Title: Of Spirits and Nomads
Author: fangirltothefullest (Tashi)
Rating: T [[For some swear words and darker themes ]]
Words in this chapter: 1897
Summary: Rogue metalbenders have been kidnapping people and causing havoc. But when Team Avatar tries to stop them, Bolin is captured! Now, it’s up to Korra and her team to rescue him and discover the dark secrets the Nomads hidden in the mountains are keeping, and what they plan to do to Bolin, now that they have him alone……
Part 2: The Powerful Dawn
When he opened his eyes, Bolin found himself staring at a richly painted ceiling, intricate designs and carved statues lining four corners around it. It vaulted up to the skies through large pillars. Beyond the pillars circled a large room with windows lacking in glass, at which, Bolin was stationed in the centre. Warm sheets were beneath him, a blanket on top, and he sat up, feeling tired but more clear-headed. “What happened?” He muttered, looking around. To his right sat a man in orange and red robes, his black hood lowered, and his black-gloved hands busily set peeling what looked like potatoes. He sat on the floor next to the bed, which was also on the floor, but Bolin could feel the feathers over stuffing the bottom mattress, making it soft. Beneath him was some kind of inlaid mosaic, but it was too hard to see. In an instant, he felt terribly small as he stared up at the ceiling in this giant, empty room.
“You were in a truck, headed for the mountains when we found you.” The man explained, looking up. “From the looks of the cargo they were carrying, I think it’s safe to say you were also transported by boat at some point before that. Well… that and you kind of smell like fish.” He had soft green-blue eyes, and he was chuckling. His calm demeanor did help Bolin relax, though he didn’t tell him that. Why was he even on a boat in the first place?
“Last I remember, we were fighting rogue metalbenders in Republic City, Sir….” He pressed a hand to his head. Sitting up made the room spin a little and he swayed. Seeing this, the other reached beside him and pulled out a teacup, gesturing for him to take it.
“Here. For your head. From the looks of you, I’d say the rogues, or whoever they were, drugged you.” He explained. “To keep you asleep until they transported you wherever it was they planned to take you. We ambushed them when they came too close to our mountaintop hideaway, and found you tied up in the back.” He blinked. “Oh, sorry, I don’t believe I’ve introduced myself yet.” He held his hand out; thin wrists and a pale complexion. “My name is Li Chen.”
“Bolin.” The other replied, grateful for the tea, and took it in his free hand as he shook with the other. It did help his head to drink it! “Whatever is in this stuff, Mister Chen, Sir, it’s doing the trick.” he cracked his back and leaned forward on the bed. “Thanks for rescuing me. Um…. He paused and looked around again, seeing paintings and carvings all around the room. Old carvings, wood stained and paint chipped, but the pictures were clear. Sky bison, and white creatures, clouds and monks in ribbons across the wall, the largest image unfortunately worn away. “What is this place?”
Li Chen made to stand. “Come. Are you able to stand alone?” He asked, offering his hand anyways after brushing himself off. Bolin used him as an anchor to hoist himself up and steadied himself, nodding. “Then follow me.”
He lead him out a side screen of the room, the door sliding away to reveal a bright, beautiful world beyond. The earthbender gasped. “Golly!!”
Pillars of mountains shooting into the dawning sky surrounded them, temples and pagodas lining each with winding stairs. There were trees and cracked stones beneath their feet, fountains spewing bright water from the mouths of fish, above them, stone status of what looked like nomads standing proud. Vines and leaves snuck along the edges of the buildings, ancient ruins in their own right. Each was crumbling here and there, terribly old, but still usable. Li Chen continued to walk, but the man paused at the edge of a descending stairway, turned back to wait for him to follow. On either side of him, guarding the top of the large staircase, there lie a guarding lionturtle statue, bright pink trees weeping their leaves. they glowed like firelight as the sun broke beyond the mountains, silhouetting Li Chen against the background that could only be painted in fantasy. He gestured. “Come on, there is much to see.”
Trailing after like an awestruck puppy, Bolin could not keep his eyes from wandering everywhere as they descended the spiraled stairs to the lower level. So many trees and statues, crumbling and overrun by foliage were everywhere! Suddenly, more orange caught his eye and he turned to see a woman standing on one foot in a sitting position, her eyes closed, and her hands together in a meditative stance. “How is she doing that?” He asked no one in particular.
“She is practicing in the ancient arts of meditation. Keeping calm and focused even through a strenuous pose such as that helps focus he mind properly.” He explained. As they continued to walk through the lower level of the temple, crossing a wood and rope bridge that also looked ancient, (Bolin was kind of afraid to set even his toes on it) they began to pass more robed people.
A man stood bent over and contorted in a way that seemed unhealthy to Bolin, but he breathed evenly and deeply. Two women carried baskets of fancy offering trays, and it clicked. “You guys are nomads….” He said. “Like, air nomads, right?”
“You’re right. I’m glad you were able to figure that out.” Li Chen chuckled.
Another man stood, balancing on the edge of the cliff side, only a sword positioned just so keeping him from plummeting to his death, a hundred miles down, should he fall. When Bolin peered down the side railing of the area, he discovered something wonderful- like there were waterfalls in the distance, there lie waterfalls below them as well, falling into crisp pools that he could see stairs and bridges leading to.
“Come Bolin. If you wish to see them up closer, I can take you to one of the Seven Pools.
Bolin scurried after him down several cracked steps, until they were far from where they had started. Li Chen finally stopped where a pagoda sheltered them from the sun. Past it, and hidden between a row of thick weeping trees, there fell a small waterfall, pouring itself into a shallow pool that was forever shaded by mountain and tree. He escorted him there and knelt down, dipping his hands in. “This pool is sacred.” He explained. “Do as I do.” And he lifted the water and drank. Bolin hastily copied him, and reveled in the deliciously clear taste of the water. It was NOTHING like the water of Republic City! It was so FRESH! “There are seven pools, each holding a sacred meaning.” Li Chen explained. “This is the Soul. Drinking from this pool helps you strengthen your inner self. It’ is actually the sixth pool, but you have already drunk from the seventh.”
“When did I do that?” Bolin asked, puzzled.
“You were not awake enough to remember.” Li Chen shrugged. “The pools should always be followed first to last, but seeing as you are not of our practices, going backwards shouldn’t do anything. It’s a belief system anyways. Regardless, the Seven Sacred Pools are as follows.” He sat down on one of the many large rocks surrounding the area and began to draw in the dirt, displaying their symbols. “First there is the Power, representing one’s own abilities. Second, the Mirror, representing recognition. Third is the Crystal, which represents clarity. Fourth is the Sword, representing cleansing. Fifth is the Fan, which represents shifting. Sixth, the Soul, representing inner strength, and last but not least, the Lotus pool, representing enlightenment.”
Bolin scratched his head. “Cool… but why are you telling me all this?” He asked. “It’s amazing and fascinating, but, I’m not a nomad, sir….” And nowhere near worthy to be told something so unique. After all, he was just a probender. Compared to monk status, that was kind of lame…..
Li Chen laughed. “Come now Bolin, we hardly ever get guests here! This temple is hidden- it is rare when anyone comes to visit us. Seventy years ago we had the last visitor, o that tells you how unused to it we are.” He leaned his arms on his knees. “It’s nice to have outside contact sometime. Admittedly I was going to tend to you, then send you back into the woods to wake up on your own, since we are so unused to guests, but…..” He paused and stared out at the top of the temple they had just come from. “I sensed something unique about you.” Wind rustled the trees around them and lit up the calm atmosphere with healthy life.
Bolin stood, feeling quite honoured. For once he, and not Mako, was called special. He didn’t know what Li Chen meant, but he didn’t care. He was pleased, and that attention loving pride of his swelled and ate it up- modestly of course this time, after all, he was a guest, and he gave a small salute. “Well then it is an honour to be here as your guest mister Li Chen sir!”
“Just Li Chen, please.” He replied. Bolin could only nod. “I have already arranged a seat for you at the table tonight. As our guest, you are to have a feast in your honour, and you may use the hot springs, and the temples at your leisure. We only ask that you do not poke around the Lotus Temple- the one we just came from, since it is used for healing purposes and ceremonies, and should remain closed off.”
“No lotus temple, got it!” He grinned.
“You’ll instead be sleeping in provided quarters tonight.” He began to walk once more, back the way they came. “We rise early to meditate, but I will send someone to rouse you, rest assured.”
“Okay, but how long am I staying?” He rubbed the back of his head. “And I don’t have to wear all that, do I?”
“As long as you wish~ We only ask that you stay the night so we may provide you with a proper meal and a farewell. Oh, and we’ll be washing your clothes before you leave, so yes, you will have to wear it, but only until your own clothes are dry.” He answered. Bolin followed him back along the bridge. “I sure hope you like dumplings and Turkeygoose.”
“You eat meat here?!” He gasped, astonished.
“We are a branch of the Air Nomads, Bolin.” He glanced back and waved his hand around. “So we eat meat and meditate, and practice arts quite different from other nomads, but generally we believe the same teachings.” He grinned. “Besides, who doesn’t love white meat?”
“All right! I LOVE this man!” He thrust his fist into the air and ginned. “I’m going to love it here!”
“Don’t get too excited, you’ll startle the Goatelk.” he mused, gesturing for the earthbender to go ahead of him and see the stables, where the huge animals grazed.
“Woah-!!” He gasped in awe at the large beasts. They could seat 2 people atop their backs to let hem ride, and to his surprise, several flew down to land on the grass!!! THEY COULD FLY!!”
“Impressive, right?” Li Chen pet one fondly as it chewed lazily. “Do you want a ride?”
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