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|The War of the Lotuses: Tears of Blood|
Earthbending Four Way
Des continued to pound his way through the enemy ranks. As his fist crushed the face of a firebender he heard an insane laughter coming from above. Des looked up to see Bumi descending on him. Des kicked up a boulder and sent it flying towards the senile old king. Bumi punched through the rock and landed next to Des.
"Aren't you a little old to be in a battle?" Bumi asked the assassin.
"You should talk." Des countered staring down at the 115-year-old man. Without another word Des punched for Bumi's face. Bumi grabbed Des' fist and wrapped his hand around Des' wrist and flipped him over his shoulder. As Des got to his feet he turned to face Bumi, instead he saw a pair of rock-covered feet crash into his face. Des was sent sprawling on the ground again with a broken nose. As Des bended his nose back to normal he turned to face his two adversaries.
Riku stood next to Bumi as the large assassin struggled to his feet. He clenched his rock-covered hands. As Des turned to them, Riku took a step forward, launching a stone pillar at Des. Des bended the sand off of his body and caught the pillar with it. Des then attacked using, the sand, the two earthbenders. Riku fired the fingers of his rock gloves through the sand, the small projectiles only got caught in the sand however. As Riku struggled with the sand wrapping around his body, Bumi pulled a large boulder out of the ground and hurled it at Des. The sandbender caught the boulder with his free hand and crushed it, then he captured Bumi.
"Good bye." Des said as he started squeezing the earthbenders with his sand. Before he could crush them however a stone pillar shot out of the ground, into his side. This broke Des' hold on Bumi, and Riku. Des turned to see who had attacked him. He saw a young blind girl, about fifteen years old, standing with her arms folded over her chest. "Toph the metalbender." Without another word Des took a step forward, however once his foot landed on the ground it sunk into the earth. Toph just smiled as Des continued to sink into the ground. Des eventually sunk all the way to his neck.
"Bye, bye now." Toph said waving at Des' head. Then she stomped on the ground, sending Des flying through the air. Once Des was gone the Black Lotus forces began to withdraw from the fight. "Where would you two be without me?" Toph asked Riku and Bumi as the assassins retreated.
"Probably about six feet underground." Bumi said with his usual grin. "Yep so you both owe me one." Toph said happily.
"Actually you and I are about even." Riku clarified. "If you'll recall me and Iroh got you and your friends out of their base about a month ago." The two began arguing as Zuko approached them, seeming distraught.
Between the Family
Zuko fought his way through the ranks of the assassins until he reached Lady Sa. The woman was cutting her way through the ranks of both forces. She turned and slashed for Zuko's stomach, forcing him to block with one of his swords.
"Would you pick a side already?" Zuko asked the lady as she continued attacking. "And while you're deciding, answer a few of my questions."
"Very well Zuko, what do you want to know?" Sa asked as their duel continued.
As Zuko asked his questions the two kept fighting. Both were careful however not to land an attack. "Who are you?"
"I suppose you could say I'm a friend of the family."
"Why are you helping us against the assassins?" Zuko asked sensing the first question was going nowhere.
"Because they sent assassins after my family." Sa responded with undeniable rage.
"Why did they kill your family?"
"They haven't, at least not all of them." Sa clarified as she backed away. "They still haven't gotten to you, Zuko." Sa slowly removed her hood, leaving Zuko face to face with someone he hadn't seen in years, his mother Ursa.
"Mother?" Zuko said not believing his eyes.
"I'm sorry Zuko." Ursa said as she backed away.
"Mother wait!" Zuko called as she turned and retreated with the rest of the assassins. Zuko started after them, but Ursa turned around and threw one of her daggers at him. If Zuko hadn't dodged the blade, it would have gone straight into his shoulder. As Ursa turned back she wiped away the tears gathering at her eyes.
River of Blood
Katara and Lian grappled with each other as the battle raged on around them. The two moved in perfect sync. When one raised a knee to strike the other's stomach, the other raised a knee in defense. As the two wrestled, Lian's strength began to fade and Katara managed to overpower her and tossed her into the river.
When Lian resurfaced, the chaos of the battlefield was gone, and the eclipse appeared to be over. She stood in the river and let the moon reenergize her. As she stood still she felt something bump against her side. She looked down and saw a skull float past her. She then looked down the river and felt a sudden compulsion to walk down it. As she walked she noticed more and more skulls and other bones float past her.
Lian turned as she heard a ripple in the water behind her, but nothing was there. As she turned around a rotting corpse suddenly burst from the water reaching for her. Without flinching Lian moved her arms in a circular motion. The movement was supposed to bend the water and chop the corpse to pieces. Instead nothing happened. Acting on instinct Lian grabbed the corpses arm and tore it off while kicking the body in the chest. Lian ran past the corpse as it and others began to rise from the water.
As Lian ran down the river, the water turned to blood and more corpses rose from the water. One grabbed Lian by her shoulders and looked into her eyes. It was then Lian realized what was going on. Every single one of the corpses was some one she'd killed.
"Where am I?"
"You're in the Spirit World my dear." An ominous voice said from behind her. Lian turned around and found herself face to face with Koh the Face Stealer. Lian somehow kept her face emotionless as Koh wrapped his centipede like body around her. "And what is such a pretty face doing here?"
"I'm not sure." Lian answered being sure to stay emotionless.
"Well as much as I would love to add such a beautiful face to my collection," Koh began as one of his mandibles moved across Lian's face. "I have a prior engagement." With that Koh slithered away. As Lian took a deep breath a corpse burst from the water behind her and dragged her under. Lian struggled to get to the surface but the corpse's grip held firm. Just when she was about to lose consciousness a hand plunged into the water and pulled her out.
Lian coughed up water as whoever pulled her out slung her over her shoulder and ran off the battlefield.
Two of a Kind
Lu Ming flew towards Aang at a ridiculous speed and jabbed the air sphere into his chest. Aang was sent spiraling down towards the earth. Using his glider Aang righted him self and disappeared into the clouds. Lu Ming considered going after him, but instead used a massive jet of air to clear the clouds away. Lu Ming was shocked to see that Aang had disappeared. Suddenly Lu Ming felt a large jolt of pain as Aang struck him in his back with an air blast. As Lu Ming fell, Aang caught up and wrapped his arms around the old man. As they fell, Lu Ming laughed.
"You do realize that if you don't let go we'll both die right?" he asked Aang as the earth rushed up to meet them.
"What? Are you afraid of dying?" Aang asked as their descent continued. "No." Lu answered, "I welcome death. It's you who should be afraid of death."
"Why is that?" Aang queried as they neared the ground.
"Because with you dead, who's going to protect your loving wife and friends?" Lu Ming laughed. He continued laughing as Aang let go at the last second. Lu Ming crashed into the earth, creating a massive cloud of dust, while Aang used airbending to glide along the surface. Aang landed and turned around to blow the dust cloud away. When Aang blew all the dust away, Lu Ming was gone. Aang turned around just in time to see the century old assassin slam another air sphere into his chest. The force of Lu Ming's attack sent Aang skidding across the ground.
As Aang struggled to rise he found himself pulled up by some invisible force. He was held in the air as Lu Ming stalked forward.
"Impressive display of brutality Aang." Lu said as he began to slam Aang against the ground. "You and I aren't that different it seems. Maybe you would've survived those hundred years."
Lu Ming stopped flinging Aang around so he could respond. "We're nothing alike. You're a blood thirsty assassin."
"And you just tried to kill me by forcing me to crash into the earth at high speeds." Lu Ming countered. "To be honest that's something even I never thought of." Lu Ming turned his head to the sky and watched the eclipse end. He then turned to watch his forces retreat. "I suppose your forces won this battle Avatar. I humbly accept defeat." With that Lu Ming flew off leaving Aang alone.
Results of Battle
A week later, Lian stood alone as the army set up its new camp before they split up to lose the United Armies. That's twice she's lost to Katara, twice someone has had to save her life. But that didn't matter to her, what she cared about was her little trip to the Spirit World. Ever since then Lian had started feeling regret for the countless lives she'd ended. Not once had she ever thought about what she did with her life. She was beginning to think that maybe she should quit while she was ahead.
"No that would be weak and pathetic." She mumbled as she bulled out a bottle of alcohol and took a drink. As she stood there Gao walked up behind her. "You gonna try to kill me?" she asked while taking another drink.
"If I wanted you dead I would've let you drown." Gao answered, causing Lian to spit out her drink in shock.
"You saved me!?"
"What can I say, I kinda like you." Gao said shrugging his shoulders. Without waiting for a response Gao left Lian alone. Lian looked to the sky and smiled.
"Maybe I should stick around a while."
An Unexpected Arrival
Meanwhile Katara waited for Aang inside his tent. She needed to get through to him. She had been patient - more than necessary maybe - and kind...maybe too much...
When Aang walked in Katara gave him a hug and a deep kiss. She then looked deep into his eyes. The silence lasted a full minute. Aang was moved. "I know you mean to tell me something" he said, "but just let me say that there's no way I would have made it this far without You."
Katara's eyes welled up with tears as they dropped to the ground. "Aang." She said, her voice finally breaking - "I'm scared." Aang quietly replied "I know what you mean...these guys are not just a bunch of rouge mercenaries as we once thought. It's like an entire underground nation! It's almost as if..." She motioned with her hand, interrupting him as she recomposed herself - "I know what I'm about to say may sound silly; but I'm not scared just for the world - I'm scared about us..." He could feel his stomach freeze as the words left her mouth. "What do you mean, Katara?"
"Aang, I know what your debt to the world is and all the struggles and suffering that it has put you through, personally. Ever since we met, and during these past three years, it has been your journey that has drawn us closer together. My life's purpose has been helping you become who you were destined to be and to fight with you, at your side." She said, as she smiled a painful smile. "However, this time, I feel like we're being torn apart." Her voice began breaking once more. "I know the Avatar is meant to be the guardian of peace and balance in the World, but I need you in my world Aang."
She continued "I never wanted a new war. None of us want it. Not me, not Toph, not Sokka, and certainly not Zuko. We all want peace, so we are all disappointed and angry and sad, not just you. But you have let this conflict drag you in and eat you alive. You were never like this before! Not even when we were facing Azula or Ozai. You've grown bitter. You act cold and distant...and sometimes you're just plain hurtful. I see your pain and I try to make it right every way I can but I keep failing..." Katara stopped, now sobbing...
Aang breathed hard, so much the candles began to flicker. His face was locked in a deep frown. His eyes were fixed to the ground. He closed them and sighed deeply as he lifted his face towards the tent's ceiling. "Katara, I'm so sorry, but the pressure, the demands..I mean - It's just overwhelming...and I'm still just a boy!"
"Well you need to grow up fast!" she sniped. Aang was taken aback by the change of the tide. This was not "Sweetness", like Toph liked to call her: this was "Sifu Katara"... "I am your wife, Avatar Aang, and we are a family!" She broke down, as she almost yelled: "Your wife needs her husband! And your baby will need a father!"
He was bewildered for a few seconds, just staring at the crying girl in front of him. When he was finally able to make sense of the words, he threw his arms around her. He held her tight, but all the while he shook as if he had a fever and whispered in her ear: "I'm so sorry baby - everything will be alright - you'll see. I'll make it work - for all of us. I promise..."
- Lu Ming's air sphere attack was based on the Rasengan from Naruto
- Another move "borrowed" from Naruto was the move Aang used to slam Lu Ming into the ground, The Primary Lotus
- The section River of Blood was inspired by the boss battle with The Sorrow from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
- Katara's inability to tell Aang she was pregnant earlier was actually a stab at the author, I'm not good at writing that kind of stuff, so I tried to avoid it initially, but it had to come out eventually.
- Katara breaking the news to Aang rewritten by with permission from the author.
For the collective works of the author, go here.