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November 14, 2012
Centuries ago, the world changed with the Hundred Year War. The Air Nomads were wiped out, leaving only the Avatar, Aang. The Fire Nation brought war for a hundred years until Aang defeated the Fire Lord. He and the new Fire Lord helped create a new nation centered around Republic City, a metropolis of both technology and culture. Aang and his successor, Korra kept balance in the world while also aiding the new Republic City. Peace has come to the world again. But peace is an illusion the new Avatar cannot afford. With Korra's inevitable passing, the new Avatar has cycled into the Earth Kingdom born into a girl named Tala.
Chapter 15: Exile
Pain. Clenching pain spread throughout the body as a single breath upset the entire balance of delicate and broken bones surrounding the vital organs in the body. She grabbed her chest as the pain made her vision blurry.
She focused on the past, something even more painful than her broken ribs. The loss of the battle on the full moon was haunting. In a stroke of genius, the Black Dragon, Rishu, hired a mercenary company of bloodbenders to use the full moon and capture the leadership of the defense of Omashu.
Tala was nearly captured if not for Suun and Kuel saving her and essentially trading places. The highest Lotus officer was the Master Lotus who led reinforcements. Other officers had also been captured, as well as Simi Rohan, a powerful airbender. The worse was the fate of Esas and Kilidi, sons of King Urri. Both were killed brutally by none other than Rishu himself. Urri was distraught and had nearly forgotten that his own life was in danger before when Prince Kuir escaped and broke through to his lines again.
And that led to her situation here, Kuir had used his metal hat as a projectile. He threw it and shattered her ribs, ending a fight before it began. Now she was stuck in the hospital waiting for her bones to mend.
The only good thing was that Kulek was coming to visit frequently. Any time he wasn't with her, he was out training the kids that Simi used to train. His visits were the bright lights in her life stuck in a bed.
But she was aching to get out of here and fight, to avenge Esas and Kilidi.
Rishu stood as the prisoner before him held his tongue against the pain of electrocution. He motioned for them to stop as he approached the prisoner, "You know, General Suun, while I admire your enduring strength, everyone breaks at some point for something. Tell us what we want to know, and not only will I end this for you, but for all the prisoners captured."
Suun hung there as his arms were tied above his head. Sweating he looked at the Grand Marshal, "I won't tell you anything."
"Lets assume that were true, which it isn't. I have enough officers and leaders to extract dozens of networks of information from communications to the north to patrols of the city and even tunnels back into the city. But I am willing to give that up for your cooperation."
"My men are strong and won't break."
"Hmm. We'll see." He waved his hand as the man pressed the kali stick back to the general. Rishu stepped out of the tent where Kuir was waiting, sitting his massive frame on some crates.
"Will he cooperate?"
"For now? No. But no man is unbreakable, in time we can use him."
"And what shall we do in the meantime? The Avatar wasn't captured and Urri survived."
"Yes, it seems we both failed to reach our prime objectives from that night." The two continued walking calmly through the siege lines, "We'll have to employ a unique method that has been in the making for some time."
"That is incredibly risky, and you have no idea what will happen when that plan is enacted."
"I have complete faith in my agent's capabilities to follow my orders to the letter."
She sat in the tent looking at a large Pai Sho Table. The tiles had largely been unmoved until Kuir returned, he now responded with a bold forest tile at the center, a challenge to Rishu's calm tactics.
Her wait ended when her benefactor entered the table, with him was the massive giant called Prince Kuir. She never met a man so large before. The two sat down and Rishu moved his fire tile next to the forest.
Kuir responded with a grunt of frustration.
Rishu returned his direction to her, "I have a very important mission for you. One that will be trying and will be highly dangerous. But the rewards will be great."
She nodded, "What do you have in mind, Grand Marshal?"
Tala looked over the window and into the city. The lights were few for the purpose of safety but it was nice to see city lights nonetheless during the night. She hated being stuck in the hospital, not allowed to walk around or ride or train.
And worse, this was a scheduled day of loneliness. Kulek was doing her a favor and riding Ilan around. Hava and the council were also meeting, something that would be hard given how many were missing from it.
Tala just rested against the window, bored and broken. Watching the calm night below. The calm was about to end.
End of Contract
She walked along the lines, eying the new devices and containers brought in for a new assault. She stood out from all the troops in her distinctive blue armor and wolf-helm, and an actual wolf at her side.
Still, she commanded respect and fear. The She-Wolf earned her reputation first as a member of the Seasons and then as founder of the all-waterbender company of the Wolves. She never broke contract and always completed her mission to the letter. Only her the Wolves and the Seasons boasted such a record.
And now, things were about to change. One of the tankers had an isolated corner where the valve controls were, two Fire Army soldiers sat down playing cards during their duty. The two were surprised by her presence, clearly they heard of her but never met her before.
She nodded her acknowledgment, she noticed the other soldier was watching her waist, she rolled her eyes. "Boys, how have the devices handled the temperature change here?"
"They're functioning within expected levels, ma'am. Working perfectly."
"Good." Her next motion was a swing of her arm that sent two whips of water, grappling the soldier and tying him to a crate in ice. Her wolf leapt on the other soldier pinning him to the ground, snarling quietly as the man beneath him wet himself.
With the two men quiet, she turned her attention to the tanker's valve. She curled a string of water slowly in front of the knob. She pressed it forward where it enveloped the valve. She breathed calmly onto the water, ice came and froze the knob.
She grabbed the valve by hand and twisted it with a hard turn, hearing the ice and metal crack as it became brittle. A liquid burst out, pungent smell broke out. She gave a sharp click of tongue and her wolf ran off.
She snuck over to the next tanker and did likewise. But the fourth tanker proved a problem. The soldiers here included an alert officer that didn't like the mercenary snooping around. The fight that ensued was loud enough to draw a crowd and set alarms.
She weaved through the attacks of firebenders and let them do all the work, including setting of the tanker with a poorly aimed blast. A fireball ensued and the men ducked for their lives. Ready for it, she didn't even blink.
The fire spread, as she linked the spills subtly with waterbending. Soon, several containers of the liquid were on fire and chaos spread through the troops who thought they were under attack.
She looked out and found the best she would get. A crate with a ration for water. She extended an arm out and drew it back in, the water burst out and joined the will of a master.
Tala was enjoying the calm and silence when fires began to erupt out beyond. At first panic, she thought it was bombers hitting the palace, but soon realized the explosions were much farther off.
Her eyes saw that fires were erupting in New Omashu. But on the enemy side of the lines. Anarchy son spread through the enemy lines as explosions rocked the troops. She tried to stand up to walk to an observatory, only to be reminded of the intense pain in her body, and fell to her knees. She noticed that someone had left her staff in the corner. She limped her way to it. She used it as a crutch and ached her way out of they hospital to a lower level.
The commotion that began as people saw the flames and smoke spread throughout a section of the siege.
She edged her way to a command observatory where Hava and the Master Lotus Liman were getting reports from their watchers. Liman noticed her first, "Avatar, what are you doing here?"
"Tala! You're supposed to be in the hospital!"
"I saw the explosions, what's going on?"
"We don't know and its none of your concern until your ribs heal."
Hava went to move and walk her back to the hospital when it was too painful for Tala to handle. Seeing that making her walk back would be worse he sat her down in the corner, "Stay here."
Liman was on a phone and relayed what he heard to Hava, "Someone is sabotaging some tanks of explosives behind enemy lines."
"Who's setting them off? Is it one of ours?"
"No, all men have reported in, this is someone else."
Urri stormed, "What the spirits is going on out there!?"
"I don't know, someone is sabotaging explosives."
Liman continued to relay information, "Our spotters got an eye on the person involved. They say its a waterbender."
"That doesn't make sense." Tala was perplexed.
Urri responded, "Obviously the mercenaries from that night." He then realized it was Tala he was answering, "Why are you out of the hospital?"
Hava answered, "Don't bother." He returned his attention back to Liman, "Is there only one waterbender?"
"That's what we're getting from the spotters. Wait they're moving in our area."
All of them pulled out binoculars as the trace of chaos reached their view.
They focused onto a tanker that erupted into a ball of fire and smoke. The culprit emerged from the smoke on a wave of water. Blue armor and wild flowing black hair in a wolf-helm led the charge. Tala instantly recognized who it was, Ralyn.
She rode the water, turning it into a board of ice while using the remaining water as a large whip that sent the ill-prepared firebenders into bundles of destroyed tents and buildings.
"What is she doing?"
Shock to the System
Like water, she rolled from a volley of flames. She had destroyed enough containers to force a change and now had firebenders from everywhere attacking her. She had collected enough water from the area to easily protect herself from any flames. She used a shield of ice.
She sent three spiraling tendrils, one hit the mark while two were dodged. She continued on her wave, staying in one place was death when surrounded by the enemy. She continued to follow the howling of her wolf, whom she had commanded to run to the front.
She was close and saw the silhouette of the dark wolf. She weaved through the buildings, making for secluded but open areas. Around the last turn remained an earthbender and a firebender. The last two between her and the Defenders' line.
The earthbender made a wall meant to over hang above her while the firebender sent flames low to burn the ground. A technique meant to trip her and disable her.
She pressed forward, using half of her water to make an ramp the slid up. Catapulted in the air, she spun around and use the remaining water to freeze the two bender to keep them from attacking again.
Success in escape was imminent. But a price was to be paid. As she spun back around, to land and continue running, she saw a bright but concentrated light. A foot from the ground, the raw power collided with her body. What was loose, stiffened, her eyes dilated and smoke rose from her skin. The blast of lightning was brief but lasting. The shock sent the target sprawling.
The white bolt ended as the observatory watched in stunned silence. Rishu, as only he could make such lightning, had fired on Ralyn, and likely killed her. He was charging forward when the cannons finally fired. A shelling of the lines forced him and the troops back away from their prey, the traitor.
Immediately, medics and healers went to retrieve the unmoving waterbender. At first they were hesitant, as a massive creature guarded her, snarling fangs and claws, it relented and followed as they carried the woman to the city.
Tala followed the others who left at a much slower pace as she could barely move without agonizing pain. She finally reached them at the hospital where they placed the unconscious woman on a gurney.
Awe was in the room, "She's alive?"
The words flew like leaves in the wind. Wonder at how a woman could have survived such a deadly power. But whether she would continue to live was to be seen. The massive wolf stayed at her corner despite the bustle of those attending her. The creature was black with a tuft of white on its chest. It snarled at any who stood still for too long, encouraging a hasty atmosphere.
Tala sat in the opposite corner just wondering. What happened out there? What were those tankers? What made Ralyn betray the Grand Marshal? And why did she flee to the city?
Tala sat straight up, instantly regretting that action as pain stabbed her back and forced her to rest back. Hava noticed that she was there, "Tala, you need to go to your room, this is not the time to wonder about things. I'll get you to your room."
"No, I am fine, I'll stay here and watch from this seat."
"I said I'm fine. Help is closer here and it'll be easier to reach me here."
Hava knew he would get a migraine arguing with the Avatar. He silently consented, making sure she sat still as he directed his attention to Urri and Liman, "It seems we have a new guest in the city."
- The original goal of the full moon attack was to spread out the defense of the city and capture the Avatar and any important leaders of the resistance. Kuir would also kill King Urri and break out in the ensuing chaos. Neither objectives were achieved as Tala was in Old Omashu when Kuir escaped and Hava saved Urri from the prince.
- Tala has broken ribs from the end of Chapter 14, she is still recovering from them.
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|