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Unbending
Chapter information
Series

12th Fanonbender Contest

Chronicle

Introduce an OC

Chapter

2

Written by

Kugumi

Illustrator(s)

Nbrozgal

Release date

June 14th, 2015

Word count

1,508

Chronology
Last chapter

Windfall

Some of the tribe's old wives—like really old, like way too old—would weave tales about black snow drifting down from ominous cloudy skies. Sn'oot, they called it; soot mixed with snow. It was said to have been sent by the spirits to warn the people of the North of an oncoming attack from the Fire Nation. Those old wives had been around far longer than Kunik, son of Unnuk. Kunik had a loving wife and three children of his own, but at twenty-four, he was still quite young with much to learn. He had been preparing to take his eldest son, seven-year-old Kobuk, out for his first hunt. The spirits had blessed their tribe with a relatively easy winter this year, and Kunik had deemed today to be the day his son started his path to becoming a true man of the Northern Water Tribe. There were several reasons for this, but with the Avatar returned and spending time in the North to learn waterbending, surely this was to mean a great shift in the balance of the world: change was coming. Kunik wanted to prepare his son for whatever changes may lay just over the horizon, and the first step would be to teach him the art of the hunter.

The obedient child excitedly babbled how he envisioned his first target. "A ginormous giant! Gigantorous, even!" he exclaimed, handing his father another set of ropes to secure their supplies onto their sled, "It'll have sharp teeth and a loud roaaaaaarrr!"

Kunik chuckled at his son's enthusiastic miming of swiping claws and gnashing teeth. He idly wondered if he had been this imaginative on the day of his own first hunt alongside his father. "And what is this loud, gigantorous, sharp-toothed animal you think we're going to find, Son?"

Kobuk paused in his charade, taking a moment to absorb his father's question and ponder it. "Well... it's gotta be dangerous." He decided, crossing his arms, "And something too scary for Teslin."

The father narrowed his eyes at the young boy. Teslin was Kobuk's younger sister, and the only daughter among Kunik's three children. His voice lowered in warning to his son, "Kobuk."

"What! She said I couldn't even snare a koala-otter! She was being mean to me!"

"One day you're going to be the man of the house. I expect you to take care of your sister, not antagonize her."

Somehow, Kunik seemed to recall a very similar set of words coming out of his own father's mouth at some point. Kobuk's fantasies of leopard-seals and polar bear-dogs faded into the background as Kunik continued to prepare their sled for departure. His mind began to wander into old memories of his childhood with his parents and siblings. Kunik was the oldest of Unnuk and Nini's children. He had always felt a certain responsibility to his family and his family's honor, and he distinctly remembered always feeling out of place. Growing up, he was the only nonbender in his family, and somehow that had created a divide between him and everyone else—everyone else, except for his father, that is. Unnuk spent a lot of time with Kunik grooming him to one day take over as head of house. Kunik had always held his father in high regard, and knowing Unnuk could have just as easily stripped him of his birthright for his lack of bending, Kunik's respect for his father increased significantly. The moments Kunik had shared with his father were precious to him, and Kunik hoped that one day his three nonbending children would think similarly of their time spent with him.

Kunik finally looked up from his work on the sled when he noticed mysterious gray speckles on his parka's fluffy white trimmed sleeves. His brow furrowed, catching the dark flecks floating to the ground in every direction. Kunik could hear Kobuk marveling at the spectacle, and his ear perked up hearing his son ask him what it was. Kunik looked at the wide curious blue eyes of the child. If there was any truth at all to the stories the old bitties of the village used to tell when Kunik was a boy, danger was coming. "It's sn'oot," he answered Kobuk darkly.

A man approached the father and son hurriedly. "Kunik!" his voice called.

Kunik turned in the direction of the words and footsteps to find the familiar face of his soon-to-be-brother-in-law, Daaruk. Like Kunik, Daaruk also came from a wealthy family that held a large amount of influence within the tribe. By the time Daaruk had trudged through the heavy snow to the hilltop Kunik's home was positioned on, the dark skinned eighteen-year-old was slightly winded. "Chief Arnook has summoned our fathers to the palace. You and I need to be there, too."

Kunik gave Daaruk a grunt of acknowledgement. "Catch your breath. Kobuk, into the house."

"But Dad, what about—"

"Now." Kunik insisted, raising his voice a notch louder.

Kobuk knew better than to disobey his father, and walked with purpose into the ice and snow structure that they called home. He could hear the heavy footsteps of his father's thick boots following behind him. Something was wrong. His father seemed very uneasy, and the thought worried Kobuk. He wanted to know what was going on, but it seemed like it was something only the grown-ups understood.

When they entered the house he could smell his mother's sea prune stew cooking over an open fire. The home felt warm and safe, but Kobuk could sense his father's anxiousness and he was sure the feel of the home's atmosphere was about to change. The way Kobuk's father barked for his mother sounded urgent and startled Kobuk slightly.

"Kunik? Honey, what's the matter!" Kobuk's mom asked worriedly as she instantaneously dashed to the foyer where they were standing. It always surprised Kobuk how fast she was even when she had his baby brother strapped to her back and his little sister attached to her skirts. Kobuk looked at his sister's face while their parents exchanged quiet words. He caught his father wiping away tears from his mother's face. Teslin must have noticed it too since she tugged on her mother's skirt and asked her what was wrong. Kobuk knew he couldn't rely on his mom to give him a straight answer. She was a tough lady, she never told him anything he wanted to know. But Kobuk was nervous, and he could feel fear creeping up on him. "Dad, what's happening?" Kobuk asked his father hesitantly.

Kunik knelt down to be at his son's level. Was he supposed to explain the Fire Nation didn't discriminate against men, women or children when it came to who they killed? How was he supposed to explain he may not come back or that Kobuk would become the head of the household without him around? Kunik had told his son plenty that he would eventually inherit the title, but Kobuk was still too young to know what that really meant or what responsibility came with it.

He put a hand on each of his son's shoulders and looked Kobuk in the eyes. "Firebenders. What do you know about fire?"

"Fire is dangerous."

"Yes. And what do you know about firebenders?"

"They... don't fight with honor?"

Kunik exhaled a heavy sigh. It was more complicated than that, but Kunik wasn't going to correct him. "I'm going to go with the rest of the men to protect our tribe. I want you to be good for your mother while I'm gone," he then addressed his daughter, "Teslin, that goes for you, too."

He suddenly found a child in each of his strong arms, clinging to him with their tiny hands gripped tightly on tufts of his dark blue parka. He held them close and kissed each on the head, knowing it may be his last chance. Once he released the children from his hold, Kunik rose to his full height again—he was practically a giant to them standing at six feet and three inches tall. Kunik ruffled the hair on his youngest son's head before planting a chaste kiss there so as to not wake the sleeping infant. His wife was the last to receive a goodbye kiss, and with that Kunik gave out his parting words to his family. "I love you, stay safe."

If he fell in battle, his tribe would remember him and his grave would introduce him as Kunik, son of Unnuk. But—as with anyone who dared to threaten the lives of Kunik's loved ones—the only introduction these Fire Nation soldiers would ever get to remember him by would be his spear piercing through their armor.

Pronunciations and Name Meanings

Kunik [kunik] /koo-nik/

  • Inuit - Kisses

Unnuk [unʌk] /oo-nuh-k/

  • Inuit - Evening (as in nightfall)

Kobuk [kobuk] /ko-boo-k/

  • Inuit - Big river

Teslin [teslin] /tess-lin/

  • Native American - Long and narrow water way

Nini [nini] /nee-nee/

  • Inuit - Porcupine

Daaruk [daɹuk] /da-roo-k/

  • Indian - Tree

Arnook [aɹnuk] /ar-noo-k/

  • Inuit - River of drinking water
  • Eskimo - The woman/Imitation of the woman

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