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Book One: Deceit
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January 1, 2010
A deserted courtyard...
She stood proudly before her adversary, waiting for the opportune moment to strike.
Long brown hair flying wildly around her shoulders, she moved her arms and feet in precise rhythm, gracefully executing the movement as she had done so many times before against this dangerous opponent. A brief, satisfied smile touched her lips, but she allowed no greater expression of the adrenaline that coursed through her veins as a stream of water emerged from the pouch at her side, bending to the will of her fingertips.
The dance had begun.
Keeping her eyes trained on the woman before her, the waterbender manipulated the water to wrap around her arms in a tender embrace, creating two thinner tentacles of sparkling liquid. Then, moving swiftly and purposefully as she had been instructed, she pushed forward.
Her opponent met her halfway, a jeering glint in her amber eyes. In her right palm she held a single silvery blue flame, which appeared completely incapable of inflicting any serious damage. The waterbender was not fooled. She had witnessed many times over the massive, destructive beast that this innocent flicker of warmth would soon unleash.
"Take this, sweetheart," the firebender taunted.
Instantaneously, the tiny flame grew to the scorching monster that they were both so accustomed to. With a slight smirk, the firebender turned her hand in the direction of the waterbender and willed her power forward.
Rather than making contact with its target, however, the blaze was met by a wall of icy water that hung before its master like a curtain, shrouding her from harm. Blinking her round blue eyes furiously against the blinding light, the waterbender pulled back sharply and slid behind her opponent, transported by a ramp of ice that swept across the ground under her feet. Praying that her next move would surprise the firebender, she sent out a vengeful lash of water, only to be immediately blocked by a barrier of heat.
Hastily wiping a drop of sweat from her brow, the waterbender inhaled deeply. After having met this insufferable foe in combat so many times before, this was her chance to finally emerge as the victor! She absolutely refused to let this opportunity pass her by, even if it was the last thing she ever did.
Narrowing her eyes in concentration, the waterbender shifted her weight stealthily, preparing to launch herself forward and deliver a crushing –
Caught completely off guard, the waterbender recoiled from the sound of the voice, catching her foot on a stone embedded in the ground as she went. With a short gasp of surprise, she tripped backward and landed on her butt in the dust. The water that she had controlled with such finesse just moments before landed in a giant puddle around and on top of her.
"Oh!" the same voice exclaimed. "Oops. Sorry, Kya!"
Giggling in amusement, Kya sprang to her feet and brushed herself off. From across the field, she heard the soft, musical laughter of her rival. Scooping her bending water back into its canteen, she turned in the direction of the firebender and shrugged.
"You got lucky, Liv!" Kya called. "Next time, let's see if you can beat me without Cyrene's help!"
However, she was unable to contain her friendly smile as Liv walked over to her, flipping her long black hair over her shoulders as she eyed Kya with mock aggression.
"Anytime," she replied coolly. "But I suggest that you dry off first. It'd be a shame if you had to get that pretty outfit drenched twice in one day."
Kya rolled her eyes wordlessly and headed toward the small round table near the edge of the courtyard where Cyrene had set up the refreshments. Gray eyes glittering with amusement, Cyrene ran her fingers through her vibrant red locks.
"You're so graceful when you're waterbending, Kya," she remarked. "If only it would last..."
"I know, right?" Kya replied, smiling sweetly. "Oh well!"
Pulling a chair up to the table, Kya seated herself directly beside the enormous pitcher of lemonade, eyes shining with excitement. Cyrene took three luminous glasses from the stack that she had carried out and poured a drink for each of them. The three sat in silence for a long moment, sipping contentedly on their lemonade.
"Ugh," Liv complained at last. "Pretzel Girl, you put way too much sugar in this! Gosh, would it kill you to make it a little less sweet!?"
"Liv," Kya chided gently. "When someone gives you free lemonade, you don't insult them."
"Yeah," Cyrene muttered under her breath. "'Cause you never know exactly what they put in it."
"Well, you are like a little pretzel!" Liv insisted. "I mean, it's one thing to bend forward and touch your toes. It's totally different when you can bend over backward and still manage to touch your toes."
"I am a contortionist," Cyrene shot back, sitting up a bit straighter. "And I own it."
"Hey, now," Kya interrupted. "Both of you, stop that. This is going to be a nice day, with nice snacks, spent in the company of nice friends. Let's not get our panties in a bunch over some cool acrobatics and a little sugar, okay?"
Kya grinned, pleased when she took note of the obvious dissolution of the tension between her friends. Because of the many differences in their personalities, Liv and Cyrene tended to clash quite a bit. Kya took great pride in knowing just how to break up their arguments before they became too serious.
"...and it was awesome! Rohan, you wouldn't have believed how cool it was. They were all staring at me, and not because I looked weird! I mean, they were actually checking me out the way they do when they see you coming. Seriously, it must have been the best day of my entire life!"
Kya turned, smiling and waving at the two figures who were strolling calmly toward her. The one who had been speaking immediately noticed her and waved back, his sky blue gaze shining. Clearly, he was enjoying the conversation immensely. His companion, however, did not look nearly as engrossed. His gray eyes stared blankly ahead, and he ran one hand uninterestedly through his shoulder-length russet hair.
"Hi, Gyatso!" Kya called cheerfully. "Hey, Rohan!"
"Hey, sis!" Gyatso replied, perching on the edge of the table. "Ladies."
"Gyatso," Liv greeted him coolly, pointedly ignoring Rohan.
"Morning, boys!" Cyrene said.
Rohan nodded in the general direction of the girls, pulling up a chair between Gyatso and Cyrene. He glanced at Liv briefly, then turned away indifferently. Liv scoffed contemptuously in response.
"So!" Kya exclaimed happily. "What've you guys been up to today?"
"I was just telling Rohan about the amazing time I had when I went out surfing with Sokka yesterday," Gyatso explained. "I was awesome! It was the coolest thing in the world."
"Are you sure they weren't staring at my dad?" Rohan asked tonelessly.
Gyatso looked at him curiously.
"Why would they be staring at Sokka? He's old."
"People always stare at him," Rohan replied. "That's why I try to act like I don't know him whenever we go out together. And, besides, I'd be willing to say that women find him more attractive than you."
"Ooooooh!" Kya put in enthusiastically. "Drama!"
"That's okay, sis," Gyatso said. "Rohan's just jealous because I'm sexier than him."
The others looked at him and said nothing. Cyrene coughed loudly.
"Well, I am!"
"Yeah," Rohan said sarcastically. "Sure."
"Alright, getting off of the topic of who's sexier here..." Liv interrupted.
"I have a story."
Everyone looked at Rohan, surprised. Kya's blue eyes widened. Was Rohan actually going to do what Liv had told him to!? Then, however, she noticed Rohan's superior smirk and the way that Liv crossed her arms impatiently, the ghost of a pout on her face.
Oh, he's trying to make her mad, Kya realized. Well, that makes more sense.
"Well, Liv was being a nagging idiot, as usual," Rohan began. "I was getting to the good part of my book and, honestly, I was tired of listening to her go on about how I shouldn't have gone into her room without permission."
"You shouldn't have," Liv interjected.
"It was a mess," Rohan replied emotionlessly. "I couldn't take it anymore. Now, if you would silence yourself and allow me to continue... Anyway, as you all know, her nagging becomes very tiresome, so I decided to show her in a polite way that I wished for her to stop talking."
"What'd he do to you, Liv?" Cyrene asked interestedly.
Liv glared at her.
"Go on, Liv," Rohan pressed.
Kya wondered if she was imagining the slightly taunting edge to his voice.
"He...picked me up and put me in my closet," Liv said, a faint blush spreading across her cheeks. "And locked the door."
Laughter erupted from the group as Liv's scarlet flush grew steadily darker.
"Ha!" Kya giggled. "How old were you guys when that happened!?"
"It was last week," Rohan informed her.
The others looked at him briefly before bursting out into laughter once again.
"Aw, that's great!" Gyatso said. "It's a good thing Zuko let you out of that Restoration Council meeting, Liv."
Liv paused, a mouthful of lemonade in her mouth. Then, amber eyes widening, she slammed her glass down on the table and spewed the liquid out all over the front of Rohan's shirt.
"What!?" she asked frantically. "What council meeting!?"
"Yeah, I was wondering about that..." Kya mused. "Mom was saying something about meeting up with Sokka to go talk about...restoration and stuff with your dad and the other council members. She said it was, like, really important that everyone attend."
"Shoot!" Liv exclaimed. "I'm going to be so late! Darn it, I've gotta be over there in.... Like five minutes ago! Ugh! Rohan, it's all your fault!"
"My fault?" Rohan questioned. He sounded bored.
"Come on, you can still make it if we run!" Kya urged, leaping to her feet. "I'll go with you if you want. You know, to make it less embarrassing when you walk in there in the middle of Zuko making a speech or something."
"Dad doesn't make speeches if he can avoid it," Liv told her. "But, yeah, let's get going. Later, everyone!"
Waving one hand rapidly in farewell, she took off in a panicked dash after Kya.
- The main purpose of this chapter is to introduce the characters of and establish their personalities.
- Kya's quote "Ooooooh! Drama!" was taken directly from during the creation of this chapter.
- Kya's quote "Ooooooh! Drama!" was taken directly from Stormfire during the creation of this chapter.
For the collective works of the author, go here.