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|Prisons of Wood and Hearts of Platinum|
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5 January, 2015
Prisons of Wood and Hearts of Platinum
The boat ride was fairly calm, the gentle sea waves bumping against the speeding transport. Fortunately it had also been a clear day, the bright blue sky etched across the horizon, with few wispy strings of clouds to occasionally shield the occupants in the boat from the harsh sun. Sea gulls circled over the ocean, sometimes diving into the foamy sea to catch their prey. It was all so peaceful, a peace which had remained untouched from the calamities of the past few months.
The matriarch of Zaofu, Suyin Beifong, tried her best to smile while watching the rolling seas from the boat. It had been a hectic last few months for everyone after the Earth Empire had been stopped from taking over Republic City, and Suyin had to deal with her own set of problems surrounding her beloved city of Zaofu.
The other thing that had been difficult these past few months was watching her eldest son, Baatar Jr., locked away in a prison. And although Suyin did want her son to somehow make amends with all those he had a hand in hurting, it still didn't make it any easier to watch him struggling in such a dark place. But today was a once special day, and while it didn't involve her son Baatar it did involve someone else who was also once dear to her.
Their destination was in sight; the brown hues of the wooden structure lay ahead, the choppy waves lapping against the supports. This prison had once housed another criminal, a lavabender named Ghazan, and was designed to hold earthbending prisoners as the structure contained no metal or earth, only wood. But he was presumed dead after him and the other Red Lotus members had been defeated near the Northern Air Temple nearly four years ago, and his old cell had remained empty until another earthbender had been arrested and brought here.
Once the boat had reached the only dock, Suyin was lead up a short climb of stairs to the wooden prison. It was nothing more than a glorified box; the wooden beams of the four walls criss-crossed with each other to prevent anyone from getting in or out. There was no door, and only small slots at the bottom of each face could allow anything to be passed into the cell. Suyin took a deep breath through her nose, the salty aroma of her blue surroundings burning her nostrils slightly, though it had helped her to relax slightly.
"You have a visitor," The White Lotus escort mumbled to the prisoner inside. She was curled up in one of the corners of the cell, wearing a dull green singlet and long pants. At first, the prisoner did nothing; it was as if the very words the guard had spoken were nothing short of the impossible. Yet she soon tilted her head towards the dock, quickly rising to her feet.
A wide grin formed on the prisoner's face as she recognised who it was, "Suyin!" However, her joy was interrupted by her own guilty conscience, and after a few seconds a saddened frown took the place of her smile.
"Hello Kuvira," Suyin replied, her voice not completely void of emotion, though a little on the cold side.
She took a few more steps towards the wooden cell, though this prompted a guard to raise his arm, "You shouldn't get any closer."
"I have no metal or earth on me. She's not a danger."
The White Lotus guard reluctantly nodded his head, turning to walk back to his quarters to give the prisoner and visitor some privacy.
Kuvira walked to the edge of her cell, resting her hands on the beams, "Why have you come here Su?"
Suyin finally smiled, albeit a modest grin at best, "I just came here to talk with you. I... Haven't seen you since it all happened..." She didn't elaborate on what she meant, though she didn't need to. Both of them knew fully what crimes had imprisoned the once leader of the Earth Empire Army.
The prisoner smiled gratefully in reply, slowly lowering herself into a sitting position on the floor of her cell. Suyin too took a seat, and once she was she pulled out a teapot from her bag and filled two cups. The tea was a little cool since Suyin had kept it wrapped in her bag the whole way here, though for Kuvira it would certainly be a treat just to have something besides steamed rice.
"...And so we've decided to rebuild the domes. For many of the citizens, it is a reminder that they are safe in Zaofu. Though Baatar Sr. has been working with Varrick and Zhu Li to upgrade their design a little." Suyin took another sip of tea.
Kuvira also tried some more of the tea. It had been a welcome beverage to add variation to what she was given while in the prison, and she hadn't had tea for quite a while now. "I... Am sorry for dismantling the domes. I know it has only caused more work for you to rebuild." Kuvira hung her head in remorse and guilt, closing her eyes as she confessed her crimes. Suyin nodded in response, and managed a half smile before gazing into the sea surrounding them, lost in thought. Kuvira however, had not finished her apologies, "Su, I know this must be hard for you to be here. I can remember what you said to me when I was arrested, about how much hurt and anger you felt towards me. Which is understandable, and I don't blame you nor feel like what you said was unjustified."
"Kuvira," Suyin waved her hand a little, "Of course at the time I had wanted to see justice be carried out. I came off a little harsh. You... Still mean a lot to me too." She concluded with a genuine smile. On the night Kuvira had been arrested, Suyin had been so hurt and angry towards the leader of the Earth Empire, still feeling betrayed that she had left Zaofu and begun her march over the Earth Kingdom. Though over the days that had followed Suyin had seen the guilt and remorse that Kuvira displayed during her trial, which had softened her heart a little. Still, it had taken Suyin this long to find it in herself to visit her, since there were still some things Suyin hadn't forgiven Kuvira of just yet.
The prisoner smiled warmly in reply, and then sipped her tea again. "And... How is Baatar doing?" Kuvira almost didn't ask Suyin, knowing fully well that it would be a sensitive subject. But she had to know how he was doing.
Suyin frowned slightly, sighing and closing her eyes. "Kuvira, I can't... He's doing alright, but I don't feel I can talk about him with you at this time."
The words had stung Kuvira's ears, though she nodded solemnly and hung her head. She should have expected that would be the case. "Listen, Su. We say that platinum is too pure for metalbenders to bend. It is immovable, and cannot be shaped by any bending." Tears had slowly formed in the prisoner's eyes as she looked back towards her visitor, "So isn't my heart just like platinum? Even with all the love I felt for Baatar , and the love he felt for me, I still couldn't stop myself from firing that canon! I still couldn't be moved! How could I have been so heartless? Words cannot express how awful and ashamed I feel about what I've done." Kuvira wept into her arms for a moment, and in her thoughts the face of her once beloved appeared. She remembered the absolute joy she had felt when he had proposed to her, and how exciting it was to think about their future together. She really did love him, though after her actions he would surely never feel the same way again.
The display before her even caused Suyin to cry. The fact that this woman had tried to murder her own son ignited like oil to flame a deep resentment and fury like no other. Yet seeing the once little girl she had raised as her own tear herself up over her guilt and shame, broke Suyin's heart. For a few seconds she just watched, unable to say anything, but then thought about changing the subject, "Kuvira, I brought you something."
Kuvira took her time to face Suyin, though when she did a look of shook appeared in her green eyes. What Suyin handed to her was powerful enough to cause her shed more tears, although they were accompanied by a fond smile. Through the gaps of the wooden wall, Suyin passed a small doll to Kuvira. "I... Don't believe it," Kuvira stammered while feeling her old stuffed companion in her hands.
"When you moved out of our home years ago, you never took all of your belongings. I was actually quite glad that you left this behind; it was the only thing you had when you were brought to Zaofu." The matriarch of Zaofu laughed fondly at the memory, smiling into the distance, "Do you remember the first thing you said when you arrived? After all our introductions my chef announced what we would be eating for dinner, and you said..."
"...What in spirit's name is hibiscus root?" Kuvira finished Suyin's sentence. After she had, she burst out laughing for a few moments, quickly followed by her visitor chuckling as well. Looking back up at Suyin, Kuvira grinned and through stifled laughs managed to reply, "Well, I had just come from an orphanage where all we ate was steamed rice and occasionally warm soup. When I heard that you ate something like 'hibiscus-root salad' I had no idea what he was talking about." Again, the pair burst into laughter again, though Kuvira's attention turned back to the doll in her hands. "Thank you though, for Meng," She motioned to the doll in her hands, "But why did you bring her here?"
Suyin smiled at Kuvira's question, "Well, today is a special day is it not? It is your birthday."
"Su," Kuvira shook her head, "I don't know the day I was born. I never knew my parents, nor did they tell anyone else."
"But today is the day when you were brought to us when you were just 8 years old." Suyin grinned warmly in reply, eliciting a tearful smile from Kuvira. "You arrived at our doorstep, alone, fearful, distrusting of everyone--"
"And with a big mouth," Kuvira joked.
Laughing softly, Suyin leant her hands into the prison and took hold of Kuvira's. The prisoner gasped lightly, since this was the first physical contact she had had with another human being since she was imprisoned. She had forgotten just how soothing it was to feel another's warm skin against her own, to feel their life flowing in their veins. Suyin swallowed before continuing, "Kuvira, you are not that little girl who arrived at our doorstep all those years ago; although you may be fearful and distrusting of those around you, you are most certainly not alone. You have people who care about you on the outside, and you will one day be reunited with them."
Kuvira was in tears from the gesture and Suyin's words, but she didn't dare let go of her hands, "Su, I... I'm not in the same position as Baatar ; I will be in here for a long time. I," She quickly wiped her eyes by rubbing her head against her shoulder "I may not even live that long to see myself released from here."
"Well, I'll just have to visit more often then," Suyin grinned. Her eyes were so full of affection and warmth even after all Kuvira had done. "I still love you like my own daughter Kuvira. And although there are some things I still need to forgive you for, that doesn't mean that I won't at least try to, or that I will leave you all alone just like you were before I took you in."
Tears welling in her eyes, Kuvira nodded gratefully. "Thank you Su. This means so much to me."
Suyin's eyes darted to the other side of the prison, where she noticed a pile of newspapers, "Have you had another visitor?"
Kuvira nodded, "Avatar Korra and her partner Asami were very kind to see me, twice actually. Korra was very understanding, and she was even starting to teach me how to meditate into the Spirit World, though I've had little success actually doing it."
"Well, I'm sure you will be able to eventually. You've always managed to accomplish something when you've put your mind to it," Suyin reassured Kuvira, afterwards sighing longingly. "Do you want to know what I see around us, Kuvira? I see wood. Wood is immovable, and cannot be bent by earthbenders. It contains nothing that we can grasp, no impurity that we can connect to, and will not budge to our bending in any way." She leant in closer, "But when I see you, I do not see a girl made of the same material. You have been moved, and will be moved for the better. The fact that you feel guilt and sorrow for what you've done is a testament to that. And I know that you will live long enough to see your freedom, because I know that you strive to not only atone for what you've done but also to have a fresh start, and do good. I believe in you, but you also have to believe in yourself."
A small nod was all Kuvira could manage after her mentor's words. Suyin had hit the nail on the head; Kuvira did feel enormous regret and guilt for what she had done, and she longed for the day when she could make things right. And although redemption was a long process, Kuvira now realized that it was even possible for her.
So I know there have already been a few Suyin entries for round 8 of the Fanonbender's contest, but I suppose that just means she's everyone's favourite character (at least she's one of mine). I had an idea to write something about Kuvira since I felt that the finale of book 4 was a little rushed, though I hope we see some more closure with Kuvira in the comics. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it :)
- Kuvira's reaction she had to 'hibiscus root' is exactly how I reacted when it was mentioned in the show.
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