"You know you can't run forever." I knew Liliato was behind me, so I didn't turn around to confirm it. I could pick out her voice from anywhere.
I shook my head. I hated those words though. I could run for as long as I wanted to. In fact, running away from the problem was the only way I made it through most days.
Loki, whom I had forgotten for the moment whinned at my heals, and I leaned down and patted his head. At least Loki understood; he was all I needed... Well, Liliato mostly understood me too. Except times like this, where we saw on the opposite sides of the spectrum. Usually, we disagreed in anything that had to do with water bending. We both skirted around that topic, or else it would end up in an all out shouting war.
I sat on the large Ice plain, seeing nothing but smooth water and ice for miles and miles in all directions. This is where I came to think, sometimes about my father, but mostly about the looming war. Liliato sat down next to me, her dwarf sea serpent following not far behind.
It was inevitable that I was to join. I'd get recruited within the week, I knew. But sometimes, waiting was the hardest part. Knowing something was to come, and wishing so hard it wouldn't. The Air ships were going to come, I'd board, and then be off, never to see my homeland or family ever again, and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
"You're lucky you know." Liliato stated, pretending to be nonchalant.
I scoffed. "Ya, so I get to go off to war and die?"
"So you get to put your bending skills to good use." I turned to her, and she looked at me earnestly. I hated water bending. I didn't want to put it to any kind of use, good or bad. I just wanted to live how I was now, free of responsibility, able to roam where ever I pleased, spending days wasting away with Liliato and Loki.
I petted Loki one last time before sighing, and deciding to head back. I had work to finish back at home, and if we didn't start preserving the berries from the summer season, we'd loose all our hard work. I stood up first, offering a hand to help up Liliato, and she took it.
"Race you back?" She asked, her face full of determination and agression.
"You're on!" I took off, and she laughed, surpassing me easily. I hadn't noticed, but in these past few years, Liliato had matured. She may have hung out with the boys, but she sure wasn't built like one. Her small build allowed her to speed past me easily, and soon enough, we were back in the village.
"What took you so long?" Liliato asked, rubbing the loss into my face. She even dared to punch me in the arm, playfully.
"That's it!" I grabbed her, ready to start a wrestling match, but my mother's high pitched voice stopped me.
"BATO!!!" She sounded desperate. Once she spotted us though, she ran, like her life depended on it. "The air ships! There here!" She yelled breathlessly.
"We're looking for a.." The officer paused, consulting his scroll for the name. "Bato?"
The crowd parted, but I was too quick. I parted also, burying myself deeper within the throng. Liliato, who stood by my side glanced at me curiously, but said nothing. The officer stepped off the planks of the Airship, his face not masking the fury within.
"Very funny. We have limited time docked here, and I'd rather not stand here playing games. Does anyone know where Bato lives?"
Several in the crowd shouted out directions to my house, making a cacaphonious cry, only to confuse the officer.
"Alright!!!" He shouted, shutting the crowd up. "Can one person lead me to the house of Bato?"
"I know where he lives!" One begger of a man shouted, probably hoping to be reward for the task.
Keeping my head low, I felt my heart pounding out of my chest. No. I couldn't go. It wasn't my time yet; I couldn't take the same fate as my father. I had to leave, run, take Loki with me. I could live off the land, I could, I could- My thoughts raced a mile a minute as I tried to figure out what I would need on a journey of a coward.
No... I wouldn't take the easy way. I couldn't. My father would be disappointed. And as much as being sent off to war would break my mother's heart, deserting would be worse. She'd be heartbrokened and ashamed, and I couldn't have that. Not to mention that Liliato would probably murder me in my sleep for my cowardice. That or try and take my place on the airship, which I could never forgive myself for.
"Wait!" I heard my own voice say, as my hearted pounded even more. I tried to make my voice void of emotion. It wasn't everyday you were sent off to war and forced to grow up within the day, but at least I wasn't going to be scared about it. Liliato's eyes grew wide at me, probably she figured I'd never have the guts to do what I was about to do.
The crowd paused, trying to figure out who just shouted the words. I lowered the hood of my parka. "I'm Bato." I almost smiled at how the words came out, nice and strong, like that of a warrior, except, had anyone witnessed my waterbending skills, they would say I was less of a warrior, and more of a slack-off.
"Ah.. So there you are." The offical who had called me, an airbender no doubt by the blue arrows on his head approached me, scrutinizing me from top to bottom.
"You've been called to war by your nation. Tis your duty, to train, and be ready for the attack by the Earth and Fire nation. You have little choice in the matter, as you shall to it for the patriotism you no doubtedly have for this great Water nation." The man motioned towards the boat, already forcing me to leave.
"What? I don't get a goodbye?" I wondered aloud, sounding sarcastic about it.
"Oh fine. You have twenty minutes, but no more. Be back at the dock within the time limit. I'll be waiting." He headed to the ship, not even looking back to see what I was to do.
But twenty minutes was plenty of time for what I had in mind. I only needed twenty minutes to find a way to sneak Loki on board; there was no way I was going to leave him behind.
Liliato grimaced as I turned to face her. This would probably be the last time we would ever see each other, and I was deathly afraid.