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Book Two: Success and Failure
This is the fourteenth overall chapter of. It is a major turning point, and is quite long.
Po has an epiphany; Lin and Chong become wary of a shadow.
"Su, what are you doing here?" Po repeated, completely dumbstruck. "You mean it's not obvious?" Su countered in an icy voice. "I don't know what to say," Po finally said after some hesitation. He sat on the ground. "How did you learn to do that?" "Do what?" "Shoot." Su clutched her bow and reached back to her quiver of arrows self-consciously, then she glared at Po. "I had my secrets too," she said. "You never told me you were an Airbender, either." She approached him, brandishing her scarf like a sword. "It's time for you to explain. Why did you leave Gust?" "Well, you're not going to believe this, but I'm"— "I know you're the Avatar, idiot," Su said softly. She grabbed Po's injured arm, causing him to grimace in pain, then she began to gently wrap her scarf around his wrist, finally positioning the ends of the scarf around his neck in the fashion of a sling. "It's probably only dislocated," she commented mildly. Then, in a much more menacing voice, she commanded, "Explain." Po suddenly felt as if he was in school, facing the teacher after conducting a misguided prank, only now, in front of him, was a girl with whom he'd grown up, a girl that had just saved him from his impending execution. "I left because I had to," he said after some hesitation. "You never have to do anything, Po," said Su. She sat in front of him on the ground, grabbing his glider and closing its wings before handing it back to him. "I have to do this," contradicted Po as he took the staff from her. "It's my duty to the world; I did read that scroll you gave me. It came in handy." "Well, I'm glad," huffed Su. She crossed her arms. "What is 'this' anyway? What exactly are you trying to accomplish?" "I want to revert the world to the way it once was, the way it is in that history scroll." "Po, I hate to tell you this," began Su in a voice filled with regret, "but the world won't change just because you will it to, even if you are the Avatar." "It's started to change for the better already, Su," retorted Po. "Kung has overthrown its dictator, Lord Qin." "Well, one country is much different than the entire world, Po! Look what happened to you here, in Tai!" "I know," admitted Po. "That was bad, but hopefully it won't happen again." "Po"— "Why are you trying to dissuade me, Su? Both you and Avatar Nuo Fu seem to think the world is rigid and unchangeable. Well, you're wrong! The world is always and forever shifting; it's never the same two days in a row!" Su sighed. "You're right, Po," she said, "but if you fail, well, I don't want to see you hurt or discouraged or worse." "Well, I'm seeing it through to the end," Po said determinedly. "Either the world will become Four Nations once more and a place where benders and non-benders can live peacefully together, or I die trying to make it happen." "That's very noble of you," said Su. Then: "I want to help." "What?" Po asked, surprised. "I thought you didn't condone my task." "If you think it's possible, then it must be," she responded in a surprisingly bright tone. Then, in a much darker voice, she queried, "Why didn't you tell me you were an Airbender?" "I told you, didn't I? You know, that time we were locked in the wood shed." Su glared at Po. "You barely hinted at it. You were mocking me. Besides, we were both so bored and worried that we were saying the first things that popped into our heads, never mind the consequences! We were even shooting off random dares! You got that splinter in your tongue after I dared you to eat that small pile of twigs." "Never again," Po muttered as he rubbed his stomach, remembering the bellyache he'd sustained the following morning. "So why didn't you tell me?" "Give it a rest, Su," Po said exasperatedly. "If you must know, my grandfather forbade me to tell anyone, and frankly, I wouldn't have told you even if he hadn't kept me from saying anything." "You could've trusted me, Po," said Su regretfully. "I trusted you with that scroll, and then you just left, without saying a word." "Why is it such a big deal, anyway?" Su flushed slightly, then she looked away from him. "You're my best friend; that's all." Po sensed there was more to it than she was willing to reveal, but he didn't pry. "Well, I'm glad," he instead said. Su changed the topic. "So what's it like to fly?" she wondered, glancing from his sprained wrist to his staff, which lay on the ground beside him. "It's like nothing I've ever experienced before," said Po, in awe at the memory of soaring through the air, albeit temporarily. "Was it worth the injury?" she challenged, raising an eyebrow skeptically. "Absolutely," Po said confidently. "I didn't know I had it in me, though. I was pretty much improvising. You know, I'm not much of an Airbender. . ." "It's not like there's anyone we can compare you to," commented Su. She then reached into her pack and pulled out a small sack of dried meat. "Hungry?" she asked Po as she opened the sack. "No thanks," said Po. He too brandished a sack of food. "I'm a vegetarian now," he added as he bit into a dried moon peach. "Oh, really?" said Su dryly. "Since when?" "Since I learned that the Air Nomads were vegetarians. I'm living up to my ancestors' traditions, or at least trying to." Po grimaced slightly. "I think it's too cold for me to shave my head, though." Su laughed lightly. "Yeah, it kind of is." Po ran his fingers through his ragged hair absentmindedly. "Besides, it's not like I deserve those blue arrows yet," he said. Then, in a darker voice, he added, "The world is a terrible place right now." "I know." "If only I could get some answers!" Po exclaimed, frustrated. "All the Avatars I've spoken to have been too cryptic! None of them tell me what in Koh's Realm happened! Avatar Nuo Fu doesn't seem to want me to take action to fix this messed up world; Avatar Zhong tells me not to trust Avatar Nuo Fu; and Avatar Korra told me that someone powerful and influential fueled the revolution fifty years ago, although she didn't specify whom. . ." Po fell silent, thinking through various scenarios. All the details seemed to point to Nuo Fu as the figure of whom Korra had spoken, but he could hardly believe it. After all, Nuo Fu was once the Avatar, keeper of the balance of the world and protector of humans in general, especially the downtrodden. What could he have gained from helping those against bending take over and dismantle the Four Nations? Had he been corrupted somehow? Or was Po missing something that would clear him? No, he thought. It must be him, but why did he do it? "Damn," he said out loud, putting his forehead in his hand not attached to his injured wrist. "I can't believe an Avatar is responsible for this mess." "What?!" exclaimed Su, who bolted up off the ground. "Are you serious?"
"Unfortunately," stated Po tiredly. "Are you sure? I mean, what Avatar would do that? I've read that scroll I gave you, and there is nothing in there to suggest that an Avatar would purposely screw up the world so badly!" "Which Avatar was last mentioned in that scroll?" asked Po, who hadn't read it in its entirety. "Avatar Zhong," replied Su. "I think he was from the Earth Kingdom." Po nodded. "I need to speak to my past lives, and I am going to demand the truth." He stood up, determined to receive answers. "Where are you going?" inquired Su, sounding worried. "Somewhere quieter," he responded simply, padding a few yards until he found a willow tree with moss-coated roots. He sat cross-legged on the moss and watched the slightly swaying fronds, allowing them to hypnotize him. He then closed his eyes, almost immediately succeeding in his endeavor. Then, the sounds of the Spirit World's swamp greeted his ears. He opened his eyes, surprised to already see both Avatar Nuo Fu and Avatar Zhong in solid form sitting before him. "You're quite intelligent, Avatar Po," said Avatar Nuo Fu appreciatively. "Don't kiss up to me, Avatar Nuo Fu," Po said in a harsh voice. Both Avatars in front of him flinched; Po too was shocked at his own tone. "Why didn't you tell me?" he then demanded of Nuo Fu and Zhong. Neither Fire Nation nor Earth Kingdom man answered. Instead, they exchanged menacing glances with each other. "I myself am surprised that you didn't blab, Avatar Zhong," Nuo Fu stated condescendingly to his former Spirit Guide, breaking the tense silence. "And I'm not at all surprised that you didn't," retorted Zhong. "Enough!" yelled Po, angry. "Will one of you tell me why in Koh's Realm Avatar Nuo Fu was a traitor to the world?" "Perhaps we should send you to the Face-Stealer's Realm," commented Nuo Fu, his eyes seeming to leer at Po. Po glared at him, and the past Avatar's expression immediately sobered. "Avatar Po, I did not tell you because it was not for me to tell," claimed Avatar Zhong. "However, I knew that Avatar Nuo Fu was unlikely to reveal this information himself." "I want to know everything," said Po. "Now that I am aware of a single detail, however major, I want the entire picture." Nuo Fu sighed, something that surprised Po as he began to tell his tale. "Po, I was weak as far as Avatars go; I wasn't a very good bender, and my heart was weak as well." "So? That doesn't mean you should betray the world!" "I tried to be a 'proper' Avatar at first, but about fifty-five years ago, I was kidnapped by a small group of men in white masks; they did something to me that disabled my bending, and I was unable to defend myself. They took me to a place I didn't know, as they had blindfolded me, but then I met the leader, who also wore a mask. He told me what the small group stood for, and a bit about their history. "They called themselves the 'Equalists', and they've been around for over seven centuries. They were ultimately vanquished by Avatar Korra, but a small number persisted, and they steadily and slowly began to grow again. "They wanted to eliminate the world's dependency on benders, and also wanted to change the face of the entire world, make it weaker by fragmenting the Four Nations. I listened to him, but I was disgusted, especially by his idea to dismantle the nations. The bravest thing I ever did was to tell him what I thought of his plan. . . "That was when he made a proposition: that I would use my influence to elevate the Equalists to world attention as well as help them, or that they would kill me." "And you chose the first option," Po finished, stating the obvious. He grimaced, beginning to wonder if Nuo Fu had really chosen incorrectly, if he had weighed his options on the probability of his survival. Then, he told himself that his decision had been utterly selfish. "I did as he asked, and I quickly became their puppet," Nuo Fu practically spat. "First, I manipulated the Earth King into allowing Omashu to become independent, then convinced him that the citizens in the provinces were preparing to revolt. It was too easy; that king was a fool even worse than I, and he didn't hesitate to allow the provinces to form their own states and governments. "The Fire Nation was far more difficult, as the Fire Lord was intelligent and suspicious; he immediately saw through me. So instead, I went to a few noblemen that were pining for power, and convinced them that they would receive their own land if they did as I told them. Then, they pressured the Fire Lord into breaking up the Fire Nation, and he eventually consented. "The Air Nomads were especially tough to convince; there were few of them, but they were all devoted to their ways. The Equalists, who had enlarged their group even more, became impatient with me and took this matter into their own hands, since I was reluctant to kill anyone." At this, Zhong made a skeptical noise, but Nuo Fu continued as if he hadn't made a sound. "They eliminated all ten Elders at the two populated Air Temples, and quickly installed a frightened puppet as dictator, who was under their thumb due to their threats. "The Water Tribes fell quickly, though, as the Southern generally went along with the Northern. I discovered that the chief of the Northern Tribe was himself an Equalist, and he quickly captured and imprisoned or killed his Waterbenders. He then convinced the Southern Chief to do the same. "Five years after I was initially threatened, the revolution was complete. The world had changed beyond comprehension, and it still remains the same, thanks to me. The Equalists then disappeared from existence completely, having accomplished their goals much quicker than they anticipated. However, the world eventually had no more use for me, and someone was hired by a dictator of one of the new countries to hunt and kill me. They justified their actions by saying that no bender could walk free, and as the Avatar, I was a potential rallying point for resistance." "But they didn't succeed," said Po thoughtfully, still absorbing the history. "New benders, and new hope for the way things once were, will always be born." "Eventually the gift will be stomped out," said Zhong sadly, disputing Po's theory. "If benders are imprisoned or dead, unable to have children, bending will disappear. Also, if benders are born, they will not be able to hone their ability without a master, which are virtually nonexistent." "It's terrible," said Po, glad he knew the truth at last, but horrified that something like that could have happened. He then glanced at Nuo Fu, wondering how he felt about his life's ordeal. Nuo Fu answered Po's unspoken inquiry: "I am ashamed of my actions, Avatar Po; I truly am, although it may not seem so. However, I am also proud that a single man, especially one as weak as I, was able to change the world so drastically. That's why I want you to let the current dilemma be; I don't my handiwork reversed." "That's awfully selfish of you, Avatar Nuo Fu," condemned Po. "I admit, it is," confirmed Nuo Fu. Then, both Avatars began to fade. "Thank-you," said Po as they disappeared completely.
"That's. . ." "I know."
Po had just recounted to Su everything that Avatar Nuo Fu had told him. She had listened with rapt, horrified attention without interrupting. Now, she was in a state of shock, although a shade paler than Po's own. Po could barely contain the thoughts bouncing through his head. He had his facts straight, but he didn't want to forget a single one, determined not to manipulate and coerce his rivals the way Nuo Fu once had. He would never make a mistake even remotely close to those his past life had made. He would sooner have died than helped those Equalists. "I think we need to go to the West," Po said to Su, watching as her shock changed to curiosity. "Why?" she wondered. "Well, apparently the last Fire Lord was pretty intelligent and didn't support these Equalists' way of thinking. Perhaps we can find one of his descendants in the West." "Po, millions of people live in the West," Su disputed. "Besides, what if this Fire Lord's children or grandchildren don't agree with your goal?" "No," Po disagreed. "They probably share ideals similar to his. Besides," he continued in a slightly mocking voice, "I think there's a high chance that one of these descendants is the one in power in one of the Western countries." "All right," said Su, resigned. Grimly, she added, "I hope your assumptions are correct, for your sake and that of the world."
I leaned against a tree, savoring the break after trekking through this forest all day. The sun would soon set, and Chong and I would be forced to halt our journey through lack of light. Chong, however, wasn't taking the opportunity to rest. In fact, he was trampling through the fallen leaves after something small and undoubtedly furry. I smiled slightly as he tripped over a hidden tree root. "Damn it," he sighed, remaining on the ground as he watched what he had been chasing shuffle away. "There goes our meal." He then stood up, dusting off the leaves and soil that still clung to his clothes. He approached me with regretful green eyes. "Sorry," he added, shrugging. "We have at least another hour until sunset," I said, trying to make him feel better. I then glanced up at the top of his head and giggled, something quite unlike me. "You have a leaf in your hair," I told Chong, reaching to pick it out of his thick, unkempt hair. I felt goose bumps emerging on my arm and fought to keep my face from turning red. "Thanks," said Chong as he tried to smooth down his hair slightly. "I guess this is what traveling without bathing much does to someone. Do I smell bad?" He looked at me, frowning, apparently truly worried about his odor. I shrugged, still preoccupied with trying to keep myself from blushing. "I guess we must both smell pretty awful, because I haven't noticed you in particular." So much for not blushing, I then thought as the heat flushed my cheeks. "Are you feeling feverish, Lin?" Chong queried; he suddenly looked concerned. "Oh, no, I'm fine," I said, turning away slightly. I then examined the tree I had been leaning against, recognizing the shiny red fruit on its branches. I grabbed one, tugging at it until it gave, letting loose a few leaves from the tree as well. "I guess this will be our dinner, then," commented Chong as he too plucked an apple from the tree. "Don't look so disappointed," I said. "It's better than nothing." I sat on the ground and took a bite from my apple, relishing the juicy white flesh, the first nourishment I'd had since the night before. Five and a half apples later, I drifted off to my first dreamless sleep in weeks.
"I don't know why, but it feels as if we're being watched." "What makes you think that?" "I don't know. . ." I looked at the path ahead, where the trees thinned to allow us a view of a small village of dilapidated buildings. From the distance, the village looked uninhabited, but could someone be lurking there, watching and waiting just for us? "Lin, you might only be imagining things," said Chong with a sigh. "I guess you're right," I admitted as the feeling dissipated. I glanced over my shoulder, but nothing but trees, dried leaves, and our path lay behind us. Despite the possibility of my subconscious playing tricks on me, I remained uneasy and hesitant in striding forward towards that ominous little town. Chong drew ahead of me, his pace quicker than mine. He halted and turned to face me, as I had stopped altogether. "Come on," he said, reaching out to me with his hand. "What's wrong?" I stared from his hand to the village at the end of the trail. "I have a bad feeling about that place, Chong," I said. "I think we should go around that town." "Why?" wondered Chong. "We might come across something to eat there besides apples." "Well, my instincts tell me otherwise," I said nervously, shivering slightly. Chong then strode towards me and grabbed my arm, pulling me along. "It's just a tiny little ghost town," he said. "There's nothing to be afraid of." "Says you," I said, trying to ignore the tingling sensation of his skin on mine. "Your word choice isn't exactly reassuring, anyway." "Which word did you find disconcerting?" Chong inquired cynically. "'Tiny' or 'little'?" "Actually, it was 'ghost'," I retorted, wrenching my wrist from his grip. "All right, I'm coming." "Good," said Chong, "because if something bad is about to happen, I'd rather not face it alone." I rolled my eyes at his comment, but my fears still dominated my mind, especially as we finally walked through the village's limits. Then, that peculiar feeling returned; someone was definitely watching me.
A casual stroll. Nothing more, it seemed. However, he still walked with a purpose, and his even stride was fueled by his confidence. The end of this task was near; within two days, he would be free to take on a new job. As Hanta approached the long-abandoned village, he vaguely recalled his journey. Across the sea in an unsanitary pirates' vessel to Omashu, intent on his prey. Then, to that little rice farm, where he'd met that slave, to whom he'd promised freedom if he captured his target in his stead. But, of course, the slave had failed, and Hanta had learned that if he wanted something done right, he would have to do it himself. A trip to Omashu once more had then brought him straight to the rice farmer, the slave owner himself, and after some interrogation, he found a general direction. He was always a step behind her, but soon, he'd be upon her.
Hanta finally entered the rotting, deserted little town, ignoring the eerie feeling of the emptiness as he wandered through the outskirts. He then spotted a moldy wheel with rusted iron spokes. He walked towards it, his curiosity piqued, and examined it, seeing an inscription that read "Wheel of Punishment". Various pictures, faded with time, made the wheel seem clock-like. They seemed to depict "punishment" possibilities, as one was of a crudely drawn figure being eaten by what appeared to be a sharkodile. Something seemed to tumble behind him, and Hanta jumped, startled. He spun around and saw that it was an adolescent girl on the ground, on her hands and knees, apparently having tripped on a pile of rubble. She stood up slowly, rubbing her hands as if they'd been scraped or bruised. Then, he recognized her as his quarry. He felt his stomach clench with anticipation as he stepped into her line of vision. The time to finish his quarry had arrived, and thankfully, she was alone.
Chong hid behind a cottage with a fallen roof, watching as the man that had suddenly appeared to confront Lin leered at her. Chong's skin crawled unpleasantly; he knew this man was bad news. He extracted his slingshot from his pocket slowly, so as not to make a sound, and then reached down to pick up a small stone. He positioned the stone in the rubber band of the slingshot and prepared to shoot it at the man across from Lin. Chong waited, hoping that the man would either pace around Lin, who was in the line of fire, or that Lin would move. He began to walk towards them, making sure to stay in the shadows. When he was within earshot, the man began to speak. "So, your name is Lin," he said in a seemingly thoughtful voice. "Your father was named Fuqin, was he not?" Chong saw Lin flinch slightly. He heard her defiant reply: "Why do you want to know?" "I'm making sure I'm killing the right person," the man said menacingly. Lin's head immediately jerked upward, and Chong felt a shiver of fear run down his own spine. Why did this man want to kill Lin? Besides, he didn't appear to have any weapons on him; if he truly intended to kill her, was he going to strangle her to death? "All right, I'm the right person, then," Lin responded in a steely voice. Don't tell him that! Chong thought frantically. She reached with her right hand for her sword, but didn't unsheathe it. "So why do you want to kill me?" "Leave your sword in its sheathe, girl," the assassin said. "I want to keep this as clean as possible. As for my reasons, well, I was hired by someone who wants you dead." "Please tell me it wasn't Shao that contracted you." "Oh, the farmer? I don't work for small fry like him," said the man with a smirk. "Perhaps you've heard of me; I'm fairly well-known in the West, actually, and since you're about to die anyway, it wouldn't hurt for me to tell you." "If you don't mind my saying so, you sure talk a lot for someone who wants to get his job done," Lin retorted. The man chuckled. "This would be much quicker if you didn't interrupt or ask questions; besides, I like it when my victim knows why they're dying. And, the name is Hanta. Perhaps you can refer me to your friends?" The man smiled evilly and added, "Oh, right, I'm about to kill you." "Then go ahead and get it over with," Lin said harshly. No, you idiot! Do you want to die? "You wanted to know why you're to be killed, didn't you?" Hanta asked condescendingly. Without waiting for a reply, he continued, "As it turns out, your father was quite notorious among the government of Vuon. He was actually considered a threat to it until his death." "What?" said Lin in an utterly shocked tone. "My father, a threat?" Chong too gaped in surprise. "Yes. He was the leader of an organization called the Black Hand, which aimed to overthrow Lord Zen and enact reforms. Perhaps you've heard of it?" "I've heard rumors. . ." Lin stated vacantly. "Well, Fuqin was right at the head of it," claimed Hanta. "What does this have to do with me?" Lin wondered, life returning to her voice. "And why is this happening seven years after his death?" "Simple," said Hanta. "As his daughter, you may have taken up his mantle; also, it wasn't known he had a second daughter until recently, I believe." "That's. . . ridiculous," Lin said, apparently flabbergasted once more. "Why should I believe you?" "If it wasn't true, I wouldn't be here, of course." Chong subconsciously nodded in agreement, acknowledging the logic behind the killer's words. Then, he began to creep closer, practically hugging the side of a building as he inched his way along its wall, still gripping his slingshot and the stone. At last, Lin unsheathed her sword. "I guess you're going to try to kill me now," she said, her words sounding surprisingly calm and nonchalant. She pointed her sword at Hanta, confirming that she would defend herself. Then, she stated cockily, "How do you expect to kill me anyway, Hanta? You have no weapon." "Well, Lin, daughter of Fuqin, much like you, I am a Firebender." "What?" Uh, oh. Chong began to move quicker, trying to get into a position where he could sooner hit Hanta with his slingshot without the risk of hurting Lin. If his aim was accurate enough and he stretched the rubber band out as much as he could, then he could easily knock the assassin unconscious. Unfortunately, Hanta was quicker. The killer's hands rapidly filled with flames as he lunged forward at Lin, who dropped her sword, apparently guessing that it wouldn't protect her from fire. She dodged to the side and stuck her foot out to trip Hanta, but he stopped short of her, his fiery hand reaching for her neck. . . Lin swiftly knocked his arm away from her with her own, and as his other arm came up, she ducked under it and past him, beginning to run away, but she turned to face him after sprinting a few yards. She shot her own blast of fire at Hanta, who dispersed the flames with the side of his hand. Chong watched the duel unfold, fighting not to panic as Lin dropped to the ground as a fireball swept ominously close to her head. He shuddered as he saw smoke rising up from her hair, some of which had probably been singed. At last, he began to take aim. As Lin and Hanta once more fought in close combat, Lin started to falter, her attempted blows becoming clumsier. However, she continued to try to land a hit, but Hanta was always too quick. Scowling and with a growl of frustration, she unleashed a seemingly last ditch effort, aiming to knee the assassin in the groin, but he easily jumped out of the way. Meanwhile, Chong positioned the stone in the rubber band of his slingshot, angling it so that it would hit Hanta. He stretched the rubber band back and meticulously tried to predict the frightening Firebender's next position, hoping that Lin wouldn't be in the way. Then, he let the stone fly. THWACK! To Chong's pleasure, the small rock hit Hanta squarely in the forehead, causing him to stumble and fall over backwards. He watched as Lin turned in the direction the stone had flown; she stared at him for a few seconds, then, to his surprise, she too crumbled, albeit to her knees rather than her back. Chong moved forward to inspect the would-be murderer. He eyed a large bump on his forehead, which his slung stone had undoubtedly inflicted. "He's out cold," he told Lin, relieved. When she didn't respond, he glanced at her. Lin was shaking, seemingly with sobs, but Chong didn't know whether she was frightened, angry, or depressed. However, it was clear that she was upset. "Lin?" he said hesitantly, guessing she was likely to lash out at him in her present state. Instead, she ignored him, but she seemed to calm down considerably in a few short seconds. Her eyes and cheeks were damp with tears, but otherwise, she looked normal, apart from her blank face and slightly singed hair. Chong picked up Lin's sword where it had been dropped, then he approached her until he was directly in front of her. She looked up at him and asked emotionlessly, "Why didn't he ever tell me?" Chong, knowing exactly who "he" was, replied, "He probably thought you were too young." "But what about his last five years? How did he lead an entire insurgency if he was perpetually depressed?" "Perhaps that was part of the reason he was depressed," Chong said thoughtfully as he squatted down in front of her. "Maybe he was unhappy with its lack of progress." He held the blade of her sword and offered her the hilt. Lin silently took the sword and sheathed it, then stood, her expression becoming contemplative. Chong too stood and watched her, waiting to see if she'd say anything and fearful that she wouldn't, as she seemed more unstable than ever before. Without saying a single word, Lin took a step closer to Chong. She attempted to smile, but it quickly faltered. She then spoke at last: "Someone wants to kill me." She clenched her fist and her face hardened, as if her resolve was returning. "Thanks for stopping him," she added, nodding in Hanta's direction. She leaned forward slightly, standing on her toes, then kissed Chong lightly on the cheek. "I guess I'd be dead without you." She stepped back once more, smiling slightly this time. "No, you had a handle on him," Chong protested, flushed and surprised at her kiss. "Yeah, sure I did," Lin scoffed. "He was ten times the Firebender I am." Then, she added somberly, "Maybe I should just go back to what I used to call home. What's the use of finding a better place if the universe is against it? Besides, I'm on a wild mongoose-dragon chase." Chong didn't know what came over him, but one moment, he was standing by, not knowing what to say to her and feeling unusually shy, and the next, he had her head clasped between his hands. "Listen to me, Lin," he said urgently, looking her directly in the eye. "There is always going to be an obstacle, but there is also always a reason to keep fighting for what you want—no, what you deserve." Lin, apparently shocked by his intensity, simply stated, "Fine." She stared at him wide-eyed for a few tense seconds, then asked, "Can you let go of me now?" "Oh, right," Chong said awkwardly, his hands falling back to his sides. "Sorry about that," he added as he watched her rub her ears, which had turned a pale shade of pink. "Anyway, why do care so much?" she wondered, her voice thoughtful. "Why does it matter to you whether or not I can find a better place of existence?" Chong, taken aback by her question, stuttered, "I-I guess it's because I'm putting all this time and energy into helping you. If you gave up, I might feel as if I'm to blame."
She seemed satisfied with that answer, but she responded, "You're a pretty rare person. And thank-you; hopefully I'll one day return the favor." "Why would you do that?" "I'd rather not owe you my life ten times over when this is all done."
- "Koh's Realm" is basically the equivalent to hell, or, at least, the way "hell" is used in everyday language.
- Some The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra details have been added. Who would've thought that those Equalists would pop up in here?
- Avatar Nuo Fu's story was longer than anticipated.
- Can you guess the name of that "abandoned village"?
- Sharkodile equals shark plus crocodile. It's a proven mathematical fact.
- Yes, Chong was chasing a baby saber-tooth moose-lion cub.
- This chapter is a major turning point for all three main characters.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|Fleeting Peace Chapters|
|Book 1: Rise and Fall|
|Disagreements - Handle with Care - Glimpses - Alliances - Curses - Idle - Half-Empty - Addition and Division - The Snitch - Revelations|
|Book 2: Success and Failure|
|Explanations - Omens - Looking Back - Factors - Ulterior Motives, Part 1: Jealousy - Ulterior Motives, Part 2: The Grandson - Shifting Tides - Repetition|
|Book 3: Cause and Effect|