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|More from SaeryenKatten||Romance/Adventure||PG||Positive|
|Fire, Song and a Snowstorm Chapter 10|
Even as the snow warriors vanished into piles of harmless snowflakes, the hearts of Elsi and Mihoshi were still racing. Maya-Ar had vanished from right under their noses, and they hadn't been able to protect her. At least, Elsi thought, herself, Mihoshi and Leyka were still flesh and blood.
Elsi approached Aira, who stood so still, one might've thought her to be an ice sculpture.
"I'm sorry..." Aira said softly.
Elsi reached out to touch Aira's shoulder, but suddenly Aira took a quick step to the left.
"D-don't touch me!" she hissed.
"I'm sorry," Elsi replied.
"I...can't do it," Aira said bitterly as frozen tears shattered at her feet. "I can never, ever...but Maya-Ar..."
"Aira, we can save her!" Elsi said. "You and Ket-Ket are waterbenders, and Mihoshi is an earthbender, and I'm a firebender. The four of us can get her back, alive."
"We couldn't even protect her!" Aira snapped. "Besides, Kaligah has hoards of snow warriors guarding her fortress. There's no way we four could take down about a hundred of them."
"Those snowman things, though," Mihoshi said. "They're quick and many in number, but they're still just snow. Which makes them absolutely defenseless against Elsi!"
"I-I know," Aira stammered. "But there are an entire army of them and only one of her."
She let more tears fall.
"I wish I'd never left..."
"Left?" Elsi asked. "Left where?"
"Oh, you don't know anything about me, really, do you?"
Aira sighed and began to speak.
"I look seventeen, but I'm actually much older, about thirty something, I don't know, it's been so many years. But the point is I haven't aged since then because I'm an ice person.
"I don't know my family. I was brought up in an orphanage in Ba Sing Se. I had a few friends there, and some of the caretakers were kind to me, though others were not so much. Still, I wanted to find myself a real family, but no one ever cast me a glance. I was such a shy girl, sitting in corners and drawing things rather than talking to anyone, and so many families wanted some girl they could present to society as a fine lady, and I guess I didn't fit.
"Then, when I was seventeen, someone finally came. That someone was Kaligah. She seemed so nice and kind, and I was currently the only teenager there, and...she looked right at me and no one else. She said she wanted to be my new family, and I accepted...and then the nightmare started.
"She took me far away to the north and once we were out of sight of any people, she pulled the Frozen Heart out of her luggage and waved it at me, turning me to ice. I was so scared, I thought the sun's heat would melt me, but it didn't, though it felt like I was on fire, which, honestly, would be better than this. Many years later we were wandering. Kaligah was looking to 'recruit' more people. That's when I saw Maya-Ar.
"That little girl had lost her family in a Fire Nation raid, and was being cared for by some Earth Kingdom soldiers. I felt so sorry for her. She was an orphan, like me. I knew I couldn't touch her – everything I touch freezes – but I wanted to reach out to her. I was hiding in some trees, as Kaligah had ordered me to, but I stepped forward, and to my surprise, the snow warriors didn't attack me.
"Then, to my horror, the little girl's body began turning to ice. I knew all I could do was to take her in. She told the soldiers she felt safe with me, and ever since then, I have thought of her as my own. But Kaligah has used that to her advantage: for awhile, she held Maya-Ar's life over my head so I wouldn't defy her. But I practiced my bending in secret until one day, I was able to control the snow warriors. I used them to protect myself and Maya-Ar as we went away, to another part of the forest, where I built my own fortress and kept us there. I kept trying to get away, but Kaligah always followed us to our new hideout and built a new ice fortress there. This time, I decided to get out myself and alert the Earth King to what was going on, with Maya-Ar safely hidden until I could save her. But Kaligah...well, you know the rest. That's how you discovered this place."
"So, Ket-Ket," Mihoshi said. "You're older than you look too?"
"Not me," said Ket-Ket. "Kaligah went after a waterbender, so she saw my brother and tried to kidnap him, but I protected him and got taken instead. Kaligah was so furious she'd caught me, a non-bender, and when I defied her she did to me what she'd done to Aira. But Aira's protected me since then. I haven't been here nearly as long as her or Maya-Ar."
"But I don't get it," Elsi said. "What's making ice people going to accomplish?"
"Didn't you hear what she ordered me to do?!" Aira hissed. "She wants us to lead an army of snow warriors with her and help her grab the Earth Kingdom throne." She turned to Mihoshi. "She was going to make your sister the fourth snow person, but I took control of the snow warrior carrying her and brought her here."
Elsi lowered her head.
"Oh, spirits," she said softly. "You three used to be normal people, like us. I can't believe she would do that to you, ugh."
"It's not all bad," said Ket-Ket. "I mean, I couldn't bend at all before. Now I can bend ice. But to be honest, I would rather be back with my family."
"Is there any way to undo what Kaligah did?" Mihoshi asked.
"I don't know," Aira replied. "I know if there was, I wouldn't be able to bend ice anymore, but I don't care about that. I want to see the sun, and the sky, and be free of Kaligah."
Mihoshi took hold of her sister's hand.
"I need to take Leyka home," she said. "Mama and Papa will be worried about both of us, and it's not safe here."
Aira turned to Ket-Ket.
"Could you accompany them, please? Kaligah's warriors are probably still about."
Ket-Ket nodded and followed Mihoshi and Leyka downstairs . "Aira," Elsi said, "I promise that we will find Maya-Ar, alive and well. I'll help you. And I'm really sorry I ever doubted you."
"Thank you, Elsi," she said. "You're one of few people who has ever believed in me."
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