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4 December 2011
The Serpent's Pass
The Sun beat down on Prince Moku as he ventured through the Earth Kingdom wilderness on the back of his ostrich-horse. Moku took a deep breath as he wiped sweat off his forehead.
"Duke, I think we need a break," he said to his animal. He jumped down to the ground and found a small pond nearby where Duke could get a drink and Moku could study his map. In a few minutes, they were ready to continue. After a few minutes of hiking down a dirt path, they came what appeared to be an extremely narrow, rocky mountain range that looked like it stretched all they across a massive body of water.
"Well, Duke," Moku started as he prepared to ascend the first thin hill. "Looks like this is going to be our first major test as a team."
After half an hour of non-stop hiking, Duke was beginning to slow down and drag. "Come on, buddy. This isn't that bad. And we're almost there," Moku assured. Duke then jerked his head up. "That's the spirit! Now let's-"
Moku was interrupted by a ferocious, blood-curling roar from behind him. He turned to see a colossal, teal-colored serpent with green fins protruding out of the sides of its head rising out the water and revealing its long red tongue as it let out another scream. Suddenly, it dove back underwater and Moku could see its dark shadow rushing towards him. Within seconds, it shot out of the sea again, hovering about fifty feet above him. The monster roared again as its head lunged straight for Moku, who used an earth column to propel himself and Duke a few yards ahead and out of the way. He then jumped off Duke and used Earthbending to collapse the part of the path that held the serpents head. The monstrous creature was only enraged further proceeded to attack again. By thrusting both his elbows back, Moku was able to shoot the ground he and Duke were standing on down the narrow hill and the serpent crashed into the side of the rocks. Now only a few feet from the monster, Moku sent a rock straight for its eye. The serpent let out a scream of terrible pain and finally retreated. Moku, panting heavily with his hands on his knees, looked back at Duke in amazement. He noticed that a considerable part of the path had completely been destroyed, leaving no way to cross without a boat.
Bonding Through Captivity
Kyla and her partner in the skit were thrown in a dark, damp cell together as soon as they finished the short play by burning the Water Tribe flag. The man looked like he was in his mid-forties.
"That was humiliating," declared Kyla furiously as she ignored the rat running across from her.
"Those were Fire Nation soldiers," said the man who played the Earth Kingdom healers.
"So, this means that our abductions are supported by the Fire Nation government!"
Kyla thought for a moment. "Why would they do this? Do you think the operation goes all the way to Firelord Sozin?"
"I don't see how an Fire Nation base could capture to foreigners and hold them prisoner without the Firelord knowing. But, for all I know, that General Kozar could be doing this in secret."
"Kozar... that's the man with the long, black hair's name?"
The man nodded. "I just don't understand why he would do this. And why us? Capturing two random citizens of other nations who have no significance whatsoever? It's just so random? What motive could he have?"
Kyla nodded, choosing not to reveal her identity. "You know, you're pretty smart for someone who was just forced to play an idiot," she commented half-jokingly.
"Pff, I wonder if that's how all Fire Nation citizens view people from the Earth Kingdom."
Kyla appeared as if she was going to say something else, but she was cut off when the general known as Kozar entered through a strong, metal door.
"That was a great performance. It really was."
His captors said nothing.
"Anyway," he continued. "The quality of your skit will really help you with this next part."
"What next part?" Kyla asked crossly without looking up.
"I'm glad you asked. Before the skit, I decided that for each man who didn't enjoy it, you'd each receive one lash," he announced as he pulled a whip from under his shirt.
Kyla and the Earth Kingdom man were to shocked to say anything.
"Fortunately for you, only seven men complained, so you've each earned seven lashes."
"You're sick!" shouted Kyla with fire in her eyes.
"I'll take hers," the Earth Kingdom man spoke up.
Kyla turned to him "No, you don't have to-"
"I want to. Give me fourteen."
Kozar considered the option for a moment. "Very well. Stand up and take off your shirt."
Kyla refused to watch as she heard the crack of a whip followed by a terrible squeal of pain fourteen times.
When the torture was done, Kozar left. The man tried to sit down but ended up collapsing to the ground. Kyla helped him up as his face showed the immense pain he was in.
"You're the bravest man I've ever met," said Kyla. "I'll repay you somehow. I'll include you in my escape plan."
"Escape?" the man asked softly. "There is no escape. I've been here for three years."
"Three years?" Kyla was astonished. "Do you have a family back home?"
"A wife and three kids. My mother was living with me when I was taken. I doubt she's still alive. My names Peo, by the way." Peo gave Kyla a friendly smile.
"It's a pleasure to meet you Peo. I'm... Loki," she said, choosing her favorite maid's name as her cover.
"How about you? Any family?"
"I'm not married yet. But I did meet someone recently."
"Really? What's he like?"
"He's an Earthbender. Handsome, strong, brave. He was there when they took me."
"Then I bet he's looking for you," Peo assured.
"I bet he is too."
Back in Ba Sing Se, Chief Rakara and Muna were prepared to depart.
"What's all this?" asked Earth King Maroph when he noticed their packed bags.
"I'm sorry friend. We have to go back to the Northern Water Tribe. I hope you can find your son," said Rakara
"I understand, your people need to be comforted in a time like this."
"It's more than that," the chief explained.
Maroph waited for his friend to elaborate.
"We got a letter from the people who took Kyla. There's something back home that we need to protect."
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