The Way of the Will

On a windy afternoon, the sun shone down on a mansion courtyard in the Fire Nation. Two people were meeting in the courtyard- young and old, woman and man, killer and innocent, hand-to-hand combatant and master swordsman. The two were discussing philosophy, and various ways to hurt people, which can be one and the same to people in the Nation of Fire. The man stood with his hands folded behind his straightened back, while the girl balanced upside-down on her forefingers.

"That which lives is all that is dependable in this world," the girl said. "Wood is dead and rots, metal is unsacred and can be worn away by nature. Earth and Fire know no single master. The loyalty of them all fades with distance. All you can depend on is that with a will, and the will that is yours is always the most powerful of all."

"And what of the wind" the man spoke softly.

"I do not speak of the wind." After that, the girl said no more.

The man drew strength from the silence, and picked his sword up from where it rested on its bench. "I have seen the living fail, just as you claim the unliving does. Nothing is dependable in this world; that which you hold in your hand, living or unliving, is perhaps the closest to it. I have seen it pierce the living and render will a whisper on the wind."

The girl flipped into a standing position. She went over to the training grounds, and stood before a series of standing wooden boards. With a snapping quickness, she drove an arrow-shaped fist straight through the whole line of planks, breaking them effortlessly. Then, she turned to the man and smiled. "My fists are my will, and my will lives in me. How can anything merely held in the hand serve the full will of the hand"

The man bowed with respect, and drew his sword from his sheath. He took only the naked blade with him as he strode to the corner of the training grounds, where a marble pillar stood bearing the Nation's standard. He assumed a stance, drew the sword back, and- seemingly experiencing no resistance- drove the sword straight through the stone up to the hilt. He let go, stood straight, and fixed his robes before he drew the sword back out. A clear and rectangular hole, split by a small perpendicular crack, went straight back into the darkness.

"My sword is my hand," was all the man said.

The girl bowed her head in defeat.