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|The Face Stealer|
Erica, Anil, and Roku head to the realm of Koh and after Erica heads into a cave to meet the spirit Roku and Anil gain some disturbing news from a mysterious little girl.
The Face Stealer
Fire. Air. Earth. Water. Long ago, the Phoenix was created to help keep balance among the four nations by making sure the Avatar would not neglect his duties. However, almost a hundred years ago, the Fire Nation started the war and the Avatar disappeared along with the Phoenix. Now, as the Fire Nation comes ever closer to victory the Phoenix has reappeared and I truly believe that she can help restore the world to its formal self.
Erica's stomach was churning as Fang continued to fly high above the ground. She kept telling herself not to look down. They didn't fly for much longer until, in the horizon, a large tree began to become visible. The tree was covered in beautiful pink blossoms and dark green leaves.
"That is Koh's domain," said Roku pointing toward the tree.
"Does that mean we can land soon?" Erica asked.
Roku turned around and saw Erica looking paler than usual.
"Are you alright?" he asked.
"I will be as soon as I get back onto the ground," said Erica her stomach still churning.
"I thought you were an Airbender in a past life?" Anil asked from behind her.
"I was and will be, but for now I am a Waterbender who doesn't like being high in the air," said Erica.
When they reached the tree Fang landed at the base of it, next to some thick roots that were sticking out of the ground.
"Wow," said Erica looking up at the tree.
"That is one big tree," said Anil also looking up at it.
"That seems to be the entrance," said Roku pointing to a hole in the base of the dark brown trunk of the tree.
"Well then here we go," said Erica sounding braver than she felt.
Just then, right as they began walking foreword, a small monkey jumped down in front of them blocking their entrance into the cave.
"Oh hey little fella where did you come from?" Erica asked bending down toward the monkey.
"That's a curly tail blue nose," said Anil.
"Ah I see," said Erica, noticing the curl in the monkeys tail and the blue on both sides of the creatures nose. "You're cute aren't you little guy."
"I resent being called that," said the monkey.
Erica jumped up in the air in shock.
"You ... You can talk?" she asked surprised.
"Of course," said the monkey irritated.
"Most animals here do talk," said Roku.
"Thanks for telling me," Erica muttered under her breath.
"Now what is it you three are doing here in the realm of Master Koh?" the monkey asked suspiciously.
"Well we need to speak to Koh," said Erica.
"Only one may enter Master Koh's cave at a time," said the monkey.
"Well too bad," said Anil crossing his arms, "We all are going."
At this Anil started to walk forward again, but then the monkey jumped up into the air and kicked Anil in the chest sending the boy backwards onto the ground.
"I said," said the monkey landing on Anil's chest and leaned forward so he almost face to face with Anil "Only one may enter master Koh's cave at a time, got it?"
Anil nodded once.
"Good," said the monkey.
"I'll go," said Erica stepping forward.
"Erica now wait a second, we should talk about this," said Roku.
"No," said Erica "I am the one who allowed the spirits to enter the Northern Water Tribe, so it's my responsibility to talk to this Koh to find out any information I can."
"This Koh could be dangerous," said Roku.
"I know but still, I feel...," said Erica thinking, "I feel like I have to do this."
Roku hesitated for a moment before nodding.
Erica walked foreword toward the cave entrance when the monkey jumped in front of her path.
"What now," Erica asked irritated.
"Just a warning I am instructed to give all who go to see Koh," said the monkey who then cleared his throat before saying:
"All emotion must vanish from your face If you ever want to survive this race The Face Stealer awaits you So do what you need to do."
The monkey then jumped onto a root of the tree and climbed away laughing.
"Well that made absolutely no sense," said Erica turning to face Roku and Anil who both had thoughtful looks on their faces.
"What did he mean The Face Stealer awaits you?" Anil asked looking from Roku to Erica and back again.
"I am not sure," said Roku, thinking, "But this is starting to sound extremely dangerous."
"I know but I still have to do this," said Erica determined.
"I think we should go with you though," said Anil.
"If you try, that monkey will probably come back and kick your spirit butt," said Erica.
Anil opened his mouth to respond but instead just closed it.
"If you are determined I suggest it is best to take that riddle literally: Don't show any emotion if you want to survive because that Koh is a face stealer," said Roku.
"You're not serious," said Erica doubtfully.
However, the look on Roku's face said he was so Erica just took a deep breath and nodded.
"Well then here I go," she said walking into the cave.
Erica slowly walked down the steps and into the dark cave feeling more and more apprehensive with each step and wishing that she had her Firebending to light the way. The cave seemed to have a presence in it, and this presence seemed to be behind her, but when she turned around there was nothing there.
'Show no emotion, show no emotion, show no emotion.' this was the chant Erica kept telling herself as she walked deeper into the cave. However, the further she went into the cave, the harder showing no emotion seemed to be.
A tight knot was forming in Erica's gut and she began feeling nauseous. She was almost ready to turn around but then an image of her friend Yue entered her brain and she kept going, unaware of the face staring at her as she walked onward.
"We shouldn't have let her go alone," said Anil as he paced in front of the tree.
"It was her decision to make," said Roku.
"But what if she shows emotion and Koh steals her face?" Anil asked.
Roku didn't respond.
Just then, a butterfly came flying from behind the tree and a young girl was chasing after it. The girl stopped when she saw Roku and Anil. She had white hair and dark green eyes and looked identical to Erica.
"Hello," she said cheerfully.
"Hello young Phoenix," said Roku with a bow.
"Well that is slightly disturbing," said Anil staring at the little girl.
"What?" the girl asked tilting her head to the side.
"You look exactly like the Phoenix that just went to see Koh," he said.
The girl's eyes opened wide in shock.
"You let a Phoenix see Koh?" she said alarmed.
"What is wrong, why does that news make you so nervous?" Roku asked worried.
"Do you know what would happen if Koh steals her face?" the girl questioned.
"So Koh does steal faces," said Anil to himself.
"What would happen?" Roku asked the girl.
"The Phoenix would die," she said.
"Erica really would die?" Anil said looking toward the cave worried.
"No not Erica the Phoenix itself would die," said the girl.
Anil and Roku both looked at each other fear etched on their faces.
Erica was just beginning to doubt that anyone was even in this cave when a voice spoke from behind her.
"Well I didn't want to believe it, but it is true," said the voice.
Erica reinforced her string of "show no emotion" in order to prevent herself from shivering at the creepy tone to the voice.
"A Phoenix has finally graced my humble cave with her presence," continued the voice.
"Are you Koh?" Erica asked in a monotone voice.
"Indeed," said the voice.
Erica then heard what sounded like claws on the floor of the cave. Then from her left side came what appeared to be a large centipede. Erica tried hard not to show the fear that was screaming inside of her.
Finally, Koh turned his head to face Erica and she was met by, what looked like, a giant eye with a white face with red lips and blue spots around the eyes where the pupil should be.
The face was calm yet it still gave off an aura that made Erica more afraid than ever. She suppressed the feeling however and bowed to the spirit.
"Thank you for seeing me," she said.
"Anything for one so young and powerful," said Koh, a grin crossing his face. "So, how may I help you?"
"I need to find a spirit, this spirit has kidnapped many people from the physical world, and I need to bring them home," said Erica.
"And what makes you think I can help you find this spirit, do you think I am evil like spirit you are looking for is?" asked Koh as he began to circle around Erica.
Erica wanted to respond yes, she did think Koh was evil but knowing this would not help her cause instead said:
"I don't know you well enough to call you anything."
"Nicely phrased," said Koh. "So what is the name of the spirit you are looking for?"
"When I met the spirit it called itself the Oni," said Erica
Koh stopped circling her and froze.
"What did you call the spirit?" he asked.
"The Oni," said Erica, not looking at Koh, worried that she would show the fear she was feeling.
Koh then began yelling in words Erica could not understand and began twitching angrily. The anger that was emitting from Koh was causing Erica to shake where she stood, the first signs of fear starting to emerge on her face. Then Koh's tail whipped toward Erica, colliding with her back and sending her onto the floor. Forgetting who she was with Erica turned over and looked at Koh, her face full of fear.
"What do you mean the Phoenix itself will die?" Roku asked.
"I mean that the Phoenix spirit will no longer move from host to host when the previous one dies," said the girl.
Roku looked shocked and Anil looked confused.
"Here is the thing," said the girl. "Normally when Koh steals a face the person, or animal, would continue to live on in the Spirit World, but the thing is all of us Phoenix's have only one face. So if Koh steals one face he steals them all."
"We have to go and get her out of there," said Anil.
"No," said Roku. "If we go in there we could startle Erica and cause her to show emotion. No, we need to wait, and hope."
As he finished speaking both Roku and Anil turned toward the cave entrance and looked into its dark depths as the tree began to shake and whither.
Koh continued thrashing around until finally he turned and faced Erica. However, he had changed his face so now it resembled a blue mask. Koh put the mask-like face directly up to Erica's fear filled one.
"How dare you mention that demon's name in my presence!" Koh said.
"I'm sorry I didn't..." said Erica shaking.
"GET OUT!!!!!!!!!!" screeched Koh and the entre cave began to shake.
Erica scrambled up to her feet and ran out of the cave as fast as she could, hearing all the way the yells of Koh, which were continuing to shake the entire cave.
Erica ran and ran until the monkey from before blocked Erica's path near the entrance of the cave.
"What did you say to Master Koh?" asked the monkey angrily.
"I...I just...I just asked him about the spirit Oni," said Erica trying to catch her breath.
The monkey then hissed at Erica, causing her to jump back in surprise.
"You mentioned that demon to the master!" said the monkey angrily.
"Ya that was...that was the whole point of talking to Koh," said Erica exasperated, and still breathing hard.
"No wonder he is so angry," said the monkey to himself, "I must try to calm him down before the whole realm falls apart."
"Well what can I do?" Erica asked the monkey.
"Leave and never come back," hissed the monkey.
The monkey then retreated into the dark recesses of the cave. Erica turned around and continued climbing the stairs, after seeing the tip of the monkey's tail had been completely covered by darkness.
"Erica!" shouted Anil as he spotted Erica emerge from the cave "Oh good you still have a face," he said relieved.
Erica subconsciously reached up with one hand and touched her nose, lips, and eyes just to make sure.
"What happened down there?" Anil asked worried "A few minutes ago the tree started shaking and withering and there was this horrible screeching sound coming from the cave."
"Ya what did you do to make Koh so angry?" the little girl asked.
Erica jumped; she had not noticed either the little girl or Roku approach.
"Oh...ya...well...well all I did was ask Koh about the Oni and he just got really angry," said Erica gathering her bearings.
Roku and Anil both looked pensive while the little girl looked shocked.
"You asked Koh about the Oni!?!?" she said.
"Ya why?" Erica asked.
"Well everyone knows Koh has a bargain with the Oni," said the little girl.
"Bargain what sort of bargain?" Roku asked confused.
"You don't know?" said the little girl shocked "How long have you been dead for?"
"Well, I think it has been about a hundred and nine years," said Roku thinking.
"Oh okay, well then you are still just a baby," said the girl. "What about you?" she asked Anil.
"Ninety-seven years this summer," he said.
Erica looked at him, well aware of the significance of that year.
"Well then you are also still a baby," said the little girl. "Well, in short, a few thousand years ago, the Oni went to get information out of Koh but the face stealer wouldn't talk so instead of killing each other they made a bargain. The bargain was that the Oni would not try to get any more information out of Koh and Koh would not give anyone any information about the Oni."
"Well that still doesn't explain his reaction," said Anil. "If they made that agreement that must mean that the two were buddies, and if that is the case Koh reacting the way he did wouldn't make sense."
"Well the thing is, at the time the agreement was made no one was really sure what to think of Oni. We all knew he wasn't good but we didn't know how bad he was until later. Koh may be creepy, but even he feels regret, he knows his agreement with Oni was bad judgment and has regretted it ever since," said the girl sadly.
"So Koh was never able to give us information about Oni," said Roku.
The little girl nodded.
"Well then now what are we supposed to do?" Erica asked frustrated.
"You could go and ask Xong Shi Tong," said the little girl.
"Who is that?" Anil asked. "Another vicious killing spirit."
The little girl laughed.
"No," she said, "Xong Shi Tong is a spirit of knowledge, he is also really nice."
"Really?" asked Erica.
"Yep," said the little girl with a nod of her head. "He may appear a little grumpy at first, but once you tell him that you need help tracking an enemy, no need to mention any names, he will be as friendly as a baby Sabertoooth Moose lion."
"Well how can we find him?" Roku asked.
"Well you are going to want to head east for quite a ways you will know you are there because there will be a bunch of foxes in the area," said the little girl.
"Well thank you, thanks a lot," said Erica happily.
"No problem," said the little girl with a big smile. "Anything or one of my future lives."
Erica smiled and she, Roku, and Anil walked over to Fang and got onto the red dragons back.
"Do you wanna come?" Anil asked.
"No sorry I have some important spirit things to take care of here, but I wish you lots of luck," she said.
"Thanks again." waved Erica and Fang pushed off the ground and soared into the sky.
"Good luck!" the little girl shouted at them.
Once Fang was out of sight an evil grin came over the little girls face and she began to change: she grew in height, her white hair turned dark, her green eyes turned red, and a dark cloak covered his body.
"You are going to need it," Oni said then he heard something next to him and turned to see the monkey from before emerge from the cave faceless and Oni laughed.
|Avatar: The Legend of the Phoenix|
|Book One: Water 水|
|The Beginning ♦ Heading Out ♦ Remembering ♦ Past Mistakes ♦ A Friend ♦ An Enemy ♦ The Ship at Sea ♦ Karoton ♦ Welcome to the Northern Water Tribe ♦ Waterbending ♦ Pets and Orders ♦ Blast From the Past: Part One ♦ Blast From the Past: Part Two|
|Book 2: Spirit 精神|
|The Living, The Dead, and the In-Between ♦ The Face Stealer ♦ The Crocodile Hunter ♦ The Elephant in the Room ♦ The Library|
|Avatar: The Legend of the Phoenix Characters|
|Roku •• • • • •|
|Palik • Zuko • Iroh • Shyu • General Hazma • Yue|
For the collective works of the author, go here.