|More from Mageddon725||Action/Drama||PG-13||Positive||No update page|
|The White Lotus Gambit, Pt. 3|
Chapter 10: The White Lotus Gambit, Pt. 3
Two Minutes Prior
Jing took a step backward as Karuta approached. "Stay back! I won't do this again; I can't forget them again!"
"You are a shortsighted human, though I suppose that is a redundant statement," Karuta replied. "I will kill him, and then you can be free."
"Wait..." Jing held up his hands. "What are you saying? You'll leave me alone, change me back to normal?"
"I can do the former, if you'll let me use you as a weapon willingly."
A mirthless chuckle escaped Jing's lips. "You ask that like it's an easy thing for me to agree to."
"What more would I have to promise you?"
He pursed his lips. "If Lyre asks for me, you have to let me speak. I'm not going to hurt her again if I can help it."
Karuta nodded. "Acceptable." He held out a hand. "Now, shall we take on Izanagi?"
Hizumi's hands twitched with anticipation and fear as she walked beside Shingen. Something still wasn't right, but she couldn't tell if he was the cause. They approached the end of the hallway from his office, and she kept her right hand pressed against the folded fan on her hip.
Unfortunately, she didn't have long to consider the possibilities, as a heavy wave of spiritual energy drove both of them to their knees.
"What is that?!" Shingen hissed. "I can't—"
"It is what it feels like to watch an era die, Councilman," Lin Quei said as he passed by them, a sardonic grin on his face. "A pity I couldn't have ended all of this sooner."
The councilman and the Grand Lotus both looked up at the spirit as they stood shakily, but as he stepped forward, they both noticed one thing.
Yoriko was glaring at them, and her eyes burned with an orange light. With a wave of her hand, she let loose a gust that launched both of them halfway down the hall. By the time both of them recovered, Lin Quei and Yoriko were gone.
The Waterbender frowned as she brought up three more water tentacles, the ends frozen into spikes. It was more accurate to say that they looked more like the legs of a spider than tentacles, but the particulars were a distraction.
She alternated thrusting her arms forward while using two fingers to control each individual tendril, which all converged on Izanagi. The spirit lurched backward as ice spikes drove through his chest again and again. Even as he regained his footing, he could feel two of the tendrils twist in his midsection. Once they had dug in, his eyes met the Waterbender's; she smiled.
Lyre pulled both of her arms back to her waist and swung them widely to her left, causing Izanagi to be dragged by the ice spikes in his chest. She pulled the tendrils around until he slammed against the stone steps of City Hall.
As she pulled them back, Izanagi stood and brushed himself off with his good hand. "Get it through your heads: I'm not here for the Avatar this time, and I'm impossible to kill. I am sick of this."
"I...think I did a pretty damn good job," Yari sputtered as he pushed himself to his knees. "Your hand still hasn't grown back."
The spirit kept an eye on the Waterbender, who had knelt beside Karuta, but most of his attention was on the old man. "That is due solely to your sword, not your skill. You are all good at what you do, but I am the Spirit of Chaos. You had no chance against me; neither did Argho." He turned away from them. "Now, let me take what is mine."
Fire ripped the doors to City Hall off of their hinges. That caught Izanagi's attention, and it was enough.
The spirit felt a burning pain erupt in his chest; he looked down to see the old man's sword sticking through. His eyes widened, and he noticed the audible cries of triumph from the other humans.
"Gotcha, you son of a gun." Yari whispered. "Finally..."
Grim laughter cut through the flames that grew in the threshold of the door, and everyone's attention was drawn to the top of the stairs, where a man in purple armor stood over Hizumi and Shingen.
And the Avatar was by his side.
Yoriko was surrounded by darkness. She glanced around, trying desperately to peer through the emptiness, but the darkness was ever-present.
At least until their eyes snapped open. Her own eyes widened as what seemed like hundreds of glowing blue eyes surrounded her, and once her vision had grown accustomed to the darkness, she noticed their bodies as well. She was surrounded by people!
For reasons she could not begin to fathom, the blue glow began to change, becoming orange as it moved down the line from the top. It spread quickly, and she began to hear the screaming voices that followed.
Burn it to the ground!
It hurts; make it stop!
Kill it! End it!
They pierced into her mind, the screams of the enraged, and as more eyes changed, more screams came.
All is chaos!
End this existence of ours!
The screams brought her to her knees; she couldn't even look at the eyes anymore. They made her sick, and their cries caused her to shake uncontrollably.
"Please..." she pleaded,"...just leave me alone..."
Everything burns, little one.
Fire erupted from Yoriko's outstretched hands, and Lyre rushed toward Yari, who was just behind Izanagi, the intended target. She reached him, tackling him to the ground and pulling up an ice wall as a wave of fire washed over Izanagi.
"Is this your best, Lin Quei?" The Waterbender looked past her makeshift barrier as Izanagi spoke. Flames roared around his feet, and the burns healed almost instantly. "Controlling the Avatar like this...is that all you can muster with my title?"
Yari pushed himself up off of the ground and grunted. "Ugh...warn me next time..."
"Now is not the—"
"What the hell's going on here," the swordsman asked. "Why is the Avatar—?"
Lin Quei took a step forward. "She is the Avatar of Chaos, now, Swordsman. With Izanagi's title, I am so much more than I once was, and now, so is she."
"The Avatar of Chaos...?" Shingen approached slowly from behind, along with Hizumi. "What have you done with Varro?"
"How cute," Lin Quei said, "I am, and have always been, Varro. He was merely a part I played, and I was prepared to play it until the Avatar showed up in Republic City. It didn't really matter when she came; I was prepared to play this out."
Shingen frowned. "But I led her right to you..."
The Spirit of Chaos smiled and pulled a rolled up piece of paper from his belt, all while the Avatar stood with her eyes still glowing.
Hizumi's eyes narrowed. "Argho's will..."
"You know, Councilman...you should consider changing your name to Pai Sho, because that's how easy it is to play you."
"Pai Sho," Izanagi began, "from what I understand is not a game for children."
"What are you talking about?" Lin Quei asked.
"So why would you play it?" Izanagi replied as he gripped the blade in his chest and pushed it backward. As it clattered to the ground, he took a step forward. "You are nothing but a child to me, and your scheme reeks of desperation."
"It would only be desperate if I hadn't already won."
Izanagi sighed. "I was like you, naïve. I didn't understand much of anything, including how things work. The balance? I had no clue what it was; my games with Order were just that. Games. And now, you play the same—"
"You think this can be reversed?" Lin Quei asked. "Really? No, she is mine, and you can't do a damned thing!"
Hizumi's eyes widened. "No..."
Yari cocked his head. "What have you done?" His own eyes widened. "What have you done?!"
Though she stood stock still, Yoriko's orange eyes narrowed as she stared at Izanagi.
Here is the one who murdered your parents in cold blood!
Will you just let him walk away?
The screams and petitions still assaulted Yoriko from the darkness. Orange eyes surrounded her; all but one pair were now changed.
She jumped, startled by the new voice. This one was much closer, much kinder, than the others.
"You have to wake up, Yoriko," the voice came from the one pair of eyes that still glowed blue, and soon enough, a large form appeared through the void.
The Avatar's eyes widened as a man came out of the darkness, and he knelt down next to her.
"Who...who are you?"
"I am your predecessor; my name is Argho. We don't have much time."
She glanced around at the encroaching darkness. "Time for what? What's happening?"
Argho sighed. "Lin Quei...he did something profane. He is cutting you and Avatar State off from us. He is removing the limiters so that he can control you, and I am almost out of time. Soon, I won't even be able to help you."
Yoriko shook and shivered as the voices continued to scream around them. "What...what do I do? I don't wanna die..."
For a moment, she thought she noticed tears forming in Argho's eyes, but he immediately drew her attention to other things.
"You have to ignore the screams. If you want to wake up, you have to follow me where I go. But..."
"What? What's wrong?"
He grimaced. "I will only be able to do this once. If you cannot control yourself—if you go into the Avatar State again—you may never come back out." Argho held out his hand. "Now, you must take my hand. Quickly!"
She glanced at it for a moment, but as the darkness moved in, she gripped his hand tightly.
"Please...get me home..."
Lyre would've been happy that Jing was sitting up, was moving, if it wasn't for the fact that another spirit had done something to Yoriko.
"What...what's going on? Is Izanagi—?"
"Yari got him," Lyre replied, "but he's still standing. We have a bigger problem, at the moment."
"What are you...?" His gaze fell on Yoriko, and his demeanor changed in an instant. "...no."
"She's gotta still be in there, right?"
"That fool...he thinks he knows best," Karuta said. "All these young spirits thinking they know what chaos is..."
"Since you're here," Lyre began, "what exactly is going on? Is Yoriko—?"
"She is no longer a force for balance..." The armored spirit stood slowly, favoring his left side. "The end of an era is upon all of you...on us."
He took a step forward kicking up his blade as he lifted his right foot and catching it. As Karuta moved toward Yoriko, Lyre gritted her teeth.
"What're you going to do?" she whispered.
"The only thing I can. Both worlds stand to lose something if this new Spirit of Chaos takes control."
"And what will you do, any of you?" Lin Quei smiled as Karuta stopped moving. "Kill the girl? End the cycle forever? No. You will do nothing but stand and watch as I use the Avatar to end Izanagi." His smile faded. "It's a win-win, really. He dies, like you all wanted, and I no longer have a rival for the power I command."
Izanagi began to laugh. It started as a chuckle, but quickly developed into a loud, long laugh. Lin Quei frowned.
"Why are you laughing?" he asked.
"That's it? That's your best? You have my title, and all you can do with the power it gives is this?!" Izanagi grinned. "You truly are a weak one."
In an instant, the orange glow faded from Yoriko's eyes. She dropped to her knees, eyes wide, and sat motionless before the two spirits.
Lin Quei glanced at the Avatar, and his face turned white with horror. "No..."
He lifted his hand, and black spikes sprouted from his fingertips. Before he could thrust his hand forward once more, a crack rang out, followed by two more. Three bullets tore three holes in his body. One ripped through his hand, one shredded his right knee, and the last punctured his skull, leaving him to tumble down the steps.
When his head wound healed, he stared up into the night sky, but his view was soon blocked by another.
"Hello, my name is Izanagi, and I am finally going to take what's mine."
Sukan stumbled down the hall. Her side burned, and she gingerly pressed her free hand against the ribs on her left. Pain lanced through; they were at least cracked, maybe broken entirely.
"I have made the Avatar of Balance mine, an Avatar of Chaos!"
Sukan's eyes widened as Yoriko's tiny body stiffened. She lifted her pistol once more. Even if it would do little damage, she wanted this Lin Quei to feel it.
Before she could squeeze the trigger, though, Yoriko turned and looked her straight in the eyes. Sukan didn't even have time to gasp at the change in those eyes, as a massive gust of wind took her off of her feet and slammed her into the opposite wall. As she felt her ribs give and her head slam against the wall, she heard a multitude of voices cry out.
"It hurts; make it stop!"
As the officer's vision dimmed, she felt hot tears running down her face. The girl had already lost her parents, and now all she wanted was an end. It wasn't her voice exclusively, but Sukan knew that she had already lost everything.
She stood slowly; this spirit wouldn't take Yoriko's freedom, too.
"I'm gonna shoot him," she hissed. "Going to kill him!"
Sukan could see his back through the doorway; he was showing off his "prize" to someone, likely the Order. She gritted her teeth. If he was going to go down, she had to get a bit closer. Fortunately, both he and Yoriko seemed preoccupied.
When the officer had closed the gap sufficiently, she raised her gun. However, she didn't take the shot because she was focused on Yoriko, who had collapsed to her knees. The spirit began to lose his composure, and when he raised his hand to stab her again, Sukan pulled the trigger three times.
The shots had the desired effect; the spirit tumbled down the steps and away from Yoriko. Sukan quickly holstered her gun and rushed over to the Avatar, wincing with every step. Her breathing was labored, due to her ribs, but she couldn't slow down.
When she reached Yoriko, Sukan wrapped her arms around her.
"Are you alright? Please, tell me you're alright!"
"...Off...Officer...Suk...an..." Yoriko shivered in her embrace. "...I wanna go home. I want my mommy and daddy...I want to tell them I'm sorry..."
Sukan bit her lower lip and hugged Yoriko tighter, causing her wounded shoulder to burn and throb. "I'm so sorry, Yoriko; if we'd protected you..."
"I know," Sukan replied. "So am I."
Sukan's gaze whirled as the spirit cried out and began running from Izanagi, who immediately gave chase.
This wasn't over yet.
- It's interesting. This story has taken so many twists and turns. Initially, it only had a few common elements with what I'm publishing now, but it grew into a longer story, somewhat against my will.
- What will the Order do now? Is the Avatar all right? Sorry to do this to y'all, but you're just going to have to wait and find out. ;)
For the collective works of the author, go here.