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Stolen is the second chapter of.
The Jasmine Dragon
Liang sighed and tied his apron at the back. The Jasmine Dragon was pretty popular in Ba Sing Se, but it was quiet today. There were only a couple tables with customers in the shop. The owner of the shop, Iroh, was animatedly chatting to one of his customers, heating up their tea with small demonstrations of his Firebending. It had been two days since the spirit in the moon had shown herself to him, but he hadn't acted on it – how could he? He was eleven years old! He couldn't Earthbend and he'd never even picked up a sword. How was he supposed to get all the way to Kyoshi Island?
Iroh finished his conversation and came over to him. "What is the matter, Liang? You seem very down today. Perhaps a cup of tea would cheer you up?" he offered, pouring a cup of hot jade tea.
"No, thank you, sir," Liang said, refusing the tea. "I'm just a little stressed lately, that's all."
"Yes. I can tell. But when the mouse is in peril, often his best course of action is to squeak."
"Excuse me, sir?"
Iroh leaned close and smiled broadly. "It means you should talk about it."
Liang smiled. The old man liked his riddles. "There's this... woman. She wants me to go somewhere far away, but I don't think I can get there by myself. I'm only one kid and can't fight at all, but she seemed so desperate for me to go to Kyoshi. Like it was really important."
"And would this woman happen to be the moon?" said Iroh. Liang's eyes widened with shock and confusion, but Iroh laughed loudly with his hands on his belly, breaking his tension. "I always knew you had a touch of destiny about you, Liang. Why else do you think I let you work in my teashop?"
"I thought it was because I made good tea."
"No. Your tea is mediocre at best."
"But, that's okay, because it is not your destiny to make tea. Your destiny lies far away from here on..." Iroh paused and looked confused for a moment. "Where did you say she told you to go?"
"Kyoshi Island," Liang repeated.
Iroh resumed. "Yes, your destiny lies on Kyoshi."
"But how am I supposed to get there, sir? I can't go by myself."
Iroh stoked his beard and rubbed his belly as he thought. "Oh! There is a boy in town! He's going to Kyoshi too; I overheard him when he was drinking his tea. Maybe he can help you."
"Sounds like a great idea – did you catch his name?"
"Wuoyan. You better hurry, Liang, he was supposed to leave Ba Sing Se today."
Liang nodded enthusiastically, ripping off his apron. "Thank you! I have to go!" He started to run for the door.
"Liang!" Iroh called after him.
Liang stopped and turned to face the old man.
"The frost will come, young one, and when it does, look it dead in the eye."
Liang was confused, but he was in too much of a hurry to question the riddle. "Thank you, Iroh, sir. I'll see you when I get back."
Iroh smiled and sipped his tea. "No, you won't," he muttered.
The Western Air Temple
Aang cradled the baby Diyi gently as he animatedly told her the long held traditions of the Air Nomads. He talked at length of their great temples, their sky bison, and their gliders. He talked about Air Ball and Monk Gyatso and why Airbenders get tattoos all over their bodies. He spoke for hours and hours to the infant, despite the fact he knew she couldn't understand a word he was saying.
"Aang," came Katara's voice from behind him. He turned around and she was smiling broadly. "You know, I'm sure Farsi and Ran would like to see their daughter once in a while."
"Right. Yeah. Sorry... it's just so excited, Katara. Everything I've worked for, for ten years, it'll all right here."
"I know, Aang, but she's still someone's daughter. Come on, let's take her back," she smiled, placing her hand on Aang's shoulder.
"All our hopes and dreams lie with a girl, who isn't even three days old," Aang said, smiling broadly into the baby's bright blue eyes.
The Outskirts of Ba Sing Se
The great walls of Ba Sing Se stood tall and proud around the outskirts of the city like great monuments to the strength of the Earth Kingdom. Liang ran up to them as fast as he could, running up to anyone he could asking for a boy by the name of Wuoyan. Eventually, a helpful merchant directed him towards the Northern Gate as soon as Liang bought a cabbage from him.
"He just left," said the gate guard when Liang asked him as he ran up to the gate. "Let me through!" cried Liang. The guard punched the air a few times and a chunk of solid wall sunk into the floor, letting Liang ran out of the Great City for the first time on his own.
The fields beyond the city were vast and seemingly endless. There was a long, straight path that went out as far as the eye could see and a long way up it was a lone figure, dressed in a dark red, walking slowly up the path.
"Hey! Hey!" Liang yelled, running after the figure as fast as he could.
Wuoyan turned around. He must have been about fourteen and was quite tall for his age. His hair was cropped short and he wore the dark red clothes of the Fire Nation. "And who might ya be?" he said, with a deep strong voice, but it wasn't unfriendly.
"I heard you were going to Kyoshi Island. I need to get there too, can I come with you?"
"Ah, you're too scared to travel on your own, aren't ya?" Wuoyan said, laughing boisterously. "What will ya be paying me?"
"Well, apparently ya want me to play bodyguard and as much as ya seem like a nice kid, I ain't gonna do it for nothin'."
Liang panicked. He didn't have any money – well, not enough to pay for a bodyguard anyway. He thought quickly and lied. "I'm going to visit my rich uncle in Kyoshi – I can pay you a nice big sum when we get there."
Wuoyan smiled. "Haha! Alright, kid, you've got yourself a deal 'cause I'm going there anyway, but it better be a hefty chunk of cash."
Liang nodded, still out of breath from catching up to him.
Wuoyan chuckled at him. "Alright, I've got a boat waiting at Full Moon Bay. C'mon," they began to walk down the path, up towards the lake.
"So," said Liang, after breathing again. "You're from the Fire Nation?"
"Yup. You gotta problem with that?"
"Not really, I don't remember the War at all. But if you're from the Fire Nation, why are you heading to Kyoshi Island?"
"Lookin' to improve my sword skills is all. Kyoshi's home to one of the great swordmasters, y'know, and I could use a little extra training."
Liang noticed the two long knives sheathed in a criss-cross pattern across his back. They looked high quality – the hilts were lined with shiny black leather. "You're not a bender?"
Wuoyan looked at him. "Whatsa matter? Ya scared of firebenders?"
"No. My boss is a firebender; it's just that you carry yourself like you can beat anything. Like you're invincible. Normally only benders do that."
"Ha. You're more perceptive than ya look, kid. Well, I'm sorta a firebender. Sorta not."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"This journey is long and dangerous, kid. I feel like ya'll find out 'ventually."
Liang took that as the signal to shut up and walked quietly towards the boat.
In the Dark of the Night
It was night in the Western Air Temple and unlike two nights before, the whole temple was quiet and dark as the whole population of New Nomads dreamed of the hopeful days to come. Aang was no exception; he slept peacefully and dreamt of the future with Katara sleeping quietly next to him. But, as quiet as the temple was, it was not still.
Footsteps fell and a deep dark mist spread across the floor, silently creeping across the temple. Seven figures of solid shadow stepped silently through the corridor, towards where the Avatar was sleeping.
The shadows slipped into the bedroom, through the small curtain that separated it from the corridor. The seven stepped closer. One extended his dark hand...
Aang leaped out of bed, quicker than lightning and sent a dazzling blast of flame from his fist out toward one of the shadows. It hurtled back from the blast, spinning in mid-air and into the wall, where it exploded into nothing.
Katara was awake then; the water from the vase of flowers on the bedside table was spinning around her hand. "Aang! The baby!"
The Avatar flipped and dodged past a shadow as pillars of rock erupted from the floor and crushed it up against the ceiling of the room. It exploded as well as he made it to the corridor pursued by the five shadows. Diyi's room was at the end of the corridor – five doors down.
Water snaked from Katara's room and wrapped around a shadow's neck, yanking it back inside at full force. Aang ran down the corridor, spinning on the spot and firing dozens of small darts of flame down towards the remaining four. They dodged and darted, jumping onto the walls and ceilings to avoid his attack. They pounced towards him hands outstretched, but Aang made a quick motion with his hands and a gust of air knocked two hard into the wall. Another quick motion and clench of his fist and the wall engulfed and crushed them into nothing.
Two shadows left and Aang was still three doors away from Diyi's room. He stopped in his tracks and sliced his arms in a cross in front of him. Two razor-sharp slashes of air leaped from them and cleaved a shadow into four. The final shade closed in, but the Avatar was ready, with a thought, he sucked the moisture from the air and formed dozens of long pointed icicles from the air. A moment later and the last shadow was impaled from the wall – trapped, but not dead.
"Who are you?" growled Aang.
It was featureless; there was no face, only blackness. It whispered from nothing. "A distraction."
Aang was gone; running down the corridor faster than he'd thought possible. He ran into Diyi's room, the wall was gone – there was nothing more than a massive hole there. Ran and Farsi were unconscious, but alive, in a corner covered in rubble and dust. The crib was knocked over and the blankets strewn across the rocky floor.
Diyi was gone.
"NO!" Aang screamed at the world and the sound of his fury cracked the walls and made every candle in the temple blaze like an inferno.
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For the collective works of the author, go here.
|Child of Destiny Chapters|
Book 1: Fear
The First Airbender - Stolen - Sharks and Sea Serpents - Asylum Seeker - The Swordmaster of Kyoshi Island - Cold Snap - Due North - Better to Have Loved and Lost - Wrath of the Blackened Blade - Water's Fall
Book 2: Anger