|More from Skyart||Action/Adventure||PG-13||None||None|
|Chapter 1 - The Dragon Mask (Avatar: The Second)|
Skaï was dozing off on Molly's back, flying at high speed through the mellow looking clouds, when he heard sounds of battle.
"Go down a bit, girl," he asked to his friend. "And slow down."
When they got close enough, Skaï saw a group of earthbenders fighting against one of firebenders. Judging from the fact that everyone on both sides were no older than him, he reckoned that it wasn't anything serious, but the violence they manifested made up his mind to stop the fight. He quickly analyzed the battlefield.
The firebenders seemed to follow orders from someone with a red and gold dragon mask covering his face, who stayed out of reach of the earthbenders. They were forming strict battle formations and fighting with obvious, but efficient strategy.
On the other side, the earthbenders were charging in with all their might, relentlessly attacking the firebenders, leaving little time to counterattack, and with no apparent strategy nor leadership. With this, and considering the higher ground possessed by the firebenders, it was clear that the earthbenders had been taken by surprise during an ambush. Moreover, the apparent lack of potential loot for the firebenders suggested that the motive of the fight was surely: a grudge.
"I'm going down there for a bit." After saying so to Molly, Skaï let himself fall off her, in direction of the battlefield.
During his fall, under him, the crowd had spotted him and had stopped the fight to try to figure out what was the thing coming down at high velocity towards them.
"It's a bird!" said an earthbender.
"It's a sky bison!" replied a firebender.
Getting closer to the ground, Skaï prepared his landing. Just before touching the earth, right in the middle of the battlefield, he used a combination of air and earth bending to send a huge earth-shattering shockwave that sent flying some and destabilized most.
The Avatar looked around him, searching for the man in the mask. Indeed, from his analyzing, he deducted that the best way to end the fight as quickly as possible would be to incapacitate the firebenders' leader. Their whole fighting strategy rested on him, which meant, it was very likely that they would retreat if the dragon mask happened to be disposed of. Of course, the earthbenders would go after them, but they were far less agile and quick on their feet. The firebenders would lose them in no time.
"Who are you?" asked a loud and hoarse voice, interrupting his high-paced thinking.
After finding the source of the voice, he first thought that it was the dragon mask who spoke, but another "Who are you," more insistent, indicated that it was actually a tall, very muscular and shirtless man standing right beside the slender mask bearer. However, he noticed that the big man was only repeating what the dragon mask whispered to him.
"I'm the Avatar and I'm here to end this fight!" answered Skaï in an equally loud voice, looking straight into the black holes representing the eyes of the dragon mask.
Skaï saw the firebenders' leader telling the muscular man what to say before he responded.
"What is 'the Avatar' and what business does an airbender have in this place?" answered the man in an intimidating voice.
I guess the name hasn't reached very far yet, thought Skaï.
"My name is Skaï, successor of Wan, master of the four elements, and I demand to speak to each of your leader to understand the meaning of this fight and bring an end to it!"
Impressing your opponents before hostilities even begun was a tactic known by all accomplished warrior. The demonstration he gave during his landing and the mention of Wan's name was the first steps of his plan to end this without any violence. He knew the earthbenders had no leader and would sent someone randomly if they agreed to what he asked, so the only threat remaining would be the dragon mask. Then, all he would need to do would be to convin-
While Skaï was busy overthinking his plan and looking at the man in the mask, an earthbender had thrown a small boulder right into his stomach, sending him flying to the side of the battlefield. Both camp then proceeded to resume their fight, shouting battle cries, not caring in the slightest about the strange newcomer who was spouting nonsense a minute ago.
"What?" articulated Skaï between two gasps, confused and regaining his senses. "Who the hell are these people?"
Now convinced that he has no other choice, the still shaken Avatar decided to head directly for the dragon mask and to take him down.
After getting back up, Skaï used his airbending to propel himself high in the air toward the man, but a small group of five firebenders guarding their leader had seen him coming and had moved into position to intercept him in midair.
He expected them to throw waltzes of fire with their fists, but instead, they each inhaled a high quantity of air by their nose, then all exhaled it at the same time by their mouth, spiting a violent blast of fire in his direction.
"Dragons..." Skaï thought for himself.
Inspired, and still clinging to his plan to impress them, the Avatar quickly imitated their move, taking a deep breath, and spiting a blazing deflagration larger than the five firebenders' blasts together.
The fire out of the way, Skaï, still in midair, bent the earth to create two walls with only the dragon mask between them, and made them move away from earth other, driving the dumbfounded guards away with them, leaving only their leader remaining.
The threats disposed of, he landed softly right in front of the small man leading the battle.
"Surrender," said the Avatar in an imperious voice. "You saw what I can do."
The man before him was rather small, reaching about Skaï's chin, but his slender body looked athletic and used to fighting. He was wearing traditional red and gold martial art clothes, matching his mask and covering all of his body up to his hands.
Despite everything Skaï displayed, the short man did not even budge ever since the Avatar had started targeting him, and even now, face to face, he was still staring silently at him through his mask.
"If you want it that way..." gave up the Avatar. He was going to trap the man in the mask into an earth cage when he heard screaming.
Skaï looked in direction of the battlefield and saw the earthbenders starting to back up, running away from the firebenders who were chasing them.
But when he looked back, the dragon mask was gone. Instead, the big man who spoke for him earlier was standing there, his big fist raised in the air. Before he could react, Skaï received a heavy punch right in the stomach... again.
While his mind was fading away, just before losing his consciousness, he heard a voice. "Call them back. We're going home. Bring our strange fellow with you."
It was dark when Skaï woke up. Trying to figure out his situation, he realized he was chained tight to a big tree, leaving space only for his head to move. When he looked around him, all there was more trees, but he could see dim lights in the distance and hear faded voices.
Unable to bend without moving his body, the Avatar looked for a way to free himself. The tree and the chain were way too big and tough to consider breaking them up with pure strength, so he inspected his surroundings.
The ground was covered in footprint of different sizes, which meant the people who captured him were sending people regularly to check on him. He would have to hurry. Around him, the darkness of the night was omnipresent, making his task a lot more complex. Up him, spring had made the trees' leaves extremely dense, blocking sky and moonlight together completely. Small motions, however, in this windless night, indicated that some sort of animal was up there. If he could only-
"Do you always do that?"
The Avatar thought his heart had stopped when the voice surprised him. It came from the obscurity between the trees, somewhere before him.
"I-I'm sorry? Who's there?" asked Skaï anxiously.
The voice owner moved forward, leaving the darkness to get closer, letting the prisoner see them. The person appearing before Skaï was a young girl with straight black hair loose on her shoulders. When she arrived in front of him, she took a big woodstick at her waist and lighted it with firebending. When she raised the torch, Skaï saw emotionless gold eyes staring at him. Her face showed a slightly tanned skin, caused by prolonged sun exposure, and her dominating position made her traits looked confident. Skaï noted that, if you ignored the dirt, she could be beautiful.
"Do you always do that?" she asked again.
"Do what? Who are you?" replied the prisoner.
"The... thing you do with your eyes. Moving them like crazy, like you're inspecting and seeing everything everywhere. Well, almost everything. That boulder should've hurt a lot."
"You were at the battlefield," noticed the boy, slightly hurt in his pride.
"Of course. You gave quite the demonstration. Who are you anyway?"
"I want to speak to the man with the dragon mask."
"There is no man with a dragon mask."
Skaï was staring silently at the girl, wondering why such an obvious lie, when he saw her red and gold clothes.
"It's you..." he said, dumbfounded.
"Took you some time. Now. I want answers. Who are you and how did you do... whatever you did? And you better start talking fast, 'cause fire is difficult to control."
While speaking she had progressively increased the torch's flame intensity, which was now so bright it blinded the restrained Avatar.
"I already explained all this!" said Skaï in an exasperated voice. "I'm the Avatar, I - more or less - master all four bending arts, and I do not seek trouble. Haven't you heard the legends?"
"Oh I heard them. They speak of a hundred-year-old sage, named The One, who freed the world from the spirit by driving them out of our world with the help of the four elements."
"So you have it. That's me."
"You do not exactly look like the hundred-years-old type, if you want my opinion," said the girl arrogantly.
"Well, not me exactly, but that's where my name come from. I'm that man's – and it's Wan by the way – Avatar. His reincarnation. I carry on his duty and will. And right now, I kind of have a war to stop, so if could unchain me, I would really appreciate it."
After a silence, "You realize you're not making any sense?"
"Absolutely. But I need you to believe me."
The young girl stared at him silently for a moment then answered: "Alright."
Skaï, who had been holding his breath, sighed of relief, but the girl added: "But I want something in return."
The eyes of the firebender became stern and determined as she looked straight at the Avatar.
"The earthbenders earlier today. You're powerful, help me bring them down," she asked.
"Why? Who are they?"
"They're called the 'Gold Eaters'. They're a group of bandits who raid villages to steal gold, and then just throw it away into a river or a lake. They do it for fun. Robbing innocent people of their hard-earned gold so that they can have of good laugh."
The young girl had been walking back and forth while speaking and her face was distorted by anger. Then she stopped and looked back at Skaï.
"But I'll be honest. My primary and true goal is to obtain an information they have about another group of their species. Help me get it, and we will each go our way to never meet again."
"Fine. I'll help you."
"Then we have a deal," said the girl while going to the back of the tree. A little later, the chain on Skaï's body loosened up and he could move again. She came back to his side and shook his hand.
"Welcome to the Dragon Fighters, Avatar. The name's Cielle, by the way."
To be continued
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