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Book One: Shadows
1st October 2013
Akai hits the ground, breathing heavily. "I'll admit...that hurt." He lifts himself off the ground with a jet or air, and lands on his feet. "Daruka, I could use a little help here..."
THUMP! A beam of stone rises from the ground and knocks Heian off of his feet. "Is that good?"
Daruka's attack is quickly followed by a blast of fire from Akai, "Just right!"
"You're pathetic, Avatar!" Heian rises to his feet, "Korra would have me unconscious in a single attack. Yet I'm still in perfect health." He laughs, "Your mistake." Suddenly, the few small lights in the corridor turn off, leaving both Daruka and Akai in complete darkness.
"Where is he?" Akai slides over to where he knew Daruka was standing before the lights went out, then spreads his hands out and releases fire down each side of the corridor. Daruka's position between Akai's hands protects him from the flames. They both look down the corridor, on either side, to find that Heian isn't there.
"Stop the fire, I know a better way to do this."
"Fine." Akai stops the fire, and takes a step back, knowing Daruka's plan.
The Earth Bender stomps on the ground and listens to the vibrations, "It's just like Heise."
Immediately, Akai launches fire again, "He uses shadows to move around, if there aren't any, I reckon he can't get back in.
Suddenly, one of the doors along the corridor bursts open and Heian enters, "Clever." A smile stretches across his face, "You still have a lot of work to do though!"
Akai ceases his flames from one hand and redirects the other towards Heian, who ducks out of the way and lunges forward. He grabs Akai's legs, dragging him to the ground, "Gah!" FWOOM! He manages to blast Heian with a powerful wind current.
The Shadow Bender is flung across the corridor, with Akai launching himself through the air with fire. THUD! Heian punches Akai as he soars through the air. The Avatar hits the wall sending cracks right across it. "Ha! Not so tough now, are you?"
"Wanna bet?" He swings around and launches a burst of fire that Heian easily dodges, but Akai makes a number of punching motions, each sending fireballs flying at the Shadow Bender. "Where is my mum!?"
"She's long gone!" He laughs, "When we found out she was the mother of the avatar, I had her taken away from the Cage." FWOOM! He's hit by one of the attacks, having been distracted for a moment, and crashes on the ground, rolling along the corridor.
Akai continues his barrage of attacks, further pushing Heian along the corridor. With a swift move, Akai moves forward each time the Shadow Consort is pushed back. "Where..." He quickly stops the fire and pulls the air behind Heian forward, then creates a sphere around him of fire, then finishes his sentence with a tremendous yell, "...is my mum!?"
Heian yells, "Fire!? How did I not think of..."
Akai pills the fire away from Heian, who instantly runs at the Avatar, launching a number of 'shadow blasts' at him, "I'm going to do what not many can!" With a single movement, Akai's body is enveloped inside a black sphere, "I'll kill the Avatar!"
THUMP! "Not on my watch!" Daruka charges forward, arms behind him, with the stone floor being dragged up behind him. He jumps onto the wall, creating a number of stone walls to push against to keep himself up, while still dragging the stone behind him up. He pushes off, and slams Heian into the wall, then quickly pushes his hands forward, slamming a massive chunk of floor into the villain.
Distracted by Daruka's attack, Heian's shadow sphere dissipates, and Akai runs forward, "Thanks!" He thrusts his hand into Heian's chest, and the air burst blasts him through the wall, and into a large chamber. "Tell me where my mum is!"
Heian smiles, then begins to convulse, his eyes turning blank. After a few seconds, he returns to normal, "I don't know."
Akai's anger hits a high point, and with a single movement he forms a giant beam of fire, which drives Heian through the wall at the other end, and out into the open air. Heian lands in the ocean, drowning out the flames, but not getting rid of the burns all over his body. "That was more powerful than I expected." He launches himself through the air, and lands in the water with Heian, grabbing him, and then blasting himself out of the water with wind. As he lands on the island, dragging the nearly-unconscious Heian behind him, Akai asks, "Are you sure you don't know where she is?"
Looking up at the Avatar, "I'm sure...I...I'm sure..."
Believing him, Akai lets him go, "You're lucky I'm nice."
Fire Benders march down the streets, performing sophisticated manoeuvres. Around them, people cheer them on, with most people present wearing traditional Fire Nation clothing. As they reach the gates of the Council Temple, the Fire Benders jumps, thrust their hands into the air, and the moment they land fire shoots from their hands. Each Bender's jets merge to form dragons, which swoop down and fly through the streets, lighting hundreds of lanterns transforming the dim evening city into an irradiating light. The villages around the mountain that supports the city cheer, filling the air with the sound of people's joy.
Kaito stands at a Fried Chicken Pig stand, watching it all take place as his order is prepared. Akai stands metres away, watching in awe. "How come you didn't join in?" Kaito looks at his brother briefly, before looking back to the dragons.
"I can create powerful fire attacks, but I don't have that much control." He smiles as a small fairy-like creature made of fire dances at his feet. "Hello there."
A young man nearby laughs, "It's made of fire. I don't think it can hear you."
Akai laughs, "I figured. It's like when you're talking to a messenger hawk, even though it can't understand you."
"Really? I thought I was the only one who did that." He smiles, "I take it you're Akai?"
The Avatar stands, "Yeah, what gave it away?"
"You're shirt says, 'Calm down, I'm only the Avatar'." The man shakes Akai's hand.
"Oh yeah, I made it at the temple to lighten the mood a bit." He looks down at the writing, "I don't usually wear it, but my other shirts got burnt." He then realises he has no idea who the man is, "And who are you?"
"Takumi. Chief of Police here in Sekitan City." He pulls out a badge, "If you want, I can get you more clothes."
Akai smiles, "Thanks! That'd help out a lot."
"Will you be staying long?" Takumi sounds eager for the Avatar to stay, "Or will you be leaving soon?"
"Well, my brother over there," he points to Kaito, who stands at the side of the food stand shoving Fried Chicken Pig into his mouth, with sauce dripping down his chin, "Uh...that Chicken Pig is my brother, Kaito. He got dad's Water Bending, and that's the next in the cycle for me to learn, so we came here for the underwater springs. How long I stay here depends on how long it takes me to learn Water Bending."
"In which case, I'd love to learn more about the life of the Avatar!" He pats Akai on the back, "Are you going to make your presence public? Or are you just going to let the shirt do it?"
"Actually, I was hoping to keep it on the down-low, not make a big fuss about it." He smiles awkwardly.
"In which case..." Takumi turns to face the street, and yells, "Attention!" The people stop and look at him, recognising his voice as the Chief of Police, "Sekitan City has an honorary guest among us!" He looks to Akai, "I'd like to introduce you to Akai, the current Avatar!" The people gasp, and then begin to cheer him on.
"Oh my Roku! It's the Avatar!"
"Look mummy! He's come to save us!"
A tear of joy runs down Akai's face as the people chant, with it spreading to the other streets, and within minutes the whole city is chanting. "The Avatar has blessed us! The Avatar has blessed us! The Avatar has blessed us!"
With a powerful gust of wind, Akai rises into the air, then launches a wide array of fire blasts. The people watch in amazement, with very few standing and glaring at him with horror. "I promise I will keep you safe."
The city, which lies in the crater of an extinct volcano, is watched over by a group of men at the very edge of the crater, who look down at the events taking place. Heian pushes past his henchmen, and looks down at the city, "Keep watching. The moment he enters the Avatar State, summon me." He smiles, "The Avatar cannot live."
The soldiers nod, and drop back into the shadows, where they disappear
Akai and Kaito lie in hammocks in a small apartment, "This is not what I was expecting when we came here."
"Yeah, neither." Kaito swings in his, "Why don't you ask that Takumi guy to hook us up with nice beds? I've never slept in hammocks before."
"Apparently it's a tradition in some villages." Akai smiles, "Just not ours. I'll ask Takumi tomorrow."
Akai remembers, "Oh yeah, forgot to tell you. Takumi's taking me to Council Hall to watch over the session. Apparently somebody has an important proposal and he thinks I should be there when it all goes down."
Kaito sighs, "What's it like being the Avatar?"
Staring up at the ceiling, Akai replies, "It has its moments. It's fun being able to control all the elements...well, two of them...I can barely lift water, let alone attack with it. The praise is great, makes me feel worth something, but what sucks about it is the responsibility." He looks at his brother, "I'm expected to save the world if necessary, it's a lot of pressure."
"Yeah, but you're THE Avatar," he smiles, "You're the greatest icon in history!"
"But I don't deserve it!" Breathing heavily, he continues, "I was born with it, I didn't do anything to deserve it all! I'm not special in any way, I'm just a teenager."
Kaito looks to his brother, "Yes, you are special. I doubt many of the previous Avatars questioned whether they were responsible enough to take the role. I doubt they considered finding a way to pass it on to someone else."
"How...how did you know about that?"
"Mum told me. She told me how when you found out you panicked and ran away, and she found you in a library several villages away, questioning an Elder about if it was possible to give the Avatar to someone else." He grabs his brother's hand, "Don't doubt yourself. You were chosen for a reason. You must have a great destiny."
Akai looks out the window at the city lights, "Thanks. For everything. Heck, you came at the drop of a hat just to help train me." They both smile, "We'll make an awesome team. You, me, Daruka. How about after the Council session tomorrow, the three of us head down to the springs?"
"Sounds fun. I guess I could give you some Water training while we're there." He lets go of his brother's hand and turns on his side, "Night."
For the collective works of the author, go here.