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August 29, 2013
Never give up for what you believe in...
Chapter 13: Iseran
The trek was long and tiring. The land barren. Michyu was an outpost covering a large region but was not in ideal lands itself. Still, it was the only standing resistance between Iseran and Omashu.
The lone fort was obscure in sight due to the windy night as dust pressed against their covered faces. Gasping for air, Tiros yelled to Melasa over what was becoming a windstorm, "We're almost there!"
"The question is if we'll get there on our feet or in the wind?" The wind buffeted them a few feet. It was getting worse by the second. Looking behind, they saw why.
Exhausted, Tiros muttered, "Oh, you've got to be kidding me!"
Tall as tower and wide as a mountain, a great storm of wind and sand was before them. "Run!"
The two sprinted with all their might, augmenting their speed with their own powers. The storm was already catching up, making it hard to breath, even with the covering over their heads. Sand began beating at them from the sides as they kept running.
"We're not going to outrun it!"
"We just have to hope they don't lock us out!"
The door was now fifty feet away. With the great doors closing, Tiros tried to soundbend his voice so it amplified. He couldn't tell if they could hear it in the raging storm that had consumed them.
Feet away now, the door was still closing on them, "Damn it!"
"Rashdo!" Melasa voice sounded like a hoarse whisper, though he knew it was a raging scream in this storm.
To his amazement, the door stopped in place. That was right, Melasa had been teaching him Nifrin as he had asked. 'Rashdo' meant something close to halt.
Now at the doors, they were creaking shut as whoever was behind them tried harder to close them. Leaping through, Melasa and Tiros landed on their faces. Tiros entire body was sore.
"What the hell!?" The voice of Colonel Shyo rang in his ears as he lifted himself up in a tired fashion. "Just who do you two think you are running through a sandstorm?"
Melasa stood up and removed her hood, revealing her iconic red hair. "Melasa?" He looked to the man who also removed his hood, "Avatar Tiros?"
The men at guard looked on in shock, "We thought you were dead."
"We're very nearly were. We've got a big problem."
"Yeah, so do we. Lesun stomped us and slaughtered us back there. Our men have no more fight left. Of all the times to run away, that was the worse."
"Will you just shut up," Tiros was too tired to deal with this frustration. "Lesun is going to march on Omashu in five days!"
"How do you know this?" Shyo's attention was fully on the Avatar now.
"A raiding party at an abandoned village. They were hurrying up because they wanted to make it back in time to fight."
Captain Saijin approached, "Sir, if we let that happen, we have no idea if they can hold against the siege."
Melasa spoke with a voice made hoarse by the sand, "There are worse things at play than even that. Things that need to be discussed privately."
Reliving the Loss
Lieutenant Mir spoke at the table recounting what occurred at the village after Tiros fled, "After Lesun stood up again from Melasa's attack, the men broke up and freaked out. And as more and more rebels came, they lost it. Captain Kyo told us you called for a retreat while holding a wounded Melasa."
"After you were separated, Lesun came after the retreat directly. He swung that sword high, lowly, far and wide. We were getting slaughtered. I was done for if it wasn't for the captain. He held his own and told us to run for it."
"We got out, but Captain Kyo didn't."
Tiros and Melasa bowed their heads while Melasa whispered a prayer in Nifrin. From what Tiros understood, it was something like, "May your light shine amongst the stars."
"How many did we lose?"
"Hundreds, we're still going through the wounded even now."
Captain Saijin spoke, "You said that something worse than the impending attack on Omashu was coming, what is it?"
Tiros exhaled, "His sword. That weapon is what gives him the ability to heal. Worst, it feeds on him. Melasa saw first hand that he is turning into something very dangerous. If he leads the charge on Omashu, he will turn into a beast called the Dosh Rak. He will be powerful, nigh impossible to kill and will be an utter savage."
Melasa stepped forward, "We need to prevent this beast from emerging. No one here is equipped or powerful enough to face it."
"If he can heal from any wound while a human, what good is it if he's turning into that thing?" Saijin was skeptical at best.
"Cut off his head, that will kill it for sure."
"Lesun will be surrounded by men, his army is too big for us. Even if he leads from the front, we've seen his swordsmanship, he's too powerful for us." Saijin was reminding them again of the problems.
"Lesun is a hack. He has no skill with the sword, only the power the weapon gives him. We have to stop him before it gives him more than he can control."
"Then what are we going to do?" Shyo seemed determined to have a plan.
Tiros looked over the map. He then looked out the window briefly, "This storm is massive and will last for days. Iseran will not be expecting anything in such a storm, especially after they trounced us at Teira."
"Are you suggesting we actually attack Iseran itself?"
"We will have the element of surprise for just attacking alone, we will also have the storm on our side. We are smaller and more maneuverable in comparison to his ragtag army."
An argument broke out as they all had divided opinions of attacking the fortress of Iseran. Melasa slammed her fist down, "Enough! If we don't act now, Omashu will be invaded, and likely fall. If that happens, the Earth King will send armies that will wage war and spread this violence across the continent. We have to do everything in our power to stop that."
Saijin retorted, "We are outnumbered three to one! We won't even touch them as they march on Omashu!"
Shyo spoke with finality in his voice, it was a command, "We have to try, even if we fail. That is our duty. We risk our lives so that we can save countless others. Melasa is right, if Lesun takes Omashu, war will spread. We may very well all die here, but can we in good conscience stay back if our families are brought to harm by our inaction?"
Tiros sighed in relief, "It is decided then. We march on Iseran."
Tiros tightened the wraps on his wrists and ankles. He couldn't move very well in armor so stuck with light clothing. He looked briefly in the mirror. Even when in the Air Temple, he still wore his Fire Nation garbs, but they were worn to bone by the storm and had to be replaced with Earth Kingdom equipment. The only thing he kept was his boots, which were of far better quality than what the Earth Kingdom had.
Tiros stepped out to the front of the barracks watching the men as they readied. What he saw disturbed him. These men were not those readying to fight, they were readying to die. These men had already lost.
"They have no hope," Melasa's voice sounded beside him as she appeared from nowhere.
As she stood by him, she continued, "The Captain who stood with them and fought with them and led from the front has already died for them. Now they are attacking a superior force after witnessing the enemy leader do the impossible and regenerate from wounds they would die from. How can they hope to win, even in death, it is hopeless."
Tiros couldn't take it much more. He walked forward for the men to see him, "Soldiers of the Earth Kingdom! I see your faces and I see despair! I see the same despair I had when the man I burnt to a crisp kept walking and charged me again."
"I have fought in many battles and I have learned one thing. Never fight for yourself. We are cowards at heart, and we will run to survive. The true test is whether we will fight for others. Will we fight for our homes and families? Will we fight for our brothers? Ask yourself, will you do anything to save those dear to you? Many of you have lost someone close to you, avenge them! Know that you did everything in your power to end the monster who took them from you. Go on from this day saying, I did everything and I am not ashamed!"
Some of the men looked up, a grim determination had taken their faces. It was not of a pride to live, but a pride to win. Others still had doubt casted on their solemn faces.
"For those who have been fortunate enough to have not lost anyone. Don't you want to do everything in your power to keep them safe? Rest assured, if Omashu falls, the Southern Earth Kingdom will fall. The entire kingdom will be engulfed in civil war! Do all in your power to stop this and fight."
"I nearly lost someone dear to me in the battle I failed. I will do everything in my power to prevent that from happening again. We are going to Iseran to fight. We are going to fight monsters. Not the monsters you heard tales of in your bed, but the monsters that truly stalk this earth. The monsters that hurt and kill and take."
"We are going to the den of monsters, lets go kill them!"
Invasion of Sand
Hanbao held his hand over his face as sand beat at him on the top of the fort walls. "Damn, how long is this spirit-forsaken storm going to last?"
He couldn't even see ten feet in front of him, let alone see the bottom of the walls and their foundations. He guessed he should have appreciated what they did have. Iseran was safely nested in the mountains that took most of the brunt before the storms hit the fortress.
Regardless, this storm was incredibly strong. It had been going for days and may delay General's Lesun's plan to march on Omashu. The sand had obscured everything while the wind beat down anything that wasn't firmly planted to the ground. As a result, everyone was packed into the fortress' inner circle to be safe from the storm. Still it was so strong that the wall shook at its beating.
Even now, Hanbao felt the steady beat of the wall against the storm. It seemed to be getting stronger, as if the wind was throwing earth up the wall. He really hoped it would die out soon.
The shaking progressed, beating even more furiously and with less calm between. "What the hell is going on out there?"
The unremarkably large nosed man looked out over the wall, not that it helped. So much wind was in the air that he could see.
"-ta!" A faint sound came from beyond and suddenly, a sharp pain on his nose. It was a tiny razor thin cut, not even blood was trickling, but it hurt like no other. He looked down to see what was blown up to cut him when the shaking got even stronger, "Wait a minute..."
The sand was thick as ever, but shapes showed in the mass of particles, men. They were using stone lifters from earthbending to scale the wall. As if to punish him for looking, a massive fireball shot up after him. Blazing up, he backed up as the flame blasted into the wall's top, sending him flying.
Melasa cursed, "Damn, this storm's so strong, I missed him!"
Shyo looked up with Tiros, "We need to take him out quick before he alerts everyone."
Tiros grunted his agreement. He fire a large fire jab, enough to take out a section of the outcropping ahead.
The sand made it hard to see if he hit the man, but he knew he took out the wall as debris flew down.
"We're almost at the top, get ready!"
Tiros reflected on the good fortune they had so far. The storm had completely covered their advance and even the scaling of the walls was unnoticed until Melasa sensed the man looking over.
Now at the top, they leapt up and readied to fire down on the inner circle. Sure enough, it was pack with people, all huddling in the safety away from the storm. Having taken the upper wall, they could inflict heavy casualties from the high ground.
"Attack! We're under attack!" A hoarse voice screamed beneath him. Hanging on the ledge of the inner side of the wall was none other than that ugly earthbender Hanbao.
He looked up to see Tiros, "Oh, damn it."
A streak of fire rushed for him as Habao created jutting of rock to shield himself. The blast was stopped but a small shockwave hurtled him into the ground. If the screaming alert didn't wake up the rebels, that attack did.
Men starting rushing around below as boulders started flying out after the men below, crushing them and crippling their movements. Confused and scared, they scurried about like rats, unsure of how to respond.
Well over a hundred had fallen without a single Earth Kingdom soldier falling before they even began to respond. It was a good long time before the enemy really organized and that was when Lesun appeared from the central tower.
Tiros could see his green eyes quiver with hatred and anger, "You fools!" Lesun yelled out in command, "Get up! Scale the walls and throw them off!"
With the fear of spirits stricken into them now that Lesun himself appeared, the men kicked into action, using earthbending to climb up the walls from which their enemy was using.
Saijin yelled from some distance away, "Well, it was a matter of time before they figured it out! We need to keep them bottlenecked, or we'll be overrun!"
Tiros kept sending harrowing blasts of air and fire after the rebels as they tried to scale the walls like they did. This time, no sand was impeding them, but neither was it covering them. They were easy targets. They were losing just as many men as they were trying to fight from below.
Unfortunately, they were still advancing despite the success of their attacks, there were just too many of them. A large growl, or was it a howl, came from the central tower. Tiros looked across to see Lesun leaping across the great space to the wall. How was he doing that without airbending was beyond him. Was it just the physical strength of his body?
Sure enough, he had drawn his vile sword. The Thorn Cutter was enhancing all his physical properties. Landing down on the wall, he attacked with all the ferocity of a true monster. A few tried to draw swords and fight him, but they were no match for the animal in man's skin.
He lifted his sword high and dropped it down to skewer another soldier when a blueish blade charging with electricity parried the attack.
"Well well, and here I thought one of my men killed you?"
Birth of an Old Monster
"You're a lot tougher than I gave you credit for, you're still alive even though you had a bolt through your heart. Perhaps your sword can also heal you."
Melasa's eyes narrowed, Lesun had figured that her own sword was special too. Leaping up, she sent a kick into the large man's chest, pushing him back.
"What?" Lesun asked in a sad voice dripping with sarcasm, "I know how fast you are, you could have cut me to ribbons. Why didn't you?"
Melasa didn't respond. She needed to avoid actually wounding him unless it actually would kill him for sure. Lesun continued anyways, "Perhaps its because you it won't do any good, or maybe I am faster than you think?"
"Here, let me show you."
Melasa lifted her sword quickly as steel rang. He was on her like lightning and attacking with furious speed. He really was bonding with the weapon, he was already acquiring speed near that of a Nifrin.
Melasa still had agility on her side. Even with his speed, she could still see his attacks from a mile away. Backing away, she lifted her sword up in the air and brought it down in a flash, now carrying two katanas.
"That's a neat trick. You'll have to show me that sometime." Lesun smiled wide as he charged again.
She still avoided actually cutting him. She didn't know how close he was to turning, it could even happen without another cut if he strained his body too much. Lesun stabbed for her left eye. She easily sidestepped and rushed in.
This was her chance. She pushed her hand to his heart and chanted, "Heishok!"
Lesun's eyes bulged as he staggered back, gripping his chest in pain. She had stopped his heart, but it would only be momentarily once the Blood Drinker healed him.
This was it, the one chance to end it. She cut vertically, aiming to bisect his head in two. As if anticipating it, he tilted his head just a little. Missing his face entirely, it cut down, through his collarbone and to his waist. Reactively, he swung at her. She leapt back and watched from afar, praying it was still enough.
Denying her that hope, vine-like growths connected the bone and sinew together again. Worse, it kept growing even when the wound was healed. Yelling from the pain, Lesun swung his arms wide as the vine hands dug into his am, piercing skin. Spikes burst out in a painful show of gore and blood.The sides of his head bled as more came out, to forward facing horns grew out as a shell of what looked like bark grew over his face, enshrouding it. It appeared to be a skull of wooden make, but it was screaming as the process continued, getting worse and worse.
Melasa watched in horror as the Nifrin race's worse nightmare was reborn right before her eyes. The Dosh Rak had returned.
- Iseran is meant to be General Fong's Fortress from TLA.
- Lesun turned into a Dosh Rak.
- Dosh Rak are inspired by the Doujigiri turning its wielders into demons from 11eyes as well as Hollows from Bleach.
- One more chapter left.
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|