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|More from Kuir||Romance, Suspense||PG-13||Here||No update page|
September 22, 2013
There are always forces at work in this world. Some are for good, some are not...
It was the most interesting news in the world when it happened. Avatar Tala had defected. With her, went hundreds of Dai Li and a family of Clan Rohan Air Nomads. The hero of those fighting the Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation had betrayed them.
All according to plan. At least according to Rishu's plan. The devious Grand Marshal had taken the most narrow opening and infected the host with it. Kuir was impressed that it worked. He had been skeptical of the plan and Rishu's insistence.
Still, Tala joined their ranks, albeit sullenly. It was unlikely that she would fight for them, but that she wouldn't fight for the enemy was important. Kuir had been disappointed that Tala could have killed Urri and didn't but Rishu applauded her self-control.
While this was a positive as the war waged on. The defection of the mercenaries had made things incredibly difficult. Hit-and-run attacks all over the continent plagued supply lines. That meant he needed to secure the routes between Republic City and Omashu, where he was escorting the supplies.
This was all he needed, wasting time on supplies when he should be invading Omashu and ending the war. But holding the ground they had taken was harder than he realized. Rishu had warned him and still he hadn't listened about how costly wars are.
Traitors of Convenience
The path was dark and full of odd things on this night. Moonless and waiting, how perfect. The Night Spirit had been ordered to halt these supply lines from Republic City, and she would do it.
Loud and raucous, the train of supplies was easy to hear coming their way. While there were many paths in these canyons, this was the most straightforward of them. Scouts had indicated that they had already passed all the other alternatives. It was now coming, they would attack and burn this cargo to the ground.
She looked out to the arriving target as it inched closer. Packed with supplies and armed with enough soldiers to cover a mountain. She noticed that a few wore the iconic armor of the Royal Guard. Even in Ba Sing Se, where their numbers were great, they never challenged the feared metalbenders that guarded the royal family.
Merciless and cunning, these obedient warriors were not to be trifled with. One stood out among the rest. He was massive and tall, at least seven feet. He was standing at the lead of the caravan and looked ahead at the canyon as they went through.
He immediately turned to yell to his comrades, had he noticed her? She didn't hesitate to wonder, she immediately gave the order to ambush. Light and fire broke out in the canyon as destruction spread throughout and chaos ensued.
She rushed through and joined her fellow Spirits. They had to act fast and kill these warriors before they organized, that meant killing the Metalbender Guards before they rallied the troops.
She immediately uncurled her chain, unlike most Spirits who used dual weapons she had a weapon that was singular and used both hands. She swept it across, hitting the throat of an approaching Earth Kingdom soldier. A few more swings resulted in the same effect for others. As she kept running into the fray, she noticed that the massive Guard was standing and fighting alone, surrounded by her comrades.
That did not mean they were winning. Like a murderous animal, he broke men like toys, not giving them a second of attention after he ripped them apart. She soon realized who he was. Crown-Prince Kuir had a reputation to be the cruelest combatant in the war, he fought without mercy and even treated the Avatar like a rag doll. How interesting that must have been now that they're allies.
She immediately rushed in as the last of her comrades to fight him fell. She swept her chain across. She had noticed that one of the Spirits had blocked his chi, he still was fighting, but without bending, this was her chance.
In a wide and powerful strike, the chain came hurtling for him. Undaunted, he lifted his left arm, letting the chain wrap around, but blocking it from harm himself. It was then she realized her error. Kuir was a beast of a man, he was tall, strong, and fast.
With amazing speed for his size, he yanked on the chain, taking her off her feet and sending her flying right into the arms of the butcher Prince. He caught her with ease and then squeezed. His strength was unbelievable, he would crush her at this rate.
Think, what could she do? Her arms were pinned to her side as the pain of pressure tightened around and she felt her ribs bruising. Her fingers brushed against the answer as she pulled the pin instinctively, it was do or die.
A bright flash of light exploded and she was released. The Prince had a mask not too different from her meaning he wouldn't be blinded either, but she was at least expecting the grenade to go off.
A bestial growl emanated from him, he was certainly pissed off. And yet pleased. He must have enjoyed fighting so much that he was happy to have such a cunning opponent. They charged each other and attacked in hand-to-hand combat.
The Crown-Prince proved to be a dangerous opponent. She was much faster than him, but he was certainly stronger. She could dodge and block most of his hits but he was much faster than she anticipated, the few of her chi blocking strikes that hit seemed to have little effect.
She was beginning to wonder just what he was when her teacher's lesson brimmed in her mind. The Spirit of Metal was a chi blocking master who taught that one could gain resistance to the effects of chi blocking by a painful process of gaining tolerance through repeated exposure. Did the prince undergo this training? How could he have withstood that?
The Crown Prince sent a powerful kick after her face, she ducked and sent her fist right into his crotch hearing a low grunt of pain and frustration come from him. He attacked after her again in a furious sling of strikes that she dodged with all her adrenaline. He had gotten just a little sloppy and left an opening.
She rocketed her knee up into his groin again as she inched in from a missed punch. He actually stopped for a minute as he nearly buckled from the kick. What happened next caught her completely by surprise. She thought it was over when his arms shot out and grabbed her. Unable to break free, he rammed his head forward, head-butting her with the tip of his metal disc hat.
She blacked out for a second as she stood there dazed. What was she doing here? What was going on? It all returned to her too late. A punch right into her chest sent her flying and her back crashed into a metal plate. It was everything she could do to just stand when she saw the Prince charging after her.
The searing pain of her ribs crack as he rammed her with his metal hat almost knocked her out again. In no shape to even stand, she offered no defense as an elbow crashed into her mask. Another strike came and she failed to stop it. One after another came until, finally the mask cracked and splintered, unable to hold to the unrelenting power of the Prince.
He grabbed her and then threw her over his soldier. She hit the floor and finally closed her eyes. Damn it, she thought, how could he be this powerful?
She didn't notice when she finally came to, only that her arms were being held and she was being dragged. She looked forward to seek that she was not too far from where she had fought with the Beast of Ba Sing Se. He held her broken mask in hand.
He chuckled as he kneeled to look at her. "A shame for such a beautiful woman to have to be punished."
"What do you care, bender filth?" Her eyes filled with hatred as she looked at the behemoth before her.
Kuir knelt forward to look her in the eye, "A careless ruler is a doomed ruler. If I didn't care about my people, I might as well surrender the crown."
"Let me know when you do," she was fading in and out as she retorted sarcastically. Making him angrier was the goal, hopefully he would kill her in a rage and she would then be unable to talk.
He chuckled at that, "Bind her and take her with us to Omashu, untouched."
The two guards dragged her on. She let herself fade into the black, she had lost, and there was no way she could escape in the condition she was in.
An Old Chapter
Rishu perused his old collection of scrolls, books and other works. It was a fine collection. It did not have all of the latest and greatest works to exist today, but it did boast having some of the oldest things to have been written on paper.
A family collection, each Dragon had added to it with what they found in the world as well as their own works to contribute to the knowledge for the next Dragon. Rishu had only begun his own works. He placed his contribution to the library now, two old books Kuir had found in Si Wong Desert. Kuir had kept three more but felt that Rishu would appreciate these ancient tomes about the world before.
He put it away based on age and found something out of place. A small black leather book. He opened it and immediately realized that this was his mother's writing.
"Huh? So that's where you were. What were you doing out of place?"
Rishu began reading the words of his mother. Written in Fire Tongue, it was nostalgic to see that even in youth, she was the same person. He saw pages pertaining to him and addressed to him, she must have known he would read them eventually.
"My son, Oh how beautiful you are. So small and fragile and yet I can already feel your power glowing as I look into your wondrous eyes. Black as night, they shine like stars, they give me a glimpse of joy and love."
"Happy Birthday my son, another year has passed and you are that much closer to being a man. I smiled when you finished reading your card from your grandfather and was grateful at the amazing son I was given."
He skipped over, knowing much of her history already. It was then he noticed the date on the top of the page. The week after the Comet. It was addressed to him.
"Rishu, the Great Comet has come and gone. It was the most terrifying and heartbreaking day of my life to see you in so much agony and know that I could do nothing for you. I looked into your eyes and I did not see my son, but a ghost in my boy's skin. When I looked, it wasn't you. Oh, Rishu, I cried so much as I held you close, knowing that I did this to you, my own son."
"I remember when you were a little boy and you would try to light up that old tree on fire. I laughed at how much you hated it and smiled, happy to have such a wonderful son. An innocent child, and now you are a being beyond my power, but yet it isn't you. I confess myself disappointed. Not in you, my love, but in myself, for letting you go this path. To have made you walk a life that you did not choose."
Rishu held the book tightly, what was this?
Rishu sat in the library in a corner by a lamp as he read through the various things Princess Lya of the Fire Nation had written for her son.
"Rishu, you are now sixteen years old, you have long since returned from your training. It takes all my strength to not break into tears when I see you fulfill your mission. I was never one for emotion, it clouds reason. But when I look at you, that is all that comes up, the emotion and guilt of betrayal. What mother could do what I did? To offer their son as a shell? What mother could betray the love and trust like I did?"
Rishu sat still at that. So she knew the depth of the plan after all. All this time, he had assumed that she knew part of it, but not all of it. He figured that she had no idea just what their master would do with him exactly, but that was wrong. She knew all along.
He turned through the pages, reading more of her memoirs. It was filled with guilt and sadness. She wished she could have raised him like any other child, and regretted that she couldn't. He really wasn't sure how to take this. He had always been the Black Dragon, who else could he be?
He turned the page and found another letter to him.
"Rishu, you are a grown man now, you are becoming a great legend and a cunning man. I am proud of you and will always love you. I hope you will not make the same mistake I have made. Power is an elusive yet seductive trap. Your search for it makes you so hungry and lustful for more, that you will even give up the reason you searched for power in the first place. Be wary of power, both the power you seek, and that which is given to you."
Rishu felt that ring true, he had seen it all over the world, indeed, their master had taught them this lesson well. But she had also warned against the power given. The powerful prodigy was given much power in exchange for loyalty and results for his master. Was she warning him of the position he was given.
Rishu kept reading, she had given other warnings about the positions they held and the temptation from it. Rishu had experienced and dealt with most of it. Still, he was grateful that she had worried for him.
The final pages were here now, the writing was decidedly different from before.
"My son, I am weak and frail, the power we hold cannot be contained in such weak vessels as humans for long, it is our curse. I do not fret that you will suffer the same fate, because that is already certain, and I can do nothing to change that. However, I would pray that you make different choices for your children than I had for you. My love for you is unconditional, and I will always think about you, it will be so for your children. Please think about them first, I could not make the same choice twice with you, my son. Your children must choose their own path, give them the freedom that I withheld from you, please."
"Rishu, I am near death, all I think of now is you and your father. I wish I had made so many different choices, but I also know that these choices were for the best of not just you, but our nation. Please forgive my choices, the good and the bad. Remember me from before the Comet, when we would sit by the pond and discuss the stars and talk about the mountains.'"
Rishu knew very well the state she spoke of. It was the side effect of the power they had entwined into their bodies. It grew more severe with each Dragon, for each Dragon was more bound to the master than the last. His mother had known this and accepted it. He had too, but seeing her words stirred something. It was childish and frantic, emotional and fearful.
That boy was crying again. Rishu really hated it, it held him back. Yes, it was hard and painful, terrifying even. But that part of him would never let go and grow up. He always cried and never moved on.
"Must you hold me back because you couldn't keep up?"
A gust of wind from the window turned a page and he saw a single line written frantically.
"Rishu, I will wait for you at the edge of the Shadow Forest..."
The line ended weakly, were these her last words? He turned the page to find notes and other writing referring to earlier text. Yes, those were her last words.
Rishu knew of where she wrote of, but wondered why, "How is it possible?"
Understanding One Another
Shackled and dangling, her arms were tired and she felt her ribs burn from the cracks. She faded in and out of consciousness as she was stuck in this dark cell. She felt her skin rub against the bandages, so she knew at the least that she had received basic medical treatment.
The door creaked open as men entered. They seemed to be arguing, "She's too dangerous to have in any less of a secure location."
The man crossed his arm in defiance to what had to be an order for relocation. She would have smiled if she was able to actually do anything. She realized afterwards that she truly was broken. She had never felt so hopeless before, so weak.
"She will never heal if she is held like this. The Crown-Prince's orders are to keep her alive."
"Fine, but don't be surprised if she takes a scalpel to you."
She felt the cuffs holding her up open and drop her. Before she could hit the ground, she was caught in the arms of someone.
"Careful there, we don't want to do anything that upsets your ribs, one of them nearly gored your lungs as it is."
The man held her gently as he walked her out of the cell. "Easy does it."
"Why are you doing this? Especially for an enemy."
"I have known the Crown-Prince for a long time, and he rarely asks for the enemy to be taken care of. In fact, he is often a brutal monster to the enemy. To be honest, its a nice change of pace for him to show concern for anyone."
She chuckled, though she winced immediately as the pain burned her waist, " Does the great prince only do this for pretty female combatants?"
The man chuckled with her, "I could see why you would think that, even with your bruises, you are quite beautiful. But no, Prince Kuir shows mercy to no one. Even the Avatar. I saw him nearly crush her jaw with a single hit and then drag her like a sack of mushroom potatoes. He cares not about gender when it comes to his enemies."
"Then why is he showing me so much mercy?" So the Beast of Ba Sing Se really had no vice or weakness. She could only wonder what kind of things he was planning then.
"Your hatred. I saw them, you had eyes so full of hatred that it could burn souls. Kuir has rarely seen someone to have a hatred that equals his own. He desires to understand those he considers equals."
"So he looks at me as an equal because of my hatred?"
"That's some of it," a deeper voice ahead answered, "There is something else that is important to a great warrior. Fear and the control of it. I smelled the fear of many in that ambush, including yours. Still, you stood up and fought against me regardless, resolute in your duty. That is something equal to my own convictions. For that, you have my respect and my hospitality."
The Crown Prince left at that as the man who held her finished walking her to a hospital bed. Gently laying her down, he then added restraints. She gave him a dark look, "Sorry, but the Night Spirit didn't make a name for herself by doing nothing."
She laid down on the much more comfortable hospital bed. Though she was a little angry that she was tied up, she couldn't blame them. Any prudent person would keep their enemy confined.
More of her attention was consumed by what she learned about the Prince. He respected those he considered equals. That meant he viewed people as either below him or not. On principle, she was disgusted with such a bender view of the world, the kind that held down non-benders like herself.
Still, he respected her, which meant his admiration was not reserved for only benders, but people who earned it. She had earned her place among the Spirits. It was years of grueling and merciless work to reach a place where she could command others and choose paths for the Spirits. In a way, she was one of the five most powerful Spirits in the assassin order.
Was the Beast of Ba Sing Se just a tough judge of character. Unrelenting because he had been held to a higher standard himself? She would have said no so soon as two days ago, and still might say it now, but what about tomorrow or the next day? Did she really understand him, or was she just beginning to?
- Lya will be seen and spoken to very soon.
- Each Dragon writes their own memoirs reserved for their heir. As such, Rishu has all of them from his ancestor Kuzon, the Grey Dragon, and on.
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|