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There is a forest to the northwest of the Earth Kingdom that is carved from the rock itself.
There are many stories about its formation. A few nutcases these days have suggested it's all down to erosion. Some suggest that it was driven from the earth by an angry Earthbender, raging so hard for his lost people that he tore up the land that they had lived on, never to be touched again by human hands. Others say the spirits formed the spires, as another near-unheeded warning never to mess with the natural splendour of the planet. Still others call it a gift from the earth, a tribute to the beauty of the world. And it is beautiful to look at–sheer towers of karst, stretching to the heavens, surrounded by lush woodland and the endless yet muted chatter of wildlife.
Only the Air Nomads–those few who remain on this old Earth now–know the truth, because only they can truly see it from the sky with the weight of history behind them.
They see a battleground.
It is not entirely obvious, even from the sky. But look closely at these stones, these pinnacles rising from the earth. Their edges are bare; no trees or even moss covers their massive might. Instead, they seem jagged, almost broken in some areas, as if deliberately carved by someone with tools rougher than chisels, rougher even than Earthbending.
They look, in fact, as if an Airbender–or two, or three, or a hundred–have passed this way a hundred times, slicing at each other across the vast plains, tearing through a cliffside in a matter of hours with an effort that nature or the spirits would have taken years to fulfill.
This is Wulong, the Sound of Fierce Drums, a forest echoing across the northwest.
Three battles took place here, in all of history.
The first created this place; the third nearly destroyed it. The last was a battle between fire and wind; the first, a combat of swirling breezes. But the one time armies fought here, the land was nearly lost. The earth nearly sunk away, the forests below creaked and crackled as the sound of explosions no Firebender could muster filled the air.
This is not that time. Not yet.
Look once more upon this forest of stone. Look to the east, beyond the pillars. See the young man running for his life atop a moving mound of rock away from the setting sun. You can't make out much detail from this distance, but the sound of the rocks beneath his feet do not sound at peace. They sound harsh, impatient, unwilling to move, but they're churned and pushed away with such force, such power. Any Earthbender could tell you, this is not a calm sound, this is a sound with emotion being forced into it. This is panic.
Because right behind him, the sun is setting, and the cannons are ready to fire.
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