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Book One: The Avatar
Suzaku and Seiryuu helped place the massive stretcher underneath Azura. He growled in pain and even once breathed fire in protest, but with Suzaku's calming tone and his supportive hand Azura eventually calmed down and allowed the villagers to move him to a large field within the town walls where he could be attended to. Once Azura was being treated, the woman who greeted Suzaku, who he called 'Auntie' to the surprise of Seiryuu, offered to take them home. Though Suzaku tried to politely refuse, he gave in when she pointed out that refusing to go to your own house was a silly notion.
As Suzaku trudged behind the woman, Seiryuu whispered in his ear.
"Who's this...Auntie of yours? You never told me about her. Nor did you tell me that you lived here...."
Suzaku raised a finger to his lips and whispered back, "Later Seiryuu."
As they finished their almost silent discussion, Suzaku's 'Auntie' turned her head back as they reached the house.
"You know Suzaku, I wish you had came during the holidays. You would've had a nice surprise."
"I know Auntie, but I was busy with Samur-"
"JUST because you're a Samurai in training doesn't mean that you don't visit your family ever so often. This was twice now that you missed her awake."
"...Um, who was awake?" Seiryuu asked awkwardly. Her curiosity had only grown listening to the two.
"You never told her Suzaku?" the Auntie asked, obviously hurt.
She fumbled in her pocket for a minute before pulling out a worn key, with which she opened the door to a modest living room. Once inside, she offered them a seat and made them some tea. After they drank, Auntie lead them to another smaller room. Once she turned on the lights, Suzaku flinched a little at the sight. A woman of middle age was laying on the bed, tucked in like she was asleep. Glasses of water, shots and tubes, and powder in bowls cluttered the side table next to her.
"That was the person who was awake. His mother."
Seiryuu stared at Suzaku's mother for an awkward second before grabbing Suzaku's arm tightly.
"Is there anywhere I can speak to Suzaku...privately?"
"Well you could use one of the rooms up-" the Auntie started, but before she could finish Seiryuu dragged Suzaku into one of the upstairs rooms. Once they entered, she shut the door and pushed Suzaku into the middle of the room so that he couldn't run out.
"You have A LOT of explaining to do!"
Old Uzu and the Shadow Dragon
Uzu slowly swirled the tea in his cup as the Shadow Dragon sat across from him, waiting as patiently as possible. He couldn't help but smile slyly as the assassin tapped his fingers more rapidly, and his glare only caused Uzu to chuckle. Finally, the Shadow Dragon struck his fist on the table.
"That's enough of the damn tea! Are you trying to make a whirlpool in that damn cup?!"
"Manners Kurogane. If you had done that during the old days, I would be able to knock you out for disrespect."
Kurogane sighed "Uzu, this is not the old days in the Shadowlands."
"Well it should be like it then!" Uzu protested, and Kurogane groaned in annoyance.
"Then why don't you time travel and stop the Twilight Wars?!"
Uzu became silent at the warrior's outburst, and sipped his tea before answering.
"You understand what I mean Kurogane. Now, why did you visit? Or did you just come to watch me drink my tea?"
"I need to know where this town is. It's called Toyohime if I remember right. Some targets are there that I need to capture."
"Well, the town in question is actually right around here. You go a mile straight and you hit the main gates. Though...you still work for them?"
"Uzu, we've been over this. They saved our kind. If it wasn't for them, Shadowbenders and the art would be extinct."
Uzu shook his head disapprovingly "And yet because they want us to...to 'help' them, the only Shadowbenders left are us, Gilgamesh, and his daughter Tomoyo."
"You simply don't like them because they banished you here when you questioned them."
"Yes, that is true," Uzu agreed, "Because what they're doing is wrong. I know it!"
Kurogane sighed, "We are free and happy. If we do little services for them once in a while, who cares?"
"Kurogane, sending you on missions that could mean your death isn't a little service. Besides, killing people doesn't bother you at all?"
"Of course it does, but i've gotten...used to it." Kurogane answered, and got up. As he opened the door to leave, Uzu gave him a sad look.
"What happened to you? Where is your pride, you stubborness?! What happened to the Kurogane I knew?"
Kurogane sighed, and as he walked out the door he gave Uzu his answer.
"I grew up."
Darkness and Fire
Suzaku sat down on one of the custom sandbag-chairs his Auntie made for a living, his voice sore from all the explaining he had done in that hour. Seiryuu leaned against the wall, soaking all the information in like a sponge.
"So ever since that accident at the digging site you're mom has been in a coma?" Seiryuu asked.
"Yeah," Suzaku replied sadly, "Sometimes she wakes up, but it always ends the same way. The time before this was her longest, right during Yuletide. She lasted three weeks before falling back into it. By the end of it we actually thought she had gotten better...."
"But then...why are you in the Samurai?" Seiryuu asked.
"What do you mean?"
"Well wouldn't it be better to stay?" Seiryuu asked, "I mean, your Auntie has enough money with the whole sandbag-chair thing and you would be able to see her when she wakes up. Besides, you said yourself you hate violence because it caused the accident. If you hate it, why are in the Samurai to begin with?"
Suzaku looked away from her, out towards the window. Outside, he could see Auntie yelling at some kids to get off her porch, including Temrann. Temrann had been a good friend to Suzaku, not only because both came to Toyohime in mysterious ways, but because they had much of the same goals. Suzaku smiled as Temrann ran off with the other kids. Seiryuu tapped her toe impatiently, and Suzaku turned back to Sieryuu.
"I joined the Samurai in order to find a cure for my mother."
"What?" Seiryuu asked, perplexed, "They aren't a clinic you know. If you wanted to find a cure, shouldn't you go to the Medical Academy at Ba Sing Se or something?"
"They couldn't find a cure for her. That was one of the first places my Auntie tried. But the Samurai go to places where no one else has gone before. Maybe I'll be able to go to a place that will have a cure, who knows? It's the best chance I have, for her and me."
Seiryuu was able to reply when a loud bang thundered through the town. Almost falling out of the window, Suzaku and Seiryuu poked their heads out just to see the last of the guards being blown away by a large explosion. Seiryuu looked at Suzaku.
Blowing up the gate had been easy for Kurogane to pull off. It was sunset, and the gate's looming shadow had extended to the forest where Kurogane was in. It was easy to bend the shadow to flip backwards and crash into the entry. Metal, wood, and darkness clashed in a great explosion as guards were thrown like toys, landing everywhere Kurogane looked as he casually walked into the town. A group of civilians lurked around the edges of the ruined gate, some taking injured gurads to who knows where. Not like it mattered to him.
"Where are the Samurai Suzaku and Seiryuu?" Kurogane asked the crowd. They remained silent, and he sighed.
"I was sent to find them and lead them to my lord. If they do not...I may have to use force, and not neccessarily on them."
The crowd slowly back away. One child in particular, a boy of about fourteen, looked as if he would talk. But his parents quickly took hold of him. Well, they tried to. Kurogane bended the shadows between them, and wrapped it around the boy before pulling him closer.
"You know where they are kid. Speak and maybe I won't have to cut your throat." Kurogane threatened, unsheathing his katana and pressing it lightly against his neck, and tightening the small whirlwind of shadow confining the boy. The boy glared at Kurogane with a defiant expression.
"I will never reveal where Suzaku and Seiryuu are! How can I call myself one of his best friends if I rat him out?"
Kurogane shrugged indifferently, "Fine, any last words boy?"
"Three things actually. First, stop calling me child cause you're only a year or two older than me. Second, my name is Temrann, not 'child'."
"And third?" Kurogane asked, bored.
As the crowd looked at something behind him in awe, the boy Temrann smirked "Look behind you."
Kurogane turned to watch as a massive arc of fire slammed into him, sending him into the now fleeing crowd. As he slowly got up, rubbing his head, he finally saw his targets with the brat Temrann. He turned to them.
"You guys deal with him, I'll get the surprise!" The boy said, and ran to the side of town. The two young Samurai looked confused and shrugged before glaring at Kurogane.
"Why does your master hunt us?" the boy, Suzaku he guessed, asked. Kurogane unsheathed his blade in reply.
The girl groaned "Suzaku, who cares what his master wants? He tried to kill us!"
"Well it doesnt hurt asking Seiryuu..." Suzaku protested weakly, and Kurogane chuckled.
"Well I for one wouldn't have told you." he replied, making the Samurai turn their attention to him once again "And my master wants you alive, which I will gladly do. Whether that means barely alive or not is up to you."
At this the girl laughed "Ohhh, the ninja boy is gonna beat up two SAMURAI. I'd like to see that!"
Kurogane smirked "As you wish."
At this the shadows under Kurogane shot upwards, and Kurogane lept above them as the shadows followed his blade. As he landed behind them his blade flourished and the shadows following it sharply angled at Suzaku and Seiryuu. Seiryuu quickly airbended to shoot herself far up into the air to avoid it, but Suzaku could not do such a move. Instead he shot a powerful biurst of flame at his feet, blocking a majority of the attack but knocking him backwards into the dirt. Kurogane quickly sheathed his blade and charged at the vulnerable Suzaku, his hands outstretched behind him with shadows following his hands like dark stains in the air.
As he neared Suzaku, and raised his hands in order to slam the mass of shadows onto the young Samurai, Seiryuu dropped back down like a stone and forced a jet of air she had been bending around her to uncompress under her. The result was an encircling blast of air that blasted Kurogane and Suzaku back.
Kurogane quickly recovered and unsheathed his blade again "Some stupid airbending trick won't be able to beat me!"
Raising his hand again, he combined the scattered mass of shadow meant for Suzaku and slammed it into Seiryuu. Crashing into an abandoned workshop, the place collapsed on the airbender, trapping her. As Kurogane moved to knock her out with help from his blade, Suzaku knocked into him and attempted a poorly executed attack on his left arm. Kurogane quickly slashed back in defense and countered with a forceful upwards strike, knocking Suzaku back a step or two. Catching himself, Suzaku's blade clashed with Kurogane's again and soon the two were caught up in a swordfight like no other.
As they fought, Suzaku was forced onto the defensive. Kurogane was both faster and his strikes were stronger than anyone Suzaku had probably sparred with. As Suzaku was slowly forced back by the force of the assassin's blows, Kurogane sighed.
"What kind of firebender are you?! Where is your drive?! Are you trying to insult me by not fighting your best?"
Suzaku didn't answer, and though he tried to gain an advantage with some quick jets of fire, Kurogane easily avoided them before landing a solid hit on the Samurai. Slaming him back, Kurogane watched as Suzaku crashed into a house. Climbing in after him, he noticed that Suzaku had not only recovered quite quickly, but was defensively positioned in front of a sleeping woman on a bed behind him. The Samurai had a wild look in his eyes, something that had not been there before. Kurogane smiled.
"Awww, is that your mommy? Must she get into this fight too?"
As he spoke, he began to bend the shadows around the room to slash across the bed. Suzaku noticed this, and his eyes narrowed.
With that statement spoken Suzaku charged Kurogane, his blade enveloped in fire. Shoving Kurogane out the way they had came in, Suzaku followed up with powerful strikes that even Kurogane could only barely deflect or dodge. However; the farther away they were from the house, the less of a passion the Samurai fought with. Soon, probably because of fatigue, Suzaku fought with even less power than normally. Soon Kurogane was able to disarm Suzaku, the blade spinning away and stabbing into the ground a couple of feet away, while Suzaku was knocked onto the dirt once again. Before he could get up Kurogane pressed his foot against his chest and held Suzaku there.
"It seems to be the end. Too bad you couldnt put up a good fight." Kurogane said, and aimed the flat side of his blade at Suzaku's face to kock him out cleanly. As he raised his katana, a rorar echoed through the town.
"What the..." Kurogane muttered, looking to his left. Suddenly his eyes got big and he took his foot off of Suzaku.
"Oh my-" Kurogane started, before being slammed across the ground by a black dragon. And riding on top of that dragon was...
"Temrann?!" Suzaku asked in shock. The boy smiled wide and patted his dragon on the back of the neck.
"You're not the only one who could find a dragon! I told you I bring the surprise, and Jarnunvosk is the best surprise around!" Temrann announced proudly, and his dragon Jarnunvosk roared in approval. By this time Kurogane had gotten up and shook off his surprise.
"Small dragon for a small boy. How fitting." Kurogane sneered, which was responded by a quickly dodged fireball. Smirking, Kurogane charged right at the dragon. As the dragon raised its claws to shred Kurogane to pieces, the warrior blasted shadow upwards, knocking the dragon backwards. By the time they had recovered, Kurogane had Suzaku by the throat.
"Try anything and he gets impaled." Kurogane threatened, aining the katana to the Samurai's heart. The dragon and it's rider slowly stepped backwards, fearful.
"Ahh, final-" Kurogane started, but then a much louder roar raged across the town. Kurogane looked back to see a massive dragon charging towards him.
"HOLY CR-" Kurogane started, but was cut off as the purple dragon hooked it's claws into his armor and flung him into the roof of a house. Blasting away rubble that had landed on top of him as he landed, he watched as the dragon protectively stepped over Suzaku, a vicious snarl emitting from its throat and an angry stare that could stop an army. This dragon was ready to kill.
Suzaku gazed incredulously as Azura stepped over him, a malicious snarl coming from the dragon's throat. He knew Azura was fierce when he wanted or needed to be, but never had he seen the dragon so enraged. Azura looked like he was ready to rip the assassin to shreds, and then incinerate those shreds into ash. As the assassin looked on, Azura took a step or two closer and leaned down. He was ready to pounce if need be.
The assassin sneered again, and looked to where Seiryuu was still trapped. "So you protect your friends huh? Well lets see if you can keep up, you damn dirty lizard!"
As the assassin leaped and, using shadowbending, propelled himself to where Seiryuu was, Azura ran just as fast. As he landed next to her, Azura headbutted the warrior away, and with a sweep of his tail unpinned Seiryuu from the rubble. Rearing back, Azura roared in fury, his good wing unfolding out for imitation. To Suzaku, he looked like some one winged angel of death. As the assassin shadowbended in preparation for an attack, Azura did something unthinkable.
With an angry snarl, he breathed lightning at the assassin.
The assassin barely had time to erect a weak shadowy shield as the lighting blasted him into the rubble of the gates. With sparks crackling across his teeth, Azura snarled a final warning. The assassin seemed to understand, and turned to flee. Before he left, however; he made one final retort:
"I will return, and I promise you this. No one has ever, or will ever, defeat me twice! I am the Shadow Dragon!"
And within a blast of darkness the Shadow Dragon disappeared.
|Book One: The Avatar|
|The Dancing Dragon - Ghosts of the Past - The Jouney Begins with a Single Word - Giant Evil Demon Bird!|
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