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|Avatar: Legend of Kaito - Chapter 1: Mountains and Lotuses|
Kaito felt a damp rag being pressed to his head and when he opened his eyes the first thing he saw was the face of Yakiri.
"You're awake!" Yakiri exclaimed and clenched him into an awkwardly positioned hug. The wet rag fell to the dirt. Next to Kaito was a small pack that was completely empty except for a pouch of water.
"How long was I out?" He could tell by the stiffness of his limbs it was longer than one night's sleep.
"Two days almost."
"Where's Khan?" His former bunkmate was nowhere to be seen. Kaito assumed he had split after they escaped.
"He's out 'hunting'. Lay back down, Kaito. Let me get you some water." Yakiri gave Kaito's shoulder a gentle push and he obeyed her command and laid back down in the softened patch of Earth he'd been sleeping in the past two days.
"I left Azora." It pained him to say her name but the memory of their escape was still vague to him. She deserved better than to be left there in the rain, Kaito.
His mentor, his closest connection to his parents besides his brother, and his friend was now gone without a proper burial or goodbye.
He had seen himself destroy the prison wall, launch the Yi Yang off the landing pad, and even saw himself Airbending the three of them to safety but for some reason Kaito couldn't believe that was him. It sent a chill down his spine to remember the scene and to know that he had no control. That power was intoxicatingly dangerous; he wasn't sure if he should be scared or excited.
Yakiri was staring at him as if trying to read his face for an answer she forgot to ask.
"What is it, Yakiri?" He didn't mind having a beautiful girl staring at him but now he was more than curious to know what was on her mind.
"What happened, Kaito? At the prison?" She clutched his hand in hers and worry was written on her face. He had never seen her like that.
Kaito could feel his cheeks flush red and he struggled to mouth the words when he heard a familiar voice from behind them.
"Yeah, what happened to you kid?" It was Khan. His hook swords were sheathed and over his shoulder was slung a half-dozen rabbit-squirrels. He set down the swords and then their future meal and took a seat next to Yakiri.
"This is going to sound crazy.." That was the only thing Kaito knew for sure. "but I'm the Avatar."
"There's no such thing!" Khan yelled and started laughing profusely.
"You're an idiot, Khan." Yakiri raised a fist to him menacingly. "You think that Korra and Aang were just made up tales? I guess the One Hundred Year war was probably just a hoax to you too? What about the genocide of the Airbenders?" She was obviously attempting to disprove Khan.
"Stop you two!" Kaito interrupted them. "Can I finish before you kill each other?"
They nodded in unison seemingly agreeing to a truce.
"I'm the Avatar." Kaito repeated. Khan rolled his eyes but Yakiri nodded as if agreeing with Kaito.
"Why didn't you tell us before?" She seemed hurt, he could see it in her eyes but Yakiri was too much of a tom-boy to let her voice betray her emotions.
"I didn't know. Not until that woman murdered Azora. After that I just got so angry until finally something snapped inside of me, and well.. you saw the outcome."
"Most people couldn't even tell you any other Avatar's name besides Korra and Aang. People don't need that kind of superstition anymore. How do you know for sure, kid?" Khan still needed proof apparently. "You're making a huge claim based on a silly dream. You've been out for two days that's a long time to dream."
"Once I blacked out I woke up in the Spirit World. It wasn't a dream, I just know it. Meilin was familiar. I could feel it." It seemed that this information was too much or perhaps too vague even for Yakiri and her facial expressions started to resemble Khan's. They thought Kaito had lost his marbles.
"I woke up on this floating island with a huge cherry-blossom tree growing out of the middle of it. There was a girl there too and her name is Meilin. She was the Avatar after Korra born from the Earth Kingdom."
"Why wasn't she here to stop the Yi Yang? Prevent the war, maybe?" Khan was laying the sarcasm on thick. "Get to ask her any of those questions?"
"No." Kaito said firmly. "I don't have to prove anything to you, Khan." He added.
"You saw him save us Khan! That was advanced Airbending." Yakiri was back on Kaito's side. "Or did you forget that too?"
"I give up." Khan shook his head and stood up to prepare the rabbit-squirrels.
"Did Meilin say anything else, Kaito?" Yakiri had just remembered she had promised him water earlier and she reached for the pouch and handed it to Kaito.
"She told me to go West. There's a mountain covered in forests, and the trees are huge, the biggest trees I've ever seen. You could tell the land was old. A river ran down the mountain and at the foot of it was a town made entirely of wood. Black smoke poured from it and there were men sifting through sand on the riverside." All of those extra details just came to him. He couldn't remember seeing them when speaking with Meilin but somehow they sprang into his brain.
"It's Kaboshi's Iron Town." Khan seemed certain. "It's on a peninsula in the Northern Earth Kingdom. Huge mountains, huge trees, huge beasts. It's ancient land and extremely far from where we are. Not to mention Kaboshi lives there."
"If you're the Avatar, aren't you supposed to Master the four elements?" Yakiri ignored Khan's pessimism.
"Yeah, that's what Meilin said. I'm nowhere close to mastering Firebending and after that is Airbending. Both of which are nearly extinct!"
"Oh, no. We're doomed." Khan said sarcastically and started to busy himself with concocting dinner again.
"We're not doomed you moron!" She gave Kahn an icy glare and turned back to Kaito.
"There's a colony of Airbenders that live in the treetops of Moon Ridge Mountain."
"How do you know?" Khan interjected.
"I've heard of it." Yakiri didn't seem to want to talk about it. However, Khan wasn't one for privacy or boundaries it seemed.
"You two are so gullible. There are nothin' but lies and rumors in the Republic State. That's how they control everything."
"I've only met one other Airbender, Khan. She was from the Moon Ridge mountain colonies." Yakiri retorted.
"It doesn't matter. The first thing I'm going to do is find out where the Yi Yang are keeping my brother. Then I'm going to go and free Kazuma." Kaito said firmly and reached for a drink of water.
"Your plans keep getting crazier and crazier." Khan shook his head in disbelief at Kaito's statement. "How are you going to find him? Go back to the Republic and hope that someone will point you in the right direction?"
"No one said you had to come, Khan. Same to you, Yakiri. You don't owe me anything." Kaito wouldn't mind losing Khan and his complaining at this point but he had proven to be a valuable asset and one hell of a swordsman. He didn't want Yakiri to leave but he didn't want to endanger the girl either.
Kaito was now the Republic's Public Enemy Number One.
Party Leader Chairman Hectus had seen the return of the Avatar with his own eyes. Would he tell the citizens of the Republic in hopes of rallying them against Kaito?
"Now you sound as dumb as Khan. Of course I'm coming." Yakiri smiled to Kaito. She had warmed up so much since the two had become friends in prison.
"Quiet!" Khan commanded from the fire.
"Don't tell me what to do!" Yakiri stood up quickly to challenge Khan.
"Shut up, will ya?! I hear something." He put his hand up to shush her and it was obvious now he was listening for something intently.
Kaito didn't hear anything and it was obvious by Yakiri's look of dumbfounded-ness that she didn't hear whatever Khan was listening to either.
Suddenly, there was the sound of earth upheaving and a chunk of solid rock came smashing through the trees that surrounded the three. It came closest to Khan who narrowly avoided it by dropping to the ground with a thud.
"KAITO! RUN!" Khan clambered over to his hook swords and then leapt to his feet and jumped in front of Yakiri to defend her from their unseen attackers.
Kaito pushed himself up and prepared to fight. "I'm not going anywhere."
Kaito heard something behind him and as he turned he saw a man exploding out from the earth. He came spiraling out of the ground like a drill, loose dirt and bits of rock were thrown from his clothes as he twirled, and after a moment of being airborne the man landed firmly on his feet.
He had long brown, dirty, hair. A thick wiry brown beard, his skin was tanned and dirt-caked and his clothes were more rags than clothes. He wasn't tall but he was muscular and it was apparent by his face that he was enjoying this.
"Who are you?!" Khan snarled.
The man stomped his feet and a tremor was sent racing through the ground and at the end of the rumble a shard of earth protruded suddenly and slammed into Khan's chest. His limp body was sent flying through the air and with a thud he collided with a tree trunk. He fell into the bushes below the tree, his body was completely limp.
There was no messing around after that. Kaito spun on his heels and with a swift kick he unleashed a stream of flame from his outstretched leg.
The Earthbending stranger widened his stance and brought his arms up in unison as if lifting something that was invisible, the earth mimicked his movement and a block of earth rose from the ground to protect him from the flames. The fire exploded upon impact against the rock wall and washed over the sides but Kaito knew the fire wasn't intense enough to have broken through.
With two kicks Kaito launched two streaks of intense flame towards the wall, he continued to pummel and barrage the wall with fire sent flying from his fists or feet but it didn't budge or break.
The wall was still standing. After the smoke had cleared there was a noise like rocks being grinded together and the wall suddenly shot towards Yakiri and Kaito leaving a trail of tilled earth in its wake.
Yakiri, acting upon instinct, flailed her arms in a circular motion and there was a sudden gust of intense wind. Kaito was thrown from his feet and went spiraling through the air like a leaf on a breeze. He landed with an 'OOF!' on a tree branch, there were twigs in his hair and leaves in his clothes. Kaito regained his breath and while trying to ascertain a way to the branch below him he lost his footing and fell to the ground with a thud.
The Earthbender jumped forward and put his palms together, he lowered at the knees and pushed his arms forward and the earth Yakiri stood on began to creep up and around her feet, encasing them and trapping her where she stood.
Kaito pulled himself up and jabbed with his left, then his right, and with a roundhouse kick there was a wave of fire flung from his leg. Each of his attacks was accompanied by the sound of roaring flame.
The Earthbender raised another wall of solid rock from the earth to shield himself from Kaito's attack. The first fireball exploded upon impact, then the second, and finally the last wave of fire came crashing into the wall. It was still standing.
Kaito leapt forward and clenched his fists. His left arm was drawn back to nearly level with his head and he thrusts his right fists forward. Flame burst from his outstretched arm and finally the rock wall had begun to crack, he grit his teeth and gave it more juice until finally there was a sound like the crack of a whip and the rock wall had disintegrated into gravel.
The Earthbender was thrown through the air singed and smoking. He wasn't aflame, however, he must have shielded himself until the very end.
Kaito remained poised to fight until he felt comfortable enough that the Earthbender had been taken care of. He rushed over to Khan and checked his pulse, he was still alive, but his breathing was shallow and Kaito could hear him wheezing.
"Who was that, Kaito?!" Yakiri's tone made it easy to notice that she was still freaking out.
"A friend of mine." He said sarcastically as he pulled Khan from the bushes by his arms. "I don't know, Yakiri but we have to leave."
"How are we going to do that?!" She glared at him and pointed down to her stone shoes that were incapable of moving.
"You're an Airbender, aren't you?!" Kaito was getting frustrated with his new teammates. He propped Khan against a tree and was trying to situate him so he wouldn't fall over.
She pursed her lips and looked away from him stubbornly; she wasn't amused with his wise-cracks. "You kno- Kaito! He's moving!" She warned him.
The Earthbender groaned and rolled over but wasn't fully conscious yet.
Kaito let Khan slump to the ground and ran over to the still protruding shard of earth left by their current captive. He grabbed one of Khan's hook swords and ran back over to the man, brandishing the hook swords at him threateningly.
Eventually the Earthbender looked up directly into Kaito's eyes; when their gaze met the man smiled. "You don't have the guts."
Something took over Kaito. He dropped the hook swords, pulled back his arm, and let his fist fly into the Earthbender's face. "You're going to free her." He pointed to Yakiri and grabbed the man by the gruff of his collar. "Then you're going to tell me why you attacked us." Kaito didn't enjoy hitting the man but he could tell that this man wouldn't take orders from three teenagers.
The Earthbender smiled and spoke nonchalantly. "I'm not telling you anything." The man made a sudden movement to get up and bend but before he could get to his feet Kaito started to punch him furiously in the face. He hit him over and over again until he drew blood.
"Free her." Kaito said calmly.
The Earthbender rolled his eyes, straightened his arms, and with a flick of his wrists the earth around Yakiri's feet receded.
"Why did you attack us?!" Kaito still held a clenched fist towards the man.
"I'm supposed to be looking for Yi Yang fleeing Camp Hu Saia. I didn't know what you were. I saw the hook swords and assumed you were non-benders. Sorry." The Earthbender certainly didn't seem sorry.
"Who has you looking for the Yi Yang?" Kaito assumed from the man's statement that he was just some kind of soldier or crook taking orders from a boss with higher authority.
"Zhang the revolutionary, Zhang the rebel, Zhang the Grand Lotus." The man smiled as if amused that they wouldn't know who he was talking about. "The only true Champion the Bending Nations have left."
"Zhang.." Kaito said stunned.
That was a name that Kaito had not heard in a long time.
Kaito was too young to remember that night but Kazuma had told him of Zhang. He had been their father's friend. The night he came to see their father was the same night that he had come to murder him. The night they became orphaned and their home burned to the ground. Zhang had come to steal something that their father would not relinquish. Zhang then killed Kai for it. Zhang was the reason that Kaito and Kazuma's lives had become so broken.
"Don't worry." The Earthbender said and smirked. Satisfaction was evident upon his face about something. "You're going to meet him."
"Kaito!" Yakiri yelled.
Kaito turned to face her and saw that Yakiri had been encased in ice.
He leapt to his feet to attempt to free her but before he could move a leg in Yakiri's direction he felt frozen tendrils creep up his leg and sent chills throughout his body. All of a sudden he was covered in intense and biting cold and was unable to move any part of his body. He could feel his skin freezing and it was some of the worst pain Kaito had ever experienced.
The Earthbender stood and approached Kaito. He stared him down and smiled obviously reveling in his moment of triumph.
"We're the White Lotus."
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