Behind Bars
Chapter information

Avatar: Era of Akai


Book One: Shadows



Written by


Release date

29th September 2013

Next chapter

Breaking Out


The Shadow Consorts have taken the people of Akai's village prisoner, so the latest Avatar, and his water bender brother, Kaito, head to the Shadow Cage to find their fellow villagers and their mother.


Fifteen years ago to this day, the Great Avatar Korra died at the age of 103. And on that very day, a child was born. However, the Avatar Cycle made a jump. Instead of the next Avatar being of the Earth Nation, as it has always been, it went to a Fire Bender. In a world where the Bender population has risen drastically, it is a task for the Avatar to keep things in balance.

FWOOM! Fire shoots across the mountainside, rupturing up into the sky where it disperses. Akai stands at the base of the mountain, a great smile across his face. He stands before a stone temple, in the entrance of which stands three men, each of different nations: Fire, Water and Earth. "So, how'd I go?"

The men look at each other, then look back to Akai, "You're a powerful Fire Bender," the Earth representative speaks, "But Fire is only one of four. You still have to master Air, Water and Earth."

WOOSH! A strong wind is emitted from Akai's body, "I can Air Bend!" He moves his arm in a slow, gentle movement, and water rises from the soil, beginning to wrap around his body. However, it suddenly drops, "I'm getting better at Water Bending." His smile fades a bit, "But I'm training a lot! And I only started my Water Bending a month ago, so I'm getting a lot better!"

"Admittedly, you are improving drastically." The Fire representative, "You're being partnered with a Water Bender, who'll help you learn the art. Don't worry, nobody you don't know."

Akai thinks about it, then comes to the realisation, "No! Not..."

"Akai!" His brother, Kaito, walks up the path to the temple. "Long time no see!"

The Earth representative speaks, "I thought you and your brother were on good terms?"

"We are. But that doesn't mean I want him teaching me!" He glares at his brother, who wears the traditional Water Tribe outfit.

"Don't worry, bro. You'll be teaching me as well." He drops his bag on the floor. "I'm learning to be a Republic Elder. To do that I need to know about the Avatar, so you're my best option for that. The books are so boring it's not funny."

Akai's smile widens once again, "So you'll be teaching me, but I'll be teaching you? That...that evens it out." They shake hands, "You've got a deal!" They laugh, but it is cut short when a loud bang echoes through the valley. A man falls to the ground, flames covering his body.

"Help!" The flames burst out from his body, leaving the bruised man exposed. "They...they took the villagers..."

Akai and Kaito run over, and help the man stand, while the representatives talk amongst themselves. The Avatar asks the hurt man, "What happened?"

"The Shadow Consorts..." He falls unconscious.

The Nation representatives sit around a fire inside the temple, with Akai and Kaito among them. The Fire representative talks, "The Shadow Consorts came into being 20 years ago, when the previous Avatar, Korra, reconnected the people of this world with the spirits. People spontaneously developed Bending abilities, and along with them came the re-emergence of ancient arts."

The Water representative continues the explanation, "This included Shadow Bending, an art that became extinct 5000 years ago." He looks into the shadows at the corners of the chamber, remembering his experiences with Shadow Benders, "Many of them are brutal, and banded together to form the Shadow Consorts, who began as an aggressive police force, but a man called Heian took control and turned it into a terrorist organisation." The representative looks at Akai, "Maybe it is time they were defeated."

A young woman in white robes enters, "He's awake." The representatives look at Akai and Kaito, who realise they want the two of them to go and talk to the man. They follow the nurse to the small room where the injured fire bender lies on a bed. "If there are any problems, I'll be waiting in the hallway."

They approach the bed, and the man looks to Akai, "You're the son of Akane, or am I mistaken?"

Akai nods, "Yes, do you know her?"

"My name is Kaon, of the Atsui village. We were attacked by Shadow Consorts." Akai is gasps, "It wasn't just me...they took the villagers, including your mother."

Kaito, enraged, clenches his fists and asks, "Where did they take them?"

"The Shadow Cage..." He coughs violently, and the nurse hurries in, grabbing a bottle off the shelf by the door, and pours a liquid onto a spoon, which she puts to Kaon's mouth.

"Drink this, it should help soothe your throat."

Once he's drunk it all, he continues, "They took the villagers to the Shadow Cage. They said something about the Avatar...I escaped during the attack on the village, but not before I was injured, and because Heian spoke of you, I came here."

"What did he say about me?" Akai holds Kaon's hand, "Please, it's important."

Kaon looks up at him, "I can't remember...but please...please help daughter and son are there." A tear escapes his eye, "I believe in the Avatar."

Bowing his head, Akai replies, "I promise I will get your children out of there, along with every other innocent person they have taken in." He looks to Kaito, "Are you in?"

He extends his hand, "Of course."

Akai takes his brother's hand and they shake, "Let's do this." They walk to the door, and Akai looks back, "I hope your injuries heal quickly."

Walking down the corridor, the two brothers think to themselves, about possible plans of attack. They reach the entrance chamber, where the representatives still sit around the fire. Akai stands in the doorway outside, while Kaito stops by the representatives, "We're going to the Shadow Prison, we don't care what you have to say about it."

The two brothers stand on a rock, with Kaito using his Water Bending to push them across the ocean, towards Crescent Island, where the tall, dark building stands, rising out of the water, avoiding the lava streams on the island. The prison is surrounded by stone paths, with brick walls stopping the water from flooding the path. The two leap over the wall and sneak along the path. "Once we've got them out of their cells, guide them out of the prison and make sure they get to land safely. I'll stay behind and take out the Consorts."

Kaito laughs, "Fine. But I'm coming back as soon as they're safe. I want to smack some down too."

"I look forward to fighting with you." He smiles, then spins around the corner and releases a blast of air that knocks the guards, in their black one-piece uniforms, at the entrance to the ground. Kaito uses his Bending to lift a large amount of water into the air, then slams it into the large metal door, blasting it away. He continues to blast water inside, then slides in with Akai behind him. "Good thinking."

Smiling, Kaito replies, "Well, there's probably no water inside. I'd be useless in a fight." With one movement, he blasts water into the faces of the guards in the entrance hallway, smacking them into the wall. Two fall unconscious and the others simply lie on the floor murmuring.

Shadow Consorts stand in a dark corridor, two of them standing at different doors along it. One of them hears a strange noise coming from the door at the far end, and approaches it. But as he does, the door is smacked down and a powerful wind blows them all down the hallway, followed by a massive amount of water. Akai blasts the first, locked, door with fire, melting it in case blasting it in injured a villager. They enter the massive room, where dozens of people sit around, with a number of bunk beds and platforms. "What the...?" He looks up, and sees that a large cage hangs from the ceiling, but with nobody inside.

They realise that all the people are the villagers that had been taken. Kaito yells to them, "We're here to help!" the villagers see the open door and begin to run, thanking the two brothers as they run past. They watch as the villagers escape, and Kaito follows the last one out, but quickly realises that their mum wasn't there, "Akai, she's not with them!"

Akai stands and thinks to himself, then replies, "Go. I'll find her and keep her safe." Kaito nods and runs after the villagers to make sure they remain safe.

"You're staying?" Akai looks to see a teenage boy in Earth Nation clothing.

"Why didn't you go with them?"

"I'm staying to get a punch into Heian's skull." He smiles, "If you're heading further in, I'm going with you."

Akai smiles as well, "Glad I got a friend in this. What's your name?"

"Daruka. I'm not one of the villagers, before you ask. I've been here for months." Daruka frowns, "So naturally I'm pretty peeved, I want to get in at least a few attacks."

"I'm sorry to hear that. Do you have any family?" Akai looks deeply saddened by Daruka's time in the prison.

The Earth Bender solemnly says "I don't know." He then snaps out of the sad mood and points to a metal door, "They go through there when they leave us. Heian and his personal guards come through there to 'break our spirits' every day." He looks solemnly at the door.

Akai approaches the door, "How come you haven't broken through before?"

He looks at Daruka, "They somehow blocked my Bending powers, but I can still use them, just barely at all."

"You're aware we took out the guards, right?" Akai laughs, "How do you think we got in here?"

Daruka smiles, "In that case..." He performs a number of complicated manoeuvres, and the wall around the door cracks and crumbles, with the metal door toppling over. The two run in, and head down the corridor.

At the end of the corridor is a spiral staircase, which Akai reaches and uses his air bending to create a wind current that speeds them up. "This shouldn't take too long!"

They reach the top and look down the main corridor of that level. "You can Air Bend AND Fire Bend? Are...are you the Avatar?"

"Huh?" Akai turns his head and looks over his shoulder at Daruka, "Yeah, of course..."

Daruka smiles, "Awesome!" He smacks Akai on the back, "I'm friends with the Avatar! It's Akai, right? I've always wondered what you're like in person!"

"Too bad you won't know him much longer." They look ahead to see a muscular man in a suit identical to the Consorts, along with black metal plating. He smiles, "Welcome to the Shadow Cage, Avatar." He quickly spins and releases a sphere of pure black at Akai, who blows it aside with a powerful blast of air.

"Are you Heian?" Akai knocks him back with a Fire attack.

"No, definitely not! I am Heise, lieutenant to Heian." He jumps into the shadows and disappears instantly.

"Where did he go?" Daruka looks around, then smacks his foot on the ground and listens to the vibrations coming back. "There's guards ahead, but no one of his si..." THUD! Daruka collides with the metal wall, and is quickly pulled into the grasp of Heise, who laughs." Akai turns to face him. "So, Avatar, are you going to give up this pathetic quest of yours and leave?"

"Let him go." Akai glares at Heise.

"What are you going to do?" He laughs once again.

"It's not what he'll do." Daruka smiles pulls his arms free to perform the move necessary to send a chunk of stone floor beneath Heise upwards. The Shadow Consort lets go in shock, as he's shot up into the ceiling, then across by a beam of rock from the wall. He hits the ground unconscious, "For a lieutenant he didn't take long to knock out."

"Well, you can't blame him, there's a reason I'm on top."

They turn to face the man talking, whose uniform is similar to the others, except with a grey line running from his left shoulder down his body and left leg to the edge of his foot. Akai smiles, "I take it I'm talking to Heian then?"

"The one and only." He smiles too, then they lunge at each other, with their fists meeting mid-air.

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