Forenote: 'Kitsune' is the Japanese word for fox and also used to refer to 'fox spirits'.
Humans could not be trusted
My fury subsided enough for me to realize that I was as angry with myself as I was with those wretched humans.
My knowledge-seekers gathered round as I glided down from the spire to land on the cross bridge. The kitsune remained silent, waiting with a worried air as I composed myself. It would be a considerable while before I would cease to feel irked with myself for losing my temper and in turn allowing those humans to get the better of me.
I wonder why I continue to fall for human lies and trickery. I knew better yet still I permitted them to peruse my collection. Humans were not alone in committing the same mistakes again and again. Countless indeed had misused my library, and I am equally to be blamed for each time the knowledge within had been utilized for evil.
Finally, I calmed enough for one of my servants dared to approach to inform me that one of the humans had remained behind.
Anger flared once again, only to be doused when I learned that the human - the one called Professor Zei - apparently was attempting to rescue books from the chaos caused by my rampage through the library.
Increasingly tired and on his knees, Zei fought off exhaustion as, with a whisk broom and dust pan in hand, he carefully swept sand off a torn scroll. Behind him, in careful rows on the floor, lay books and scrolls he had salvaged from underneath sand and splintered wood.
A large forboding shadow fell across him. Nervously, a lump of cold fear forming in his stomach, Zei raised his head to find Wan Shi Tong with a pack of his knowledge-seekers watching him.
Truly, I no longer had patience left to deal with the human. Though I despise his kind, I neither wish to hurt nor kill him or any of his companions. I had only desired to scare them away, terrify them enough to never wish to return to my library. I understood why they needed the information, and even allowed them to have what they had came here for. What had angered me actually was that they thought their cause more righteous, more noble than that of their foes.
Humans could be such hypocrites.
Just as I was about to order the kitsune to throw the professor out of my study, without warning - he threw himself at my feet, saying out loud, "Oh Great Knowledge Spirit, I offer myself as your most humble servant."
I confess the human's declaration had momentarily rendered me speechless.
"Humans are not worthy to be my servants." was my reply.
All too obviously, it was not what he had expected to hear for he raised his head once again and looked up to my face with a most puzzled expression on his own.
I bade my knowledge-seekers to show the professor the way out but his next statement caused the ears of the kitsune to perk up with interest.
"Then, please grant me the honor of becoming your assistants' servant."
This human was being ridiculous. "No."
And stubborn. "I am a good cook," he addressed my knowledge-seekers with an ingratiating smile.
Now irritated, I ordered the kitsune to remove the impertinent human from my library. Much to my consternation, they all looked up to me and whimpered their reluctance to follow my bidding.
Not wishing to argue with my assistants in front of the upstart professor, I turned my attention instead to the damage I had wrought while pursuing them earlier. Without looking at him, I knew astonishment had come across his face when with just a wave of my left wing - sand trickled away, bookshelves repaired themselves, paper mended on their own and books and scrolls returned on their own volition to their proper places.
I heard the human stumble to his feet and in a voice filled with genuine wonder and relief, he extolled reverent praises of me and of my magic. Though I was quite aware that vanity was one of my follies, I was beginning to feel lenient towards him.
However, he then asked, "Why didn't you repair the Fire Nation wing?"
Zei only had a moment's warning - a flash of fury in the Knowledge Spirit's eyes - before he lunged at Zei, intending to bite the hapless professor into two with his beak.
But reacting just as quickly and a second sooner, Wan Shi Tong's assistants reached Zei before their master.
Zei cried out in fear when one of the foxes jumped at him; its front paws striking Zei's chest with enough force to knock the professor back to fall and to land unexpectedly on fur, on the backs of the other foxes who speedily took the professor away from their furious master.
I unfurled my wings, about to give chase but the knowledge-seeker, who had saved the human by knocking him back, crouched before me with a submissive whimper.
Somewhere inside of me, I knew I had lost myself to anger once again. Vaguely, I was aware that I wasn't myself, and it was enough to keep me from pursuing the human and his rescuers.
Yet still, I remained angered by my assistants' betrayal and heard myself roar at the sole kitsune.
"SO BE IT! BUT MAKE CERTAIN HE DOES NOT EVER CROSS MY PATH OR I WILL KILL HIM!"
So many questions crowded Zei's mind concerning the Knowledge Spirit's conflicting actions that, being the proper scientist that he was, he found himself trying and failing to jot down those same questions in his journal whilst still on the knowledge-seekers' backs in mid-escape. When he finally realized he couldn't write while they were moving, he replaced the journal back into his pack and proceeded with mental notes instead.
First, why did the Knowledge Spirit become so angry (to the point of wishing to eliminate me) when I asked him why he hadn't used magic to repair the burnt out section of his library?
Second, instead of eliminating me or turning me into one of his fox-assistants (as I had hoped for) when I offered to serve him, he ordered his knowledge-seekers to show me the way out. Does this mean, despite nearly killing me, the Avatar and his friends, he hadn't intended to do so? This is most puzzling indeed but I had wondered why he hadn't called for his knowledge-seekers to assist him in eliminating us-
Zei had no choice but to stop making mental notes as all of the sudden, the knowledge-seekers, as one, halted in their tracks. Inertia however bade for Zei to keep on moving and thus - he flew off their backs and crashed headlong into a large heavy wooden door; in the next instant, flipping over against it to assume an upside spread-eagled position before sliding down to rest on the floor in a most unusual and awkward position for a human being to be in.
When he didn't move, the kitsune made worried noise amongst themselves. One fox peeled off from the pack to move close to the human in order to examine him. Relief descended upon them when it discovered that the human had only been knocked unconscious, not killed as they had feared.
Hurriedly, the door was opened and the human dragged inside, into the kitchen.
To be continued.
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