|More from Sokkatheman||Action/Adventure||PG13||None|
21st April 2012
This chapter contains violence and mild suggestive themes, read at your own discretion!
Where we last left off...
City Park, Republic City
Kenji was astounded by what his ears had just heard; Sai had told him to follow him into the Park where he would explain everything in detail. Yet not even the soothing sound of the birds and waves splashing along the bank on this beautifully sunny afternoon could put him at ease. He knew something was up, and he wasn't ready for it.
"So, you're a seven hundred year old spirit?" he asked, deciding to get over with it quickly. Sai flew towards a bench and rested on the wooden handle.
"Did I say seven hundred? I meant seven thousand. It's hard to keep track of time, it's so hard I don't even remember my own birthday." Kenji's mouth gaped open.
"This is totally unbelievable!" He plopped on the bench and rubbed his face with his palm all the way back to his hair.
"It shouldn't be. It's quite simple actually. You see, ever since the beginning of time, evil has challenged good. Sometimes, only enlightened heroes are aware of evil's presence. Other times it reveals itself to the whole world. About eighteen hundred years ago, during the time of my great-grand father, there were two great dragons named Sen and Fen. They were a happy dragon couple that had three eggs, two were golden but one was as black as pure ash." Kenji sat up, he remembered perfectly the black dragon he had seen in his vision. Sai slowly continued.
"When the dragon eggs hatched, two were brilliant stunning dragons but the last one was born black and viscous, full of greed, contempt, and deceit. Years passed, and the black dragon killed an energybender and absorbed his soul and power. His energy became darker and he lost all his will for good, and justice, becoming known as The Accursed One by his dragon brethren. But in exchange for this, he was granted eternal life. He became jealous of this power and wanted no one else to have it, so he wiped out all the energybenders he could find. But his real target, the wandering lion turtle eluded him. In his frenzy, he killed his own parents when they tried to stop him and other dragons became afraid of him as he doubled in size." Kenji exhaled loudly.
"So why are you telling me this? All other dragons are extinct except Ran and Shaw, Fire Lord Sozin had them all hunted to extinction." Sai grimaced.
"He survived, the Dark Dragon, the very definition of iniquity, the malevolence of ancients, the Accursed One himself... even the mention of his name summons ill-luck, and that is not a myth. However there is hope, you..." Sai jabbed his bony finger at Kenji "... and only you can slay him, or at least stop him". Kenji leaped up in disapproval waving his hands in denial.
"Whoa, whoa! Hold up, what gave you that crazy idea?" The small creature cleared it's throat and continued.
"Due to the fact that all the energybenders where wiped out, people began learning the four bending arts, and my grandfather was a firebender, a unique type of firebender handpicked by the dragon elders. He was given the powers of a dragon, and like the Avatar, if he was to die he would be reincarnated into another body, and his powers and experience would be reincarnated as well. His duty was simple, to defeat the Dark Dragon and restore peace to the world. I am ashamed to say this but..."
"But what," Kenji asked.
"He was a complete coward, not interested in doing such. He fled to the Northern Water Tribe and found love with a young woman, my grandmother. He sought to be hidden, but the Dragon Elders found him and stripped him of his powers. Left powerless and defenseless, he was found by the Dark Dragon and slayed. Then the Dragon Elders layed a curse on his son, my father, that his generation would live forever and find the next person who would be born with the ability to bend all colors of fire, and the powers of a dragon. Shortly before my father died, the next person was revealed, and he was unusually a normal swordsman, who was completely unaware of his ability to bend fire. But through vigourous training methods and with the help of his friends, he was able to trap the dragon in a cave frozen in an iceberg. We all celebrated and thought that it would be the last we saw of the Dark Dragon, but we were wrong. During the summer solstice about six hundred years later, he regained his full power and had returned to seek vengeance upon the world." Kenji sighed.
"This is turning out to be one long history lesson, how will kids of the future react to all this." Sai grew furious and slammed the bench hard with his fists.
"Pay attention!" he yelled. "If you do not stop that beast, there will be no kids and there will be no future to look forward to, this is your destiny!" Kenji sighed once more but faced the small creature with all his focus and Sai continued.
"The next person reincarnated to stop him was unusually, an Avatar. He was the Fire Avatar before Yangchen, Avatar Hung Huo. He single-handedly fought the beast with all four elements plus his rainbow fire abilities and was able to create a door, a door that cannot be opened even by a fully realized Avatar, though one is needed. On one side of the door, is four dragon heads which must be filled with four simultaneous blasts of the four elements. On the other side is a larger dragon head which must be shot up with all colors of fire. He was unable to defeat the dragon, but he was able to seal it behind the door, which can only be opened and closed from the outside, and thus the terrible reign of the Dark Dragon faded into history."
Sai ended his tale, and a death-filled silence engulfed the two. Kenji stood up walked to a nearby merchant with his cart, dropped three Yuan and walked back to Sai. He held out the bag and shook it.
"Would you like some fire flakes?" he asked. Sai was flabbergasted by what he had just heard and he stared straight at Kenji until he took his seat and munched a fistful of fire flakes and exhaled red hot flames from his mouth.
"I don't believe this. I just told you the greatest news you have ever heard and you don't even look scared, not even intimidated."
"It's complicated. My master has thought me that destiny is a funny thing. You never know how things are going to work out. But if you keep an open mind, and an open heart, I will find my own destiny someday. Also, what proof do you have that makes be the so called legendary warrior?"
"The dragon tattoo on your back, only those with the ability to bend all colors of flame like a dragon can have that tattoo," replied Sai matter-of-factly.
"I thought that was a birth mark. Well, even if I am the one you claim I am, the dark dragon is locked up for good and nothing can release him except me, and there's no way I'd do something that stupid!" Kenji was in denial; he tried his best to hide his fear behind his cool, nonchalant persona but he was doing it very poorly.
"I had a vision that the Dark Dragon would be released by the next Winter Solstice. Henceforth, I will teach you to control your powers, and you might be surprised. They come with some pretty good perks," Sai boasted. Kenji stared at him as though seeing him for the first time.
"You were once a human, so how did you turn into a spirit and more importantly how did you become a falconbat?" Sai bowed his head to hide his face.
"It's not something I like to say out loud, but–" he was interrupted by a giant boulder, which would have crushed the duo, if it wasn't for Kenji's quick reflexes. Kenji got up to his feet, rubbed the dirt off him, loudly cracked his knuckles and grabbed his bag of flaming fireflakes.
"Someone's asking for it, and I intend to bring it. Sai, stay here, I'll go see what's going on." With that he took off. Sai was relieved that Kenji had gone; he would have had to release the greatest regret and mistake of his life, and he would have to explain the ties he had with the Equalists.
Fire Lady Mai rushed at her assailants; stilettos flew out from her wrist launcher towards the female member of the group. She responded by bending the water from the sea and freezing it; the sharp blades struck the ice shattering it. The young male to her right rushed at the Fire Lady with several, red hot fire balls and fired blindly. Mai responded by sliding on her back, avoiding the fire balls. Five shuriken flew out at the firebender, but it was blocked by a slab of earth by the last male.
A waterbender, a firebender and an earthbender; I guess I'll take them one by one. Mai rushed forward firing stilettos, kunai and shuriken at all three of her opponents. The earthbender among them rose a slab of rock, protecting himself and his team mates. Just then, the tables turned for Mai. Four Equalists arose from the water getting close enough to land accurate jabs to her arms. She gasped in horror; she had seen chi blocking before several times in fact, but she never expected to be one of its victims. The earthbender laughed and proceeded to sink the powerless female to her neck in earth.
"That was unnecessary, seeing as we need to take her away, alive." As the Equalists moved in to grab her, three fireballs stopped them in their tracks, one unlucky enough to be hit directly by the fireballs. A young male revealed himself, standing on a statue of a sky-bison.
"Who are you?" the earthbender yelled at him. The young man didn't reply; instead he chewed down on a small bag of flaming fire flakes. He hopped down from the statue and exhaled a torrent of red flames. The assailants dodged it, however it managed to burn another Equalist.
"Give up and we won't hurt you, you are clearly outnumbered!" the waterbender yelled.
"That's true little girl, but you are clearly outmatched!" the stranger replied. The waterbender froze in her tracks as though she was witnessing a butcher behead a live cowhippo. The young boy unleashed a massive fire whip made of bright green flames. He whipped away at the Equalists, tossing them into the ocean effortlessly. The earthbender responded by stamping his left foot into the ground, creating a pillar of earth that lunged at the young boy. The massive firewhips smacked through the earth and proceeded to fling his opponent aside.
"Two down and one to..."
"K-Ken, is t-that y-you?" the waterbender asked. Kenji's eyes widened with shock; he would recognize that voice anywhere.
"Juan? Juan!" He released his firewhips and rushed forward. Had he finally found his sister?
Fire Lord's Mansion, Republic City
"Will he ever learn?" Xue mumbled to herself as she moved from her room towards the elevator which would take her to the ground floor.
"Kenji took off again?" Li Yong leaned against the walls, book in hand, not even bothering to raise his head when he spoke to his cousin.
"Yes, and he isn't even fully healed! The last thing I want to do is finding him unconscious in another puddle of his own blood!" She had not gotten over the horrifying scene; she barely knew Kenji yet she didn't want him getting hurt all the time.
"You really seem to care about him a lot" Li Yong slowly closed his book. He raised his head even more slowly until his sapphire colored eyes met with Xue's.
"Do you like him?" he asked in a darkly brooding tone.
"Of course I do, he saved my life once remember?" She was swiftly interrupted by Li Yong.
"You know what I mean Xue, do you like-like him?"
"Where is all this coming from? I barely even know him! Just because I'm concerned about him doesn't mean that I–"
Li Yong laughed slowly "But you do don't you? You see, there is a far difference between Love and Like. They both start with the same letter but have different vowels following." Xue could feel her right eye twitch, it was a bad force of habit which happened to her every time she had absorbed too much "hot air". She swiped the book out of Li Yong's hands and struck it forcefully on his head, plopping him to the ground.
"What's wrong with you? You've been sounding like some lovesick crybaby all week and always carrying this book w-with you---" Xue flipped the book and read the title.
"Lessons in Love For Teenage Boys Issue One" Xue could barely contain herself, she burst into an uncontrollable laughter while Li Yong got up and frowned at his cousin. "You bought this, and you read it?" she said after calming herself down. "Wait, are you still trying to date that girl you met at the theatre? What was her name, uh Hope I think? I thought she said she wasn't interested in you..."
"I didn't buy it, I got it from Kuran. He said he didn't need it anymore."
Xue's mood plunged, her expression became cold and her temper rose. Li Yong had almost forgotten the relationship between those two.
"Are you still mad at him?"
"Off course I'm still mad at him! I never want to hear his name again, and if I ever set my eyes on him I'll rip him to shreds piece by piece." She clenched her fists tightly and released them to mirror her hands like claws.
"Hey guys have you seen my mom anywhere?" Lu Ten popped up behind them.
"No, we haven't," they replied simultaneously.
"Gee, thanks for nothing," he replied. As Lu Ten left, Xue returned Li Yong's book to him and descended down the stairs.
"Great going Li, you just had to bring Kuran up, even after three years she hasn't forgiven him." He sighed and followed his cousin's lead down the stairs.
It's not my fault, she's so much into Kenji now, I thought she might have forgotten about him. I'd better keep this book somewhere safe or expect it to be destroyed before tomorrow morning.
He was locked up in his thoughts and did not realize when he bumped into an old man.
"Why is– General Iroh!?" he got up swiftly and helped the elderly old man to his feet "I am terribly sorry, I was thinking about something and didn't look where I was going". The old General laughed
"Retired General, and it is I that should apologize. One can get lost in a building this big, I was looking for my nephew."
"Allow me to lead you there, it's on the highest floor." Iroh frowned and stroked his beard softly.
"That means a whole flight of stairs must be walked". Li Yong laughed.
"We could do that or we could take the lift". Iroh grinned.
"The lift it is!"
"Juan, it's me Kenji, I'm alive!" With every step Kenji took forward, Juan moved back.
"That's not possible, you- you are supposed to be dead! You died in that fire seven years ago, I'm sure of it!" She was in complete denial.
"No I didn't, I managed to escape. I am here for you now, I vowed on mom and dad's graves that I would always protect you, till my last drop of blood. And that is a promise I am making to you now." He moved forward and she stopped retreating.
"No, it's too late for me. I've killed, stolen and done so many terrible things. It's too late to go back."
"Don't worry about it, what matters is that you're a changed person, I won't let anyone judge you and take you away from me. I promise." Kenji rushed forward, he was impatient to have his sister in his hands again. He was stopped instantly by a fire blast, separating him from his sister. But something about the fire caught his attention – it was bright blue.
"You shouldn't make promises you can't keep." As the mysterious feminine voice spoke, Juan fell to the ground. She had been struck by a shirshu spit dart. Behind his sister, the same hooded ghastly five people who had staged the attack against him, stood in his path once more.
"The five demons from that night, you have graced me with your presence once more." The most agile of them moved forward and picked up his sister. "But if you think I will let you take my sister, away from me, then your life is not worth a turtle duck." Swiftly, he spun his middle and index fingers as an electric current rushed throughout his body and flew at his adversaries at blinding speed. The short hooded figure raised an earth column and the waterbender drew water and froze it on the earth column. The lightning tore through it effortlessly, striking Gozen on his left arm. The larger man grunted and retaliated with two super fast blasts of combustion at Kenji.
Kenji stood his ground and proceeded by firing another round of lightning at the man who nearly cost him his life. The blue lightning illuminated the entire park and tore through the pure blast of combustion. The two attacks clashed each other literally in Gozen's face, sending the huge man soaring through the air to splash into the water on the edge of the park.
"His firebending abilities are doubled during the day, let's retreat for now." The earthbender tossed a smoke bomb at Kenji which completely blocked his eyesight. Once the smoke cleared, they had fled, along with his sister. Kenji fell on his knees, filled with anger and sadness. She was right in front of me, after four years of searching, she was right I front of me and I let them take her away again. The voice repeated itself in his mind over and over, he felt like he could burst out in tears, but he couldn't. He made a vow not to ever cry out again. The anger boiled in him, he felt like killing, like tearing something to shreds.
The sound of a siren was heard from above and a small miniature airship approached him. Five metalbenders hopped down and faced Kenji. Three of them released Fire Lady Mai from under the earth and two of them faced Kenji.
"You boy, you're under arrest for destruction of city property and for attacking and imprisoning Royalty." The man held Kenji by the arm. Kenji laughed insanely.
"If you do not wish to die, I recommend removing your filthy hand off me." He sprang up to his feet and grabbed the officer by his neck. Ah, someone to take out all my anger, he thought to himself.
"FOR FOUR LONG YEARS I SEARCHED FOR HER!!! FOUR YEARS!!! Do you know what it is, living for one purpose and then having it ripped away from you right in front of your own eyes? Do you!?" he choked the officer and laughed fanatically. "You are all useless! Where were you when Equalists attacked me and the Avatar's daughter? Where were you when the Fire Lady was about to be kidnapped?"
"Men –gasp– we have a –gasp– nutcase on our hands" As the other metalbenders approached, Kenji released the man and shoved him aside, regaining his calmness. He needed to get that out of his system, now his next task was to get his sister back.
Kenji inhaled through his nose and exhaled through his mouth, firing a cloud of black smoke from his hands at the metalbending cops. With their sight blinded, he turned around and ran as fast as he could.
I need to get back to the mansion. He said to himself. As he prepared to continue his dash, the large sound of a siren followed him. They were on to him.
Monkey feathers! I don't have time for this! He increased his running speed and dashed out of the park. Perhaps I can lose them under all the skyscrapers. He dashed forward into town, avoiding all the automobiles and the people. But up ahead, a shimmer of hope. He reduced his speed and ran into a tavern and then swiftly shut the door behind him, panting and gasping for air.
All eyes were on him and he could feel it.
"What have I gotten myself into?"
Dining Hall of the Fire Lord's Mansion, Republic City
Everyone was present for dinner, everyone except for Li Yong and Kenji. Fire Lady Mai had explained her absence and how she was almost kidnapped, before being saved by a mysterious firebender who could bend different colors of fire. Xue almost choked on her roast duck when she heard it. Iroh raised an eyebrow and spread more light on the issue.
"You mean you do not remember him?" Mai glanced at Iroh with clear confusion on her face. "He is the one I trained for three years. He lived with me and worked in the Jasmine Dragon, he even served tea to my nephew and you when you visited me a while back. I am surprised to hear that he is in this city." Xue saw this as an opportunity to learn more about Kenji and his background.
"So, can you tell us how you met him?" she asked, biting anxiously into her seal blubber jerky.
"Of course," he replied with a broad smile. "Piandao had gathered invaluable information on a secret organization which planned to take out the White Lotus members because of a feud long ago, he called a meeting at his home town of Shu Jing. He said that one of the younger White Lotus members had all the details and would tell us as soon as everyone was present. It was so important that I had to close my tea shop and go back to the Fire Nation. I had come a day earlier and decided to go for a night's walk. It was there and then that I found him, a ten-year old boy crying at a secluded corner on the street. I approached him and asked him what was wrong, and it was then that he told me his parents had been murdered and his house burned down."
Xue and Tenzin glanced at each other and even Lu Ten seemed eager to hear more. Saru was the only one oblivious to what was going on.
"I took him with me to Piandao's castle and gave him a room to stay. It was not until the following morning that we all realized that our informant was assassinated and his son was the young boy sleeping in the castle. We tried our best, but it seemed that his father had not told him anything of the sort, and so our only clue was gone."
"That's terrible." Xue spoke out so suddenly that she surprised everyone, herself included.
"Yes it was. When he woke up from his slumber he was confused and sad. The bodies of his parents were found and buried and he made an oath on their graves to find his sister, who disappeared the night of the attack. Afterwards he insisted on following me to Ba Sing Se, saying that he could not live in the Fire Nation again. I let him, and that is how he came to live with me in the Upper Ring of Ba Sing Se." Iroh paused, munched on a lap of roast duck and took a small sip of his tea before continuing.
"After I found out that he was a firebender, I proceeded to train him. I realized that he was naturally talented and twice as powerful as I was when I was his age. He was a natural prodigy who could bend several colors of fire and could generate lightning. At the age of ten!"
Zuko and Lu Ten's eyes widened. Lu Ten had never generated lightning before, and Zuko could only do so after the war. The Fire Lord grunted; even Azula couldn't generate lightning at that age, and this boy could?
"After two years he began blossoming into a handsome young man, I also noticed that the number of young female customers had increased. When he first came with me to Ba Sing Se and worked in the tea shop he was shy and nervous, especially when serving to girls. When he made a mistake and they laughed at him, his face would light up to be bright red."
Iroh laughed slightly, noticing that everyone was focused on him and his tale now "But over time, the shyness was gone and he became a flirt among the girl's. There was almost no weekend in which he did not have a date. Though he would admit that he liked the date, he would always reply 'Nothing can fill the void' I was unsure if he meant the void left my his parents or the void left by his beloved sister."
Iroh paused and took a sip of water to refresh his voice "In his spare time, he would try his best everyday to beat me at Pai Sho and would also try inventing new brands of tea for the Jasmine Dragon. I remember when he tricked me into drinking his apple-garlic tea." Iroh shuddered. "It was very... bracing."
"In reality he was always sad, he never smiled and everyday, he would look at the picture of his family and sigh. He almost gave in to despair. He told me that he would do anything to get the thought of his parents out of his memory. I told him that the memories will always be there and he should learn to embrace it rather than get rid of it. However, he still tried to get rid of it by all means, and he resourced to using his good looks to date young beautiful girls. He became what people call..." Iroh stroked his beard and tried to remember the word he was looking for.
"Perverted," Xue offered, with her head faced down, using her ice breath to cool down her stewed sea prunes.
"That's one way to put it". All eyes were on Xue now, especially her brother.
Iroh continued "Well, three years passed and he had gotten over his parent's death but he refused to accept that his sister was dead, so he set off with some money, few clothes and his weapons and left Ba Sing Se. I was sad that he had left, because I had lost a good Pai Sho opponent, a student and a friend. He himself took me as his uncle, and we were very close. I never imagined meeting him again, so I was surprised to hear that he is in this city."
"I see. He is a talented Firebender, he took out four men who use Chi Blocking and two benders. The police thought he was responsible for trapping me, and gave chase to him, but after I straightened things up with their commander, they canceled the search," Mai said, "not that it mattered. He had clearly escaped their sights and they knew it. He appeared out of nowhere and disappears into nowhere. What type of training did you give him, to become a phantom?" she addressed Iroh.
Iroh laughed "He always does that, he once told me that he has never lost a game of hide-and-seek in his life, and knows how to camouflage anywhere at anytime."
So true, Xue thought. He's here one minute and vanishes the next. That explains it. But I wonder, where is he now? And where is Li Yong?
"Uncle, isn't this the boy that you said nearly destroyed your shop and assaulted your customers?" Zuko asked with concern in his voice.
"Yes that is true, but it is partly my fault. On my birthday, an old friend from the Fire Nation sent me a bottle of nice wine. My young apprentice mistook the bottle for some new brand of tea and poured it for himself to drink. He took a mere sip and slipped into a loopy frenzy; he couldn't even identify friend from foe or man from furniture. He attacked mercilessly and even I alone could not stop him. Luckily, King Bumi had come to visit and it took the two of us to stop him."
Nervousness flashed among everyone's face.
Xue gulped down on her chilled water. Okay, note to self, never let Kenji drink any liquor, elixir or wine.
Behind Four Yuan Tavern, North-West of Republic City
Kenji slammed the boy into the wall and choked him with both hands.
"I'll ask you one last time, where is your hideout?" his voice was icy cold, and more fierce than the strongest of flames.
"Alright, it's a secret –gasp– entrance under this automobile company, you –gasp– can't miss it." Kenji glanced at Li Yong.
"We don't know if he's lying, but we don't have anymore leads so let's go with it for now" Li Yong replied. Kenji struck the young boy behind his neck and he instantly fell unconscious.
"Let's do this."
Automobile Industry, Republic City
Kenji and Li Yong and put on black cloaks covering all parts of their bodies except their eyes. The duo snuck past the sleeping guards and managed to sneak in without being spotted. In the center of the Industry, Li Yong opened a wooden hatch from the floor, revealing a flight of spiral stairs which went downwards. Kenji went first and Li Yong followed mumbling to himself.
"I still don't know how you talked me into this."
"Quite simple, I give you some dating skills and you help me find my sister, it was an easy deal. Now be quiet, we don't want to alarm anyone of our presence."
Drip, drip, drip. As the duo approached further the sound of dripping water echoed around them, the air smelled foul and the environment was worse than a swamp. Elephant-rats who saw the duo approaching ran into their various mouse holes while others scurried about. The walls were covered with moss and had totally faded off from their usual colour. Once the stairs ended, they stood at the beginning of a long hallway.
"So how do we find her?" Li Yong asked.
"We'll just have to, wait someone's coming!" The pair hid behind a corner and watched a man and a woman pass by.
"Yeah so our top assassin failed, I always told you that Juan was overestimated, she's a fifteen year old girl." The man said.
"I knew it. So where is she now?"
"They locked her up in room 104, the boss will think of her punishment later."
Kenji held his breath and it took all of his discipline to prevent himself from yelling. Once the two had climbed up the stairs and where out of earshot, he grabbed Li Yong and rushed with him through the hall, counting from room number one to one-hundred and four.
As Kenji reached room 104, he turned the knob and entered with Li Yong. The room was pitch black and no voice could be heard.
"Juan, are you in here?" he asked.
"I think I found the light switch!" Li Yong switched on the light and he gasped in horror. The room was filled with barrel upon barrel of blasting jelly. And above was a small window on the ceiling.
The door closed shut, and there was no handle to open it.
"Foolish children, this hideout was found by the cops and they were planning a raid on it tomorrow, won't they be surprised to find it gone? Every room in this hideout is filled with blasting jelly and in about five minutes, you'll be blown out of this world. Enjoy your last breath boys!"
The ghastly voice echoed through the room and they couldn't find out where it came from.
"So, this is how it ends. I'm sorry to have dragged you into this Li Yong," Kenji said remorsefully.
"Well, it was nice knowing you, Kenji of Shu Jing" Li Yong teased.
A powerful roar echoed throughout the building and the walls began to crumble, and crack. Li Yong braced himself, and then, the fire tore through the door, combined with the explosion of the room filled with blasting jelly.
It happened so fast all he could see, feel or touch... was the darkness.
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