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|The Serpent's Pass|
January 10, 2014
Chapter 6: The Serpent's Pass
"This doesn't really look like a serpent to me," I said to Chi-Ji as I was looking up at the high cliffs and sheer face of the path. They looked menacing in the light of just the moon. "It looks like a mountain."
Chi-Ji giggled. "It's called the Serpent's Pass because there was a sea serpent, much like the Unagi, that guarded the path. The Serpent's spirit was long ago tamed by Avatar Aang. No one has seen the Serpent since then, but the path is dangerous regardless. No one uses it."
"So why are we?" I asked.
"Full Moon Bay is a long swim for anyone, including a Waterbender. It's fourteen miles across," She said, hinting at the fact that she might be smarter than me.
"If I could get into the Avatar State, then I co-"
"No. We aren't using the Avatar State. That's for emergencies only. We're walking across so no one can follow. Also, it's nighttime," she said. She started walking on the path, "We'll be fine." I just shrugged and started following her.
As the path led us higher and higher, the sky also got darker and darker. Chi-Ji walked at a normal pace, but I started to slow down. She stopped for a second, "Are you coming?" She shouted.
"I can't see a thing, Chi-Ji!" I shouted back to her.
"Oh yeah. I almost forgot!" She said, lighting a tiny, blue fire in her hand. When I caught up to her, she giggled. "Here," she said. She dropped a flame into my hand, and it turned the regular orange. When it didn't burn my hand, she smiled. "Now all you have to do is give it a little fuel. So get emotional. And remember to breathe."
I played with the fire a little bit. I threw it from hand to hand. I started laughing. Chi-Ji laughed along with me. "C'mon! We need to keep going. We have to catch our airship."
"So where are we going?" I asked.
Chi-Ji's smile faded. She seemed wary. She opened her mouth and floundered around for words. "I don't think I'm supposed to tell you," whispered.
My immediate response was to freak out. The flame got much bigger. "What do you mean? Did Stella tell you that?"
"Not directly," she answered. "I just think it'd be a bad thing to say."
"Well, why don't you tell me who Stella thinks broke into the palace?"
"It wasn't just the palace."
"Come on, Chi-Ji. You're not telling the Avatar," I said.
"What I have been told, is to protect you at all costs. I think telling you would leave you vulnerable," she countered.
"What was taken from the palace?"
"Nothing," Chi-Ji said.
"Okay. So why are we leaving?"
"You keep asking me the same question in a different way!" Chi-Ji shouted, "I'm not going to change my answer."
"Just tell me the truth, Chi-Ji!"
"I'm just trying to protect you!" She shouted back.
"From what?" I yelled back in her face. I turned around and started to sulk back toward the city.
"From me," a womanly voice said from behind Chi-Ji. I immediately popped the catch on my water skin as I turned around.
A woman had a dagger up against Chi-Ji's neck. "Not another sound, Princess. If you struggle, I'll kill you. And put that stupid water skin away." Chi-Ji stopped immediately.
"What do you want with the Princess?" I asked, not moving even an inch.
"I don't want anything with her. I want you," The woman said.
I finally got a good look at the woman. Her hair was dark and her eyes were a deep brown. Her lips were a dark purple color, like blood. She was wearing dark jeans, a black, long-sleeve shirt, and a leather jacket. I briefly saw the insignia on the blade in her hand. SuJina.
"If I go with you, will you leave the Princess alone?" I asked. Chi-Ji looked at me. Her silent no was louder than if she would have shouted it. The woman smiled. She released Chi-Ji and put the knife away. Chi-Ji fell on her knees, her royal head piece fell out of her bun.
"I can promise you that. For now," the woman said.
"Alright, then. Let's go, SuJina," I said. I tilted my head toward the walls, which were still visible.
"SuJin isn't my name." The woman said quietly, sounding more tired than menacing.
"Okay, then what is it?" I said, thinking about how I must have stuck my foot in my mouth.
"Kohanna," the woman said.
"You're Southern Water Tribe?"
"No more talking!" The woman snapped. "Get out of here, Princess." Chi-Ji nodded, her eyes filled with horror. I'll be back, she mouthed. I'll be fine I mouthed back. She didn't seem convinced, but she ran toward the city anyway. I turned and looked at Kohanna as she watched Chi-Ji go.
"Hold on to my waist, Avatar," Kohanna said. I shot her a look, like 'oh heck no.' She sighed. "Fine. We'll do this the hard way," She added. Kohanna scooped me up, wedding style, and before I could react, threw herself off the cliff.
We must have fell a couple of thousand feet. But she didn't look concerned. In fact, she looked totally bored. Then, just as I braced myself to submerge, she put a toe to the water and landed on her feet. "You're a... Waterbender?" I asked.
"No, I just jumped off a cliff and safely landed in choppy water," she said sarcastically.
"Oh," I said.
"You can walk on this, can't you?" Kohanna asked.
"Yeah," I said. Kohanna put me down, after waving her hand to make a clear place for me to stand. "Where are we going?" I asked.
"This way, Avatar," she said quietly, pointing to the south. "Follow me."
We began walking across the water slowly. "Are you sure you don't wanna fight?" Kohanna asked. We walked for a few more moments before I answered. I was hoping that she thought I was carefully considering it.
Kohanna didn't seem fooled. "Nah. I'm a little tired," I said.
Kohanna smirked. "That was my excuse, too," she said.
"What do you mean?"
"What?" I asked.
"Nothing! You sure talk a lot," Kohanna said. Her phrase indicated annoyance but her face didn't show it.
"So where are we going?" I asked, trying to be less annoying.
"I wish I knew."
"You don't know?"
"I'm just taking you to my boss," Kohanna answered.
"Who is he?" I asked. "Or she," I added, to be respectful. Then I thought, what am I doing? Being polite to my captor? I really am desensitized.
"I can't tell you that," Kohanna whispered. She seemed sad. I could see that she was somewhat emotional because the water around her wasn't as placid as it was before. She didn't talk for a long time after that. She just kept walking.
"Can I ask you something?" I asked her quietly.
"You just did," Kohanna answered.
"I mean another one."
"Why are you doing this work if it makes you sad?"
"I have a duty, Avatar."
"Well, yeah. But what is it?"
"You know how it is, right? That's what I have to do. I owe someone," Kohanna said.
I was annoyed: She didn't answer my question. Chi-Ji's secretive behavior had already made me angry.
Kohanna wasn't scared or even scary, I decided. She just had an idea of servitude. She was trying to prove herself to someone. But to whom?
I had thought that I was going to make a perfect getaway. Evading multiple attackers, dodging arrows. Bending all the elements like a mega-awesome Avatar. Kicking someone's butt. Things that would make me feel exhilarated and make myself proud. But now, I could barely think of trying to escape from this woman. She needed me to prove herself. "Kohanna, you don't have to go back to this person. I can make you safe."
Kohanna snorted. "I wouldn't be safe anywhere, Avatar. I'm a criminal. I should be in the Boiling Rock right now locked up with the other scum and the crazies. Actually, I probably should be dead. I got a reward on me larger than the Beifongs' bank account."
"What have you done that's so terrible?"
"Depends on who you ask. And in what city. And under what name."
"So, is Kohanna your real name?"
"No," she said. "But it's the name I like. And the one my father gave me."
"So you have another name?"
I did a double take. "I didn't tell you my name."
"Your friend said it," Kohanna said.
"Not my name," I said. "Unless you watching me Firebend."
"I just knew your name, okay?"
I decided not to push it.
"Are we there yet?" I asked, trying not to make the usually annoying-question sound annoying.
"In a few minutes. Our yacht is up there," Kohanna said. She pointed at a faint light on the horizon.
"I travel in style, kid," Kohanna explained. "My boss provides for me."
"So, is he famous?" I asked.
"No. But he's very rich. He's an investor in a medicinal corporation. He's also a doctor," she said. "Mostly on a volunteer basis, but he's paid by the government of his home."
"A volunteer doctor who dabbles in shady business ventures?" I asked.
"Yeah, I guess"
"Do I get to meet him?"
"No. It's too unsafe. You'll meet one of his associates, though.
"Okay," I answered.
"Why aren't you scared?" Kohanna asked, looking at me like I was crazy.
"Am I supposed to be?"
"Well, I just had a knife to the Fire Princess's neck. I would be scared."
"Scare tactics are not effective with me. I don't get scared about myself. It's other people I get scared about," I admitted.
"Don't you realize that you could be telling this to an enemy?" Kohanna asked, giving me the 'are you crazy' look again.
"I don't care."
"Look, kid, I want you to turn around and go back to Ba Sing Se. Tell everyone that you beat up a woman called Nami," she said.
"But why?" I asked.
"Nami is my real name," she said.
"I'm not going to tell them that."
"Just listen to me, Taylor. My boss will not be kind to you. And you will meet him when you become a fully realized Avatar. He'd kill you if he met you now," Kohanna explained.
"So you're letting me go?"
"What about your duty?"
"Don't worry about me." Kohanna said, "Just go."
Kohanna made a large wave and pushed it at me. I stumbled backward and fell underwater. I just let myself sink for a minute. When I poked my head up above water, Kohanna was gone and so was the ship. So I turned around and swam back to Ba Sing Se, hoping the danger was gone.
But when I got to the city, things had just gotten worse.
Behind the Scenes!
- Most of the names in Tales of Yukio are Korean. The rest are either made up, or Japanese.
- SuJin is a recycled name. The author used it in two different fanons on the site. See Fanon: Acala.
- SuJin is the name of one of the author's past Korean foreign exchange students.
- In the Korean language, adding an "a" sound to the name means that the person is a female friend or a sister.
- Kohanna's original name was going to be Mina, but Mina is a common name in another fandom. Ironically, Kohanna's real name, Nami, is also a common name in another fandom.
- Kohanna works for the Independent Nation. The Independent Nation was introduced in Chapter 3.
- Chi-Ji doesn't actually know where she is taking Taylor. She also doesn't know what is happening in Ba Sing Se.
For the collective works of the author, go here.