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|Doubts and Desire|
- Reunion and Rebirth
- Doubts and Desires
- Prison and Practice
- Companions and Complications
- Short and Sweet
- Bending and Break Out
Kaito had trouble sleeping through the night. Apart from the anxiousness about speaking to the old woman who claimed to know his father, he had tossed and turned restlessly worrying about his brother. The first day at the prison camp hadn't been too terrible for Kaito but that didn't mean the same was true for Kazuma and wherever he ended up. He could tell from the way the other prisoners looked and reacted to their surroundings that it was the length of time spent in here that killed you slowly.
The morning bells tolled and Kaito sat straight up in his bed. The sun had barely risen over the horizon so it was early enough that not all of the night had been driven away and the sky was still tinged pink. The other prisoners had started to wake and pair of feet was suddenly dangling from the bunk above him right next to Kaito's face, he smelled them before he saw them.
The man from the top bunk eventually jumped to the ground and Kaito got a good look at the owner of the feet for the first time. His bunkmate wasn't a man just yet, he appeared to be around Kaito's age or maybe a little older but his hair was entirely white and his eyes were a piercing blue. The white haired teenager glanced to Kaito momentarily and without introducing himself walked off. No introductions, but I know how your feet smell. Welcome to Hu Saia Prison Camp. Kaito couldn't help but think sarcastically.
He got himself out of bed and was immediately met with the frigid air that must have rolled in from the mountains that surrounded the camp. He crossed his arms and hugged them close to his chest to try and warm up but it wasn't helping. Kaito found his way to the exit ramp and had expected to stand in front of the elderly woman's House and wait on her. Throughout the night he had thought of a very extensive line of questioning for the woman to get as much information about his father as possible, and to ensure she wasn't lying. After all, she had been paying close attention to him so it's not impossible to think that she could be trying to pull something mischievous, she may have been old but she was still in prison for something. Overthinking was normally Kazuma's job.
As he came down the ramp of his barracks his positive attitude took a blow. There were two guards stationed at the bottom of each ramp, he wouldn't be able to wait on her without being questioned by the guards so he walked right by House eight to avoid the confrontation. No one had given him any directions so he was now walking aimlessly, until he saw the kid with the white hair and decided to just follow him discreetly in hopes that at least his bunkmate knew where he was going.
The white haired teenager took the gravel path until it met up with a throng of prisoners all in line, Kaito had been following a few feet behind and started to salivate when he smelled food.
I could eat a moose-lion. He thought and his stomach rumbled as if on cue. This also gives me an opportunity to find that old kook.
He found his way to a line and immediately started scanning the prisoners coming towards the mess hall. He tuned out the squabble of people surrounding him and kept searching the crowd for the woman. He noticed numerous families all huddled together, what could all of them have done to be in here? That little boy can only be 4 or 5!
These people didn't look like prisoners they seemed like perfectly normal families. He couldn't possibly fathom on what grounds the arrest of a small child was made but the politics of the world were beyond Kaito. He could only deal currently with the task in front of him; Kazuma always scolded him about not being attentive enough to the present, probably because he was often wandering through his own head the majority of the time.
Kaito could lose himself so deep in thought that he could almost ignore that the world was there, to Kazuma's dismay normally. His older brother regularly had to flick his nose or punch Kaito's arm in order to get him to snap back to reality and even when Kaito had returned from 'space' he hadn't heard a word said to him.
There was a sudden tap on his shoulder and Kaito turned on the spot to be face to face with nothing, but after he looked down there was the elderly woman from the bus. She smirked at him and for the first time he had seen her he didn't think she looked crazy. She had dark gray and extremely long hair. Her face was etched with wrinkles and she had to be nearly 70 years old, she was tiny and frail looking, maybe just over 5 feet tall. There was a warmth to her face today, however, that changed Kaito's mind on if she could be a 'milk and fried dough' Grandma.
"What's your plan to escape?" She asked as her smirk grew wider.
"Escape? I've only been here a day, lady." He retorted and was a little taken aback by the question. Kaito hadn't even been here more than 48 hours and for some reason this woman thought he already had an escape plan, and even if he did, that he was going to share it with her? He looked at her quizzically. She may not have all of her marbles. His inner monologue added.
"You don't even have bruises!" She accused but Kaito didn't understand what she meant.
She pointed to a bruise on the inside of her left arm right where the arm creases at the elbow, the bruise was dark and deep purple and looked extremely painful to touch. "They don't know you're a Firebender!" She yelled joyfully. " Your chi hasn't been blocked!" She threw her chained hands in the air and started to twirl in place in excitement.
Kaito was suddenly confused but she had said that so loud he started to shush her so the guards weren't alerted. "You want the guards to come? Stop that!" He half-whispered through gritted teeth. "Besides, I'm not a Firebender. That's why they didn't block my chi. I'm no threat." He lied to her. It wasn't safe in prison camp already, he didn't want them knowing he was a bender too or life would have been even harder for him
"How could the son of Kai and Sazana not be a Firebender?" She asked herself. "The oldest wasn't but the youngest seemed to be. Kaito, eh?"
Kaito ignored everything after she said the name Sazana, he had never heard his mother's name but when the woman had said it he knew that was her. He had tuned out everything after that. The old woman wasn't lying. He was silent in thought for a few minutes just repeating the name in his head when the old woman coughed to bring him back to reality. "I didn't know my mother was a Firebender. I don't remember her."
"She died shortly after you were born and yes, she was a Firebender. One of my best students." She reaffirmed.
"You trained her?!" Kaito asked excitedly.
"Yes and I also trained your father, for a time."
"So that's how you knew it was me?"
She nodded and began to smirk as Kaito's smile widened.
"How did they meet? What were they like? When was the last time you spoke to either one of them? Who are you?" The questions came pouring out like he couldn't hold them in any longer.
"I am Azora. For your other questions I must say ...Now isn't the time, Kaito. We will only have a very small amount of time to see each other daily. I know you are curious but we need to concentrate our efforts on escaping."
Kaito's face showed disappointment. He was frustrated but at the back of his mind he knew she was right, if she was a Firebender and he could someone help her that would be his ticket to freedom and then to save Kazuma. "You said you trained my parents to Firebend, what's stopping you from blasting us out of here?"
"There are numerous benders in here. Every hour they come around and block our chi, I assume, if this prison is anything like my last."
"That explains those nasty bruises." He looked to the bruise on her arm. "What were you captured for?"
"Kaito, that is a story for another time. We only have ten minutes until work duty. You know who is a Bender if they have the bruises on the inside of their arms and right along the rib cage." She looked him up and down. "You're telling me you're not a Firebender?" She raised a brow like she knew he was lying.
Something had awoken inside Kaito recently. His entire life had changed so drastically in the past two days. He and Kazuma had finally been captured and separated. Here was a woman who knew his parents and could teach him to Firebend. He had to hide being a Bender his entire life from the world and he had even tried to hide it from himself like it was a curse. Now, Azora and even Firebending itself were new links to his parents.
He felt ashamed that he had never been proud to have inherited that gift from them.
"Not a good one, anyway. I've never been trained and while living in the Republic it wasn't exactly a convenience to be a bender. I just kind of ignored it and tried my best to be normal. Everytime I've attempted it's been under panic and typically I never got the results I had.. expected." He answered truthfully now.
"That's not surprising. The Spirits have been less involved as of late and Bending has been repressed, and you don't seem like the ambitious type. You get that from your mother, she was a very cool-headed Firebender. It took different motivation to maximize her.. potential." She paused to find the right word and finished.
Kaito's mind was still racing. He tried to envision his parents at his age, learning from this same crazy woman how to Firebend. He couldn't help but smile. Azora was now a link to his parents, the only one he had besides his brother now that his wallet was gone for good.
"We have only 74 days until the solstice... " She trailed off, and put her hand to her chin deep in thought for a moment. "We have to escape within 64 days if we're going to make it.." Kaito listened to her as she thought aloud but he wasn't sure what the solstice had to do with escaping.
"How are you planning on escaping? Just hoping that we find a way out before then?" Kaito was growing impatient; the old woman was so scatter-brained it was hard to believe she was a Firebending Master.
"No, no, no silly boy. I know how we're getting out!" She exclaimed and waved her hands at him dismissively.
"How then?!" It was like she was trying to avoid sharing her information with him.
"You!" She poked his nose when she indicated him, and Kaito was impossibly more confused.
"You're a Firebender. You just don't know it yet. They don't either that's why they haven't blocked your chi, we'll take them by surprise!" She put a finger in the air and smiled to herself.
"You can only see what something is made of when you apply pressure." She started walking towards the throng of people waiting for breakfast. Kaito hadn't even realized the line had moved along without them.
"I don't know.." Kaito began to doubt himself.
"That's exactly why you've never been able to Firebend successfully. Fire is the element of power. It is overwhelming, it is certainty in what you are doing and what you want to achieve, it is life and the drive within it and all of us, it is everywhere, even within the other elements." It seemed she was already starting the lesson.
"How can fire be within the other elements?" The lecture obviously hadn't made sense to Kaito. "There's no fire in water at all." He pointed out.
"You have much to learn and unfortunately for us time to teach you is limited. Eat for now." Azora handed him a plate of indescribable gloop and slapped his back hard. "Breakfast!" She began laughing insanely and somehow seemed younger.
"You're telling me the plan to escape this prison camp is for you to teach me, a complete novice, how to Firebend within 64 days? I'm supposed to.. just... I don't know.." This entire idea seemed crazy but then again so was the circumstances he found himself in, he ignored the plate of slop she had handed him. "Start chucking fireballs at the Yi Yang and then blast through the wall?"
"Something like that." Azora answered him through a mouthful of slop. Within minutes she had cleared her own plate clean and even looked to Kaito's like she may have still been hungry.
His stomach roared and despite the lack of appeal he attempted to eat. He took the wooden spoon and touched it to his tongue, it was cold and tasted like bland hotcake batter. It wasn't tasty what so ever but it was filling and after a couple of tough swallows he had finished his meal and felt a little bitter. When he looked up from his plate Azora's dark almost black eyes were staring at him.
"We'll have to separate for work duty. There'll be one hour of free time after lunch, meet me then by House eight. We may find some spare time in the evenings, perhaps, if they don't dream up something dreadful for us to do." She half-laughed when she said that and Kaito couldn't tell if she was kidding but something told him she wasn't, she was just crazy.
"This plan is terrible. I'm supposed to somehow become a decent enough Firebender to blast us out of here in a little over two months with only two hours a day to practice? That seems.. difficult."
"Difficult!" She beamed at Kaito with a startled look on her. "I have a feeling that before yesterday you would have said our task seemed impossible. We can talk later. Get to work duty. We can't draw attention to ourselves too early now!"
"I haven't been assigned a job and surprisingly the Yi Yang haven't been great on giving directions. Where should I go?" The sound of a job wasn't thrilling to him.
"You've done nothing but ask questions, even more than Kai. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing." She smirked at him and then answered his question. "Speak to a guard near the front gate. He'll have you wait and get your assignment." She patted him on the head and pointed him in the proper direction. "And Kaito, make an effort to be attentive. Opportunities will present themselves but your eyes have to be open." She added and with that walked off, and due to her short stature she quickly disappeared within the crowd of gray uniforms.
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