Actions

Work Header

Avatar: The Legend of Anzen Hyriu, Book 1: The Legend of Beifen

Chapter Text

Prologue:

The Spirits Message

 

Avatar Roku sat quietly on the summer solstice trying to enter the Spirit World. He always liked traveling through the Spirit’s realm on the solstice since it made it easier to enter the Spirit World and he could travel deeper into it. This time he was walking along a mountain surrounded in mist.

Then a voice, or rather several voices spoke to him all at once in sync, “Avatar Roku, we have something very important to tell you.”

Roku looked around to see who was speaking but all he could see was the mist and vague shadows of creatures walking around in it.

“Who are you?” Roku asked.

“We are many different spirits hidden by this mist we created,” the spirits answered calmly.

“Why do you hide yourselves?” Roku asked the mist.

“Because,” they answered, “many of us have not been seen by any human in a very long time and we wish to keep it that way. But we do not have time to talk about why we hide ourselves we have-”

“Something very important to tell me. Yes, yes. What is it?” Roku said.

“A great darkness darker than the night sky with no moon or as will threaten your world long after your time,” they said.

“Um . . . Then why are you telling me this?” Roku asked in confusion.

“Because you can help prevent it,” the spirits answered.

“Okay. Tell me what to do,” Roku said seeing the mist had completely surrounded him.

“This Darkness will come in the life of the next Avatar when this Avatar is still young and untrained. This darkness will take the child and raise him into evil and corruption,” the spirits explained.

“The world has faced and defeated corrupt Avatars before but with much difficulty, so how do you expect the world to survive a corrupt Avatar and this Darkness?” Roku said.

“That is why we are putting the plan in motion now and not later, so that the world will be ready to take on this threat. This plan will take many decades to complete,” the spirits said.

“But you said the Darkness will come when the next Avatar is still young. I know I will not live much longer, I can feel it inside my self, my strength is waning and then I will die …. And then the next Avatar will be born and that’s when this Darkness will come. I’d say twenty years at the most. We don’t have many decades!” Roku started yelling towards the end.

“Yes, you will soon die, but for unclear reasons the Darkness will not come for decades, and the Avatar will still be a child when it finally does arrive. So our plan is to create another Avatar, so to speak.”

“Another Avatar?! That is impossible!” Roku shouted.

“This person will not be an Avatar in whole; their spirit will not be reincarnated. Our plan is for you to strip off part of the Avatar Spirit and then contain it in a jar along with us. You would then take the jar to the Northern Water Tribe and present it to the Royal Court and tell them everything we have told you. Then when the right child is born, the jar must be opened in front of him and the spirits will go into the child.”

“That is your plan? It might actually work, but how would I strip off part of the Avatar Spirit and how would the people of the Northern Water Tribe know which child is right, and why the Northern Tribe why not the Southern Tribe or the Earth Kingdom or-” Roku was overflowing with questions.

“We will answer all of your questions if you agree to this plan.” the spirits interrupted him.

“I agree to your plan,” Roku said calmly.

“Then to answer your first question, sit and meditate on all of your past lives, including yourself.” the spirits instructed.

Roku did as they said.

“Now look at all of their triumphs… their mistakes…their lives as whole. Now imagine part of them fading away, disappearing, like part of them is no longer there. Then take the part of the Spirit that faded away and bring it before you and combine it with us.”

Roku did that and when he opened his eyes he felt like part of him was missing and he saw that the mist looked thicker and more powerful.

“Now,” when the spirits spoke all of the voices of the previous avatars and Roku’s voice spoke with them, “to answer your other questions. We chose the Northern Water Tribe because we will follow the Avatar Cycle and since the Avatar after you will be an airbender, we chose the nation after that, the Water Tribes.

“But why the Northern Tribe?” Roku asked.

“Another threat will greatly damage this world before the Darkness arrives and the Southern Tribe will be very weak and broken.” the spirits spoke with a great sadness in their voices. “You are to tell no one of that information.”

“I, I won’t…” Roku took a breath and held back tears for he had many friends in the Southern Tribe, “I won’t tell anyone that information.”

“However, you will tell the Court this though. How they will know which child is the right one. When a child is born on the Winter Solstice, the full moon will have fully risen and the setting sun will not have yet touched the horizon. Both the full moon and the sun must and we mean must not be touching the horizon and it must be a full moon. The child born at that time is the child. The jar with us in it must be opened in front of the child with in twenty-four hours after its birth.

“Okay, that is a lot to take in” Roku said.

“And you had better remember every word of it,” the spirits said. “Now here is the jar we spoke of that you will contain us in.” the spirits said.

In a bright flash, a golden jar fell into Roku’s lap. He picked it up to examine it and gasped when he touched it. Everything he could touch in the Spirit World never felt quite real, but this jar was very real. It was cold and a little heavy. He looked and saw that had a number of jewels on it but primarily emeralds.

“When we say, you will open the jar and point it to us and will us to go in. Then you will take it to the Tribe as we said before and you will tell them everything we have said and what we are about to say. With us there are a great number of spirits with a great deal of knowledge about bending and fighting and many other subjects. There are also spirits of dead humans who have knowledge from sword fighting to medical care. There are benders of every sort, librarians, anyone who could offer any amount of knowledge the child could use in a variety of situations. The child must start training as soon as possible so that he will be more than ready for the Darkness.”

Roku was very impressed with this plan and he could see it working.

“Oh and one more thing, if the next Avatar is to talk to you, you are not to tell him anything of this plan, do you understand. The same goes for the Northern Water Tribe, they are not to tell anyone of this plan who is not in their Tribe. The less people they tell the better.”

“I understand,” Roku said.

“Good now point the jar at us and do as we have said,” The spirits said.

Roku did and all the mist went into the jar and he put the lid on it and came out of the Spirit World and saw he was holding the jar. With a quick expiation to his family he went off the Northern Water Tribe and presented the jar. He told them everything except the part about the Southern Tribe and left. Two weeks later the two volcanoes on Roku’s home island erupted resulting in his death. Twelve years later a comet fell from the sky and the fire benders attacked. In the hundred years the war has gone on the day Roku described to the Court came three times. Where the full moon and the setting solstice sun were both completely above the horizon. The first time three children were born but none at the correct time. The second time no children were born. The third time however two children were born one just after sunset his name was Koluk. He lived in a city called Hydronia. The other was born in the Lok Wa Isles, the islands of the Northern Tribe. He was born at the correct time. He was the child the spirits spoke about. He was to stop the Avatar and the Darkness. His name, Hyriu.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 1

Warrior Training

 

The bright rays of the rising sun shone through my window and warmed me. I opened my eyes at the warmth and brightness. It wasn’t that much warmer since it was late fall and I lived in one of the most northern cities of the Northern Water Tribe. I didn’t mind though, I liked the cold, and ice and snow and the cold waters of the Bei River. I guess that makes sense since I am a waterbender.

I got up and put on my dark blue robe over my grey shirt I was already wearing. I walked to my brother, Hiko’s room. He was still sound asleep. It was just us living here in our little house in Hydronia. When I was five and Hiko was almost a year old we lived in the Lok Wa Isles; the Fire Nation attacked our village. Many waterbenders came to help but they were too late, almost every one was killed. Hiko, a few others and I were the only ones left. Our entire family was killed. A waterbender named Wei found us and took us here, Hydronia and raised us here. We lived in our own house though because Wei doesn’t have a large enough house to hold us anymore. He didn’t live here originally; he only lives here now because he is our guardian. We live in Hydronia because this is where all of the Northern Water Tribe’s secrets are kept. I am one of those secrets. Wei is also my water bending teacher.

I should probably explain what meant by ‘I am one of those secrets’. Avatar Roku came here and said a great Darkness was coming blah, blah, blah, any way he said on the Winter Solstice when the full moon had completely risen and the setting sun had not yet touched the horizon a child will be born and that child is the one to face the Darkness. He gave the Court a jar full of spirits including the Avatar Spirit and now all of those spirits are in me. The Spirits wanted me to be able to beat a corrupt Avatar and the Darkness so they put many knowledgeable spirits in me.

Since the Avatar Spirit is in me that means I can bend all four elements. I am an excellent water bender, a pretty good air bender, a below average fire bender and a horrible earth bender. The Spirits wanted me to learn each element at the same time. It makes sense that I am good at water and air since I am very fluid, quick and flowing in just about everything I do. Earth is all about standing strong and being rigid and fire is aggressive and offensive, which just isn’t me. Also, there is barely any earth up here for me to practice with and it’s very cold so fire is not easy to make. Roku said that the element that the hardest to learn is the one most opposite from that person’s personality. For most Avatars it’s their natural opposites, for me its split between fire and earth.

I can also go into the Avatar State, but not like normal Avatars. The Spirits thought it would be better for me to work my way up to the Avatar State instead of trying to master it all at once. So they split it up into 3 stages: Stage One slightly amplifies my bending and only my irises glow bright blue, Stage Two increases my bending seventy-five percent and my irises and pupils glow, Stage Three is the full on Avatar State and my whole eye glows. Then there is something called the Spirit Stage, it’s where I have access not only to the past Avatars but also all of the other spirits in me. I have no idea what I will look like in the Spirit Stage because I have never entered it. I have mastered Stage One and I am working on Stage Two. I have entered Stage Three only once when I was seven and throwing a tantrum.

I shook my brother, “Hiko it’s time to wake up.”

“Ugh, it’s too early Hyriu,” he mumbled sleepily.

“Hey, I didn’t tell you to start warrior training early, but I will make sure you get there on time,” I told him.

He sighed, “Okay.”

I left him to get dressed and went into the bathroom. I looked in the reflection ice and saw my black hair was going every direction but the one I wanted it to. I attempted to flatten it, which helped some. My blue eyes looked tired. I was of about middle height and tan like everyone else. After I looked presentable, I went into my room and straightened it out. I went down stairs and with a few simple movements, water bended some water into a pot and made it boil. I grabbed some seaweed and noodles from the cubby hole where they were kept. I started making a good big breakfast for us. Hiko walked in half dressed and still partly asleep. He sat down at the table and I sat across from him and set our sea ramen down.

“You know,” I said as I ate, “they’ll kick you out of warrior training if you’re late again. They’ve already given you a second chance, and that is because you’re my brother. If they let you off again people will start to question why you’re getting special treatment.”

“I know, I know Hyriu,” he said a little annoyed as he started shoveling down his food.

There was a knock at the door, Hiko ran off to his room to get ready as we both knew who was at the door. I went over and pulled back the curtain and sure enough it was my best friend, Koluk. We have been friends since I moved here. He was born the same day as me but at night. He was a non-bender, and a great warrior. He had light brown hair that is always pulled back into a wolf tail, and eyes the color of ice. He had a tan complexion like all Water Tribesmen and he was a little taller than me.

He opened his mouth to say something.

“Hiko is getting ready right now,” I said before he could ask.

“Good,” he said, “If he’s late again-”

“He’ll be kicked out. Yeah that’s what I told him,” I said.

“Will you let me finish a sentence?” he said with a smile.

“Sorry,” I said and we both laughed.

“So, you nervous about today?” he asked.

That’s when I remembered what was happening today, my water bending test. I had to fight and beat the best water bender in the world, Master Pakku. I have technically already mastered water bending but the Court wanted me to be the best so I have to beat Master Pakku. If I lose then I train for another year. This will be the third time I have fought him. The first time I didn’t last 2 seconds. The second time I lasted about a minute, which is longer than most people. This time I know I will be a challenge to beat.

“Yeah, some,” I answered.

“Don’t worry, you’ll do great,” he said.

That made me feel good. I smiled and then Hiko came running out from behind me, and he ran at top speed to the Warrior Training Field.

“Come on Koluk! You’ll be late if you don’t hurry!” he shouted back.

“Well I better get going,” Koluk said. “See you later.”

“Bye,” I said and he ran off to catch up to Hiko

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

Swirling Waves of Ice

 

I finished eating and was cleaning up after Hiko’s mess when I heard another knock at the door. I walked over and pulled back the curtain to reveal Master Wei. He was a middle aged man with dark grey hair, a few wrinkles and pale blue eyes that could be just as warm and caring as fierce.

“Good morning, Hyriu,” he said.

“Good morning Wei,” I answered.

“Has your brother-” he started.

“Yes,” I said before he could finish, “Yes, he has already left for warrior practice.”

“Good,” he said.

“So, I’m guessing to you came to get me?” I asked

“No. I came to tell you that you are going to school today and you are to meet me at the Plaza Square directly after water bending practice,” he said.

“Um, why am I going to school?” I asked confused because I never went to school on the day of the test. We usually spent most of the day getting to the secret location of the test. It was different every year. The first time it was on an ice shelf, the second time it was in a blizzard in the mountains. I had no idea what to expect this time.

“Because the place we are going is not far way,” he answered.

“Oh ok,” I said very confused.

“See you at practice,” he smiled and walked off.

“Bye,” I said.

Since school didn’t start for awhile I decided to take a walk. It was a clear day and there was a strong wind blowing from the south. That told me a storm was coming from the south, if it is a clear day and there is a strong wind then a storm was coming from which ever direction the wind was blowing from. This storm I could tell was going to be big. It would be here in a day at tops, but most likely only a few hours.

I looked to the south where the Bei Shui Mountains were and where the wind was coming from. I saw the entrance to the Shui Air Temple. It was disguised so unless you didn’t know it was there then you couldn’t see it. It still had the same style of the Western Air Temple, only not upside down. There were a few small temples on the side of the mountain that were also well hidden. When Sozin’s Comet came 100 years ago, Sozin attacked each temple at once. Some male airbenders went to the Western Air Temple to see if there was news of the missing Avatar, who had disappeared only a month prior. That was when Sozin attacked. The airbenders fought back and a small group managed to escape including the male airbenders who had come and the female air benders who lived at the Temple, along with some sky bison and lemurs. They came here, to Hydronia, seeking shelter and safety. When they told the Court what had happened, the Court was furious and filled with grief, for Hydronia and the Western Air Temple had been great friends since Avatar Yangchen’s time. Any attack that the Fire Nation sent came even near the Northern Water Tribe was destroyed. The airbenders built a Temple in the Bei Shui Mountains and named it the Shui Air Temple. When they realized that the Sky Bison and Lemurs couldn’t live in this environment, they begged the Spirits to help them. So the Spirits blessed the valley behind the temple and turned it into a sacred tropical area. Like a very large Spirit Oasis. Only it was not as spiritual as the oasis. It was filled with a large forest with many streams and rivers. That is where the bison lemurs and many monks live now. The Monks named it Heiwa Valley. The airbenders, the temple, and the valley were more secrets kept in Hydronia. My airbending master, Sonam lives in the valley as well as my friend Lamara who learns airbending with me.

I walked to the Plaza Square just to make sure I knew the way. The Square was very beautiful. There was a very large fountain in the center of the open area. It had several waterfalls, little ponds and towers of water spraying in the air only to fall back down. The ice that formed the solid part of the fountain was made in a way to look like rushing waves. Some of the most talented waterbenders and carvers in history made it a long time ago when Hydronia was the capital and there was only one Water Tribe.

The fountain as beautiful as it may be, it was nothing compared to the grand palace behind it. The Gambing Palace was a wonder to look at. It was made by the same talented waterbenders and carvers who made the fountain. From outside it was sparkling in the light like millions of diamonds. The walls and roofs were swirling waves frozen in time. There was a large wall blocking the front of the palace that looked like a large wave at the height of its crest and about to come crashing down on those outside the palace. Its rumored that on the other side of the wall was a courtyard full of fountains and pools much like the one in the Square. It was also said that there was a huge estate behind the palace, but only the Royal Court and their guards and family have been inside the wall. But even they haven’t been to Hydronia since the early years of the war.

I would give just about anything to see the inside of the palace and explore it at will. It would be incredible to see the construction of it as well.

A loud bell rang out as I gazed upon the Gambing Palace, I realized that I didn’t have much time to get to school so I ran to get there on time. I took one last glance back as I was running then I went to top speed running from the great palace of swirling waves of ice.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3
Hana

 

I arrived at school just in time. My first class was History. The first part of the lesson we discuss events that happened in the Northern Water Tribe, and then we talk about how it affects the rest of the world. We hardly ever learn about the Southern Tribe so when we do its always exciting. Just a few days ago, we started learning about the Great Civil War. This was when there was only one tribe at the North Pole, then a rebellion started up and eventually the rebels left and created the Southern Water Tribe.

Mr. Zhen our teacher was going on and on about certain generals leading attacks against the rebels in a very flat, boring voice and I drifted off into a daydream.

In the dream, I saw a Water Tribe temple with the spire glowing bright blue. All of the sudden, I was at the Northern Tribe’s capital and it was snowing; only the snow was black. Then there was a red flash and the sky turned red and so did the moon. Then a meteor fell from a black sky and landed in a forest with a large explosion. Suddenly I see my home, Hydronia in ruins. Then a figure in chains in a metal cell, his head bowed so I couldn’t see who it was. Then there is a very large castle next to a lake, it was on fire and was surrounded by black smoke going everywhere, and there are cries of a battle and flashes of light everywhere. Then a very large statue of what looks like a Fire Nation man. The statue is in the middle of a large body of water and there are two dragon statues on each shore. Then the statue of the man is surrounded by black streams of smoke and there are flashes of multi-colored light and the statue crumbles.

I woke up covered in sweat, realizing I fell asleep, but luckily no one noticed. I was recovering from my crazy dream when I heard a voice in my head, “Be wary, young one. Soon everything will change.” I jumped as that has never happened before and a few kids look at me weird.

As Mr. Zhen, a fairly large middle-aged man, was saying something about a rebellion in the Lok Wa Isles, Koluk came in late and out of breath.

“Ah,” Mr. Zhen began, “So glad you could join us Koluk. Could you explain why you were late?”

“Warrior training,” Koluk said still out of breath and he handed Mr. Zhen a note.

“Warrior training ends fifteen minutes before school, so how are you fifteen minutes late?” he asked.

“Some idiot gave a seven year old a spear. It wasn’t sharp but he could still do some damage with it,” Koluk explained.

“Ah, I see,” Mr. Zhen said, “and it also says here you were injured in the groin, oh my. With the blunt spear?”

Koluk nodded with a painful expression. The class laughed.

“So how did they get the spear from the child?” Mr. Zhen asked.

“Hyriu’s younger brother actually,” Koluk answered and pointed at me, “he climbed a building and jumped on the kid from above. Then he snatched the spear and swung it toward the kid’s legs knocking them out from under him, causing him to fall. It left him dazed. It was pretty impressive considering Hiko is only nine years old.”

“Yes it does sound very-” Mr. Zhen started but I couldn’t hear him because someone around me said something.

“Pft, you hear that Hyr-o? Your own brother is even better than you,” a kid named Taruk said. He pronounces my name wrong on purpose just to annoy me. He only said it loud enough for the kids around us to hear. Some of them snickered. “You know what he would do if he faced a seven year old with a blunt spear?” he asked looking at the kids around us, an evil look entering his eyes, “he’d go running to his mama.” He let the insult sink in. All the kids around us paled, it was well known that my parents died when I was five and that Master Wei was my guardian.

I clenched my fists. I wanted to do some serious damage to him with some water bending but I held back. If he knew how powerful I really was, he wouldn’t dare say anything like that to me, but to keep a low profile I had to pretend to be horrible at water bending, which sucked.

I just ignored him and kept looking straight ahead. Koluk took a seat next to me obviously seeing me upset.

“Hey, what’s wrong?” he whispered.

“Nothing. Tell you later,” I answered trying not to move my lips when I talked so Mr. Zhen wouldn’t notice us talking. It didn’t work.

“Hyriu. Koluk. Is there something you’d like to share with the class?” he asked us.

“Uh….” I started to say.

“Um just telling Hyriu here that I haven’t fully recovered from my ‘injury’,” Koluk answered quickly.

The whole class laughed even Mr. Zhen managed a smile. “Well you can talk about your pain all you like in your own time. Now let’s get back to the rebellion in the Lok Wa Isles. Hyriu, you couldn’t tell us which general stopped that rebellion. Could you?” Mr. Zhen said as he directed his attention at me.

“General Koluk, sir,” I answered without hesitation.

“Very good Hyriu,” he said, “You always seem to know everything to do with the Lok Wa Isles. Or perhaps it’s because the answer is sitting right next to you.”

He went on with the lesson and I glanced at Koluk and he mouthed to me “General Koluk? Nice”, I laughed. I heard Taruk say something, but I just ignored him. The rest of the class went on like that, Taruk saying insults toward me and me just ignoring him. Luckily, I had no more crazy dreams but the one earlier troubled me a lot. Finally, a loud bell rang out.

“Class we will have a quiz tomorrow on the Battle of Lok Wa, you will need to know the name of the Earth Kingdom general who-” Mr. Zhen’s words were lost in the chatter of kids.

Koluk caught up to me, “Hey, what did Taruk say to you?”

“Just something about my mom.” I answered bitterly.

“What?!” he shouted so loud nearby people looked at us, “I can’t believe he said that. No, I can believe it actually.”

“Yeah, and there’s something else. I had this weird dream thing.” I said.

“Sorry but we’ll have to talk about it later, I got to go. See you later.” He said.

“Bye,” I said. My next class was Astronomy where we learned all about the spirits we see at night in the sky.

I walked into the Astronomy classroom. All the seats were taken except one by my second least favorite person, a girl named Hana; Taruk was number one on that list. She was fourteen and had brown hair that came a little past her shoulders. She had dark blue eyes and was not as tan as me but still tan. She got a huge smile on her face when she saw I had to sit next to her.

I had several reasons of why I didn’t like her. First, was that she was a know-it-all. Second, she is a snotty brat. Third, she was ALWAYS right, even when she was wrong. The main one though is that she has the biggest crush on me. That sounds bad but she is obsessed with me. She follows me everywhere and constantly talks to me, even when I make it clear I don’t want to talk. And the worst part about it is she thinks I like her back, but I don’t I’m just being nice to her.

She used to treat me like an outcast like just about everyone else. Then three months ago, she went to the Training Arena to wait for her younger brother to come out so they could go home, but he was taking a long time so she went inside and sat in the stands. Koluk and I were sparring with each other and since we thought we were alone I went all out on him. I didn’t bend of course, but I still used all of my fighting moves that were way beyond the normal level for my age. She saw Koluk and me fighting, and she saw how good I was. At school, Koluk is the best warrior in all ages, everyone knows that, or they think they do anyway. I fight well at school but nothing great. And not only did she see me put up a fight, but she also saw me beat Koluk, which no one has ever done at school, no one even comes close, not even our instructor. So of course she freaked out and has liked me ever since.

I sat down next to her and she scooted closer to me.

“Hi, Hyriu. How was your morning?” she asked.

“Hi, good, and yours?” I said back without looking at her.

“It wasn’t great, but that’s fine now that you’re sitting next to me,” she said.

‘Ugh this is going to be a long day,’ I thought. The rest of the class went on with her making little comments on how good I look, which gets really annoying after awhile. Except today she seemed less annoying than normal, and I found myself laughing and talking to her more, which was very weird.

At the end of the class she said bye to me, smiled, and waved which is normal but this time I did it back and I saw a glow light up in her eyes.

The rest of the morning was uneventful up until Myths and Legends, which was my favorite class.

I sat down next to Fai and Lina, two of my good friends. Fai was very tall with very broad shoulders and was incredibly clumsy. He had black hair that was in a typical water tribe style wolf tail. Lina was not very tall and was very thin, like a twig. She had dark brown hair that came below her shoulders and was in a braid down her left shoulder.

“Hello Hyriu, how are you today?” Lina asked.

I cracked a smile and glanced at Fai who was also smiling. We had an on-going joke about how Lina always talks so formally.

“I’m good, you?” I said still smiling.

“I am gre-,” she noticed us smiling, “Oh come on, that was not too formal, was it?”

“‘Hello Hyriu, how are you today,’” Fai said in a horrible impression of Lina.

“Oh be quiet,” she said and playfully pushed him.

We all laughed. Mr. Hui walked in and the class quieted down.

“Okay class,” Mr. Hui began, “today we will begin with a new legend. It is one many of you have heard of before, I’m sure. However, I doubt that very few of you could go into detail about it.

That got the class’s attention. We would be learning about a legend we’ve heard of, but hardly know anything about.

“You are of course going to finally learn about the Legend of Beifen.” Mr. Hui finished dramatically.

Gasps were heard throughout the class. This was the legend about me, where Roku came here with the jar full of spirits and the great darkness coming and all that. Lina glanced at me. She knew that I’m the person from the legend, but Fai didn’t. Lina only knows because I give her personal warrior training lessons. She was saying one day that she wanted to be a warrior really bad, I even saw her begging Instructor Chen to let her train, but he said it was against our customs. I disagree with that custom and thought it was unfair. So I offered to train her and when she asked what I would do if I was caught I said “What are they going to do to me?” then I told her everything.

Mr. Hui started a long lecture on spirits and the Spirit World, which was new to everyone else but I already knew a whole lot about the Spirit World so I tuned out. I made sure not to fall asleep though, I didn’t want any more crazy dreams.

The bell rang just as Mr. Hui was getting to spirits in the physical world. It was time for lunch and Fai went on ahead of us yelling how he missed breakfast. Lina and I were in a deep conversation about the Spirit World when we sat down next to Koluk and Fai. Fai was eating like a starved platypus-bear, so I turned to Koluk who was studying a pile of scrolls.

“Hey what’s up?” I said.

“Huh? Oh hey,” he said barely looking up from his scrolls.

“Um, what are you doing?” I asked.

“I forgot about the math test today,” he answered.

I cursed; I had forgotten about it too.

“Ha ha, at least I won’t be the only one that fails,” he said.

“That’s what you think, I’m a fast reader. What about you Lina, did you forget?” I said as I got out my math scrolls and read at a ferocious speed.

“No, of course I did not forget. I studied last night for four hours,” she said laughing at us both. Fai started laughing too but that resulted in food flying everywhere from his mouth which ended Lina’s laughter very quickly.

I glanced over at my food to eat when I saw Hana approaching.

“Oh Spirits,” I cursed.

“What?” Koluk asked following my gaze, “Oh it’s just your girlfriend.”

“Shut up,” I said back.

She sat down next to me, “Hey Hyriu, Koluk, Lina and…Fai,” she said Fai’s name disgustedly because chewed up food surrounded him and covered his face. He also seemed to be trying to eat his chopsticks but when he noticed she was sitting with us he stopped.

“Hello Hana,” Lina said.

“Hey,” Koluk said.

Fai looked like he was going to say something but seemed to think better of it and remained quiet.

“Hey Hana,” I said.

“So Hyriu, I was thinking we should hang out some time,” She said.

“Oh…uh, really?” I said caught off guard. Poor Fai was laughing so hard that he had to go run off in search of a trashcan, Lina was trying to hide her laughter but wasn’t doing a good job, and even Koluk started choking on his food. They all knew about her being obsessed with me, but Fai didn’t know the reason.

“Yeah, how about today after school?” she asked.

“Oh, today,” I said, “I’m actually busy today after school.”

“Oh,” she said clearly let down.

“Maybe some other time,” I said trying to cheer her up even though I’m not supposed to like her.

“How about tomorrow after school?” She asked.

“Um sure, I guess,” I said.

“Great!” She said and walked off with a spring in her step.

“Hyriu’s gotta date. Hyriu’s gotta date,” Koluk began singing.

“Hey Hyriu why are you here today? I thought your water bending test today?” Lina asked and Koluk stopped singing.

“Yeah it is but Wei told me to come to school and to meet him at the Plaza Square after water bending practice,” I answered.

The bell rang and we gathered up our scrolls, trying to read them all at once while Lina laughed at us.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 4
Swing Kick

We walked out of math class after the test. I felt good about it but Koluk on the other hand did not.

“Hey don’t worry, you probably did great,” I said to reassure him.

“Yeah, whatever,” he sighed.

“Well don’t worry about that now,” I said, “We have Warrior Training.”

“Cause that went so well this morning,” Koluk said.

“Well this time there won’t be any seven-year-olds,” I said.

We walked to the Training Field. It was a circular field with stands surrounding it. Many kids were already there stretching and warming up. Our teacher, Instructor Chen was talking with some of the older kids when he saw us.

“Koluk, could you come here please,” he said.

Koluk glanced at me before going over to him. I looked around and spotted Fai stretching by himself.

“Hey,” I said as I walked over to him.

“Hey,” he said.

I started to stretch too, “So what do you think we’ll learn today?”

“I don’t know,” he answered, “but I hope its something cool.”

I laughed, then looked in the stands and saw Hana watching me and next to her, I saw Lina, they both smiled and waved. I waved back and so did Fai who also saw them. The girls both looked at each other and giggled. Hana liked me and Lina liked Fai, but he didn’t know. Lina came to the lesson not only to watch Fai but also to see what I will be teaching her later.

“Okay class fall in line,” Instructor Chen said. We all got into our lines. “Koluk and Tekton will demonstrate the new move you will learn today. It’s called the ‘Swing Kick’.” There was excited muttering throughout the group. “Take a stance!” Instructor Chen shouted, Koluk and Tekton, who was an older kid, did as instructed. “Fight!” Instructor Chen said. They started to fight, neither gaining the advantage, then Tekton crouched down on his right leg with the left one sticking straight out, then he spun on his foot swinging his left foot into the back of Koluk’s legs, knocking his feet out from under him causing him to fall flat on his butt. Some kids laughed.

“You think its funny, but this move can be very effective against a variety of opponents. Now I will show how to do the ‘Swing Kick’ then you can try it for yourselves.” He showed us how to do the move then we tried it. Instructor Chen, Koluk, Tekton, and a few other older students walked around helping out those who were having the most trouble.

“For those of you having trouble with it I suggest spinning on one foot first or sticking your leg out before trying the whole thing,” Instructor Chen told us.

I didn’t do that because I thought that that felt uncomfortable so I spun on my left foot sticking out my right foot a little bit. Every time I could spin and not fall or stumble, I would crouch a little lower and stick my leg out a bit farther. I saw that some of the kids took Instructor Chen’s advice; some kids saw what I was doing and decided they liked that better, while others still tried to do the whole thing at once and fell down each time. Fai was one of those people.

“Hey Fai, try it like this,” I said and showed him what I was doing, “and just work your way down until you get it.”

“Ok,” he said a little unsure. Then he balanced on his right foot, stuck out his left a little bit, and spun without falling or stumbling. “I did it!” he said with a huge smile on his face. “Thanks Hyriu.”

“Don’t mention it,” I said as he tried again but crouching lower and fell.

“Everyone look at what Hyriu’s doing,” Instructor Chen said and motioned for me to show them. “Now that is a very smart idea Hyriu. If anyone is still having trouble then see if Hyriu’s way helps you better.”

Some did and found that they did like it better. At the end of the lesson, most everyone could just about do the ‘Swing Kick’ with out too much trouble.

Instructor Chen walked up to me, “Hyriu, I have never seen a class master a move so quickly before. You could be a very good teacher; you might even become the next Instructor of Hydronia. I thought it might be Koluk or Tekton, but today you demonstrated something that they don’t have, teaching skills. While they may be some of the best warriors I’ve seen, they can’t explain things well to others. I wasn’t top of my class either but I could teach, and that’s what got me this job, and you have some of the same traits I had when I was your age. Today was a prime example of what you can do, especially with your friend Fai. He is a good student and his heart is in the right place, but he is not a very good warrior and usually needs extra time to master a move, but today you helped him and he mastered the move a lot faster than normal. I could very well see you amount to something big one day.”

I was stunned, “Thank you sir,” I finally managed.

“Have a good day Hyriu,” he said and patted me on the back and walked off.

Koluk, Fai, Lina, and Hana all came up to me.

“What did Instructor Chen say, “Koluk asked.

I told them what he said, leaving out the part where he said Koluk and Tekton couldn’t teach. They all looked stunned and I saw a twinge of jealousy in Koluk’s eyes, but it disappeared quickly.

“That’s great,” Hana said.

“Yes, that is truly fantastic,” Lina said.

“That’s awesome man,” Koluk said.

“Well he’s right, you are a were a really good teacher today,” Fai said, “I don’t know if I ever would have gotten the hang of the ‘Swing Kick’ without your help. Who knows people might start calling you ‘Swing Kick Hyriu’.”

We all laughed.

Chapter Text

Visions of a Shadow

I went to the Water Bending Training Field. It was rectangular with stands on one side and a large platform on the other. Lina, Fai, Koluk, and Hana all went into the stands to watch, I smiled. I was glad I had good friends to support me. ‘Wait a second, when did I consider Hana a friend,’ I thought. I looked at Fai and Koluk’s faces and they seemed to be thinking the same thing. Lina and Hana on the other hand seemed to be getting along famously; they were talking and giggling with each other. Koluk was having a conversation with a guy next to him trying to ignore the giggling girls. Fai just sat there looking around awkwardly; I laughed.

Tekton and I were some of the only ones who took both warrior training and water bending training, we became friends over that. He was one of those popular guys that likes to show off but was actually pretty cool. Before water bending practice started he didn’t even know me but just new I was an outcast so didn’t talk to me, but when practice started he noticed I faked at being bad at water bending and confronted me about it. I played and still play dumb whenever he mentions it. But now we talk a lot and are good friends.

“Hey Hyriu, that was some pretty good teaching with the ‘Swing Kick’ back there,” he said to me he was almost sixteen years old so he was taller than me, and he was more muscular and could look very intimidating when he wanted to. He had short brown hair and blue eyes like steel.

“Thanks, that was a good demonstration. Did your really take down Koluk or was it staged?” I asked with a smile.

“Um, it was staged,” he said and we both laughed.

As our laughter quieted down I heard something that killed it right away, “Hi Hyriu!” it was Hana, “I can’t wait for our date tomorrow!”

My face turned bright red and my head dropped and everyone in the stands and the field started laughing. I looked up at Hana and I also saw Lina had fallen over laughing and Fai and Koluk looked like they were about to follow her. I just barely lifted my hand and waved back because I knew if I tried ignoring her she would yell again.

“So is that your girlfriend?” Tekton asked in a mocking tone with a smirk.

“Oh Spirits no,” I said a little forcefully.

He laughed, “Okay then.”

Master Desu walked up onto the platform, “Okay everyone settle down,” he said with a smirk. “Master Wei will not be joining us today he has, other matters to attend to,” he glanced at me when he said that, “but it is time to begin today’s lesson. We are going to begin learning ice bending.”

Everyone started talking excitedly and someone even cheered. I smiled to myself I had learned ice bending ages ago.

“Quiet! Quiet. Yes, it is very exciting. Now I will not go over the theory of ice bending since Master Wei already taught you that. As you know ice is solid, so of course to freeze something or bend it in its ice form, you need to use more solid movements. Watch carefully,” Master Desu said and then with a few quick movements he made a mound of ice and formed it into a pillar, then he made motions with his hands like he was trying to pull the top of the pillar to him. And it seemed to be working as the pillar began to curve downward until the top of it touched the ground forming a large archway. The group of kids were amazed and some cried out in surprise. I myself was impressed with Master Desu’s bending.

“Obviously I don’t expect any of you to do that anytime soon. All I want you to do is to lift up a sphere of water and freeze it into a ball of ice. Like so,” he demonstrated the move, “Now you try.”

We all lifted up some water; a few kids including me had some trouble with that. Tekton gave me a look that said ‘You’re not fooling anyone’.

“Now compress the water feel how warm it is and imagine its temperature dropping, feel the water begin to cool. But be careful if you apply too much pressure to the ice it, will begin to crack and could explode, so take it slow.”

We began to do that and it was dead quiet, even in the stands. I was compressing my water and the sphere grew smaller. I looked over at Tekton and his face filled with concentration, I saw he already had a few small pieces of ice in his water. I looked up at the platform and saw that Master Desu wasn’t there. Instead there stood a tall man wearing a black robe with a hood that covered his entire face. I looked around to see if any of the other kids noticed the robed man. They were all too focused on their water. I was about to say something to Tekton about it when I saw the robed man was gone and Master Desu was there on the platform like he never left. I looked back at my water very confused, only my water looked weird. I then realized there was a shadow in its reflection, there was something behind me. I looked over my right shoulder and saw the robed man standing right behind me. Under his hood I saw two red eyes glinting evilly and looking right at me. I jumped and dropped my water, it splashed loudly. I looked at my feet and blinked a few times and looked back up. The robed man was gone and there were no footprints in the fresh snow. Tekton was giving me a weird look, he could always tell when I was pretending to be bad at water bending but right now he knew I hadn’t meant to drop my water. He knew something had scared me.

I tried to ignore him and the other kids giving me weird looks. Even Master Desu was looking at me strangely. I heard someone snickering; I looked and saw Taruk looking at me as I made another sphere of water.

“Having trouble with ice bending Hyr-o?” he said and some people laughed.

“Taruk,” Master Desu said sternly, “Turn around and focus on your ice.”

More people laughed at that. Taruk gave me one last dirty look before turning around. Tekton gave me a mischievous look. While still holding his water with his left hand he sneakily slid his right hand behind his back. With his fingers he made a claw-like motion then closed them into a fist, Taruk’s half frozen sphere of water exploded. Some people screamed and everyone except a few other kids, Tekton, and me dropped their spheres and several others exploded as well, causing even more chaos.

“Alright everyone calm down!” Maser Desu said. “Taruk maybe if you were more focused on your sphere and not Hyriu’s then maybe this wouldn’t have happened. However, seeing as it did, it showed me those few of you that can keep your focus, even when others around you can’t. Those of you that can keep your focus, Gen Li, Huan, Da-Xia, Tekton, and Hyriu, you all are excused from the rest of the lesson and have some free time. I only ask that you are not too loud and not to disturb the remaining students. Oh and stay close because I will call you back at the end of the lesson for an announcement. Those of you left seem to need more time to focus. So I will give you that time,” they all groaned as we walked away from the group.

When we were far enough, Tekton and I burst out laughing. When the others gave us strange looks Tekton told them what he did and they joined in our laughter.

“Wait,” Da-Xia said, “So you purposely made his sphere explode?”

“Well yeah, Master Desu’s punishment was just a bonus, now the other kids will all be mad at him,” Tekton answered.

We all talked and laughed for awhile. Since they were all a few years older than me, they talked about stuff that did not interest me and I started messing around with some snow and water.

I eventually started to make a building. I decided to make a castle out of snow and ice. Something awoke deep inside me and influenced the shapes I make with the ice. When I was done I saw I had made a miniature city with many tiny houses and a grand castle upon a large cliff with a waterfall. I was amazed with my craftsmanship, Tekton, Huan, Gen Li, and Da-Xia were also amazed.

I hadn’t realized, but they stopped talking and were just watching me.

“Whoa Hyriu!” Huan exclamed. “That’s incredible!”

“I thought you were bad at water bending,” Da-Xia questioned.

“We just learned ice bending today, how did you do that?” Gen Li said.

“I knew you were better than what you let on, but that’s just amazing,” Tekton said.

“I’m not sure how I did it. Something just… came over me. It felt like someone else was moving my hands,” I answered.

They looked like they were going to ask more questions when Master Desu called us over.

“Now then,” Master Desu began when we all got over to him, “I have an exciting announcement. Chief Arnook, Princess Yue, and the entire Royal Court are in Hydronia,” there were exclamations of surprise. “They arrived in town early this morning and are staying for a few weeks. Two weeks from now though ,they will host a celebration and they want us to perform. So starting tomorrow we are going to work hard, that is why I gave such a severe punishment today. No funny business of any kind. And Chief Arnook has a meeting planned in the Grand Hall and has asked that everyone be in attendance,” when he said ‘everyone’ he looked directly at me. “That is all, you are dismissed, and remember to practice your focus for those of you I assigned it to.”

We all started to walk away. Koluk, Fai, Lina, and Hana all came down to meet us.

“Wow Hyriu, I can’t believe your learning ice-” Hana started to say when I saw a group of kids had gathered several feet behind her and were talking excitedly. I tried to see what they were looking at when I saw the miniature city and castle I had made out of ice. I quickly waved my hand to melt the city. As I was waving my hand Hana who was still talking glanced down at my hand then looked where I was looking just as the castle was collapsing, “-bending,” Hana finished her sentence, but she said ‘bending’ very slowly like her mind was completely focused on something else.

The others didn’t notice my hand movement or the group of kids behind them that were now freaking out at the destruction of the little city.

“Hana?” Lina said, “Hana are you alright?

“Yeah,” Hana said still talking slowly like her mind wasn’t even here. She was still staring at me but not like she normally does, her eyes where not filled with longing or happiness, but filled with suspicion. It made me very uncomfortable, I was hoping she didn’t see my hand move or the castle, but the look she had now told me she did. “Yeah,” she said again, but talking faster now, “Yes I’m alright. Well I really must be going.”

“I’ll walk with you,” Koluk offered since he lived close by her, “I was about to leave any way.”

“No no,” she said talking very fast, almost like she was afraid, “It’s fine, I’ll walk alone,” she ran off.

“Run alone is more like it,” Fai said.

“Well that was weird,” Koluk said, “Even for Hana.”

Yeah, no kidding, did you see the way she was looking at you, Hyriu?” Tekton said.

“Yeah,” now I was the one talking slowly.

“Hyriu, you said you had to meet Master Wei immediately after practice,” Lina said.

“Oh, right thanks,” I said, “See you guys later.”

Lina and Tekton walked with me since they lived on the way. Lina and I picked up our conversation about the Spirit World and Tekton joined in. I had to hold back on all that I knew since Tekton didn’t know who I really was and Lina had to restrain some of her questions as well. Every so often I would catch a glimpse of a shadow moving between buildings following us, but every time I turned my head to get a better look, it disappeared. That greatly unsettled me and I remembered the dark visions from History class and water bending training.

We got to the street Lina lived on and she said bye to us. We rounded a corner and saw Taruk standing in front of his house holding up a ball of water, Master Desu’s assignment no doubt.

As we got closer I wanted to say something to him so bad but I held back. As we passed him he glared at us and I opened my mouth to say something, but Tekton beat me to it.

“Oh, hey Taruk. How’s the, ice bending going? No… problems I hope,” he said in a mocking way.

Taruk just looked away and tried to focus on his ice but a large crack appeared on its surface.

“Oh, be careful. We wouldn’t want another explosion. Would we?” Tekton said darkly.

Taruk gave him a look of complete hate, “You did that?”

“All I did was stand up for a friend,” Tekton answered.

I glanced at the ally next to Taruk’s house, I had seen the shadow again, but this time when I turned my head to get a better look I saw something that froze me in fear.

I saw a stream of black smoke just like the ones from my earlier vision, but this one was different it seemed more powerful and it was coming right at me. I tried to warn Taruk and Tekton but I couldn’t move, I was literally frozen in fear. The smoke stopped just at it reached the back of Taruk’s house. When the smoke cleared I saw it was the robed man I saw at water bending practice. His red eyes were fixed on me. I knew somehow he wasn’t human.

A red light shone from his eyes, it steadily grew brighter until it blotted out everything else. Then everything went black and I was standing in a room of black stone, a girl was in chains in front of me. The robed man came in the room. The girl lifted her head. I was shocked, it was Lamara, my air bending friend, except she looked different. Her hair which was usually very short, was past her shoulders and she looked older. The robed man raised his hand and there was a flash of orange light and Lamara cried out in pain.

I’m was in another room, Koluk was slumped against a wall. He looked different also, older. His cell was of the same material that Lamara’s was made of. The robed man walked into the room. He slashed his left hand through the air and I heard a sound like a whip cracking. Koluk cried out in pain and I saw that a fresh welt had opened oh his left check. As I looked closer I saw that similar wounds covered the rest of his body.

I’m in yet another room and the robed man is already in it and I was behind him. I could see that there is a Fire Nation girl in this room, but I can’t see her face. He moved and I saw her hair and it was golden. I only knew of one person in the whole world with golden hair and that was my fire bending master’s daughter, Zaria. I was horrified that even she was being tortured. The robed man seemed to think better of torturing her further and walked out. I followed him. We were in a dark hallway, we passed a room that had someone in it I had never net. He looked Earth Kingdom and wore tan clothes with lots of brown leather.

We continued walking; he entered a room with a young Water Tribe boy in it. With a shock I realized it was Hiko. The robed raised his hand again and there was a flash of green light and Hiko’s chains broke and he fell to the floor unconscious.

With a flash I was back with Taruk and Tekton, and the robed man was no where to be seen. Taruk glanced at me them back to Tekton, then back at me seeing me clearly shaken. My heart was beating fast and perspiration had gathered on my face. Adrenaline was racing through me.

Taruk smiled, “Careful Tekton, your boyfriend looks scared.”

“He’s not my boyfriend!” Tekton shouted back, he looked at me, “Hyriu are you okay you look like you just saw a ghost? Your eyes look weird too.”

I realized it wasn’t adrenaline running through me, I was so scared of the robed man that I had entered the first stage of the Avatar State. I closed my eyes and came of out stage one.

“I’m fine,” I said, “Come on Tekton, let’s go.”

We walked away and as we were walking Taruk yelled at us.

“That’s right, run away you scared little baby, run right to your dead mother!”

I stopped in my tracks and clenched my fists. Cracks opened in the ice street. I moved my right fist to my chest. I could feel Taruk’s sphere of water almost completely frozen with my bending sense. I whipped my right hand out and opened my fingers. Taruk’s sphere exploded for a second time but this time with a much bigger force.

I turned around and saw Taruk’s face was covered in little cuts, but I didn’t care.

“Looks like you need to focus more on your ice bending, Tar-yuck,” I snarled back at him, and stormed off, the ice cracking beneath my feet.

Tekton caught up to me, “Whoa, you ok Hyriu?”

“I’m fine,” I said between gritted teeth.

“You sure? You seem a little-” Tekton began.

“I said I’m fine!” I yelled. I realized I was walking so fast that I had already reached the street where Tekton lived.

“Well, see you later,” he said a little unnerved.

I started toward the Square. I could see the shadow again out of the corner of my eye following me in the ally ways. My anger subsided and was replaced by fear. I did not want any more visions today.

I heard the sound of moving water behind me and I slipped and fell. I looked behind me and saw Taruk. On the ground I saw a fresh patch of ice that he had made.

“Still think I need to work on my ice bending Hyr-o?” he said. I didn’t answer. “There’s no one to save you here.”

“You know you really should mind your surroundings better young man,” a familiar voice said, “Because I believe I am still capable of saving people.

We both turned to see who was talking. Standing in the middle of the street, with a smug look on his face, was none other than Master Pakku.

Chapter Text

Chapter 6
The Announcement

Taruk and I were both shocked. The best water bender in the world was right in front of us.

“So is this a friendly spar?” Pakku asked in a very sarcastic and smug voice, as he seemed to know exactly what was going on, “Because if so, the middle of the street is hardly the place for it. And attacking your opponent from behind, that is just low.”

Neither Taruk nor I answered him as we were both still in shock. We just gave him dumb looks.

“Though I do think there is another possibility. It would seem that the two of you just don’t get along very well and that your feud has escalated into a water bending fight. That couldn’t be it though, because if I remember correctly, the only ‘sparing sessions’ allowed are the ones instructed by your master. And it does not seem likely that your master instructed you two to spar in the street unsupervised. I guess I will have to report this to Masters Wei and Desu,” he said to us a smug smile on his face.

I was over my shock then but I still didn’t say anything. I knew what Master Pakku was doing. He was messing with Taruk’s mind, trying to unnerve him. Taruk had gotten over his shock too most likely but his face was filled with fear at being reported.

“Well one of you answer me. Don’t make it seem like I am talking to myself!” Pakku said getting inpatient.

Taruk tried to say something but it just came out as mumbles.

“No one can hear you mumbling to yourself. You’ll have to be louder than that boy!” Pakku snapped.

“I said,” Taruk started weakly, “We were just sparing.”

“Well than you are wasting your time. Might I ask why you are sparing with Hyriu? To fight him would be like fighting a five-year-old, it’s just wrong,” Pakku said.

Taruk stuttered but no words came out.

“I on the other hand, I would be a much better sparring partner. A real challenge. I am not so easily beaten. In fact I have not lost a match, sparing or otherwise,” Pakku said smiling and taking a water bending stance.

“Oh, uh uh, uhmm,” Taruk stuttered, “N, no thanks.” He took off running.

“Well, at least he was polite about it,” Pakku laughed and I did too.
“So was that really a sparing session?” he asked me already knowing the answer.

“Uh, no,” I said, “No it wasn’t.”

“Good, I didn’t think it was but then again Master Desu is a bit, loopy from time to time. The question I do want to know the answer to is ‘what your fight was about and why he was covered in fresh cuts. Would know the answer to both those questions Hyriu?” Pakku asked.

“Well he might have deserved it,” I said looking away.

“Perhaps he did but that does not excuse you to lose control like that. If a beginner water bender loses control the results are destructive, if you lose your temper, with the type of power you possess the results are catastrophic. You need a level head, not for your own good, but for those around you,” Pakku said seriously.

“I know,” I said, “Its just he told me to go running to my dead mom. So I-”

“He what?” Pakku shouted, “Well maybe I should have smacked him around a bit to teach him a lesson,” Pakku winked at me. I started laughing and he did too, “But the next time that happens you need to tell an adult if you can’t ignore him. I know that is not the first choice someone your age would make, but it is true.”

“I do ignore him and some of my friends even step up for me but he just keeps coming back for more and eventually I will snap, like I did today,” I said.

“Well I have scared him off for the time being but if he is as persistent as you say then he will not be scared for long. I fear he will become a large problem soon,” he said.

Just then a loud bell rang out. I recognized it as the bell that signaled everyone to go to the Grand Hall.

“Well I guess we had better go to the Hall then,” Pakku said.

“But wait, what about Wei at the Square? And why were you just wondering around? And what about my test?” I asked.

“If you would give me time to answer your questions you would know,” he said as we started walking towards the Grand Hall, “I was with Master Wei at the Square. He said he had to tell you something important and he was worried what was keeping you. So I volunteered to go search for you and bring you to him. He said if the bell rang before we met up with him than to just take you to the Hall and meet him there.”

“Do you know what he wanted to tell me?” I asked.

“He just said it was something about the announcement Chief Arnook is going to make,” Pakku answered.

“Hmm,” I thought to myself.

“So Anzen Hyriu, are you ready for your test?” Pakku asked using my title.

“Are you sure you can say that out here?” I said looking around nervously. Anzen was the title Avatar Roku came up with for the Chosen Child. Just as his title was ‘Avatar’, the child’s would be ‘Anzen’. He chose anzen because it meant ‘safety’ as in safety net, because should the world slip through the Avatar’s hands and start to fall into Darkness the safety net, or Anzen would be there to catch it.

“Of course it’s safe to say it; we’re in a deserted street with no one around to hear it. Even if they did hear us, they have no idea what it means. They would have to dig deep into the secret history of the Beifen Legend to even get a guess at it.” just then I heard a gasp that came from the alley behind us.

Pakku and I both took a stance and slowly walked into the alley. There were only some boxes and a barrel back there, and no signs of movement.

“Though I guess I should be more careful,” Pakku said.

We walked back into the street and continued towards the Hall.

“You never answered my question,” Pakku said, “Are you ready for the test?”

“Well…” I started to say but I was distracted by what I saw in the sky. Pakku looked to see what I was looking at.

In the sky I saw what looked like large birds flying from the mountains. I feared I was having another vision. Then I almost laughed at my sudden stupidity, they were not birds, but air benders on gliders. I even saw some sky bison.

“Well it appears even the Air Nomads were asked to come,” Pakku said.

We continued toward the Grand Hall, other people joined us and many were in awe of Master Pakku. We arrived at the Hall and there was a huge crowd of people gathered at its entrance. I found Hiko and said bye to Pakku. Master Wei spotted me through the crowd and made his way to me.

“Ah, Hyriu,” he started to say when an older looking man came over and told him Chief Arnook was looking for him and they walked off.

A group of air benders landed by Hiko and me. I spotted my air bending master, Sonam and my friend Lamara. They walked over to us.

“Master Sonam,” I said and bowed respectfully, “Lamara, it’s great to see you both.

“It is good to see you as well, and your brother,” Sonam said. He was tall and slender. His shoulders were not very broad; he had a strong jaw and a round face. His head was shaved with a blue arrow tattooed on it. He had a bit of a deep voice that did not really fit his appearance, but it was filled with wisdom. His eyes were a light grey, like the clouds starting to pass over the Bei Shui Mountains in the distance. He was not tan, but also not pale, like all the other nomads from the Shui Air Temple.

“Yeah,” Lamara said, “how have you been Hiko?” He blushed; we all knew he had a crush on her. Lamara was my height and she was thin. She had black hair, in the front her hair came to her jaw and got shorter towards the back. She also had bangs that came just above her eyebrow. She had dark grey eyes.

We made our way inside and sat down around the middle to the left side, if you were facing the Court. I saw Chief Arnook at the head seat, Princess Yue at his right, Master Pakku at his left. All of the healers from the court and Hydronia were at Chief Arnook’s right following by rank, the greatest healer Yugoda sat right next to Princess Yue. On Chief Arnook’s left the water bending masters followed in the same fashion as the healers. After the water bending masters were the warriors. I saw Master Wei up there as well as Master Desu and Instructor Chen.

“Now, you’re all probably wondering what I am even doing here in Hydronia with the whole Royal Court,” Chief Arnook began, “ Many of you have also noticed that I asked the Air Nomads to attend this meeting. It is because I have a very generous gift for four lucky children. Three will be of the Water Tribe and one will be an Air Nomad, but we’ll get back to that later. In exactly two weeks I will have a large celebration in honor of someone very important. I will reveal who that someone is at the celebration. Hydronia’s very own young water benders will perform there along with Master Pakku. Now back to the four children. First, I will tell you what gift I will give them. The children will spend the rest of the day with the entire Royal Court,” there were cheers and applause from the crowd, “But wait,” the Chief continued, “I haven’t told you where the children will spend the day with us. Inside the spectacular and grandness of the Gambing Palace,” gasps were heard through out the Hall, “Master Pakku will also give them a special performance of his best water bending, with a surprise guest. And each child will be allowed to take two items of their choice with them when they leave.”

The crowd was going completely insane. Chief Arnook clapped his hands and two large jars were brought out by four people. One was painted in shades of yellow and orange, the other was painted in shades of blue. Chief Arnook walked over to the jars.

“Now to choose the children, in each jar are the names of the children between the ages of 10 and 18. As is our custom I will choose the air bender child first,” he reached into the yellow and orange jar and pulled out a piece of paper, “The lucky air bender child is, Lamara of the Shui Temple!”

Lamara squealed with delight, she walked up the stage as the crowd burst into applause. Chief Arnook motioned for her to stand next to him and she did. He reached into the blue jar and with some trouble, he pulled out three slips of paper.

“The three lucky Water Tribe children are, Koluk Yonggan,” Koluk joined Lamara on stage with a smile, “Lina Zhanshi,” Lina ran up on stage with a huge grin, “And finally the last child is, Hyriu Jingshen.”

The crowd was still clapping and cheering as I slowly stood up in shock. I walked to the stage; my friends greeted me with grins. I smiled back, but I knew what was really going on. They were all about to see my water bending test, which would be at the Gambing Palace. I was the surprise guest to put on a show with Master Pakku. I was scared, I had to fight Master Pakku in front of my friends, I had to win now. I tried to keep a smile on my face but I was just too worried about the test. Chief Arnook was congratulating us and the crowd cheered. I saw Taruk in the crowed his face was filled with disappointment, anger and hatred. I smiled because at least I could brag to him about this but I remembered what Master Pakku said about him becoming a problem as I listened to the cheers of the crowd start to fade into complete silence.

Chapter Text

Chapter 7
Of Temples and Visions

I was looking down at my feet when complete silence filled the Hall. I looked up to see if the crowd was waiting for something. When I looked up, I was very confused, the crowd was still cheering but I couldn’t hear anything. It was just an eerie silence.

My hearing started to come back, I could hear screams of excitement again. No, those weren’t screams of excitement, but screams of terror. I looked around to see what was happening but everyone was still smiling, clapping, and cheering. Now, I was really confused. I heard explosions now, and sounds of a battle, but still the crowd kept on cheering. A few people noticed the confused and panicked look on my face and gave me weird looks. Then quietly at first, I heard a ringing in my ears. It steadily grew louder and louder until it masked all the other sounds, and all I heard was the ringing. It got so loud, I felt like my head was going to explode, I clamped my hands over my ears, it made no difference and more people were noticing my strange behavior. I closed my eyes so their looks wouldn’t bother me, the ringing increased. I was just about to cry out in pain, it hurt so much, when it stopped. There was no sound at all, I opened my eyes and saw the horrific scene in front of me.

The Hall was deserted and in ruins. Part of the ceiling had fallen in, and the banners on the walls were in flames. There seemed to be an air of sorrow and loss about the place, as if something terrible had happened, and it had nothing to do with the city’s destruction.

A man walked in the ruined Hall. It was the robed man from my previous visions. From across the Hall I could see his red eyes glowing, and he must have been smiling wickedly because I could see his teeth glinting in the fire light.

He then spoke to me in a voice anyone would fear if they heard it. It was the voice in the wind you heard while walking alone at night. It was the voice that made little children scared of the dark. It was the voice in everyone’s nightmares. It was the voice of Darkness. “I am coming,” he said menacingly. “I am coming,” he repeated venomously. Then he began to laugh the coldest laugh I have ever heard. It chilled my blood; the warmth of the nearby fires was gone. My limbs went numb, and I collapsed onto my back. Suddenly, the man was standing over me looking down at me as if I were a thorn bush blocking his path. “I am coming - for you!” he shouted.

I was back in the undamaged Hall, but no one was cheering. I realized I was on my back and the concerned faces of my friends were above me.

“Hyriu!” someone shouted, “Hyriu, are you alright?” It was Lina.
“Yeah,” I said weakly, “Yeah, I’m alright.”

She helped me up, “Are you sure?” she asked, and as she was helping me up, her hand touched the exposed skin on my arm, she gasped, “Hyriu, you are freezing.”

Everyone around me all put his or her hands on my forehead. When they felt how cold I was, they drew their hands back quickly. Yugoda came over to me and swirled some hot water around my head. That really helped. I got to my feet with Lina and Yugoda’s help.

“See, nothing to worry about,” I heard Chief Arnook telling the crowd. “He’s just overwhelmed is all. And can you blame him?” He stared to chuckle to try to calm them all down, and a few people joined in his chuckle. “Well now I bid you all a good afternoon. I really must get going if these children are to enjoy their gift properly.”

With that, the crowd started to disperse. I saw Hana close to the stage, a concerned look on her face, but her eyes were still full of suspicion. I also noticed she had put on a long dark blue coat, which I thought was odd since it wasn’t too cold out. I waved and smiled at her to show I was alright; she waved back and left the Hall with the crowd. We went into the back rooms of the Hall. I saw the whole Royal Court, my friends and Wei; they were all giving me concerned looks.

“Now Hyriu,” Wei said, “What really happened out there?”

“Well I…I had this weird dream-vision thing,” I started to say.

“Wait, didn’t you say you had a crazy dream after History?” Koluk remembered.

“So you’ve had two of these visions today?” Wei asked.

“I’ve had four,” I answered, and everyone gasped.

“This is not good, I have to take Hiko home, you know how he gets worried easily. You should tell everyone here what you saw in your visions. I will meet you at the Plaza Square," Wei said then left.

“Okay,” I said, everyone looked at me expectantly. “Well um, I had the first vision in History class. The second was during water bending practice, the third just after practice. And the fourth was just then on stage when I collapsed.”

“Okay, why don’t you tell us what happened in your first vision,” Chief Arnook suggested.

“It happened in a bunch of fast flashes,” I started. “The first thing I saw was a temple of some sort behind a large hill of ice. It was a water tribe temple; kind of circular with a large spire on top. The spire was glowing bright blue.” Chief Arnook glanced at some of the court members. “After that I saw the Capital, and there was black snow falling. Then, the moon turned red, and a meteor fell from the black sky and landed in a forest, the Earth Kingdom, I think. I also saw someone in a metal cell chained up. His head was bowed so I couldn’t see who he was. After that, I saw a very large castle next to a lake. It was burning, and there was a full-scale war going on all around it. The last thing I saw was a large statue of a Fire Nation man in the middle of a lake or a river of some kind. On each shore there was a statue of a dragon.”

“Great Gates of Azulan,” I heard the Chief mutter under his breath.

“Suddenly little explosions of multi-colored light were all over the place and there were streams of black smoke swirling around, and the statues collapsed. That’s all I can remember from the first one,” I said out of breath.

Chief Arnook had a very troubled look on his face, “Come with me, everyone else stay here except my daughter, Master Pakku, Yugoda, and Hyriu’s friends.”

We walked out of the back of the Hall. We were already on the Northern boundary of Hydronia. We climbed a large hill in front of us. When we got to the top, I could see the whole of Hydronia; it was beautiful.

Chief Arnook turned me around and pointed, “Now then, is this the temple you saw in your vision?”

I was shocked; it was the very same temple only the spire wasn’t glowing. “Yes, yes it is.”

“Well it is said that when the spire glows, that the Avatar has returned,” he saw the worried look on my face, “But we can never be certain of anything right now. What did you see in your other visions?”

“I’m not sure if I want to talk about them, now that I see this temple is real and you said something about the Gates of Azulan,” I said unnerved.

“Yes the Great Gates of Azulan. I saw a very accurate painting of them and you described them perfectly,” Arnook said, “What unsettles you so much about the other visions?”

“Well they have people in them; people I know,” I glanced at Koluk and Lamara who were still looking at the temple, Arnook and Lina noticed my glance, “I saw disturbing things and since I now know that they could actually happen…” I didn’t need to finish.

“Yes, and the red moon…”Arnook started.

“What about the red moon?” I asked.

He glanced at his daughter Princess Yue, “Oh nothing, nothing at all,” he said with a fake smile, though I could see the worry in his eyes.

“Well I guess I should tell you about the robed man,” I said, “He was in the last three visions. He wears a long black robe with a hood that casts a dark shadow over his face so I couldn’t make out many details. The only part of his face I could see clearly were his eyes,” I shuddered. “He has eyes the color of blood, and his pupils, they aren’t a circle like ours. They were a sort of cross-like shape,” I drew in the snow the shape.

+

Chief Arnook studied the mark, as did my friends.

“Well this is very disturbing,” Chief Arnook said. “If you have any more visions be sure to tell someone immediately. Well we had better get a move on if we are to meet Master Wei in time.”

We started back down the hill. When we got to the bottom, we went in the back entrance of the Hall. Before we walked back inside, I saw the shadow sneaking through the buildings nearby. My heart immediately began to beat faster with fear.

“What’s wrong Hyriu?” Lamara said seeing a change in my face.

“Nothing,” I said quietly.

I could tell by her expression that she didn’t buy it; she could tell I was lying.

I sighed, “I have just been seeing a shadow following me since water bending practice, and I just saw it again.”

“Should we tell Arnook?” Lamara asked.

“No, better not to worry him. It wasn’t anything big any way,” I replied.

“Someone has been following you around, watching you, maybe even heard what you said about your visions, and you say it’s no big deal. He said you should tell someone if you have another vision, no matter how small,” she said, trying to keep quiet.

“Yes, he told me to tell someone, and I have, I told you,” I smirked, “I trust you.”

She sighed, “I guess.”

We had already rejoined the Court and left the Hall and were now traveling down the street. Chief Arnook was in front with Pakku at his right and Yugoda at his left. Princess Yue walked directly after her father. Flanking her on her left were Lina and Koluk and on her right were Lamara and me. Behind us was the rest of the Royal Court. You could see the palace in just about any part of the city. The wall blocking it could be seen in any of the upper parts of the
city.

I looked up at the sky, which was bright blue this morning. It had turned into a grey haze as the storm got closer. The wind had picked up, and a light snow was starting to fall.

We came around a corner, and the Plaza Square was in sight. A crowd had gathered, and they started clapping. We got to the Square, and Wei joined us. I looked around. The crowd was enormous. I looked up at the wall and the grand palace behind it. It was just at that moment when it hit me. I was going to be able to see the inside of it, something I’ve wanted almost my whole life. A smile formed on my face.

I looked back at the crowd and noticed Taruk glaring at me. I smiled back sarcastically. I saw his hand move and realized he was going to try to make me trip again. I made his attack backfire on him so he tripped himself. I laughed to myself.

Two guards were stationed in front of the intricately carved doors in the wall. Chief Arnook motioned for them to move to the side, they did.

“Now then,” the Chief began, “let’s not delay these children of their special gift any longer.” The crowd cheered. “Open the doors and let the tour, begin.”

The Doors creaked open.

Chapter Text

Chapter 8
Behind Walls of Ice
Part 1
Fountains of Legend

The doors were wide open and everyone in the crowd was trying to get a look inside.

We stayed in our formation and walked through the doors. The doors slammed shut behind us cutting off the noise of the crowd. The wall was thick, but I was too focused on what the wall was hiding to really notice.

Inside, there was a large courtyard with many fountains, much like the one in the Square outside. However, these fountains were much larger and were all very different from one another. Some were carved like the Plaza Square fountain - to look like frozen waves and swirling water, but they all looked unique. One had massive waves, another calm ripples, and yet another looked like a water bender was manipulating and lifting it up into the air. Those were just a few. Many more adorned the yard around us.

“Children,” Chief Arnook began, “this is the Fountain Yard. I do not think I need to tell you the origin of the name. Already, you can see many fantastically carved fountains. Some tell stories of the past, some explain parts of our history, and others visualize our culture in a very intriguing way. You all may look around freely if you wish. I will call you back in a little while.”

As I walked, I began to notice a pattern. The fountains were divided up into sections, the ones that told stories were all in a cluster, and there were fountains of water and waves all around separating one story from another.

I found a section telling the stories of the past Avatars from the Water Tribe. I focused on Avatar Kuruk’s fountains since I knew about him best. His first fountain was of him surfing on a large wave. He seemed to be in his early 20’s. There were streams of water running down the wave, and there was a mist around the
crest. At the bottom, there was still water.

His next fountain was a bit larger than his first, and he looked in his 30’s now. He was with a woman who had long hair carved to look like it was blowing in the wind. They stood next to each other holding hands and looking very much in love and very happy. I smiled. I could almost remember that day, and then I realized that the part of the Avatar Spirit in me was the one remembering. They looked to be at the Spirit Oasis. I noticed there was another side to the fountain. I walked around to the back to examine it. It was also in the Spirit Oasis but it gave me quite a different feeling. The woman was being pulled into the water by what looked like a giant centipede. She had a look of terror, and she was reaching for Kuruk who was scrambling towards her, but they were too far apart. The next fountain was Avatar Kuruk’s last and it showed him in a strange rock-like place. He was holding a spear above his head. The fountain was made with many little streams and water spraying in a way that made the mist swirl around Kuruk. It added an aura of power to him. I noticed his eyes were carved to look like he was in the Avatar State. He seemed to be fighting the thing that took the girl in the previous fountain. It was much larger than he was and it had a face that chilled me to my bones.

I walked on. There was a series of fountains dedicated to the Great Civil War. Others were of other significant events of our history. I saw a fountain for Princess Yue, showing how the Moon Spirit had given her life when she was very ill as an infant. That was why she had pure white hair, though the fountain looked incomplete. I saw many fountains of the Moon and Ocean Spirits. There were more fountains of lesser water spirits.

I was studying a fountain depicting many different animal spirits when Chief Arnook called us over.

I met up with my friends on the way, and we all excitedly shared the different fountains we saw. Lamara had found a group of fountains telling the story of how the Air Nomads came to be in Hydronia. Koluk had found a fountain with a very detailed ship going to war. Lina had seen displays of ancient warriors fighting battles.

“Okay now everyone here knows who Hyriu really is correct?” The Chief looked at me. I nodded. “Good now I have some special fountains to show you.” He walked toward the Palace Entrance, and on the left, there were more fountains.

“Here we are,” Chief Arnook said.

The fountains were from the Legend of Beifen. The first fountain displayed Avatar Roku in the mountains. He had a determined expression. In the crook of his left arm, there was a carving of the sacred jar that held the spirits. There were three mountain peaks carved. On the tallest, a dragon had wrapped itself around the peak. I assumed it was Fang, Roku’s dragon. The water sprayed in a way that created a cloud of mist around him similar to the previous fountain I had seen. I thought it was a very creative way of representing the mist which the spirits had been in. On the other side of the fountain, a carving of Roku presenting the jar to the Royal Court resided.

The second fountain displayed a younger Chief Arnook holding up a small baby. On one side of the fountain, there was a likeness of the sun, on the other side, the full moon. Behind Arnook there were two people holding each other, a man and a woman. I smiled as I recognized them, and warm tears fell down my face.

“Who are they?” Lina asked. “The man and woman?”

“Well, uh…” Chief Arnook glanced at me.

“They’re my parents,” I said, still smiling.

“Oh yes I see the resemblance, now. My goodness, Hyriu you look a lot like your father, except your nose. You have your mother’s nose,” she observed.

“Yeah Hiko does too,” I told her. “We also have her black hair.”

“Hmm,” she studied the statues’ faces and glanced at mine every so often.

“Though, you do have your father’s chiseled jaw,” she said and then blushed, embarrassed at her word choice.

“Well, thank you,” I said, as I stroked my jaw line with my left hand and smiled slyly to further embarrass her. I succeeded.

Koluk and Lamara exchanged looks.

“I’d say Hana has some competition,” Lamara stated almost laughing.

“Well wait a minute,” Koluk said before Lina could respond. “Was that complement meant for Hyriu, or his dad?”

“Neither, it was not meant to be a complement,” Lina said quickly.

“Oh, so now you’re calling Hyriu ugly?” Koluk smirked.

“What?! No, I mean-” Lina started.

“So you find him attractive?” Koluk interrupted.

“Ugh! Shut up Koluk. You know what I meant!” Lina shot back.

“Oh, I know what you meant, and I think Hyriu does too,” Koluk said sarcastically.

We all laughed, and she pushed past him.

“Why don’t we continue the tour and go inside,” Wei suggested.

“What an excellent idea Wei,” Chief Arnook said.

We walked up the stairs and went through a set of very large and beautiful doors.

“This is the Grand Entry Fourier,” Chief Arnook said. “As you can see, there are several passage ways that branch off to many different places. I believe that way leads to the Tea House, which by the way is the second largest teahouse in the Four Nations. The Royal Palace in Ba Sing Se has the largest. Down there are the Ice Gardens, that one leads to the Meditation Room.”

Lamara perked up at the last one. “Will we go to the Meditation Room?”

“I am sorry child, but since the palace is so huge the tour will only include the most important rooms. After Master Pakku’s performance though you may go where you wish,” the Chief replied.

We went through the hallway right in front of us; Chief Arnook had not said where it went. He kept on pointing to other smaller halls and said where they lead off to. Finally, we got to the end of the hall and in front of us was the most beautiful set of doors I had ever seen. They had carvings of old battles, great warriors, menacing spirits, and the most fantastic landscapes.

“Whoa,” all the kids said, myself included.

“Yes,” the Chief began, “It is truly a wonder to look at. But that is just the door. The room behind it is even better.”

The doors swung inward as if by their own accord. As we walked in, I looked back and saw there were two men who had pulled them open.

I turned to look at the room, and I was amazed by what I saw. There were very high walls. The ceiling was arched; it had the most beautiful painting on it. It was split on two sides, one in the Physical World, the other in the Spirit World. On the far end of the room, on the ceiling, there was the likeness of the Spirit Oasis. Around it were painted many mountains and the Northern Water Tribe Capital. After that was the ocean, which took up most of the middle area of the ceiling. On the part in the Physical World were several ships in the water. In the direct middle of the ceiling was a crescent moon reflecting on the water. As I studied it, I realized that is was a realistic version of the Water Tribe symbol of the crescent moon with three waves. The part right above the doors was the same, just in the Spirit World. The mountains were brown and spirits roamed around freely. In the water, in contrast to the ships, were water spirits. It all had a tan light to it. The koi fish in the Spirit Oasis glowed with power.

There were large pillars at regular intervals along the walls. The pillars were designed to look like totem poles. I was amazed at how much detail was put into each one. The fur of the animal heads looked so realistic that if there was a breeze I was sure it would rustle. I saw the snarling head of a tiger-dillo; it looked as if it would snap me up if I got too close.

On the walls between the pillars were wonderfully carved windows. Around the windows, there was a painting. There were warriors, battles on land and at sea, castles under siege, and many other things of that sort.

The floor had no furniture on it of any sort, and for good reason. There were no pictures on the floor, just intricate patterns. Patterns of blue, purple, white, and grey, with some gold along the middle.
At the far end of the room, there was a raised platform with a waterfall and a small pool behind it. There were a series of chairs, one more elegant than the others. In front of the chairs was a type of table. It wasn’t really a table with legs, but rather a solid block of ice carved like a counter or some sort of desk.

“This,” Chief Arnook began, “is the Royal Courtroom. Where matters of utmost importance are discussed and debated among the Court. Any trails that are very important are also carried out here.”

“It’s beautiful!” Lamara exclaimed.

“Yeah, this place is incredible,” Koluk agreed.

“I wonder, how did they paint the ceiling and the higher parts of the walls?” Lina asked.

“Perhaps they had the air benders help,” I suggested.

“I would think that they built a scaffolding of some sort,” one of the male court members said. I don’t think he was a water bender.

We all looked at Chief Arnook.

“Well I don’t know,” he said matter-of-factly, then added at our surprised looks, “It was a very long time ago, but I think Sukotto,” Arnook motioned to the male court member that had spoken, “is correct.”

We walked out of the courtroom and continued on going deeper into the palace.

Chapter Text

Chapter 9
Behind Walls of Ice
Part 2
Knowledge and Fear

We continued through the grand palace, taking little detours so Arnook could show us something. He took us to the part of the palace where people would live. He showed us the bedrooms, which were enormous and had wonderful paintings on the walls and great views from the balconies. We also saw lounge rooms with many different activities to do in them. There were tea rooms wonderfully designed. One of the most interesting parts of the living areas were the bathrooms. They were very large and had wonderful designs in them. So wonderful that I wouldn’t dare use the facilities, as it seemed something you would look at, but you would not touch.

Next, he showed us the different wings of the palace dedicated to the Four Nations. They had artwork from all of the nations as well as clothing, books, statues, and many other things from their different cultures. It was fascinating to see all of these things; however, to think that most of these cultures had been destroyed by the war was saddening.

We were walking through a Fire Nation section when I saw a painting and gasped.

“What is it Hyriu?” Wei asked.

I pointed to the painting, “This was in my vision. What did you call it Chief, the Azulan Gates?”

“The Great Gates of Azulan. Yes, this is what you described to me in your vision. You said you saw them being destroyed?” he asked.

“Yes, they were surrounded by clouds of black smoke,” I said.

“Hmm, well I am not sure what to think about that,” Arnook said,
“The gates were built by Firelord Azulan who was the father to Firelord Ozai, the current Firelord. If I remember correctly the gates protect the capital of the Fire Nation, so perhaps you saw a battle that would end the war.”

“Maybe,” I said, but in the vision it felt like a bad thing that the statue was being destroyed, not a good thing like winning the war.

I continued to stare at the painting for a few more minutes before moving on. The Air Nomad section was incredible and got everyone’s attention. There were paintings of each air temple and paintings that showed the interior of each. Each temple had a slightly different style and design. There was a hall of statues in one, a group of sky bison in another. All around were pictures of what looked like happy carefree people that kept to themselves, bothered no one, and had very simple lives. I then grew sad and angry that someone would want to end their happiness. In one room, there was nothing but gliders and instructions on how they worked. I had not yet gotten a glider of my own. I had borrowed my friends to practice air bending with, but the air benders had yet to give me one. As I studied them, I decided that if I could choose I would want a Southern Temple style staff-glider. The Western Air Temple design was the most popular among the Shui Air Nomads as most of them are descended from them. Their style was like that of birds’ wings, with triangles. The Northern style had primarily rectangles and squares. The Eastern had the same as the Western but it had jagged edges made by triangles on one side. The Southern style was a half circle design and it seemed the most practical to me. Lamara stayed in this section for as long as she could.

“Now,” Chief Arnook said dramatically, “I will take you to the Gambing Library.”

He led us down a long hallway, up some stairs, over a walkway, through a courtyard, and down another long hallway. Before we reached its end, I could see a door. It was very large and had breath-taking beauty. As we got closer, I could see more and more details, and I was quite literally speechless. On the door was a painting with so much detail, I didn’t know where to focus.

Overall, a large oak tree took up most of the painting. Around it were a great many of things. I started at the roots of the tree: there were monkey-squirrels and bird-foxes and other rodent type creatures climbing on the roots with many scrolls and books lying about them. The rest of the tree was much the same with many animals, known and unknown, all around, reading, carrying, and even chasing scrolls and books. Behind the tree was a building of monstrous size. It looked to be made of sandstone or something similar. It did not have a style of architecture from any of the Four Nations. It had round towers with domed roofs and a large dome roof in the center with a tower at its peak. Above the building and the tree was a large black owl with his wings spread.

“On this door is a painting of the Great Knowledge Spirit, Wan Shi Tong and his library,” Chief Arnook explained. "He is the reason the symbol for knowledge and wisdom is an owl. It is said his library exists in this world hidden somewhere in the deserts of the Earth Kingdom though, no one has found it yet and lived, or anyone who has found it has kept it to himself. You may notice that the roof of the Gambing Library is inspired by Wan Shi Tong’s own library. It also has a dome with a tower at its peak. Now shall we go and see what knowledge we might gain from the library?”

No one answered him as we were in awe of the painting, but the answer was obvious. He opened the door and we walked in.

If it was possible, I was even more awestruck by the library itself than the door. We were on a large balcony that overlooked the lower floors and was shadowed by the upper ones. There were five stories below us and five stories above.

“Behold!” Chief Arnook exclaimed, “The Gambing Library!”

I slowly walked to the edge of the balcony and grasped the railing. I became slightly dizzy at the sight, but I could not look away from the wonder and beauty of this place. I was overlooking a large open space in the middle of the library. Across the opening was a large waterfall that fell all the way from the top floor. As I looked up, I could see the ceiling, which was domed. On it was a painting that made my heart flutter. It was a painting of the night sky with many stars, a crescent moon, and the Northern Lights. I was amazed at the talent that someone must have had to create something so beautiful. I looked back down and saw that walkways crossed the large chasm, but only one every three floors so it did not crowd your sight. On the lower floors, I could see shelf after shelf of books and scrolls. Every now and then, there would be a statue or a painting.

“Children you may look around and see what the library will offer to you. But do not stray to far from our watch for there are always dark and unearthly things you would never wish to know. And always remember, you can never unlearn something.”

On that note, we all explored the library, but always keeping each other in sight. I went from floor-to-floor reading and studying things. I went to the upper floors first and then worked my way down. I noticed that there seemed to be an opening behind the waterfall so I asked Wei about it.

“Back there is the section for only the eyes of master water benders,” he explained.

“Can we go in?” I asked excitedly.

“Well I can but since Chief Arnook has not granted you the rank of master yet, you are not allowed, even though you are technically at the level of master,” he said regretfully, seeing my disappointment.

I eventually worked my way down to the bottom floor. We had surely been in the library for two hours or more. I was studying a statue next to the pool that the waterfall fell into when I heard a splash behind me. I whirled around, looking at the pool and the surrounding area. I saw nothing out of the ordinary. I looked at the upper floors, but the only person I could see was Lina, and she looked to be deep into a scroll she was reading and did not even glance up. I then looked down into the pool, and fear filled me. At the bottom of the pool was a dark shape moving around. I used water bending to still the surface of the pool, and I almost cried out. There was a person at the bottom with a black cloak on and a hood over his head. It was the figure from my visions. I didn’t move. I starred at him, and he starred at me. Then, he raised his hand and I saw a glint of red. Reacting quickly, I flipped over forwards landing in the middle of the pool. I made a little island of ice to stand on. I then lifted him up in a ball of water and threw him onto the floor with a thundering splash. He shot up from the floor and ran into the maze of bookshelves. I heard Lina call my name, but I ignored her and air bended myself from my island to the floor, a leap of about twenty feet. I chased after the man who had been tormenting me the whole day. I couldn’t see him, but he left a trail of water for me to follow. Every corner I came around, I took a stance, ready to fight, but I was always met by another empty hallway. Eventually, there was less and less water to follow, as he was drying off. Then, the trail just stopped. I tried to search nearby corners but found no clues leading to where he went. I went back to the pool where I had first seen him and saw that Wei, Arnook, Yue, my friends and a few court members, including Sukotto, were running towards me.

“Hyriu what happened?” Wei demanded out of breath and with panic in his eyes.

“I-I think I had another vision only…this one was different. It felt…real,” I managed to say.

“Wait,” Lina said her voice filled with fear and dread, “did you see the robed man again?”

I nodded, and she looked like she was about to burst into tears of fright. I had never seen her like this.

“What? What is it Lina?” Arnook asked in a soothing voice.

“Did you see something?” Koluk asked when she didn’t answer Arnook. She nodded. “Okay, what did you see Lina? Tell us.”

Lina’s voice was shaky. “I saw a person with a dark robe on and a hood run out from behind a book shelf and run down that hallway.” She pointed to the hallway, and everyone looked. “Then, I saw Hyriu run out from the same bookshelf and chase after the robed man,” she finished.

We walked to the area where she saw the chase, and I recognized it, as I did run through this area following the water trail, which was still on the floor. The adults studied the trail and talked amongst themselves while we stood off to the side. It was pointless though we all knew what was going on. I didn’t have another vision. What I saw actually happened. The robed man was here, somewhere in the library.

“Chief,” I asked looking around, “where is the rest of the court and Pakku?”

“Oh,” he said looking at me, “They had pressing matters to attend to,” he said plainly and with that, silence filled the library.
Just then Lamara gasped loudly. We all looked at her to find her looking at one of the upper floors. We followed her gaze. Lina and several court members cried out. Two floors up, looking down at us was the robed man. Before any of us could do anything, he dashed out of sight. Now everyone was certain of what happened. It wasn’t another one of my visions or an over-imaginative Lina. The
robed man was real, and he was in the palace hiding.

* * *

We moved on to the Armory Wing. There were several rooms with large forges built of a light blue stone. Then, there were large anvils made of a dark grey stone. I could see where years of weapon making had weathered the stone. There was also a mine which Chief Arnook told us went very deep into the ground, but it caved in several times and is now very dangerous.

Next to the Armory were the displays of the actual armor and weapons made here, as well as equipment from other nations.

There was a long hallway with many rooms, and the whole place was dedicated to different types of weapons. Each room had a different type. There was an axe room, which was incredible, then a hammer room, and after that a spear room. One room was just weapons that involved chains, like a mace, a spiked chain, a knife with a chain on it, and other things of that sort. There was also an archery room, which I loved and would revisit. Then, there was a wooden weapon room, which had things like clubs, non-air bender staffs and num-chucks. The second to last room was filled with daggers from every nation and even some from remote tribal people. Finally, at the very end was the room I wanted to see the most - the sword room. It had every type of sword and even some types I did not know. There were so many different makes of just one sword. For instance, a katana from the Earth Kingdom looked different from one from the Southern Water Tribe. Unfortunately, we didn’t stay long in the weapons rooms as we had spent too much time in the library and were behind schedule.

The last place we went to before Pakku’s performance was a continuation of the Armory, except it was not weapons, but armor. It was designed just like the weapons section, a long hallway with many rooms, each with a different type of armor. I saw a room filled with many beautiful helmets from the nations. Another had battle robes of the most extraordinary sort. There were also rooms for breastplates, shields, and even more.

We went back to the main floor of the palace, and the Chief led us to the back. I kept looking over my shoulder expecting to see the robed man, but he didn’t make an appearance since his performance in the library. I could only focus on one thing after the robed man - my water bending test. We walked out the back of the palace and saw a huge estate with ponds, waterfalls, and little buildings here and there, but what really commanded my attention was the raised rectangular platform. It looked like a place where big events once took place. Standing on it was my brother, Hiko, Master Sonam, and the rest of the Royal Court. Master Pakku was standing in the middle of the crowd with a smug smile on his face. My water bending test was about to begin.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10
The Waterbending Test

We all walked slowly up to them on the platform. It was a lot higher than it looked, perhaps twenty-five feet.

“Well, if you haven’t figured it out already Hyriu, not only will your water bending test be here and now in front of the Court as always, but also before Master Sonam, your friends, and your brother,” Pakku said.

“Yeah, I figured that out when Chief Arnook made the announcement at the Grand Hall,” I said to him as we got onto the platform.

“Good, you’re not completely unintelligent,” he said, and to my questioning look he added, “Your little incident with Taruk. I think that qualifies as unintelligent.”

I looked at Wei and Chief Arnook. By their expressions, he must have told them what had happened earlier.

“Wait a minute. Taruk?” Lamara said. “Isn’t he that aggravating, stupid little-”

“Yes!” I cut her off quickly. “Yes he is.”

“Is that why he was covered in scratches?” Koluk asked. I nodded. “Ha ha nice-” He was about to give me a high five when he glanced at the court. He cleared his throat. “Uh, I mean…you shouldn’t have done that, Hyriu,” he said questioningly and glanced at the Court to see if they bought it. Their stern, annoyed faces said they didn’t.

“Well, I say we get this over with as soon as possible,” Pakku said taking a stance.

“You mean, like, right now?” I asked my nerves unsettled.

“No, I mean two days from now,” he snapped.

I smiled. I liked Pakku’s constant sarcastic and aggravating comments.

“Well now, let’s stop for one second. I still have to formally start the test. We are gathered here today to witness the third-” Arnook began.

“And hopefully the last,” I heard Pakku mutter. I let that fuel my determination, but I kept the nervous look on my face.

“-water bending test of the Anzen, Hyriu Jingshen. Now let the test-begin!”

Pakku and I took a stance. I still had the worried look on my face. Seconds passed by.

“Well, it seems you did learn one thing in the past two years.
Never attack a worthy opponent immediately if you can help it,” Pakku said with a smile. “Or you’re just scared.”

“What makes you think you’re a worthy opponent?” I said to him slyly ,then continued my worried-face act.

We stood there for a second, and he launched a calculated stream of water at me.

I easily redirected the water to my left only to see Pakku had launched two more attacks, one at my feet, the other at my head.
I jumped and made myself parallel with the ground, so I dodged both attacks. When I landed on my feet, I whipped my hands forward lifting up a small wave and sent it to him. He stopped it and let it fall to the ground.

He shot a sphere of water at me; I spun around and shot it back at him. He launched it back at me, and I once again turned it back toward him. We kept shooting it back at each other until we had built up tremendous power and speed in the little sphere of water. Adding more water to the sphere, I launched it at him once again, barely able to control it. When it came back towards me, I knew I wouldn’t be able to turn it away, so I prepared to block it. I spread my feet apart and bent my knees a little. Everyone looked shocked and scared at what would happen next, even Pakku. As the water rushed toward me, I firmly positioned my left arm in a way that would block the water. Just as it looked like the water would hit my arm and most likely break it, I pulled my left arm back some and then shot it forward in a blocking motion. The ball of water exploded and sent drops of water in all directions from me. Pakku looked dumb founded, so I took advantage of his shock.

In a quick motion, I drew up a wall of ice and sent it hurtling towards him. It ripped up the ground as it moved. Pakku quickly recovered and waited for the wall to reach him. Then, he clapped his hands in front of him, and the wall collapsed into snow that flowed harmlessly around him.

I had a determined and confident expression now, and Pakku noticed the change, “Well now, that’s what I’m talking about. This should be a challenge finally. I think it is time to take it up a notch.”

He wasted no time doing just that. Right after he uttered the last word, he attacked. He sent three tendrils of water at me. One of the tendrils slid along the ground like a pytho-canda stalking its prey. The second snaked through the air searching for a victim to strangle. The last waved widely around like the tentacle of a crazed shark-squid, nearly crushing me in the process. I had to jump, run, duck, and even throw myself to the side to avoid the tendril.

The other one in the air kept getting closer and closer to snapping my arm. With those two to deal with the third was unnoticed in the back of my mind and somehow got a hold of my leg. I was holding the first and second at bay while it cleverly snuck up from behind me. It was already too late before I even noticed.
It wrapped around my right leg and pulled me toward Pakku while the other two followed behind. My hands searched for a hand hold but to no avail, so I made one of my own in the ice and grabbed it tightly. The other two tendrils still had to catch up to me and were racing to do so. The third still had a hold of my leg. I kicked around wildly trying to loosen its hold, but it only held on tighter. I kicked again, and this time, I used water bending to shake my leg free. With a thrust of my foot, I sent the tendril toward Pakku. That would distract him long enough for me to get my bearings before other two attacked.

I was still lying on the ground clutching my hand hold. I flipped forward and landed on my feet. Using their momentum to my advantage, I grabbed a hold of the water with my bending sense and thrust them past me and right at Pakku. He dodged them with an agility that someone his age wouldn’t normally have.

He then swirled up a large amount of water and launched it at me. I focused on the water , and when it got close to me, I flipped my left hand up, rising the temperature in the water until it turned to steam in the air. I then lifted up a rectangular piece of ice and shot it to him. He dodged it again with amazing acrobatics. He then in return lifted up several blocks of ice and sent them to me at different speeds and at different times. I used my own acrobatics to dodge some of them. The others I melted and then evaporated, but some still nicked me here and there. Then, he swirled around a cloud of snow and shot it toward me. I moved my hands in a circular motion and swirled the blizzard into oblivion.

“Well it seems you have gotten better,” Pakku said. “Lets see just how skillful-”

I didn’t wait for him to finish his sentence; I shot a stream of water at him catching him off guard. It hit him and knocked him to the ground. Everyone gasped, even me. I had not expected my attack to actually hit him. It was just supposed to be a distraction, so I could shoot another attack at him. The water I was about to throw at him fell to the ground as I stood there in shock.

He got up very angrily. “Well someone is impatient!”

“What can I say,” I said smugly, “I-” I stopped mid-sentence in fear of what I saw.

Pakku had lifted up a tsunami of water and launched it toward me. My mind went black at what to do, and the wave crashed onto me. I was completely submerged; my feet were no longer on the ground. I flailed around wildly in the water panicking. I steadied myself and focused. I started to spin around pulling the water with me. I then shot skyward and broke the surface of the water, shooting to the sky in a humongous waterspout. I stopped rising and looked down at Pakku. I had gathered all the water he had launched at me, and I used it in my water pillar move. I smiled knowing what to do next. I dove down, bringing the water with me. I landed on the ground and used my momentum to launch all the water at Pakku. He swirled the water around him and sent it back to me. I separated the water into two large spheres on either side of me. I swirled them together and made a wave which I rode right at Pakku. He froze, and I slid on the ice toward him, gathering water around my fist. I aimed a punch at his face. He dodged it, grabbed my arm, and threw me to the ground.

I got up and kicked some water at him, and he dodged using more acrobatics. He sent ice daggers at me, and I dodged using my acrobatics again. The fight began to escalate in that way. Both of us trying to out-do the other. Eventually, it got to the point where we were both using the most complex and skillful moves we knew. I even improvised a few.

I spared a look at our audience, and they were completely awestruck, even Wei who had private lessons with me to advance my water bending. Lina had never seen me water bend outside of practice where I pretended to suck, so she was very shocked.

The wind had really picked up and there were dark clouds overhead. Suddenly, there was a flash of light, and it seemed the sky had shattered, and between the pieces, a great light shone through. The cracks resealed themselves as quickly as they had appeared. Immediately afterward, there was a thundering boom that shook the ground.

Members of the court cried out in shock. I, too, was caught off guard. I had heard of thunder storms, but never this far north. I had never experienced a thunderstorm before, nor, I think, had anyone else here. As far as I knew there had never been any thunderstorms in the Northern Water Tribe.

Pakku saw his chance and took it. He knocked me off my feet with a decisive water whip. He then launched a large wave at me. A brilliant idea occurred to me. As the wave drew near, I took control of it and spun around slowly, bringing the wave with me. I went in a complete circle and then had the wave hit Pakku and suspend him over the twenty-five foot drop off the platform. I then froze the water but kept his head, hands, and feet out of the ice in a very awkward position, so he wouldn’t be able to angle around and melt the ice. Even it he managed it, the twenty-five foot drop was not enough room for him to stop his fall, so he would hit the ground, hard. I had won.

Pakku sat there calculating his options. I could tell by the look on his face that he had come to the same conclusion.

“I submit,” he said quietly, and I melted the ice and moved him to the ground. The Court stood there in shock.

Chief Arnook got over his shock first and said, “Uh, um, well uh…that’s it then. I, Chief Arnook of the Northern Water Tribe, declare this test over. Hyriu Jingshen, son of Hirook Jingshen and Koriu Tsuyoi, brother to Hiko Jingshen, raised and taught by Wei Buluo, I grant you the rank of Master. You now have the right to be in the Hydronia and Royal Court if chosen, and you have a say in our politics.”

I smiled, and my friends ran over to me.

“That was incredible!” Koluk exclaimed.

“I must admit, when Koluk said you were a fantastic water bender, I was a bit skeptical, but I have never seen anything quite like that,” Lina said.

“Eh, I always knew you were that good, Hyriu,” Lamara stated, and we all laughed.

Princess Yue came over to me. “Hyriu, I have never seen anyone with the water bending skills you have in all my life.”

“Thank you, Princess Yue,” I said and bowed respectfully.

“Hyriu,” Wei said as he came over to me with a speechless Hiko,
“You put on quite a show, and I am so proud of you.”

I blushed, a little embarrassed, but glad.

“Well, it took you long enough,” Pakku said, “a few years in fact, but I have to say you are very talented.”

There was another flash of lightning and a deafening boom.

“Why don’t we continue this celebration inside,” Arnook suggested, glancing at the sky nervously.

We all walked inside with everyone telling me how amazed they were.

Chapter Text

Chapter 11
Night at the Gambing Palace

Thunder boomed outside as we walked through the halls of the Gambing Palace.

“Well, children,” Chief Arnook said, “now that the ‘performance’ is over, you may explore the palace at will. Though, I recommend that you at least stay in pairs. We do not want anyone getting lost, especially you, Hyriu.” The Chief took me off to the side with Wei. “Now Hyriu, have you had any more visions since the library?”

“No. None,” I replied.

“I expect you will get one soon. It seems that you get one every few hours, and you will be due for another before dinner. I ask that you do not leave the sight of at least two other people, no matter what. Do you understand?” he said very seriously. I nodded.

“Well, after that piece of sunshine,” Wei began with a smile,” You have passed your test; you should be celebrating with your friends, going where you please. However, heed Chief Arnook’s words for he speaks the truth. Something is going on that we do not understand. You pass your test, these visions, and someone over hearing Pakku call you ‘Anzen’. These cannot be coincidences, and I think in the coming weeks we will not gain answers, but instead, more questions.”

“Do you think it could be because the Darkness is coming? Maybe that’s what is causing all of this. Maybe it will be here soon,” I said in a scared voice.

“No, I do not think that it is the Darkness,” Wei said reassuringly.

“How do you know?” I asked.

“I don’t,” he replied gravely. “But I would think the Avatar would return before the Darkness gets here, and he hasn’t been heard of for almost a hundred years. When the Avatar returns, we should worry. But enough of this dreary talk. Go celebrate, have fun with your friends, and please, take Hiko with you.”

“Alright,” I said, forcing a smile.

My friends and I split off from all of the adults with Hiko trailing after us. We discussed my test and the water bending forms I had used. Then, we decided which places we would each be revisiting and exploring.

“I really would like to see the Meditation Room. Hyriu, I’m sure you would like to go there with me. What about you guys?” Lamara asked.

“I don’t know. I kind of wanted to go back to the library,” I told her.

“Oh come on,” she grinned. “Hiko will go. Won’t you, Hiko?” He blushed and nodded shyly, “See, and how about you Koluk?”

“I’ll go,” he said, seeing what she was up to.

“You wouldn’t leave your brother and best friend, now would you? And Lina will go, right?” she asked eagerly.

“Of course I will go. I love learning about the Air Nomad culture. Hyriu talks about it a lot during trai- after school,” Lina finished quickly. She was about to say during our training lessons, but no one else was supposed to know about them.

“Now you really can’t say no,” Lamara said. They all looked at me expectantly. "Chief Arnook and Wei said to celebrate with your friends, and if you go to the library now, you will probably get distracted and lose track of time. Then, before you know it, it will be time to leave.”

“Well, I can’t argue with that,” I said finally with a smile.

We did our best to find our way back, but we did get lost and found very interesting parts of the palace along the way. A courtyard that was full of statues and a walkway that went over a large chasm with a waterfall pouring into it were a few of our discoveries during our escapades. Finally, we found the main hallway and followed it until we saw the passage way that lead to the Meditation Room. We followed the blue and purple patterns beneath our feet until we reached the end where there was a circular room with a spiral staircase that reached at least five stories.

“Meditation Room?” Koluk scoffed. “More like ‘Meditation Tower’.”

A thought entered my mind, and I glanced at Lamara who was looking at me.

“Race you to the top?” she challenged.

“Go!” I shouted.

She used an air cycle technique and propelled herself upward. I began using my acrobatics helped by my air bending so I could make impossible jumps and flips. It felt great to be myself and not have to hide anything. Occasionally, I shot blasts of air to Lamara to knock her off balance, and she countered my attacks. Our friends were left struggling up the stairs being buffeted by gusts of wind.

Lamara was just about to beat me when I shot a blast of air pinning her to the tower wall. I leaped up past her and landed in the top room. A second later, Lamara jumped up and with a flip of her hand, she sent a gust of wind knocking me to my butt. We both laughed until we couldn’t breathe. The others finally joined us as we recovered.

“So who won?” Koluk asked.

I stood up to answer him, but Lamara knocked me back to the floor with an over exaggerated angry expression.

“Well I guess that answers my question,” Koluk stated, plainly on the verge of laughter.

“Whoa, come and look at this view,” said an amazed Lina.

We walked to one of the many open space windows around the circular room. We were in the second tallest tower in the palace. The tallest tower was the one at the peak of the domed library. Dark clouds had taken over the sky. The sun had sunk beneath the clouds and gave off a red-orange radiance that faded to dark blue and black across the sky. It was beautiful to look at. The mountains to the south were a dark blue on one side and a light orange on the other. The sun reflected in the water with wonderful colors. I looked around the room, and there were fountains all around it. However, they were not complex designs or carvings; they were very simple with just small pebbles and stones with some water quietly running through them. They were all right up against the walls with a small stream connecting each one to another. When we were quiet, you could hear a faint trickling that was some how very calming. I sat down in the middle of the floor in a meditating position. Everyone else followed suit. Even though only Lamara and I had actually meditated before, they all seemed to know what to do. I closed my eyes and cleared my mind. I concentrated on my breathing, trying to forget everything else, only, I couldn’t. My mind kept drifting back to the robed man.

Suddenly, I felt like I was falling. I opened my eyes and fell backwards from my sitting position. I looked around and saw the robed man standing by a window. I quickly took a fighting stance and lifted up some water. I waited for my friends to react to the noise of me falling and then jumping up. Surely they heard that since it was so quiet here, but they didn’t even flinch.

The man turned, red eyes flashing, “Oh that won’t be necessary.” He spoke in a different tone than when he talked in the Hall. He sounded calm but still intimidating. I could just barely hear the edge of his voice that caused me so much fear. It was lurking in the depths of his calmness, brushing the surface here and there. “You wouldn’t be able to do much to me with that water anyway. Go ahead, try and hit me with it.”

I shot the water at his head, but it passed through him as if he was made of smoke. I looked at my friends who still seemed to be meditating.

“They can’t hear us, or even feel us for that matter. I’ve placed us in an alternate reality, so to speak. The real idea is much to complex for…your people to comprehend,” he said. The way he used "your people" to represent the human race gave me chills.
I just stared at him with a blank expression.

“Come look,” he said. I reluctantly joined him at the widow. “Isn’t it beautiful?”

He was speaking in a very different way, almost friendly- almost.

“Ah, this is truly a fantastic view. The sunset makes your city look as if it is made of diamonds and gems, not snow and ice. It would be a shame if destruction befell it,” he said, and the sun started to fade, and his voice became more and more scary and menacing with every word he said. “But as is its destiny, the sunset, and everything else, even the light, must yield to the Darkness.”

When he finished, his voice was just as menacing and intimidating as it was in the Grand Hall. The sunset faded just as he said "Darkness,” and the dark storm clouds took control of the sky with an evil red glow lingering from the hidden sun.

“See,” he said turning to me, “even the most wondrous things fade into Darkness. It is a part of nature. Even the day yields to the night.”

I worked up some courage finally to say something to him. “How do you know that the night doesn’t yield to the day?”

He laughed his cold laugh. “So finally the great and powerful Anzen speaks, and it is a rebellious remark towards me. How fitting,” he said in a very mocking way as if ‘Anzen’ was a word made up by a child wearing a costume. “Well boy, what comes first, night or day?”

“Um, I guess day,” I said weakly.

“Yes, day comes before night, so how could the night yield to the day if the day comes first? It cannot. The day yields to the night. While it is dark in the early morning of the day, that does not make it night. But then that also shows that the day begins and ends in Darkness.”

“Who are you?” I asked, unable to think of anything else to say.

He laughed again, and the room dropped in temperature.

“Have not guessed by now, or are you just too afraid to think of the answer? Well, either way, you will find out soon enough. I am here for one reason only, and that is to give you a warning.”

“A warning?” I asked fear obvious in my voice.

“Yes. The first of three,” he said menacingly. “You have the potential to be a problem and a nuisance to me. You would only be a thorn bush blocking my path, but if you try to block my path, I will remove you and cause much sorrow and regret. You remember the visions of your friends being tortured? That was just a taste of what I can unleash. So here is my warning.” He turned his whole body toward me, and I backed up a few steps. “If you stay on this path, if you try to discover your true potential, if you try to stand against me, I promise you and your world will suffer, and your people will die. I warn you, if you stand in my way, I will knock you to the ground so hard, not even in your most rebellious dreams would you even attempt to get up. If you stray from you path however, and you do not master the other elements, and you will not stand against me, I will leave you in peace. But if you ever show even the slightest act of rebellion, I will not hesitate to let your world burn and have all your loved ones just out of your reach, so all you can do is watch.”

The tone of his voice told me he really would do all of those things. Part of me wanted to go hide in a corner and never leave, but something didn’t match up. He said all these things but back in the library. I openly attacked him, and he just ran off. In his threat, he made it sound like I have yet to decide, as if I hadn’t attacked him in the library.

“If you’re so powerful, then why did you run from me in the library?” I asked fearfully.

He laughed mockingly, “Now why would I run or hide from you? The only reason I even gave you any attention is because I saw that you might be a problem. So I watched you, but didn’t see any potential threat, yet I watched. Even now, you are hardly an opponent worthy of my full attention. But still, I watch you and see if you could become anything I might need to remove. I never leave anything to chance. Even if I was told a peasant boy might rise against me, I would wipe him out. You should count yourself lucky that I am still letting you live. The only thing keeping you alive right now is your potential. And now, today, I see you could be a worthy servant of mine. It is not every day that a boy becomes the best water bender in history. Oh, and just so you know, no matter how hard you train, no matter how fast you master the other elements, it will not be enough. There is nothing you can do to prepare yourself for my arrival. Sure, you could be a fierce warrior in ten years, but you don’t have ten years. Your deadline to prepare is only months away. Less than six months to be precise. So think. Can you actually become the safety net in 6 months? I am sure you would almost be ready if you abandon everything and train every hour of every day, but still you wouldn’t be ready. When it comes down to it, almost killing me is nothing. If you fire an arrow, and it almost strikes my heart, my heart will still be unharmed. I would still be alive and very much a danger to you. Almost is never good enough when dealing with me.”

The news struck me hard; he wasn’t the person I had seen following me or the person I saw in the library. Also, I was surprised by how much he knew. His knowledge seemed infinite.

“Well, I have given you my warning; I will leave you now to think. You had better make the correct choice. If you take another large step of progress like the one you did today, you will receive your second warning. You will not have any visions of me like the ones you had today until your second warning. You may see me here and there keeping an eye on you, but that is it. Now, as a demonstration of power, I will unleash this storm upon your city. No one will be killed, not yet. This is to show you exactly what you are up against,” he disappeared in a bright flash.

Even though my vision had ended I was still standing at the window. ‘I must have walked here during my vision,’ I thought. The bright flash was a bolt of lightning, but instead of streaking across the sky, the crack spread downward and connected with a distant watchtower that was in the foothills of the Bei Shui Mountains. A crackling boom followed an instant later and the tower exploded. My friends jumped out of their sitting positions and joined me at the window, and we watched in shock and horror as the tower collapsed. Just then, a strong gust of wind struck the tower we were in and nearly threw me to the floor.

The only place I felt the wind currents this strong was in the mountains surrounding the Shui Air Temple. However, even those were not nearly as powerful as this unless you climbed to the mountains’ peaks.

“Oh…” I heard Lina say. I looked and saw she was sitting on the floor looking sick. “Is…is the tower swaying to anyone else?”

“Maybe we should go back down,” suggested Lamara as another strong gust of wind hit us.

We quickly went down the stairs as more thunder echoed around us.

A voice echoed in my head, “The red-eyed man did not lie. He will see those threats through to the end if he can.” I recognized it as the same voice I had heard in History class after my first vision- the deep strong voice of a woman.

“Who are you?” I asked in my head.

“I am someone watching over you, guiding you, and helping you when you need it most,” she said.

“Okay, but who are you? Are you one of the spirits in me?” I asked her.

After a slight pause, she said in an amused way, “Yes,” but she said no more. No matter how loud I screamed in my head, she remained silent.

We reached the bottom of the stairs and stopped to catch our breath.

“That was so cool how we all started meditating at the same time,” said Hiko with a grin.

“It was pretty cool,” Koluk said, “but while I was sitting there, I got this weird feeling. I felt a sense of dread, cold, and I felt more scared than I have ever felt before. It went away when the lightning struck that watch tower.”

Everyone agreed with him and said they had felt the same. I sat quietly to myself not speaking, thinking about what just happened and what I learned.

“Hyriu,” Lina turned to me, “did you feel it too?” I shook my head. “Then what did you feel? You look…unnerved.”

When I didn’t respond Koluk asked, “Did you have another vision?”

I gave a curt not.

“What do you mean vision?” Hiko asked nervously.

“Oh Hiko it’s- it’s nothing really. You wouldn’t understand,” Lamara said and went over to him.

“You don’t know that. I’m not that young!” he said angered.

“Hiko,” I said calmly, “I have just been having some visions of- bad things, like bad dreams. That’s all.”

I went to stand up but winced as I felt a familiar surge of pain from my right leg and I sat back down.

“Hyriu!” Lina cried out. “Are you hurt? What happened?”

“Nothing,” I managed to say between gritted teeth. “My right leg just hurts from time to time and during our fight, Pakku grabbed it with some water which messed it up a bit.”

“Why does your leg hurt sometimes?” Lamara asked concerned.

“They don’t know?” Hiko said, confused.

“Koluk does, but they don’t,” I said motioning to the girls.

“What don’t we know?” Lamara asked.

“Well, in the attack that killed our parents,” I started, “You know that Hiko’s right arm got injured and is now scarred and weaker than his left?” They nodded. “It is the same for my right leg.” I pulled up my right pant leg to reveal the pink and white scar. “It starts at the top of my thigh and stretches all the way to my ankle.”

Lina and Lamara gasped at the sight.

“Well, I say we move on,” I said recovering my leg. “Now I’m going to the library.”

“Oh, come on. Not this again,” Lamara said. “Let’s go check out some other places first.”

“Fine,” I said annoyed.

We went to the Tea House and met some of the Court members there. Their names were Dansei, Bai, and Shiro. Dansei was a skilled warrior, Bai was a healer, and Shiro was a master water bender. We had a quick snack with them and talked for a bit. By the time we were about to leave, it was time for the banquet. We walked to the Banquet Hall with them and continued our conversation. The Banquet Hall was a beautiful place with many lanterns over a large table in the center of the room. They gave off a yellow light that lit the table well but the distant walls and ceiling were in a deep dark blue that was not menacing or dark and ominous, but calming. It reminded me of being deep under water on a bright summer day where the ocean was calm, soothing and cool.

The chairs at the table were all different from one another. They each were carved to look like a different animal. There were so many seats that we could only fill in the middle of the table. The food was fantastic. There were Water Tribe delicacies as well as other exotic foods from the gardens and fields that the Air Nomads grew in Heiwa Valley, as is the name of the valley behind the Shui Air Temple. There were all kinds of fruits and vegetables I had never seen before. I had apples, peaches, pineapples, and many more fruits like that. Though, the fruit that commanded my taste buds the most was the mango. It was absolutely delicious and one of my favorite foods. The drinks were fantastic as well. Chief Arnook had us all take a sip of our drinks, which turned out to be just pure water. Then he told us to take a piece of dried seaweed that was next to our chop sticks and had us crush it up in our hand and put the powder in our water and stir it. I stirred mine with water bending, I enjoyed using my abilities to do everyday tasks, not out of laziness but because it just fascinated me. After we had stirred our drink, Arnook told us to take a sip. What used to be pure water now had a fruity taste to it that made your taste buds dance in happiness. It also had a pleasant smell which Lamara said was similar to black raspberry and vanilla. He told us that the seaweed was found at the bottom of the Bei River and also had subtle healing abilities. I realized he was right. I no longer felt tired or stressed. I just felt good. Arnook said that, if boiled, this water could also heal small cuts and bruises, but if a healer used it then they could heal injuries that would normally be impossible. It also could heal colds and sea-sickness.

We discussed the palace, the storm, my test, and other less important matters.

“Hyriu,” Arnook said, “now that you are a master water bender, your water bending training will take a step back as it is no longer your priority. You will still practice it to keep up your skill level, but the other elements need more attention. Air bending will now be your top focus.” He motioned to Master Sonam. “You will start your intense air bending training in two weeks time after the celebration, which, by the way, is in your honor.”

I choked on my fruity beverage. ”Oh, I had forgotten about the celebration. So how is it going to be in my honor if I’m just a normal person to most of Hydronia?”

“Well, at this celebration, I will talk about the war and how the Avatar has not returned and then talk about the Legend of Beifen. At the end of my speech, I will say that the Anzen is finally here and you will come out on stage and perform some of your bending skills, but you’re face will be covered until the end of your performance. Then, I will announce your identity as you remove the mask.”

I was shocked that he would want to reveal who I am to everyone. “Wouldn’t you want to wait until I have mastered all four elements?” Then, I realized that the robed man would be here before that happened.

“No. I have given it a lot of thought, and the people are losing hope and need someone to look to,” he said.

“Well alright,” I said, still unsure.

“Oh, and we will have to inform Masters Zohar and Lee of your success,” he said, calling one of his servants and having him take a note so he would remember to send letters later, “I am sure they will be very happy to learn this because soon you will have to spend more time with them. And I am sure Moji, Zaria, and Shan will also be glad.”

Master Zohar was my fire bending teacher, his daughter was Zaria who was a non-bender, and Moji was who I learned fire bending with. Master Lee was my earth bending teacher, and my friend Shan learned earth bending with me. We talked a bit more about them and how my training was going so far, until we drifted to the topic of my birthday.

“You know Hyriu,” Arnook started to say but stopped to take a drink of light wine he had brought out for the adults, “ your 14th birthday is coming up.” I nodded. “I will expect to see you in the Warrior Games since you will be old enough to participate. The same goes for you Koluk.” Koluk looked surprised that the Chief had addressed him directly but dipped his head in acknowledgement. “I have heard many stories of what a capable warrior your are, even Hyriu has said you can put up a good fight.”
Koluk glanced at me and chuckled, “I think the stories might have been exaggerated.”

“He’s being modest,” Wei said. “He can take on Instructor Chen and win within a few minutes. I have seen it myself.”
“Then it will be most entertaining to watch you fight in the Warrior Games,” Chief Arnook chuckled. “Oh, and remember children, you can take two items of your choice out of the palace with you to keep.”

We continued talking for a long time enjoying the food and just having small talk. After we had eaten our fill, Master Sonam asked that Lamara and I accompany him to the Air Nomad Wing of the palace. I agreed and my friends came along as well.

On our way there, I asked him, “Master, how did you, Lamara, and Hiko get into the palace unnoticed?”

He chuckled and answered in his deep wise voice. “Well ,Hyriu, there is a hidden passage into the estate area of the palace, where you had your test.”

“A secret passage?” I asked.

“Yes,” he answered. “It leads from the Heiwa Valley through the mountains. That is how we got here unnoticed.”

When we got to the Air Nomad section, he asked me many questions, testing my knowledge and explaining certain paintings or objects I wasn’t familiar with. We found a Pai Sho table in the center of one room and held a little championship. Hiko didn’t even know the rules, so Lamara taught him. Then, when they played a game, she made it look like he almost beat her. Lina and Koluk knew the basics, but Koluk was the better of the two, and he went on to play me. I won that round, so Lamara and I played each other. She beat me but with some difficulty. Master Sonam was the best Pai Sho player I have ever seen. He was so good that whenever he played one of us, he just messed with us and drove us crazy. I noticed that he used a very unique and rare strategy involving the White Lotus piece. It seemed to be his specialty. He could manipulate every move Lamara made by setting traps for her all over the table. At some points, no matter what moved she did, she would fall victim to one of his traps. After he had had his fun, he quickly finished the game with a hearty laugh.

He then tested me on my glider knowledge and asked which one I would prefer. I told him the Southern Style was my favorite. He asked me to explain, and I told him I thought it was the most aerodynamic and easiest to maneuver. I then added that I also liked the way it looked. He looked displeased with that comment. He and Lamara then exchanged a look and we moved on.

Eventually, we left him, and I begged my friends to go to the library for the third time. They obliged, and Lina said she would accompany me. When we got there, I told her I was going to the master water bender section.

I walked along the pool at the bottom floor. I looked into its depths and remembered seeing a person down there, and that person was not the man from my visions. I walked into the center of the pool, freezing a path before my feet. I could see Lina watching me out of the corner of my eye. I spread my hands, and an opening appeared in the falling water. I walked toward it, continuing my ice path. I looked back at Lina as I walked through the opening, and I lowered my hands, obliterating the opening I had created. I was faced with a dark hallway; I walked toward the other end, my footsteps echoing. I reached a sheet of ice that acted like a door. I could barely see through it, but I could tell that there were people on the other side. I was scared for a second, then I realized I couldn’t be the only person wanting to come here. I melted the ice and saw Wei talking with two court members. “Ah Hyriu, I was wondering if you would come here. This is Wanqu and Menba,” Wei said with a warm smile.

I greeted them.

“Actually, we were just about to leave, though I don’t like you here alone,” he said concern in his eyes.

“Don’t worry, I’ll be fine for today,” I said looking down.

He stepped close to me. “But what if you have another vision?” he pleaded.

“I won’t have any more for awhile…” I trailed off.

“Did you have another vision?” he asked quietly.

I nodded. “I’ll tell you about it later, I am still…figuring it out,” I told him.

“Well okay then,” he said. “Are you sure you’re alright? You look…shaken.”

“Yes,” I smiled. “I’m okay, really. I can take care of myself if I need to.”

He chuckled, “I am well aware of that. Remember to choose your items soon; I would like to see them before we leave.”

He then walked out with Wanqu and Menba and refroze the ice. I walked around; this section was circular with a waterfall falling from the center of the ceiling. There were four floors and each had so many books and scrolls on water bending. I walked into the back shelves and read so many things. I found out that there was a very advanced form of steam bending that is similar to air bending. I studied the technique and saw it was very complicated and works best in foggy and humid weather. I continued looking around and saw so many fantastic forms and techniques.

I was browsing some statues that demonstrated some water bending forms when I heard a crash that sounded like ice breaking. I was on the third floor and air bended down the stairs in seconds. I ran to the entrance and saw someone had half melted the ice then just smashed his way through. I heard foot steps behind me, and I turned and saw a cloaked person running out from behind a statue. I recognized it as the person who has been following me. I leaped, air bending enhanced, and grabbed hold of his cloak. He tried to continue running and with a fierce tug, his cloak ripped, and he ran off, leaving me with only a piece of his cloak. I breathed a sigh of relief, this person wasn’t powerful at all. He couldn’t melt the ice all the way and when given the chance to attack me, he just ran off.

I looked at the piece of cloth in my hand; I noticed that it was a dark navy blue, not black.

* * *

Lina and I walked out of the library. She was telling me how she had found a secret passageway that led to the tower that topped the library’s domed roof. I was only half listening as I was debating in my head on whether or not to tell her about what had happened in the master water bender section. We rounded a corner and ran into the rest of our friends.

“Oh hey. We were on our way to get you,” Koluk said. “I thought you two would want to join us on our way to the Armory.”

“Oh, okay. Yeah. Cool. Thanks,” I said, caught off guard as my internal debate was interrupted.

“Have any of you chosen your two items to take yet?” Lina asked.

“Yes, I have both of mine,” Lamara said.

She pulled out a royal blue ribbon that looked like a hair accessory, but it was nearly three feet long. The other thing she held looked like a miniature staff.

“What is that?” I asked pointing to the staff.

“It’s a sort of grappling hook, but it has some unique qualities only an air bender can use,” she wouldn’t say any more than that.
We got to the Armory and started exploring all the different rooms. The rest of the Royal Court came there and said we only had an hour left in the palace. I made my way to the Sword Room as I really wanted a sword.

I entered, and there were swords everywhere- in racks on the walls, on stands and tables. It was fantastic.

“Chief?” I called out.

“Yes?” He answered and came to the doorway.

“Could you tell me when we have half an hour left if I am still in this room?” I asked politely.

“Of course Hyriu,” he said warmly.

Koluk joined me in the sword room, and we browsed around quickly. I picked up an elegant rapier from a shelf; it looked of Earth Kingdom make. I tested its weight, tossed it from hand to hand, and decided it was not the sword for me. It felt like I was holding a piece of straw from the air benders' crops. I then picked up a large broadsword from the Fire Nation; however,- I immediately set it back down. It was too unbalanced in my hand. I tried a Water Tribe katana. I liked it, but* I preferred a double-edged sword.

I began to feel hopeless when I saw a double-edged short sword from the Water Tribe with a beautiful sheath. I walked over to it and examined it. The sheath was decorated with all kinds of wave patterns and swirling water. It had a hand and a half handle, meaning that it can be used to fight with only one hand but the pommel was made in a way where you could hold the sword with both hands if needed, the grip was made of brown leather. I unsheathed it and revealed the blade which was two and a half, maybe three feet long. On the blade was etched a delicate design. There was a large wave rising to its crest. There was an inscription on it as well. I angled the sword so I could see it clearly. Is said, ‘Victory is worth any sacrifice, except your honor’. I pondered the words thoughtfully. Finally, I decided that this was the sword for me. I was still holding it when I head Koluk gasp then start laughing immediately afterwards.

“What is it?” I asked, still holding the sword.

“I forgot you were left-handed, so when I looked over and saw you holding the sword in your left hand, I was so shocked for a second before realizing my mistake,” he said still laughing.

“Oh right. I don’t even think about it most of the time,” I said as I sheathed the sword.

In the Water Tribe, holding a sword in your left hand is a great insult to whoever you are facing. Whether it is a friendly spar or a duel to the death, it is highly offensive to draw your sword with your left hand. Since most people are right-handed, they fight with their sword in their right hand since it is their dominant hand. If you face your opponent with you left hand holding your sword, you are suggesting that the other person’s skills are so inferior that you can beat them with your non-dominant hand. Some families only train their sons to fight left-handedly so as to give off the impression that they are very skilled swordsmen, and no one is worthy of their true fighting abilities. After it was found out that some families did that, there was a law against training anyone who was right-handed with their left hand. The only way a person could fight left handedly was after he draws his sword he must bow and say, ‘No disrespect indented.’ I had trained with both hands, but since I was left-handed it was my better hand.

I left Koluk in the room and moved to the armor section one floor below. I glanced in the rooms stopping only if something caught my eye. I went into the room with all the robes and saw Lina there.

“Hey Lina,” I said.

“Oh, hello, Hyriu. That is a beautiful sword!” she exclaimed.

I grinned and held it up so she could get a better look. I then examined the robes hoping to find one to my liking.

“Oh, Hyriu, look at this one. The greens and gold go together wonderfully,” Lina said.

I looked at the outfit she was talking about; it was a type of dress but for battle. It was green with dark grey or black silk along with a black chest plate made out of a material I was not familiar with, perhaps leather. There was also a gold insignia and gold streaks along the arms. I suddenly recognized it from a painting.

“This is the clothing the Kyoshi Warriors wear,” I said. “They also wear face paint.”

“The ‘Kyoshi Warriors.’ Who are they?” Lina said, puzzled.

“They are a group of female warriors,” I started to say.

“Really? Where are they? Where do they live?” Lina asked excited.

“They live on Kyoshi Island,” I said, and I was cut off again by an excited Lina.

“Kyoshi Island. Where is that?” she asked.

“It’s a small island in the Southern Isles which also has the Patola Mountains and the Southern Air Temple. It’s pretty much on the other side of the world,” I told her.

“Oh,” she said, clearly disappointed. “You know, that name, ‘Kyoshi’ sounds familiar…”

“It’s the name of the latest Earth Avatar. She was the Avatar before Avatar Roku. The look of the Kyoshi Warriors was inspired by her clothing and face paint,” I explained.

“Well, she must have been a great and inspiring woman to have so may things named after her,” Lina said dreamily.

“She also formed the Dai Lee, a sort of law enforcement in Ba Sing Se. Though a lot of people have a ‘different’ view of her. People think she was too abrasive and forward, and over the years, she has been exaggerated into being called blood-thirsty,” I said.

“Oh, wow,” Lina said shocked. “How do you know so much about her? I have never heard of any of this.”

“You know, I’m not sure,” I said. “I just kind of know. Maybe it’s because she was an Avatar, and part of the Avatar Spirit is in me.”

“Can you tell me more about these warriors?” Lina asked with a smile.

“Well, their fighting style is very unique; it’s like water bending for non-benders. They use their opponents force against them. Their weapons of choice are two metal fans and a katana,” I told her.

“Wow, I wish I could learn from them,” she said, then quickly looked at the door to be sure no one heard her.

“Actually, now that you mention it, I remember seeing a scroll in the library that was all about their fighting techniques,” I recalled.

I gave her directions to the scroll, and she rushed off to the library, leaving me alone. I looked around and spotted a robe that was dark blue and accented with dark grey. I saw it matched my sword very well. I walked over to it and studied it closer. I really liked it and judging from its size it was made for a teenager. I carefully set down my sword and help up the robe to me. It looked like it would fit very well and could be adjusted, so I could wear it in the years to come. I folded it up neatly and set my sword on top of it to make it easier to carry.

I walked out and nearly ran into Chief Arnook.

“Oh Hyriu,” he said. “I was just about to get you. We are getting ready to leave, but no one knows where Lina went.”

“Oh, she went to the library,” I explained. “She should be back soon.”

“Well, I guess we will just have to wait for her,” he said then he glanced at what I was carrying. “Are those the items you chose?”

“Yes,” I answered looking up at him.

“Very interesting that you should choose these,” he said. “Do you know their history?” I shook my head. “Well, back when this palace was being built in the Chief Darming’s time, there was a war going on between the Fire Nation and the Northern Earth Kingdom. The Water Tribe got caught in between, and the Fire Nation sent an attack to Hydronia. Darming was killed in the attack, and his son, Gambing, killed the Fire Nation general who ordered his father’s death with the sword you are holding. The robe you hold was what he was wearing at the time, and later, he wore to every battle he fought in. After his father’s death, Gambing became Chief at 15. The palace was finished under his rule, and it was named the Grand Palace. After Gambing died though, it was renamed the Gambing Palace, and his sword was called the ‘Gambing Blade’.”

He left me to ponder the piece of history, and Wei came over and looked at the sword and robe. I saw that Koluk had chosen a short sword also and a dagger made out of a whale’s tooth. After about 10 minutes, Lina came back, a large scroll in one hand and two black metal fans in the other. I saw a hint of disapproval in Chief Arnook’s eyes as he saw the fans and scroll. Then, we walked out of the front door of the Gambing Palace and into the storm that raged on around the city.

Chapter Text

Chapter 12
Demonstration of Power

We rushed across the Fountain Yard. The wind was blowing up clouds of mist and spraying water in our faces. Master Sonam, Lamara, and I used our bending to help block the storm. When we got to the gates in the wall, Chief Arnook had to shout at the top of his lungs to be heard over the wind, so the guards could open the doors.

Outside the walls, the Plaza Square was deserted. I looked around and saw a black speck on the mountainside. By the look of it, the speck had come from the palace and was now going into the city. We continued to fight the storm as Chief Arnook bid us good night, and he and the Court went back into the palace, as they were staying there.

I said goodbye to everyone and headed toward my house with Hiko and Wei. I let Hiko hold my items, so I could move freely in my bending moves. Master Sonam took Koluk to his house, and Lamara took Lina. There were people here and there rushing to their homes. There was a flash of lightning, and a building in front of us started to collapse. A couple in the street cried out as the rubble threatened to hit them. Wei and I used water bending to shield the people. Their thank yous were lost in the wind. After we discovered no one was in the building, we continued on. Wei went to his separate house, and Hiko and I headed home.

When we got to our house, a flash of lightning revealed a person down the street struggling against the wind.

“Hiko!” I cried out over the wind. “Go in the house. I’m going to help him out.” I pointed to the person.

He nodded and ran to the house. The wind threw me all over the place. I could almost hear the robed man laughing as I struggled to walk. I saw the person get slammed into a wall and collapse. If this was a demonstration of power from the robed man, then I was going to show that I have power to. Besides, the person might be injured and need help. I looked to make sure no one else was nearby. I closed my eyes and concentrated. I entered Stage One, and my irises began to glow. I knew they would be beacons of light in this storm, but it was worth the risk. I then moved my hands in a very slow and complex circular motion. I made a safe bubble around myself and started to walk to the fallen person. It wasn’t far to walk, but I had to walk slowly to make sure I kept up my air bending technique. When I got to the person, I kneeled down to see who it was. It was Hana. She was still wearing her large dark blue coat, which seemed to be ruined by the storm. She didn’t look hurt, but she was dazed. I helped her to her feet and put my right arm around her to hold her steady as we walked. I kept up the air bubble with my left hand.

“Hyriu?” she mumbled. I glanced at her. “Is that you? Your…your eyes look weird.”

I looked forward again, and I could see lights of nearby houses. As I got closer to her house, I could see the windows illuminated, and there was a voice calling out, “Hana!” I stopped my air bending and came out of Stage One, and I had to carry her to her house the rest of the way. In the doorway of the house, I could see the silhouette of a figure.

“Hana?” the woman called. “Is that you? Oh, it is! It is! Honey?” she yelled into the house. “Honey, it’s Hana. She’s back.”

A man then came out of the house and ran to me. We both helped Hana to the house.

“Oh Hana,” the woman cried as we came into the house. “Hana, look at your ruined coat. What happened out there?” She looked at Hana, then she seemed to notice me for the first time. “Oh, who are you?”

“My name is Hyriu, a friend of Hana’s,” I replied, out of breath.

“Oh, Hyriu,” the mother said. “I have heard so much about you. Hana talks about you all the time. Isn’t that right, Yukan?”

“Oh yes, the ‘Legendary Hyiru’. Hana is obsessed with you,” Yukan joked.

I blushed.

“I am Meili,” the mother said, “and thank you so much for finding Hana and bringing her back safely, and ... er ... well, mostly unharmed,” she said and laughed a little.

“Oh, uh, you’re welcome,” I said and headed toward the door.

“What are you doing?” Meili cried. “You can’t go out there during that storm. You already look exhausted.”

“I have to. My little brother is home alone, and he gets scared and worried easily. Though, I appreciate your concern,” I said kindly.

“Are you sure?” she asked.

I insist,” I said.

“Well, let me give you something as a thank you,” Yukan said.

He went out of the room and came back with a package.

“Here. These are Sea Prunes.” He offered the incredibly expensive food to me.

“Oh, no. I couldn’t…” I began.

“I insist,” he said.

I took the package and thanked them, and then I headed out into the storm. I was too tired to reenter Stage One, so I had to use my normal bending skills to beat my way through the wind. After what felt like hours, I finally arrived home.

“Hyriu,” Hiko cried out and hugged me. “I was so worried.”

“I know, but I’m alright,” I told him. “There is nothing to worry about.”

We went to bed*,* and he came to sleep with me because the storm scared him. He hadn’t slept in my bed since when he had nightmares as a little kid. That night, I had terrible dreams about robed men and storms along with another dream. I was in a destroyed house. Everything was blurry. I could see patches of flickering light. A red figure came into view. The person seemed to be holding up one arm. Suddenly I woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. I laid back down trying to fall asleep. Finally, in the early hours of the morning, the storm had ended, and I finally found the deep peace in sleep.

Chapter Text

Chapter 13
Forests of Emerald, Rivers of Sapphire

In the morning, I woke and saw Hiko still sound asleep. I went to my window to see how much damage the storm had done. The morning air was crisp and cool. Some buildings had collapsed, but they were very few in number. We got about a foot of snow, and the harsh winds had created large snowdrifts all over the city. I heard a knock downstairs. I grabbed a white robe and put it on. I ran down the stairs lightly and snatched a mango I had smuggled from the banquet before I pulled back the curtain with a yawn.

“Oh sorry. Did I wake you?” It was Koluk.

“No, I had just woken up when you knocked. What’s up?” I said then took a bite out of the mango.

“Just wanted to tell you that Warrior Training before school has been cancelled. There is a huge snow drift in the field,” he explained.

“Oh, okay thanks, anything else?” I asked.

“I think school might get delayed. Many streets are blocked by snow,” he said.

After he finished his sentence, I saw Wei approaching.

“Hey kids, I thought you should know school has been delayed for one hour,” he said as he walked up.

“Yes!” Koluk cried out.

“Cool,” I said.

“Ha ha. Well I’m going to help clear the streets. See you kids later,” he said and walked off.

With the extra time I had, I was not in a hurry. I got ready for the day and woke Hiko. He nearly cried of happiness when I told him Warrior Training was cancelled. We had breakfast, talked a bit, and he went outside to go play with his friends in the snow. I spent the rest of my time cleaning the house, reading some scrolls, practicing my bending, and admiring my sword. When it was time, I headed off to school. I met up with Lina and Tekton, and we told him all about what we saw yesterday. When he asked about Pakku’s performance, we told him very little.

At school, most of the day was uneventful. In History, we had a quiz that I easily took. I saw Hana in Astronomy, and I walked over to her and took a seat even though there were several other seats still open.

“Hey, Hana,” I said as I sat down.

“Oh, hey,” she said, somewhat quietly.

“How are you,” I asked.

“Oh, I’m fine. Thank you,” she said. She hadn’t looked at me yet.

“Are you sure? That storm was pretty bad.” I asked, trying to meet her eyes.

She looked at me this time. “Oh, I really am fine. Thank you for saving me by the way.”

“Oh,” I blushed. “Yeah, uh, you’re welcome. What were you doing in that storm any way?”

“Oh, uh, um, nothing really I was, uh, just…” she started to say.

“Okay, class, calm down,” Mr. Kuan said. He began the lesson, so we had to stop talking.

At the end of class, Hana reminded me about our date, which we decided would just be dinner.

In Myths and Legends class, we finished up on spirits, and we began to learn all about Avatar Roku. We finished that lesson, and Mr. Hui said we would learn about the Chosen Child tomorrow. That made me nervous. At lunch, everyone kept coming over to us asking us all about our adventures in the palace. Koluk was used to the attention. He was friends with just about everyone, and his warrior skills didn’t hurt his popularity either. Lina and I on the other hand were sort of the outcasts in school. Many people teased Lina about how she talks. People thought I was weird and made fun of my water bending skills. Others seemed to be wary of me since I always seemed so secretive because I was for obvious reasons, but they didn't know that. Anyone that knew about me being the Anzen understood why I acted so strangely. If everyone knew that, I might have not been so looked down upon, but for good or for ill, after the celebration, nothing would ever be the same again. Hana sat with us at lunch, which earned some weird looks from many kids. She and Lina seemed to already to be best friends and have inside jokes. Fai did not like the extra attention or the newcomer. He seemed content to just sit there being ignored. I did my best to include him in a conversation, but he would always get out of it very quickly.

After answering many questions through mouthfuls of sea rice and satisfying enough people with the events at the palace, we were left alone at out table.

“Well, that was quite fun,” Lina muttered quietly, perhaps to herself. “I mean, I have never really been popular before, and if that is what it is like…” she didn’t finish.

I saw Koluk look down at his food with a guilty look.

“I’m just glad they finally left,” Fai said. “Well, most of them.” He glanced at Hana, but she didn’t hear him thankfully. He then abandoned all table manners and attacked his bowl of rice.

“Oh Fai, they were not even bothering you,” Lina said. “It was kind of nice actually, everyone wanting to talk to us,” she said dreamily. “How come all the good things in this world fade away?”

The Robed Man appeared right behind her, almost as if he was saying, ‘See, I told you.’ I was startled and accidentally snapped my chopped sticks in my clenched fist.

“Hyriu, are you okay?” Hana asked.

“I’m fine,” I said through gritted teeth. The man faded away as if he had never appeared.

We ate our lunch in silence after that. Hana tried to conjure up some small talk, but to no avail. When the bell rang, we got up and went to math class. The rest of school was uneventful. When Warrior Training came, we just kept practicing the moves we had already learned. There were some friendly spars, including one between Fai and me, which I won, but we were just practicing. As the Robed Man said, no one was killed in the storm. I had no crazy dreams or unusual visions. I noticed Instructor Chen watching me while I fought with Fai and showed him how to correctly do a move.

When water bending practice came, I was in such a good mood about how uneventful the day was, minus lunch, that not even Taruk could dampen it. In fact, he hardly said a word to me; he just kept to himself and didn’t even talk to his little group of friends. He looked like he was planning some master plan to bring me down. I laughed at my over-active imagination. If Taruk wanted to waste his time glaring at me, I was fine with that.

Wei was at practice, and he took me aside as everyone else started to practice the performance they would give at the celebration.

“Hyriu,” he told me, “during water bending practice you will practice your performance in Heiwa Valley.”

“Really?” I asked. I always found any excuse to go visit the Air Nomads.

“Yes, but first we must go and visit Chief Arnook,” he said sternly.

“Am I in trouble?” I asked.

“You have yet to tell us about your vision. Yesterday after your test, you told me in the library that you had another vision. It looked like it really troubled you,” he said.

“Oh, right. How long will it take?” I said glancing at the stands where my friends sat; I made eye contact with Hana.
Wei glanced at me his face stern. “That should be of no importance. He is our Chief, and he can take as long as he wants.” His expression softened and, there was an amused glint in his eye. “But you will have plenty of time to get ready for your date.”

He led me through the city and to the palace. When we got to the Wall’s Gate, a loud voice called, “Who goes there? Present your names.”

“I am Wei Buluo of the Hydronia Court,” Wei answered loudly.

Silence.

He elbowed me in the ribs. “Ouch, and, uh, I am Hyriu Jingshen.”

The guard came down to see if we were whom we said. We walked in. The palace was no longer welcoming because we were not here for a tour. We were here to discuss my dark visions.

We walked down the long main hall to the Royal Courtroom. The doors swung inward, and we entered. The court was sitting in their respectful seats, all with stern, but not unkind faces. We both bowed respectfully.

“Good afternoon,” Arnook said. “As I’m sure Wei has told you, we asked you here to discuss your visions at length and in private.”

“Chief Arnook, Wei, and Pakku have all given their accounts on what they have witnessed and what you have told them,” Sukotto said. “We would now like you to tell us about all your visions and any unusual events that happened yesterday and today.”

I hesitated. I didn’t want to relive the events, but I knew I had to obey them. I told them about my dream in History. I was about to tell them about the woman’s voice I heard when she spoke to me:

“Do not tell them of my guidance,” she said. “They know nothing of the spirits and their realm. Keep me a secret from all non-spiritual people.”

I then told the Court about the vision during water bending practice. Then, the one after that when I saw my friends tortured. I could see looks of shock and horror poorly concealed on the faces of some court members. I also told them about the person who was following me, who I thought was the robed man and the person in the library. I continued on and told them about the events in the Meditation Tower, and what I learned. I lastly told them about my revisit to the library and the piece of cloth I had torn from his cloak. There was a moment of silence.

“You are sure the man in your visions wears a black robe, and this person you attacked in the library wore a blue cloak?” Arnook inquired.

“Positive,” I told him. “Actually, it was more like a large coat than a cloak.”

“Hmm, alright then,” Arnook started. “Well, we will think more on this matter in private. Though, I believe we shouldn’t worry about this, like Wei said, ‘When the Avatar returns, we should worry’.”

“Yes but-” Wei started but stopped when Arnook held up a hand cutting him off.

“Now, enough of this dreariness. There is a celebration coming, and you need to practice your performance,” Arnook said with a smile.

I got agitated that he just completely dismissed my visions, even when the man said he would be here in less than 6 months.

“You are to go to Heiwa Valley to practice your performance in secret,” Arnook said pleasantly.

I had had enough, “Really?” I screamed.

Arnook looked very surprised at my outburst.

“I have visions of a guy threatening to destroy Hydronia and kill everyone I care about if I don’t bow down and obey him, and all you say is we shouldn’t worry. I need to go practice my performance. Let’s just forget about that, as long as the Avatar isn’t here we will all be fine!” I shouted in a sarcastic voice.

Chief Arnook’s tone turned very serious, “You forget your place, Hyriu. You are a member of the Northern Tribe. I am your Chief, and I will not be spoken to that way by any inferior person.”

“I will speak to you however I want. Yes, you are my chief, but I am the Anzen,” I said.

“That title means nothing,” Arnook said, frustrated.

“Well, if I am supposed to be the ‘Backup Avatar,’ then actually, it does. The Spirits and Roku granted me my power. No Avatar had any superior. If any leader of any nation acted up or ignored a warning, then that Avatar would deal with him. Avatar Roku confronted Fire lord Sozin, Avatar Kyoshi confronted the Earth King, and now I am confronting you!”

“Hyriu, maybe you should-” Wei started to say.

“I should what?!” I shouted. “Go practice my ‘performance’? Be a nice little boy, and do what Daddy says. But wait, he’s dead, and you are not my father!” I didn’t mean to be so harsh, but I was angry. “No! I have had enough of everyone telling me everything will be alright. ‘We’ll all be just fine as long as the Avatar doesn‘t come back!’ No, we won’t! If the Avatar never returns, then what?! Will I have to stop the Fire Nation? I can’t do that anytime soon. There is a war going on. People are dying out there! And all you care about is giving tours or having celebrations!” The pool of water behind the court began to boil. “Well, I have had enough of everyone saying everything will be alright. It won’t be alright, but don’t any of you come crying to me when you figure it out!”

The faces of the Royal Court were all in complete shock. Wei looked very upset and was looking at his feet. I turned and started to walk out.

“Where do you think you are going?” demanded Arnook.

I stopped and turned and said in the most sarcastic and insulting way, “To Heiwa Valley to practice my performance as requested of the 'oh so great' Chief of the Northern Water Tribe,” At the end, I bowed in a very insulting way.

I then stormed out of the room, using air bending to slam open the door and slam it shut. I heard yelling behind me, but I ignored it. I noticed there were torches on the main hall, and they blazed to life as I walked past them. I slammed the main door shut with air bending as well. When I walked by the fountains, they boiled.

“Hyriu!” I heard Wei call behind me. I walked faster.

The guardsmen opened the gate, and I walked out. I nearly ran into Hana who was waiting in the Plaza Square.

“Oh, Hyriu,” she said surprised, “I saw Wei take you here. I forgot to tell you. I have healing practice, so we have to go to dinner a little later.”

“I didn’t know you were a healer,” I said.

“Oh, ha ha, yeah,” she said a little embarrassed. “What’s wrong? You look angry.”

“It’s nothing,” I growled. I could see Wei running and trying to tell the guards to keep the gate open, but they didn’t hear him in time.

“Well, I have to go,” I told her.

“Oh, where?” she asked.

“To Heiwa Valley. Chief’s orders. See you at dinner,” I said as I walked away.

“Bye,” she said, dreamily.

I then took off running just as the gate began to reopen. I dashed into an alley way and continued to the Mountain Pass. I could hear Wei interrogating Hana; thankfully, she said she had her back turned when I ran off. I reached the edge of the city and started up the pass. Whether Wei was searching the city or he just gave up, I saw no one on the pass. I cooled down on the way, but I still thought Arnook’s actions were a bit stupid. I walked up the last slope and reached a little balcony that had a door way to a tunnel through the mountain. There was a man meditating on the floor of the balcony. I recognized Monk Yami, one of the High Monks of the Shui Temple. He was elderly, but not extremely. He was still very active and did not have trouble moving around.

With eyes still closed, he said, “Good afternoon.” Then, he opened his eyes and stood, “Ah, Hyriu, I was beginning to think you were not coming.”

“You were aware I was coming?” I asked.

“Of course. Chief Arnook came by this morning,” he said with some distaste. “You look upset. Is something the matter?”

“Just these arrangements,” I stated bitterly.

“Ah,” he looked like he wanted to say more, but all he said was, “I would guess you do not agree with them.”

“You would be correct,” I said. “Do you feel the same way?”

“It is not my place to give my thoughts on his orders,” he said, but his look told me he did.

“Well, then I am glad I am not the only one who disagrees with him,” I said.

“Well, we have a location for you to train. Let me take you there,” he said.

“Alright,” I said, and we walked into the tunnel.

The tunnel was brightly lit with many torches. About halfway through the tunnel, it changed into a hallway, and there were doors on either side of us. We got to the other side, and we were in a kind of open air porch area. We walked out from the roof, and I looked back at the grand temple that was on the mountain side just above us. There was the main section, which the open air porch was the base. Then, there were a few other sections and towers around it connected by bridges, paths on the mountain, or underground passageways. It looked like the paintings of the Western Air Temple but more modern and not upside down. And unlike the other temples which were round and circular, this one was mainly rectangular with triangular roofs. On the mountain was a lush forest with rich greens of the leaves and pure blues of the streams. I walked to the edge of the balcony and looked out over Heiwa Valley. It was bordered by the sides of eight mountains. The mountain we were on was Gaofeng. It was the tallest and had the whole of the Shui Temple on it as well as the tunnel we had passed through and the mountain pass that lead down to the city. The mountain on our right was Yanshi. After that one was Sutorimu, which had a long arm that stretched into the valley creating a large wall. The mountain that was behind Sutorimu was Piku. The two mountains that formed the back of the valley were Tai and Gate. Next to Gate was Mori. Then, the last mountain and one of the shortest was Ochiru, which was directly to our left. They formed an oval shape around the valley. An emerald forest covered the majority of the valley. All around were breaks in the trees of sparkling sapphire that were the streams, rivers, and the lake. Here and there, little buildings and temples breached the thick canopy. Some places had fields for air ball or statues and things of that sort. There were also stables for the trained bison and caves for wild bison. Lemurs flew around all over the place. One landed on my shoulder and licked my cheek before flying off. The arm of Sutorimu that hid the far right corner was called the Greenwall.

“This place always amazes me,” I said stunned.

“Yes, it is truly a wonderful sight,” Monk Yami said.

His words sounded similar to what the robed man said about the sunset in the Meditation Tower. Almost as if on queue, I got a cold feeling, and I heard a terrible voice behind me.

“I am watching you,” it said.

I turned and saw the robed man. I blinked, and he was gone.

“Is there something wrong?” Monk Yami asked.

“I- no…I just…thought I heard something,” I answered him.

“Oh, I feel cold all of a sudden. That is odd,” he said and looked around.

“Well, uh, can you take me to where I will train?” I asked, still shaken.

“Oh, yes of course. This way.” He went over to the stairs that led into the valley.

We walked down the path and into the valley. Above us lemurs, bison, and air benders passed by. We descended into the valley, and the tropical trees towered over us. The forest was alive with insects, birds, lemurs, water, and many other things. Every now and then, we passed over a bridge or passed by a building. We arrived at the bison stables after an hour. The stables were on the slopes of Yanshi. I had started to sweat. Something I was not used to, even though I came here often. I had removed my dark blue robe, so I only wore a thin, long sleeve grey shirt and a blue sleeveless shirt on top of that. Monk Yami called his bison, and we climbed on and flew through the valley. The wind felt great, and the view wasn’t too bad either. We flew around the Greenwall to reveal the hidden part of the valley that lay behind it. A few air benders lived here, but they were more separate and detached from the others. The forest here was also more exotic and wild. At the bottom of the hidden corner was a field of tan stone. There were a few air benders there, but they all left when the bison landed except one.

The remaining air bender wore the normal air bender robes, only his were darker shades and faded. He was holding dual broadswords and moved in circular motions, air bending with them like other air benders would use their staves.

I got off the bison and approached him. He stopped practicing when he saw me coming.

“You are Hyriu,” he had a deep voice.

“Yes, I do not believe we have met,” I said.

“My name is Daminao,” he said as he sheathed his dual swords in a sheath that rested on his left hip.

He had dark grey eyes that seemed to be tinted red. I didn’t know if it was a trick of the light or if they were always like that. He looked to be around sixteen years old. He was taller than I was and had long shaggy black hair that almost covered his eyes. There were also dark shadows under his eyes as if he hadn’t slept in days. He was muscular, but not extremely. Overall, he was the scariest looking air bender I had ever seen.

“You obviously already know my name,” I stated. “You seem to have some skill with those swords.”

“Indeed, perhaps we could spar sometime if you are familiar with swordsmanship?” he suggested.

“I hate to interrupt,” Monk Yami started, “but Chief Arnook has requested Hyriu to train here, and we said he could... alone.”

“Oh, I don’t mind sharing the field, Monk Yami,” I said. I could feel a friendship starting between Daminao and me.

Monk Yami looked at Daminao with slight distaste, “Very well, if you wish. I will be back in two hours to take you back to Hydronia.”

“Alright. See you in two hours,” I said and waved as he flew off.

A smile crossed my face. Here I could freely bend all four elements and do whatever I wanted. I began to bend out of joy. There were large pots filled with water for my use no doubt. I whipped some water around, shot a blast of air, and unleashed a small blast of fire.

After that, I lifted up a small mound of earth. If felt good not to hold back. Daminao watched me with a guarded expression. He didn’t show much emotion, so it was hard to tell what he was thinking. I cleared my head. If Arnook wanted a performance, he was going to get one. I knew I wouldn’t be doing any earth bending, so I focused on the other three elements. I started with fire bending since that’s my worst element of the three. I practiced forms and then actually bending fire. As I practiced, more air benders joined Daminao to watch me. The sun began to sink. I switched to air bending, aware of the crowd of air benders. I used the most complex moves I knew, making sure to have perfect form.

As the sun got lower, I went to water bending. The sky changed to orange, and a bison flew into view. The crowd of air benders began to disperse. I walked over to Daminao.

“You’re not that bad,” he said, “for a Water Tribesman,” and showing emotion for the first time, he smiled with a crooked smile.

I laughed, “Yeah, maybe you can judge my sword skills pretty soon.”

“Maybe,” he said, and his smile was replaced with his guarded expression.

“Well, see you around,” I said.

“Yes, you will,” he said and walked away.

“Alright then,” I said to myself.

I walked over to meet Monk Yami. He had a look on his face that made me say, “What?”

“I heard about your outburst with Chief Arnook,” he explained.

“Oh, yeah, about that,” I started, “Well, I told him about my visions and-”

“Visions?” Monk Yami said puzzled, “Monk Dadao did not tell me anything about visions.”

“Maybe Chief Arnook didn’t tell him about them,” I suggested.

“Let’s go and find out,” Monk Yami said with a smile.

We flew to the temple and landed on a balcony on the upper part of the temple. We ran into Master Sonam and Lamara who joined us. We got to the room where all the monks would sit. A few were missing, but after we told Head Monk Dadao why we were there he summoned them. When they got there, I told them about my visions and what Chief Arnook had said and my reactions.

“Hmm, well, Hyriu, I agree with you,” Monk Dadao said.

“But the next time you disagree with someone as powerful as Chief Arnook, maybe tell them your thoughts in a more respectful way,” Master Sonam said.

“Yeah, I’ll remember that,” I said.

“Monk Yami will take you back to Hydronia,” Monk Dadao said,
“Oh, but be careful. Arnook is scouring the city for you.”

“Uh, but he told me to come here. Why isn’t he looking for me here?” I asked, confused.

“Yes, well, Chief Arnook did come to me and asked me where you were. I could tell he was very angry and not in his right mind, so I told him that I hadn’t seen you. Which wasn’t a lie since I haven’t seen you until now,” Monk Dadao said with amusement.

This was why I loved the Air Nomads. They were a clever, mischievous people. They often played pranks on one another and could talk their way out of most situations.

I smiled, “Well, then, I thank you, and I had better get going.”

Monk Yami took me to his bison, and we flew to the bottom of the mountain pass.

“Good luck,” he said with twinkle in his eyes. “And don’t get caught.”

“I don’t plan on it,” I told him, and he flew off. “I got a date.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 14
Hiding in an Alley

After Monk Yami flew off, I ran into a nearby alley. A sky bison would definitely catch the eye of many people, especially if they were looking for me. After going through several alleyways, I came out of one and saw Taruk, who was equally surprised to see me.

“Well, what makes you so special to get a personal ride from the air benders, Hyr-o?” Taruk asked, very unkindly.

“Well, Tar-yuck,” I said putting emphasis on his new name, “I am friends with them, so I got a free ride. Now as much as I would love to say and chat, I have to leave.” I passed him.

“Oh really?” he said, “And what were you doing in Heiwa Valley, Hyriu?”

I nearly tripped, caught off guard since he called me by my actual name. “Um, none of your business. Like I said, I have friends there,” I managed.

“Mmm hmm, yeah sure. You know Chief Arnook is looking for you?” he said slyly.

I turned and looked at him. He had a look on his face that made it seem like he knew exactly what was going on. But he couldn’t know, could he? I then remembered the person in the library.
Maybe it was Taruk. The cloaked person was a water bender. I had thought that someone forced his way through, but maybe the person was just bad at ice bending and accidentally blew up the ice. I remember Taruk’s problems with ice bending at practice yesterday and after school. I felt the blood drain from my face. Beads of sweat began to gather on my face. Could that person really be Taruk? Would he go that far?

“Thanks for the tip,” I said nervously and walked away. Taruk still had that sly look on his face.

I turned down another street. I saw a group of soldiers run by several streets in front of me. I ducked into an alley. Walking on the streets was too dangerous. I looked up and an idea occurred to me. I climbed up to the roof of a nearby building. Most of the roofs in Hydronia were rounded and curved, this one was no different. I had to use my bending skills to keep my balance. I could see groups of soldiers looking all around the city for me.

“Dang, Arnook,” I muttered to myself. “I just yelled at you. I didn’t start a war.”

I began to jump from roof to roof, making my way to my house. Several times, I had to lay flat on a roof to avoid the eyes of the soldiers. I got to the roof of a house across the street from mine. I saw guards posted out front. I cursed. I back tracked, then made my way to a house right next to mine. I could see into my bedroom through the window on the second floor. I glanced at the back of the guard. If they turned, I would have no where to hide. I dove at the window, air bending assisted, and went straight through it, hitting the floor and rolling to lessen my momentum. I went to the bathroom and washed up. An idea occurred to me, and I bathed in the water with the special fruity sea weed. I felt refreshed and ready for anything, filled with energy. I went back to my room and changed into a deep blue robe that matched my eyes. It was accented by a royal blue and was a traditional style robe. I used some water to flatten my hair. I crept down stairs; Hiko was in the other room doing homework. I decided to keep my presence a secret from him since he was horrible at lying, and I didn’t want to get him in trouble. I grabbed some money since I would be paying for everything tonight. Since Wei was on the Hydronia Court, we had a good amount of money, but we were not rich. I crept up the stairs silently. I went to my window and jumped to my neighbor’s roof. I traveled to Hana’s house in that manner.

When I got reasonably close to it, I climbed down in a nearby alley way and walked to her house. After I knocked, I checked my reflection in some ice. Her mother, Meili, answered.

“Oh, hello Hyriu. Oh, you look so handsome,” she said warmly. “Come on in.” We went into the sitting room, on the right. “Hana, Hyriu is here.”

Hana came in with her dad right behind her.

“Good evening,” I greeted them with a smile.

“Hyriu, you really dressed up!” Hana exclaimed.

“So did you,” I responded.

She wore a midnight blue dress trimmed with a deep purple. Her hair hung loosely to her shoulders. She had many braids in it with dark blue ribbons. She wore a dark blue coat.

“You got a new coat,” I said, seeing it draped down her shoulders nearly to the floor, “And it is quite long.”

“Yes, well my other one got ruined during the…the storm. And I like long coats; it is almost like a cloak. My ruined one was like this,” she said.

“Yeah, I guess it was. Um, is there a certain time I should bring her back?” I asked nervously.

“Just stay out of trouble and not too late,” Yukan said.

“Don’t worry,” I said, “the only hands she would be safer in are yours, sir.”

He seemed pleased with that comment. We headed out, and fortunately, we didn’t see any soldiers along the way. We met up with Huajia, the most famous painter in Hydronia. After we got a painting of ourselves, we went to dinner at the Crystal Serpent. It was one of the fanciest places in town.

“Are you sure you want to go here?” Hana asked.

“Yes, I’ve heard it is very good,” I replied.

“Well, alright,” she said, and we walked in.

I walked up to the counter,” Uh, table for two, please.”

A very round man looked at me. He had a red face, but he looked upon us kindly, “Yes, of course, right this way madam and sir.” He also had a warm jolly voice.

He led us through the restaurant. It was very nice; there were statues and carvings of sea serpents everywhere. There was also a large fountain in the center of the restaurant. The man led us to a two person table on a little balcony outside. There were several other tables for two, but they were all separated by large white columns. The tables were on a sort of deck or porch. We were not in the restaurant, but there was a roof supported by the columns. There was a short railing next to our table. In the restaurant, there was every shade of blue I could imagine, but primarily the lighter shades. After we sat down, he gave us our menus.
“And what shall you each have to drink?” he asked kindly.

“Oh, Hyriu,” Hana started, “maybe they have those drinks you had at the banquet yesterday?”

I described the drink to him which he said was called ‘Beiwater,’ and that they did have it. He walked away to get our drinks, and we scanned the menus and saw some rather odd names.

“The Flounders Tongue?” Hana read.

“Just the tongue?” I inquired, “Why not the whole head or a fin? Or what about the tail?”

Hana laughed and continued, “The Fisherman’s Foot. Oh, I hope it’s not a real foot.”

“If I wanted to ask for two, would I say, ‘Fisherman’s Foots’ or ‘Fisherman’s Feet’?” Hana gave me a look before I burst out laughing. She joined in my laughter.

We continued reading strange names until we found a really odd one.

“Whoa,” Hana said, “Listen to this one. ‘Shark-Squid Snout stuffed with Octo-Whale Tentacles.” She gave me a disgusted look then laughed kind of nervously, “Let’s not get that.”

“Agreed,” I replied.

When the round waiter returned, we just ordered Tentacle Noodles and Kelp bread sticks with barnacle sauce. Our drinks were brought out, and I showed Hana how to stir it. A bit later, our food was brought out.

“So Hyriu, I would love to hear all about your night in the Gambing Palace,” Hana said as she grabbed her chopped sticks.
“Oh well uh, I, I guess I could tell you about it,” I said nervously.
I told her as much as I could, leaving out anything about the Beifen Legend. I talked about the fountains we had seen in the Fountain Yard. I left out mine and Yue’s fountains. I described the palace in great detail. I purposely didn’t say anything about the library or Pakku’s ‘performance.’

“Wow, that sounds incredible,” Hana said. “I- I also heard Lina saying something about a library. What was it like?” She had a strange twinkle in her eyes, like she was trying to anticipate what I would say.

I tensed, ‘Darn you Lina’ I thought, “Oh, yes, the library,” I said in a horrible acting voice, “How could I forget? Well, um, it was very large, and, uh, beautiful,” I went on leaving out the cloaked person obviously.

“Oh, and then we went to the Meditation Tower,” I said,
“Lamara and I raced to the top,” I began to laugh.

“Wait, if she is an air bender, then it wasn’t a very fair race,” Hana said.

“Oh yeah, well, I used trickery,” I said quickly, cursing my self for slipping up.

“What kind of trickery?” Hana asked suspiciously.

I glanced away and saw some soldiers approaching. “Oops,” I said and pushed my plate to the floor. I crouched down to get it.

“I am not here,” I whispered to Hana.

I could see her face reflected on my plate. “Okay,” she said very confused, and then she saw the soldiers and smiled brightly at them.

I was hiding under the table, hidden by the long table cloth.

“Can I help you?” Hana asked very sweetly.

“Do you know where Hyriu Jingshen is?” one asked sternly.

“Oh,” Hana said innocently, “He just went to the bathroom.” She pointed to the restaurant’s bathrooms.

“Thank you, miss.” They walked off.

“They’re gone,” Hana said to me.

“Okay,” I said and stood up cautiously.

“What was that about?” Hana asked.

“Um, I may have, uh, yelled at Chief Arnook,” I said.

“What? Why?” she asked, surprised.

“Oh, no reason in particular. We should get out of here,” I said and glanced at the exit. Two soldiers were guarding it.

I placed enough money on the table, “We’re going to have to jump over the railing,” I said.

“Oh, alright,” said a bewildered Hana.

We jumped over the railing and ran off. I glanced back to see soldiers swarming our abandoned dinner table. It was dark now, and the city was crawling with soldiers. We ducked behind boxes, ran into alleys, and fell flat on the ground, so we weren’t seen. When we were hiding in one alley, I said to Hana: “I’m really sorry about our date getting ruined.”

“What? No no no. It’s not ruined. This is one of the best times I’ve had,” Hana told me. “I mean running and hiding from soldiers, it’s like ‘Extreme Hide-and-Seek.'” She laughed.
I laughed too. After more running and hiding, we made it to her house.

“Well, Hyriu, thank you for a wonderful time tonight,” Hana
said, kind of jokingly.

“You are very welcome,” I replied with a smile.

“Perhaps we could do it again some time?” she asked.

“Perhaps,” I said.

She kissed me on the cheek then quickly ran inside. I went home smiling as I jumped from roof to roof. The guards at my house seemed to have given up as they were nowhere to be seen. I walked in and saw Koluk and Hiko playing a card game.
Koluk shook his head. “I’m not even going to say anything about you and Arnook. So how did your date go?”

“Um, exciting,” I replied and went upstairs. Unlike yesterday, I had no nightmares that night. I slept soundly.

Chapter Text

Chapter 15
City of Suspicion

I woke and went to see if Hiko was awake as well. I was surprised to see he was already dressed. I went back to my room, got ready for school, and cleaned up. I put on a deep blue robe with a sky blue shirt underneath. When I got downstairs, I saw Hiko had made himself a quick breakfast.

“Well, someone’s on top of things today,” I said as I walked in.

“Urr ygh,” Hiko tried to talk with his mouth full. He chewed, swallowed and tried again, “Oh yeah. Well, I wanted to get to training early for once.”

“Ah, I see,” I said as I made myself breakfast.

“Where were you yesterday? Everyone was looking for you. Chief Arnook even stationed guards at the house,” Hiko said.

“Oh, I was at the air temple. The Chief ordered me to practice for the celebration there,” I explained.

“Then how come he acted like he didn’t know where you were?” Hiko asked puzzled.

“Um, I don’t know,” I said and started eating.

“Humph, grown-ups are weird,” Hiko stated.

“Well said, little brother,” I said with a smile.

He left for practice, and I finished up. I went up stairs and got my school bag. I glanced at my sword, which I had placed on my dresser; it was as amazing as ever. I walked outside and breathed in the cool air. I started to walk. The sun was rising, turning the sky a mixture of pink, orange, yellow, and blue. Here and there were streaks of white clouds. There was a gentle breeze.

I met up with Lina and Tekton, who also asked where I had been. I simply said I had taken a visit to Heiwa Valley. In class, I sat down next to Koluk. About half of the seats were still open.

“Hey, man,” he said, “What in the world was going on yesterday? I didn’t get a chance to ask you last night.”

“Oh, yeah that,” I said laughing a little. “I’ll tell you later.”

“Good morning, Hyriu,” said an unexpected familiar voice.

I turned and saw Hana sitting down next to me, “Um, Hana, what are you doing in here?”

“Oh, my classes got changed. Now I have every class with you,” she smiled.

I glanced at Koluk. Had I just awoken a crazed beast that used to be in a deep slumber, but now it got a taste of blood and was in frenzy?

“Oh, great,” I said unenthusiastically.

In History, we learned more about the Great Civil War. Hana was being her usual self saying things like, ‘Oh, Hyriu, that robe really brings out your eyes. You should wear it more often.’ I simply replied, ‘Okay.’ She also said, ‘Your hair looks so good. What is your secret?’ ‘Um, sleeping.’ is what I said to that one, Koluk nearly fell out of his chair. Her comments got so excessive that Mr. Zhen split us up because we were ‘disrupting the class,’ which was fine with me. I welcomed the peace and quiet. Hana on the other hand, did not look too happy. I could see Taruk looking at me. I remembered what he had said when I was coming back from Heiwa Valley. For once, I couldn’t read his face.

Astronomy was much the same, except Hana wasn’t moved away from me. I didn’t know if I could handle this much Hana. One class maybe, but all of them, not so much.

By the time Myths and Legends class came along, I was ready to hurl her off the Meditation Tower. Four classes of ‘Hyriu, I love your hair,’ ‘Hyriu, I love your eyes,’ ‘Hyriu, isn’t this great?’ so I was very surprised when she didn’t sit next to me. She sat down a few seats over. I wasn’t complaining. Fai and Lina sat down; Lina’s hair was in its usual braid down her left shoulder.

“Hello, Hyriu. How has your morning been?” she asked with a pleasant smile.

“Ugh, kind of annoying,” I said and pointed to Hana.

“Oh, hello, Hana,” Lina waved happily with a confused expression.

Hana waved wearily. She didn’t look at me. She kept fidgeting with her writing brush and had a strange look on her face. She looked like she had been waiting for something all day, and now it seemed it was about to happen, but she was nervous…

“She got her classes changed so we have every class together,” I told them, “And she has been sitting right next to me in all of them.”

“Well, she’s not sitting next to you now,” Fai pointed out.
“Don’t tempt her. I’m enjoying it,” I said.

Mr. Hui instructed us to take notes on the Chosen Child from the Beifen Legend. I smiled- an easy day- and I was also interested to see how much they would teach. Mr. Hui said we would have a test on all we have learned, so we should take good notes. When we were about half way through the notes, Hana spoke up for the first time.

“Mr. Hui, I have a question concerning the Beifen Legend,” she said weakly, like she had been building up the courage to say that all class.

Mr. Hui looked at her a bit startled, “Yes, Hana, what is your question?”

She cleared her throat. She was fidgeting with her brush more than ever. Her voice was shaky but confident, "Well, um, does the term…” she broke off, “does the term ‘anzen’ have anything to do with the Beifen Legend?”

I nearly fell out of my chair. My writing brush clattered to the floor loudly. Lina coughed. Fai looked at us, confused as to why we were so startled. I saw Hana look directly at me, a look accusation in her eyes. She was daring me to say something. Then, I remembered the gasp I heard two days ago when Pakku called me ‘Anzen Hyriu.’ It was her. She overheard us, but she ran home, I thought. I then also remembered the snow castle I had made, and how she had seen me melt it. I heard Hana’s mother, Meili, “Oh, Hana, your coat is ruined.” I head Hana’s voice, “I like long coats…almost like a cloak.” Then, in the Gambing Library, how the person was wearing a dark blue cloak, which I ripped. Saw the half melted ice in the master water bender section. Hana: “I have ‘healing’ practice.” She had run home, put her coat on, and followed me all day. She had been in the Gambing Palace; she saw who I really was. She was the black spec I saw on the mountain side. That was why she was in the storm that night. She had seen all the facts and hints and put them all together. Taruk probably knew something was up which was why he confronted me yesterday, but he had no idea.

I picked up my brush; sweat formed on my forehead. Lina was acting similarly.

“Hmm, ‘anzen.’ It sounds familiar, but I can not be sure. Let me go check,” Mr. Hui said and walked out of the classroom.

Hana had placed it all together. Now, she just needed conformation from official facts, though my reaction just now was probably enough to tell her she was right. After a few minutes, Mr. Hui walked back in, reading a book that looked more ancient than him.

“Ah, here it is ‘Anzen’,” he started. “It is the title Avatar Roku came up with for the Chosen Child. It means ‘safety’ as in ‘safety net’ since the child is the safety net of the world. Does that help, Hana?”

“Oh, yes. It really helps,” she said and glanced at me with a smile. “What are the chances of this person, the Anzen, existing?”

“Oh, the chances are very slim,” Mr. Hui concluded, “but it would be interesting if he was ever real.”

“I think it would be very interesting,” Hana said.

Mr. Hui moved on with the lesson. I was lost in a haze of shock and surprise. The bell rang, and I rushed out of the classroom, though Hana didn’t try to follow me. At lunch, Hana didn’t sit with us. When Tekton and Fai weren’t listening, I quickly told Koluk about yesterday and Hana. He freaked out of course. The rest of the day went by quickly. Later, I went and practiced in Heiwa Valley. Daminao was waiting at the field. I practiced until sun down. Chief Arnook seemed not to care about finding me anymore.

The next couple of days passed like that. I got to school, then went to practice, then home. Hana seemed content with her information because she didn’t say anything to me, but she looked at me with a confident smile. My friendship with Daminao grew, and sometimes, he practiced with me, though I was wary of him. He was so much darker than any air bender I had ever met. His eyes always had that red tint glimmering in them. And his swords- he was the only air bender I knew of that used bladed weapons. When I inquired as to where he got them, he said he made them in his forge. After practice that day, he showed me. Taruk kept on trying to figure out why I was going to Heiwa Valley so much, and of course, I avoided him, much to his frustration. But he got bolder and bolder, sometimes he would wait for me at the bottom of the mountain pass, or he would constantly confront me about it. I was afraid one day he might just walk into Heiwa Valley, looking for me. Fai could also tell something was going on. I felt bad for Lina since she liked Fai, but he could see something going between us during Myths and Legends class. I hated not telling him, but with Hana finding out and Taruk on the prowl, I couldn’t risk anyone else knowing. I needed to be 100% guarded. And now, even Tekton could see a difference in me and would occasionally question me about it.

I was incredibly jumpy and paranoid over the next few days. At every little sound, I jumped. If I was ever alone, I was even more jumpy. Now, I was always the lame, bad water bender Hyriu. I was never me. Even at my house, I was guarded. The only time I could be Anzen Hyriu was in Heiwa Valley, but even there, I was a bit off balance. I was lost in a city full of suspicion.

It was one stressful day after another, and before I knew it, it was the day before the celebration.

I had my performance made and down to near perfection. Chief Arnook and I seem to have an unspoken agreement to forget our argument, though he didn’t call on me for any more updates on my visions. I had finished practice and was waiting for Chief Arnook to arrive. Daminao handed me one of his swords and was showing me how to air bend with them.

“So like this?” I said, then twirled the sword around and did a few slashes unleashing a blast of wind.

“Yeah, that’s about right,” he said.

Just then, a sky bison landed, and Chief Arnook, Princess Yue, and Wei got off along with Monk Yami.

“Hyriu,” the Chief said, “Have you got your performance finished?”

“Yes, and I will be ready to show it to you tomorrow morning,” I told him.

Arnook had canceled school tomorrow, saying it was a holiday.
I left the valley and started for home. Suddenly, I ran into Hana.

“Oh, hello, Hyriu,” she said.

“Uh, hi,” I said caught off guard. I saw Taruk walk up.

“So, Hyr-o, what were you doing with the air benders today?” he asked.

“Air bending,” I answered simply, I had come to give him smart aleck remarks with a snippet of truth.

Hana laughed, since she got the joke.

Taruk eyed me with suspicion, “Yeah, laugh away, but I will find what you’re up to.” We walked away.

Hana turned to me, “Well, I hope you are ready for your celebration tomorrow,” she said with a smile and walked off.

“Is there anything she doesn’t know?” I muttered to myself.

“She doesn’t know about me,” a voice behind me said venomously.

I turned and saw the Robed Man, his red eyes shining.

“I am still watching,” he said ,then faded away.

I went home shaken. I had nearly forgotten about him. At home, I meditated to clam down and think about the coming events.

Chapter Text

Chapter 16
The Celebration

I had already woken up and was meditating, a habit I had formed in the past two weeks, when I heard a knock at the door.

“Come in,” I said and opened my eyes. I stood

“Hey.” It was Koluk. “You ready?”

“Just about,” I said. I grabbed my robes I had gotten from the palace. I was already wearing the first two layers, so I just pulled on the last. “Okay, now I’m ready.

We walked swiftly through town. Since it was still only an hour after sunrise, most people were using the holiday to catch up on their sleep. I saw a shadow following us in the alley ways. ‘Hana’ I thought. ‘Does she really need to follow me still? She already knows everything.’

We continued to the edge of Hydronia until we got to the bottom of Gaofeng where the pass started. Lina was sitting under the archway that was the entrance to the mountain pass.

“Hey, Lina,” Koluk said.

“Oh, hello,” she said and stood up. She walked up the pass with us.

“So, Hyriu, are you nervous?” Koluk asked.

“Um, a bit,” I said.

“Do you have your performance planned out?” Lina asked.
“Yes, I practiced it yesterday, and Daminao gave me a few
notes,” I told them.

“Who is this ‘Daminao’ anyway?” Koluk asked. “I’ve heard you mention him a few times.”

“He is one of my air bending friends, and the most intimidating-looking air bender I have ever met,” I explained.
“How can an air bender be intimidating,” Koluk said. “I don’t get it.”

“Oh, trust me. You’ll get it,” I told him.

We were about half way up the pass.

“Koluk, have you ever seen the Shui Temple or Heiwa Valley?” Lina asked.

“No, this is my first time also,” he said to her.

We got the top of the pass. The balcony was empty. We went through the tunnel, and the air grew warmer. All three of us were dressed up for the celebration. Koluk had a neat and formal wolf tail hair style. He wore robes colored in several shades of ice blue, so he looked like a walking glacier. Lina had her hair braided with blue ribbons in a fancy style. She wore light purples mixed with dark blues. We reached the open air porch and were met by a group of people. There were the monks, the Royal and Hydronia Courts, along with some of my friends, and Hiko, who had come earlier with Wei. We walked to the balcony and saw the whole of Heiwa Valley.

“Whoa,” they both said as they stood there in amazement.

“Ha ha, yes. It is an amazing sight, isn’t it?” Master Sonam said.

“Hello, Lamara,” I said.

“Hey, guys,” she said.

Just then, I saw something approach from the sky. It was an air bender on a glider. The air bender landed, and it was Daminao. He had a Northern Temple style glider, with rectangles, and the cloth was a deep green that was faded and worn. The wood was made of palm tree and was light and strong.

“You are late,” Monk Yami observed.

“Oh, yes. Sorry about that. I got distracted by watching the clouds in the sky,” Daminao said sarcastically and flashed a crooked smile at me.

Monk Yami gave a disapproving look.

“So, Daminao, you do have a glider?” I asked with a smile.

“Of course I do. How else would I get around quickly?” he said to me. “Who are you two?” he said to Koluk and Lamara.

“My name is Lina. I assume you are Daminao?” she said, holding out her hand. He shook it and nodded. “Well, Hyriu described you very accurately.”

“I get what you said now,” Koluk said to me. “I didn’t think it was possible, but he’s almost scary looking.”

I laughed.

“So, shall we go see Hyriu’s performance?” suggested Master Sonam.

“Yes, let’s do that. Hyriu, you will be performing for us in the center of the valley, unlike your usual practice area,” Monk Dadao said.

We took a sky bison down to the field. it was exactly like the field I had been practicing in. There was a tower near by, jutting up from the dense forest that surrounded the stone field. There was already a crowd there. We joined them, I was nervous now that I saw the crowd. I walked to the center of the field which had been prepared for me.

“Hyriu, you may begin when ever you are ready,” Chief Arnook said.

I took a deep breath. I tied a cloth around my face so only my eyes were showing. I wanted them to see exactly how I would be doing my performance, even though they all knew it was me. I lifted up a stream of water and swirled it around myself. Then, I lifted up a second stream and swirled it around with the first. I began to move the water together into a large sphere of water that I moved around myself. I froze the water so a ball of ice hovered in front of me. I clapped my hands and shattered the ice ball and melted the pieces, then evaporated them so a cloud of stream enveloped me. I slowly lifted up my hands, creating a funnel of air that blew the steam away. I blew up a large cloud of dust. I did several air bending forms blowing dust away creatively. Then, I lifted my self up with air and shot a few blasts in to the on-lookers so their hair and cloths were ruffled. When I landed, I shot a blast of fire over their heads. I did a few more simple fire bending moves I knew, which was a very short list. After I had done a few good fire blasts, I began to bend all three elements at once, creating a show of lights, wind, and dust. I fire bended using water bending and air bending to create a tornado of fire and steam. Then, I made an ice wall in front of myself. I shot it with a blast of fire, creating dazzling lights and a cloud of steam over the heads of the audience. I flipped around, shooting fire and launching water. I mixed air and fire making a whirlwind of flames. Then, in a swirling motion, I ripped off the cloth and made a small ring of fire on the ground around myself. The fire cast dark strange lights on my face though, according to Daminao, so it was hard to see my face clearly. Finally, I lifted my hands up and slammed them down, causing the flames to brighten and grow, casting an orange light on my face so it shown clearly and was unmistakable. I stood there for a moment. Everyone began clapping.

“Well, Hyriu,” Chief Arnook began, “that was most impressive. I think that will be truly dramatic to watch.”

“Yes, I agree,” said Wei.

“Hyriu, that was pretty awesome,” Koluk said.

“It was fantastic and beautiful to watch,” Lina said.

“That wasn’t too bad,” Lamara laughed.

“Well, I think we all agree. It was very good, but I have a celebration to host, so good day to you all. I must be off,” Arnook said and left along with most of the Royal Court.

Pakku walked up to me. “You should know, Hyriu, some of us do not think it is a good idea for you to reveal yourself to everyone just yet. I ask you to use caution, after everyone finds out who you are; they will never look at you the same again or interact with you the same again. People who hated you before will love you now, but they will only love Anzen Hyriu, not Hyriu Jingshen. People will be jealous or envious of you and might try to attack you. That boy, Taruk, comes to my mind. He will be most unhappy, I think. I could see the city splitting in half, those who adore you, and those who envy or fear you. It could spark a battle, perhaps even a civil war in Hydronia. I told Chief Arnook my thoughts. He said I was over thinking things and had too much imagination. He is being blinded by you. He thinks if he reveals the Anzen, people will praise him as one of the best Chiefs ever. Don’t get me wrong. He is not a greedy man, but he can not help himself. He is so fixated on the idea that you will bring only hope and happiness, even though you yourself told him that you can’t end the Hundred Year War. He sees only the best outcome of this event. So remember this, when it comes down to it, he cannot force you to go on that stage. He cannot force you to reveal yourself. The choice is yours to make in the end. Please make the right choice, or if you do reveal yourself, always remember who you are. The spirits in you do not define you; you are Hyriu Jingshen who also happens to be the Anzen. Don’t let it go to your head. Still be Hyriu after today. Still be you. This is your first true test as the Anzen, as the safety net. If the spark of war is ignited, do not let it catch fire, or we all will be caught in the blaze,” Pakku looked me in the eyes. “Please, remember what I have said when you are about to walk on stage.”

“I will remember, Master Pakku,” I said. “I promise I will do what I think is right.”

“Good, I know you will do your best,” he said and walked off.

As he left, behind him I saw a figure in the crowd of air benders; the person was wearing a hooded cloak. At first, I thought it is was the Robed Man, watching me. Then, I realized that the person’s cloak was dark blue.

“Hana,” I said aloud.

“What,” Lamara said.

“Hana!” I said and pointed.

Hana looked over and took off running.

“Oh great,” Koluk said.

“Who the heck is Hana?” Lamara asked.

I heard Lina and Koluk quickly explain to Lamara and Daminao as I ran towards Hana.

“Hana stop!” I shouted as Lamara joined me.

“So it’s your crazy stalker girlfriend,” Lamara noted as we ran through the crowd of confused air benders.

I saw Daminao fly by overhead. I used air bending, so I ran faster. Hana was pretty fast and had a head start. We were running along a path in the thick jungle. It wound and turned. I came around a bend, Lamara close behind. The path straightened out all the way to the Shui Temple. I could see the whole path, and Hana was no where in sight.

“She must have gone into the trees,” I said, out of breath.

“We’ll never find her on foot, and the canopy is too thick to see through from above. She won this round,” Lamara said holding her knees. After a pause she said, “You want to play air ball?”

I gave her a weird look before finally giving in, “Sure.”

We went back with the others.

“Hey, you guys want to play air ball?” Lamara asked.

“I’m guessing you didn’t find Hana then,” Koluk said.

“Sure, I’ll play air ball,” Daminao said.

“Nope, she got away,” I said to Koluk.

“So are we just supposed to watch you play air ball?” Koluk asked as we started toward an air ball field.

“Course not, you can play too,” Lamara said and grabbed his arm and pulled him, “Come on, Lina and Hiko. You guys can play, too.”

I laughed, and we all reached a field, “So, how is this going to work?”

“Um, how about you and Daminao against Hiko, Koluk, Lina, and me?” Lamara said.

“Uh..?” I looked at Daminao.

“Unless you’re afraid?” Lamara challenged.

“I’m not afraid. You’re on!” I said back.
We got to the nearest field. It was rectangular field of grass. There were many wooden poles all around the same hieght but no two were exactly the same. At each end was a square with a circular hole in it. The rules were to get the ball through the goal to win. We split up into our teams and played several rounds. After getting knocked off the wooden poles multiple times, Hiko decided to just watch. For the most part, we were pretty even. Even when Daminao and I found really good ways to work together. No doubt Lamara’s guardian, Master Sonam, had taught her how to play fiercely. After we lost track of who was winning, we decided to see what the festival in Hydronia had in store for us today.

We walked down into Hydronia, which was alive with activity. Tents were set up all over town, but mostly in the center where there was a huge space for big events. A large stage had been set up for me, Pakku, and the other water benders. It was close to the Grand Hall and the northern border of town. We met up with Fai, Tekton, and, surprisingly, Hana. We all walked through the maze of tents, looking at all of the games and attractions. Lina dragged Fai off somewhere. Tekton and Daminao seemed to be getting along well. Since they were about the same age, I wasn’t surprised. I was getting jumpy and nervous. Hana noticed this.

“Don’t worry, Hyriu. It will all be fine.” She leaned in close and whispered in my ear. “As long as the Avatar doesn’t come back, we shouldn’t worry,” she said, quoting what Arnook and Wei had said several times.

She gave me a sly smile. I stopped walking abruptly. Koluk, Tekton, and Daminao noticed that.

“Hyriu, you alright?” Koluk asked.

“Uh, yeah, I just…I haven’t eaten anything, and I am really hungry.” I said, kind of truthfully.

“Oh, me too. Why don’t we go get something to eat?” Hana said.

“Oh, uh, really?” I said, seeing no way out.

“Hana? Hana?” someone called, and then Hana’s mother, Meili, broke through the crowd. “Ah, Hana, there you are. I’m sorry, Hyriu, but I’m going to have to steal her from you.”

“Oh, it’s no bother at all, really,” I said politely.

“Oh, you’re so sweet. Hmm have a good day Hyriu,” she said and walked off leading Hana.

“You too,” I said to her. “Thank the spirits; I thought I’d never be rid of her.”

“Well, I’m hungry,” Koluk said. “So can we go get some food?”

“Sure,” I said.

“Alright,” said Tekton.

We walked to one of the tents and bought some fried squid wrapped in kelp.

“So what’s going on with Hana?” Tekton asked between mouthfuls of squid.

“Uh, what do you mean?” I asked, trying to sound innocent.

“Well, didn’t you two go on a date two weeks ago?”

“Yeah,” I answered.

“Well then, why do you seem to always want to stay as far away from her as possible?” he asked.

“Well, um, she always has this creepy thing where she knows things that she shouldn’t know, and she’s always popping up in strange places,” I explained.

“That’s women for you,” Tekton laughed. “You got a lot to learn about the dating life. The only way for you to keep your girlfriend from finding out your secrets is to not have any. You might think she doesn’t know something, but she does and is probably just testing you to see when or if you’ll tell her, so you probably should tell Hana everything she doesn’t know.”

We continued eating then walked around playing games and talking. The day dragged on and on.

I was constantly on guard for Taruk or Hana. Friends came and went, some to eat, some to play games, and some to go hang out with other friends. I won a few prizes. Koluk and I would get super competitive and, in some cases, destructive with all the arcade games. Overall, the day was fun. There were enough games, food, and friends to distract me from the troubles tonight might bring. When the sun began to set, Lamara found me eating ice candy with Koluk, Lina, and Fai.

“Hey, Hyriu,” she said quietly, “It’s time.”

Koluk and Lina exchanged nervous looks.

I nodded and took a deep breath, “Okay, let’s go.”

We started to walk away, “Where are you going, Hyriu?” Fai asked.

“Oh, don’t worry Fai. He’ll be back after sun down. I want to show him something,” Lamara said happily. She could always shake the nerves out of people with her light-hearted tone.
“Well, alright, see you later,” he said.

We worked our way through the crowd to get behind the stage. I found Chief Arnook waiting, talking with Pakku and Yugoda and an angry Princess Yue.

“Hyriu!” Yue said and ran over to me. “My father’s plan is foolish and stupid. You should not go through with it.”

“I have already expressed my feelings,” I told her.

“Father, why do you insist he do this? What do you hope to gain from it?” Yue pleaded. I had never seen her like this.

Arnook ignored his daughter and looked at me rubbing his temples. “Someone let it slip to her about your visions,” he explained.

“Pakku told me everything!” she cried.

“Including his crazy thoughts of civil war?” Arnook asked her.

“Yes,” she stammered.

“He told me as well,” I added.

“Good, then you know the foolish ideals that run through their heads and to ignore them,” Arnook said.

I heard Wei announce the young water benders of Hydronia to perform after Master Pakku.

Pakku gave me a meaningful look and walked out from behind the curtain. The crowd cheered.

“While I can see the idea of civil war might be a bit far fetched, but, Chief, can’t you see what is happening? You’re going so far to say this is right by ignoring your own family? How is that right?” I said to him.

“She will see my point of view after you reveal yourself,” Arnook said sternly.

“Perhaps, but Pakku at least said one thing sensible to me if nothing else. You only see the best outcome of this situation. What if you don’t get the desired effect?” I said.

“Hyriu, do not lose yourself in Pakku’s over exaggeration, too. You are the back up Avatar. How could the people not look to you with hope?” Arnook almost shouted.

“They could be mad that you kept this secret from them all this time,” Yue offered.

“Quiet!” Arnook ordered.

“But what about Hyriu’s visions? You can’t ignore them,” Yue pleaded.

“What about them? He had visions. That is precisely what they are, visions, nothing more. They are dreams, figments of Hyriu’s imagination,” he said.

I was not happy with practically being called crazy, “Then how come every time I see the Robed Man, everyone around gets a cold feeling?” I asked.

Wei announced the end of Pakku’s performance and the beginning of the young water benders’ performance.

“I did not know this,” Arnook said, caught off guard.

“That is because you have been ignoring my visions, so I didn’t bother telling you since you would just brush it off as if I said the sky was purple!” I shouted.

“Well, it does not matter, you are going to reveal yourself tonight so the people can have hope again,” Arnook said.

I was about to respond when the female spirit spoke to me, ‘Hyriu, something is about to happen, something that will change everything.’

‘Um, yeah, I know that. I’m about to give my performance and reveal myself to everyone,’ I said to her.

‘No,’ she said.

‘What do you mean “No”?’ I asked, but she remained silent, ‘Why do you always say big dramatic things, but you never explain them?’

She didn’t answer.

“Um, Hyriu,” Lamara said, “Are you alright? You look like your having an argument with yourself.”

“That’s more or less true,” I told her.

“Well, enough of this nonsense. Hyriu will perform tonight, and that is final,” Arnook stated. “Now, I am going on stage. Hyriu you know when to come out, correct?”

I heard the crowd cheering on the water benders as they left the stage.

“Probably when you say something like ‘Behold the Great and Powerful Anzen’ right?” I said with a sarcastic smile.

“Something like that,” he said and walked through the curtain and was met by a loud cheer.

I sat down deep in thought about everything that was going on. Pakku’s words echoed in my head along with Yue’s and Arnook’s.
‘Um, spirit lady, do you think you could help me?’ I asked in my head.

Surprisingly, she answered, “I do not need to help. The decision of whether or not to go out on stage will be made for you.’
That really didn’t help, so I still sat there troubled while Arnook began his big speech.

“Good evening, everyone,” he began, “I hope everyone has enjoyed the celebration.” He was answered by a loud cheer, “That is good, but I have one final surprise,” he paused, “As you all know the war with the Fire Nation has only gotten worse. Our sister tribe in the south has been all but eradicated. All that is left of the Air Nomads dwell in the Bei Shui Mountains as our neighbors. Most of their culture has been lost forever. The Earth Kingdom is strong, but after 100 years of war, it is crumbling. I received word last month that one of the Great Three Strongholds has fallen. Gulanoth fell to the Fire Nation. Now Ohmashu and Ba Sing Se are the only strong holds left. The only thing that has kept us safe is our location. The Fire Nation showed us in the Tragedy of Lok Wa that they can wipe us out.”

I swallowed, that was when my parents were killed.

Arnook continued, “This year, Sozin’s Comet arrives again, and no doubt the Fire Nation have some grand evil plan to harness the comet’s strength. Hope is fading. Courage and bravery are being replaced with fear. Now no one can walk through the Earth Kingdom with out a sword at his belt, or a bow on his back, else he will be attacked. The world is falling, and no one can see the bottom of the dark pit we plummet into. The world needs a safety net. And one might be in sight, a glimmer of hope shines on the horizon. I can see the source of the glow, and now I shall reveal it to you. I give you our safety net, the-” Arnook suddenly stopped mid-sentence.

I heard gasps and people cry out. I turned and looked at Lamara with a questioning look. She was looked at something behind me, something to the north. Her face in complete shock.

“Look,” she said in a shaky voice.

I turned and looked to the northern edge of the city. A blue light was shinning, the source of it was on the other side of a large hill, but I knew what it was. I took off running to the hill.

“Hyriu!” I head Lamara shout.

I kept running. I charged past the Grand Hall. I raced up the hill. There were two people already at the top, staring at the sacred temple. I could tell they were spiritual caretakers of the temple. I then looked at the temple. The same temple I had seen in my first vision. The same temple Arnook had shown me after his announcement. It looked exactly like my vision; the tall spire was glowing bright blue, which meant only one thing. I turned and looked at Lamara who was standing behind me. Chaos had erupted in the crowd by the stage. Many people shouted the same thing over and over.

“Chief Arnook said there was a light on the horizon! He predicted it!”

I remembered what I heard so many people say in the last two weeks, “The time to worry was when the Avatar returned.” Now, was the time to worry. Now, was when my visions were proven true. The people shouted what the light meant.

“The Avatar has returned! The Avatar has returned!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 17
A Time to Worry

That night, I laid in my bed, unable to go to sleep. I could hear Wei and some other people down stairs talking. I couldn’t make out every word, but they were discussing me.

“…he alright? He just went straight up stairs,” Wei was saying.

“…hasn’t spoken since the temple lit…” Arnook said.

“We…tomorrow…needs sleep…” Wei decided.

They left after Wei came up to check on me; I pretended to be asleep. I finally fell asleep late in the night. I woke up before sunrise and couldn’t fall back asleep. I went down stairs and got something to eat. Then I walked behind the house where there was a small open space with walls. I began to practice different bending forms. I didn’t bend; I just did the motions. First, I did water bending forms. I moved slowly and focused on perfecting the forms. I let my chi flow through my limbs, enriching me and filling me with spiritual energy. I began to hear the whispers of so many voices echoing in my head. I switched to air bending forms. I felt more and more powerful; I could feel a great energy filling up inside me.

‘Good, you are connecting with the spirits in you.’ The woman in my head said.

I then did fire bending forms. I entered stage one and my energy grew. I could feel my chi flowing all around me, from my finger tips to my toes.

‘Keep going,’ the woman said.

I felt my power grow to as high as it could go when I was in stage one. I could feel a barrier that held even more power. I focused on the barrier and slowly it began to give way and suddenly collapsed, filling me with more power and energy than anything I had felt in a long time. I kept practicing the forms, controlling the amount of power I used. It was like trying to guide a rushing river. I slowly led it in the right direction. If I tried to force it where I wanted it, I would lose control. After a while, I had complete control of the river of energy.

‘You have mastered Stage Two of the Avatar State,’ the woman said.

“Really, how?” I asked her.

‘You connected deeply with your spiritual energy, and you were able to control it very well. The trick is being in the right state of mind, with no earthly distractions. You were focused on your movements, nothing else, so you were able to master it,’ she said.

“I just didn’t want to think about anything else. It is really hard to process, and it is also frightening. I, I didn’t want to feel scared or worried or anything,” I told her.

‘And that was the key to your success,’ she said.

I continued doing the bending forms. I don’t know how long I practiced. The sun rose, and the city began to wake up.

I heard someone walk up behind me. I continued practicing.

“Good morning, Hyriu,” Wei said.

“Good morning,” I muttered.

I turned and faced him and stopped practicing. He had a concerned look on his face, his eyes full of worry. Behind him, I saw Koluk and Hiko with similar expressions.

“How are you?” he asked kindly and hopefully.

“I’m not sure,” I said truthfully.

“Okay well, if you need to talk to someone, I’m here for you,” he said.

“Alright,” I said with no emotion.

“No doubt Chief Arnook will call us to a meeting some time today, so stay in touch,” he said.

“I will,” I said, still no emotion in my voice.

He lingered for a second then walked back to the house. After a minute, I walked into the house, also. Wei was speaking to Koluk in the other room. Hiko was sitting at the table eating in silence.

“Hyriu?” Hiko said.

“Hmm?” I answered.

“Are you alright?” he asked nervously.

“I don’t know,” I said starring out the window.

“What’s going to happen now? Now that the Avatar is back. What happens next?” he asked.

“I don’t know that either, little brother,” I said, looking at him.

He looked back at his food and didn’t ask any more questions. I went upstairs. I thought about what the rest of the town was like. People were probably celebrating, having parties and big meals, but here, here there was a tense silence. The thought slightly amused me in a depressing way. There was no school today since it was the week break. I walked up stairs and got ready for the day. I could hear people celebrating outside. After I was ready, I just sat down on my bed thinking about what to do. I went down stairs.

“Hiko, I’m going for a walk,” I said.

“Okay,” he replied from somewhere in house.

I walked outside. People were celebrating, kids were playing in the snow, and everyone seemed so happy and full of hope. Everyone, except me. I walked around in silence. People smiled at me. I faked a smile back. I saw Lina hanging out with Fai; they were arm in arm. I wondered if she had made a move. I smiled at them as they walked by. She gave me a slightly worried look. I walked to the south and left the city. I walked into the foothills of the Bei Shui Mountains. I walked up on to a high ridge and looked out over the city. I sat down and started to meditate. I sat there for a long time. After at least and hour and a half, I heard someone approaching. I kept my eyes closed. I heard the person sit down next to me. I waited for a minute or two before opening my eyes to see who it was; it was Tekton.

“Hey,” he said.

“Hey,” I said quietly.

“What are you doing sitting up here all alone?” he asked.

“I wanted to get away from all the celebrating. I wanted to be alone,” I explained simply.

“Oh, should I leave then?” he joked.

“No, you can stay,” I said, almost smiling.

“And about that, everyone is happy and celebrating, everyone except you. Why is that?” he asked seriously.

“Yeah, well…it’s a long story,” I said.

“We have time. Water bending practice doesn’t start for a bit,” he said.

“I don’t know; it’s complicated,” I told him.

“Well, maybe you could tell me what was really going on yesterday,” he paused. “A lot of people are saying Chief Arnook predicted the return of the Avatar. But, I don’t think that that is what happened. Chief Arnook looked just as surprised as everyone else. And in his speech he talked about how the world needs a safety net. He wasn’t talking about the Avatar. He was talking about someone else. And about a minute after the temple lit up, when we were leaving after our performance during Chief Arnook’s speech, I was the last to leave the stage, and I heard someone shout your name from behind the curtain. And before that, I heard parts of an argument going on back stage, I heard your voice along with the Chief’s and someone else’s.”

“How much did you hear?” I asked cautiously not looking at him.

“Enough, you know something, Hyriu. I don’t know what, but you know something important. Something that connects everything I don’t know about you, I bet. Why you fake at water bending. Why you were behind the curtain yesterday. Why someone shouted your name, and why you are acting like this today,” he paused waiting for my response. When I remained silent, he said, “So what were you meditating about?”

“Things,” I answered.

“Alright, I won’t push you for answers,” he said with a laugh.

We sat there for awhile. After a long time, Tekton stood up, “Come on, Hyriu. Practice will be starting soon.”

I got up, and we walked down to the field. A lot of people were already there. Tekton and I took our spots in the back. Taruk walked over to us, ‘Great,’ I thought, ‘did he figure it out, also?’

“Hey Hyr-o,” he snarled, “I’m watching you.” He walked off.

“Alright then,” I said, confused.

Master Desu and Wei walked up onto the platform.

“Okay, everyone,” Wei said, “We will be doing some more ice bending. You will be making a ball of ice, which you already know, and, without melting it, you will bend it into an ice shard. Now don’t get frustrated on the first try. I will tell you that you won’t get it at first. And there will be explosions, so please don’t scream or do anything childish.” Then, he demonstrated the move for us. He lifted up a ball of water, froze it and stretched it into a shard of ice. He motioned for us to try.

I was not in my right mind today; I lifted up my ball of water and froze it with in seconds. Not even the older kids like Tekton and Huan were that good. And then, with out thinking, I stretched the sphere into a near perfect shard of ice.

“How in the world did you do that?” Tekton asked in shock.

I snapped out of my trance and quickly melted my ice and let it fall to the ground, “Do what?”

“I saw you. You did it perfectly. You didn’t have any trouble with it at all. You can’t hide that!" Tekton exclaimed.

“Will you please keep it down?” I pleaded. I looked around; Taruk was looking straight at me, a look of shock and suspicion on his face.

“So you admit it. You are a lot better than what you show,” Tekton said triumphantly.

“You have no idea,” I told him, since I knew I couldn’t play dumb when he perfectly saw me do it.

“What do you mean?” Tekton asked as a few kids' ice balls exploded.

“Let’s just say you are right. Everything that I am hiding is connected by one thing,” I said lowering my voice.

“And what is that?” Tekton asked excitedly.

A man walked up to Wei on the stage. “Hyriu,” Wei called, “We have been summoned.”

I looked at Tekton seeing no point in hiding the truth from him now. I had already said too much, “I am the Anzen from the Legend of Beifen.”

Tekton’s ice exploded, and I walked away, toward the stage.

“Why does he always get to skip out on practices?” Taruk muttered angrily.

“Because, Pupil Taruk,” Wei snarled, “Chief Arnook has summoned him. If you see a problem with that, then I suggest you to take it up with him.”

“Why is he so special?” Taruk asked.

“Hmm, I don’t know. Maybe it is because he does as he is told and doesn’t make angry remarks all the time! Now if that does not satisfy you, then perhaps you should ask the Chief, or if you do not want to do that, then you will stay here and work on your ice bending. Silently!” Wei growled at him. Taruk did what he was told, but he glared at me.

We went to the palace and to the courtroom. When we walked in, it looked like Princess Yue and her father had been arguing.

“Ah, Hyriu,” Arnook said, “I welcome you and ask you to accept my most humble apologies for doubting you and your visions. They seem to be coming true, and that awakens fear in all of us. Now that the Avatar has returned, the Great Darkness could be here in less that six months just as the Robed Man said.”

“I accept your apology, and you think this Robed Man is the Darkness that the spirits told Avatar Roku about?” I asked.

“Yes, and if what he says in your visions is true, then now is truly a time for worry.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 18
Uncertain Decisions

“So, what do we do now? I asked.

“Whatever we can to try and prepare you for this threat,” Arnook answered. “You will begin your more intense training with Master Sonam immediately. Also, I will suggest to Instructor Chen to begin sword training as soon as possible. I do not think we should wait until spring for you to visit Master Lee and Shan. You need to work on your earth bending as much as possible, along with fire bending, though scheduling a visit with Master Zohar will be much harder. I think that when you go to Heiwa Valley, that you should practice your other bending and swordsmanship. I believe your friend, Daminao, has skill with swords. Also, whenever they can, Wei and Pakku will have intense water bending practices with you, but air bending must be your focus right now. And start getting better at hand-to-hand combat in practice, so you won’t just be wasting your time and get some real practice. I also encourage you to spar with Koluk since he is actually a challenge for you.”

“Okay, um, wow. I am going to be very busy,” I said.

“Chief,” Wei said, “Are you sure Hyriu can handle all these things? I mean, he is still just a boy. What if we held back on some things?”

“No, Wei. If the Darkness will be here in less than six months, we can not hold back. I would much rather have him over prepared than not prepared enough. We cannot be certain of anything at this point, so I am going to do all in my power to prepare him.”

“Wei,” I said, “Don’t worry about me. I can handle it.”

He didn’t look reassured, but Arnook said, “Good, you will start immediately, unless you have had anymore visions,
or if you have any more information about that person in the library.”

“Actually, I think I know who it was,” I said.

“Oh, really,” Arnook said getting excited. “Who?”

“I am nearly positive that it was Hana,” I told them.

“Hana?” Wei exclaimed. “That girl you went on a date with?”

“Yes, her,” I said to him.

“Well, I don’t want ‘nearly positive.’ I want a yes or a no,” Arnook said. “You’ll have to investigate further. Find out for sure, then report it to Wei or me if you can. With the Avatar’s return, we need to keep your identity a secret as much as possible. Now, if that is all-”

“Actually,” I began, “Tekton knows about me, also.”

Arnook put his face in his hands. “Alright, I won’t ask how he knows just make sure he doesn’t give you away. You need to be extremely careful from now on. And only tell people if you absolutely have to.”

I nodded

“Oh, Chief, Taruk, the one that has caused problems before, is getting bold. He is becoming a large problem. He knows something is going on; a secret being kept.” Wei explained.

Arnook sighed, “Of course he does.” He rubbed his temples, “What next, Hyriu, fire bending in school? Well, I guess just keep an eye on that boy for the time being. Now, Hyriu, go to Heiwa Valley to practice, if…that is all?”

“That is all, for now,” I said.

“Good,” he said, clearly relieved.

Master Sonam had apparently been in the back of the room the whole time. We went to Heiwa Valley, and I learned how to properly create a mini tornado and had glider practice. On my glider, I practiced air surfing where I stand up on my glider. I had gotten pretty good, but I wanted to be great at it. Then, I practiced fire bending and earth bending for several hours. When it was about three hours after noon, I went behind the Greenwall and practiced sword fighting with Daminao. He lent me one of his swords to practice with. He was a good teacher, and at the end of our lesson, we sparred with swords and air bending. I found that he was a very talented bender. Koluk then came to the valley, and we practiced hand-to-hand combat until sundown. We had dinner at the Shui Air Temple then went home. I was so exhausted that I collapsed on my bed thinking I could sleep for the next six months.

Chapter Text

Chapter 19
Confrontation of Truth

The rest of the week break was not a break for me at all. The next two days for me were spent training, practicing, and sleeping. By the third day when we went back to school, I was almost too exhausted to speak. People noticed this and asked about it. I just told them I had been very busy over the break and didn’t get much sleep. Taruk kept a close eye on me and kept asking me things like, “Why are you so tired?” and “What were you doing over the break?” or “Why didn’t you get enough sleep?” He was waiting for me to slip up, and as tired as I was, I would slip up if it was just me and him, but Koluk would tell him off, or Mr. Zhen would snap at him.

Hana was also a problem. I was nearly one hundred percent positive she was the person in the library; I just needed to prove it.

I had to have my guard up 24/7 now. I never knew when Taruk, Hana, it someone else could be watching. Tekton took a few days to come out of his shock. At first, he didn’t talk to me at practice, and then he became skeptical. Only when he came to Heiwa Valley and saw me practice did he fully believe I was the Anzen.

I saw the Robed Man here and there, always watching me. The woman in my head spoke to me more often, giving me advice. She said she could speak to me more because I was getting more spiritual, and also because the solstice was drawing near. Spiritual energy was always much stronger on the solstice.

As my fourteenth birthday came closer and closer, I got more excited that I was going to be entering my first year of manhood. I would finally be able to participate in the Warrior Games, which was the right of passage every man had to go through. You had to be at least fourteen years old and no older than eighteen to participate. It was how the Water Tribe began shaping its warriors.

We started sword training with Instructor Chen. He now taught two groups of kids. I took sword training with Koluk, Fai, Tekton, and Taruk. I didn’t hold back with swordsmanship. I wanted to be good at something, and swordsmanship came naturally to me. Though, it was a bit annoying to always say ‘No disrespect intended’ every time I unsheathed my sword since I was left-handed.

Lina and I continued out secret training meetings at night. I kept changing the location of where we met because I had a feeling someone was on to us.

One night, we were training in the foothills of the Bei Shui Mountains. The full moon provided plenty of light. My birthday was in two days. She had brought her fans and the scroll she got from the Gambing Palace. We were practicing the moves the scroll showed.

“So, Lina,” I said, “You and Fai, huh?

“What? What are you talking about?” Lina asked, blushing so much I could see it in the dim light.

“Come on. I saw you two after the celebration arm in arm. So what’s going on between you two?” I asked with a smirk.

“Okay, he asked me out,” Lina smiled.

“He asked you out? Whoa, that’s great! I’m happy for you,” I said, and I meant it. Lina had liked Fai for awhile, so it was about time they went out.

Just then, I heard the sound of crunching snow behind me. I snapped my head around and searched the nearby hills. I saw a flicker of movement disappear behind a mound of snow. In a simple motion, I melted the snow to reveal a crouching figure wearing a hood.

“Hana?” I said confused.

The person looked at me and dashed off.

“Hana!” I cried. “Come back.”

She continued running. Since she had already seen my powerful bending, I didn’t hold back. I swirled some water at her and wrapped it around her ankle and tried to pull her to me. She moved her hands and took control of my water and shot it at Lina. Lina was knocked to the ground with a yelp.

“Lina! Are you alright?” I asked, racing to her side.

“I am alright. Just get her for me,” she snarled.

I stood up and swirled water all around Hana. I froze it into an icy prison. She looked around frantically. Then she pulled her hands to her chest and shot them out. The ice prison exploded. I shielded myself with my hands, but I still got some cuts. I looked to see if Lina was alright. She had a few cuts also but was fine. I did a few complicated motions, and the ground pulsed. I was bending the water under my feet. I moved my hands forward, and the ice rippled and cracked from the water moving under it. The ripple moved toward Hana at an alarming speed. Just as Hana reached the top of the ridge, the ripple reached her. Through the ice, burst several tendrils of water all closing in around her. She outstretched her hands and held the water back. She managed to slip between an opening and escape. I let the water fall to the ground.

“Lina, get your things and head home; I’m going after her,” I said, and she nodded.

I raced toward the ridge; it was the same ridge where Tekton and I had sat. I saw Hana sliding down it on a piece of ice toward the city. I sent a stream of water, tripping her. As she fell, she sent a cloud of snow up to me. I jumped aside, shocked that she could do something so powerful. I sent another stream of water at her. She redirected it back at me. It knocked me of my feet, and I began sliding down the ridge. I sent a wave of ice at Hana. She blocked. I managed to make a sled out of ice, and I stood up on it, surfing down the hill. Hana and I exchanged a series of water attacks. I still couldn’t believe she could be this good. I began to make an ice wall, and I rode on top of it. I zoomed down and in front of her, blocking her path. She looked up at me and clapped her hands in front of herself. She blasted a hole in the wall and slid right through. I collapsed my wall into a pile of snow, and I slid down it. Then, I ran after Hana, shooting water at her. I ran into the city, searching frantically. I climbed to the roof of a house, looking for any signs of movement. I heard rushing water behind me; I turned just in time to see some water coming at me. I had no time to react. It hit me in the chest, and I fell off the roof. I barely had time to use air bending to cushion the fall, but I still hit the ground hard. I laid there for a moment, and tried to get up. Finally, I managed to stand up and hobble home. I had a bad limp and some bruises, but I got home. I didn’t try to go upstairs; I just fell asleep in a chair.

* * *

The next day at school was horrible. I had a few bruises, cuts, and a bad ankle since I seemed to have landed on my right leg. My friends inquired as to what had happene. I just said bad practice yesterday. I made the decision to confront Hana today; I waited for the right moment to do it. That moment didn’t come for most of the day. I had to give credit to Hana; she was good at acting oblivious. I talked to her more often, trying to get anything out of her. At lunch, she sat next to me. Tekton now also ate lunch with us; he and Koluk were becoming good friends, and even Fai was starting to be friends with him.

“So, Hana,” I began, “did you sleep well last night?”

I saw Lina look over nervously.

“Oh, yes. I did,” she said sweetly. “Thanks for asking. How about you? Did you sleep well?” she asked slyly.

“Well enough,” I answered.

“I should expect so, with your ‘busy’ schedule. I would be exhausted. Am I right?” she said, taking a drink of tea.

“You might be,” I said.

The others looked at us, sensing something more to our conversation than what we had said.

Sword training went very well. I was the best in the class, and Instructor Chen had me demonstrate new moves to everyone.

“Hyriu,” he said to me when everyone was practicing the new moves, “I am so glad you found something you have a great talent for. You really seem to enjoy swordsmanship. You are a great teacher, and I would not be shocked at all if Chief Arnook or the chief after him would want you to be on the Royal Court some day.”

“Instructor Chen, you have a lot of faith in me. Thank you for believing in me,” I said and bowed respectfully.

He chuckled, “Yes, you will definitely be hearing me cheer for you in the Warrior Games. You are of age this year, correct?”

“Yes, my birthday is tomorrow in fact,” I said.

“Oh, yes of course, on the solstice and the same as Koluk’s, how could I forget? But I want you to remember something while you participate: it isn’t about winning. It is about sharpening your warrior skills. That is the whole part of the games because friendly, or perhaps unfriendly,” he glanced at Taruk, “competition is one of the best motivators.”

“I will remember that. Thank you,” I said. “But perhaps you should tell someone else that,” I said and looked at Fai practicing with his sword as it flew out of his hands.

“Yes, perhaps I should,” Chen said.

At water bending practice, Taruk regarded me with a wary look, mixed with anger and maybe even a little bit of fear. I had no idea what I did to mess with him that much. I made the choice to confront Hana about the truth after practice.

Tekton acted roughly the same since he learned my secret. The only difference was every time we learned a new move or formation he would always ask if I already knew how to do it, which my reply was always ‘yes.’

As soon as practice ended, I rushed to the stands and saw Hana. I pushed through the crowd to get to her.

When I reached her, I said, “Come on. We need to talk.”

“Okay,” she said, a little startled.

We stayed in the stands until everyone was gone.

“So, what do you want to talk about?” she asked innocently.

“We both know what I want to talk about,” I stated seriously.

Her face was hard to read, but she gulped, “Really? You’ll have to fill me in.”

“Come on, Hana, out with it. I know that you know,” I said.

“Um, know what? You really do need to be a bit more specific,” her tone went from sweet to mocking.

Fine, if she wanted me to say it, then I would, “Alright, I know that you followed me to the palace the day of the tour. I know that you went into the palace and saw me for who I am. I know you over heard me and Pakku talking. I know you were in Heiwa Valley the day of the celebration, and I know you were spying on me last night.”

She looked confused, “Okay, Anzen Hyriu, I admit to all of those things, except for spying on you last night. I didn’t need to follow you anymore after Mr. Hui told me what ‘Anzen’ meant. The only reason I went to Heiwa Valley was because I wanted to see your performance, and I wanted to see how you were around the air benders.”

“But, I saw someone wearing a cloak watching Lina and me. I water bended at you, but you escaped using very good water bending,” I said quickly.

“That wasn’t me. I am a good healer but not a good water bender. You should know that since I couldn’t even melt the ice all the way in the Gambing Library,” she explained.

“Well, I thought you must have been practicing since that was a month ago; I thought you had gotten better. But I guess no one could become that good in only a month,” I said.

“Well, now that I know who you are, do you think I could come to Heiwa Valley with you?” she asked with genuine excitement.

I remembered our date and how fun it had been, “Sure, I guess you can come.”

“Oh, and don’t worry, I won’t be all annoying or anything like I was the first day after our date,” she said with a smile. “I was annoying on purpose.”

“Really, why?” I asked confused.

“Because I knew if I was really annoying that when I sat away from you in Myths and Legends class, you wouldn’t want to sit next to me. If I had been fun, then you would have sat next to me, and I didn’t want to be near you when I asked Mr. Hui about the Anzen. I didn’t know what your reaction would be,” she said with a smile.

“That’s ingenious,” I said. “You are a very good strategist.”

“Thank you, but I already knew that,” she laughed.

I laughed also. “Wait, when you overheard Pakku and me talking and we heard you gasp, where did you go? We looked in the alley but didn‘t see anyone.”

“Simple, I hid in the barrel,” she said.

We continued talking as we headed toward the valley. I filled her in on everything she didn’t know. I tried as hard as I could to distract myself with my explanations, but I couldn’t get one question out of my head: if that wasn’t Hana last night, then who was it?

Chapter Text

Chapter 20
A Solstice Birthday

 

I woke up on my birthday with excitement. Today was a very special day; I was now fourteen, my coming of age. Today was also the Winter Solstice and Koluk’s fourteenth birthday; there would be a festival in the city. I got dressed quickly and went downstairs.

Hiko was sitting at the table, eating breakfast with Wei. “Ah, there he is,” Wei said. “Happy fourteenth birthday, Hyriu.”

“Thank you, Wei,” I said gladly.

“Happy birthday, Hyriu,” Hiko said with a mouthful of noodles.

I laughed, “Thanks, Hiko.”

“Here are your presents,” Wei said and motioned to the table where there was a stack of items. I sat down and picked up a scroll with a ribbon tied around it.

“That one’s from me,” Hiko said happily.

I untied the ribbon and opened the scroll. It was a detailed map of the world. It had locations of all the major cities in all four nations, names of all the mountain ranges, and lakes and rivers. I saw that other places were freshly inked in on the map, like the Shui Temple and the village where Shan and Master Lee lived. The way the map was colored showed forests and deserts, not the usual map that showed the four nations.

“Hiko, this is amazing. How did you get this?” I asked.

“I told dad about it when we were at the Gambing Palace, and after the banquet, he went and found a map. Then, he inked in all the places I told him,” Hiko explained. Hiko called Wei dad because he never new our real parents. For him it has always just been Wei.

“Wow, that is cool. Now, I’ll have to get you something good for you birthday next year. Was that your plan all along?” I asked with a smile.

He laughed. I moved on to the other presents. There was a long package that I opened next. It was a bow made of dark pinewood, and it was strong and light. It had a quiver and arrows, which were also made of the dark pinewood.

“Wei, this is incredible!” I said as I pulled back the bow, testing it out.

“Well, you have also expressed an interest in archery,” he said simply.

I put the bow in the quiver and saw it could fit reasonably well, even with all the arrows. The chest was the last thing on the table.

“Hyriu, when I found you and your brother in your ruined house in the Lok Wa Isles, you and Hiko were tucked in a corner along with a chest made of drift wood. This is that chest. Your mother and father had family possessions stowed in here the day of the attack; I added a few items my self. Open it,” Wei said, his voice full of emotion.

With shaking hands, I pulled the chest to me. I remembered it. I remember my mom putting things in the chest just before…before she… No, it was too painful to think about what happened after that. I opened the chest. There were several items inside. I pulled out a painting that had a small scorch mark in one corner. I felt a lump form in my throat. It was a painting of our family. My mom was holding a baby Hiko in her arms. My dad had his right arm around her and his left on my shoulder. I was only four years old in the painting, but I was almost five since Hiko was born a month and a half before my birthday. I set the picture down with watery eyes. I pulled out a knife made from a dolphin-shark’s tooth.

“That was your father’s knife. It was his secondary weapon,” Wei told me.

The knife had a sheath to go with it. I saw a wooden toy of a koi fish. It had been mine, then Hiko’s. I then saw something shining from the bottom of the chest. I picked it up. It was a golden jar with large emeralds on it. There were other smaller gems on it as well such as rubies and sapphires.

I looked at Wei, “Is this what I think it is?”

“Yes, the sacred jar the spirits gave Avatar Roku. The same jar that contained them for so many years, before they went into you,” he said.

It felt familiar, yet also alien in my hands. It felt like an old relic in a museum that should never be touched. I set the jar down and lifted up the last thing in the chest. At first, I didn’t know what it was. It was white, rectangular, and about half an inch thick. Then, when the light hit it directly, I saw it was a drawing of a stick figure family. There was a mom, a dad, and two kids. They were next to a house and the ocean with fish in it. I looked up at Wei, tears falling down my face.

“You drew this picture nine years ago, when you were five years old. The day you drew this was also the day in which I found you.” He avoided saying, ‘the day your parents died.’

“Thank you, Wei. Really, thanks,” I said.

“You’re welcome. Now there is a festival going on. After all, it is the Winter Solstice,” Wei said, and we went outside. “Oh, but before you run off, I want to get a painting of us. Since today is your coming of age, Hyriu.”

“Ugh, alright, Wei,” I said, even though I didn’t mind.

“Dad, do we have to?” Hiko asked.

“Yes, Hiko, and we will get a painting on your fourteenth birthday also. Fourteen is a special age in the Water Tribes. You both know that.

Wei went to Huajia, Hydronia’s best painter. Luckily, the guy was quick and good, or I don’t think I could have stopped smiling, and my face would just be stuck that way forever. I stood on the left, Hiko on the right, and Wei stood behind us with his arms on our shoulders.

I went to go hang out with my friends. Since Hana officially knew about me, and we didn’t have to act weird around each other, we officially started dating. Her present to me was a black koi fish that was stuffed; it was made of dyed fabric.

“Where did you get this?” I asked her.

“I paid a visit to Heiwa Valley yesterday. There are some amazing artisans there.”

We met up with Lina, Fai, Koluk, and Tekton.

Koluk handed me a package, “This is from all of us.”

I ripped the paper to reveal a water pouch that most water benders carry so they always had water on them, only this one was a bit less nice, and more raggedy looking.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Koluk said, “but before you get mad at us, I want to tell you that we made it.”

“You made it?” I asked amazed.

“Yup, all of us did,” he said with a smirk.

“How?” I asked.

“I came up with the design,” Tekton said. “I designed it specially for you since you’re left handed.”

“I got the parts,” Koluk chimed in.

“I sewed it all together,” Lina said.

“And I painted it,” Fai said with a grin. I noticed he had his arm around Lina.

“Wow, guys, this is great,” I said and put it on. “Oh, and Koluk, happy birthday.” I handed him a small knife in a sheath.

“Wow, thanks, Hyriu, and happy birthday to you,” he said.

“Koluk, here,” Hana said, “it isn’t much, but it’s something.”

“Are you kidding?” Koluk said, “This is a coupon to the Crystal Serpent. Thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” she said.

“Now, I believe there is a festival going on, so let’s get festive,” Koluk said.

First, we all had lunch together, and we joked around and talked. We played games and ran around the city. I saw a few friends from school who said happy birthday to Koluk and me. We saw Taruk, and he walked up to us.

“Well, if it isn’t the birthday boys and their friends,” he said. “Oh, Hyriu, why do you have so many scratches on your face?” he asked in mock concern.

The cuts were from two nights ago when the person spying on Lina and me had blown up the ice prison. I glared at him. “I fell.”

“Oh. really, did you fall into Lina?” Taruk asked looking at her.

“For your information, Taruk, I cut myself a few times when I was sewing,” she said with a glare.

“Hmm, if you say so,” he said, “Oh, and happy birthday. I can’t wait to see you in the Warrior Games, Hyr-o,” he threatened and walked off.

“I really don’t like him,” Fai said. “He’s such a jerk.”

We continued our festivities for the rest of the day. When the sun started to set late in the day, we went to the Event Field where ‘my’ celebration was held three weeks ago. Chief Arnook was still in Hydronia since he wanted to know my progress. He was standing on the stage.

“Now quiet down, everyone. So it is that time of the year again. Time for the Warrior Games! The requirements for a boy to enter are, of course, the same. The boy must be at least fourteen and cannot be older than eighteen. The boy must be from the Water Tribe, and if the boy signs up for a particular event, he cannot back out of it. Now, all the boys who will be participating in the Warrior Games this year, come on stage and sign up. The events are Hand-to-hand Combat, Water bending, and Swordsmanship,” Arnook said.

I walked up with Tekton, Fai, and Koluk. I signed up for all three events, as did Tekton. Koluk signed up for hand-to-hand combat and swordsmanship. Fai signed up for hand-to-hand combat. I saw Taruk among his group of friends. Arnook motioned for us to stay on stage.

“Everyone,” Arnook said, “I give you this year’s warriors for this year’s Warrior Games!” The crowd cheered.

After we left the stage, I said good-bye to my friends. I headed towards Gaofeng and went up the mountain pass. Lamara was waiting for me in the Shui Temple at the balcony that overlooked the valley.

“Happy birthday, Hyriu!” she said and hugged me.

“Ha ha thanks,” I said and saw Daminao standing off to the side.

“Happy birthday,” he said and handed me a small wooden box that fit in the palm of my hand.

I opened it, and inside, there was an arrow on a dial of some sort#.# “Um, thanks. What is it?”

Daminao moved his hand creating a light breeze. The arrow pointed to the left. “It is a wind compass. It tells you which direction the wind is blowing.”

“Oh, okay,” I said, still confused.

“It helps a lot with flying,” Daminao said with his crooked smile.

I nodded. "Wait. Flying?” I exclaimed.

Just then, Master Sonam came out holding a long package. “Here you go. Happy birthday, my student.”

I opened it to reveal a wooden staff somewhere around six or seven feet tall. It was made out of the same wood that my bow was made of. I opened its glider wings. They were semi-circles, the Southern Air Temple design, the one I preferred. The fabric for the wings was dyed a deep blue.

“Oh wow, thanks so much,” I said, admiring my glider.

“It is from all of us here at the Shui Air Temple,” Master Sonam said.

“Well, let’s give it a try,” I said and took off. Daminao and Lamara followed close behind.

I tried out my air-surfing technique where I stood up on my glider. I was a bit wobbly, but I could do it. After I had flown for a long time, I told them I was going to visit the old caves. The caves were on the east side of the valley. I landed and looked at the Shui Temple on my right. I turned around and walked to the caves. The caves were just a series of archways cut into the mountainside. Not many air benders came here, which was one reason I did. I didn’t want to be disturbed. I sat down, my back facing the caves so I could see the sun setting, casting orange light on everything. I began to meditate, concentrating on the spirits in me. After a few minutes, I heard someone say, “Hello, Hyriu.”

I opened my eyes and saw an old Fire Nation man sitting in front of me.

“Avatar Roku?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said. “It is good to see you, Anzen. But I can not stay long.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Well, the Avatar returned three weeks ago, I’m sure you know, and now he is in my temple in the Fire Nation. He is on his way to talk to me. And since he will be seeking advice from me fairly often, I will leave you in the hands of another Avatar. She has already guided you, I believe.”

“Which Avatar?” I asked.

A tall woman in green clothing and wearing face paint appeared in a flash of blue light. “Me,” she said. I recognized her voice; she was the one that spoke to me over the past few weeks.

“Avatar Kyoshi,” I said.

“Yes, I will guide you and help you however I can,” she said.

“I must leave now,” Roku said and was gone.

“Avatar Kyoshi, can you help make any sense of these visions I have been seeing?” I asked.

“No,” she answered, “But there are others who can. Look deep inside yourself, feel the energies of the spirits in you, three in particular.”

I could feel them and suddenly three people appeared before me. First was a woman with a white dress and dark hair. She wore a belt, which had glasses, telescopes, and even a monocle hanging from it. Next was a rough looking man. He looked like he was a blacksmith. He was tan and had tough hands with many scars on them. The third was also a man and had a sly look about him. He had a belt with ropes, chains, and handcuffs on it.

Kyoshi looked pleased, “Good job, Hyriu, allow me to introduce Kan Dao-”

The woman spoke, “Spirit of Sight.” She had a gentle voice.

Kyoshi continued, “Weizao-”

The blacksmith spoke with a deep voice, “Spirit of Craftsmanship.”

“And lastly, Kizuna,” Kyoshi said.

The sly man also had a sly voice, “Spirit of Binding.”

“These three spirits are why you exist,” Kyoshi told me.

It took me a second to realize what she was saying, “Wait, you three created me?”

Kizuna, the sly one, spoke, “In a way, yes, we created you. All three of us played a large part in the creation of the Anzen.”

Kan Dao, the woman, spoke, “I was the one who foresaw the Great Darkness, and so I purposed the plan for a back up Avatar.”

Weizao said, “I made the jar that contained all the spirits.”

“And I am the one that holds everything together. Without me, it would all fall apart,” Kizuna said.

“Why have you called us here?” Kan Dao asked.

“Kyoshi said you could help me,” I said.

They looked at Kyoshi who looked at me, “Ask them what you asked me.”

“Can you help me figure out my visions and the Robed Man?” I asked the spirits.

“Ah, I was afraid this would happen,” Kan Dao said, “Since I am the Spirit of Sight, I am part of why you have visions. The other part is that this Robed Man is sending them to you.”

“Who is this Robed Man? Is he really the Great Darkness that I will have to face?” I asked nervously.

“I’m afraid he is,” Kan Dao said.

“And will he actually be here is less than six months?” I asked.

“Yes, except he told you that a month ago, so now, it is less that five months,” Kan Dao said.

With a pang, I realized she was right. The Robed Man had given me his warning five weeks ago, so it was over a month ago when he said that.

“Hey, don’t worry, kid,” Weizao said. “Why do you think you are the Anzen?”

“Because I was born at the right time,” I said and looked down.

“No, because Kan Dao saw that a child would be strong enough to be the host for so many spirits. And she saw that the child’s spirit, your spirit, would be strong enough to resist the Darkness and defeat it,” he said.

“Are we done with the pep talk?” Kizuna asked in a bored tone.

“Hush, Kizuna,” Kan Dao chided.

“What? The solstice is ending so why are we trying to help a kid who can’t even help himself?” he asked.

“Don’t listen to him, Hyriu,” Weizao said, “We chose you above a thousand other kids. We believe in you. So why don’t you?”

The sun sank and the solstice ended. The four beings faded away, leaving me to my thoughts.

Chapter Text

Chapter 21
Warrior Games Begin

The next day at school, people were buzzing with excitement. The first stage of the Warrior Games was excessive and hard training, which we actually started before the games, officially began. Also, everyone that was participating for the first time had to go on a survival mission to determine if they were worthy of the games. The survival mission was in two days.

When we returned from the mission, there would be five days of competition. On the first day, it would be hand-to-hand combat. Each boy would fight in twelve rounds and needed to win at least eight to make it to the semi-finals. The second day would be water bending, and the third, swordsmanship. The fourth day would be the semi-finals. On that day, it was a sudden death. If you lost, you were out. The fifth day was the finals, which was also sudden death.

Hana and I were open with our relationship, but we weren’t all hugs and kisses, mostly just sitting by each other and talking a lot. Lina and Fai were also open about their relationship.

School seemed to go by in a flash, and before I knew it, it was time for training.

“Alright,” Instructor Chen said, “Everyone here is participating in the Warrior Games, correct?” No one objected. “Good. Now then, this training will be some of the hardest training you’ve ever done. Not only because you will see no kindness or patience from me, but also because I will not help you in any way. You will have to look to yourself for inspiration or your peers. Just remember, your peers are also your competition. My only instruction for today and tomorrow is to practice.”

Tekton, Koluk, Fai, and I all sparred with one another. Fai had gotten a lot better; he claimed it was because of my teachings, but I told him it was more than that. Instructor Chen walked around observing his students. A few kids asked him for help, but he denied them. When he watched Fai and me spar, I saw a gleam light up in his eyes.

In swordsmanship practice, his instructions were the same. Koluk and I sparred; several kids watched us in amazement. I guess they weren’t used to seeing Koluk lose. I disarmed him and pointed the tip of my sword at his throat.

“I guess I win, again,” I said with a smirk.

“I guess so, but we’ll see what the games will bring,” he stated.

I laughed and saw some bows and targets. I decided I should also practice my archery skills. I shot a few arrows and hit the center nearly every time. I noticed someone walk over to me, I looked over to see it was Huan.

“Oh, hey, Huan,” I said to him, lowering my bow.

“Hey, Hyriu,” he said. He looked kind of nervous or embarrassed. “Um, do you think you could show me how to use a bow and arrow?”

“Of course. Have you ever shot one before?” I asked.

“Uh, no,” he said.

“Alright. I guess we’ll start with the basics,” I said.

First, I showed him how to hold a bow. I showed him to angle his arm so the string wouldn’t hit him. I then showed him how to notch an arrow and aim. He practiced firing a few arrows with my supervision. Then, he tried it while I shot some arrows of my own. I was shocked he had never used a bow before since he was practiced with just about any other weapon. Still, I was glad I could help him. He thanked me at the end of practice.

Water bending went roughly the same. Taruk glared at me as fiercely as ever, but I ignored him. After practice, I said goodbye to Hana and went to Heiwa Valley.

When it came time for Daminao and me to spar with swords, I decided to try out a new disarming technique I thought of. When I got an opening, I tried it. I hooked the tip of my sword in Daminao’s sword hilt. I twisted the sword downward and snapped it upward. Daminao’s sword was ripped out of his grip and flew off to the side.

“Well done, but I still have my other sword,” he said and whipped his sword around in a long arch.

I parried and twisted his sword around so his own sword was pointed at his chest along with my own sword.

“You have improved,” Daminao said as I released him.

“I guess it’s nice to know I haven’t been wasting my time,” I stated.

"Young one, the real test to see how far you’ve come approaches. You will be faced with a real battle in which your enemy will try to kill you,” Kyoshi said to me.

“Ah, you said ‘try,’ so I will win,” I said slyly.

"No, I said 'try' because I do not know the outcome. You may be killed, but that would be a large inconvenience to our plans,” she said.

“Oh, well, I’ll try to keep the ‘inconvenience’ of my death prolonged,” I said bitterly.

“Uh, Hyriu?” Daminao said. “You alright? You kind of blanked out there for a second.”

“Oh uh, nothing. It’s nothing,” I said quickly.

I went home exhausted. Hana was there. We had dinner together with Fai and Lina. I went to bed nearly dead of exhaustion. The next day was relatively the same. Those of us going on the survival mission were reminded to meet at the warrior training field before sunrise.

“Great,” I muttered to Fai. “As if I’m not tired enough.”

I went to Heiwa Valley but didn’t do anything too tiring because of the survival mission. I sparred with Daminao some more. My sword training had come along way. I perfected my disarming technique. I went home and had a large supper. I made sure my things were ready for tomorrow. I was taking my bow, my dad’s knife, and my sword; I would also be taking my water pouch. After I made sure everything was ready, I went to sleep early so I wouldn’t be so tired the next day. But, of course, I didn’t fall asleep until late in the night.

Chapter Text

Chapter 22
Survival Training

Even though I went to sleep late, I woke up early. I had asked Wei to wake me up if I wasn’t already awake, but apparently I woke up early enough. Since I was already wide awake, I got up and got ready.

I dressed warmly since I knew the winter winds would be harsh outside the city. First I put on long grey pants and a long sleeve grey shirt. Next I put on a sleeveless white robe. On top of that was a thicker royal blue robe. As part of the training, we had to bring our own materials. We had to decide what to bring, we also had to carry our own things. I had food rations, fresh water, bowls and chop sticks. I also had some wood and spark rocks in case I needed a fire. The last thing I had was a large fur cloak which I could also use as a blanket; I decided to wear that as my last layer of clothing.

I heard a knock at my door.

“Hyriu, are you awake?” Wei asked coming in. “Oh, you’re ready. Good.”

We went downstairs, Hiko was sitting at the table, dozing.

“You alive Hiko?” I said as I walked in.

“Urrgah,” he groaned.

“Ha ha, I’ll take that as a yes,” I laughed.

“I wanted to say bye before you left,” he mumbled.

We ate breakfast. Hiko was going to stay at a friend’s house for the week. After breakfast Wei and I got ready to leave.

“Hyriu, good luck in training,” Hiko said.

“Yeah thanks, see you in a week,” I said.

Wei and I walked to the training field. A group of people were already there along with Instructor Chen.

“Ah, Wei good, now we are just waiting on a few more students,” Chen said.

“What students are missing?” Wei asked.

Chen gave off a list of names and at the end he said, “And Fai.”

“Well I suppose we should give them a few more minutes,” Wei said.

When the sky started to get lighter, the rest of the missing kids showed up, except Fai.

“We’ll have to begin without him,” Wei said.

“Alright trainees, line up!” Chen commanded.

We got in our lines, I saw Tekton and Huan standing by Wei and Chen, two counselors always came on the mission. Tekton saw me and flashed a quick smile. I also saw Meili, Hana’s mother, standing by them. She was a Healer as one was always brought during the training incase of an emergency.

“Okay we will now inspect your belongings to see how well prepared you are,” Chen said. “Just by a glance I can see some of you are well prepared, others not so much.”

Wei and Huan inspected one half, Chen and Tekton inspected the other half.

“Well Hyriu, let’s see how you’ve done,” Chen said, “Clothing?”

“I am wearing three warm layers that hardly constrict my movements,” I demonstrated, “Along with this thick fur cloak that can also be used as a blanket.”

They checked my bags and how well organized I had packed. About half way through my inspection, Fai came in late.

“Ah, so glad you could finally make it, that will count against you,” Wei said taking a note and began Fai’s inspection.

“Well most of you did well on the inspection. Now we will take the land-raft down along side of the Bei River,” there were cheers, “Yes you all will get to ride the legendary land-rafts. The only fast transportation on land in the Northern Water Tribe. Now stop acting like five-year-old children and follow me.” Wei said.

We walked to the south western part of the city, by the large wall in front of the river guarding the city from attacks that might come from the river. We left the city behind and walked on the roots of the mountains. We crossed over a bridge that was the start of the Bei River. I looked at the large dam between two mountains. Behind it was a large lake that was the mouth of the Bei River. The dam kept the water from flowing into the city. Then I looked down at the large waterfall that fell down the cliff which was on our side of the river.

We arrived at the land-raft dock. It was just a wooden building right next to the cliff with what looked like an oversized row boat; that was the land-raft.

“Now then to move the raft requires water bending. I will bend along with the counselors and Da-Xia, Hyriu, and Taruk. Alright everybody, get comfortable,” Wei said with a sarcastic smile.

On one side Huan, Da-Xia, and Taruk bended, on the other was Wei, Tekton, and me. We began water bending, slowly at first but picking up speed. Soon we were flying by right next to the cliff that was the shore of the Bei River.

“You know Hyriu,” Wei said, “I had you help us water bend because you have a lot of skill that we could use.”

“Okay,” I said confused.

We sighed, “So use your skills, don’t hold back,” he ended with a smile.

“Alright if you say so,” I smiled catching on.

I let lose all of my water bending skill and even some subtle air bending. Our speed increased more than twice what we were going before.

“Now that’s what I’m talking about,” Wei smiled.

We kept it up until noon when we stopped for a break. I was too tired to speak. After our break we continued. The Bei Shui Mountains zoomed by. I could see their end coming up and then the other major mountain range of the Northern Tribe, the Atarashi Mountains. We passed by the gap between the two ranges. Then we got to a part were it looked as if the river came to a sudden stop. Wei told us that it was an ice shelf put there by water benders long ago so enemy ships wouldn’t be able to follow the river all the way to Hydronia; most people thought that it was the river’s end. About five hours past noon, Wei told us to stop. I could still barely see the Bei Shui Mountains. The Atarashi Mountains were very different from the Bei Shui Mountains. They were a group of large mounds and jagged cliffs.

“Okay, this is where we will set up camp,” Wei said. “So get too it, you all know who you share a tent with. Now let’s see how good you all are.”

Tekton, Fai, and Koluk all shared a tent with me. Tekton was in charge of our tent. He and I set up the tent while Koluk and Fai organized the supplies. When the tent was up we all set up our cots in our corners. The tent was just big enough for comfort. We had a quick and mostly silent supper and then went to sleep.

Over the next few days a routine was started. A group of four trainees were sent on a scouting mission in different places. One had to back track and fish on the shore of the Bei River. Another had to climb in the Atarashi Mountains and set up a watch. Each team had two warriors and two water benders. Also two hunters went out each day. I went hunting with a kid named Gen Li; we found a few rabbit-wolves and brought them back. Eight people were put on guard patrol. The rest of people at camp did survival exercises, like starting fires, staying warm, making weapons and things of that sort. I was on guard patrol on our sixth day there. The next day I would be going on a scouting mission with Fai, Koluk, and Taruk. I went to sleep hoping the next day would fly by.

Chapter Text

Chapter 23
Scouting Mission

I woke up filled with anticipation. This was a huge deal for 14 year-olds - their first mission without an adult. I dressed properly, buckled on my sword, and put on my quiver. I also put on my water pouch even though there was water everywhere here. I reported to Wei and Chen’s tent. Taruk and Koluk were already there.

“Good, now, we just need Fai,” Wei said.

Luckily, Fai didn’t take long to get there. When he did, Wei explained the mission.

“Okay, you four will scout out to the coast. It is an hour and a half march. You will look for animals and anything unusual. Make notes of the ocean currents and how high the water is. Also, note the clouds and weather. Well, that is about it. Oh yes, Taruk will lead this mission. I know you three do not get along with him which is precisely why I did this. You will need to learn how to swallow your pride and take orders, even from someone you may not like. And, Taruk, you will have to learn not to abuse your power. You all will have to be respectful of each other. When you return, we will ask you about the mission individually. Anything to add, Chen?” Wei said.

“Nope, I think you got everything. You all look well prepared, though, Hyriu, you look like you’re marching to battle,” Chen laughed. “I see a sword, bow and water pouch.”

“It is what you didn’t see that I am proud of,” I said and lifted up my pant leg to reveal my dad’s dagger.

“Ha ha, yes indeed, very well prepared. Well, be on your way. Follow the river to the ocean, but keep it at the edge of your view,” Chen instructed.

We left the camp. We mostly walked in silence; Taruk kept muttering how he got the worst team ever. We saw some tiger-seal tracks, but they were several days old. By noon, the ocean was in sight. There was a drop off ahead of us where the ocean was. I tripped over an uneven piece of ice.

“Careful, Hyr-o, we wouldn’t want you falling and breaking something, now would we?” Taruk sneered.

“Go jump in the river, Tar-yuck,” I snarled back as Fai helped me up.

“Hey now, I’m your leader. You need to respect me,” Taruk said.

I walked up to him, “Respect is a two-way street.”

We glared at each other for a few seconds.

“Hey, guys, calm down. I think I found something,” Koluk called.

We walked over. “What is it?” Taruk asked.

“I think this qualifies as ‘unusual,’” he said and pointed.

On the ground were several footprints made by many feet.

“Who made these?” Fai asked. “There wasn’t a scouting mission any where near here.”

“And the foot wear isn’t of Water Tribe make,” Taruk said.

“Most of these are only a few days old; some are only one day old,” Koluk added.

Just then, I heard a twang of a bow and the whoosh of something fly by my head. Koluk cried out in pain. An arrow had struck him in the thigh.

“Koluk!” I cried.

“I’m- I’m alright,” he said through gritted teeth.

“Can you walk?” I asked.

He tried to get up but fell down with an expression of pain.

“I can’t even stand,” he said.

And then a thought entered my mind, ‘Who fired the arrow?’ I stood up and looked around. I saw a flicker of movement.

“Down!” I shouted and dropped to the ground. Luckily, the others did so as well, and the arrow soared by overhead. I drew an arrow and fired in the direction I thought the archer was hiding. I guessed correctly. He jumped out from his hiding place to avoid my arrow; he was a Fire Nation soldier. He fired a few arrows at me, but I dodged them as I ran up to him. I slammed my body into him. I ripped his bow out of his hands and smacked him on the head. He tried to stand, and I broke the wooden bow over his head knocking him out with his own weapon.

Taruk and Fai had looks of shock on their faces. Before I could say anything, two more soldiers emerged from the hill and charged me, both with drawn swords. I unsheathed my own sword and met them.

“Taruk,” I shouted between slashes. “Go back to camp and call for help.”

“Why should I go? I can fight. Fai-” he started to say.

“No, you go. You’re faster than us; use your water bending and get there as quick as possible. Fai, guard Koluk,” I ordered.

“But I’m the leader. I make the decisions,” Taruk said weakly.

I disarmed one of the swordsmen and kicked him in the chest, “Then make a decision!” I yelled.

“Uh, right, Fai, do what Hyriu said. I’m going to get help,” Taruk said and turned toward camp.

A soldier jumped in front of Taruk and slashed at his chest. He fell to the ground. I was still fighting the other soldier and couldn’t help him. Just as the soldier was about to impale Taruk, Fai came to his rescue. He snuck up behind the soldier and performed the Swing Kick to near perfection. When the soldier hit the ground, Fai body-slammed him. Taruk got to his feet, not too badly injured, and he ran toward the camp. I used my disarming technique on the soldier. Then, I slammed some water into him, leaving him unconscious.

I sheathed my sword and ran over to Koluk, “How you doing?”

“Oh, you know…pretty good,” Koluk said, sweat pouring off him.

“Come on, Fai, let’s try and carry him,” I said. “Fai?” I looked at him and his face was pale, “Are you alright?”

He didn’t answer. I noticed he was looking behind me. I turned and paled also. There were at least thirty soldiers on the hill with us. I stood up and took a stance.

A man who looked like the leader stepped forward, “A child. You would not even be a challenge,” he glanced at his fallen men, “or perhaps you will be.”

“Who are you, and what do you want?” I asked, trying to sound brave.

“Who are you to address me, child?” the man snarled.

“I am a citizen of the Northern Water Tribe, and I respectfully ask you to leave my home…or I will have to make you leave,” I challenged.

“You’ll make us. I’d like to see you try,” he said.

“You have no idea who you are dealing with,” I said to him.

“Hyriu?” Fai questioned behind me, sounding scared.

“I am dealing with an over confident, arrogant child,” the man said and shot a blast of fire.

I blocked the blast with a shield of water, “Over confident, huh?” I said and charged.

***

I watched the younger kid struggle to make a fire. He looked up at me, “Tekton?” he said to me.

“Yes?” I answered him.

“Can you help me?” he asked.

“I’m sorry but you must do this by yourself, just keep trying,” I said.

After a few tries, he got some smoke.

“See? If you keep trying you’ll get it,” I said to him as he continued and got small flames.

Suddenly, a voice cried out, “Master Wei, Instructor Chen! Guys hurry!”

I ran to the voice along with most of the camp. Gen Li was on guard patrol and was the one who had shouted. He pointed. A figure was ridding a sloppy wave toward us; by the look of it, he was injured.

“That was where the scouting mission went,” Wei said.

He, Chen, Huan, and I ran out to meet him. It was Taruk, and he had a nasty gash on his chest and was covered in blood.

“What happened? Where are the others?” Wei demanded.

“Attacked…F…Fire…Nation soldiers…came back for help,” Taruk stammered, out of breath. “Koluk, injured…Hyriu, fighting.”

Chills went down my spine. The Fire Nation was here, and Hyriu was fighting them, and Koluk was injured.

Wei organized a group to go help, while Taruk went to see Meili. Wei, Huan, a few of the most talented benders, and I headed out to help Hyriu, Fai, and Koluk.

***

“Over confident, huh?” I said and charged.

Two fire benders came at me; I easily knocked them aside with some water. I ran through the group of soldiers, dodging attacks and freezing men. I used very flowing movements, going from defense to offense in an instant.

Before I knew it, I had taken out half of the soldiers. Suddenly, I heard Fai cry out in pain; I turned and saw an arrow in his shoulder. I ran over to him. I blocked all the attacks that came at us. I realized that I couldn’t hold back anymore. I had to unleash my water bending skills. Our survival was more important than keeping a secret.

I swirled a ring of water around my friends and myself. Fai got wide eyed. I then expanded the ring at a fast rate, shooting water in all directions, taking out another five soldiers so only ten remained, including the leader. I charged two guys, one archer, the other a fire bender. They both sent attacks at me. I did flips to avoid the fireballs and arrows. I landed on my hands between the men. I spun on my hands and angled my legs down, so I knocked the fire bender’s feet out from under him. I kicked the archer square in the face. I jumped and landed on my feet. I ran to a fire bender who punched fire at me. I grabbed his arm and pointed it in another direction. I lifted him up and threw him to the ground with some air bending assistance. I shot two blast of water, taking out two more soldiers. Then, four swordsmen surrounded me, slashing. I quickly grabbed my sword and fought vigorously. They managed to give me a few cuts, but nothing too serious. I spun, slashing in all directions, and by pure luck, I wasn’t stabbed. I began to pick them off one by one.

First, I slammed the pommel of my sword into one guy’s face. The second fell to the ground in a pool of cold water. The third and fourth I disarmed at the same time and launched them in different directions with water.

The lead soldier stood there with a look of shock. He charged me, shooting fire. I blocked, dodged, and shot attacks of my own, which he in turn dodged. It was a ferocious fight. A cloud of smoke and steam enveloped us from all the fire and water. Eventually, I managed to drive him back with a large wave. He charged, and I lifted up a wall of ice in front of me, which he ran into. He jumped on top of the ice wall and kicked me in the face, causing me to stumble and fall. He drew a dagger and threw it at my face. I moved as quick as I could, but even with air bending, the knife still cut a deep gash in my right cheek. I crawled backwards. He jumped from the wall and reached for his dagger. I quickly got my own from my ankle and threw it so he had to move has hand away from his dagger. I then kicked some water, which knocked him back. Enraged, he shot a powerful fire blast that went threw an ice shield I had made and knocked me to the ground. He retrieved his dagger and jumped straight at me. I lifted my arms to some what block the force of his body slamming into mine. I was able to stop his dagger less than an inch from my face. We struggled against each other’s strength. If this were a test of strength, I would lose. I moved my head to the left a little and let his dagger go, so it drove into the ground next to my head. I wrapped my hands around his head and slammed his forehead into the pommel of his knife, leaving him dazed. I elbowed him in the face and struggled to my feet. He recovered quickly. He grabbed his knife and slashed at my right thigh. I cried out in pain and fell to the ground. I moved away from him. He picked up a fallen sword and threw it at me. I forced myself to my feet and made an ice wall rise up, and I drew my sword. The blade of the air born sword went through the ice and nearly stabbed me in the gut. A fireball blasted my ice apart. I made a sphere of ice and shot it into the guy’s chest and he fell to the ground unconscious.

I stood there, my whole body numb and shaking. I couldn’t move. I stood there looking at what I just did. I single handedly took out thirty trained soldiers. I looked back at Fai, even though his face was contorted with pain, I could see the look of shock and wonder in his eyes. I tried to take a step toward him, nothing happened. I looked at my legs, for the first time seeing the damage that had been done. Blood soaked my right leg. I couldn’t feel any part of my body. I tired to move again. That time, I managed to take one step with my left foot, which felt like lead. I heard cries and shouts, but they were stifled. I saw a crowd emerge from behind a hill. Taruk had gotten help. I saw Wei with Tekton, Huan, and some of the other trainees. They all had looks of shock.

Suddenly, a great surge of pain raced through me. All at once, I got my feeling back. My sword slipped out of my hand and fell to the ground.

“Hyriu, are you alright?” Wei shouted, but his voice sounded far off and muffled.

My vision went blurry. Then, I felt cold, colder than anything I had felt before. No, I had felt this cold before when I collapsed on stage. Back when Arnook had drawn my name for the tour, when I had heard the Robed Man laugh and speak for the first time.

I saw a dark stream of black smoke descend from the sky. No one else paid it any attention. It crashed into the ground in front of me, enveloping me in a cloud of darkness. It was pitch black; I couldn’t even see the light of the sun. Two red eyes starred at me out of the shadows. A deadly calm, cold, venomous voice spoke to me.

“Well, you have seemed to ignore my first warning,” the Robed Man said. “I thought that it would have been enough, but apparently you need some motivation.”

As soon as he said ‘motivation’ a great, burning pain filled my body. I cried out.

“So, your skills have improved, huh? You defeated thirty trained soldiers,” he said in mock admiration. “Well now, maybe you’ll be a prick on the bottom of my boot when I step on you. You’ll just be a small, annoying pebble that may throw me off balance for a moment, a brief moment. Nevertheless, I will recover quickly. That is all you have accomplished in all your training. You went from an ant to a pebble.

“I’d say that that is a large step,” I said weakly.

“Oh yes, very large which is why you should realize you have no chance against me. In all your training, you have come far, but not far enough. You are still nothing compared to me. Yes, you took out thirty trained soldiers, but can you take out a hundred? A thousand? If you could do that then maybe… you would get my full attention. As it seems though, you might become a problem, and that is the path you are going down. When I gave you your first warning, you were at a crossroads, a crossroads that would determine your fate. I gave you a choice. You made the wrong choice. Now, you can still make the right one. It is not too late to amend your mistake. Do not listen to the spirits in your head. They poison your thoughts. They are in control of you. Now is the time for you to be in control. Seize your mind from them and stray from the barbaric ways of your tribe. Join me, and all your loved ones will be safe. If you don’t, I guarantee that they will die. Your brother. Your guardian. Your masters and even the small children of Hydronia...will be dead. A mountain of cold rotting corpses, and in the middle will be you with their blood on your hands. This is my second warning. Make the right choice this time. Believe me. You do not want to receive my third and final warning. By then, it will be too late.”

I closed my eyes and snapped them open. I was in a bed, and there was a woman standing over me. It was Meili. I groaned and tried to sit up.

“Oh, good morning, Hyriu,” she said and pushed me back down. “Or should I say good evening? Anyway, you are still very weak.”

“How long have I been out?” I asked, my voice was scratchy.

“Well, you passed out yesterday a bit after noon, and it is about two hours before sunset right now,” she said and swirled some water around my head.

“Wait, should we be on our way back to Hydronia?” I asked.

“We didn’t want to risk moving you or the others just yet,” she explained.

“How are they?” I asked quickly.

“Oh, they’re fine. Taruk recovered quickly, since his injury was not severe. Koluk can stand and walk short distances without help. Fai can’t use his right arm, but it should be fine in about two weeks. Though he hasn’t said a word since Wei found you guys yesterday. We think he just needs to recover mentally from the battle. He seemed very traumatized,” she said. “Here is some soup. I’ll go get Wei. He’ll be happy to know you woke up.”

I sat there for a moment, sipping my soup. Wei burst into the tent. When he saw me, there were tears in his eyes, and he hugged me. He sat down next to my bed.

“I was so worried,” he said. “How are you feeling?”

“Alright, I guess,” I murmured.

“Now, Koluk was out of it during the fight, and Fai isn’t speaking. I can probably guess what happened though. Taruk came into camp with his injury and said Koluk was already down and that you had started to fend off the soldiers. So when we got there and I saw Fai injured and the unconscious soldiers, I knew what had happened.” He had a slight look of disapproval.

“What else was I supposed to do? I wasn’t going to let anyone die just to keep my secret,” I said.

“I know. I just wish it didn’t happen. Well, at least we know your training hasn’t been for nothing. Thirty soldiers- that is impressive, Hyriu,” he stated.

“Yeah, well, Fai got a few, also,” I added.

“Did he now? That is good to hear. Also, in your sleep, you kept muttering about a robed man with red eyes. You want to tell me about that?” Wei asked.

I told him about my vision. When I finished, Wei sat there quietly.

“Well, we will discuss this more when we get back to Hydronia. We will leave in the morning.” He started to walk out.

“Wait, what happened to the fire nation men? Surely they had a camp.” I asked.

“Yes, they did. Huan, Tekton, and I paid them a visit,” he said.

I gave him a questioning look.

“Well, after you displayed your skills, I simply had to add a little fuel to the fire, and they were sailing away in their ship faster than an eel-hound,” he laughed and left.

Meili came in and said, “You are recovering remarkably quick. I am glad, though I think you will have a faint scar on your cheek for the rest of your life. Oh yes, I wanted to ask you where you got that large scar on your right leg?”

“Oh, um I am one of the survivors of the Tragedy of the Lok Wa Isles,” I muttered quietly.

“Really? Oh, that’s awful. I knew Wei was your guardian, but I never thought about what might have happened to your parents. So is Hiko also...?”

“Yes, he has a scar on his right arm,” I answered.

“Oh wow, that is incredible…you know, I remember hearing about you, but I didn’t know it was you at the time. I remember hearing that two siblings had survived, a five-year-old boy and his infant brother. That was you and Hiko…,” she said somewhat wistfully.

I nodded grimly. She cared for me the rest of the day; people visited me and said how cool it was that I fought in a real battle. I just smiled and nodded. What I didn’t tell them was it wasn’t cool at all. The whole time it was happening, I was terrified, and when it was over, I wasn’t happy. I didn’t cheer or celebrate. I was scared of how powerful I had become.

Chapter Text

Chapter 24
Dreams of Doubt

We raced back to Hydronia. I was sitting down, still weak. Koluk sat next to me. Fai still hadn’t said a word to anyone; a lot of people were worried about him. He would look at me, his face wary. Many people questioned me about what happened, but Wei told them to leave me alone, as I was still recovering. The day went by fast, and soon, it was several hours after noon. The Bei Shui Mountains zoomed by. Soon, Hydronia was in sight. We could see a crowd at the dock for the land-raft. Cries of joy and relief were heard. Taruk, Fai, Koluk, and I waited for everyone else to get off, since we didn’t want to fight through the crowd. Many people cried out, asking why were we delayed. Then, Wei and Chen helped Koluk and me to our feet, and the crowd immediately silenced.

“What happened?” Koluk’s mother asked.

“When these four boys went on their scouting mission two days ago, they stumbled upon a Fire Nation camp,” Wei explained. “Taruk went to get help after Koluk got injured. Hyriu…”

“Fai fought off four soldiers, which is very impressive, and Hyriu fought and defeated thirty Fire Nation soldiers!” Chen cut in.

There were gasps, and all eyes turned to Fai and me. Then, a thunderous cheer broke out. People hugged me and thanked me all around.

“Now now,” Wei said, quieting them down, “They have all been through a lot and need to rest.”

The crowd began to disperse. Hana came over to me and hugged me.

“Are you alright?” she asked, breathlessly.

“Yeah, I’m- I’m fine,” I said and looked away.

“No, you’re not. Physically you might be healing, but I was talking about mentally. What happened?” she said seriously.

“The fight- it- it did something to me. It isn’t like anything you’d imagine. I hated every second of it; I just wanted it to be over. I wanted the fear and worry to go away. And more than once, I thought about letting them kill me. Letting it all end. I just wanted it over. The only reason I didn’t let them kill me was because I was the only thing protecting Fai and Koluk,” I stopped.

“That is why people fight. Some fight because they think it is right. Maybe that’s what the Fire Nation thinks. Maybe they think they're doing the right thing. But most people fight to protect their friends, family, and their home. And that’s what we are doing; that makes us stronger than the Fire Nation. We fight for our family,” she said to me.

I looked at her, not knowing what to say or where all this came from.

She blushed, “My dad gave me a similar speech when I asked about the war.”

“Wow, well, he does seem like an honorable man,” I smiled.

“So are you,” she paused. “When I saw you beat Koluk after warrior training and first started liking you, it was only because of your skills, but then I started to notice the real you, and I found out who you were, who you are. I may have started out liking you for the wrong reasons, but not any more. I no longer like you because you’re Anzen Hyriu; I like you because you’re Hyriu Jingshen.”

I looked at her, remembering Pakku’s speech to me on the day of the celebration and how I shouldn’t forget who I am. “Thank you, Hana. I used to think you were annoying, but now I kind of like you.”

Hana laughed a bit and smiled, “Kind of?”

“Ah, so sorry to interrupt, but, Hyriu, you need to see the healers since you were kind of slashed a few times. You know, with a sword and a knife, and also some burns, so unless you want them to be infected, move along,” Wei had a sly glint in his eye.

We started to walk away. I looked at him, “You did that on purpose.”

“I haven’t the slightest idea of what you mean,” he said, smiling.

We arrived at the Healing Huts by the Gambing Palace’s wall. The others who were injured also when to the huts. We were kept in separate rooms. While I was there, the court visited me along with Wei and Princess Yue. She insisted on being up to date on my visions since she had believed me the whole time. I told them about the fight as best as I could and how I had to display my skills in front of Fai. Then, I told them about my second warning; what scared me most was that I could remember the Robed Man’s speech word for word. Looks of horror crossed the faces of the court.

“This is very troubling,” Arnook said, “but you need your rest. We’ll talk more about this after the Warrior Games end when things begin to settle down.”

“Can things settle down? The Avatar has returned, and my visions are getting worse,” I said.

“Still, we will talk about this after the games. Right now, you need your rest. I should expect you’d want it after everything that has happened,” he said to me.

They left me alone. Tekton came in and sat on a stool.

“How are you doing?” he asked quietly.

“Good, I guess. My leg is almost healed,” I muttered.

“What in the world happened out there?” he asked.

“I protected Koluk and Fai,” I stated simply.

“Well, alright, but I had no idea you were that powerful,” he said.

“Neither did I,” I responded.

He was quiet for a moment then, “So, you ready for the Games?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be, I suppose,” I said quietly.

“Well, I think you’ll do great, considering what you’re capable of.” He left shortly after that.

I slept for a bit then had some soup. Fai came in with his arm still in a sling.

“How is your arm?” I asked sitting up.

He spoke for the first time in days, his voice raspy, “It’s good. Yugoda said I will be able to compete tomorrow.” His face was down.

“That’s great,” I said, trying to sound enthusiastic.

“Yeah…” He took a deep breath then looked at me. “Hyriu, what was that the other day? I have never seen anyone water bend that good, let alone you. And your hand-to-hand combat skills; you’re better than Koluk.”

I looked down.

“So why do you hide it? Why do you hide yourself from everyone?” he asked.

“Not everyone,” I muttered.

Fai straightened, “Lina knows, doesn’t she?”

“Yes, so does Koluk and Hana and Tekton. Along with all the air benders and the Royal Court,” I said regretfully.

“So why am I the only one that doesn’t know?” Fai asked standing up, anger in his voice.

“Most of them found out by accident. Hana guessed,” I said. “You have to promise not to tell anyone.”

“Of course,” he said, his anger subsiding.

“I am the Anzen, the Chosen Child from the Legend of Beifen,” I said to him.

He didn’t know how to react. At first, he was confused, then surprised, then he looked skeptical. “Prove it.”

I held out my hand, and a small flame sprouted in the center of my palm.

“Whoa, that’s kind of cool. That makes a lot of sense now. That’s why you could take out those soldiers, but what happened to you after that? You passed out for a day,” Fai said.

“Um, I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to distract you from the games,” I told him.

“What about the Great Darkness from the legend?” he looked at me.

I didn’t say anything, but he saw the look on my face.

“Was that why you collapsed, because of the Darkness?” he asked.

I nodded. We talked for a bit and he asked some questions but after awhile I groaned because my leg gave a slight burning pain but it faded soon.

“Oh, well, I guess you should rest. See you around.” He left.

A little later, I was allowed to leave. I took it easy the rest of the day and went to sleep early.

***

I walked to the Warrior Training Field with Koluk and my friends. I was wearing my robes from the Gambing Palace; they had a sort of symbolism for me since I had fought my first real fight in them just like Gambing did when he was 15. We walked in the circular arena; the girls went into the stands to watch while we went into the field.

“Okay then, everyone down here signed up for hand-to-hand combat. If not, then you shouldn’t be here, so leave now. If you don’t show up to a fight after five minutes, you forfeit,” Instructor Chen said.

“Alright then, all the fighters have been pre-matched; there will be no switching and no picking, no exceptions. Either you fight whom we say, or you don’t fight at all. The first match is Fai Josho and Kuhaku Namae!” Chen announced.

Fai paled.

“You’ll do great,” I nudged him.

“You can beat him,” Koluk said.

Fai walked up to the stage. The crowd cheered. Kuhaku got on the stage, and the crowd cheered louder. Chief Arnook stood up.

“And so let the first match of this year’s Warrior Games begin!” He shouted.

They wasted no time; Kuhaku charged Fai and threw a punch. Fai ducked and rolled; he stood and kicked Kuhaku in the back. Kuhaku fell to the ground, but he jumped right back up. The crowd was going crazy. The two did a series of blocks and punches. Then, Kuhaku got a lucky shot at Fai’s chest. Fai quickly recovered and tackled Kuhaku. They rolled around before Fai used his strength to over power him.

“I submit,” Kuhaku said.

The crowd went crazy. Arnook held up Fai’s arm.

“I give you our first winner!”

When Fai got off the stage, we rushed up to him.

“That was awesome, Fai!” Koluk said.

“Great job,” I told him.

Kuhaku walked up to him, “Good match, Fai.”

“Uh, thanks. You, too,” he replied.

Match after match was fought. Fai was doing pretty well for the most part. Tekton was incredible. Koluk annihilated everyone he fought. I did reasonably well; I wanted to at least make it to the semi-finals. Taruk was also doing very well. Later in the day, most of everyone had fought all of their matches. I had two left; Koluk only had one. Tekton had fought all of his and won ten matches. Fai also fought all of his matches, but he only won seven, so he didn’t make it to the semi-finals.

“Okay,” Arnook said, “The next match will be between, oh my, this will be interesting,” he looked over at me. “Hyriu Jingshen and Koluk Yonggan.”

The crowd went nuts. I looked over at Koluk who was looking at me with a smirk. We walked on stage. We both had smirks on our faces; he cracked his knuckles. We shook hands, each trying to crush the others in that brief time. We looked at Arnook waiting to be given the ‘okay.’

He looked at us. “Let the match begin!”

I tackled Koluk and brought him to the ground. He managed to get back on his feet. He kicked at my face; I rolled to the side. I jumped up and punched him in the face.

“Oops, my bad,” I said, then elbowed him in the stomach.

He jumped on my back and knocked me to the ground. He landed a few punches, but I blocked most of them. I got up; we exchanged a series of punches. I kicked him in the back of his left knee; he got me in the chest. Finally, he did what I wanted him to do. He tried to use the ‘Swing Kick’ on me. I had been working on a counter move for it for a long time. He swung his leg into mine, taking my legs out from under me. I did a back flip and landed on my feet.

“Yeah,” I said. “That just happened.”

He had a shocked look. I took my chance; I ran my shoulder into him, pushing him to the ground and jumped on top of him.

“Give up?” I asked him.

“Not a chance,” he said and kicked me, sending me to the other side of the stage. He pinned me down, put his forearm across my throat, and held up his left arm ready for a punch.

“Give up?” he asked triumphantly.

“I suppose,” I said with a smile, “I submit.”

Arnook held up Koluk’s arm, “Your winner!”

The crowd cheered. We left the stage.

“Hyriu, that was very cool. And, Koluk, good job,” Tekton said.

“That was one of the best fights I’ve seen,” Fai said.

I won my last match, so I won a total of eight matches.

“Hey, Fai,” I said as the last match was being fought, “I’m sorry you didn’t make it to the semi-finals.”

“Are you kidding? Before, I didn’t think I would win one match, but today, I won seven. Instructor Chen said to me that the games weren’t about winning, but that they were about being a better warrior, which is what you did to me, so thanks, Hyriu,” he said happily.

“Why are you thanking me?” I asked.

“Because I only won because of you helping me during practice,” he said brightly.

“Well then, you’re welcome,” I said.

The last fight ended, and Arnook announced the semi-finalists. The town was in an uproar of celebration. I separated myself from the parties, always standing on the sidelines. I went to sleep early but towards the middle of the night, I found myself sitting on the ridge where Tekton and I had sat and where the mysterious person attacked Lina and me. I sat down and meditated. Some people were still partying despite how late it was. The loud noise distracted me, so I have up trying to find any peace. I, instead, looked out over the city. It was mostly dark, but here and there were patches of yellow light where the parties were. I heard footsteps of someone approaching. I rolled into the shadows of a small hill and got into a stance.

“Relax, Hyriu. It’s just me,” Tekton said, “You can come out of the shadows.”

“Oh,” I laughed and walked out, “You just startled me.”

“I figured that when you jumped,” he said. “So back here again?”

“Yeah, it is a good place to sit and be away from everything,” I said.

“I suppose,” he said, “Are you alright, Hyriu?”

“Not really,” I said.

“You want to talk about it?” He sat down next to me.

“Well, there is so much. I don’t know where to start,” I said.

“How about you start with why you can’t sleep?” Tekton suggested.

“Well, ever since I had my first vision, I’ve had nightmares. A few nights, I don’t get any, but that was a while ago. I get them every night now. They’re horrible. I see the Robed Man killing my friends and family. I see Hydronia being destroyed by a meteor. And all these mixed with this one reoccurring dream. I am in a wrecked house; part of it is burning. And I can see a Fire Nation woman standing in front of me holding up something, I think, a sword. And every time I have that dream, it gets clearer and I notice some horrible new detail,” I paused. “And they all get worse and worse. I see myself facing a giant Avatar with the Robed Man. I see all powerful spirits telling me I’m not good enough. That I will fail,” I broke off.

Tekton was silent, then, “Well, I’m no all powerful spirit, but I think you are meant to be the Anzen.”

“Thanks,” I said, looking at the sky.

“See, Hyriu,” Kyoshi said in my head, “Your friends believe in you, the spirits believe in you, I believe in you. It is only natural to doubt yourself, but don’t hold yourself to these doubts. Any doubts about yourself exist only in your inner most thoughts. Banish them from your mind, and they will be nonexistent. We all believe in you.”

“Yes, everyone believes in me. Everyone believes and thinks I will defeat the Darkness, but I can’t beat the Robed Man with just beliefs.”

“Why not?” she asked. “Why can’t Darkness be defeated with belief? You may not know it, but beliefs are much more powerful than you think. If you believe you can do something, usually, you never stop trying, and you never give up. But, if you don’t believe in yourself, you give up on the first try. Take your friend Fai for example. He didn’t believe in himself until you helped him, and look what happened. If you believe in hope, happiness, and peace, then the world will endure. But if you believe in death, pain, and Darkness, the world will fall. The world will either endure with belief, or fall with belief. The choice is for the people to decide. If all the world gives up hope but one person, then the world will survive because of that one person. As long as there is still a tiny sliver of hope, the world has a chance. So Hyriu, you need to be that one person, when all seems lost you need to be the one person who still believes. Kan Dao has told me that before Sozin’s Comet returns, the world will seem lost. Something terrible will happen, and all hope will vanish from the world. When that happens, you need to step up and believe. When the worlds falls, and it will fall, the safety net must catch it. But the safety net cannot catch it if the net is not strong enough and ready to hold it back up. So you must have hope, always no matter what, never give up hope, never forget who you are. The world will depend on you to unite it and lift it back up.”

“Hyriu?” Tekton looked at me. “Are you alright? You’ve been quiet for awhile.”

“I- I think I just need some sleep,” I got up and went home shaken.

That night my nightmares were worse than ever. I saw the Fire Nation woman, except I didn’t see any new detail in the dream. Instead, I felt something. I felt pain, unbearable, burning pain that was most intense on my right leg. I woke up screaming and crying with Hiko and Wei standing over me with fearful faces.

Chapter Text

Chapter 25
The Finals

The water bending tournament had already begun. In fact, it was almost over. I had fought eleven matches and had only won six. Tekton had won ten and lost two. Huan and Taruk were fighting. I was impressed with Taruk’s bending skills. He beat Huan, making that his ninth win out of twelve. I faced Da-Xia in my match. He won but he didn’t do overkill. He just nicely beat me then helped me up. Arnook announced the semi-finalists, then everyone began to disperse. As I was walking home, a lot of people said “Good job,” to me or, “There is still tomorrow,” and other words of encouragement. I was very confused and met up with Wei. I told him about how everyone was being so nice to me.

“Well, most everyone in Hydronia has heard about your actions during the scouting mission. They’re all calling you a hero,” he said.

“Really? Wow,” I said humbled, “So this is a taste of being a, well, a hero.”

“Don’t think this is what it is like,” Wei admonished. “Do you want to experience that battle again?”

I shuddered and shook my head.

“I didn’t think so, and that was just a small skirmish. Imagine the real war that rages on right now,” Wei said.

I thought about that. That night, I had more nightmares, and I didn’t get much sleep. I saw the Fire Nation woman again, and I could see her glimmering sword. It was a katana with a red grip threaded in gold. The next day was tense. It was the swordsmanship tournament. I wouldn’t be holding back today. We all gathered in the Training Field. I had the Gambing Blade strapped to my waist. That tournament was much more fun for me since I got to truly demonstrate my skills. Of course with every match, I did the “No disrespect intended” thing. I fought vigorously, not holding back. I kept my disarming technique a secret as I was saving it for a special someone. Tekton and Taruk fought. Taruk was a beast and beat Tekton. Then he glared over at me. The crowd loved my display of skills and shouted “Hyriu Swordwielder.”

I won every match I fought. I didn’t gloat or boast to anyone. I just fought respectfully and then left the stage. I knew I had to be humble. This was a test of character. I noticed Wei watching me closely, confirming my suspicions. I never over did a fight, and if I came up against an opponent who wasn’t that good, I still used complex moves to beat them. Others, on the other hand, played down their skills and beat their opponent with simple moves to show how bad he was. I didn’t want anyone to feel bad about themselves; I wanted them to try. At the end of the day, I won all my matches, Taruk won eleven matches, and Tekton won eight, so he just barely made it. Everyone congratulated me on my success. Afterwards, I hung out with my friends and we celebrated.

The next day was the semi-finals. If you lost your match, you were out. The hand-to-hand combat semi-finals were first. Tekton and I fought; he won. The semi-finals would narrow the warriors down to just two people for the finals. They went pretty quick, it seemed. They were over before noon, and Koluk and Hito were the final two. Chief Arnook congratulated them both. There was a short break before the water bending tournament. I went to the stands and sat with Lina, Fai, Koluk, and Hana.

“Good job, Koluk,” Hana said.

“I can not wait to see you fight tomorrow. I am sure it will be great,” Lina said.

“Nice job,” Fai said.

The water bending part started. We cheered on our friends. Taruk fought with an angry expression. He annihilated Tekton. The final two were Huan and Taruk. There was another break. I got up to go down to the field.

“You nervous?” Fai asked me before I walked away.

“Yeah, I am,” I replied.

“Don’t worry. They don’t call you ‘Hyriu Swordwielder ’ for nothing,” Hana said.

“Good luck,” Koluk and Lina said.

I went down to the stage and got ready. My first match was against Kobun, one of Taruk’s friends.

I drew my sword, “No disrespect intended,” I said in a sarcastic way.

“Come on, Hyriu!” Huan shouted.

I attacked, whipping my sword around and slashing like crazy. He didn’t attack because he was too busy blocking my strikes. In a spinning motion, I turned his sword away, ripped it from his hand, spun around, and stopped with my sword pointed at his chest.

“I submit,” he muttered.

The crowd cheered. I gave Kobun his sword back and left the stage. People congratulated me all around. The semi-finals had several rounds. I moved up in each one. Finally, I had one last match to fight to make it to the Finals, and Tekton was my opponent. We walked on stage.

“Well, Hyriu, looks like one of us is going to the finals,” he said with a smile.

“Yeah, and it’s going to be me,” I said with a cocky smile and drew my sword. “No disrespect intended.”

“I most certainly don’t think you will be getting past me,” Tekton said.

You may begin,” Arnook said and stepped back.

I swung my sword. We exchanged a series of blows and moved around the stage. The clang of steel on steel echoed throughout the field. Our swords met in the air, and we each tried to over power the other. I then whipped my sword around and tripped him by hitting his ankle with the blade. His sword slid across the stage. I pointed mine at his chest.

“I submit,” he said.

I helped him up as the crowd went crazy.

“And Hyriu is going to the finals!” Arnook announced.

We walked off the stage. The next match was the last semi-final today. Taruk was fighting so vigorously that it almost scared me. He won and was going to the finals with me.

***

The next day, the city was humming. Excitement filled my veins. I stood among the other finalists.

“Well, here we are, the finals. We have three rookies as finalists this year, one of which is in two different categories.” The crowd cheered. “And because of that, there will be a change in scheduling, so our rookie will not have two matches back to back. The water bending round will be first.”

Then Huan and Taruk stepped forward. We all took our seats, and the match began. Taruk displayed amazing skills and a huge level of improvement. Within minutes, he had Huan beat. Taruk stood over him, victorious. The crowd erupted in applause.

“And our first winner of the Warrior Games is Taruk!” Arnook shouted.

There was a short break before the hand-to-hand combat final.

“Good luck,” I said to Koluk.

He walked up on stage. The match began and Koluk fought vigorously. It was incredible to watch him fight. The crowd was in stunned silence. Before I knew it, it was over. Koluk stood strong and out of breath.

“Our second winner, Koluk, another rookie!” Arnook announced.

I prepared myself. Everyone in the crowd new the relationship between Taruk and me, and they were all on the edge of their seats. I saw Taruk glaring at me; I glared back at him as I walked on stage. He walked up as well.

I drew my sword slowly, dragging it out. I started to bow, but I stopped midway. I had been respectful to everyone I fought, even Kobun, Taruk’s friend; but Taruk did not deserve my respect. Not yet anyway. I straightened and looked him directly in the eyes and said:

“Disrespect intended.”

Gasps were heard from the crowd. Koluk had a large grin on his face. The rest of my friends had similar looks. I saw Wei fighting a smile. Taruk’s glare turned fierce.

“Begin!” Arnook shouted.

Taruk attacked; I easily blocked and attacked him. After a few blows, I said to him:

“You wanted to know what I was doing in Heiwa Valley, right? Would you like me to show you?” I pushed him back.

He charged. Throughout the games, I had been using classic Water Tribe forms, but now I was going to use the moves that Daminao had taught me, a completely different style. I blocked in a swirling motion; the crowd and Taruk noticed the change. Taruk knew the Water Tribe forms and how to block them, but he clearly didn’t know how to block Daminao’s swirling tactics. I decided to use my disarming technique I had invented. I waited for a proper opening then hooked my sword around his and twisted. His sword flew out of his hand. I knocked him to the ground and pointed my sword to his chest with a triumphant smile. He kicked my sword away and tried to get up. As soon as I saw what he was doing, I reacted with lightning speed. I did a forward flip placing my right hand on the ground to help, so for a split second I was doing a one-handed hand-stand. I spun when I landed on my feet so I was behind Taruk. Before he knew what was happening, I put my sword to his throat.

“Is that really your best?” I asked mockingly. “Say. It.”

He glared at me, “I…sub…mit.”

“That’s right, and if you cross me again like what you’ve been doing, I promise you, it won’t be a game,” I threatened.

He looked scared for a moment, but then he recovered. I sheathed my sword as Arnook announced me the winner. My friends ran up to me, and we celebrated. Koluk, Taruk, and I were all given gold, blue, and silver medals with a purple ribbon so we could wear it around our necks. On one side was the symbol for Hydronia, a full moon behind two spears making an ‘X’ with a vertical sword at the center. I noticed that the sword was the Gambing Blade. On the other side was the symbol for the category that we won. On mine there was a sword; Koluk’s had a fist, and Taruk’s had three curling waves.

I was standing on stage, still with my friends. Suddenly, the cheers faded into silence, but I could still see people clapping and shouting. I realized that the same thing that happened when Arnook announced the tour of the palace was happening again. In a flash, I was looking at a destroyed training field. I could see clouds of smoke everywhere, and I saw that the big domed roof of the Gambing Library had partly caved in and smoke was pouring out. I looked around and saw the Robed Man. The blood drained from my face.

“Oh, don’t worry this isn’t your third warning,” he said. “Oh wait, but you should worry, shouldn’t you? I mean, the Avatar has returned. Your friend, Taruk, doesn’t seem happy with you, and he doesn’t strike me as the type to sit idly by to watch you mock him. And then of course, there is me you have to worry about. Yes, look around you. Do you see all of this? It will happen if you resist me, but not only this, many other great cites will be brought to ruin because of your possible mistake.”

“Why are you here if this isn’t a warning?” I asked cautiously.

“I am here to encourage you to make the right choice. You obviously lack the intelligence to make a proper decision,” he started walking toward me.

Suddenly, three figures appeared before me. I recognized them as the three spirits I had talked to on my birthday: Kan Dao, Weizao, and Kizuna.

“You will not touch him!” Kan Dao said.

The Robed Man looked at her then the other two with slight interest, but in an amusing way, “So you have a personal spirit guard, huh? Well I would say ‘I don’t have time for this,’ but actually, I do. I do have time since it will only take this,” he thrust out his hand, and the three spirits flew back and were ripped to pieces before they hit the ground, “to get rid of them.”

I felt exposed, unprotected and very, very scared. His power terrified me.

“Oh did you think your precious spirits would be a threat to me?” he laughed. “Sorry to disappoint you. But you now know how weak they are and how strong I am.”

Kyoshi appeared in front of me, “We chose Hyriu because we knew he would be strong enough to defeat you. The spirits only give him guidance. He is much stronger than you know.”

“Oh you doubt my knowledge? That wounds me, truly it does. I can see that, with proper training, the boy might be a threat to me. But fortunately, you will not receive proper training unless it is from me. Under my guidance, you would become much more powerful than your precious spirits. Without me, you will fall. It is inevitable, ask Kan Dao; she knows how this will end. I just want to help you, help you discover your true potential.”

“Don’t listen to him, Hyriu,” Kyoshi said, “He is trying to discourage you.”

“I know. Don’t worry Kyoshi. I will never join him,” I said.

“Don’t be so sure. Just think about what I have said and the validity of it,” he melted into the shadows.

I saw a rush of images of people dying, buildings collapsing, and cities burning.

I opened my eyes to see the concerned looks of my friends. The crowd was still cheering.

“How long was I out?” I asked.

“What do you mean?” Hana said.

“You were quiet for a few seconds,” Tekton said, “But-”

“But in those few seconds, your eyes turned solid black,” Koluk said.

“Really?” I asked and looked around.

I spotted Taruk who was looking at me with confusion and suspicion. When I got the chance, I told my friends what happened and filled them all in about the second warning vision. I told Wei, and he told me not to worry though he looked worried himself.

The celebrations lasted late into the night. I tried to look happy, but the Robed Man seemed to always ruin fun events, and I went home early. I had more nightmares, and I saw the Fire Nation woman again. Except this time, I noticed she looked young, no older than fourteen or fifteen. That disturbed me most.

Chapter Text

Chapter 26
No Rest for the Weary

In the aftermath of the Warrior Games, people looked on me with a new air of respect. People also noticed the intensity of the fight between me and Taruk and that more had happened than what was seen. School always went on a break for a few weeks after the games, so my schedule was nothing but training. Taruk would glare at me every time he saw me, but he kept his distance.

I walked out of the tunnel and onto the porch in the Shui Temple. Lamara and Master Sonam were waiting for me.

“Hyriu, you have proven yourself a talented flyer, so we are going to work with that. Today, you will practice air combat,” Sonam said.

“Who am I going to fight? Lamara?” I scoffed.

“And me,” someone announced.

I turned and saw Daminao land.

“You’re late, Daminao,” Sonam said sternly.

“I am sorry; I got distracted by the daises on the mountain side,” he said with a smile.

“Yes of course, how silly of me to forget what a nuisance daises can be for your attention span,” Sonam said, his face completely stoic. He turned his attention back to me, “Anyway, you will climb to the top of Gaofeng and then attempt to land on the Vine Temple which is atop the end of the Greenwall. Lamara will fly next to you and try to stop you from reaching your goal. Daminao will be patrolling the skies. And I will be waiting for you at the temple. Now go. Oh, and here is your glider,” he said as he handed it to me.

“How am I supposed to climb Gaofeng, the tallest mountain in this part of the Bei Shuis, with a glider in my hand?” I asked him.

“That is one of the hardships of life,” he said sarcastically.

“Why can’t I just fly up? Why do I have to climb?” I asked.

“That is part of your training,” he replied.

I walked up the paths by the temple with Lamara. When the paths ended, we trudged through the tropical forest. I saw a river near by.

“Sonam said I couldn’t fly up, but he never said I couldn’t water bend up,” I smiled.

A lemur landed on Lamara’s shoulder with a note. I prepared an ice raft, but before I could get on it, I was knocked to the ground. I stood up and looked at Lamara.

“What? Sonam said to start ‘hindering’ you,” she said, waving the note.

“Great,” I said as she shot another blast.

I made an ice wall and blocked it. I made another ice raft since the first went down the river. I jumped on it and raced against the current. Lamara opened her glider and flew after me. I shot streams of water at her. She flipped through the air, shooting blasts of wind that obliterated the water I threw at her.

Eventually, we got near the top of Gaofeng, where there was only ice and rock, so we battled with the wind. I got to the top of the mountain. The view was terrifyingly beautiful. I opened my glider as Lamara circled me. I saw Daminao, and I looked towards the small Vine Temple.

I dived.

I was kneeled on my glider, so I was surfing but still going very fast. Lamara was close behind. I did flips and turns to try and lose her, but she was too good. I tried to blast her away with wind, but she countered my every attack. I shot a blast of fire at her. She quickly dodged. I saw Daminao in front of me. I shot a blast of fire at him. Unfortunately, since I was flying so fast, I shot the fire in front of myself. I flew into my own fire blast. I could see Daminao laughing ahead of me.

“Alright,” I said to myself, “You think it’s funny, huh?”

I dived straight down. Daminao stopped laughing and dived after me. I looked behind myself and saw them both diving at me. I smiled; they had fallen right into my trap. I shot a huge blast of fire. Since they were diving, they had no time to dodge. I saw that they tried to block the flames but still got singed.

I continued shooting blasts of fire with an occasional gust of wind at them.

Suddenly a huge gust of wind knocked me off my glider. I was tumbling through the air, free falling. I panicked.

‘Hyriu!’ Kyoshi said, ‘Calm yourself. You must remain calm and think of a logical way to get out of this.’

“You’re right,” I said.

I took a deep breath, which is something that is hard to do when you’re plummeting to your death. I entered my state of mind when I meditate. I used air bending to steady myself so I was no longer somersaulting or spinning. My feet were pointed to the ground and my head to the sky. I saw my glider. I started using slow but powerful air bending techniques to slow my descent and started moving closer to my glider. Just as I was about to reach it, it was blown away from me by an unnatural current of air. I saw Sonam standing atop the Vine Temple. He was moving in slow graceful movements, unleashing powerful blasts of wind. He held his staff in one hand. I knew now that I was battling him. I knew I couldn’t beat him with normal bending, so I entered Stage One. Then I realized I had mastered Stage Two, so after I felt like I was ready, I entered Stage Two. I could feel the air currents all around me. I selected one that I could use to my advantage, and with the help of my air bending, I moved toward my glider. I was able to grab it and get back on. While I was doing this, I had fended off Sonam’s attacks.

An idea occurred to me. Sonam said I was to practice air combat, but that didn’t mean I had to use air bending. I had fire bended a little bit, but not much. I saw a cloud nearby. I began to combine my air bending and water bending skills. The cloud began to move toward me. It started to swirl all around me. I moved it toward Sonam on the temple. I enveloped him in the cloud, and it covered an entire section of the Greenwall. I could feel Sonam trying to dispel the cloud, but it was too powerful. I then began to shape the cloud into a swirling cylinder, like a tornado cut short. I could still feel Sonam trying to break through the cloud. I swirled the tornado faster and circulated the air inside it so Sonam would be having trouble standing still.

I made the tornado go even faster. I started to freeze the tornado, so a cylinder of ice as big as the Shui Temple surrounded Sonam on the Vine Temple. I continued swirling the air around in the cylinder. I flew over the top of the cylinder and looked down at Sonam. I began to descend to the temple. As I descended, I began melting the ice then turning the water into steam. I used air bending to blow the steam away. As I got lower, I swirled the wind below me faster. Sonam was using all his skill to stay on the temple’s roof.

When at last I was just above him, I unleashed blast after blast of wind at him. Finally using the swirling wind to my advantage, I let loose a powerful gust of wind in all directions, knocking Sonam off the temple and disintegrating what was left of the ice cylinder. I jumped to the ground and came out of Stage Two. I walked into the temple just as Sonam, Lamara, and Daminao walked in from the other side.

I smiled, “Looks like I win.”

I realized just how tired I was and slumped against the temple’s wall.

“Hyriu! Are you alright?” Lamara asked as she rushed over to me.

“I’m fine, just tired,” I said.

“Yes, it seems Stage Two really takes a toll on you,” Sonam noted.

“Apparently,” I said.

We flew back to the temple. Wei and Arnook were waiting for us. We landed and they walked over to us.

“Well, Hyriu, that was quite a performance,” Arnook said.

“You saw that?” I asked, still tired.

“Most of it, we walked up when you started freezing the tornado,” Arnook said. “You seem tired, Hyriu.”

“Yes, very,” I said. “I can’t wait to go home and sleep.

Arnook looked at Wei, “Well then, I have some bad news for you. I was able to contact Master Lee, and we have scheduled a time for you to visit and practice earth bending.”

“Oh, that’s great,” I said. “Wait, how is that bad news?”

“It is bad news because you leave tomorrow, so you will have almost no rest,” Arnook explained.

“Ah, how long will I be there?” I asked.

“Around two or three weeks, depending on your progress,” he said.

I took a deep breath, “Cool.”

I was looking forward to seeing Shan, my friend, but I was not looking forward to the rough training ahead. I went home barely able to stand. I started to prepare my stuff for the coming journey, but I fell asleep before I was half way done.

Chapter Text

Chapter 27
To the Earth Kingdom

I walked with my friends to the land raft as I was telling Hana about my warning vision. Tekton, Koluk, Lina, Lamara, Daminao, and Fai were also with us. I was glad all of my close friends knew who I was. We had formed a team almost. Several of them came to Heiwa Valley to watch me train, and sometimes all of them came. They would even help me while they were there.

“Wow,” Hana said, “this Robed Man sounds scary. I don’t know how you can deal with it.”

I just laughed a little, “Yeah, it is a bit…scary.”

What I didn’t say was that I didn’t deal with it. I had nightmares every night about him. I was terrified, but I couldn’t tell my friends that. I also had nightmares about the fight during the scouting mission. To complete it, I was also having the recurring dream where I’m in a wrecked house that’s burning with a Fire Nation woman in it. Every night, it got clearer and clearer, and I could see more and more details. Last night was the worst so far; I could see the body of a Water Tribe woman laying at the feet of the Fire Nation woman. I pushed that out of my mind as we arrived at the dock. There was a large crowd, but not for me; the Royal Court was going to return to the capital.

“Farwell, Hydronians, it was a true pleasure to stay here as long as I did. I wish you all well and say do not be sad at my departure, for I will visit Hydronia and the other cities more often,” Arnook said.

His daughter, Princess Yue, stepped forward. “May the Great Spirits watch over you and keep you all safe. I look forward to returning to see this great and wondrous city and the mighty people that live in it. Farwell!”

Everyone cheered. Wei, Hiko, and I climbed on the raft. I waved to my friends. I saw Taruk in the crowd, and for the first time in weeks, he wasn’t glaring at me. His eyes were filled with suspicion, and he looked like he was searching for something. I saw him rush from the crowd.

A few minutes later, the raft started to move. I saw Taruk hand something to a man looking after the goods on the raft just as we began to move; it was a letter. We picked up speed, and the crowd got smaller and smaller. The raft turned to the mountains, and we rode into the foot hills. We would be taking a route straight through the Bei Shui Mountains and directly to the capital. I noticed we took a turn right when we passed through the mountains. I recognized some of the mountains behind us, and I realized we were leaving behind Heiwa Valley.

“Why are we going this way?” I asked Wei. “I thought we were going straight to the capital?”

“We are, but this is the only safe path on this part of the tundra. The rest is known to cave in often,” he answered.

I started to help propel us forward with my enhanced bending. The mountains raced by. Soon, we left the mountains behind, and we were racing through the open tundra. Harsh blizzards battered us the whole time. Finally after a day and a half, as the blizzards slowed us down, we arrived at the capital.

The city was built below the tundra at ground level, so high ice cliffs surrounded it. When we approached the city, we were looking down onto it from the top of the cliffs. Along with the high ice cliffs surrounding the city, there was a man made ice wall guarding the city from the ocean. Instead of ice streets, the city had canals. You could travel anywhere in the city on a small boat because of the canals. Along the canals were paths of ice, so you could walk if you wanted. There were also patches of the city that didn’t have canals. There were two-story tall bridges over the canals. The city was made of several tiers. At the part of the city furthest from the ocean was the tallest tier with the Chief’s Palace on top. It was also tiered, kind of like a pyramid, only more narrow, and it didn’t come to a point. The city practically ran on water bending. It was what powered the boats, canals, and how to enter or leave the city to the ocean. The way the wall was designed, a ship had to go through so many canals and ice walls that no unwanted ship could break through to the city unless they had a lot of fire power. Outside the city, in the ocean were many razor sharp ice burgs that could even rip through the metal ships of the Fire Nation.

After a quick welcome party, Wei, Hiko, and I were escorted to our house. It was close to the palace on one of the highest tiers. We did the routine that we always did. I pretended to start getting sick, and at the feast that night, I left early because I wasn’t feeling well. I pretended to get sick every time I had a trip to the Earth Kingdom, so no one would think it was odd that I wasn‘t seen. We said it was the tundra weather that got to me. The next day, I wore a cloak and had my face wrapped up as I boarded a ship that was taking goods to the Earth Kingdom. Arnook informed the captain and crew that I was coming, so they didn’t ask questions. Wei and Hiko had to stay in the capital; otherwise people would be suspicious at their disappearance. I used water and air bending to help guide the boat.

Soon, the Water Tribe was lost in the horizon, and the Earth Kingdom was in sight. This part of the Earth Kingdom was dominated by the Bei Ji Mountains. They were much taller than the Bei Shui or Atarashi Mountains. The mountain range was also much larger. It was about the size of the entire Northern Water Tribe. The mountains also had the Northern Air Temple in them.

About five hours past noon, we neared the coast. I could see Mazushi Village; that was where Master Lee and Shan lived. It was nestled between two arms of a mountain. A forest of pine and oak trees covered the bases of the mountains. The village was made of wooden and stone buildings. There were many old docks that led into the ocean.

We pulled up to the docks. The village was unorganized and random except for the docks and the mayor’s house. Every other building looked as if the people closed their eyes and pointed to a random spot and said, “Build there.” There were a few rickety boat houses near by. The mayor’s house was a combination of wood and stone. It was three floors high and had the Earth Kingdom symbol on it- a green circle with a tan square at its center.

There was a crowd waiting for us. The boat was unloaded of it’s goods. I got off and walked through the crowd, greeting people. The mayor walked up to me. He was a large, older man who governed the city. He was decent enough, but he wasn’t my favorite person.

“Oh, Anzen Hyriu,” he began in a high but bland voice, “You visit us once again. And you bring goods from the north. Wonderful.”

“Mayor Tanlan, it is good to be back,” I said.

“Ah yes, hmm…is, um, is this all the ship brought? Hmm,” he paused. “Very well then, I will leave you now. I am sure Master Lee is around here somewhere.” He walked off.

I looked around and spotted my friend, Shan, and Master Lee. I walked over to them.

“Hey, guys,” I greeted them.

“Hey, Hyriu, how you been?” Shan asked.

He had a deep but smooth voice. He was a bit taller than me with broad shoulders, and he was muscular but lean. He was surprisingly tan, but he was nowhere near as tan as me. He had brown hair that he kept in a messy top not. He had a square-like face with a strong jaw and emerald eyes.

“I have been good. How have you guys been managing?” I asked as I glanced at the small pile of goods.

“The same. Don’t worry; we always manage to get by. Don’t listen to what Tanlan says,” Master Lee said.

He had a rough voice. He was tall with broad shoulders and a barrel chest. He had a brutish face.

“I’m sorry I didn’t bring more food,” I said guiltily.

Being in the Water Tribe, I sometimes forgot how good we have it off. We worry about our exams and girls and games; here they worry about pirate raids, food shortages, and freezing to death on a daily bases.

“Oh, don’t worry yourself,” Master Lee said. “It is not your fault. Arnook must feed his own people first and us second. We can always manage, and don’t feel guilty. Instead, enjoy what you have before it is gone.”

“I suppose you’re right,” I said, clearing my head.

“Of course I am. Ha ha. Besides, Tanlan is trying to make you feel guilty. Vile man, but I suppose he is only trying to help us get by,” Master Lee said.

“Okay, this is getting me kind of depressed. You came to earth bend, right?” Shan said with a grin.

I smiled. He was like Lamara; she could always put a smile on your face, though I always thought he was better at it. “Right.”

“Well then, this so called ‘Robed Man’ will think twice about going after you once you learn these moves. Well, there is noting else left to say but let’s get started,” Master Lee said with a hearty laugh.

Chapter Text

Chapter 28
Pebble Launch

Master Lee took me to his teaching area, which was just an open space in the trees with patches of grass here and there. On the way, Shan and I caught up. I found out that Arnook had told them about my visions and everything else that had happened. We had been good friends since I first came to Mazushi Village. His parents had both died when he was young also, so we shared a bond. His dad went hunting one day and never came back. His mother had always been ill since his birth, and after his father died, she withered away. Master Lee then took Shan under his wing.

“So your life is kind of crazy now, huh?” he said as we walked.

“Yeah, nothing is normal now,” I responded.

“So any luck with the ladies?” he asked slyly.

“Actually yes. I’m dating this girl named Hana,” I said blushing.

“Really? Nice,” he smiled.

“Okay, enough chatter, you two,” Master Lee instructed, “Now the move I will be teaching you is what I call Storm of Earth.”

“I call it the ‘Pebble Launch,’” Shan whispered to me. I snickered.

“Now, it is very simple once you see how it is done, so even you, Hyriu, can do it with good results. I’ll give you a quick demonstration.”

He took a strong stance, and with several quick, rigid movements, he launched several rocks of differing size. He then did it again, only slower, showing me exactly what he did. I saw it was a combination of very simple moves that you do to lift up a rock and throw it.

“There. Now you practice,” Master Lee said and left.

That was his teaching style. He didn’t stay with you and hold your hand the whole way; he showed you what he wanted you to do and had you figure it out yourself. Also with me, he didn’t want me to depend on him since most of the time I would be by myself in Hydronia earth bending.

First, I just practiced several techniques of lifting a rock and launching it. I tried many different methods. Shan had to keep correcting my form, and a few times, I would get frustrated. It was just so different from air bending and water bending. Soon, the day was over.

A week passed by and I was still practicing singular moves and hadn’t made any progress. I could do the moves, but I couldn’t root myself to the ground or get in the right mind set. On one particular infuriating day, I stormed off to my house. When I was walking, I heard the distant rumble of thunder even though there were no storm clouds. I stayed in my house for the rest of the evening. I had the house all to myself courtesy of the mayor, which was a nice gesture, but I didn’t like to be all alone. I woke up in the middle of the night; I had just had another nightmare about the Fire Nation woman. This time, the new thing I saw was fresh blood slowly dripping off the girl’s sword. I knew I had probably been screaming, but I guess that it was good I had my own house.

Suddenly, I heard boards creaking outside my room; someone was in my house. I quickly grabbed my dad’s knife and stared at the door. I heard a soft knock on the door, and I opened it a bit. I heard a voice mutter, “Hyriu?”

I relaxed, it was Shan. He walked in, and I put the knife away.

“Yeah?” I said sitting up in bed. I was covered in sweat and was suddenly cold. I also realized I wasn’t wearing a shirt and put one on quickly.

“Are you alright? I heard screaming,” he sounded tired but concerned.

“I’m fine, just a nightmare,” I muttered, thinking about how loud I must have been screaming to have woken him up next door.

“You look like you could use some fresh air. Want to go for a walk?” he asked.

“Sure,” I replied.

Shan and I always did this - go on walks during the night. We would explore the woods or climb the mountains and just hang out and talk. It was one of my favorite parts about coming here because on our walks, I could escape all my worries and just be me. I couldn’t do that with any one in Hydronia. Shan also loved nature about as much as I did.

We walked toward the mountain that the village was nestled by. We began to climb through the forest. The scent of pine needles and dew filled my nose. The mountain air was fresh and cool. The air in the Water Tribe was just cold and smelled like ice.

Finally, we reached a ledge that we had been to before; it was one of our favorite places. It was very high up, and was could see over the tree tops to the seemingly endless ocean. And if I looked from the ocean to my back left, I had a perfect view of for miles and miles between mountains.

Shan and I talked for a long time. Eventually, we started giving obscene names to the constellations. We kept at it until we were both rolling on the ground laughing and gasping for air. When we recovered, I silently asked the spirits for forgiveness. I knew never to insult the sprits, even if unintentionally. We sat in silence for awhile. I stared at the crescent moon.

A cold wind began to rip through the mountains from the north. I looked out over the ocean where the wind was coming from. I began to notice the temperature dropping fast, much too fast for it to be natural. Fear rose up inside of me.

‘Now?’ I thought, ‘Why now? I hadn’t made any progress. Why did he have to come now?’

Then the wind stopped just as suddenly as it began. The leaves that were racing by me stopped in mid air, all their momentum lost. I watched them slowly drift to the ground. I noticed it was still numbingly cold, and that it was dark, very dark. I looked up at the sky, not believing what I saw. There were no stars or moon in the sky. It was pitch black. It wasn’t the pitch black on a cloudy night where the clouds hid the stars. No, this was pure darkness. And I, being a water bender, should have been able to feel the moisture above me in the air, but I felt nothing. I could also tell if the moon was up or not. I could still feel the power of the moon, but I couldn’t reach it. Something cut me off from the moon - something dark and powerful stood between us. It was as if a blanket of blackness fell over the world.

I got the feeling to look behind myself. I looked back between the mountains when I saw a meteor fall from the black sky. An enormous fire ball erupted from where the meteor hit. I closed my eyes and snapped them open. The fire ball and cold were gone, and the stars and moon had returned.

I looked back towards the ocean and saw a figure form in front of me. I recognized one of the spirits I had seen on my birthday; Kan Dao, Spirit of Sight.

Kan Dao,” I said and gave a slight dip of my head.

“Greetings, Anzen Hyriu,” she said grimly.

“Why are you here,” I asked.

“To discuss what you just saw,” she said.

“Was that my - my third warning?” I asked fearfully.

“No, that was a true vision,” she replied.” It wasn’t sent to you by the Shadow Man like the others. It was something that I, we, foresaw.”

“And what was that?” I asked.

“His arrival,” she said. “The Shadow Man, or as you call him, the Robed Man’s arrival.”

I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t speak, so she continued.

“He grows stronger, and the choice of whether or not you receive your third vision approaches. The Coming of Darkness is almost upon us. You must be ready. And another thing is near. The one you fear is very close, in these very mountains in fact. The sound of thunder you heard earlier was his doing. He draws near, and you will soon have to face him. And I am not talking about the Robed Man.”

I looked at her, “No, he can’t be close. No! He can’t be!”

“The Avatar draws near. Everyday since he returned, he has been moving toward the Northern Water Tribe,” she said.

“But why would he come here?” I pleaded.

“I do not know, but remember he is not corrupted yet. He is still on our side, for now. But a great threat follows him. The Fire Nation hunt him with their entire armada. I fear he may draw them to your home. He could unintentionally doom the Northern Water Tribe.”

“We have defeated every attack on the north. Not one has succeeded,” I said.

“They succeeded at the Tragedy of Lok Wa,” she said.

I swallowed back my anger and sadness, “The Fire Nation tried to cut off trade to the Northern Tribe with that attack, but they failed.”

“Do you truly believe that?” she asked. I hesitated. “I will leave you now,” she said and was gone.

“Hyriu?” Shan was waving his hand in front of my eyes. “You were out of it for like five minutes.”

“I’m - I’m fine,” I said. “I’m going to try to sleep again.”

“Alright,” he said.

We climbed down the mountain. I went back to sleep with even more nightmares.

***

The days went by in a haze. I finally made some progress. Three days before I was supposed to leave, I showed Master Lee my progress.

“Very good, Hyriu, keep practicing,” he said.

He never gave much praise because there was always room for improvement. I went to my house and Shan hung out with me for awhile. I remembered that today was Princess Yue’s sixteenth birthday. I made a mental note to say happy birthday to her later.

The next morning, I heard a tapping at my window. I opened it, and in hopped a winter raven with a message tied to its back. I recognized Arnook’s messenger bird. It looked rugged as if it had been flying with no stops. I gave it some bread as I began to read the message. It was a bunch of political nonsense that confused me. I went down stairs and got a cup of tea. I walked outside as I read the end of the message. I stopped dead in my tracks, my cup shattering on the ground. At the end of all that nonsense was what I was dreading. The Avatar had arrived in the capital.

Chapter Text

Chapter 29
The Avatar in the North

I got my things ready to leave. I could see the boat approaching. I had gotten Arnook’s message two days ago. I was very unnerved about the Avatar being in the capital. Would I see him? What’s he like? What if I start becoming friends with him? No, I couldn’t let myself become friends with him. Otherwise it would be too hard if I had to face him.

I was standing by the docks. There was a large crowd for my goodbye. Shan and I stood next to each other awkwardly. I hated saying good bye to him and my other friends in the Fire Nation. It was one of the worst parts about this whole set up. I visited them enough to become friends but always left before the friendship could really get going.

The ship docked, and some men began to load the ship up with Earth Kingdom goods.

“Well, Hyriu,” Master Lee said, “Here we are again. Just keep practicing, and I hope to see you soon. Goodbye.”

“Goodbye, Master Lee,” I bowed respectfully.

I looked over at Shan. He gave me a brother-like hug.

“See you later, dude,” he said.

“See you,” I replied.

“Come back soon,” he said.

“I will,” I assured him.

I got on the boat, and it started to leave.

“Fare you well, Anzen Hyriu. May your return be quick and safe!” Mayor Tanlan said.

I gave him a nod and waved. I began water bending and air bending to make the boat zoom away, but I stopped. I couldn’t help the boat take me away from my friend. Finally, when I couldn’t make out who was who, I helped the boat speed away. Mazushi Village shrunk from view.

***

The capital wall loomed over me. I had put on a cloak wrapping my face up, so I could sneak back into our house. I climbed in my bedroom window. The curtains were drawn. I saw a basket on my bed. It was a get-well basket sent by Princess Yue. I walked out and saw Wei and Hiko eating dinner.

“Hyriu!” Hiko said and hugged me.

“Ha ha. Hey, Hiko,” I said.

“Ah good, I have already made arrangements for you to start walking around again. I have said you have gotten better but are very contagious. I think you could go out tonight because you look very tired, which makes you look kind of sick,” Wei chuckled.

I went on a walk with Wei to the Chief’s Palace. In a large field in front of the palace, I saw Master Pakku standing by a group of teens. As we got closer, I noticed a Water Tribe girl talking with someone - a boy in orange and yellow clothing - Air Nomad clothing. He had a blue arrow tattooed on his head; the sign of a master air bender. He laughed a lot and didn’t seem very serious. All the same, I tensed when I saw him.

“Deep breath, Hyiru. Don’t worry, just relax,” Wei said when he noticed my reaction.

We walked up to the group.

“Ah, Master Wei, and oh look, he brought the newly healthy Hyriu. Wonderful, now maybe he’ll get the rest of us sick for two weeks,” Pakku said to us.

“I assure you, Master Pakku, Yugoda has said Hyriu is no longer contagious,” Wei said.

“Humph,” Pakku had an amused glint in his eyes even though his face didn’t show it.

I saw the boy and girl looking at us, and behind them, I saw Princess Yue walking up with a guy I didn’t recognize, but he looked related to the girl.

Princess Yue hugged me, “Hyriu, you’re feeling better!”

“Ha ha yeah, thanks for the basket,” I said and glanced over at the guy she was with.

“You are very welcome. Oh, sorry this is Sokka and his sister, Katara."

I greeted them.

“Nice to meet you, er, Hyriu, is it?” Katara said and shook my hand.

She had a sweet voice and smiled a lot, though I got the felling she wasn’t one to be messed with. She had on a large blue coat. She had long brown hair in a braid. Two strands of hair on either side of her face looped back to join the braid. She seemed to be about my age.

“Careful Katara#;# I don’t want you getting sick. I don’t care what anybody says. He could still be covered in germs,” Sokka said, eyeing me.

He looked a bit older than me and had his hair in a wolf tail with the sides of his head shaved. He was also taller than I was, but not by much.

“Sokka, if Yugoda says he’s fine, I’m sure he is,” Katara said.

“Whatever. Nice to meet you,” Sokka shook my hand gingerly.

I turned to the bald kid in Air Nomad clothing.

“Hi, I’m Aang, the uh, Avatar,” he said.

He sounded a little unsure about being the Avatar, but he had a confident expression. He looked like he was only twelve years old.

Wei stepped forward, “I am Master Wei, Hyriu’s guardian. It is an honor to meet you, Avatar Aang, you two as well, Sokka and Katara.”

“Likewise,” Aang said.

“Wait#,# are you both water benders?” Katara asked excitedly.

“Yeah,” I said a little confused.

“Oh wow, I still can’t believe how many of you there are up here,” she said in a dream like voice.

“Um, sorry? What do you mean by that?” I asked, even more confused.

“Oh, I completely forgot to say,” Princess Yue laughed, “Sokka and Katara are from the Southern Water Tribe. That is where they found Aang.”

“What? You’re from the Southern Tribe? That’s incredible. I can’t believe you traveled half way around the world,” I said. “Wait, what did you mean when you said you were surprised by how many of us there are up here?”

Katara’s face darkened, “The Fire Nation hit us pretty hard. They sent a lot of raids, and soon, there were no water benders in the South. I am the only one left.”

“Oh wow. I knew the Fire Nation hit the South hard but…” I stopped.

“Yeah, the last raid was when our mother died…” her voice broke, and I saw her hand drift to a necklace she was wearing.

I felt a connection to Katara and her brother.

“I know it won’t help, but I’m really sorry. I lost both my parents in a Fire Nation raid. I was also given this,” I showed them my scar.

I saw a look of shock go across their faces, and I knew Katara understood what I went through.

Wei cleared his throat. “Well, Hyriu, you are still tired, and I am sure Master Pakku would like to continue training the Avatar.”

“Yes, as touching and heart throbbing as that moment was, training must not stop because you made a new friend.”

After a quick visit to Chief Arnook, we walked back to the house, though when we started leaving I saw one of Pakku’s students glaring at me. The glare looked very familiar; almost like…no it couldn’t be. I was just jumpy about meeting the Avatar and his friends.

“Well, Hyriu, our plans were to leave tomorrow morning, but if you want to stay we could. I noticed you and Katara seemed to get along, so I don’t mind if-” Wei started to say.

“No,” I cut him off, “I don’t want to be friends with her, with any of them.”

Wei gave me a questioning look.

“Just in case I have to…you know. I don’t want to be friends with someone that I might have to fight.” Wei nodded, “Like Pakku said, training must not stop just because I made a new friend.”

I wasn’t planning on anything stopping my training.

Chapter Text

Chapter 30
Back in Hydronia

We got to Hydronia in the evening. I greeted my friends and hung out for a bit. Then, I took it upon myself to go to Heiwa Valley. My usual group of friends accompanied me. We arrived at the end of the tunnel through the mountain. Master Sonam, Monk Dadao, and a few other monks, such as Monk Seng and Monk Meiso, were waiting for us.

“Ah, Hyriu, I am glad you came,” Sonam said. “Arnook told us that he would leave your training up to you. He thought you’d have better motivation if you came on your own, not because you were ordered.”

“Hmm, not bad, Arnook,” I said. “So what first?”

“First, you will show me how good your bending is. Follow me,” he instructed.

We went to one of the stone fields. A stream flowed next to it. Sonam stood next to me along with my friends.

“Now when I say, you will show me your best bending,” he said.

I waited for his signal.

“Water,” he instructed.

I swirled some water around and formed a ball of ice. I threw the ice forward, then evaporated it.

“Earth.”

I took a strong stance and did the pebble launch.

“Fire.”

I kicked a few arcs of fire.

“Air.”

I made a ball of air and blew it in all directions.

“Good. Well, I think that when you come here, our prime focus will not be on bending but on developing other skills,” Sonam said.

“So what will we start with?” I asked eagerly.

He glanced at Lamara like they had already decided, “Flying.”

‘Flying’ didn’t quite cover what happened. I had to stay in the air for fifteen minutes. I thought that sounded easy until almost every air bender in Heiwa Valley tried to knock me out of the sky. Daminao especially enjoyed ramming me with his glider at the last minute. I went home tired and raw from the wind, my hair and clothes horribly messed up.

I went back to Heiwa Valley early the next morning. Lina came with me, as she traveled to the valley whenever she could. Master Desu, Wei, Otoko, and Torikku, who were on the Hydronia Court, also accompanied us. I hadn’t ever ventured to the valley at this time of day, and it was eerily beautiful. A heavy fog covered the valley floor. The top part of the Greenwall rose above the sea of mist. We went to an air ball field that was surrounded by fog. I noticed a large stream or small river encircled the field. Sonam, Lamara, and Daminao were waiting for us.

“Today,” Sonam began, “we will work with stealth. You along with your fellow water bending masters will all go in the field. All you have to do, Hyriu, is to stay hidden and secret. You must also take out each master however you can. You must expel them from the circle the stream creates as quietly as you can. You can not fight face to face or let them see you.”

“Am I supposed to stay in the fog?” I asked.

“You are supposed to stay in the circle, but yes, the fog is your one and only ally when you are trying to be stealthy. Be careful though, as the sun rises, the fog dissipates,” Sonam said, motioning to the already gray sky. “Oh, but, masters, you are permitted to create small pockets of air in order to clear away the fog, but if it gets too big, so a large portion of the field is cleared, I will intervene.”

I walked to the center of the field and let the fog surround me. I heard Sonam instruct the masters to enter the fog. I started to silently jump across the wooden poles, making the fog thicker and thicker. I jumped from pole to pole, keeping an eye out for anyone. I landed on one pole and was about to jump again when I saw Wei. He had his back to me. I nearly lost my balance and wheeled my arms to steady myself. I lifted up a wall of fog just as Wei turned. I began moving again, hoping he didn’t see me. A little ways away, I saw Torikku standing in an open space. He had cleared the fog away from him, and he was very close to the edge of the circle.

I sent a stream of water at him. He was quick; he redirected it back to where it had come from. However, I was quick, too, and was already behind him, sending more streams. He was an excellent water bender, but he was getting over whelmed. Eventually, I was able to get enough water surrounding him to throw him into the small river. He crawled out, drying himself.

“One down, three to go,” I whispered quietly.

I went back to jumping atop the poles. I saw Wei, Desu, and Otoko had gathered together in a little bubble of air. I began pushing on the bubble and slowly collapsing it with air and water bending.

“Hey, Sonam!” Wei called out. “Our bubble is not that big. There is no need for that!”

Sonam answered with an amused voice, “That is not me. I believe Hyriu is the cause of your troubles.”

“Oh really? Interesting,” Wei said looking around.

Otoko was a bit separated from Wei and Desu. I made puddles splash at the other side of the bubble, so they all looked that way. I snuck up behind Otoko and used air bending to throw him into the small river. I made a patch of ice which Desu slipped on. I used his momentum against him, and he slid all the way into the river.

I condensed the fog to my left, so it looked like the shadow of a person.

“You know, Hyriu, you really should work on your stealth a bit more,” Wei said to the shadow.

I snuck up behind him, “Should I?”

Then I water bended him to the river. I heard him splash in. I lifted my hands and dissipated the fog.

Wei came up spluttering from the water, "You know Hyriu, I am old so doing something like that might just give me a heart attack." he grabbed his knees as he tried to catch his breath.

"Sorry Wei," I laughed a little.

“Most impressive, Hyriu,” Sonam said. “It seems you are quite stealthy.”

“I think he could improve,” Wei said, “I could hear his footsteps part of the time.”

“Could you really?” I asked with a smirk. “Or did you just hear puddles splashing?”

“Ingenious,” Desu said, “You mean to say you made those puddles splash on purpose?”

I nodded.

“That explains it,” Otoko said, “When we were looking towards the sound of the splashes, I was thrown from behind.”

“Well, Hyriu, that was very clever,” Wei said.

Over the week, I trained hard in many different ways. Lamara showed me how to fight with regular wooden staves, no bending involved. Daminao gave me the basics of forging and continued teaching me his unique swordsmanship, which I found out he had invented. I noticed he was also hanging around a girl. I had seen her around the valley, but I had never talked to her. She was tall with light brown hair that she kept in a messy bun. One day, she was with Daminao when I went to train with him behind the Greenwall.

“Hey, Hyriu,” he said as he walked up with the girl. “This is Ava.”

“Hello, Ava,” I said.

Now that I was closer I could see she looked about his age. She had a guarded expression but looked kind. She had grey eyes and, like how Daminao’s always have a red tint, hers always had a green tint. I noticed she carried a bow. When I saw her shoot it, I noticed she used air bending to make the arrow go faster and farther. I thought they made a good match.

Sonam didn’t let up at all. He would push my air bending to the limits along with my mind and body. He trained my mind in several ways. He would give me difficult scenarios which I had to solve. He gave me battle plans, and I had to calculate a plan to win for either side. He would sometimes have me execute my plans on small scales or explain them in depth. Lamara would teach me certain Pai Sho strategies, and I would have to use them on Sonam. Pai Sho was no longer a fun game, but a dreaded exercise.

Koluk, Fai, Lina, Hana, Tekton, and I hung out all the time. Our friendship grew into a bond. Often they would help me train in Heiwa Valley. School started back up, and my training let up a little. People at school noticed a change in me. People also noticed the bond I had with my friends. No one really picked on me anymore. Some people actually respected me, though most of it was only because I was a good swordsman. I remembered how Hana had started out just liking me for my skills. I wondered if soon everyone would like me, for me, not my skills.

My life seemed to be going very well. I had good friends, and my training had come a long way. My nightmares were horrible, but, with the support of my friends, I could handle them mostly.

Taruk noticed the excessive amount of time I spent in Heiwa Valley and how I had changed. He didn’t say anything though, but I could see he was forming a plan to find out the truth. He was just waiting for the perfect time to execute it.

Chapter Text

Chapter 31
Taruk Crosses the Line

School had been going on for two weeks. On the week break, I was playing a strategic game of air ball. I lost but not by much. My friends and I were hanging out in the jungle where it wasn’t so thick, and we could see the sunset.

“Ah…it feels nice and cool now that the sun is setting. Sometimes I can’t stand the heat here,” Hana said,

I got an idea and splashed some water on her.

She screamed, “Hyriu!”

“How’s that for cool?” I said.

She pushed me then started laughing. The rest of us joined in her laughter. I made a snowball with water bending and threw it at Koluk.

“Oh you’re going to start that now, huh?” He laughed before splashing mud in my face.

We all began fighting. Mud, snow, water, and wind bombarded all of us. Fai and Lina double teamed me and pushed me into a mud puddle face down. I started to push myself up when time slowed. The water dripping from my hair and face took several seconds to hit the ground. I could feel a familiar cold sensation. His voice entered my head.

“He is coming…The bold one…the one named Taruk…” the Robed Man said. “This will show you that I am trying to help you.”

Even though time seemed to slow, I realized that I had been lying on the ground for far too long. My friends weren’t laughing anymore. Lamara was kneeling next to me.

“Hyriu, are you alright?” she asked.

I pushed myself into a sitting position.

“Yeah, I uh…”I started to say, then I saw Lina rub her arms as if she was cold. Cold. I remembered what the Robed Man had said; Taruk was coming.

I heard someone walking through the jungle. For some reason, I knew it was him and that I should hide. I jumped up into a tree and put a finger to my lips. Thankfully, my friends seemed to understand. Taruk emerged from the bushes.

“Well look who we have here, the whole gang. Oh, except you seem to be leaderless,” Taruk sneered.

“What do you want, Taruk?” Koluk demanded.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute. You’re Taruk? The one that harasses Hyriu? The idiotic scumbag who doesn’t know when to stop pushing the boundaries? You are that Taruk?” Lamara said fiercely.

“Well, now I see Hyr-o comes here to complain about me,” Taruk smugly replied.

“Why don’t you complain about this!” Lamara shouted and punched him in the face.

He fell to one knee then stood back up enraged, his nose bleeding. I saw Daminao pull Lamara back; hopefully stopping her from hitting him again, even though he deserved it.

“Sorry, but I’m not a little baby that goes running to his friends,” Taruk said.

I could see anger in all of my friends faces; I half wanted Daminao let go of Lamara and let her at him.

“And to answer your question, I am here to find out what Hyriu is hiding. I know he is hiding more than his water bending skills. And I know you all know what he is hiding.” He looked straight at Lina. “And I know what you two are hiding from everyone.”

The others looked at Lina, and she glanced around nervously.

“I also know that he is hiding from me right now. You can probably hear me, can’t you, Hyr-o? Oh and I almost forgot, I spoke to Monk Yami; he said that you all were down by this air ball field and were just relaxing after training. What training are you receiving from the air benders? Do you really come here every day to swing your sword and learn some fancy new moves? If you did, you wouldn’t be hiding, now would you? Is that how you defeated all those soldiers on the scouting mission? I know you didn’t beat them with just a sword; the swordsmen perhaps, but what about the archers? The fire benders? I don’t think so.” Taruk said while looking around the area.

“Taruk, you’re wasting your time. Hyriu isn’t even here. Yes, we all come here, and Hyriu did train, but with his sword only, and some hand-to-hand combat. That is all. Daminao, how about you show Taruk here where Hyriu learned his skills?” Hana said.

I had to give it to her; she was very convincing and good at making things up on the spot.

Daminao drew his swords and did a few forms to show Taruk. Just then, one of the branches my foot was on snapped and fell to the ground loudly. I quickly jumped to another tree, making a lot of noise in the process.

Taruk snapped his head up then looked at my friends, “I must admit, you almost had me fooled.”

My friends stood there, trying to think of something to do. Taruk scanned the nearby trees, then his eyes centered in on me.

“You say Hyr-o isn’t even here, that he’s what, at his house?” Taruk asked Lina. She stammered, then quickly nodded. “Well let’s prove you’re all liars.” He charged toward me.

I knew he had spotted me, and I had to run because if I got home in time, he wouldn’t be able to call our bluff.

I jumped from tree to tree, never staying in the open for more than a few seconds, but also not being very quiet. I raced by air benders and temples. Taruk some how managed to keep me in sight. I headed for the Shui Temple to go through the tunnel.

I got to the porch area; Monk Yami was there with Monk Seng and Monk Dadao. They saw me coming

“Ah, Hyriu-” Monk Yami started to say, but I didn’t stop running.

Taruk soon raced by him as well. I arrived at the top of the Mountain Pass. I wasn’t going to waste my time with it. I made an ice sled and rode it down the mountainside. I heard a voice cry out behind me, and I looked back to see Taruk also riding an ice sled. It some how looked familiar; then it hit me all at once. He said he knew what Lina and I were hiding and how he knew I was a good water bender. And how it wasn’t Hana the night a hooded water bender saw me training Lina, it was Taruk.

It all made sense, but I still needed to get home. The sudden revelation distracted me, and I realized Taruk was launching attacks at me. I started blocking them. We were nearing the bottom; I looked towards the nearing houses trying to decide which way to go. That was when Taruk took his chance. I felt something grab my leg and pull it. I fell off my ice sled and rolled down the mountain. Fortunately, I was already close to the bottom; unfortunately, a house was close to the Mountain Pass entrance. I slammed into one of its walls. My side exploded in pain, and I tried to get up but stumbled. I saw a group of people run over.

“Oh Spirits! Are you okay?” One of them said.

My vision focused, and I saw Huan, Da-Xia, and Gen Li. I stood, and they all had looks of shock.

“What happened to you, Hyriu?” Gen Le said.

“Uh, I, um,” I saw Taruk getting close.

They looked and saw Taruk also.

“Who is that?” Da-Xia asked me.

“Taruk,” I replied, stumbling backwards.

Huan looked back at me; I realized I must have looked terrible since I pretty much flew through bushes and trees and rolled into a house. He looked like he could see enough of what happened.

“We’ll hold him off. Go,” he said.

I looked at him, then the others. I realized that they really were going to help me. I nodded, then ran as fast as I could to my house. I could hear them and Taruk yelling. I kept running and stumbling. I couldn’t run fast because I hurt my leg going down the mountain. I ran into an alley only to see it was a dead end. I tripped and fell. I struggled back to my feet and turned around to see Taruk blocking the entrance.

“Well…well…well, look who we have hear, Hyriu Jingshen,” he sneered. “I thought you were at home.”

“You never thought that,” I challenged, still out of breath.

“You’re right, I didn’t as soon as you snapped that twig. I knew I was being fed more lies to hide and protect you. But no one is here.” He held up a hand and looked around, “Humph, no one is here to help you. No Pakku. No Wei. No one. Only us for a change, and I will not protect you. In fact, I intend to do the opposite.” He punched me in the stomach; I fell to my knees, and he kicked my face. “Oh, you have seen better days. You’ve also seen worse, but that hasn’t stopped you from humiliating me at every turn. No, people always get what they deserve, even you. Especially you. Every time something bad happened to you, something great happened after. Well now I am going to give you what you deserve for everything you’ve done to me.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, spitting out blood from my bloody lip.

“‘What do I mean?’ I mean you’ve always had good things in your life. Your parents die, and one of the most legendary water benders adopts you. You were an outcast, but now everyone’s your friend, and you have a girlfriend you used to hate. Now I’m the outcast; now everyone gives me weird looks! You’ve ruined my life!” He started to punch and kick me; as his anger grew, the force of his hits did as well. “You get to go to the palace! You get to be buddy-buddy with the Royal Court. You get the greatest water bender in our time to help you up and humiliate me! I try my hardest in practice every day, yet I always get yelled at while you laugh, sitting on your butt. You are horrible at warrior training, then Instructor Chen gives you heart warming advice while he glares at me disapprovingly. I lead the scouting mission; you get to be the hero leaving me to look like a foolish coward who ran away and nearly got killed. You get congratulated by Chief Arnook himself, while I get the disappointed look from my father. I am the first rookie in history to make it into two final rounds, but the crowd yells your name! I win a final round, and you make me look like a fool so everyone forgets. You get to travel to the capital, something that almost no one gets to do, and you meet the Avatar! You get sick, and Princess Yue herself delivers a get-well basket to your bedside.”

He stopped hitting me, and I saw tears streaming down his face; he turned away from me. I had never thought about what it was like from his point of view. I have been humiliating him at every turn. I would almost feel sorry for him if he hadn’t been hitting me. I knew I must look even worse now, I could feel blood all over my face. Then something occurred to me.

I struggled to get on my feet, “How did you know I got sick and that Yue sent me a basket?”

“Oh yeah, about that,” Taruk said turning back toward me, his face looked darkly triumphant with the usual hint of suspicious curiosity, “You just so happened to get bed ridden as soon as you arrive, but you’re suddenly cured when you’re about to leave. This happens every time you visit the capital. Only once or twice a year, so if no one were paying to much attention, they wouldn’t notice; but if someone is looking, they will easily see the pattern. And you also get bed ridden right after a ship leaves for the Earth Kingdom, but when a boat returns, you’re suddenly cured and well again. Would you like to explain that?”

“How about you explain how you know all that?” I asked, spitting out more blood.

“I have a cousin who lives in the capitol, and I have been writing to him,” he said simply.

I remembered the letter Taruk had given a guy on the raft just before we left ,and the water bending kid who was glaring at me, “I won’t explain anything to you, but I will say this-” my voice softened, “About humiliating you-”

“Shut up! You think I want you to be sorry?! Keep your sympathy for your dead parents!” He said then spat in my face.

I slowly wiped the saliva from my face. My anger was sky rocketing. I clenched my fists. I felt a rush of power fill me; I had entered Stage One. I closed my eyes so Taruk wouldn’t see. I felt another wave of energy, Stage Two. I was loosing control. My anger was still rising. I clenched my head and stumbled backwards. I felt an even bigger rush of power. I had entered Stage Three, the full on Avatar State. I fell to my knees, panicking. I couldn’t stop the rush of energy, and I couldn’t control it. It was all I could do to stay still. I remembered Pakku saying that if I lost my temper it would be catastrophic; he wasn’t exaggerating, and it was happening right then. I had to get out of there, but I realized I couldn’t move. I was paralyzed by my own power. I felt the fourth and final wall starting to give way. My head felt like it was literally going to explode because of all the energy that was in it. I opened my eyes; I could see the blue light reflecting back from the ice. I saw Taruk take a step back. Snow was swirling around me, and the ice under me began to crack. I struggled with all my might to stop the flow of energy or at least guide it. I tried to calm down, but nothing was working. It was like my mind and thoughts weren’t even mine any more, like someone had taken control and made it theirs.

“What are you doing?” Taruk asked fearfully.

I knew the wall was about to break and there was nothing I could do about it. I began to cry, all of everyone’s hard work to keep me a secret was all for nothing. I was about to reveal myself in the worst way possible.

BOOM.

The world stopped. All the power and anger drained out of me.

BOOM.

There it was again. The deep booming noise.

BOOM.

BOOM.

It was getting more frequent now. I looked up and saw Taruk looking in the direction of the noise; shock and fear on his face and mine as well.

BOOM.

I had never heard the sound before, but I knew what it meant; everyone in the Northern Water Tribe knew what it meant. An impending attack.

BOOM.

Taruk and I looked at each other for a moment then left the ally going in different directions. The beat of the drum continued. They city was swarming with people who were screaming. I headed for my house; on the way, I saw Hiko.

“Hyriu, what’s going on? What happened to you?” he asked, seeing my face.

“I’ll explain later, go to the house and hide. And if neither Wei or I comes and gets you in the next five minutes, go to the Shui Temple and stay there. Do you understand?” I ordered.

He nodded fearfully. I fought through the crowd and found my friends.

“Hyriu, we’ve been looking for you every-” Hana began saying. “What happened to you?”

“Taruk- he-” I said.

“I’ll kill that little-” Lamara began.

“It doesn’t matter. Right now, I need to find Wei,” I said.

“There he is,” Fai said and pointed.

I looked and made my way to him.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“I - What happened to you? Who did this?!” he demanded fiercely.

“Never mind right now. What is going on?” I asked again.

“Where is your brother?” he asked, ignoring my question.

“At home,” I answered quickly.

“Go get him and bring him to the Grand Hall. Go!” he shouted.

I ran to the house and found Hiko; we went outside. By then, everyone was going to the Hall. A few people questioned what happened to me, but I just pushed it off. I found Lamara, and we struggled through the crowd together. Once everyone had entered the Hall, Wei got up on stage; since he was the head water bender in the Hydronia Court, he usually addressed the town on important matters.

“First,” he began, “I want to make it very clear: the drum beats mean an impending attack, yes, but the threat is not on Hydronia, but the capital itself. Our scouts in the Atarashi Mountains spotted the entire Fire Nation Armada heading that way two days past. The fleet has likely made it past the Flat-Ice Peninsula and will land in the Capital in about two days from now. I will not rush to send an unprepared team to reinforce the capital. Instead, I will assemble a team of Hydronia’s finest and leave in exactly twenty-four hours. That means we will arrive in the capital one day after the Fire Nation arrives. I am confident that the defenses will hold for at least that long. The Fire Nation timed their attack for three days from now. The full moon will rise, when water bending is at its strongest. Now I will not order anyone to accompany me, I will only ask you to. May the Ocean and Moon Spirits be with us in the coming battle.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 32
The Tragedy of the Lok Wa Isles

After Wei had given his speech, and everyone was dismissed, I told him what had happened. He was furious at Taruk and me but refused to talk about the matter further. Hana healed most of my injuries, but I was still pretty sore and bruised. The next morning, everyone was on edge. We still had school, so I got ready and woke Hiko. I felt like today was important, but I couldn’t remember why.

At school, no one was focused. I sat down in History by Koluk and Hana. I made an effort not to look at Taruk. Mr. Hui walked in as class started.

“Well, I know everyone will be distracted, given the circumstances, but don’t think that means we will have no lesson. In fact, it all seems a horrid coincidence that all this is happening with today being today, after all,” Mr. Hui said.

“Um, what is today?” A girl named Kanshin asked.

“Nine years ago, today, was the last and worst Fire Nation attack on the Northern Water Tribe; the attack is known as The Tragedy of the Lok Wa Isles,” Mr. Hui answered her grimly.

I swallowed down emotions. That was why today seemed important. With everything that had happened, I had completely forgotten.

“What exactly was The Tragedy of the Lok Wa Isles?” Kuhaku asked.

“Well to be honest, no one is really sure, Kuhaku. All that anyone knows is that one of the smaller fishing villages sent word to the capital calling for help. Now, that right there is odd. The main city in the isles is Higeki. And if one of the smaller villages needed aid, they would contact Higeki, and if they couldn’t provide enough aid, then Higeki would contact the capital. So when this small village sent word to the capital, everyone raised an eyebrow. A message was sent to Higeki, asking about the possible danger, but they didn’t get an answer. Even more suspicious, a ship was sent with some of the Water Tribe’s greatest, including Master Wei and Desu. Anyway, they traveled to Higeki and found it burned to the ground. They searched for survivors but only found a seven-year old, two five year olds, one with an infant brother, and a two year old. Only five young children, and all of them horribly injured,” Mr. Hui explained.

I swallowed again, trying to hold back my emotions. I saw Koluk glance in my direction when Mr. Hui mentioned the five year old with a brother.

He continued, “The men and women searched the other small villages but only found more wreckage without any survivors. Not one other living person was found outside of Higeki. What we think the Fire Nation was trying to do was to cut off our trade. They must have thought that a lot of trade came to us through the isles, but the only people who suffered the after effects were the Earth Kingdom citizens in the small villages we help. That is why trade now comes directly from the capital itself as well as the isles. That was the most recent attack on the North, until now.”

“What happened to them,” Kanshin asked. “The children, I mean?”

“I am not entirely sure. I would assume they were taken to any family members they might have left. If they had no families, then they were adopted ,I think,” Mr. Hui answered her.

I couldn’t sit quiet anymore; I cleared my throat, “Um, Mr. Hui, could I say something?”

“Of course, Hyriu, what is it you have to say?” He asked, motioning to me.

“Um, well, I think I can give a bit more information on what happened,” I said, and everyone looked at me with interest. “I am one of the survivors of the Lok Wa Tragedy.”

Everyone gasped.

“Oh, Hyriu, I had no idea. We can change topics if you would like?” Mr. Hui said.

“No, I never knew that so little was known about the attack. Maybe I can give at least a little more light on what happened. I was only five at the time, so I didn’t see everything. Well, I do remember that many people were in Higeki that day. A lot more than normal. I think it was something about bad fishing. I also remember there was no warning about the attack. Suddenly, it just happened. I guess I will start with what I was doing that day…”

It was a bright clear day with few clouds in the sky. In Higeki, the largest village in the Lok Wa Isles, a boy was playing in the snow in front of his house. A woman, who must have been his mother, was washing clothes nearby. She glanced at a basket that held a small baby not even a year old; the baby was sound asleep.

“Mommy,” the boy said, “Come look at the picture I made.”

The woman walked over to look at the picture her son made. It was a stick figure drawing of a family next to a house with the sun in the sky. It had a man and woman, and two children, one much smaller than the other.

“It’s our family,” the boy said. “See there’s Daddy and you and me and Hiko.” The boy pointed at each figure as he said who they were.

“Oh, Hyriu,” the mother said, “it’s beautiful. See if you can do your ice trick with it so your father can see it when he gets back from his fishing trip. I’ll see if we have a frame to put it in, so watch your brother,” she said as she went into the house.

The boy concentrated and closed his fingers into a fist. The snow in which he drew his picture made a cracking noise as it hardened into ice. It was not very strong ice, but it held together. The woman came back outside and glanced at the baby. She went over to the boy’s picture with a driftwood frame in-hand.

She carefully lifted up the frozen picture, broke off a few pieces of ice, and fitted it into the frame.

“There, now I’ll just put some whale glue on it, so it won’t break if it falls,” she said.

She smiled at the boy and checked on her baby before going inside; the boy followed her. In the house, there were many things made up of driftwood, as it most likely washes up on shore often.

The woman set the picture down on the table and left the room. She came back shortly with a small jar with a brush in it. In the jar was a clear thick substance - the whale glue. She began spreading the glue on the drawing.

“Now, we will just let it dry, so we can hang it up, okay?” she said.

“Okay,” the boy answered. “When’s Daddy coming back?”

“This afternoon,” the woman said as they went back outside, “Why don’t you draw me some more pictures?” She added with a smile.

The boy grinned widely, “Okay.” He looked for a good spot, sat down and began drawing.

The woman glanced back at the baby as she washed more clothes. It was still asleep, but there was a black smudge on his face. She walked over and wiped it off with her index and middle finger.

“Hiko, what did you get on your face?” She muttered as she rubbed the tips of her fingers together. “Soot?” She said puzzled.

She looked around and noticed black dots all over the ground and some falling like snow. She looked up; dark clouds had gathered overhead. Not dark like storm clouds, but dark like soot. Other people around the village noticed the black snow as well and looked up at the clouds with worried expressions.

Loud voices were heard from the shore. The woman walked around the house to see what was going on. The boy peeked around the corner of the house at his mother and the shore. The men had returned early from their fishing trip.

A man left the group and ran towards the woman.

“What’s going on?” The woman said fearfully.

“The Fire Nation is coming,” the man said gravely. “Take the boys, get them to the shelter, and wait for me there; I love you.”

The woman wrapped her arms around her husband for one final embrace, “I love you too,” she said, tears streaming down her face.

They broke apart, and the man started to walk off but the woman didn’t move.

“Koriu, now! Take them to the shelter,” the man said.

Koriu, the woman, snapped out of her trance of sadness and headed back to the front of the house. The man began to walk off.

“Hirook,” the woman said as she turned back around; the man stopped and looked back at his wife. “Be careful,” she said. He nodded gravely and ran off towards a group of men preparing for the on coming attack.

The woman ran to the front of the house. “Hyriu, watch your brother, and I’ll be right back.” She ran in the house, gathering prized family positions and putting them in a small chest made of drift wood.

She came back outside. “Here, can you carry this?” She asked as she handed the boy the chest; he nodded. She scooped up her baby, “Follow me, Hyriu.”

She started to run to the shelter. She glanced back and could see several large metal ships close to the shore launching huge fire balls into the village. Explosions could be heard as she ran to the shelter. Before they got there, a fireball landed on a building in front of them. The building collapsed, blocking their way. The woman began to cry, as they had no way of getting to the shelter. She and the boy ran back to the house. The boy glanced at the ships and saw his father wielding only a small knife as a Fire Nation woman with a katana charged at him.

“Daddy!” The boy cried out as his mother pushed him in the house. She looked around frantically, then pushed the table into a corner.

“Hyriu, take your brother and hide in this corner until the attack is over,” the mother said.

The boy got in the corner and held his brother tightly, who had woken up from his nap and was crying. The woman also tucked the chest in the corner with her kids.

“What about you, Mommy?” the boy asked.

“Don’t worry sweetie, I’ll be fine,” the woman said and kissed the boy's forehead.

A scream came from outside. The woman grabbed a wooden bat that Hyriu played with and went out of the room to see what was happening. Explosions went off nearby, and the house shook violently.

“Mommy!” The boy cried.

More explosions went off, and cries could be heard from outside. A fireball crashed through the roof of the house, causing it to collapse. A large piece of burning wood landed on the boy’s right leg and the baby’s right arm. They both cried out in pain. The piece of wood pinned him down, so he was trapped. The boy could do nothing but scream as the flaming wood burned the flesh on his leg and his brother’s arm.

What was left of the room was filled with smoke and dust from the explosion. The cloud began to clear, and a figure began to become distinguishable.

“Mommy?” The boy said, crying.

A breeze blew the dust and smoke away and revealed the figure. A young Fire Nation girl. About the age of thirteen or fourteen. She held a katana above her head. Its handle was red and was threaded in gold. The blade gleamed in the fire light and was stained with red liquid that dripped from the tip. She didn’t wear armor, and her clothes were not suited for the harsh weather of the north. Her arms and shins were naked. She had long curly brown hair that might be beautiful, if it wasn’t filled with dust and ash and blood. A red ribbon, swirling in the smoke and dust, held back her hair, which looked as if it had been braided, but the battle had ruined it. She had pale golden eyes that had a dark shadow in them. She glared fiercely at the boy. At her feet was the woman, the mother, Koriu, covered in blood with a severe slash across her torso. The girl looked as if she was about to advance on the boy when a voice cried out. It cried out one word. One name.

“Akiko!” It said.

The girl turned her head in the direction of the voice. She glanced at the boy one more time, then left.

The boy looked at his mother, not seeing her wounds, or the blood.

“Mommy? Mommy! Mommy, wake up! Mommy!” The boy cried.

After a while, the sounds of battle faded, and no more explosions went off. The only sounds were the cries of the baby, the crackling of the fire, and the boy calling for his mother. Eventually, the piece of wood stopped burning but still trapped the boy and his baby brother.

Late in the afternoon, a Water Tribe ship came to the shore. Many men and women were on it. They got off the ship with looks of sorrow and shock. They began to search for survivors.

A man in his late forties saw the father, lying lifeless before him. The man kneeled down.

“Hirook,” he said sadly.

He picked up Hirook’s fallen knife and put it in his pouch. He walked further into the ruin that was once the village of Higeki. He heard the cries of a boy. As he got closer, he could hear a boy calling for his mother. He followed the cries to the wreckage of a house he recognized. In the door way was a woman lying on the ground, covered in blood.

“Yugoda!” The man called, and an older woman came over quickly. "See if you can heal her.”

Yugoda swirled some water around the mother. The man looked around and spotted the boy and his brother. When he saw the piece of wood on the boy, he ran over and moved it off the brothers.

“Wei,” Yugoda said. “Wei, she’s waking up.”

The man named Wei went over; the boy tried to follow, but his leg was too injured for him to stand, and he sat down with a yelp.

“Wei,” Yugoda whispered to the man, “she is too injured. I can’t save her. We’re too late." She got choked up at the end, and tears formed in her eyes.

“Go see about the children then,” Wei said quickly. She went to the boys and began to swirl water around their burns. “Koriu? Koriu, can you hear me?”

“Wei,” Koriu said faintly, “Wei are Hyriu and Hiko okay?”

“They should be fine,” Wei said, trying to keep his composure. “And you will be, too.” Tears formed in his eyes.

“I’ve known you long enough to know when you’re lying.” Koriu smiled faintly.

Tears were now streaming down Wei’s face, and he tried to smile but failed.

“Take - take care of them, okay? Watch over them. Make sure they are both raised well,” Koriu said weakly. “Take care of my boys, please, Wei. Don’t let them be alone.”

“I will try,” Wei said, crying. “I will do my best, though I am not the best with children. But I promise you, I will do my best.”

I know you will. Thank you,” Koriu said, and her breathing stopped.

Wei sat there for a moment, silently mourning for his friend. He got up and went over to the children.

“Is Mommy sleeping?” The boy asked.

“Yes, she is asleep,” Wei said and sat down by the boy.

“When will she wake up?” The boy asked.

“Um, I am afraid she won’t wake up,” Wei answered, more tears spilling from his eyes.

The boy began to cry.

“Come here,” Wei said and hugged the boy. “It’s going to be alright, Hyriu. It’s going to be alright.”

The boy pulled back. “How do you know my name?”

“What, you don’t remember me?” Wei asked, and the boy shook his head. “Ah, well, that’s alright. You’ll know me from now on. I am going to take care of you, Hyriu, and your brother. I am going to take care of you both.”

“Really?” The boy said.

“Really,” Wei answered and smiled warmly at the boy; the boy smiled back.

“…And, um, and then Wei brought Hiko and me here,” I ended my story.

I leaned back against Mr. Hui’s desk. It was all I could do to not cry. While I was telling my story, I had had a flashback. I looked around wondering if I had done anything strange. And what bothered me about the flashback was that I had learned something new. I had always heard a voice call out to the Fire Nation girl, but I could never make out what the voice said. And now I knew. The voice shouted a name, her name; the name of my parents’ killer. Everyone was quiet and had solemn looks on their faces, some people were even crying. I saw Taruk was looking down at his desk with a guilty look.

“Um, if you don’t mind me asking,” Mr. Hui broke the silence, “how badly injured was your leg?”

I showed him and the class my scar in answer. They all gasped at the pink and white skin.

Everyone looked at me differently now. The rest of the day went by solemnly. Mr. Hui told my story to all his classes with my permission. Everyone regarded me with a sad look. Lunch was quiet. The day passed quickly. Wei wasn’t at water bending practice, and Master Desu just told us to keep practicing what we’ve learned. After practice, I found myself trying to convince Wei into letting me go to the capital with him.

“No, and that is final, Hyriu,” he said, aggravated by my constant pestering.

“Why not? I can help. With me helping, it would only take a day to get there. We wouldn’t be a day late, we’ll get there right on time,” I reasoned.

“On time?! This is a war-zone, not school! I know you can make a difference, but you are not ready, you are unstable. Yesterday, you almost exploded. What do you think would have happened if you lost control? You could have killed him, Hyriu. Do you want that?” He asked; I looked down. “I didn’t think so. So my answer is still no. Do you remember your battle on the scouting mission? That was nothing, thirty soldiers. There will be hundreds; this is a full-scale invasion. If your small fight gives you nightmares, what do you think will happen after this fight, assuming you live through it?”

I remained silent.

“Now, I don’t want to hear any more about this. Alright?” He said sternly.

“Alright,” I said; he walked away.

“What did he say?” Koluk asked as he walked up.

“What do you think?” I said.

“And is that going to stop you?” He asked.

I gave him a sly look.

“Then I’m coming with, no argument,” he said.

I smiled, “Alright.”

“Do you have a plan?” He asked as he looked at me.

“Of course,” I said, defiance plain in my voice.

Chapter Text

Chapter 33
Stowaways

I went to Heiwa Valley and asked Lamara and Daminao if they were up for my plan. They were, so I went back to the city and told Koluk.

After a quick dinner, Wei said goodbye to us and that he would be back soon. Hiko went to bed early. I wrote him a note explaining what happened and why I wasn’t home. The sun hadn’t set yet, so I knew Wei hadn’t left.

I met up with Koluk. We both had our gear and cloaks to hide in and went to Heiwa Valley. We were careful going up the mountain pass, so no one would follow us.

By the time we met up with Lamara and Daminao, the sun was setting.

“So what exactly is your plan, Hyriu?” Lamara asked. “You weren’t very specific earlier.”

“I have been very observant when riding the land raft to the capital. The raft goes around a large area of weak ice and ends up going behind the Gambing Palace and the valley. So my plan is this; we use the secret passage to the estate behind the palace and then you two-” I pointed at Lamara and Daminao- “will fly us up behind the train, and we will climb on.”

“Sounds simple enough,” Daminao said.

“Let’s do it,” Lamara said.

We followed Lamara to a large cave opening and walked in. I kept looking back to see if we were being followed. When we got to the palace grounds, Lamara and Daminao opened their gliders. They rode the traditional way, with the glider above them. Koluk and I rode on top of the glider. Soon, the land raft was in sight after we had flown through the mountains. Lamara and Daminao got as close to the ground as they could and did their best to get up right behind the raft. Fortunately, everyone on board was occupied at the front.

“Now what?” Lamara asked.

“This,” I said and pulled out an arrow with a rope tied to it.

I fired the arrow into the wood of the raft; it went deep enough to hold my weight. I made a sled of ice on the ground and jumped on it. I motioned for Koluk to join me. I told Lamara and Daminao to fly back and thanked them. Using the rope, along with my sled, I climbed up right behind the raft and climbed on. I watched as Koluk did the same. We quickly hid under a tarp. I started to help water bend, so we went faster.

As soon as I started to water bend, I heard hushed voices and quick, heavy footsteps. I could hear other tarps being moved. Koluk gave me a nervous look. I stopped water bending. Suddenly, the tarp over our heads was ripped open; Wei’s stern, angry face was above me.

“The next time you get a brilliant plan to stowaway on a raft heading to war, be sure not to do something incredibly stupid like revealing your presence by making the raft move a lot faster,” he said and pulled me to my feet.

“Ha ha sure,” I said nervously.

“I believe everyone is acquainted with my step-son, Hyriu. Oh, look, and he brought a friend as well. So Koluk is here also,” Wei announced.

I saw most of the Hydronia Court along with a few other masters. Among the group was Master Desu, Instructor Chen, and Yukan, Hana’s father.

“Hyriu, why are you here?” Chen asked.

“Because I can fight. I can make a difference,” I said.

“We are all well aware of your abilities,” Wei said.

“Wait, everyone here?” I asked and looked at Yukan and Chen.

Yukan nodded at the sand time Chen have me a stern, knowing look.

“If you knew, then how come neither of you let on?” I asked them both.

“Well, I never saw a reason to say anything,” Yukan said simply.

“What about you, Chen?” I asked.

“Well, Hyriu, if it was me, then I would want to feel normal, at least sometimes. You know, equal, like no one is better or worse than me. I figured you would want the same, so I treated you exactly how I treated everyone else,” he said to me.

I felt taken aback. He was right. I had never realized it, but every now and then, I did want to be normal.

“I might appreciate this nice moment more if you two hadn’t snuck aboard this land raft that is heading to war!” Wei snapped. “But you two will get your wish.”

“But Wei-” Desu started, but Wei cut him off.

“No, we do not have time to turn back, and since they are here, we might as well use them. Hyriu, use your bending to accelerate us. I believe with a large number of masters, Hyriu, and a nearly full moon, we will get there in much less than two days, especially if there is fair weather,” Wei said.

We all started bending, using the power of the moon spirit to help us. I entered Stage Two and let loose. I had never water bended in any stage when the moon was almost full. The amount of power was incredible. We flew over the barren tundra. The sky was clear, and the weather was perfect; no blizzards showed up to slow us down. About an hour after sunrise, the ocean was in view and so was the capital. As well as a large black cloud on the horizon. We got to the edge of the cliff, the capital below us. It was snowing, but the snow was black. I recognized it immediately, but no one else had seen black snow before or knew what it meant. We got off the raft and stared at the snow.

“What’s happening?” Desu asked.

“It’s soot mixed with snow. The Fire Nation burn coal to power their ships-” I pointed at the black cloud- “They are already here; the entire Armada is already here.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 34
Snow of Soot, Rain of Fire

We rushed down into the city; the black snow still falling. I heard the beat of the warning drum. Everyone was running to the palace, and we joined the panicked crowd. Once everyone was in the palace, Arnook stood.

“The day we have feared for so long has arrived. The Fire Nation is own our doorstep. It is with great sadness that I call my family here before me, knowing well that many of these faces are about to vanish from our Tribe, but they will never vanish from our hearts. Now, as we approach the battle for our existence, I call upon the Great Spirits. Spirit of the Ocean, Spirit of the Moon, be with us. I am going to need volunteers for a dangerous mission,” Sokka, one of the Avatar’s friends, volunteered, as did a few others. “Be warned, many of you will not return. Come forward to receive my mark if you accept the task.”

He painted three red lines on the foreheads of the volunteers.

“Now then, the rest of you will either prepare the city for battle or will help evacuate the women and children to safety. They will be brought into the higher parts of the city for now. Dismissed.” He said.

We walked up to him and the Royal Court.

“What are all of you doing here?” He asked in shock.

“Our scouts spotted the armada, so we came as soon as we could, which seemed to be just in time,” Wei explained.

“Hmm.” Arnook looked at Koluk and me. “And you thought it was a good idea to bring them?”

“Uh…er…um, actually Hyriu and Koluk came on their own authority. They were stowaways,” Wei said. “But they will mostly just help evacuate the women and children.”

“What?” Koluk and I said at the same time.

“Yes, they will not actually fight, unless the soldiers break through to the city,” Wei said to us and Arnook.

“But I can-” I began.

“No!” Wei cut me off. “I will not have you engage in naval combat. You have no experience with that. It is only for the utmost elite.”

“Um, Anzen here,” I said. “I am practically the Avatar.”

“Yes, but naval combat is incredibly difficult. There is a reason naval training in Hydronia begins at the age of eighteen. You need lots of experience of fighting on land first. You can’t just jump into it, expecting the best outcome and no consequences,” Wei said.

I sighed, “Fine.”

Koluk and I left the palace and saw Sokka sharpening his boomerang. We walked up to him.

“Hey, uh, Hyriu, right?” He said when he saw us.

“Yeah, this is my friend, Koluk. Koluk, Sokka,” I introduced them.

“So are you two going to help fight?” Sokka asked, looking at our gear.

“Apparently, we’re just going to help evacuate,” I said, rolling my eyes.

Sokka laughed. “Ah, alright. Oh, you can sword fight?” He asked and pointed at my sword.

“Oh, yeah,” I said and unsheathed it. “I even came up with my own disarming technique.” I demonstrated it to him.

“Whoa, that’s awesome,” he said.

“Yeah, G. B. is pretty cool,” Koluk said.

“G. B.?” I questioned him.

“You know, Gambing Blade, G. B.” Koluk said motioning with his hands.

I laughed, “I like it.”

“Hyriu, Koluk, come on; I’ll show you where to start leading people. We need to get as many to safety as possible.” He gave a nod at Sokka.

He took us to the neighborhoods closest to the wall. We started going to all the houses and getting the evacuation underway.

We had been evacuating people for awhile, well over an hour. Almost every house by the wall was empty. The exodus of people headed further into the tiered city. A little girl ran past me, saying something about a doll she had forgotten. Her mother started to call her back, but I said I would go with the girl. We walked through the neighborhood; she held my hand. It was like a ghost town. Her house was one of the closest to the wall. There was a large open space in front of the wall with several canals. I stayed outside while she ran in. I looked up at the wall and the soldiers that stood atop it. I spotted the Avatar on his flying bison.

Suddenly, a part in the wall near the middle exploded. Small pieces of debris rained down on me. There were screams and cries in the city. Another fire ball raced over the wall and landed a few houses over in a canal. People were running and screaming. I saw the mother screaming for her daughter. I turned for the house when a fire ball landed in a canal right next to me. I was thrown to the ground. Pieces of ice and snow went everywhere. The air was filled with smoke and steam. I got to my feet and went into the now wrecked house. Things had fallen over and broken. I saw the little girl holding her doll, huddled in a corner crying. In an instant, I saw myself huddled in the corner of my wrecked house when I was five. I blinked, and the flashback was gone. I helped the girl up, and we ran out of the house. The mother cried out in happiness, then in horror as she pointed behind us. I looked back and saw a fireball headed right for us. I made an ice sled and put the girl on it. I used water bending and sent her to her mother and safety. I turned and made an ice shield just as the fireball hit the ground right at my feet. I was thrown back fifteen feet. My whole body felt the pain from the burns and impact.

Koluk helped me up. “You alright?”

I got up slowly. “Uh, kind of, just sore,” I said and saw the mother and girl looking at me with concern. “I am alright!” I shouted at them with a smile.

I ushered them to keep moving as two more fireballs soared over the wall. Koluk, a few other young water benders, and I did our best to evacuate everyone. Every time a fireball landed, one of us would rush to make sure no one was hurt. That is how the day went. Constant panic, chaos, fear. We never took our eyes off of the sky for more than a few seconds, so we could spot the fireballs as early as possible. The day dragged on and on, and the fireballs only got more and more frequent. Within an hour of sunset, we were getting around seven fireballs every ten seconds. We couldn’t keep up with all the damage. Pakku and some other masters did their best to stop a lot of the fireballs, while the rest of the masters engaged the armada in naval combat.

I was helping a man to the Healing Huts when I noticed it got really quiet. I realized that the fireballs had stopped raining down.

After I got the man to the huts, I saw Yugoda and the other healers were overwhelmed. I decided to help as much as I could, since Hana had been teaching me how to heal.

One boy came in with his face and chest severely burned. He was screaming and crying.

“Hyriu!” Yugoda said and I looked at her. “See to him while I finish up on this patient.”

I nodded and went over to the boy. I began applying a paste to his burns. It was ground up sea weed with seal blubber; it lessened the pain and kept the wound clean.

“You’re going to be alright,” I said to him.

We made eye contact and I could see the fear in his eyes. I kept talking to him holding eye contact. Keeping eye contact made the patient focused on you and not the pain, which was the first step the second was asking ordinary questions as if you had just met the person at a restaurant or on a walk.

“What’s your name,” I asked putting a bandage on his chest.

“Uh, Kahn,” he said starting to calm down.

“Are you a water bender?” I asked him.

“Y-yes,” he said.

“Ha me too,” I said.

“How old are you Kahn?” I said keeping my voice steady.

“I’m uh twelve,” he said the fear had left his eyes.

“I’m fourteen, I just participated in the Warrior games a few weeks ago,” I said.

“Really cool, did you win?” he asked me.

“Yeah, in swordsmanship,” I said.

“Wow that’s pretty cool,” he said.

“Yeah, maybe you’ll win when you’re old enough,” I said.

Yugoda came over, “Alright, I’ll take it from here Hyriu.”

“O-okay,” I said starting to walk away.

“Wh-wait what, no!” Kahn said looking from me to Yugoda the fear back in his eyes. “Don’t leave!”

“I’m sorry,” I said and walked away regretfully. I never found out what happened to him.

Wei came in and found me still at the huts, long after the sun had set.

“Come on, Hyriu. You look exhausted,” he said, putting a hand on my shoulder.

I noticed that only a small part of his sleeve was burned. I looked at the other water benders who were also in the naval battle; they all had several burns and at least a scratch or two.

“I’m fine, Wei. I need to stay here where I can be of use,” I said, bandaging a woman’s arm.

“You won’t be of any use if you start sleep walking,” he noted when I stumbled.

“He is right, Hyriu,” Yugoda said. “Go, rest. The other healers and I can handle it.” She smiled.

“Alright, if you say so,” I said, smiling back.

“Come along, Chief Arnook has prepared some beds for you and Koluk. So go get some much needed rest,” Wei said.

Chapter Text

Chapter 35
Uneasy Rest

Arnook had given up rooms in his palace for the women and children to sleep in. Koluk and I shared a room in a house close to the Chief’s Palace. I laid down, sore, but I was so tired, it didn’t matter.

I had a nightmare about the scouting mission battle and about the fireballs that rained down. I also had nightmares about the Robed Man. I saw him attacking the capital and fighting me. I also had a very vivid nightmare about the Fire Nation girl. I saw her standing in my wrecked, burning house. I could see every detail, her young face, the darkness in her eyes, my mother's life dripping from her sword into a pool of red. The debris laid all around me. I could feel the burning pain in my right leg, the sweat pouring off me, Hiko in my arms; I could smell the smoke in the air, ash on the ground, the blood and pus that oozed from my leg, burning skin and cloth. I could taste smoke, ash, blood, and the bitter taste of vomit in my mouth. I could hear Hiko’s cries, the crackling of fire, the wind howling, screams of victims, sound of battle, and the voice that cried out, “Akiko!”

The dream moved on, and I saw the Robed Man. He walked up to me and said, “Join me, and they all will be safe. If you don’t, you will regret it forever. One by one, I will destroy them all.”

I woke up screaming. I could swear he was just standing right over me and had whispered that into my ear. Koluk sat upright and looked at me, startled. Wei rushed in.

“Sorry, I, uh… nightmare,” I said and hugged my knees.

“Oh, really,” Wei said, only it wasn’t his voice that came out of his mouth, it was the Robed Man’s.

I backed away from him.

“Is something wrong, Hyriu?” Koluk asked, but also with the Robed Man’s voice.

“Get away from me!” I yelled and ran out to the balcony.

All the citizens of the capital were standing outside. Arnook and Yue in the front next to the Avatar and his friends.

“Join us,” they all said in sync with the Robed Man’s voice. “One by one, we will all die if you don’t.”

In an instant, they were all dead. All their bodies surrounded me. They were piled in a mountain. I felt something wet on my hands. I looked down and saw they were covered in blood. I screamed.

I heard the Robed Man’s voice whispering in my ear, “A mountain of cold, rotting corpses, and in the middle will be you with their blood on your hands.”

Suddenly, I was standing on top of the bodies, and I recognized the faces. I saw Hiko, Wei, Koluk, Lamara, Hana, Tekton, Lina, Fai, Daminao, Huan, Gen Li, Da-Xia, Desu, Kuhaku, Kobun, Kanshin, Chen, Mr. Hui, Mr. Zhen, Mr. Kuan, Hana’s parents, Meili and Yukon, Arnook, Princess Yue, Taruk, Monk Yami, Monk Dadao, Monk Seng, Monk Meiso, Master Lee, Mayor Tanlan, Shan, Master Zohar, Zaria, Moji, Avatar Kyoshi, Kan Dao, Kizuna, Weizao, Avatar Roku, Avatar Aang, Katara, Sokka, Kahn, Ava, the little girl and her mother, and so many others. I began to cry hysterically. I tried to get off of them, but I kept stepping on more bodies. I tripped and tumbled down the mountain of corpses. Then, once I reached the bottom, everyone’s eyes looked at me, and they said in their own voices - “Why?” - over and over again.

“Why? Why, Hyriu? Why? Why, Hyriu? Why?”

“Stop it! Leave me alone! I didn’t do anything! LEAVE ME ALONE!” I screamed, covering my ears.

“Why? Why, Hyriu? Why did you let us die? Why didn’t you do anything? Why did you betray us? Why didn’t you save us? Why didn’t you join him? Why did you condemn us?” They all asked me.

“Shut up! Leave me alone. I didn’t betray you!” I pleaded.

Hiko’s corpse came up to me. “Why did you kill me, Hyriu? Why? Why did you leave me? You promised everything would be all right. Why did you lie? Why did you kill me? Why, brother? Didn't you love me?”

Slowly the others joined him, “Why did you kill me, Hyriu? Why did you lie? Why?”

“I didn’t kill you! I didn’t lie to you! I didn’t! Leave me alone,” I began to sob. “I didn’t. I didn’t…I didn’t…I, I didn’t. Leave me alone. I didn’t…I-”

The bodies melted together and formed a giant version of the Robed Man.

“You did,” he said to me, “By not joining me, you killed them.”

“I didn’t,” I said back, sobbing.

“You did.”

“I didn’t.”

“You did.”

“I didn’t!”

“You did!”

“I didn’t!” I screamed.

“You did!” he shouted back.

“I DIDN’T!"

“YOU DID! And you know it. All of their deaths were because of you. All of them. You‘ll see soon,” he said.

I woke up suddenly, and I realized I was actually crying. Koluk and Wei stood over me with concerned looks.

“Get away from me!” I cried and shot a small arch of fire at them, fearing it was another nightmare.

“Hyriu! It’s alright. It’s us,” Koluk said, dodging my fire, but he spoke in his own voice.

“It’s us, Hyriu,” Wei said, and I could tell he was very worried.

I relaxed.

“What happened?” Wei asked.

“I just had a really bad nightmare,” I mumbled back.

“Must have been some nightmare. I didn’t even have to go get Wei; he heard you screaming from outside and came running in. Are you alright?” Koluk asked.

“Yeah,” I said with uncertainty.

“You think you can go back to sleep?” Koluk asked.

I shook my head.

“Here.” Wei wrapped a blanket around me. I accepted it gratefully, since I was shivering like crazy. I also noticed I was drenched in sweat. “I’ll be right back,” Wei said, then left.

Koluk and I sat in silence for a few minutes. I could tell he wanted to ask me about my nightmare, but he remained quiet. Wei returned with a steaming cup.

“Here, drink this,” he said, putting the cup to my lips.

“What is it?” I asked.

“It’s herbal tea. It will relax you and settle your nerves,” he replied.

I took a big gulp as he lifted up the cup, so I drank every drop. I became very drowsy and light headed.

“What… what is that?” I asked, nodding my head as I became dizzy.

“I may have lied to you a little. It actually makes you sleep,” Wei said.

I gave him a fearful look.

“Don’t worry. It will put you in a dreamless sleep, so you won’t have and dreams, or nightmares, just peaceful sleep. Koluk come get me if there are any problems. Now, Hyriu, I want you to count backwards from ten,” Wei instructed.

I began slowly, “Ten, nine… eight…… seven…”

***

I woke to an explosion. Koluk was shaking me. “Man, that’s some strong tea.”

I shot up. “What’s happening?”

“Come see,” he answered with a worried expression.

We walked out onto the balcony. It was just past daybreak, and fireballs were raining back down into the city. There was also a banging noise. I saw large cracks in the wall where the banging was coming from.

“They're breaking through!” I cried.

Wei nodded, “Yes, the real battle is about to began.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 36
The Wall Breaks

The banging continued. Wei joined a group of warriors and benders heading to the wall. Koluk and I ran to help evacuate more people. I heard a crash and the sound of ice breaking; several holes had broken through the wall, and soldiers marched in; panic ensued throughout the city. I did everything I could to keep everyone calm. I could see hundreds of soldiers pouring into the city; we would be over whelmed. I ran as fast as I could to the wall. The water benders were taking a stance behind a small wall that sectioned off the city from the canals. I jumped over the wall with water and air bending and charged the soldiers. I heard Wei and several others shout my name. I ignored them. A few spearmen charged me but hesitated slightly when they saw I was a child. I punched one in the stomach and threw him to the ground. I snatched his spear and broke the wood part over another’s head. The last spearman got a face full of snow.

I saw an opening in the wall right in front of a canal, so the soldiers had to go on either side. I got an idea and froze the water in the canal, hoping some soldiers would take the bait and go on the new, easy path I had made for them. Fortunately, a great deal of them took the bait and charged forward toward me. What they didn’t know was I only froze the top layer of ice thick enough for a single person to walk on it. I raised my hands in a slow, strong, forward motion. The ice on my end cracked as I lifted up the water below it. The wave surged forward, shattering the ice under the soldiers’ feet. Soldiers were tumbling all over the place. The wave crashed into the wall, knocking back any soldier that was about to charge into the city. I then froze the water so it sealed up the hole in the wall.

“Nice work, Hyriu,” Pakku said as he charged a group of fire benders.

I saw to waves of water crash together with Fire Nation soldiers in between. I looked back and saw Wei in deep concentration, but with a slight smile on his face. We were on the offensive now. But soon, we were forced to retreat again after the Fire Nation sent in their komodo-rhinos and tanks. The rhinos were ridden by a fire bender, and each had two mini catapults strapped to their side. The tanks were manned by two fire benders. We went back to our wall. Water falls fell from it, and I saw water benders aiming the water at the tanks and rhinos. Some tanks had what looked like giant metal crossbows on them and shot the metal arrows into the wall and pulled it down. The army surged in.

I knocked one guy off a rhino with a ball of water. I froze another rhino in its tracks. I used my acrobatics to dodge the fire balls, and I sent attacks of my own. A tank came at me; I whipped my arms around creating tremendous power and flipped the tank upside down with water bending. The cab of the tank just turned right side up, and it came at me again. The fire benders in the tank kept me busy. I shot a ball of ice that jammed itself in the small opening that the fire benders shot from, which bought me a few seconds. I lifted up large shards of ice around the tank, so it couldn’t move in any direction. The fire benders jumped out. I jump-kicked off a wall of a house and kicked one in the face. I spun mid-air and came around and smacked the other. They both went down. A third fire bender surprised me when he came out of the tank and punched fire at me. I dodged and twisted his arm behind him. I kicked him in the back, so he face-planted the ground. As he tried to get up, I jumped down from the tank and onto his back, forcing him to the ground again. I ran off to continue fighting.

Around mid day, my right shoulder had gotten a bad burn from a fireball that landed near me. I was making my way to the Healing Huts, but the only problem was I was in the heart of the battle. I kept my right arm close to my chest, so I wouldn’t aggravate the wound. I used my left arm to fight off the soldiers that came at me. I was almost to the huts when several soldiers charged at me. I was in between two houses, and only the harsh battle was behind me. I lifted up a large wall of ice then melted it and turned it into a wave. I jumped atop the wave and rode it to the huts, water bending with my left arm and taking out many soldiers. I got my shoulder fixed up as best it could be, then went back out into the fight.

A few hours past noon, I got my bow out and started using it. I had replaced the arrow heads with just dull wood, so it just knocked the soldiers out. I stood in a small square, firing arrows as the soldiers came running. A large group of them came at me from all directions, and I didn’t take them all out before they got to me. I kicked one guy in the face, then spun and smacked a guy behind me with my bow. I elbowed another guy in the face and hit him in the back of the head with my bow; he collapsed. I fired an arrow into a soldier’s helmet, then picked it back up and shot it again at a guy’s stomach. He bent over in pain, and I kneed him in the face. I drew another arrow and knocked out the last soldier with it. I notched an arrow and looked around; more soldiers were coming, but they were still a good distance away. I saw a fireball high in the sky, but I could tell it was going to land right by me. I took aim and fired my arrow at the fireball. The flaming rock split into a ring of burning rumble. The soldiers drew near. They encircled me. The ring of rumble rained down on them just as they charged. I looked around, seeing if any soldier was left untouched; none were. I climbed onto a roof and headed to the nearest skirmish in the city.

I did everything I could to push the Fire Nation back, or at least hold my ground, but some how they kept gaining ground. I saw Koluk here and there, fighting ferociously.

As the sun began to set, I felt like passing out of exhaustion; I had been fighting almost nonstop. I was sitting on a chunk of ice, catching my breath, when three swordsmen came around a corner and charged me. I unsheathed G.B. and met them in battle. I whipped my sword around like crazy. I disarmed the swordsmen and knocked them to the ground. A fire bender jumped out of nowhere and threw fire at me. I was still holding G.B., so I blocked as best I could with my right hand, but I was caught off guard and got a few burns.

Suddenly, pain erupted from my left shin and my right shoulder, my bad shoulder. One of the swordsmen had recovered. I dropped to my knees and G.B. clattered to the ground. The swordsman walked around to my front with the fire bender. ‘This is it,’ I thought.

A stream of water knocked out the fire bender, and a hand grabbed the wrist of the swordsman.

“Why don’t you pick on someone your own size,” Desu said.

“Master Desu!” I exclaimed.

“Sure thing, pops,” the guy said and tried to swing at Desu.

Desu twisted the guy's arm behind his back, and the guy cried out in pain. I heard the sharp crack of bone breaking. Desu threw the guy into a wall.

“You alright, Hyriu?” He helped me up.

“Uh, yeah, nice timing,” I said.

“I have always been punctual,” he said.

Suddenly, the swordsman with the broken arm got up and picked his sword up with his left hand and slashed Desu across the side with it.

“Argh!” Desu cried out and slumped onto the wall of a building.

I kicked the soldier in the face as hard as I could. He hit the ground and didn’t get back up, blood all over his face.

I grabbed Desu. “We need to get you to the healers.”

“I’m fine, you look like you need to see the healers,” Desu said.

“Fine, will you help me get there?” I humored him.

“Of course,” he said.

I knew he would never accept the fact that he was hurt, so I had to humor him so he could get there. We soon arrived at the Healing Huts.

Yugoda saw us come in, “Oh my, what is it?”

“Sword wound to the side,” I said as we helped Desu lay down on a cot.

“Really, it’s just a scratch. I’m sure you have more pressing patients,” Desu said, waving her off.

“Oh stop it, Desu,” she said and looked at the wound. She looked at me with an odd face. “Hyriu, why don’t you get yourself fixed up with Hushi over there.”

“Alright, how bad is it?” I asked.

She hesitated, “It’s hard to tell right now. Go on.”

I went over to Hushi; she looked at my arm and leg and began wrapping them up. She also applied a paste to my burns. I watched Yugoda heal Desu. She got a grave look on her face and said something to him; he nodded. I walked over to him, despite Hushi’s protests.

My eyes were watery. “Is he going to be alright?”

Yugoda looked at me. “Hyriu-”

I couldn’t stop the tears from spilling down my face. “Desu, you’re going to be alright.”

He looked at me and sighed. “No Hyriu, I’m not.”

I fell to my knees by him. “But it’s my fault. You got hurt because of me.”

“It’s no one's fault, Hyriu,” he said softly.

“But it is your fault,” the Robed Man said to me as he appeared behind Desu. “One by one, I will destroy them all, and it will be your fault.” He vanished.

“Desu, you can’t…Desu?” I said questioningly.

He didn’t respond.

“He’s gone, Hyriu,” Yugoda said.

“Hey, Hyriu, Wei’s looking for you-” Koluk came in, but he stopped when he saw Desu and my face. “No, no,” he whispered as tears formed in his eyes.

He was never taught by Desu, but he still knew him; we all did. Desu was family, a part of Hydronia that had always been there; now he was gone, just like that.

I couldn’t stop myself; I grabbed Koluk and sobbed.

“It’s my fault, it’s all my fault. He saved me. I never even said thank you. I never said…”

Wei ran into the hut. “Hyriu? Ah there you are. What’s wrong-” he began to say. “Desu.”

Tears filled Wei’s eyes as he saw his old friend, lifeless before him. “No, no, what happened?”

“Wei,” I said, letting go of Koluk. “Wei, it’s all my fault. He was protecting me. He saved me, and now he’s, he’s…it’s all my fault,” I repeated.

Wei grabbed Desu‘s hand and gripped it tightly, “No, no, no, no, Hyriu, it is not your fault.”

“Yes it is,” I wept. “He wouldn’t have died if he didn’t have to protect me, and he wouldn’t have to protect me if I hadn’t snuck aboard the raft.”

Wei embraced me as we both wept for Desu. “Hyriu, these things happen in battle, in war. People will die no matter what.”

Explosions could be heard outside.

“Come now, the time for grief will come later, after the fight,” Wei said.

The three of us walked outside. The sun had set, and the full moon had risen. Water bending was at its strongest.

I looked at the moon my sadness replaced with anger and said, “It’s time to show the Fire Nation why they shouldn’t mess with the Water Tribe.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 37
The Clashing of Wills

I looked at Koluk. “Ready?”

“You know I am,” he responded.

We charged forward to where the battle was ensuing. The tanks were the biggest problems, and there were a lot of them. In the chaos, I got separated from Wei and Koluk. The streets were too cramped for my liking; a soldier was always waiting around a corner. I climbed to the roof of a house and jumped from roof to roof using my bow and water bending to attack.

I saw an open area with a group of Fire Nation soldiers in it, attacking two Water Tribe swordsmen, and an idea occurred to me. I lifted up my hands and created a cloud of steam around the soldiers. I jumped to the ground and went into the fog. I used my stealth training to stay hidden. I took out the men one by one, saving the two Water Tribe swordsmen. Soon, only a fire bender was left, and he was shooting attacks in all directions.

“Where are you?” He shouted.

I was directly in front of him, but he couldn’t see me. I dissipated the fog in a swirling motion. I saw the two swordsmen I had saved going after a komodo-rhino nearby. I had an engaging fight with the fire bender. He threw several fireballs at me. I rolled to get out of the way. I let the power of the full moon fill me. He threw attack after attack. I blocked every single one and advanced on him. He backed into a wall. I whipped some water around and froze him to the wall.

A tank rolled into the courtyard. I flipped toward it, splashing freezing water on it, then froze it. Three fire benders emerged from behind a building. I dispatched all three with a single wave. Suddenly, soldiers, tanks, and rhinos charged me from all directions. I did the water spout move where I rise up on a torrent of water. I went about fifty feet into the air. I could see most of the battle from up there. Fireballs came at me from all directions. I spun, blocking them all and launching some of my own ice and water balls. I sent two tanks tumbling away. Another, I sliced in half just as the soldiers jumped out. I entered Stage One. I whipped water around everywhere. Soldiers were thrown all over the place. I lost count of how many I had taken out, but it was well over thirty. I was unstoppable.

I heard a voice. I couldn’t make out any words, but I knew the voice. I saw a black stream of smoke circling me. I heard the voice again.

“Stop,” the Robed Man whispered. “Stop now. If you continue this, you doom everything and everyone you know.”

My water spout collapsed, and I fell to the ground as I came out of Stage One. I managed to slow my descent with some water bending, but I was exhausted. I hit the ground hard.

“If the Fire Nation wins, everyone is doomed anyway. I won’t cower in the dark from you any more!” I yelled at him.

I did a few swirling kicks on my hands and swirled water in all directions, freezing soldiers, tanks, and rhinos in their advance.

“You have made your choice,” the Robed Man said, appearing before me.

“Yes, and I will defeat you!” I screamed, slashing my sword through him.

He vanished in a puff of dark smoke. It was eerily quiet now. I walked out of the courtyard. I ran toward the wall where most of the fight was happening. I saw Pakku also using the water spout move. He crashed into the ground, sending out a shockwave. I joined him in the fight.

I spared a look back towards the city. I saw Wei directing the battle from far back. He was launching strategic, long ranged attacks to help us out. I saw him collapse part of the wall to block up a hole the soldiers were marching through. I could see a battle swarming around the building he was standing on. He made a cloud of steam by me and Pakku. We charged in and dispatched a group of soldiers.

I was soon separated from Pakku, and I met up with Koluk. We fought side by side. The Water Tribe was winning. We were pushing the Fire Nation back.

Suddenly, everything went red. A great red light shown down. I looked up at the moon to see it had turned red. I couldn’t water bend anymore, and I felt really faint. I fell to my knees.

“Hyriu!” Koluk cried and ran to my side. “Are you alright?”

“I can’t bend, and I feel faint. I think the Moon Spirit is in trouble, and it is effecting me,” I said and unsheathed my sword. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t fight.”

We saw that every other water bender had lost their bending also. I saw the Fire Nation was winning now. Without water benders, we were being crushed. I fought as best I could, but we got backed into a group of houses. Every swing of my sword was a strain. I got several nasty gashes, and one of the swordsmen disarmed me. Before he could do anything, I tackled him to the ground. We wrestled around a bit when I suddenly felt power in me again. The silver-blue light shone back in-place of the red. In a few quick motions, I took out all the soldiers surrounding us. A fire bender came at me and shot a fireball.

Time seemed to slow. I tried to raise some water to block the attack, but everything dimmed. I lost all my power. The water I had managed to lift up began to fall back down to the ground. I opened my mouth in a shout. The fire rushed at me. Everything went black.

***

Hyriu looked at me. “Ready?”

“You know I am,” I responded.

We charged into the battle. Hyriu got separated from us in the chaos. I saw that Wei fought with an ice staff that he water bended. He would break it over one guy’s head, only to reform it to take on another guy. Sometimes, he would melt the staff and use it as a water whip.

I was amazed with Wei’s skill. Hyriu was an exceptional fighter, but he had ferocious power; Wei fought strategically. A group of soldiers surrounded him. He moved quickly to each soldier doing the same thing; he put a circle of ice on their ankle, wrist, or waist. Soon, all of the soldiers had a little trinket from Wei. He stood in the center of the group and brought his hands close to his chest, then shot them out. All of the soldiers went flying in all directions . From what I could tell was that Wei had taken control of the ice he had put on each soldier, and he sent the ice away from himself, so the ice pulled the soldiers with it.

I fought next to Wei, and we worked as a team. He was the general; I was the foot soldier. We made it near the main courtyard by the wall where most of the fighting was taking place. I saw a Fire Nation woman fighting. She carried a katana that steamed and glowed with a hint of orange. Wei met her in battle. His ice staff against her steaming sword. Every time the ice met the blade, a small explosion occurred. I could tell the woman was very talented, but her style was rough and definitely not Fire Nation, but very violent.

A fireball landed nearby, and the explosion knocked them both to the ground. They both got up and looked at their wounded comrades. They seemed to have a mutual agreement to not attack the other. Wei went to help his fallen tribesmen. The woman, however, walked right past the other Fire Nation soldiers.

I heard a cry from behind me. I looked and saw several soldiers coming at me. I quickly fought them. Then the same woman who had fought Wei came around a corner. Without thinking, I attacked her. She disarmed me almost immediately with a bored expression. I tripped and fell. I backed into a wall. Now that I could see her up close, I saw she was only in her early twenties.

She sighed. “I’m not feeling it today. I just don’t feel like killing a kid right now. How ‘bout you? Do you feel like dying today?”

I hesitated, confused, then shook my head.

“Yeah, I didn’t think so,” she said and leaned on her sword which she stuck in the ground.

An official looking fire bender walked up to her. “Sergeant, what are you doing?” He demanded. “We are launching an invasion right now!”

The woman looked around with mock surprise. “Really? Huh, look at that, we are. I thought we were here just for the smooth sailing.”

“What are you doing standing around. I have given you your orders, so follow them. You do as I say!” The commander said.

She whipped her sword around and pointed it directly at the guy’s face, the point an inch from his forehead. The blade glowed cherry red. The commander was sweating heavily despite the cold weather.

“Now you listen to me, Commander. I do as only I say, got it? No amount of ‘power’ will change that. I suggest you go back to commanding, Commander.” She said, her voice deadly calm.

“Are you threatening me?” He inquired.

“Do you feel threatened?” She challenged, moving the sword closer to his forehead.

The commander gulped. “Perhaps I was being a bit, ah, forward. My apologies.”

She lowered her sword slightly. He snapped his fingers and pointed at her. Two solders seized the woman.

“Sergeant, you are being arrested for treason,” the commander said.

The woman growled and kicked one man between the legs, and the other got her elbow in the face. I took off running, grabbing my sword before anything else happened. I met up with Wei again, and he jumped on top of a building. He told me to guard him while he sent long ranged attacks into the courtyard by the wall.

Soon, Wei got his ice staff back and joined me in the fight. He sent me to try and find Hyriu. It didn’t take long to find him. We fought the soldiers as a team, and we were winning.

Suddenly, the moon gave off a red light. I saw Hyriu fall to his knees. I ran over to him.

“Hyriu! Are you alright?” I asked.

“I can’t bend,” he said. “And I feel faint. I think the Moon Spirit is in trouble, and it’s effecting me. But that doesn’t mean I can’t fight.”

He drew his sword, and we engaged the soldiers. I saw other water benders couldn’t bend either. I saw Hyriu was having trouble fighting. I fought ferociously for both of us. I didn’t come all the way here with Hyriu to lose. I disarmed solder after soldier. No matter what kind of weapon they had, I took them down.

The blue light of the moon retuned. Hyriu jumped up and shot all the soldiers around us with water. A fire bender shot some fire at him. Just as Hyriu started to block it, everything went dark. I saw the fire surged around Hyriu, and he fell to the ground.

“No!” I cried and began fighting the fire bender.

I had dropped my sword, so I just had my hands while he had fire. I had watched Hyriu practice, and I had even practiced with him. I used that training to dodge all of the fireballs. I managed to get in a few good hits, and he lost his footing. I took him to the ground. I slammed his head down, knocking him unconscious.

I ran to Hyriu. He was unconscious and had a lot of burns, but only a few looked serious, and they were small.

A group of swordsmen surrounded me. I quickly grabbed my sword from the ground and fought them. While I was fighting them, I saw the full moon had disappeared from the sky. That was why everything went dark. I was able to take out a few soldiers, but they were overwhelming me. I got a slash across my chest. Another got my right arm and my left leg. I dropped to my knees in pain and dropped my sword. One of the soldiers leveled a sword with my chest.

A great blue light suddenly shone next to us. We both looked and saw a large being made of water and light. I could see the Avatar at the being’s center. From the looks of it, he went into the Avatar State and was wiping out all of the soldiers in the city. The being looked at the soldiers threatening me. In an instant, a rush of glowing water took them out. The being moved on.

All of the soldiers were either taken care of by the Avatar or fled the city. The giant water-Avatar being went into the ocean and began fighting the ships.

I turned to Hyriu, but he was still unconscious. I listened for a heart beat; it was faint, and it sounded like he was having trouble breathing. I began calling for help. I didn’t know what anyone could do, since the moon was still gone, so no one could water bend, but I didn‘t care. I yelled anyway.

The moon returned for some reason. I didn’t know what had been going on with it, but now that it was back, someone could heal Hyriu.

Hyriu woke up. He tried to say something, but he winced in pain. I could see the inside of his mouth was severely burned. I helped him to his feet, and we limped to the Healing Huts. I saw Master Pakku, and he helped me hold Hyriu up. I filled him in on what happened. He didn’t know anymore about the moon than I did.

We got to the Healing Huts. Yugoda was swarmed, so we went to Hushi, the healer Hyriu had seen before. She first fed Hyriu some herbs to sooth his mouth and throat. Then she swirled some water around, and it started to glow.

“Now, Hyriu,” she said, “this is going to feel weird, but try not to move.”

He nodded. She swirled the water into his mouth. I watched with fascination as she healed him. Wei came over to us. I told him what had happened. Wei looked at Hushi with a concerned expression.

“Don’t worry,” she said, “he is going to be alright."

Chapter Text

Chapter 38
The Sacrifice of Victory

By the time I had woken up, the sun had already risen. Koluk stood nearby. Hushi who had healed me, slept in a chair by my cot. It was quiet, but not an eerie silence, a peaceful one. I sat up.

Koluk came over. “How are you feeling?”

“Sore,” I said, my voice raspy, and my mouth and throat hurt a bit.

“Hushi said you had gotten some bad burns in your mouth. She worked on you all night,” he said.

“Wow, I’ll have to thank her. So what happened? I assume we won?” I asked.

“Uh, yeah we - we won. While you were asleep, Wei went to find out what exactly happened. Apparently Admiral Zhao, a guy who had been following the Avatar from the South Pole, was leading the attack. He went to the Spirit Oasis and grabbed one of the koi fish from the pond. The fish are actually the Moon and Ocean spirits, and Zhao grabbed the Moon Spirit fish. When he pulled it out of the pond, the moon turned red. Then the Avatar and his friends convinced him to put the fish back in the pond. That was when the moon turned back to normal for a few moments. Then Zhao fire bended at the fish and killed it. That was when you passed out as the fire bender attacked you. The moon disappeared from the sky for a long time. Then, uh, Princess Yue stepped forward.” Koluk’s voice filled with emotion, and a lot of people around us were listening, including Hushi, who had woken up. “You know how the Moon Spirit had given her life when she was ill as a child; well she… gave that life back to the Moon Spirit. She sacrificed herself, so it could live again, and that was when the moon returned, and you woke up. And during the time the Moon Spirit was dead; Avatar Aang went into the Avatar State and combined his energy with the Ocean Spirit. They formed this giant water being that took out most of the soldiers, including this Admiral Zhao, and the rest fled.”

I swallowed; I couldn’t believe Princess Yue was gone. I decided to not think about that. “Where is Wei now?”

“He and most of the other benders are cleaning up and repairing the city. We sustained a lot of damage,” Koluk answered.

I positioned myself to stand up. I saw Koluk was on a crutch, his left leg was bandaged heavily, and his right arm was in a sling. Hushi rushed over to me.

“Take it slow. Your right leg is already bad,” she said.

I winced at the pain, but I could stand. I stretched, but my chest and right shoulder exploded in pain, and I doubled over.

“Your chest got burned the worst,” Hushi said.

After the pain passed, I straightened a bit, but I didn’t try stretching again. I walked out of the hut with Koluk and Hushi. He was right about the damage. The ice wall that guarded the city was nothing but a few chunks of ice. Many houses near the wall had been destroyed. A lot of other houses had been damaged.

I took it easy most of the day. I tried to help clean up the city, but Wei wouldn’t allow it. Pakku came to visit me at my house.

“Hyriu, I have made the decision to go to the Southern Water Tribe and help rebuild it,” he said.

“What? Oh, well, when do you leave?” I asked.

“Not for a few days, but since you will be leaving for Hydronia today, we won’t be seeing each other on my departure. I do not know if or when I will see you again, but it was an honor to be your special teacher.” He bowed to me respectfully, something he didn’t do to anyone.

I bowed back. “It was an honor to receive your teachings, and we will meet again. I will make certain of it.”

He chuckled then left shortly after. I found out that along with Desu, two other people had died from Hydronia, Yun-Li, a warrior and Gen-Li’s father, and Qiao, who was a water bender and also had a family waiting for him.

Near sunset, we prepared to leave. I didn’t say goodbye to the Avatar or his friends, since I tried to distance myself from them. Arnook said he would come to visit Hydronia soon to tell everyone there what had happened. I waved to the people I knew, and we got on the raft and zoomed toward Hydronia.

Chapter Text

Chapter 39
The Coming of Darkness

We got to Hydronia late the next day. People ran to the dock in a stampede. We all got off the land raft and met the crowd. Most people cried with happiness. Hiko shoved through the crowd and tackled me and Wei with a hug.

“I was so worried when I saw your note. The city went crazy when we found out you and Koluk had snuck off,” he said.

“I’m sorry,” I said, hugging him.

I saw my friends rush at me. They took me and Koluk in a large embrace.

Hana had tears in her eyes. “Don’t you ever scare me like that again. Alright?”

“Alright,” I said and hugged her.

Wei told everyone to go to the Grand Hall, so he could give an official statement. Koluk and I talked to our friends on the way. Wei gave a rough summary of what happened. Every now and then, a court member, Koluk, or I added a few things. Wei gave the grave news of Desu’s death, along with Yue’s and Yun-Li’s and Qiao’s. I had a few tears streak down my face when I remembered who had died.

Life was different in Hydronia now. I had good friends, and a lot of people admired me for sneaking off to the capital. They said it was brave, courageous, and heroic. I just thanked them. I didn’t want to think of the fight. It was a nightmare for me when I remembered it and everything that had happened. Taruk didn’t glare at me anymore, or bother with me at all; apparently, he thought I had finally gotten what I deserved.

One week passed, and Arnook came to give his official statement of what had happened and the details of Yue’s sacrifice.

I was in Heiwa Valley with my friends. I was playing a game of Pai Sho with Sonam when a thought occurred to me. I stood up.

“I need to go see Arnook,” I said quickly.

Everyone looked surprised.

“Um, what do you need to see him about?” Sonam inquired.

“Something I just thought of. You all should come with me, so you know what’s going on,” I said urgently.

“Well alright, if you say so,” Sonam said, noticing the urgency in my voice.

I ran towards the Gambing Palace where Arnook was staying. He had only arrived yesterday. My friends and Sonam raced after me. I charged down the Mountain Pass. I rushed into the Fountain Yard and toward the Palace Entrance. Something caught my eye, and I stopped for a second. It was Princess Yue’s fountain. I had thought it looked incomplete when I first saw it, but now it was complete. The parts that were there before were Arnook and his wife holding baby Yue and the white koi fish, the Moon Spirit. The new part was sixteen year old Princess Yue from the torso up. She was lifting her hand up to the sky, and there was a full moon behind her. The sight brought a few tears to my eyes, but I continued on. I burst into the courtroom to see Wei already talking with Arnook. They stopped when they saw us.

“Hyriu,” Wei said confused.

“What’s going on? Is everything alright?” Arnook asked.

“I just realized something about my visions,” I said, and everyone tensed.

“Yes, what about them?” Arnook asked nervously.

“When I saw the temple light, I thought my visions were coming true,” I paused, still out of breath.

“Yes,” Arnook said, motioning for me to continue.

“Well, now I know they are coming true. I just remembered that the very first vision I had, the same one when I saw the temple light, I also saw black snow at the capital and a red moon. And so far everything I saw has happened in order,” I said.

Everyone was silent until Arnook said what was on all of our minds, “Alright, well um, what did you see next, after the red moon?”

“I saw,” I stopped. I had seen a meteor land in a forest. The same meteor Kan Dao had shone me when I went to the Earth Kingdom; it was the same moment just seen from different areas. I also remembered what she had called the event. “I saw a meteor land in a forest. Then, during my visit to the Earth Kingdom, one of the spirits in me showed me that vision again but from the Bei Ji Mountains point of view, but…” I looked at Arnook.

“But what?” He said.

“She called it something. She called it 'The Coming of Darkness,'” I said.

Everyone was speechless. I heard a voice whisper something. Everyone looked around. I heard the voice again, and I knew who the cold, dark voice belonged to.

“What was that?” Arnook said.

“It sounded like someone whispering,” Wei said, looking around.

“Wait, you all heard that?” I asked as I looked around.

Everyone nodded.

“What is it, Hyriu,” Hana said, stepping to me, seeing the look on my face.

“It’s him. The Robed Man,” I said.

Hana took a step back, and fear crossed everyone’s face.

The voice sounded again, but this time I could understand it. “Yes,” it said. “Yes, The Coming of Darkness - of me. The spirit showed you my arrival.”

A shadow crossed the windows, and the light dimmed. A shadow formed near the ceiling. In the midst of the shadow, I could see the out line of a figure and two red gleaming eyes. One of the girls screamed, and everyone gasped.

“I spoke to you during the fight, Anzen,” the Robed Man said. The shadow shifted positions. “But you ignored me and showed defiance against me. By doing so, you have doomed everything and everyone. This is your third and final warning. As I have said before, it is too late; I am already on my way.”

“But you said you would be here in about six months. That was three months ago. You still have three months,” I said.

“You fool, I said less than six months, not almost six months. There is a large difference. Less than six months can be the very next day or five months after. It just means some time before the six months are up.” The shadow moved toward me. “Now you might be thinking, ‘Oh well now that I know what’s going on, I can prepare for it, right.’ Wrong. As I have said before, no matter how hard you train, no matter how quickly you master the other elements, it will not be enough. There is nothing you can do but wait for this city to fall. I follow through on all of my threats. All you can do is wait for it to happen.”

All of my friends were frozen in fear, but they could see him. There was no doubt about that. I cursed myself for being so stupid.

"The only way to save everyone you know is to beg for forgiveness when I arrive,” he said to me.

“I will never beg anything from you!” I said.

“Very well. You doom your world. I will see this city brought to ruin and its people brought to their knees. After I see to that, I will see your world blanketed in shadow!” He said, and the shadow figure disappeared in a flash and sent out a shockwave.

Everyone but me was knocked to the floor. I helped them get up.

“What just happened?” Tekton asked.

“I just received my last warning,” I said, still trying to process everything that had happened.

“You did?” Wei exclaimed.

“Yeah, didn’t you hear?” I asked.

“All we heard were whispers; I could only make out a word here and there,” Lina said.

“But we could see the shadow thing,” Daminao said.

“So what did you hear?” Lamara asked cautiously.

“He is coming,” I said simply.

“Oh, and, um, what exactly was that - the shadow?” She asked fearfully.

I looked at her. “That was the shadow of him - the shadow of Darkness.”

Chapter Text

Book 1 Extras
WARNING: I Ramble!

So first I will discuss production, so everyone knows the process of getting my thoughts to paper, to computer, to you. Well first of all, I created Hyriu five years ago as a device that fixed the ending to the TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender. It was only a small flaw but I was young and made it a big deal. The first thing I did was create his back story, because I wanted him to be able to bend all four elements but not be the Avatar. I soon came up with a very rough version of what is now the prologue. I also created a team of teenagers that he was the leader of. Koluk and Lamara were apart of that team, though back then I called them Kuruk and Yangchen. And I soon added my other favorite worlds to Hyriu’s story like Harry Potter, as well as LotR, and the Inheritance Cycle. I slowly molded his story into a plot with a beginning and an end. Then I became partially serious in making a legitimate story out of it and I did some more molding and had things make sense. Then I said to myself, “I will make this a story, I can make it a fan fiction.” So I did some deep thinking about what I wanted the story to accomplish and things of that sort. I also began to take out the other cross over worlds but I couldn’t remove Harry Potter as I didn’t want to and it was two intertwined to the story. Then I made the decision of how many books I wanted it to be. Well I am a fan of the Percy Jackson books and I thought five was a good number. After that I began separating the story into five conjoined stories. I will say I paid book 1 very little attention, in fact I hardly thought about it because all of the ’cool’ stuff came in the later books. *hint* *hint* I then realized I should focus on the first book; so what I did was write very short summaries of the book. The first summary only said ‘ATLA: book 1 water Hyriu’s view.’ That is it, also book 1 at the time was titled ‘Avatar: The Legend of Hyriu’ at that time each book would have ‘Avatar’ then its title. Then that changed to ‘The Legend of Anzen’ then finally to ‘The Legend of Beifen.’ The next summary I wrote was a bit more specific:

‘Back story on Hyriu, introduce Hyriu, Wei, Hyriu’s younger brother, Kuruk?, Yangchen, and others, water bending test with Pakku, wins, introduce Earth master, Hyriu’s secret, Avatar returns, he prepares, Avatar comes, Zhao’s invasion.’

Still not exactly good but you can see the story taking shape. I am typing these summaries exactly as they are just so you all know. Then I wrote a longer summary which is kind of comical to me:

‘Hyriu’s pre-story. Living in the NWT’s northern most city. Water bending school. Archery, swordsmanship. Friends. History on city. Air Nomads from Western Air Temple. Hyriu vs. Pakku. Yuan (Shan) visits (Originally Shan was going to visit for Hyriu’s birthday, but that was taken out). Sacred Avatar Temple lights. Go to Yuan’s village. Train harder. Go to capital, train more, Avatar comes. Introduce bond with Katara/Sokka (Originally Hyriu was going to be their long lost cousin). Hyriu vs. Katara (They were going to have a cool sparring match). Black snow, war council, Rain of Fire (this is where Chapter 34 got its name), night break (is this even a thing), day break, Fire Nation break through wall. Fight, day drags on, fight drags on, sunset, moon rise, the power of the full moon, red moon, no moon (I love how blunt I wrote that ha ha). Water Spirit Aang, moon returns. Aftermath, plans, end.

Book 1 originally didn’t end if a cliff hanger; it was just the aftermath of the battle and the plans for the future. So a lot has changed since I wrote this, a lot. Then finally after I had posted chapter 4 online (Note: I first put this story up on avatarthelastairbenderonline.com long before fanfiction.net) I wrote a more extensive and accurate summary, the date says July 7, 2013.

‘Rokku’s encounter with the spirits. Hyriu goes to school and has visions. Introduce H-gang No. 1(that is what I refer to Hyriu and his friends as), Myths and Legends class learning about Beifen Legend. Swing Kick, Taruk’s pushed to limit in ice bending explosion. Hana begins her suspicions. Taruk attacks Hyriu, Pakku stops it. Spills Anzen secret, air benders come, meeting begins, Hyriu, Koluk, Lina, Lamrara win. Hyriu’s vision, explains vision, tour of Gambing Palace, Test begins, wind picks up, Hyriu wins, Dark clouds, lightning and thunder, explore palace, Hyriu chooses sword and robes, storm begins. Hell breaks loose, Hyriu saves people. Day after, Hyriu practices performance, more visions, the celebration, temple glows - Avatar returns, training intensifies, Hana finds out about Hyriu, Taruk’s grudge intensifies knows something is up. Hyriu’s birthday, Roku visions. Warrior Games begin, Hyriu - great swordsman, training mission, fire nation attack kids, Hyriu fights them off, gets injured. Return to Hydronia, everyone worried and cheering, Hyriu - Hero, Warrior Games Finals, Hyriu wins sword, Koluk - Warrior, Taruk - Water bender, many events with them together. Hyriu goes to Earth Kingdom town and trains hard, comes back, Tauk’s suspicions suspense, air bending training with H-gang No. 1, Taruk shows up, chase through valley leads into town, Taruk beats up Hyriu, Hyriu about to explode (spirit state) when warning bell rings. Their spies found a fleet of ships going to capital, masters and adults prepare to leave, Hyriu tries to talk Wei into letting him come, Wei says no. Masters leave on train, Hyriu and Koluk are stowaways, they are found, Hyriu tells masters who he is, get to capital just before the attack. The attack happens, Hyriu almost dies when moon disappears, they return to Hydronia solemnly and tell about Yue’s death. Life returns to “normal” Hyriu and H-gang No. 1 walking around. [Robed Man’s] warning vision.’

That was the last summary I wrote for book 1. I used this summary throughout the writing process. I also made a time-line that corresponds to this summary so I knew how much time had to pass in a certain area. And at this time I predicted that book 1 would be forty two chapters or less, a pretty good guess I’d say. Right after this I wrote a rough draft of the Lok Wa Tragedy flashback and it is very close to the final draft, the only big difference is there was no Akiko in it, but I will explain that later. To also help with my writing I wrote a check list:

Water bending Test
Avatar Returns
Hyriu’s Birthday
Go to Earth Village
Aang Arrives
Zhao Attacks

Fairly straight forward but I used it until the very end. And I started to write chapter one but then I realized I forgot about Hiko so I had to restart, here is that rough draft of chapter one:

‘The sun had just risen when I woke up. The rays of warmth came through the window and warmed me. It was always cold, even in the summer, but since it was almost winter, it was very cold. And it was going to get colder. I loved in a city farthest north of the Northern Water Tribe Capital City. So it was even colder here, but I didn’t mind it, I liked the cold, and all the ice, snow, and the Great River we lived by. But I guess that made sense since I was a water bender.

I got up and realized my fourteenth birthday was only two and a half months away. Everyday seemed to drag by and today was no different.

I got some fresh seaweed and some fish from the cubby hole in the wall, and made myself breakfast.

I lived by myself because a month or so after I was born, the Fire Nation found our secret city and hit it hard. The city was a secret because the Northern Water Tribe kept all their secrets here, including me. It’s at the end of a long river, but water bending masters have made an ice wall where the river flows into the ocean and made it look like a natural ice shelf. Other secrets kept here are the Great Palace where the Royal Court stays if need be. Then there were the Air Nomads. When Sozin’s Comet came one hundred years ago, Sozin attacked each temple simultaneously. Since the Western Air Temple is the largest, some air benders managed to escape with some lemurs and bison too. They came here, to this city, they were always welcome here. When they told the Court, they were furious with the Fire Nation. So when the Fire Nation sent troops to attack the Tribe or parts of the Earth Kingdom, they wiped them out in their fury and grief. Every attack on the Northern Water Tribe had no chance, no matter how big the attack was.

Anyway there are still air benders here; they built a temple in the Crystal Stone Mountains surrounding the city on the south side. They have repopulated a lot so there are about two hundred to two hundred-fifty air benders now. Only the people who live here and the Royal Court know about them. I learned air bending from them, I haven’t mastered air bending yet but I am still pretty good.

I have learned all the elements, I just haven’t mastered any. I have air bending practice once every two weeks. They show me a new move and I have to master it in two weeks. I have water bending practice every other day. Fire bending once a month and earth bending every two months. So obviously I am a great water bender, a good air bender, a below average fire bender, and a horrible earth bender. Also I don’t think it matters how much I practice earth bending, I would still suck. I just don’t get it. When I move, bend, or even think, I am very fluid. Some people say I move like water, which, I guess is kind of true. I never stay still, I am always moving in very flowing motions. Earth bending is all about standing strong and being ridged, which just isn’t me at all.

Another thing the Court decided to get me to learn faster was to compete with someone my own age. I don’t need that with water, but I have friends in the other nations who train with me and compete with me. Here I don’t have a water bender combatant but my best friend, Deszu (Koluk), is learning swordsmanship with me along with hand-to-hand combat. In the Earth Kingdom I train/learn side-by-side with Yuan. He shows me how to do a move if I have trouble with one; so he helps me with every move.’

It had some interesting things in it and wasn’t too bad, heck it covered things that I didn’t bring up for several chapters. Also you can see Koluk went through several different name changes. he started out as Kuruk, then to Deszu, then finally Koluk. And the Bei Shui Mountains were originally the Crystal Stone Mountains. And just so you know, Hydronia was first called ‘Tara,’ why I named it that, I do not know. Hydronia is much better. Well that is getting my ideas to paper, now comes getting them typed.

I first write my rough drafts into a notebook (book 1 consists of three hand written notebooks), then I type them on Word Document. That is when most of the ‘magic’ happens, or when I get all of my really good ideas. To name a few, the detailed descriptions in Chapters 8, 9 and 10 all came while typing. Also the extended battle sequences during the Siege of the North. But the most important one, I think, is Hyriu’s visions. That whole plot line was not originally thought of. I was typing up chapter 3 and I saw it said Hyriu had a daydream and I decided to expand upon that. Then in Chapter five I wanted to expand upon it even further and then the whole ‘three warning visions thing’ came about. Originally the Robed Man wasn’t going to be in book 1 at all, Taruk was going to be the main protagonist. Now imagine how that would have turned out. Now, book 1 and the series itself are heavily influenced by those visions. That is when the biggest changes in plot happen; when I type.

And at first I just posted them straight to the website, I didn’t even know Change of Pace 313(my editor) then. But soon the school year started and we met. She saw me writing in my notebook and questioned me about it. I refused to tell her anything about it. Then a few of my other friends told me to put my story up on fanfiction.net, so I did. I told my editor to find it on there and read it. Very shortly after, she offered to edit for me as my grammar was less than ideal. I accepted and so I would send her the typed drafts and she would read and edit them. She was also sort of a ‘beta reader’ for me as she would tell me when something didn’t make sense or something needed to be changed. At school we would discuss my story and I soon told her the whole outline of the five books. Now, neither of us knew how much she would become apart of the story. I had told her how some of my friends had their own characters in the story and she demanded one for her and even gave the idea of who it could be; the killer of Hyriu’s parents. And thus, Akiko was born. Not only that, but my editor has also had some great influence on the overall story of Hyriu and has told me what would work and what would not. We have collaborated and created a story for Hyriu that I never could have come up with on my own. Just last week, she helped me do some heavy plot structure on book 3; yes we are thinking that far ahead. She even named Chapter 37, which is fitting as she had a large part in what would happen in that chapter. But unfortunately you won’t see the extent of how much she has done until book 3, which is definitely her book.

I will now discuss the different plot lines. I will say my thoughts on them, and how they came to be. The visions plot will be first since you already know its origin. I loved it a lot because it allowed the Robed Man to be a villain before he is properly introduced, which I thought was great. I really like the first warning vision A LOT. I can see it all perfectly. The storm clouds and the sunset. The interior of the Meditation Tower, the Robed Man himself. And I have come to the conclusion that if anyone could do his voice, I would want Benedict Cumberbatch, he can do some of the best villain voices in my opinion. And the final warning vision, with the shadow in the courtroom that was inspired by the second hobbit film The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug. If you have seen the film then you may know what I mean. Near the beginning of the movie, we go to the ruined fortes of Dol Guldur and we hear a voice and see a shadow. That is what I picture in the courtroom.

The next plot line will be the training. I think this is the only plot line that I knew from the beginning would happen and was planned. I came up with the fog stealth training thing while day dreaming in science class, ha. I also wanted to show that he does make progress throughout the book and he develops his sword skills and his disarming technique.

I suppose I shall discuss the Taruk part. I knew when I started planning that I wanted a bully who then becomes suspicious. I had a whole arch planned out for him over the five books, but I have modified it greatly. I came up with the letters to his cousin about half way through the book. Only I created a much more intricate story than what made it in. I actually considered doing a Taruk point of view so we could read the letters, but that was also thrown out. Taruk’s confession in 31 wasn’t really planned but it did make sense. And for some people, my goal was achieved; they hate Taruk, but feel for him. As for myself, I see his side of the story but it in no way justifies his actions. And my editors just plan out hates him which is understandable.

I guess I will talk about the Hana arch. At first, Hana was inspired by a real person who, well I and Hyriu were in the same situation. We were nice to a girl and she latched on. Though I think Hyriu’s went better than mine. I realized that I needed to show that she no longer liked Hyriu because of his abilities but she liked him, hence the speech in 24. I knew she would be suspicious and I left little clues here and there that some may have picked up on. I do regret not getting more of a reaction out of Hyriu. In fact, if I had the time I would rewrite all of book 1, but at the moment I am working furiously on book 2. If you notice, Hyriu and Hana never kiss; I made sure of that.

Now I will talk about my second favorite plot, the visions plot is first, Lina’s secret training is the second. One thing I loved about the show was that there were a bunch of kick butt strong female characters. In book one, you don’t really see much of that unfortunately, but in the other books you can. I loved this plot so much because it showed what kind of person Hyriu was that he would teach her, and it showed how strong she is by doing it. I really really am not happy that that plot was barely in book 1 as it is so much more interesting than the others in my opinion. But I will say that storyline does come back in bigger ways in the next few books ;)

I suppose the last thing I will say is how I come up with my ideas. Well daydreaming is a large part of it. I moved to a knew school three and a half years ago and I am a shy person, so when I rode the bus home, I day dreamed. Soon when I daydreamed, I daydreamed about Hyriu’s story. I would also day dream in school, if it was an easy class or if we weren’t doing anything that day. The trend continued, even now when I have plenty of friends. Another time to daydream and brain storm is just before you fall asleep. I don’t go to sleep easily so I let my mind wander. And mowing the lawn is good as well. The task doesn’t take much thought so I brain storm, which is when I came up with Taruk’s letters, while mowing the lawn. A lot of times I listen to music, mostly instrumental, and I think about the story and what could be happening with the music that played. If it was sad music, then perhaps a character’s death. If it was action-like then a battle sequence.

Two of my readers asked me some questions. The first was how much time passes in between book 1 and book 2. The answer to that is two weeks. It is three weeks after the Siege of the North, which is also the same amount of time that passes in between season 1 and 2 of Avatar. The other question was, will there be and epilogue at the very end. My editor and I have discussed this and I can’t say for certain right now, but I think yes, there will be. I want it to be there so that if you want one, it’s there, and if you don’t want one then I will make the end of the fifth book good enough so you don’t feel like there is something missing. The final question was about the cameos of my friends characters. A few were in book one, and more will be in book 2 and 3, though I promise that most of them will blend right in and not seem out of place. I mean, Akiko fits right in perfectly.

Well I suppose that is really all, I don’t want this to get any longer, ha ha. If any of you have any questions about other things or something else you want to know, please feel free to ask away, I will answer all questions.

Chapter Text

Coming in Book 2
(I know some parts repeat, that is because I typed the two paragraphs at different times :D)

Well I won’t give too much away. A lot of things that were set up in book 1 will be expanded upon. As well as a lot of new plots. As I have said multiple times, book 1 is practically only set up for the series. Some of you may know but here is the official statement. There will be five books in total. Books 1-3 will correspond with the three seasons of the TV show Avatar: The Last Air bender. Though in book 1 a lot of it was the events in the TV show from a different point of view. Book 2 really starts its own story while still holding true to the show. I will say book 2 is more mature in several ways. Many mature concepts and ideas will be brought up in book 2, some are very controversial but I won’t give them away so just be prepared. And it is also more intense and emotional than book 1. It is also more graphic for instance; Hyriu’s nightmares get much worse and are quite disturbing and very graphic. And we will see a more adult world, not just the comfy little Water Tribe, but the real world. A lot like Mazushi Village and the large effects of the war on the common people. The romance factor will also be played up, but not in the way you may expect. And if you couldn’t tell, I am not a writer who has sexually graphic material. The most that will happen in all five books is two characters making out, no more than that will happen, so sorry if you like the detailed scenes like that, I don’t like to read them, therefore I don’t write them. A lot of people had a problem with the pacing of the story. Book 2 does not have that same problem. In fact I am worried that people will complain that too much is happening too fast, but if any one does complain about that, then I will not be a ‘happy camper’ so to speak. Just to give everyone an idea on how much faster paced it is, I will say this. I define an action sequence as a real battle. Not training or games or a test, but a real battle. In book 1 the first action sequence is in chapter 23, in book 2 the first action sequence is in chapter 3. Yeah, 20 chapters earlier. Okay for those of you who may be unaware, this is a crossover of Avatar and Harry Potter. I know in book 1 it wasn’t really noticeable at all. It becomes more prominent in book 2. Perhaps not as much as you all will like, but it does come up, its more the world of Harry Potter that plays a large role, not necessarily the characters or the story itself, at least those aren’t important in book 2 ;)

Characters: Hyriu’s character matures in this book. After the Siege of the North, he knows the true cost of battle. Desu’s death had a large effect on him and he tries to deal with that and that fact that the Avatar saved everyone while he was passed out. He is also faced with the burden of leadership and he has to make choices that may decide the fate of his friends. His nightmares also get much worse and that does not help him out at all.
“I promise I will do what ever it takes to protect you, to protect all of you.”

The other main characters returning in book 2 to remain as main characters are Koluk and Lamara. The other characters will still be there but they take a large step back.

Koluk tries to be the ‘good soldier’ of the group and tries to keep everyone together, and he is sort of the second in command of the group.
“It’s not about winning; it’s about training.”

Lamara starts out as her cheerful optimistic self but seeing the hardships of the war changes her. If you are a Lamara fan or even if you’re not, you are in luck; she gets a lot more character development in this one. She may not be able to handle the coming Darkness…
“Never put your life on the line for me.”

Shan will be back in book 2 as a main character and we get to know more about him and the friendship between him and Hyriu.
“You’re not telling me everything!”

Moji, who was only mentioned in book 1, will be a main character in book 2. She is a fire bender so she has to deal with the prejudice of the world.
“Yes, I am still sure I want to accompany you.”

Two new characters will be introduced in book 2 who both have large roles. One of them is a spiritual archer with an interesting past. The other, well all I will say is, she has a way with nature.

The Robed Man will be much more prominent in this one. We learn a great deal about him. He will be a proper antagonist to the story, and I am very excited about that.
“This is no vision. I have arrived.”

This book is much darker than the first one I think. I am only ten chapters in, but I can already tell this one is soooooo much better than the first. I think the first chapter alone, really sets up the rest of the book perfectly. If you don’t like slow, well then you will like this one then. A major thing happens in the first chapter to start things off. Also book 1 was really just kind of a boring along side story to the show and touches upon its own stories some and foreshadows others. In book 2, the story really comes in as its own story. The way I see it in my head, book 1 is a set up for the series and it all kicks off in book 2. A lot of outlandish ideas are introduced in book 2, including the harry potter crossover part of the story, and even though it is more present in this book it may not be exactly what you expect. I also think book 2 is much better written. Like I said, I am only on chapter 10, but comparing book 2 up to chapter 10 and book 1 up to chapter 10, the change is obvious. One part that I love is chapter 1; it is what you would expect from a chapter 1. Not the sibling conversation of book 1’s chapter 1, which I was proud of at the time but now I look back and think eh….. Anyway I really do think everyone will be much more pleased with the way the story is written and what is happening. I mean, I am loving the story so much right now; it’s exciting, mysterious, and intriguing all at once. The new characters are interesting and you want to know more about them, the new locations, my goodness, I love some of these locations so much even if they are only short appearances. And the storylines I have in store and so much better than a stalker, a bully, and training. While they still train in this book, it isn’t the main plot line like in book 1. And no more visions for the most part, because Darkness arrives in book 2! Book 2 is definitely more mature than book 1, a lot of adult concepts are touched upon and mature ideas. The content of the story itself is pretty mature. Now I will say, if any of you are one of the people that like graphic love scenes, you are at the wrong story. For those of you who do not like that stuff like myself, I will tell you the most that happens in any of the books is two characters making out, and I don’t get all detailed with that stuff. I read one story describing what the character did with their tongue…ehhh I will just leave it up to your imagination. Well I think that is all I have to say for now; here is a little sneak peak ;)

The Hogo-sha Legend

In the northern Earth Kingdom, by the Senlin Forest, there was the Poto Village. Soon after the war began, the Fire Nation arrived and took control of the village. Then the army marched into the forest that surrounded the village. The next day all the soldiers were found dead piled by the gate to the city, all their armor and weapons stripped from them. Fearing some powerful enemy lived in the forest, the Fire Nation sent more soldiers, but this time with many fire benders, and komodo-rhinos. The next day they were all found dead, though the rhinos were no where to be found. The Fire Nation decided the just start burning the forest down from the outside. Soon after they lit their fires, the soldiers began dropping over dead. As night fell, screams could be heard as the soldiers were massacred. The villagers believed a powerful spirit lived in the forest. No one ever stepped into that forest again for many years. Every now and then unlucky travelers or unsuspecting soldiers were found in a pile at the city’s gate in the morning. The villagers soon noticed that buffalo-cows started disappearing, one every few weeks. Soon the beasts’ tracks were found and it showed that the animals were lead into the forest. The village sought to appease the angry spirit named Hogo-sha. They began sacrificing the cows where people were piled up in the morning, one every four weeks. But one morning after a sacrifice the villagers woke to a horrible sight. The guts and gore of the cow were spread all over the city, and a message was written with the blood, the same thing all over the place, ’Leave the beast alive.’ So every four weeks someone was assigned to lead a cow to the forest and tie it to a tree, but soon with the lack of people in the forest, it became over grown and the only way to get to a tree was to go down the old path in the forest. A gate was made to guard the entrance of the forest so no one would wander in. The cow would be led into the gate then the man would leave and close the gate. A few years after the sacrifices, people who entered the forest were no longer killed. If a person entered the forest, they would wake up the next day unharmed but tied up by the city’s gate and stripped of their supplies. Since people stopped dying, people got bolder. Many tried to enter the forest to try and see if the spirit could be bested in battle. No one succeeded. All who entered woke up tied up by the gate with out weapons, armor and supplies. Not one of the people could remember being attacked. They were walking down the path one second and the next they woke up tied up. After many years, the sprit became more aggressive, no doubt because of how bold people had become. People were still waking up tied up but they had injuries now. Some had large bruises on their heads, others had broken bones. People became more wary of the forest now and made sure to always sacrifice a cow on time to appease the temperamental spirit.

The Story Continues
And The Journey Begins in
Avatar: The Legend of Anzen Hyriu
Book 2:
The Shadow of Darkness
Coming Soon