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Book 1: Ocean
Chapter 1: Tora
Five years have passed since the end of the One Hundred Year War. Fire Lord Zuko has created an era of peace and love between the four nations. The current Avatar, Aang, used a rare form of Bending - Energybending - to conjure a race of formely extinct Airbenders. Avatar Aang has also elected a ruler for each of the nations; Fire Lord Zuko of the Fire Nation, Earth King Basai of the Earth Kingdom, Water Emperor Surko of the Southern Water Tribe, Water Empress Tia of the Northern Water Tribe, and Air Father Ora & Air Mother Ranara of the Air Temples. The world is running smoothly and happily, and Aang himself has settled down with his Water Tribe wife, Katara. All is well.
In the Southern Water Tribe capital, Sa Kora, in a large palace crafted entirely of ice, lives the Water Emperor, Surko. He rules over the Tribe firmly but fairly, and his people are happy. In fact, his people are so happy that Surko doesn't have to do much. He lazes in his throne room, eating fish and fruit snow. But all this is about to change.
Lai sprinted down the cold corridor, her icy breath burning in her lungs. Her blue servant robes flapped around her ankles as she ran. She was clutching a thick scroll in her hand. She came to a corner and almost slipped on the icy floor as she scurried around it. A grey door flashed past and she skidded slowly to a halt, before doubling back and leaping through the door. Up a flight of stairs she ran, along another corridor, and she burst through another door. She stopped running instantly. The room around her was made of ice, with manmade ponds of water positioned around the floor. A large throne, also made of ice, sat in the centre of the room. The Emperor's throne room. The throne was empty, and Emperor Surko was nowhere to be seen. Lai was a lowly maid, and being caught in the throne room without permission usually earned servants a severe punishment. Lai took one last look around the throne room, and backed out the door. Clutching the scroll, she turned down the corridor and was immediately engulfed in a wave of water. She collapsed under the wave, choking and spluttering. She stood up shakily, looking around.
"Hello?" Lai called.
Lai was knocked down from behind by another wave of water. Before she has time to stand up, she was grabbed by her robe collar and roughly pulled to her feet. Tears ran down her face.
"Stop!" Lai screamed, "Please! Stop!"
Water reared up and whipped her in the face. She was grabbed and forced to face her attacker. Her eyes widened, her lip shivering. A shard of ice floated an inch from her face, the tip flashing in the light.
Lai's screams echoed around the corridor.
Tora kicked her feet in the air. She thought she heard a sound from down the corridor, but dismissed it quickly. Bored, Tora rolled off her bed and crossed her legs in front of her bedside table. A small bowl of water sat innocently on the table. Tora closed her eyes and focused her energy, feeling it build up inside her. This was getting easier and easier every day. Tora's eyes snapped open and she uneashed her energy on the water inside the bowl. The water shifted and small waves disturbed the surface. She pushed more energy at the water and willed it to rise. The water slowly rose into the air and formed a small bubble which floated a few inches above the bowl. Tora exhaled and the bubble plopped back into the bowl. Standing, she let her energy flow freely and the water quickly flew out of the bowl again. It formed a long whiplike shape which snaked around the room, twisting around Tora. A sharp knock on the door alerted Tora, and the water splashed onto the floor as she turned her head. She darted to the door and pulled it open. A short, mousey-faced man wearing blue servant robes looked up at her.
"Where's Lai?" asked Tora. Lai was her favourite maid who visited her often.
"Lai?" queried the servant, "Who's Lai?"
Tora shook her head. "What do you want?"
"The Emperor would like to speak with you," said the servant.
Tora stepped out, closed the door, and followed the man along a corridor. She walked into the throne room, and the mousey-faced man bowed himself out. Tora's father sat on his icy throne and lookd across at her with his bright blue eyes.
"Tora!" he said.
Tora looked at her father. "Hi, Dad," she said.
"Are you practising your Waterbending?" he asked.
Tora nodded. She watched as the Emperor raised his hands and send the water in the ponds shooting upwards. The water collected into one stream and swirled around Tora like a shimmering snake. The Emperor clapped his hands together and the water twisted in the air and splashed back into the ponds. Tora's father smiled hesitantly.
Tora knew deep down that she would never be that good. The tutor her father employed to teach her Waterbending only taught her the basics. Tora had begged the tutor to teach her more; more violent and ferocious techniques, but she hadn't, and she just went over the same moves over and over again. It was all very frustrating.
"Tora," said the Emperor, "The maid, Lai, disappeared sometime last night."
"What?" Tora squealed, "Not Lai!"
"She was carrying an incredibly important scroll," continued the Emperor, "From the Water Oracle. You must go to her right away."
"But-!" Tora started, but the Emperor held up one hand.
"Go," said the Emperor.
Tora screamed as she almost slipped on the icy floor. She caught herself and turned a corner. Cold winds blasted against her like shards of ice. She pulled her hood over her brown hair and sprinted through the doorway. Her sealskin boots sunk into the snow as she ran. A small igloo slowly came into view through the mist. Tora reached the igloo and ducked inside. There was a small circular room in the igloo, the walls hanging with dream catchers and trinkets. A glowing lantern hung from the roof. A bundle of coats sat in the corner.
"Hello?" Tora said quietly, "Water Oracle?"
Tora jumped back as a turtle seal emerged from the coat bundle. It looked like a seal with a turtle's shell, and it barked at Tora loudly.
"Good turtle seal!" Tora squeaked, backing away.
"Nanuk! Heel!" came a rusty old voice from inside the igloo. The turtle seal growled but backed off.
The bundle of coats stirred and shifted, and rose into a humanlike form. It was a short person in a sealskin coat, the hood pulled over its face.
"Water Oracle?" said Tora.
"Yes, child..." The Oracle pulled back her hood to reveal a weathered, wrinkled old face, browned from the sun. Nanuk the turtle seal circled her legs and purred.
Tora began to speak, but the Oracle cut her off:
"Life is hard for you, isn't it, Princess?" Her voice was croaky and ancient. "Forced to live a life royalty and order, when all you want to do is play, explore, adventure."
Tora gasped. This woman knew her better than she knew herself. Water rose up behind the Water Oracle and swirled about in the air.
"You want to be an amazing Waterbender like your father, but he stops you. You want to learn more. You want to learn more."
The water twisted in the air and spun in a circle.
"Hear this, child," the Oracle whispered, leaning closer, "A Water Princess, a descendant of Katara, a daughter of the Moon..."
Tora strained her ears, listening. The Water Oracle inhaled croakily. She opened her toothless mouth to speak again.
The side of the igloo exploded and caved in. A blast of water knocked the Oracle down. She grunted in pain. Tora screamed and leapt to the side. Another wave blasted a hole through the wall and pushed Tora down. She rolled over and stood up. Tora could see a misty figure through the hole, advancing slowly. The figure raised its arms and the water inside the igloo twisted and knocked Tora's feet out from under her. Tora gasped for breath as she hit the ground. As the water reared again, she rolled over and it narrowly missed her. Tora jumped through the igloo doorway and held out her hands. She focused her energy, but it came slowly because she was scared and distracted. Bit by bit it welled up inside her, but she had to duck under a wave of water from the mysterious figure, and it vanished. Tora held out her hands again and focused. The energy came quicker this time, building and building. A blast of water shot past her and collapsed into the snow. Tora unleashed her energy on the snow around her, and it rose into the air in the form of water. Tora brought her hands together, and the water collected into a large bubble in front of her. She swung her arms forward and the bubble lengthened out into a whiplike shape, which darted around the igloo. Tora ran forward to the misty figure, who snapped his hands down and sent a torrent of water at Tora. She whirled her arms, and the water whip crashed into the torrent, diverting it into the snow. Tora raised her arms and more snow rose into the air, melting into water as it rose. She whipped her hands towards the figure, and the water rushed at him, changing into needles is it went. The water needles crashed into him, and he screamed in pain. He fell into the snow, shaking.
"They told me ... they told me the Princess couldn't ... Waterbend!" he grunted to himself.
"Child," came the Oracle's voice.
Tora dived into the igloo, where the Water Oracle was curled up amongst the bundle of coats. Nanuk growled softly.
"Daughter of the Moon..." the Oracle croaked.
Tora nodded, leaning closer.
The Oracle coughed. "Find the..." she grunted, "The Masters..."
And the Water Oracle closed her eyes. Nanuk the turtle seal whimpered and rested his head against her body.
Tora the Water Princess inhaled softly, and stood up.
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