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Avatar: Legend of Fire
November 9, 2011
Heat is the third chapter of the fanon series
Takeo and his two bullies come to blows asreceives a gift from an old friend.
Takeo paced anxiously through one of the empty corridors of the temple. He had to fight them, for the first time in his life Takeo actually had to "fight". Of course, growing up in the temple he often spared with other students, but this was going to be nothing like it. The arena was a proving ground, a fight to show not only prowess in fighting, but skill in tactics, bending and endurance all at the same time. Though he himself had never fought in any of the duels, he'd seen some of the sages actually get seriously hurt in some of the duels, there had been many occasions on which a healer was called to bring the sage back to shape and the arena had a long history of students dying in duels. Though none in the past sixty years, before that many students died quite often as Agni Kai's were incredibly often back then, students wished to prove themselves to be worthy of becoming a sage had to prove themselves by displaying it.
Nowadays, the actual way to become a sage was more difficult. Not only did you need to have a great grasp of Firebending, you needed to be a capable philosopher, you needed to recite the Fire Nation history, all of its Grand Sages and Firelords by memory and you needed to be versed in a variety of different studies that ranged from flora and fauna to geography and world history. You needed to be a proven spiritual individual who understood the true meaning of Firebending and spirit. After all that, you needed to be well versed in rhetoric and logical thinking because the final part of the examination requires the apprentice to stand before the council and discuss various spiritual and political subjects with them. Since the day you join you're taught all of these things, though Takeo never found a way to apply anything he learned, expect Firebending, at the temple. And now, he had to fight and he knew that this wasn't going to be a simple spar.
No, he was going to be dueling two of the top students at the same time, neither of them liked him and Takeo didn't expect them to show any restraint or mercy if they took the upper hand. He knew, that from the first moment, he needed to be one step ahead of them, or he'd lose and surely burn and/or die. He took a deep breath, he needed to calm down, he needed to think, but he couldn't, no matter how much he paced back and forth his mind only imagined a massive fireball hitting him spare in the head. He needed to talk to someone and the only person he could talk to was...
It didn't take Takeo long to make his way from one side of the temple to the other, though as he walked he saw a multitude of other apprentices take double glances at him, whisper something to someone and return to their duties. Some of the younger students even pointed as they spoke. An apprentice about his age named Lee even tapped Takeo on the shoulder and wished him luck, as if the fight was going to start right now. No, he wasn't that lucky, he still had several hours to imagine himself getting burned alive. Once he finally reached Zhin Tsu's quarters the first thing Takeo did was knock. The sturdy wooden door had several symbols on, though those symbols along with the woodwork Takeo already had several hundred times to admire as he waited for the master to open his door for so many years. The door was dark and red and sturdy, the knob itself was a small metal sphere made out of a bright silvery metal. After a few moments, Takeo knocked again, but again, no answer came. After a few more anxious knocks Takeo bit down on his lower lip. Please, Zhin Tsu, please... he thought to himself. He really needed someone to talk to, someone to give him advice for how he should act and someone to help him. Secretly in the back of his mind Takeo somehow hoped that Zhin Tsu would be able to stop the duel from happening, but even he knew that it was impossible, once an Agni Kai was accepted...
He stood in front of the door for a long moment, his hand brushing down against the red vest atop of his bright red tunic that composed his apprentice uniform. His hand then slid down onto the knob and turned it, opening the unlocked door.
"Zhin Tsu, I'm sorry, but I really need to-" he spoke as he entered, but stopped as soon as he saw the empty room, the made and empty bed, the lack of any clothing or documents on his table. He was gone and Takeo gulped in irritation and fear, the one person that could support him was gone when Takeo needed him most, he couldn't help but feel his knees bend a bit at the despair that came rushing over him. He took a few steps forward into the room and slowly closed the door behind him.
The room was clean and much more beautiful that any room in the whole temple. It had a circular like shape to it that cut off against the wall of the door. Three large, square windows were in the room, each stationed across the circular wall of the room. Closest to Takeo was a large, brown table under which stood a cabinet, a chair and paper. Zhin Tsu's work table was always empty when Takeo came here, he was a very hard working master, and he never left work unfinished. He came closer and only then did he notice a small box sitting on top of the nearly empty table, accompanied only by a small jar of ink and some paper along with a feather. And only as he began to examine the wooden box did Takeo notice there was something written on one of the sheets of paper. He couldn't help it, his natural curiosity got the better of him as soon as his eye landed on the piece of paper, and he began reading it and realized it was addressed to him.
Happy birthday, I'm sad to inform you that I was called away due to the fact that the Firelord requires my immediate presence and council on some very serious and pressing matters. Because of it, I'm sad to say that I won't be able to congratulate you in person, as I will only return in two days. Happy birthday, is the only thing I can write that expresses how happy I am to see you growing up so fast, though I'm afraid your childhood has been cut short and I am sad to say it may have been my fault completely, once I return I have some serious matters that we need to discuss, but for now- Happy Birthday. In the box next to this letter is a present for you; please burn this letter as we don't want any unwanted attention. Once again, Happy birthday, Takeo.
Best wishes, Zhin Tsu
This letter was the only thing that had brightened Takeo's day and spread a wide smile across his face and maybe even made him a bit emotional. His birthday was only tomorrow and sadly enough Zhin Tsu would not be here. Though Takeo's birthday was a dull affair, as was the birthdays of nearly all apprentices in the temple. Most of them had no families or simply couldn't afford to leave or celebrate, so it was just an ordinary day filled with a small of amount of congratulations from some of the elders and other apprentices. Of course, other students likeand would leave during their birthdays and return to their rich families to celebrate and none of the sages objected because nobody wanted to get on the bad side of a rich noble family, especially since those two were nearly royalty when it came to nobility hierarchy. The Fire Lord calling on Zhin Tsu wasn't odd, as it happened every so often or he had some other business in the capital, regardless, it was always pressing and serious.
He stared intently at the letter for a moment until a small hole started to burn in the middle of it, the flames quickly spread through the sheet of paper and Takeo had to release it to not get burned, but before it could even fall an inch it was reduced to small fragments of ash. Now, finally, Takeo turned his attention to the box. He tapped the sides of it, it was simple wooden box, nothing special about it, though this was one of the few presents Takeo had ever received in his entire life, so to him, it was worth more than anything else in the world. He slowly and gently opened it and inside was bundle, something rolled into a deep red cloth.
Gently and for some reason, very slowly, Takeo unwrapped the bundle and for a moment he held his breath as he began to make out what it was. It was a pair of armguards. They had a deep red color with a slightly brighter shade of red. They were made out of some sort of cloth and leather mixture that felt weary smooth to the touch, they were hard as metal. He put them onto his arms. They were long, going from slightly above his wrists nearly to his elbow. It felt strange, they didn't restrict his arm movement at all, and they fitted perfectly like some sort of glove and were practically weightless. At first he hesitated but then he set a small flame on his left index finger and pressed it against the leathery tough surface of the armguard and held it there for a second before pulling back. He barely felt it and just as he had suspected- the armguard was resistant to fire and heat. He felt a wide grin spread across his face, did Zhin Tsu know, or did Takeo just luck out like that? At the same time he felt something hard in his chest, this was without a doubt the most expensive and best gift anyone has ever given him, though it wasn't much of a contest because a rice ball was in second place. Takeo couldn't even thank him properly and Zhin Tsu wouldn't be there to watch him, Takeo sighed loudly.
Takeo made sure to remove the armguards and place them neatly back into the box which he carried back to the dormitory of the apprentices and hid it under his bed. The rest of the day was quite uneventful, he had dinner in the mess hall with everyone else and people were giving him side glances as they passed. Tetsuri and Hetsuki barely pestered him today, just budged him with their shoulders and screamed some insults at him, but Takeo knew that they were trying to mess with him; he somehow knew that they were just as scared as he was, though for the large part of the day he didn't see them at all. With a couple of hours still remaining, Takeo snuck back into his bed and decided to rest for a bit before the fight would actually start.
In his short nap he had a very strange dream. He was running through long dark corridors, until he reached some sort of large courtyard and was surrounded by soldiers, dressed in Earth Kingdom armor. They all had weapons and before Takeo could even blink, he was standing at the side lines, watching a large muscular man (standing in the middle of the courtyard) get charged at by the soldiers. But, amidst all of this his eyes began to glow a sinister dark blue light and he turned to look directly at the young apprentice sage. Takeo was taken aback as he stared directly into the scary eyes of the muscular man Takeo... he muttered softly Takeo... it came louder, like a thousand voices screaming in unison until finally the man was standing a step away from him and shouted Takeo!
Takeo awoke with a startled gasp, immediately sitting up and stretching his hands forward, placing one of them onto the person that stood next to his bed. He gasped before slowly looking up and meeting the squinty eyes of Lee, another apprentice.
"You mutter in your sleep." Lee noted as his hand moved to take Takeo's wrist and push it away from his robes, which unknowingly Takeo was gripping very tightly, but he released without any struggle "Your match with Tetsuri and Hetsuki starts in like thirty minutes, I thought you'd like to get ready."
Takeo gulped, his heart began to pound and the memory of his dream completely left him, he was about to fight, he may even die "T-Thanks..." Takeo muttered as he threw his feet over the side of the bed and stood as Lee began walking away.
"Good luck, it's about time someone showed those spoiled brats that they're no better than anyone else." He smiled at Takeo before stepping out of the empty dormitory. Everyone was probably already out, trying to get a better seat to watch the Agni Kai or getting some food before it started. Takeo only yawned as he moved to a bucket of fresh water, filled a cup of it and gulped down before taking another cup to wash his face with. He dried it with the towel next to the bucket before returning to his bed and taking the armguards out from under the bed. He unrolled the deep red cloth again and took them out, stroking them gently. It was about to happen, he was about to fight. His heart was pounding and for once in his life, Takeo couldn't tell if it was fear or excitement, or maybe even a mix of both.
In twenty minutes Takeo grabbed a small snack and moved to the arena, where he was greeted by one of the older sages who presented him with the fighting clothes. Black pants and leg guards, that's it- no shirt, no footwear. They might catch fire and hinder fighter's movements, but Takeo suspected that the sages didn't want to pay to make more robes. Takeo quickly got dressed and draped the traditional cloth of the Agni kai on his back before moving out to the arena. He put on his armguards as he walked down the dark corridor, on the end of which was a bright light. Outside of the corridor, Takeo saw that he was standing in the arena. It was large, long and square. On all three sides, left, right and forward were the bleachers, where the other apprentices and sages sat. On the farthest point of the arena sat the sage council, six old and wise sages, one of which was Lempuh. The only one, who wasn't there, was Zhin Tsu and his pillow was noticeably empty. All of the sages sat in a lotus position. Students roared in a greeting when they finally noticed Takeo enter the large arena and slowly make his way to the center.
The arena had no floor and no roof. Above was the orange sky of the evening and below was just dirt and dust, nothing that could catch fire. The stands at the sides that enclosed the arena and surrounded it were made out of stone.
Tak looked around, it seemed like the whole temple was here. When he finally came to the center he saw Hetsuki and Tetsuri turn their back to him and kneel down on one knee, as was custom. Takeo did the same- turning his back to them and kneeling down. Suddenly, Lempuh's hoarse and tired tone sounded through the arena.
"Silence!" and everyone went quiet in a few moments "As students of the Fire Temple you are expected to display skill, honor, bravery and intelligence during a fight. Fight honorably. If it can, we would all prefer that nobody die tonight, yet as it is, this a dangerous competition and death is of course a given. Once the gong sounds, you shall fight until Takeo or both of Hetsuki and Tetsuri are incapacitated or killed. May the great spirits watch over you!" he sat back down into a lotus position onto his pillow and Takeo sighed.
He stared at the dirt, gulped and felt his hand go sweaty. He didn't want to die; he began to feel a bit scared until finally the ringing of the gong filled the air of the arena. Takeo immediately turned; the cloth draped over his shoulders fell to the ground behind him, leaving him standing only in the black battle pants. Tetsuri and Hetsuki did the same and their cloths also fell, they were dressed the same as him, shoeless and shirtless, though both of them were physically larger than him. Hetsuki had more pronounced muscles, but Tetsuri was a great deal more bulkier than Tak, who looked like a thing compared to either of them. For a moment, they stared at each other and Takeo took a deep breath as they all bent their knees a bit and got into a battle stance. They charged at him.
Tetsuri went to the left and Hetsuki went for the right, charging him in an arc from both sides. However Hetsuki was a great deal faster than Tetsuri and outran him and reached Takeo way before his partner did. Hetsuki sent a straight jab a ball of flame erupted from his knuckles, just several steps away from Takeo.
Every bit of training that Takeo ever had came into play, something took over, adrenaline rushed through his body and his knees bent. His left hand cut swiftly through the air, slapping the fireball to the left and adding more speed and flame to it, directing it towards Tetsuri, who had gotten closer. His foot slid forward a bit as his right punch rocketed into the empty air, releasing a burst of flame towards the long haired teenager in front of him, though Tak found it strange to see Hetsuki wearing a top-knot, he looked weird. Hetsuki's arms came together in a block and the flames slammed into him, but did no damage, but before he could even fully move his arms back, Takeo sent a straight kick, with which came another blast of flame from his foot. Hetsuki however started punching the air in rapid succession, his jabs quickly moving past each other as he released a barrage of fireballs. Takeo had to twist right, fall to the ground and roll forward to escape the collision of the two attacks.
As he turned back to his opponents he saw that Tetsuri was already right next to Hetsuki and the bulky apprentice lunged forward, landing on his two feet spread at shoulder length and thrusting his arms forward, releasing a powerful charged blast of fire. Takeo quickly got to his feet and moved his hands in a circular motion, creating a shield of fire in front of himself. However the powerful charged blast slammed into the shield and the collision created a burst of flame similar to an explosion, sending Takeo flying backwards into the dirt.
For a brief moment, the air left his lungs and Takeo gasped until air started rushing back to his body. He heard the students cheering and shouting, but he didn't rest. He rolled to his side, just as a fire blast hit the ground. Quickly enough he rolled onto his feet a few meters away from his opponents, just as Hetsuki released another barrage of jabs into the air. Takeo turned around and ran, some of the apprentices started booing, but he didn't care, he knew that he stood no chance standing like that. He barely managed to dodge the incoming fireballs as Tetsuri released a powerful stream of flame just as Takeo turned around, just in time to release a stream of flames of his own.
The two streams collided in a massive blast; both Takeo and Tetsuri held their ground as the flames engulfed each other and started pushing the opponents backward. Takeo's feet dug into the dirt as he held his breath to not release the stream, because Tetsuri's stream would surely engulf and kill him. They seemed to have been in a stalemate and just as Takeo began to slowly gain some advantage, Hetsuki ran from his left and released another barrage of punches and jabs, sending several fireballs towards Tak. He had to act fast and his training took over. Against his better judgment he released his stream and allowed Tetsuri's fire to engulf him. But just as it was about to touch him, he moved his hands in a circular motion above his head and the flames surrounded him, wrapping themselves around him like some sort of a shield or dome. The fireballs collided into the shield of fire and were swallowed by the larger flame as Takeo stopped moving his hands and instead sent a powerful two handed thrust towards Tetsuri. Before the bulky teen could even react, the stream was heading his way, much more powerful and faster and closer since Tetsuri moved forward after he sent the blast. He flailed his hands to make a shield but as the flames hit him, he was sent soaring backwards, having managed to create a shield barely in time to save himself.
Tak felt a smirk spread across his face, but he couldn't get cocky, he knew that he still had Hetsuki in front of him and just as he turned, Hetsuki released a powerful fireball towards Takeo, who instead of dodging or moving backward, punched the air as well and his fireball easily overpowered Hetsuki's, who sent a few rapid blasts into the air, which collided with Takeo's and eventually stopped it, dispersing all of the flames in the air. Takeo moved forward towards Hetsuki, the jump forward a bit and landed on his left foot, kicking his right foot forward and sending a stream towards Hetsuki, who created a shield and blocked the stream. However, as the teen was preoccupied with the stream coming from Tak's foot, Takeo released a blast into the air, making and arc above them and heading down onto Hetsuki as his attention was turn with what was going on in front of him. He saw it, but it was too late to react and he tried to dodge, mixing his movements with the flames, but it didn't help him, the collision sent him to the ground. Hard. He skidded across the dirt on his side and rolled to get away.
Just as Tak took a step forward towards Hetsuki, who was on the ground, he felt something hot behind him and turned immediately, cutting the air with his left forearm and blocking the fireball just in time, however he stumble and fell backwards onto his back. Tetsuri was charging at him, releasing quick jabs and punched. Tak rolled onto his shoulders, dodging a fireball aimed at his groin, before kicking forward and releasing a blast of flames which Tetsuri narrowly avoided. Tak then rolled to the side again, but just as he was about to stand up Hetsuki whipped at the ground with flame and he had to roll again to dodge. He was surrounded and as an only option his feet went into the air and he began spinning them in a circular motion like a windmill, creating slashes of flame into every direction. Hetsuki dodged, but Tetsuri blocked and went through the blast. It was just enough time however for Tak to stand on his feet again. The crowded roared in cheer, clapping and for a moment none of them moved.
Tak began to realize how tired he was, out of breath and how hot and sweaty he was. He kept trying to catch his breath, his chest was steadily rising and lowering and he suddenly spun to the side. Hetsuki and Tetsuri turned to follow his movements, but now, Takeo was in front of them, not surrounded. Tetsuri was the first one to release a fireball towards Takeo, who deflected it to the left towards Hetsuki. Hetsuki in fact had to stop moving, stop following Tak and block Tetsuri's powerful blast, giving Tak and Tetsuri enough time to move several feet away. Tetsuri punched again and Takeo punched the fireball, extinguishing it completely as he kept moving backward and Tetsuri kept following in a steady pace, Hetsuki was beginning to catch up. Takeo kicked the air and released a slash of flame. Tetsuri blocked it and came to a stop and Hetsuki got in front of him. Takeo then came to a full stop and thrust forward with both hands releasing powerful jets of fire from both palms at the two of them. The both blocked and Takeo moved to the side. Charging a fire bomb in his palm. As the flames disperse they both turned their attention, to Takeo, who threw the small ball of fire up in the air and it landed somewhere between Tetsuri and Hetsuki. By the time they realized what it was it went off, creating a blast of fire that set Hetsuki flying backward. Takeo rushed right into Tetsuri who had managed to block the explosion. Tetsuri set a fireball from the right, which Takeo slapped aside and sent a right kick of flame that Tetsuri extinguished by flailing his hands from side to side quickly.
They were standing about a couple of steps away from each other, sending out punches and jabs of flame, each of them blocking, dodging and punching rhythmically, it became like some sort of a dance. Seeing an opening, Takeo outright slapped his opponent across the cheek, the crowd laughed and Tetsuri's face began to bulge with rage. Tetsuri sent a left hook which Takeo blocked with his elbow, sending the flames to the side and Takeo punched with his right, a punch that Tetsuri caught, extinguishing the flames in his palm. They pushed at each other for a moment before Tetsuri picked Tak up and threw him over his shoulder; he was so much bulkier and physically stronger that it seemed almost comical. Takeo flipped and landed on his knees, just in time to see Hetsuki charging towards him. Tak was surrounded again, but this time he slammed his palms into the ground, sending a jet of flame from his palms which created a blast so powerful that it sent up dust and dirt, creating somewhat of a cloud around them. Tak then rolled forward to get away and got to his feet again. He turned to see an angry Tetsuri charging a powerful blast and he did the same. Tetsuri had a few seconds head start, yet they released their powerful charged blasts at the same time, at such a close range that it created a large explosion upon collision, creating a giant cloud of smoke and dust to cover all three fighters. The whole crowd watched silently as a few flickers of light and fire flashed within the cloud. Sometimes intense blasts would fly out, but more or less it was just a bunch of lights and grunts that made to hard to decipher who was winning the actual fight. Another blast sounded off.
Eventually, Tak sprinted out of the large cloud of smoke and dust, with such speed that the crowd had a hard time telling who it was at first, but the short black hair gave it away. Tak's left arm was burned and he was gasping, coughing and trying to catch his breath. The smoke cleared a bit, Hetsuki lay motionless on the ground, face down while Tetsuri rushed out after him, his right arm badly burned, a few burn marks on the left side of his face and a burn on the side of his stomach. Tetsuri leaped forward, sending a double punch with both arms which released another powerful blast. Takeo jumped to the side, rolling and barely dodging the blast as it collided with the stand. The apprentices fled in time however, some just defended themselves, the whole stand came down collapsing.
"Is that all you've got?!" Takeo shouted with a smirk and Tetsuri roared in anger, releasing yet another charged blast of flame. Takeo dodged again, this time by rolling under the flames. "I've seen children do better, but you're a spoiled brat so I don't expect much anyway!"
"Shut up you stupid whimp!" Tetsuri roared as he released yet another powerful blast, and another, and another. He was screaming and shouting curses the entire time as he chased Takeo across the arena. As he kept running, it became obvious that Takeo was limping somewhat and still holding his burn on his left arm.
Takeo dodged another powerful blast by rolling aside, and then jumped to the other side avoiding a series of fireballs, he then had to spin back in the other direction to avoid spiral of flame and eventually he was in a corner, trapped.
"Y-you stu-pid... little..." Tetsuri muttered as he flailed against the air in front of him, breathing heavily "I'll... I-" he came closer and closer, his face red and veins bulging, the burns on his body becoming redder and redder, his voice got heavy and his breathing faster and heavier and before he could even finish his sentence, he collapsed into the ground with a loud thud.
For a moment, everything was silent and then, the whole crowd exploded in cheer, screaming loudly. Takeo pressed his back against the wall of the arena, the cold stones felt incredibly refreshing against the hot and sweaty skin of his back. He felt another smile spread across his face as he slowly slid down the wall and his vision blurred. His eyes closed just as he caught a glimpse of an enraged Lempuh heading towards him.
- This was without a doubt the longest chapter I've ever written.
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