Beta'd by dragonginnygrl
AN: Happy Halloween, for those celebrating it today!
The first fight scene I've ever written is in this chapter! I'm proud, but I don't know how realistic it is, or if I missed anything. If you have any suggestions for future fight scenes please share!
Also—writing Toph is really very hard for me. I tend to make her think too much. Gah. It was a struggle spanning over two years! Which reminds me—I'm sorry for taking so long to update!
After she awoke, Toph opened her eyes out of habit and took stock of herself and her surroundings in list format. Her migraine was gone as if it had never been, she was naked except for her space earth bracelet, she was still covered in dust (thankfully), she had a yucky taste in her mouth, she was laying on something made of stone, she could see so many—so many—
She became confused. Toph Bei Fong didn't do fear—she wouldn't allow it, especially in an unknown situation where she might have to react quickly. Sometimes she had a little freak-out, but she didn't let herself dwell on it. But these weren't humans that surrounded her. They were humanoid in their stances and their basic figures, but they had extra limbs, and tails, and mouths so wide that any human would be off balance, but that one also seemed to have extra joints in its legs to help with the problem—!
There were many different types of those creatures, and she analyzed all that she could in the few seconds of silence and awkward shifting before one of those . . . things, who seemed human but for the odd ears and the paws and the tail, said something she couldn't understand in a shocked tone of voice.
There was a brief mumble as the chamber echoed with talking before it turned into angry yelling that hurt her ears. She wouldn't show the pain, though—not when there were things charging at her with intent to harm (and possibly kill) her.
She jumped up from her back to her feet, landing in a strong stance, stomped, and shoved down. The things closest to her were rocketed up into the air, meeting the ceiling with a slight 'crunch.'
The others didn't even hesitate at the loss of their comrades in such a quick fashion. They continued running towards her, some holding weapons and one even daring to throw some weighted ropes.
Stupid, she thought as she judged the angle of the throws and shots and shifted out of the way, letting the weighted ropes, and some arrows from the bows of a few of the things in the back, pass her safely.
She straightened back up with her hands reaching in front of her, pulled them back slightly, and then shoved them out hard. A wave of earth swept towards the things. Most of them dodged, but she was still grateful to have knocked down as many as she did.
Toph heard the whistling of something coming at her from behind, but didn't have time to react before the weighted rope wrapped around her legs. She didn't realize, because she couldn't see it, but one of the things had wings. He had been flying the whole time and was now behind her. For Toph, there wasn't time to panic, or even wonder where the weapon came from. She put a hand to the space earth around her wrist and changed it into a sharp knife, slicing through the cord. With only a few meters between her and the approaching things (she noted that they were all faster than a normal human, although a Bender would be faster still, using Bending) she didn't bother to stand up again. As she felt something land behind her (it looked like a human-bird) she smashed her hands onto the ground while still lying down. A long, thick wall appeared, splitting the group of things in half and going almost all the way to the back of the cavernous space. When the things paused for a moment in confusion she forced her hands apart, splitting the wall in two and crushing those things on either side into the side walls. Then she rolled away from the human-bird's grasping hands.
She jumped to her feet in time to feel one of those things in the back shift his weight as he adjusted the grip on his tense bow to line up the arrow with her chest while the thing behind her step forwards to grab her with clawed hands. She made a grabbing motion in the air and dragged her hands to the right as the thing let go of the string, and the ground shot up in front of her to intercept the arrow. Then she turned sideways and shoved down so that a pike of earth pierced the human-bird's chest.
Toph half-turned, crouching down to grab the earth in front of her, and dug in her fingers, twisting sharply. A ravine cracked open the earth and the rest of the things fell in. She grabbed the two sides of the ravine and forced the top together, trapping all those things inside.
There was a pause. Toph stayed frozen for a few moments, making sure that she could feel no one else. The ones underneath the earth were scrabbling about, trying to get out before running out of air. The ones smooshed to the walls and ceiling were wriggling around, trying to escape while yelling things that would probably have made her punch them if she could understand them. A few were dead, including the human-bird who only now stopped struggling to hang limply. Toph wondered if she should kill the rest—it would take five seconds, maybe less. It was the smart thing to do—Aang wouldn't agree with it, but he was still primarily an Air Nomad, and they were known to be peace-loving vegetarians.
But she would be killing these things while they were pinned and unable to fight back. Even if it was the smart thing to do, that didn't sit well with her. And even as she considered this she knew that she had to decide what to do soon, because she needed to move away from here and find other humans or at least other things that weren't going to kill her as soon as they saw her so that she could take care of the important stuff like bathroom, food, clothes, and . . . and getting back to where she belonged. Because she wasn't in the last town she'd been staying at, she knew that much. She didn't know where she was, but she knew she was deep underground with these freaky things that seemed to have found her or summoned her or something. She wasn't sure how far away she was from the last town she was staying at. For all she knew she could be just an hour away. But she could be a whole country away, or maybe she was halfway around the world. At this point, she just didn't know. How long had she been passed out? And why had those things brought her here? Or had they just found her here?
And what if these things were spirits? She knew she wasn't in the Spirit World (Aang had complained about being unable to bend while in spirit form, and she could still bend), but what if the spirits had brought her to this place for some reason . . . and she'd just killed some of them? Sure, they'd been running at her waving weapons around and shouting angrily, but then again, most spirits she'd heard of were really weird. Although she'd never heard of spirits kidnapping someone not in their spirit form, or at least not making them take their spirit form . . . well, no, wait, there was that turtle-lion. But that was Aang! Weird stuff always happened around Aang!
Anyways, Toph didn't want to deal with spirits. Dealing with spirits was the Avatar's work. She was just an earthbender, thank you. The greatest earthbender in the world, true, but she wasn't cut out for messing with spirits. She may not have been the most dutiful daughter, but she'd listened when her mother told her those stories about people messing with spirits, and it didn't often end well. Even the Avatar sometimes made grave mistakes.
But she'd already fought these things. If they were spirits, she was screwed anyways, so she decided to leave them.
Since she had made her decision, Toph knew it was time to leave. She started walking around, trying to get a good feel of the place. She continued to ignore the angry yelling.
There was a hole in the wall over to her right. Beyond that was a series of caves slanting slightly upwards that made a good maze. They eventually merged into one cave and lead out of the side of a mountain. Above her was rock that felt like granite, but above that was a hard rock, mudrock, some type of hardened lava, and then soil.
Even if she went straight through the walls, the caves would still take her considerably longer to travel than going straight up. So she stomped on the ground, rose up a pillar of earth underneath her, and headed up. She stopped before hitting the ceiling and pulled her arms in a circle. The earth above her head moved aside, some pieces of rock falling to the ground far below. She'd made the tunnel at something of a slant so that she could walk up instead of needing to keep pulling from the earth below her to make the pillar. She raised up her pillar two more meters and jumped into her brand new cave, then pushed her pillar back down to the ground.
She started walking up. Every few meters she would move more earth, blocking the way behind her. It took her less than ten minutes to reach the surface.
The first thing she did when she reached the top was finish closing her tunnel behind her. Then she paused to feel around. There were mountains behind and to the side of her and relatively flat land before her, sloping gently downwards. Well, if that wasn't a sign of which direction to take, she didn't know what was.
She started forward. It was weird—the ground felt much like it did at home, but it still felt somewhat off. There were things there; she couldn't tell what they were, but she could feel them. They felt simply . . . different. Like the ground gave a different feeling. Yes. It felt different, and so gave a different feeling. Gah, if only she could be more specific. . . .
At least the trees felt the same, but that wasn't nearly as comforting as the ground being the same would have been. She'd only ever felt the ground like this near places where the Fire Nation ruled, because they were so industrious that it somewhat changed the ground around them. Sometimes the ground was even poisoned. She was reminded of that small fishing village that had polluted water from being near a Fire Nation factory, which made her think of Katara, which made her think of the whole GAang, which made her think of their adventures together. . . .
As she thought she walked. It wasn't very fast, and if she used her bending she could have gone faster, but she was in unknown territory with no clear direction, and leaving a trail of destruction behind her for those things to follow did not seem like a smart idea.
She hadn't gone longer than five minutes before she felt something. There was a path of earth off to the side, less than kilometer away, which felt fake. It was still earth enough that she could feel things on it, but there was something else above the fake earth that messed with her senses. She started to move closer to it, trying to figure out what it was, but then something large was traveling along the fake earth with the weird top above it that rumbled and shook the ground. She couldn't see too much of it, but it seemed box-like in shape, and it was traveling very fast. The box-shape faded into the distance, taking its roaring, rumbling sound with it.
Toph frowned. She had no idea what that box-thing was (probably some type of human/thing-made contraption), but this fake-earth felt like the cement used in some of the newer roads and homes back home. It held somewhat different types of earth, but it was mostly the same. She had no idea what was above the fake-earth, though. Maybe a sealant of some kind?
She knew that she wouldn't get any answers just standing around, and she wasn't sure if she wanted to get closer to the cement with the maybe-sealant that was probably a road because, well, she was still naked. So she started forward again, following the road-ish-thing.
After another hour and some more of those box-things passed her going one way or the other along the road (and if that was a road, those things were probably fast-moving-carriages) she had to stop again, because she felt something else that was strange: a city.
She could tell it was a city and not a town, as she could feel twenty buildings with some people outside and even more buildings farther ahead where things got fuzzy and her sight eventually stopped. But it felt very odd. There was a bunch of that strange road around, and a lot of the cement and metal. With some of the buildings she could tell they used some type of light-weight material that she suspected was wood, but it wasn't as much as she would expect. She wasn't as good at telling apart different metals as she was the types of earth, but some of the metal in the buildings acted weird. It sometimes had something around it that hid it from her sight, but there were parts where the metal peaked through and it seemed to have electricity going through it. And so much metal seemed to be transporting water from one place to the other—every building had so many connections! Even her family, rich as they were, could only afford to have pipes for water for three toilets and baths, and her family's house was much bigger than these buildings.
After a little pause she moved forward again, trying to see more. The city probably would have been easier to see if it had more earth in it, but she'd take what she could get. The buildings were somewhat like they were at home, as they were square and rectangular in shape, but didn't they seem like the wooden and metal homes of the Fire Nation, nor did they use great slabs of earth like the Earth Kingdom (which made her strongly suspect limited benders, or perhaps no benders at all in this city—a pity, and also kind of odd).
As she walked closer and closer to the city she felt could see the concrete take over. There were small patches of earth that reached daylight here and there in her vision, but mostly there was concrete. The concrete made her vision go a little fuzzy, and it got harder to tell when something moved or stayed put unless it was one of those fast-moving-carriages, because even with that sealant-thing those things gave off a lotof vibrations.
So now the question was: should she spend the night in an unknown city with no money or way to use her Bei Fong name and barely any earth around her to protect herself with, or should she spend the night roughing it out in the forest?
And she remembered again that she was still naked, and she came to a stop just before walking out of the tree line.
Well, that decided it, then. She was spending the night in the woods.