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|Chapter 6: Nomad|
Pyres and Storms
February 6, 2013
The world is engulfed in war. Blood has spilled as the Nations contest a balance of power. Avatar Tala must guide the world in order to bring stability back, but must deal with resistance and ancient threats that risk to change the course of the world forever.
Chapter 6: Nomad
A cold chill took the city. Shivering against the shock weather had make people depressed. They looked despaired and gloomy, fearful. But Hava knew that all that fear could not be attributed to the weather, or even the siege. It was Urri.
Urri had become dangerous and unstable in the aftermath of Tala's betrayal. It did not matter what situation had come, Urri would order the most violent response possible. He wanted a barrage of the discovered forward medical bay of the siege rather than target the recently placed artillery cannons that might fire on civilians.
Hava felt worse that he could do nothing to stop it. Urri had brought in new officers and members of the council, with them he had the numbers to back his propositions. And worse, these 'officers' were violent. Hava had a mind to wonder if he found them in prison as violent psychopaths.
As the council ended with the new policy of hitting the enemies' barracks and forward medical bays, Hava sought to talk with Suun. When he was finally able to get the General alone, he looked haggard.
"Suun we need to talk about your brother. He's become obsessed with violence. He's not even defending the city anymore so much as killing the enemy."
"That is the King's decision, not mine."
"And look what its doing. He's alienating his friends and council in favor of violent and erratic men from who knows where."
Suun had a sad look to him as he looked around before responding, he whispered, "Urri doesn't listen to me anymore. Stopping him from pulling the bridge out from under Tala was the last straw. The only reason he hasn't touched me is because he needs me for public support. I can't help."
Hava left even more dejected. If what Suun said was true, then things were far worse off than he thought. He returned to the Air Nomads Enclave. Most of the monks had stopped fighting after Urri decreed that every fighter must kill everyone they fight and spare none. More left when he gave quotas. This strained things even more. Urri gave less and less food to the enclave, claiming it was 'rationing', but was in reality punishment.
The monks waited for him to speak as he reached the room they used for Elder meetings. He shook his head negatively. Simi growled, "I think its time we accept the reality that Urri is beyond saving. He will burn this city to the ground before he surrenders, and he would have us all join him."
Yilo stuttered like a fool, "We can't lose hope that things can return to a peaceful-"
"Peaceful!" Simi interrupted loudly, "He wants everyone to slaughter ten enemy soldiers a day or lose food rations! What peace is that? You're an old fool Yilo if you think that Urri will take a peaceful solution. The only peace that man will have is the permanent one of a grave."
"Shhh!" Hava quieted Simi, "We don't know who's listening. You're right, Simi, but we don't have an option right now."
"Because we didn't join Tala like we should have. She saw the signs and we were blind. Now we're stuck in here with the Madman of Omashu."
"Arguing about the past is pointless, we can't leave now, and that's what matters, now. Focus on what we need to do next," Hava looked at the elders, these men had no idea how things had come to this, "I will try and speak with Kuel, hopefully he knows something that can help."
Hava walked the halls of the palace as quietly as he could. He knew that eyes now watched him as much as they could. He had evaded them for now, but finding Kuel would still be difficult.
In the aftermath of Tala's defection, things did not change much. The city was low on morale and weak in bargaining power, but still strong and united in decision. That fell apart when the factions with Omashu agreed to the peace treaty with Rishu and Kuir. Urri considered them all traitors to some degree, even though they weren't his subjects to begin with.
His only allies were the mercenaries he bought from under Rishu, the United Forces, and the Order of the White Lotus. Technically the White Lotus left the war and Kuel wasn't here, but truth was a different thing. His men more than not guarded now and the others wore uniforms to fight. Still, Urri didn't trust them and kept them separated from from Suun and Hava. The three had barely talked in the last month except at council meetings.
The White Lotus was moved further from the enclave for the same reason. Hava finally located men he knew were Lotus sentries and entered their hall. They looked at first suspiciously to the entrance until they realized it was an Air Nomad.
Kuel's voice was strained. The war weighed down on him too. The stress of knowing that his order had been cut down by nearly half in battles with the Fire Nation tormented him. He was determined to get justice and avenge them.
"We need to talk."
"Indeed," he motioned to a chair across from him.
"Kuel, things in the city have gone out of control. We are fighting a losing war. Urri is making the wrong choice."
"You say that like there is any other choice."
"We can face the music and deal with the truth. Continuing this war will only end in death and destruction."
"We have lost too much to just let them get away with this. Rishu and The Snowbold must face justice."
"You think you'll give it to them? Rishu has taken everything we've thrown at him and returned worse. And for all that, he has given the olive branch and made treaties with everyone except Urri."
"Just because everyone else gives up doesn't mean we should follow suit. We are in a great battle for what is right and what is wrong."
"No, we're in a battle of greed and pride and Urri's arrogance. He needs to see that he will only bring pain and suffering to everyone, including himself."
"I'm sorry Hava, but I am with Urri, the enemy must pay for what they have done."
Hava would have argued with him but realized it useless. Kuel wanted revenge and would join with Urri to get it.
Hava sat in his chair as he waited for the council to convene. Urri was last to appear, preceding him was vile captain who had gained the King's favor of late. If there was a more violent way to enact a tactic, this man thought of it, and Urri approved of it.
The council started with a supply debate. Further rationing was required. The next issue is what brought the world down on Hava. One of the intelligence officers spoke up, "There are some rumblings among the civilian population. They hope for the war to end soon and want the city to surrender and avoid further bloodshed."
"They would seek to supplant me?!"
Suun spoke reassuringly, "I'm sure they're just tired and weary of the war, nothing sinister."
"Shut up!" Urri looked at Suun like he was in league with rebels. Suun kept quiet. "I will not have subterfuge from by subjects!"
The captain who had so gained the King's favor spoke up, "Sir, if I may make a suggestion? Perhaps, rather than go after every citizen, which would be wasteful, we make an example of a few. The most vocal and his family would be enough to teach the rest to follow their King."
Hava had heard enough, "That's it! You can't honestly be considering this? Murdering people because they want their sons and fathers to stop dying? Is that a crime now?"
"I'll consider it and more! Anything less than absolute loyalty of my citizens is treason! And I expect you to follow my command!"
Hava clenched his fist, "No."
"I said no. I will not follow a madman so bloodthirsty he will settle for murdering his own people. Tala was right about you, I just wish I didn't let our friendship didn't blind that."
Hava turned around and left the throne room. He was sick of it and wouldn't listen to anymore of this psychopath's chaotic lust for revenge.
Hava sat in his room just filing everything he had just witnessed. Urri had gone beyond the pale. He didn't know what he or the Elders would do now. He was going to go and inform them of the disaster in minutes when an intrusion guards entered. The four men were led by the same captain that suggested murdering a family for an example.
He looked at the captain and decidedly did not like the look about the man's face, a smile too wide and too sinister for good intentions.
"What do you want, Captain?"
"You're under arrest for crimes against the crown. Come quietly and you monks might get it easy. Don't, and there will be pain."
Hava stood up slowly, "You're trash and belong in a gutter with those washed up after the Triad War."
The smirk disappeared from his face, "Take him!"
Hava didn't hesitate. He punched his hands out immediately where a wave of solidified air hit the approaching guards and smashing them into the walls, knocking them out in the process. The captain rushed forward with a punch.
Hava stepped in, too close for him to swing back. He then drew a dagger and sliced up. Hava acted without thought and sent two fingers into his throat. A sick crunching and gurgling followed as the captain fell to his knees as he gripped his throat. A death rattle escaped him as he struggled to breathe.
Hava looked at his hands and back to the dead body before him. He spoke more to himself than the dead or unconscious, "Qatil, is this what happened to you?"
Hava had killed before in this war and it was unpleasant then, but it was out of necessity and protection. He always tried to avoid it. But here, he didn't. He ended the threat and didn't let the enemy return and possibly kill him later.
He felt the rush and guilt of killing the man he hated. Qatil confessed this to him before his trial and Hava, to his shame, discounted the admission. "I'm so sorry."
He grabbed his staff and most important items and left. As he quietly walked through the halls he heard commotion further in the Enclave. He approached from a higher area. Guards were everywhere as they held and shackled Air Nomads, both adults and children.
They were not gentle with them and even slapped those who were too slow to do as told. Worse, one of them was telling off a guard.
Yilo's squeaky voice could be told a mile away, "What do you think you're doing? We are the guests of the King!"
"Not anymore!" The men laughed when one of the guards approached from behind and thrust his spear forward. Blood and tissue exploded from his front as a gore-covered spear emerged. Yilo coughed up blood. Hava looked away as he fell to the floor, where they left him while the children and women screamed.
The guards took them away as they left Yilo's corpse there. After some time Hava leapt down as the sun set. He kneeled down to Yilo. He felt pity for the old fool, he never learned. He placed his hand over his eyes and closed them.
Hava snuck through the palace, not knowing what to do next. He could escape, but he would be abandoning the others. He couldn't let them be killed like Yilo.
"So what are we going to do?"
Hava turned quickly to face the voice from above to see the burned arm of a friend. "Simi!" he whispered angrily, "You should be more careful. How did you get away?"
"They came for me and I killed them when they grabbed their spears. Given the corpse in your room, I would say the same happened to you."
Hava ignored the quip with a wave of his hand as the two stood on the roof in the dark night. Simi asked again, "So what are we going to do? If we run, Urri will kill them. If we turn ourselves in, he'll kill us and then kill them."
"We need to break them out."
"That'll be impossible for Air Nomads."
"Because we'll have to kill to get them out, can't afford for them to wake up behind us."
"Those men have made their choice, we're dealing with survival here. You and I, Simi, have seen the darker shades of light and can handle them."
"Good, lets go."
A Lethal Break
Hava surveyed the prison. All inside, it was even harder to fight for an airbender. Simi was right, they couldn't afford for any guards to come back from behind. The ultimate action was required, it made him sick to his stomach, he wondered if Simi felt that way too.
The two crawled to the entrance from above. One guard stood there while at least two were in the next room. It was important that they acted fast. Simi went first, sliding down silently as the guard was looking in the other direction. Simi hung there upside down and waited for the man to turn back around.
When he did, he gripped his mouth with one hand and his neck with another. He twisted with a hard yank and let go as the man fell lifeless to the floor with a light thud. Simi dropped down as Hava entered the prison. He looked in as quietly as he could. Two more were inside, one was sleeping in the chair while the other was drinking coffee, facing the other way. Simi stepped forward and took the man in the chair with a quick snap of his neck while Hava ran forward and wrapped his arms around the man's throat. The man struggled and moved violently but faded as he lost breath and soon his life.
They kept going forward, managing to avoid anymore guards, Hava was relieved. They went further into the prison, still not finding the monks. As he stepped past a wall, he heard the knocking fingers against stone. He looked at the wall on his right.
Of course, they were placed in full stone cells without bars, to further dampen their airbending. "Simi, they're inside."
"Great, how are we going to open it? We can't earthbend."
"I'll break it open."
"We'll have the entire prison on us then!"
"We have no choice, they'll find the bodies before we figure another wait out."
Hava tapped hard on the rock, when he heard nothing in response he stepped back. He breathed slowly as he readied himself. He punched forward fiercely as a blast of air hit the wall and cracked it. The sound was blaring and soon men were heard in the distance.
Hava readied again and hit as hard as he could. The crack opened up and created a gap two feet wide. He hit it again to widen it further. He then stepped in carefully and found who he was looking for.
The clan rushed forward to hug them and cheer but he silenced them and beckoned them to follow him. As he stepped out, he saw that two earthbenders had arrived.
Simi lifted his hand up and the two man grabbed their throats, coughing loudly as they tried to breathe. Their suffocation only ended when their hearts stopped beating.
Simi led as Hava covered their rear. An earthbender sped forward. Hava used a funnel of air to knock him into a side wall.
They were able to get out of the prison and soon headed back for the enclave and the Stables. One of the elders inquired, "Where are we going?"
"To the Sky Bison, they can fly us out of here."
"And then what?"
"To Tala, she'll vouch for us."
The man had a concerned and restrained look, but he wasn't about to argue when the other option was imprisonment and death.
Simi looked at Hava getting the monks on the few Sky Bison they had. "We're in trouble if they open fire on us with the artillery. We'll be cut to shreds."
"No, you won't."
The voice came from behind and the both readied their staffs to strike. They were happy to see it was Suun.
"My men are securing the emplacements along the Southern route, it will be safe for you to cross the siege there."
"Thank you, Suun."
"You were right, this has gone too far."
"Then come with us. Urri will kill you, brother or not."
"Not yet, he won't. But no, I can't. I have to stay for the city and my men. The same men who are forfeiting their lives to secure those guns. Just go now. I don't have enough to hold them off when they realize what's going on."
Simi and Hava nodded. Hava walked forward and shook Suun's hand, "I'm sorry things had to end this way."
Suun had a mournful look as well, "So am I." His eyes told Hava everything he needed to know. He fought back tears at what may become of his friend when Urri discovered.
"Rishu will invade the city without hold now."
"I hope so. Omashu will survive, it always does."
Clan Rohan readied to leave the home they had known for over three years. A small chorus of "Yip yip"s rang through as the Sky Bison lifted off and flew south.
The Sky Bison dove as alarms soon pierced the night air. Hava heard fighting in the city. Suun's men were holding the emplacements at any costs. A small tear flew into the air as they cross the gorge without resistance.
Hava told them to keep flying as they circled up once in enemy lines till they reached the western front of the siege lines. They land unopposed but still surrounded by wary Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation soldiers.
Hava and Simi landed down and walked forward as the large figure of Prince The Snowbold lumbered forward.
"Well, well. If it isn't Master Hava and painless Simi. To what do I owe this honor?"
"I ask for Rishu's presence that I may seek asylum for Clan Rohan and I."
Kuir looked over the bison that still carried the children and other monks. He returned his attention to Hava, "Rishu isn't here. He's in Republic City."
"Then may we speak with Avatar Tala?"
"No. She also, is in Republic City, training with the Grand Marshal. I will decide whether or not you will be welcomed. Fortunately for you, I do welcome you."
Hava relaxed his breath as Simi beckoned the Clan to unload. Earth Kingdom soldiers along with Fire Nation troops helped when Kuir ordered them to.
"Is there anyone here that we know then?"
Kuir responded in a monotone voice, "There is that airbender family that came with the Avatar, they're sill around here somewhere."
Kulek sat in the tent as he read an old history book detailing Chin the Conqueror's war. He was interrupted when Prince Kuir entered, "What do you want?" he asked rudely.
Kuir's contempt was not hidden when he spoke, "You have visitors."
He exited when Hava stepped in.
"Kulek, its good to see you are okay."
"What happened? Why are you here?"
Kuir stood there waiting and listening, "Urri has gone mad, he is killing anyone who opposes his commands and tried to round up Clan Rohan. Brother Yilo is dead."
Kulek sat down stunned. "What about the rest of the Clan?"
"They're fine. Simi and I got them out."
"Hmm," Kuir mused as he left the tent for the two to talk.
Hava returned his attention to Kulek, "Where is Tala?"
Kulek's face paled, "I don't know."
Kulek didn't answer, he didn't have to. His face said it all. Hava sat down next to Kulek, "I'm sorry," he patted the young man's shoulder.
"She's with Rishu's right hand crony, that Captain Liam, now."
"She said that we were too different. That I wasn't growing up and that she couldn't be mature enough for the both of us."
Hava didn't know what to say. Mainly because it was true. Kulek was not a very mature person. He was a boy in a young man's body.
Hava sat there not knowing what to do.
Urri sat at the throne as they brought in the prisoner. Chaos had reigned in the street that night. Over five dozen men had taken and held the artillery emplacements. It seemed useless when no one attacked anyways. But when his scouts informed him that the Air Nomads had escaped prison, he saw the purpose of it. They were being covered and protected by traitors from within the city itself. He soon learned who was behind it and was not pleased with the answer.
An officer updated him. "He was trying to hold one of the southern emplacements alone. I suspect that his men had fled and disappeared into the civilian population."
"Tell me, brother," Urri said that word with judgement, "why did you betray me?"
Suun looked up slowly, "Because you have failed as a King. Because our line is a ruin. Bumi was a madman who did good things. You were a madman who did bad things. I thought that I could help you, but I was wrong. We just have bad blood, and bad blood needs to be washed away."
Urri seethed as he yelled and sent a pillar of rock into Suun's chest, "Bad blood? Look who's talking, traitor! You dare suggest I am in error when you betray me not once, but twice?"
Urri attacked the restrained man again, "Answer me! Tell your King what is true. I made Omashu!"
"No. You have nothing to threaten me with. Nothing to stop me or shut me up with."
"That's where you're wrong! You are not invincible. If I twist your neck, you'll shut up then!"
"You mean have someone else do it for you. You're a coward, all this war, I've been fighting, not you."
Urri sent another attack of earth at Suun. While it hit, it didn't seem to phase him. Suun continued, "Do you even know how to kill or fight anymore? Or have you sat on your perch so long that you forgot everything father taught you?"
"In the end, a man is judged by his actions in life, not his position in it. I'm a soldier and a man who tried to raise two brats their father never loved."
Urri attacked again with a fist of rock, pounding him. Suun coughed blood as he went on, "What are you? An indulgent man who sat on a throne and ignored his sons. Plotting and planning."
Hatred leaked from Urri as he picked up Suun and looked him in the eyes, "I'm sorry, little brother, but you will not escape this."
Suun took a sad tone, "So am I. I am sorry that father didn't raise you the way he raised me, a man of honor and duty. I'm sorry that all you know is greed and power and the things you think it buys you. I'm sorry that you don't know love or honor. And I'm sorry that I wish Tala burns you to ash."
Urri lifted up the chained man and threw him across the room. He yelled in anger with bloodlust and rushed forward, ready to unleash his power on the worst traitor he ever knew.
- The Air Nomads are out of the house!
- Simi does not have the same conflict about killing as the rest of the Nomads do.
- Hava expressed guilt and regret over his discounting his dead nephew's account to him of how he killed a man years ago. Hava now questions whether Qatil was innocent and if it was just political sacrifice to convict him.
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|