Innocence Lost
Chapter information

The First in a Long Line





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Release date

September 12th, 2012

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This chapter contains a scene which is unsuitable for younger audiences

Grinning, Kaio made is way up to Chief Nanuku and Princess Inna's home. He had stopped to pick some White Dryads for her several hours ago, in preparation for this . Very few plants lived in the North Pole, and even fewer flowered. He had made a special trip to find these ones. Anyone who found flowers for another signified the rarity and beauty of their relationship, whether it be husband to wife, friend to friend or student to master. The fact that it was her 16th birthday, and there was a blue moon that night, made the day even more important. Reaching a crest, Kaio stopped to catch his breath. He could see the home of the Chief, barely two hundred metres away. There were people bustling in and out of the doorway, getting ready for the celebrations later that evening, and he could hear Nanuku shouting directions to the workers. Taking a deep breath, he made his way down the hill and up to the chief. Bowing low, he began talking to the chief.
"Chief. It would do me the utmost honour if I could visit Inna and give her these flowers as a token of our friendship."
Nanuku looked at him a moment as Kaio straightened up, and then began laughing, a great, deep laugh that radiated from somewhere deep inside him to be projected into the world.
"I would have been able to stop you if she where still asleep, but since she woke up a few hours ago, I guess I have to, lest I get into trouble from her," with a grin, he motioned for Kaio to walk past him into the house.
Smiling fiercely, the young waterbender gave a quick bow and walked to the entrance hall, willing himself not to run. A month. It had been a month since he saw his younger friend, and it had been hell without her gentle smile, and her cheeks, always flushed red, whether cold or embarrassment, well, he didn't think she could tell. He slowly made his way down the hall, past the spare room set aside for the Water Lady's spirit. Inna's mother had passed away when Inna was a young girl. A polar leopard had found its way into the city, and attacked the Water Lady. The healers hadn't been able to do anything, and she succumbed to her wounds within hours. But then, everything that happened around Inna was unusual, from her bendless status to her golden eyes. The chief had a shrine built in his late wife's honour, and a statue of her was in place behind the assembly stage in the Palace.

He crept up to Inna's room; he could hear no sound, so he assumed she was asleep. Gently sliding open the door, he was shocked at how pale she was, and how fiercely she trembled. Moving over to the bed, he grabbed an extra blanket and draped it over the vulnerable girl, stroking her cheek. Her shivering subsiding, Inna slowly opened her eyes as if fearful of what she may see. Taking a deep breath, she sat up slowly and motioned for Kaio to sit next to her, smiling - holding back tears of joy; holding one another fiercely, it felt as though a part which had been missing had been reattached. The flowers sat on the chair, forgotten. All these two children could think of was each other. Finally, pulling apart, Kaio was shocked to find tears escalating down his friends face; witnessing such an act of emotion was far and few between. The Water Tribe was perfect, therefore the citizens had no cause to cry. Gently wiping the tears away, Kaio was shocked to find his own tears running down his face.
"Hey, hey, what's wrong?" Kaio was laughing with Inna at the whole situation.
"I don't know, hah, just... I'm glad to be back. You need to shave," she smiled at her friend. Looking out the window, the tears stopped, and Inna allowed the smile to fall from her face.
"I didn't know where I was. It was so... Surreal. I was talking to ghosts!"
She glanced at Kaio, a puzzled look on his face.
"I had a dream. It was really weird. I spoke to these creatures, they said they were spirits! But, not like Tui and La, they spoke back to me, and said I was in the Spirit World... Jingshen, he's a spirit and when he went into me, it did something. There was this... insect-thing, he said his name was Koh... He told me that I was Jingshen's new form... an Avatar for the Spirit World... I still don't know what they mean... They said I was a vessel for the Spirit's to help this world." Inna looked directly at Kaio.
"How long was I out?" Inna was no longer smiling; her expression had become worried, almost scared.
Kaio looked away, guiltily. "It's been almost a month. Today is your 16th birthday. Hence the uh, flowers. You father is getting the celebrations ready for tonight. Hah, he's having a massive party, because the Aqua Luna celebrations are tonight, too. The other four Chiefs from the different districts will be here," the bender stood up from the bed and straightened his tunic. "I have a new routine I'm performing, so I have to go. I only meant to drop in the flowers... Sorry. But I'll see you tonight?" He got up and walked over to the door. Turning around, he added, "I'm really glad your back, Inna." Then, overcome with embarrassment, he left Inna. As the door slid shut, she reached over to the flowers and picked them up, smelling their interesting odour. I'm really lucky, aren't I? she thought to herself, smiling.

Inna woke up to the sound of someone shuffling around her room.
"Kaio?" she asked, before realizing who it was. The sun was streaming in through her window, it could only be early afternoon. The party wouldn't start until the moon rose.
"No. It's the other one," a guttural voice drifted from the open window, and the silhouette of Gituku moved forward to sit on her bed, as Kaio had done earlier that day. This time the movement was far more sinister. Gituku stalked over to her bed and sat down, far too close to Inna's head for her liking. The boy grabbed her hand tightly, almost painfully. Coupled with the fake smile, anyone walking past would merely assume he was a well wisher. Inna knew better.
"What do you want, Gituku?" She briefly touched the betrothal necklace on her throat. "No-one knows yet, you shouldn't be here. Where's dad?"
"Oh, he's at a meeting with Reikoku. He's finished setting up for tonight, and they've been going to the conference room everyday for the last month since you passed out, trying to figure out what happened. I mean, you pass out, a Spirit disappears. Oh, and some people have lost their bending... " the older boy shifted his position, moving even closer to Inna, who was still vulnerable, lying down. "I guess that means we have the whole house to ourselves..." Gituku trailed off. Inna was becoming anxious; she could feel herself sweating, her heart beating faster and faster, a cold dread forming in the pit of her stomach. She knew that she had no authority to speak out against whatever plan he had. He was her fiancée, and husbands controlled the wives. He was right, and she was wrong, and that's the way the Tribe had worked since the dawn of time. Nevertheless, she desperately wished for him to leave.
"Oh, uh, then perhaps you should leave. I mean, I am rather tired-"
Gituku's composure changed in an instant. Releasing her hand, he raised his own, and brought it down on Inna's cheek. Smirking as tears where brought to the eyes of his betrothed, Gituku began to speak, removing layers of his clothes and Inna's bed sheets as he did so. Inna knew what he was doing; it had happened before. Every time, he came up with a new excuse, and every time, she was powerless to stop him.
"You know," he began calmly. "You woke up on a very good day. Your sixteenth birthday, day of a blue moon and all that. I know we are supposed to wait until after the ceremony, but, I don't think anyone will mind if we "consummate our marriage" early. Again," he laughed a big, booming laugh. "What do you think?"
Inna blanched, and fought against the boy, but he was stronger, and she was quickly subdued. Her arms pinned down, unable to move, Inna prayed for it to end, retreating into the last sanctuary she had. Her mind.

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