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|Into the Mists|
Blood and Swamps
December 12, 2012
Chapter 6: Into the Mists
The cool wind was welcome due to the warmth of the sun as spring came in full. There was no more snow or ice in Omashu or its mountains but rushing springs and great rivers. Black River had nearly doubled in depth, rushing through its onyx sand bed at a dangerous rate.
Water was truly an element of adaptation and change. It flowed with the changes, freezing in the winter, melting in the spring. And even summer could not destroy it, for the heat merely left the water in the air as vapor.
Water flowed, it was hard not to flow with it.
"The power within water is raw and lethal, but it is wild. It is your will that makes you the master." Ralyn stood on one end of a circle as Tala stood opposite her. Circling between them was an orb of water spiraling. It was almost touching Ralyn until she pushed it away to the side, it then curved to Tala, "The master has not only the ability but the right to use this ability to do what is necessary."
"And what would that be?" Tala mirrored Ralyn's motion pushing it along in the spiral.
"Stop a flood into a small village or heal the sick. It could be anything, from saving the helpless or stopping the evil."
"How can you fight with an element limited to where its in abundance and available?"
"Limited? Ha! The majority of our world is covered in water, all life in it requires it and there are few places you won't find it. A master can do much with little. But yes, there can be limitations."
"All the elements have their limitations. In the Si Wong Desert, there is little water, and less that isn't poisoned. It is absolutely critical that one is resourceful. That necessity was what made the techniques of withdrawal and bloodbending into what they are. Who would think about the water content of a body unless they were without water to defend themselves? Who would learn to draw water from air unless they needed a quick resource?"
"So, to you, the dark arts are just necessity?"
"Isn't all of it necessity that drives us? Why continue the practice of lightning generation or metalbending unless challenges were too much to face without them?"
Tala thought quietly on that as they continued the spiral. Liman, Suun, and Hava entered the grounds. Ralyn stood straight up relaxing, "That's enough for the day."
Tala bowed to her and turned so as to approach the trio. Suun was staring at Ralyn. He was a bit surprised, to say the least, when he found out that Tala's waterbending master was the same woman who captured and imprisoned him over three months before. The same woman who led a successful attack to capture high officers. A woman who bloodbent him into submission.
Kuel was no better, he ignored her and had Liman deal with anything the White Lotus had to do with her, just like now. Tala reached the masters, "Something wrong?"
"Maybe." Liman spoke up, "We are in communication with resistance all over the world. Despite the siege, we still have enough numbers and resources to stall the Alliance. They are spread out. Across Omashu, Republic City, the Northern Fortress, the Western Air Temple, North Pole, South Pole, ports up north, and the string of United Forces bases all over the mountains, there's too much ground for them to cover. But they planned ahead and so are still ahead of us in this game."
"Okay, I hear an analysis of our situation. If you mean that to be the problem, then we all know." Tala retorted sarcastically.
"We are in communication with people all over the world. But we do not have communication with two places. One of which we haven't had contact with since before the war broke out."
Tala's smirk disappeared, "Who?"
"The Foggy Swamp. Dozens, if not hundreds of waterbenders, unheard from for nearly two years. Not surprising for their reclusive nature, but they have communication and should have responded by now."
Hava continued, "That means there is something going on there, they may already have been taken over."
Liman answered, "I don't think the Swamp would go without a fight. The terrain is theirs and plantbending is powerful in such an environment."
Tala interrupted, "Well, either way, we need to find out. We can't just guess they're dead."
Liman asserted himself, "Tala, don't think that our opinion of their survival is the only factor to decide on. I am leading a group for the swamp myself to investigate. I am here because I need to talk to Ralyn."
"About my time in the Swamp." Ralyn approached, "Its pointless, that hell is alive and constantly moving, only at the roots does anything stay the same for a season. I am of better use telling you what those swampers are against. And that would be the Sea Dragons."
Suun muttered, "Oh Spirits..."
Tala inquired, "What? What are Sea Dragons.?"
Hava answered, "Sea Dragons are special units from the Fire Nation, they specialize-"
Ralyn finished his answers, "They specialize in marine warfare. Which means anything do with water is sent their way. They are the best killers in the world to send into a swamp."
Liman questioned that, "The best?"
"Oh, my Wolves, might push 'em back, but it would slaughter half my men to do it. These are some of the best trained warriors in the world."
"How would you know?"
"I'm Fire Nation, remember? Besides, I know their training. Its better if whoever goes is only a waterbender, only chance."
"In my experience, variety gives the fighters options."
"Well, in my experience, in that swamp, nothing but a waterbender will survive, especially if its a warzone."
"Hmmm. Perhaps you would know best on that."
"And if you're smart, you'll get it through your head that you need me there."
Suun nearly blew at that but Hava put a hand forward, "You can't honestly think we'll believe you?"
"If I wanted to escape, I would have on the last full moon. So grab your balls and man up."
Tala couldn't help but laugh. Ralyn played it true, she was more than capable of escaping in her current 'confinement'. She was free to walk the palace grounds so long as two sentries followed her and in the Air Nomads' enclave, where she was residing, sentries were not always following her as the Nomads assured them they could keep an eye on her. But it was whether Hava, Suun and Liman would take the insult and let her go which was the question.
Hava looked to Liman, "Well?"
"If the Sea Dragons really are there, then I'll need all the help I can get."
Hava then looked to Suun, "I would rather she be kept in a cell. I can't support her leaving the city, she knows too much."
Hava sighed, he didn't know what to do. He didn't want to release her, but was that caution or anger? Liman was rational enough to accept his limitations, something most on his level are incapable of.
He looked to Liman again, "If you think its best, then I guess that you'll need her help."
Ralyn responded, "Don't worry, my student can keep me in line if that's what you're worried about."
Tala was a little surprised at Ralyn's statement, she was not surprised by the three men's response, "Not a chance! The Avatar needs to stay here where its safe."
"There's no guarantee out there."
Ralyn answered firmly, "We'll need the Avatar for more than her power. The Swamp Tribe almost worships the Avatar. If they can contribute to the war effort, it will be absolutely critical that we show the Avatar is with us."
Departing the City
Many an hour of bickering and arguing ensued as the council debated letting Ralyn out, let alone Tala. But in the end, Ralyn was able to somehow convince the surly old men that the Avatar could sway the Swampers to fight if they could.
Now they were heading out. They used fresh new tunnels far below and far beyond to get out. Mounts were necessary for this trip, vehicles wouldn't get far in the swamp. Ilan was twitchy as they went through the tunnel, he didn't mind the dark but he hated the confinement.
As they walked down the tunnel, Ralyn looked at Tala, or at least who she thought was Tala, "By the way, I haven't asked; how are things with that bald boy?"
"They're alright. Kulek gave me time to vent, but it still stings that he chose them over me. I trusted my family in his hands and he betrayed that."
"Kulek wasn't in an easy position. He has duties to his clan as you do your family. What do you think the clan would have thought had he kept it from them and they learned he knew."
"They're monks, all that would have happened to him is that he would have been ignored for sometime. It could have been the death of my people if we weren't prepared. I can't just ignore that."
"I don't expect you to Avatar Tala. But I do expect you of all people to think reasonably. Your family is safe, baldy is safe and you didn't have to choose between the two."
Tala was quiet for a while, she was surprised that Ralyn was defending Kulek after everything she had said, "And what if I must choose again?"
"Then choose what is best for the world. You're the Avatar, you will make decisions that shape the world. Those decisions must always have that consequence in mind."
It felt like a day to finally escape the underpass, but it finally arrived when light filled the exit. They stepped out into the forests at the edge of the mountain range. Tala knew there were at least five scouts and watchers but could only perceive one from sight, the others she could hear breath. One of them stood up, "You're clear for about two miles and then there are patrols that routinely canvas the area. Shouldn't be too hard to get past them."
Liman nodded, "Thanks, we'll send a signal ahead of our return."
Tala, Liman and the others mounted animals. Tala heard a growl from the tunnel that spooked several of the mounts. Out of it came a massive wolf, his coat was all black save for a tuft if white fur on his chest. His eyes spoke of ferocity and his snarl was meant for more than show.
"Ov, over here," Ralyn's command was firm and absolute.
The large wolf approached his master, she leapt onto the mount provided her. Ov was large but not big enough to ride. Tala gave Ralyn a look. How did she expect the wolf to keep up with them?
Ralyn smiled, "Don't let his bulk deceive you, Avatar. Ov is a great runner, can keep a sprint pace for hours and can run for days if need be. He'll be fine, its these mounts I worry about."
"There are worse things than wolves in that hell. And if they're afraid of a wolf, then they be of little use to us once we're in the swamp itself."
The party of twenty waterbenders set and rode forward. Tala easily led on Ilan, who was by far fast than any Mongoose Dragon or Ostrich Horse, or Komodo-Rhino used by the group. They left the forest and the tree line at dark and rode at night, easier to hide while still heading for the Swamp.
Day was coming and the grouped camped under a pass with plenty of cover from any airships that may be watching. They rested while Ralyn informed them of the dangers of both the swamp and the Sea Dragons.
"The swamp is horrifying, both alive and dead. The water is stagnant and rotting, the wildlife is merciless and reckless. You can't let your guard down, you can't even sleep in there."
"Then what about the Foggy Swamp Tribe?"
"Amazing what will stay back when you have fire and a permanent emplacement. Beyond the tribe, there is no safety."
Entering the Mists
Night crept up again and the group continued their race to the swamp ahead. Just before dawn they reached their destination. At a hill they looked down on the perimeter of the swamp. It was dark, ominous and foreboding. But it was more than that.
The vines were cruelly twisted, choking what they coiled around. Mists prevent seeing beyond the canopy but sounds of dark things could be heard. This place was no source of life and enlightenment.
"Something is wrong," Liman could sense it, as did everyone.
Ralyn expanded, "Very. I may have hated this place, but something else has awakened here. I've never seen the swamp like this."
"Then we'll need to be quick to find the tribe," Tala answered firmly and confidently.
Both Ralyn and Liman looked at her, "Tala, you don't understand, something is wrong here. This place is cursed. If anyone is alive in there, I don't think we'll like what it is."
"I won't abandon them at one glance," Tala showed her resolve by riding Ilan forward. Ralyn and Liman looked at each other. They were polar opposites but they both didn't like the look of this swamp, nor would they let the Avatar go alone. They urged their mounts forward.
As they rode forward, they could feel death. And soon the smell of it was too much for the mounts to bear. They began rearing and protesting every step forward. Liman grunted as he tried to tame his mongoose dragon, "Its hopeless, they won't go in there!"
"We'll have to leave them behind and press on foot."
"That's worse! We don't know what's in there!"
Ralyn looked as far as she could, "Listen. Yes there are dark things in there but I hear no animals, no catgators or other wildlife. Whatever attacks us in there, mounts won't save us."
The group decided to leave four of their men to stay behind with the mounts just outside the vicinity of the swamp. The rest continued on foot, except for Tala. Ilan was the only animal willing to go in. His bond with Tala was strong enough for him to brave the dangers that cowed other creatures.
They placed supplies on Ilan's back, so that it was easier to move. They entered the swamp and could see the ominous warning was not for show. There was no flow in the water, it was stagnant and mosquitos were prevalent and plaguing.
It had gotten quiet within the swamp after several hours of travel. Light was the only comfort as it bled through the trees. Tala looked at Ralyn, "So how do you know about the Swamp?"
"I came here to train. I went anywhere there was a master of a style of waterbending. Foggy Swamp Style may have little use outside of a rich environment, but it has its uses and was a great platform to self-teach bloodbending."
Tala started wondering exactly how much she wanted to know about this mercenary, she always answered so far. Tala decided to move to a different but related subject, "You said you knew that the Sea Dragons would be sent in if the Fire Nation was involved here. How do you know that?"
"Because my brother use to command them."
"You forget Avatar, while I am a waterbender, my family is Fire Nation, my brother is a firebender, and a deadly one."
"So what makes him so dangerous."
"Alov was born to mixed heritage like me. We went to the South Pole so my grandfather could meet him. Alov knew only the cold and bitterness of the South in his childhood. Knew only the cruelty of those who couldn't understand him. He was almost ten before my parents left back for the Fire Nation."
"I was meaning to ask, why did he leave?"
Ralyn looked over Tala's shoulder and at another waterbender, Tala looked herself and saw the hooded man was the farthest from them. Ralyn started, "Alov did not get along with the other children of the South Pole. Their parents told them he was a fire demon, they feared and hated him."
"Alov didn't seem to mind as far as I was told, but he is as cold as ice, something our father wasn't. Alov persisted, but so did the kids. My parents realized the mistake of raising him in the South and meant to take him back to the Homeland for his tenth birthday."
"Unfortunately that boy," Ralyn looked back at the hooded waterbender afar, "decided he needed to get his kicks in while he could. A fifteen year old and his gang of followers decided to have one last laugh before my brother turned ten. What could he do?"
Ralyn actually chuckled, "He tricked them all, by getting them into thin ice, the boys ran, but Alov caught the ringleader alone. He was tired of all he had suffered and made the fool pay for it. He melted his face right off."
Tala's eyes were filled with horror, "Make no mistake, that idiot deserved it and more. But it was not Alov's place to do it. My parents had to get Alov out of the South Pole fast after that."
"Alov has become colder after that, he feels little and suffers less. Insults are met with burns and hits are met with death. No one in the Fire Navy dared to try and challenge him, they heard the rumors. And when he became a Sea Dragon, he was exemplary. He became a commander and reformed them, using his training in the South Pole to make them a true marine force. Alov's a Grand Marshal now, but he is still feared and respected."
The hooded White Lotus Sentinel muttered out loud, "And if I find he is here in the Swamp, it will be me they talk about with fear."
Ralyn rolled her eyes and whispered "Coming from someone who got maimed by a nine year old when they had six years on them."
The party continued on deeper into the Swamp. Light was fading and they were looking for a suitable place to camp elevated high enough. One of the sentries went to the water hoping to see something good across when the water rippled. He readied himself to fight when something peaked out of the water. A head emerged. The waterbender looked at it and smiled, it was cute.
The head moved forward as the creature swam forward, "Hey guys, check out this adorable thing!"
Ralyn's head turned on a swivel, "No! Get awa-!"
Ralyn's response wasn't finished. The 'cute' creature completely left the water to reveal a massive hulk of muscle and skin. It had a massive chest as its upper body and arms were drastically larger than the lower body and legs.
Each arm was as thick as a man and as tall as any. A long tail followed the creature as it roared. It didn't look cute anymore. It backhanded the shocked sentry, sending him flying through the air and into a mess of vines on the other side of the party.
It stood on its hind legs, beating its chest and then bolted forward. The furry face of it snarled as it attacked, bearing massive fangs behind the deceptively small mouth. Tala looked on as it charged them, "What is that thing?"
"An Otter-gorilla, which is bad, run, now!"
The party ran for the opposite way as Liman and another waterbender picked up the thrown sentry. They kept running but it easily caught up to them. Tala spun, then twisted her hand in a soft motion, a jet of air shot out and blasted the Otter-gorilla back. While the blast sent it ten feet away, it in no way harmed the beast, not even turning it over.
The blast gave them the time they needed. Ralyn stopped and turned around. They had entered what looked to be a river in the swamp. With a large access to water, they stood a chance. Liman joined Ralyn as the two sent volleys of ice shards at the approaching monster. The creature stopped at the water, using its large arm to shield its face from the shards.
It gave a roar of defiance. Tala joined Liman and Ralyn, ready to fight back. The Otter-gorilla stepped forward but stopped, sniffing, looking around wildly, grunting and then running off. The others smiled and laughed, the only one that had been hurt was even laughing, "Boy, I thought we were screwed!"
Ralyn answered in disbelief, "So did I? I have never seen an Otter-gorilla back away from a fight like that."
"Maybe it was just hungry but gave up on us?"
"It would have attacked even more fiercely if it wanted to eat us."
Ralyn began looking around, Tala didn't like it, neither did Liman, "Stay sharp."
Tala's world spun as someone grabbed her from below and flipped her over. In waist deep water, she had little ability to turn and fight. When she landed and stood up, an impressive set of armor stood before her.
He was lean but fit, with tightly plated armor encompassing his entire body. It was a dark blue, almost black in the darkness of the water. Lining all of it, a deep scarlet showed the segmentation of plates.
The water steamed from heat, fires spawned from his palms. He punched to her, she waved her hand up as a wall of water met the rushing flames creating a great deal of mist. Tala got out of the water as fast as she could but saw that the firebender was neither deterred nor distracted by her act.
He waded calmly over as his fellow dragons had already attacked. Ralyn was facing two while Liman was cornered by another, the others were being corralled despite having adequate supply of water to fight with.
She saw that Ralyn was holding her own because she was fighting differently, she was attacking. Tala decided to follow her example. She swiped forward as several blades of water jetted to the warrior, he deftly dodged them. Tala couldn't tell whether there was wrath or coldness in him. The Dragon-Helm was that of a snarling dragon, yet emotionless, it betrayed nothing to the enemy.
He fired two quick burst at her as he advanced. Tala ducked while spinning giving her technique that extra push as a very large whip hit him dead in the chest. Tala charged to attack when she heard a plunk in the water behind her, from the splash was another Sea Dragon and he sent a fire whip her way. She kicked up, sending a funnel of air to push him sideways, enough for her to change directions.
She heard more splashes and saw that at least three more Dragons had entered the fight. Liman was boxed in and the others were getting thrashed. Ralyn was the only one holding out by surfing on the water to move faster than her hunters. Tala could hear growling and screaming on the bank, apparently Ov and Ilan had caught one of the Dragons and was fighting him still.
It was a lost battle. They were outnumbered and outplayed, maybe she and Ralyn could get away at best, Liman too if he started going on the offensive.
Fears of having to flee ended when a loud whoop was heard. The Dragons instantly turned their attention to the new threat. Ten men in leaves with hats made of even bigger leaves. They rode four boats down the river. Three of them leapt off the boats and at the Dragons, one tackled the Dragon closest while the other splashed into the water. The third also tried to tackle a Dragon but was thrown as the armored warrior rolled with the hit and kicked off the swamp man.
Soon waves began pushing back the Sea Dragons, literally. Enough waterbenders were now present to overpower the skilled marines. Even in retreat there was danger. The Sea Dragons covered for each other and did not flee, instead they simply backed into the deep water and disappeared as if it was their home they were returning to.
Tala looked at the scrawny man before her, he was barely clothed but could hardly blame him considering the humidity. What did the women wear in here? She kept her too-blunt questions to herself, "Thanks for the help."
"My pleasure to help a gal in peril!"
She gave a quirky look, "Peril? Okay sure...."
A Ruined Tribe
The men helped the small party out and got them on the boats while Tala and Ralyn rode on Ilan's back. As they continued down the river, they saw that mist surrounded but anything they got a glimpse of was dark and twisted.
"What's happened here?"
"Those things attacked a year and a half ago but this started months before, we don't know."
"A year and a half? The war has only been going on half that long."
"So you haven't heard?"
"We haven't been able to contact anyone. None of our messengers sent come back, which by chance found you?"
"None. We came looking for you."
"Hmmm." The Swamp man had a broken look to him.
"You knew one of them, didn't you?"
"He was my brother. Thought it would be safer out of here."
They reached the shore of the village, there were many tents but few people compared to them; but still many men and women.
The party from Omashu looked about. They had seen it before, they had lost hope. Something had broken these people. But when they were about to lose hope, a man stepped out from the rest, he was thicker set and taller, his blue eyes gleamed. This man had not given up, he was determined.
"Greetings travelers, I am Lue, welcome to our home."
Liman started first, "I am Liman member of the Order of the White Lotus. This is-" Liman named every member of the party and was going to name Ralyn when she answered for herself.
"I am the She-Wolf."
"Ah. You're known among us."
Tala was the last to introduce herself, she shook Lue's hand as she did so, "I am Avatar Tala, an honor to meet you."
Lue immediately bowed, "Thank the Spirits! Our prayers have been answered."
The other people began bowing as well. Awe, fear and joy permeated the village with news of the Avatar's arrival.
It was some time before Tala managed to get the people to stop bowing, but it was done and now dinner was ready. "Normally we would throw a feast in your honor, but even your good news is just short rain over a firestorm."
"What's going on here? Really going on?"
"About two years ago, things started changing here. Things became hostile, things became fearful and fled. One of our wisest, Tuo, said something was being done to the Banyan Grove Tree, but we could find nothing that had caused it harm."
"We kept looking as the land began changing and the tree itself became hostile to us. A year and a half ago, Tuo disappeared. He was the first."
"After that we started losing people regularly, and sending more was worse. It wasn't till a year ago before we actually saw those things, those men," he said the word with disdain as if he didn't believe they were men but rather monsters. "We were once sixteen hundred people strong, give or take the old and young. Now were are less than a thousand, most of what's left is women and children."
Tala was confused, "But this is your land, and you know who the enemy is. How could you not stop them?"
"Those things are demons. They come from nowhere and go nowhere when their work is done. They know this place better than we do."
Tala noticed a look on Ralyn's face. It was disturbing, like she knew this story.
The party was given their own family tent for twenty, it was unoccupied when the previous owners had all been taken. Tala threw a bag on the cot for her, she looked at Ralyn, "Spill it."
"I know you didn't want to say anything before, but you know what's going on here, talk."
Ralyn sighed, "Many years ago, I was contracted to hunt a creature that was plaguing a village. Simple work, or so I thought. But it wasn't just one creature, it was their entire population, striking at the village."
"Around this time, my brother had taken shore leave and joined me. Somehow hunting rodents sounded like a better shore leave to him than partying at Ember Island. We spent weeks trying to push these things back. And it was useless."
"We decided to exterminate them. First we tracked their patterns and located their centers of numbers. Then we targeted loners and scouts, until there was only the core, and then we hit them hard. We wiped them out and got the job done."
"Alov, however, saw it as more than pest control. As an officer to a powerful family, if he hoped for promotions, he would need a thesis on war and tactics. He was inspired by our hunt to create what he called the 'Purge Protocol'. It was built on waiting, observing, and striking."
"The thesis started with his relation of our hunt, but when he translated it to a practical application, he needed to calculate out and study. His theoretical target was this Swamp. A perfect test place if it ever got off the ground: isolated, dark, dangerous wildlife and semi-intelligent locals would be easy for the Sea Dragons to weed out until no one was left."
"You helped make this?!"
"Uh-huh. We perfected the strategy and when Alov became Dragon Commander, he used the 'Purge Protocol' as his thesis. Now he has deployed it and testing it."
Liman spoke up, "You have to stop it."
"I don't think it can be stopped. The system is flawless, and if I know my brother, he found a way to improve it since his first thesis."
Tala walked up to the sitting Ralyn, "We have to do something."
A Southern Tribe waterbender spoke out loud, "And do what. We nearly got slaughtered by those Sea Dragons. We stood no chance against them."
"We work together."
"They'll just wait us out and come back. The best thing is to evacuate the tribe out of the swamp now before there is no one left."
Liman nodded his head, "We need to get these people out of here."
Tala responded coldly, "No. I will not abandon these people or this swamp to the enemy. I will stay and fight."
The party sighed. They couldn't leave the Avatar, they would be staying so long as she did.
"So what's the plan?"
Ralyn spoke again, "I may have a way in."
Tala walked forward through the gnarled vines. Clean water was hard to come by in the swamp, naturally clean was in special springs where a special flower cleaned the water. She held a bag for enough water for the group for the night.
She found it just where they told her where it was. She opened the bag and lifted the water out of the pool. She led it in with a slow and intricate flow, her hands moving smoothly.
A puddle broke behind her and water sloshed. She turned on a dime and looked for the disturbance. Her emerald eyes saw nothing but mist. She spent some time looking but could perceive no threat.
Tala turned around to pick up the bag of water when she became face to face with a helm of metal. Its dark blue surface was line on the red with scarlet. Water rolled off the steaming helm breathing mist into her face.
A hand shot forward, grabbing her throat. She rushed her hand up, dropping a wave of water on top of them. The hand persisted and now dragged her forward past the spring. He reached a river not too far and soon two more armored warriors emerged stealthily from the water.
Tala kicked out, a burst of wind hit the emerging warrior and sent him skipping across the water. A whip wrapped around her leg, forcing it down. The second warrior approached and tied the struggling Avatar, giving her no time to react as the other pinned her down. Then he put a mask on her face and clamped it down. When the third warrior returned they waded into the river and delved below.
They did not rise. Rather they descended further into the river, reaching a metal hull. One of the warriors tapped it thrice in a pattern, seeing it open. They quickly placed the Avatar inside and climbed in, closing the hatch behind her.
Suddenly, a propellor spun and the object began moving forward. Leaving the river behind. Watching were two, they stayed a distance but began following. The serpentine body allowed him to follow the trail of water shifted and the second clung to his back as a helm of a wolf looked out. It was completely covered showing no face but she was known well to those who met her before.
The Eel Hound continued swimming and following the trail, following his master, the bait.
TO BE CONTINUED......
- The Otter-gorilla is a hybrid of otters and gorillas. They have an otter's head and tail, their fur and fins in-between their fingers and toes. They have a gorilla's body, especially the large arms, their large teeth, and a streak of silver fur on their back.
- The Otter-gorilla is an aggressive and dangerous animal, taking more after a gorilla in behavior. It takes over regions usually frequented by catgators if they can overpower them. They lure in suspected intruders by sticking out their head which looks like a cute otter and then attacking and brutally beating them to death.
- Sea Dragons have been in the Swamp for years for the Purge Protocol.
- Tuo is similar to Hue as an enlightened man but is not so "pants are an illusion".
- Into the Mists is part one of a swamp arc followed by Supremacy of Wolves.
- Tala was purposely captured at the end.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
Storms of the Future Cycle
|The Journey of Tala|
|Book 1 - Sand and Steel|
|- - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
|Book 2 - Blood and Swamps|
|- - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
|Book 3 - Pyres and Storms|
|- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
|Fates and Vows|
|- - - - - - Ilera - Solace Fade - Scions - Sovereign|
|The Rise of Lirin|
|- In the Morrow - The White Dragon - Faith in Blood - The Great Gates - Lord Avatar - A Red Sun - Faceless - Faction - Tempest - Rally of Crows - Rally of Eagles - Dragons and Serpents - Kings and Men - Storms of a Spirit - Princes - A Battered Land - Seas of Ichor - Arbiter - Return to a Grave - Declination - Disaffection - Epilogue|
|Myths of the Empire|
|Pacification - Assassins - Empire - Red Sun Under The Empire - White Snow - Heirs|
|The Reclamation of Arein|
|Book 1 - Chaos|
|Refugee - Rogue - Ghosts - Dark Roses - Doyen - Divulgence - The Plan - Abscond - Mists of Illusion - Madonna - Syndicate - Playing the Stakes - Purge - Brothers|
|Book 2 - War|
|Alliance - Temple - Tensions - The Fall - Hunters and Prey - Lussuria - Shades of Relevance - Broken Star - Defiler - Strikeforce - Secrets of the Lair - Eminence - Swarm - Wanderer|
|Dreams of Melasa|
|Book 1 - Servant|
| - - - - - - - - - - - - -
|Book 2 - Shadow World|
|Faint but Clear - Ghost in the Steel - Kurotama - Loyalties - Servants of Shadow - Game of Fate - Shadows and Reflections - Tomb of Blood - Broken Blades - Hill of Shadow - Souls and Swords - Home|