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|By Omashu Rocks||Genre||Rating||Reviews||Updates|
|More from Omashu Rocks||Adventure/Drama||PG-13||See Comments|
22 October 2014
It took a lot longer than it should have, but I finally did it. I outsmarted Jirou.
My reluctant ally-turned enemy-turned reluctant ally again had displayed the most aggressive Firebending technique I had ever seen during our encounter the previous night. If our battle had played out completely until only one of us remained standing, it would've been him. Still, my father's words rang true. You may not always beat them with your brawn, but you can always beat them with your brain. Chuckling, I recall so many applicable lessons the great General Kun once taught my little sister and I, and one invaluable teaching pulled the strings of my heart that day:
Ming was crying over something petty, nothing out of the ordinary. This time, she was petrified over a portion of her upcoming physical fitness challenge in which she'd have to race Zhu Li, the supposedly fastest girl in her class, down the academy's running path. She moaned about how unfair it was that she was paired with Zhu Li, but my father would have none of it.
"You could feel sorry for yourself, my child," started my sighing father, "or you could spend your time figuring out how to win the race."
"I can't!" Ming insisted in a croak. "I'm not anywhere near fast and she's the fastest girl in my class!"
"But is she more clever than you?"
"What's that got to do with anything?"
Kun laughed. "Listen to me. Isn't part of the path down that steep hill?"
Puzzled, Ming nodded. "Yeah, but the path curves around so it isn't as steep."
"Perfect then! While Zhu Li is wasting her time going around the hill, you can simply fall and tumble down it! That will be much faster!"
That's when Ming became angry. "Dad! That's stupid!"
"Is it? I thought you said you wanted to win."
"I do! But why would I fall during the race?"
My father finally let his youngest daughter down from his lap and looked her straight in the eye. "Because, Ming, sometimes we have to fall if we want to one day stand victorious."
Funny how that little bit of fatherly encouragement was applicable to a Firebending death match between two trained killers...
For once, I felt in control of Jirou. It was like having a dragon on a leash of steel. He could've engulfed my body in flames at any moment, wiped any trace of my existence off this earth in ashes, but I tugged his leash and ordered him to heal. That's raw power.
Being a ruthless force makes you a beast, but staring the beast in the eyes and telling it to sit makes you the ringleader.
Of course, there are other explanations as to why he might have spared me. Perhaps he didn't really believe that he needed me. Maybe his fear of killing a Sun Warrior is something he pulled out of his ass. If that's the case, I suppose he could have let me go out of genuine care... but I doubt that strongly.
Though, it would explain why he didn't kill me himself in the factory. Was simply chaining me up and hoping I would die an act of remorse? A sign that he was distraught by the act the Crown was forcing him to commit?
I didn't care. I would never trust that man ever again, and I swore he'd suffer the same fate I would one day inflict on Sozin.
The morning was awkward to say the least. I slept at my own camp many yards away from his. I didn't have a tent but I had a man-eating reptile to snuggle with. When I woke up, my counterpart was sitting uncomfortably on a log and stoking his fire while Uma licked the carcass of whatever she had for breakfast.
Our first eye contact would have been awkward if it had not been for our mutual exhaustion. Still, I had nothing to discuss with the rat bastard. I mounted Nightmare, and passed him for what part of me hoped would be the last time.
"Where is this Sun Chief to be found?" I asked with an indifferent tone, neglecting to look at him.
"Close by," he replied uncomfortably. "It's hidden in a valley we passed by on our way here. Shouldn't even take an half hour."
That was good news, but I remained monotoned. "And then what?"
"Meet me at the Lopevi Harbor. To get there, follow this mountain range east until you reach a valley and a small port town called Yasur."
"And what are we doing there? Are there one-hundred Imperial Firebenders waiting to take me down? Or maybe there's a bloodthirsty dragon you're going to feed me to? Or were you just really bent on the whole tie me down and watch me explode thing?"
The disgraced man sighed longingly. "Nalia, I didn't mean anything personal. I-"
"Oh!" Could he even hear himself? "You didn't mean it personally? Good! I'll try to remember that when you condemned me to a horrifying and painful doom, you weren't trying to hurt my feelings!"
"No. Words. I don't want. To talk. To you."
"When we get there, we're figuring out how to rescue your sister." He didn't bother trying to squeak out anything else, so I paused, nodded, and tugged Nightmare's harness. Like that, I was on my way in the crippling dry heat. The Fire Nation buff covering my head soaked up sweat as my brief trek commenced, and Nightmare panted like a dog. He was tired, and I couldn't blame him. Jirou's betrayal had taken a toll on both of us.
Was I walking into another death trap? Probably, I figured. But yet again, I had no choice. Honestly, for someone who was consistently kept in the dark and completely on her own, I was doing pretty well for myself thus far.
The mountain range really was something to marvel at. It had a natural, undisturbed beauty that I could only imagine was common in the Earth Kingdom before my country attacked. It overlooked a glistening ocean that was just as inspiring I'm sure the Southern Water Tribe seas were before they were polluted by our barges. Patches of grass boasted flowers that reminded me of the serenity that must have once been found in the Air Temples.
Nature was first interrupted by the creations of man when I came across a rubbled stone wall standing alone on a dusty path. Beyond it were more and more remains of eras past. I proceeded slowly deeper and deeper into became more and more identifiable as an ancient city of stone. Vines crept along moss-covered walls and floors, and crumbled steps led up to what could have been altars, amphitheaters, or homes. Before I knew it, I had wandered into a whole new world.
Amazed, I gawked behind me. How did I get in here? I was just in the middle of nowhere!
When I looked back, there was the sharp tip of a spear pointing at my nose.
"Oh, hi there." I stared quizzically at the barely-dressed, pony-tailed man threatening me with his primitive weapon. Admittedly, his red and yellow warpaint wasn't very intimidating, but I still remained submissive as four more like him closed in on me.
"Personal space, anyone?" These must have been the sun warriors, I concluded. The ancient peoples who live in a civilization Jirou told me virtually nothing about. Some facts would have been important, like, for instance, how to enter their city without being obvious.
The largest warrior had a deep voice and hostile tone. "Who are you? Why are you here?"
There was no doubt in my mind I could have taken the uncultured swine in combat, but I needed them to get to the chief, so I played the part.
"Oh great Sun Warriors," I bowed my head solemnly, "I, a humble servant of humanity, have come to seek your wisdom on the ancient and sacred art of Firebending."
The man grunted, unimpressed. "You think you're the first person to come to our lands with a story? State your real purpose for intruding! And don't lie!"
"What I told you was true," I insisted, making sure not to let my voice carry anger. Then, I remembered what Jirou had told me about the sun warriors, that they understand true Firebending and its origin. "But... I didn't tell you everything."
The spears closed in on me, as if the arrowheads themselves were ordering me to expand further.
"I wish to know the purpose behind my... differences." I placed one hand over the other, palms facing up, and with a breath, I ignited a small blue flame.
The warriors' sudden movements made my muscles instinctively tense up, and I naturally prepared to defend myself, but I saw that they had merely dropped their spears in amazement. They were either about to execute me for witchcraft or bow down and worship me.
"Blue fire!" They were astonished. To both my relief and discomfort, they proceeded to shout joyously and embrace me. Emphasis on the discomfort part.
"Young woman, it's been lifetimes since our civilization has seen a blue Firebender! You must come see the Elders! The Chief will be most excited to meet you!"
The Chief, eh? Mind serving him up on a silver platter why you're at it?
I drew quite a lot of attention as the men guided me through their breathtaking city. Never had I imagined I'd see so many people in those ancient robes, women carrying fruits I had never seen, and men guarding their homes with such outdated technology. People stopped what they were doing and studied Nightmare. What surprised me was that the children who accidentally hit their playing ball in front of my beast simply retrieved it and without cowering in fear.
That was very suspicious actually. Why is it they weren't afraid?
When we arrived at a rather large stone wall adornished with elaborate paintings and jewels, the man who had previously threatened me approached an animal skin-covered entrance.
"Inside the Chief is holding Tribal Council with Mother Healer, the Sage, the War Commander, and Mother Guardian. It is important that you show the utmost respect," he instructed.
"One more thing. You'll have to leave your animal out here with us."
As uncomfortable as I was with abandoning Nightmare yet again, I had no choice, and I followed the warrior straight into what must have been a very important meeting, judging by the amount of angry scoffs I heard.
Inside, similar people sat on mats facing a stone platform that boasted five ornately-dressed individuals. That theme of red, yellow, and white appeared in each of their robes, feathers, and markings.
The man in the center, bearing a crown of white feathers, finished mid-sentenced and glared. "What are you doing, interrupting Council?
My escort bowed. "My greatest apologies, Chief. This outsider wandered into our city atop a mongoose dragon. She-"
He was cutoff by a gorgeous, mid-forties woman in conservative-light yellow garments. Her skin was flawless, and her voice carried like a cloud. "You let that beast travel through our streets where children play?"
"I assure you Mother Guardian, we were very cautious."
A muscular man wearing red armbands and a skull necklace that I took to be the War Commander spoke. "This intruder is so important you have to interrupt Tribal Council?"
An elderly, plump woman rolled her eyes and took a deep sigh. "Let the man speak for fuck's sake."
"Oh. Umm. Thank you, Mother Healer. This woman possesses the ability of blue fire, my Chief."
The room became filled with gasps, and I smiled nervously. "My name is Nalia."
"Is this true?" inquired the Chief, aghast.
"It is. And I have come seeking the wisdom behind its origins and true nature. I do not believe what my nation's government says is true."
A new individual stood up. The short, bald man sporting a scepter must have been the Sage. "You are wise to reject such vicious and fabricated propaganda."
"I learned better from my father..." I had already gambled with my life by revealing my ability, so I figured I'd do it again. "General Kun."
At my words, the Chief nearly collapsed. "Kun!" he cried.
I stood in silence, unsure of what significance my father's name bore on the Chief.
"Nalia, your father and I go way back." He then proceeded to laugh. "Kun and I are sworn brothers!"
- Lopevi is an island in Vanuatu, and Mt. Yasur is a Vanuatu mountain. They were both tribe names on Survivor Vanuatu.
- Omashu Rocks originally had the Chief and Kun as blood brothers, but then he had no idea where he'd go from that.
This chapter became more reflective than I had originally anticipated, which is why it mostly shows only Nalia's journey to the Sun Warrior civilization. I decided to put the events that follow into the next chapter, and I apologize if this one seemed dry.
|Prologue - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
For the collective works of the author, go here.