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|The Ice King|
Three: The South
Book Three: The South
The Ice King
3 YEARS AGO
She could only think of what happened nearly a year ago. In a time when no one could bend water, she had—and it had saved her village. But that's not what she focused on. It was what she had seen after her attack that she couldn't discard from her memory. There, in the ocean, was the image of Avatar Palokk and the only message Kyla knew he was saying was, "Find the lake."
She began searching for it every day, going further and further every time. Once while traveling, she found a tall pole of ice in the middle of plain of ice that went as far as the eye could see. The ground underneath her suddenly gave way and a wall of mist shot up around her. She fell down underneath the snow, landing on her face. She looked up to see a pair of boots in front of her eyes.
"So we meet again, Kyla," the voice stated.
Kyla slowly lifted herself up, knowing exactly who it was that had just taken her. She dusted the snow off and lazily rose her eyes to the man.
"Dakko," she murmured.
"Come with me," he ordered and turned around.
"Do you really have a choice?"
Dakko led Kyla down a long winding tunnel that seemed more like a maze than a route to his home. Dakko stopped at a wall of ice and looked at the other Waterbender.
"What is it?"
"You live here? In a tunnel, under the ground? Do you just waterbend furniture whenever you need it?"
"No, just wait," he chuckled and then tapped on the wall four times.
The wall began to crumble, turning into a mixture of water and ice until finally it expanded into a hot steam. Dakko became invisible to Kyla. She took a few steps forward, scared of what was next. She heard a voice call out to her and took a few more steps. The mist surrounding her suddenly flew back past her face in a whirling rush as it reassembled to form the wall.
"Welcome to my Kingdom," Dakko declared as the guards around him bowed.
Kyla gasped as she walked forward the edge of a walled ice corridor that looked out to an entire city hidden underneath the ground of the South Pole. It was a spectacular sight. The city was constantly lit with candles and filled with sculptures that were always changing. Each house was a manor for every family to have. It was an ice paradise.
"You're the king? How did that happen?" Kyla asked.
"The tribe I was with, my people now—they were abandoned by me when Bloodbenders attacked. I was kicked off the council. The Princess then taught me to bloodbend, in case I should ever find myself alone. But instead, I used the power to take the tribe for myself—promising the rescue of our captured civilians from the battle though of course."
"How exactly do you plan on doing that?"
"I must take you to the Princess," Dakko responded.
She had been on the run for two days. There was a group of bloodbenders straggling behind the Waterbender as she lunged her legs through the snow. Kyla had no idea where she was going, the snow in the distance made it impossible to see. She had to lose them, but she didn't know how.
Kyla began feeling weary, and without warning she collapsed. It wouldn't be long now until she was captured once more. And then what? What did they want with her?
Kyla tried getting up once more, preparing herself to run again. She still couldn't bend and the only thing she could see in the distance was a very tall pole of ice. Kyla darted for it, using every last ounce of energy in her body to make it to the pole.
She stomped on the ground near the pole, hoping for someone to be there to let her in. After glancing up, she quickly regretting do so as it made her more nervous. They Bloodbenders were getting close. Kyla stomped on the ground a few more times until she fell down into a dark hole.
The Bloodbenders made their way to the hole and looked at one another. Kyla had already begun her way through the dark tunnels.
"Should we follow her?" One of them asked.
"No, let the Farmer take care of her," another one answered and turned back to their city.
It took a while before Kyla realized she was outside of the final wall before the entrance to the city. She knocked on it four times, and to her surprise it still opened in the same steamy manner as it had the last time she was in Dakko's Kingdom.
There was only one guard this time, and he looked very dismal.
"Who are you and what is your intent?"
"My name is Kyla. I'm here to see the King," she answered.
The guard showed her to Dakko's Palace without any hesitation. Kyla entered the Palace without knocking. The entire city was silent, so she didn't seem to even think about privacy. It was like a ghost town.
"Dakko?" she called out.
At the end of the Grand Hall, a throne was perched above a block of ice. Sitting upon this throne was Dakko, his face was holding a large frown and his eyes looked like he had been crying since they last met.
"Kyla, so wonderful of you to return," he stated with a monotone voice.
It wasn't long before Dakko explained that the current state of his city was due to the Bloodbenders discovering their location. They had followed one of their scouts back and then they attacked.
"What did you do?"
"The same thing the last time you were here," Dakko said, showing a slight smile for the first time.
"The last time? But—"
"Kyla, I'd like you to meet my new Queen. I believe you know her. She's quite a ball of fire, this one!"
Two guards brought in a woman who had her hands and feet in shackles and her mouth gagged. Her eyes seemed to be screaming as she peered endlessly at Kyla. It was Lily.
3 YEARS AGO
The two benders stared each other down. The Princess was wearing a white gown, and she smiled ever so slightly.
Kyla didn't speak. Violet just continued looking at her.
"It's been a while."
"I'm surprised you're alive to be honest."
"Lucky for me I know a thing or two about the spirits."
"Why did you do it?" Kyla asked Dakko and Violet.
"Dakko wanted the Spirits. I wanted to help."
"Why'd you want the Spirits, Dakko?"
"He wanted—" The princess began, before being cut off by Kyla.
"Dakko! I want Dakko to answer."
Dakko didn't say anything at first, he stood still, thinking. It wasn't until Kyla asked again that he found an answer.
"I'm going to be king of this entire planet, Kyla. And I need the Moon spirit to do that."
Kyla turned around, unhappy that she was essentially trapped.
"It's time to go," Dakko ordered.
"Go where?" Kyla inquired.
"Not you, me," the Princess declared. "I'm going back."
"To my people."
Kyla lost herself in the images of Bloodbenders. Suddenly she was back in the jail cell, looking at notes from the mysterious C, and worst of all—she grabbed her stomach and tried to snap out of it.
"You see, Kyla, the Bloodbenders will find us one day. I know this. Especially if they're looking for the Princess. The only solution is to offer her up in exchange for being left alone."
"You're using her? Are you okay with this Violet?" Kyla asked.
"I will do anything for the Ice King," she answered, referring to Dakko.
"You're a tribute. He doesn't love you."
"LET'S GO!" Dakko ordered once again. The Princess exited the room.
"Dakko, you can't let her go back there. They are evil!"
"I will be showing you the way back to your home as we depart. It was so nice of you to visit the King and his Kingdom," Dakko plainly stated and left the room. Kyla stood alone in the room, unsure if she should interfere or not.
Kyla stood in disbelief at the sight before her. Lily was in chains at the hands of Dakko, who was beyond all doubt the craziest he's ever been.
"Lily!" Kyla shouted. Lily tried to answer back but couldn't.
"Don't worry Kyla. I'm not going to hurt her. She's just going to be our monthly tribute."
"Like I had done with the Princess. Of course, the wench betrayed me. It was a plan. It was a trap. All along. She was a spy, Kyla. Did you know that? A spy! She was sent to figure out who we were when we landed. And then she found out about the Spirit Oasis. That's the real reason we checked it out so many years ago. I wanted power; she wanted to know if it was real. And then she came up with the plan to be sent back so my kingdom wasn't harmed. But really she went back to tell them of the Oasis. And now that's gone."
Kyla looked down in disappointment. She did not like to remember what had happened at the Oasis a couple of years ago.
"So, what? You just find random people and send them off as tributes each month?"
"So does your village. But I'm guessing you don't choose—they do."
Kyla looked down. He was correct. The Bloodbenders came every full moon to take someone.
"How do you choose?"
"Oh, we have a system. Actually, we have a program. We farm people for the Bloodbenders. It's the easiest way to stay attached to people and not worry they will be taken. We create people just for them. And the best part is, I finally got my revenge on Violet. I tracked her down and killed her. That's not even the worst part. The leader of the Red Lotus thinks your tribe did it!"
Kyla almost vomited in disgust. All of that information made her want to bloodbend Dakko.
"You're a monster!" she shouted.
Dakko smiled on one side of his mouth. "Guards, take Lily away."
2 YEARS AGO
The Spirit Oasis was quiet, the only sounds were Kyla's footsteps as she stepped off the ice onto the grass near the pond. She kneeled down to the water and stared at the fish.
The warm tranquil feeling spread from her hands to the rest of her body. She felt peaceful. And then she cried. For the first time she thought of her daughter and how she was stolen from her. She had no idea if she was alive or dead. She just wanted to know more than anything.
Kyla gazed away from the circling koi fish to the other end of the pond. She rubbed her eyes, wondering if there really was a reflection of a small child. She quickly looked up and saw there was a small girl that looked just like Kyla sitting across the pond.
Kyla felt herself in an almost surreal moment, somehow wishing her daughter was there one moment to her actually appearing the next. And then it all came falling down.
The giant shards of ice that were protecting the Spirit Oasis were destroyed and came falling down on the Oasis. Kyla quickly shielded herself, the oasis, and her child.
Outside the Oasis stood Zygo, Violet, Akuji and Bonyo. They were watching as the Oasis was annihilated, each sharing a large smile.
"Retrieve the Spirits," Zygo ordered. Bonyo stepped over the rubble and began clearing the ice with his hands. Violet waited for the Spirits to become visible.
She watched as Bonyo cleared away the bodies of Kyla and her daughter. Both were not moving. She wanted to help, but knew she would be questioned by her father if she did.
"Here, use this," Zygo stated and handed a large jar made of ice to her. Violet collected the Spirits in it without looking at Kyla once. She knew if she did she wouldn't be able to look away.
Akuji did though. He looked at both of them, and even moved over to the body of the daughter of Kyla. He began crying.
"Come Akuji. Bonyo, take the girl," Zygo ordered and left the ruins of the Oasis.
It wasn't until the next day that Kilo found Kyla at the Spirit Oasis. He used every healing technique he knew to bring her out of her coma. She began crying immediately upon waking up.
It wasn't until the next night that Kyla was able to talk to Kilo. She was feeling well enough to move, having been able to protect herself from most of the damage of the falling ice. She slowly walked to his house, still unable to waterbend her way there instead.
Kilo answered his door and smiled at the sight of her.
"What brings you here?"
Kyla blurted out what happened at the Spirit Oasis. She had seen Akuji and heard Zygo before they left. That's when she passed out again.
Kilo's jaw dropped and he began feeling woozy. He was shocked to find out he had a daughter and that she had just died. More than shocked, he was devastated.
"Yes," Kyla confirmed, beginning to cry again. She took Kilo's hands and pulled him closer. "Don't ever leave me," she begged and kissed him.
Kilo pulled back, unable to process the current situation. "I'm still with Lily!"
Kyla stepped away, ashamed. "I'm going to go. I'll go." Kyla turned around and left as quickly as she could, crying with every step.
"Are you sure about this?" Kilo asked Kyla.
She had just returned from Dakko's, and had no idea what else to do.
"I'm sure. She's gone. We have to go now."
"Why would you want to go back?" Kilo asked. "Remember what happened the first time you were there? Let alone the second!"
"You saved me the second time."
"And you lost our daughter the first."
Kilo and Kyla stood in silence. They hadn't talked about their daughter in two years.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner. You were with Lily and I didn't want to upset that."
"Sorry, are with Lily."
"If she's alive still," Kilo commented.
Kyla took his hand and squeezed it. "I'm here for you. We have to do this."
They walked closer to the Silver Lake and waited to be captured by the Bloodbenders. Kyla was certain this was the only way to retrieve Lily.
Meanwhile, Sokka took over as chief with Kilo's absence. What he didn't expect was Toko would be showing up at the shores of their settlement once again.
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