There were still 2 months left before the final test, and Kai was sparing no effort in his training. Lin warned him that this test was not going to be easy, but he didn't waver. In fact, that made him more fired up. Of course, he knew that it wouldn't be a walk in the park, besides he hoped that it would push him through the limit. Hoped that it would in some way make him wake up.
Day and day out, through the wind and rain, he pushed himself to the brink. Lin would sometimes come to him to give him a few more tips, which he greatly appreciated. And also received his unending support from his uncle Loui. Yes, in the months that he hung out with Loui, and got to know him a bit more, Kai finally acknowledged him as family. This was the first act that made Kai fully realize that this was his new life now, and he had people that he cared about and wanted to protect with his life.
And that pushed him further to get stronger. He didn't want to win battles by just using the knowledge that he had, even though they were great assets. Because right now with him being here, things that might happen in the future probably or most likely were going to change. And he was totally fine with that because he also knew that he wouldn't be alone in the future to face them.
It was now midnight and Kai was currently on the top of the mountain in his meditation spot. He was sitting in front of a table made of earth, in a lotus position, with his eyes closed. He had one of his arms stretched out to a bowl on the table. And that bowl was filled with chicken bones. He closed his eyes and was breathing steadily as he pointed his arm to the bowl.
He was so focused that he ignored everything that surrounded him. Ignoring the wind that was blowing the leaves on the trees, ignoring the sounds of wild animals, ignoring the test he was going to have that drew closer, and closer. Completely emptying his mind and just focused on the bones placed in a bowl on the table. Ever since he thought about it, he couldn't get it out of his mind. Bonebending.
Just like Bloodbending, a Bonebender could manipulate the literal bones of another. And to be able to do that, Kai would have to be more in sync with the Earth than he already was. Because this wasn't just finding and sensing the impurities, like in Metalbending. This was something much, much…deeper. This was something more than Earthbending itself.
And Kai didn't want to tell anyone about this. He wanted to keep it an absolute secret. 'Cause Bloodbending was already deemed illegal and dubbed the most dangerous form of bending. What would happen if someone found out that an Earthbender also had the power to manipulate the body of another living being? The consequences would be unimaginable.
So every time he would try it, he snuck out in the middle of the night to the top of the mountain. But he didn't sneak out the front door, no. He made himself a tunnel that only he knew about, and used it to travel underneath the training facility and make his way to his meditation spot, to practice.
After a couple of hours of sitting in front of the bowl of bones, he opened his eyes and stood up from his position. He stretched his body and was making cracking noises. He was starting to get tired and head back. Kai had been at this for a month now, and he hasn't made a single progress. He knew that this was something that was going to take some time. Maybe not today or tomorrow or a few years from now, but he would be able to unlock this rare skill. He just had to be patient and continue practicing, until he could move a single bone. Even for an inch.
(The next morning)
Kai was doing his normal training routine. He learned some new Earthbending skills from Lin, and some he learned on his own.
When he had the time, he practiced his lavabending, which was still on the beginner level. He could make lava projectiles out of small pieces of earth and also make a moat of Lava, but that was about all he could do still. He still had to be faster and more proficient with his Lavabending. As for his Metalbending, he was already at the same level as his Earthbending. He made large sculptures out of metal using his mind and placed them all around the training field and outside the gates. He could even make his own makeshift armor out of metal on the fly and make different weapons, like daggers and spears.
And when everyone was sleeping, he would sneak out in the middle of the night using the tunnel that he made, and head to the top of the mountain to unlock Bonebending.
(Two months later)
Today was the last day of training and tomorrow I was going to take the final test. And I was pretty nervous, to be honest. I wonder what Teach had in store for me tomorrow. Was she going to fight me by herself or with someone else? Well whatever it was, it was not going to be easy, like she said. But that's what got me more motivated for tomorrow's test. And I damn well, was not gonna fail.
I said that today was going to be my last day of training, but I didn't want to train today. I wanted to go back to Republic City and just have some fun. Lin was coming back to remind of the upcoming test, and I wanted to take the chance to ask to bring me along with her. Uncle Loui also wanted to come with me to the city, he hadn't seen in a long time. I didn't see a reason why not to, so I agreed.
He told me that there was a Pai Sho contest in Republic City that he waited for a while, and that they were giving away a lot of money. Huh, so that's why he's been asking for a game every time. He was preparing himself for the Pai Sho contest. Looks like I'm not the only who has been training nonstop.
We waited for a while when the gates started to open. A police car with the Republic City Police logo stamped on all sides was making its way inside. It stopped in front of us and a Lin came out of the car and greeted us.
"Good morning, Kai, Loui", she waved her hand.
"Good morning, Miss Beifong".
We greeted in return, and we made our way toward her. I was in front of her and I gave a bow in respect. She gave me a bow in return and asked, "You ready for tomorrow, kid?".
"Tch, yeah, I was born ready", I said confidently.
"Good, you'll need that confidence. Let me remind you that it's not going to be easy".
"Is it going to be like a fight or something?", I asked.
"It is, but it's not going to be with me", she replied and said, "You're going to be fighting a master Earthbender of the White Lotus".
I was a bit surprised at what she had said. I was going to be fighting, Not just any Earthbender, but a Master Earthbender of the order of the White Lotus.
"The White Lotus? How did you even make contact with them?", I asked, curiously.
"An old friend at Air temple Island. He has deep connections with the white Lotus that is training The current Avatar as we speak". She continued,
"I asked him for a favor, and he delivered. He will also be coming tomorrow to personally meet you and watch your fight".
'Who is this "He" she's speaking of? An old friend at Air temple--*gasp!*', I was talking to myself, then a smile was starting to appear on my face.
"Why are you smiling like that?".
Lin looked at me like I was a crazy person.
"What? Oh, it's nothing, hehehe", I laughed it off.
"Hey, uh, you're going back to Republic City, right? Loui and I wanna have a bit of fun". I smiled from ear to ear while putting my arm around Loui, who was also smiling from ear to ear with me.
Lin looked at us like we were a bunch of crazy people and sighed, "Alright, Let's go".
(A few hours later)
Loui and I returned to Republic City after a long time. A lot of things happened the last time I was here, and it brought some old memories. Loui didn't want to waste time and went straight to the contest. I walked with him for a bit, and we arrived at the Central Park of Republic City. There were a lot of people present there and there were tables placed next to each other with Pai Sho tables on each table.
"Alright, Unc. Go knock 'em dead", I tapped him on the shoulder, wishing him luck. He rubbed his hands together like he was an evil scientist and strode on to a table, where he awaited his first victim.
I was wandering around the park and I bought food and some drinks by the vendors that were present at the competition. As I was enjoying my time at the park, I could hear from a distance a certain voice yelling out loud, "Ha! Who's next?! Anyone?! Anyone?!".
Seeing Loui suddenly act like this, I covered my face with a poster I tore of a pole out of shame. I slowly walked away, and then I felt a tap on my shoulder and a woman saying, "Hey, isn't that guy with you?"
"Uh, I do not know who that person is, madam. Goodbye".
The day was coming to an end, and Lin dropped me and Loui back at the training facility. Loui won the competition and was given 10,000 yuan. He swiftly dealt with anyone who played with him, and at the final? I heard that he insulted that person so hard, he cried and forfeited the game. How can a nice man like Loui be so ruthless?
Anyhoo, Loui and I talked all night about today, and he gave me my very own Pai Sho board, that he bought. It wasn't an actual Pai Sho board game, but a souvenir of sorts. I went to turn in early, while Loui was still in his room "making it rain".
I waited, of course, until everyone fell asleep, and I went back to my meditation spot to learn Bonebending.
(The day of the test)
Kai was waiting in the middle of the training field for Lin to take him to the place he was going to fight. He had my arms bandaged to his elbows and he wore a sleeveless light and dark green shirt and dark green baggy pants, and dark brown boots, and a piece of cloth wrapped around his waist.
He stretched out a bit and cracked his knuckles. His eyes were completely focused and he only concentrated on the task ahead. A few minutes passed and Kai saw airship coming into view. It hovered above him and a metal cable descended and stopped before him.
"Hey, kid!", Before Kai went to it, Loui called out from behind him. He looked at me and he gave Kai a thumbs up.
"Go knock 'em dead".
Kai nodded and he held on to the cable, and pulled him toward the airship. When he arrived inside it, Lin was there waiting for Kai with her arms folded. She saw him and looked Kai in his eyes and only saw complete focus and commitment.
A smile appeared on her stern face and said in her mind, "Let's see what these months have taught you".