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Death is Just the Start
Chapter information
Series

The Lost Children

Book

5

Chapter

1

Written by

Ice1230

Chronology
Next chapter

The Shore

At Ty Lee and Mai's funeral, Hifito and Rosutoko meet again, becoming friends rather than simply associates. Seven years later, they soon find that something is wrong in the Fire Nation Royal Palace, as the title of Fire Lord falls into the hands of his brother Nayvah

Characters

  • Rosutoko: the fifth child of the now deceased Fire Lord Zuko and Fire Queen Mai. He specializes in marksmanship, taking after his mother, rather than his father, like his siblings
  • Hifito: the eldest daughter of Ty Lee, she is identical in appearance and ability to her mother, being a formidable martial artist, chi-blocker and acrobat
  • Nayvah: The eldest of Zuko's children, he is sadistic and power-hungry, a powerful Firebender who can summon lightning flawlessly. He takes after his aunt Azula
  • Hai Lo: The second eldest child of Zuko and Mai, she is partially insane and has three alternating personalities: Shin (shy), Aina (sadistic, masochistic) and Liosa (seductive)
  • Sin Ly: the third child of Zuko and Mai, he is a psychopath to his older brother and does what he is told, even if it conflicts with every moral and ethic ever taught
  • Masca: the second youngest child of Mai, she is stoic and brooding like her mother on the surface, but power-hungry inside, willing to tear her own family apart to get on top.

The Story

They'd met each other again at the funerals. They'd been at exactly the same time, in exactly the same cemetery, with exactly the same crowd. The boy had cast a glance from his mother's coffin to the other side, where her mother lay confined in the identical polished ebony. It had been summer, and the sunset was casting longer, darker shadows than it seemed possible to Rosutoko. His ragged dark hair obscuring his face and tears, he looked over to find her mother's best friend's daughter, Hifito. She was beautiful, her complexion pastel, flawless, her golden eyes wide and desperate for the end of her sadness, her light at the end of the tunnel.

She turned to him, her face stained with the streaks of her own tears, he expected her to turn away just as quickly as she'd turn toward him, but instead she simply smiled, swiping gently at her tears with her little black kimono sleeves. They were trimmed with a plain, red hem that reached in about three inches. Hifito wore her head up, like her mother, if he remembered correctly, but today her long, shining plait was twisted into ringlets, spouting from what seemed to be a broche. It was in the shape of a flower, tiny pearls for stamens and mother of pearl petals, which reflected the light of the overbearing sun off with a thousand streaks of light.

She was beautiful, unlike him, as he was a scruffy little boy without elegance or class. Rosutoko wore a miniature of Fire Nation army uniform, which had been changed under the rule of Fire Lord Zuko after the Great War in order to portray a new Fire Nation army, in fact a new Fire Nation all together. And upon his death, Fire Queen Mai kept this choice sacred and did not change the uniform in any way. His trousers were black and baggy, tucked neatly into his black, gold-lined boots, with three spines at the front and the back; the shirt was red and baggy as well and also tucked into his black forearm bracers, also lined with gold; atop this he wore a padded waistcoat of black with shoulder pads and ornate gold lining, and his hair was pulled back into an oriental bun, bound with a circular golden crest with teardrop-shaped cutting that left a flame shape in the circle.

Separating them, sat a legion of Kyoshi Warriors, in official dress and face paint. They had also made a wreath of lilies and the golden warrior fans that Hifito's mother had fought barbarians, pirates and attackers with. Upon Rosutoko's mother's casket was a ring of shuriken daggers and lower down the coffin, her right-handed, arrow-firing, spring-loaded glove.

After the ceremony, Rosutoko walked to Hifito's side, where she stood watching the gravediggers Earthbending layer upon layer of dirt over their mother's bodies. She stood there, her frail, yet plump nine-year-old body hugged loosely by the black, red and subtly florally printed kimono, her bell-sleeved hands clasped together in front of her, her head slightly tilted and an understated smile sketched finely upon her glowing skin.

'Hello,' he said to the pretty young girl. 'I'm Rosutoko.'

She smiled, as if nothing had happened, as if nobody's mother had just been lowered into the ground. Bowing, she replied, 'Hello, my prince, I am Hifito, the eldest of Ty Lee's daughters.'

They stood in silence for five seconds, at least, yet the thick poignancy spread the emptiness with butter over bread, and Rosu could feel the skin on his cheeks prickle and flame. Hifito's smile returned, but opened into a toothy grin followed by a saccharine giggle and swift sweep of a hand to her mouth. He couldn't help but smiling back, his cheeks' cherry hue waning. She took his hand in her flawlessly marble puppy fat and ran to the fruiting tree, which dangled apples over their little heads.

And there they sat, cross-legged and giggling in the shadow of their parents' demises, and the shining of the setting sun.



'Shouldn't you be at Nayvah's coronation?' she said, as she swung her long legs over the wall.

'Shouldn't you?' replied the prince, leaning upon said wall and gazing at her unblemished complexion, only faulted by the summer freckles she'd been splattered by the sun.

They both giggled, their mat skin smouldering in the 3 o' clock light. Rosu wore a burgundy tunic and black baggy trousers, leather-soled sandals with crimson rope for straps, a pale, sagging rope around his waist, tied

with the golden, flame-shaped crest as a buckle. His hair was matted and messy, unbound by the leash of lacquered leather. She smiled back in sweet silence, tilting her head slightly to the left as she did so, before splitting her lips and giggling at his gawp. She wore her plait long and high, bound still by the lily broche, her hair shining and clean, as oppose to Rosu's unkempt mane. She wore a sleeveless, strapless top of red satin, a little black badge with a golden lily upon it sat at the heart of her chest, long frills hanging down from said badge. Below her midriff, was an identical dress, except for the badge which sat upon the right hip of the sixteen year old girl.

She rose at eyebrow to accentuate her smile. Rosutoko replied, 'I might be a prince, but you're a noblewoman – you should be there too, instead you want to go the beach!'

'Yeah!' she smiled, and jumped down. Taking his hand, she pulled him to the exit of the large koi garden, a twisting tree overlooking the pool and red, wooden bridge.

'Wait!' he cried, before they left. He ran to the wall opposite to where Hifito had been sitting and bowed to two engravings. The one to the right was a carved portrait of Fire Lord Zuko, the one to the left, his mother, Fire Queen Mai. 'Rest in peace, mother.'

It was seven years to the day that the Fire Queen and died and every year since her death, he would wish her happiness, wherever she was, and then carry on with his life. That was side he'd inherited from his mother, cynicism. He knew that if she saw him grovelling seven years after her death, she'd tell him to grow up and give him a good smack – there was no use crying and wondering if you could have stopped something from happening after it had already happened.

And they left, their sandals slapping the stone-slab corridors dryly. As they ran, Rosutoko noticed an open door as they passed it. Pulling Hifito back from her sprint, he silently peeked through the doorway to find his siblings around a table. On the far side of the room hung a deep scarlet curtain – this was the room that lead to the balcony, where Nayvah was to be crowned the new Fire Lord. Hai Lo, Sin Ly, Masca and Nayvah sat around the small stone table.

'Have you done what was asked of you?' Nayvah turned to Hai Lo, who sat to his right.

Lifting her hand from beneath the table, she slammed a decapitated forearm upon the table, blood still moist at the bone and muscle still soggy beneath the skin, 'It is done,' she replied simply.

Hifito gasped silently as she saw the princess pull an arm from nowhere. How did she get that? Where, or who did it come from? Rosu looked up to her apathetically and turned back to the royal quartet.

Turning dramatically to his brother, Sin Ly, Nayvah spoke again, 'I trust you have held your end of the bargain.'

Sin Ly pulled from his shirt, a bloodstained rosary, an Air Nomad symbol upon a stout cylinder attached to it. Dropping it offhandedly onto the stone slab, he looked at the future Fire Lord and raised at eyebrow.

'Masca,' Nayvah finally addressed the youngest of the four. 'I hope age was not an issue for your task.'

She pulled forth a bloodied sack from beneath the table and laid it down carefully. Untying it she pulled down the edges to reveal a severed head. Messily hacked from its host body, she reaching underneath it and hoisted it up with a handle. Upending it, the cranium slowly squelched off the end of the stick, thickened blood oozing and dripping from the parchment and wood. Handing it to her brother, he unravelled the scroll, revealing yet another flourish – it housed Waterbending secrets, Master Level abilities and techniques reserved for the most able, or the Avatar himself.

'Lovely,' he rasped, laying it down. 'Well done. You have successfully killed the three leaders of the opposing nations. And soon, I will rule the Fire Nation, and we will conquer this world like our grandfather never could. We have stopped all spies and outsiders from entering – the entire Nation is in the dark about everything, no one knows a thing. I have to say that this really was too easy. Each of you dissected the best Benders of every Nation and murdered the leaders of these countries single-handedly. Not only that, we managed to find it in our hearts to dispose of our parents at the tender ages of nine, ten and eleven.'

Rosu and Hifito gasped in unison, and the four Firebenders turned and looked up through the door. Before they knew why, the two sixteen-year-olds were running through the palace, without words to hinder their escape, they silently sprinted from the four traitors. Bursting from the room, the three teenagers' hands sparked with lightning and fire. Hai Lo now trailed them, having split up from her siblings. With her Aina personality in play she was formidable, savage, merciless.

The two runners' sandals were pounding the earth, slapping it rhythmically. They continued their pace; Rosu's right hand in Hifito's left. As they exited the four-walled corridor, they crossed a valley, in which the Palace was cut apart into two sections, one on one hill, the other on its neighbour. The corridor was now only roof and floor, the only safety rail from the deep abyss being a foot-high fence between the red pillars that lay systematically patterned, ten yards apart.

Upon reaching the end, the door was locked, bound by a lock on the reverse, Rosu banging and rattling at the handles. 'Rosu,' Hifito gasped, looking back at their route.

He turned, finding his eyes upon the sight of Hai Lo, her eyes cold and apathetic. 'I knew that you'd probably find out about our plans. I tried to convince him to let us kill you too, but he found the idea of family treason to be disgusting. Surprising after what we did to our parents. So instead of killing you myself, I took the subtle precautions of locking any door that could aid a get-away and laying traps randomly across the entire Palace.'

'How could you?' Rosu snarled through bared teeth. 'How could you kill not only the leaders of every Nation, but our own parents? You're monsters.'

'Yes,' she nodded, and smiling gently. 'We are. But unlike our weak parents and the weaker leaders, we realise the potential of the Fire Nation. We will conquer the world, one Nation at a time and in hundreds of years' time we will be revered as Gods.

'And nothing will stand in my way, not an uppity Prince, or a Prozac-blooded dancer.'

Her palms flourished with electricity, her fingers clawed, hooks of bone and nail, lightning coiling and licking the flesh upon her hands.

'Goodbye, brother.'

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