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October 5, 2016
Chapter 2 – Silent Screams
It was the middle of the night in the Fire Nation village of Tui Gan. This night was frighteningly silent. Nothing in the whole village seemed to be alive. Everything was asleep. Or maybe even dead.
The only thing that gave the village the tiniest air of life was the screams of a baby who just had been born, and felt freezing cold and surrounded by darkness in the exact moment between her arrive out of her mother and when she was brought to the breast of her mother and got to be warmer. She felt like she had waited for years to feel this warm, even though she had no idea that this kind of dark cold experience was going to play an important part in thirteen years of her later life.
The parents named their daughter P'Li. They soon discovered that she was very big sized for her age, mainly in length.
"Is that normal?" her mother wondered.
Mastering firebending in a day, her parents knew there was something special about her. So on a dark, stormy night, her mother brought P'Li to a special doctor.
"Can you tell if there's something wrong with her?" she asked.
"I think we'll have to take a test on her," the doctor said.
"What kind of test? Is there anything wrong with me, mommy?" little P'Li asked worried. .
"Quiet, child!" her mother yelled. P'Li could not help but start crying.
"I didn't mean too ..." she started, interrupted by her mother.
"Why are you crying, your useless little brat?!" she said and slapped her daughter in the face. P'Li could have defended herself with firebending, but she had been told that she was never allowed to use firebending without asking permission at first. The doctor barley protested, restoring the attention of the mother.
"Can't you just tell us? Come on, say it!" the mother yelled.
"Say what?" P'Li asked scared, still crying a lot.
"That my daughter is a monster!!!" her mother screamed, breaking into tears as well. P'Li's eyes were filled with new tears. It was like her mother did not care about her anymore.
"You're a monster! You don't even care about your own daughter! I hate you! Intensely!" P'Li screamed and ran out the door. She stayed outside the room, with the door still halfway open, and while she stood there and cried, she could hear her mother and the doctor discussing out loud.
"Tell me the truth. Is she a combustionbender?" her mother yelled.
"I can't tell you until I've done the test," he explained.
"Okay. Here's the deal. I'll make her come inside here again and you can do the test. Then you give us the answers so that we know what to do with her after getting out of this horrible place!" the mother screamed. P'Li took a slow, deep breath, and were prepared to get to know her true destiny.
After this special test, the doctor gave P'Li's mother a paper that confirmed that P'Li was a combustionbender. Her mother started crying and yelling so that the whole village could hear her.
"I've created a monster!" it echoed that night, in the village of Tui Gan.
The next day, while her mother tried to calm down at home, her father brought P'Li out to prepare her to look good before she was going to be sold to a rich warlord.
They went to the hairdresser, who shaved P'Li's already nice and pretty long dark hair on the sides, and made a braid. After that, they moved to a tattoo master, who gave her the tattoo of a third eye in the forehead.
Knowing that their daughter was a combustionbender, P'Li's parents felt like their daughter was nothing but useless to them, so they wanted to make sure she still made herself as useful as possible, so they wanted to sell her to a warlord, in hope she could become a nice weapon someday. They had called the most famous and successful warlord known to humans, Lord Qwa.
They had invited him home to see if he wanted to take P'Li with him. They had placed their daughter standing on the floor, letting the warlord study here in detail to see if he wanted her.
"I'll take her," he said, and grabbed P'Li with both arms. He brought her outside, not letting her say goodbye to her parents in any way. Not that they cared about that, though. They went to his car, and was about to put her in the trunk. She did not want to come with him, and so she acted. She did whatever she could to break free from Lord Qwa's iron grip. With the exception of bending, of course.
"Mom! Dad! Please! Take me back!!" she screamed, breaking into tears. Lord Qwa let her stand inside the trunk for a second with the door still open.
"Your mind now. Your parents have no control over you anymore," he said. Those last words made her realize something. Her parents were the ones who had refused her to firebend without permission, but now that Lord Qwa was in charge, she could do it, because he had never said anything about it. Since she had not learned combustionbending yet, she had to use normal firebending. She shot a big fireball at him, but he used his shield to defense himself. He slammed the door, and started driving P'Li. Far, faraway.
After some more crying, P'Li realized she would not be happy with her parents either, so she could worry about escape later, and then use this opportunity to get some sleep.
The next morning, she was awaked by the morning sun shining through the windows of the car. While the car was still driving, she suddenly could tell that it had stopped. Lord Qwa opened the trunk, prepared for her new try to escape. He used a rope, making it easy to take get control of P'Li.
"Where are we?" she asked supplied, being in his arms again.
"My home," he said, walking towards a large house.
"And where specifically are we?" she asked.
"City of Yee," he informed.
While Lord Qwa brought P'Li into her new home, Zaheer was hiding in some bushes in the nearby forest. He used binoculars, and from what he could see, he understood that this was something he had to change. .
"Seems like I've found our first recruit," he said. He was planning to wait until sunset and break P'Li out of the house after darkness had fallen.
Lord Qwa had hired a firebending master named Dio to somehow give P'Li combustionbending instructions. They were practicing in Lord Qwa's private gym. Unlike Lord Qwa himself, Dio was pretty calm and relaxed.
"Combustionbending requires good chi flow and a calibrated focus in order to be effective," he said.
"So what am I gonna do?" P'Li asked.
"I want you to meditate in order to unite with the energy within your own body," Dio said. As so she did. For hours. After that, Dio was claiming to Lord Qwa that P'Li should be able to create explosions by now.
"Show me what you've got, P'Li!" he yelled. She focused her energy to create an explosion.
"Impressive. We'll leave first thing in the morning," Lord Qwa said, walking on his way out of the gym.
"Where?" P'Li asked.
"To the navy of course," Lord Qwa laughed, followed by Dio, who smiled.
That night, P'Li was laying in her bed, trying to figure out how she could ever get away from there. No way she joined that stupid warlord in any navy. She did not know what to do.
Then, she could hear someone outside the window. It was Zaheer. P'Li went to the window, and opened it up.
"Who are you?" she asked.
"My name is Zaheer. And I'm here to set you free," he said. She smiled. He smiled back. They got down to the ground, but they had to stay hidden, as the house were surrounded by guards. Zaheer knew that both of them had incredible powers, and that if they were ever going to be able to escape, they had to be spotted at some point. He grabbed P'Li's hand, making her feel really good. She smiled at him, and he smiled at her. .
"You ready for this?" he asked. She did not see that come.
"Wait, for whaaaaaaaaaa ..." came out of her mouth as he started to run very fast with her in tow. They were discovered by the guards, and the alarm awaked Lord Qwa.
He got out from the house, and got up his sword, being no match for P'Li's huge explosions, which caused them all to, including the warlord, fall.
They ran as fast as they could into the forest. P'Li was exhausted, so Zaheer made a small campfire.
"I didn't manage to get to know your name?" he said.
"I'm P'Li," she said. He placed her hand in his own, noticing how cold she was.
"You freeze, P'Li," he said, grabbed her with both of his arms, and kept holding around her.
"You saved me, Zaheer," she said, tearing up. He noticed that her face got closer to his, and in the end, their lips reached each other's, and they shared a romantic kiss.
"Let's be together forever?" she asked.
"Forever. I promise," he said.
- Like with the previous chapter, please take note that the profile image of this chapter does not represent P'Li's age at this point, we are only using her profile image to symbolize the fact that this chapter is about her.
- I based this chapter on the one of few thing we actually got to know about P'Li's childhood during the series, the fact that Zaheer freed her from becoming a warlord's killing machine.
For the collective works of the author, go here.