"Hey Beau!! Where are you?" San called as she quickly made her way along the treacherous and muddy bank. Every few steps she would sink into the mire and get her foot stuck, and she would have to stop and yank it out before she could run the next few steps.
One of the locals said he had gone out this way, but couldn't remember when or why. Who knows how far along he had gotten? She tried stepping over a particularly tangly patch of vines and didn't quite make it. She had to hop on one foot several times to simultaneously free herself and keep herself from face planting into the mud. Something she had done on far more than one occasion. It was enough to make a person miss the icy tundra!
"Beau! It's Nandak!" Next she found herself jumping over a log, forgetting to step on it before jumping both feet into an ankle deep puddle on the other side. "Ugh, for the love of the spirits!" she grumbled, reaching up to run frustrated fingers through hair that was no longer there.
"You'll never guess what I have!" She added, finally limping out onto an open stretch of grassy shore. "Master Katara's written us!" Well, her particularly, but who was really counting?
The cry resounded out of the swamp, as nebulously impossible to place the direction of as any sound in this unrelenting green cavern, but no less full of youthful exuberance on it.
With that, Beau came literally swinging into view, swooshing through the air along the arc of a flying vine. Reaching out one hand, he snatched for the next bit of freeshanging foliage, only to find that he'd mistimed his grab, and was currently attempting to swing on air. For a second, he hung there, then he turned a cartwheel as he plowed straight through the water and into the rivermud. Springing up from the river as a laughing, unrecognizeable mud-blobbed mess, he waded up to the shore where his Polar Tribe friend was, bending the greenish swampwater to scrub the silt from him as he went. By the time he stood before her, he was completely dripping from head to toe, but at least he was fairly mud-free. Thankfully, his plant-fiber loincloth hadn't been disturbed in the upheaval, spirits alone knew how.
"Well, that shure didn't go how I'd planned it," he beamed, cleaning final bits of mud out of one ear with a finger. "Maybe I oughta try bendin' the vines into my hands next time, not just grabbin' at 'em..."
"Wait, y'got a new letter from Cousin Katara? Wahey, it's giftday come early! What's it say, what's it say?" he laughed, waiting eagerly for the other "boy" to read its contents. Maybe one day Beau would ask Nandak to teach him his letters, so he could read by himself, but while his cousin was on hand to do it, what was the hurry?
"Eek!" Completely forgetting in the rush of the moment that she was a waterbender, San threw her arms up over her head, trying to shield herself from the huge splash. It was unsuccessful, as one would expect, and a moment later, her blue travel clothes were speckled with dark, wet splotches. "Beau!"
No matter how much distance she put between her and the North, all it took was the right push, and the timid and unassuming teenage girl that she was there resurfaced. Hands clasped to her mouth and she jogged over to him, looking worried. "Are you okay?" Then a less anxious and a more accusatory, "You scared me!!" followed.
"Why are you swinging on vines anyway?" What possibly possessed someone to think, 'hey, I can wrap my hand around this, let me jump off of something high.' This was like that time her classmates had tried to get her to go 'swamp skiing', only more embarrassing. Hands went to her hips for a minute, before she remembered that boys didn't do that, and she had to find a more masculine posture.
She felt herself blushing. Boys? Were crazy.
Sighing and shaking her head, in a vague sort of way that meant she wasn't sure whether she approved or not, she dug in her pack and pulled out the letter. "Okay, okay, hold your buffalo-yaks...." It was wet, but still legible. "Here it is, she says: Nandak, I realize this letter is long overdue, but hopefully you won't hold that against me. Things came up... I won't go into details. But I had my baby, so I can bend and spar again.
I remember once upon a time when you wrote requesting to learn combative waterbending, and I'd invited you to the Fire Nation. That invitation stands, if you're still looking for a teacher. I'm going to open a school here in the capital with housing and everything, so you wouldn't have to worry about any of that. It should be ready at the end of the summer.
I hope everything's gone well for you on your journey. I think you said something about seeking passage out of Omashu...? If you need help with anything of that sort, don't hesitate to ask." As she reached the end, she rolled up the paper again and tucked it back into her bag. "So what do you say? Are you still in?"
Last Edit: Apr 28, 2011 13:15:15 GMT -5 by Sanandak
Cousin Nandak was really nice, but he sure did seem to be a bit of a... soft touch. Beau had known boys like that before, there was nothing wrong with them, but it was pretty funny the way they acted sometimes. He had to fight hard not to burst with laughter at his kin's ever so girlish scream and blush.
"Ah'm fine, Nandak, no worries! Just a bit o' swamp mud," he laughed cheerfully, more with general exuberance than in any real mockery of his cousin. "Why swing on vines? Shoot, why not swing on vines? It's even more fun 'n catgator wrasslin an' good bendin' practice t'boot! Ev'n if I don't seem t'quite have th' hang of it yet. Need t'work harder on sensin' th' water in th' vines."
Taking pity, he concentrated and made a few flowing, tugging movements with his arms, drawing the blots of swampwater out of Sanandak's clothes with an ever so faint tug on the cloth due to water tension in the absorbent material. A little awkward form, but it got the job done, and soon a handful of floating swampwater globes rejoined their source.
"Here, since yah bein so nice as t'read me the letter and y'seem t've forgotten how t'waterbend, let me take care o' them splashes for ya."
After Sanandak finished reading the letter, Beau's grin was ear to ear. "What d'I say? Am I still in? Cousin, I wouldn't miss it fer anythin'. I'm with ya 'till fish forgit how t'swim!"
Shrugging, she let it go. Vines were vines, and boys were boys and there wasn't much to do about it. In fact, if she wanted to be convincing, she might want to do something potentially dangerous and stupid in the near future.
"Thanks!" She replied cheerfully, smoothing the fabric down again. "I guess my reflexes aren't so good." They weren't the only things either. For the most part, she had been trying not to bend in front of the other boy, worried that her complete and utter lack of skill would be suspicious. Doing simple things like moving a watersnake through the air was done in such an awkward and disjointed manner that sometimes she lost control of it all together. Stupid Northern Water Tribe rules. Five year old swampbenders bent better than her.
"Alright!" She beamed, gesturing over her shoulder, "I've been getting Ka ready," That meant that she had been grooming her buffalo-yak, trying to pull all the mud and swamp vegetation from her coat. "and packing up my things..." Not that she had really unpacked her saddle bags to begin with. "You think you'll be ready to go tomorrow morning?" she wasn't quite sure the preparations that he would need to make.
Well, she could think of something... "You have... traveling clothes right?" And by traveling clothes? She meant 'pants'.
Beau laughed the laugh that was never far from his lips, warm and full of good cheer. "Iff'n I needed to, I could be packed t'leave by this afternoon, Cousin. I ain't got much stuff, nor any beasts I need t'take care of, after all."
At the travelling clothes comment, he gave her a mildly puzzled look, scratching his shaggy head in the way he did when confused. "Yeah, I got strong sandals, packs, raincloak, spare loincloths, tools'n kit... ev'rything y'need t'get by in th' swamp and a bit more, it oughta be good fer jus' about anythin'. Why?"
"Well, I thought maybe you would like some notice..." She didn't know if he would want to say goodbye to family, or finish up his vine swinging training. "We wont make it to the edge of the swamp with Ka anyway." Not if they left in the afternoon, and she was always worried about dragging around the creature at night, when the footing was treacherous.
For the second time, San began to blush, and she looked away quickly, coughing once or twice in embarrassment. "Well, you know... It gets colder outside the swamp... and... there's a lot of underbrush... and pricker bushes..." Also there was the fact that unbeknownst to him, he was to be traveling with a girl, and a rather modest one at that. "So, you know.... there's the fact that... umm.... well... oh never mind." She gave up. Maybe she could have had this conversation with one of her brothers, but with a boy she had only known a little while? Well, she wasn't quite bold enough for that. "Just... meet me by gator rock tomorrow morning, ok?"
"So... yeah, you can go back to doing... whatever it was that you were doing." She tried valiantly not to sound disapproving, and she wasn't entirely sure that she was successful, so she quickly added on, "That tree swinging thing... it looks pretty manly! It's too bad I wont get to try it." Thank the spirits... like anyone could hang on to one of those things when they had hips like hers. "You know, since I'm a guy I like to do guy things... like that."
The manliest thing about her, she was sure, was her haircut, and even the wolftail was starting to grow out a little bit. "Next time, maybe!"
Last Edit: May 4, 2011 12:53:24 GMT -5 by Sanandak