AN: So it has been some time, has it not? I'm terribly sorry for the long wait you all have had to wait, but, I've started writing once more! The past few months have been nothing more than a train wreck. One devastating blow after another in my life and I lost all interest in well...everything. But, I'm back and plan to update weekly! I hope you enjoy this segment and will update by next Thursday.
Oh there is a song Mermaids - Pirates of the Caribbean on Stranger Tides type it in exactly as it's typed. It should be timed at 7:57mins
The simplistic, gentle rays that drifted down upon the frozen tundra from the golden moon cast shadows across the polar city. Soldiers stood their ground, standing atop the stretched wall that barricaded the tribe from the outside world. Dark, narrowed azure eyes glared menacingly out across the vast ocean, watching the metal clad ships as they floated dangerously too close. War was all around them and the Northern Water Tribe had been fortunate to avoid massive conflict in the past, but it was ideal however to acknowledge that peace would all but vanish. And that one day, the enemy would arrive at their doorstep demanding blood.
Today was that day.
Since the Avatar's arrival, there had been non-stop training for all benders and non-benders alike. They would need as many willing participants to fight, even though they knew their numbers were nothing compared to those of the Fire Nation. They had sent hundreds of naval vessels to take siege of the north and even though they had the Avatar, it was no guarantee that they would win. And of course, Aang had already taken great consideration of that simple fact.
While the moon reached it's peak point in the night sky, Aang had taken refuge in the spirit oasis. He had told Chief Arnook that he needed to console with the spirits, take any knowledge they would be willing to offer him to help protect the last remaining of the Water Tribes.
Soft whispers flittered across the vast oceanic surface, as the tides rocked the small metal boats to and fro. The pale glow of the full moon poured down from the heavens, spilling over everything that lay beneath it. Soldiers of fire huddled together in their eight man vessels, spewing small bursts of flames from their mouths, trying their best to stay warm.
Hundreds of these small manned ships littered the water, preparing for the attack at dawn. It was a full moon tonight, and Commander Zhao was no fool. Trying to invade a highly impenetrable city filled to the brim with waterbenders on a full moon was a suicidal mission. During the night, water conquered. But during the day, fire reigned supreme.
Thus, under orders, every firebender was to load up in the small eight man vessels and lull against the tides, not breaching the city until dawn. Many of the men had frowned upon such orders, wishing to sleep in the comfort of their beds, shrouded in warmth…not spending all night awake, out on the ocean in fear that their toes might fall off due to frost bite. But, none could go against direct orders, especially when the orders came directly from Admiral Zhao.
Teeth chattered softly, bodies shook involuntarily and lids blinked several times over dried out, blood-shot pupils, "This is ridiculous," one soldier hissed, fire seeping between his clenched teeth and curving to fit against his cuffed hands.
"Silence Cheng," another hissed, "orders are orders," a heavy breath drew from his lips, his steamy moistened breath visible in the cool night air.
The soldier named Cheng sucked in a crisp breath, the cool air burning his throat, "I could give a shit less about orders! Doesn't Admiral Zhao remember what happened the last time there was an invasion on the Northern Water Tribe?"
Every golden eye turned to face Cheng, his face scrunched together beneath his red parka, the black fur that line his hood swaying around his face as the wind picked up. Their narrowed eyes were filled with understanding, yet some held utter confusion.
A young soldier, no more than 17 snuggled deeper into his parka, nudging Cheng with his knee, "What ha-happened-d?" he stuttered.
Golden orbs narrowed as Cheng produced a small flame in the palm of his hand. The fire whipped fiercely as the wind begged the flame for a dance, the glow casting an eery shadow across their faces.
With a deep resounding sigh, Cheng leaned forward, every soldier that accompanied him on the vessel leaned in instinctively, to hear his shaken, whispered words.
"It was about ninety years ago," he began, his eyes widening a hair as he began to recall the horror his grandfather had told him when he was a boy, "Fire Lord Sozin had ordered the Fire Nation Navy to infiltrate the Northern Water Tribe, strip her of her benders, kill her men and capture her women and children for slavery…amongst other things."
Everyone had their eyes on the storyteller, nodding their heads softly as he continued, "Hundreds of the Naval ships had rested in these very waters ninety years ago, hundreds, and only fourteen returned to the capital."
There was a pause, soft gasps echoed in his ears as he glanced around the boat, "Only fourteen?" one soldier questioned and Cheng gave a brief nod.
"What happened?" the younger lad who sat to his right questioned.
Cheng shrugged, "Some say the spirits were enraged, that Tui had split the ocean, engulfing the ships and their crew, others say the waterbenders were far more powerful than the Fire Nation had anticipated and that Fire Lord Sozin had underestimated their numbers and their strength of will."
"But what really happened?"
"My great grandfather had told me when I was a boy, that he had never seen anything like that night. Demons, he called them, water demons had emerged from the ocean, thousands of them. The description he gave me, I found hard to believe. Once I was old enough to decipher truth from lie, my great grandfather had already passed into the Spirit World. I grew anxious as I sought the truth behind my great grandfather's words and one night, shortly before this deployment, my father sat me down and demanded I pay heed to his warning."
The young soldier turned to him, "What warning?"
Cheng sighed, "You see, my father too had experienced the same horror that my great grandfather had spoken of, years ago. He had seen these 'demons' that haunted his grandfather's dreams when he was a young sailor."
There was another moment of silence, the wind had picked up once more, extinguishing the fire that danced wildly in Cheng's hand. He quickly relit it, and pressed onward.
"He had told me that they were supremely beautiful creatures, and one would know when they were upon them by the sweet music they sang, their voices like honey. He spoke of a creature, that took the form of a woman from the waist upward, yet beneath the water, hidden by the surface, a large fish like tale formed it's lower half. He said from a distance, they were breathtaking, but when they neared, their beautiful faces contorted into a demonic mask, baring sharp razor teeth, their eyes crazed with an undying blood lust hunger."
A shiver ran down his spine, his ears perking slightly at the soft melody that thrummed from the ocean below, "And only when the singing stopped…" he paused, his eyes glancing around the boat, "was it too late."
Aang had been meditating for hours in the spirit oasis. His eyes locked onto the two koi fish that sway in an intricate circle. Completely balanced he noted hours earlier. He watched them as they seemed perfectly content swimming circles with one another. Their simplistic dance imitated balance and stability, while inside of the young Avatar there was chaos and distress. A war waged within him. In the few short hours before dawn, war would erupt. Chaos would ensnare the once peaceful Northern Water Tribe and death would mar the inner walls. Blood would mix with the tide, carrying the signs of death to far away shores and there was nothing he could do about it. Sure the Fire Nation was a destructive nation, it's people lusting for the blood of the other nations, but that did not mean they needed to die. Or did it?
He was so consumed by his thoughts that he didn't even notice the pond glowing momentarily. Nor did he notice the tanned man, bathed in the moonlight standing before him. Blue eyes, electrifying as the ocean starring down into his own gray pools. He was so transfixed on his inner battle that he did not even notice the illuminescent spirit place his hand upon his head, causing his arrow to glow.
Tui sighed softly, kneeling before the young Avatar. His eyes roamed over the sixteen year old boy's features, sorrow striking his heart. Such a young tomb of flesh, yet such an ancient spirit dwelling within. Aang's eyes began to glow and it was only then that the young Avatar incarnate raised his glowing gaze to meet Tui's eyes and finally acknowledging his presence.
Silence stretched between the two ancient spirits, their eyes communicating years of conversation and Tui felt a sad smile tug at his lips.
"Come Avatar," he slowly rose, stretching out his hand, "there is something you must see, before the dawn."
Wary Aang reached for his hand, only to see a blue glow about his flesh. He had entered the spirit realm, his flesh would be trapped in the world of the living while his spirit roamed free with only Tui as his guide.
Once he was on his feet, Aang merely watched Tui for a moment before following him through the tribe, watching as those who dwelled within the safety of the walls prepared for what could be their last night alive.
"War is a vicious and vile demon young Avatar," Tui began, catching Aang's attention, "it is a plague that devastates the balance of the world. But the aftermath also shakes the foundations of the world beyond the mortal realm."
Aang's eyes scanned the world around him as his body willingly followed Tui, "What mortals do not seem to understand is that one action causes a ripple effect, changing the course of fate for one mortal or thousands. War only takes life," Tui sighed as they came upon the great wall, "tearing families apart, shattering destinies that had been set from the moment of birth. It forges new alliances, forcing the threads of destiny to intertwine once more, only setting the most unlikely of individuals on a course that had not once been their own."
They stood atop the great wall, their eyes scanning out over the vast ocean to see its surface speckled with the thousands of ships that stood under a single flag.
"The monks taught me that all life was sacred," Aang whispered, "you speak from experience how war only devastates and destroys, how it throws the world off balance and yet I feel as though the spirits have done nothing but encourage the war to continue."
Tui turned to Aang, "It is no surprise that there have been spirits who've meddled in the affairs of mortals to turn the tide in favor of one side or another," he began, "but its against our laws to physically enact such actions ourselves. We cannot fight the war for you, but try to sway its results in our favor. Granted," he turned away, his eyes casting up towards the moon, "some have longed for such carnage as this and there are those of us who shall give our eternal souls to see that lives be spared. But there is only so much we can do, for we are crippled by enforcement."
"What must I do? How can I defeat them without there being only death? I do not wish to slay another man, nor sacrifice the lives of countless others only to immobilize an entire navy if only for a few months when their numbers are so many. To kill them would be a wasted effort." Aang retorted softly.
PLAY SONG HERE
Tui snickered, "They must all die, Avatar."
Aang turned to him, his face stricken with horror, "All must perish?" he seemingly screeched.
The ocean spirit simply nodded, "I have seen the outcome on both sides. Should the Fire Nation gain victory over the Northern Water Tribe, the other nations shall fall, leaving only charred earth and shattered lands. Should the Norther Water Tribe gain victory, it shall be the first stepping stone on the impeding journey that will surly put an end to the war."
For a moment there was only silence, but Tui spoke once more, "Death is inevitable young Avatar. Either way you look at it, the end result is always the same. Death," Tui turned to him, their eyes meeting once more, "but it is by your hand that shall chose the victor. The outcome depends solely on you."
Aang shook his head, "But what can I do? They have numbers that range in thousands, whereas I have merely hundreds. And I am but one person!"
Tui laughed, "I know you feel as though there is little you can do, but remember Avatar, you an ancient soul, with thousands of years of training and experience! Only the flesh is but the single variable that changes and nothing else!"
"That may be so, but I cannot recall moments from my previous lives! I have only mastered three of the four elements, the one that eludes me is the very element that stands against me! How can I defeat an entire nation when I do not have the confidence in myself, let only the people who follow me to win this day!" Aang was beyond frustrated. He knew that there would be death, but he had no idea on the outcome. He had hoped that they would be victorious, but the fray in which stood before them depleted his hope at a mere glance.
Tui grasped him by the shoulders, "You are not alone Avatar! Never are you alone! You have allies that you have so long forgotten, vengeful beings who have been trapped in this world due to the lust and greed of those who founded the very war you fight in today. Call upon them and they shall surly answer!"
"Who are they?" Aang demanded, "How can they answer my call when they may be miles away? Attack breaks at dawn's first light! No one will get here in time to aid us in this conflict and I fear by the time they do, it will all be for naught! Help me then great spirit! You control the oceans, the water is but a servant to your command! Help me and I shall in turn return the favor in whatever payment you desire."
Tui loosened his grip on Aang as the glow from the moon became a violent gold. He stammered for a moment, only to back away from the young boy, "I cannot aid you Aang," it was the first time he had used the Avatar's name, "I cannot slay thousands, though I wish nothing more than to change the course that fate has been set upon. I can merely guide you, aid you in thought but not in action. The consequences are ill for those who break such laws and I cannot afford to be the one paying the price."
The great spirit bowed his head, not wishing to look the young Avatar in the eye, "Then the spirits have abandoned me, us! They demand I restore balance to the world yet the turn their cheek at the slightest cry for help! I shall die this day and so shall every man, woman and child who worshiped you relentlessly, all because the spirits are too prideful to help out mere mortals! It disgusts me that I am the one who all the responsibility is thrust upon and yet receive no aid, no helping hand when I am in desperate need!"
Suddenly, in his fit of rage Aang paused, his ears perking to a soft melody that floated in the air like a whisper. He turned towards the ocean, watching as the tides gently swayed to and fro. Their pace slowly increasing. The wind began to pick up around him, ruffling the snow that stretched across the bank and he suddenly wondered what was happening.
Tui smiled, relieved that they had hear the young Avatar's call, "They've heard your cries for help Avatar," Tui whispered softly, watching as Aang turned to him, dazed and confused, listening as the melodic tune rose in volume, "and they have answered."
Tui simply nodded towards the once, "Watch and you shall see."
The tides shook softly, the rising tune on the wind whistle past the sailors as they sat huddled together in their tiny boats. Their golden eyes shifted nervously as the melodic tune thundered in their ears, no longer that of a whisper.
Cheng scooted closer towards the center of the tiny vessel, his heart racing as he recalled the familiar hymn that his father had hummed to him shortly before he departed. He had told him that when he heard that hymn while on the ocean's vast surface, that ill events were about to take place. He wondered briefly if he would make it out alive. But before he had the chance to recount any other advice that his father had given him, the surface surrounding the vessel broke. Bare torso bodies rose from the ocean, long dark tresses soaked from the water stuck to the naked flesh of the beautiful women that now clung to his vessels side. Their eyes were haunting, variating in color, their faces pale, ranging from the dark complexion of the Water Tribes, to the fair pale of the Fire Nation.
The sailors in his boat were panic stricken for the briefest moment, their eyes scanning the waters around them to see that every vessel within sight had been surrounded by these water demons.
He swallowed softly as he found his eyes transfixed on one of the creatures lips. She was singing in tune with the others, her eyes were dangerously intoxicating and he felt as if she were drinking in his very soul. He found himself leaning towards her, his body moving with a mind of its own. Cheng knew what would happen, he knew of the fate that awaited him and for the briefest moment…he realized that he did not care. It would not matter anyways, they were stranded in the ocean, ways away from either of the larger vessels or the banks and knew that he survived no chance in the water or on this small boat.
So, with the courage that he only knew, he leaned closer, his eyes never leaving this beautiful water spirits' and suddenly, as his lips were almost an inch away from hers he felt her hands cup behind his head and the beautiful hymn had suddenly stopped. With one last breath he clasped his eyes shut, not wishing for the last thing his eyes to lay upon be a creature of death and felt his body being pulled from the boat. Water surrounded him, cold and deadly. It felt as if a thousand needles had pricked his flesh and suddenly he felt warmth against his neck before everything went dark and he slipped into death's embrace.
Aang watched in horror as the ocean exploded into chaos. Sailors flung from their boats, their bodies never to resurface. The water shifted violently, causing the larger vessels to sway dramatically back and forth. Screams rang in his ears as he watched the water that was once blue and beautiful turn a deep, malicious red. He had never seen a scene as this and almost dared to think it was but a dream.
Swiftly he turned to Tui, who had his eyes locked on the ocean below. His head lowered slightly as his eyes narrowed before he turned his face skyward, enjoying the gentle embrace of the moon's ambient rays.
With a ragged sigh he turned to Aang, "Soon it shall be done and those remaining are yours to face," but before Aang had a chance to say another word, Tui rushed forward, diving head first into the water. Leaving a massive tidal wave in his wake. Such action ripped through the larger vessels, forcing them to go under, their sailors lost in the abyss. And for a brief moment, Aang closed his eyes, listening to the devastating sounds that echoed below. In an instant his eyes snapped open and all he was met with was the soft blades of grass encircling him. He was back in the oasis.
With the power of speed only an airbender could muster, he tore from the sanctuary, rushing towards the great wall. He had hoped that all that had been shown before him only moments earlier were nothing but a phrase…a vision. But once he made his way up to the top of the great wall, he shuddered. It was not a dream, but a nightmare.
"I do not know where they came from, nor do I care," he heard Sokka's harsh whisper next to him, "but I shall thank the spirits for such a deliverance."
Aang could only stare in horror, but never relief.
So...what did you think? Let me know!