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|More from Kyra+Kuzon||Adventure||PG||9.0||Done|
I plunged under the water
A soldier flung his foot at my chest, I blocked it and returned the attack with a couple heated punches to the leg. The soldier stumbled back and collapsed crippled by my blows. I stepped to help him back up, but stopped when I heard clapping behind me.
I whipped around; My heart raced as I was flung back to the day Ozai summoned me to the palace. Zuko was leaning against the doorway leading to the deck. He pushed himself upright and strode toward me.
"Zuko, thank you for gracing us with your presence," I said sarcastically and adding an unnecessarily low bow to the blend.
"How are the soldiers progressing?" Zuko inquired, smugly expecting my failure.
"They are learning quickly and will easily handle the next attack on this ship," I replied smiling.
Zuko nodded; "I was also wondering the effect of practicing Firebreathing indoors."
I shrugged, "I would expect that without the Sun's power it wouldn't do anything to strengthen your bending, just make you calmer."
Zuko frowned slightly, "thanks," he said curtly, obviously, disappointed that it wouldn't strengthen his bending. That made me smile, "What are you smiling at?!?" Zuko demanded.
I forced my face to straighten, "Nothing, your highness," I claimed seriously.
Zuko scowled and trudged off the deck.
Zuko, Zuko, you never cease to amuse me.
I bounced onto my bed; I had done everything. I had practiced Firebending and Archery, trained, Firebreathed, and made numerous trips to the kitchens. I had memorized every nook and cranny of this hunk of metal. I sighed; who knew tracking the Avatar would be so boring.
A tingle burst from my cheek, an itch. I scrunched my face and scratched my cheek vigorously. Once the itching subsided, I went to fold my arms, but saw my fingertips topped red, blood.
I sighed again, how many times would I have to reopen my scratch before I finally remembered it was there. I stood and walked to my mirror, my shoulders slumped at the sight of my cheek. Blood was smeared every which way, I was a nasty sight.
I reached for my pitcher of water, but remembered that I had drank all of its contents in my boredom. I certainly couldn't walk around the ship in my state, anyone I encountered would faint at the sight of me.
I looked over at one of the clean wash clothes. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. I grabbed the wash cloth and stuck a corner in my mouth. My only wish was that everyone would just forget me for a few more minutes.
I rushed to moisten the cloth and clean my cheek. I gently dabbed the blood and cleaned the reopened scratch.
No sooner had I finished when a knock clanged at my door. I almost cheered with joy at my good luck. "Come in," I said warmly.
Iroh entered the door tentatively, "Kyza, I have just come from a meeting. It was to try and pinpoint where the Avatar might be and where he might be going."
I nodded, "And?"
"And we have no idea where the Avatar is," he rushed, "we are going to dock at the next harbor and wait until we hear news of the Avatar."
More good news! I had been longing to explore more of the Earth Kingdom and escape the boredom of the ship. But it would be foolish to let Iroh and Zuko know of my childish plot.
So I shook my head, "Is there no way to search for the Avatar?"
"None," Iroh confirmed solemnly.
I sighed and slumped my shoulders, "as much as I want to keep tracking the Avatar, I guess this is the only thing we can do."
Iroh nodded his head sympathetically, "I fear you are right. Well, I must leave you, Zuko is yet to learn the bad news."
"Thank your for telling me," I thanked with a slight nod.
Iroh turned to the door, but before he left he looked at me and winked. He knew! Did he? Oh, well, it didn't look like he was going to stop me for wanting to explore the Earth Kingdom.
I almost squealed with excitement...on the inside. On the outside my face showed the expression of indifference.
My quiver was slung over my shoulder and my bow was clasped in my hand. I told Zuko that I was going to fish around for rumors of the Avatar. I wandered the streets looking from stall to stall. I was so mesmerized I almost didn't notice the hostile atmosphere...almost.
Windows closed with Slams! Mothers and their children avoided me with a ten-foot radius. Elders whispered in hushed tones upon my arrival. Well, I didn't know what I expected, a warm welcome to someone trained lethally in the arts of Archery and Fire?
A small head poked around the corner ahead of me, a little girl. My heart was crushed at the sight of this child, her eyes were sunk, but green eyes sparkled. Her face was deflated and malnutrition was written all over it.
I looked to my right a stand was selling fresh bread and the aroma filled the street. Perfect! I traded with the nervous stall owner. I accepted the warm loaf that was wrapped in a forest green cloth. I turned back to the girl, but found an empty street.
I peeped around the corner where I had last seen the little girl. I saw the little girl playing with her brothers at the bottom of some steps where a mother sit rocking a crying infant in her arms.
Was this the war? Was this what happens when the Fire Nation takes over the other nations? No, this city hasn't been taken yet, the Fire Nation makes things better. The Fire Nation will bring prosperity and well-being to all. I convinced myself that the war was good. It is good. We fight to bring peace to all.
The mother that sat on the steps looked my way, our eyes met. She glared at me with fury and hate that I had never seen. She called to her children and they hurried inside their small shack. She handed the baby to one of the older children, and returned to her glare.
"Leave," she whispered.
I walked to the end of steps, "I thought you would want this," I said placing the loaf on one of the steps and uncovering the fresh bread.
The mother's expression softened, but only for a moment. "Leave," she repeated, "your not welcome here. We don't want Fire Nation murderers walking our streets."
Fire Nation Murderer?!? "Look lady, I only saw your little girl and thought she was hun--" I tried to explain.
"I said...LEAVE!!" she thundered, and Earthbended one of the steps at me; I was unprepared for the attack. The step hit my right side and knocked me into the wall opposite of the mother.
Like lightning I had an arrow pointed at the mother's heart. The mother stood, stance ready to attempt to deflect my blow. Her eyes were set in concentration, but they couldn't hide her terror.
I lowered my bow, "just take the bread, you need it." I turned and walked out of the street.
I limped along the harbor, the Sun was beginning its descent. Walking out of the street had been easy, I was still energized by Adrenaline, but as I walked the pain became greater and greater.
I finally made it back to the ship and luckily to my room. I collapsed onto my bed the pain so great that even breathing became nearly impossible. Anger and sadness welled inside me, why? I was only trying to help. Why? How had these people been turned against the people who wanted to bring peace to the world?
A sudden knock at my door made me jump; then yelp from the jolting. The door swung open to reveal Iroh, whose eyes widened at the sight of me.
"What happened?" he asked, his voice no louder than an awed whisper.
"I was only trying to he--," I gasped, talking was more painful than breathing.
"You can tell me later," he reassured, "I'll go get the physician."
He left, leaving me to my pain.
Thousand of thoughts raced through my mind; how could I be so weak? I have been hit with a couple of rocks before! Rhea would be ashamed of me.
Iroh returned in what seemed like an eternity.
The physician quickly set to work prodding my ribs, which began a series of painful cries and angry threats. After he had poked every inch of my wound, he reported his findings.
"She has several bruised ribs, but I fear the damage went deeper than I can detect," he revealed sympathetically, "they will take a couple of weeks to heal."
"Is there anything you can give me?" I asked worried, I had soldiers to train, Firebending to practice.
"I can give you something to ease the pain and a wrap to support your abdomen so you can do daily tasks, but they will prolong the healing process, several weeks could easily turn to several months. The best remedy is to rest for a couple weeks," he advised.
I scowled, "rest, I don't have time to rest. I have soldiers to train, an Avatar to capture!" my voice rose, but turned into a yelp of pain. I sighed, but that only brought more pain, "give me the poultice and wrap."
"As you wish, but you really have to take it easy the next couple weeks," he told me.
I nodded; maybe Firebreathing would help me to heal. I looked to Iroh, his face furrowed with worry. For me? No, maybe he hadn't heard any word of the Avatar.
The physician left to get the poultice and wrap leaving me and Iroh alone.
"Iroh? Has there been any news of the Avatar?" I asked hoping for some good news.
"Yes, actually that was why I came to find you," he said his expression lightening considerably, "The Avatar has been heard to be on Kyoshi Island."
My face fell; Kyoshi Island? Of all the places!
Iroh looked at me questioningly. "It's nothing," I said rolling my eyes, "thank you Iroh for getting the physician, but apparently I need to rest."
Iroh smiled and left me.
As soon as he left my head fell to my pillow. So much for good news. A few years ago Regis took me to several places in the Earth Kingdom to learn different styles of fighting. He believed that the more fighting I learned the better I would get at Firebending.
One of the places he took me was Kyoshi Island; apparently the leader of Kyoshi Island, Oyaji, owed Regis a favor. I stayed with Oyaji and trained with Kyoshi Warriors for a few weeks. One of the members, Suki and I battled for the top spot of the class.
I couldn't go and tear apart her village to find the Avatar. I would have to think of something to convince Zuko to wait until the Avatar left Kyoshi.
My mind brewed with ideas, but the day had taken its toll on me. I fell asleep with schemes, plots, and plans swirling in my head.
The next morning I woke stiff and sore. I forced myself to sit upright and stretch; a quick look around the room and I found the poultice and wrap on my small table. After a few minutes desire for the painkiller and the wrap outweighed the desire to sit still for the next few weeks.
The mixture of herbs seemed to soothe the bruise as soon as I placed on my ribs. The wrap helped even more, giving my middle support to stand relatively straight. I walked a few laps around my room, the pain was still present, but it was bearable.
I walked up to the control cabin; climbing the stairs was a real challenge. I grabbed any railings that were available.
At the top of the final staircase I was out of breath, but breathing quickly was out of the question. I forced myself to take longer breaths, a painful process, but in the long run, made breathing easier. I swung the door open to find Zuko arguing about the fastest route to Kyoshi Island.
"Zuko," I interrupted the argument, "we are heading to Kyoshi Island?"
"Yes," he growled in a bad mood.
"Have you ever heard of the Unagi?" I questioned with a tone of indifference.
"No, Kyza, I haven't please enlighten me," he replied curtly.
"The Unagi is a carnivorous eel that lives in the Bay of Kyoshi Island and feeds on almost anything. But I heard that the citizens of Kyoshi trained the eel to track down and attack any Fire Nation ship that sails too close to the island. That's how they have avoided the war this long." I was bluffing, mostly, there really was a Unagi, but it didn't track ships.
Zuko grunted his eyes still glued to the map. Stage two, I told myself.
"Have you heard of the Kyoshi Warriors?" I asked in the same voice as before.
Zuko just grunted again.
"The Kyoshi Warriors are an elite group of women that fight to defend their home Kyoshi Island. They are as lethal as any Firebender and have the cunning worthy of only the highest ranking admirals." I spoke with pride of my old acquaintances. I glanced over at Zuko; he was still studying his stupid map.
"I just hope that you know what you're doing," I said disappointed that my plan had failed. "Kyoshi Islanders are not to be reckoned with. Maybe you should just wait until the Avatar leaves Kyoshi and ambush him once he lands."
Still no response.
"Regis brought me to train with them for a few weeks and trust me I doubt many benders would be able to overcome them," I said exaggerating only slightly.
"Good, then, you'll know how to defeat them," Zuko responded finally.
"That's not what I'm saying!" I exclaimed frustrated.
"Then, what are you saying?" he asked tearing his eyes from his map.
"I'm saying that I can't just go and destroy a peaceful village so we can capture the Avatar that we can ambush later!"
Zuko looked at me; his eyes narrowed, "I'm sorry, but that would take time that I'm not willing to take."
I clenched my teeth, one; to help my pain that had flared, and two; to keep me from wreaking havoc. I looked back at Zuko, but his eyes were already back on his precious map. I scowled and lit the map on Fire with a subtle flick of the wrist.
Zuko watched as the Fire consumed his map, he looked up at me, eyes burning in fury.
I matched his glare, "I will not help you tear apart a peaceful island to catch a twelve year-old boy."
I turned at stalked out of the Control Deck.
I think that it's safe to say that my plan did not work. I sat in my room sulking over my failure, and planning a new strategy.
At the end of several hours I had only one plan. Based on mainly luck and involved lots of pain on my part. Not to mention the aftermath of my actions would probably lead to my execution.
I took a deep breath of salty sea air and wondered how cold the water was. I put an extra dose of painkiller on my ribs, but I was still pretty sure it would be washed away in the water.
I climbed onto the railing; I had never learned how to dive, but I assumed it was simple enough, just land as aerodynamically as possible. I tried not to think about how difficult swimming would be.
Air whirled past me in a blur. I plunged under the water, it was cold, but that wasn't as noticeable as the rigid pain that streaked through my body. I swam to the surface as fast as I could.
I broke the surface and floated, breathing in and out, trying to reduce the pain. I looked around; bright lights lit the shore about a mile away. Kyoshi.
I grabbed my ribs with one hand, to offer more support, and tried to awkwardly swim toward the shore.
In one heart clenching moment I remembered the Unagi and hoped that he was sleeping peacefully at the bottom of the bay, with a stomach full of koi fish.
I finally made it to shore, there was nothing more wonderful than feeling solid ground beneath me. I crawled up the shore; I was so tired. I looked up at the stars, they seemed to swirl in the night sky. Watching them made my eyes droop, I closed them for a moment. It felt so nice to just lay there with my eyes closed...
Something poked me in the side. It kind of hurt. Ouch! There it was again. I opened my eyes, a white face stared back at me. I jumped; it was Suki. I laughed, "Suki! You made me jump out of my skin."
Suki didn't join me, she looked concerned, "why are you here, Kyza?"
"Hello to you too," I pushed myself into a sitting position. "I have come to tell you that Zuko is coming to attack your village."
"You must tell the Avatar, he is in the Oyaj--"
"No! I mustn't see the Avatar. I am on a mission to capture him, if I see him I would be bound by honor to pursue him. Just prepare yourselves he attacks at noonday."
"Why?" she asked confusion of my actions.
"I am loyal to my nation, they mean good, but I couldn't let Zuko rip your village apart."
Suki nodded; my nationality was always a forbidden subject when we were training. Her eyes glanced down to my hand, still cradling my side. "You're wounded," she observed, "How?"
"Long story," I grunted, "if you could help me up, that would be great."
Suki scrambled to help me up, she brushed some of the sand off of my clothes. "Our healer will give you a mixture to place on your wound, it will ease the pain," she assured as she helped me limp along the road.
My heart flew at the thought of more of the painkiller.
As we entered the village I looked around briefly, not wanting to spot the Avatar. It was just as I left it, villagers mostly dressed in blue with the occasional green uniform of a Kyoshi Warrior.
I focused on walking, it seemed to speed my pace. Suki led me into the healer's home. It smelled like herbs and fragrant smoke. Suki laid me down on a cushioned bench. She left to find the healer and tell him what I needed.
When she returned she said, "he will help you and keep you hidden during the attack."
I shook my head, "I'm going to help you."
"Kyza, look at you," she said gesturing to my ribs, "you can't fight in this condition. Anyway, you can't battle your own people."
"I don't care, I'll..." I began.
"You'll do what?! You'll be charged with treason! That's what you'll do!!" Suki reasoned voice rising. She took a deep breath, "just stay here you'll be safe and then we can return you to your ship."
Then, she left. I huffed angrily, and awaited the arrival of the healer.
"Come out, Avatar!" Zuko yelled across the village, "you can't hide forever!"
I scowled; though he was speaking to the Avatar, it felt like the words were meant for me. Me, hiding like a cowering mouse.
I heard him say something else, but I couldn't hear it. I couldn't stand this. I held my breath and stood from the bench. The healer was peeking out the curtained window. I grabbed a small piece of wood, stuck it in my mouth. And easily sneaked out the backdoor, even with my disability.
Outside there was a tree that conveniently led to the roof of the healer's house. I bit down hard on the piece of wood, it helped me climb the tree fairly quickly. I reached the roof in time to catch Zuko's surprised gaze, just before some of Suki's comrades ambushed a few guards.
I watched unsure what to do now that I had freed myself from the healer. The Kyoshi Warriors fought my guards and I saw Suki charge Zuko. She dodged two of his blows, but was hit by Zuko's rhino. A strange looking Warrior blocked a blast of fire from Zuko.
Suki and her friend rushed over to Zuko who had been knocked off his rhino. He quickly made space for himself by Firebending, throwing the three off-balance. Zuko leaped back to the middle of the road.
He glanced at me, wondering why I hadn't aided him. But he returned his attention to the Avatar, "Nice try, Avatar! But these little girls can't save you."
"Hey! Over Here!" a voice sounded in the opposite direction. I looked away, knowing it was the Avatar.
Zuko and the Avatar fought each other and it came to me what I could do. I folded my legs, and began to Firebreathe. I quickly located most of the guards. I couldn't cause them too much injury, but I could dwindle their power to even the odds a little.
I took deep breaths, I drained the guards Fire power. It filled me with energy that I had been lacking. Several of the guards were rendered powerless, I continued to drain the others of their Flame.
But I soon ran into another problem. I couldn't handle all the incoming energy, I had to release some in form of a Fire, or else I would self-combust into a human Fireball. My heart panicked; I release some Heat, it hit a nearby building. I released more and more energy, it all hit several building and one hit the wooden statue of Kyoshi, a previous Avatar.
I opened my eyes, all the guards had stopped fighting and were marveling the Fires that had lit the village. The Kyoshi Warriors downed the guards easily. A giant white beast flew past the healer's house.
I watched the beast fly away from the island, two other passengers were in the saddle of the giant, by the color of their clothes one was a Waterbender and the other...was a Kyoshi Warrior! How could this be?
"Back to the ship! Don't lose sight of them!" Zuko commanded the recovered guards. I lept off the roof with a painful Thud! I bit harder on the wood in my mouth. I started to run after Zuko, but was stopped by a furious Suki.
"I TOLD you to Stay at the HEALER'S!!" she seethed. "I saw you on the roof, I saw what you did to my village! You claim to be here to help, but you really just came here to help Zuko sabotage my home!"
"I drained the guards of their energy." I tried to explain, "the Warriors dispatched of them easily."
"Ha! No one possesses that kind of power!" She said, her anger losing its momentum. Suki sighed, "Leave," she whispered.
I was reminded of the Earthbender Mother. "What? No, I was just trying to help!"
"Leave, Kyza, I never want to see you again. Not after what you have done to my village, my home." She seemed pained to say those words. As if she dreaded the day she would have to say them. As if she knew she would say them.
I nodded solemnly.
As I ran down the path to the ship I could still see the giant flying beast. A small dot fell from the beast, it was the Avatar.
The Avatar plunged into the bay, all was still for a moment before the Unagi emerged with the Avatar its rider. The Unagi opened its mouth to spray water on Suki's village, putting out the Fires I had made.
Water rained down on me, upon touching my skin it sizzled on my skin making small wisps of steam. I felt my arm, it was burning to the touch. I had to cool myself off, before something extremely bad happened.
I ran/limped to the sea, the water boiled around my skin. I released all the excess energy into the ocean. The bay boiled near me for a few more moments, before returning to its normal push and pull.
I quickly ran to catch up with Zuko. I reached the ship just at it was closing up for chase. I walked inside, and was surprised to find the rhinos already stabled. I returned to my quarters. I laid on my bed waiting for Zuko to barge in threatening to do something unspeakably horrible to me for disobeying his orders.
But he never came.
Only a fool would think that someone could pull off the stunts that I did, and not get caught.
I was not a fool.
I knew my punishment would come.
For the collective works of the author, go here.