Author has written 11 stories for Bible, Avatar: Last Airbender, Wind On Fire, Shakespeare, Chocolat, Mona Lisa Smile, and Ugly Betty.
THAT'S NOT YOU T'ALL GIRL!
There's an old West Cork saying... Mind your own feckin' business!
I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
I've just realised that I should be a lot less.. uh, terse would be one way to describe it I suppose, in my bio. After I don't want to scare everyone off... heh, heh, heh.
So I'm an obsessive Avatar Irish fan girl (yes I'm Irish - and DON'T say top o' the mornin'to me unless you like imminent death) (I'm serious, by the way) who likes a whole host of eclectic music choices including Disney, Rock and especially NICKELBACK! Nickelback is practically my theme artist for my favourite character (and pairing, lol) - LU TEN!
He's a misunderstood, underrated and completely unappreciated character in Avatar the Last Airbender - Damn you Bryke for being so cruel!
After becoming first interested in him after reading HotSpur's "Son of the Dragon" (read it!) I shortly became obsessed, shoving him into my own twisted Avatar mind-world. Currently I have about... hmm... it must be about 70 pages, written about him and what I think REALLY happened at the Siege of Ba Sing Se.
Because, let's face it folks, I BELIEVE LU TEN IS NOT DEAD.
Okay. To stop this scary rant (hey, you wouldn't believe how long it goes on for), read my story Go My Own Way and find out the truth about Lu Ten and his life.
Go My Own Way
This story has been stuck in my head for about two or more years. It has grown and evolved from a fancy to create my own Earth Kingdom character ( just the one) to a story and a family with about... Let's see... counts on fingers... starts to use toes... okay, let's make it easy and say that there's over seventy to one hundred characters in it. All in my head.
Gives self a gloating pat on the back.
God, I'm despicable.
Anyway, let's start at the beginning. With the Northlands.
The Northlands is the area at the top northern seaboard, in the mountain valleys around the Northern Air Temple. The people that inhabit it are therefore known as Northlanders, or in their own language shanmai-bai. Originally they were a nomadic people, wandering around the mountains in small tribes, moving with the seasons (lower hills and open plains in the summer, more sheltered valleys in the centre in winter). But by the time the story starts, they have been settled for many, many years. Now, they're mostly small farmers or herders. Many of them are very poor, due to the unprofitable nature of the farming there and the thin soil.
Many of their nomadic traditions have still survived however. For example the punishment for murder. In the Book of the Mother (see Hatai), it is forbidden for a Northlander to take the life of another in cold blood or by execution. So since they couldn't be executed and keeping them imprisoned for years wouldn't work (what type of prison can you create when you're moving around all the time?) the Northlanders used another kind of punishment.
The guilty person was cast out of the Northlands completely. He (or she) was no longer aloud speak to their family and their family had to cut them out of their hearts and never speak to them again. No one was allowed to offer them food or shelter, directly or indirectly without fear of suffering the same punishment themselves. If they stole from anyone, the law gave them no protection and the victim of the crime had the right to beat the murderer to death, without recrimination. (Since they had taken the life of another, they were thought to be less than the wolves that surrounded the hills and mountains and were liable to be hunted down just as frequently).
To show to the other tribes that they were cast out, the aranagi (see below) of the tribe would carve two long diagonal cuts down the side of the murderer's face, one on each side, marking them out for life.
The Northlanders often keep themselves apart from the rest of the Continent, abiding by their own laws and being ruled by their own mini-parliaments, the aranagi.
The aranagi are a group of men chosen to make judgements, solve disputes and organise major events. The aranagi is comprised of about twelve men. The minimum age to become one of the aranagi is twenty-five, however most are in their fifties or older before they tak the position. It's an all male council and women are discouraged from joining, although there's no real law that forbids them from sitting on the aranagi. Their symbol of authority is a white arm band worn around the upper right arm. The current leader of the aranagi in the valley where Haneli lives is a man called Gaoko.
Hatai is the Mother Guardian of the Northlands, the Spirit that protects and guards them. She's worshipped throughout the Northlands and is usually portrayed as a tall woman with long dark brown hair, tan skin and many-coloured eyes. However, she is mostl commonly shown as having light grey eyes. Legends say that she was the one who created the first Northlander tribe out of the soil of Mount Tian-Chumo, the highest peak in the Bei-Ra mountain ranges, the main range of mountains in the Northlands; and that is why the Northlanders can pass through the mountains with ease, where others would just lose their way and fall to their deaths. The Book of the Mother was said to have been taken down by her faithful scribe, a mortal woman known as Gan Qingzhao and given to the first aranagi so that they may guide the Northlanders wisely. It comprises laws to govern everyday life as well as prophecies and proverbs.
Many Northlanders have their own personal shrine to Hatai beside their front door (to bless every stranger that comes in) and every village, no matter how small has their own small temple to her where people go to pray, meditate, give offerings for good luck and to prepare the dead. Marriages are not celebrated in the temple.
Originally, the Northlanders had their own language, shanmai-bai. However with the influence of outside factors, such as the War, the need to trade with outsiders and the spread of Northlander men and women to other areas of the Continent eventually eroded the language. Currently, most Northlanders rarely speak their own language in its original form, using instead the Common language of the Earth Kingdom mixed with words and slang in shanmai-bai. Only in some to the more isloated villages and valleys, to the West, is shanmai-bai spoken as an everyday language.
In contrast to many other areas in the Earth Kingdom, the Northlands have historically had quite a democratic attitude to women and their role in the Northlander society. Some scholars, particularly Manchu Hsin (Professor of Social and Legal History in the University of Ba Sing Se), credit this trend to the influence of their Guardian Mother Hatai. Women in the Northlands are entitled to the same right to education as men. Many public professions, such as becoming a member of the aranagi, can not by law be denied to them and the murder or harm of a woman is held to be as serious as that of a man. However, like the Northern Water Tribe, the custom of the Northlands is that marriages are arranged, commonly around the girl's seventeenth or eighteenth birthday. While, many years ago, the marriage was often arranged solely at the agreement of the parents and love came second place to security and comfort, now, in more modern-thinking families, the girl is often given the right to refuse or accept the proposal and many marriages are love-based. However, refusing an engagement was often seen as disastrous for the girl's reputation marking her down as flighty and irresponsible. Often, a girl who refuses one engagement, not matter what the grounds, would be unlikely to receive another offer.
The Northlands and the War
When Sozin attacked the Northern Air Temple, some of the monks fled down to the Northlands for shelter. Hiding in the small valleys and in caves in the mountains most of them escaped death for a while. However once news came through that the Eastern Air Temple was about to be attacked also the airbenders left, despite the protests of the Northlanders. None survived that attack.
The Northlanders were always famous warriors, known for their ability to move safely and quickly on every terrain, for their stamina, for the courage and their ferocity in battle. In his famous poem, Red on Brown Soil, the Northlander poet Shua Yomoa, described the soldiers of the Northlands in the Battle of Vai-shun (twenty years into the Great War) as "...yumagata (vengeful war-like spirits, usually associated with Hatai's opposite and consort Bao-Zhu, no longer worshiped as a spirit in his own right) in green and mountain soil... They move like the wind through grass... each attack is given with the blood lust of the mountain wolf-bear..."
Many Northlander men (and women) moved away during the war to fight for the Earth Kingdom on the front-line. Several even fought in the Massacre of Hun Tui and the Great Siege of Ba Sing Se. However, despite this it was rare that any battle would be fought in or around the Northlands. The area was simply too difficult for the Fire Nation to navigate and anyway, was considered of little agricultural or strategic value. So for many years, the Northlands remained at peace technically.
Then, roughly four or five years before this story was set, Fire Lord Ozai ordered his General, Hajiyo Ryuu to subdue the Northlands. By then even the Fire Lord's War Council had noted that Northlander soldiers had featured prominently in several recent Earth Kingdom battles. It was thought that by subduing the source of discontent (so to speak) the number of Northlanders fighting in Earth Kingdom armies would decrease significantly. Furthermore, it was considered ill-advised to leave such a large area of rebellion unconquered. Many - notably General Shinu - favoured this plan, claiming that the Northlands and its people were one of the few reasons that the Fire Nation was unable to achieve total victory in the War.
Entering the Northlands through the southern-most route (the Chang-tong Fen'xian Pass), Hajiyo Ryuu swiftly conquered the villages in the Lower Valleys, using the element of surprise as his chief advantage.