He looked over the walls of the great, fair city of Omashu to see the meticulous lines of the Fire Nation soldiers advance, and he felt a deep, terrible anger simmer in his heart.
He did nothing.
His men ran to him, every single one of them clad in armor and ready for battle, their faces determined to fight to the end despite the intimidating odds, and they asked him what they should do next.
The hope in their eyes died when he did nothing.
Hours later, the walls of his home city crumbled, the screams of his people rose up as one in a horrible, terrified roar, and his nose filled with the acrid smell of ash and smoke as the arrogant, impudent intruders began to kill and rape and defile his kingdom.
Still, he did nothing.
He did nothing as the palace was breached. He did nothing when his generals glared at him in disgust and ordered a retreat without his consent. He did nothing when his soldiers reluctantly agreed to flee and return another day, to once again fight for their home and free their people. He did nothing when the court officials of his palace were caught, deemed useless, and slaughtered without mercy before him.
He stood still and silent, as unmoving and as impassive as cold marble, as the enemy descended upon him.
He did nothing as they laid their blood-stained hands on his robes, as they forced his old but still powerful body to its knees, as he was imprisoned in a case of solid metal. His face was emotionless as his enemy strode impudently and triumphantly into his palace, looked him in the eye with a sneer, and proceeded to mock him as a senile and pathetic old man who had lost his sanity with age.
He did nothing in the face of the suffering of his people, the disbelief of his subordinates, the insolence of his enemy, and the burning of his home.
In the end, he did nothing, because he understood the world better than any of them did.
Mastery of neutral jing.
Inaction in the face of opposition.
Patience in the face of imminent doom.
He did nothing, because he knew that ultimately, it didn't matter who felt he had betrayed his city, who felt that he should have fought, who it was that had attacked him and who it was that had insulted him.
Inner physical and mental strength.
Drown out the cries. Respond to nothing.
Silence - deadly silence.
The secret of the Earth.
They didn't matter. Nothing mattered anymore. The only thing that he heard and felt was the barely-audible whisper that rose from the ground, to his ears, and to his heart.
Bide your time.
Conserve your strength.
Fight only when the time is right.
The enemy will not go unpunished.
He did nothing, because nobody else would. He stood quietly and listened to the murmuring of the Earth, because nobody else could. The Earth spoke to him and only him, because he was the only one who understood its words, heard its plea, embraced its wisdom.
You are not alone.
I am here.
We are kin.
Together, we shall crush those in our path.
His foolish enemies mistook his inaction for inability, and he knew that when the real battle was over, they would not be the ones standing at the top.
He had the planet at his side.
Stand as if carved from stone...
Cold, deceptively unresponsive.
Attack with the ferocity of molten rock...
Unforgiving, all encompassing, burning with power.
When the time was right, he knew that he would be in his element - with it in the greatest sense. When the time for waiting ended and the time for fighting finally came, he knew that the two of them would stand together and unleash an unholy fury upon the enemy's unsuspecting foolishness.
They would be buried under the crushing weight of the terrible, angry earth.
And then they would all see why they should not have dismissed him as a worn, decrepit old man, but as who he truly was.
Warrior of the Earth...
King of Omashu...
Disclaimer: Any and all characters belonging to Avatar, the Last Airbender are the legal property of Nickelodeon.
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