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|More from Dragon of The West||Drama||PG - 13||None||None|
|The Last Airbender|
July 06, 2010
Tengu's rupture with The Black Lotus Assassins.
The Devil in The Cave
A noise woke him up...
A screech came from the deeper, darker part of the cave – he stood up...
He stood up – he grabbed his staff...
Fur, fangs and wings were upon him in a flash of black. He used his blanket to cover his head. If the beast gained access to his neck, it would be the end. He took out his sansetsukon to hit the vermin. The creature yelped in pain as he recoiled. A second wolf-bat covered the cave's entrance, where the blizzard had died down to a light snow. It was noon and the sun was at its brightest over the mountains. The light was his only hope of escaping.
The first wolf-bat charged again. Tengu grabbed its left wing and swung him hard against the cave's wall. The creature yelped in pain once again. He swung out his sansetsukon to hit the second animal, who was about to charge too. He got him right on the nose. The two wolf-bats were out of it long enough for him to grab his knapsack and jet out of the cave. His eyes hurt and the cold was brutal, but he knew the wolf-bats would not venture out of the cave: the light would drive them crazy.
He would have taken on pretty much anything else, but he really hated wolf-bats. The mine workers back in Guzheng would tell terrible stories about mining for coal and running into either one or a whole pack of wolf-bats. Even his father had had to deal with them every once in a while. When a wolf-bat is hungry, it becomes hell to fight. There are some beasts that are too dangerous to fight. Your best chance of making it out alive is running away to where they won't follow you...
The maid's shriek pierced the night like a katana. Guards began chasing the shadows that sped across the palace grounds in the general direction the terrified housekeeper had indicated.
Tengu and Ursa fled the Royal Palace under heavy persecution by the royal guards. Of course, Ozai broke his promise, but Tengu was two steps ahead. He had carefully planned an escape route that would favor one or two people on foot and cut off large groups or mounted guards. It was very hard on Ursa, not only physically, but also emotionally. A Fire Lady is not used to having to flee from guards, hiding in alleys or jumping fences, the same way a mother does not expect having to part with her children when they are still so young. She ran, jumped, rolled and crawled as obediently as she could. The hard part was keeping quiet. A deep anguish tore mercilessly at the very fibers of her soul, and the tears and the sobs were uncontrollable. Tengu himself would have cried, had his spirit not been numbed by years of violence and blind rage.
They reached the edge of the Capital City and started their descent down the mountainside. Tengu had prepared a length of rope so they could slide down. They hid in a cave he had found during previous excursions to the Island until they had lost the guards. It was almost daybreak when they made it to the boat, so Tengu had to row as fast as he could. He had to gain as much distance from the shore as possible to avoid having daylight reveal their position. Once at sea, Tengu raised the sail and proceeded to Ember Island keeping sight of the shoreline of each Island as much as possible. He could not venture out too far from shore where they might run into a Navy Ship.
The Cover Up
At sea, Ursa unraveled, letting her emotions take over. Her grief was such that it tugged at Tengu's heart. He remembered the General, mourning the loss of his beloved Lu Ten. He could not help but think that he had just helped deliver yet another crushing blow to his spirit by helping his father's assassin. He shook the though off and concentrated once again on the matter at hand: he had to find a way to help this woman live to help her child. He had a plan drafted out, but he was ironing out the details as he sailed. The first thing was that no one could know this woman had been the Fire Lady – there would be too many questions and no plausible explanations. He had sweet-talked a girl from the Royal Palace kitchen into providing him with a uniform. At sea, he handed Ursa a large blanket to cover herself and had her change into the uniform. He had to take her to a place where she would be safe from persecution, reproach or punishment. He thought to himself he had just the place...
All through their trip, Ursa had never asked where they were headed, she had only received some strange instructions as to how to handle herself in front of some shady characters named Des and Lu Ming... Once they were in Ember Island, she thought she would pick up some belongings at her summer home. Instead, Tengu took her to a secluded part of the Island, and started going underground through a series of poorly lit, dusty tunnels. Once they met Des, the show was on. Ursa had to summon every last ounce of strength she had into playing bad girl for the sinister earthbender, but he took the bait. Then it was on to Lu Ming's study. Tengu made sure Ursa took all the credit for the plan and the death of the Fire Lord. Lu Ming was flabbergasted. He remembered his failed attempt years ago. He was dumbfounded by the simple maid holding the now dead Fire Lord's ring in her hand. Her made up persona was that of a chambermaid who was Ozai's secret mistress. He stared intently at this female applicant. Could her soft, gracious features really belong to a murderous adulteress?
"Surely, my star pupil must have given you great deals of assistance. A steadying hand, perhaps?" inquired Lu Ming.
"He helped me escape. Ozai is not an honorable man and he broke his promise of a safe exile." Ursa replied coldly.
"You had help then" sneered Lu Ming, looking for a hole in the story – something that could provide a logical explanation to this puzzle.
"Ozai had a plan for seizing power. I offered to remove Azulon if he divorced his wife, Ursa and took me as Fire Lady. He agreed at first, but then said the political price of ditching the Avatar's granddaughter and his children's mother would be too high, political mumbo-jumbo, bla, bla, bla... I threatened to go public, but he then offered to pay if I took Azulon out, left the Fire Nation and kept mum about everything. To me, that sounded like a better deal than being just a mistress, so I took it. He had offered a clean way out, but again, he broke his word, so Tengu helped me escape." "And now, my lady, you are a killer..." Lu Ming rolled the words on his tongue as if they were candy. He enjoyed watching people sink to their lowest.
"Your boy says I have talent. He says the pay is good – if you can get the work done..." replied Ursa.
"Outstanding results merit an outstanding reward" Lu Ming was delighted, since he now had his greatest big-game prize yet.
He motioned to his second in command. "Des - I suppose a welcome is in order. Show the lady to her chambers, and arrange everything to begin her integration proper starting tomorrow."
Des chuckled, as he unknowingly took the former Fire Lady away.
"Bravo! Admirable comeback, my Little Demon Bird!" Lu Ming addressed Tengu while doing a mild hand clap.
"Is my Master pleased?" asked Tengu.
"Oh, you very well know I am! Des and I must have told you the story only a thousand times. What you two have accomplished tonight constitutes the organization's biggest score ever. A king! And not any king, the Fire Lord himself, the most powerful man in all of the world! I must reward you accordingly. Name your price." Lu Ming was as proud as a peacock. An evil grin lit up his decrepit face.
"I want out."
A fierce expression erupted from beneath Lu Ming's smile, shattering it to pieces. "You WHAT!!??"
"This has gone too far. We are playing with the balance of the world. If we don't get caught in some sort of political tangle, at the very least our actions are sure to elicit a response from the Spirit World sooner or later. I will have no part of it."
Lu Ming was outraged. His pupil had cracked under pressure in the most unforeseeable of ways: he had grown a conscience.
"My people warned me that you had gone soft, but I had no idea it had gone this far! Do you honestly think there is still salvation for you? Do you not think the blood on your hands will drag you to the depths of the face stealer's lair once your time here is done?"
Tengu then came forward "The spirits have given me visions of this time, and they have guided my hand so far. I will not go any further – I will not go against them! You have someone in my place, someone who knows the ins and outs of the Fire Nation, someone who has given you your biggest score yet. I'm not needed here anymore!"
"You have lost yourself! You are denying everything I've taught you – everything you are!!"
"I'm an Earth Kingdom colonial. An earthbender from the eastern end of the Si Wong Desert. You, however, are an airbender. You were raised in the ways of peace and spirituality by the monks of the Northern Air Temple. You are the one who has completely forgotten who you are and what you're supposed to stand for!"
"You, my boy, have an untamed tongue. Perhaps we should cut it out?" Lu Ming was determined to make his former pupil pay for his insolence.
"Maybe – at least then I won't be able to tell the Fire Nation the whereabouts of the last airbender."
Lu Ming's eyes widened in shock. Tengu had gotten through.
"Do you think I know nothing about their hunt for the Avatar? How it was supposed to be one of your people? Do you think this Ozai guy will consider your services to him before he decides showing your head to his people on a silver platter?"
Lu Ming went for a bending move, but Tengu was too fast for him, and swept his feet from under him. He then pinned him face down on the floor, his knee between his shoulder blades. He pinned Lu Ming's right hand with his staff, ready to pound it into the ground.
"You are not young Lu Ming. If I break your hands now, they may never heal again. You will be powerless, and I will not even have the need to finish you myself. These wolf-bats that you call your children will run you over in no time. Even Des won't be able to protect you from all of them. You will be another Kang – trust me."
A brief, heavy silence ensued.
"Go away! I don't want to see you ever again!!" Lu Ming said, gasping for breath under Tengu's weight, almost tasting the earthen floor.
"You won't have to. All I need from you is my money." Tengu.
"You shall have it. Use your hawk." Lu Ming replied.
"I need an advance." Tengu got off Lu Ming and grabbed a sack full of gold he hid in his desk. He then sped out of Lu Ming's study and left the base.
Once he got outside the base he retched, shaking like a leaf. He had planned every step, every move and every word, but facing Lu Ming had been terrifying, nonetheless. He was lucky that it had worked out so well. He heard the commotion mount within the complex and fled as fast as he could. He knew that, as long as he managed to stay out of reach, Lu Ming would be forced to keep his end of the deal.
Silence was golden.
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