The Wall Part 1
“Alright Nuoc, here’s your next session.” Mr. Fong said pointing to the nearly 50-foot earth wall he erected outside the village. We’ve been practicing out here ever since I broke put a hole through his wall.
“Uhm…what exactly am I supposed to do with…” I said before Fong cut me off.
“CLIMB IT BOY!”
I quickly looked away from his now veiny face and sprinted towards the wall. I hit it full force.
“That’s not how you run up a wall.” Mr. Fong said condescendingly. “THIS is how you run up walls!” Throwing a smirk on, he hobbles to the wall. He puts his foot on the wall and wraps earth around it to keep himself in place. Then, somehow, the 95-year old man has the abdomen strength to keep himself horizontal the entire way up. I really shouldn’t be as surprised as I am. I’ve seen the old timer do amazing things. Like lift boulders three times bigger than he is.
“Now it’s your turn, Nuoc.” Fong said, now standing next to me.
As I continue my depressed stare at this challenge, my mentor adds a little more on. “And you can’t return to the village until you’ve reached the top.”
I fell flat on my rear, hearing the town gate slam shut. You know when your faced with the choir you REALLY don’t want to do, and all you can do is sulk? Well that was me for the next five minutes. But just like any other hard job I suck it up, knowing I don’t have much of a choice. So I put my foot on the wall and bent the earth around it. Thankfully, in the past two weeks I had gotten pretty good at earth bending. I’m nowhere near tournament ready, but I can at least earth bend without mentally going over it in my head a million times. I hop off the ground and try to place my other foot on the wall, but my head smacks on the ground first. I scream and punch the dirt in anger, bending rocks into the air. I take a few steps back and try running at it again. This time I jump and catch one if my feet with the stone of the wall, and soon the other foot is caught also. A smile peels across my face as I bust out the bottom foot and slam it back onto the wall a few feet up. I steady myself, not exactly horizontal, but not banging my head against the wall either. I take another step and jam that one a few feet higher. I continue this process for about four yards when I can’t take it anymore. I release one foot and the other one can’t hold the weight of my body and I plummet about twelve feet. As I’m falling I spin and do somewhat of a canon ball into the ground. On contact I force the earth to catch me and turn to rubble when I’m on ground level. It doesn’t feel good, but it’s better than smacking against the ground. I’ve been at the wall since noon and now the sun is slowly setting. I gotta do something for food, considering I can’t go to town. I quick walk to the nearby river is my only answer. I’ve fished there before, but never without a rod. All I have my earth bending, and even with that I don’t think I could make a fishing rod. There are plenty a fish though, that’s good. I erect a wall in the middle of the river blocking the flow. I wait for a few fish to be stopped and then I bend another wall up a few feet away, catching the fish. Finally I raise the bed of the shallow river up, revealing that I’ve caught 3 fish. I start beating the fish against the rock to stop them squirming. They’re only a few inches long each, but it’s better than nothing. I walk back with the fishes; now realizing I have no idea how on earth I plan to cook them. It’s pretty hot and I can’t afford to let them spoil. I make a sort of table, or slab rather, of earth where I can keep the fishes. I run over to a near by tree. It’s really green and I know it won’t do for firewood, but I do see a fallen tree a few yards into the forest. There doesn’t seem to be any branches I can rip off, but I get an idea. I bend a stone out of the earth and break off bits so that it’s as sharp as I can get it while it’s still pretty sturdy. I began slamming the edge of earth axe into the dead tree. It takes me about 30 minuets to get a log out of the tree. I search around for some dry brush and I head back, but not before grabbing some smooth stones from the river. I set the brush on top of the log in a pit of stones. I grab the two smooth stones and slam them together over the brush. After about 20 minutes I finally coxed a spark out of the rocks and onto the brush, flame began almost instantly.
I started munching on the fish as the other 2 dried out. Once finished I created a little earth tent around me and hit the sack. My internal clock woke me up at 6 am a.m. usual. I forced the earth tent down and looked at the wall Mr. Fong wants me to climb, still as tall as it was yesterday. I stand up and start sprinting at the wall, leap up and thrust a foot at the wall getting it stuck deep. I start to climb.
Earth Bending 101
My two brothers were really cool about my decision. Back pats, smiles all around
“Glad you’re finally a Bender” Ash said. Ash is one of my two brothers, well, adopted brothers I guess. Anyway he was named after his hair; he is also the cool and calm one between my two brothers. My other brother, Kale, is less cool, but more powerful. Quiet, but fast. He’s the perfect fighter. He’s won the tournament 3 times. Ashton has only won it once. Speaking of the tournament it was high time for all of us to start training. My father is taking a weeklong trip to the lake to water bend. My mom and brothers are going to the fire bending dojo in Republic city for the same amount of time. The plans for the trips were made a few months ago, so I have no reservations. Not like my parents expect me to enter, being new and all.
“I’ll show ‘em,” I think to myself as they give me goodbyes.
Normally, I would spend my week relaxing, but I went in search for an earth-bending teacher. There aren’t to many earth benders in our village, and the one guy eligible to enter, other than me, won’t train me. The guy’s name is Mica, and he’s a cocky jerk. He’s one of the best benders I’ve ever seen, but he puts everyone lower than himself, and sadly has the ability to back it up. Even if by some chance he wants to train me, I wouldn’t even want to. That leaves me with one option. Mr. Fong. Mr. Fong is about 95 years old, but if I went by his looks he’d be the upwards of 400 years old. He fought at the tail end of the 100 years war apparently with Avatar Aang. I didn’t really have a much of a choice.
I pull open the door and ease into the room. It’s nearly bare except for some furniture and a lamp. No pictures, no little kids running through the room. Sometimes I forget how lonely he must be.
“Mr. Fong?” I say, knocking on the wall. Suddenly earth came up around my arms and my neck and made a stockade of stone. The old man hobbles in on a self made stone walking…. stick I guess.
“Oh it’s you, Nuoc” Mr. Fong says, releasing me “What could you possible want from me?”
“Well, recently I have learned that I am an Earth bender.” I say, “I was adopted.”
“Well what do you want me for?”
“I’d like to you to train me. In time for the summer’s eve festival tournament.”
“ That’s a month away son!” he answers, in a gruff tone. “Not even the Avatar could do that!”
“I don’t wanna be a master, I just want to learn something. Something to show before I leave for the big city.” I sat “My parents have already said I could go after the festival.”
“Well we better get started.” Mr. Fong says with a smile.
I half follow, half support Mr. Fong out to his back yard, where a lone pear tree stands. Mr. Fong let go of my hand, floated a piece of ground up, and knocked down a pear with it.
“Now you try.” Mr. Fong said with a toothy smile.
So, I thought, lift the stone, lift the stone, and lift the stone. A lone rock floated up shakily, and I willed it at a pear. Of course it veered of and broke somebodies window down the street. Mr. Fong began laughing this hoarse laugh, which at first felt like he was mocking me, but I soon realized how funny the situation was, and began chuckling.
“You have to feel the movement of the earth, not see it. The greatest earth bender to ever live was blind. We can all learn a few lessons from her.” He said “I’ll go apologize to Mrs. Ching, while you knock down one of those pears.” He finished, laughing away.
I closed my eyes, how the heck am supposed to feel the earth? I thought. I found it a little easier this time to life the stone but my aim was worse then before. A loud cat screech confirmed the miss.
I repeated this failure about 10 more times before Mr. Fong walked in.
“Still can’t knock down the fruit?” he said
“Yea. How on earth am supposed to hit it without seeing?”
“With feeling!” he yells at me. I’m startled into some kind of standing fetal position. “Feel every nerve in your feet, rubbing against the dirt. Keep your mind fixed on the tree. Try stomping around, and try to feel the vibrations coming back from the tree.”
I close my eyes and begin stomping around. I feel completely ridiculous until I feel it.
It’s kind of hard to explain. You know when you see your reflection in a puddle, and when you splash around, or throw a pebble and the reflection is gone and you can see the bottom of the puddle. It’s exactly like that. Your reflection is what you think is there, the mental picture of the tree in front of you. When I stomped around making vibrations I saw the real picture, the dirt beneath the puddle so to speak.
Almost all in one motion, I lift and kick the surprisingly large rock at the tree. All I hear is a crack of wood and a thud. I opened my eyes to find the branch holding the pear to be on the ground, with chunks of wood still fluttering down.
“You broke my tree!” Mr. Fong says with a drop of the jaw.
“I’m sorry.” Is all I can get before he begins hugging me and patting me on the back.
“I’ll take it boy.” He says with another toothy smile. The rest of the day we practice throwing rocks at a dozen stone targets he bends out of the ground. By the end of the day I managed to break every single one in half.
Our eyes met, the Platypus bear’s and mine, and my heart nearly stopped. I could hardly take a step back before it released a roar that knocked me to the cold alley floor. It brought its sword-sharp claw down on me; I raised my arms in reaction, waiting for the pain. But it never came. I opened my eyes to see a wall of earth erected from the alley floor. As the platypus bear continued to beat the barrier, I searched for the earth bender. Behind me back? No. On the rooftop? No. Not a soul other than the platybear and myself. Was it I, am I the earth bender? I could be couldn’t it? I mean I don’t know who my parents are. The realization pulls at my heartstrings. I don’t know who my parents are. The platybear breaks my earth wall, and derails my train of thought.
The bear throws another punch. All I can think is “Earth wall! Earth wall! EARTH WALL!” and I thrust my arm up, making a pillar of rock burst from the ground and blocks the platypus bear’s attack. The wall doesn’t hold and quickly crumbles with a second punch. As the bits of rock fall around me I kick the ground nearest the biggest one. I’m a natural. It flies 6 feet into the air, and on its decent I kick the boulder and it knocks over the platypus bear. My foot begins to throb. “Gotta move the boulder before I kick it.” I think to myself.
The platybear stands tall again, almost unfazed, and lets out another ear splitting roar. Thankfully, it doesn’t get two steps with out freezing in place. Someone has cooled the temperature of the water droplets on the platybear’s fur, stopping it dead in its tracks. I turn to see my father returning from his fighting stance to normality. Anger doesn’t CLOSELY describe the emotion on his face.
There’s silence on the ride home. Finally my says, “We’re sorry. We understand why your ran, but you know better than that.”
“It’s a good thing I was there, or you’d be platypus bear lunch!” my father says. My mom gave a soft chuckle, that’s quickly swallowed by the silence.
“I can earth bend.” I say. Not like there could be more of an awkward silence. “And, I want to find my real parents.” The silence is suddenly broken, by the slamming of the brakes.
“Nuoc, your only sixteen. You’re not going any….” My dad tries to say, but my mom cuts him off.
“Honey, we should let him go.” mom says with more silence as an answer “ We kept this from him and agreed that today we would reveal it to him. Think of your parents.” My father’s face drains of color, remembering what happened with his parents. All he ever told us was that they died, never how they died, or how old he was when they died. Whatever happened, it changes my fathers mind.
“Nuoc…” there’s a long suffocating silence after my father’s words “ you can leave after the summer’s eve festival.”
“Thanks dad!” I say with astonishment. “You don’t know what it means to me.”
“I do actually.” He finishes as the saddle-mobile revs up again.
The Summer’s Eve festival! Only a month and then I could find out about my real parents! On the ride home that’s all I can think about. Let me explain a bit about the Summer’s Eve festival. The Summer’s eve festival is a really big thing in our town. Every Summer’s eve festival the different town compete in competitions and of course there’s plenty of food for everyone. This year it’s our village’s turn to host the event. It’s an especially big thing this year. Not only that, but my siblings always play in the biggest event, the bending tournament. The rules are simple, your 3 best benders from your town; 1 fire bender, 1 water bender, and 1 earth bender. The town has preliminaries over the next month. Most of the benders in the town are fire benders, so that will be the biggest. My brothers have both battled in the Summer’s Eve tournament in the past, and my sister is one of only four water benders in the village. There are 7 earth benders in the town, 8 including me. I’m an earth bender. The thought again presents itself. It feels good to be a bender. Plus the 800 yuan prize for the winner wouldn’t hurt my search for my parents.
Finally we’re home and my mom breaks the news to my family. Of course my brothers already knew, but my sister…was astonished. My sister and me were always close. Shared secrets, helped each other, understood each other. She seemed as hurt as I was, but said nothing.
Finally my dad says “Nuoc wants to look for his biological parents.” Even my brothers are shocked at this, and everyone glances over at me.
My parents always told me that I was the special one. That being different isn’t always a bad thing. My father is a water bender, and my mother a fire bender. My two older brothers are both fire benders, and my older sister is a water bender. I’m the fourth, with no bending abilities. Both my parents did everything they could to ‘bring out the bender in me’. My parents have been sending me to different bending schools to see if I had any bending abilities. After three schools, I’m getting a little hopeless.
Last week we got back from The Water Bending Academy for Future Heroes, one of the best academies in Republic city. The mentor is a tall woman with black hair and dark skin, obviously southern water tribe. She spoke very harshly, never addressed me by my name, which is Nuoc by the way. She always called me student, or boy. She had me run through numerous steps and routines, twirls and hand flicks. By the time I had finished two sessions, my clothes were seeping with sweat. “How could a school for water bending be so hot?” I thought.
Finally when the rigorous training was over, my parents were told that I had failed. I remember sitting on the bench outside the office.
My father screaming, “He has to bend, all of the rest of us can!”
“I’m sorry sir, your son has no water bending abilities.” The instructor said.
“He’s not a fire bender either” my mom said, “We already tried that”
The walked out of the room and gave me the bad news I already knew. I wasn’t a water bender, or a fire bender, and how could I be an earth bender? Neither of my parents are. On the way home, I noticed the stream flowing by the roadside, and the burning lamps lighting the evening path. Both mocked me, mocked me with what I couldn’t have.
Now I’m in route to another mentor, who will turn me down again. I don’t think I can take anymore of that. Whenever I fail another bending school I go home and begin punching the trees in our backyard. I know, it sounds ridiculous, but it’s the only thing that can release all the anger I feel. The anger I feel for the instructors, for putting me through this garbage just so I can sink my head back down in failure. The anger I feel for my brothers and sister, for being brilliant benders. They’re so strong and great at it. Every flowing movement or fiery punch is an attack on me. I know that they don’t mean to, but I can’t help it. Most of all the anger I feel for my parents. Why can’t they just give up on me! Why do they always have to get my hopes up to dash them down! When will they realize that I’m not like them, that I’m not special?
I come out of my daze when the saddle-mobile stops at a Republic City orphanage. I can’t make out the sign through the rain on the windows. I step out of the car as my dad ushers me through the small doors. Come to think of it, everything was small about the orphanage. The door, the windows, the children in the windows. It seemed…out of place in comparison the enormity of Republic City. I step through the paint peeled door, and see a wooden hallway that rustles a cage in the back of my mind. The memory keeps trying to claw its way into the for-front, but I can’t seem to grasp it. It’s a dark memory, something awful and depressing. I suppose it makes sense, considering it’s an orphanage. I push this memory struggle away as we approach the registration desk. The secretary is an over weight women, who has to struggle to see through her tiny glasses.
“Name please!” she says with a piping and squeaky voice, which continues to contrast her appearance.
“My name is…” my father begins, but he’s cut off by the secretary.
“Your son here.” She says
“Um… my name is Nuoc.” I say, caught off guard. Why on earth am I being dragged into this? Why are we even here? The question hits me like a metal bender. Why are we here? My parents never adopted anyone. Are they planning to? Why would the secretary need my name? I don’t have enough time to mull these thoughts over, because she’s asking me more questions. Like how old I am. “Sixteen” I answer still trying to answer the questions in my head.
“Oh, here you are!” she says pulling out a paper with a picture of me on it.
My eyes widen. I’m the orphan! It explains why I can’t bend, but why didn’t my parents tell me? They put me through sixteen years of confusion and turmoil, behind my back! Suddenly, I’m filled with even more anger then before. My father tries to calm me down by explaining that they came into the orphanage, saw me, and instantly fell in love with having a fourth child. How even my two brothers, who are twins by the way, knew about it. My sister, doesn’t know though, she was only two years old when they brought me home. Then my mother explained that they sent me to the schools thinking that maybe I could bend, and then I would never know. I try to fight back the tears of anger coming on, as my parents droll on. I can’t take it anymore, I bust out of the orphanage into the pouring rain. I hear my father yell out my name, but I don’t turn around, I just keep running. After a few turns I sink behind a dumpster and let it all sink in.
I’m an orphan. My parents wanted me to be like the rest of the family, hoping that bending schools would help me. I ran away, and I’m lost in Republic City.
I hear a growl of some kind, it’s a sound I’m so unfamiliar to I can’t help but find the source. The search for this sound pulls me away from the thoughts of my parents. I’m glad for the escape. I turn a corner and see a wanted sign.
Escaped local zoo 2 weeks ago.
Stands nine feet tall.
The growling is replaced by heavy breathing, and a warm breath on my back. I turn to see a nine foot tall platypus bear, with teeth bared and a trash bag torn open.
Before I begin all names and rights are reserved for Nickelodeon and the creatures of Avatar the Last Airbender, just in case anyone comes after me for that.
The Fable of Nuoc is set after the Avatar the Last Airbenderand in specific correlation with the Legend of Korra. It’s imperative that you realize this is simply a fan fiction and I am in no way attempting to recreate either show, simply to tell a story in the world that they created. It is a story in episodes, not videos but parts of a book more or less. There will be some illustrations, but I’m not focusing on that, mostly just the story.
A quick excerpt about myself, I love Avatar the Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra, and writing. Any support would be great, but I would be happiest to keep you readers interested in the story. Feel free to make suggestions or ask me questions. And please share the URL.