The Stone Family
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The Kyoshi Chronicles


Book 1: Earth

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Chapter 10: Student and Master

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Chapter 12: Battle at Caoyan Hill

Previously on The Kyoshi Chronicles

Kyoshi lived in Gao Lin with her guardian Hiaga. Being discovered as the Avatar she left for Ba Sing Se with Grandsecretariat Nero but soon discovered the true intentions of the Earth State. With new freinds she travelled across the Si Wong Desert, learn't earthbending and arrived in Yuan Province. Here Kyoshi found a map to her father Garuku's battalion and, with the Earth State hot on their tale, the two were reunited at long last.

Chapter 11: The Stone Family

The early morning light, a pastel orange, gently kissed the foggy hills as dew drops hugged the long grasses. Kyoshi walked with her father, a bag of seed in hand, and followed him to the Ostrich horses. Together they fed the steeds and dried their damp feathers with towels. Tori came pattering to them, hungry from the sound of dropped seed, and battled the larger birds for pecks to the ground. The animals chirruped as they ate, content with the meal. Other melodies from unseen birds, jays and wrens Garuku had told Kyoshi, whistled over the hills.

"So you can earthbend?" asked Garuku, swaying the conversation from birds to bending. Kyoshi nodded.

"Yeah. A caveman taught me."

"A caveman taught you," Garuku repeated, nodding as if he knew the incredulity all too well. "I should have taught you when you were young." Suddenly the mood changed, and Kyoshi's father seemed more regretful than pleasantly reunited.

"I wish I did."

"You still can. There's a lot to learn," Kyoshi replied warmly, patting her father on the shoulder. "I'm sure the earthbending style of the military is a lot different to a caveman's style." Garuku's green eyes widened as he remembered something.

"Yes!" he shouted, now happy again. "I can teach you something!" He took Kyoshi over to the left of the campsite, past sleeping soldiers, to a pile of weapons. Swords, shields, greaves and gauntlets were laid out on a canvas swag. Garuku picked up a shield and threw it into the air. As it came down Garuku put his hand out and the shield proceeded to hover before the ground, not making any sort of landing.


The morning was given time to progress, warm up and dry, and Garuku decided to teach Kyoshi the technique later on in the day. The battalion sat scattered around the campsite as they ate their breakfast; devouring it like a wild boar to a carcass. They were soldiers, and for that it seemed they were ravenously hungry. Jin Jin finally had received a much-needed leg of meat and the two boys, Bako and Momzen, enjoyed a warm breakfast; a luxury they had not had since they left Ba Sing Se.

Once breakfast was finished Garuku took Kyoshi to his tent and went inside. It was the largest tent of the battalion and inside it fit a sleeping area and desk for writing. Garuku took from a satchel on the desk and loosely bound book. Its olive cover was tattered and peeling and most of the pages fell out. On the right of the cover was a faded patch suggesting a lock was once there. He slumped it on the desk and looked at Kyoshi.

"What is it?" she said after Garuku continued to just look at her. Her father sighed.

"It's your mother's journal. I thought you might want to read it," he explained. Suddenly Kyoshi's heart began to tremor. Little quakes, coming somewhere from an unknown fear, echoed in the emptiness she had been feeling lately. Maybe this is what she needed. But what if she didn't like what she read? In her mind her mother was gentle and righteous, though judging by her desertion she must've been unfit for parenthood. Nevertheless Kyoshi remained ignorant to that fact all her life and always told herself that her mother was not some floozy or criminal that had no desire for children. She was scared. She didn't want things to change.

"It's not going to bite," said Garuku, gesturing for her to come over. She did and sat down in his hard chair and felt the ancient journal. It was rough like sandpaper but the tethers, however, were soft.

"Have you read it?" Kyoshi asked.

"I have," he replied. "Only a few weeks ago, though. It's been with me for a while but I never could bring myself to open it." Kyoshi turned the cover. The writing in it was faded and stains of age and disuse covered most of the pages.

Journal of M     it read, the name of her mother covered by a stain. She turned her body to ask Garuku her mother's name but he had left without a trace – just like the woman the journal belonged too. It seemed Kyoshi's family were experts at leaving unseen and without a show. Kyoshi turned the page to the next and began reading the faint words of her mother's memoirs.

Aut  n 313 BG

I am wr t ng in this as a mother. Not out of chore, not at all, and not because the nurses s ggested it wise to keep track of my pr  nancy. If I were doing that there would n    e sentences and structure. It'd be dates and numbers, and com  nts on my feelings and weight and diet. I am writing in  is for as a child I always wanted a diary. I am sure I did at one point, my parents were never sparing in that respect; in fact I remember many times writing in a journ l as a y  ng girl. But the entries would have been nothing of great importance. And perhaps these entries will not be of importance too, I suppose all I am is a wife and mother. But I do feel it rel  ving to write down thoughts coh rently. For the stress of the preg  ncy comes and goes at times and more often than not there is no better way to relieve stress than to do something c lming, thus my writing in here.

We have finally found our place. G   Lin Province is what it is called. It is quaint. Cornfields grow wild around the town and the archi   ture is simple yet stu ning. The bending tourname    of which we saw upon arrival – luckily, brings in many officials from O    u. The winner, this year a large boy was the victor, is given a scholarship to Omashu, our capital. I hear it is very pres ig  us.

Our home is more of a stor y. It is the second storey of the 'Smelly Cup Teahouse.' The owner, Hiaga Liang, was very kind in renting out the place to us for a cheap price. Garuku and Hi  a used to work on the agr    tural district of the southern mainland, and became quite good friends there. While Garuku was working I con   ued my studies at Omashu, which was where we both met. When Hiaga moved to Gao Lin to open a teahouse and Garuku infor  d him of my pregnancy a perfect contract seemed to present itself. Hiaga is very kind and a true friend, I owe a lot to him.

Au umn 31  BG

I am now two months into my   egnancy and have no name for the child. Garuku says if it is a boy he would like the name to be Aga, after Hiaga and his gen   sity. I'd much rather Iaga, as it sounds more poetic. Both of us can think of many names if it were to be a boy, but if a girl is born we will be lost. We hope to have a boy.

Kyoshi looked up from the journal. Her eyes were tired and her head was aching with the unfamiliar and crammed information. From what she could take from the writing, which with stains and faint disappearances of letters made it seem like an ancient hieroglyphic, her mother seemed quite well-educated and eloquent. She, and apparently Garuku, had grown up in Omashu, the once-capital of the Earth State, and had fallen in love there too. Kyoshi twisted and stretched her stiff neck then returned to reading.

  nter 313 BG

I seem to have gotten used to it now. Five months into a pregnancy and I'm sure one is used to the cravings, the cramps and the back pains and the mood swings. I seem to know when they are going to pounce on me and I can pr  are myself for the worst. Garuku is very kind to me, especially when I become moody. He deals with it splendi    and keeps me calm. I am not here, though, to write about my pregnancy. I am here to talk my mind about the Avatar.

Kuruk is our current Avatar. A wat   ender. He seems very capable. In recent news though I hear he is very sick. Not  ng drastic, just the effects of age on the body. He is a very good Avatar, keeping all four States in line and making sure the world is equally divided. I'm sure the Earth State will accept the nex   earthbending Avatar with open arms and continue Kuruk s work of fairness and equal land. At least I hope. There have been stories from around the world of Earth State armi s at  cking other States and taking over land from across our borders. I hope it is not true, for as K   uk ages he can do less and le s to discipline them.

Spr  g 313 BS

Only two more mo ths until the baby is due. Both Gar ku and I are end   sly excited. We can barely contain ourselves for a minute without b   king into fit  of laughter. We wear a smile every day. This child is a bl  sing to us.

Sum  r 312 BG

I am not here to wri e about the baby. No, not at all. I sup  se par ially I am. The baby is always on my mind. With one month left it is all I can think about. But I am writi   in here today because of something that hap   ed to me earlier today. It was a regular Su  er day to begin with. Garuku and I would wake up and make our br   fast, enjoying one of Hiaga's teas. Garuku would begin work on the cornf   ds while I would go for my walk. The nur es told me walking help  with aches. The day was warm and the sky cloudles   It seemed near to perfect. I star  d down the main road heading away from the province past the corn. They grew tall and I knew some  ere in that gold n forest my husband was lab  ring hard to support his adoring fam   . I stopped to sit down, and drank from my sa chel. I have to keep my fluids up to help the baby dev lop properly.

Su den   a flash appeared before me     next to me was a woman. But not so   stranger. It was the dec  sed airbe der, Avat   Yangchen. I rubbed my eyes. I was sure I was daydreami  . She looked to me and addres    me properly, knowing my n me ent ely. She wished me a heal hy birth and child. Asking why she came to me she explained som  hing I still, and probably fore er will, have dif   ulties compre   ding.

"You'll have a daughte    she told me. "You will have a daug ter and she will be the Avat r." I looked down at my st mach. It was like two water  lons. How could the baby inside me be the Avata   All it did was kick occa   nally. Kick like any other baby. More so  how co ld I not have known?

Think g about it now I feel like a usel ss mother. I do not know what to make of it. For cert  n I will not tell Garuku, there is no po nt when I cannot be sure our child is really the Avatar. I sup  se I want to wait for more eviden  , more proof. My talk with Yangc  n could have been a state of deliri m. I may have been stressed, it may have been hormonal  I'm sorry. I will have to finish this ent y later. My head is swir ing and I need a drink of water.

Kyoshi smiled. It was funny to see the Avatars talking about her before she was even born. It was destiny for her to be the Avatar, this journal told her so. She was beginning to like her estranged mother. The woman spoke, or rather wrote, in a concise way that made her character likeable and modest. Garuku poked his head in a coughed.

"Managing to read it?" he asked.

"Yes," Kyoshi nodded.

"It's not too sad?"

"No. Not at all," Kyoshi said, her eyebrows curved with confusion. Garuku smiled then left her alone again in his tent. What could he have meant? The journal wasn't sad at all. It was all about their life together in Gao Lin and the making of the next Avatar, if anything it was exciting. But then Kyoshi remembered. She had never met her mother. That was the sad part. The fact that she has to read a journal to learn about her mother was sad too. It would only a few more pages until Kyoshi would get to that part. She would finally understand why.

Summer  12 BG

I am here back at home with my bea   ful baby girl. Garuku is e  austed, asleep on the couch – so I have some time to write. Our b  ssing, our child, was born ye terday at the Gao L   infirmary; the same day, as I was told, as  vatar Kuruk's de th.

Besides giving birth, yesterday was a strang  day. At about midday I was alone in my room with my child next to me when w  te aura came out from no   re. It ap  ared just like Avatar Y   chen had not but a mont  ago. It gently desce  ed from its transient poin  down into the sl eping baby like white fog ov r a valley. When the girl opened her eyes they, from what I could see from my posi   n on the bed, were glow   .

At that instant I knew our child was special. I knew she was the new Avatar.

Kyoshi turned the page to see the rest of the journal was ripped out. She was breathless. She needed to find out why her mother left her. Insatiably she flicked through the torn pages for more writing. Right at the back was a page. A small paragraph was written on it. Gasping for air Kyoshi read it.

Summ r 311 BG

I leave this di ry with our child. Though the key is with me, maybe som day it will be ope  d and read and maybe Ga  ku will be able to unders  nd why I did what I did. Most of the pages I have torn out bec use the words on them filled me with sadness   I could not bear to read over them. There is a note att  hed to the baby which I shall paraphrase for who v r it is that is re ding this sorry me oir.

Hiaga. I le ve this bab  with you. We have been gone for a while but I must return her here. I cannot ac  pt her. I came and drop  d her at your  oorstep at a time when Garuku would not be here, I know he'd be out on the  rops now. Any  y, I am wr  ing this no e to tell you tha  with al  the bad I have c use  I want to fina  y make some good. Take her and ra se her. She is  pec al. I just know she is. Plea   neve  menti n me to her; it's the one thing I ask. Thank   u again for taki g this of  my sho  ders; you truly are a wond  fu  fr  nd.

On  last thing, I have a nam for her. Me ning 'our saviour' and right y she is, Kyoshi.

If Garuku is read ng this,  no  that I love you  early and did what I did out of lov   I don't ex ect you to unde   and or forg ve but as my mot er told me: "M ther kno s b st."

Tears dropped from Kyoshi's eyes onto the old paper, smudging the already illegible writing. For some reason her mother wanted to give her up; she had had enough of raising her baby, she got bored of it. Garuku must feel terrible, betrayed, she thought; much worse than her. Kyoshi wiped her eyes dry. Getting upset on the matter was trivial. Her mother was gone and she had never met her once. There was nothing else about it and no good would come from dwelling on something she never had. She closed the stupid diary and walked out of the tent. Her father was waiting outside for her and by the smile he wore it seemed he could tell what she was feeling. She gave him a hug and the two of them lingered in the position, comfortable and warm – happy to be reunited with each other.

Smells of dew and wet dirt wafted up into the heating air as clement morning turned to hot day. Drying leaves crunched beneath their feet as Kyoshi and Garuku walked to the pile of weaponry. As her father had said before metalbending was a refined form of earthbending created by the Earth State military for their soldiers to gain the upper-hand on their armoured enemies. By focusing on the compressed earth and the impurities in the metal one can bend weapons at will.

"Metalbending," Kyoshi muttered to herself. With the weapons flashing at her like many ominous eyes, a dark feeling seemed to encase her. Being able to slice through someone was frightening enough, but doing it with no hands; it seemed like an act against nature.

"Do you know how metalbending all came about?" Garuku said as he picked up a spear and studied its blade. He ran his fingers along the face of it gently like it was a sleeping baby. This disturbed Kyoshi a bit.

"You said the military made it up to give their soldiers the advantage," she replied loudly, trying to shake off her uneasy feelings.

"Yes. But there's a bit more to it than that," Garuku said. "Have you ever heard of the White Tiger?" Kyoshi's eyes narrowed. What did a tiger have to with metal? She shook her head, imploring for her father to explain. Garuku smiled and inhaled to begin speaking.

Long ago, as legend has it, a man – part of the General Of Five – lived inside a glorious seaside mansion. He had riches beyond one's conjure, gold that surpassed counting. He was the wealthiest man of his time, more so than the King. For leisure he'd take a ship craved out from a giant tree and travel up the coast. He'd gloat at the smaller sailors he'd pass and tease the poor villages about their poverty.

Fed up with his arrogance, a band of sailors joined together to kill the General on his ship. Once they boarded they bared their weapons. It is said that the General faced a thousand swords that day, with not one scratching him.

Since the General was aboard a wooden ship and out at sea, there was no earth for him to bend. But, sensing the condensed metal in the swords, the General was able disarm the sailors and force them to jump ship, killing any who did not obey.

By using the metal like claws to strike down his enemies the General was awarded the title of 'White Tiger.'

Garuku smiled at his captivated daughter, who smiled back.

"He sounds very powerful."

"Not nearly as powerful as you," Garuku added warmly, stroking Kyoshi's brown hair and taking a hold of her neck. "You're going to be the greatest Avatar ever to walk the earth. You know why?"

"Because I've got your blood in me?" she replied.

"Because you're kind. You see the world objectively. You don't judge." Kyoshi blushed. Her father seemed to know exactly what to say in order to instil worth in her. Every sentence made her feel mighty, like a strong stone wall that surrounds a small village; delicate to the danger of the outside. Nothing could harm her when Garuku spoke to her.

"Should we begin?" Kyoshi suggested. Garuku nodded and squatted down and moved the weapons around to find the right one.

"Come down," he said, getting Kyoshi to squat too. "Now what you got to do is try and find a pocket of impurity. Some earth that wasn't entirely melted down. Can you feel a spot?" Copying her father's actions, Kyoshi ran her fingertips across a greave focusing the chi to her outwards parts and feeling the pull the earth in the metal had on it.

"I think I found a spot," she said, focusing on it and trying not to look away from it in case she lost the spot.

"Good. Good. Now, tense you fingers like this," Garuku explained, curling his heavy fingers and shaping them like a giant tiger paw clutching onto its prey. "You should feel your chi tightening." Kyoshi, again, copied and let her chi pounce out onto the impurity. The chi gushed from its tidal pool in fizzing waves. Once enough had flowed out Kyoshi closed the opening and made a clutch with her fingers, the chi tightening just as Garuku said would happen. Kyoshi gasped. She lifted her fingertips from the metal, keeping the tightened sensation consistent between the object and herself, and as her arm continued upwards the greave was lifted slowly from its position on the ground.  

"Excellent!" Garuku applauded. His claps were loud and sharp, like knocks on a wooden door. His hearty smile created deep dimples in his bristly cheeks. Using his bending he whipped a shield from the pile, it made a hollow swiping sound from the speed of its lift. He bent his knees and, resting on his pelvis, made a defensive stance. Kyoshi chuckled. She never thought she'd ever bend against her father. She made a circling motion with her arm and let some chi flow from it. The greave swung through the sky, up and then down, clashing with the shield Garuku used to defend himself. The man clenched his fist, tightening his powerful hold on the metal, and then punched outwards. The shield surged forward and knocked the greave back, Kyoshi's hold loosening from the force. Kyoshi span around, letting the armour gain momentum. Again and again she'd spin and once she got dizzy she let her hold go and let the greave hurtle through the dry air. It whistled as it flew and it rammed into Garuku's shield, knocking him off his feet.

Before the man could get up Kyoshi ran towards him, pulling a hunk of rock as she went, and held it above his head.

"My very own White Tiger!" Garuku chuckled. Kyoshi put the rock down and helped her father back onto his feet.

"Metalbending is not entirely about force, though, Kyoshi," said Garuku as he put an arm around his daughter and walked with her back to the camp. "There is some fluidity involved. Some elegance that needs to incorporated." Kyoshi looked up at him knowingly.

"Like sandbending," she commented. The man looked at her like a stunned mullet or a confused dog with its head tilted and its ears pricked.

"I suppose so," Garuku muttered, surprised that his daughter knew about such a discipline.

"That's how I first started to earthbend," Kyoshi smiled, giving her perplexed father an explanation. "A tribe in the desert taught me." Garuku rolled his eyes and laughed, the sound hissing through his teeth.

"Of course," he moaned jokingly. "The Avatar can never learn bending from normal people, can't they?" Kyoshi laughed too.

"Of course not!" she giggled. "There'd be no fun in that." Garuku nodded.

"There'd be no fun in that."

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