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January 12, 2014
Elena already dug a deep tunnel when we arrived.
"Can we have some light?" I asked.
"Lan, why don't you try." Did Lan manage to firebend after all? He took some deep breaths. Then he exhaled, opening his palm. In it was a tiny blue flame. I was impressed.
"Don't worry. Everything is going all right." As soon as Fire Lady Zola said that, the flame became bigger. We could see now. I noticed Lan didn't have his water skin with him, because it was firebending training. I hope he'll be all right with just fire...
I read about the underground city of Ba Sing Se, and I thought for some reason here it would be the same. There was nothing here. Even Lan's now big flame couldn't drive off the cold that caught up to us. Lan was sweating. It must be a big effort for him just to keep that flame alive. The tunnel simply wasn't ending. Elena did all this... She must really be a powerful bender. We felt a tremble, and Lan couldn't keep the flame burning. We were in darkness again. Fire Lady Zola now made fire herself. In the warm orange glow, things were looking not as bad as they were before. Elena can take most of the earthbenders. She'll be alright. Lan looks miserable. He must've felt guilty when his flame died out.
"Don't worry. You'll be fine. You've only started firebending today."
"It's not myself I'm worried about. Elena is down there, and she may be a fantastic earthbender, but this is the Earth Kingdom we are dealing with. They have the best earthbenders in the world. How will she stand a chance against them?"
"Elena is smart. She would find a way."
I didn't notice Ti Kuang listening in. I realized there was not much to do in here, and so it only was natural he joined in on our conversation. Then we started seeing the first soldiers. They were all laying next to the wall. I saw traces of earth pillars and I realized that Elena was prepared to take down this entire army. How long had she been down here? There was an earthquake. Then, we heard her scream.
Ai Lun Na
Making the tunnel wasn't very hard. It was just: move earth. Then, I felt there was a thinner layer of earth beneath my feet. The tunnel! I calmed myself down. Focus. Strategize. From the looks of it, I was up against fourteen men. Was this their attack force? I couldn't feel any other men down here. No, wait. Something big was coming. They felt like platforms, being dragged on the earth. A lot of them. At least twenty. They were approaching quickly. If they entered the tunnel, the Fire Nation was doomed. What are my options? I need to act quickly. Even though I can feel footsteps coming from the tunnel above me, I can't wait for them. I need to make the tunnel collapse! After a minute, I got on my feet and attacked the fourteen men that were making the tunnel.
Luckily, they were surprised, and they didn't really have fighting skills. It was over pretty quickly. The platforms are just two minutes away from the tunnel entrance. If they see the tunnel is blown up, I hope they will retreat. I had to focus. Don't let anything get in your way. The entire tunnel needed to collapse, so if they remove the first rocks they won't try again. Focus. Don't rush anything.
The tunnel collapses.
I scream as I see what is about to happen.
I am buried in my rocky tomb.
I felt just plainly stupid. In a fight, no one would be able to use me because I didn't have my water skin with me. My flame died out. Tian said it's okay, but I should have focused more. If I am going to battle anyone, it would be with some gently waving flames. We are running now. We need to rescue Elena. She sounded like she was having pain, and her scream just died out. We finally reached the bottom. There isn't much of a secret tunnel in here. Wait. There is! These walls have been smoothed by an earthbender. Ti Kuang is already moving rocks. We should help, too. If only I could earthbend.
We hear a muted scream. Then, rocks fly everywhere. There she is. I'm so glad she is unharmed. We hug.
"Why are we getting all emotional? There is a big fleet of earth soldiers just waiting outside to get their butts kicked! If we don't defeat them now, they will not only destroy the palace, but they will also crush the capital!"
"So, what do you think we should do Elena?"
"We need to wait. They are making a new tunnel. It's going faster than the first one. They will be here in an hour. If we go ahead, they will see us coming. If they dig all the way through till here, they won't be expecting a surprise attack. I'll give us some place to fight."
She made a battlefield. It was a replica of the probending arena in Republic City. Zola wants to show me some battling techniques. She demonstrates. I follow her lead.
"Good. Now, if when you fight, you need to keep up the variation. Fireball, fire kick, fire punch et cetera. Now, we will rest until they are here."
"I thought that Avatar Korra opened the spirit portals. Why aren't there any spirits here then?"
"After hundred-twenty years, the spirits destroyed Republic City. That was thirty-seven years ago. After that, Avatar Brek decided that spirits and humans should live separated, after all. That is why no spirit can be seen."
"They are here. They are with a small three-hundred."
"Where is Ti Kuang with reinforcements?" Tian asked.
"We'll have to fight by ourselves. Lan, you stay with Zola. Tian, you take the right. Zola, you and Lan take the middle. I'll take the left."
Elena also had strategy war lessons in the palace. But that wasn't what made everyone agree with her plan. It was her own leadership. The wall crumbled. Everyone was ready.
After Elena shielded us from the incoming dirt, Tian was the first to make a move. Elena was right that we had surprised them. Tian was already going to advance, but I withheld him.
"If we go there, they will have the advantage. We have our own rules in here. They must obey them."
He nodded in understanding.
They just keep coming. I knocked out around thirty myself, and I've given many assets for others. The situation looked pretty hopeless when we heard Ti Kuang return. And with him the royal guard. We were about to surrender, but our backup give us new power. With them, we drove off all of the earth soldiers in a matter of minutes. They weren't that much of a fight when we could one on one them.
They left the tunnel! They were retreating! We won! Elena, Tian and I were so overjoyed we all had survived the assault. Fire Lady Zola was smiling as well. She protected her nation. That was what matters for her.
Two months later
I thought Zola would come to say goodbye. She is very ill, and the doctors all tell her that she doesn't have much longer to live. I mastered firebending. Elena became a teacher for a while after passing her master test and Tian made a trip to the Western Air Temple. He said he learned a lot from the monks there. As her second in command, Ti Kuang came to wave us out.
"Elena, I was proud to have you as a student. Not only have you made the most progress in earthbending I ever saw, you also teached me a lot. Also, thanks to you, the class is advancing faster than any other year!"
"It was my pleasure to be your student. Until we meet again!"
"Tiankong, I never really got to know you, but I know that you are a great airbender and you are loyal to your friends. I hope I can one day really get to know you!"
"Well, right now I have to find somebody in my family to teach Lan! Maybe later!"
"Lan Se, because you have proven valor in battle, Fire Lady Zola asked me to give you this. It is a box filled with peppers. She told me that you would know when to use it. Besides that, I want to wish all of you a safe trip to Republic City! Goodbye!"
Her last gift to me was a sign that she would be all right. Now that I even knew what firebending with a comet looked like, I didn't really need them anymore. I still took them.
"Ready to go?" Elena asked.
"On to the next element, I guess."
As Sudu, Tian and Elena mounted the ship, I looked back one last time. I was about to enter a brand new world. I could start over again. Earth King Lishi still is a problem. I lost my village to him. But just from looking forward, I could already see things were going up.
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