|More from WaterMasterFinn||Adventure||PG-13||N/A|
|The Fiery Stone|
Two: The Oceans
Book Two: The Oceans
The Fiery Stone
Not long after the ellipse, Yinlo flew into the caves of a mountain nearby the Tower of the Sun. The sun was just rising, barely giving him enough light to see as he landed in the shadows of the cave.
"Well, tell us," a voice said from within the cave. A tall thin man with no hair stepped into the light. He was one of the many airbenders that followed Yinlo to the death of Jong-Mu at Serpent's Pass.
"We did exactly what you knew we were doing. We were killing the Avatar."
"But now a baby? And your wife! Alive after all this time and the rumor is she possesses the next Avatar."
"Rumors are whispers in the wind. Let them blow by you," Yinlo replied.
"You killed the baby Avatar, do you not feel guilt? But then, why do you not kill your own child and get rid of the Avatar cycle for good?"
Yinlo couldn't respond. He was unsure why they hadn't killed their child yet. Melora seemed so attached. Yinlo found himself unable to get near his son. He didn't want to give him a name, but Melora had already started calling him Akuji.
"That's is what we expected. I am their new leader. They will no longer follow you. I hope you do the right thing, but know this. If you do not—we will finish the deed." The man left the caves and flew off.
Yinlo felt unsatisfied with himself. He didn't feel comfortable in his own skin, like he was betraying everything he once stood for. He then made the decision that he would have to kill his son tonight.
Mokolo felt numb. His eyes gazed at the path ahead of him, never swaying to look at either side of him—always forward. He was off to see the Fire Lord. After hearing of Zyon's death, he no longer felt he could leave without telling the Fire Lord of the dangers in the abandoned village.
The Southern Water Tribe Chief opened the large doors to the chamber of the Fire Lord. Fire Lord Aviur gave a slight smile as Mokolo walked up to him.
"Chief Mokolo. I am so pleased to have you here."
"Thank you for seeing me, Lord Aviur."
"You must pass this message along to those who survived your expedition. The Fire Nation thanks you for your heroic attempt in saving the Avatar. We have the deepest sympathy for those you lost that day."
"And we have the deepest sympathy for the loss of your citizens, namely Zola."
"Thank you. We have stocked your ships with supplies and found some Firebenders that are willing to accompany you on your way. I was told you had an urgent matter to discuss with me?"
"There is a village in your nation, near the Eastern shores. It is infected with a terrible plague. If it gets out of there, you are all doomed," Mokolo said quickly, hoping to get the matter resolved as fast as possible.
"Oh, yes, I am aware of the village. We discovered it but a few days ago."
"You did? That's great. Have you found a cure? Did you rescue anyone? Any Earthbenders?" Mokolo asked. He also began to feel the guilt of leaving Shofini behind, so he held out hope that she was still alive.
"No survivors. We couldn't risk waiting for a cure. We simply burned the place down with Dragons. Since they can always breathe fire, it was a simple task during the eclipse."
"You what? You killed them!" Mokolo shouted in disgust.
"They were already dead. And we would have been too!" Fire Lord Aviur yelled even louder. The two of them stared at one another for a few moments, waiting for someone to back down. Mokolo finally blinked and turned away. He stopped and turned back once more.
"Thank you for what you have shared with us. We appreciate it. Good day." He bowed and then left.
Dakko met him outside the Palace. He hadn't seen him since when he revealed his murder of Tu Kon.
"Dakko, you are the last person I want to see right now!"
"Please, just listen!"
"NO! You listen. You killed a man, an innocent man. He let Kyla pass. He was going to help stop Yinlo but then you killed him. You have done some terrible things, but this one takes the cake. You are evil, Dakko."
Mokolo stormed off, leaving Dakko shocked and depressed.
Yinlo entered their hut to discover Melora coddling Akuji. She was talking to him, like she often did, in a high pitched voice. The baby reached out to her finger and grabbed it. Melora smiled and felt happier than she had in ages.
"Melora, we need to talk."
"Okay, well isn't that what we began doing as soon as you started speaking?"
"Can you—can you just put it down."
"Please, put the baby down!" Yinlo said firmly. Melora put Akuji in his crib and then sat down. "We need to discuss what we're going to do with the baby."
"What do you mean what do we do? We raise him. He's our baby."
"We weren't supposed to have our baby be the Avatar!"
"Well now we do!"
"We cannot rule our own lands without killing the Avatar."
"This Avatar will be our child. He'll be on our side!"
"You think the Avatar will really let his parents get in the way of peace and justice?"
"He's our son. He doesn't have to know—"
"Melora! We can't risk it. We have been waiting, time after time, to kill the Avatar and finally the Avatar his handed to us on our front doorstep."
"So that's it? You've just decided we're killing our son and that's it."
"That's it, yes," Yinlo answered confidently.
"Fine. Let's do it right now. I'll bring him outside. You get the potion that keeps him in the Avatar state. I believe there's still some in one of my bags," Melora stated, visibly unhappy.
"Thank you," was all Yinlo said. He searched in Melora's bags for the mixture but couldn't find it anywhere. He double checked her bags but found nothing. He finally gave up and proceeded outside to find Melora.
"Honey, I can't find it anywhere—" Yinlo stopped as soon as he realized he had been tricked. Melora was nowhere in sight. She had taken their son right out from under his nose.
Mokolo and Dakko visited the remains of Zyon's old village. The entire town had been scorched to ashes. The entire front wall was gone. What was once barricaded to prevent anyone from getting in or out was not an open wasteland. The two Waterbenders strode through the remains.
"Do you really think I'm evil?" Dakko asked, unsure of why he was brought along.
"No. I was just angry that the Fire Lord did this. Not to say what you did wasn't wrong—but to be fair you didn't know. He was the target originally."
"Oh, okay," Dakko murmured. He was unsure if Mokolo was being sincere. "Mokolo, why did you take me here?"
"Dakko, I was once convicted of a brutal crime. You know this, yes?"
"Of course, everyone in the North knows," Dakko responded without thinking, turning his face red.
"Right," Mokolo sighed, "well the charges were that I killed my wife to be with Sokka to get out of the marriage. But that's not what happened."
"We had just lost a child. Times were rough and then I met Sokka. He was brilliant. We connected instantly. And my wife found out. She felt like she was losing everything. She was struck with depression and one day... one day I followed her to a Cliffside. She was about to jump. I reached out to save her but I was too late. Unfortunately someone thought I was pushing them, at least that's what it looked like on their end. I didn't murder my wife. She killed herself because I loved someone else. My romance is a tragedy. Even now, I don't have, Sokka."
"Okay, but what does that have to do with why you brought me here?"
"Because I needed you to see that people make mistakes, and when we lose people because of those mistakes...it doesn't make us evil. People may see it that way, but at the time we were doing what we thought was right. And if given the chance to change it or apologize, you take it."
"What's that?" Dakko asked and pointed to a large stone.
"It's what I expected. A lot of Earthbenders do this in their last defense."
"What are you talking about?"
"This is Shofini's grave." Mokolo touched the outside of the sphere of rock. It was burnt to a crisp and still warm. "Shofini was turning; perhaps she was still conscious when we left. She must have had just enough strength to hide in this before the dragons came."
"There's a message," Dakko pointed out.
"What? What does it say?" Mokolo inquired. He pushed Dakko out of the way and read it. It had a date and then said "Mokolo's Death."
"You're going to die?"
"This is the date of the next full moon. Come on, let's get out of here."
"Don't you think it's weird your name is on this? That's pretty specific!" Dakko insisted.
"If she wanted revenge, I don't think she can do it from the Spirit World," Mokolo answered and headed towards the shores. As he began boarding his ship he noticed another ship heading around the corner of a nearby mountain. It looked like it had just survived a storm. It quickly disappeared before Mokolo could point it out to anyone else.
Near the ocean of the Patola Mountain range, sky bison were swimming through the air weaving in and out of the tall peaks. On one of these majestic beasts were a baby and his mother. They had been flying for a few days, hoping to reach a place of safety. Upon seeing a cave, Melora stopped and began to set up camp.
She was unaware she was being watched by her husband. He was on a Cliffside that wasn't too far from her cave. He continued spying as she lit a fire.
Yinlo knew he needed to make up with Melora if he was to convince her of his plan. It seemed so simple in his mind. If they were to get their revenge against the Avatar and destroy the cycle—they needed to kill their son. There was no other way. Yinlo were certain this was what fate intended.
He finally worked up the courage to fly over to Melora's cave. He hesitated before going in. Yinlo began pacing back and forth, suddenly forgetting what exactly he wanted to say. Melora noticed him before he could say anything though.
"I knew you'd find me."
"Babies leave trails."
"I'm not killing our son."
"I'm not asking you to."
"I'm sorry, Melora. I was just so obsessed with killing the Avatar that I overlooked the fact that it's our son."
"Why should I trust you?" Melora inquired. She knew Yinlo's obsession would not have ended that quickly.
"Because I could have killed the Avatar—our son—by now and I haven't. I want to love my family."
Melora smiled and hugged her husband. It was enough for her to believe—for now.
"Let me get our son! You haven't properly said hello to him yet," Melora stated, excited. She went further into the cave to retrieve her son. Yinlo smiled and chuckled to himself.
"It's almost too easy," Yinlo whispered to himself. His cocky attitude was immediately withdrawn when a flying bison came soaring out of the cave with Melora and Akuji on its back. Yinlo wanted to kick himself for falling for her escape method twice.
Melora steered the bison into the sky, trying to find a direction to head for. That's when she noticed the ships heading towards the mountain range. She pulled on the reigns and the bison changed its course to the sea. It headed for the ships with blue sails.
The winds around her suddenly felt different, and before she knew it a strong enough wind was actually causing the Sky Bison to shift course. Melora was confused until she looked in the direction of the wind. Floating in the skies was their former air army, now under the direct order of Yinlo. Yinlo pointed a finger at his wife and the army charged at her. Melora whipped the reigns causing the animal she rode upon to move faster through the air to reach the Water Tribe. It was a few moments before Melora realized her sudden increase in speed had caused her son to fall out of the air.
Yinlo watched from above as his son started falling through the clouds and down to the sea below. Something clicked in Yinlo's mind. It could have been Melora's desperate attempt to get the Bison to go against the flow of the army's attack or perhaps Yinlo's realization that his son was dying—whatever it was, it caused Yinlo to take his glider and dart faster than he had ever gone before. He managed to save his son just in time, causing outrage within the air army for his betrayal once again.
The sun was setting as they continued setting sail for the South Pole. They were getting closer. The Patola Mountain Range was the furthest location traveled by that point. Then they would head straight for the ice at the bottom of the world.
Omu watched as the sun's light began to fade, changing the horizon to a rainbow. He was staring deeply at the sky, thinking of what led him here. He completely abandoned his home town to help the Avatar—who had died months ago. But he kept with them and found himself losing the closest thing to a friend he found in this tribe.
"I miss them," Omu said aloud to no one. He just felt that it needed to be said. He needed to hear it.
Kyla walked over to him and leaned on the railing of the ship with him. She hadn't spoken much about her experience during the eclipse, other than revealing Tu Kon let her pass.
"Hello," Omu greeted her. Kyla waved her hand and gave a slight smile. "I was thinking about Zyon and Wato. I barely knew Zyon but he was nice. And Wato...he was my friend throughout this whole thing. And now they're gone. I'm alone. I left my family behind to travel with some strangers to the South and I'm not sure why I did it anymore."
"I...I'm sorry," was all Kyla could respond with. Her eyes were staring as if into time itself. No one felt like they could connect with her.
"Yeah me too," Omu retorted. He wanted to go back home. It didn't matter if he saw his family again, just to be somewhere familiar would suffice.
"Do you see that?" Kyla asked.
"In the sky. It looks like—" Kyla's eyes widened at the realization of the incoming army. A bison was leading the way, and behind it were a few dozen airbenders.
"Is that the air army that killed Jong-Mu?"
"I think so. I'll go warn the chief," Kyla responded and went to the lower deck. Omu looked around for some sort of earth. There was nothing around him. Omu reached out for the mountains, but couldn't bend the rocks.
He put his arms down in disappointment. Once again he could do nothing to save the people around him.
Kyla and Mokolo ran up to the top deck to view the incoming army. Mokolo ordered all the ships to anchor, and then attack. No hesitation.
The battle didn't ensue long before airbenders began falling down from the sky. They were trapped in ice and gravity took a hold over them.
"Mokolo! Over here!" Kilo yelled. He had an airbender whose hands and feet were frozen in ice. Mokolo and Kilo carried him down the stairs. They unfroze him and tied him to a chair with rope.
"Airbenders that attack, but still remain silent. Interesting."
"Why have you attacked us?" the Airbender asked.
"Perhaps the words Serpent's Pass will ring a bell."
"That was different. We were under the direct orders of Yinlo and Melora."
"To kill the Avatar?" Kilo interrupted.
"Correct," the Airbender answered. "But then Yinlo messed up. Twice. The Avatars he killed needed to be in the Avatar State to end the cycle. They weren't, and so Melora has—"
"Melora?" Mokolo asked.
"The False Spirit."
"Why do you call it that? The False Spirit. What's that mean?" Kilo asked.
"Melora faked her death at Serpent's Pass. She masqueraded as the Green Spirit for months. It allowed her access to the Tower of the Sun. That's where Yinlo killed Zola, the next Avatar. And now Melora and Yinlo have their hands on the next Avatar and—"
"How do they have the next Avatar already?" Kilo inquired.
"Melora was pregnant," Mokolo said while staring straight ahead, imagining the consequences.
"Their son is the Avatar. But Melora won't let Yinlo kill it. Yinlo finally hired us to do it. We were chasing her, and now she's gone."
"Call off your men. We'll call of ours," Mokolo said.
"What? Mokolo, why?"
"Kilo! Shut up!"
"I've noticed something since I've been on you ship," the Airbender interrupted. Kilo and Mokolo stopped talking and looked at the Airbender. Omu came down the stairs wondering what was taking so long.
"Your ship," the Airbender started, "or rather, ships, have quite a lot of mouths to feed. You must be excellent fisherman."
"What are you getting at?" Mokolo asked.
"We won't call off our men, unless you give us your food supply. See, we haven't found a place that has food for us and we're getting sick. We need a place to stay that has food."
"No. I have mouths to feed. Children of all ages need to keep up their strength. They're going to need it for the South." Kilo shot a look at Mokolo. It seemed like the Chief knew something about the South that he wasn't telling him.
"Then prepare for war."
"Wait!" Omu interrupted. "I have an idea. Look, how about we feed you and I find you a place to live. I can even help build homes. I'm an Earthbender."
"Deal," the Airbender immediately agreed.
"Omu! You do not speak for our tribe!" Mokolo shouted.
"But I do speak for my safety! And this gets everyone to safety. Go on, tell me I'm wrong."
"Release him," Mokolo conceded and went off to order his troops to stand down.
Yinlo lit the coals with a torch he stole from one of the Water Tribe's ships. He was never very fond of fires, but suspected now was as good as time for one as any. Melora would be returning soon with food for Yinlo and the baby. Yinlo was trying to bond with his child, but wasn't having any success.
"Perhaps it's the fire," Yinlo muttered to himself.
Yinlo grabbed the baby in both hands and held it over the embers and the growing fire. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. The flames had been enchanted with the liquid that would keep the Avatar in the Avatar State for a set time. It turned the coals bright yellows, oranges, and reds. Yinlo dipped the baby into the colored flames.
The child immediately began crying due to the intense heat. Yinlo's nose scrunched up. He began sweating intensely. He finally let go of his son as he began burning in the fire. His eyes began to turn bright blue as he went into the Avatar State.
Melora ran into the room, quickly grabbing Akuji from out of the fire. She took a bucket of water and splashed it on him. His back was burnt black. Akuji was crying profusely.
"I'm so so sorry baby. Mommy's here. I promise, Mommy's here," Melora said as she held him tightly with her eyes shut. She felt a slight wind at her back.
"Give him to me," Yinlo ordered.
"No!" Melora shouted proudly. She put her child down for a moment. Melora proceeded to whip a tiny tornado at her husband, causing some nearby stones to hit him in the head and knock him out.
When Yinlo came to, it took a while for him to remember all the pieces of what had happened. When he finally remembered what had happened between him and Melora, he quickly collected his glider and flew out to find an old contact.
He found the man he was looking for on the tip of the Earth Kingdom. The man was near a lake, eating fruit.
"Yinlo. I didn't expect you to show up so soon."
"Well plans have changed. I need you to find her."
"My daughter," Yinlo answered.
For the collective works of the author, go here.