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|More from QuietDove||Action/Adventure||PG||None||None|
|The Earth Kingdom|
Book 1: The Journey
2nd August 2014
The sea was calm and a slight breeze blew across the deck of the ship. It was a perfect morning and Atka took the opportunity to practice his waterbending. He used flowing motions to move a large amount of water around his body before splitting it into two separate balls and finishing his routine with double water whips.
"Very impressive Atka!" He turned around to see Iroh walking towards him. He was dressed down from the rather lavish robes he had worn the day before.
"Thanks". Atka said, he moved over to the side of the boat and streamed the puddles of water from the deck into the ocean below.
He asked Iroh, "Are you a firebender then?"
Iroh nodded, "Yes, but not as proficient as my brothers. I can still hold my own though."
Atka looked down, "So is that why you do this sort of thing?"
Iroh raised an eyebrow, "This sort of thing? I assume you mean travelling and spreading the good word of the Fire Nation?"
"Yeah..." said Atka, feeling rather awkward.
Iroh smiled, "I get this sort of thing a lot don't worry! People assume that I'm weak because I didn't join the military like my brothers". He looked towards the horizon, "I believe the only way to keep balance in the world is to make sure every nation can talk freely with one another, that's why I do this."
"I guess I'd never thought of that," said Atka, "I guess, with me being the Avatar, we have to fight for the same thing. Balance..." Atka lent over the side of the ship.
At that point a crewmember joined them on the deck and addressed Iroh, "Ambassador, we will be in Talin in half an hour."
"Excellent!" Iroh said before bowing to the crewmember.
"What happens when we reach the Earth Kingdom?" Atka asked
"We will meet with General Ling in Talin, an Earth Kingdom naval port. From there you will be escorted to the barracks just north of the town."
Atka was surprised, "Barracks? I'm going to be training with soldiers?" Iroh shook his head, "Not quite, they are trainee soldiers. You will be trained by General Forr, a retired Earth Kingdom general."
"But I'll still be training with the 'trainee' soldiers?" Atka asked.
"I'm not sure, you should ask Ling when we reach port. Now go and get your things ready, I can't stay too long."
The port soon came into view. It was the largest navy base in the South Earth Kingdom and housed a large number of ships in its walls. It was also a bustling town. It had grown from being a minor fishing village during the war and had become a strategic location and rich town.
As Atka and Iroh got off the ship they were greeted by a tall bearded earthbender. He was wearing armour and had a cape.
"Avatar Atka. It is an honour," the man bowed, "I am General Ling and I am the leader of this port."
"Its nice to meet you General" Atka replied, bowing.
"It seems like you two are fine, now if you don't mind General I must restock my ship and be off. I have an appointment in Omashu that I must keep". Iroh turned to Atka, "It was a great honour to meet you Atka, I hope we will meet again soon". He bowed.
"Thank you Ambassador Iroh" Atka bowed towards him.
"Good luck with your training young Avatar" Iroh turned and left Atka with the General.
Ling led Atka along the harbour; the ships in port were large, sail powered craft. They were armed with boulders, presumably for the crew to earthbend at targets. Atka also noticed caterpillar like tanks being moved on the larger boats. He didn't know much about them, only that his own chief had helped to design them towards the end of the war. Atka couldn't help but be impressed by the scale of the Earth Kingdom military; it was much larger than the Water Tribe forces.
"Why are there so many ships here?" he asked
"They are used for patrolling the sea for pirates, in the last few years we have seen their activity increasing". Ling replied.
"And the tanks?" Atka inquired.
"They're being transported to Ba Sing Se, at the request of the Earth Queen herself". Ling said.
Atka decided not to go any further with his questions. "We will be heading to the barracks shortly, they are just a little way north of here. We'll use the monorail system to get there". Ling said.
Atka raised on eyebrow, "Monorail?"
Ling nodded, "In certain places we are using a monorail system to link up key locations in the Earth Kingdom, its similar to the one used in Ba Sing Se. We have it here to link between Talin, the barracks and Gaoling". Ling stopped as they reached an ornate building, just away from the docks.
"This is the monorail station," he declared
"We don't have anything like this in the South Pole..." Atka said
Ling laughed, "I suppose you don't! Have you ever been to the Earth Kingdom before Atka?"
Atka shook his head, "No, never."
"You're going to find a lot of things different then" Ling said, "By the way, what do you think of the Earth Kingdom?"
Atka thought for a moment, "Its very hot..."
"You'll be disappointed to hear that it gets even hotter the further north you go!" Ling laughed. "This is our ride..." A train pulled into the station and a number of people got off.
"This particular route is mainly used by soldiers moving between here and the barracks, we also get high ranking merchants and officials coming in from Gaoling". General Ling was enthusiastic to point out everything that was along the monorail route.
Atka interrupted him, "Sorry, you mentioned Gaoling? Is that a city near here?"
Ling nodded, "It's the largest town in this district, many high ranking Earth Kingdom officials live and work there. Since the port was built it has grown, as soldiers and other workers moved into the suburbs of the town."
Atka thought for a moment, "Its just I recognise the name, I just can't place it..."
Ling interjected, "You may know it as the birthplace of Toph Beifong, the greatest Earth Bender who ever lived."
Atka snapped his fingers, "Toph! I remember now! She often visited our village, I think she knew our chief..."
"She would do, Toph and Sokka knew each other from the times they spent together during the war, helping the Avatar" Ling said.
Atka touched the band around his wrist as Ling mentioned the Avatar. "Did you know Toph?" He asked.
"Yes, I was a pupil at her academy. I haven't seen her for a long time though. Probably traveling the world, it wouldn't surprise me if that was the case if I'm being honest". Ling scratched his beard in thought.
Soon the monorail stopped as they reached the barracks. They were set in the middle of a wood and had a huge scale with several buildings set out within the large walls. Lines of troops paraded around the compound, with many more scattered around playing games and laughing.
Ling led Atka to smaller building in the corner of the compound; the building was set within its own smaller walls, with a large square courtyard outside it. At the other end of the courtyard stood a two-story building, in front of which sat a few young people dressed entirely in green.
"This way Atka," said Ling, leading him into the smaller building.
Inside it was set out like a classroom, a board at the front detailed several military tactics and earthbending forms. Ling led Atka through a door behind the board.
"General Forr," said Ling, "I would like to introduce you to Atka he..."
"I know who he is Ling!" General Forr snapped, "You're the Avatar and you have travelled all the way from the Southern Water Tribe where you are, allegedly, the best waterbender. A master no less..." Forr laughed to himself. "All of that is completely meaningless here, you are a recruit, you are a beginner, you will have to work 24 hours a day to even get close to the level your colleagues will be at..."
There was an awkward silence before Atka spoke, "So, you're just going to through me into training with proper earthbenders? Before I've even learnt the basics?"
Forr smiled, "That is exactly what I'm doing, shouldn't be a problem for the Avatar though should it...."
"Um, General Forr I must be going now," Ling said uncertainly, "If there are any problems Atka I'm just a short monorail journey away". Ling bowed to him and Forr before exiting the room, rather briskly.
Atka turned to the grey haired Forr, "Am I going to get a tour of this place or..." Atka stopped as he saw the old generals face turn to a scowl.
"Here's your tour, this is my office, the classroom is through the door, the training ground is outside and your sleeping quarters are on the other side of them". Forr put on an evil smile. "Ask one of the others where your room is, good day!"
Atka decided not to ask any more questions and he turned to the door.
"Oh yes, one more thing" Forr said, "While you are here with us you are banned from waterbending."
Atka turned furiously towards Forr, "What? Banned from waterbending? It might take months for me to learn earthbending, I need to practice my waterbending!"
"I don't really care, you have already mastered waterbending. I see no reason why you need to carry on practicing it. Now toodle pip!" Forr waved Atka out of the door and into the empty classroom.
"This is ridiculous!" Atka seethed, "banned from waterbending, this 'general' has some nerve..."
Still angry, Atka stomped out into the midday sun of the training grounds. The students were still there so he decided to talk to them.
"Excuse me" He asked, "I was just wondering which of the rooms in here was mine?"
There was pause, as the students looked him up and down. One of them stood up, he had dark cropped hair and looked quite buff, he was also quite a lot taller than Atka.
"These aren't Earth Kingdom clothes, we don't have to talk to you..." He grinned menacingly at Atka.
"They're my clothes from the Southern Water Tribe actually..." Atka replied.
The students all 'oohed' and laughed as the tall one stood with his arm crossed, still wearing the grin.
"We all better be careful boys, the big Water Tribe boy is going to get us!" He laughed and the others followed suit.
Atka was about to lose his temper before the door to the dorm building opened and a dark haired medium-sized boy stepped out. He had his hair in an Earth Kingdom style topknot, while the rest of it was quite shaggy.
"Problem Oska?" He asked the tall boy.
"Go away Kann, this has nothing to do with you," replied Oska as he turned back to face Atka.
Kann didn't back down though, "I think it does, its just we're sparring tomorrow and I'd hate for there to be an 'accident'..." Kann grinned as if he knew he had beaten Oska.
Oska turned away bitterly, "Come on guys, let's go get summat it eat.."
He left through the gates of the small wall and his five cronies followed suit, leaving Atka and Kann standing by the door of the dorm.
"I wouldn't worry about Oska, he does it to all the new guys. And anyway he may look big, but he's no Toph Beifong when it comes to earthbending". Kann extended a hand to Atka. "I'm Kann, but you knew that anyway."
Atka shook Kann's hand, "Atka, thanks for getting him off my back, I don't suppose you know where my room is do you?"
Kann invited Atka inside the building and took him up to the second floor. He indicated a room two doors down.
"This is my room, feel free to come in whenever," he said, taking Atka to the next door along. "This rooms empty so I guess you should go in here. Don't expect much in there"
Atka opened the door of his room, sure enough it very basic, just a bed, a washbasin, and a cupboard. Atka threw his bag on the bed and spun around looking at the room.
Kann was still stood in the doorway, "Hope you enjoy your new room, Avatar Atka..."
"Yeah its qui..." Atka stopped, "Wait, how did you know that?"
Kann shrugged and smiled, "Its quite obvious. Why else would a waterbender come to a military earthbending school?"
Atka smiled at Kann, "I guess!"
The two of them laughed with each other and Atka believed he had found a friend in the Earth Kingdom.
For the collective works of the author, go here.