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An intermediate chapter where Kuruk complains and Hinun helps out.
My mother didn't take the change well. My three elder brothers teased me a bit, and my father only told me to make him proud. After some tedious pomp was gone in a week.
Oki? I actually have no clue what happened to her.
Agler was not used to boats. The beast had stayed above decks the entire journey, even through a snowstorm The three of the Water Tribe inhabitants had only been on the boat for about four days they were expecting to make landfall soon. Kuruk and Hinun sat opposite each other, doing their daily breathing exercises when one of the Earth crew yelled that they had spotted land.
Kuruk jumped up and ran to the side, eagerly searching the horizon while Hinun continued to meditate on the deck.
"Up old man!" Kuruk said, bending some water over the side and widening his stance. "We're here!" Kuruk leaned forward snapping a water whip in between Hinun's shoulder blades. Hinun leaned to the side, quickly stood up, shifted onto his left foot and threw an icicle back at Kuruk, who skipped out of the way, laughing.
"Stuff it, you young rapscallion!" Hinun laughed, his hands open as the water melted again and flew into a nice stream in his hands. "You know I'm getting slow."
Kuruk smiled and forgot about land, taking a stream of water in between his own hands as the two benders eyed each other. "Rules!" Kuruk said as Hinun began to shift right. Hinun stumbled.
"What now?" Hinun asked, annoyed about his trip.
"You only get the water in your hands right now. Lose control and you get to go all starry."
"I can beat you in hand to hand too, your honorable honorableness, don't you worry about that." Hinun smirked, the water in between his hands pulsing.
"Age before beauty, good sir." Kuruk said, bowing. He looked up and jumped back as a water whip came inches from his face. "Too Slow!"
By the time the boat had reached shore both the water benders were lying flat on their backs, breathing hard. Both had lost their water whips long ago and Hinun was pretty sure he had a loose tooth. As he was using his tongue to push against a molar Kuruk kicked him in the side.
"I thought we had a truce, fool." Hinun growled without much energy, trying to retaliate and only succeeding in flopping onto his stomach. "Oof."
"Not fighting. We're here." The boat had eased up so gently that Hinun had hardly felt it. Kuruk was up first and he smiled broadly, scrambling over the side of the boat and falling flat onto the sand. He had never seen sand before. Looking up he surveyed the trees around him and ran to the forest line. He had only seen trees in murals and when foreign ambassadors had brought them to the Water Tribe. He felt a nudge and knew that Agler had followed him.
"Look girl!" Kuruk said, smiling broadly, placing a hand on his animals head. "Trees!"
"Paint a picture, Kuruk a scroll'll last longer!" Hinun yelled from the ship. He had been press ganged into helping unload some supplies. They set up a sturdy camp in just an hour.
"So when do I get to learn Earthbending?" Kuruk asked the Earth Priest eagerly, riding on Agler over to the man.
"First we go to the temple. Then you will find your teacher." The man said patiently. "I must go find firewood before it gets dark."
"Find him?" Kuruk followed, nudging the polar leopard forward. "You don't have him picked out?"
The old man bent down "You must find the right teacher for yourself." He explained. "No one else but you can do that."
"So I just have to chose whoever I feel like choosing?"
Frowning the Earth Priest turned to Kuruk "It's not that simple. You must meditate. And fast. And you must be introduced to various kings and nobles. As the Avatar following Yangchen, one of the most feared and respected Avatars in history people will want to meet you and talk to you."
Kuruk frowned. That sounded awful.
"Right. Back to finding a teacher. It's just my choice, that's what you're saying?"
"Well. Yes. I guess so."
"But young Avatar there is a time-honored process-"
"Thank you so much, I'll see you back at camp!" Kuruk said, pushing Agler into a lope back to the beach.
Kuruk found Hinun helping one of the earth nation men build a fire pit from the smooth stones around the beach. Sliding off Agler, Kuruk's pale grey-blue eyes met his friends darker ones.
"So, news, I can choose whomever I want for my earth bending teacher." Kuruk said, nudging Hinun.
"Have you already picked her out then?" Hinun asked, smiling.
"Knowing you, Kuruk, you'll find the prettiest Earthbender in the kingdom and tell the priest she's the girl of your dreams."
"That's a good one!" Kuruk exclaimed. "Girls will definitely go for that right?"
Hinun rolled his eyes. He supposed that now Kuruk knew he was new Avatar it was nice to see that it hadn't changed him any.
The group proceeded to sail down the coast into a small bay. Every day was very much the same, with one exception that after their daily sparring match the Earth Priest took Kuruk aside for an hour, instructing him in the proper way to bow to certain nobles and the way he should address different people. Kuruk never tired of complaining about it.
"Did you know there are different degrees of respect when you bow? And you have to memorize those differences for different nobles?"
"I did know that."
"Why can't they just bow and grovel and be done with it? There's even a ritual gift exchange where you give a gift, they give you a gift and then you can't even compliment it. What is that about?"
"Mutual respect?" Hinun offered, smiling.
"Well I think it's tedious."
"I think you're tedious."
"I can't be tedious, I'm the Avatar."
Hinun rolled his eyes. "We have only one more day until we get to our port."
"Then how far?" Kuruk asked, petting Agler as she came up next to them.
"Two days of riding, I think."
Kuruk blanched. He didn't want to think about meeting all these nobles, and meditating and starving himself and groveling about gifts. He just wanted to learn how to Earthbend and be done with it. It wasn't like there were any wars going on. All that was going on right now was boring and . . . tedious.
"Ughhh." Kuruk flopped back on the dirt. "I just want to do something worthwhile."
"You're the Avatar, you fool. Something's bound to come up where you can exercise your might Avatar-ness." Hinun said, shaking his head. "Apparently there's supposed to be a shrine around here to the River Spirit. We should go check it out."
"Because you're the Avatar! Stuff like that is what you do!"
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