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|Spirit Quest; Suki says prayers the Spirits truly hear|
|Topic Started: Sep 24 2007, 11:32 PM (213 Views)|
|Robot Mule||Sep 24 2007, 11:32 PM Post #1|
"Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?" ---Edgar Allan Poe
The Call to Aid
“Tell me the story,” she used to ask when she was small, snug under the bed covers and half asleep. “Please.”
Her Mother sat carefully on the edge of the bed; so fragile without her make-up. It was their ritual every night to tell tails in the nearing dark. Suki believed the words came from inside her heart not her head. “Alright, dearest we’ll chase adventure tonight. But what story shall I tell?”
There was only one story in the world but there were millions of characters that came and went. And sometimes they were at the side and sometimes they were in front, but they were all just subplots in the one single fairy-tale.
The story of the Avatar. A thousand narratives and a thousand friends and a thousand voices and names. It was one single story the world revolved around. Even then she knew that. Everyone on Kyoshi Island knew that.
Her Mother put her arms around her daughter gently. “But whose voice, love?”
“Someone new.” She hugged her Mother tight. “Something different.”
“Once upon a time there was a warrior with a very bad dream…”
It was the sort of night you write about from the comfort of a warm house, beneath the covers and out of sight. The wind whipped wildly through the trees as it grabbed and pulled venomously at every piece of woodland it could take hold of. The sky overhead was shadowed by deep dangerous storm clouds, somewhere in the distance a bolt of lightning flashed.
But for the leader of the Kyoshi warriors there was no warm house for comfort or covers to hide her head. Only wind ripping at her hair and rain drops pelting her head. And blood. Lots of blood. The three Fire Nation girls fought cruelly, efficiently, and easily. Suki and her friends never really stood a chance. But they fought anyway because that’s what warriors do. They fight against all odds and win, or lose, with dignity.
“She fell asleep at her post and let the enemy come to her town. Unaware of her folly she slept undisturbed to dream of death. All around her the dream was coming true.
They had been and left in the harsh wilderness to die. Suki shivered with cold and fury, only just realizing they took her clothes as well. There was no time to consider what those monsters were going to do with that. Maybe they were just being cruel; she was the one with the first aid kit.
Where were her warriors?
Suki heard the too-short screams, spun around to see her warriors, their bodies silhouetted in the dim moonlight, covered in blood…their own blood…
“Blade on blade and stone on fire.”
She called to the five of them and did what she could, but so many of them were hurt. They were all alive and moaned with the pain but none of them moved. Suki tore at their clothes for bandages and searched the ground for roots and healing herbs. She wondered if it was the paralyzing pokes and prods of one of the enemy fighters that kept them down, or the fear and pain of their wounds. She’d never seen so much blood. Some of them had been attached to the trees by sharp throwing stars. Suki pulled them out, the razor-sharp edges digging into her hands.
“This is completely unreasonable,” she told no one in particular, trying to keep the panic to an acceptable level, one that she could argue through.
“I agree,” whispered one of her warriors with a harsh grin. In the dark Suki couldn’t quite make out who it was. “Next time I’ll take the pink one.”
The warrior smiled, but her breath became labored and she didn’t open her eyes again. Suki resisted the urge to cry. She didn’t have time to cry.
“She didn’t wake even as the bodies of friends and family fell. But in her dream she said goodbye to each one as they went on there way.”
She had to be persistent; she had to endure, without the advantages of time. It didn’t matter that her own hands wouldn’t stop bleeding, or that lump on her head seemed to be growing, or even what felt large burns stinging her side. She could wait; it was all about her warriors. They followed Kyoshi, but it was Suki who led them to battle. It would be all her fault if something happened to any of them…
She didn’t think die. Suki knew better then to worry about any of them dying. If she thought that it might come true.
The Spirits noticed the spectacle of final goodbyes and led her to another dream.”
“But she was already asleep! How can she have another dream?”
Despite herself she wished Sokka was here. She could protect herself, but she couldn’t save them. And that was even worse, to lead friends into battle only to fail them when they needed it most.
Some leader. She whispered their names to herself.
Suki didn’t think he could help them either, but they could try. Together. And there would be less despair to hold all alone.
“The worst kind of all, the most powerful and tainted of dream. A Spirit Kiss of sorts.”
“Mother you’re not making any sense.”
But her Mother was gone, some place far away from the warm bedroom.
She swayed a little, vision blurring from her own blood loss. If this was what being a real warrior was like, well, then Suki didn’t want to be a warrior anymore. She wasn’t good enough. There was none of the dignity she was promised here. Only warriors who fell when they were most needed to win and the sting of knowledge that they didn’t.
The tears had just started stinging at the backs of her eyes when she fell. Her legs just gave out from under her. She heard someone’s strangled cry cut through her misery and self-pity and horror, and she dug her nails into her hand. She had to stay awake; if she fell asleep nobody would wake up again. But her eyes dropped anyway. She pretended Sokka was there and he kissed her again the way it was before. Blood and dirt and everything, kissed her and didn’t care about any of that, just that she was here and he was here and both of them were still breathing…Suki thought that maybe that was what love felt like. Just a little.
“Only the strongest warriors wake up from dreams like these.”
“Please,” she whispered into the sky. Only a desperate warrior called to the Spirits. It was weak to ask for help from a higher power that hardly ever answered. She laughed hysterically despite herself. She was weak. The world had made her weak. “Earth Spirit, Forest Spirit, —Moon Spirit, Ocean Spirit, and Air Spirits. Everybody. Please. I-I- can’t save them. Please. We need your help. I need your help.”
“I still don’t understand what you mean. What kind of dream?”
If the Spirits heard they didn’t care, there was nothing but the wind and rain and blood.
Suki closed her eyes and finally gave up.
Her eyes were still shut, but on the edge of her vision she swore she could see a lady in white, a luminescent hand resting gently on her head. Then nothing.
"A dream within a dream."
Is the very model of mental health.|
|Robot Mule||Nov 22 2007, 03:55 PM Post #2|
The Request for a Quest
When she was ten the warriors left. Until then their island was isolated from attacks, and refused to associate with the ongoing war. They declared themselves as a separate entity from the battling Kingdom, for most of her life Suki assumed they were just being contrary. She didn’t know about tradition and politics. Or the power of pride.
The boats came at lunchtime. She remembers because that day her Mother was expressing a domesticity she normally lacked. Suki wonders now if she knew. If neatly packed snacks and triangular sandwiches were Mothers way of saying goodbye.
As far as sleep went Suki could honestly say she’d had better snoozes. She was comfortable but her head throbbed like a separate animal. For awhile she forgot why she was sleeping in the first place. Something about lightning?
The Earth Kingdom men were foul. Weeks of nonstop battle and travel can have that effect on a person. But her Mom was lovely and strong.
“I’m going to be gone for a little while, Suki.”
“Why? How long?”
“Suki, please stop that. It’s time to look towards the future. Follow my voice…,” intoned a feminine voice with a crystal sheen. Almost like freshly fallen snow.
It felt like she was floating…or was she being pulled? She felt a million hands inching her forward into space. Somehow she manages not to flinch at this fluid movement. She doesn’t even open her eyes.
“Because…,” her Mothers face was unreadable. “Because somebody has to. Because that’s what a Kyoshi Warrior does; what Avatar Kyoshi would have wanted. I’ll only be a few months. I promise.”
“She said stop that,” said a much harsher voice. She felt something like bark hit the back of her head. “Listen to someone other then yourself for once, useless chit.”
Suki smiled at the silly sounds before her eyes burst open with memory. The woods and the bodies and the smell of blood—
Instantaneously her mind was misplaced in sensory overload. Because where ever she was it was definitely not the forest. The opposite of a forest really.
She was in the largest room she’d ever seen, not counting the boat ride ticket area for Ba Sing Se. It was an empty chamber on her side. But the other was filled with—
Was she really awake? It was too real to be a dream; could you imagine the smell of lavender in the air and the taste of morning in your mouth? Could you really imagine a thousand glowing animals all staring at you with wisdom there the four legged family usually lacks?
Maybe, she considered, I hit my head harder then I thought.
“No! Don’t go! Please!”
“Suki, I need you to be strong while I’m gone,” her Mother gazed up at the statue of Avatar Kyoshi before giving the tiniest of nods. Carefully she undid the golden headpiece from her brow. Before she knew what was happening it sat cold in Sukis hands. “I know you’ll be brave.”
“Don’t be afraid,” said a chirpy voice. It sounded like it came from the bird. Ridiculous of course, ha-ha Suki, ha-ha, because birds can’t talk.
“Suki of Kyoshi Island,” a small creature that looked like an air bison bellowed. “Today is your lucky day.”
Suki figured she was handling this whole thing surprisingly well considering. “My lucky day?”
“I am La, The Moon Spirit. You called on us to help you and your friends, and here we are ready to assist,” a girl in flowing white robes and the crystal voice flashed a smile. “There’s only one problem.”
“You’re …Spirits?” she gasped, before falling to her knees and bowing a few hundred times to each of them. Spirits! The creatures of another world, with supernatural powers and amazing abilities and they were interested in her! They were willing to help her friends! She had saved them after all. This was…epic. This was the sort of thing Aang would be impressed by. “Thank you! Thank you so much!”
Suki sort of wished she had real clothes for the occasion.
“Give the girl a prize,” snapped a Spirit made entirely of energy. Suki jumped up and tried curtsying. The Spirit stuck its tongue out at her in a surprisingly immature gesture.
“As I was saying,” began the Moon Spirit again. “We would like to help but there is a problem with your origin.”
Suki squinted up at the blinding lights. “What problem?”
“It is the Who that becomes the problem here,” said a Spirit who seemed made entirely of raindrops. A badger mole nodded in agreement. “We really don’t know who should help you.”
“I seem to be missing something. Can’t you all help?”
“No,” said the Spirit made entirely of energy. “The balance doesn’t work that way. Stupid.”
“Usually in this situation a warrior will call on a Spirit of their own land, someone clearly connected,” explained the Rain Spirit. “You called on everyone.”
“So?” snapped Suki. It came out much sharper then she intended— and she gave a few more bows to make up for it. “Your Spirit-ness…is.”
“Even this would be acceptable normally. But you have the conditions for a conundrum little one.”
“Little?” she snapped again. She was acting like a spoiled brat, not the leader she intended to be. That she was already supposed to be.
“I know you’ll be brave.”
“Oh, stop repeating everything she says,” groaned the bark like Spirit. “I prefer to hear an original thought if you have one.”
“Kyoshi Island declared was declared an isolated land hundreds of years ago. The Earth Kingdom has no claim on you. But you represent Avatar Kyoshi and we do want to assist her in any way possible,” said the Badger Mole.
“The Air Nomad people owe you a great debt. You saved our last sacred bison and assisted Avatar Aang greatly,” the bison gave a bow. “It would be our honor to help you.”
“My forest,” snorted the bark like Spirit. “And you’re not a bender, so none of those Spirits have any claim.”
Soon they were all giving great and noble reasons for helping. It was mostly convenience and timing for the lesser Spirits such as the Spirits of Rain and Grass. Some were just happy to be asked. The Moon Spirit gave no reason at all.
“I don’t recall calling on you,” Suki scowled suspiciously at the electric Lightning Spirit. Fire Nation Spirits were just as bad as their people. Why would she want to save her friends?
“I was in the anyone and everyone category,” she winked. “I was there wasn’t I?”
“So you understand the problem,” said the Moon Spirit. “It could take awhile to sort out I’m afraid.”
“Can’t you just…pick one?” she guessed uselessly. Over her head and beyond understanding.
“The balance doesn’t work that way either,” snapped the forest Spirit.
“Perhaps we should see what nation she most fits?” suggested the Rain Spirit. The others nodded in general agreement.
Don’t panic don’t panic. Just a group of deities judging your worth and if they can’t find one Spirit to represent you your warriors may die. No panic needed. Just a little hysteria and flailing maybe. Suki wondered if she should try hyperventilating.
“I know you’ll be brave.”
The Spirits were so deep in discussion they hardly noticed her now. Wasn’t she going to have a say? What could she do? They were talking and arguing the way Spirits do. And her warriors could die by the time they decided. Ming and Ky and Hui and Lin. They needed her. Ming, her second in command, always asking questions. Ky with her ego …And drat, there when those tears again, unwelcome and wrong. Good warriors didn’t cry so much. She was failing the people that had never failed her.
…Well If the Spirits couldn’t decided who would save them: she’d just have to do it herself.
Determinedly she walked through the door. She was certain it hadn’t been there before, this whole place was wrong. Truly only a room in the vaguest sense of the word. Just as soon as she went through the door she was back inside again. The Spirits stared into her.
“What are you doing?” asked the Moon Spirit, not unkindly. Suki took a deep breath.
“Saving my warriors,” her voice trembled like a small animal in a storm.
“You would brave the Spirit World for them?” the Forest Spirit smirked. “You would travel across lands the darkest creatures fear to rescue your friends from the place between life and death?”
Finally, an easy answer. “Yes.”
There was a murmur among the Spirits.
“Alright Suki of Kyoshi Island, we agree. We’ll allow you to journey through our lands. Though rest assured you are no Avatar. And it’s more then likely you will never return It is a cruel fate to die in the Land of the Dead,” The Moon Spirit sighed. “We cannot help you. We will not save you. If you go you’re on your own.”
“We can grant you four gifts to take along. Tokens are not so complicated. Make your wishes wisely.”
“I would like some clothes please,” she said instinctively. She was not traveling between life and death in her underwear. “Maybe armor?”
She was immediately wearing the loveliest armor she could ever imagine. It had gold tassels and a full helmet that covered her entire face in a neutral dark green mask, and thick black boots. Heavier then she was used to with her old uniform, but still magnificent. Suki didn’t want to wear it – she wanted to hang it in her room and brag.
She thought along time about what else she wanted. This was much harder, she didn’t know enough about the Spirit World to truly be sensible. And she had to be sensible. “I would also like some sort of map please. Or a pathway? So I can understand where I’m going.”
“I would be more concerned with where you’ve been. But no matter,” breezed the Air Spirit. And down floated a large map imprinted with the Air Nomad symbol. “Your path is being taken care of as we speak by the Lightning Spirit. Careful about the map though. It has a tendency to change.”
“Thank you,” she gushed before bowing down low. Suki hung the map around her heavy shoulders. “For my fourth wish I want…”
She smiled. “A sword please.”
“How bloody minded,” twitched the Moon Spirit. It was easier to look her in the eyes; she was humanoid at least. Though Suki did have to squint to stop her eyes from watering.
“If it’s really as dangerous as you say I would like all the help I could get.”
The Moon Spirit gave a sigh, but there was a sword in her sheath before Suki could complain. She bowed again to all of them.
“If you walk through the door again you’ll find yourself in the true Spirit World,” said the Rain Spirit, bowing right back. “Good luck, Suki of Kyoshi Island.:
Suki walked towards the door and began to turn the knob. The armor make a clinking sound when she walked.
“I know you’ll be brave.”
“How do you know?” she begged pathetically.
Her Mother didn’t answer that.
While the other children stared at the horizon, watching the warriors go, Suki stared up at the empty eyes of a statue; holding a promise in her hand and waiting for the strength to come.
How is it that after all this time she still felt like a stupid coward? She opened the door and stepped out into a brand new world.
“Say hello to Death for me!” chirped the Lightning Spirit before the door slammed shut.
The world went white as she fell of the edge of nothingness.
Is the very model of mental health.|
|RisanF||Feb 4 2008, 05:20 PM Post #3|
||Very solid writing style here; always a plus when reading a story. I'm wondering if Suki isn't a bit too flippant with the spirits here; she usually seems like a level-headed, spiritually conscious warrior in the series. In the first chapter, I'm not sure exactly how the writing in italics (the Mother and her story) relates to Suki's predicament. In any case, you have the foundations for a strong story; a non-bending warrior, sword in hand, journeying through the Land of Death.|
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