A/N: This is a story about Katara's grandmother, Kana, and how she left the Northern Tribe. It continues on; not sure if this is going to be a short one or a long, drawn out story. Well enjoy.
Disclaimer: Nick owns Avatar: The Last Airbender.
The Engagement Necklace
The necklace was one of the most beautiful things she'd ever laid eyes upon. There was a clear blue stone with the Water Nation symbol on it; it was attached to a blue ribbon. It was a sign of the most pure love, the greatest bond a human being could have with another: it was an engagement necklace, and Kana despised it with all her heart.
"Oh, Kana," sighed a pretty girl about Kana's age, "it's so wonderful! And to a very talented Waterbender, too. I envy you so much, Kana!" The girl sighed once again, a delighted and admiration for romance sort of sigh, as if she was savoring her friend's love life because of the lack of her own.
Kana snorted. "You envy me, Yogota?" She shook her head in distress. "There can be nothing worse than this." Kana frowned and stared hatefully out the window towards a man that only she could see from here, that only she disliked so much.
"What!" exclaimed the one called Yogota, "What, Kana! It is wonderful. You are engaged! Be happy, my friend. You don't get proposed to every day, you know."
Kana looked away. She observed some of the other Waterbender-Healer women as they scurried about the lobby through doorways to other rooms, tending hurt young ones and ill-stricken elderly. Women could only heal with Waterbending. They could never be actual Waterbenders. This upset Kana so much that she had given up Bending two years ago, when she had turned fourteen. Yogota had been surprised, but eventually forgot the significance of it.
"Yogota," Kana stated softly, "if I do not come here to the Healers' Structure, then what will become of me? I will just be there to cook and clean and bear him sons. That is no life for me."
"Kana!" Yogota exclaimed again, "Don't speak like that. You are very lucky to be getting married. Meanwhile I am living on the streets, barely managing to live. My father has cast me out because he found no husband for me and saw no use in me. Kana, you should be grateful. You don't want to end up alone."
A tear slid down Kana's cheek. "Yogota, I am sorry for bringing my troubles upon you when yours are so much greater than mine."
Yogota gasped, bracing Kana as the girl's knees gave way. "It's okay, my friend! Oh, Kana, are you alright? Will someone help me with Kana?" shouted out Yogota. A few Waterbender-Healers rushed over to Yogota and the fallen Kana.
"What's happened to her?" one asked.
"She's not herself lately. I think it's from the shock of her engagement," explained Yogota. She motioned to the newly carved necklace resting in Kana's hand, glimmering in the sunlight shining in from the windows.
"Ah, yes, happens all the time. Well, get her some help! There's a free cot in the Oceania Room, you two," ordered the head Waterbender-Healer to the two others with her. The two took Kana by the arms and dragged her into the next room. Something slipped out of Kana's fingers, but it went unnoticed by the Waterbender-Healers.
Yogota approached the fallen object. It was Kana's engagement necklace from Paku.
She picked up the trinket and traced the carved Water Nation symbol on the front of the blue stone with her thumb. Feeling something carved in the other side, she turned it over in her palm and read what was carved there:
To the beautiful Waterbender,
The love of my life,
The brightest, most fiery star in the skies.
Yogota raised an eyebrow. Why had Paku called Kana a Waterbender? Kana had given up Waterbending a long time ago. Then why did he call her a Waterbender?
"Yogota!" screeched the old Waterbender-Healer in charge, "Come help us!"
Yogota sighed and tucked the necklace into her belt. "Coming, Iyaka!" she bellowed as a reply. She walked into the Oceania Room, where she was surprised to find several wounded warriors and male Waterbenders on cots.
"Iyaka, what has happened?" asked Yogota, horrified.
"Fire Nation ships have been seen in the Waters; they sent many scouts ahead and there was a skirmish between some of our fishermen and the evil Fire soldiers. But do not worry yourself about it, young one, just heal the men, and quickly!"
"I will, Iyaka," Yogota responded, rushing to a cot with a limp warrior on it. Yogota turned around. Next to the cot was another cot, this one with Kana lying on it.
"Kana," she whispered, "if you will not love Paku, at least remember me when you leave." Quickly, she pressed the necklace in Kana's hand, and then turned to tend to the Waterbender who had been hurt in battle.
Kana's eyes opened ever so slightly; she grasped her fingers tightly around the charm resting in her palm, finding a new appreciation of the trinket. She drew strength from it, love of a close one.
It was not the love of a lover, but the love of a friend who could be trusted to keep her secret.
When Kana woke again, it was dark in the room. A trainee Healer attended an ailing warrior on the other side of the room; all the rest was quiet. Moonlight shone through the windows, casting odd patterns on the stone floor. Warriors and Waterbenders around her on different cots breathed heavily, and one muttered something about a prince in his sleep.
Sitting up, she opened her fist and revealed a beautiful engagement necklace—her own engagement necklace to Paku. Vaguely she wondered if he'd found out that she'd fainted. She guessed not, for surely her fiancé would have come to visit her by now. Not that she knew if he had come or not.
She looked at the glinting stone, the charm on her engagement necklace. No. That was not what the necklace was. It was a mark of friendship. It was a mark of trust.
Yogota, my friend, thought Kana, may the gods bless you for your kind doing.
Quietly, Kana slipped onto the floor, glancing at the trainee Healer. The girl was crouched over a warrior, sitting on a stool, hair shadowing her face. Kana bit her lip in apprehension, waiting for any sign of movement.
The trainee Healer leaned forward quite suddenly, and Kana took a sharp intake of breath. The Healer had collapsed on the edge of a cot. A snore escaped from her body.
Silently, Kana marveled at her luck. It appeared that the gods were on her side.
She found an unused canoe with a paddle next to it near the Healers' Structure. Grunting, Kana shoved with all her might. The canoe slid into the water, hardly making a sound. Kana wiped some sweat from her forehead, grinning. There had hardly been a splash when the canoe had gone into the channel.
Kana braced herself with the paddle and stepped into the canoe. She sat, and pulled the paddle into its proper position. Dipping the paddle into the water, Kana grinned in triumph as the canoe began to glide through the water.
Buildings flecked on either side of her as she made her way through the channels that made the streets of the city, passing under bridges and past blocks of beautiful Water Nation architecture. It was all so blue and gray, such sameness in the coloring of the buildings, and yet Kana admired each one, reveling at the ingenuity of the ancient Water Tribe peoples who had first built the city after retreating from the southernmost islands of the North Fire Nation Ocean.
Legend had it that a Firebender prince had been long ago seeking out a wife from one of the more remote Eastern Fire Nation Islands, but had been blown off course and instead had found the Water Nation Islands. The prince had sailed into a Water Nation harbor and demanded to see the princess of the city. At first, the Waterbender men had been hesitant to lead him to their princess, but had finally agreed when the prince had swayed their opinions through clever manipulation.
The Firebender prince met the princess and requested that they be married back in the capitol of the Fire Nation, Hi-Bing. The princess agreed, but the Water peoples rejected the proposition. After a massive revolt, the king of the Island had taken his daughter and led the Water Nation peoples far away from the Island in fear of losing his power to the Fire Nation. A foundation of ice was laid, and the Water people built the great city, making sure that their defenses were strong lest the Fire Nation come to attack.
Kana sighed at the memory of the legend. It showed that even way back when the city had been founded, women were still discriminated against. It was just all so wrong. There had to be somewhere that she could go and be equal to the men.
She glanced at a structure that was very familiar to her: her home, where she could sneak some supplies vital to her survival if she was to leave the city and travel. The nearest settlement was a small Earth Nation town four days out to the southeast.
Kana tied the canoe to a statue and snuck into the house, creeping silently against the walls. She didn't want her parents to hear her; agilely, she made her way to her room, grabbed an extra pair of shoes, a journal with many clear pages and a quill (she'd taught herself to read and write against her father's wishes), a water jug, a pair of mittens, and a blue-died bag to stuff it all in. Seeing no more of what she could want, she snuck to where the food was stored and snatched a bag of seal blubber jerky and four dried fish, wrapping the food in a thin bag. She slung the bag of supplies over her shoulder and rushed outside, thanking the merciful gods once again that she'd had such luck.
She set the bag of supplies and her personal items into the front of the canoe and stepped in, careful to maintain her balance, lest she fall into the water. So far, luck had been on her side, and she certainly didn't want the streak of good fortune to end.
Once more, Kana slid the paddle into the water of the channel and rowed her way to the edge of the city where she would be free from the harsh culture of the Northern Water Tribe.
The necklace charm glinted once more in the moonlight, resting around Kana's neck. She passed familiar landmarks of her childhood, of her life. Finally, she came to the edge of the walls, where she found a small alleyway through which she maneuvered the canoe into the open sea and sped forward through the gentle waves, traveling farther from her home than she ever had.
She never looked back.