An unusually strong storm had struck the Northern Water Tribe. Normally such a storm would not be given much notice, the city being fortified to deal with such occurrences, but this one was particularly strong, as if the Wind and Ocean Spirits had taken issue with one another and the storm was a result of their conflict. Waves lashed at the walls of the city, some reaching dizzying heights before breaking. Snow whipped through the city, small cyclones of snow making it difficult to see. The wind and snow forced the people of the Northern Water Tribe to seek shelter, even the mightiest of their Waterbenders preferring to stay inside rather than face the might of the storm.
Within the chief's palace, a young servant girl hurried about her duties. She carried with her several Tiger Seal pelts, distributing them to the officials and nobles that had settled down in the palace to wait out the storm. They paid her no mind, and she was thankful for that; while she was happy to be in service of the chief and his family, she was not used to dealing with so many people in one place, and would rather not have her nervousness get the better of herself.
"Aga?" she stopped and turned towards the voice, spotting her friend Auma among the pillars. She was a bit older than Aga, and had been training as a healer for almost twelve years now, and the only time they really saw each other now was at times like this, when the chief called upon the healers of their tribe and Auma helped assist the older healers.
"Auma? I didn't know you finished your rounds."
"The only patients we had were a few boys who thought it was a bright idea to do boomerang practice in a storm." the older girl chuckled as she crossed the room to her friend. "I suppose I should get used to it in case I ever have sons."
"I guess." the two continued down the hall before Aga spoke again "So, have your parents said anything about... you know, boys?"
"Nothing yet." Auma said with a frustrated sigh. "I think it's my dad's fault; you know he's always been rather protective of me."
"Although..." Auma turned Aga towards her. "I did notice that Hasook has been talking to me more lately."
"Hasook? Really?" Hasook was everything a girl could want in a Tribesman; tall, handsome, and a skilled warrior and hunter to boot. While marriages were usually handled by the parents speaking to each other, numerous families had approached Hasook directly, hoping that he would pick one of their daughters. Guess he decided to do it his way. "Do you think he'll make you an engagement necklace?"
"I hope so. He seems interested." the two girls giggled and continued on, as if they were oblivious to the storm raging outside. "So, any boys following you?"
"I don't know, I've been pretty busy and my parents haven't said anything."
"Oh... well, I hope it works out for you." Aga nodded before turning down one of the darker halls, Auma stopping near one of the doors. "Aga, why are you going down there?"
"The chief said that I should deliver blankets to everyone." the servant replied, not stopping as she made her way down the hall. "And I didn't see the Avatar when I started my rounds, so I thought he wouldn't mind if I dropped something off at his room." She continued on, but was pulled to a halt when Auma froze her feet to the floor.
"You can't seriously think about intruding on the Avatar, can you?" Auma asked as she caught up with her friend.
"I've never heard of Avatar Kuruk getting angry at people." Aga countered. "I always heard he was rather nice."
"That was ten years ago. You know, before his fiancée got kidnapped by spirits?" Aga's resolve broke down a little. Everyone in the Northern Water Tribe knew of Avatar Kuruk's loss, and had mourned with him after he failed to recover her from the spirits. Aga and Auma were too young to remember that day, but every time they did see the Avatar he seemed lost.
"Well... It wouldn't hurt to just leave them at his door, would it? If he needs them he can come and get them."
"... Fine." Auma waved her hand, and the ice around Aga's feet melted. "But if we get in trouble for disturbing the Avatar, I'm blaming you."
"I can deal with that." the two kept walking. "... Where did you learn that? With the ice?"
"Sometimes the patients get squirmy; we have to find some way to keep them from injuring themselves further." Aga nodded as they approached a rather nondescript door. The chief had insisted that Avatar Kuruk take a different room, but Kuruk had insisted on this one. Aga was not sure why; Kuruk was well-known to enjoying the pleasures of life, and this room was anything but pleasing. Maybe it's closer to the Spirit Oasis...
Aga stepped forward and knocked lightly. "Avatar Kuruk?" No answer, but the door did swing inward slightly when she knocked. She gave a small gasp and backed up, but when there was no other response her curiosity got the better of her and she peaked inside.
"What are you doing?" Auma hissed. Aga gave her friend a look and pushed the door in further.
"Avatar Kuruk? Are you there? I was just dropping off blankets and thought you'd like-" She stopped when she had surveyed the room. "Oh no."
"How soon until the storm clears?" the chief of the Northern Water Tribe asked his top Waterbenders.
"With the Avatar's help, we could clear the storm by tomorrow morning." the eldest of the Waterbenders said.
"Kuruk won't help." another scoffed. "He's busy preparing to enter the Spirit World, as he does every year."
"I don't think you should be doubting Kuruk's integrity, Master Ataneq." the chief said. "While he is not as... intense as Avatar Yangchen, Kuruk has been nothing but helpful to our tribe in times of need. Even after the loss of his fiancée he has still come to our aid."
"Be that as it may, we should still prepare just in case Kuruk does not or cannot assist us." the chief frowned. He knew Kuruk, and was certain that the Avatar would be more than willing to assist the other Waterbenders in quelling the storm. He was about to make his decision when a serving girl and a healer rushed into the room.
"Oh, forgive me-" the girl began, stopping when she saw the glares from the assembled Waterbenders.
"How dare you barge in on our meeting like this?" one Waterbender shouted.
"Leave, before you make the situation worse for you." Ataneq said, and the two girls began to leave before the chief spoke again.
"Wait," he said, the girls stopping and turning. "Whatever you wanted to say must be urgent, if you are to come in here so quickly. What is the matter?" the serving girl took a moment to compose herself.
"Well, I was delivering blankets as you said I should, and I thought I'd give one to Avatar Kuruk. And..."
"And what? Speak up, child."
"W-when I went to his room... it was empty; I didn't see anything that Kuruk owned. I-I think he left the palace and went out into the storm." a shocked silence filled the room.
"You're lying." a different waterbender said.
"Kuruk would know better than to go out into a storm." the lead Waterbender said. "Even if he is the Avatar, he's not the kind of man to tempt fate like that."
"Let's not argue over this." the chief stood and walked over to the girls. "Take us to the Avatar's room; perhaps you merely panicked and Kuruk has not left us." the girls nodded and began walking, the chief and his Waterbenders following close behind.
"Kuruk wouldn't just leave like that." the lead Waterbender repeated as they made their way down the halls.
"Maybe he just went to a different part of the palace." another said.
"With all his things?" Ataneq asked, shaking his head. "Hopefully this is just some kind of joke and the Avatar will return."
"This is coming from the man who said the Avatar would not come to our aid." the lead Waterbender responded.
"I may doubt his willingness to help our people," Ataneq said "But outright abandoning us? Kuruk wouldn't do something like that." the group stopped at the room that Kuruk had requested. The two girls stood aside as the chief pushed the door open, the group gasping when they realized the situation.
There was nothing left. Avatar Kuruk was gone.
Kuruk pulled his Polar Bear-Dog pelt tighter as he trekked through the snow, his eyes fixed on the horizon. A quick blast of fire helped him as he moved, but the intensity of the storm meant that his path was filled in quicker than he could move. Moving in to the Avatar State might have helped, but every time he tried to concentrate something held him back.
"You can't do this, Kuruk." he looked up and saw a woman, a spectre in the wind that flickered in and out of existence as the elements whipped around them. She was dressed in the traditional yellow and orange robes of the Air Nomads, the front half of her head shaved to show the arrow tattoo that denoted her status as an Airbending Master.
"I've done everything I can," Kuruk responded, another blast of fire melting the snow around him. "And that creature that stole Ummi from me still eludes me."
"I'm not talking about that." The spirit of Yangchen said. "The Avatar must place the needs of the world before their own. This storm threatens your people, and you cannot abandon them like this."
"But I cannot abandon Ummi. She's somewhere in the spirit world, in the clutches of some... monster, and I must find her."
"You are allowing your desires cloud your judgement, and you are placing not only the Northern Water Tribe at risk, but yourself. If you stay out here any longer, you will die, and the world may very well fall out of balance without your presence." Kuruk paused for a moment, eyeing the image of his past life.
"The world has held up after your time as Avatar. It can hold up if I die."
"Kuruk, stop this folly and go back; your self-destructive actions will only bring pain to both yourself and the world." Kuruk stopped trying to melt the snow around him and focused, not looking up as Yangchen's spectre faded from view. She was right, again; the Northern Water Tribe needed his help, and just walking off into the frozen tundra would not solve anyone's problems. Guess I need to reevaluate my impulsiveness once I get through this.
But he could not sit idly while that monster had Ummi. Every day that he delayed, the opening to enter the spirit world shrank, and if he waited too long then that opportunity would be lost for another year, and Kuruk could not wait that long.
"I can't going back." he said, power building up inside him. "But I will not abandon anyone." Eyes glowing bright, Kuruk launched himself into the air with a powerful airblast, twisting his arms around as he pulled in both air and snow. The chill of the air around him stabbed into his limbs for the briefest of instances before the energy flowing through him nullified the pain. Kuruk continued to pull at the elements around him, and gradually the storm began to die down. Each cloud and snowdrift was compressed into an area smaller than an Arctic Hen, Kuruk's face twisting into a scowl as water and air were compressed. An errant wind threatened to blow him off course, but with a twist of his free hand he tamed that wind.
The storm had died down to much more manageable levels, and with a sweep of his hands Kuruk dismissed the compressed air and water. The wind and ice exploded outward in a massive disk, dissipating long after Kuruk had lost sight of it. Another pull of Airbending brought Kuruk back to earth, and with a deep breath he dismissed his past lives.
"It's finished," he said as his eyes returned to their normal hue. "The Northern Water Tribe is safe..." With another sigh, Kuruk's knees gave out and he collapsed into the snow. He tried to get back up and move on, but the fatigue from defusing the storm had taken a toll on his body, and while he did dissipate most of the storm, there was still enough wind to slowly coat him in snow.
He wanted to move on through the snow, but his spirit was ready to move to a new destination.
Ummi... I shall find you soon.
In the southern Earth Kingdom lay a small fishing village, shielded from the world by ocean and the remains of a once great mountain range. As the world faced turmoil and tribulation, with kingdoms and Avatars coming and going, it had remained unchanged. Farmers worked the same stretches of land their ancestors had, fishermen fished in the same ranges. The town was static, a piece of the past that was unwilling to move forward.
However, not all changes were unheard of.
Near the edge of town, near some of the farms the populace maintained, two young children waited outside their home, the boy stabbing a stick into the dirt while his older sister sat on the porch, perfectly fine to be as far away from her brother as possible. They had wanted to be inside, in order to see their mother have her baby, but they had been sent outside until everything was taken care of. While they could not see the baby, they could still speculate, and that kept their minds entertained for some time.
"So," Li asked, turning his attention away from the dirt and up to his sister "What do you think he's gonna be like?"
"'He'?" his sister Mei asked, raising an eyebrow. "Mom's having a girl, not a boy."
"No she's not!" Li shouted, returning to swinging his stick around. "He and I are gonna go everywhere. We'll go up to Ba Sing Se and join the Earth King's army, and then we're gonna beat up thieves and robbers like those heroes Grandpa Xu talked about! Maybe we'll even see the Avatar! Won't it be cool to see the Avatar?"
"I suppose..." Mei turned away. "But my sister wouldn't be interested in fighting and beating people up."
"So, what? You gonna make her look like some mad Hog Monkey?" this drew a glare from Mei.
"No! We're gonna be just as pretty as those girls from Omashu and Ba Sing Se. Maybe we'll be able to have tea with the Avatar rather than just seeing him." she got a faraway look in her eye. "I heard the Avatar is such a strong Bender; he can lift ten boulders with two fingers and run across Ba Sing Se in a few seconds. He probably enjoys meeting lots of people, going to parties and other stuff like that."
"Who wants to go to parties?" Li pointed his stick at Mei. "Besides, the Avatar'd be too busy beating up bad guys to go do girly stuff."
"Parties are not 'girly'." Mei shot back, rising up to stand over her little brother. She was the oldest, she would have her way, but Li did not seem to understand that.
"They are too." he said, bringing down his stick.
"Kids!" Mei and Li were shaken from their argument by their father, a heavyset man in his mid forties. The two turned to face him as he kneeled down to be on eye-level with them. "Why are you fighting?"
"Li said parties were girly!" Mei cried, pointing at Li.
"Well they are!"
"Oh, I wouldn't say that." their father said, sitting down and making himself more comfortable. "Your grandfather used to tell me about the celebrations the Earth Kings of old would throw his victorious soldiers after great wars. They would have great champions come forth and perform feats of strength, and these celebrations could last for days on end."
"Really?" Li smiled. "We're gonna do that. Me and my brother, we're gonna be big champions and win wars."
"Your brother?" their father asked, raising an eyebrow before standing. "Would you two like to meet your new sister?" the two children stood in silence for a few moments, their minds trying to make sense of what was just said.
"I have a sister!" Mei cried, darting past her father and into the house. Li stood in silence for a little longer before dropping his stick and trudging up the steps, trying his best to pout.
"Now I won't be able to go to Ba Sing Se." he muttered.
"You'll get your chance." his father said as he escorted Li inside. "Besides, it doesn't have to be just you."
"Yeah... but now I've got a sister. She and Mei are gonna do a whole bunch of girly things and I won't have any fun."
"Hey you still have me. And who knows, maybe she'll surprise you."
"How?" Li did not get an answer, as they had entered his parent's bedroom. His mother was lying in bed, still sweaty from the ordeal of childbirth, and lying in her arms was the sleeping form of a baby, only her face visible beneath the blanket she had been wrapped in. Mei was ecstatic, leaning over and speaking all sorts of nonsense to try and get a reaction out of the newborn.
"Li?" his mother asked. "Come here and say hello to your sister."
"Okay." Li shuffled over to the bed, looking over at the baby. The newborn twitched a little, but otherwise did not react to his presence. She's kind of cute... but still a girl.
"Why are her feet so big?" Mei asked.
"How can you see her feet?" Li responded, looking up at his older sister.
"I saw them before they got her all wrapped up. It's not gonna make her ugly, is it?"
"Mei, how could you say that?" their mother said, shifting the baby in her arms. "She's not going to be ugly just because she has big feet. Your grandmother had big feet, and she was very beautiful."
"Yeah..." Mei scooted in a bit closer, trying to get a better look at the baby. "What's her name?" there was a pause, during which the baby began to stir. She whimpered before beginning to squirm, calming down only after a few soothing words from her mother.
"Her name is Kyoshi."
This is an idea that's been bouncing around in my mind for some time (read, since halfway through Beginnings Part 2). This is just my idea of Kyoshi's life up until her defeat of Chin the Conqueror and the creation of the Dai Li. I hope you enjoy it.
I don't own Avatar and its related characters. Favorites and reviews are appreciated, and if I screwed something up please let me know.
Oh, and any suggestions for names would be appreciated too