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Three: The South
Book Three: The South
4 YEARS AGO
Kyla's storm forced Toko's army out of their village. The moon was still hidden in the eclipse, but her waterbending was a strong as ever. The dark night sky was filled with a blaze of hell that Toko would later describe as "the worst, darkest night of his life."
At the end of her rampage, she created walls of ice over two hundred feet high. She looked out at the ocean, as if she was listening to someone out there. Then she let the water she was using to move her fall back to the Earth. She fell to the ground and rested.
Kilo rushed over to her and picked her up. He carried her back to the safety of his Palace and waited for her to wake up. It was nearly two days before she did.
"You're awake!" he said frantically. He darted around for a cup of water and some bread for her. She barely touched either.
"What happened? What happened! I'll tell you what happened!" he started excitedly. He went through great detail as he explained to Kyla how their village was under attack from their old leader in the North. They had just about lost the war when Kyla came out of nowhere and reconquered their village.
"I did that?"
"You were incredible! You said you were the descendent of Avatar Palokk and then demanded everyone leave your home."
Kyla looked down, trying to remember the events that had happened—how she got back home.
"How long have I been away?" Kyla asked, having lost track of time while with the Bloodbenders.
"It's been nearly four years," Kilo said, the excitement having immediately dissipated from his voice. "Not much has changed. I've missed you."
"I missed you too," Kyla responded, breaking out into tears.
They two embraced for a while until Kilo finally backed off. He was unsure of how to tell Kyla he was with Lily now. Instead he asked a different question.
"How did you escape?"
"I walked," Kyla simply said before explaining some of her time in the prison.
"I had been there for about a year before I ran into a familiar face. It was Melora. She had been taken captive. I'm not sure why but she was there. We bonded in the cell. First I hated her, but eventually she became my friend. With no one else to talk to, it was my only choice."
"Together she encouraged me to find a way for the two of us to escape. Until then I had been waiting for rescue but I was becoming increasingly aware that it would not arrive. We had to find a way out for ourselves. And we did."
"The first escape attempt was...it haunts me to this day how close we got. Everything would have been so much easier if we had just...of course then we wouldn't have known Akuji was still there. It started out with the discovery that the Bloodbending guard was a man. Melora took it from there. She flirted with the guard and stole the keys to our cell."
"The next night we made a plan to sneak out and build a bridge of ice into the mountains and find a nearby forest. After that, Melora would be able to fashion a glider and we'd fly to our village. But she didn't think we'd be stopped, particularly by her son."
"The Avatar intercepted our plans as soon as we got out of our cell. He was so young. He made Melora cry instantly. He whipped Kyla with a large burst of fire, leaving a scar on her arm. And then he did the unthinkable. He bended our blood and moved us back into our jail cell. He took the keys from Melora and left without saying a word."
Kyla and Kilo paused in silence, scared of the implications of a kidnapped Avatar who knew how to bloodbend. What sort of pain would he release on the world?
"The following morning they came by and stripped us of any belongings we had. They took my brush. It was the last connection I had to family and it was now gone. They didn't give us anything to eat for a week. It was terrible. I wanted to die."
Kyla's thoughts drifted to the conversation she had with Melora before they were given their first meal in six days. She didn't tell Kilo the details, but ran through the words in her mind.
Melora had looked over at her and whispered, "Do you think my son knew who I was?"
"If he knew, he's been brainwashed to hate you."
"That's what I feared you'd say. I think so too."
"Are we going to die here, Melora?"
"Looks that way," she answered truthfully.
"This isn't the worst thing they've done to me; starve me that is. When I first got here I was pregnant. I had a daughter."
Melora suddenly found energy to sit up and stare directly at Kyla. Kyla didn't say anything, she just let the tears start falling down her cheek.
"They took her. They told me she died shortly after being taken."
"I'm so sorry," Melora whimpered, knowing the exact pain of losing your child. She moved over to Kyla and hugged her.
"It's fine. I was thinking it might be possible to see her again in the Spirit World. If I got out, that was what I was going to do first. I was going to journey into the Spirit World to find my daughter."
"How would you get to the Spirit World?"
Kyla had told Melora of the Spirit Oasis she and Kilo built when they came to the South Pole. Melora was barely listening. She heard footsteps and knew food was coming. They were given their first meal in a week, for seemingly no reason.
"So how did you escape?" Kilo asked, snapping Kyla out of her train of thought.
"Akuji let me out. I'm not sure why, but he did. So I came to find you, and that's when I came and rescued our city."
"I don't understand. How did you bend during the eclipse?"
"I took a stop at the Spirit Oasis. I just needed a safe place to rest. I saw a vision of our tribe under attack. I became enraged and the next thing I knew...I woke up here," she lied.
Satisfied with what he had learned so far, Kilo left her to rest. Kyla thought about what had really happened. She visited the Spirit Oasis not to rest, but to follow through with her goal of finding her daughter.
While in the Spirit World, she seemed to find clues of her daughter everywhere, but was repeatedly told by several knowledgeable spirits that her daughter was still on Earth. It was this knowledge that led to Kyla coming out of the Spirit World in a frenzy of rain and snow. Her connection to Palokk was so strong in the Spirit World that coupled with the emotional intensity of losing her daughter—she emerged completely capable of bending during the Lunar Eclipse. She was a legend in her own right—but not the one Palokk had meant.
"You shouldn't drink that," the boy said to her.
"You shouldn't be speaking," Kyla replied.
The boy walked closer to her cage. He looked angry.
"You know my mother."
"I've known her for a long time, yes."
Kyla looked at the water she had been given. It had always tasted weird.
"What's wrong with the water, Akuji?" Kyla asked. Akuji glared at her.
"That is no longer my name. But it's poison. A special poison in your water that makes you unable to bend. Except for blood. It makes you a powerful bloodbender. The village drinks it daily."
Kyla immediately poured the water away. It was the reason why her bending didn't work against Zygo.
"Where is my mother?" Akuji asked.
"In a different cell."
"Akuji, what are they going to do to her?"
The young Avatar did not say anything. He started to back away.
"Tonight they will hide the moon. Maybe it's best to drink the water after all," he warned her and then took off.
Kyla looked at the water. It took almost all of her might to bend the water up and back into the cup. She drank the poison, unsure of what was to come.
Kilo reached the mountainside, certain of his ability to finish his quest. He was going to rescue Kyla from the bloodbenders. Unlike last time, he was going to do something this time. Lily protested, arguing he needed to protect her. He went anyhow.
The snow was whirling around him. His cheeks became red and he found it hard to breathe. The mountains seemed to have a significant drop of temperature compared to the surrounding area. Kilo tried creating a shield around himself but it was of no use. The weather was too fierce.
Kilo climbed on top of the smallest mountain near their city. It over looked the lake on one side and the city nestled in the mountains on the other. Kilo looked down in disappointment. The city was the same as the one in his dream from the North. Precisely the same. His vision had not meant for him to be leader of a new city in the south; instead it was a warning of the Bloodbenders.
But it didn't matter for now. He had to rescue Kyla. He wouldn't let her stay here for another four years. It took him four hours to find a safe way into the city to the jail cells. It wasn't easy. There was always someone on guard on every street.
Kyla was drinking the poisoned water when Kilo showed up with Sokka beside him. Kyla spit out the water in excitement and relief. There was a small part of her that was hoping he would come.
"We don't have time," Kilo said before Kyla could get a word out. He used the keys he snatched off a guard to open her cell.
"We need to find Melora!" Kyla urged.
"I don't think we have time," Kilo replied, pointing at the man in the distance coming their way.
Zygo was heading straight for them, dressed in their tribes ceremonial gear consisting of animal hides and fur.
"We can't run. He'll just bloodbend us," Sokka argued.
"Then let's fight!" Kyla said angrily. She wanted no more of these people.
"Hello, my humble guests," Zygo greeted them with an evil grin plastered on his face.
Zygo looked directly at Kyla. He searched his mind for the right words to say to her. Kilo cut him off.
"Let us go and we don't attack you," Kilo warned.
"Kyla, is this the man that would have been a fath—"
Kyla raised her hands in the air and bent her fingers in a rigid fashion. Zygo screamed in pain and fell to his knees. He stopped yelling and began to focus. Then he spoke very quietly, barely audible.
"Do it. Make it the darkest night in history."
Kyla, Kilo, and Sokka looked up at the sky in horror. The moon that was lighting up the sky turned a deep red before finally disappearing altogether. Sokka waved his hands out in front of his face. It was like they weren't there.
Kilo and Sokka tried attacking Zygo, but nothing happened. The chief of the Red Lotus then curled his fingers and bloodbended the trio to their knees. Kyla stood up though and raised her hands.
"Maybe it was a mistake training me," she smiled and bloodbended Zygo once again. Zygo just laughed.
"No. You've just shown me you are exactly what I wanted you to be."
"Go you guys!" Kyla shouted to Kilo and Sokka. "I'll meet you guys at our settlement. Just go!"
Kilo and Sokka took off. Kyla looked at Zygo and breathed heavily. She could barely see him, but she felt the connection of the water in his body in her bending.
"I could end this now."
"But you won't," he replied and smiled creepily once again.
Melora sat in her jail cell, terrified at the sudden darkness of the night. She could swear someone was in the cell with her. Her suspicions turned out to be true when Akuji lit a small flame, revealing himself.
"Hello Mom," he stated with a hint of disdain in his voice.
"What are you doing here? What happened to the moon?"
"I'm not here to answer your questions. You're here to answer mine."
"What questions do you have?" Melora asked.
"Why did you leave my father?"
"Because he tried to kill you."
"Zygo would never kill me!" Akuji screamed in rage.
"Is that what he told you? That he is your father?"
"He is my father," Akuji answered with certainty.
"He's not. Your father was an airbender."
"That's not true."
"Yes it is."
"No it's not!" Akuji screamed. His arm suddenly became very stiff and it jerked forward, almost as if his mind wasn't communicating that it was him who was doing it. Suddenly a large chunk of Earth came flying at Melora, hitting her in the head.
Akuji put his arm down in shock. He ran over to his mother, watching the blood pour from her skull.
"Mom?" he whimpered. She didn't answer.
Her body was floating in a nearby stream, unmoving. The man picked up her body, the water he touched glowed. He turned and walked away with her in his arms.
"You will do just fine," the man said.
Lily opened her eyes and immediately felt a wave of depression hit her.
"Why did you save me? I don't want to live," she pleaded.
"Don't worry. Where you're going, your wish will be fulfilled," he laughed and continued carrying her out of the mountains.
It was then Lily recognized that the man who was rescuing her was Dakko.
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