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Book 1: Peace
February 1, 2013
Kento and Spree arrive in Pat To, and encounter some trouble along the way
The sun was rising when Kento finally awoke from a deep, dreamless sleep. Overnight, the fire had burned down to a few glowing embers. It was still dark in their tiny little slash in the Earth, so the embers cast an eerie glow about. Looking over, he spied Spree's sleeping form nearby. As he stretched, he picked up a small pebble and tossed it in her direction before he sat to rolling up his sleeping bag.
"Wake up sleepy, we got a long ride ahead of us," he said when he heard her groan behind him. Taking a moment to put his boots on, Kento fully tested them by kicking out what was left of the embers.
"You know I'm not a morning person," she muttered as she slowly worked her eyes open, attempting to adjust to the changing conditions.
"Sooner we get moving the sooner we get to the coast," he countered; tighten the straps on his sleeping bag before taking it to his mount. Spree rolled out of her sleeping bag as well and set to cleaning up, realizing that he was getting ready to leave regardless.
Setting the sleeping bag to the side, Kento picked up his saddle. The large hybrid playfully nipped at him as he went to put the saddle on. Kento chuckled and softly slapped it's beak before finishing with the saddle.
"So about how far out are we?" Spree asked as she did the same as Kento, saddling her hybrid as well. Kento picked up his sleeping bag and sat it in its usual position behind the saddle.
"Twenty Miles roughly. Ten to the sea and another Ten up the coast to Pat To," he replied. Spree finished with her saddling and as one the pair climbed into their saddles.
"So what do you think of the Unified Independent Territories?" Spree asked as they began to ride out of their campsite and follow along the road once again. Kento cocked his eyebrow at her, but answered her question regardless.
"You know what I feel about The Independents," he replied. Spree nodded at this.
"I know you support them, but I want to know why. Aren't you technically royalty in the South Pole?" Why support a new nation at all when it can offset your home really easy?" she asked. Kento chuckled again and shook his head, a grin on his face the whole time.
"Just full of questions aren't you?" he asked. Spree nodded, her eyes wide waiting for him to speak.
"Well?" she asked. Kento remained silent for a while, gathering his thoughts. Finally, he took a breath and began to speak.
"I support The Independents because I believe that they've earned the right to govern themselves. Cause the Fire Nation didn't do a good job and the Earth Kingdom won't either, so it's best to let them do it their way," he said. Spree understood what he was talking about. Her home city of Yu Dao had barely survived the torrent of fire that Fire Lord Ozai had released on the area seven years before.
"What about the royalty?" she asked. Kento thought for a moment regarding this.
"In the Northern Tribe the son or daughter of the Chief is referred to as a prince or princess. As for mine, it's not really spoken upon. I suppose that when dad passes, Sokka will take over as chief seeing as how he's the older brother," he replied. They breasted a low hill, and caught a refreshingly cool breeze from ahead of them. Spree's eyes widened with amazement at what she saw. Below them lay the sea, as calm and inviting as possible. The water had a greenish color, as if nature wanted to signify that this was still the coast of the Earth Kingdom. Kento pointed to the north, to the mountains that lay in the distance.
"There lies your fine dining," he said. She rolled her eyes and together the two trotted down to the beach and began to head in the direction of the mountains. The beach was a welcome refresher after the scorching travels across the wasteland like landscape.
A majority of ground the Independent Territories had would be unable to grow any crops or plants for the next several years. For the time being, many of the cities relied on the sea for food, or trade routes for anything other than fish.
The ride to Pat To lasted far less time then the ride to the coast. It was as if no time had passed at all before the spied the seaside village ahead of them. Smoke leaked from a few chimneys over the rooftops. A few fishing boats sat at the docks, a small cargo ship sat anchored a ways out to sea with small boats ferrying the goods to shore. No wall surrounded the village, allowing the pair to ride right on in without any trouble. No doubt the village had its own militia, all Independent towns and cities did. That was one thing Kento disagreed with them about; he believed that the lack of a central army made The Independents vulnerable.
The two stopped in front of a bar that sat toward the center of the village. They hitched their mounts to a post outside before Kento led the way into the dark room. Spree let her hat slide down and rest in-between her shoulders as she stepped inside. Kento on the other hand kept his in place on top of his head.
Several people sat around the bar room, their chatter and drunken laughter filling the air. Spree kept close to him as he crossed to the bar, avoiding the various drunken men.
"Is there a place around town to buy grain and a hot meal?" Kento asked the bartender. The bartender, a tall skinny man with spectacles, nodded in reply.
"You can eat here, grain can be bought down by the docks," he answered in a friendly voice. Kento sat three silver pieces in on the bar, requesting a bowl of soup for himself and Spree. Together, they made their way to a small table that sat in a corner near the bar.
They talked back and forth quietly, keeping to themselves until the soup and two glasses of water were brought to them. Kento used a spoon to scoop up the liquid and blew on it slightly, using his waterbending to cool the steaming liquid before putting it in his mouth.
"Quiet, Quiet, Everyone shut up!" shouted a man at the bar, looking at the room with his back to the bartender. The room fell silent as everyone looked at him, but Kento and Spree ignored him as they ate.
"I want a toast, on this amazing day. We all know what day it is," the man said. Spree looked up at Kento, who was staring at the man.
"What day is it?" she asked. Kento didn't answer, as he continued to stare at the man.
"Five years ago today, our brothers sent the Fire Nation running. The end of an oppressive era and a dawn of a new nation, The Unified Independent Territories, the greatest country on Earth, who needs no help from any other nation!" he cheered. Spree looked at Kento, who's face had twisted into a form of anger.
"Kento, keep calm now, we don't need any trouble," she said. He stood, picking up his empty glass as he went.
"Just getting another drink is all," he said as he stood walking toward the bar. Placing his glass on the bar, Kento asked for more water as the man who had ordered the toast turned to him.
"Hey, you going to drink to the Independents with me? Five years ago today we sent the Fire Nation running," he said. Kento made a face, as he smelled the man's breath, the combination of liquor and various foods made it revolting.
"I'm not toasting anything or anyone," Kento replied as his glass was handed back to him. He froze when a hand appeared on his shoulder.
"You know, we don't like people who don't like The Independents around here," the man said. Kento sat his glass back on the bar before he turned to face the man.
"I never said I didn't like The Independents. And for the record, my kind of people don't like your kind one bit," he said. A look of confusion came over the drunk's face.
"Your kind of people?" he asked. Then he took notice of the pistols that hung in Kento's belt. His eyes went wide as he looked back up at Kento's face.
"You take them off right now!" he snapped. Kento leaned in close to the man's, his eyes full of fire.
"Try and make me," he challenged.
The conversation between Kento and the drunken man was inspired by a conversation made by Malcolm Reynolds at the beginning of the second episode of Firefly
This is our first glimpse of what life is like in the Unified Independent Territories. Its not as amazing or awe inspiring as its successor The United Republic of Nations, but its residents are happy.
The village, Pat To, gets its name from a hill in Vietnam where a battle between American and Veit Cong fought during the Vietnam War.
For the collective works of the author, go here.