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18 November 2011
The Odd Creatures
"Is what you say true?" The enormous caterpillar-like creature with the voice of a man crept along the walls of its dark, eerie lair.
His question was responded to by what appeared to be an elderly baboon with a brown robe and odd necklace. "I am only saying what I have heard." The baboon spoke calmly and slowly.
The large caterpillar took a deep sigh with its strange Noh mask face.
"Do I sense concern in you?" the baboon inquired. "Last time I checked, that was an emotion. You're breaking your own rule."
Hearing this the caterpillar whipped its front around to the baboon. When it spun, it revealed its new, furious blue oni face.
Despite the terrifying creature inches away from his own face, the baboon remained calm in his meditating position as his eyes were closed.
"Relax Ganku, I would never steal your face," said the caterpillar as it slowly retreated.
"Oh I'm sure. Just like you would never harm that young Water Tribe woman."
The blue oni face rolled back and was replaced by a female's face with long, brown hair. She looked proud in a dark, sadistic way. "I appreciate your help Ganku." The caterpillar's voice was still that of a man.
Ganku smiled cheerfully, only to immediately gasp in fright. It was too late.
"Congratulations on being the second baboon in my collection."
Returning Without Kyla
Moku's face displayed his distress as he was rushed into the royal palace by his Earthbending guards. Upon entering through colossal palace door, he found his mother, Chief Rakara, and Muna conversing in the main hall.
"Moku! What's happened?"
Moku could only shake his head.
"Where-where is Kyla?" asked a distraught Muna.
Moku couldn't respond. He looked up into the eyes of Rakara with immense shame. He didn't know how he could ever gain the respect of the chief again, but more importantly, the woman he loved was, minutes ago, ripped out of his life.
After coming to the realization of what must have happened, Muna fell to the floor waling. "Is she dead?" she sobbed.
Moku didn't know the answer to her question. Is she? The Earth Queen attempted to comfort her weeping friend as Rakara continued to say nothing. He remained with a focused and serious look on his face.
Finally the Water Chief broke his silence. "Where are her guards? Tell me exactly what happened."
Moku explained everything from the sudden ambush to the deaths of her guards. "That was the last thing I saw. I don't know what happened to Kyla." Muna looked up, hoping her daughter could still breathe.
It was at that moment when a Dai Li agent entered the hall. "Me Queen," he said as he knelt. "The girl has been taken."
"Taken?" Muna burst out. "She's alive!" The chief's wife sprung to her feet.
"She was when from what our men could tell from afar," the agent continued. "It looked like she was unconscious at the time of her abduction. Her attackers threw her into some kind of carriage led by armored ostrich horses.
"If the villains had access to armored ostrich horses, they may have been affiliated with the police force, or even our own guards!" the Queen concluded. "But you said one of them used Firebending," she remembered turning to Moku.
"It may have been an integrated attack," suggested Rakara. "Right now, that doesn't matter. I want all my men to scour the city in search of her."
"And our men will be on the lookout as well," Earth King Maroph had finally reached the others. "I've heard the news. I want you to know that I will do everything in my power to return your daughter. Never has something so awful occurred in my city."
"I'm going right back out to look for her," stated Moku.
"With gangs of kidnappers on the loose? Kidnappers who target royalty? No, you're not going anywhere."
Moku was now shouting "Mother, I was there! It's my responsibility! I could've stopped this!'
"No, don't put blame on yourself. You didn't take her," Rakara interrupted. "Your mother is right. My and your father's men can find her. I'm confident of that.
Moku stormed out of the others' presence to think. After spending an hour alone in his room, his brother, Lee, joined him.
"When are you leaving?" Lee asked.
Lee sighed. "I was afraid that you'd say that."
"Are you going to try to stop me?"
"No, but I don't want you to get yourself killed. So I wrote a list. On the left column are the names of people Dad goes to for secretly information. On the right are people who may be involved in the abduction itself. "
Moku took the paper, but he didn't say anything.
"Don't take a royal ostrich horse. The stableman might notice before you've left the city. There's a stable near the old well in the Lower Ring, right across from the knives shop."
"Thank you. Well, I guess if I don't want to be recognized, I've got to change out of this." Moku threw his royal tunic on his bed and put on a much dirtier more worn out shirt. "Earthbending's put a lot of holes in this one.
Lee let out a brief chuckle. "Oh, and there's something else. Take these dual hammers. Our Great-Grandfather used them in the battle of Whale Tale Island. Any king who would defend the Air Nomads from an invasion of his own people is truly a great man. I'm sure some of his spirit rests in his signature weapons.
Moku smiled and gave his brother a hug.
Later that night, the Earth Kingdom prince made his move. He cautiously slipped through the empty corridors of the quiet, still palace. Interesting that I have to sneak around in my own home, he thought to himself.
"Prince Moku, is something wrong?"
Moku darted a furious look at the guard that made him keep his mouth shut. The guard backed off, confused.
The prince took a long, deep breath as he prepared to open the gates of the palace escape tunnel.
"Moku," a woman whispered.
Moku made a startled noise and turned to see Muna. "Did you follow me?"
"I think what you're doing is-"
"Sorry, but I have to do this."
"I know," said Muna much to Moku's surprise. "I think what you're doing is right and brave. I only ask that you do one thing."
"When you find Kyla's takers. I want you to kill them all."
Waking in Darkness
Kyla's eyes opened gradually to reveal the inside of a brightly colored carriage. After a quick assessment, she realized that the only light came from the candles lit on a nearby table and the moonlight that peered into her small room through a tiny window.
After moaning from pain a bit, her eyes grew wide and she gasped. She jerked her head to her sides in panic. The princess tried to sit up, but metal chains restricted her from doing so. She froze when she noticed a cease in the footsteps of animals. The carriage had stopped. She listened in terror as she heard a figure jump down onto the ground and slowly walk closer. After a slight pause in footsteps, the door across from Kyla opened to reveal a man dressed in all brown.
"So you've finally woken up," the man said as he climbed into her confined space and made his way closer to his prisoner. "Don't worry, we aren't too far from-"
Kyla managed to wrap her legs around the man's body, despite the binding chains. She pulled him closer and knocked him out with a headbutt. Wiggling her fingers she bent her sweat to retrieve a key hanging on the man's belt. Holding the key in her mouth, she freed herself from the chain around her left arm. Loosening the others was easy. She bolted from the carriage and ran past the Komodo rhino that pulled it.
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