|More from Krazykid51||Drama/Action||PG||Positive||None|
|Nighttime Stay, Part 2|
November 26, 2011
Time and coordinates
Time: 11:20 PM
Setting/Heading: Same as last chapter
Yin landed Lin at a farm and paid its owner, Ping, to lodge Lin there for a few days. Mako left the barn in which the group was staying and hid in the surrounding wood, wanting to practice his Firebending. Mako found himself in a situation when a hog monkey jumped down from the trees, but Mako somehow managed to fend it off and kill it. Ping discovered the boy in the forest, recognized him from the wanted posters, and took him to his home. Mako had no idea of Ping's plan hand him over to the authorities the next day.
Meanwhile, Yin interrogated Lee about his home life. Lee revealed to her that he'd seen the wanted posters, and Yin attacked Lee, thinking he would try to kill her. Lee quickly reassured her that he wasn't going to hurt her and said that he couldn't let tell her why he kidnapped Mako, but Yin knew that he had to have a good reason. She let him go and went back to meditating when Lee remembered that Mako had left. He and Yin went searching for him.
Mako sat on a rickety chair. Before him was an ugly table with a checkered tablecloth draped over it. The kitchen he was in was as decrepit-looking as the rest of the house, with badly-constructed wooden structures, elephant rats treading the floor, and a ceiling that seemed like it would cave at any moment. A lantern hung above the table, and Mako played with the fire within it. He unenthusiastically curled and uncurled his right fist, which made the tiny flame grow slightly and then falter just as fast. At first, Mako's eyes followed its every move, but a child's attention span is too short to be kept occupied by the wavering ember of a candle. The boy sighed, jumped off the chair, and knelt down next to empty cupboards.
There's got to be food around here somewhere, Mako thought, having not eaten anything but bread and miscellaneous fruits since his journey began. Oh, yeah. Mr. Ping said that he'd make me some tea once we got here. Mako got back on his feet and scampered down the hallway through which Ping had retreated. It was dimly lit by more cheap lanterns that hung on the walls every few feet. The long corridor stretched farther than Mako had imagined, and the creaking floor sent chills down his spine. The boy finally found the staircase that lead to a single door.
"Mr. Ping!" Mako yelled up the steps. "Can I have some tea now?"
"You'll have your tea in just a minute!" Ping bellowed through the closed door. "Lenorna makes a better brew than I do, you see, and I want you to be treated with the best hospitality that we can give!" Two people, presumably Ping and Lenorna, chuckled slyly. Mako didn't notice.
"Okay then, I can wait!" Mako raced back down the hall, ready to explore a certain farmer's dilapidated home.
With hunched shoulders and hanging heads, Lee and Yin walked wearily down a darkened trail. "Are you sure Mako went this way?" Yin asked tiredly.
"Yes," Lee replied, "I'm sure." The two teenagers had set out on their search for Mako ten minutes ago, and they hadn't seen a speck of evidence to suggest that a human being had ever set foot on the premises. They left the barn prepared for anything they might face. Lee brought his dual dao swords, which he wore around his back, and Yin held her staff in hand.
"Why did Mako come out here, anyway?" Yin questioned. Although she practically swore not to ask about Lee's or Mako's personal lives, the nosey Airbender never promised anything about questioning the odd things that were happening right now.
Lee replied as casually as he could, "You know how adventurous that kid is. He probably just wanted to explore." Lee knew that Yin was still on her toes, so he diverted the attention away from himself with a question of his own. "So, what happened at the Western Air Temple? After all, you did say you'd tell me what made you so sulky."
Yin froze suddenly in her tracks, and Lee waited patiently for his answer. "I... I guess you could say I was banished."
Banishment being quite a common and serious punishment in the Fire Nation, Lee understood the severity of the situation. "Why were you banished, exactly?" Lee and Yin resumed their walk.
"I went to the temple to tell Sister Rin about what happened to Pohan Village-"
"Who's Sister Rin?" Lee interjected curiously.
"Sister Rin is the person who taught me Airbending. She gave me and a friend of mine private lessons because she thought that we had 'potential'. Potential for what, she never told us. Probably for becoming great Airbenders, which, not trying to brag or anything, has obviously come true. Anyway, when I found Sister Rin, I told her about how the Fire Nation burned Pohan Village to the ground."
Lee's ears tuned out of the conversation for a moment as he remembered his country's evil deeds. Once again, a hatred for his homeland ran through Lee's mind, and an even stronger rage grew at the thought of his parents. And Mako still wants to go back.
"I went there to discuss what the Air Nomads should do to stop the Fire Nation," Yin continued, "but Sister Rin basically said, 'No, you should just let them terrorize the world until a war breaks out.' I was ready to pull my hair out by then, so I got up to leave. Before I could, though, Sister Rin asked if I... Do I really have to go on? You really don't see why I was banished yet?"
"Call me an idiot all you want, but no, I don't see what could've gotten you banished. Just finish your story up now and I won't have to ask you again."
Yin sighed and concluded her tale with, "Sister Rin asked if I tried to help the people in the village. I said no. You know why."
Lee face palmed, realizing his stupidity. "Yeah," he muttered. "I do."
Just then, a disgusting stench invaded Yin's nostrils. "Do you smell that?" She asked, pinching her nose. "It smells like... a carcass."
Lee's eyes widened in fear as his brother's dead body flashed through his mind, beaten and bloodied by a wild animal a child stood no chance of defeating. Lee was running toward the source of the smell, but Yin swiftly swung her staff and blew Lee right off of his feet. "It can't be Mako," Yin said quickly. "There's no way he'd smell like this so soon!"
Acting so fatherly to Mako in past weeks had taken a toll on Lee's instincts. "We still need to go see what's there," he panted. "Mako might be nearby." Lee was sprinting faster than ever toward the stench.
Mako sat on his knees in Ping's carpeted living room. There were no lanterns lit in this room, so Mako simply created a fire in his hands. He stood up and walked around the room, looking for some lanterns that he might light. There was one on top of the coffee table. He lit it. There was another on the end table next to the couch. He lit that one too. Finally, there was a chandelier hanging in the center of the room. He lit its six candles and the room was suddenly brighter than the entire house.
"Wow," Mako whispered as he stared up at the chandelier. "Did I do all of this? I really am getting better!"
"Getting better at what?" A woman scowled from a doorway that lead to the kitchen. He spun around to see Ping and, Mako supposed, Lenorna.
Lenorna was a plus size woman, her hair seemingly dyed black with ink. She wore a pink silk robe that wouldn't have fit her if it weren't for the corset she wore under it. Her eyebrows were nonexistent, so the many wrinkles on her forehead made her seem like she was always squinting. The lady was an ugly sight.
"Um... Uh, standing on my head!" Mako replied nervously. "Here, let me show-"
"Oh, no, no, no!" Lenorna gasped, shaking her head furiously. "If you fell you'd break your little head!" She turned to her husband and whispered in his ear, "And my coffee table!" The two snickered.
"Okay, erm, Mako," Ping said. "Lets go get you that tea!"
"Okay!" Mako yelled happily.Thank you, Lenorna. I can't even do a handstand.
Once they'd entered the kitchen, Ping and Lenorna strolled right to the stove. Lenorna lit a fire beneath the kettle with a pair of spark rocks. Meanwhile, Mako had returned to his rickety wooden chair beside the badly-constructed table. I wonder if they've noticed how I lit all of the lanterns, Mako thought mischievously. Oh, wait. They're old! They probably can't tell the difference.
"How did all of the lanterns get lit?" Lenorna asked, confused.
"How the hell should I know?" Ping replied rudely. "The kid probably had something to do with it. Don't worry. He'll be off of our hands tomorrow when we turn him in."
"Shouldn't we turn him in tonight? Before his friends come looking for him?"
"And how do you expect us to do that, huh? The police don't come out for country folks this time of night, they only care about the big city people up north. Unless you feel like walking him there, we're out'a luck."
The kettle began to whistle, so Lenorna took it off of the stove. While her and Ping were preparing the tea, Mako reduced the fire that was left on the stove to nothing with a flick of the wrist. The couple didn't seem to notice.
"Here's your drink," Lenorna crooned. She set the plate with the large cup of tea on the table in front of Mako. "It's green tea, I hope you like it."
Mako sniffed the tea and knew he wouldn't like it. Then he said so.
"What do you mean, you don't like it?" Lenorna growled, offended.
"I mean, I like ginseng tea."
Lenorna and Ping stared in astonishment at the spoiled brat sitting on their kitchen chair. "Well, who d'ya think we are, some kinds'a richies?" Ping exclaimed.
"I'm just saying, this stuff doesn't smell good. Ginseng tea is better."
Ping was suddenly marching straight toward Mako. He crouched down so he could be face-to-face with the child. He growled, "If you don't be quiet and drink you're tea, your in for it."
"I'll be quiet," Mako said smartly. "I just won't drink my tea."
Mako was on the floor, knocked out cold by an exasperated Ping.
Lee arrived at the source of the smell, which had grown stronger and stronger with every step. His eyes bore down on it in delight at his brother's handiwork.
"What is it?" Yin asked when she made it to the carcass.
"That, my friend, is a dead hog monkey," Lee answered gleefully.
"Why do you sound so happy about it?"
"Because it means that Mako is okay! And he somehow-" and by that I mean with awesome Firebending "-killed this giant thing!"
Yin squinted suspiciously, then said, "Whatever. We're pretty close to the farmer's house. Mako probably went there once he was finished with, um, this."
"Alright, then. Lets go have a look." Lee was once again running ahead of Yin, eager to finally end this search and get to bed.
Something's not right, Yin thought as she too began to run. How could an eleven-year-old kid kill that thing with his bare hands? It's a good thing Yin was unacquainted with hog monkeys, or else she would've noticed how all of its hair was burned off.
I can't believe that my own brother is that strong! Lee thought excitedly as the house came in to view. He's so talented, and he's only eleven! I can't wait to congratulate him. Little did Lee know that his brother learned his tactics from the soldier who tried to kill him.
Lenorna threw Mako into the room at the top of the stairs. His hands were tied at the wrists behind his back, along with his ankles. Mako's eyes were still shut, but no longer was he asleep.
"We'll just leave him in there until morning," said Lenorna. Her voice could be heard through the door. She was walking slowly down the steps.
"He can't get out if he tries," said Ping. It sounded like he was at the bottom of the steps. His voice was barely audible. "I just hope the poor kid isn't afraid of the dark."
Mako was listening attentively to their conversation. He knew he'd be able to free himself of his restraints any time he wanted, but he had to be sure that the lunatic redneck-yahoos were far enough away.
"Who cares about whether'r not he's scared of the dark?!" Lenorna screamed. "He insulted my tea-making excellence!" Mako laughed quietly.
"That tea was in no way excellent, lady," Mako whispered to himself.
"Don't worry about a thing," Ping grumbled, "He'll be off our hands in the morning. I wonder how high the reward is!"
"Well, considering how he needs his precious fancy-boy 'ginseng tea', he must be worth a fortune!" Mako was already confused.
Suddenly, a loud knock could be heard at the front door. Ping and Lenorna were whispering a conversation that Mako couldn't understand. Finally, Ping yelled, "Coming!" The two scurried to the door.
"That took forever," Mako mumbled. Mako pointed his index finger at the rope on his wrists and generated a small flame. It singed his the restraints and the rope fell off. Then he did the same with the rope around his ankles. "All done." The child stood up and made another, larger fire in his hands. The room was still dark.
"I wonder if there's a chandelier in this room, too." Mako raised his arm to illuminate the ceiling. He saw the chandelier hanging in the middle of the room. "That one is so high up, though... And there isn't any light in this room, so I can't see where I'm aiming." Mako thought about the situation for a second and decided, "If this place goes up in smoke it's not my problem. They're the ones who tied me up." Mako shot a flame at the chandelier and hoped that it would hit one of the candles. It didn't.
"Why, hello there!" Lenorna said with a grin as she opened the door. In front of her stood Lee and Yin.
"Hi, I was wondering if you-" Yin quickly pushed Lee out of the way, knowing she would have to do the talking.
Yin bowed at the waist and said, " Thank you for letting us stay at your humble home."
Lenorna's eyes widened in shock. And even with such a nice woman like her, that Mako kid is still a brat. Lenorna was blushing bright red.
"Oh my," she chuckled, "My husband and I always lend a hand to weary travelers! Please, come in!" Lenorna moved out of the doorway and allowed the teens entrance.
"Why did you push me?" Lee whispered once Lenorna was out of earshot.
"I am the master of fake smiles," Yin replied. "You must know that by now. That woman had one painted right across her face!"
After the two had sat down on the couch, Lee asked, "You mean those creepy smiles of yours are fake? I always thought those were real."
"Of course not," said Yin. "I just do that for people when I first meet them. Once you know me well enough, like you and Mako, I tone it down a bit." Ping walked out of the kitchen and Lenorna scurried over. Lo and behold, Yin had a wide grin of shiny teeth to show off to the two.
Ping stayed in the kitchen doorway, eying Lee and Yin cautiously. Lenorna's guard was down completely, even going as far as to sit next to Yin on the couch. "Would any of you like some tea?" Lenorna asked. "We have plenty."
Lee was about to accept the offer, but Yin piped up quickly, "No thank you. We just made some a few hours ago and aren't very hungry." Lee uttered silent curses at the Airbender by his side. He hadn't drunk anything for hours. "I'm so sorry to have disturbed you at such a late hour."
"Oh, no trouble at all!" Lenorna shrieked. "We haven't had company-"
"Ahem," Ping coughed.
Lenorna's voice became irritated as she muttered, "Oh, that's right. We haven't good company for such a long time."
"Yes, well, my friend and I came here on a quite urgent matter," Yin continued, her smile still as big as ever. "We wouldn't have come at this time if it weren't. You see, a young boy who is traveling with us, Mako, he wandered out of the barn an hour ago and we haven't seen him. We were wondering if maybe he discovered this place and sought refuge in your welcoming abode." The couple stared at Yin, bewildered by her 'city-folk talk'. "What I mean to say is, have you seen a child around here?"
Ping and Lenorna jumped, startled by how long it took Yin to get down to business. "We haven't seen any kids around here," said Ping in his best attempt to intimidate the fierce-looking teenagers before him. Ping himself was afraid of the boy with the swords, but he didn't know that Yin's staff was also a weapon. "I suggest that you leave my home now and-"
Loud footsteps came loudly down the stairs. Mako burst through the kitchen door and yelled, "THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE!"
Lee saw his brother and got to his feet, but Ping put his hands over Mako's mouth and picked the boy up. "You stay right where you are," Ping growled, "or he's gonna get it." Ping pulled a knife from his pocket and held it to Mako's throat.
"Didn't you hear him?" Yin said calmly. She was still sitting on the couch. "The house is on fire. If we don't get out now, we'll all die."
Sweat rolled down Ping's forehead. Lenorna stood up and said to Yin, "This boy's worth a whole lotta' money, and we're not giving him up." She then turned to Lee and said, "Your worth a pretty penny, too." Lenorna suddenly stomped her food on the floor of the living room. A large ball of earth broke through the wooden floor. She shot it at Lee at point-blank range into his stomach. He fell to the ground, left there to catch his breath.
"My floor!" Ping exclaimed.
"We can buy a house in Ba Sing Se when we get the reward money," Lenorna said through gritted teeth. Yin finally stood up, but Ping simply pushed the knife closer to Mako's neck. "Don't you move, arrowhead."
Yin moved faster than Ping expected. She swung her staff in a downward motion, and Ping and Mako were blown through the wall and into the kitchen. It was a miracle how the knife didn't go straight through Mako's neck.
The fire was burning right through the floor of the upstairs bedroom. Wooden planks began falling from the ceiling, right into the living room. The blaze was enveloping the entire house! Safety was right out the door, just a few feet away, but Lee and Yin couldn't leave without Mako, and Ping and Lenorna would die to get the money Mako was worth.
Seeing that Lenorna was distracted by the intense fire upstairs, which was now visible just by looking up, Lee tripped her and she fell on the ground. Lee jumped back up and took his swords from their sheathes, but Lenorna moved fast despite her weight. She punched the wood of the floor with her fists and two rocks flew up from below. She punched the air in Lee's direction right before Lee had a chance to plunge his swords into her back. One struck each of his elbows, and he dropped the swords on the floor. Lee squeezed his arms and fell to his knees.
Ping was getting up now, rubbing his head bleakly. The kitchen, too, was on fire, and it was spreading to the living room. Mako was knocked out again, lying down next to Ping. The farmer looked around the kitchen for his knife and saw it on the floor a few feet away.
Lee saw Ping crawling toward his weapon and called to Yin, "Get him now! He's reaching for the knife!"
"Don't you think I already know that?!" Yin yelled angrily as she ran into the kitchen.
Lenorna was finally standing, unsteady as she was. "Would you shut up already?" she coughed, too stupid to see how much smoke she was breathing in. Lee and Yin were being much more careful. Lenorna stomped her right foot, and a boulder came up from the ground once again. "I'll just crush you with this and it'll all be over!" Lenorna levitated the boulder right above Lee's head for just a second, just to see his fear. Then she smiled and let it drop.
Lee swiftly rolled over, all the way to the couch. Instead of crushing Lee's head, the boulder fell onto Lenorna's toe. She yelped and tried to lift it, but she was in too much shock at the moment to concentrate. Lee, coughing a bit but not that badly, walked to his foe and held his right-hand sword to her chest. A pain pulsated through his body. His elbow was in no way healed. "If you move," said Lee furiously, "you're dead."
The fire had now consumed the entire bottom floor. Mako was unknowingly breathing in the toxic air. Yin picked him up at the exact moment Ping found his knife.
"Alright, Mako, lets go," said Yin soothingly. She held Mako against her chest and rested his head on her shoulder. Her voice stirred Mako and he woke up. His eyes widened as he saw Ping slowly making his way over to him and Yin. The knife was grasped firmly in his hand and he was going to stab Yin right through her calf.
Mako acted instinctively, raising both of his arms and clapping them loudly. Fire came at Ping from both sides and set him ablaze. Yin heard the clap and turned around to see Ping writhing like a fish out of water on the ground.
Yin ran at super-speed out the door of the house. "Let's get out of here!" she yelled at a petrified Lee, who was still looking in horror at the dying man he'd seen his brother set on fire. He turned back to Lenorna, who had fallen to the floor and stopped breathing, probably because of all the smoke she inhaled. Lee left her there and ran from the building just as it collapsed.
Once Lee, Yin, and Mako had returned to the barn and boarded Lin, Mako was already asleep. "He had such a long night," said Lee as he took Mako from Yin's arms.
"I guess he did," said Yin, still panting from her run. The three went airborne immediately after they left the barn.
After a few minutes of silent flying, Yin had a new question to ask. "How do you think the fire got started, anyway?"
Lee knew that the fire had something to do with Mako, so he just made up another excuse. "You saw all of those cheap lanterns," he replied. "One of them must've been messed up."
Yin smiled, a real smile, and said, "That answer will do for now. By the way, I know you lie. And it's okay." Yin took one of the blankets and got under the covers. Then she gave one to Lee for him and Mako. "We should take Mako's lead and get some rest."
Yin's eyes were now closed. The image of Ping and Lenorna went through her mind. They were still people, she thought despairingly. Just bad people. I guess I'm a bad person too, though. I left Pohan Village and I left those two farmers. Was Sister Rin right? Should I have saved all of those people? Yin thought about the options the people would've had, then decided, This is not the time to start second-guessing myself. What would be the point of saving them if they were just going to be hurt in the end by what's to come? Either way, I know what I've done. Those farmers were just two more people I left to die.
Lee hugged his brother under the blankets. "What am I going to do with you?" he whispered, thinking of how Mako willingly killed Ping. "How much have you been taught that I just can't fix?" Lee had now shut his eyes, too. Just before he fell asleep, he thought, When do I have to give you up?
- What a difficult chapter this was to write. Not only was it hard to think of an ending for it, but it was just hard to find the time to type it up.
- Lenorna is a name I thought up by combining Lenore and Narnia. No joke.
For the collective works of the author, go here.