sing Se in it," answered Jinora. "The one with the Fire Nation Prince...and an earthbending heroine."
"Oh!" exclaimed Trinley. "So, you mean that historical saga?"
"Yes," confirmed Jinora. "I'm talking about Dragons, Sieges and Volcanoes. I was looking for Book 2 - Siege."
"Did you finish Book 1 yet?" Trinley asked. "It's best to finish the first segment of the story if you're thinking about moving onto the second."
"Yes," Jinora replied. "But it sure took its time getting the stage set. I mean...do you know just how frustrating it can be to read sixty-five chapters of a story labeled romance and not having the characters comprising the main couple have acknowledged their feelings out loud yet?"
"Yes, I can imagine," Trinley chuckled.
"Have you read the second book then?" asked Jinora.
"Of course I have," said Trinley. "It's much more set in one place, though it does tend to jump around from time to time like it's predecessor. There's action both on and off both sides of the battlefield, within them and across them. We see much more of Lu Ten and Iroh and Tooru, but Ratana's romantic urges really take center stage in the second book. It was only touched upon briefly in Book 1, and then brought back into play several chapters later during Ratana's struggle with the dragon and the purpose of her journey. Then, of course, there's the Siege of Ba Sing Se, where the book gets its title from. That's pretty much a given. We meet some new members of the Terra Team we haven't before, too."
"So, do you have it?" asked Jinora.
"I'm afraid not," Trinley told the disappointed little airbending girl. "Someone else took it out earlier."
"Oh," said Jinora. "Do you know who?"
Trinley paused for a few seconds. "No. Well, look at the time. Lunch is almost here, best be off. Don't want to be late for that."
After Jinora left the library, she had lunch with her family and spent the afternoon training in airbending. For a cool-down exercise, her father had her, Ikki and Meelo practice meditation. Jinora, however, found it difficult to concentrate, and not merely due to the sounds that her brother was making. She wondered who this mysterious somebody was who took the book out that she had been looking to read. If she could locate them on the island, she could ask if she could borrow the book when they were done.
That night, Jinora wondered if she would dream about flying on the back of a dragon again, but was not yet tired enough to fall asleep. Finally giving up on turning in right away, she crawled out from under her covers less than half an hour after slipping under them for the first time and journeyed from the female dormitory to the kitchen area in order to get a glass of water. To her surprise, the area was already lit up by candle-like lamp light, and there was somebody else crouching in one of the sitting chairs there.
"Jinora!" exclaimed her father Tenzin in surprise. "What are you doing up? You should be asleep right now!"
"I was just getting a glass of water," replied Jinora, right before she noticed that her dad appeared to be concealing something. "Wait a minute? What are you hiding there?"
"Nothing," said Tenzin, red-faced. "Off to bed wit you."
"Is that the second book of the historical saga?"
"No...I mean, maybe," Tenzin scratched his bald, tattooed scalp. "I guess I was making sure it was okay for you to read later."
"Is it okay? Can I read it now?"
"No, I'm not done yet."
"Dad, come on."
"Fine," Tenzin gave in, inviting her to come sit with him. "We read it together. Come on...and don't tell your mother I let you stay up this late. This is our secret for now."
"Alright." Jinora ran over and hopped onto her father's lap as she had done when she was much younger, years before. Her dad felt an "oomph" in his throat, for she was bigger now, and no longer even remotely tired.
Tenzin cleared his throat as he began reading aloud to his daughter whom he had his arm wrapped around and also to himself. "As the war without end reached it's darkest hour since the genocide of the Air Nomads, the largest metropolis on Earth had turned into the end of the world. With the unthinkable looming for the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation had encountered it's most stubborn obstacle yet, the rock - no, the mountain - which would not budge, even for all the destructive fire power at their disposal..."
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