Well it's been a very long time since an update, partially due to writers block, but mostly because of work and school and other such things. Anyways, chapter 7 is here.
A thunderous rumble echoed through the red dusk sky, a sky blackened by the thick smoke of the nearby volcano. Gahng curled his nose as he looked up to the dark sky, the rotten odor of sulfur and molten stone reaching his nostrils. Still, even with the sky as dark as it was, the rogue Earthbender was forced to squint against the intense glow of the molten rock flows streaming down the volcano. Gahng closed his eyes and gave a solemn nod to himself, preparing to face the ultimate decision in his life, preparing to make his choice on the crossroads of destiny.
Gahng could feel his heart racing within his chest, a heavy sweat forming on his brow as he looked on to the obstacle he was to face. The volcano, an ominous figure that symbolized doom for all within its wake. An unquestionable force of nature, a might that goes unchallenged save by the greatest of fools, a might that Gahng was forced to face. In order to awaken his power, his mission was to climb the beast. If he could do that and survive, he too would be regarded as an unquestionable force in the Fire Nation, he could secure his place in the new order that was to come.
As the ground thundered once more with the impending eruption, Gahng steadied himself, unsure as to whether or not he truly was ready to face such a task. He closed his eyes once more, feeling the heat of the molten flows reflecting off the mountain, but there was something else as well. Gahng turned his head towards Ty Lee, who gripped his arm tightly, her expression swelling with both fear and pride for what her lover was about to attempt. Her belly had grown large with their coming child, and Gahng smiled at the sight, thinking of his soon to be born son or daughter. With a good luck kiss, she let him go so that he may face his task.
Gahng faced the mountain once more. His resolve set, he began to climb. The terrain was rough, and the heat of the molten rock wasn't helping make his task any easier. Another tremor ripped through the ground, this one stronger then the others that preceded it. The eruption was drawing near, but he had to press on. Ahead of him, a lava flow shifted and began to obstruct his path. Gahng reacted appropriately, raising the earth beneath him and cutting the flow off. With a thrust of his arm he used the earth beneath the remaining pool of molten stone to shift it away, clearing his path once more.
Gahng continued to climb, passing obstacle after obstacle, carving his way up the deadly mountain. After nearly three hours he was almost at the top of the volcano. His task was nearly completed, his destiny was secured, or so he thought. Just as he was about to complete the final stretch of his quest, a tremor that could only mean one thing ripped through the ground, and then it happened. With a burst of intense heat, light, and sound, the volcano erupted, sending a torrent of molten stone down each side of the ominous beast.
Without taking the time to think, Gahng used his earth bending to bring up a shield of rock and soil before him. Using every ounce of his will to hold back the monsoon of liquid fire, Gahng struggled against the unquestionable force that was the volcano. The stress was beginning to wear him down, though, and no sooner had he tapped into the deeper reserves of his will then the rock wall he'd been supporting began to fall, melting away into the liquid fire.
Gahng's eyes widened with horror as the wall began to melt away. While the wall gave way to the molten stone, the Earthbender tapped into the deepest reservoirs of his might and will, using the all of the earth bending ability he held to push the liquid rock back, to hold it back until the eruption ended, until he could escape. Another wave of lava smashed into the ground around him, further increasing the pressure he was forced to hold back. The pressure was intense, too intense. Even with all of the power Gahng held, he couldn't hold the wave back. It was breaking through…
Gahng sprang up in his bed with a fright, an icy sweat forming on his brow. Soon he was able to steady himself, his breathing slowly returning to normal, his pounding heart slowing as well. The dream was unlike any he'd ever witnessed before. It seemed…real, as if it was truly happening right before his eyes. The smell of the sulfur, the burning heat of the lava, even the feel of Ty Lee's lips on his own. Everything…
Gahng walked towards the window of his quarters. The ship still hadn't quite reached the port outside the Fire Nation, but it was likely that it would reach the naval base by dawn. The night sky was clear again, the stars bright next the waxing crescent moon. Dull, pale blue light reflected off of the gently moving ocean. The seas had become very calm in the past few days, primarily because of how close the Fire Nation's mainland was. Essentially the ship had reached an enormous bay spanning between the mainland and one of the eastern islands. The naval port was just outside this bay-like channel. From there Gahng, Mai, and Ty Lee would travel with a caravan headed back to the capital.
Gahng let out a soft breath, reflecting on the dream. It was like nothing he'd ever dreamed before, truly terrifying right down to its very core. And it all seemed so real, as if it was truly happening to him then and there. A premonition, perhaps? He'd never experienced one before, only heard of them from crazed gypsies and fool sages so old their bones were likely half dust, so it was impossible to say. Still, such realism…perhaps it was a premonition of things to come. If that was the case, did that mean he was to die? Was he to be killed before his child was even born, forcing it by no will of his own to live without a father to learn from?
The child…Gahng had almost forgotten about the pregnancy all together. With his training in learning Ty Lee's fighting style as well as trying to further his own earth bending abilities, and now with this nightmare to contemplate as well, it was to be expected. So much happening at one time made it easy to forget things, even something so grand as his newfound fatherhood. But Azula…she had little trust for Gahng as it was, little trust and much contempt for the powerful earth bender. If she were to discover that Ty Lee was pregnant with his child, the Fire Lady would be far from forgiving for either of them.
"Damn…what am I gonna do…"
Ghang ran both hands through his thick hair, trying to think of something he could do to rectify this problem. Aborting the child was out of the question, there was no way either he or Ty Lee could go through with something like that. For the time being there wasn't anything to worry about, Azula would be unable to notice that Ty Lee was pregnant since there were no physical signs, and the only way the Fire Lady would find out at this point would be if the medical aids told her anything. But when the signs did show, what then?
Another sigh escaped Gahng's lips as he puzzled. It was a problem that he would be unable to figure out on his own, and it was likely that anything he or Ty Lee came up with would arouse suspicion in some way. Was there any solution to this problem that could be found? Wasn't there some way that he could keep the pregnancy secret, and if not, was there not a solution that would keep them safe?
The dream…in the dream, Ty Lee was advanced in her pregnancy, and Gahng new that climbing the volcano was meant as a test of sorts. Maybe, just maybe, assuming the dream really was a premonition, that was the key to saving their child. Could it be that he would have to face death itself in order for his kin to live? Gahng's stare into the depths of the midnight blue ocean was deep with thought. If this dream did turn out to be premonition, and no other choice was to be had, then he had to decide for certain if he was willing to risk everything for those he cared for most.