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|The Owl's Secrets|
30 January 2012
A Small World
"Are you ready, traveler?" The tribe's chief, Sasha, has prepared her own sand-sailor to take to Wan Shi Tong's Library.
"Any time," said an excited Moku. "You said it was a day's trip, right?"
Sasha, recalling her lie glanced at a few others. Their plan was to travel in circles to elongate the journey. "Yes, so bring plenty of water. And forgive my rudeness but I never got your name."
"I'm," Moku scrambled for an alias, "My name is Peo." He had never heard a more ridiculous name, but he figured the Sandbenders couldn't be too smart.
"Peo?" Sasha's eyes widened. She knew he was lying, but the name particularly struck her interest. "My husband's name is, umm, was Peo. He disappeared..."
"Oh, I'm very sorry to hear that."
Sasha nodded. "He was a smart man, from Ba Sing Se, just like you. He always was more interested in the Earth Kingdom than our tribe. The rest of us couldn't care less about the rest of the nation."
"Yeah, we don't talk about the Desert too often in the city either."
"Well, that shouldn't stop us from having a good time, should it? Let's go." With that, the two of them, accompanied by a few members of the tribe, embarked to the ancient library.
Meeting in Despair
Meanwhile, in a cold room in the Northern Water Tribe's royal palace, an intense debate was taking place at a long table table between the Tribe's leaders.
"Absolutely not!" One man shouted as he banged the table. "Destroy the Moon? For one person? It doesn't matter who she is, we cannot endanger our entire people!"
"She's the princess! Without her, Chief Rakara has no heir!" Argued a much shorter man.
Then, a tall, skinny man interjected. "We have plenty of people willing to take over!"
The short man turned to him in disgust. "Oh, so it's okay then? So what if the family line dies out, right? Who cares?" His sarcasm was painful for the others to listen to.
"The chief's family line dying out is better than our entire society dying out!" After a man at the other end of the table said this, half the room nodded and shouted in agreement.
"But what about this new tie to the Earth Kingdom?" continued the short man. "She was going to marry their Prince! Can we afford to lose this opportunity?"
"What we can't afford to lose is the Moon! Honestly, how can you not see that?"
"What I see, is that all we have to do is kill a koi fish to have our princess safely returned to us."
"And how do you know that they'll give her back?"
This line irked Rakara, who had remained silent throughout the debate. "Enough!" he beckoned. "First of all, killing that koi fish would result in the disappearance of all Waterbending. That would cause enormous, damage to our defense, our ways of travel, our industry, and most importantly, our culture. Then who knows what could happen. I don't think the other spirits would be very appreciative. They say the Ocean cannot live without the Moon. Can we afford to lose all water too? Then we would all die! I know she's my daughter, and I know how important she is to my people, but the Moon must remain alive. That is final."
The other men in the room, some in agreement, some not, bowed and left silently.
Moku gawked as he was led through the magnificence entrance to Wan Shi Tong's library.
"So many...everything. I've never seen such a vast collection of books."
"Isn't it impressive. I've only been here once myself," Sasha responded.
Moku was taken aback when an enormous black figure swooped down from above and landed in front of him. The figure was a gigantic black owl with a white face.
"My name is Wan Shi Tong, he who knows ten-thousand things. Welcome to my library."
"You are a spirit?" Asked Moku.
"And you are a human. Are there any other species you would like to identify? Perhaps a bug or a lemur?"
"No Wan Shi Tong. I merely wish to find information on the Northern Water Tribe's history."
Sasha tried to stop him from completing that sentence, but she was too late.
"And why is that?" the spirit ordered. "Why do you, an obvious member of the Earth Kingdom, wish to gain access to information on the Water Tribe? Do you seek knowledge of their defense systems? Their military? Their weapons? What kind of invasion are humans planning this time?"
"Oh, no sir. Not at all. The woman I love is from the Northern Water Tribe. She's in danger. I've come all the way from Ba Sing Se to help her."
"Hmmm I may be the smartest being in the universe, but I'll never understand that stupidity committed by humans who are what they call in love. Enjoy the library." With that, the spirit soared away.
"You didn't tell me he was this sarcastic and paranoid," Moku joked.
"He hates nothing more than humans who attack other humans and would be devastated if someone were to use his library to gain an advantage on their enemy."
"I only want to use his knowledge to help."
"About that, why will learning about Water Tribe history help you find your girl?"
"Somebody told me it would."
"That's what you're going off of?"
"You weren't there... It's complicated." Moku walked off to begin searching for information as a Sandbender approached Sasha.
"Are we sure he's looking for something important?" he whispered.
"Princes don't waste their time. This may all be for some woman, but the information has got to be huge, right?"
Moku ravaged shelve that contained Water Tribe material. "Sasha, I need to find information about who was described to me as the Water Tribe's greatest forefather."
"Any information in particular."
"Yes. The location of his grave."
Sasha shot him a confused look.
"I know it's strange, but that's what I need."
"Okay then. First we need to identify who this forefather is."
"Aha!" Moku read aloud the title of the dusty book in his hand, The Story of My Husband, the Water Tribe's First Chief".
"That sounds promising."
Moku went straight to the back to find anything about the chief's death. Sasha listened intently as he read "But the last time I would ever see my husband, the man who unified a thousand nomads into what we can now call a tribe, was when he left for battle against the Umma. Why they refused to become a party of our proud nation, I could never tell you, but those savages are the reason my husband cannot tell this tale himself. For he received a spear to the chest on that fateful stormy night. Indeed, we mourned him, but life moves on. The dead chief may have sunk with his crew in the icy, rigid, waters, but our people live on. His legacy moves beyond us, moves beyond our children and our children's children. His legacy will continue forever." Moku paused as he closed the book. "Well, that was touching, but I don't see how it really helps. All we know is that the first chief died at sea." He remembered what Koh had told him, that the men who took Kyla sought the grave his her culture's greatest forefather. "That's it! The ship sunk! The men who took her want the ship!"
"Sasha, we found it!"
"This is it!"
Sasha took the book from Moku's hands and brushed off some of the dust, revealing the full title, The Story of My Husband, the Southern Water Tribe's First Chief. "I'm sorry Peo." Naturally, Sasha didn't care at all, but she grew weary of looking for this information.
Moku let out a scream of rage. "Who is then? Who is the Northern Water Tribe's greatest forefather? Who is responsible for the Water Tribe culture today?"
"I don't mean to interrupt," Moku turned to see Wan Shi Tong perched down a row of books, "but the base of Water Tribe culture is Waterbending, and it's founder is the Moon."
"Correct. The Moon was the first Waterbender, and the humans learned from it."
Moku pondered this. "Great spirit, could someone seek the Moon?"
"In it's spiritual form, no. But the Moon Spirit came down to your world and lives in the North Pole as a humble koi fish."
"Could anyone other than you know that?"
"It is highly unlikely?"
"But is it possible that any human could know about the current position of the Moon Spirit in our world?"
"So the Moon Spirit can be found in the Northern Water Tribe? Then I must go there to protect it."
"You fear that someone will harm it?"
"And you wish to protect it?"
He nodded again.
"I've never met a human I actually like until now. Go. Guard the Moon Spirit." Again, the owl took off to another part of the library.
"Alright Sasha, I have everything I need to- Sasha?" Moku ran to one of the library's main hall and saw a figure darting across to the entrance. "What are you doing?" he demanded. He launched himself forward with an pillar of rock and chased after the escaping Sasha. He was only a few yards behind her when she leapt onto her sand-sailer and knocked him back with a blast of sand.
"Goodbye Earth Kingdom prince," she laughed.
Moku couldn't believe what had just happened. Now he was alone in a vast desert with no means of transportation and no water. It became clear to him that he was going to die.
For the collective works of the author, go here.