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|The Blood from the North|
Three: The South
Book Three: The South
The Blood from the North
It had been eight years since the death of Mokolo. Her fingers briefly touched the stained blood on the rocks outside the gate to their city. It was a constant reminder of the dangers they faced in the South Pole.
Kyla looked up into the sky and noticed something headed towards her. She backed away from the rock and squinted her eyes. The creature came racing in before halting itself and landing on the rock. It was a snowy owlsquirrel with a message attached to its leg. Kyla took it off and read it.
Hello old friend,
It's been many years since we last spoke. I have tried reaching you but I fear most of my messages have been intercepted. Toko is coming back again. Prepare yourselves and good luck.
Kyla looked up from the letter, feeling numb and trying not to remember what had happened the last time Toko was there. But it all came flooding back—starting with her trip to the Spirit World from the South Pole Oasis.
8 YEARS AGO
I don't know where I am.
Kyla ran through the Spirit World, weaving through a forest of strange creatures she had never seen before. A red mist spread around her, making it hard to see. Whatali was on her heels, relentlessly chasing her.
Her feet pounded on the grounded, pushing off and leaping to get away from the spirit. She felt like she couldn't run fast enough. With every step, Whatali seemed to be nearer.
Kyla approached a cliff. She was about to reach a dead end. It was the only way clear of the red mist, so Kyla opted to continue towards it.
Her hands banged on the cliff, hoping for a secret entrance. To her surprise, there was one. A door appeared—as if by magic—and opened for her. She stepped inside, surprised that it led to a desert of sand. She turned around and the cliff was gone.
Where am I?
A large lake lied before her. It seemed to go on for miles. It was calm. Nothing moved. The lake was a crystal blue, untouched.
Kyla took a few steps forward, mesmerized by the tranquility of the lake. She continued inching herself forwards, wondering what exactly was so interesting about it. She looked down at her reflection, but saw none. She jumped back in shock.
She got down on her hands and knees and peered over the edge of the lake once again. Nothing. No reflection.
"Kyla," a voice whispered.
Kyla shot her head up and saw Palokk standing on the lake. He was in a silver robe and looked as if he had just woken up.
"Avatar Palokk," Kyla called out. He moved closer to her.
"I've been waiting for you."
"For longer than you know. I was told—"
A loud shriek came from the distance, drowning out some of Palokk's words.
"What did you say?"
"There isn't time now. Whatali is on her way. But there are far worse dangers in your future. Beware the Red Lotus, the benders of Blood whose enemy lies beneath their feet. Beware the ships of black. Beware the descendent of the Avatar, for she will bring thousands to their knees."
"Shofini is dead though," Kyla pointed out.
"One more thing," Palokk said without acknowledging her statement. Whatali began shrieking again, this time without stop. Kyla only made out part of what he said. "Above all, beware the clarity—"
"She'll be here soon. Quick, get on my Polar Leopard's back. He'll take you back to the Oasis," Palokk offered. He whistled and his Polar Leopard came along. Kyla hopped on his back, as Palokk had disappeared before she could ask any more questions. Kyla was brought through the portal and out of the Spirit World.
"We're almost there," Kilo told Kyla. They were traveling on a bison to the Southern Air Temple to see Omu.
"Oh, okay," Kyla said and flashed a quick smile. She looked back out to the ocean. It seemed stressed to her. Something about it was off. The Southern Spirit Oasis flashed in her mind. She quickly shut her eyes and tried to think of something else.
They landed at the entrance of their main temple, Omu was ready to greet them with open arms. It had been three years since they last saw each other. He put his arms down when he saw Lily and Kilo holding hands. Kyla was walking behind them, looking at the ground.
"Lily, Kilo. Wow! You two are together!" Omu stated in shock.
"Hi, Omu!" Lily almost shouted and ran up to hug him. Omu remained motionless as she wrapped her arms around him.
"Hi, Lily. Kilo, Kyla. Nice to see you."
"We got your letter, or Kyla did," Kilo replied. He motioned for Kyla to take it out. Kyla took the paper out of her bag and handed it to Kilo silently.
"Which one? Let me see. I marked my letters and sent them on different routes to see which was safest," Omu said as he grabbed the letter from Kilo, breaking free from Lily's everlasting hug.
"Clever," Lily commented. She quickly hooked her arm around Kilo and kissed him on the cheek. Kilo and Lily smiled at each other.
"So where is he?" Kilo asked.
"There have been reports of Toko in the Swamp Tribe again."
"Well, let's not waste any time here! To the Swamp Tribe. Thanks for the help, Omu!" Kilo said and headed to their sky bison with Lily. Omu stayed back with Kyla.
"Kilo and Lily, huh? I always thought it would be you and Kilo," Omu said.
"Yeah me too," Kyla replied and took off to the bison. Omu watched them leave. He was hoping she would have said the same about Lily and himself.
8 YEARS AGO
Kyla found herself on the grass around the Spirit Oasis. Tui and La were circling each other and glowing. Whatali burst through the water, shrieking at Kyla.
Kyla scrambled to her feet and took a fighting pose. Whatali shot spikes of ice her way. She rose her arms and spread out her fingers. The ice stopped midair and turned around. They fired back at the Spirit who quickly evaded the attack.
"You're back!" Kilo exclaimed.
"Yeah and so is Whatali. What do we do?" Kyla asked.
"The Avatar got rid of it last time. How?"
Kyla thought back to when the Spirit attacked their city in the North Pole. It seemed like so long ago. So much had happened since the revolution. Kyla had seen the passing of two Avatars, unable to stop both murders from their attackers. Yet somehow on the opposite side of the Earth, she was fighting the same Spirit.
"I don't know!" Kyla screamed. She wasn't around the Oasis to see how the Avatar stopped Whatali.
"Kyla, listen to me," Kilo stated and grabbed her shoulders while looking directly at her eyes. "You can do this. I've seen you do incredible things. You are one of the most powerful Waterbenders I've ever seen. Get that thing back into the Spirit World. You can do it, I promise you can do it!"
Kyla smiled and faced the spirit. She rose her arms and started creating a cyclone from the snow. The Spirit was able to diminish it though. It shot more spikes of ice at the two Waterbenders. Kilo flung himself out of the way. Kyla continued using them as her own weapon. Whatali was able to evade each attack however.
"It's not working. I don't know how to make my bending more powerful. It just happens sometimes!" Kyla cried out, terrified.
Kilo was suddenly shot down by an icicle. It went through his leg, pinning him to the ground. Kyla ran over to him but was stopped by a line of giant icicles. The spirit floated above Kilo's body, ready to finish its attack.
Kyla felt a rush of adrenaline rush through her body. She felt like she needed to cry and punch something at the same time. She spun around and swung her arms at the spirit. The water from the Oasis rose up around Whatali and froze her in place. Kyla forced the ball of ice into the Oasis. The koi fish opened the Spirit World entrance allowing it to cross, as if they knew that was what Kyla intended.
Kyla melted the wall of ice separating her from Kilo. She quickly melted the icicle and used it to heal Kilo. She ripped off his sleeve and used it to wrap up the wound. It was a couple of hours and a few healing sessions before he woke up.
"You saved me," was the first thing he said.
"How could I not?"
"I almost died," Kilo reflected.
"I was here, it's okay," Kyla tried comforting him.
"Do you love me?" Kilo asked. "I almost died and I didn't get to know. Do you?"
Kyla stood up and looked away from Kilo.
"I suppose that's my answer then," Kilo stated and looked down at his injury. "Come on, help me up. We should get back to the village."
The sky bison landed on a large root in the Swamp. A hundred or so huts surrounded them, with more being built in the distance. The huts were covered in blue seaweed, trying to maintain their Water Tribe roots. They even worse blue clothing.
Kilo jumped off and proceeded to help Lily to the ground. Kyla frowned and looked the other way. She climbed down the Bison on her own and looked out into the Swamp. It gave her a strange feeling. She felt powerful and terrified all at once.
"Do you want to explore?" Kilo asked her. Kyla turned around quickly, caught off guard.
"No. Let's just ask."
"Oh... okay," Kilo complied and walked over to the nearest hut.
Lily looked at Kyla, studying her expression.
"I know that face. I remember that face all too well," Lily commented.
"What face is that?"
Kyla suddenly felt like she was going to cry. She held it back and walked past Lily.
"Let's go, we need to find him."
Lily sighed before following her. Kilo jogged towards them.
"He's at least been here, alright."
"What did the villager say?" Kyla asked.
"When I asked about Toko she said 'I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.' Then she slammed the door on me. She was scared of him. Let's try and find out more."
Kilo led Kyla and Lily through their village, asking everyone about Toko. Most ran away, few said he had been there recently but fled. Kyla would stay outside of the hut while Lily and Kilo asked the questions. She just looked around while they investigated. She watched a family row through the swamp together.
She thought back to her family. She hadn't seen her mother in years. She had lost so many people. Her eyes darted to a young girl, bending water around her. She had brown hair and green eyes. Kyla felt a deep pain in the pit of her stomach. She began crying again, when her eyes caught sight of someone familiar.
"Melora?" Kyla gasped, wiping away her tears.
"Kyla! What are you doing here?" Melora quickly asked, taking a step back into the shadows.
"How did you—how did you escape?"
"It's a long story."
"I have time."
"It's a long story you already know," Melora said and pointed to a large scar on her arm. Kyla recognized it instantly. Images of the Southern Spirit Oasis flooded through her mind again.
"It was you."
"Yes," Melora stated. "What are you doing here?"
"There have been reports of Toko in the area. Have you seen him?"
Melora looked down, unsure of what to say.
"Melora, you have to tell me if you know anything."
"I don't know anything. There have been rumors, but I didn't think they were true. Have you found out anything? If he's acquiring an army again—he could find my son."
"Where is your son? You said you left him with an old friend. Who?"
"Akuji is with Omu at the Southern Air Temple," Melora revealed.
Kyla turned around and looked at Kilo. "We were just there."
Kilo and Lily departed from the house and headed over to her.
"Kyla, come on! This guy didn't know anything. Let's try the next one," Kilo called out.
"Kilo, wait. I think we need to go back," Kyla responded and pointed at Melora.
8 YEARS AGO
Kyla made a pair of crutches out of ice for Kilo. It was a decent option allowing them to return to their village. They made their way to the gates. Lily was standing outside of them.
"Kilo! Kyla! You're alive! Oh thank goodness. We thought you had been taken!" Lily shouted as she ran towards them and gave them each a hug.
"Taken? From who?" Kyla inquired.
"We're not sure. We've just been calling them the Others."
"Other people live here," Kyla said softly to herself.
"What happened here?" Kilo asked, sounding out of breath.
"Follow me," Lily said. She led them around the way to the back side.
"Where are we going?" Kyla asked.
"They're clever. They broke through our wall and attacked our people. They were incredible. A lot of reports saying they wanted to help but couldn't. They felt stuck. Some people that did attack couldn't hit them. Their attacks were all evaded. Some people were taken."
"What about you? Where were you when this happened?"
"I was with another Waterbender. I don't even know his name. He was taken from me. I mean I was right beside him and he was grabbed by the air. Something was controlling his body. I quickly wrapped myself in fire and ran away. I should've helped. I just ran though... That's when I saw the real reason they came here."
"What was that?"
Lily stopped at the sight of the destroyed wall. The ice had melted, leaving slush and foot prints on the ground. The foot prints were of humans, but there were only two tracks.
"How could two people have done this?" Kyla asked.
"Follow me. The tracks don't stay two. They diverge. Again. And again. And again. We counted thirty-two."
"They came here to take people. I'm not sure why, but that wasn't their only message. They want us to know they're here."
Lily led them through their village back to the front gates.
"You're back," Omu said as Kilo, Kyla, and Lily headed towards them. "What's going on? Did you find Toko?"
"We found someone else," Kilo said and stepped aside. Melora showed herself from behind the bison. Omu's jaw dropped.
"What are you doing here?" Omu asked, shocked.
"Toko can't find my son. We need to make sure he's safe," Melora answered.
Omu looked down, unsure of how to tell them what happened.
"Omu, where is Akuji?" Lily asked.
"He's gone," Omu answered immediately.
"Gone?" Melora shouted.
Omu explained what happened since the last time he and Melora met. She was wearing a pink flower from the Swamp tribe. She departed Omu with the child as no one else would take him. It was for Melora's protection.
One day, while playing on the beaches, a ship came into sight. Omu recognized it immediately as the same ship Kyla described had taken Dakko. The ship came in fast and from it, several bodies emerged. They flew through the sky and grabbed him.
"I don't know how, but they stole him right from under me. I tried going after them but they disappeared in a fog."
Melora began to cry and Kyla comforted her. Kilo took Lily's hand and looked at the Sky Bison.
"We should go to the Red Docks," Kilo suggested.
"The last time we were there—"
"Was where we saw the ships. They always go there. Maybe we can find Akuji."
"Yes, let's go!" Melora interrupted, trying to speak over her crying.
Kyla silently agreed. Omu decided to come along as well. They traveled back to the South Pole to the Red Docks.
8 YEARS AGO
"It's right over here," Lily said, tearing up a bit.
"What does it say?" Kilo asked.
"The message doesn't have words," Lily replied.
"How can a message not have any words?" Kyla responded curiously.
Lily continued for a bit and then abruptly stopped. She looked down and pointed to the gates of the community.
"Oh my spirits," Kilo gasped.
Mokolo's body was hanging from the inside of their gates. The gates were covered in blood along with his body. They used Mokolo's Northern blood to make an arrow that pointed back to the North.
"What happened? Who did this?" Kyla asked.
"We're not sure. Someone powerful or sneaky that's for sure. His head is almost turned in the complete opposite direction of what it should be. They want us to go back to the North. How they got it on the inside of our gate...well that's the scariest part," Lily explained.
"Did anyone tell Sokka?" Kilo questioned.
"He's missing. We think whoever did this took him along with the other Waterbender they took."
"Then I'll take over."
"What?" Kyla asked Kilo.
"We don't have a leader. I was his right hand man this entire trip. We need someone to lead. Why not me?" Kilo stated. Kyla looked down and gave a slight smile.
"That's a great idea!" Lily practically shouted.
"Really?" Kilo asked, surprised.
"Yeah! I think you'd be perfect!"
"Well then, looks like I'm the new leader of the Southern Water Tribe: Chief Kilo."
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