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|Stone Walls, Wooden Doors|
February 18, 2013
Stone Walls, Wooden Doors is the second chapter of the fanon series, by .
Peaceful dusk sat itself upon one of the numerous Fire Nation colonies in the Earth Kingdom, the glistening wave of gold nestling itself on top of the wooden huts. Despite it's size, the hilltop position of this simple community gave it disproportionate value in the war that had been going on for nearly a century. As was common in a small town like this, the shops had already closed and most people were getting ready to turn in early. Weary from boredom, the red-armored guards at the front gate prepared to turn in themselves and make way for the night shift to take their place at the opening of the fifteen-foot stone wall that lined the edge of the town. By a single look, one could tell that this particular colony had not been under Fire Nation control for very long, and that it was much like the Earth Kingdom had left it when they occupied it. No Fire Nation officer was foolish enough to fortify their territory in this land with a wall of stone.
All of a sudden, the Fire Nation guardsman of the day shift were awakened from their daydreams and shook into alertness as a second hole was made in the wall surrounding the settlement. Half a dozen figures garbed in conical hats and catgator-green tunics with the rounded earthbending symbol emblazoned on their chest stood in the brand-new entranceway, their faces hardened and their left arms lifted in the air in unison. Before the Fire Nation soldiers fully knew what had hit them, these soldiers - known as the Terra Team - each tapped their right feet lightly and rock spheres jumped up from below, before being guided by their callers to soar with high speed at their red-armored targets.
Two of the red-armored men, cursed by slow reaction time, succumbed to the flying rocks and fell to the grassy floor. One of their skull-masked comrades leapt aside of the projectile and knelt on the ground as he executed a well-positioned punch in the direction of the attacker closest to him. His chi heated up and his breath grew strong as he exhibited his own bending art. However, his target, a slim figure with long dark hair flowing in the breeze beneath her own conical hat, sprint-jumped a few feet from the earth and managed to dodge the line of sparking fire that came in her direction. She smirked as her feet touched back to the ground, now closer to her opponent. This was Ratana, the Terra Team's lone female.
"Nice shot!" she jeered at the firebender beside her. "Maybe a few more years and you'll actually be able to hit something!"
Ratana did not have to see the man's face or hear his voice in order to feel the rage boiling on the other side of the skull mask. Still crouching, he jabbed this arm and sent a sharper, faster blast of fire toward her, but by the time it reached the spot where she once was, Ratana was already in the air again. At the end of her jump she swept about her right leg and hit her limb square against his skull-face, denting his helmet and knocking him back. When her feet planted themselves once again, she whirled both arms inward and erected earthen shackles around his arms, leaving him trapped and unable to bend. She then spun about and found a flank of ten enemy soldiers emerging from inside a nearby wooden hut. The skull-faced firebenders assumed their fighting stances and the unmasked spear wielders grasped their weapons tightly. They stood between the Earth Kingdom invaders and the inner square of the town, which, among other things, included the governor's house. Unlike the first group the Terra Team encountered that day, these ones were ready for them.
Ratana dragged her leg back and thrust both arms forward, carving a shallow earth trench at the perimeter between them and launching up blunt earthen spikes diagonally at her opponents. For the first time since stepping on the battlefield that day, Ratana was not solely counting on her own abilities. Rather, she was counting on Tooru's. In the Terra Team, soldiers were paired up with their sparring opponent in training exercises, who was also their partner on the battlefield. Ratana focused every bit of her skill, every ounce of her strength and every fiber of her being at keeping up her wave of rock knives and neutralizing the Fire Nation guards. As a result, she did not have any energy left for watching her own back. She may have been a talented earthbender, but if a fireball hit her from behind now, she would be burnt to a crisp within seconds. Therefore, she had to trust Tooru as much as she trusted herself when he watched her back. The Terra Team were trained to adhere to the principle of working together over self-reliance. Ratana had no trouble doing this now, as she and Tooru had fought together and bled together many times. On the battlefield, they were family, as they must be.
After several long moments, the Terra Team managed to break through. Ratana ceased her attack and she, Tooru and three of their comrades charged to where the enemy had stood. Their eight remaining opponents fell back and ran in retreat. One of the earlier ten had been rendered unconscious by a boulder and another had been unfortunate enough to have his face pierced by a flying rock spike.
Rounding up on the rim of the inner square, Ratana and Tooru looked both ways and then back to one another. "It looks like we've got them on the run," Tooru told her with a curt nod of his head.
"Right," Ratana returned. "Let's keep moving while we've got the tide on our side."
"Taigang said that we should wait and regroup when we got to this point," stated Shun Ping, a mousy comrade of theirs, thinner than Ratana and Tooru and about half a head shorter than either. "He and his partner Zan Xun should be a little behind us right now."
"That's a brilliant idea," Ratana voiced with a sarcastic roll of her eyes. "While we're 'regrouping', we'd also give the Fire Nation time to bring in their own reinforcements."
"So, we should just carry on, then?" Tooru asked as he peered forth and surveyed the area some more.
Ratana looked into his eyes and nodded. "When we're so close to fulfilling our mission, it'd be foolish to let such an opportune moment slip away."
The five earthbenders stormed into the inner square together, their footsteps pounding in unison against the backdrop of soaring rocks and scourging fire blasts in the chaos of this not-long-ago peaceful village. Tooru and Shun Ping each engaged a firebender in a one-on-one duel as the others worked together on creating a thick earth wall to block a possible route for Fire Nation reinforcements to enter the area. Meanwhile, Ratana set her eyes on the governor's house.
Drawing her good arm back, Ratana levitated a mound of earth one-foot in diameter out of the ground and allowed it to hover between her and the wooden door to the governor's house for a moment. Then, in a tremendous thrust, she punched forward, her energy pulsating and her fingers curled tightly into a firm fist. The brown rock soared through the air and smashed straight through the door. Granted, it had not actually been locked, but at a time like this Ratana could not allow herself time to check before acting.
Charging through the newly-created hole in the cracked and splintered wooden door, Ratana found a balding, middle-aged man with a scraggly beard hanging from his chin. He was garbed in fancy, regal red robes with the fiery emblem of Azulon just below the shoulder, and was flanked by two spearmen - one on either side of his desk.
"Lay down your arms!" Ratana called to the guards, but they did not have much time to do so before they were forced to. Although separated from the earth by a wooden floor, Ratana was not out of her element by any means. Years of training under Brawki and becoming accustomed to serving in the Earth Kingdom military had brought the daughter of Roshune and Rang Xue of Munn a long way. She swung both arms in the air and a pair of corresponding columns of rocks sprung from the ground, smashed through the floor - leaving broken off pieces of wood scattered in separate directions, and fastened themselves around the spearmen's wrists. Cringing, their fingers succumbed and their weapons dropped to the ground.
The shocked Fire Nation governor gulped as Ratana narrowed her eyes and marched toward him, fists clenched. Swiftly, she flattened out her right palm and brought it down just in front of the speechless, feeble governor's throat. "We hereby reclaim this town in the name of the 52nd Earth King."
- The name of this chapter comes from the stone wall broken at the start of the chapter and the wooden door near the end.
For the collective works of the author, go here.