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|Found and Lost|
One: The North
Book One: The North
Found and Lost
~ Northern Waters ~
I don't find things often. I'm not sure if that's the luck of the Avatar or just mine, but I do know when it comes to finding things, it's very rare for me. Which is why I was so surprised when we passed my ship on the way to the Earth Kingdom. I was certain the storm had destroyed the ship yet here she was, unharmed.
The Avatar chose to stay in this ship with Mokolo and lead the rest of the tribe. They would be arriving in Taku within a day's time. Their traveling was sufficiently slowed due to the large amount of people heading to the South Pole.
Kyla was left alone on another ship. She felt like she suddenly knew no one. Maybe it was because the people she cared about were left behind. A flick of her hand melted a heart into a large iceberg with a flat top as they passed it. She couldn't stop thinking about the people she left behind. She couldn't help but remember the lack of goodbyes.
"What's his name?" Dakko asked as he walked over to Kyla.
"Not important," she replied.
"My girlfriend's name was Koko. She left me and married someone else. Broke my heart. I couldn't stay there. I had to leave."
"My parents were gone. They didn't say goodbye to me." Kyla chose to leave out any talk of Kilo. She thought it better to pretend he never existed.
"I'm so sorry. I didn't say goodbye to Koko either. My girlfriend. Ex-girlfriend, Koko. I should have. I wonder if she knows I left. I wonder if she even cares." Dakko stared at the iceberg while squinting his eyes. Something was off, but he wasn't sure what.
"I can't even remember the last time I saw my mom or dad. What did I say to them? What did they say to me?"
"Stop. You're torturing yourself with those questions," Dakko tried comforting her.
"Can't help it. Everything changed so quickly. I wasn't even interested in the revolution and then... then one day I bend water when no one else can. It was amazing. I felt amazing. I'm leaving so I can go be amazing. I don't feel guilty. I feel sorry for them. They chose their beliefs over their own daughter." Kyla quickly erased the tear from her face.
The ship passed the iceberg. Before long, a few airbenders flew down onto the ice. One of the airbenders was Yinlo. He was carrying a small boulder with him.
"My arrival into the city makes a lot more sense," Taizo chuckled.
"Yes, well, accidents happen. Anyhow, we must plan our next attack."
"I'm still just so amazed that you developed this skill. I am so glad you taught me. Thank you, Yinlo."
"Yes, well, we have two fleets in our army. We have one ready in the South and another ready for back up, Otherwise it will head to the West."
"Okay so if you know the plan why did you bring me out here to make the plans for our next attack?"
"Because it's time you know of my past. It's time you know of how your part in this army will change the world forever. Together you and I will create a new world, a free world." Yinlo smiled. He couldn't wait for his plans to begin.
If I knew now how it ended, maybe I would've changed my actions. Maybe I would've saved lives. Maybe I wouldn't be in this situation. But what has happened has happened. Who knew it would lead to my death?
~ Taku ~
The citizens of Taku cheered as the Avatar's ship pulled into the harbor. They all chanted the Avatar's name, proud of his representation for the Earth Kingdom. The Avatar was nowhere to be seen though. He was hiding inside his boat, not wanting to face the crowd. As much as he loved the Earth Kingdom, he often stayed in secluded areas of the countryside. He did not like acknowledgment for his good deeds. In fact, he often did his acts of kindness in secret. His alias was created by those who saw glimpses of him as he fled underground. They called him the Green Spirit.
The Green Spirit walked to where he expected Gwali to be. Instead he found a young man with a sign that read: Avatar!
"Boy, where is my Badgermole?"
"Oh my spirits! It's you. You're the Avatar!" Omu screamed.
"Yes, now what is your name?"
"Omu. My name is Omu. I can't believe I've finally met you!"
"Yes, yes, I'm amazing. Now tell me, Omu. Where is my badgermole?"
"Yes, yes, yes, yes, of course, of course! I'm sorry. I'm just so astounded to see you. I'm an earthbender. Like you! I earthbend and I'm not too great at it but you're amazing!"
"Omu! Where is Gwali?"
"Right, right, right. I'm sorry. This way!" Omu shouted. The pair traveled through town, passing Wato. Jong-mu couldn't help but stare at the boy. He had no idea he would be traveling South, especially since his father was still being healed up in the North. He couldn't get himself to reach out to him though. The guilt of not being able to help heal the boy's parents was breathing inside him, moving with every pump of his heart.
Wato was staring at Kyla who was helping pick up a bag a pregnant woman dropped. Wato felt like he was staring through them, through the entire world. His mouth was hanging open, he swore he could feel himself shaking from his own heart beat. Everything he knew was gone. Everything was strange and everyone was a stranger. It felt like the world was right at his feet—but something was holding him back from fully existing.
"Help!" Kyla screamed. The pregnant woman had fainted. Wato slowly strolled over to her. He helped get her off Kyla and then stood aside.
"Good it's you. Look she's bleeding from the fall. I need you to heal that while I fix whatever internal injury made her fall."
"What made her fall?"
"I don't know. I'm going to have to guess and check."
"Okay," Wato replied. He began healing the wound on her forehead. "So what are you guessing first?"
"Always check for breathing, which she is. Then brain and heart. Then lungs. Then you sweep the rest of the body," she explained. She watched him heal for a second. "Don't be so rigid. Circular motions. Let the water move you."
"Okay," Wato answered, still feeling out of it. Kyla continued to try and find the problem as to why the woman fainted. As Wato healed the wound, all he could think of was his mother. She was really dead. It seems a mother's death was following the boy where ever he went.
~ Outside the City ~
It was sixteen years ago. I was at the Northern Air Temple. The Temple's population was overcrowding their small space. I was still in mourning over my wife. My emotions ruled me. At the time, I was showing signs of anger, but kept it to myself for the most part. I was bottling it up and it was just waiting to explode. I had lost more than I could bear. I was certain I would never find happiness again.
I was attending a council meeting when I first heard the plan. They would begin by gathering a group of workers to collect supplies. Then the air nation would find a place that would be significantly easy to clear out. Once a few huts could be established, they would usher more airbenders to the colony. Then they would build. They were disrupting the balance.
"Are you okay?" Omu asked, snapping Jong-mu out of his train of thought. Jong-mu couldn't help but comb over the tragedies of his life every now and then.
"I was just in deep thought."
"A different time, a different me." Jong-mu didn't answer any more of Omu's questions. Instead his head was filled with memories of the past.
A year later I returned to find the colony, three times as large as I had expected. Upon seeing the Air Colony in their black and gold uniforms—the uniforms designated for war, not seen in a thousand years—I had no choice but to alert the Earth King. Their forces were near the border for months, waiting for a reason to attack. Once I discovered the colony's intention to expand by military combat I had to intervene.
Then I got the news that Shofini was in the army.
She was a brilliant young woman with no parents, trying to make her way in the world. Jong-Mu met her once in Ba Sing Se. She had inspired the great wall's construction. She was a brave up and coming earth bender. She joined the army once Jong-mu left, hoping to find some purpose.
It wasn't long until she was a prisoner of the war. Jong-Mu instantly found his green mask. It covered his entire head, and even seemed to make him appear as if he was wearing a hat. He was the green spirit and he needed to get the prisoners out of there. It wasn't long before he made his way to the hospital. Unfortunately, he was discovered quickly and attacked. Driven by his desire to get her out of the prison, Jong-Mu made a rash decision to blow up the oxygen lines in the hospital. The oxygen lines were a set of tubes that airbenders blew pure oxygen through to help patients breathe in the hospital. The fire blew up everyone. Jong-Mu made an air shield, but protected the wrong person. Instead of saving his friend, he saved an airbender.
I remember the rage, the anger. I had never felt that before and suddenly it was all I could feel. I took off my green spirit mask and left it there amongst the ashes and dead bodies. I was no longer the green spirit, not after losing her.
The next thing I know I'm flying to the center of the battle field. I meant to build a wall but instead my anger builds two walls that shoot out horizontally instead of vertically. I did my best to save as many people as I could. I was hoping the airbenders would fly over the attack. I stopped the wall heading towards the Earth army as fast as possible. By the time I got to the airbenders... most of the colony was destroyed. I found happiness and lost more than just that all in one day.
~ Taku's Docks ~
"Thanks," the young woman replied to Kyla as they carried a trunk onto one of the ships. "I probably should've waited before taking this off."
"No problem. Waited for what, if you don't mind me asking?"
"I was looking for a man. He's on one of the ships but I'm not sure which."
"And what's so important about this man?" Kyla questioned, always hunting for a good story.
"He's a murderer. A thief. He ruined my life. Now I must ruin his."
"A murderer? What's his name?"
"Dakko?" Kyla repeated.
"You know him?" the girl responded eagerly.
"I just had a conversation with him this morning upon arrival of Taku!" Kyla took a step back in shock.
"You did? Where is he?"
"I'm, I'm not sure," Kyla lied. "What did he do?"
"He stole the Ocean spirit. He destroyed the Healing Temple along with the ill inside. I must be going to my room now. Thanks for helping me with my trunk. I suppose my revenge will have to wait. There's always next time. Until then my dear."
"Wait, what's your name?"
"Koko," the girl replied and left for her room.
Kyla walked back to her ship slowly. She saw him standing on it, peering off into the distance. When he caught sight of her he waved, a smile plastered on his face. She couldn't believe he was a thief or a murderer, but she wasn't sure she wanted to stick around him and find out.
~ Mokolo's Ships ~
Hantu promised the two ships he would try. He was appointed leader of the small group of people who wished to return to the North. Having equally divided the tribe's money to pay for their journey, they had nothing. The ship wasn't completely theirs. Hantu was appointed to speak to Mokolo.
"You wish to take my ships?"
"They're not just your ships."
"I was one of the wealthiest men in the city. Believe me, these are my ships."
"We have no other way of returning."
"That's because you're not returning!" Mokolo shouted. "If you want to stay in the Earth Kingdom, you are free to do so. But these ships are for the Southern Water Tribe's journey to the South. So stay here or come to the south, I really don't care."
"Quite frankly, we weren't asking for your permission. Rather we were doing the courtesy of letting you know of our departure."
"There is no courtesy in thievery. Now tell your civilians to get off my ship if they won't continue the journey. Or I'll—"
"Or you'll what? Kill us like you killed your wife with the help of the Pincher. Rumor has it she's on one of these ships." Hantu asked with an evil smirk painted on him. Mokolo's eyes exploded open.
"I did not murder my wife. And I certainly have never been involved with The Pincher! She's barely a good one! Rumors will get you nowhere near the truth!" Mokolo shouted.
"Rumors are always based on the truth. Like the rumors of your affair and how you killed your wife to be with S—"
"Hantu! I have lost my city, my wife, my lover, my best friend—everything. I lost everything. And now you have the audacity to call me a murderer. You've made a maddening mistake mister. If that's how you see me, maybe I should play the part!" Mokolo grinned and raised his arms. Water surrounded Hantu and froze. The only part of him unfrozen was his right ear and his mouth.
"Help," Hantu whispered, his voice hoarse. Mokolo walked up to his right ear and leaned in to whisper.
"You have a choice. Live in ice or convince your friends to continue on."
"Fine," Hantu immediately agreed, knowing when he was defeated. Mokolo was one of the most powerful waterbenders in the world.
~ Ruins ~
"Why have you taken me here?" Taizo asked Yinlo. They were standing on a huge sheet of rock. The rock was at a thirty degree angle from the ground. Yinlo sat on the ground, looking devastated.
"Because this is where the truth is," he answered. "Come with me, I have something to show you." The airbenders walked to the edge of the rock and jumped down to the ground. Below it were crushed buildings. The only remaining structures were a few arcs made of stone.
"What are those?" Taizo asked. "What happened to this village?"
"You don't remember it?"
"Sort of. I have a lot of memories."
"Well this is an event that shouldn't be forgotten. You're looking at the remains of the Air Colony." Taizo gasped at this information. "It's time you know what our group is really about. You see those arcs? The air colony wasn't exclusive. An earthbender moved into the colony very quickly. He built things with his bending."
"Did he build those?" Taizo asked.
"Those were his specialty," Yinlo answered.
Yinlo explained the fate of the Air Colony—his real home. Fifteen years beforehand there was a new thriving village. He left his previous temple and his fiance to help build the new colony. The Northern Air Temple had decided to build a colony on land to have more contact with those down below. They were almost at a year of building and a new group of airbenders were all moving in to help build the colony.
A few weeks after the arrival of the new benders, Yinlo continued his love affair with Melora. They were happy. It didn't last long with the invasion from the Earth Kingdom. The King was unhappy about the Northern Air Temple in the first place, but let it go since it was too high for anyone else to inhabit. Now with their expansion onto lower lands the Earth King would not stand for it. He sent troops to ensure the colony returned to their temples.
"We had to fight back for what was ours, for what we created. We attacked back. The first Airbending war in a thousand years. So we kidnapped their front lines hoping that hostages would end the war. Instead we were attacked by the Green Spirit."
"The Green Spirit? I thought that was just a legend."
It wasn't a legend. It was the Avatar's secret alias. Yinlo saw the Spirit take off the green mask first hand. The hostages were kept in the basement of the hospital, seeing as it was made out of wood. The Green Spirit found his way inside and tried to release a prisoner. When the Air Soldiers attacked the Avatar blasted fire at the oxygen line. Yinlo and the Avatar were spared but the rest of the hospital was destroyed. The Avatar created a sphere of air to protect himself and what he thought was the prisoner—but it was Yinlo instead. The Avatar took off his mask right in front of Yinlo. Then he left.
"My entire family was in the hospital. It was supposed to be safe. It was in the back of the colony. But it was the first building destroyed in the war."
"That's awful," Taizo replied, not knowing how to respond.
"That was just the start. The Avatar wanted to build walls like he did in Ba Sing Se. But he was blinded by his anger. The prisoner was said to be the most recent love of his life. The last being his wife. His walls ran parallel to the ground. He stopped the one heading for the Earth Army first. It killed about twenty percent of them. It killed nearly three quarters of our colony. Half of the remaining survivors were injured. The other half abandoned those that were hurt and returned to the Northern Air Temple."
"You and your wife survived. At least you had each other."
"I survived because of the Avatar. But the Avatar killed my family."
"I know, you already said that," Taizo replied.
"No. My family. Mine. You see the reason the Earth Army attacked was because they were tipped off. They were told in this message that the Air Colony was expanding and were getting ready for an invasion. Our supposed war uniform was the yellow and white robes we were wearing the day of the attack. The Avatar believed them to be our army uniforms. He knew nothing of our culture."
"I'm sorry, but even I didn't know about that culture."
"It was a Northern Air Temple tradition. It wasn't our army uniforms. It was our ceremonial clothing, in particular for a wedding. These arcs were built for our wedding."
"A wedding? You were—"
"Melora and I were getting married, yes."
"And you were attacked on your wedding day. I don't understand, what does this have to do with your plans for the Water Nation?"
"Ah yes, the Water Nation. You see the Water Tribe was never my real target."
"The Avatar. He destroyed my family. Not just my parents and siblings, but my family. My family. He killed my unborn child. Melora was almost crushed to death. She suffered a miscarriage and killed my unborn son."
"So now we are seeking revenge. The Avatar destroyed our brothers and sisters. He murdered my family. He almost killed my wife. The Air Army isn't a rag tag team of Nomads I've found over the years. They're the survivors of the colony and they all want revenge."
"You're going to kill the Avatar."
"No. We're going to stop the Avatar cycle."
"How?" Taizo asked, confused at how he should be feeling. What was right and what was wrong?
"The Avatar State is the key. If you kill the Avatar while he's in the Avatar State, the cycle is broken and no reincarnation will take place. We simply must anger the Avatar and when he goes into the state we strike. We meant to do it plenty of times all ready. But things like the hail storm got in the way. So we had to wait to fly out in the ocean. Then the Avatar returned. We couldn't risk being seen by others so came up with the spirit snatching plot. It was meant to cause a distraction so we could kill the Avatar should the spirit not do so first. But all these plans failed."
"So how will you try to kill him this time?" Taizo asked, almost like he was all ready on board.
"Simple. You see the world is full of many poisons. But the strongest poison there is, is love. Jong-mu used this poison against me, killing my family. Now I shall do the same."
"Who does he love?"
"So many questions, Taizo. Really, you're leaving all the surprise out of life," Yinlo replied and laughed. "Soon my friend, the cycle will be broken forever and the Air Nomads will truly be free."
~ Cave near Taku ~
There was a brief moment in time where I found plenty of happiness. I was sure my luck was changing. That my losses were being outnumbered by the new surprises my life had in store for me. That frame of mind didn't last long. Soon, I was losing my life one piece at a time.
The Avatar walked into the cavern Omu promised his Badgermole had last been seen. Jong-Mu lit a small flame inside his palm and lit up the cave. There were spikes of rocks coming from the floor. No blood. No Gwali. There was a woman though.
"Hello," the woman smiled and waved. She took off her green rice hat. "It would seem, Avatar, that our journey is finally starting. Took long enough, if I do say so myself."
"And you are?"
"They call me the Air Army Hunter. The Air Army—they're the people responsible for stealing your Badgermole."
"She was stolen?" the Avatar gasped.
"They're heading south with her. My intelligence report tells me they're most likely going to the Serpent's Pass."
"The Air Army?"
"The Air Army. You really don't remember me, do you?"
"No. Should I?"
"It's me, Shofini," the woman smiled and grabbed onto his hand. She was alive, after all this time.
It seems there is a balance to finding and losing in life. Often when we find something we want, we lost something we loved. I was happy, for a time. But no longer. Surprising, seeing as the woman I thought dead just turned up alive. Perhaps it's just me, or maybe the luck of the Avatar—but I believe now that we often lose more than we find. What an evil curse to be bound to a human with feelings. Why the spirits did this, I'm not entirely sure. I never understood them. Something about knowing suffering. I say there's a line. But I think the Spirits have lost any sight of that line, for all I see is suffering. Maybe I'm just cynical though. I did just meet the girl that will be leading me to my death.
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