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|The People of the Sand|
13 December 2011
Hospitality in the Desert Edit
The bright, merciless Sun had ceased to beat down on the back of Moku's neck as the day progressed to evening, but the sands beneath his ostrich horse's feet still felt like embers. Duke trudged through the scorching sands of the Si Wong Desert. Every so often, Duke would squawk out of pain from his scalding feet. Becoming irritated, Moku took the blanket from his bag, tore it in two, and created socks for his aching companion.
"There we go. Feeling better buddy?" he asked. He prepared to remount his animal but before he grasped Duke's back, he noticed something in the distance. Soon, the prince realized that it was more than one something. Three boat-like objects seemed to be heading in his direction through the sand. As they moved in, Moku saw that their sails were being propelled by what seemed to be small whirling columns of sand.
Sandbenders! he thought.
Moku was correct. Each second, the sand-sailers approached, he make out more detail of the benders that steered them. Eventually, the sailors stopped and four people, dressed completely in brown rags stepped of the first. One of them said something to the others that Moku couldn't hear, then removed the rags covering their mouth, revealing the face of a middle-age woman.
"We don't have too many ostrich horses around here. Where are you from?" she demanded.
"The city of Ba Sing Se," Moku replied.
Again, the woman turned to others and said something out of Moku's range of hearing.
"Let's mug this guy and take the ostrich horse with us. We could use a fast, single-man ride. If not, I'm sure the meat's good."
"Actually Sasha," one man interjected, "I recognize that guy from my time in Ba Sing Se. He's not random traveler. That man is the prince of the Earth Kingdom. They had pictures of him all over the city."
Sasha made a quick head check at Moku. "Are you sure?"
"He said himself that he was from the capital. I reckon that it isn't a coincidence."
Moku, who was becoming suspicious of the situation, was relieved at the humble tone of the woman's next words.
"Greetings stranger!" Sasha began. "My name is Sasha. I am the chief of the Hami Tribe here in the Si Wong Desert."
"It's a pleasure to meet you Sasha. I am here in pursuit of Wan Shi Tong's library."
Sasha was very intrigued by the Prince's statement, but she hid here surprised emotions.
"The Spirit's Library is an entire day's journey away," she lied. "Come with us to our village. It has always been part of our custom to show hospitality towards strangers."
It wasn't long before Moku found himself feasting on the best that the Hami Tribe had to offer, and while it was nothing compared to the dishes of Ba Sing Se, it was a vast improvement from the scraps he had been eating the nights prior.
Sasha was absent during the dinner. Instead of joining Moku to eat, she met with the other leaders of her Tribe.
"We could hold him for ransom," a man suggested as he stroked his long, white beard. "I imagine that the Earth King would pay a hefty fine for his son."
"Why treat him as an enemy at all?" argued a much younger man. "If we gained his trust, he could help us put an end to the Beetle-Heads."
"What would a noble from the city know about winning tribal feuds? Can he even Sandbend?"
"Enough," ordered Sasha. "When I met him, he said that he was looking for Wan Shi Tong's library. That means he's searching for information. Valuable information. Possibly top-secret information that humans haven't laid eyes on. I would like that kind of knowledge. Wouldn't you?"
The two men nodded in agreement.
"So it's settled. We guide him to the library, accompany him inside, learn the secret, take everything he has on him, and leave him to die."
The older man shrugged. "Sounds like a plan."
Cold Waters, Cold Hearts Edit
Chief Rakara refrained from greeting his people as they welcomed back to the Northern Water Tribe. Without waiting for his wife or royal procession, he stormed across the icy roads of his city in solemnity, speaking with no one until he reached his frozen palace.
"Everything will be alright," Loki assure Muna as the chief marched off. Looking down, Loki saw the source of her master's misery. A thin line of blood trickled from the bottom of Muna's dress down the inside of her leg.
"I just lost my son," started Muna, trying to withhold from breaking down, "I'm not losing my daughter."
"Rakara!" exclaimed a cheerful man inside the palace upon seeing his friend. "How was Ba Sing Se? Is old Maroph still sharp as usual?"
"Not now, Master Pifu!" Rakara barked.
The chief scanned the frigid hallway. They were the only two in sight. "How do you not know? How does nobody here know!"
"Know what? What happened in the Earth Kingdom?"
"Someone- Someone took Kyla."
Pifu gasped, as did a main who had just entered the corridor.
"Leave!" screamed the distraught chief. After the woman had frantically exited through purple curtains, he continued. "The people who took her- they have one demand."
"Then obey them! Do whatever you must to retrieve your daughter."
"The demand is that we destroy Tui, and with it, the moon."
"The koi fish?"
"Not just a koi fish! Tui is the physical embodiment of the moon spirit, the source of Waterbending. Without her, our very way of life cease to exist!"
An Intruding Host Edit
Kyla sat on her surprisingly comfortable bed holding her betrothal necklace tightly in her hand. "I know you're coming, Moku," she spoke softly. The tribal princess gazed at the beauty of the full moon through a barred window on one of the walls. It struck her as ironic that something so majestic could oversee actions as cruel and evil as the ones her captors were taking.
"Pretty isn't it." Kozar had sneaked into Kyla's chamber without making a sound. "Too bad it's probably the last full moon anybody will ever see."
Kyla shot Kozar a confused, hatred-fulled glare. "When I get the chance, I'll make sure you never see another Sun."
"Oh, is that a threat?"
"Scared?" Kyla shot back as she slipped the betrothal necklace in her sleeve.
Kozar sighed. "I only came in to talk."
"Talk about what? How awful you are? Why are you and your men doing this? Does the Fire Lord know?"
"Listen filth! You'll live longer if you stop asking questions and do what I command of you."
"And what are your orders this time?"
"Take off your clothes."
"What? You monster!" Kyla spat in the aggressors face.
"Very well, we can do this the hard way."
All Peo could hear from his room down the hall were the Kyla's screams as she was brutally attacked in the most degrading way possible.
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