Book 2: ICE
The ships docked silently in the cove just outside of Ba Sing Se. The ships were unloaded and the men were prepped for what would become their biggest invasion yet. "Today, we are bringing this war to them. They have fled for many months now, evading even the Great General Zhong. Now we have them. They have foolishly placed themselves together in a hole in the ground and we will wipe them out. If you show any hesitance, I will take you down. If you miss even a step of my orders, you will be destroyed. If you blink in the face of certain death, you will be wiped out. I want men who are brave, strong, and determined to wipe out the monstrosity that has invaded our once peaceful world."
The commander finished and gave a salute to the men that he knew would never return. He walked back into his tent and poured over the last of Zhong's tactics before giving the orders to the generals. "The Captain will be the leader on the battlefield. He has faced these things before. Follow him to the death."
The men bowed and walked sternly from the tent, blowing past the Captain who had a large wrap placed around his arm from his wound. "You asked to see me." The Captain said as he bowed to the commander.
"Yes, I need to know all that you know of these benders." The commander said. "What are their personal weaknesses? Any strengths we should know about."
"There are a few that are Air Nomads sir." The Captain responded.
"Air Nomads? Is that some sort of rabid animal I should now about?" the commander said as he rounded upon the Captain with a confused look upon his face.
"Umm…no. It means they specifically bend the element of air. They are passive sir, and only use force in means of defense. But they can also become invisible and should be taken with caution."
"I will commit it to memory, thank you." The commander said as he dismissed the Captain.
"Of course it is." The Captain said as he bowed low and then exited the tent. Something had to be done, he knew it.
Aer walked to the front of her small apartment in Ba Sing Se and looked out upon the plaza where everyone was seeming to have a good time. There was a noticeable air of gossip flying around as people chattered about what they had been offered the night before. Aer shook her head and walked over to where Event, Tirca, and three other benders were beginning to make breakfast. "You remember I'm a vegetarian right?"
"Yeah, I'm on that." Event said as she peeled the carrots and threw them into a large pot over the fire.
"Still don't see what's wrong with meat." Tirca said as she folded up a drumstick in a piece of fried dough.
"It was a living animal." Aer said as she took out the water jug and had a drink. "It would be like eating your own mother."
"Well, that would be fine with me." Tirca said as she placed the drumsticks on a plate.
"I'm sorry to hear that." Aer said as she rolled her eyes at Tirca and spotted Prodito away in the distance, swallowing down a bowl of noodles. She stormed over to him and grabbed the chopsticks out of his hands before he could take another bite.
"Well, a little Air bender is being rude right now." Prodito said slyly as he turned to her.
"Stop it now." Aer said as she waved the chopsticks in his face. "I understand that you want there to be peace and everything but stop trying so hard to cause this rebellion. It is wrong and you know it. We already have one enemy and adding another won't help."
"Are you having second thoughts about joining me?" Prodito asked as he looked up at her.
"Yes actually." Aer said as she threw here arms out. "I love Kan and Kizu and everyone else and it's hurting them too."
"If you really loved these people, you would do something for them." Prodito said in a matter of fact voice. Before Aer could respond the ground began to shake. The crystals gave small quivers in their earthen cases. A mumble of words went up from the crowd as they pondered the quakes. An even larger one came, this time rattling the crater. Everyone became deathly silent.
"What was that?" a man asked as he looked around.
The cavern shook violently as people were thrown to the ground. Aer stumbled for a few moments and Tirca stood up, shaking the food off her body.
"Attention, benders." The loud booming voice of the commander echoed. "You have only two options from us today. You may either surrender to us and face judgment for your heinous acts against this world or perish in the hole in the ground you have been reduced to."
"They're here!" a woman cried as she grabbed her child and ran for shelter.
"You have only two hours to give your response." The commander concluded.
"Someone do something." A boy cried as the inhabitants of Ba Sing Se fell into chaos. Kan ran onto a large pile of rocks and made motions for everyone to calm down.
"Please, we have nothing to fear." Kan said above the cries of the crowd. "We are benders, the only ones there are. We can do anything that we want and these pathetic soldiers cannot do anything about it. We have evaded them before and with this many of us, we could take on ten armies and still be victorious."
"Who said that?" Kan shouted as he stared around at the civilians.
"Lies!" the cry came again. "Kan lies!"
"Stand up whoever you are."
Prodito rose up and walked steadily towards the make shift platform Kan was standing on. "You have led us all here to die." Prodito threw a finger at him as his face became full of rage. "You walked us through the wilderness for all of winter and got us into many battles for what? So we could cower in a hole in the ground? So that the army would know exactly where we are?"
"Kan, you have doomed us all. This idea was wrong to begin with. It will be the death of everyone if we don't do something to protect ourselves. We must make peace with these mortals once more. We must integrate back into the world as we knew it. If we continue to follow Kan's wild fantasies then we will all go over the cliff together. But, if we follow me, we can achieve far more than any lonely and delusional boy could ever dream."
The crowd seemed to be swayed, yet some still held onto Kan's side.
"We are together because of him."
"Yeah, he is a great leader."
"So great that even we heard of him from miles away."
"But the man has a point."
"Who will you follow?" Prodito asked as he turned to the crowd. "Me or this?"
In one move, Prodito had turned to his side, grabbed Kan's mask, and threw it to the ground, shattering it into a million pieces.
The crowd reacted in unison; a single horrid cry of terror as Kan's decaying and bloody scar was shown to all.
Kan lunged at Prodito, knocking him to the ground and the division began.
Fire and water was being thrown everywhere as the confines of the army continued to bear down upon them. A large pillar of earth shot straight up in the center, pinning two rouge benders to the ceiling. A large tidal wave from the rivers caused many to lose their footing. Ven dodged a fire blast and then created a small shield of air to block the water whip that almost knocked him out. Kizu shot a large boulder of earth at a man and then retaliated with a string of flames to the woman at his right.
Prodito grabbed Aer and shoved her into a small apartment; sealing her inside with earth bending, save for a small hole to breathe through. "So sorry my love, but I can't have any interferences." He gave a nasty chuckle and threw a large boulder at Event as she tried to duck under a wall of water.
Mizu and Ran-fo entered Pathigo a little before nightfall. "So, where is this Oma girl?" Mizu said more to herself than the mute Ran-fo. Ran-fo looked around the almost deserted streets and began to tug at Mizu's arm. The shops were full of small crowds of people as the night came and business began to close, some investors coming off for the better. It was through these stragglers that Ran-fo led Mizu and they eventually came to a large iron gate that led towards the mansion of the governor.
"Yeah, I would guess she lived here as well." Mizu said as she examined the large lock on the gate. "I could probably handle this." She took a deep breath and exhaled, freezing the iron chain that hooked the door. She grabbed either end of the chain and pulled, shattering the lock.
A guard from inside awoke with a start as the loud break caused him to wake from his slumber. "Now what is it?" he said drowsily as he rubbed his eyes and walked to the window to see what was going on. He saw nothing. It was in this brief moment, as the guard scoured the outside, that the songbird had twittered to Oma and they snuck down the stairs. Oma flew down the last step and ran quickly to the garden door and shut the door quietly. Her nightgown was flowing behind her as she ran down the stairs and flew to her lover's embrace.
"Shu, you need to leave." Oma said as she tried to pull herself from his embrace but found her body too familiar in this home.
"I won't leave you, Oma." Shu said as he looked her over. "I love you. I don't care what happens."
"That's good to hear." A voice from the shadows said as Shishou walked out into the light of the stone courtyard.
"Who are you?" Shu asked as he held Oma tighter. Oma gave a small cry and buried her head into Shu's shoulder.
"I'm her future husband, and who are you?" Shishou asked with a small hiss.
Shu opened his mouth to respond but was knocked to the ground by the big thug behind him. "That was rethorical." Shishou said as he bent down to Shu. "I know all about you little prince."
"Leave him alone you monster!" Oma shouted as two men grabbed her and held her steady. "Leave Shu alone."
"Shut it little brat." Shishou said as he rounded upon her, slapping her forcefully across the face with the back of his hand. Shu was up in an instant and tackled Shishou to the ground. He smashed his head into one of the columns surrounding the beautiful ground but was quickly strangled from behind by one of Shishou's thugs.
A small, scrawny man got in a cheap shot and Shishou knocked Shu out. "Bind him!" Shishou shouted.
"What are you doing stop!" Oma cried as she tried to struggle against the men that held her. "Shu!" Her voice was beginning to crack as she helplessly watched her love tortured before her eyes. Shu was wrapped in a heavy chain and then bound to a large boulder. A large thug with even bigger arms grabbed the boulder and began to drag it towards the pond, where the lily pads were floating.
Mizu was on the scene in an instant, Ran-fo behind her. She had heard Oma's cries and did not need an explanation as to what was wrong. She bent some of the water of the small pond and began to dodge the thugs on a path of ice, gliding around the garden effortlessly. Ran-fo smashed the heads of the men holding Oma. They crumpled to the ground and Oma ran towards Shu without a second thought.
Shishou had turned to see what the interruption was. Mizu sent a wall of ice in front of the thug, preventing him from finishing the job. Mizu then shot a wave of water at three thugs that aimed for her. They spiraled backwards and fell against the wall. "Dump him." Shihsou shouted as the thug put down the rock and punched through the thick ice. He bent down to pick up the rock again but Ran-fo was too fast.
The thug went down with a thud as Ran-fo whacked Shishou across the face with the same shovel he had used a moment before. Mizu rounded up the thugs and froze them together next to the wall. "Thank you." Oma said as she examined the thugs.
"Are you Oma?" Mizu asked out of breath.
"Well, yes I am." Oma replied.
"Oh good, I'm a friend of someone you know." Mizu explained. "Kizu."
"The boy? Is he all right?" Oma asked. Before she could finish they heard a grunt as Shishou overpowered Ran-fo and turned to Oma.
"Try and save him now!" Shishou shouted as he turned and kicked the rock into the lake. The chain tightened around Shu's throat, suffocating him as he was dragged to the bottom of the pond. Oma gave a cry and Mizu dove head first into the water. She reached Shu as he hit the bottom of the pond. She breathed out upon the chain, turning it to ice. She then used the water around her to slice through the chain. She grabbed Shu and spun her arm downwards. She was propelled upwards and out of the water. Shu gasped for water as he drifted to shallow water.
Oma was wading through the lily pads and grabbed Shu as he came within reach. She held him and pulled him out of the pond and laid him down upon the grass. Shu gasped out the water from his lungs and looked up at Oma. He leaned up an dkissed her as Mizu caught her breath.
Shouts could be heard coming from the mansion as guards and maids came running to see what the commotion had been about.
"What is going on here?" the governor shouted as he walked over to Oma. He looked down and his face turned pale before turning a vivid red. "What is he doing here!"
"Father, I love him." Oma said as she looked up at her father, Shu draped in her arms. "I wish to spend the rest of my days with him and not that arrogant man you chose as a suitor."
"Now look here young lady!"
"I am no longer a child!" Oma clutched Shu even tighter. "I am a woman and I can make my own path in life." Her father grabbed her viciously and pulled her away from Shu's embrace. His eyes turned cold as he stared upon the youth.
"You go back to that backwater city of Kilmojo and tell them that I have had enough." The governor said through gritted teeth. "Tell your father that we will settle this now. I declare a war upon Kilmojo and anyone that stands beside them. Now get out of my city before I have your head!"
Shu departed like a flash, giving one last longing look to Oma as he disappeared into the dark trees. Mizu and Ran-fo fled as well. "After them!" the governor shouted as the guards pursued them. Mizu and Ran-fo sprinted through the gate and ran towards a river.
"Get onto my back, Ran-fo!" Mizu shouted as she ducked low for a moment. Ran-fo climbed upon her back and Mizu jumped into the water. But she did not sink. She hovered above the water's surface. "We have to get to the others now." Mizu explained as she leaned forward gently. "I think what the spirit meant was that this is where this conflict will end. Kizu will also probably want to see his friend again."
Mizu leaned forward sharply and they sped along the coastline of the continent, avoiding rocks and large sea creatures as they sped towards Ba Sing Se and the war already raging there.
Ven dodged a large flame and spun into the air, alighting on a crystal some feet above the fight. A rock propelled at him but Kizu caught it in his hand and sent it spiraling into a large group of benders in dark robes. A man and woman teamed up and shot a large water whip at a group of benders that were shooting fire from above. They toppled off their ledge and slid into two men, knocking them over and causing Tirca to duck and roll. Kan pushed a man off of him and turned to see Prodito behind him.
"You!" Kan shouted as he engaged in battle with him. Prodito dodged every attack and knocked Kan's leg out from under him. Kan toppled to the ground and spun on his back. A whip of fire push Prodito back. Kan grabbed him by the shoulder and made to knock his head into the wall. Prodito bent the wall away in time and a large gap opened above them. Prodito slid under Kan with a blast of Aer and began to push Kan backwards with attacks of water and earth.
Kan threw up a shield of air and found himself up against the wall. Some benders stopped as they heard the distant rumble of many men.
The army was on their way.
One side of the wall fell to them and many men began to storm into the crater, yelling loudly as another explosion rocked Ba Sing Se and a large hole appeared in the ceiling. Event blasted a large group of people back up and out of the city.
Yet the fighting continued, benders no longer caring that the very men that caused this were now descending upon them.
Mizu was almost knocked over by a large rock that randomly plummeted into the water in front of her. She slowed for a moment and rearranged herself.
Kan shoved Prodito back with a blast of air. Prodtio blocked it and continued to pound away at Kan. Kan placed a foot behind him and then his other. Prodito's eyes grew wide but he did not miss a beat. He took a sharp jab at Kan and then flipped over him, confronting him from above with a wall of earth. Kan flipped over in and began to duel Prodito as they fought upwards. Some men in the passing army stopped to stare at the two men as they dueled.
They were fighting horizontally on the great wall of Ba Sing Se.
Though they should have fallen to their deaths from where they were, it seemed as natural and walking along the ground for the two benders. Kan grabbed Prodito and tried to shove him back to the earth below. Prodito swung around Kan and kicked him hard in the face. Kan gave a grunt and turned around, throwing a water whip at him. Prodito shot a brick at Kan, who then destroyed it with a snap of his fingers.
Hitori reached the blocked apartment and summoned the wall of earth back ot the ground. Aer stumbled out and grabbed Hitori. "Where are they?" Aer asked.
"They are on the wall." Hitori said as she took a side step to avoid some soldiers that had been flung at them. Aer sprinted away towards the hole that the two benders had just walked up.
"Hold your breath, Ran-fo." Mizu said as she approached the small waterfall she had shot out of months before. She hovered up to it on a wall of water and plunged into the current. She forced the water aside as she flew along the chute.
There was a loud splash as Mizu shout out of the water in the middle of Ba Sing Se. Water spilled everywhere and some people stopped to stare. "Oh great, another fight." Mizu said as she let Ran-fo off and rushed into the battle, trying to find her friends.
Kizu kicked a soldier off of him and then flung the bomb that had almost detonated into the water. He felt something hit his shoulder and he turned to attack. "Where are the others?" Mizu asked as she looked him in the eyes.
"You're alive!?" Kizu shouted in a mix of shock and happiness. He grabbed her and pulled her into a hug. She pushed him off.
"Listen, your friend Oma is in trouble. In fact both Kilmojo and Pathigo are in trouble."
"What do you mean?" Kizu asked as they jumped to avoid the spear that flew across the ground.
"There's been a war declared between the two cities because of Oma and Shu." Mizu said as she pulled Kizu away from the group of benders that tried to attack them. "We are needed there. That's what the spirit said."
"What spirit? When were you ever…" Kizu began. He saw a large fire ball heading for them and threw up a water shield to block it. They escaped through the ensuing cloud of smoke to find Aer.
Kan shot a whip of fire at Prodito, who summoned a wall of earth to block it. The earth shattered and fell downwards, taking out a large saw that was trying to enter the Crystal crater. Prodito lifted a foot and shot another brickof earth at Kan. Kan delfected it with a water whip and threw it back at him. Prodito back flipped, avoiding the blow by a couple of inches. He aimed to throw a large wave of water at Kan. Aer hovered up next to him, grabbing him around the shoulder and pulling backwards.
"Stop it! Enough with this fighting." Aer tried to fight as she pulled Prodito's arm backwards. Prodito gave a shout and threw a flame at Aer. She gave a cry and flew upwards a few feet. Kan tackled Prodito, trying to twist him to fall off the wall. Aer flew in, sending a blast of air that made Prodito spiral downwards before catching himself on a rock he bent out of the wall. He sent a large wave of water from the pool a mile below upwards. Kan braced his legs by encasing them in earth while Aer was knocked away and sent tumbling onto the top of the wall.
Prodito grabbed Kan's arm and tried to throw him off the wall But Kan tugged backwards, sending Prodito upwards. He grabbed onto a brick and drove it downwards to Kan. Kan directed it away with a gust of air and lunged upwards. He grabbed Prodito by the throat and held him over the side, threatening to drop him.
"Kan, no!" Aer shouted as she appeared at the top of the wall. Kan looked up at her and for a brief moment understood.
Aer had known about this the entire time. His face grew angry and he looked Prodito in the eyes. "Even her!?" Kan released Prodito, sending him screaming into the oncoming wave of soldiers that continued to pour into Ba Sing Se. Screams could be heard as Kan walked up the wall and met Aer at the top.
"I wasn't going to side with him anyways." Aer said as she grabbed Kan and pulled him into a tight hug. Kan pushed her away gently and turned to see Prodito below. Kizu and Mizu arrived with Ran-fo a moment later.
"We have to leave now." Mizu explained as the wall shook again. The army gave some shouts as they drove some bombs down into Ba Sing Se. More flashes of fire and water could be seen below, whether to fight against the soldiers or to continue the rebellion was lost to the group.
"Why?" Kan said with his back still turned to the new group.
"A spirit visited me, he said something big was happening at Pathigo and there is." Mizu explained. "They have just declared war and with two cities that celebrated around the world, something big is going to happen."
"And why should that concern us? We have a war to fight here." Kan said, his voice shaking.
"Because it involves one of my friends." Kizu said as he took a step forward. "And if a spirit says that that is where history will be made then I say we go there. Besides, we won't last if we stay here." The wall shook again and Kan's fists clenched.
"This was my dream!" Kan shouted as he spun around, flames roaring in his hands. The others backed up from Kan's wrath and Kan himself noticed something.
Ran-fo was terrified. His eyes were as large a plates and his mouth was open and quivering. Some small moans of fear were coming out of his mouth and he was taking small steps back from Kan. He was shaking so violently at the sight of Kan that Aer had to hold him to stop him.
"What's wrong with him?" Kan said as he calmed down and took some steps towards Ran-fo. Ran-fo gave a frightened squeak and buried his head into Aer's overcoat. Kan looked down and placed a hand to his scarred face.
Ran-fo had never seen the scar before. Kan waved his hands and conjured a new mask out of thin air. He gave a sigh and looked down. "Let's go to Kilmojo then." Kan said in a defeated voice. He turned around and Aer walked forward, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder.
"I'm sorry." Aer said softly as she patted him on the back. She stepped back and conjured a platform of air beneath them. They roe into the air and hovered for a few minutes as they cleared the army's lines. They descended behind a hill and Ba Sing Se fell out of sight, it's fate uncertain.
And though they were now heading into a new war that would be bigger then anything before, the future looked just as bleak as the loss they had suffered in the founding of a brighter future.