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The lucky mango
The lucky mango
12 January 2013
Previously on Changing Fates
Emi fought two men on her way home from a bakery. After defeating them, she was offered to attend the Elite Nation Academy, the most prestigious school in the Fire Nation. In the Capital City Prison, Taiyo was confronted by his friend Akira. He vowed to find a way to escape the prison.
Life's Little Surprises
The courtyard was chillier than the day before. With a shaky breath, Taiyo pulled his worn green jacket tighter around himself. Fall was an unpredictable season and the season when his earthbending was weakest. He felt vulnerable sitting by himself in the courtyard.
"Akira, where are you?" he muttered. He spent all night thinking about what she had said and he wanted to talk about it now. Of course she was nowhere in sight.
Taiyo sighed and leaned against the courtyard wall, trying to enjoy the fresh air while he could. Winter was approaching and it would be too cold outside, especially for the firebenders. Taiyo began to doze off, thinking about stories he used to hear – stories about cold lands covered in ice where the snow never melted and breaths rose like clouds into the sky.
Loud noises from the courtyard entrance startled Taiyo out of his rest. Was Akira coming outside finally? His hopes were surrendered when he saw two middle-aged men trudge into the courtyard. Two soldiers stood by the door and remained after it was closed.
New prisoners? Taiyo watched them in interest. They were probably the oddest pair he'd ever seen. One was tall and skinny with a well-kept drooping mustache while the other was short and robust with extreme sideburns. Both looked like they had been in a major fight. From the looks of their singed clothing, it was a firebending showdown.
The two men stumbled over towards Taiyo, who stiffened in uneasiness. They collapsed on the ground near him and Taiyo scooted a few inches away, hoping they weren't going to try anything.
"I can't believe it. I thought we had her," the tall one muttered. He rested his head in his hands. Taiyo perked up, suddenly interested in their conversation. Did they try to kidnap someone?
"She should've been an easy prize," the other agreed. "Her parents are rich! Think about all the money we could've gotten. Why did she have to be a firebender?"
Taiyo's interest peaked. A firebender? He instantly thought of Emi. She was a firebender! Maybe she was still here in Zune Kasai. However Taiyo recognized a flaw in his theory: Emi's parents weren't rich. They were poor. That's why they lived in a one-room apartment in Yu Dao. They weren't talking about Emi. Taiyo sighed. He always jumped to conclusions, only to get his hopes crushed.
"Now we're stuck in this dumb prison. It's all her fault," the tall man grumbled.
Taiyo really wanted to know who they were talking about, just so he wouldn't wonder for the rest of his life. "Um..." The two men's heads swiveled towards him in unison and suddenly he was unsure whether this was a good idea after all.
"What do you want, kid?"
A frown formed on Taiyo's face. "I'm not a kid." He stopped himself from insulting them and mustered the courage to ask them his question. "I just wanted to know who you're talking about."
"And why is it your business?" the tall guy asked.
"Because I might know her."
The duo stared at Taiyo for a second, their faces blank. Then the short man burst into laughter. "You? You, a wimpy little Earth Kingdom boy, know the one of the most powerful families in the Fire Nation? I find that unlikely." Taiyo glared at the man in annoyance, ready to argue against him.
Now the tall guy was laughing too. "That's really hilarious. Wow." He started wheezing from laughing so hard and struggled to catch his breath. He looked back at Taiyo, a smile on his face. "You made my miserable, horrendous, depressing day much better. Just for that, I'll tell you."
What? Taiyo expected them to laugh him out of the courtyard. These two guys weren't so bad after all. He didn't expect the scene to play out the way it did, but he wasn't going to complain.
"We were going to kidnap the Kazuko girl. What's her name again?"
"Emi, I think," the short guy offered. Taiyo's eyes widened in surprise but he didn't interrupt their train of thought.
"Yeah, Emi. Anyway, we had been watching her for a few days but she was never alone. She was always with her school friends or her parents. But yesterday she went to a bakery alone. We thought that would be a great chance to kidnap her, right? Ha, we were dead wrong."
"Really? What happened?" Taiyo asked. He tried to sound normal, but anxiety was written in his voice. Taiyo couldn't believe it. Emi was here in Zune Kasai, a powerful firebender. Did she remember him?
"And then all of a sudden, one of the generals showed up. He blasted us with his firebending and sent us here to this prison," the tall man finished. Taiyo realized that he missed most of the story and tried to make up for it.
"That's crazy," Taiyo said. "You guys have been through a lot lately."
The tall guy nodded. "Yep. It's been tough, but we'll find a way out of this jail. Don't worry."
The shorter one leaned towards Taiyo. "Was it her?"
Taiyo looked straight into the man's eyes. "No."
Arguing"You're not going." The temperature of the Kazuko residence dropped ten degrees as Reika stared at her daughter coldly.
"What! Why? Mom, I thought you guys wanted me to be a good firebender! Dad?"
Zhun sighed. "I know this is what you want, but your mother says –"
Emi groaned loudly. "You're the man of the house! You're supposed to decide stuff, not mom!" she cried.
A weary Zhun looked over at Reika. She took a deep breath and looked her daughter in the eye. "I don't want you getting involved in this war, Emi. You are high up in society and as such you should be a respectable young lady, not a soldier."
"That's not what I want! I want to go to the ENA and become a firebending master. Mom, that's all I want!"
"My word is final," Reika said firmly.
Emi cursed herself for the tears that were falling down her cheeks. She ran up several flights of stairs to her floor, where she collapsed on her bed.
Why? All of a sudden her mother was being so icy and controlling! Her mother had always been controlling, but the coldness was something new! Weren't mothers supposed to be kind and loving? Apparently Reika had missed that section of the parenting handbook.
Trying to slow the tears, Emi looked around her room. She had the entire top floor to herself. She had a huge bathroom, her own living loom, a giant bedroom – it was a poor girl's dream. And yet Emi would trade it all for a chance to become a firebending master.
"All the wealth in the world and it's not enough," Emi muttered. "I wish I was still living in Yu Dao. At least then I'd have real friends."
There was a soft knock on Emi's door and Reika walked in. "Emi dear, I'm sorry for being so unkind. I just want what's best for you." Her voice was gentle and apologetic, but Emi wasn't buying it.
"You don't know what's best for me, mom. Keeping me from my dreams is not 'best for me.' Why can't you see that?"
"I know what's best for you, Emi. I am your mother and until you're old enough to live alone, you will live under my rule. And that means you are not going to the academy. You will be staying right here where you can learn how to behave properly." With that, Reika walked back out, closing the door behind her.
"I'm not going to let you boss me around for the rest of my life," Emi said. Her voice was crisp and low. She wasn't going to sit around and miss out on her chance. She found a bag and put a few things in it – all memorabilia of her life. She glanced out the window on the street side of her chambers. A dragon-moose carriage was coming down the road.
"And there's my ride." Emi grabbed the bag from her bed and headed for the stairs. As she walked past her living area, the golden glint of metal stopped her. On a little table was a ring with the sun emblem.
Emi hesitated for a moment. The ring was one of her most treasured things, a family heirloom. By leaving her home she was leaving her family behind. But somehow she couldn't leave the ring. Emi twisted it onto her finger and raced down the stairs. When she reached the bottom, Reika was nowhere in sight. As she opened the front door, Zhun stepped in front of her.
"Dad, please don't make me fight you." Emi looked at her father seriously. He was the only thing between her and freedom now. If he sided with Reika, he was going down.
"I'm not trying to stop you," Zhun said. "I just want to say goodbye."
The frustration Emi felt moments before vanished and she suddenly felt sad. Holding back tears once again, she gave her father a hug.
"Thanks dad. I..."
"I'll talk to Reika," Zhun promised. "Be careful, Emi. There is a lot you don't know but I have faith in you. I wouldn't mind a letter every now and then."
"Bye dad. I hope you find courage to stand up for yourself." Emi kissed her father on the cheek and climbed into the carriage. She was on her way to a new life.
Taiyo sat in his cell once again, avoiding the dropping temperatures of the courtyard. He stared at the dirt on the floor of his cell, constantly shifting it into different shapes. If only there was a more substantial amount of dirt in the prison. Even the courtyard was paved in stone, a substance he couldn't bend yet.
"Hey." An unfamiliar voice distracted Taiyo. He stood quickly, scuffing the ground with his feet to disguise his handiwork. Taiyo looked up to see several prisoners about his age. He looked at them warily, wondering what they wanted.
"I'm Brek. These are my buddies Tang, Lio, and Win. We're part of a group that's planning a way out of this prison. I saw you earthbending and thought –"
"If you're trying to blackmail me..." Taiyo warned.
"Don't worry, your secret is safe with us," Brek promised. "We thought you could help us out. I'm sure you want to escape as much as we do."
Taiyo thought for a moment. This was his chance to get out of jail, to change his life. Maybe he could take Akira with him – wherever she was. Taiyo looked at Brek and nodded. "I'm in."
- Emi's situation in this chapter is the exact opposite of Siro's in . This was complete coincidence.
- This is the first time we see get really emotional.
- Brek has a personality similar to Jet's - except Brek doesn't despise the Fire Nation. (He still dislikes it, of course.)
- The trouble Akira predicted in the last chapter shows up in the form of Brek and his rebel gang.
- This isn't the last time we hear of Emi's parents...especially Reika.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|Changing Fates Chapters|
|Book One: Innocent|
|• • • • • • • Kyoshi Island • Visions of Dragons • Princess Azula|
|Book Two: Blind|
|Book Three: Changing|
|Book Four: Fearless|