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|The Golden Claw|
Book 2: Water
April 16, 2013
The gang must recover a family heirloom from the nearby caverns of Han Tui.
Chapter 5: The Golden Claw
Book 2: Water
Chapter 5: The Golden Claw
Shen flies through the day, Unaraq points down at a town with docks, and ships anchored there.
"Judging by the map, down there must be Han Tui!" Unaraq said.
Rong Yan snaps the reigns on Shen, the red dragon roars and then it flies down to Han Tui. Landing outside of the town somewhere by the hillsides. The town was just several yards away. They walk to Han Tui, they directly walk off towards the docks in Han Tui, on the boardwalk they continue to walk straight and there stood a man on the docks.
"Yes, may I help you?" the man said.
"We're looking for Duizhang," Unaraq replied.
"What is your business with him?" the man asked.
"Here's this scroll to explain," Unaraq answered, giving the scroll to the man. The man opens the scroll and begins to read it, he closes the scrolls, and hands back to Unaraq.
"Please, walk forward onto the ship."
Duizhang, which happens to be the man was seen ordering the around some shipmates who were carrying crates and tools around the ship. Duizhang eyes the gang and the ambassador.
"State your business," Duizhang commanded.
Unaraq hands him the scroll, and Duizhang opens it upon reading the scroll his face goes into shock. He nods and closes the scrolls.
"I am Duizhang, which one of you is Suluk?" Duizhang asked.
"I am," Suluk answered.
"Then please stay here, we will take you back to the South Pole," Duizhang commented.
"Thank you, sir," Suluk thanked him.
Walking off the ship and leaving Suluk there, they walk off the docks and see a merchant stand to their left. Behind the merchant stand was a large ship with a few men on it, some working and some talking.
"Hey you there!" the merchant shouts to get their attention.
They turn to look back at the merchant behind the stand, they all point at themselves.
"Yes, all of you," the merchant shouts again.
They walk up to the merchant stand, to see why the merchant wanted to speak with them.
"Have you kids heard of the Golden Claw?" the merchant asked.
"The Golden Claw?" Rong Yan asked.
"Yes, the Golden Claw, it is a rare artifact known to be hidden within this very land here. I have traveled far and wide to find the Golden Claw, all the clues have led me here to Han Tui. The Golden Claw was once owned by a very rich and powerful noble. It is said that, it was once owned by the noble known as Shenqi of the Zhu family. Her father had obtained it through exploration in a deep vast cave, Shenqi has received the Golden Claw artifact as a family heirloom. One stormy night, when Shenqi was an old woman, a thief had broken into the old woman's house and stole the claw from her household," the merchant began.
"The thief had traveled to a nearby cave here by Han Tui, he hid there for the time being until things laid low. The next morning Shenqi had awaken from her sleep to find the claw gone, the claw was the only possession she had that was once owned by her father. Days later, the noblewoman had grown gravely ill, her servants had no idea what she had caught. To no avail they had no other leading cause to her sickness other than the fact she was old. A week had passed by, and Shenqi had passed away in the early morning of the next day," the merchant explained.
"News had gotten out that the claw was stolen, and the noblewoman known as Shenqi of the Zhu family had passed away. Not two nights have passed when the thief had been awoken by a strange noise within the cave he was hiding in. He believed that maybe it was an animal that had gotten into the cave, maybe later it would go away. The noise continued to be heard by the thief, he had also began to feel a strange presence. He knew it wasn't an animal, it was something of the unknown. Legend has it, that the old woman's spirit had appeared to the thief, and had scared the man to death. The woman had a son who had traveled from Ba Sing Se to Han Tui to bring the woman's body back to the capital city. Shenqi Zhu is buried in Ba Sing Se," the merchant continued.
"Don't worry she doesn't haunt the cave but I assume the spirit of the thief does but I could be wrong. Anyways, I know a man who is best friends with last descendant of the Zhu noble family. He is the last person to be known to exist of the Zhu family line. If you could retrieve the Golden Claw for me, I will pay you a large sack of gold, so that I may travel to Ba Sing Se and return it to my friend who will return it to the man of the Zhu family. Here I have two maps for you, the first map is of the outskirts of Han Tui, the cave is right here at the northwestern corner of the map, it is right across a river though, so I don't know how you'll get across. I had another man try to retrieve the claw but to no avail he hadn't find it. Though he did draw out a map of the cave. Here they are and I wish the best of luck to you, kids," the merchant finished.
As Rong Yan, Unaraq, Aloi and Tanaraq walk off and begin to examine the first map so they may find the cavern they are looking for. One of the men that was going about their work on the ship behind the merchant's stand had overheard the entire conversation the Avatar, his friends and the merchant had. He runs over to another man looking at a map and speaking to another man.
The man holding the map, wore a brown with black attire, with black leather boots, and also wore an eye patch since he was blind from his right eye. The man also wore a strange black hat atop his head, he had a black sash fashioned around his waist. On his left shoulder he had a strange reptile like bird perched on it.
"Captain Sao Feng! Captain Sao Feng!" the pirate yelled to get the attention of his superior.
The captain sighed as he saw the deck swabber run over to him, "Yes...Tuoba? What is it now?"
"Captain! I overheard the merchant below us have an intriguing conversation with a group of teenagers, he wants them to retrieve the Golden Claw! The artifact we're looking for!" Tuoba shouted in excitement.
"Hold that thought, First Mate Da Fu. I must return to the steering wheel of the ship," Captain Sao Feng said.
"Yes, sir," First Mate Da Fu responded.
"Good job, Tuoba! You're finally useful for something!" Sao Feng commented.
"Men ready the sails we're heading off to find the claw!" Sao Fen ordered.
"Aye, aye captain!" the men shouted.
The merchant looked behind him as he saw the large ship sail off, turning back to his position a customer approaches the man.
Meanwhile, Rong Yan and the gang find the cavern to be across the large river that was poorly drawn on the parchment known as the map. They walk over to the river and try find ways to cross. Rong Yan says, "How do we cross, the cavern is right over there. See he even drew the large river."
"Not a problem," said Tanaraq, and she froze a path over the river so that they may cross.
"Oh right, I forgot," Rong Yan replied.
They walk towards the cavern, and then walk into it. Unaraq unfolds the second map and takes lead into the cavern leading the way and following all the paths to where the claw may lay in.
The pirate ship eventually reaches the river and they sail down the river, Sao Feng looks over at Tuoba and asks, "What exactly is this river heading towards, Tuoba?"
"According to the map, the river is part of a delta. After the delta is the bay of Han Tui, and then the sea," Tuoba responded.
"Isn't it nice that we know the routes of the water around these parts?" Sao Feng asked.
"Truly it is, captain," Tuoba agreed.
"Da Fu, have the men anchor right here," Sao Feng ordered.
"Men anchor right here!" Da Fu shouted.
Immediately, the ship came to a halt, the pirates had gotten off the ship, and walked towards the cavern. Sao Feng used spark rocks to light himself, Da Fu, and Tuoba torches.
"We should be able to find this claw with some light, hopefully this map that my great grandfather had drawn out of the cavern is correct. Let's find this artifact and get out of here, before those kids show up. I don't plan to die in those caverns like my great grandfather did after he stole the claw from that old woman," Seng Fao said.
The small pirate crew walked into the cavern with lit torches, Seng Fao had Da Fu lead their group through the caverns. Tuoba could not wait to get his hands on the Golden Claw for his captain. Maybe then would the captain give him respect.
Rong Yan and the gang continue down the tunnels, reaching a forked tunnel they decide to take the left one. Rong Yan was thinking about his waterbending training but he didn't really want to push Tanaraq about it.
He asked anyway, "Hey Tanaraq.."
"Yeah?" Tanaraq asked.
"About my waterbending training..when do we start exactly?" Rong Yan asked back.
"I was planning tomorrow we could start. Get you started on the basics and go on from there!" Tanaraq replied.
"Is waterbending hard?" Rong Yan asked.
"I don't know, it came naturally to me. We'll just have to wait and see for your results," Tanaraq answered.
"Alright. Well nice chatting with you," he said.
"Okay," Tanaraq spoke.
"Hey Unaraq, how close are we to the end of the map drawing?" Rong Yan asked, behind them Aloi and Tanaraq were having a conversation about who knows what but he decided to bother them nor listen to their conversation.
"We....are...here right about....now!" Unaraq said.
"Aww this is even harder another forked tunnel. Let's take the right one!" Rong Yan said before beginning to run off to the one he chose, Unaraq quickly grabs him by the collar of his shirt to stop him.
"That isn't a good idea, I think we should vote on it first. All in favor for the left tunnel say I," Unaraq said.
"I," responded Aloi and Tanaraq.
"The people have spoken, let's go through the left tunnel," Unaraq commented.
They walked through the left tunnel, Rong Yan's right arm began to tire so he extinguished the fire. He raises his left hand and sparks a new fire. They continue to walk until they're stopped by a loud noise. As they get closer they see a stream and small waterfall underneath and in between where they're standing and the piece of the path of the tunnel on the other side.
"Yeah, picking the right tunnel was a bad idea...." Rong Yan muttered.
"Fine let's go back and take the right tunnel then," Unaraq said.
They walk back and into the right tunnel that Rong Yan had chosen. Continuing to walk it looked the paths were pretty simple from there. They enter a large room inside of the cavern, and see a skeleton sitting against a large rock, on the skeleton was old, dusty, torn clothing.
The clothing resembled that of a pirate's, Tanaraq hears footsteps behind her, as if they're running away. She quickly turns around and sees a short man running away with a large golden claw in his arms. The man was giggling as he ran with the claw through the left tunnel that they had once entered.
"HEY! Give that back!" Tanaraq shouted.
Rong Yan, Aloi and Unaraq look back at Tanaraq, and see what looks like light from the left tunnel though it began to disappear.
"A short man ran into the left tunnel we were in recently! He had the Golden Claw in hand!" Tanaraq shouted as she ran after the man.
The gang ran right after her. Several minutes pass by as the small pirate group run out of the cavern, and flee towards the ship. Tanaraq pulled the cap of her waterskin as she continued to run after the short man.
Pulling out enough water she whipped it at the short man, who felt the pain hit his head. The man was none other than Tuoba, Tuoba toppled over to the floor in pain, he placed his hand on his lower back, as the Golden Claw drops to the ground, and rolls away from him by just a few feet.
"CAPTAIN! THE CLAW!" Tuoba shouted.
Sao Feng, turned back and saw Tuoba on the ground, with the claw close by the waterbending girl. Tanaraq quickly runs for the claw, and shouts, "PIRATES!"
"PIRATES?!" Unaraq yells.
"AYE! THAT BE CORRECT, NOW GIVE ME BACK WHAT IS MINE, GIRLY!" Captain Sao Feng shouted back.
"NO!" Tanaraq shouted, she grabbed the claw, and ran behind Unaraq, who had pulled out his Water Tribe sword out of its sheath. Ready for a battle, Aloi goes into a stance, as well as Rong Yan. Tanaraq opens up her water skin and bends out some water.
Sao Feng, pulls out his cutlass, and raises it in the air and shouts, "ARGH! TO BATTLE!"
The entire crew of pirates roar as their captain shouts out a battlecry. Rong Yan, inhales then exhales releasing a fire blast out of his fists. The fire shoots out and one of the pirates dodges it, Tuoba tries to sneak attack Unaraq, charging towards Unaraq he has a blade raised high at the prince, Unaraq hits Tuoba with his sword hand upside the head, knocking him back. Tuoba staggering, Unaraq leg sweeps Tuoba, the pirate falls on his rear. Unaraq points the blade down at Tuoba neck.
Another pirate comes at Unaraq who then clashes swords with the pirate, and overpowers the man. Unaraq disarms the pirate. Another rather large pirate attempts to grab the Golden Claw, Tanaraq sees the man pick up the Golden Claw, after she had whipped another pirate with water. She freezes the man holding the claw, the man's hand was still able to move a bit.
The pirate dropped the claw, Aloi was fighting a group of three pirates, she was surrounded, all the three of the pirates began to try to slice and dice the airbender but to no avail could not as she dodged each blow and sometimes jumped high into the air to avoid blows.
Again jumps into the air and lands about twenty feet away from them. She raises her arms, and runs towards the three men, collecting air in her air, once she was about three feet away from the three pirates, she takes a leap into the air. Once again landing down, she claps, and the air is released from around her arms, the large air wave hits the three men sending them flying just only a few yards away. The men were exhausted, and had run out of energy.
Rong Yan, had disarmed the captain, and began to block all the punches that Sao Feng had thrown at him, Sao Feng kicked Rong Yan in the chest knocking him to the ground. Sao Feng attempted to stomp on Rong Yan's head, in hopes of giving him a head injury or concussion. Rong Yan grabs the captain's foot, Sao Feng begins to try and push down with his foot against Rong Yan's hands. Rong Yan, heats up his hands as the boot begins to melt.
Captain Sao Feng, begins to feel a burning sensation, as he looks down and see his boot has melted a bit. Feeling the fire burning a part of flesh on his left foot. He yelps in pain, Rong Yan kips up, and leaps into the air and delivers a fire wheel to Sao Feng. Sao Feng trying to block the wheel gets his face burned.
Covering his face with his hand Sao Feng screams in agonizing pain. Falling to the ground onto his knees, and slowly gets up still covering his face, and runs for the ship. Tuoba, again attempts to reach for the claw but, Unaraq steps on his hand. Tuoba yelps, and yells, "Retreat!"
The pirates all run back to the ship. Sao Feng still covering his face, First Mate Da Fu looks at him and with a concern looks at him and says, "Are you alright, captain?"
Sao Feng uncovers his face and shouts in Da Fu's face, pointing at his left eye where now lies burned flesh.
"Da Fu, where were you?! Does this look like I'm alright?! Curse that, firebender. When next we meet..I swear to my ancestors I will slay him!" Sao Feng shouted.
"I will bring you some bandages, captain. This will never happen again I swear it," Da Fu swore.
Running off he heads into the ship to retrieve some bandages, luckily, Rong Yan didn't burn his good eye only his blind eye.
Meanwhile, the gang celebrate their victory over the pirates, Tanaraq still holding the claw, she hands it to Rong Yan. Rong Yan, Aloi, Unaraq, and Tanaraq group hug each other and give each other high fives. They begin walking back to the port town of Han Tui.
Sao Feng, and his crew are out on the ocean, Sao Feng pulls out his spyglass and looks through it seeing Rong Yan and the gang returning to the merchant stand where they had first anchored their ship. In rage he slams the spyglass on the floor of the ship. The glass within the spyglass shatters as it impacts with the floorboards.
"Here, sweep the deck, you!" Sao Feng yells at a nearby pirate.
"And you! You must walk the plank!" Sao Feng shouted at Tuoba.
"Why?" Tuoba frightenedly replied.
"Because, of you...I lost possession of the Golden Claw you, imbecile!" Sao Feng hissed at Tuoba.
"Walk the plank now! Or off with your head!" Sao Feng shouted pulling his cutlass out and pointing it at Tuoba.
Tuoba lets out a little girly screaming and runs off the wooden plank and into the ocean. Beginning to swim towards the shore, Sao Feng then looks behind him and yells at his crew, "Set a course for the city of Taku!"
"Aye! Aye! Captain!" the crew shouted.
"Hey! You're back! Where's the Golden Claw?" merchant shouted as he saw Rong Yan and his friends return.
"Right here," Rong Yan said, placing the claw on the merchant's stand.
"Alrighty, thank you so much for recovering the claw for me. I'll make sure that this returns to the last descendant of the Zhu family in Ba Sing Se," the merchant said.
"Oh, almost forgot here's your sack of gold, kids," the merchant added.
They walk away from the merchant's stand, and buy some supplies. After an hour of shopping for supplies they head out of town and ride on Shen and fly off to the north of Han Tui.
For the collective works of the author, go here.