|More from Kuir||Romance, Suspense||PG-13||Here|
|Disrespect and Disregard|
There are always forces at work in this world. Some are for good, some are not...
Disrespect and Disregard
The older man walked through the halls fuming in silent anger. It had been nearly a year since Fire Lord Ma-Tin took the throne, and it became abundantly clear that she was Rishu's pawn. He might not have been Regent, but he was always present.
Between him and Ayame, no one could disturb Ma-Tin's plans to wage war on Republic City in less than ten years. It was absolute madness to think it would go unnoticed and succeed. He could only stand there and grunt at any council meeting as his suggestions were geared towards a goal already crafted by Rishu.
Worst, Ayame reveled in her position as Regent of the Fire Nation and her subtle taunts at him were nothing but infuriating as time went on. He had to do something, anything.
Ma-Tin paced through the hall as Rishu leaned on a pillar calmly, "Relax, you are the ruler of a nation, not an anxious teenager."
"Can't I be both? You should have told me sooner about this!" Frustration was evident in her voice as she scowled at her cousin.
Her current temperament was understandable. She had never met the man that was virtually moving in. And he was royalty to boot!
"Rishu-senpai, I swear, if anything goes bad, I won't give you a moment's rest for a month!"
He laughed, "I haven't had that for years, so it won't be anything lost, Little 'Tin."
Her cheeks reddened at the nickname. Even now, almost a year later, he was still calling her that. Kage enter the hallway. Her old friend wore the full armor of the Imperial Firebenders, but she could always recognize him, "Your majesty, they have arrived."
She stood straight, "Very well, lets go meet our new guests."
The tall man stood there waiting for his hosts. He was not used to waiting for someone but someone waiting for him. He would have to make sure that changed. Doors opened ahead and a dozen Imperial Firebenders marched forward in unison.
The stopped as two individuals walked between them. He may not be a firebender or a spiritual person, but even he could feel the power of the two who were the leaders of the Fire Nation. He did not worry, he was confident in his own power as Crown Prince of the Earth Kingdom.
"Prince Kuir, an honor to finally meet you in person," the black clad man spoke first. He looked the picture of cunning power. His fathomless eyes gave away a lie and his smile a sinister agenda. No wonder his father liked him so much.
"The honor is mine, Grand Marshal Rishu."
Rishu smirked at the title. The first thing he did was take the reigns of the Air Force. Iruei was impressed with the young man and asked for him to tutor Kuir in the ways of power.
Kuir thought it was insulting to be taught by a man two years his junior as if he was a master. Still, he was royalty and was expected to behave a certain way. And that was why he used the title of rank in military, to remind him that he was a Prince and Rishu was not.
He finally took his eyes away from the man he would be training with and turned them to the leader of this nation. At seven feet tall, he looked down on everyone, but even then, he was surprised at the beauty in front of him.
He black hair flowed gracefully with subtle curls, highlighted by her amber eyes. Absolutely beautiful. He bowed as royalty would bow to equals, "Your majesty, I thank you for your hospitality."
Ma-Tin smiled, "You need thank me for nothing. The Earth King and his family is always welcome here."
Ma-Tin began walking back, a signal for them to join her, "I understand that you will soon be training under Rishu?"
"Yes, my father seems to be impressed with his skill in the arts that our kind deals in."
She laughed simply, "Yes, he would make a great ruler if he put himself to the task."
Rishu interjected, "My place is not to rule but to guide leaders."
Lessons in Respect
Kuir grunted his frustration. This was pointless, completely pointless. Rishu smirked with his usual glance as he nagged, "What is your move?"
Kuir looked at the Paisho table, "I fail to see the purpose of this in the grand scheme of things. This is a game, I am here to learn things that will help me rule."
"You are playing a greater game, but you are unready for it. I will build up your skill with lesser games until you are capable of the one you think you are ready for."
"I will not be told by a youth what I am ready for!" Kuir stood up, seething in rage.
"A youth? Of course not, that is disrespectful. But a master? You will answer to me on that account."
"I would like to see you make me."
Kuir stood in the open grounds, ready for a challenge. He hoped a Fire Nation noble could give it to him. He was bare chested, wanting as much flexibility to fight as he waited for his opponent to prepare.
He kneeled there, looking away, as they do in Agni Kai. When he turned around, he still wore a shihakushō and hakama as if he didn't need the speed and agility of having them removed. Worse, his hands were in his pockets, as if he were disinterested in this fight.
"Do you even intend to fight, or just stand there and get beat?"
"Fight? No. Teach you a lesson in manners? Yes."
Kuir's eye twitched at the vague insults. He stomped his foot into the ground, commanding the earth to answer his will. Massive walls rose on his sides. Rishu would be hard pressed to fight when earth surrounded him on all sides like this.
Rishu chuckled, not even looking directly at Kuir, "Is that all you're going to do to prepare? I see. You are taking this less seriously than I am. Very well, you were warned."
Finally, the black clad man removed his hands from his pockets and stepped forward. Kuir tensed his muscles in anticipation. However, shock was all that followed. Rishu had covered half the distance between them in the blink of an eye. Kuir clapped his hands together, crashing the two stone walls together quickly. A blast of white fire set out and a man leapt from the cloud of dust.
Kuir looked in awe as he blinked again and the Black Dragon was gone. Instantly, searing pain arched across his back. He fell to his knees, feeling week, as if he was burning to ash.
"Your first mistake was to challenge me, your second was to look away at any instant in our short duel."
Kuir looked up to see Rishu standing over him like a giant over ants, uninterested as he inspected his nails, "How?" Kuir asked weakly, "How did you do that?"
Rishu smiled sarcastically, "I waited and listened."
Kuir groaned as he tried to rub ice on his back while sitting on a porch watching the sun set. That bastard had one mean burn.
"My goodness! What happened to you!?" A voice full of worry possessed his ears. He craned his neck to see that none other than Fire Lord Ma-Tin was rushing to him.
He answered uneasily, "Lord Rishu and I had a disagreement and he decided to teach me a lesson."
"He did what!? That is unacceptable, I will immediately have him apologize for this grave act!"
"No, no," Kuir interjected, "I deserved what I have received. I did not understand what lessons he was trying to teach me, I let pride in my blood erase all reason. I ignored the quality of a man because of what he was instead of who he was."
Ma-Tin looked on curiously as Kuir reflected on his flaw. She responded with what she felt was appropriate, "Rishu senpai was always there for me. He was a rock of wisdom and advice. He will never lie in what he thinks is best for you."
"You are lucky to have such a man at your side and to call him family."
She smiled to herself, "I am."
She then looked to the Crown Prince, "What about you? What is your family like?"
"There is none left but I and the Earth King."
"That's not too different from what I have, Rishu is the only blood relative I have left."
"Hmmm," Kuir thought on that. Rishu didn't seem like he was ever a kid with the way he acted. To have known him that long was a great tool in her favor. She certainly had people looking out for her. He envied her, and that was something he never had done before.
"I must say, even though I know Rishu is a master, I am surprised that he managed this against you. I've only heard how powerful you are and only a handful of warriors could even stand a chance against you."
"Skill and power don't matter if you let your ego run it."
"That you recognize that says something about your character, most men of your power couldn't accept that reality."
Kuir smiled at her as the sun shone through her black hair, "Thanks."
Disorder and Chaos
Regent Ayame walked through the palace calmly. She had gotten used to spending most of her time here. Ma-Tin was still young and new to this game and needed help at every outset. Between her and Rishu though, she had solid company to back her up. Ayame thought on the newly promoted Grand Marshal.
He had been gunning for Grand Marshal of the Air Force for a long time and now had received his position. Rishu was quick to streamline and control the air force and make it into an effective strike force.
Rishu pulled all kinds of strings to get the outdated air power up to snuff. Even if that meant romancing a female politician or two, including Ayame. She was happy to oblige, knowing that such roads go both ways.
She thought on it, she was young, beautiful and with a powerful family, she would make a good match with Rishu and if something ill should happen to Ma-Tin, he would become Fire Lord. Were she smart enough to marry such a man before, it would give a very powerful position.
Her musings on enticing Rishu were cut short when an older man approached, "You must be pretty happy with yourself, little snake."
Ayame kept a plain face as she looked on the bitter Katsuro. The Councilor was still sore for having been looked over for Regent in favor of Ayame. Katsuro opposed much of the Fire Lord's new policy to ready for war. "Whether I am happy or not does not play into our profession, Councilor Katsuro."
"Of course not, that's just a bonus. You just don't care what happens to this nation so long as you reap the rewards."
Ayame smiled, "Don't act so piously, Katsuro, your own goals are not so noble."
"I at least am looking out for the best of the Fire Nation, Minister Ayame. You and that treacherous Rishu are out to wage war with the world, regardless of whether we burn to the ground."
"First off, its Regent Ayame to you. Secondly, even if we are out to wage war on the entire world, that is the will and command of the Fire Lord and your duty is to follow her command despite your own views." Ayame turned to walk away, "Good day, Councilor Katsuro."
The next thing was only pain as cold steel ran through her. She gasped is paralyzing pain as Katsuro ran the knife deeper into her back, "I hate your false humility!"
The knife plunged deeper as he left it there, walking away from the mortally wounded regent.
She fell to her knees and whispered to herself, "Damn it, so close."
Her head fell over as her last breath escaped her.
Taking the Soul
Katsuro sat in the comfortable room as he smoked a well made cigar. A roaring blaze in the fireplace kept in warm in the cold winter night. He hummed as beautiful music played in the background, content with himself today.
A knock on the door interrupted his peace. It had better be good for his servants to intrude on his tranquility. The door opened before he responded and saw that it was not a servant but Rishu, even worse.
"Ah, Grand Marshal Rishu, how can I help you?" He responded with the sincerity only a politician was capable of faking.
"I am afraid I have to inform you a terrible event that has happened."
"What is it?"
"Regent Ayame was murdered in the Royal Palace, stabbed in the back."
"Unbelievable, a murder in the Royal Palace?"
"As you know, the death of someone so high up in the Fire Nation could imply assassination, which could mean several officials such as the council and the Fire Lord are at risk."
Katsuro smiled inside, protection was what he was thinking about, "Are there any leads?"
"The knife was left in her back, but no prints, the man must have been wearing gloves."
"Well, that hallway is fairly open, surely someone saw it happen."
"Perhaps, but we must be careful and ensure that none of the Council members or the Fire Lord are left to such open vulnerabilities. If the Regent can be killed with no trace of the killer, who is to stop them from attacking others?"
"The Imperial Firebenders are some of the greatest warriors in the world, they will uncover this mystery soon enough," Katsuro embellished the investigative skill of the royal bodyguards. Stroking the feathers of nobility was a skill learned in childhood and was one that was useful for life.
"You're right, the Imperial Guard are skillful and will protect anyone from another attack."
Rishu turned to look at the fireplace, "There is one problem however, I never said where Ayame was murdered." Rishu looked over his shoulder at the older man.
Katsuro stopped what he was doing as he realized his mistake. He gave information he shouldn't have known. Rishu kept talking, "I've never thought you would be so stupid to do something so rash as kill Ayame in the Royal Palace."
"What does that matter to you? Its not she was anyone important, she was just a pawn."
"Perhaps, but so are you."
His eyes bulged as he punched his fists forward, sending great waves of flames after the still Rishu. "Pawn? Ha! I serve no one!"
The flames enveloped him and coated him like a great curtain.
"You think that because you are the top your class that you are unequal? Ha! I also was the top of my class as well!"
The fires' only response was the churning of burning air. "You are just a legend in your own mind! You have fabricated a mythos so that none would challenge you! Don't think I am so naive to believe your stories or those of the Royal Family's!"
"Stories?" Katsuro's eyes widened in surprise as a voice answered. "Yes, Ma-Tin would likely lose to you because she lacks the will to kill like us, but I'm working on that. But I assure you, I am not so hesitant, nor are you equal with me."
Katsuro stepped back as a figure stepped forward, his clothes was burnt but his skin untouched by the wrathful flames that surrounded him. "You think that I am equal with you? I am not, my power eclipses men. Though it is not invincible, it far surpasses your capabilities."
The monster that dressed in man's skin kept walking for him as he backed into a corner, "I have seen things beyond imagining with these eyes and have done things beyond your comprehension."
"I-i-impossible! What are you?"
"What am I? I am the Black Dragon, the Apex of Fire. But fire is just the groundwork of my power as fire is simply a form of energy." The frightened man's eyes opened even wider in terror, "You understand now. You know what being stripped of bending is like, it is a part of you. Don't worry, I won't take your bending."
In a voice slithering with menace, "I'll take your soul."
"Can't? You know nothing of what energy is. It is not limited to one vein or another. I can take what I please, be it your bending, your memory, your sanity, and yes, your soul. Don't worry, I won't curse your name, in fact, I welcome it."
"You see, I needed to get rid of both you and Ayame for my plans to progress, but you made it convenient, a murder in the council, that took years of planning out of the equation. Such luck will earn you a place in my histories, Katsuro."
"Please," Katsuro begged pathetically as tears formed around his eyes.
"The time for mercy is past," he pressed his thumb gently against the forehead of Katsuro as if an infant's head, "Sleep, Katsuro."
A green glow filled his eyes and mouth and then it left, entering the palm of Rishu. Rishu looked at it momentarily before tossing it lightly aside as if it was less than trash, smoke that was only temporary in attention.
Rishu walked away as he spoke to nothing and yet everything, "We are one step closer, now."
Rishu sat down at the table as he slowly sipped on tea with his young cousin. "It seems that Katsuro couldn't take being second to Ayame any longer and he killed her."
"Hmm, I expected more of an experienced politician than raw and emotional murder like that. It seems our council is short a few members."
"Katsuro isn't our concern anymore, I took care of it. Our concern now is appointing another Regent."
"I already have that taken care of," Ma-Tin answered confidently.
"Oh?" Rishu answered skeptically. There were few able leaders left and each had their own agenda.
"Yes, he is quite cunning but seems to think very highly of himself. However, he likes to play like he is simple when pressed."
"Idiot, its you."
Rishu didn't respond but let his cousin go on, "You're the one fit to rule and since you refuse the throne, then I 'll do the next best thing and appoint you regent. As a Grand Marshal, I have the authority to appoint you so, and you will follow that order."
Rishu grunted in frustration, physically vexed at her own manipulation. However, on the inside, he smiled. This was what he wanted. Having Ma-Tin appoint him as Regent immediately after her father's death would be seen as a power play, however, with the tragedy that just occurred, he would be welcomed. Also, Ma-Tin learned to manipulate, even if it was his plan, she felt the satisfaction of getting something she wanted.
Just one step closer.
- This chapter takes place nearly a year after chapter one. The chapters will continue on in this fashion as it covers important events that led up to Journey of Tala.
- Rishu has planned meticulously for this, but even he can't plan for everything.
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|