IMPORTANT: So, it's the final chapter of book 1 guys! This is really exciting for me:) I have came to love this story so much, I love to write it! And all of you reviewers keep me going too. Book 2 is going to be so amazing to write, and I know you all will love it!
Book 2 will be put in a separate story. It will be titled 'The Third Child of the Fire Nation: Book 2' so it won't be hard to miss. But make sure to alert me as an author so you know when I put it out. And alert the story of course. Book 2 shouldn't take long at all to come out, since I'll be eager to write it. But it should take at least a week. Be expecting it though (:
Alright, make sure to review, and I hope you all like it!
Chapter Twenty-One: The Siege of the North Part Two
My eyes flutter open when my leg is suddenly relieved from the brutal pain. My sight was blurry at first but when it clears up, I'm greet with Katara's concerning gaze. Her hood's flipped up and from what I could tell we are out in a blistering snow storm. "Katara?" I mumble weakly.
She gasps and moves her hands up to cup my face. "Oh thank goodness you're awake!" she cries before embracing me into a very tight hug. A smirk grew on my lips but when I try to embrace her back, I cringe as a sharp pain meets me and I slump back down, moaning quietly. She pulls away immediately, frowning. "Sorry," she says sheepishly. "I just got overjoyed."
I open my mouth to reassure her I was fine but I was interrupted by being whisked into someone else's arms and warm lips connecting with mine eagerly. Startled, I don't react until I notice who the culprit is and I ease into the kiss happily. "Sokka! Put her down!" Katara orders sternly. Our kiss ends and he quickly set me against the saddle side gently, kneeling down to stare me in the eyes.
"I'm so glad you're okay," he says softly, reaching his hand up to stroke my hair.
I smile warmly at him before turning my attention to the questions I long to be answered. "What happened?" I ask. "Like, after I passed out?"
"Well, we needed to go somewhere but, of course, we weren't going to just leave you there. So we hurriedly got you up onto Appa and as Sokka controlled the reins, I healed your broken leg," she explains, motioning to my now perfectly capable leg that no longer aches with pain. "I tried to heal your burn, but it had been too long so I only was able to rid of some of the pain." She looks saddened by the fact and I move my hand up to lightly touch the place on my neck where the burn was located. It hardly hurt anymore but from Katara's words, I knew I would have a scar. Just like my brother.
"I'll have a scar," I state.
She nods. "I'm sorry."
"It's fine," I assure genuinely. "It's not that bad anyway, right?"
"It's barely noticeable." I follow the sudden, different voice to find Yue sitting in the farthest corner awkwardly. We lock gazes and I smile slightly at her, which she seems surprised about. I have barely spoken to the girl, and the only time I did, was when I snapped at her the first day we arrived. She probably thinks I hate her, even though I don't. Far from it actually. She's a great person from what I've seen. It was just the first impression I got from her was that she was trying to steal Sokka away from me, which turns out she wasn't at all, so there is no good reason for there to be tension between us.
"Hey Yue," I greet kindly.
"You know I don't hate you right? When I snapped at you a couple weeks ago, I was just being over dramatic. I have nothing against you."
She ponders what I said for a second before granting me a wholehearted smile. "That's wonderful to hear, I don't want you to not like me," she says.
I beam in response before looking back to Katara and Sokka. I just now remember that we are out on Appa, in a horrid snow storm, flying in what seemed like the middle of no where. "Where are we going exactly? And where's Aang?" I question.
Katara hung her head sorrowfully and I raise one of my eyebrows before glancing to Sokka for an explanation. "Zuko came and ambushed Katara while I wasn't there. Aang was entering the spirit world so he had no clue what was going on and was completely vulnerable. Yue went to find me as Katara fought him off, but when the sun raised, he beat Katara and took Aang before she could stop him," Sokka says, patting Katara on the back comfortingly.
My mouth went agape. "Oh my gosh," I breath out, shaking my head back and forth slowly. "This is horrible."
"Do you guys have any idea where they could be?"
Sokka motions forward to the direction Appa was soaring, shrugging. "They could be anywhere. We just gotta find 'em."
I blew out a puff of fire into my cupped hands, trying desperately to warm them up. I had left everything but the thin cloths on my back on Zhao's ship and I was very close to freezing over. My body shivers violently as I wrap my arms around myself and rub my arms quickly, creating slight, warm friction. I no longer was in pain besides the slight throb of my burn, the only warm place on my body, but right now I think I'd rather be hurting than in this situation of weather.
"Don't worry," Yue's reassuring voice says to Katara over the loud noise of the storm. "Prince Zuko can't be getting too far in this weather."
I sneak a glance at Katara and noticed how concerned she looks. "I'm not worried they'll get away in this weather, I'm worried that they won't," she replies in a matter-of-fact tone.
"They're not g-gonna d-die in this weather, my b-brother never g-gives up," I stammer, my teeth chattering rapidly. All eyes went to me, including Sokka's, and took in my position of being curled up in a shaking ball and needing warmth badly.
"Kaiko!" Sokka shouts in alarm, franticly scrambling over to me and scooping me up into his arms. I let out a sigh of relief when his body heat overwhelms me and I curl into him, burying my face into his clothes layered chest. "Why didn't you tell any of us how cold you are?" His arms tighten around me and I feel my shivering start to falter.
"I d-don't know," I say. "I'm fine, j-just continue leading Appa." No matter how much I want him to keep me in his warm embrace, we need to find Aang as soon as possible.
"No," he protests. "We don't want you getting sick from this weather."
"I won't get s-sick-"
"Katara, will you take over the reins for now?"
I can barely hear her response over the whipping of the winds and the fact that my ears are partly covered by Sokka's arms, but since Sokka stays with me, I assume she agreed.
We've been flying for a while now, and the whole time I have stayed wrapped up in Sokka, not wanting to ever leave his warmth. I feel kinda bad, and useless, but no one seems to mind so I don't let it get to me.
Worry for Aang increases with every passing minute. What if they really do die in this storm? Or get so far lost? What if Zuko already hurt Aang? And I'm not only concerning about Aang, but Zuko too. He's my brother, it's really hard not to care abut him sometimes. Questions keep on invading my mind and I try my best to copy Sokka's optimistic attitude about all of this because he's right about not freaking out, we'll find them. Like we always do.
All of a sudden, a bright, blue light shot through the sky above us. My eyes widen as I watch it continue to soar in the opposite direction we are heading. I sit up in Sokka's arms, jabbing my finger at the now fading light. "Look! That's gotta be Aang!" I shout, causing everyone else to notice it as well. Katara quickly yanked the reins back and Appa began to speedily fly after it.
We slow down when we see a little cave covered with snow and two figures standing a couple feet away from it, one of the figures holding the other by the collar. Zuko and Aang. "Aang!" I call, about to jump off Appa when we land but Sokka holds me still.
"No, you're still hurt," he says.
I pout, but don't argue because I know he won't give in. My eyes move to Katara as she hops off Appa and starts to advance toward them.
Zuko looks to her as he chucks Aang to the ground, instantly getting in a stance. "Here for a re-match?" he sneers.
"Trust me, Zuko, it isn't going to much of a match," she remarks and skillfully blocks his aimed fire blast with the snow from the ground before bending it toward him. He gets ready to shoot it away but the snow reaches him and Katara freezes Zuko in a tall glazier of ice. After a moment of holding him there, she slams him on the ground roughly. I feel relieved that she beat him, but I grow worried when I see Zuko laying unconscious buried in snow. As Sokka hurries to untie Aang, I slowly make my way to Zuko's side. I kneel down next to him and brush some of the snow off his body. My eyes rack over his expression. A permanent scowl. Like always.
"Kaiko, are you coming?" I glance over my shoulder to see all of them perched on Appa, staring at me questionably. I bit the inside of my cheek before landing my gaze back on my brother.
"We can't leave him here," I say.
"Sure we can," Sokka replies, unthoughtful. "Now let's go!"
"No," I say firmly. "If we leave him, he'll die." I stand up and place my hands under his arms, hoisting him up right. I huff, still a little weak, but thankfully strong enough to drag him onto Appa. With Aang's air bending to help, of course. I can tell he agrees with my decision, unlike everyone else.
Sokka still seems very unsure about all of this. "Yeah, this makes a lot of sense. Let's bring the guy that is constantly trying to kill us!" he says sarcastically.
I give him a look. "He's my brother, Sokka," I state. "No matter how many bad things he does, I am not going to let him die." I snatch the rope Aang was tied up with and begin to loop it around both Zuko's hands and feet.
"It'll be fine, Sokka," Aang adds, taking his place on Appa's head. "Anyway, we need to get to the oasis. The spirits are in trouble!" he tells us and orders Appa to fly, which he quickly does.
I suddenly remember Zhao's words. I am well aware of the moon problem, and I am working on a solution. My eyes widen as realization dawns on me.
I have no idea what it means, but what I do know is that it cannot be good. The fire nation must of caused this, most likely Zhao, but what did they do? My father had never spoken about the sky being completely red. My eyes flew around, examining the color, and fear began to creep up on me at the possibilities of what this might mean.
I look over to Yue when she moans quietly. "What's wrong?" I ask.
"I feel faint," she responds, holding her head with her eyes squeezed shut.
"I feel it, too," Aang's troubled voice says from where he was controlling the reins. "The moon spirit is in trouble."
"I owe the moon spirit my life," Yue admits solemnly, her gaze fixed downwards.
We all give her a questioning glance. "What do you mean?" Sokka asks.
"When I was born, I was very sick and very weak..." She continues on with a story of how she almost died when she was born but thankfully her father prayed to the spirits before bringing her to the oasis and placed her in the pond. Her hair had turned white and she awoke crying, showing that she was going to live. The moon spirit gave her life. "That's why my mother named me Yue, for the moon," she explains.
Everything was still and eerily quiet before I decided to speak up. "I think I may know what's happening with the spirit," I say and they all look at me in shock.
"What?" Aang breaths out.
I sigh. "When I was on Zhao's ship the first evening of attack, I had advised him to wait till morning to continue firing since water benders are strongest at night. Of course, I said this to grant everyone time back at the tribe. But, he had said, and I quote: 'I am well aware of the moon problem, and I am working on a solution,'" I tell them.
They stare at me.
"What do you think he is doing?" Katara asks.
"No idea, while I was on the ship, he never came up with the plan. Kinda regret not staying longer to find out now," I say, frowning as my fingers fiddle with the hem of my shirt. Sokka hasn't had to keep me warm since we were reunited with Aang because it has grown surprisingly warmer ever since the red has appeared. Thank gosh. "I know it's not good though, by the glint I had caught in his eyes, I knew he was planning something terrible."
I study their expressions. Worry. Fear. Anxiety. All the emotions I was feeling myself. I feel guilty too. I should of waited to send the ships back or kept my original plan in tact to kill Zhao. But could I? Could I of beat him? A better question is, would I of been able to take a human life so willingly? Even if it was someone as malicious as Zhao? I haven't thought about that. And now, that I have thought about it, I honestly don't know that I couldn't of murdered him.
"Kaiko?" Sokka's voice tore me away from my haze and my eyes land on him. "What happened on the ship? What did you do?"
I can tell from their faces everyone was wondering the same thing. "Well, Zhao accepted me into his crew very easily. It hardly took any convincing at all. I was given a room and everything," I tell. I was about to say how Uncle and Zuko were on the ship as well, but I decide not to. They would want to know why, and I didn't even know myself. "So, for the couple days I was on the ship, I stayed by Zhao's side the entire time. Prior his orders. He only spoke at rare times to me since he was almost always focused on the attack. So, I didn't get much out of him. But, I didn't find out information that gave me a great idea."
Katara questions, "What was the idea?"
"In the controls of the ship, was a devise that was able to send out messages to all of the other ships in the fleet. Zhao used it to tell the other crews orders and plans. One night, when I was thinking in my room, the idea popped into my head. While everyone was away from the control room, I would sneak in and send out a message to the all the ships to retreat from battle. It worked on practically all the ones behind Zhao's ship, but not the ones in front considering they were just a few minutes away from reaching the tribe. I made sure to disable the messaging system so Zhao could never use it again. Zhao noticed me doing this and caught me of guard with blasts of fire aiming toward me." I traced my now painless burn lightly. "That's how I got burned. And when I was thrashing around from the pain, he continued to fire, causing me to tumble out of the window and onto the deck. Hard. That's how my leg was broken. No matter how much pain I was in, I rolled off the ship and swam the rest of the way to the tribe. It took the rest of my strength to make it to you guys."
I glance up from where I was staring downward and I notice how all of them were gazing at me in wonder. "Wow, that's amazing news," Yue says incredulously.
"It is!" Aang cheers. "The first say I went out there ships were everywhere! But now that a bunch are gone, we'll have a greater chance!"
Sokka clasped my hand with his and planted a soft kiss on my forehead. "That was really brave of you," he says.
I smile. "Thank you, guys."
We all settle into a silence as Appa moves gracefully toward the tribe, everyone frightened about what we might find. I suddenly have a needy urge to be in the circle of Sokka's arms and squeeze his hand so he'll put his attention on me. When he does, his eyes flicker to my face and in a moment I see that he understands. Without speaking, he crawls over to me, gently takes me in his arms so I am in between his legs and my back rests against his chest. His hands stay on my thighs and he caresses them comfortingly. I lean my head back, letting my eyelids fall as I listen to the steady beat of his heart. "I love you," he randomly whispers into my ear. In another moment, it would have been strange to just say it while cuddling on Appa, but we now know there is a chance we might not survive through the night. So, it was nice to hear the words. It's reassuring. My heart warms and my lips twitch upwards slightly.
"I love you, too."
After what felt like too short of time, we near the oasis. I lean over to edge and spot Zhao lifting something up in the air. Anger boils inside of me when I realize it's the white moon fish, withering around in his fist. I hear Yue's despairing gasp and I know she has seen the horrid sight too.
We land secretly on the other side of the pond, not being seen for the reason that Zhao is too caught up in his deed and the few soldiers surrounding him are focused only on him. It's pretty dumb if you ask me. Anyone could just sneak up on them and they wouldn't even notice it. It's lucky for us though. We hop off Appa and while Yue stays back, we stand a few inches away from the pond.
Just as Zhao finishes saying something about being invincible, Momo jumps on his head, tugging at his skin and bating his face while making screeching noises. I smirk. "Get it off! Get it off!" Zhao shouts but the soldiers just stand there, unsure of what to do. Momo quits and flies over to perch himself on Aang's shoulder. This causes Zhao to discoverer our presence and his eyes narrow. I can't help but notice him glare even more hatefully in my direction for a second. The fact that I caused him unsatisfactory brings me much joy. Maybe a little too much joy.
All of us, besides Yue, swiftly get into our fighting stances threateningly. Zhao chuckles, rolling his eyes. "Don't bother," he spats, holding up his fist in front of the fish, ready to blast it anytime he wants. We understand and drop our stances. Aang holds his hands up.
"Zhao," he starts, his voice steady yet alarmed, "don't."
"It's my destiny," he says, still holding his fist up firm. "To destroy the moon and the water tribe."
I move up by Aang's side, pushing all my hate and fury for him aside right now, and focusing on the major issue at hand. "Destroying the moon won't hurt just the water tribe, Zhao, it'll hurt everyone," I explain as calmly as possible. "Including you."
Aang adds, "Without the moon everything will fall out of balance. You have no idea what kind of chaos that would unleash on the world."
Zhao just stands there, his eyes shining unreadable emotion, until a different voice suddenly shows up and makes him gap in shock for a short moment. "They are right, Zhao." I glance over to see Uncle entering from the side, his expression hard. I hold back a smile that inches on my lips from his presence.
"General Iroh, why am I not surprised to discover your treachery?" Zhao's expression is back to unreadable except for the slight amusement in his dark orbs. I want so badly to attack him right then and there.
"I am no traitor, Zhao," Uncle says, lowering his hood. "The fire nation needs the moon too. We all depend on the balance." He all of sudden becomes terribly serious and his face is etched with danger and fury as he gets into a fire bending stance I am unaware of. "Whatever you do to that spirit, I will unleash on you ten fold! Let it go now!"
They just stare at each other until Zhao's face falls, his eyes fixed on the fish as he lands on his knees. Hope rises in me when he releases the spirit into the pond. But, it falls, when his face twists in fury and he cries out loudly, his arm flying up and slashing fire down at the fish. I feel almost numb as the skies turn completely gray and my gaze moves up to find the moon disappearing completely. "No," I hear Katara mutter in devastation. All emotions drain from my body besides one single feeling.
"Ahh!" I yell in outrage, bolting forward and sending multiple fire blasts toward the poor excuse of a man just as Uncle begins to do the same. The soldiers block him quickly, only being able to hold off Uncle's insane bending since he's much more advanced than me. I spot Zhao started to sneak away and my fists clench at my sides before I chase after him. I think I hear my name being called by I ignore it, the need to attack this man high and strong.
Zhao has no idea I am following him as he escapes so I keep it on low key. He moves fairly quick so I try my best to keep up without him noticing me. Doesn't work out too well, because when we're in the middle of crossing the main bridge, he whips around with widened eyes. I'm slightly a taken back but I brush it off and get into a threatening fighting stance. My chi is flowering higher than it ever has before and I glare.
"Do you have any idea what you just did?" I hiss.
He smirks, easing into a stance as well. "I just granted a great duty to our- wait- my nation," he responds. "But of course you wouldn't care. Even though you were born and grew up in the fire nation, you act as if you were raised by these disgusting water peasants!"
"I would of rather been," I shoot back. "The fire nations morals are pointless and wrong."
"Whatever you want to think, little girl. Just know, when the fire nation does when this war, you will be regretting every single sin you've committed ever since you joined the Avatar." His eyes glint with his own type of humor. "And let's not forget that little boyfriend of yours! What do you think will happen to him? Thrown in jail for the rest of his life? Forced to be a servant? Have front row seat for your execution-"
I cut him of with a strained, furious cry as I sprint toward him, my fists drawn with fire spitting out of them. I punch them forward, sending the blasts straight at his face. "You sick bastard!" I scream, continuing to aim all my power at him.
His just grins wider and dodges them easily before kicking a wave of fire down at my feet. I gasp and jump in the air so it won't strike me. I land gracefully but just as I do, he launches another one that catches me of guard and I fall to the ground with a grunt. A sharp pain travels up my spine once I hit the ground but I ignore it. My eyes widen when I see two blasts of fire coming toward me and I push my hand out, taking control, and redirecting them at him. As he ducks away from those, I use the time to recompose myself and get into my stance again. "I beat you before, I can beat you again," I sneer at him.
"You sure about that? You do seep kinda weak from our encounter earlier." He bends two more powerful blasts in my direction and I skid out of the way, just missing them. I glance down at myself and I notice what he is talking about. I do look weak. My limbs are shaking, my stance is rigid, and my bending is off. He, on the other hand, is stronger and more confident than ever. Not to mention he's already a matured fire bender when I am not. I don't stand a chance at fighting him. I'll loose. I feel all color drain from my face and I become petrified.
He laughs out loud at my realization of the truth. "Now don't you wish you never would of came after me?" he taunts and he's about to begin attacking again when a sudden blast of fire comes shooting at him from the side. He quickly backs up away from it and we both whip our heads around to see Zuko perched on top of a smaller building, his menacing glare fixed on Zhao. "You're alive?" Zhao questions in astonishment.
"You tried to have me killed!" he shouts accusingly. He kicks his foot forward as fire aims out of it and toward Zhao before he jumps from the building and lands in the middle of us. The fire strikes Zhao on the arm slightly and he growls out in frustration, his eyes narrowing in on my brother.
"Yes I did," he says. "You're the blue spirit, an enemy of the fire nation. You freed one of the most traitorous people!"
"She's my sister," he states, glancing over his shoulder at me for a moment before laying his eyes back on Zhao. "I had no choice." He swings his arms up in the air and begins to shoot many different fire blasts in his direction. Zhao blocks each one simply.
"You should of chosen to accept your failure. Then, at least, you could of lived!"
They begin to fight skillfully, barely acknowledging my presence, until Zuko shouts out, "Run, Kaiko! Get out of here!"
But I don't budge. How could I leave him here? He's trying to save my life. "No," I protest, stepping up by his side when they finally stop firing for a moment. "We can fight him together." He just stares at me incredulously before we both look to Zhao hatefully when he chortles.
"Aw, how cute," he says sarcastically. "Brother and sister, reuniting."
I feel myself smirk at his comment. It doesn't bother me. I like the fact that Zuko was on my side for once, trying to protect me like he used to. It makes me less weak. Zuko and I lock eyes and we both grin before sliding one foot forward and shoving our hands out, swirls of fire aiming straight toward Zhao. He's caught off guard and he tumbles to the ground roughly before his eyes glance to the sky and grow hugely. "It can't be!" he says in disbelief and I follow his gaze to see that the moon was lit in the sky again. I smile genuinely at it, stare back at him, and send another blast.
"You failed, Zhao," I say. "Like you always will."
He cries out in outrage and is about to jump to his feet, when glowing, water-made tentacles emerge from the water below and surround us. Zuko and I hurry out of the way as they wrap around Zhao's now struggling form and start to take him away. I gasp and my body feels like a statue, unsure of what to do. Zuko suddenly runs over and reaches his hand out. "Take my hand!"
Zhao starts to grab for his hand, his expression terrified, but then it goes hard and he withdrawals his arm back to his captured body. He glares at him for a moment before his eyes flicker to me and I see all the hatred and anguish for me in just one glance before the tentacles pull him into the water, both them and Zhao disappearing.
I just stand there, petrified, devastated, shocked. Zhao's dead. Zhao's really dead. I feel as if I should be relived, happy, but right now all I feel is guilt. "Zuko," I murmur hoarsely. He looks at me, his own orbs shining the same feelings I have, before he just walks away without any words. No goodbye. No thanks. Not closure.
I sigh heavily, bringing my stiff arms up to wrap them around my shivering body. I turn on my heels quietly and stalk off, the image of Zhao being dragged underwater haunting my mind.
I pull my legs up to my chest, staring out at the dimming sky, my hair whipping around in the slight wind. My arms wound around my calf's tightly and my chin rests upon my knees.
We won. The fire nation lost. Zhao was defeated and the water tribe is being repaired at this moment. I should be joyful, giddy, carefree. But I'm not. I'm troubled. For some strange reason, I feel horrible that Zhao is now dead, that he died terribly. Even though I hated him, did anyone deserve to die that way? He was taken by a spirit, drowned into the freezing waters of the north pole... I can't even imagine the thought of that happening to me.
What saddened me even more is that Zuko just left. I thought we would exchange some nice words, maybe come up with a compromise, but no. He left. He's probably off with Uncle right now, trying to figure out his next plain to capture Aang. Family is never on his mind anymore. I don't think it ever will be.
My gaze drifts to the very visible moon. The sky was completely clear besides it and a few clouds. My mind switches to Yue and I frown. Yue sacrificed her life for the moon spirit, she saved us all, and she still had to die. Such a great girl, who only got to the age of sixteen, is now never going to be able to marry, or have kids, grow old. Life is so cruel.
I suddenly sense a presence behind me and I look over my shoulder to see Sokka standing there, eying me warily. I take a deep breath, get to my feet and face him. We don't move, we just stay still, gazing into each other's eyes until finally, he rushes over to me and our lips connect. His hands cup my face and his thumbs stroke my cheeks gently. My arms fly around his waist as I let myself melt into the kiss. I break apart and smile a gentle smile. He returns it and pecks my forehead. We then look to the right where Aang and Katara were standing, embracing each other affectionately with Momo huddled into the crook of their arms. After glancing one more time at each other, we make our way over to them. They pull away from each other and greet us with welcoming grins. I circle my arm around Aang's torso on the opposite side that Katara was on and Sokka grips my hand. Appa hovers up from the ground to join us and my heart warms with delight.
No matter how many terrible things happen during this war, we will always be together, by each other's sides. Nothing will ever change that.
End of part one.