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04 03, 2010
This is the prologue to the series Village of Anquan.
"Ha!" Zhan exclaimed, clenching his hand in a fist that resembled a rock. "I win again! Earth beats fire!" A grin adorned his strong face, slightly worn for a 13 year old. Xinxin, the boy who held his hand out in an open shape, meant to resemble flames, replied:
"That doesn't make any sense! I thought water beats fire!" His face showed signs of confusion, but no lack of will. He was only a few months younger than Zhan, but still technically 12 years of age.
"It does...I think." Zhi chimed in. He sat on the ground, a few feet away from the other two. "I don't really remember how it works." Only 11 years old, he was the youngest in the group. He had brown hair, and like two of the others, he had brown eyes. His hair, like most in his village, was unkept, and slightly long.
"Maybe Cao knows." Zhan suggested. "Where is he anyway? I haven't seen him since breakfast." The boy turned his head, scanning the landscape for his friend. Zhi stood up. "He's probably by the pond again. Still thinks he can..." He looked at the ground, covered in stiff grass, that was losing its color. Fall was starting to set in.
The older boy sighed. "What's up with him lately?" He walked away, toward the aforementioned pond.
Okay. Cao thought, as he stared out onto the pond. One more try.
The boy assumed a stance similar to the ones he'd seen in the scrolls his mother gave him, raising his arms to waist level, keeping his palms out, and shifting his right leg forward. He inhaled, then exhaled, and began to slowly move his entire body, back and forth. He brought his arms to his right side, and leaned back on his right leg slowly, and in one fluid motion. He did so again, and again, and more still, and kept at it for several minutes. Just when he thought he saw motion in the pond, he heard a shout from behind him:
"Cao!" He stopped, and turned to see Zhan standing at the top of the slope behind him. The older boy had his left foot forward, right foot back slightly, and hand both hands at his sides, balled into fists. He didn't look angry, just annoyed. Cao knew why. "I was gonna do it this time!" He yelled. "I saw the water move! It was working!" His face was angry and defiant. His lighter brown hair was also unkept, but his eyes, unlike those of the others, had a unique quality: they were each different colors. His right was green, his left blue.
Zhan shook his head, looking down. "How many times to we have to tell you Cao? You're not a Waterbender! It's not even possible for you!" He looked "up" (a relative term, as Cao was standing at the bottom of the slope) at his younger friend. "Where were you born?"
"The Earth Kingdom." Cao replied, agitation evident in his voice. Zhan nodded.
"Now, tell me, where are the only two places in the world that Waterbenders can be born Cao?" The older boy kept the stern look on his face, hiding his sadness for his friend. "The North Pole, and the South Pole. But that's only bec-"
Zhan cut him off. "Because that's where the Northern and Southern Water Tribes are located, I know. And you were not born in either of those places and, therefore, not a Waterbender!" Anger flashed in his eyes for a moment, before he suppressed it. He wasn't angry at his friend. Zhan was angry at the circumstances.
"But what about my mother!?" Cao replied, his voice now rising in volume. "She was from a Water Tribe!"
"She wasn't a Waterbender either. So what makes you think you can be?" It was a well known fact in the village that Cao's father had brought home, and later had a "proper" Earth Kingdom marriage to, a woman from the Northern Water Tribe. After giving birth to Cao, she left for the Southern Water Tribe, hoping to find a better life. She'd left Cao in the care of his father, who was later called to the front lines in the war against the Fire Nation, and had not been seen since.
"My father was an Earthbender though!" Cao was adamant in his rebuttal. "I don't how it could've happened, but I know I've bended water before!" He didn't notice the tremors forming in the pond behind him, nor did his friend. Zhan knew the argument had little chance of success going in, but he thought it was worth the try.
"Whatever. It's no use trying to convince you anymore. Go ahead and splash around in the pond for all I care." With that, he turned and left. Cao turned his attention back to the water. It was rippling slightly now, and some plants were noticeably bobbing with the water. The boy's rage turned to shock, and the effect ceased as quickly as it began. He breathed heavily, staring at the pond. If he'd seen what he'd thought he'd just seen...then Cao knew he had a lot of work to do.
- The line "Splash around in the pond for all I care" is a reference to Toph's similar line in Bitter Work .
- Cao's anger affecting the pond fits into the common theme in Avatar: The Last Airbender of emotions (particularly anger) having an effect on Waterbending.
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