Author's Note: This story is sort of an AU. It is a bit of a different take on Avatar, still having some of the same ideas and characters, but events, relationships, and situations will be changed. This came about at first because of a drawing I had done and it continued to pique my interest.
The pairings will be canon. I adore the canon pairings far too much, especially Kataang. So if you are not interested in it or in a story that focuses on the members of the Gaang, then I suggest not reading. I will be using this story to celebrate the pairings I love and the characters I adore.
I do not own Avatar. I am not worthy. :D
Winds whipped across the icy expanse of wasteland that surrounded the small outpost, its residents the only inhabitants of the South Pole. They were a simple people; materialism and for the most part technology had not yet invaded their existence. The few pieces of technology they possessed were there solely for their survival and to allow them to capitalize on the one advantage they had over the other peoples in the world.
They controlled the fresh drinking water.
The First World War, started by Fire Lord Sozin - whose greed, ambition, and belief in his own divinity were legendary - had polluted and destroyed so much of the natural resources that drinking water was now scarce. The poor and middle classes of the Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation societies survived on filtered polluted water – safe to drink, but not terribly delicious. It was only the wealthy that could afford the prized North and South Pole drinking water and could pay the large amounts for the prized commodity. The cargo ships that traveled between the two poles traded much needed food, spices, clothing, and other supplies for the water and it was in this rather uneasy arrangement that the world's citizens now lived.
The air nomads were a different story. So revered by the water tribes, they were given the water almost as a donation and as a way to appease the spirits. After all in accordance with the cycle of elements, the next Avatar would be of the water tribes and they were eager to make sure that the Avatar spirit remembered their good treatment of it while it was housed in the body of an air nomad. Of all the nations, the air nomads held connections to the spirit world that no other nation could boast of and were thought of by most, including those who held only a limited belief in such things as spirits, to be almost holy. They also possessed the one other thing that no other nation had a claim to at the moment – the Avatar.
No one knew who the Avatar was. It was only known that the previous one had died twelve years before thanks to Sozin's war and the new one had been born into the Air Nation. But his or her identity was still hidden, as was the custom. Once the Avatar reached sixteen, he or she would be revealed to the world and a life of service to the world and the elements would begin. Some Avatars had achieved nothing but success in the role – dying with the knowledge that the world was in perfect harmony and balance. But most had to fight and battle their way for peace. Divisions between nations, inequality in the classes, and the human need to fight and argue made the lives of most of the Avatars tiring and many of them welcomed death and a return to the spirit world.
And so like good faith-driven people, the water tribes made their watery donations, happy to receive the air nomads' blessings and contentment in the knowledge they were keeping the Avatar spirit in comfort more than sufficed as a payment. This arrangement did not please everyone. The Earth Kingdom grudgingly accepted it. The Fire Nation was vehemently opposed – accusing the Air Nomads of taking advantage of a bad situation and even going so far as to accuse them of preying on the beliefs of the water tribe people.
But the water tribes did not complain about the arrangement as they felt they had no reason to. But even in their seemingly content existence, there were certainly differences between the inhabitants of the two poles. The Northern Water Tribe fared much better than its southern counterpart due to having far more waterbenders. They had hundreds. The Southern Water Tribe had only one.
Their tribe had never been large. Death and disease immediately following the end of the war had claimed the lives of many in the Southern Water Tribe and it was now reduced to a mere few dozen people and one bender. But somehow they managed and were fairly happy with their situation, viewing themselves to be lucky in being members of such a close-knit community.
But nerves and good-will were becoming strained and twelve years after the death of the previous Avatar and after the end of the First World War, two mere months after the death of old Sozin and the crowning of his son Ozai, the rumblings of discontent from the Fire Nation once again were heard…