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|The Battle at Pohuai Stronghold, Pt. 2|
Chapter 6: The Battle at Pohuai Stronghold, Pt. 2
Tyro stepped in Long Feng's path as he walked away from Arnook's corpse. "You'll go no further today."
Long Feng cocked his head, delighted at the prospects of an easy victory. "My, my...Kuei is really scraping the bottom of the barrel."
"Says the man who is beaten and bruised."
Tyro smiled grimly as he lifted a cabbage cart sized rock and sent it spiraling toward Long Feng. The Dai Li leader sidestepped and countered with a fissure that encased the old man in earth. "Die!"
Katara was surrounded by enemy Earthbenders, but she was also next to the Strait. She breathed in and pulled an enormous water wave above her attackers, who were washed away before they could react. She immediately twisted around, water whip aimed at the nearest target, before she noticed who it was and redirected her strike into the man behind him.
The young Earthbender turned. "Hey, Katara."
"What are you doing here?"
"Our village received a Messenger Hawk with a conscription notice from King Kuei." He took out a soldier by tripping him. "Actually, it was more of a request. My father and I decided to help out."
Katara, now in octopus form, threw soldiers around. "Where is Tyro, anyway?"
Yuan Chong engaged Admiral Liang's fleet in the Strait itself. His modified ships used natural fire and were retrofitted for Earthbenders. "Years of collecting souvenirs paid off." He reflected. He noticed, though, that the Fire Nation still had more ships and knew how to use them.
"It is time for me to intervene..." He turned to his ship's captain. "Take over. I'm going to take the fight to them myself."
The man nodded. "Yes, Sire, of course."
"Move us in close."
The captain shook his head, perplexed. "But that would take us in range of their—!"
"Do it. Take us up right next to their flagship. Now!"
The man nodded.
Tyro, rather than fight the pull directly, embraced it and sunk into the ground, reappearing behind Long Feng. He said nothing as he kicked up three fairly large rocks and simultaneously launched them at his opponent. Long Feng brought up a massive wall and used it to both defend and attack, launching it at Tyro.
The old Earthbender shattered the wall but could not have prepared for the pillar that shot out of the ground, striking him in the head and knocking him on his back.
Long Feng strode up to his fallen opponent. "That's another of Kuei's warriors down."
Ty Lee and Suki dropped soldier after soldier, but a new one seemed to appear for every one they defeated. "We really need help! Fast!" Suki yelled as she slashed one of her fans across a man's face.
Ty Lee shrugged before kicking off one soldier's back into another's chest, knocking both out cold. "I'm having fun." She grinned.
Suki shook her head. "You worry me..."
They both turned to look as Yun ripped through a large group, swinging his sword in an arc to keep them off. He glanced in their direction and saluted before turning to block a Dai Li agent's chi.
Suki smiled, but her amusement was quickly squashed when she saw Long Feng standing over an older Earthbender. This is not good. By the time she had begun to warn Ty Lee, the acrobatic Kyoshi Warrior had fought her way to him unknowingly.
Long Feng turned to see Ty Lee, eyes wide with a wild fear. "It is good that you fear me, but you might yet be useful."
"Get away from her!" Suki charged, katana raised, and she jumped over Long Feng's first attack only to be completely submerged in earth upon landing.
"Stupid girl..." Long Feng looked at Ty Lee, who was shaking her head and backing away.
A sweet escape.
Yuan Chong winced as fireballs struck his ship, but he was placated by the knowledge that Admiral Liang waited for him. "Once I kill that fool, his sheep will scatter..." He jumped from one ship to the other as they reached the point where they were closest, covered in earth armor.
Several Firebenders tried to engage him as he landed, but he made an earth shield on his arm out of parts of his armor. He got close enough to them to punch one in the face, smiling as the man's cheekbone crunched under the force of his blow. The next had his windpipe crushed by an open-handed throat punch, and the third spun as the Earth King snapped his neck.
The captain of the ship stood in front of the admiral, ready to defend him. As he thrust his hand forward to shoot a fire blast, Yuan Chong moved with almost inhuman speed and caught his hand in his earth glove; the Earthbending master brought his knee up into his foe's arm, snapping it backward.
"Augh!" The captain's cry was ceased when he was thrown into the sea.
Yuan Chong came face-to-face with a dozen Firebenders, but even he was shocked when he heard Admiral Liang. "Enough! It is me you wish to fight? So be it..." The master Firebender jumped down from the balcony and waved off his men. "This is my fight; go continue yours."
Zuko and Mai had ended up meeting each other on the battlefield regardless. "Long time no see." Zuko said as he attacked the enemy like a flaming whirlwind, decimating their ranks before they could touch him.
Mai rolled her eyes. "Now's not the time, Zuko..." She clapped both her hands hard over a Dai Li agent's ears, kicking his legs out from under him while he was distracted. Another attempted to send a rock her way, only for her to dodge. She slid along the ground and flung several knives at the man. As she stood and dusted herself off, she saw Long Feng and Ty Lee.
"This isn't good." She glanced at Zuko. "I'll be back."
Haru ran; he had to find his dad. The soldiers on both sides, for the most part, ignored him. Those that didn't got a rock to the face. "Dad!"
He was horrified when he came to a clearer point on the battlefield only to watch his father collapse before a robed Earthbender. "Dad!" He ran over to him as the Earthbender disappeared into a sea of bodies, and time slowed down as he held his father's limp form. Tears streamed down his face, tears of sadness, pain...and rage.
Admiral Liang slammed against the wall. I was a fool; he is too strong... As Yuan Chong strode toward him, he noticed little. He knew his death was imminent, yet he felt calm. As his vision dimmed, he saw the Avatar land in front of him.
Aang had watched their battle from the air and decided that it was time to intervene. He went to jump off of Appa's back. "Stay safe, buddy." He grinned as Appa groaned a response. "Don't worry, I got this one."
He jumped off and fell toward the ship, landing in between Yuan Chong and the admiral. "Ready for a rematch?" Aang's expression darkened. "There aren't any girls for you to use as shields this time."
The old man's eyes were filled with indignant rage. "You dare accuse me of cowardice!"
Aang held his gaze. "Uh...yeah."
Yuan Chong waved a dismissive hand. "That was out of necessity. That was so I wouldn't have to kill you."
Aang's eyes glowed as he spun his staff, sending his foe flying. "Riiiight..."
Yuan Chong stood shakily. "This time I will kill you, Avatar or not!"
Aang shook his head as he pulled up two massive waves of water. Yuan Chong began charging. "You have little earth to bend, while I can—augh!" The waves dropped as Aang fell to his knees. My side! Pain shot all through his midsection as his ribs protested the Waterbending moves. Yuan Chong was almost on top of him when he drove his fist down.
Yun had also noticed Ty Lee's predicament and slid in front of her, brandishing his blade. "You will not touch her. Ever! Again!"
Long Feng was forced to raise and earth barrier to block knives flung by Mai. "I second that." They both stood firm, protecting their friend.
She rested on her knees behind them, with the image of the lantern and the words that had controlled her pounding in her head.
A sweet escape.
The Kyoshi Warrior clenched her eyes shut as her friends warded off Long Feng's attacks. No, I can't hurt Yun again! I can't forget my friends!
"No! No more!" Ty Lee jumped to her feet and rushed forward, throwing precision strikes without stopping long enough for Long Feng to counterattack. She would never be anyone's puppet again. Unfortunately, the Earthbender finally managed to trap her hands by raising an earth column around them.
As Yun pulled Suki out of the ground and Mai continued to harass Long Feng, the young Kyoshi Warrior twisted her wrists and pulled her hands out of their bonds. "Not quite enough..."
"Are you alright?" Yun ran over.
She gave him a warm smile. "I think I will be." The smile turned to a mischievous grin. "Now let's get him!"
Long Feng raised a large slab and launched it at the four warriors. "You will not best me!"
Aang knew the blow was coming and twisted out of the way at the last second, blasting Yuan Chong with a massive stream of fire. The discharge knocked the Earth King ten feet away, giving Aang time to prepare. "You face the Avatar, Yuan Chong! Surrender so we can resolve this peacefully!"
The old man breathed heavily, his armor scorched and the right side of his face singed from the deadly attack. "I will not rest until the Fire Nation has paid in blood!" With a strength that belied his age, Yuan Chong ripped up a piece of the metal deck and threw it at Aang. The Avatar jumped over the spinning metal projectile only to be struck in the stomach by one of his foe's gauntlets in the form of a fist.
As he flew toward the metal wall, he ripped the earthen construct apart, fire covering his hands. He ignored the burning pain surging through his side and used an air scooter to fly toward the Earth King. His opponent also ran toward him at full speed, and just before they connected, Aang flipped off, feet first, and struck him with an air-powered kick to the midsection. The Earth King once again found himself flying backward, but he gripped into the metal with his intact gauntlet.
Aang leapt toward him with a fiery punch ready to strike, but Yuan Chong caught it in his earth-covered hand and pulled the young Airbender into an elbow strike with the same arm. The maneuver caught Aang's temple, and he fell to the deck. As his foe went to stomp on his head, he flipped so that only his hands touched the metal and swung so that he landed on the old man's shoulders, also hands first. He completed the maneuver so that his feet struck the back of Yuan Chong's legs and grabbed his chin. The force of the move flipped the Earth King completely, making him land face first.
Both combatants stood shakily, favoring their various wounds. "I'll say it only once more: Surrender." Aang stood straight, defying the man to attack again.
"Never..." Yuan Chong went to punch again before being launched into the sea with a huge blast of air.
Aang's eyes widened until he heard a familiar roar. "Appa!" He turned to see his best friend standing beside him.
As he jumped and embraced the sky bison, a grumble emanated from the animal's throat, and it meant only one thing to Aang: You're sure you didn't need my help.
Aang laughed. "I guess a little help wasn't such a bad idea."
Long Feng couldn't fight all four combatants, masters in their fields, for very long, so he did what he always had when things didn't go his way: he ran. Or tried to. As he turned to flee, he was struck in the side by a huge slab of rock that pushed him along the ground until he broke it.
"MURDERER!!" Haru lifted three massive rocks and kicked them at the man who murdered his father and Chief Arnook. Long Feng, tired and wounded as he was, couldn't break through all of them and was knocked back even further, feeling his already damaged ribs give even more.
His breath coming in gasps, he barely even felt the rock strike his head, pushing him into darkness.
Haru stood over his defeated opponent, boulder in the air, waiting to strike the final blow. "For my father..."
"Wait!" Yun Zhen sprinted toward him. "It's done; there's no need for this."
"He deserves justice!"
Yun put a restraining hand on Haru's shoulder. "This isn't it. This is revenge. Believe me; I want nothing more than to put him in the ground. But we could get information out of him if we take him prisoner. It's better that way, and he serves our cause."
Rage contorted Haru's face. "He deserves to die!"
Yun shook his head. "I know he does, but we should leave it to the courts. I know I don't want the blood of an unconscious foe on my hands, and I don't think you do, either." He lowered his voice. "Now put down the boulder."
Haru released the boulder and staggered backward, freed of the weight of what he had been about to do. "Fine. I'll do it your way."
Yun released both the death grip on his sword and the breath he didn't realize he'd been holding. But one of the two quickly resumed as they were surrounded by the enemy, many of them Dai Li. "Release Long Feng to us!"
Yun looked over at Ty Lee, worried that she might still be afraid, but his fears were unfounded. She stood with Mai and Suki, a determined look on her face. Yun turned to Haru. "Look at that, we can both let off a bit of steam."
Haru looked up, anger still evident, but also an air of calm. He nodded. "Thanks for that."
Yun gave a small smile. "Not a problem."
The five young friends stood and faced down about twenty-five soldiers. Haru let out a primal cry as the two groups charged.
- The fight between Yuan Chong and Aang was a little bit more even this time.
- This chapter saw the end result of Ty Lee's brainwashing, with her finally ending its effects.
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