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|The Way Out|
Blood and Sand
January 5, 2013
War and blood have spread across the world again as nations seek to overpower one another. The Avatar is meant to bring balance to the world. But she is enclosed within the great city of Omashu while the Black Dragon plots. Avatar Tala must master the elements and seek a path to continue her journey as the Avatar.
Chapter 11: The Way Out
Hava woke up to the light of the sun over his face. He shielded his eyes as he sat up. He had overslept, again. He was exhausted. Months of endless fighting, strategizing, war council meetings and elder meetings had put a drain on Hava. He was tired, fatigued. He needed true rest but feared that would only come with an endless sleep.
Hava walked to the communications room, like he did almost every morning. He hoped that the White Lotus would have word on any of the Air Nomads or the Temples. Especially Air Temple Island. He had only briefly seen his home before the war started when Tala was invited to the coronation of Rishu as Councilor of Republic City.
Hava was hoping to hear good news or no news. Today looked to be one of those days. The communications officer answered Hava's question, "I'm sorry Master Jinorra, but there is nothing about the Nomads coming through right now."
Someone came in and whispered in the officer's ear, he turned to Hava, "Excuse me, Master Jinorra, would you watch the com until I come back?"
Hava nodded in assurance. The officer smiled, "Thanks."
Hava sat at the chair and began listening on the head set. Because of the blackouts brought by the Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom forces, communications officers had to listen and write down everything they heard, making the process much harder and a longer time before it could be translated from its code.
Hava was there for ten minutes writing and pulled up a new page to write when the next communique piqued his interest. The word buffalo was used; buffalo was code for Sky Bison. He listened intently.
After writing it all down, the officer returned, "Sorry about that, did I miss anything?"
Hava stood up and left with the paper in hand.
Hava prepared Noomi, his Sky Bison. Republic Railway was his best bet and that was a journey for several days.
Hava turned to see Simi Rohan waiting by Noomi's head. It still disturbed him that Simi openly showed his scars with the light clothing. The black, coal-like flesh disturbed most and scared the children. But he knew it was Simi being strong, showing that he wouldn't let scars run his life, even if they defined him.
Hava continued packing, "I have business in the north. I will be back as soon as possible."
"And where in the north?"
"Don't worry about it."
"Don't worry when the most powerful airbender in the world leaves without notice to head north through a warzone alone?"
"Yes, don't worry."
Simi chuckled, "Can you at least tell me why you are leaving so that I don't feel guilty when I give a blank answer to the others when they ask?"
Hava sighed, "A communique came in today. Three Sky Bison were seen north of Republic City coming from the sea. That means they came from the Western Air Temple."
"They had children on them. Which means the Temple is in trouble and they are trying to get the kids to safety. We haven't had communication with the Western Air Temple for a long time, and neither have they. They don't know what is under whose control. They could be walking in a trap, a slaughter."
"Then leave some room for me, you're not going alone."
"No! Someone needs to stay here. Simi, you're the most powerful airbender in Clan Rohan, we can't have both of us gone. The enemy will see that something is up. They'll especially notice your absence."
"Hmph. Fine, what do you want me to tell the others when people notice that you're not here?"
"That I had personal business beyond the city to take care of. Tell no one about the reports of the Sky Bison, the last thing we need is Clan Rohan running out to follow and get caught by the blockade."
"I understand. I still think you need some help, but good luck."
"You too, Simi, keep an eye out for me."
"Noomi, yip yip!"
Jin Ikki waited at a roadside covered heavily by trees for cover. A Kindly Old Man had agreed to help them for a small price to sneak them onto a supply train heading north. But the path to it was full of Earth Kingdom Troops. The Old Man was scouting a way through, since the sky bison would be too obvious in the sky flying.
Rain pounded the ground, it had been heavy rain the last two days and some thought they could sneak past in the storm, but Jin and several others agreed that it wasn't worth the risk with lightning strikes being fairly frequent.
She heard movement ahead, she and the White Lotus sentries readied themselves. A bald head pressed in with baggy eyes and white hair. The old man had returned which was more than she had hoped for since the trek began.
It had been a hard journey for their small band. First they lost a quarter of their number when an Interceptor ran them down and took down one of the sky bison and all its occupants. While they didn't lose anyone else once on the mainland, it was hard for them to travel. The storms hit and patrols were everywhere. It became hard to fly and walking the paths was necessary to traverse the coast north.
Three days ago, they were fortunate enough to cross by this old man who helped them get through several patrols on their way north. He would buy supplies for them as he was a local guide and was overlooked, as doing so, he overheard of a train heading north to the fortress with only supplies. The crew would be light, less than half a dozen.
It was the fastest way besides sky bison to make for the northern fortress which was pushing back the attackers. The train was meant to supply the invaders. They would ride it and then bail before they reached the fortress itself. Given the advanced air defenses the fortress had, they should be able to get to the fortress once within range by Sky Bison.
The Kindly Old Man smiled, "Good news. The train will be supplied and stocked, almost full but will be slow going," he opened a map and pointed to a spot north of where they were, "right here, there will be no security checking the train and it won't be checked again until it reaches the Earth Kingdom Forces in the North."
"So how long will it take us before we have to abandon the train?"
"About a day and a half, give or take based on whether you take out the crew or try to hide from them."
A Sentry spoke up, "Well, a day's rest will be welcome."
Jin agreed. They had been on the move since they reached the coast, never stopping, never sleeping, never resting. They started shifts for sleeping but never had enough because of close calls nearly running into Fire Navy forces or Earth Kingdom soldiers.
"How do we get there?"
"We backtrack two miles and then head northeast. From there its up north on a goat path until we reach a pass where the train passes through."
"Alright, the sooner we get away from this checkpoint, the better."
The Old Man led them through the trail and then took them northeast to the path they needed to get to the train unnoticed.
"How long do we have before we have to reach the pass?"
"Then we should pick up the pace so we can be ready."
The old man smiled and moved as fast as he could leading the party north.
The trek north was abandoned, with neither patrol in the sky or on land, though they spotted ships in the water. They reached the pass early, as Jin hoped to. As the sun rose, they heard the wail of the train as it approached.
"Here it comes," Jin was actually hopeful, but still reserved, "kids, when we move for the train, stay with the bison until we tell you its safe."
The sentries moved in first. If it was a trap and they were captured, no one would be surprised to find Lotus Saboteurs. They were on the train quickly and scoured it. A small flame in the front was seen for the flash of a second.
One of the Sentries stood on the roof and waved the signal, they had secured the train. Jin looked to the Kindly Old Man, "You can join us."
"If I'm gone any longer, that will be noticed."
She shook his hand, "Thank you."
The three Sky Bison flew into the pass with the Air Nomads. Jin and two others landed down while the Sky Bison with the children waited on the roof. She went through the door and found it was a passenger car, with room for at least three dozen. She saw food and fresh, clean water waiting. The men who had been running the train were tied up on the other end, only four.
She looked to the Sentry, he nodded, "All clear. Its food supplies, medicine. There's an empty car that can hold all the bison two cars back and there's some food for mounts that'll be fine for them. Looks like we'll have a good rest before we ditch."
Jin exhaled relieved. She told a fellow monk, "Get the prisoners to another car and then bring in the kids so we can sleep."
The kids came in and started with eating the food meant for the prisoners. It wasn't long before the exhausted kids started falling asleep. Jin sat down, her eyes were closing without her noticing it until she heard the moan of a Sky Bison. At first she thought it was one of their bison, but then she realized it was deeper that any of the three present. She woke up and looked out the window to see a Sky Bison fly in.
The sentries and monks readied themselves for anything to be shocked at who jumped off the Bison. "Master Jinorra?"
Hava landed, serious as he always was, "We may have a problem."
Jin sat down, listening as Hava gave them the information for how the war was going. So much had happened that they didn't know at the Western Air Temple. Hava concluded, "It may be more dangerous finding a haven."
"So we can't go to the Northern Temple?"
"Its under siege again. Earth King Iruei saw to that."
"But our guide said they were pushing them back."
"They were, after the eclipse, but Iruei took the reins and took over. Your guide had been giving you outdated information. He was probably one of General Taro's spies. That man is ruthless."
Jin sat back in disbelief. She trusted that old man and he was just clearing the route for them to walk into a trap.
"We'll have to assume that this is a trap," one of the sentries spoke.
Hava answered confidently, "It is a trap, for one, there is at least one stop between here and the Northern Temple." Hava seemed to relax a bit, "Rest for a couple of hours, then we leave west and loop around for the North Pole, with luck, the Navy won't notice us until we pass through."
He walked over to Jin, seeing her heavily shadowed eyes, "Get some sleep."
Hava sat in one of the luxurious chairs in the passenger car while another sentry stayed awake, everyone else was sleeping, exhausted and tired, they were barely standing when he arrived. The lone sentry awake turned to Hava, "Thanks for warning us. We're pretty strung up right now as you can see. Jin is the worst."
Hava looked on the sleeping monk as the sentry continued, "She knew the chances of the Western Air Temple and felt bad leaving, she felt worse when that bison full of kids got shot down. I don't know if she can handle anymore of this. She needs time to heal and rest."
"She'll get that at the North Pole."
As if fate was there to spite him, he heard baying in the background, coming closer to the train. He heard it coming closer at a fast rate.
Jin woke up, "What was that?"
"Giant Eel Hounds. The Royal Guards are here."
"How do you know that?"
"The Breeders from Ember Island have the best Giant Eel Hounds in the world. The Royal Guards buy from them. Get everyone up right now, we're going to be in for an ugly fight!"
"What do you mean?"
"These are metalbenders and we're in a steel cage!"
Running at a pace no animal could keep up with, the Eel Hounds sprinted forward with three riders on each saddle. There were two different uniforms present. A silver and green armored group who were also the riders, wearing disc hats. The other wore scarlet red armor and grey with Dragon Helms.
The Royal Guards of the Earth King and the Dust Dragons had come. Easily catching up with the train. They ran up to side with the locomotive on both sides and readied to board.
Hava got everyone up, including the kids, "We try to fight them off and get to the bison. Lotus sentries and monks down in the car, Jin, you come up top with me and try to keep them from getting on board. Move now!"
Hava grabbed the top of a window with one hand and spun himself up top. As soon as he landed, he sent a wave with his staff, hitting a leaping Royal Guard in mid-air. The hit sent the soldier spiraling through the air. He landed harmlessly as he used his bending to land on his feet with a firm stance and sent a projectile of rock after Hava. Hava had plenty of time to dodge it. But two more opponents landed while he was avoiding. He fired a palm sphere but the Royal Soldier's armor took it without a dent. Three more jumped, two broke through the windows and into the passenger car while the other joined those on the roof.
A Royal Guard and a Dust Dragon barged into the car, where a Lotus sentry and a nomad attacked. The water and air attacks proved futile against the steel armor of the Guard who knelt to let the Dragon shoot a stream of flame onto the car. The nomad extinguished most of it before any damage was done but found themselves being pushed back towards the car they hid the children in.
The close indoor fighting got intense as one side had agility while the other had durability. The monk fought the Dust Dragon while the sentry fought the Guard. More came crashing in as they leapt from the Eel Hounds onto the car. They noticed most of them were Dragons and saw that the Royal Guards were crawling on the sides of the car while heading up.
With over a dozen Eel Hounds and three soldiers per, there were more Dragons and Guards to nomads and sentries. For every Dragon or Royal Guard knocked off the train, more took their place.
Finally one last Eel Hound came from the pack, of its passengers, two were different from the rest. The Dust Dragon had armor almost exactly like the others, but it had gold lining along the edges of the armor, and a golden visor over the red.
The Royal Guard was likewise similar in armor except an emerald sheen to the armor, making him look like a dark crystal. And the two most powerful of their respective forces, the Dragon Commander and the Captain of the Guard.
The Captain spoke to their rider, "Get us up there!"
The rider nodded and slapped the reins. The Giant Eel Hound jumped landing on top of the train car. Forty feet ahead, stood two Airbending masters.
Hava grunted, "Not good."
The two leaders slid down from the mount and walked forward, the Royal Guard spoke up, "Master Hava Jinorra, what a surprise to see you here in the North. The last time I saw you, you were traveling and looking for a wayward nephew."
"And the Earth Kingdom could be counted as a friend to the Air Nomads, Captain Lee."
"Your sister leads the nation that robbed us of our lands. They should never have formed into that mockery of a nation. Had we our King then over Kuei, justice would have prevailed."
"If its justice, then why are you allied with the Fire Nation?"
"That is for my King to command," he punched forward and a ripple in the roof of the car, producing jagged edges, "and I to follow."
Jin and Hava made a combined strike, but the Dragon Commander leapt over him and swung a flaming kick that absorbed the airstrike. He sped forward, arms behind him, charging flames while the Guard Captain punched forward, metalbending a sharp disc from his gauntlets.
Hava leapt over the Dragon and rushed for the Captain while Jin dodged the Commander's fire strikes, and returned with an air slice.
The Royal Guard tackled the Lotus Sentry, crashing through a door in the process. Standing over him, he landed blow after blow, pummeling the unprepared sentry. Just as he was about to release another flurry of punches, a staff smacked him across the mask.
He looked to see a little bald boy had delivered the swing. Harmless as it was, it was annoying to be smack by a child. The kid rolled sideways and a girls punched at him. A concentrated torrent of air hit him flat in the chest. And sent him back into the passenger car he had been fighting in.
The Sentry looked backwards while still on the ground, "Thanks."
The Nomads and Sentries in the car weren't doing so well. Most of the time they were able to beat back any attackers before they could get in, but those who did were beating them brutally. Luck went their way when a wave of high-pitched screams came from behind and blast of air knocked back the unsuspecting soldiers.
A bunch of kids continued delivering the hits that either crammed the Dragons and Guards into the back or out the windows.
Several of the Guards sent out the window latched onto the outside of the train. Done with this, they all punched in. The wall of the train car pushed in as it buckled. The passengers inside saw that the Guards were crushing the car. The Dragons and the Guards left out the back door while the nomads and sentries ran forward. Almost immediately, the car tore itself apart, separating the engine and two cars from the rest of the train cars. With the slowing cars were the Sky Bison, Hava Jinorra and Jin Ikki.
The two kept fighting but were too outnumbered by the Dragons and the Guard who together were powerful enemies. The Captain dodged Hava's swing with his staff and used the opening to get in close and backhand him. Hava nearly slid off the car and his staff bounced and ricocheted into an open window. He barely got up in time to dodge an elbow strike that would have broken his ribs.
He rolled under the Guard and went back-to-back with Jin as they used sweeps of wind to push back attackers. As nearly a dozen more came at them, they kicked opposite of each other making a rotation of air that quickly turned into a small tornado, blasting back the enemy.
As the tornado died out and the two masters landed, they breathed heavily from exhaustion. But they weren't finished. As if from nowhere six more Dragons and Guards emerged, including the Commander and the Captain.
"You're beaten by your own defense, Master Jinorra." The Captain spoke confidently, "Surrender, we have no intention of harming either of you; or the children you were escorting."
Hava looked at the remaining soldiers; they were as exhausted as he was. And then he looked at Jin, she was even more tired than he was. With so little sleep and the trauma she had suffered so recently, she had little fight left in her. It was hopeless.
Lee was a man of his word, if he promised them no harm, them it would be so. But if they fought back, he wouldn't hesitate to kill them. Survival to ensure the safety of the children was key. And if surrendering was how, then so be it.
Just as he was about to kneel, a loud roar from above caught everyone's attention. Two large Sky Bison dropped onto the roof and slammed their tails down. With a blast powerful enough to break a wall, the Dust Dragons and the Royal Guards were sent flying off the rail.
Hava looked to see his Sky Bison in front of him, "Thanks Noomi, I owe you one."
Jin and Hava jumped onto their respective Bison and led the four back to the speeding train that had gained a large measure over them. They flew forward and reached the car where a surprised Sentry yelled in joy and swung his hat over his head.
They hovered at the end of the destroyed car and filed the passengers on, leaving the still-restrained prisoners on board. To mock them, the head sentry yelled out, "Don't worry, your friends at the first post stop will untie you!"
They fled north and kept flying. They were reinvigorated; even with the trap, they had food and rest, or most of them did. Hava inspired them to press forward and now they were determined to reach the North Pole.
They knew they were close as the winds were cold and the length of days grew longer. They knew it would be plunge of danger before safety; the Fire Navy Blockade.
Hava yelled to Jin from Noomi, "Everyone put on as much clothes as they can to stay warm, we need to go high up to avoid any eyes. Its gonna be cold!"
Jin nodded that she understood and relayed the message to the others and the kids especially. Once all wrapped up, Hava looked above, there were clouds ahead. That was both good and bad. For one, it meant cover from the enemy's prying eyes; but it meant water and made the objective of staying warm all that much harder.
Hava sighed, it was all or nothing now, "Here we go."
The bitter wind opposed them as the four Sky Bison ascended. The cold was bone-chilling, worse than ice as they cut through the clouds high in the sky. Hava looked back to see the children shivering frantically while one of the sentries tried to use firebending to keep them warm. But the flame was snuffed out by the water, and there was too much to keep one going.
Hava was freezing and knew that if he felt it, the others must have too. Hava began trembling and could feel Noomi tremble with him. He didn't know how much more the others could take, or how much he could.
He looked back and saw that one of the Bison was losing speed, it was too much. He waved at the others and then slapped Noomi's reins. Noomi dove at a steep incline to get out of the clouds and back to warmer skies; a relative term in the North Pole.
The four Sky Bison sped down through the skies and the dark clouds when a rush of wind signaled the end of the highest part. As the skies cleared, beneath them were Fire Nation Airships.
Blast, we dove too soon! Hava's thought plagued his face. They were going to speed right beside an airship. Beyond that was the Northern Water Tribe's great city in the North Pole.As the sun shone through, they kept speeding down. They needed to go as fast as they could if they were to get past the airships and surprise them.
They were only a hundred feet away from the closest airship as Hava gritted his teeth. Noomi and the others dove and watchers on the airships had a look of shock on their face as four Sky Bison came from nowhere. Noomi and the party persisted only pulling up so as not to hit the water. The Airship and two others soon left its stationary perimeter and pursued them.
Capsules bombs and cables were fired, but not as accurately as an Interceptor. These model of Airships were meant for air-to-surface/sea bombing. Skimming the water, the Sky Bison continued as the Airships dropped the small squads of warplanes.
On the last Bison, a sentry made an upsweeping motion; following it, a large spear of ice came from the ocean catching one of the speeding planes by surprise and tearing its wing off, and crashing it into the cold water. Another sentry fired jabs of flame while a monk sent gusts of wind to slow them down.
Skipping over the water and going as fast as they could, they pressed forward for the shining city of ice ahead. Gleaming with sunlight on both the water and the walls was blinding but they continued straight ahead.
The first airship was getting close to the group of Sky Bison when help came in the raging scream of a cannon in front of them. A flying fire hit the airship causing a large explosion, but it was barely a scratch to the hull. While superficial, the hit got their attention and soon a chorus of cannons came from the shining city.
The airships elevated from their low altitude to avoid the volley. Some were hit and pings were followed by explosions. Soon the airships turned their attention away from the unthreatening Sky Bison and to the defensive cannons of the Northern City.
The Sky Bison continued as the airships became preoccupied with artillery and soon made it to the blinding light of the Northern Water Tribe. A large hole formed in the middle of the outer wall of the city. The Sky Bison didn't slow down as they flew in.
Explosions hit the wall for the first time since the Fire Navy and Air Force blockaded the North Pole. Shards of large ice blocks cascaded over the backside of the wall. People and warriors fled the flood of ice, snow and water. But a few stood strong, one of them spun in what looked like a flowing dance of energy. As he lift his hands up, a spike of ice rose and a capsule bomb landed in it, defusing it.
Others followed his example, working together to make great spikes to catch and mitigate the attacks of the airships. Just as it seemed that the battle would reach an intensity, the tribe had been spared so far; the airships stooped and turned back for their perimeter, where they resumed their blockade of the skies.
Hava landed Noomi as they approached the largest building in the city. Hava leapt down to see old faces. Among them was an elderly man. In his day, he was a great master who taught many of toady's greatest waterbenders; but now he was on a cane, walking unsteadily.
In a raspy voice, "Master Hava Jinorra. It has been a long time since I have set these old eyes on you."
"Likewise Master Manook."
"It relieves me to know that you are well. And who is your company?" Manook looked on the group of nomads and sentries and the many children with them.
Hava took an even more serious tone, "Refugees from the Western Air Temple."
"Hmm, we shall talk about this," he turned his attention to the others, "Make yourself at home. My students will help you pack." Manook looked at Hava, "Who's in charge of them?"
Hava beckoned, "Jin."
Jin stood next to Hava and gave a bow of respect to Manook, "An honor, great Master."
"Likewise, Master Ikki."
"How did you know-"
"Every Clan has its own things about them that give them away. The Rohan's are uptight, the Jinora's are leaders, the Meelo's are wanderers and the Ikki's are distracted."
Jin looked away.
"Come, child. Soon you will rest. But first we must speak with the Chief and the council about this development." Manook turned to enter the building, Hava and Jin followed while the attendants of Manook helped the party unpack and lead the Sky Bison into stables.
"It has been some time since you honored us with your presence, Master Jinorra," Chief Kurun was warm and inviting, happy to see an old friend in the Air Nomad, "please sit."
The two sat down in front of the small council of four men and women, one was a Lotus Commander, the rank under Master, Manook, another Water Tribe warrior and Kurun. Hava spoke in a dignified manner, "Thank you for extending your hospitality to us, Chief Kurun."
"It is nothing, Hava. Besides some of those men you brought back are from the North. It is ggod to see brothers and sisters return from this war. But first, lets eat before we discuss such heavy things as war."
They ate fine cuisine as Hava and Kurun shared stories of childhood and Manook told them about his students' training. After resting enough, they started on more serious matters. Jin informed them of the situation at the Western Air Temple. They were saddened by this and offered their condolences. Hava debriefed the rest as he was the most informed from the fortress of Omashu. He told them of Grand Marshal Rishu, who engineered the war and his known allies so far.
Manook took an interested tone when Hava told them that Tala had mastered airbending, "And how is the Avatar doing in the element of water."
"Well, surprisingly. At first I feared her learning from a mercenary, but she has excelled in the element at a level I didn't expect so soon."
"She's training under Ralyn?" Manook sounded shocked as the others whispered, "The She-Wolf?"
Hava stiffened for a moment, "Yes, Ralyn is training the Avatar in waterbending."
Manook looked at Hava with a glare of fear, "Hava. In all my years of training and teaching, I have never faced so fierce or so powerful a waterbender as the Crescent-Wolf. She was already a master when she came to me to learn Northern Style. She was my superior when she left for the Swamp. A woman of that caliber is dangerous, especially so close to the Avatar."
"If we held such fears over everyone, then the Avatar would be trained by weaklings and wouldn't have the power to face someone like Ralyn. Its the same problem the Avatar is facing with Rishu and Prince Kuir."
"Still this woman is deadly and she uses an unspeakable power."
"I know. Her entire mercenary company can use it, as the first time we fought them on a full moon showed."
"Then why is she training the Avatar?"
"Because she is the most powerful waterbender in the world and the Avatar needs to learn from the most powerful, not just masters."
The council seemed to disagree with him but knew they had no power over the decisions of Omashu. "Very well, is she at least cooperating?"
"Yes, she has no choice given that the Fire Nation wants her dead." Hava explained the situation to them, and how Ralyn was shot by Rishu as she escaped to the city. Hava continued and told them of the fears they had for the swamp.
Kurun sighed, "It seems that our southern friends are in worse than we are here, even the Northern Temple, now cut off is safer with the Earth King at the gates than this Grand Marshal and Prince Kuir at Omashu."
Hava responded, "There is still hope. The United Forces may have been cut down, but they have been running guerrilla attacks all over the Coastlands. I flew over this, the Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation are not in control of these lands, they hold their occupation of Republic City, but little else in the United Republic of Nations."
"Perhaps, but their strength is divided, spread out over the mountains. There is no way they could make a full force to retake Republic City of push the Fire Nation out."
"As long as we can bleed them dry of resources, we won't have to. If we can start guerrilla wars all over the continent, it will be too much for them to sustain the sieges, blockades, and occupations."
"What do you recommend then?"
"We seek peaceful dialog with the leaders of the war, Iruei, Ma-Tin. And we use that time of cease-fire to prepare for strikes. If the talks succeed, then it is welcome to all; if not, then we are ready to respond with strength."
The Lotus Commander looked like he agreed, as did the younger warrior. Kurun and Manook, however, were most cautious when it came to war.
Hava and Jin walked through the frozen halls of the Northern Palace. The cold presented a calm, too much for the strung out Jin. Finally, after weeks of suffering, she broke. Sobbing and falling to her knees. "I can't anymore!"
"Sh, Jin," Hava was there for her, "its okay."
"I can't fight anymore Hava! I can't see anymore family die!"
"You won't have to, Jin," Hava was always there for family. It was the one thing he felt guilty of in his younger years that Captain of the Royal Guard Lee reminded him. When he failed family then, it nearly destroyed his sister Lio. He wouldn't let that happen again, "I promise you, Jin, you're safe here. You won't have to fight anymore."
"But I need to keep them safe. I'm supposed to protect the kids." Her tears rolled down her face uncontrollably.
"You did, Jin. The North Pole is the safest place in the world. Of all the places, the North Pole has never fallen to an invader. You did your duty, you can rest and know that you did right by your clan."
"Then why do I feel so awful. I just feel like I let everyone down! Like I was a failure!"
Hava hugged her tightly, "Jin, I once failed horribly. You know that I couldn't save my nephew. Trust me when I tell you I understand. That pain, that regret will never go away. It can heal and fade, but it will always be there."
"But it hurts so much, I can barely walk without seeing their faces!"
"In time, you will heal and remember their laughs, not their screams. Their smiles will mean more than you could know. That's how I remember the one I failed, not the horrible pain from knowing I could have done more, I could have come sooner. That I could have stood up for him when no one else did."
"Life grows, Jin. Even if we are too hurt or blind to see it now, it will continue with or without us. Those we love will aways be there, their love is not gone from us."
Jin was silent as she cried into Hava's shoulder. It hurt her to even say the names of the children she knew she would never hear laugh again, or never see smile. It hurt her to even think about those in the Western Air Temple. They were probably dead by now, and it felt bad to think that she abandoned them.
"Jin, your family will always be there for you. And if you feel so bad that you can't look out, then remember all those you did save. The Monks, the sentries, the kids. Were it not for you, who knows whether they would have made it."
Hava stood at a ledge as the night air blew against his face. He saw as several of the Air Nomad children had made friends in the Water Tribe and were now having a snowball fight with them. The old rasp of Manook reached him, "The last time you came to the North Pole, you were not such a serious man."
"Things have changed a lot since then, Master Manook."
"I know. Qatil's loss was as hard on you as it was on Lio. And your relationship with her has worsened." Hava looked at him pryingly, "What?" The raspy voice answered, "You think I don't have friends in Republic City? Hava, ever since you earned your tattoos, you have been so busy being strong for everyone else, that you never thought about yourself."
"I thought enough about myself. I have too many responsibilities to shrug off. Even if I am never the leader of the Clans; I am the son of Zun Jinora, and things are expected of me."
"Stop trying to live up to those expectations Hava. You think because you were a goof as a child that you are a failure as an Air Nomad? You are the most powerful Airbender in the world, no small feat considering your sister. Just stop this madness and accept that you can't control everything."
"You said I was trying? You're the ones who thought I should banish Ralyn from the other side of the world."
"It was your desire for control that led you here. You had to control the fate of Jin and the others and save them. While admirable and successful this time; how long before you can't save someone? What will you do then? When someone as close to you as Qatil is gone, what will you do?"
Hava gripped the icy ledge, cracking it. Frustration rang through him. He knew what he had to do. But he remembered how he felt that day twelve years ago and how broken his relationship with his sister became. He sighed and answered honestly, "I don't know."
- The Kindly Old Man who helped smuggle the nomads onto the train is also the scout of the South Pass who reported them to General Taro and Earth King Iruei.
- Simi is well known amongst the enemy as the scarred Air Nomad, also as the prisoner who actually broke through his restraints multiple times in attempts to escape.
- Hava and Lee's references to lost family are to Hava's nephew, Qatil Jinorra.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
Storms of the Future Cycle
|The Journey of Tala|
|Book 1 - Sand and Steel|
|- - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
|Book 2 - Blood and Swamps|
|- - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
|Book 3 - Pyres and Storms|
|- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
|Fates and Vows|
|- - - - - - Ilera - Solace Fade - Scions - Sovereign|
|The Rise of Lirin|
|- In the Morrow - The White Dragon - Faith in Blood - The Great Gates - Lord Avatar - A Red Sun - Faceless - Faction - Tempest - Rally of Crows - Rally of Eagles - Dragons and Serpents - Kings and Men - Storms of a Spirit - Princes - A Battered Land - Seas of Ichor - Arbiter - Return to a Grave - Declination - Disaffection - Epilogue|
|Myths of the Empire|
|Pacification - Assassins - Empire - Red Sun Under The Empire - White Snow - Heirs|
|The Reclamation of Arein|
|Book 1 - Chaos|
|Refugee - Rogue - Ghosts - Dark Roses - Doyen - Divulgence - The Plan - Abscond - Mists of Illusion - Madonna - Syndicate - Playing the Stakes - Purge - Brothers|
|Book 2 - War|
|Alliance - Temple - Tensions - The Fall - Hunters and Prey - Lussuria - Shades of Relevance - Broken Star - Defiler - Strikeforce - Secrets of the Lair - Eminence - Swarm - Wanderer|
|Dreams of Melasa|
|Book 1 - Servant|
| - - - - - - - - - - - - -
|Book 2 - Shadow World|
|Faint but Clear - Ghost in the Steel - Kurotama - Loyalties - Servants of Shadow - Game of Fate - Shadows and Reflections - Tomb of Blood - Broken Blades - Hill of Shadow - Souls and Swords - Home|