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Author Topic: Resolutions (Rated T, Complete) (Epilogue is up!)  (Read 10435 times)
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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« on: Feb 23, 2014 07:13 am »


Here I present my new fanfiction about the Kyoshi Warriors and their time in the Capital City Prison after their defeat in Appa's Lost Days. Azula continues to manipulate them to do her bidding and eventually serve her and the girls have to muster all their strength to at least have a chance in this elaborate game of wills. But did Azula only win a battle? Or do the girls fight a war they have already lost?

Also, a visual reference for the Kyoshi Warriors:

From left to right: Asha, Okako, Nirmal, Pema and Kitara. You can read more about them in my other fanfiction, The Kyoshi Warriors.

Hope you will enjoy the story!

Oh, and thanks for Loopy for beta-reading!


Okako’s only relief was that all things considered, she and the other Kyoshi Warriors could be in a much worse situation. Kyoshi was clearly with them in these dire times, as though they had been badly defeated, they hadn’t suffered any major harm other than a few small scratches, bruises and burns.

Three days had passed since that fateful battle. It started when three girls attacked them to claim the Avatar’s sky bison, and the Kyoshi Warriors had to take the fight and give time to the noble beast to escape. Okako herself was quickly incapacitated, and the others didn’t fare better either.

An annoyingly cheerful acrobat wearing silly pink clothes. She was the one who took out most of the Kyoshi Warriors. Okako, Pema, Asha and Kitara had all experienced her formidable technique to of paralyzing a person with only a few powerful jabs. Okako couldn’t help but grind her teeth every time she thought about how they would have fared if that girl hadn’t been there. They would win. The two other girls, the firebender and the knife thrower, weren’t even half as dangerous as the acrobat.

But she was here, and they were defeated. The girls had taken the Kyoshi Warriors as prisoners, and now, here they were: in the middle of a Fire Nation base, in a large tent haphazardly turned into a prison cell. They were forced to change from their Kyoshi Warrior uniforms to some ragged prisoner clothes and they were all chained to the central pole of the tent. Four soldiers guarded them all day and night, but otherwise, they were left on their own.
Okako sighed, and looked around in the tent.

It was just as depressing as in the last two days. It probably served as storage for old and broken stuff before it was converted into a temporary prison cell for the Kyoshi Warriors. The musty smell, dust and scattered trash were clear indications of this. The six girls just barely had enough space to lie down, and they were forced to nestle up to each other. Not like they wouldn’t have done it anyways. But at least the junk around them had many pillows and rugs, so they could pass the time in relative comfort.
Pema, the engineering expert of the group, sat in the middle, tinkering with the locks. Her softly rounded face was now twisted into a mask of anger as she failed to break the shackles over and over again. Pema was a smart and resourceful girl – even though she usually used her considerable talents to pursue questionable goals – but the current situation got had the better of her.
Kitara, the weapon specialist, just lay at the edge of the heap of pillows. She was maybe the most untroubled girl. Her usual silly smile just couldn’t disappear, and her blue eyes were sparkling with the same brightness as always. Kitara was a big goofball, a carefree and easy-going girl. This attitude now helped her to endure the worst, but she also had something else in her mind. Kitara was a skillful swordfighter and a warrior who had already proven her deadliness in the past. In the battle, she had nearly killed one of their attackers, and she drew confidence from the fact that next time, she won’t miss her chance.

Nirmal was the healer of the Kyoshi Warriors. Her narrower and more definite facial features made her a little bit distinctive amongst the other girls, but in a good way. She was maybe the most intelligent warrior, and also possessed a very sober and serious personality. Her level-headed insight often helped the cadre with a big deal, but now even she remained ominously quiet.

Asha - the youngest Kyoshi Warrior with her thirteen years, and the scout of the team - was always moving from girl to girl, trying to find comfort wherever she could. Usually, she was wild and thoughtless, but the captivity left her scared and wavering. Now, she pretty much acted like a little animal: when she wasn’t hiding in the embrace of another girl, she was trying to break free with a ferocious effort. Okako was really worried about her. She knew that Asha suffered badly in her past, before she arrived on Kyoshi Island and became a Kyoshi Warrior, and it seemed that the current events made her relive the painful memories.

Personally, Okako didn’t have to look into that greasy mirror next to her to know that she looked just as weary as the others. Her face was tarnished by anguish and tiredness, and her green eyes were pale from the stress. As the second-in-command of the Kyoshi Warriors it would be her job to look after the others, but now she felt powerless to do anything.

The only girl who retained her determination was Suki, the leader of the group. She sat in the middle defiantly, providing a stable point for the other girls. Her short, fur-like auburn hair was all around her mildly rounded face, and it gave her a pretty intrepid look. Her mere presence kept the morale on an adequate level, but Okako wondered about what was in her head. She had seen Suki and the firebender – a vicious girl who was the leader of their attackers – talking a lot on the way to the base, but she couldn’t catch their words. There was definitely something going on between them.

And this was the thing what really worried Okako. So far they had a narrow squeak, but their future was hanging on a thread. And they could do nothing to sway it. The chains and shackles were strong, the guards were tireless and their captors were way too powerful.

The Kyoshi Warriors were doomed, one way or another, and the only thing they could do was wait. And pray to Kyoshi for some sort of miraculous rescue.
« Last Edit: Mar 20, 2014 08:11 am by AtoMaki » Logged

Keeper of Suki's firebending ancestry, the Kyoshi Warrior dojo, the love potion made from rainbows and sunsets and the mecha tanks.

My fanficions.

My Avatar RPG system.
Solid Sun
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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dio did nothing wrong

« Reply #1 on: Feb 23, 2014 08:12 am »

Looks very good, I'll keep an eye on it^^

Featuring : Polaris, Zyrax HikaruIzumi, Blue Warpath, Prophet of Doom, Weegee the Airbender, TyLuko4Ever, Johan, Riptide, SunxFire and AtoMaki : D
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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« Reply #2 on: Feb 24, 2014 06:02 am »


Azula passed in front of the large tent thrice in the day, but inspiration slipped out of her hand again. It was circling in her head for almost three days, since she had captured this weird all-female warrior group. It was something with their ornate green uniforms, creepy make-up, and the very scene where she had found them, but it couldn’t snap together.

Her first thought was that she should punish these girls for good. They prevented her from capturing the Avatar’s sky bison, further fuelling her frustration with her recent failures to make progress in capturing that boy. But then, this elusive idea came up in her mind, so she decided to spare them.

And it was there, circling in her head, and she just couldn’t unfold the whole picture. Something about these girls. Especially now, when they weren’t in their green uniforms. They just looked like an ad-hoc bunch of young girls from every corner of the world. And this idea, it somehow worked along this line. Azula could feel it.

On the way to this base, she had a little chat with the leader of the group. She was a fierce redhead, and one should be blind or really stupid to not realize that she was from the Fire Nation. Personally, this sparked Azula’s interest in the group more than everything else. At first, she simply found her funny with her dedication, but then, she had to realize that she actually enjoyed her company. There was a fire in that redhead, and it fascinated Azula as if she were a mothwasp. It was strange to have such a positive opinion of some lowly soldier girl, but she couldn’t help it.

She left the entrance to the prison-tent for the fourth time, and headed back to her own tent. The idea was still pulsing inside her head, even stronger than before. She could see the four main points of it: the mixed nationality of the group, the odd makeup, their connection to the Avatar and the green uniforms. But there was an important centerpiece that was missing. And it was the one that connected the others. Azula was sure that, eventually, she would find this out. Maybe she only needed a little rest and maybe a little more talk with these warrior girls. Two days, and she would get it.

She was wrong. She only needed ten minutes.

Azula entered her tent, and to her greatest surprise, she found Mai and Ty Lee there. Or rather, their presence was familiar to her, but now, it was surprising how they were there.

Mai was lying on a couch with her usual bored expression. Her long, black hair was down but more interestingly, she wore a heavy, green uniform. It was the uniform of one of the warrior girls.

Ty Lee was standing next to her, trying to fit herself into another green uniform. Her hair was made half-way into a knot and her face was a huge mess of white, red and black paint.

“What are you girls doing?” asked Azula angrily. These antics were really unneeded in their current situation.

“Personally, I was just borrowing some clothes,” answered Mai dryly. “But I’ll take no responsibility for what Ty Lee is doing.”

Azula had to strain her memory a little bit to remember why Mai should borrow clothes. She could distantly recall that one of those girls cut into Mai’s robe with her sword or something like that. A fairly acceptable excuse.

Ty Lee finally finished with dressing, and spun around. Her cheerful smile nearly made Azula zap her with a lightning bolt, but she swallowed the urge and forced out a sarcastic smile.

“And you Ty Lee? You are wearing these clothes because…”

“Because it is neat!” the young acrobat ran to a nearby mirror and checked herself. “Now, if this makeup behaved like all the other makeup, it would be perfect!” she tried to smear the paints to resemble the same pattern that the captured warrior girls wore, but she failed to get even something similar. Ultimately, she just wiped her face clean with the sleeve of her uniform and cartwheeled back to Mai flopping down next to her.

Mai just rolled her eyes and sighed.

“She has been doing this for the last hour,” she said to Azula. The fire princess frowned at them. She didn’t need this little intermezzo at all.

“You know…” Ty Lee started her explanation. “Those girls we captured shared something special. A communion. I could see it on them. They are just so bright when they are close to each other. Especially around their leader! And these uniforms and the makeup represent their bond, so I thought that maybe we could imitate them to represent our bond. We could be… like… the Azula Warriors!”

Azula was just on the verge of scolding Ty Lee for her stupid idea. She, the princess of the Fire Nation and the heir to the throne, wouldn’t wear the clothes of some backwater peasants for anyone! She could feel her anger rising quickly, and she was just about to say something nasty when the final piece emerged and clicked into the greater picture.

Suddenly, Azula acquired the key to unlock her plan, and it stretched out in her mind like one of those silly golden fans those warrior girls used in the fight. Now she could see it. Ty Lee and Mai unknowingly unveiled the hidden centerpiece, and now the connections became complete.

“Azula Warriors… Of course!” Azula whispered, astonished. “That’s how we will do it!”

She walked to the couch and grabbed a green uniform that was lying there. She checked it out, and her plan came to life in the clothing. Three creases ran through the heavy silk, passing the seam on the shoulders, just as three girls in disguise will infiltrate the heart of the Earth Kingdom. They passed down through the golden strip on the sleeve, reaching an elaborate insignia – the Avatar – and finally the dark green end – the Earth King.

Everything was so crystal clear that Azula was really surprised that she couldn’t figure this out before.

Mai and Ty Lee just looked at each other in confusion. They could see Azula frown at the beginning and now they couldn’t understand her sudden change of mood.

“Um… So, will you try these?” asked Ty Lee finally, but Azula didn’t answer immediately. She was still enjoying the sweet taste of her own genius, and Ty Lee’s question made her grin.

“I will.” Her response widened Ty Lee’s smile. Mai just hit her forehead with her palm as a sign of disapproval.

Azula had to rewind what Ty Lee had said about those girls. Yes, she could see some difficulties here and there. But nothing insoluble. Forcing people to do her bidding was always Azula’s greatest area of expertise.

“So… They are especially bright around their leader, huh?” Ty Lee nodded. “Then I think it is time for them to go dark!”

The steel shackle slipped down on her shank with a loud clang and stopped at her knee. The heavy chains attached to it slowed down its momentum just enough that the strong and rude material didn’t bruise her. Kitara swept her leg back, making the shackle swing back to her ankle.

“You are free Shackle! Fly away!” she whispered, but nothing happened. She tried to give it a small nudge, but it had no effect either.

“Stop it Kitara,” sighed Pema, who sat next to her. She had given up on her own shackle long ago. “It won’t go off.”

Kitara knew it. She had witnessed Pema struggle with the locks, and she also saw her surrender to this piece of fine Fire Nation forge-work after a full day of trial.

By now, most of the girls were resigned to their current situation. They had lost a battle and became prisoners of war. All but two of the warriors had accepted this.

Suki was the sharpest example of defiance. She didn’t give up. She didn’t surrender. She kept the girls from sliding into complete apathy and losing hope. But Kitara was sure that Suki’s reason to act for acting like this wasn’t so selfless at all. The leader of the Kyoshi Warriors was a proud girl, but the recent events had shattered this part of her world. It turned out that the warriors weren’t that exceptional; they were easily defeated by three random girls, and Suki had a hard time swallowing this. Kitara was pretty sure that this refusal was the main source of her determination. The well-being of her warrior sisters came only after this.

Asha was a much different case. She was the youngest Kyoshi Warrior, and by far the wildest. She didn’t simply defy their situation, but went straight against it. She fought with claws and teeth when their captors had tied her up, twice she had tried to escape twice on their way to the base, and even since then, there hadn’t been a single hour where she didn’t try to break free. Okako and Suki often had to calm her down before she hurt herself with her attempts. Kitara knew that Asha was from some sort of primitive, barbaric Earth Kingdom tribe, and that the girl was prone to savage outbursts, but this behavior surprised even her.

To direct her thoughts towards a much funnier topic, Kitara made a big jump from the Kyoshi Warriors to the opposite group of girls. The firebender noble girl, the pink acrobat and the lethargic knife thrower. An odd trio, to say at least. Pema said that the firebender was in fact the princess of the Fire Nation, but Kitara couldn’t believe her. Yeah, she looked pretty royal and stuff, and had those golden eyes, and weird blue flames, and subtle talk… And she was clearly in charge, and she ordered royal firebenders to guard the prison-tent…

Well, maybe she was really the princess of the Fire Nation.

Kitara grimaced as this thought crept into her mind and took a firm grasp on it. Yeah, the prisoner of the princess of the Fire Nation. That sounded like something!

“Girls! I think the firebender is the princess of the Fire Nation!”

“Yeah Kitara, I just told that a few hours ago,” noted Pema coldly. “But I’m glad that it finally reached you!” Nirmal and Okako chuckled on this.

“No, no! I mean, she is really the princess! The one from those propaganda leaflets! The ruthless firebender prodigy and all!” Kitara’s excuse made even Suki turn to her.

“And what’s your point with all this?” she asked her.

“Well, I don’t know if you remember, but the Earth Kingdom soldiers were all terrified when she came up. You read the leaflets, she is all-powerful and killy!”

“Jump to the point Kitara. I’m not really in the mood to listen to this any longer.”
“Okay. So my point is that we are still alive. The biggest injury we suffered was my snapped finger, but even that was my fault! We clashed with the most dangerous girl of this world and are still alive to tell the tale!”

“I still can’t get it,” admitted Suki with a puzzled face.

“If we had really been defeated, then we would be cold dead!” yelled Kitara. She could see the utter lack of comprehension on the other girls though, and it was very embarrassing.

For an awkwardly long moment, the whole tent fell silent, and every girl looked at Kitara. Even Asha stopped chewing the chain of her shackle.

“That doesn’t make any sense,” said Suki finally. “We were defeated, and that’s all that counts.” And with that, she turned back.

“Also, the leaflets are just propaganda,” added Nirmal. “I wonder if even half of the content is tru…” she was interrupted by Okako, who just placed her hand on her mouth and drowned the word in her with a stern look.

Kitara hoped that at least the lieutenant of the cadre got it. And it seemed that she did.

“Suki…” Okako crawled next to the leader of the Kyoshi Warriors, and wrapped her arms around her neck. “What Kitara really wanted to say is that we weren’t defeated per se...” Suki just growled something to this, but Kitara couldn’t hear what. “…we were only hindered. We are still in perfect fighting condition. We only need the chance to break free. And then, we could have a rematch on our terms!”

This wasn’t exactly what Kitara had in mind, but she let it pass. Okako’s words clearly cheered up Suki a little.

“We fought against bad odds anyway. That forest battle wasn’t exactly convenient for our style,” added Pema. She leaned forward, and from her malicious grin, Kitara knew that she was about to drop the biggest thing. “And don’t forget that we are one Kyoshi Warrior short.” Suddenly, all the girls began to smile. Suki’s wasn’t really sincere, but Asha’s super-wide grin counterbalanced it nicely.

“Yes! Kei is not here!” The yell of the youngest Kyoshi Warrior made one of the guards peek into the tent. The girls quickly fell silent, and the guard just shrugged and turned back.

“If we could somehow send a message to Kei, she would free us easily! And with her in the team, those girls would be no match for us!” Pema’s words flared up the excitement even more.

“Kei could defeat the fir…” Asha’s sentence was muffled by Nirmal’s hand. The young girl angrily glanced up to her, but Nirmal’s soft smile immediately appeased her.

“Yes. Kei could defeat the acrobat,” said Okako quickly to Suki. “And then, you can fight the fire princess untroubled.”

Kitara sighed. This was close.

Kei was the assault specialist of the cadre. She was a bully, who thrived in the terror and violence that followed her everywhere. She was matchless in terms of physical power and possessed unique powers no-one had seen before. But she was also a true sister to the girls, especially to Suki. Her absence was a rather… complicated story, but not entirely incidental.

Asha wanted to say, “Kei could defeat the fire princess,” but that was Suki’s fight. Even the mere mention of the possibility that Kei could steal her match would spark the same thing that made the girls leave her at the island. And that wouldn’t be nice in their current situation.

Just as these thoughts rolled through her mind, two common guards entered the tent. Their red armor covered their whole bodies, but Kitara was sure that they were both women. They casually walked to Suki, and started to unchain her.

“What is this?” Suki was clearly astounded, and so were the other girls.

“Easy girl, you are going to move to another prison,” answered one of the guards with a deep female voice. The Kyoshi Warriors were taken aback as a single entity. They watched as the guards unbound their leader, then helped her up and led her out from the tent. Frozen by the shock, they neither move nor speak.

Before she was dragged out from the tent, Suki somehow gathered enough strength to turn back to her sisters.

“Don’t worry girls! I’ll be back soon!” Then a guard forcefully pushed her out from the tent and she soon disappeared from their sight.

Kitara blinked.

Suki was gone.

Keeper of Suki's firebending ancestry, the Kyoshi Warrior dojo, the love potion made from rainbows and sunsets and the mecha tanks.

My fanficions.

My Avatar RPG system.
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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« Reply #3 on: Feb 24, 2014 06:05 am »

Roughly two hours later, six Royal Firebenders entered the tent and unchained the other girls, too. They led the girls outside the tent, towards the center of the base.

Okako still couldn’t believe their bad luck. Just when it seemed that they could finally put themselves together, they were separated from their leader. And this was bad.

Really, really bad.

As the second-in-command, the burden of leadership now fell upon her with the force of a landslide. And Okako wasn’t sure if she was ready for the task. She commanded the girls before without Suki, but those cases were vastly different. Overseeing them for a peaceful ferry ride was not the same as making decisions in captivity.

They arrived at a large tent, and the soldiers led them inside. And just as she stepped through the curtain of the entrance, Okako’s jaw dropped from the sight. The tent was huge, at least twenty meters in diameter. It was a lair of fine red silk, master-crafted furniture and ornate golden fancy-work. The shower of richness and luxury stupefied Okako, and as she could see, the other girls too. For a long moment, they just stood in the entrance of the tent, and tried to absorb the sight.

But the marvel was broken when Nirmal hissed up and pointed at a table on the opposite side of the tent. On that table, a large patch of green cracked the sea of red. The Kyoshi Warrior uniforms. They lied there in careful order, lined up from the largest to the smallest. Most of the girl’s stuff was there too: the headdresses, the war fans, personal belongings, and even their all-new shields. Suki’s equipment was there too.

But Suki herself wasn’t here.

“Move in!” grumbled a soldier behind them, and the girls complied. Only two firebenders followed them inside the tent, and they led the Kyoshi Warriors to a heap of pillows on the ground, not far away from the table.

“Now, sit here until princess Azula arrives!” said another firebender. “No shenanigans until then! Just stay put!” The soldier sounded rather puzzled. He seemed very uncomfortable with the situation.

“What do you want from us?” asked Pema, but the soldiers quickly left the tent without giving an answer. “Hey!” Pema yelled after them, and she was just about to go after those two, when Okako grabbed her arm and pulled her back.

“Just do what they said.” Pema opened her mouth for a reply, but then closed it without saying anything. She resignedly plumped down into the pillows, and soon all the other girls followed her.

Okako made a quick calculation for herself. It seemed that their new situation was a surprise even for those soldiers. The girls were technically free. They were no longer shackled, and most of their gear was literally within arm’s length. Okako had to strain her mind a little bit to figure out the real limitations of their possibilities. This was way too convenient.

“This was set up,” stated Nirmal suddenly. “Don’t fall for it girls. This is much more than it looks like.”

“But we could break free!” protested Asha. She was eyeing with that table continuously. “We have our equipment! We can slip through the back of this tent and sneak out from the base!”

“Nice plan, but won’t work,” noted Pema coldly. “The only way out from this tent is through its entrance.”

Asha skeptically reached out, and poked the thick silk wall of the tent. It proved to be surprisingly rigid.

“What is this?” asked the young girl confusedly. She poked it again, then scratched it a few times.

“The wall has three layers,” explained Pema. “One inner layer of silk, one middle layer of steel mesh, and an outer layer of linen. As you probably noticed, our swords are not here. We couldn’t cut through the mesh without them.”

Asha sniffed the wall, carefully tried to rip it open with her fingernails, but after some completely futile attempt, she gave up. Okako crawled to her, and hugged Asha. She knew that the young girl was in a dire need of comfort, and she was right. As Asha hugged back, Okako could hear her sobbing quietly.

The other girls endured the situation with varied moods. Pema was clearly worried, her face was all red and she was skulking amongst the pillows like a little girl after a bad dream. Kitara was just the usual carefree goofball: she was lying on the pillows with a somewhat strained smile, quietly chatting with Nirmal about the intended purpose of the tent. And Nirmal… was surprisingly indifferent. She often glanced towards Okako, so she probably wanted to talk with her, but Okako was busy comforting Asha. As the most staid warrior, Nirmal often had very good suggestions. Okako was curious about her opinion on their current situation, but just when she tried to crawl to her, the curtain of the entrance flipped sideways, and three girls entered the tent.

They were their captors. The fire princess, the pink acrobat and the dark knife thrower. Okako ground her teeth and tried to shoot a menacing look at the princess, but she barely noticed her. And even then, she just smiled.

The acrobat leaped to the Kyoshi Warriors and danced around them, staring at the pile of girls while doing so. Her unearthly, smooth moves would be truly fascinating to Okako, but the actual atmosphere ruined the feeling. Now she could see her only as a snake, twisting around its prey to suffocate it and devour it in whole.

“You should see them, Azula!” chirped the acrobat after making a full circle, and jumping back towards the fire princess. “They are so colorful! Like a rainbow!”

Okako raised her eyebrow. What was this girl talking about? All the Kyoshi Warriors wore the same red prisoner clothes…

The knife thrower walked to a nearby desk and turned over the large metallic plate on it. It was a mirror, with a frame made from tubes of glass. Okako could see some hazy gas or liquid flowing in those tubes. The girl then drew a chair in front of the desk and unceremoniously sat down into it.

“On my part, I’m ready,” she said finally, and the fire princess nodded.

Okako desperately watched as this… Azula slowly approached her. She looked down on her, with disdain written all over her face. Okako’s first thought was to attack, but as she looked up, she caught the fire princess’ eyes, and in those, she saw only pure domination.
Fear grasped Okako’s heart as she momentary looked into those golden depths of power. She suddenly felt weak and helpless. Her determination and spirit quickly dispersed under the weight of the eye contact, and Okako involuntary shuddered when Azula finally began to speak.

“So… I guess you are the substitute of the redhead.” The world nearly blacked out for Okako when Azula addressed her. But ultimately, she managed to regain enough of her strength to stay conscious.

“I’m. My name is Okako.” She tried to stand up, but Asha was still in her lap.

“I don’t care what your name is,” noted Azula coldly. “I’m here to ask a little favor from you.”

“F-Favor?” asked Okako confusedly. She was now completely lost.

“See…” Azula made a wide gesture towards the two other girls. “Ty Lee and Mai are really interested in your customs.” Azula walked to the table where the uniforms were kept, and picked up a green robe. “Your clothes, primitive weapons and creepy make-up are all very intriguing for them. And it saddens them greatly that they are so… unusual.”

Okako couldn’t miss how the knife thrower rolled her eyes and the acrobat swallowed a giggle. There was something different behind this. But she didn’t know what, and as she glanced through the other Kyoshi Warriors, she saw that they were just as puzzled as she was.

Azula dropped the robe back to the table, and picked up a golden war fan.

“Personally, I’m more curious about your cadre as a whole,” she said, and it sounded surprisingly sincere. “Your composition, customs, history and such.”

“If you think that we will help you in any way then you can forget it!” burst out Pema suddenly.

“Yeah! Tell her Pema!” added Kitara.

“Why?” asked Azula innocently. “A little cultural exchange won’t hurt anyone! You will spend quite some time as the guests of the Fire Nation. Aren’t you curious how it works? It could save your life!”

Okako was ready for a sharp reply, but as she was about to say it, she could feel a small nudge from behind. She turned back and she saw Nirmal. The other girl was startled and her hazel eyes conveyed a silent message:  Don’t stretch it!

Okako nodded, and it eased Nirmal’s expression. Yeah, starting a fight wasn’t really a good idea.

“We are not interested.” But Azula barely noticed Okako’s answer. She flashed a small smirk and then stepped back in front of Okako.

“Whatever. Maybe if I show you an example, it will change your mind.” She leaned over Okako, and in her eyes, Okako could see the spark of malice. “Let’s start with taming an animal.”

“What?” popped up from Okako, but before she could even comprehend Azula’s words, the fire princess reached out with her right arm, grabbed Asha on her neck and tore her out from Okako’s embrace.

The Kyoshi Warriors were taken aback as one. Pema screamed up, Nirmal crawled back a meter in panic, Kitara instinctively reached for her sword only to realize that she didn’t have it, and Okako tried to drag Asha back, but Azula was too fast and the young girl quickly got out from Okako’s reach.

And Asha…

…Asha was way too surprised to do anything.

“You know…” started Azula thoughtfully, addressing her words to Asha. “…I don’t even know what you are doing amongst these civilized folks. You are a savage. A little animal.” The fire princess lifted her left arm, so her palm was on the same level as Asha’s face. “But luckily, in my country, we have a very efficient way to domesticate your kind.”

Suddenly, Azula’s empty left hand flamed up. The blue fire danced around her fingers like a malevolent spirit, an eerie phenomenon perfectly fitting to the fire princess. Asha just stared into the flames with the most terrified look on her face Okako had ever seen from her, and her mouth opened for a silent scream.

“Animals like you fear fire don’t they?” asked Azula, and she intensified the flames with a smooth hand move. Asha’s face strangely softened. She was now mesmerized as the shock overwhelmed her mind. Azula just widened her smile and slowly moved her burning hand closer to Asha’s face.

“Please, don’t hurt her!” cried out Okako in desperation.

“Why, what would you do to make me stop?”

There was only one thing she could do. Okako lowered her head in resignation. She didn’t like the prospect of sharing any knowledge about the cadre with the fire princess, but Asha’s safety was of utmost importance.

“Anything,” she said finally. “Just don’t hurt her. Please.”

Azula laughed up, and roughly pushed Asha back to Okako. Then she made a wide sweep with her other hand towards the Kyoshi Warriors, unleashing a roaring arc of blue fire. The girls screamed as the flames hit the floor just in front of them, and the wave of heat ran through them. And Azula just laughed, clearly enjoying the dismay of the girls.

As she hit the pillows, Asha instantly snapped out from her shock. She yelped up, and hysterically crawled away from Azula. She sought cover behind Kitara, only peeping out to keep Azula in her sight. She really looked like a frightened animal, but luckily - as Okako could determine - she was just badly startled but suffered no physical harm.

Still, this scene wasn’t good. Not at all.

Azula cleared her throat.

“So I think we could start with the hair and the make-up,” she said with a smug tone. She pointed towards the knife thrower, who was still sitting in the chair, undisturbed by the events. “Mai will be your first subject, while Ty Lee will be watching closely. Show them everything. Every little detail.”

“I’m Ty Lee!” added the acrobat. The other girl, Mai, just grumbled something under her nose.

“Meanwhile, someone else could fill me in with the customs and such,” continued Azula. “If I deem your cooperation inadequate, then I will be glad to teach you another lesson about the Fire Nation.” She looked through the girls. “And I assure you, I devised a good lesson for each of you.”

Okako gulped. She glanced through the other Kyoshi Warriors, and she saw the agreement in their eyes. Except for Asha, who was still keeping an eye on Azula from behind Kitara’s back. But Pema nodded, Kitara forced out an encouraging smile and Nirmal just sighed with resignation.

She rose from the pillows and helped Pema to do so.

“I’ll tell you everything about the Kyoshi Warriors. Or at least everything I know.” Her words widened Azula’s smile. “And Pema is the best with hair and make-up.”

“Very well then!” Azula seized a chair for herself. “I knew that I can reason with you!”

This was a bad dream. A nightmare. And she couldn’t wake up.

Pema felt like a mess. She was doing the hair of this ‘Mai’ for almost two hours, carefully explaining every move, every trick to make a good Kyoshi Warrior bun. She had to repeat the process a few times, because the other girl – ‘Ty Lee’ – missed a point or got confused. When this happened, Azula always ordered Pema to undo Mai’s hair and start the whole thing over again.

And she did it just as she was told. Of course, when the soldiers brought them to this tent, she was of a much different disposition. She thought that she would resist until the very end. She believed that she could do that. And she was sure that the other girls had something similar in their minds too.

They expected to do that. So it was even more humiliating that they had eventually gone down like this.

And it was all Suki’s fault. She shouldn’t have left them like that. The guards unchained her, and she had an opportunity to free them all. She could have just beaten the guards, unchained the other girls, and they could have all snuck out from the camp.

But no, she just walked away, with some cheap promise that she would come back. The problem was that as it now stood, there won’t be Kyoshi Warriors when their great leader finally decides to return. Because this Azula will ghost them as soon as they served their purpose!

Actually, Pema had this weird feeling that she misinterpreted Suki’s feelings after their defeat. She thought that the leader of the Kyoshi Warriors simply took their defeat to her heart, but refused to surrender. She looked determined and undaunted as she sat in that small tent with the others, but now, in hindsight, Pema had to admit that maybe she was simply pondering on something.

Like how to turn coats.

Such a spineless and mean act would be pretty alien from Suki of course, but Pema had seen a few shocking things from her before.

She finished with Mai’s hair again. It was hard to admit, but the traditional Kyoshi Warrior bun looked very well on her. Pema used her own hairpins to fix up Mai’s hair and she felt horrible to contribute to this treachery this way.

Azula was still occupied with listening to Okako. At first, the fire princess seemed rather uninterested, but as Okako revealed more and more to her, Pema could see her mood changing. Soon, Azula was actually questioning back, inquiring about things even Okako didn’t know like information about the adult Kyoshi Warriors and details on the finer workings of the cadre.

Pema walked to the table, and picked up her make-up set. She hated herself for doing this, but the knowledge that she pretty much had to do this soothed the bad taste in her mouth. It was enough to look at Asha. The young girl was still hiding behind Kitara, with the same terrified expression. Azula’s little demonstration truly unsettled her, and Pema had no intention to experience the same.

She began to apply the make-up to Mai. The girl had a very similar facial structure to Kei, so Pema had an easy time to work out the proper layout of the war paint. It took only a few minutes, and she was done.

Other than her dark red clothes, Mai looked like a Kyoshi Warrior.

“Excellent!” commented Azula. She stepped to the make-up desk and checked Mai. Her face was full with contentment. “Maybe I misjudged you.” The fire princess walked around the tent, and checked all the Kyoshi Warriors. “So far, I thought that you are nothing more than a pack of dirty peasant girls playing soldiers. That only your leader was worth my attention.” She tried to poke Asha, but the girl jumped away and snarled at her. Azula just chuckled at the surprisingly aggressive response. “But it seems that I was mistaken. You are a valuable asset. And I no longer have the intention to waste your little group.”

Pema ground her teeth. Now this is how something goes from very bad to even worse.
“I told you!” giggled Ty Lee.

“Are you going to set us free?” Nirmal asked the princess.

“I have something similar in mind.” Azula’s answer was rather confusing. “But now, let’s go back to our current business. You shouldn’t worry. Your future is in a good place.” Azula flashed an evil smile that froze the blood in Pema’s veins. “In my hands!”

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« Reply #4 on: Feb 26, 2014 06:12 am »


The Fire Nation capital city prison was an intimidating sight to behold. It was a large stone tower built into the wall of a massive volcanic crater, its top and back merging into the volcanic rock. Its surroundings were deserted and barren, with rocky outcrops and large formations of blackish, bare rock scattered all around. It was only a few hours away from the Capital City itself, and it still seemed like a whole different world.

Inside, it was the same unfriendly environment. Narrow, dark corridors and cold, steel doors characterized the whole place. Even the torches produced dim, lifeless light.

Only one room was free from the depression: the top of the tower was a single, large cell, reserved for high-ranking and important prisoners like nobility. There, the light was produced by warm gas lanterns, the stone walls were covered with light brown wallpapers, and it provided all the comfort that a small house could.

For almost two weeks, this cell had been the home of Okako, Pema, Nirmal, Kitara and Asha.

After that terrible day when they helped princess Azula and her two henchwomen to acquire essential information about the Kyoshi Warriors, they were transported here.

First, it was really scary. When they arrived, they thought that they are doomed to rot here, in a dark prison cell. As the guards led them through the prison, they could hear the wailing of the other prisoners and the harsh barking of the staff. It was like the horror stories Instructor Tamara told to them before sleep. But it was real.

Asha nearly freaked out. She tried to break free, and Kitara stopped her just in time before anything bad would happen. Then Pema fainted, and Okako was sure that this had been the end.

Then, the guards escorted them to a massive steel door on the roof. When they stepped through the door, they arrived at this cell. And it was now Okako’s turn to faint… from the relief.

The cell was divided into three rooms: the largest was the bedroom. It originally had only four beds lined up next to each other at a wall, but the guards brought a spare bed a few days later. The other room was a bathroom and the third was a small junk-room. The entrance was roughly in the middle of the bedroom, with the four beds right in front of it and the fifth spare bed behind it to the left. Overall, it was rather roomy, though in a very simple way. It didn’t really feel like a prison cell, more like a small home for confinement.

In addition, the girls were effectively free to leave this cell anytime they wanted. The thick steel door was locked of course, but a few knocks on it drew forth a guard who then served as an escort for them. They couldn’t leave the prison, but at least they had the chance to see the open sky. Something no other prisoner had.

In these two weeks, the girls talked about their unique situation a lot. They were pretty sure that this nice prison cell was a “gift” from Azula, but they only have a few slight ideas about the fire princess’ purpose with all this.

Even though they hadn’t met with her since that day, the girls knew that she would return.

But what would happen then? What could Azula possibly gain? What did she want from them?

She said that they were a “valuable asset” and that she “no longer wants to waste them”, but the girls had no idea what that meant.

And to make things worse, they didn’t know anything about Suki either. The leader of the Kyoshi Warriors was gone, and without her, decision-making became wobbly and irresolute. Yeah, they could plan an escape, but then what? They couldn’t leave Suki behind.

So the girls decided to simply sit out this one. Sooner or later something had to happen. Maybe Azula would send Suki back to her warriors. Maybe someone would come for them.

They just had to wait, and be ready to take the opportunity.

Nirmal watched as the small rubber ball flew through the bedroom, hit the wall, bounced back to the steel door on the floor and finally ended its way in the hand of Kitara right where it started its quick journey.

“Okay, two bounces,” noted Pema. “Who will take three?”

Asha self-confidently jumped forward, took the ball from Kitara and dashed it to the floor. Her move had enough force to make the ball bounce to the ceiling, fly back to the floor and finally lose momentum half-way back towards the roof where Asha could easily catch it.

“Three bounces!” commented Pema. “So, anybody up to four?”

Kitara ground her teeth while slowly eyeing Asha from head to foot. This was the fifth round, and the youngest Kyoshi Warrior was on a winning spree. She took three rounds. In a game what was supposed to be Kitara’s area of expertise.

Nirmal just smiled. In the past two days, the prison was even more quiet than usual. She was pretty sure that the bouncing of the ball could be heard on all levels of the massive building. The guard who brought them the breakfast said that an important prisoner would arrive today, so the whole crew of the prison was on maximum alert. And he also asked the girls to not knock on the door until late afternoon.

So this game should be a major source of nervousness for the guards, but the girls meant it to be.

Personally, Nirmal loved these little rebellions. In the past two weeks, they had about a dozen of these. Even though Nirmal couldn’t shoo away the feeling that this kind of childish behavior was inapposite for such an elite cadre like the Kyoshi Warriors, she still enjoyed it.

The guards grumblingly endured without any retaliation. Their repressed anger was the icing on the cake.
“Seven bounces,” said Pema. Asha provokingly threw the ball in the air, issuing a silent challenge to Kitara. The other girl just hissed. This was now personal.

Kitara walked to Asha, and snapped the ball out of her hand.

“Eight bounces, huh? If I were a better person, I would ignore you and go on with my life,” she said coldly to the younger girl. “But I’m not.”

She raised her arm with the ball, and began to adjust her throw. She even stuck out her tongue as she tried to find the perfect angle. Then she made the throw, and the ball flew away with a sharp swish. Nirmal could barely follow its route, as the small toy was just a blur in the air as it crossed the room.

The first bounce on the wall.

The second on the floor.

The third on the door of the bathroom.

The fourth on the ceiling.

The fifth, sixth and seventh on the legs of Pema’s and Okako’s beds.

The eighth on the wall again…

Suddenly, the steel door to the cell opened up. Nirmal could hear a guard’s voice from there, and she didn’t have to look to know what was going to happen. The ball flew directly towards the door…

“Just because I’m the youngest guard, it doesn’t mean that…” The sentence was cut short by a loud metallic clang as the ball hit the guard’s helmet. From the point she sat, Nirmal could see the guard falling backwards from the force of the impact, and disappearing from the door, probably as he tumbled down from the stairs. The loud thud that followed was a clear confirmation.

“Ooopsie…” commented Kitara timidly.

“The guard worth two bounces,” added Pema. “So this will be ten bounces. Anyone for eleven?”

Nobody was interested.

The girls could hear the voice of a woman as she rushed to help the unlucky guard.

“Are you alright? What has happened?”

The answer was just some painful moans.

For a long moment, nothing happened. The girls just stared at the half-way opened door, not knowing what to do. They did some crazy things to upset the guards, but they didn’t hurt any of them directly. Until now.

Ultimately, a woman’s head appeared. She approached the door warily, constantly checking every direction. She only eased her mood somewhat when she realized that the girls are just as shocked as she was.

Nirmal knew this woman. There were only two female guards in the whole prison: an old, callous war veteran and a younger and much more sympathetic woman. The guard coming from the stairs was the latter. Her simple but still pretty face was twisted into a suspicious frown, her grey eyes bounced from girl to girl.

“What are you up to this time?” she asked. “Is this some sort of elaborate trap of yours?”

“We are just playing a ball game,” answered Okako sharply.

“Then you should stop it.” The guardswoman threw back the ball into the cell. “The new prisoner will arrive soon.” She glanced through the girls again, and forced out a desperate smile. “Please… Maybe you don’t know, but the heat ventilation pipes of the prison run together in this room. Every time you hit the wall with that ball, the sound echoes through the whole place!”

The girls exchanged some meaningful glances. On her part, Nirmal signed that she was okay with stopping the game. Since it seemed to be the general consensus, Okako stepped forward to deliver the sanction.

“Okay, we will do it.” The guardswoman sighed.

“But you should make this worthwhile for us!” said Pema suddenly.

“Worthwhile?” The guardswoman’s relieved expression quickly melted into a frown. “Why should I?”

Pema looked at Asha.

“Show her!” The young girl happily obliged. She picked up the ball, and dashed against the wall with full force.

“Okay! Okay!” the guardswoman tried to force out a reassuring smile, but she failed miserably. “What do you want?”

“Chocolate!” said Kitara, and Pema nodded.

“Prison food is boring. Bring us chocolate. At least four boxes.”

“That’s a lot of chocolate!” protested the guardswoman, so Asha had to show her again that she was in no position to oppose them. This time, even Nirmal could hear the soft thudding crawling down the pipes. Through the open door, it sounded like some kind of drumming.

“Gosh! You girls are ridiculous!” The woman raised her arms as a sign of yielding. “You can have your chocolate. Just stop this! Please!”

“Okay, we will suspend the game for one hour,” said Okako. The guardswoman looked really thankful that she no longer has to speak with Pema. “You have this one hour to acquire and deliver the chocolate.”

The guardswoman quickly seized the moment to leave. She disappeared in the door, closing it behind herself with a sharp clang.

The girls waited a few moments, so she and the other guard could actually leave the vicinity of their cell.

And then they burst out laughing.

Nirmal was just chuckling. She felt pity for the poor guardswoman. It was hard to admit, but what the girls did with her was really mean, hardly fair and somewhat ill-mannered from members of such a dignified organization as the Kyoshi Warriors.

“Kyoshi’s green panties! Did you see her face? She had the stupidest expression I’ve ever seen!” Pema’s words further intensified the mirth of the other girls.

Kitara laughed so hard that she began to cry. Tears of pure joy rolled down on her face forming small silver sparks on her cheeks.

Okako was also crying. But…

…she was really crying.

She buried her face into her hands, so only her droopy lips were visible. As she sat on her bed, Nirmal could clearly see her body shaking from the sobbing.

The laughing stopped as the others also noticed the strange behavior of the lieutenant. For a long moment, the girls just watched Okako with surprise. This was really unusual from her. Actually, Nirmal couldn’t remember if she had ever seen Okako crying from things other than anger or pain. A breakdown like this was surely without precedent.

The other Kyoshi Warriors were still too puzzled to do anything, so Nirmal took the initiative, and crawled to Okako. She sat right next to her, and wrapped her arm around her shoulder.

“Are you alright?” she asked worriedly. Okako just turned towards her and hugged her. Nirmal immediately hugged back, and it seemingly helped. Okako’s crying slowly subdued.

“I don’t want to be here,” she said in a feeble voice. “I want to go back home.”

Nirmal couldn’t really say anything to this. Yeah, she could say that they will find a way to go back home, but Okako was a smart girl, she wouldn’t swallow such a plain lie. Luckily, Kitara came to her rescue. The girl jumped up to the bed, and hugged both of them with the usual goofy smile on her face.

“I think we are pretty fine here to be honest!” Even Nirmal raised an eyebrow for this. “We have a nice room, friendly guard-servants, an infinite supply of hot water in our bathroom and all sorts of toys in that junk-room.”
“We are still prisoners,” noted Okako bitterly.

Now, Pema also joined the hug. Nirmal prayed to Kyoshi that she has something better to say than Kitara.

“Actually, we ain’t.” Her words immediately snapped out Okako from her bad mood. She smeared off the tears on her face and looked up to Pema.

“What are you talking about?”

“I’m also curious,” added Nirmal with disbelief.
“Well, I did a little… research,” started Pema. “According to the prison’s register, we are, and I’ll quote it word-by-word ‘highly important political hostages’. And we are from the Fire Nation too! The daughters of some nobles to be exact.”

“I’m not from the Fire Nation!” grumbled Asha.

“That’s true! But my point is that we are here for a specific reason: to keep Azula’s butt safe!”

“Really? How is that?” asked Kitara in amazement.

“Just think about it. There are people out there who will be really angry to hear about our little adventure.”

“Kei will tear this whole place down!” said Asha angrily, and Pema nodded.

“And not just her. The initiates will also come.” Pema smoothed Okako’s hair. “Mom will come.”

This finally made Okako smile again. The mentioning of instructor Tamara, their foster mother brought to mind all the fond memories from their childhood. Even though Tamara mysteriously disappeared two years ago, this incident would surely make her re-appear. And truth to be told, in this case Azula would really need the Kyoshi Warrior novices to save her royal butt from the wrath of Tamara.

“Thank you girls,” whispered Okako finally. Other than her red eyes, she seemed okay again. But she has already scared the spirits out of Nirmal, who in turn began to feel rather bad.

That chocolate would do some good.

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« Reply #5 on: Feb 26, 2014 06:14 am »

The guardswoman returned roughly half hour later. She just tossed in three pink boxes, gave a menacing death stare to Pema and left the cell without saying anything.

The girls immediately jumped at the boxes, and soon the room was filled with munching, laughing and chattering.

Just as the final piece of chocolate disappeared in Asha’s mouth, the door opened up again, but this time, no one appeared at first. The only thing that the girls could hear was some talking from the other side.

The voice was painfully familiar for all of them. Asha released a muffled yelp and quickly crawled to Kitara, taking cover behind the older girl. Her face was chalk-white from fear, and in her eyes, there was just pure terror.

“…their safety in this establishment is of utmost importance. I don’t care how you or your crew feel about them, but their well-being outweighs yours. They are my property, so any offence against them will insult my person. And since you are the warden, the responsibility to avoid these atrocities will be yours. Do you understand?”

“I understand, my lady.” The other voice sounded like an older man. A really nervous older man.

“Then it is all settled. Keep this discussion in mind next time such complaints arise. You do know what happens with people who fail me.”

“Yes, my lady.”

There was an awkwardly long moment of silence.


The girls could hear leaving footsteps, but they didn’t have time to contemplate on the things they’ve heard.
Ty Lee appeared in the door. She wasn’t the one who was talking though. She leaped at the edge of the opened door, and glanced through the girls from her elevated position. Even though she balanced only on her toes, she still managed to turn around, and finally jumped down with an amazingly graceful and fluid move.

She sprang to Kitara, and tried to peek over her shoulder to have a look at Asha too. The young Kyoshi Warrior quickly hid her fear: her muscles tightened and her face was twisted by a feral snarl. This was a clear indication that if Ty Lee came any closer, she would get a bite mark or two.

“I’m really curious why she is always hiding behind you!” chirped the girl to Kitara. “Are you sisters or something?”

“We are all sisters,” noted Okako coldly. Her words definitely caused some confusion in the acrobat’s head. She made a few steps backwards, looked through the Kyoshi Warriors again, scratched her head, and probably made a big attempt to figure out how six girls of roughly the same age could be all sisters to each other.

Suddenly, her face brightened up as the gears in her brain finally clogged together. She flashed an unnaturally large smile.

“Wow! Then we have more in common than I thought!”

“Enough, Ty Lee!” snapped a voice from the door, and the acrobat complied. She walked back to the entrance, and remained there, silently and smiling like a dolt.

Two girls entered the cell. The one in the front was Azula, the princess of the Fire Nation, the one who captured the Kyoshi Warriors. Her furious expression quickly turned into a satisfied smile as she had a look on the girls.

“How are my warriors today?” her voice was dripping with sarcasm. “I’ve heard that you finally overcame your woe of suffering and humiliating defeat from me.”

“We are not your warriors,” barked back Okako sharply, but Azula just shrugged.

“If you insist. But that would imply a very bad situational awareness on your part.” The fire princess walked a little bit closer. “You are all mine and nobody can do anything to change this. Your long dead patron, your senior associates, your leader… nobody!” She laughed out loud as she noticed the embittered faces of the girls.

Mai appeared in the door. She walked straight to Kitara and dropped a big pack into her lap.  Kitara carefully undid it and as it turned out, the pack contained some folded up clothes.

“So… what am I supposed to do with this? These clothes aren’t really my style!” said Kitara confusedly.

Mai just pointed at one of the garments. It was a long, thick, black robe. With a huge cut on its back. Kitara swallowed a giggle. She could remember this cut, as she did it in the forest battle. That strike nearly cut Mai in half, but the girl’s agility saved her. Kitara’s sword only slashed into her clothes, and not into her flesh.

“You’ve cut it, so you are going to fix it,” stated Mai dryly.

Kitara looked at the clothes, then at Mai, then at the clothes again. She was completely puzzled about what to do.

“Okay, I guess I can do tha…” Her words were cut short by Okako, who snatched away the clothes and roughly threw them back to Mai. Most of them landed on the girl’s head, who gave a moment of rather bored surprise before she began to gather them back together.

“Good try Azula,” hissed Okako. “But as I’ve already told you, we are not your servants.”

Azula just widened her smile. It seemed that she was pretty satisfied with this turn of events.

“I said it won’t work,” sighed Mai as she stepped back behind Azula.

“Well, I would be mostly surprised if it did,” admitted the fire princess. “And overall, I’m glad that it didn’t. So maybe you are stubborn, but at least not entirely stupid.”

“You should stick to your observation,” noted Okako.

“Yes! We are the Kyoshi Warriors! We won’t fall for some random princess!” added Pema confidently. She even stood up from her bed and made a few steps towards Azula. Mai raised her eyebrows for this, the most meaningful expression the girls have ever seen from her.

“Yeah, we will remain loyal to Avatar Kyoshi or die trying!” said Kitara. “Or try dying! Or do some tie-dying!” Ty Lee chuckled, and Nirmal had to slap Kitara in the nape to remind her of the seriousness of the situation.

This little outburst from the girls’ part definitely worsened Azula’s mood. She wasn’t smiling anymore, and she clearly made a great effort to govern her feelings.

“A ‘random princess’ huh?” she asked coldly.

Suddenly, she lashed her right arm out, and the room was filled up with a bright flash of blinding light. Pema screamed up in pain as a small lightning bolt hit her chest and sent her flying through the room. She landed hard on one of the beds, and remained there, curled up and moaning softly.

“Don’t stretch my kindness,” said Azula sternly. “I will enjoy every moment of breaking you. At the end, I will command and you will obey. We have many ways to accomplish that, but my patience has its boundaries.” She looked at Pema, and then back to the startled girls. “You should really think about this.”

The fire princess simply turned her back to the girls and left the cell. Mai followed her immediately, but Ty Lee remained with the Kyoshi Warriors for a moment. She looked rather uneasy and made an irresolute step towards the girls.

“This was a very bad idea!” She looked back to the door, then leaned towards the warriors. “Azula could kill you all! You shouldn’t enrage her like this!”
“Ty Lee?! What are you doing?” The acrobat shuddered at the distant voice of the fire princess.

“Please, don’t do this again!” With these words, she left the cell, rushing to her master’s side.

The loud clash of the door as Ty Lee banged it shut finally broke the shock of the girls. They immediately rushed to Pema, who was still lying in the bed, grasping her chest.

Nirmal thoroughly checked her out, while the other girls watched them. Okako was on the verge of another breakdown – tears rolled out from her eyes, and her lips were shaking like jelly.

Pema tried to sit up, but without Nirmal’s help, she would slide back. She was in a pretty bad shape. Her red prisoner shirt now had a small burnt hole on the upper left side of her chest, and the girls could see that her skin was all red around that area. Her pained hissing and growling weren’t really a sign of well-being either.

“She was just jolted,” noted Nirmal after she finished her examination. “Nothing serious.”

“Nothing serious?” hissed Pema. “You would be on a different opinion if she hit you!”
“Does it hurt?” asked Asha timidly. She was still hiding behind Kitara’s back like that small lightning bolt could just jump out from Pema to hit her.

“No, it doesn’t. Can’t you see it? I’m perfectly fine!” replied Pema sharply. She rubbed her chest, but according to her painful grimace, it didn’t help. “Kyoshi’s blood, it hurts a lot!”

“You should feel lucky. Azula could fry you easily.” Nirmal stepped back from Pema so the other girls could get closer. “Ty Lee was right. You were playing with the dragon. And she could do much worse than this small bolt of lightning.”

“Thank you Nirmal, this meant a lot for me!” But Nirmal just sighed with resignation to Pema’s sarcastic reply.

“I was serious Pema. Being brave is one thing. Being stupid is another. You shouldn’t try this again. ”

“We shouldn’t be here in the first place,” whispered Okako, and her words immediately ended the intensifying dispute. For a long moment, the girls just watched the lieutenant as she sat on the edge of the bed, blankly staring forward and making a quite remarkable effort to keep her tears inside.

Finally, Pema took her chances to crawl over to her. She fondly wrapped her arms around her neck.

“Let it out girl! It couldn’t be worse than the one I’ve got!”

Okako slowly turned towards Pema and nestled her head into her chest.

“I can’t take this,” she whimpered. “I tried… But I… I can’t do it. It is too much.”

“Don’t give up Lieutenant! We will be out of this mess soon!” Pema looked around, but she could only see doubting faces. “We will be free… one way or another.”

Keeper of Suki's firebending ancestry, the Kyoshi Warrior dojo, the love potion made from rainbows and sunsets and the mecha tanks.

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« Reply #6 on: Feb 28, 2014 05:41 am »


The days have passed unnoticeably, one after the other. There was little difference, and even less activity. The supposedly comfortable cell room quickly grew grey and dull, and the girls spent more and more time outside of it. To the point where the warden of the prison had to severely limit their freedom.

According to the small calendar Kitara has made on the wall of the bedroom, two weeks have passed since Azula’s visitation. They hadn’t seen the princess since then, but they have got a companion anyway.

Ty Lee.

Lately, she visited them nearly every day. She started it roughly four days after Azula’s visit and only stayed an hour or so. Then her appearances became more frequent, and she spent more and more time with the Kyoshi Warriors. Usually, she was just hanging around, trying to make acquaintances or to join into conversations. Of course, she was always rebuffed by the girls, but she simply couldn’t give up. No matter how harsh the girls were with her, she returned next day like as if nothing had happened. Her audacity was just slightly more irritating than the general boredom that characterized their captivity.

The girls were rather divided about how to handle the situation. Okako seemingly relinquished her lieutenant duties, and spent most of her time just lying in her bed and contemplating on all sorts of irrelevant stuff. Pema was by herself too, repulsing or accepting Ty Lee on impulse. Nirmal was neutral, as always, but kept the distance from the acrobat whenever she could. Kitara was the friendliest, but even she was wary, mostly because she was afraid that Ty Lee had some sort of sinister purpose. Asha was fiercely against everyone who wasn’t a Kyoshi Warrior, and she doubled her efforts against the acrobat. Unfortunately, Ty Lee had learnt her lesson after the third bite, so the girls could no longer enjoy her struggle with Asha.

Just to make things worse, the stress slowly put a wedge between the girls in all other cases too. Heated disputes or even small fights became commonplace and usually broke out over painfully ordinary things: what to eat for dinner, when to go to sleep, when to wake up, how to pass time or even what to wear. The last was especially ridiculous, as they only had red prisoner clothes anyway.

The group was slowly shaking apart. Without someone to guide them, each girl went her own way to brave the situation. The bond that would make them stronger stretched and weakened under the pressure, and maybe it would have broken over time…

If Azula hadn’t appeared at the very end of the third week.

She sat in front of the girls, comfortably lying on one of the central beds – Pema’s to be exact – and just chattering and chattering without end. The Kyoshi Warriors were forced to sit on the bed in front of her and listen to her small talk. They tried to scatter up at the beginning, but the four Royal Firebenders Azula brought with her instead of Mai and Ty Lee quickly herded them together.

And now they had to endure. Azula was in a really talkative mood, but her words made little sense. The girls were locked away from the outside world for more than a month by now. They had little to no information about the recent happenings and nobody cared to enlighten them. Until now at least, but it was hard to discern truth and lies in Azula’s talk.

She told them that she and her two friends infiltrated Ba Sing Se disguised as Kyoshi Wariors. That they took over the city with the help of the Dai Li, a secret police force founded by none other than Avatar Kyoshi herself. Azula told them that she fought the Avatar and killed him with a lightning bolt while he was entering the Avatar State. The Fire Nation has won the war. The Earth Kingdom was in shambles and it was only a matter of time until the Water Tribes also surrendered.

This was terrible news, but Nirmal wondered if even half of it was true.

Some of it sounded believable. She has already heard about the fall of Ba Sing Se, but the guards one which she had eavesdropped said that it was the work of a huge siege machine that broke the mighty walls of the city. She also knew this Dai Li. Instructor Tamara mentioned them a few times, and as Nirmal was concerned, they were really the creations of Avatar Kyoshi. But the rest of Azula’s stories…

…really, they were very unlikely. Even though the fire princess could infiltrate the city as a Kyoshi Warrior – the girls showed her everything she would need to do so – the place had quite a few people who could recognize them, like Takumi, the son of chief Oyaji who was a guard on the city’s wall.

The death of the Avatar was even more extreme. Nirmal couldn’t even think about what if it was really true. As the spiritual daughter of Avatar Kyoshi, the girls had a special connection to the Avatar Spirit. They had felt its awakening from the hundred years long slumber so they should have felt it perishing too.

Or maybe Azula was telling the truth, and Nirmal’s skeptical attitude was just simple denial. It was hard to decide, and Nirmal had spent the last twenty minutes pondering it. She lost Azula somewhere around the detailed comparison between the southern naval forces of the Fire Nation and the remaining fleets of the Southern Water Tribe.

Nirmal’s self-examination was interrupted by an elbow in her side. It was Kitara’s and she looked rather jumpy.

“She is talking about Suki!” she whispered. “Can you just pay attention to it for a change?”

As Nirmal looked up she could see the other girls watching closely, too. Azula probably brought up the matter only a few moments ago.

“So as I said, Suki asked me to send her regards to you. She came to her senses pretty quickly. Believe it or not, it turned out that she has a pretty respectable Fire Nation ancestry.”

“That’s impossible. We are all orphans. Including Suki,” protested Pema, but Azula simply ignored her.

“After she reunited with her real family, she joyfully obliged after some talk, and vowed a pretty pompous oath of loyalty to me. You should hear that, it was unbelievable! I didn’t know before that one could put so much flowery rhetoric into a few sentences!”

The fire princess laughed softly, but it was remarkably fake, and Nirmal could see that none of the warriors fell for it.

“If she has really joined your cause, then where is she now?” Pema’s question clearly baffled Azula.

“She is with her family, of course!”

“Impossible! She would come for us immediately! We are her family!” Pema narrowed her eyes, as she gathered enough strength to finish what she has to say. “You are a bad liar, Azula. You won’t fool us with this ridiculous story.”

“Yes, Azula, you are a liar!” added Asha.

“Look who is talking!” chuckled Azula. “My little feral pet has an opinion!” She glanced at Asha with degrading disdain in her eyes. “Just go and hunch behind Kitara and leave this discussion to the civilized people lest I continue your domestication.”

Asha answered only with a growl and slowly crawled to Kitara. Nirmal had to give this to Azula: The fire princess truly knew how to pull the people’s strings. She was using fear as a means to control, and playing on the most basic human need – physical safety – to get what she wanted. And her ability to assess social dynamics within a group and personality traits was frightening.

Nirmal couldn’t resist feeling a great deal of awe towards the princess. She was so horrifying and intimidating, but also fascinating and highly gifted. A small part in Nirmal wouldn’t even mind serving her.

She shook her head as this thought ran through her. The general laxity that plagued the other girls had slowly reached her, too. So far, Nirmal had tried to keep herself focused to avoid the strange behavioral changes her sisters were showing, but her mental fortitude was weakening at an alarming rate. She often experienced weird and rather unpleasant mood swings, she couldn’t sleep well and recently had a few short blackouts, too. The other girls also had similar complaints, along with sharp headaches, vivid and extreme nightmares, sickness, and even minor hallucinations.

“Back to the original topic…” continued Azula. “During our time together, Suki really made a great impression on me. She has a fine combination of fierce temper and strong self-discipline…” She glanced at Pema with obvious disdain. “…without being impudent. No wonder she is your leader. Being the most sensible wolf in the pack sure has its advantages.”
Kitara put up her hand. Nirmal could see some nervousness on her, but Kitara was the hardest girl to decipher. Azula just nodded and it seemed that she had an idea what was coming.

“So, may I ask the actual meaning of this discussion?”

Azula raised her eyebrow.

“Excuse me?”

“Well, you know, this conversation is going nowhere. We all know that Suki doesn’t have a Fire Nation ancestry. And that she would never kneel before you. My apologies, but this story is far beyond what I could digest.”

The fire princess just smiled. This was a fairly surprising reaction from her. Nirmal thought that Kitara will get the same treatment as Pema three weeks ago.

“I can jump to the point if you wish,” she said with a gleeful sneer.

“I would appreciate it!” answered Kitara instantly. “As I’ve noticed, you pick us for the threatening treatment from the bottom to the top. So do something nasty to Nirmal, deliver your actual line of intimidation, and we can all go on with our lives!”

That was a little bit too mean from Kitara. Nirmal angrily kicked her in the butt, even though their position on the bed made the move rather clumsy. Kitara just flashed an awkward smirk and shrugged her shoulders as a sign of apology.

“To begin with, I really want to know if Suki’s… qualities are exceptional in your group, or they could be applied to all of you. Your wobbliness makes it hard for me to decide.” Azula looked through the girls, briefly pausing at each of them. “Sometimes, I feel like you will be an important and highly useful piece of my retinue. Pretty girls trained in the art of stealth and killing don’t grow in bushes, especially the loyal kind. And now I have six of them!” She stood up from her chair, and walked a little bit closer to the girls. Her smile disappeared and her looks darkened. “But other times, it feels like a complete waste of my time and energy. It is like I’m being conned. Maybe you are just a bunch of overconfident peasants. I can’t even believe that you could hurt anyone…”

And with that, the fire princess involuntary ruined the moment. Nirmal gulped as she looked at Kitara, who was ready to seize the opportunity. The young swordfighter stood up from the bed, stepping right in the front of Azula.

“That’s just plain wrong,” she began, with a smug smile on her face.

Azula was caught off guard, but she held her own. And she didn’t miss the sudden change in the atmosphere either.

“Please, enlighten me,” she said coldly. Nirmal could see as Azula slowly clenched her fists behind her back, and the royal firebenders in the cell also moved a bit closer.

“We’ve already hurt someone before.” Kitara looked back at Pema and Okako, who nodded to show that they were part of it too “He was some big and mean guy. A troublemaker who made some big trouble on our little island. Our instructor went after him, and we helped her to find this man…”

“Sengo,” inserted Pema.

“Yeah, Sengo. So he was big. And mean. And he had Instructor Tamara on the edge when we’ve found him.”

“Let me guess,” noted Azula dryly. “You want to boast with your big result that you had the guts to attack him.”

“I killed him.”

Kitara’s simple statement hit Azula like a lightning. The fire princess’ eyes widened from the surprise and she even staggered a little bit.

“You did what?” The disbelieving tone in her voice was impossible to miss.

Kitara stepped a little bit closer, and to the great amazement of the girls, Azula did something they had never seen from her before: she backed up a step.

“Yeah, I killed him.” Kitara pulled her finger in front of her neck. “It‘s turned out that being big and mean doesn’t protect from decapitation. He tried to kill Instructor Tamara, and in turn, I cut his head off. It was pretty neat.”

Maybe it was just a moment of realization that she had fallen for it, but Azula looked pretty shocked. She nearly made another step backwards, but ultimately, she pulled herself together, and stiffened her back.

Nirmal watched all this very closely and carefully. It was pretty clear that Kitara hit a weak point on Azula’s ego. Suddenly, the princess had to face a spark of the same ruthless violence she liked to employ, and she had to look into the eyes of a person who carried it out in its purest form: by killing someone. And Kitara made a clear emphasis that she had no regrets.
At this point, Nirmal expected the fire princess to simply close the discussion before other surprises jump out from the box. She should cut her loses and let it go.

Of course, it was a serious misunderstanding on Nirmal’s part.

Azula suddenly perked up, like she would just hear exactly what she wanted. She muffled a laugh, then actually stepped up to Kitara, and looked right into her eyes.

“So I have a killer, huh?” she whispered. The malicious tone of her voice swept away Kitara’s confidence instantly. The young swordfighter reeled and even though she was normally slightly taller than Azula, she quickly shrank shorter under the princess’ menacing gaze. “I’m glad that you are uncovering more and more about yourselves lest I grow bored and miss all the awesome details you are hiding.” She looked over Kitara’s shoulder and shot a stern gaze towards Pema. “I suspect you have something to do with this, too.”

“I also cut into Sengo,” answered Pema grudgingly. “Though my strike was less… professional.”

Azula just smiled, and leaned back to Kitara.

“You know, I’ve always wondered about this strange stench that surrounds you. Good to know that it is just the blood on your hands!”

Kitara forced out an awkward grin, and hastily backed away from the fire princess.

“This was awful!” she whispered quietly when she finally crawled back to the girls.

“You are so stupid, it should be illegal!” murmured Pema.

“I’m sorry! I didn’t plan it this way!”

The cell door opened up, and a young woman walked in. She wore simple red dresses and looked like some sort of servant. She rushed to Azula and whispered something to her ear.
“How inconvenient!” grumbled the fire princess.

The servant left the room just as quickly as she arrived. Azula pondered a little on whatever the woman said to her then simply turned around, and signaled the Royal Firebenders to leave the cell.

“My apologies, but we have to interrupt our little voyage of big revelations.” She walked to the opened door, and briefly looked back. “Maybe we will continue later. But now, I have a couple to disturb!”

And with that, she left the cell with her firebenders. The sharp clang as the massive door shut close echoed back and forth in the room for an unnaturally long time.

Keeper of Suki's firebending ancestry, the Kyoshi Warrior dojo, the love potion made from rainbows and sunsets and the mecha tanks.

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« Reply #7 on: Feb 28, 2014 05:44 am »

The silence that followed was both awkward and embarrassing. The girls just looked at each other, confused and frightened from the encounter with the fire princess.

Ultimately, after roughly ten minutes of brooding, Pema was the first to burst out.

“I can’t believe it! Could you hear her?”

“We’ve all heard her,” said Nirmal calmingly.

“Fantastic! Because then we can all agree that we are screwed!”

“Not true!” Asha had joined the brewing fight. “Azula was lying! There is no way that anything she said could be true!”

“That’s a pretty naïve statement, Asha.”

“Well, you are free to prove it!” inserted Kitara angrily. “We are all ears!”

“First, we all know that the Dai Li was founded by Avatar Kyoshi…” Pema glanced through Kitara with disdain. “…unless your name is Kitara and you missed Instructor Tamara’s history lessons.”

“That doesn’t prove anything. Yeah, she was right with this one.” Kitara looked around with evident annoyance. “And I had a pretty good reason to skip those lessons!”
“Trying to hunt down a hornless komodo rhino is not a good reason, Kitara.” Okako’s dull voice momentary stopped the debate. It was the very first time the girls had heard her speak in the past three days. “Especially on Kyoshi Island, which is completely devoid of komodo rhinos.”

Pema cleared her throat to regain the attention.

“Anyways, the Earth Kingdom has also fallen. I’ve heard it from some prison guards. The Hundred Years War is over, and the Fire Nation emerged victorious.”

“They used a huge drilling machine to break through the walls,” added Nirmal. “So the infiltration story was a lie.”

To everyone’s considerable surprise, Pema shook her head.

“No, it wasn’t. Even if they break through the Outer Wall, the Inner Wall can still hold them up for months, if not years. You can believe me, I did the calculations back in Full Moon Bay. Also, Azula’s story is far too detailed to be a fiction. Just think about it. If she could just march in with an army, then she wouldn’t have all the information about the Upper Ring or the Dai Li. The only lie in her story was that she had killed the Avatar. That wouldn’t have gone unnoticed by us. And her reaction to Kitara’s story… Yeah, she hasn’t killed anyone yet, that’s for sure.”

Now, nobody said anything against this. They just tried to digest Pema’s words for a long moment. The gas lamps in the room slowly began to fade out as the prison entered its night cycle. A gloom spread over the Kyoshi Warriors, turning the girls into little more than woeful shadow figures. The whole world around them turned grey and bland, just as their future had a few moments ago.

It was impossible to say how much time has passed like this. After a while, the gas lamps were finally adjusted to their lowered intensity, and the dimness was soon consumed by the sprawling yellowish light.

Asha was the first to regain her senses. She shook her head, and pushed herself away from the girls.

“We still have Suki,” she said, but her voice was shaky from perplexity.
“Sure,” noted Pema. “We still have her. In Azula’s service…”

“That’s not true!” replied Asha sharply. “She would never betray Avatar Kyoshi! She would never abandon us like that!”

“Oh yes, she has no reason to do that!” Pema jumped up from the bed, and made a theatrical spin. “It’s not like her delicate Fire Nation blood didn’t spring to life as soon as it was uncovered.”

“But she is not from the Fire Nation! She is from Kyoshi Island, just like you, Okako, Nirmal and Kitara!”

“Just because we were raised on Kyoshi Island, it doesn’t automatically mean that we were born there. Just think about it, Asha.”

“But how do you know that Suki is from the Fire Nation?” inserted Kitara. “She could be from anywhere!”

“Come on, do you even know who we are talking about?” Pema grabbed a handful of her hair and set it upright. “Red hair anyone? Like, who else could have that?”

This immediately silenced Kitara, but Asha was still skeptical.

“That doesn’t prove anything! Her hair is only reddish. It is that… that reddish brown color!”

“Auburn,” offered Nirmal.

“Yes! Auburn! So she has auburn hair and not red hair!”

“And what about her assumed firebending powers? We all saw how she could control the intensity of the candles when Instructor Tamara tested her! That should be something!”

Asha couldn’t say anything to this first. She blinked a few times then leant a little bit closer to Nirmal.

“W-what is she talking about?” she asked with confusion.

“It happened well before you joined. We had a big test to see if we were benders or not. Suki nearly passed the firebending test.”

“S-she is a f-firebender?” Asha’s determined grimace quickly changed into something much more desperate.

“No, she isn’t. Okako passed most of the waterbending tests, and she isn’t a waterbender either.”

Pema cleared her throat again to regain the lost attention.

“My point is that firebenders come from the Fire Nation. And Suki clearly had a chance to be a firebender. Conclusion: one of her ancestors was a firebender, thus he or she was from the Fire Nation. Maybe what Azula said was a hyperbole, but we shouldn’t forget where Suki’s roots really belong.”

“She is a Kyoshi Warrior,” hissed Asha aggressively. “It doesn’t matter where her so-called roots are.”

Asha dragged herself to her feet from the bed. She slightly hunched forward, and started to slowly circle around Pema.

“I won’t let you to mock her like this,” she growled to the older girl. “She is our leader. Our sister. No matter what you or Azula say, she won’t betray us.”

“So you want to fight?” chaffed back Pema. She picked up Asha’s movement, and she also began to circle, while assumed her fighting stance. “Come on, maybe I can beat some sense into that feral head!”

The situation was deteriorating very quickly. Both Pema and Asha were ready for some rough fight, and it was pretty clear that they will put a lot of hurt into each other. Asha wasn’t a good fighter as far as technique went, but her savage origins gave her the edge in the physical area. On the other hand, Pema had a better technique, but she was the shortest and probably the weakest girl in the group.

Naturally, it would be Suki’s job to interrupt infighting. In her absence, Okako should do that. But the lieutenant of the Kyosh Warriors wasn’t even watching. She just laying on the bed and stared blankly at the ceiling of the bedroom.

Nirmal poked her, but she barely noticed it. Only the third attempt of the other girl made her turn towards Nirmal.

“What?” she asked with an empty voice. She seemed bored and undisturbed, even though two of her sisters were about to beat each other into pulp just a few steps away.

“Stop them before they do something they would regret later!”

“Why should I? If they want to fight, then let them fight!” With that, Okako turned back to continue her staring contest with the ceiling.

She couldn’t see Nirmal’s furious face but only a few moments later, she could hear Nirmal’s shout.

“Okay, I’ve had enough!” All the other girls looked up at this. It was rare for Nirmal to raise her voice. “Everybody other than Okako: leave this cell immediately!”

Nirmal jumped up from the bed and roughly pulled Kitara up too and tossed her towards the door. The swordfighter crossed the space between the Pema and Asha, instantly breaking their starting fight.

“Hey, and who are you to boss us around, huh?” protested Pema, but she soon regretted her harsh words as she noticed Nirmal’s unflinching grimace.

“I’m your medical expert. And as such, I order you to leave this room!”

This had an effect. The girls backed away towards the door. Kitara knocked on it to signal to the guard on the other side to open the door. It barely took a moment until they could hear the metallic clang, and the door opened up, revealing the head of a young guard.

“What is it?” he asked, but the girls didn’t find him worthwhile enough to give an answer.

They began to leave the room under the stern gaze of Nirmal. The guard just watched and held the door opened for the girls. He was way too surprised to do anything else.

“Our medical expert orders us around as if she was the leader or something!” grumbled Pema under her nose. “This is a joke!”

“This whole prison is a joke!” added Kitara with a dorky smile. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but our medical expert has just forced us to leave our own prison cell, and nobody has anything to say against it!”

And with that, they finally left the room, and the door closed shut behind them, leaving only Nirmal and Okako in the cell.

Nirmal relaxed her face, and sat down next to Okako on the bed. The other girl has already sat up when Nirmal ordered the others out, and now looked at her with noticeably mixed feelings. Her face reflected surprise and unease as she was waiting for the words of her sister.

“You shouldn’t do this Lieutenant,” started Nirmal.

“And what shouldn’t I do?”

Nirmal bit her lower lips. She gently stroked Okako’s face but the other girl looked the other way.

“Exactly this. You shouldn’t turn away. Not from me or anyone.” Nirmal drew Okako a little bit closer, and wrapped her arms around her. “I’m really worried about you.”

“I’m fine.” Okako returned the hug. “Maybe a little bit tired. But that’s all.”

Nirmal sighed.

“Now, I’m just telling you this out of respect, but I don’t think that you are well. You have become rather… unhinged. This is not a wise road to go down, especially now. The girls need a strong point, someone they can rely on. Without Suki, this person should be you, but nowadays, you don’t act accordingly. I’m worried about you, Lieutenant. You used to be caring and attentive, but now, you are cold and distant.”

Okako gulped, and tried to turn her face away from Nirmal again. But this time, the young healer gently grabbed her chin, and turned her face back. They were just staring into each other’s eyes for a long moment.

“What is the problem Okako?”

“I… I only do this to protect you.”

And now it was Nirmal’s time to look confused. Okako’s confession didn’t make much sense.

How could she protect anybody with this behavior?

“Okay, count me lost on this,” confessed Nirmal after some awkward silence. “Can you explain?”

Okako moved away a little bit, breaking the hug. Her expression darkened, and she lowered her head as a sign of apology.

“Do you remember how Azula threatened us in the tent to cooperate?”

“Of course. How could I forget? She said that she would give us ‘lessons’ if we didn’t help her. Then she proceeded to show us one of her lessons. Asha’s to be exact.”

“It wasn’t Asha’s.”

Nirmal raised her eyebrows. She clearly had a hard time to follow Okako.

“Uh… really? Then who…”

“The lesson was for me. She hurt Asha to force me into submission. It was a show of force. It was an indication that she will do bad things with my sisters if I don’t collaborate.”

“It is an interesting theory. But I can hardly see a pattern.”

“Later on, when she first visited us in the prison cell, she continued it by zapping Pema in the chest. She did it because I spoke against her.” She embarrassedly dug into her hair. “And I don’t want any of you to get hurt because of me! I’ve decided to simply resign and do nothing. So Azula won’t have a cause to continue my lesson.”

“Well, that was a pretty unwise decision.”

“Why, do you have a better solution?’ responded Okako with a clearly resentful tone.

“I don’t. Or at least not yet. But we couldn’t continue like this either. You passivity shakes the group apart. We need someone to divert our surplus energy into something useful. Otherwise, we will consume each other.”

Okako needed some time to digest this. But after roughly five minutes of thinking, she looked up with a soft and thankful smile on her face, and nodded.

“Okay, that’s good,” said Nirmal thoughtfully. But as she ran through the discussion again in her head, she quickly noticed something odd according to Okako’s lesson. “But can I ask a question?”

“Of course. Go ahead.”

“If what you said is true, then Azula planned her lesson ahead for you. But to do that, she should know your personality and all that. Like, she couldn’t do this with such a good outcome without knowing who you are and what position you fulfill within the cadre. So… Who told her these things?”

“I have no idea. Maybe she tricked Suki to tell her. Maybe she dug up one of Kyoshi’s books from the library of the Dai Li. Maybe she figured it out on her own.” The lieutenant sighed, but gained no relief. “I’ll let the girls in.”

Okako knocked on the door, but for another surprising thing, nobody answered it. She knocked on it again, now more sternly and it finally opened up.

And it was Kitara, who did it. And she had the helmet of the prison guard too on her head.

“What happened with you?” asked Okako suspiciously.

“You won’t believe this!” Kitara started to explain. She let the two other girls in, too. Pema was grinning like crazy, and Asha looked really embarrassed: her face was all red, and she quickly jumped into her bed as soon as she could.

“Let’s assume that I wouldn’t,” stated Nirmal coldly. “Still, what have you done? And why are you wearing the guard’s helmet?”

“Well, on our way down from the stairs, Asha tumbled...”

“Because Pema tripped me!” inserted Asha angrily. Pema just shrugged innocently, but her smug smile betrayed her.

“…and fell right onto that prison guard! Or to better say, the guard tried to catch her, and they both fell down from the stairs.”

“Is this guard the same guy who you hit with the ball not long ago?” asked Okako.

“Yes he is! And now we could see him without his helmet aaaaaaaannd…”

“…and he is pretty young.” continued Pema. “Around our age. Maybe one or two years older.”

“He is young and he is handsome!” cried out Kitara what Okako and Nirmal have already guessed. They could see where this story was going. “And Asha landed right on him! Now that was awkward!”

Kitara and Pema giggled, and Okako couldn’t withhold a small chuckle either.

“It isn’t funny!” protested Asha. “He is just a big, stupid guard!”

“Someone now has a crush on Asha!” stated Pema gleefully.

“Luckily, he had the idea about how inconvenient the situation was.” added Kitara. “You should see how he scurried away! Avatar Kyoshi herself couldn’t stop him! He even left his helmet behind!”

“I suppose you howled with laughter at that point,” noted Nirmal. Her attempt to hide her amusement was quite unimpressive. Her big smile and bright face sold her real feelings way too easily.

“I think that was the prime reason behind his quick… escape,” admitted Pema. “But at least he threw a ‘sorry’ to Asha. Like it was his fault or something.”

“Isn’t it, like, super-sweet?” laughed up Kitara.

“Can’t you just shut up?” growled Asha from below her blanket. “I have nothing to do with that boy!”

“Not yet!” said Pema on a naughty voice what just made Kitara laugh even harder.

“Okay girls, that’s enough!” said Okako finally. “Now pay attention to me, because I want to tell you something important!”

The room fell silent, and the girls turned towards their lieutenant with anticipation written all over their faces.

“So lately, we kinda mellowed out. But from now on, we should really begin to act like real Kyoshi Warriors again. For start, we will resume our training sessions and I have some other ideas for later too.”

“But we don’t have Suki…” protested Asha.

“We don’t need her,” replied Okako. The rigorous tone of her voice instantly drowned Asha’s willingness to make further comments in this case.

“And what about Azula?” asked Pema suddenly.

“We will be careful and won’t play her stupid games anymore. Next time she comes, I want you to just stay put and do nothing. Say nothing. Passivity is our best weapon against her, but we have to stick to this as one.” All the girls nodded as a sign of acceptance. “Also, if you have problems with each other, then I want you to tell it to me first before causing unnecessary trouble!”

“I have a problem with the others!” said Kitara suddenly. She waited for a moment, enjoying the complete but rather perplexed attention of the others. “It is that we didn’t have a good group hug for quite some time, don’t you think?”

As one, the girls burst out laughing and quickly jumped at each other to get their hugs. Soon they were just one big pile as each of them tried to get as close to as many other girls as possible. They remained cuddled up like this until the morning, re-strengthening their bond after this especially rough day.

Keeper of Suki's firebending ancestry, the Kyoshi Warrior dojo, the love potion made from rainbows and sunsets and the mecha tanks.

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My Avatar RPG system.
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« Reply #8 on: Mar 02, 2014 06:30 am »


For the next week, the Kyoshi Warriors were busy reorganizing their lives in the prison. Okako devised an elaborate daily agenda for everyone. She specified the time for getting up; they now had breakfast together, proceeded to have a morning exercise, some community time with playing games and such, and then they had their lunch and a little afternoon nap. After all these, they had the real deal: they resumed their discontinued daily combat training that they had on Kyoshi Island. During the afternoon, the cell was noisy from swishing, hissing, panting and thudding. This went on until dinner time, then they had a small theoretical training and finally went to bed exactly one hour after the prison turned into the night cycle.

Of course, their newfound occupation didn’t go unnoticed. The guards often peeked into the cell room, especially when the girls had their combat training. They didn’t say anything though, or at least not to the Kyoshi Warriors. But they definitely passed down the information between each other - the girls could often catch guards watching them who normally had nothing to do around their cell. They even saw the warden, once.

In relation to this, the girls also tried to explore the place a little bit better. They started with the person they could approach the most easily: the younger guardswoman, Ming. As it turned out, she was some sort of cook in the prison, so the girls could easily win her confidence by simply helping her in the kitchen. Pema and Okako quickly befriended her, and Ming proved to be a very valuable source of information.

She revealed that it wasn’t accidental that this building felt nothing like a prison. It was originally a storehouse, as was situated between the Royal Palace and the old port. When the new port was built four years ago, this place became redundant, so it was converted into a prison. Ming also told them that since the building was never meant to be a prison, it had some original flaws that made escape quite easy if the prisoners somehow got out from their cells. For example, the large main gate had a smaller personal entrance, which couldn’t be locked and thus anybody could leave the prison without much problem.
The girls also found out that the special prisoner was no less than General Iroh, the treacherous older brother of Fire Lord Ozai himself. Ming had a strange respect for the fallen general, and the girls came to the conclusion that this rebellious old man could be a useful ally someday. They couldn’t visit him though, as the warden personally guarded his cell.

And finally, Ming introduced them to the young guard boy. His name was Kavi, and he came from the frontier of the Fire Nation to gain some experience amongst the more civilized folks. Kavi endured this whole introduction procedure without saying a word, and he was clearly embarrassed around Okako and Pema. He didn’t have to speak, though – his looks betrayed him quite well: he was unusually brawny for his age, his broad shoulders and thick arms were stiff with well-shaped muscles, and when Pema playfully punched him in the stomach, her fist simply bounced off his abdomen. And since his helmet was still with Kitara, his stunning hairstyle was also revealed: he was mostly bald, barring a strip of hair starting roughly in the middle of the top of his head, running down in a straight line through his nape. It was like a crest, short at the top, but growing longer and longer as it went down. With all the big muscles and the ridiculous hair, he couldn’t even deny the fact that he was the son of some primitive, barbaric culture.

Pema nearly drowned in her laughter, when they told this to Asha. The poor girl was so embarrassed from the knowledge that her admirer comes from the same background as her that she spent the rest of the day under the blanket in her bed.

On the other hand, the girls didn’t get any visitors for a whole week. Even Ty Lee was absent. They suspected some sort of a trick from Azula, but Ming quickly informed them that the fire princess had specifically instructed the prison crew to be ready for another visit from her four days after her leave. But she hadn’t come, and she was already four days late. The princess was never late, unless she wouldn’t be coming at all.

So the girls agreed that Azula probably shifted her interest from the warriors to their leader. It was actually a reassuring thought, as it meant that Suki was still resisting her. The deduction was rather far-fetched, but that was the best the girls could have about Suki.

The Circle Fight was a special training method that improved situational awareness, the ability to combat multiple opponents, and to fight effectively in a chaotic, messy melee. First, the girls cleared the room to have a large, empty space. Normally, they had their dojo for this, but now they had to improvise. The beds were put aside, and the pillows and blankets became a rather ad-hoc substitute for a training mattress.

The girls then formed a circle, a very tight one at first, but at the sign of Okako, they slowly began to expand it step by step. There were no rules to when to start the fight. Any girl could initiate an attack against any other girl, any time. It was a free-for-all match, with the last girl standing being the winner. Of course, alliances were also allowed, but they never lasted long and usually served the sole purpose of teaming up against a stronger opponent. After defeating the target, the allies usually quickly turned against each other.

This was the first Circle Fight they had in their prison room. They had many of these on Kyoshi Island, but this cell was nothing like the dojo. The cramped space and the purely artificial lighting enhanced their feeling of proximity, so they could perceive the position of the others closer than they actually were - especially at the beginning, when their circle was still tight.

The fight itself went on in a surprisingly typical manner. This time, Kitara initiated it, spinning to the left to attack the girl next to her: Okako. Her target evaded her rather loosely aimed punch, but Kitara’s real target was the girl after Okako. And Pema was struck completely flat-footed as Kitara continued her spin and kicked her in the stomach with full force.

Asha quickly seized the moment and rushed Okako, who was just recovering from Kitara’s fake attack. The lieutenant of the Kyoshi Wariors could see her coming, but decided to take the hit. Asha ran right into her to get the other girl down, but Okako turned into her attack, and simply made her shoot past. It was a big mistake on her part.

She turned her back towards the group for a moment, allowing Nirmal to line up a perfect elbowing into her root of the neck. Okako screamed up in pain and nearly fainted when Nirmal hit her, but she remained on her foot. Or at least she tried, but Asha’s second charge literally blew off her and even Nirmal was swept away.

On the other side of the room, Pema regained her senses, only to lose them again as Kitara punched her in the face. The young swordfighter wanted to end this fight quickly, so she tried to sweep Pema’s legs, but to her greatest surprise, Pema somehow managed to dodge her attack. Kitara tried a quick follow-up strike, but she only allowed Asha to sweep her legs. Kitara was soon in a whole world of trouble as Asha and Pema teamed up to defeat her.

Nirmal tried to rely on ground fights, where her better strength could balance out her poor fighting skills. She was wrestling with Okako on the floor, and her struggle finally came to fruition, as she managed to pin the other girl to the ground and lock her neck in her grip from behind.

“Come on Lieutenant…” she hissed. “Yield!”

Okako was close to blacking out, but just as she has raised her hand to signal her defeat, someone fell on them. Nirmal could barely recover from the big hit, when another girl landed on the pile and another one just a few moments later.

The girls screamed up as one as their heap suddenly began to rise and slide sideways. It was like someone would try to push them over.

They needed a moment to realize that in fact they were lying on the door of the cell, and someone now tried to open the door. And he was actually strong enough to do it.

The girls’ shriek when the door finally burst open by a forceful push was nothing compared to the sharp creaking of the metal frame as it nearly exploded out of its place.

“Sorry my lady, the door was jammed.” This was a boy’s voice, and from this it was quite clear that who did this pretty amazing show of force. Pema couldn’t withhold a wink at Asha, who blushed and tried to put up her angriest face.

“No problem! Azula told me that I can spend as much time with the Kyoshi Warriors as I want! So I don’t think that she will punish you if I got locked up in that room!” There was a brief pause, but the voice continued to echo against the stone walls, filling the silence. “Or maybe she will… I just won’t promise anything okay?”

“Ty Lee…” Okako noted coldly, and made a futile attempt to free herself from the tangled limbs of Asha and Nirmal.

The acrobat finally entered the room, and the door was closed shut behind her. She slowly turned around as the Kyosh Warriors weren’t at their usual place. She looked really focused as she tried to figure out what happened, but her face quickly brightened up when she finally found the girls to her right.

“Wow, I nearly thought that you aren’t here!” She jumped to the pile of girls and helped Okako to stand up. The lieutenant of the Kyoshi Warriors reluctantly accepted her hand, but quickly walked away from her as soon as she was on her feet.

“What do you want?”

The hostile tone of Okako’s question slightly startled Ty Lee.

“I just wanted to be with you. Sorry for not coming for a full week, but I had to visit my family. They are living pretty far from here and…”

“Okay, okay! That’s enough.”

Ty Lee began to help the other girls up too. Her big, cheerful smile only changed into a frown when she noticed a bruise on Pema’s face.

“And what were you doing here?” she asked innocently. “Were you fighting or something?”

“We had a group hug,” answered Pema sarcastically, but Ty Lee missed it entirely.

“Ah! You like it rough, huh?”

“Good night, everyone!” added Kitara with a naughty smile, but it went past Ty Lee too.

“Why? I’m fine with that!” chirped the acrobat, and successfully overlooked the pitying look of the Kyosh Warriors. “Azula likes it rough too!”

Pema’s head nearly exploded when she muffled her laughter, and a few drops of sweat appeared on Nirmal’s forehead as she had to force some self-control on herself, too. Kitara actually allowed herself a short giggle, while Okako simply let it pass. Asha just watched the whole scene in utter confusion, as she had no idea what was so funny.

“We had a training session, not a group hug,” noted Okako coldly after the hilarity subsided.

“A training session? And are you still doing it?”

“We are!” said Kitara. She flashed a sly grin. “Wanna’ join?”

It hit Ty Lee completely unprepared. For a moment, she just stood shocked in front of the girls, like they had offered her the ownership of Kyoshi Island. Then her smile widened, her eyes brightened up, and jumped into the air with anticipation.

“YES I WANT!” She danced to the middle of the room, and assumed a pose that was maybe some sort of attack stance. “What should I do?”

She just barely missed the grins the Kyoshi Warriors shared with each other.

“To begin, I must warn you: this won’t be pretty,” started Okako. She felt some pity towards Ty Lee, as the girl was obviously clueless about what would come. She just stood there, with the same mirthful smile on her face, strongly focusing to whatever Okako said. “We are training by fighting each other. You are on your own, and the last one standing is the winner. No rules and no holding back. You are free to team up, of course, but don’t be surprised when your former partner turns against you. Again, all that counts is to bring the others down. All of them.”

Ty Lee narrowed her eyes, and curled her lips. She needed a few moments to finally understand what Okako said to her, but at the end, she nodded.

“We will start in a tight circle, and we will slowly expand it. You can attack any time, and you can target anyone,” continued Nirmal, and the girls took their positions. Ty Lee decided to go between Kitara and Okako. “So… did you get it?”

“I think so,” said Ty Lee somewhat doubtfully.

“Then let’s get it started!” muttered Okako, and the girls slowly began to expand the circle.

The Kyoshi Warriors were solely focused on the movement of Ty Lee. None of them wanted to attack anyone else. This young girl was the prime cause of their defeat in the forest, and now it was payback time. The cramped cell room would negate Ty Lee’s biggest advantage – her mobility – and she wouldn’t have her annoying friends, either. She wore long robes instead of her usual pink clothing, so that should hinder her, too. Most importantly, it would be five against one, and the girls were sure that they could do it this time. They could defeat Ty Lee.

“Let’s beat this annoying chick senseless!” hissed Okako suddenly.

“Excuse me?” asked back Ty Lee, but she was interrupted by Asha, who took her chances to attack.

The youngest Kyoshi Warrior came a little bit short, and her kick was easily evaded by Ty Lee. In return, the acrobat struck out, hitting the left side of Asha’s body, and the girl fell to the floor with a painful scream. Okako and Kitara came next, but Ty Lee dodged them with an impossibly quick maneuver. She spun around, and knocked out both girls with a single barrage of quick jabs. They joined Asha on the floor, much to Ty Lee’s delight. Pema tried to save the situation, but two jabs later she was on the ground too.

It took Ty Lee roughly ten seconds to incapacitate four Kyoshi Warriors without even taking a single hit.

Nirmal just crouched down, and tapped the floor three times.

“I yield!” she said. “Congratulations Ty Lee, you won!”

“Traitor!” moaned Pema. She tried to turn towards Nirmal, but her whole body was paralyzed. “Instructor Tamara will hear about this!”

Ty Lee just stood here for a long moment, completely dumbfounded. She looked at Nirmal, who even made a few steps backwards as a sign of her surrender, then glanced through the other girls on the floor.

“I’VE WON!” she shrieked. She sat down to the floor amongst her paralyzed victims. “You went too easy on me! It was really nice of you, but I don’t think that it was needed!”

“You heard that girls?” said Kitara jokingly. “We went too easy on her! Next time, we should show her what we can really do!”

“Shut up, Kitara.” Okako wasn’t really in the mood to get Kitara’s jokes. She tried to face Ty Lee, but just like Pema, she was also completely disabled. So she just took a deep breath. “Look Ty Lee… We didn’t go easy on you. You are just a little bit…”

“Overpowering,” inserted Nirmal, who began to help the other girls to at least sit up.

“Yeah, that’s a good word. Thank you Nirmal.”

“Overpowering?” now Ty Lee seemed really confused.

“Yes. This technique you use… It is amazing! It makes you invincible!”

“You mean chi-blocking? I learnt it at the Royal Fire Academy!” Ty Lee tilted her head so she could see Okako’s face. “I can teach it to you if you want!”

Now it was Kitara’s turn to try to move, but she failed, just like the others. She helplessly fell to her side and after a brief pause she finally managed to move her body with funny slithering motions.

“I think we can accept this offer,” said Okako to Ty Lee. “We would be honored to learn this potent technique.”

Kitara finally reached Okako and Ty Lee.

“Look, it’s not like I want to break the moment or anything…” she looked at Ty Lee and flashed a dorky smile. “…you are a nice girl and all, so nothing personal… But can you tell me why you are so companionable around us? Like, last time I checked, we were mortal enemies. I nearly killed your friend in the forest battle, and I assure you, I would cut her in half without giving it a second thought.”

Ty Lee scratched her head in confusion.

“I don’t understand,” she confessed ultimately.

“You are our enemy, and not our friend!” growled Asha, but it wasn’t enough.

“Back in Kyoshi Island, we have a saying,” continued Kitara. “It goes like this: ‘In most cases, revenge is not a good thing. In other cases, it is the only thing.’. I just want to be sure that we are the ‘most cases’ and not the ‘other cases’.”

“Uhmmmm… Should I say then that I have no intents to hurt you? Or something like that?”

“Exactly! You should promise it, actually.”

“Okay, I don’t want to hurt you. And I promise that I won’t hurt you for…. uhm… whatever reason I should hurt you!”

“Wow, that was a hard birth!” confessed Pema.

The paralysis started to wear off, and the girls could feel the life returning to their limbs. They could now turn around their heads, and exchange glances to have a silent discussion about this sudden turn in their situation. If they could really learn this chi-blocking technique, then maybe they shouldn’t mind Ty Lee at all. They could take on even Azula, when she wasn’t with this weird acrobat girl.

That was a real chance.

And from the looks of it, every Kyoshi Warrior agreed with this.

Two weeks had passed, and the Kyoshi Warriors were past any doubts about their chi-blocking training. For one, they had a steady advance. Even though Ty Lee turned out to be a horrible teacher, they could still make it work somehow. For the young acrobat, everything came naturally, and she had a hard time explaining the workings of the technique to the Kyoshi Warriors. Nirmal was working on a simplified interpretation, using her considerable knowledge about the human body to straighten out the muddled parts, but her progress was very slow.

On the other hand, these lessons allowed the girls to get to know Ty Lee much better. They came to realize that the young acrobat was really what she looked like, and she wasn’t playing tricks to infiltrate the cadre or something. She was exactly what she showed: a cheerful, naïve girl with plenty of innocence and nearly no wits.

The Kyoshi Warriors soon regretted that they had such bad thoughts about her. At least Ty Lee didn’t make anything of their past rudeness. Actually, it seemed that she had already forgotten those times.

Finally, the best thing about Ty Lee was that she happily gave account on the events that had happened in the outside world. She was very talkative and loved to share stories with the Kyoshi Warriors. From her, the girls found out that Azula was mostly telling them the truth in the last time. Ba Sing Se fell, the Earth Kingdom was defeated and worst of all, Azula achieved this by disguising herself as a Kyoshi Warrior. And Suki was in prison too, so she hadn’t given up her loyalties.

So overall, the Kyoshi Warrior’s situation was changing, but in an odd way. Their perspectives still looked dire and bleak, but now they had a glimmer of hope.

And not just that. They also gained something much more important.

A new friend.
« Last Edit: Mar 02, 2014 06:43 am by AtoMaki » Logged

Keeper of Suki's firebending ancestry, the Kyoshi Warrior dojo, the love potion made from rainbows and sunsets and the mecha tanks.

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« Reply #9 on: Mar 02, 2014 06:33 am »

Today’s chi blocking lesson was already over. Okako and Kitara went down to the kitchen to help out Ming with distributing the dinner, while Nirmal was busy studying the things Ty Lee had showed this time. She was lying on her bed amongst a huge heap of papers – her notes – engrossed in her own thoughts.

The cell door was wide open, and Asha, Pema and Ty Lee were laying just in front of the entrance, peeking down to the opposite side of the stairs.

The subject was the guard standing there. He was that young boy, Asha’s “suitor”. He probably went out of his way to apply for guard duty at the Kyoshi Warrior’s cell, as any time the girls wanted to leave, he opened the door. Ming said something about how the warden was trying to charge “trustworthy” people with guarding this specific cell, but the girls had no idea about how this boy could be a better candidate than Ming or that older guardswoman.

And now, Pema decided that she would find it out.

“Just look at him,” Pema nodded towards the boy. “You can just tell that he is a brute.”
“He is just a big, stupid guard,” protested Asha. Pema and Ty Lee just giggled.

“Brute is not a positive attribute,” explained Pema. “Or at least not for us! But if you are on a different opinion, then so be it!”

“He is big. And he is stupid,” grumbled back Asha.

“He is big for sure!” added Ty Lee. “Those muscles are unbelievable!” She leaned a little bit forward to get a better look. “But I can’t determine from here if he is stupid or not. Big and strong guys like him are usually dumb, but I don’t like to judge people from the archetypes they represent.”

“He is stupid, believe me.” Asha voice was rather shaky. “Very, very stupid.”

“Guess that’s why you like him, huh?” asked Pema suddenly, and Asha couldn’t even respond for a moment. The youngest Kyoshi Warrior blushed and crawled back from the entrance, so only the top of her head stuck out.

“I don’t like him!” she hissed after some awkward silence, but the two other girls just giggled on this. “He is just a big, stupid guard, and I don’t want anything from him!”

Ty Lee winked at Pema over Asha’s shoulder. Pema got the signal instantly, and readied herself to deliver the finishing blow. She and Ty Lee carefully pre-planned the whole operation, and now it was time to give a momentum to the things.

“As I heard…” began Pema thoughtfully, and she could see that Asha was listening to her closely. “In some primitive Fire Nation cultures, boys confess their love to their girls by abducting them.”

“And why should I care?” hissed Asha, but it was clearly visible that she got the bait.

“Because this boy is clearly from one of those cultures!” commented Ty Lee. “I can tell it, because I’ve seen some of them. They look exactly like this!”

“Yes,” continued Pema. “And just imagine the following scenario: one night, this boy decides that it is time to make his move…” Pema carefully checked Asha, and the young girl was still with her. “So he comes here, rips this massive cell door open, grabs you with his strong arms and takes you away! What could you possibly do in the grip of those huge bundles of muscle?”

Asha huddled up a little, as if she were already in the boy’s grasp. Her face changed from angry to scared, and she shuddered as she realized that nothing would save her.

“Do you think that he would really do that?” she asked timidly.

“Well...” Pema stood up, and looked down to the two other girls. “It is time to find out!”
And with that, she walked down to the other end of the stair. He passed by the guard, and made a wide circle in the hall below. She stopped right in front of the boy.

For a moment, they just looked at each other steadily in the eyes.

Pema noticed yet again that the boy was surprisingly handsome, despite his savage looks. His face was a nice mixture of sharp and soft features and his strangely shaped, light brown eyes added an interesting detail to the overall impression.

“How can I help you?” asked the boy finally. His voice was pretty deep and had an odd feeling of being both smooth and tight. It sounded like greased leather rubbing a steel blade.

“Nothing, I’m just wandering around.” She stepped a little bit closer. “Looking for company.”

“Then I ask you to return to your cell immediately.” The boy’s seriousness hit Pema a little bit unprepared. She hadn’t seen this coming, but she quickly regained control over the situation.

She stepped even closer. Now she was well within arm’s reach for the boy.

“Your name is Kavi right?” she began with an alluring voice. “Ming talked a lot about you.” She placed her hand on the boy’s chest. “About how strong you are. And for all I see and feel, I must admit that she was right.”

The boy made a step back, pressing himself against the corner of the stair.

“My name is Kavi.” This rushed answer sounded far less serious than his previous order. It was really embarrassed instead, a clear sign to Pema that she was doing well.

“No need to be so shy, Kavi!” Pema now directly walked up to the boy. She was the shortest Kyoshi Warrior, and the boy was slightly taller than average, so she had to rise on tiptoes to reach a comfortable height against the boy.

She pushed her chest against the boy’s. Kavi’s head instantly turned red. It seemed like even his crest-like hair rose into the air.

To make things even worse, Pema snuggled up to him, and gently stroke his wide shoulders. She could hear his heavy panting and feel his tightening muscles as the poor boy tried to retain his self-control. Pema placed her head on his chest to further enhance the effect.

She could feel his heart thumping like crazy, and his body was suspiciously warm. Pema couldn’t swear it, but it actually felt warmer and warmer with each passing moment.

“Oh Kavi… You are so strong!” The boy muffled a whimper. “I love boys like you! All the strength!” She made a brief pause to ensure a better effect. “All the power!”

And now it was time for the finishing strike. Just as she uttered the last word, she pressed the lower part of her body to Kavi’s lower part of body.

She looked up, but to her great surprise, the boy looked much different than she expected. He was busy making an indifferent expression, and his efforts were clearly taxing him. He stared blankly somewhere into the dark tunnel that led into the prison, and despite the twitching around his eyes, completely reddened face, and unnaturally stiff pose, it seemed that he was retaining his cool.

Now it really cut into Pema. This boy was clearly resisting her, and nobody could do that with impunity! Boys fell after her like wheat all the time, and she felt quite offended that this one dared to be left standing.

She reached behind the boy’s back, and gently grabbed a curl of his black hair. It felt surprisingly neat. He probably took care of it regularly.

“Maybe we should go out sometimes, don’t you think? I’m looking forward to getting to know you!” she said seductively. And finally, Kavi looked down at her.

And he had enough.

He suddenly grabbed Pema’s wrists and moved her away from himself. His hands were now undoubtedly burning-hot, and Pema hissed up in pain as Kavi tightened his grasp on her.

“And now, you will go back to your cell,” he said coldly. Or at least he tried to be cold, but his voice was shaky from the barely contained fury.

“I’m going nowhere, big boy!” protested Pema angrily. She defiantly stiffened her posture, and made a futile attempt to free herself.

“You are. Back to your cell… Now!”

But Pema wasn’t in a cooperative mood at all. Instead, as she noticed Kavi’s determined face, she flashed a wicked smile at him, that probably immediately rang some bells in his head.

“Don’t think that you can push me around like this!” she whispered to him, but Kavi barely even frowned.

“Why? Last time I checked, I was the prison guard, and you were the prisoner.”

“Then you probably know what kind of prisoner I am.”

Now, this immediately melted away Kavi’s determination. His eyes widened, and he was just about to say something as he realized his mistake, when Pema suddenly collapsed and put up a frightened face.

“Someone! Help!” she screamed. “He wants to hurt me!” Her voice echoed through the corridors and probably reached every part of the top levels of the prison. “Please! Help me!”

Kavi reacted surprisingly quickly. He immediately released Pema, pushed her away, and made a panicked run towards the left of the hall. After he realized that it was a dead end, he doubled his speed and literally burst into the tunnel that connected the hall with the rest of the prison.

The shadows swallowed him before Pema could regain her senses.

The girl allowed herself a smirk then slowly went back to the cell. Asha and Ty Lee were waiting there, and Nirmal was also watching from the edge of her bed.

“Okay, this was fairly amusing.” said Pema arrogantly after she reached the top.

“What was this good for?” asked Asha angrily. She seemed offended by something, and her head was still full red from embarrassment.

“I think it was awesome!” added Ty Lee. “You’ve just demolished that boy! How could you do that?”

Pema just smiled and walked to her bed.

“And what did you learn?” asked Nirmal suddenly.

Pema took her time to get into her bed. She wanted to enjoy the attention of the other girls as long as she could.

“Okay, let’s start with the first question.” she began after she made herself comfortable.
“First, I did this to provoke him. To make him angry so I can assess his character.” She flashed a smile at Asha. “And to have some fun too. I haven’t been around a handsome boy like him for ages!”

Asha just growled something under her breath but otherwise she seemed contented with the answer.

“Second, boys are easy.” She winked at Ty Lee. “You just have to show something interesting to them and you will be all fine.”

“Like what?” asked Ty Lee.

“I don’t know…” Pema glanced through Ty Lee’s well-shaped body. “Maybe you should just look at them and smile a lot. And laugh at everything they say, even if it isn’t funny.”

“That’s all?”

“You have a radiant personality, so it will be enough.”

It was hard to tell if Ty Lee really got what Pema really meant.

“Radiant personality? How could that help her?” Asha didn’t get it, that’s for sure.

“Finally, I have some very interesting information about this Kavi boy.” Now, everyone fell silent and leant closer to Pema. “For one, I’m pretty sure that he is a firebender.”

“A firebender!” squeaked Asha, but Nirmal and Ty Lee quickly hushed her.

“Otherwise, we don’t have anything to fear about him. He is strangely composed for being a savage. And he knows his limits.” Pema suddenly looked to her right, and raised her pillow as if searching for something. “I can’t believe this! I left my notes in the kitchen! Asha, could you go down and bring them back to me?”

The young girl looked around, and after some pondering she nodded and left the room.

“Okay girls!” continued Pema her analysis, but with much more excitement. “I didn’t want to ruin Asha’s expectations, so I would keep this part secret from her, okay?”

“You can count on me,” said Nirmal.

“What is so astounding?” asked Ty Lee.

“Well… Kavi is not a savage at all.” The two other girls flinched as they heard the big revelation.

“But he has that ridiculous hair and everything!” protested Nirmal, but Pema shook her head.  

“It is more like some sort of rebellion or something. Maybe he wants to stick out, or maybe he thinks that it is cool that way. But he is a properly civilized guy like you and me.”

“And why is it so bad that Asha can’t know it?”

Pema and Nirmal exchanged significant glances before answering Ty Lee’s question. They were still unsure if they could trust the girl with such sensitive things.

“Because we want to bring Asha and Kavi together,” said Pema finally.

“Asha was always a very problematic girl,” continued Nirmal. “She was born in a barbaric tribe, and she lived as an outcast there.”

“Not the best childhood you can get…” added Pema.

“She doesn’t talk about those times much, but what we know is that she had to fend for herself from a very early age. She grew up in a hostile environment, and it marked her personality for the rest of her life. She is an extremely vulnerable girl. You couldn’t see her when she arrived to Kyoshi Island five years ago, but I must tell you, she wasn’t a pretty sight. She has improved a lot since then, but even the slightest negative influence could throw her off balance.”

“And do you think that Kavi can help her?” asked Ty Lee with confusion. “How could he do anything?”

“It is a complex matter,” took up Pema. “But to make it simple, we chose Kavi because of his physical strength. He could provide an illusion of safety for Asha. Because of her barbaric upbringing, she values physical strength very highly. And Kavi is maybe the beefiest boy on the whole island!” Pema pouted as she tried to come up with a better interpretation. “Okay, so you’ve already noticed that Asha hides behind Kitara’s back when she is scared.” Ty Lee nodded. “Then imagine that Asha could hide behind Kavi’s back instead, that is twice as big as Kitara’s thus twice as effective!”

“Also, here is a much better explanation: we want them together because everyone in the cadre had a boyfriend before, except Asha. She is thirteen years old already. Pema had her first boyfriend when she was eleven!”

Ty Lee chuckled upon hearing Nirmal’s explanation. It seemed that made much more sense for her than Pema’s image.

The two other girls just looked at each other again, and exchanged a small smile. This part went much easier than they thought.

Keeper of Suki's firebending ancestry, the Kyoshi Warrior dojo, the love potion made from rainbows and sunsets and the mecha tanks.

My fanficions.

My Avatar RPG system.
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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« Reply #10 on: Mar 02, 2014 06:35 am »

Four days later, the Kyoshi Warriors had an unexpected guest. She came alone, shortly after Ty Lee left. The girls distrustfully stepped away from her path when she entered, and didn’t welcome her either.

But it left Mai completely undisturbed. She confidently walked to Nirmal and silently exchanged a few words with her. Nirmal wasn’t exactly happy at the beginning, but her mood quickly softened, and soon she had a secretive conversation with Mai. The other girls tried to eavesdrop, but they could barely hear anything.

After a few minutes of talking, the two girls stood up, Nirmal declared that she would be away for a few days, and they left the cell. Okako couldn’t even have a chance to question her.

And to make things worse, Nirmal really disappeared for four days. Ty Lee told the Kyoshi Warriors that their healer was with Mai, but it wasn’t the most reassuring thing to know.

Nirmal finally returned at the end of the fourth day just after the girls had their evening meal. And she changed quite a lot during this time, at least in appearance: she wore a long red and black robe instead of the prisoner uniform, and her hair was down and straightened instead of the traditional Kyoshi Warrior bun she used to have. She looked very formal and had an eerie aura of professionalism.

“Wow, somebody has found a new employer I see…” noted Pema coldly.

Nirmal shrugged, and stepped to her bed. To the biggest surprise of the girls, four servants appeared behind her, carrying two large boxes. They dropped them in the middle of the room then hurriedly left the cell.

The silence became unbearable. Nirmal began to change her robe back to her prisoner clothes. The other girls watched her suspiciously, as she did all this. Nirmal was a serious girl who liked to assume a grave air, but she was now playing with her sisters’ nerves.

“Kyoshi’s blood, the suspense is killing me!” whimpered Kitara. “Please, Nirmal, say something!”

“Sorry, but I haven’t found a new employer,” said Nirmal finally. “Or, at least, not permanently.”

Okako went to her bed, and sat down next to her.

“What’s happened with you Nirmal?” she asked.

“Mai asked me a favor, and I gladly obliged. It was a private matter, so I won’t go into the details, but what I can tell you is that she wanted my healer skills.”

“And she couldn’t find a healer in the whole Capital City?” inserted Pema skeptically.

“She could, but again, it was a highly sensitive matter. She couldn’t trust any healer with it.”

“Oh, and your special qualities are…”

“I don’t have ties to the Fire Nation. I will not leak the things I did, and even if I did it, nobody would believe me.”

This satisfied Pema’s curiosity.

“Wow, but how could Mai know that you are a healer?” Kitara’s question made Nirmal smile.

“She didn’t know that. But Azula did.”

This revelation astounded all the other girls.

“You don’t say that Azula specifically recommended you…”

“Yes, she did. She also convinced Mai to pay for my services.” Nirmal made a wide hand gesture towards the two boxes. “And I also had complete freedom, so I could even spend that money at the local market.” Kitara’s eyes immediately glittered up.

“You bought us gifts?”

“I did. Mai paid me very well, and since I normally don’t need money in my current situation, I spent it all on everyday stuff we lack in this prison.”

Kitara screamed up in joy upon hearing the news, and rushed to the boxes to open them. Asha soon joined her and they quickly seized the items inside. They were mostly small things that the girls missed: hairpins, comfortable slippers, soft towels, real soap and trim-sets. There were also several other long red robes, but they had gold trimming instead of black.

“You had complete freedom?” asked Okako in astonishment.

“Yeah, but I couldn’t do a lot with it. As it turned out, you can’t leave this island without a passport. Or a ship that can touch land around rugged volcanic cliffs.”

“That’s not good…” admitted Okako. If it was really that hard to leave the island, then they would have a rough time escaping, even if they managed to get out of the prison. “Wish I were a real waterbender!”

“Don’t worry,” said Nirmal comfortingly. “Even though it is hard to leave the island, as I’ve experienced, it is very easy to meld into its populace. Some nice clothes and a strong bearing can get you anywhere you want.”

“I guess you tried this out during your stay…” noted Pema coldly.

Nirmal nodded.

“The people of the Fire Nation have a very positive attitude towards professionals. Expensive clothes and officious behavior to give sign of your importance could help a lot, too.”

“Why do I have a feeling that you are going somewhere with this?” asked Kitara as she tried on a red robe. She managed to find one what was her size, and it looked pretty good on her. The red silk matched her black hair well and set off her big, beautiful, blue eyes.

“You feel it because it is the case,” answered Nirmal.

Okako frowned. It wasn’t the answer she was waiting for.

“And can you jump to the point Nirmal?” she said, and her harsh voice dampened the mood in the room instantly. Now, everybody was watching Nirmal.

“Well…” started Nirmal. “During my stay, I had some time to rethink my situation.” Nirmal closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “And I made a very important decision: I will not resist Azula anymore. I won’t be in your way to do it either, but from now on, I have no objection to serving the fire princess.”

The air immediately froze in the cell as Nirmal announced this. The other girls needed quite some time to comprehend her words and the meaning behind them.

Okako was the first who could react. She shook her head with confusion.

“Okay Nirmal, this sounds stupid. I think you should explain the chain of thoughts that eventually led you to this conclusion.”

“For one, the Fire Nation seems like a nice place to live in. The people are respectful and honest; the country is clean, neat and prosperous, at least here, on the Capital Island. I just really enjoyed my time there.”

“Personal comfort is not everything, Nirmal,” noted Okako. “Remember that the Fire Nation is our enemy. We sided with the Earth Kingdom and we ought to honor our obligation.”

“Our only obligation is the one towards Avatar Kyoshi.” replied Nirmal sharply. “We joined the war to help people and not to serve a nation…”

“But serving Azula is exactly like serving the Fire Nation!” interrupted Pema. “How could it be any more different? She is the princess for crying out loud!” 

“Azula wants to convert us for herself and not for the Fire Nation. The last would be a moot point anyway as we are above petty nations by the merit of being Avatar Kyoshi’s daughters. Fire Nation or Earth Kingdom it doesn’t matter for us as we belong neither yet we are still part of both. And Azula knows this.” Nirmal took a deep breath as she approached the most important part. “We opposed the Fire Nation but it was never our enemy. Then we fell out of this too when Azula captured us. We rot in this prison for no real reason other than we are too stubborn to acknowledge our defeat. So in my opinion, we should do it as soon as possible and then just go on with our lives.”

“You are right, but Azula is not exactly someone I would gladly serve.” added Kitara. “She seems a bit too… unkind for my taste.”

“Personal comfort is not everything, right?” Nirmal allowed her a soft smile as her sting hit its targets and both Kitara’s and Okako’s face turned red. “In my opinion, freedom with Azula is still better that imprisonment without her. Mai is doing fine, so I can’t even imagine how we couldn’t do the same.”

“You are playing it down Nirmal, but I’m not eating this,” murmured Pema. “You are underestimating Azula. You think she will just let us go after we kneel before her? Well, you are wrong. She will turn us into her very own puppets, mere slaves bound to her will. She will turn us into the Azula Warriors just as she turned Omashu into New Ozai. And for one, I won’t take part in this, thank you!”

Nirmal narrowed her eyes.

“Azula wants the Kyoshi Warriors and not a bunch of handmaiden. She made this pretty clear in the past. She will respect our identity and won’t mangle it.”

“Yeah, because she is exactly that kind of girl!” said Pema with her final words, and with that she backed up and flopped down to her bed. She stared at Nirmal for a long moment then crossly turned away.

Okako just nodded at Nirmal as a sign that she respected her opinion. She stood up from the bed and went to Kitara to help her unpack the stuff from the boxes.

Nirmal shrugged when she noticed that her opinion didn’t really get the support she imagined. She was confident that she had it right. Sadly, the others couldn’t understand the cold reality behind her words, but Nirmal was sure that they would. They just need time.

Asha quickly turned back to the boxes when the discussion ended. She knew that the fear she felt was clearly visible on her face, so she chose to hide it from the girls until she could calm down. She tried to focus, as she had learnt on Kyoshi Island, but the hated feeling slowly began to overtake her. Her fear took root in that feeling – it sprung out from it like a creeper from a grave.

She felt hunted.

Not by tribal huntsmen, not by soldiers, not by princess Azula, but by something even more dangerous. Something she thought she finally defeated when she joined the Kyoshi Warriors:


Keeper of Suki's firebending ancestry, the Kyoshi Warrior dojo, the love potion made from rainbows and sunsets and the mecha tanks.

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« Reply #11 on: Mar 04, 2014 05:54 am »


Asha went out to the prison yard to have a breath of fresh air, but she soon regretted her decision. In her current, distracted state of mind, the once grey and boring corridors became dark and haunting.

Even though the layout of the prison was pretty much a simple spiral, Asha still managed to lose her way in it. She was walking around for almost a whole hour, but she was still within the building.

She often had to stop, when the shadows curled and twisted themselves into strange, menacing shapes that addressed silent threats to the young girl before they melded back into the darkness. The light from the lamps withered and faded, opening paths for the shadows and forcing her to find another way.

She tried to attack them once, but as she stormed the obscene figures, they simply opened up their dark forms, and let the young girl run right into the hollow blackness. Her fists hit only the empty air, and the darkness nearly swallowed her. Luckily, her sharpened reflexes saved her and she could run away.

This had happened roughly twenty minutes ago, and she was moving around much more carefully since then. She often took her time to hide behind well-illuminated pillars or wait under lamps until the shadows dissolved.

But she lost direction, and now she was roaming the corridors desperately, looking for an exit. She even tried to knock on the cell doors to ask for help, but she never got answers. It seemed like the prison was empty other than her and the shadows.

She found a corridor that should lead her back to the top level. As she went on through the passage, she could feel the heat increasing. It was a good sign. The hall below their cell was always very hot. She should be close. Just a few steps and she would be safe amongst her sisters.

But the corridor was a dead end. Asha watched the blank wall in disbelief. As far as she knew, the whole prison had only one dead end – in the hall under the Kyoshi Warrior’s cell.

She turned around in panic, and realized that she had been lured into a trap. The two lamps in front of her wavered and their light became pale and weak. The lamp behind her somehow remained the same as before, and Asha quickly stepped back to be under it.

From the growing shadows, three humanoid forms emerged. All three were grotesquely malformed with their jagged outlines and lean limbs. Their maws were full with teeth and their long and sharp claws moved around their hands like some bizarre scissors.

Asha pressed her back against the wall and prayed to Kyoshi to give her strength. She assumed her fighting stance, but the shadows only laughed on her. The completely soundless mocking nearly made Asha attack them, but she held back.

The shadows split up. Two of them approached Asha from the right, and one – the biggest – slid through the floor straightly towards her. Asha tried to stomp it, but her feet only hit the stone bricks.

The two other shadows quickly seized the moment and tried to slip onto her. Asha kicked towards them, but it proved to be a very bad move. Her attacking leg crossed one of the shadows, and it instantly wrapped itself onto the limb. Asha screamed as the cold touch tore into her, and her panic only grew as she noticed that the shadow figure was now crawling up on her body. She tried to shake it off, but the black claws reached up to her chest and tried to cut into her. Asha released another scream, but the attack didn’t hurt her. The claws were dissolved by a golden aura before they could rip into Asha’s chest.

The shadow fell off from her body and splashed onto the floor. It writhed in agony, grasping its mutilated hand.

Asha couldn’t enjoy her small victory for long, as the largest shadow reached the lamp behind her and literally devoured it. The sudden darkness startled Asha, and she tumbled and fell to the floor.

In the dim light of the two weakened lamp, she could see the other smaller shadow leaning over her. It raised its left arm, and fused its claws into a blade. Asha snarled and tried to roll away, but the larger shadow enveloped her and kept her in place.

It raised the bizarre weapon-limb to deliver the finishing blow…

“All the dragon tailbones! These lamps should be replaced as soon as possible!”

Asha could see a man’s hand touching one of the lamps behind the shadows. The two creatures barely had time to turn towards the person who interrupted the battle…

…and the whole corridor burst into blinding white light, mercilessly disintegrating all shadows.

Even Asha was blind for a short moment. When she finally regained her sight, her savior made her double-regret this little adventure.

He was Kavi. He was just as shocked from finding Asha in the darkness as the girl was from finding him in the light. His hand was still on the lamp, and the source of the strong light was strangely close to his palm. He probably used his firebending to create it.

Kavi’s initial confusion allowed Asha to quickly get to her feet. She slightly hunched and flashed her teeth at the boy. She tried to look menacing, so maybe Kavi would simply leave her alone. But it had no effect on him.

“Asha? Are you alright?” he asked. He stepped closer, so Asha had to move back to keep the distance.

“What do you want from me?” she hissed back. Her openly hostile tone made Kavi frown.

“I’m looking for you.”

Now, this really startled Asha. What does he want from her? It seemed that her situation changed from bad to worse. He looked placid so far, but Asha had a feeling that this is going to change.

“Look…” he continued. “You sisters are really worried about you. They asked me to try to find you. So if you would be so nice to go back to your cell…”

“Why would they do that?” interrupted him Asha. “If they are really so worried, then they would look for me themselves!”

Kavi shrugged.

“You should ask them if you want to know!”

Even though this sounded true, Asha still smelled some sort of trick behind this. She carefully began to move toward Kavi to get past by him, but he stepped in her way.

“Where are you going?”

“Back to my cell.” Asha was now ready to attack even for the slightest provocation.

“Then you should turn back.” Kavi pointed towards the dead end. “It is there, just a few meters away.”

Asha had a sharp reply on her tongue, but as she turned back to check Kavi’s direction, she had to notice that the dead end wasn’t a dead end anymore. The corridor continued where a wall was a few minutes ago, and in the distance, Asha could even see the hall and the stairs to the cell room.

She made a slow but explicit step towards the hall. She was waiting for some sort of reaction from Kavi’s part, but the boy remained still. From his face and eyes, Asha could discern that he was in a middle of some sort of internal conflict.

“Uh… Can you wait for a moment?” he said ultimately, when Asha was just about to make a run to the stairs. “I have something important to say.”

Asha stopped. Her mind was working like crazy to analyze the situation but to no avail. Her perplexity conveyed the wrong message to Kavi, who took it as a sign of permission that he can talk.

“So, what I want to say… is that you are a beautiful girl. Like, the most beautiful girl I’ve ever met.” He blushed and forced out an embarrassed smile.

Asha’s eyes widened and she could also feel the redness running through her face. She had never gotten such a compliment in her entire life. Her hostile grimace softened up as the nice words echoed through her mind.

After some awkward silence, Kavi continued his confession.

“Thing is, that I like you.” He scratched his head. “Maybe we could go out sometime if you want…”

“I like you too!” Asha immediately blocked up her mouth with her hands, but it was already too late. She didn’t know why she said what she said, it came from nowhere and she simply couldn’t withhold it.

The lamp under Kavi’s hand suddenly became brighter. They just stared at each other for a long moment, and it seemed that the whole world stopped to watch this.

Asha wanted to take back those stupid words, but there was no return from this point. She wanted to say “Leave me alone you big, stupid guard!” or something similar instead. But it was too late. So she did the only thing she could to save the situation.

She slowly began to retreat towards her cell.

“No, wait!” said Kavi suddenly, and reached out for Asha. And this proved to be a horrible idea.

Asha hardly had time to understand the gesture before her strained nerves took control. Suddenly, hundreds of alarm bells awakened in her head. Her consciousness was paralyzed, but her training span into motion without it.

Her leg suddenly struck up, and she hit Kavi in the crotch with her feet with full force.

The whole prison fell silent. Even the steady humming of the lamps stopped.

Kavi’s eyes opened up into an unnatural size, as if his eyeballs would try to pop out from their place. His muscles tightened and his body stiffened.

He gasped then slowly fell to his knees. From his face, Asha could see that he was in a world of hurt. He reached down to his groins, and buckled over while releasing a barely audible whimper.

At first, Asha didn’t even know what to do. Just like her confession, her attack also came from nowhere. She didn’t want to do it, but now it was too late.

She made a step towards Kavi to try to help him, but eventually she darted out towards the opposite direction. She ran up the stairs to her cell, opened up the massive door and leaped inside with the same momentum.

The door behind her fell back to its place with a thundering crash.

Keeper of Suki's firebending ancestry, the Kyoshi Warrior dojo, the love potion made from rainbows and sunsets and the mecha tanks.

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My Avatar RPG system.
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« Reply #12 on: Mar 04, 2014 06:00 am »

The pile of dishes diminished much slower than usual. Without the help of the girls, Ming had her struggle with the washing again. She had to admit that she had gotten out of the habit of doing the evening kitchen work alone. In the past month, those noble-girls from the top cell always dropped in to help her.

But now, Ming was alone in the kitchen. Her only company was the pots and dishes waiting for the washing on the large dining table in the middle of the room.

The absence of the girls was rather surprising and even more uncomfortable. It was strange, really, as Ming could still remember the beginning, when those girls pulled a fast one on her. They played some sort of a ball game and the warden ordered Ming to silence them. It was a costly affair on Ming’s part, and it left a bad taste in her mouth. But a little bit more than two weeks later, two of those girls – Okako and Pema - showed up in the kitchen and offered their help to Ming. She reluctantly accepted it, and the girls really proved themselves helpful.

As far as Ming knew it from the prison register, these girls were the members of the Fire Nation nobility, so it was very surprising to find out that they could do kitchen work so well. It seemed that they had fended for themselves for a long time, and Ming couldn’t help but wonder about the circumstances that made them do so.

She was unsure if she could simply ask them, as she didn’t want to offend the girls, but this mystery irked her a lot nowadays. And the fact that they were regularly visited by that other noble-girl, and even Princess Azula! They should be important people!

She sighed. As a lowly guardswoman, she should feel honored that those girls even talk to her.

The door of the kitchen slowly opened out, and a hunched figure entered the room. Ming didn’t have to turn back to recognize him. The silhouette of his big shadow revealed him instantly. Only one guard in the whole prison was so large to cast such a big shadow.

“What are you doing here, Kavi?”

The boy didn’t answer. He walked to the table and sat down on a chair. His quiet groaning during the whole process sounded rather painfully.  Ming peeked back towards him and she could see that the boy was in a middle of some horrible suffering. His face was all red and Ming could see some tears in the corner of his eyes.

“You are supposed to watch the top cell, aren’t you?” she asked him.

Kavi took a deep breath. This restored some color on his face.

“I’m done watching that cell for the rest of the day.”

She turned towards him, and glanced at the boy. He looked miserable. His uniform was messed up, his long strip of hair was all around his otherwise perfectly bald head and his left side seemed dusty and smudgy. The general impression was similar to someone who had just tried to stop a prison riot single handedly but failed and got beaten by at least a dozen inmates.

“What happened?” Her question made Kavi frown.

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

Ming still tried to figure it out, at least in her thoughts. She knew that Kavi liked one of those noble-girls, and it was quite clear-cut that whatever had happened with him was somehow connected to this. Unfortunately, Ming didn’t know the details at all. Kavi wasn’t the most communicative guard in the prison, and Pema just briefly mentioned this thing when she asked Ming to introduce Kavi to Okako and her.

“So… it was about that girl then.” Ming tried to say this as carefully as possible, and her efforts were not without effect. Kavi sighed and eased his posture. He buried his face in his hands.

“Yes, it was about the girl.” He began his story. Ming quickly stepped closer to him. She didn’t want to miss anything. “She lost her way in the prison, and the others asked me to find her. I should feel suspicious about it, because Pema asked me, and the others were giggling continuously in the background, but I still agreed to it.”

“How could anyone get lost in this place?” interrupted Ming with confusion. “This prison is hardly a maze!”

Kavi just shrugged.

“So I found her roughly an hour later, not far from the cell. She seemed terrified so I tried to help her.”

“Uh… And which girl are we talking about?”

“Asha. The youngest one.”

Ming had to strain her memory to remember her. After some thinking, she realized that Asha was the shy girl who was so hostile and distrustful with everyone. Now she could see where this story was going.

“So you tried to help Asha…”

Kavi angrily shoved away some dishes.

“Yeah, I did. And since we were alone there, I thought that maybe we could talk too. You know, I would say something nice, she would blush, things like that.”

Ming had to bit into her lower lips to muffle a heartily laugh. Kavi’s naivety was rather funny in a very sweet way.

“You know…” he continued, now with a more affectionate tone. “Asha is not just an average girl. She is special. I know it.” Kavi leaned back, and even allowed himself a soft smile. “She is charming and fierce...” He flashed a pained face. “…and pretty strong as it turned out. I’m sure that this savage behavior she has is just a show she puts up to scare away people. I can tell you that she is in fact an illustrious young lady with all the fanciness and whatnot.”

“Did she rebuff you?”

“Well… depends.” Now, this vague answer really perked Ming’s interest.

“Depends on what?”

“It started nicely. I told her that she is beautiful, and that I like her.” Kavi picked up a spoon and threw it into the sink. “And I don’t know what I did wrong! She even admitted that she likes me too! Mother of Dragons forgive me, but girls are just so crazy sometimes!”

“Why, what did she do after that?”

“She kicked me in the crotch!”

Luckily, Ming had good reflexes, so she could cover her mouth before Kavi noticed her grin. She felt terrible for finding the boy’s frustration so funny, but she couldn’t help it. It was maybe the most awkward story she had ever heard in her life.

She needed some time to cool down. Kavi was just sitting at the table and tried to vent off his anger on the unwashed tableware while quietly grumbling under his nose. Ming really felt sorry for him after the first few moments of hilarity, and eventually decided to cheer him up.

“I don’t think that it was intentional on her part,” she started thoughtfully. “She was probably confused, and misinterpreted something.”

“Like I could harm her…” he murmured, but Ming wasn’t sure that he had the right idea in this case. Kavi was a big and strong boy, and with that crazy hair and enormous muscles, he was a pretty frightening sight. Of course, he would never use his strength for bad, but the girl probably didn’t know that.

“Look, I think you should clear this up with her. If she really likes you, then she will…”

Ming was interrupted by a long creak as someone opened the kitchen door. Both Ming and Kavi turned towards the new arrival, and for their greatest surprise, a young girl entered the room.

Kavi immediately turned back to the desk. His face turned all-red and he tried to pretend that he was in the middle of something very important.

Ming needed some time to recognize the girl. Her nicely rounded face, big grey eyes and small nose made her remarkably pretty, and she was a little bit better developed physically than an average girl at her age. She wore her red, shabby prisoner clothes and it gave her a wild and uncivilized impression. Actually, to be honest, the girl probably had this without the clothes too.

She looked extremely embarrassed.

“Hello Asha, how can I help you?” welcomed Ming. The girl just shook her head.

Ming quickly realized that her presence was redundant in this new situation. She slowly sidled to the door, and prepared to leave the kitchen.

Asha walked to the table and sat down in front of Kavi. They didn’t look at each other, and they didn’t say a single word. And Ming could feel that they wouldn’t, as long as she was there.

“I’ll take the guard duty for the top cell,” she said ceremonially. “Don’t worry about the washing, I’ll do it later!”

And with that, she hurryingly left the room.

Asha was glad that Ming left without any inquiring. The young guardswoman had probably already found out a few things, or at least her amused face when she walked out was rather suspicious.

She looked up, and she could see that Kavi had decided to do the same too. They both blushed, and downed their heads again.

This whole situation was unbelievably awkward. Asha tried to initiate a conversation, but her thoughts slipped away every time it seemed that she had something on her tongue. She could feel her anguish in her guts, and it didn’t help her to focus either.

When she rushed back to the cell roughly thirty minutes ago, the other girls immediately ran to her and questioned her about the reason of her panicked arrival. She told them the full story, and her sisters obviously liked what they heard.

Except the shadow creatures. They didn’t comment on them, just shot a few angry glances at Kitara, who in return tried to be small and unimportant during this part. Asha couldn’t understand this, but Kitara’s remorseful grin was quite odd, to say at least.

After she finished her story, Pema quickly jumped to the conclusion that Asha had a big and real chance to get a boyfriend, and she should totally take it. The older girl’s excitement inevitably spread to Asha and soon she too was of the opinion that maybe she should really go out with Kavi.

Yes, he was just a big, stupid guard, but he was also handsome and strong. Asha had affection for him for some time, but she repressed this feeling because she felt that it was stupid. She didn’t want to betray the Kyoshi Warriors by loving someone who should be their enemy, but as it turned out, the girls – especially Pema – outright encouraged her to try out the relationship.

She had other reasons, too, to repulse Kavi, but in spite of the recent events, those things quickly became meaningless and hollow.

And so here she was. From the cell, this looked simple and straightforward. But as she sat in front of him, things suddenly became much more complicated.

She decided to start with the worst thing.

“Kavi?” The boy tossed up his head. “Look, I’m sorry for the corridor…”

He leaned back and sighed.

“Yeah, don’t worry about that. No hard feelings.” He sounded honest, and it eased Asha’s mood a little bit. “I was stupid to force myself onto you. I totally deserved that kick.”

Asha forced out a small smile. The effort was surprisingly easy.

“Don’t say that. It was my fault too. I let my fear overwhelm my mind. It wasn’t appropriate from such an elite warrior like me.”

The worrying grimace melted down from Kavi’s face instantly. He raised his eyebrows, and looked pretty surprised. Asha backed down a little bit in her chair. She didn’t know what she said wrong. But just before she could ask him, his expression eased, as he probably found a solution to the problem. Whatever it was.

“Okay…” he said rather confusedly. “Then I think we should forget the whole thing.”

“Maybe we shouldn’t.”

“Uhm… Why?”

Asha shyly huddled up a little. Now she felt that they were approaching the question that really interested her.

“Do you really think that I’m beautiful?” she asked timidly.

Now this made Kavi smile too.

“As I’ve said, you are the most beautiful girl I’ve ever met. You are a water lily in the middle of a crystal-clear lake. The brightest star on the night sky. An ethereal rainbow after a mild summer rain.”

Asha nearly screamed in joy. She never, ever got such compliments as these. So far, boys hardly ever noticed her. The older girls always stole the attention, and got the nice words.

But Kavi clearly kept this for her alone. She felt strangely light and warm because of this. The bubble that held all the bad things around her burst open, and she quickly put aside what happened to her this day.

Her face brightened up, and Kavi noticed it. He set his hair right and dusted off his uniform.

“And do you really like me?” he asked with a bit more confidence.

“I do,” replied Asha immediately.

For a long moment, they just stared into each other’s eyes.

Asha couldn’t miss the sudden change in temperature. The kitchen had become much warmer in the last few seconds, and the strange feeling made her remember that Kavi was a firebender. The thought that she had fallen in love with an ashmaker nearly killed her happiness for a moment, but it quickly slipped past.

Avatar Kyoshi was also a firebender, anyway.

But deep in her heart, it still sounded wrong. And Asha wasn’t exactly sure about the reason.

She shook her head, then looked back at Kavi.

“So you said that we should go out sometime.”

“Well… Yes. Whenever it is convenient for you.

“I have nothing to do today until night.”

“But now?”

“We can still catch the sunset.”

Kavi blinked as he tried to realize what Asha has just proposed to him. He stood up from his chair and scratched his head.

“Okay, but we should stop at my room. I need to change clothes.”

Asha jumped up from her chair and stepped to Kavi.

“You are fine!” She grabbed his hand. “Come on!”

Kavi didn’t resist even the slightest as Asha went to the door, drawing him with her. They left the kitchen together, hand in hand.

The sunset looked magnificent from the walls of the prison. One could see the whole western horizon, as the sun slowly submerged into the volcanic cliffs. The red and orange beams of light burst through the jagged rocks like wind through grass, painting long pathways of glimmer into the ground.

Sadly, through the veil of the Spirit World, the scene was grayish and hazy. The First Chosen’s only solace was that the girl – the Seventh Chosen - and the boy in front of him could enjoy this amazing sight in its original form.

He adjusted the large fur coat on his shoulder, and turned away from the young couple. He has seen enough. Now he should return to prepare their next move.

He signed to his two companions. The Third Chosen and the Fifth Chosen were ready to leave this place, even though the Fifth Chosen still had two missing fingers. Even worse, their combined effort to drag the Seventh Chosen into the Spirit World and push her back when the time came had depleted their energies and now they barely had enough power to travel back to their homeland.

The Third Chosen stepped over to him.

“Is it done then?” he asked.

The First Chosen nodded. He looked back to the younglings for a moment to make sure that it would be fine.

The boy probably said a joke. Mortal speech didn’t reach the Spirit World though. So the First Chosen couldn’t hear what it was.

The Seventh Chosen laughed. She liked it.

Yes, they would be fine. It was all done.

The prophecy would be fulfilled.

Author's Note: Kavi's character design was inspired by the character design of Tai Kaliso from the Gears of War video game. 'cept that Kavi is younger and he doesn't have the beard and the tattoos of course  Smiley. Here is a pic for reference (blood warning, so it is behind this link).

Keeper of Suki's firebending ancestry, the Kyoshi Warrior dojo, the love potion made from rainbows and sunsets and the mecha tanks.

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« Reply #13 on: Mar 06, 2014 08:16 am »


During the following two months, the Kyoshi Warriors experienced a period of calmness. The girls could finally relax somewhat and concentrate on their own well-being.

Asha’s relationship with Kavi developed nicely. She has spent lots of time with him, often favoring the boy over other, more important things, like the usual afternoon training. Okako let it pass, though, as Kavi was having a very good influence on Asha. The young girl’s shyness and insecurity faded away and were replaced with the wildness and recklessness that characterized her before the captivity.

Kitara has found a great friend in the person of Ty Lee. They were like a moving bubble of silliness: Kitara was always joking and Ty Lee was always laughing. The young acrobat even took her out for a whole day to go around the capital. This way, Kitara could confirm Nirmal’s words about the difficulty to leave the island, but she also told the other girls that she had requested the necessary papers from the Fire Nation Ministry of Internal Affairs. Of course, she gave the prison as her current residence and proudly filled the request with the truth. She also gave the family name ‘Kyoshi’ because she thought that ‘Kitara Kyoshi’ sounded neat. 

Nirmal continued her indifferent approach, but her newfound revelation made things way more uncomfortable than they should be. She firmly believed that the Kyoshi Warriors should accede to Azula’s demands, but at least she didn’t force her opinion on the others. She still sowed the seeds of doubt and the topic came up more and more often.

Okako just tried her best to keep everything in hand. As the girls grew more comfortable, she could devote less time to looking after them and more to coming up with something for the future. She worked on several ideas simultaneously, to no worthwhile end. She didn’t give up, but the lack of success made her drift towards Nirmal’s attitude.

Pema just let it pass. It seemed that she had enough of it all and would do anything for a little change. She reluctantly opposed Nirmal’s idea mostly because she still thought that the Kyoshi Warrior initiates could show up any time. She didn’t want to disappoint them. She didn’t want to bring shame on Instructor Tamara’s head for raising such weak-hearted girls.

To add some unneeded excitement, Azula has also rediscovered the Kyoshi Warriors. The girls stuck to their agreement to remain completely passive in the princess’ presence, but it had no effect. Or at least not the one they wanted. Azula patiently waited for hours, silently watching the girls, who usually just did their own thing without even looking back at the princess. Her visitations were rare, but they were still very unpleasant. The girls had no idea what game she was playing with this behavior. They all had a bad feeling that Azula was a step ahead of them again, but they had no evidence either way.

The girls had other things to worry about, too. Okako and Nirmal devised an elaborate plan to try to communicate with the outside world. They tasked Asha with manipulating Kavi into sending a letter to Kyoshi Island to inform Chief Oyaji about their current situation Okako taught the cadre’s traditional headshake to Ty Lee – and hid a secret message into the delicate hand movements, so if the girl ran into other Kyoshi Warriors, she would involuntary convey a short message. Okako and Nirmal hoped that Ty Lee would eventually meet with Suki and try out the handshake with her. That would be a great success, especially if Suki would have the opportunity to send an answer somehow.

To their great surprise, the letter came back much sooner. They didn’t really think that it would reach its designation, but it still did. Kavi probably put lots of effort into doing justice to Asha’s wish.

The reply letter was a rather odd thing. It wasn’t written by Chief Oyaji, but by a woman named Aoi. It didn’t make much sense first, as the words were in complete disorder, but after a few days of examination, Nirmal figured out that it was in fact encoded to hide the real message. Even though the letter itself was three pages long, the decoding reduced its size to only a few lines, and even then it didn’t have anything new. It was effectively a barrage of scolding that ordered the girls to stay put and avoid impetuous actions. Overall, it was pretty disappointing.

The other thing that didn’t really work was the chi-blocking training. Ty Lee was enthusiastic, but she could barely teach the girls the basics so far. Out of pure luck, Asha and Kitara discovered a few effective strikes while they tried to chi-block each other as practice, but pretty much that was all they had. They were still a world away from the stuff Ty Lee could do, and while getting the chi-blocking lessons, they also had to face the cold fact that their Kyoshi Warrior training was also imperfect on various levels. It wasn’t surprising, since Instructor Tamara couldn’t teach everything before she disappeared, but the scale of their backwardness was still startling, especially around their offensive capabilities.

So their hopes of getting out from the prison on their own were passing away. They were stuck.

Today was a special day. The girls decided that they would skip the chi-blocking training and for a change of pace, they would actually give something back to Ty Lee.

They introduced the cadre in detail to the young acrobat. Not just the important stuff that they had to tell to Azula, but everything.

They sat in a circle in the middle of the room, with dozens of sheets of paper all around them. The girls have already shown Ty Lee the general layout of Kyoshi Island, their home in the main village, their dojo and the shrine of Kyoshi. They made lots of drawings to give Ty Lee some visual basis, using papers and crayon they had found in the junk-room.

And now, it was history class.

“The first Kyoshi Warrior was a girl named Koko,” began Okako. “She fled to Kyoshi Island shortly after Avatar Kyoshi separated it from the mainland. She was a poor and homeless orphan, and she sought a shelter.”

“Right in Avatar Kyoshi’s house to be exact!” continued Kitara. “She tried to be sneaky at the beginning, as she feared the mighty Avatar and thought that as an intruder, she has no right to be on the island. But eventually, Avatar Kyoshi found her and after their initial confrontation, she took pity on her.”

“Koko’s story made a great impact on Avatar Kyoshi,” took up Nirmal. “She decided to take in the young girl and raise her as her own. After some time, though, she realized that Koko wasn’t the only girl who needed such caretaking, but just the one who actually managed to get to her.”

“So she founded our cadre, the Kyoshi Warriors,” said Pema. “She gathered many girls from all around the world, girls like Koko. She saved them from great hardship and suffering and took them to Kyoshi Island. She granted them the blessing of her spiritual motherhood and those girls gladly accepted it. Later, when these girls grew up, they left Kyoshi Island to seek out and save other young girls. They took them back to Kyoshi Island, just like Avatar Kyoshi had done with them, and they were all initiated into the cadre as well.”

“Avatar Kyoshi raised up more than a hundred girls in her lifetime!” added Asha. “And after her death, her daughters chose one of their own to continue her work.”

“That’s a wonderful story!” confessed Ty Lee. “So that’s why you are all sisters?”

“Yes… Pretty much,” answered Okako. “We are not sisters by blood, but by the spiritual guardianship of Avatar Kyoshi we all share.”

“But it is totally like we are real sisters!” added Kitara. “Me, Okako, Nirmal and Pema have been together since we were little babies! Well, Suki too, but she lived with another family. Kei joined some five years later, and Asha popped up like… eight years later or so?”
“Amazing! And do you know your real parents?”

The girls flinched. This question was a little bit thoughtless from Ty Lee, and she nailed a pretty sensitive spot with it.

“No we don’t,” said Okako after a short, awkward pause. She dug into her hair as she tried to put this very complicated topic into actual words. “Thing is, that as we’ve said, all Kyoshi Warriors would be doomed without the new life the cadre granted them. If we had stayed with our original families, then we would have been dead. Or worse.” She took a deep breath. “Our real parents are either no longer alive or they are very bad people. We know nothing about them, because Instructor Tamara wanted to protect us from them.”

Now, this immediately broke Ty Lee’s cheerfulness.

“Oh sorry…” she said with a sincerely regretting tone. “That’s horrible! Knowing that you can’t rely on your mom and dad would be really unpleasant!”

“Nah, it isn’t that bad!” Kitara’s voice was completely devoid of sadness. “Okako was exaggerating a little bit. As she said, we know nothing about our parents. So we can’t say for sure if they are bad people or not.”

“They should be!” protested Okako. “Otherwise, why would the initiates separate us from them?”

“Well, maybe they are good people with some bad problems,” replied Kitara instantly. “Maybe they took us to Kyoshi Island to protect us! Isn’t that plausible? I think my parents are definitely nice people, because only nice parents could have such a nice girl like me!”

Okako just grumbled something as an answer. But at least Ty Lee’s mood had improved. She was now smiling again, or at least she made an effort to do it.

“Anyways, you shouldn’t pity us because of this,” added Nirmal. “We have plenty of people who want to substitute for our parents.”

“Like the Kyoshi Warrior initiates?”

“Not exactly. For example, there is this woman who trains me in the art of healing. Her name is Shiela, and she isn’t even from Kyoshi Island. She only visits me periodically, but I can always rely on her. She is like a mother figure for me, even though she is the cold and rigorous type…” Nirmal stopped for a moment as she relived some nice memories. “But she is also so intelligent and level-headed! I have her to thank for many things she taught me, and not only my healing skills!”

“And what about Instructor Tamara?” asked Ty Lee pryingly. She definitely had been wanting an answer to this for a long time. “You mention her a lot, but I still don’t know who she is…”

Pema released a small, haughty laugh and exultantly sprang to her feet.

“It is because you don’t want to know who she is!” The young girl punched into the air. “Instructor Tamara is one of the mightiest warriors you could ever meet! She is totally awesome and she would kick Azula’s butt right into the moon for what she has done with us!”

After her aggressive outburst, Pema flopped back down to the floor. She still had a smug smile that slightly frightened Ty Lee. The acrobat crawled a little bit away from her, just in case.

“That sounds neat…” she mumbled timidly to appease Pema.

“Tell me about it! Mom will be super-angry to see us like this.” She shot a stern gaze towards Nirmal. “And to hear about things some of us did…”

Nirmal just shrugged. But Ty Lee raised her eyebrows.

Mom? So you know your real mother?”

Pema laughed up, and the other Kyoshi Warriors chuckled too. In her awkwardness, Ty Lee also tried to get the joke, and forced out a giggle.

“See…” began Pema the explanation. “Instructor Tamara is the closest thing we have for a real, physical mother. She was the one who raised us, who taught us everything we know and above all, the one who heartily loved us. She is the best mother you could ever wish for! Yeah, personally, I don’t even care who my real parents are! I just want Instructor Tamara back! As soon as we have her again, I wouldn’t even mind Fire Lord Ozai as my real father!”

They all laughed on this.

Kitara playfully poked Ty Lee in the side.

“We are totally fine with our current family situation! We have each other and that is the most important thing! If some parents show up along the way, that’s the better!”

“It should be awesome to be the part of such a community!” admitted Ty Lee. “You honor me greatly by accepting my presence!”

“Gheez, thank you!” giggled Okako awkwardly. “But don’t forget: the last word belongs to Suki. We can make your membership permanent only if she is okay with it. And I guess we should ask Instructor Tamara too!”

The girls fell silent for a moment. The only sound in the room was some scratching, as Asha had picked up some papers and crayon and now she was busy drawing something.

Okako drew a little bit closer to her to see what she was doing. But when Asha noticed her peeping, she quickly turned away, hiding the drawing under her body.

“What are you drawing Asha?” asked Pema inquisitively. “A naked Kavi? Do you need help to draw his groins area? Or will you wait with it until your date tonight, so you can have first-hand experiences?”

Kitara and Ty Lee giggled, but Asha didn’t even flinch. She kept on drawing, and from the colors she used, it was clear that her picture won’t be about Kavi.

Okako tried to approach her again, now more carefully. She had some success, but Asha still kept the paper out from her sight.

“Is there a problem Asha?” asked Okako, slightly worriedly. As she was sitting besides Asha, she could see the young girl’s darkened face and the bitterness in her eyes.

“Unlike you, I know my real parents.” She pushed down the crayon in her hand so hardly, that it cracked. “But I wish I didn’t.”

None of the other girls knew anything about Asha’s past before she got to Kyoshi Island. Or at least not much. They knew that she was with some sort of primitive tribe, and that she was an outcast there, but that was all.

They all crawled a little bit closer, to hear her story.

“My father is the chieftain of a nomadic tribe in the vast plains of the eastern Earth Kingdom. He is the leader of the most powerful tribe, to be exact. My mother is the shaman of the same tribe.” She hunched up a little, and narrowed her eyes. “Their union was meant to be the final part of the Great Prophecy. That a Chosen One will be born: a man who carries the blessings of our ancestors and brings peace and prosperity to the warring tribes of the plains.” She gulped as she reached the toughest part. “But they got me instead. ‘A worthless girl,’ as they said. They thought that I was a mockery of the prophecy, and they treated me exactly like that. My own parents made me an outcast, and forced me to live on scraps and the mercy of others. They continuously tried to make my life just as miserable as they could, but they were too gutless to stain their hands with my blood.” She sniffed and wiped a teardrop from her face. “I hate them more than anyone else. They are spiteful people who deserve a painful death and I only wish that I could witness their demise someday.”

The whole room fell to silence as Asha ended her monologue. The other girls were struck speechless as they tried to digest this horrible story. None of them could even imagine why one’s parents would do something so awful. The mere thought that this had actually happened made them sick.

Okako was the first to recover from the initial shock. She fondly wrapped her arms around Asha, and this time, the young girl didn’t turn away but accepted her comforting embrace.

“But now you are with us, right?” she said thoughtfully, and Asha showed a soft smile.

“Yes I am. And it is so much better! You, Instructor Tamara, Bipin, Sesi and now Kavi… You are so good to me!”

The other Kyoshi Warriors also moved closer to join the hug. Just Ty Lee was left out, though her longing expression betrayed her intention to sneak in somehow.

“I love how these serious conversations always end with group hugs!” noted Pema jokingly.

“But isn’t it the most important thing?” said Ty Lee suddenly. “That no matter what, you always have each other?”

The Kyoshi Warriors smiled. Okako moved a little bit away, just to make place for another person, and silently invited Ty Lee to join with a meaningful glance. The young acrobat quickly seized the opportunity, and soon the pile grew into six girls.

Everyone was occupied with accommodating Ty Lee, so Nirmal had her chance to take a look at Asha’s drawing.

It was simple, but still pretty well drawn. It showed a large, naked tree that was on fire. In front of the tree, there was a figure, standing on a pile of other people. This person was holding a sword in his hand, and the pile was filled with red stains.

Blood. Asha wanted to represent blood with it. It was a pile of dead people, slaughtered by the dark figure.

The whole picture felt murky and disturbing. It was filled with fear and anger, and it made Nirmal think about Asha’s story.

About this Great Prophecy of hers. It seemed that her parents thought that a girl couldn’t fulfill the Chosen’s role.

But did it really prove the prophecy false?

Keeper of Suki's firebending ancestry, the Kyoshi Warrior dojo, the love potion made from rainbows and sunsets and the mecha tanks.

My fanficions.

My Avatar RPG system.
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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« Reply #14 on: Mar 06, 2014 08:20 am »

The night sky was clear and the stars shone brightly on its black carpet. The large boulder under the blanket still had the warmth of the sun on its surface, keeping the cold of the night away. The little breeze that still reached Asha was easily negated by the thick red robe she was wearing.

She couldn’t wish for a better environment to calm down after the afternoon. Yes, the group hug did some good, but it wasn’t what Asha needed. She had already known that the girls would protect her, but the things that could go after her were all beyond their capabilities. They couldn’t defeat Azula. They couldn’t do anything with this stupid prophecy.

On the other hand, Kavi could. He had proven this when he saved Asha from those shadow monsters - even though he did it unintentionally, as he couldn’t see or hear them fighting and Asha hadn’t take the trouble to explain anything to him. And the fire princess tended to simply look through her whenever she caught Asha with Kavi. It seemed that the young girl became unworthy of Azula’s attention, so long as someone else from the Fire Nation was alredy in Asha’s company.

And Kavi happily accepted his role as Asha’s protector. It quickly came out that the young Kyoshi Warrior was his very first girlfriend, and it took him quite some time to finally ease up. He still acted rather diffidently, but as their relationship progressed, he grew more and more confident. His habitude to simply do whatever Asha wanted to do was slowly vanishing, and he gladly took opportunities to present his own ideas.

Like this date tonight.

He said that he would show her something truly amazing, but he had slightly miscalculated the timing. They had been lying on this large boulder for almost an hour, and still nothing had happened. It was pretty dull, and as her surroundings were warm and comfortable at the moment, Asha slowly began to slide into sleepiness.

So Kavi had to do something to keep Asha awake, and he chose to talk.

“So we are supposed to see the Tears of Xiuh,” he began with a slightly embarrassed tone in his voice. He seemed really disappointed that couldn’t make this date perfect. “They should have been here already, but I guess the geographical differences tricked me. Sorry for that…”

“No problem,” replied Asha instantly. “I’m just happy to be with you.”

They smiled at each other

“I love you too.”

They kissed, and it was short and somewhat clumsy, as always. Even though they had been together for two months, they were still just experimenting with a few things – like kissing – while others were completely out of their reach.

Asha rolled over to her back, but kept her head on Kavi’s chest.
“And what are these ‘Tears’? It would help a lot to know what I should watch for.”

Kavi swallowed a laugh.

“Don’t worry, you won’t miss them. The Tears of Xiuh are a swarm of small meteoroids…”

“Meteoroids?” asked Asha with confusion. The word sounded familiar, but she had no idea what it meant. As far as she could remember, Pema had mentioned it a few times when she examined the material of their Kyoshi Warrior equipment.

“Meteoroids are chunks of rock and ice. They are coming from space, and…”

“Space?” Asha shook her head. “How is that? There is nothing there, just the stars!”

“Actually, there is a lot of stuff out there. The moon, the sun, chunks of rock, clouds of gas…”

“The moon and the sun are on the sky, silly! And space is above the sky!”

This rendered Kavi speechless. Asha looked back to see why he wasn’t continuing his explanation, only to notice the boy’s astonished but somehow also frightened face. He was looking right at her, and Asha could see in his eyes that he was thinking about something really hard.

“Well…” he said finally. “I guess your astronomical knowledge leaves much to be desired.”

Asha frowned upon hearing this.

“Are you trying to make fun of me?” She rose to her elbow and this move forced Kavi to sit up. “You just made these ‘meteoroids’ up didn’t you?”

“No, of course not!” Kavi scratched his head. “Just, you know, you guys have some pretty interesting misconceptions.”

Asha narrowed her eyes. She couldn’t decide if Kavi was playing some sort of a joke on her or not. He seemed honest, but his obvious confidence and that strange little smile in the corner of his lips made him rather suspicious.

“Okay then, smarty-pants…” she said after a moment of silence. “And how do you know all this stuff?”

“From the teachings of my people. We have quite an astronomical knowledge, you know. It is one of our specialties, alongside mysticism and the true way of firebending.”

Asha drew back a little. Now she was totally confused. As far as she knew Kavi was from a tribe similar to hers. Or at least that was what Pema told her. The boy was pretty secretive with his origins, and Asha thought the reason was that he wasn’t proud of it.

But astronomy and mysticism weren’t really the things that should concern such a community.

“Y-your people? You mean your tribe?”

“Yes! The Sun Warriors! We are the remnants of the first firebender civilization and the guardians of its many treasures. And other things too, but those are not your concern.”

This struck Asha like a lightning. She glanced over Kavi but what she saw had little connection with what she had heard. Those tight muscles and crazy, crest-like hair could only belong to someone who was barbaric in nature. Why would a civilized man have such things?

“You are lying!” she stated, but she soon regretted her words.

Kavi’s face instantly twisted into an angry grimace upon hearing her words. He was clearly offended, and it seemed that Asha had made a deep cut in his inner world.

“I am not lying,” he said coldly. “And you, young lady, are getting impudent. I know that noble-girls like you can abuse lowly soldiers without fear of punishment, but I must warn you: I’m not an average prison guard. My father is the chieftain of that tribe and my mother is a captain of the royal firebenders.” He theatrically threw back his head. “So from a certain point of view, I’m noble born too.”

For a moment, Asha couldn’t reply. Her instincts signaled danger, that Kavi would try to harm her as a redressing. He would hurt her, in the same way the people of her tribe always did. But just as this ran through her, her mind finally snapped out from the shock and she realized that Kavi had been playing a game all along.

If Kavi’s face was angry, then Asha’s became truly infuriated. She roughly punched the boy in the chest, making him fall back to the hard surface of the boulder. His angry looks quickly melted away and all that remained was utter dismay.

“You are fooling with me!” she yelled. Kavi tried to say something, but his stammering was quickly stifled. “Stop doing this! It isn’t funny! You seriously scared me!”

Kavi made another futile attempt to protest, but he gave up before he could say anything. He slid a little bit lower so Asha could lie down on his chest again, and that was it.

The dark clouds of this little conflict quickly passed away. Asha was busy analyzing the conversation in her thoughts, so she paid little attention to what Kavi did. She could feel his restlessness as his muscles stretched and loosened up continuously and she could sometimes hear some scarcely audible grumbling too.

“So, your mother is a Fire Nation soldier, huh?” she asked after some thinking.

“She is a captain of the Royal Firebenders. She isn’t just a petty soldier.” Kavi’s reward was an elbow into his side. “Hey! What was that?”

“Don’t lie!”

“Mother of Dragons help me! I’m not lying! She is the main reason why I’m here in the first place! She wanted me to spend some time amongst the civilized folks, so…” his words turned into a painful groan as Asha roughly dug her elbow into his ribs again.

“You were really lying! Your tribe is uncivilized! Otherwise, your mother wouldn’t think that you need the influence of the Fire Nation!”

Kavi massaged his head in embarrassment.

“Okay, I guess you caught me. The tribe is living in the middle of nowhere anyway… And my stepbrothers aren’t the finest of humanity either, so to say. But by Agni himself, I promise that I will show the city to you! After your parents pay the ransom and you are free, of course.”

Now it was Asha’s turn to feel confused. Kavi’s last sentence didn’t make much sense.

“My parents? Why should they pay ransom for me?” For a moment, she thought that Azula uncovered her origins somehow, and contacted her parents. The possibility of seeing her father and mother again made Asha shudder in fear.

She calmed down only when Kavi wrapped both his arms around her again.

“As far as I know it is a common procedure in the Fire Nation. When your Fire Lord needs money, he picks some children from the less trustworthy noble families as hostages, forcing said families to pay. So he gets his money while he also depletes the resources of his opponents. A clever idea to be honest!”

“That big royal boss guy in the palace is not my Fire Lord,” grumbled Asha. She lost what Kavi had said somewhere there. The rest didn’t make much sense.

“Hah! That’s some real rebel talk!”

Asha was just about to remind Kavi of the consequences of playing with her again, but as she raised her elbow, she spotted something strange on the night sky. It was a small white line, and it seemingly appeared from nowhere. The phenomenon only lasted for a short moment before it disappeared, but Asha could still catch it.

Then all of a sudden, a whole bunch of similar while lines showed up. They crossed through the black mantle of the night sky like the flashing blades of a dozen swords.

“Finally!” shouted Kavi. “The Tears of Xiuh are here!”

And thus, Asha could finally realize that this “Tears of Xiuh” was in fact a star shower on a pretty massive scale. It was an amazing sight, as the first couple of falling stars were followed by dozens, then hundreds and finally they were well beyond count. The sky was filled with the flashing white streaks that just kept appearing no matter how many of them had vanished only a moment before.

“According to our legends, these meteoroids are the manifestations of the mighty Xiuh, the only son of the sun god Agni,” started Kavi suddenly. “During the times of creation, Chel, the goddess of earth, presented Agni with a son, Xiuh, in return for the warmth and light that fed the life on the world. Xiuh grew into a mighty warrior and a scholar of many arcane disciplines, and his greatness inspired his father to create the first dragon. As the Mother of Dragons emerged from the fire of Agni, her unearthly beauty caught the eyes of Xiuh. He fell desperately in love with her!”

“Weren’t they siblings?”

Kavi shrugged.

“Nah… Xiuh was formed by Chel alone from the hardest rock and the purest ice. He was like an adopted son of Agni.” The boy cleared his throat to regain the thread of his story. “Anyway, the creatures of the world didn’t know the secrets of fire at that time. Without the light and the heat of Agni, they were exposed to the sinister darkness and the freezing cold. During her time with the mortal creatures, the Mother of Dragons took pity on them. Even though she had the power of creating fire, the secret of the actual method was still beyond her. She decided to seduce Xiuh, who had been longing after her for some time, and persuade him to steal the secret from Agni.”

“And why didn’t she ask her creator herself?”

“Because Agni is a rather insufferable god,” answered Kavi without hesitation. “He jealously guarded his secret of creating fire because he thought that nobody else was worthy of such a knowledge. He also firmly believed that if others gained this power, then his very existence would become meaningless.”

“Huh… I see. So what happened with Xiuh? Did he get the secret?”

Kavi straightened his back upon hearing that Asha was interested in his story. She couldn’t see his face, but she could easily imagine a smug smile on it.

“Yes, he did. He actually tricked Agni into giving it to him. And when he handed it to the Mother of Dragons, she immediately shared it with the mortals. But as she watched the fires of the lesser creatures flaring up in the night, Xiuh approached her to finally lay claim on her heart.”

“And did they marry and live happily ever after?”

“Quite the other way around!” laughed Kavi. “The Mother of Dragons despised Xiuh and she only used him to take Agni’s secret. So she chose to run away into the endless void of space, where she was safe from both Agni’s wrath and her unwanted suitor. Xiuh departed to find her, but it was an impossible task. Poor Xiuh has been circling in the space ever since then, periodically returning to this world with a futile hope that his beloved Mother of Dragons returned home. The meteoroids we are watching now are the tears he shed during his journey. They signal the coming of the great Xiuh, and warn the children of the Mother to prepare themselves to greet him. It is said that if Xiuh finds this world devoid of dragons, he will know that all hope is lost and he will unleash his fury on the mortals, scouring the entire planet from life.”

Asha muffled a scream. As far as she knew, the dragons were wiped out a long time ago by the Fire Nation.

“But the dragons are all dead!” she whispered timidly. She was unsure if she could say such things out loud while the tears of the god were still above them.

“No, they aren’t. And remember, this is just a legend. Xiuh no longer visits this world, because only my tribe can recall his true name. The people of the Fire Nation renamed the phenomenon as Sozin’s Comet. Pretty lame and uncreative, if you ask me… But nevertheless, roughly one month later, Sozin’s Comet will come and not Xiuh. And I’m sure that Sozin’s Comet won’t mind the lack of dragons at all!”

“You think that a different name can change everything?”

“Of course! These things only work if people actually believe in them! Legends and prophecies are naught if nobody takes them seriously, but they could be surprisingly self-fulfilling when people actually do watch out for them.”

Asha couldn’t say anything to this. This was something she had never considered before. So far, she thought that the Great Prophecy of her tribe was after her. She tried to run away, she tried to hide, but she never tried to forget it.

Could it be that simple? Were those shadow daemons that attacked her two months ago just the creations of her own mind?
It was hard to decide, and she didn’t want to think too much about it. But the notion nested itself deep into her mind. It was definitely something she should have some time to ponder.
Asha rolled to her stomach, and crawled up to face Kavi.

They looked into each other’s eyes.

“Tonight, Xiuh weeps tears of envy and regret…” Kavi’s face reddened as he span his words into form. “…as he can see me with a girl whose beauty surpasses the Mother’s thousandfold!”

Asha blushed and flashed an awkward smile. She was still unused for these kind of compliments. Kavi really had a poet lost in those bundles of muscle.

“I love you,” she said after a short moment of silence.

“I love you too.”

They kissed, and this time, it was neat and long. Asha could feel the air heating up around them as the passionate kiss roused Kavi’s firebending power. But she was okay with it, because she could feel a fire burning inside herself, too. It was the flame of her loving heart, and she knew that Kavi could feel it in the same way she could perceive his, even though she wasn’t a firebender.

They remained like this for quite some time, cuddled up to each other under the dwindling swarm of falling stars.

Keeper of Suki's firebending ancestry, the Kyoshi Warrior dojo, the love potion made from rainbows and sunsets and the mecha tanks.

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« Reply #15 on: Mar 08, 2014 06:05 am »


Nirmal was woken up by a sharp gold light that pierced her closed eyelids. First, she thought that it was just Asha, returning from her nightly date with Kavi, but she couldn’t hear her footsteps, nor the creaking of the cell door.

But she could hear something that sounded like weeping. It came from her right, where Pema slept. And there was another noise.

Lapping and panting. As if a really thirsty dog were trying to lick water from a piece of leather. To add to the feeling, she could also smell wet dog hair.

She opened her eyes, and to her great surprise, she could really see the room in a soft golden hue. It wasn’t as strong as she perceived at the beginning, but it was still clearly visible. For some reason, its shade reminded her of the color of their Kyoshi Warrior war fans.

She rolled to her right to check Pema, and in her attempt, she successfully came face-to-face with the source of the light.

It blinded her for a moment, and when she regained her senses, the sight in front of her was terrifying and bewildering.

Pema was lying on her side in the bed, huddled up and quietly crying. She was still asleep, tears coming out from her closed eyes, running down on her face and…

…and disappearing on the end of a long, sharp tongue that was busy catching as many such teardrops as possible. The horrible appendage belonged to a large, shaggy, wolf-like beast that stooped over Pema. Its coal-black, messy fur and gaunt form made it look like some sort of oversized stray dog, or one of those sinister canines Nirmal had seen when traveling through a prairie in the Earth Kingdom – the refugees accompanying them had called those animals jackals.

It wore a large collar, and the finely shaped symbols adorning it made a sharp contrast with the beast wearing it. The collar was the main source of the golden light. The symbols were glowing with an unearthly power, and the shapes they formed were startlingly familiar to Nirmal.

Circles, lines, squares… A large, spread fan on the top, protecting the beast’s lower nape…

They were typical Kyoshi Warrior symbols. And even though the light distorted its color, Nirmal could swear that the collar was made from gold with its deeper parts painted dark green.

She tried to scream, to warn her sisters of the presence of the strange creature, but she was unable to open her mouth, or project so much as a whimper. She was completely paralyzed by the sight in front of her.

She came to realize that the collar was not the only source of the strange light. Pema was also covered by a pale golden aura that was visible even through her blanket, outlining her body beneath the fabric.

Somehow, Nirmal mustered enough strength to slowly move her head around. She looked down at her own body, and she found that she also had the aura. She forced herself to continue looking around, checking Okako and Kitara over on the left. They were still sleeping peacefully in their beds, and their bodies were also wrapped in the same golden auras.

Nirmal gave a groan as her mind freed itself from the grasp of the first shock.

Suddenly, she realized that she was witnessing something she shouldn’t.

She turned back towards Pema and the beast, but the monstrous creature had already finished its terrible feast.

It heard Nirmal’s groan, and now it was aware of her. It stared right at her; its eyes were bottomless holes in its face, in which tiny red sparks of light floated.

Nirmal could feel its overpowering attention on herself. She was close to fainting, but the fact that one of her sisters could be in danger gave her an amazing surge of strength.

She slowly rose from her bed and tightened her muscles as she readied her body to attack the monster and at least try to push it away from Pema.

She had a feeling like time itself slowed down.

The dog-thing in front of her made a strange grimace. It grinned at Nirmal.

The girl blinked.

And the world turned dark.

When she opened her eyes, Nirmal found herself lying in her bed, surrounded by the usual pitch darkness of the cell room. Like the last few minutes had never happened, even though she knew that they did.

Or it was one vivid nightmare!

She gulped as she slowly calmed down. Her heart was still beating like crazy and she had a pretty unpleasant headache. She took her condition into consideration as she slowly digested what had happened to her a few moments ago.

Everything pointed towards a bad nightmare. Or maybe a strong hallucination followed by a blackout. The memories were already fading, and as she gave them a second thought, the whole thing looked pretty dumb.

Yes, it could be the result of eating too many fire flakes for dinner.

A dog daemon that licked off Pema’s tears… How stupid was that?

But still, it was just so realistic!

She took a deep breath and was about to fall back asleep, when she noticed that at least one part of the strange nightmare was real.

She could still hear Pema weeping.

Nirmal got out from her bed and crawled to the other girl to check if everything is okay. Her fumbling proved to be highly unsuccessful at supporting her shifting weight and she fell into Pema’s bed with a loud thud.

It roused Pema, and Nirmal could feel her body shuddering from the rough awakening.

“Who is that?” asked Pema timidly. She reached up her arms and touched Nirmal’s face. “Mom?” Just like Nirmal, she was also blind from the darkness in the room.

“No, it’s me, Nirmal.”

Pema’s hands slid down from Nirmal’s face.

“Oh… Well… Close but no cake,” she whispered disappointedly.

“Is there a problem Pema? I heard you crying. Is something wrong?”

Pema snuffled and it sounded like she sat up.

“I just had a bad dream. That is all.”

This rang some bells in Nirmal’s head, but she immediately pushed back the urge to ask Pema about the dog-thing.

“Okay, I guess then I should go back to my bed.”

Nirmal prepared herself to crawl back, but Pema grabbed her hand.

“Please don’t go!” she whispered, and Nirmal couldn’t miss the frightened tone in her voice.

They moved closer to each other. Nirmal comfortingly wrapped her arms around Pema, and the other girl nestled her head into her chest.

“I was dreaming about mom,” said Pema quietly. She sounded rather troubled. “She was standing next to my bed, caressing my hair. You know, just like she used to.”

“Okay, that sounds nice so far,” admitted Nirmal with confusion, but Pema silenced her with a squeeze.

“That was just the beginning of the dream, Nirmal. After some time, I decided to get up and finally put my arms around her. I was so happy that she was with me again, and I wanted her as close to me as possible. But then, her hold on my head tightened to keep me down.”

“Huh… That’s a surprising turn of events!”

“Tell me about it.” Pema’s voice was shaky as she was on the verge of another crying. “She leaned over my head and told me that we were all lost. That we should submit to Azula if we were so lame that we allowed her to defeat us. She said that there were no hope and our fate was sealed.”

“Instructor Tamara would never say anything like this!” protested Nirmal, but she had a feeling that it wasn’t Pema’s point at all.

“Of course she wouldn’t! It was just a dream, a creation of my mind! I was pondering this for a long time, no wonder that I now had a dream about it! But that’s not the important part!”

“Okay, then what is?”

All of sudden, Pema broke out in tears.

“That thing in my dream, it wasn’t mom!” she whimpered. “She no longer visits me, not even in my dreams! Where is she? Why isn’t she with us now? When she left Kyoshi Island, she promised us that she would return within two weeks! But it was more than two years ago, and she is still away! She should be here, with us! But she isn’t…” Pema sniffed and made a futile attempt to calm down. “…not even in my dreams…”

Nirmal was speechless. Sometimes, she also missed Tamara, but she always thought that their instructor wasn’t with them because she had reunited with the Kyoshi Warrior initiates and decided to stay with them. The novices were all big girls anyway, so maybe she just wanted to take a break and let them grow a little bit on their own. It was reasonable to an extent, and sounded plausible.

Instructor Tamara left them roughly a week after she and the girls had hunted down a dangerous mercenary named Sengo. Even though Tamara shared very little information with the girls about the background of this case, Nirmal had a feeling that their instructor was somehow responsible for that nuisance. It was undeniable that after that, the girls never encountered Sengo’s kind again, so maybe Tamara’s absence was purely protective.

In fact, the topic rarely came up, and it followed the same line over and over again: Suki declared that they were fine, Kei assured everyone that they could be even stronger without her, Pema accused Kei of ungratefulness, there was some fight about who was ungrateful and why, then everyone agreed that they missed Tamara.

But now, as he held the weeping Pema in her hands, Nirmal had a feeling that it wasn’t that simple at all.

For one, she wanted to scold Pema for being so childish like this. Sobbing for her mother was not something she should do at her age and status. She was a big, independent girl, an elite warrior and the spiritual protégé of Avatar Kyoshi. She should endure her inner turmoil with dignity instead of breaking down like this.

On the other hand, she couldn’t be angry with her at all. It seemed that this captivity drew forth all sorts of odd things from the girls. Nirmal still remembered Okako’s denial at the beginning that nearly shook the group apart and Asha’s animalistic behavior. But at the end, both of them emerged victorious and stronger than before, and Nirmal was sure that Pema would do the same. One should experience the darkness to be able to embrace the light as Lady Shiela said once.

So ultimately, Nirmal remained silent. She comforted her sister not only because she deemed this as the best course of action, but because she knew that that they would need each other if they wanted to get out from this prison.

As she reached up to stroke Pema’s face a little, her fingers touched something sticky on the other girl’s cheek. It was some sort of thick liquid - definitely not tears, nor anything human.

Her brain quickly found the type of substance in her immense biological knowledge. The revelation was rather upsetting, and she gulped as her mind instinctually evoked her nightmare.

Pema had small strips of dog saliva on her face.

Keeper of Suki's firebending ancestry, the Kyoshi Warrior dojo, the love potion made from rainbows and sunsets and the mecha tanks.

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« Reply #16 on: Mar 08, 2014 06:11 am »

Okako’s breakfast was completely ruined. It wasn’t the meal of course – Ming had done a splendid job as always. The problem was the slip of paper the Kyoshi Warriors got with the tray.

It was a small message that Azula was going to visit them today. This was odd, as she had never before announced her comings in advance. She just appeared, spent some time in the cell room, and then left when she got bored. Since the Kyoshi Warriors had started ignoring her, the boredom part occurred quite quickly, so she wasn’t poisoning the air for long. She was like a silent observer, watching the girls doing their everyday stuff. She talked only to Ty Lee, often mocking the girls in ways like calling their exercises “dancing parties”. But the girls ignored her taunts, and the fire princess seemed fine with that.

This time though, it would be different. Okako could feel it in her guts. The message was short but very fancy. It was an official note with the Fire Nation royal stamp and everything. It was the harbinger of something big, and Okako had some guesses about what would happen. None of them were very pleasing, but they were all inevitable.

Unfortunately, three of her girls were in a pretty unacceptable shape: Pema and Nirmal looked terrible with their weary faces, and Asha was on the brink of falling back asleep. Okako knew that the youngest warrior had come back from her regular date with Kavi around midnight – she had roused Okako with the opening and closing of the cell door - and she had tossed and turned in her bed for quite a while. Okako had no idea about Pema and Nirmal, though. She noticed that they were sleeping in the same bed, but she didn’t know why. Maybe they had some bad dreams or something.

Lack of sleep had knocked out three of her girls, so Okako was forced to meet Azula with only Kitara at her side. Her prospects with the young swordfighter were questionable, to say the least, but they would be an interesting pair for the fire princess: during the course of their captivity, Azula had showed significant interest in both of them.

Deep in her heart she hoped that they could improve their situation somehow. She prayed to Kyoshi for some sort of miracle.

Azula came shortly after midday. Okako sent Pema and Nirmal down to the prison kitchen to help Ming, and she trusted the half-asleep Asha to Kavi. Thus, only Okako and Kitara were in the room when the princess arrived. They were sitting on Okako’s bed, studying the notes Nirmal had made about Ty Lee’s chi-blocking technique. The cell door was left open on the warden’s orders.

“What a pleasant surprise!” The two girls shivered at the familiar voice. “Only my favorite Kyoshi Warriors are here! The Lieutenant and the Killer!”

As Azula entered the cell room, the air grew heavy, almost compressed, as if the princess’ overwhelming presence had a physical volume. To Okako’s surprise, Azula actually looked quite different than usual. She was wearing long red and black robes instead of her usual militaristic uniform, and her hair was in a loose pony-tail. The whole impression was really informal, like the fire princess had just dropped by for some casual chit-chat.

She snapped her fingers and the fire in the nearby gas lamps suddenly turned blue.

“I like this kind of illumination better,” she explained smugly. “It makes it clear who is in charge.”

She flashed a malicious smile that froze the blood in Okako’s veins. But that was only the beginning.

Azula stepped up to Okako, and offered her hand. It was too forward to be for a normal handshake.

“Come on!” she encouraged Okako. “Shouldn’t we welcome each other?”

For a moment, Okako didn’t know what to do. She turned to Kitara, who watched the whole scene breathlessly, and after some puzzled staring, the other girl irresolutely nodded.

Okako reached forward, and accepted Azula’s hand. She grabbed it on the forearm though, placing her thumb on a specific spot. Azula did the same and returned the gesture. It was the special handshake of the Kyoshi Warriors, the one Okako taught to Ty Lee. The young acrobat was pretty clumsy with it, but Azula’s handshake was perfect.

“Ah, I see…” The princess drew Okako a little bit closer. “So it really works without the secret message, too. Good to know, maybe I will surprise Suki with it the next time we meet!”

Okako’s eyes widened. Kitara’s jaw dropped.

Azula laughed wildly upon seeing the terrified surprise on their faces.

“Oh yes! I know about that!” Azula pushed away Okako’s hand with open disgust. “Ty Lee was kind enough to practice it with me, you know. It was easy to find out the meaning of the seemingly random thumb movements, and it was even easier to alter the message.”

Okako gulped. Disaster struck, and she was completely unprepared to withstand it. For a long moment, she felt like the world around her was about to crumble into dust. It wasn’t really about the failure of the secret message, but the easiness as Azula talked about it, and the fact that she could twist it to her own advantage.

“And can I ask you what had you changed in the message?” asked Kitara timidly. “No hard feelings, really, I just want to know how badly we have failed to send something useful to Suki.”

Azula just shrugged.

“I removed the part about your location and changed the ‘adequate’ to ‘very well’ regarding your condition. Nothing serious as you can see.” She flashed a mocking smile. “It broke my heart that you found my hospitality inconvenient. Maybe I should remind you that this establishment has much worse cells than this nice room. A week or two in the lower dungeon would surely change your opinion, don’t you think?”

“I don’t!” replied Kitara immediately. “Personally, my only problem with this place is that they only have red thongs and we have to wash our clothes for ourselves most of the time as the prison staff is too lazy to do it. Other than that, no complaints here! Absolutely none! Nil! Zero! Nothing at all!”

“I’m glad to hear that,” noted Azula gleefully. “Four days ago, Suki was of a similar opinion.” The princess paused momentary to grab the full attention of the two other girls. “She has been given a comfortable cell, because she had the time to think about a… very interesting suggestion. I must admit, I misinterpreted her idea and accidentally punished her for her impudence, but as I gave it a second thought, it was a convenient way to break our little stalemate.”

Okako could swear that she heard an ominous tone in Azula’s voice. It was clear that the fire princess was playing a game again, but as usual, Okako was unsure about the rules and the goal. She decided to tread lightly on the path Azula had opened.

“Why should we believe you?” she asked, but Azula didn’t even flinch.

“So you say that I’m lying?” The princess’ smile widened. “But why would I do that?  It wouldn’t make any difference for me to lie or tell the truth. You only hear what I want you to hear anyway. So why would I bother to make up stories for you?”

“You are still trying to convert us!” answered Okako sharply. “Your lies are tools in your hands… You are superior in the art of manipulation, Azula, but we won’t play your games!”

“Hah! Very flattering!” The princess chuckled and moved closer to the girls. “But you missed something very important: we are long past the point where you are being converted. It has been already done!”

The two Kyoshi Warriors exchanged glances. Azula’s words were staggering. Okako tried to unfold their hidden meaning, but it only added to her confusion.

“That’s not true!” she said finally. “We are not yours yet!” 

“Yeah…” added Kitara doubtfully. “The Lieutenant is right!”

“Your stubbornness is very appealing, you know.” Azula’s voice was filled with malice. “But guess what, you are still here. That alone proves that you belong to me.”

“And how is that?” barked back Okako.

“During these two months, you had at least a dozen opportunities to escape. The security measures of your cell are so weak that you could just simply leave nearly any time you wanted.”

“But we couldn’t leave the island!” protested Kitara.

“You could mingle with the local populace easily. You are trained infiltrators, aren’t you?”

“We are,” admitted Okako miserably. She closed her eyes and turned her head away in shame. It was hard to admit, but Azula had a point. They could escape, but they never tried to do it. In her thoughts, Okako tried to plead that they didn’t escape because they were stuck here, but now it all felt insincere and strained.

“You didn’t escape because you like being here!” declared Azula suddenly. “You like how everyone treats you so highly. You like this cozy birdcage and all those privileges you have. You can deny it in my presence, but I can still see it in your eyes that this is the case.”

“We are not yours!” hissed Okako, but her voice was barely audible.

It gave Azula yet another good laugh.

“If you insist! Just remember that this is just the beginning of what I can provide to you! If you like this prison cell, then imagine what could await you in the royal palace!”

“I don’t care what you have in that stupid palace!” said Okako sharply, and this time she could put some strength into her words. “We will never bow to you!”

Azula shrugged, but her eyes were gleaming with contempt.

“Whatever you say,” and with that, she turned around, and sat down right in front of Okako and Kitara, turning her back towards them. “So back to the original topic…” She pulled out something from her belt. “I had a very, very interesting discussion with your leader. She offered me something special, an opportunity that I should take.” The princess raised the item back towards the girls. It was a hair-comb. “I would just love to share the details with you, but sadly, my hair is all ruffled and it makes me moody. So would you kindly comb out it for me? And in return, I will be chatty enough to tell you everything.”

Okako was unable to do anything with this. She just watched the hair-comb as if it were her greatest enemy in the world. Her mind had let her down and her instincts were silent, too. She knew that this was a trap, but she couldn’t see anything past that. She was confused and she felt powerless to continue this elaborate game. A part of her wanted to decline Azula and kick her out from the cell as soon as possible – but she also wanted to learn what Suki was up to.

Before she could make a decision, Kitara took the initiative. The young swordfighter reached forward and took the hair-comb.

“Okay, I’ll do it!” she said surprisingly brightly, and undid Azula’s pony-tail. The fire princess didn’t say a single word to this.

Okako watched as Kitara began to comb out Azula’s long, coal-black hair. At first, she nearly stopped her, but at the end, she decided to hold back this time, and let Kitara do whatever she wanted. Okako had to trust her with this one.

Kitara’s skilful work was clearly pleasant for the fire princess. They both had very similar hair, actually, and Kitara also had two hair-locks on the sides of her face just like Azula. The similar hairstyle and the well-groomed hair gave her little trouble, so she could focus on the pampering.

For several minutes, the only sound in the cell room was the swishing of the comb.

Azula slightly leaned back to better enjoy Kitara’s treatment. Okako was still afraid to do or say anything. Even the smallest misstep could be dangerous right now. She has already experienced Azula’s bad side, and she didn’t want to go there again, especially not at the cost of the safety of her sisters.

“So, as I’ve said, Suki had a very good idea,” began Azula thoughtfully. “She proposed a friendship on equal terms between her and me.” She released a blood-curdling laughter. “Isn’t that cute?”

“And did you accept it?” asked Kitara naively. She even forced out a smile for this.

“Of course I didn’t! But you know what? I slept on it, and realized that maybe it could work. If you don’t want to be my servants, then you could be my friends!”

Okako couldn’t believe her ears. She was glad that she passed up this conversation. Azula twisted her words so masterfully that Okako still didn’t have even the slightest idea about what was happening exactly.

“Can you explain please?” Kitara’s voice was shaky from the confusion. But she could still gather enough strength to at least keep on combing Azula’s hair.

“Why, isn’t it obvious?”

“I never get to get it…”

“Okay. Then listen carefully, because I will only tell this once: you could be my friends, just like Ty Lee and Mai. We can’t take it on equal terms, though, but I think it will be fine for you anyway. With that, you will be released from your confinement after some time and moved to the capital city where my other friends live. And in return of my generosity, you could follow me everywhere and do whatever I want you to do. For my part, I will allow you to stay and provide you everything you need to continue your duties as my friends. Because that’s how friendship works: the mutual support of both parties is the essence that makes the whole thing so wonderful!”

This was the point when Okako’s jaw dropped. Azula’s chain of thoughts was so inhumanly bewildering that she felt lucky that she could at least understand some parts in it. It was an extremely cunning trap from Azula, expecting the same thing from the Kyoshi Warriors, only in a much different package. She still wanted them to serve her, but she renamed the whole process to friendship and with that, she changed the essence of her proposal. And Okako had a strange nudge that there was an important part still missing…

“Uh…” Kitara was clearly in a similar state of mind as Okako. “And do you think that we could be good friends with you?”

“Come on, you already have the most important attitude to make it work!” Kitara had been holding the princess’ hair, but the princess suddenly grabbed the hand and pulled it forward. The poor girl was tugged along and soon her head was in line with Azula’s. Okako could see that they were looking into each other’s eyes. Kitara’s muscles tightened, maybe from the surprise. “You fear me. You fear my words, you fear my power. And you would do anything to appease your fear. You talked with me, you combed my hair and you listened to my proposal… And you did all these because you were too afraid to do anything else.” She turned towards Okako and glanced at her. In her eyes, there was only burning disdain. “You are just mere puppets in my hands. You will do whatever I want you to do and you will feel it like it was your own decision. Because you are afraid to face the darkness in your hearts.” She narrowed her eyes. “And that darkness is me.”

There was an unbearably long moment of silence. Kitara slowly leaned back, but didn’t continue the combing. Okako was just completely dumbstruck. Her mind simply stopped working, and she was sure that her heart also missed a few beats.

Azula just smiled and turned back.

“I think my hair will be fine. Make it into a topknot.”

Kitara obeyed without question, and arranged the princess’ hair into a topknot with a single, quick, smooth move.

Azula stood up from the bed to face the two girls.

“And now, I want to hear your answers.”

Okako couldn’t even look at the monster in front of her. The air tightened around her, and she could feel the sweat on her forehead as the enormous mental strain took its toll on her bearing. She wanted to faint, but she forced herself not to do so. She knew that she had just suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of the fire princess. It was pretty much the only thing that was clear for her.

It was over. The only thing she could do was to grind her teeth and lower her head. From the corner of her eyes, she could see that Kitara did the same. The poor girl persistently clutched the hair-comb in her hand as if she would try to gather strength from it to defy Azula.

“Very good.”

This was Azula’s final comment before she left the cell room and the two girls behind.

The lamps flared up and their light changed back to orange.

Kitara gulped and rubbed her hand where Azula had grabbed it.  The skin there was still dark red and sensitive to touch. She allowed herself a soft hiss as a small surge of pain ran through her arm when her fingers reached the spot. It was nothing compared to what she felt in Azula’s grasp.

The fire princess didn’t simply grab her hand, but also burned it with her firebending on a small patch between her thumb and index-finger. It wasn’t visible, as she only conjured heat and not actual flames, but the effect was still the same. And even though it felt like Azula was pricking a thousand needles into her hand, the worst was the princess’ eyes as she did it. Kitara could see Azula’s joy in them at the pain she was causing, and she could also see a silent warning:

“I burn your hand into ash if you scream!”

And the heat really intensified when Kitara was about to release a pained squeal, so she swallowed the urge to do it immediately. She didn’t make so much actual noise as a hiss, even though she was screaming inside like crazy. It needed all her willpower, but she had succeeded.

And that short, wicked smile Azula had as she observed Kitara’s voiceless suffering…

Well, Kitara had experienced some really scary stuff in her life:

She had been stuck with a pack of wolfbats in a dark cave when she was only six when she tried to find the secret gold of the old mines of Kyoshi Island. She had to fight off those ugly beasts in the pitch darkness for a whole night until Instructor Tamara finally found her.

She had nearly drowned when she swam through the lair of the Unagi and it proved to be twice as long as she previously thought.

She had dared the spirits of the dead Kyoshi Warriors on the rocky walls of the Tomb of Kyoshi, chasing and being chased by strange lights and bodiless voices.

Yes, those were scary.

But Azula was downright terrifying.

Just as these thoughts ran through her, she could hear Okako get up behind her.

“I think we should gather the girls and tell them the news.” She said on such a lethargic tone that it made Kitara forget her burned hand.

“The news? That we are Azula’s friends from now on?” Kitara tried to brighten the mood, but she failed miserably.

“It isn’t funny Kitara.” Okako sighed with resignation. “We have just kneeled before her without actually moving a single limb.”

This even got Kitara down.

As she checked her hand again, she was forced to conclude that the ultimate fate of the Kyoshi Warriors had taken an unpleasant turn a few moments ago.

She had played right into Azula’s hands, and she had done it willingly, just as the princess said. Her decision to take the hair-comb seemed pretty stupid in hindsight, even though it had felt like an okay move then.

Kitara really bought Azula’s “friendship” thing and she had no idea where it would go eventually. She thought that it was the time to see a completely new side of Azula: the average girl who craved for the company of the other girls of her age. She was sure that under those layers of hate and spite, there was a normal girl, waiting for the moment to pop up.

And Kitara had to admit to herself, the worst thing wasn’t even the small burn mark on her hand.

It was the fact that she was wrong.

Keeper of Suki's firebending ancestry, the Kyoshi Warrior dojo, the love potion made from rainbows and sunsets and the mecha tanks.

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« Reply #17 on: Mar 10, 2014 08:43 am »


There was a large, perfectly square room in the prison that served a very special purpose. Its reinforced walls were white and smelled like fresh grass, and both the floor and roof were covered with hard, thick rubber. Only one person in the whole prison staff had the ability to utilize the room as it was designed, so it was empty most of the time. At one point, the warden decided that it would be work as a storeroom too, and now half of the precious space was occupied by crates and barrels.

It was a dangerous thing, as these things weren’t fireproof like the rest of the room, but the only firebender on the prison staff had no choice but resign himself to the loss of roughly half of his firebending exercise room.

And this was fairly unpleasant, as Kavi didn’t exactly have an abundance of space. His firebending technique was quite different from the one that the people of the Fire Nation used. It put a great focus on wide arm motions and a steady shift of place between the stances, so more advanced forms required quite a large space to properly practice.

And today, he had taken Asha with him too, just to make things even more difficult. He wanted to show her how his firebending worked, and since Asha hadn’t had anything to do in the morning, she agreed to watch the presentation. She was curious what Kavi could show her after the Tears of Xiuh. That night was still on her mind even though it had happened nearly a week ago.

Asha found a smaller box to sit on, and the heavy blanket that covered it made a very good cushion. She felt like she was in a theatre, watching some sort of educational play. She was already enjoying watching Kavi show off his naked upper body as he prepared for the exercise.

“So, to begin with, my firebending and the type that you’ve encountered are fairly different,” he began ceremoniously while he assumed a firm standing stance, stretching his hands out sideways. “The firebending techniques of the Fire Nation are the corrupted versions of the technique of my people.”

And with that, he spun downward to his left with a wide motion. Halfway through his move, small gusts of orange fire appeared around his hands, leaving a feeble trail of flame behind.
“True firebending uses life as a source of power,” he continued the spin with a fluid yet firm move, producing another gust of flame. “I must admit, the philosophy behind the technique is pretty complex and somewhat hard to catch.” He ended his spin with a big, aggressive step forward, stretching his arms out and slightly upwards. “I couldn’t get it at first.”

He probably reached a hard part, because he stopped talking for a moment. He continued to change stances with the same kind of moves Asha has seen before. They were smooth but still forceful, emphasizing light lower body movement and stiff upper body motions. The gusts of fire flared up more and more vigorously at the end of each stance, giving Asha the impression that she was just watching a warm-up exercise.

She wasn’t exactly unfamiliar with these things, of course. As a Kyoshi Warrior, she knew many physical exercises that could keep her in shape – some of them were even similar than the one Kavi was doing. But she had a feeling that for Kavi, these exercises were much more than the Kyoshi Warrior training forms for her. There was a certain aura of solemnity around him that made the whole thing much more serious than it was supposed to be.

“As I’ve said, this isn’t easy,” he said between two pants. “So it is just natural that people simplified it over time. They replaced life with strength and suddenly, everything became much easier. Never mind that they messed up the whole meaning of it with this, but hey, at least you can learn firebending within four years instead of ten! And you don’t have to torture yourself with the boring philosophical stuff either!”

He darted out, drawing a long streak of fire in the air.

“Our firebending comes from life and emphasizes harmony and vitality. But the firebending these folks use roots in strength and craves only hatred and destruction.”

Kavi finished the exercise by leaning sideways and sticking both his arm forward. It looked rather silly to Asha, but she stifled her chuckle because she didn’t want to offend Kavi.

“Anyway, this was the ‘Dancing Dragon’, the most basic firebending form of my people.” He turned towards Asha. “Normally, it takes two people to do it, but since mom is not interested in coming here to practice with me, I must do it alone.” He rolled his eyes. “And Warden Poon made it clear that I can only practice my ‘weird firebending’ in this room.”

“I thought it was neat,” admitted Asha. It reminded her of those perfect Kyoshi Warrior fighting forms Suki often showed to them.

“The motions themselves aren’t that hard, actually.” Kavi repeated the Dancing Dragon, now much quicker. His movement looked less proficient than last time, but at least he showed Asha that they weren’t that complicated or difficult at all.

She stood up from the box, and tried out the first stance of the form. She assumed the firm standing position, and stretched her arms out to her sides. It felt like one of those attack stances the Kyoshi Warriors used for sword fighting.

“Wow! That’s pretty good for a first try!” commented Kavi in surprise.  

He walked in the front of her and assumed the same stance. They were facing each other in this position for a short moment before Kavi started the form.

Asha followed his movement, going from stance to stance as well as she could. She kept Kavi in the corner of her eyes, imitating his motions to the best of her abilities. They moved parallel to each other because of the limited space, and this helped a lot. She felt like she was in the Kyoshi Warrior dojo, following Suki’s moves.

They completed the final stance. Asha was sure that she had gotten most of the moves right, and she was pretty proud of herself.

Kavi was on the same opinion.

“Hah! You were phenomenal!” he said with a gentle laugh. “My stepbrothers could learn a lot from you!”

“My Kyoshi Warrior forms are much harder!” noted Asha arrogantly.

“Really? The young lady has some big words here.”

Asha flashed a vicious smile. Kavi had never seen her fighting so far. He didn’t know that she was much more dangerous than she looked. Maybe it was the time to make this clear for him.

“Well, if you want to see it, then you have to attack me,” she said defiantly.

Kavi scratched his head and after a moment of hesitation, he took his attack stance. He gauged Asha for a few seconds then suddenly charged her with the force of a Tundra Tank.

But as he reached the girl, she stepped into his attack, grabbed his right arm and shoulder and twisted the limb sideways. Kavi lost control over his own charge, and helplessly followed the direction of the twist with his whole body.

He cried out, tumbled, and crashed right into the boxes. He landed on the box that Asha had used as a chair with a painful thud, and he barely had the chance to roll onto his back when Asha followed him with a big leap.

It took only a short time and some panicked struggle on Kavi’s part, and Asha was on top of him, sitting on his stomach and holding his hands down.

“You are in a big trouble, prison guard guy!” she laughed, slightly panting.

Kavi didn’t try to break free. He just smiled and looked into her eyes.

“Nah, I’m just in love.”

This muffled Asha’s laughter. They just looked into each other’s eyes for a long moment, and then their lips came together.

Maybe it was just the thrill, but Asha simply couldn’t end the kiss. She felt a whole spectrum of intense emotions running through her body: passion, fervor and lust. They overtook her thoughts and made her want crazy things.

Kavi probably felt the same, but he took it a step further: Asha could feel his hands irresolutely wandering on her body, reaching under her shirt, steadily approaching inappropriate areas.

At this point, she couldn’t care less. She put her hands on his muscular chest and strong arms, and pushed her body against his.

Something clacked under them.

Kavi suddenly wrapped his arms around her and rolled over, forcing Asha under him. It was a panicked move, as though he were trying to protect her from something.

This broke their kiss, but before Asha could complain, they were both launched upwards by an unrelenting force.

Asha screamed in panic as they crashed into the large pile of boxes. Luckily, Kavi absorbed the brunt of the impact and Asha only had to experience the press of his body and the thing that knocked them over. It squeezed the air out of her lungs, but it stopped before it could cause any more serious problems. From the feel of it, it was the top of the box. Their romping was probably wild enough to open it.

Then the stench of burned metal reached her nose, and she knew what has happened.

“Oh yeah, put boxes with fire-locks in the firebender training room!” grumbled Kavi. “Warden Poon and his stupid ideas…”

“You should watch your lovebending, big guy!” added Asha mockingly. “A little excitement and you open fire-locks remotely!” She giggled upon seeing Kavi’s face going full red from the embarrassment. “If we had continued, you would have burnt down the whole prison!”

“Just laugh if you want!” murmured Kavi. “I’ve just told you that my firebending comes from life… And true love is its closest associated feeling, something that can boost my power big time. For me, strong love means strong firebending! And wild love means wild firebending!” He grabbed the edge of the lid and pushed it back to its place with a single forceful thrust. “Dad actually warned me that this would happen, but I guess I underestimated the effect. My bad.”

He gently put down Asha to the floor.

They looked into each other’s eyes, and suddenly, they realized what they had done. Or at least what they had been about to do.

Asha blushed and Kavi’s face reddened eve more. They were just standing like that for a long moment, surrounded by the awkward silence.

“Uh… I think I should tell this to the warden,” said Kavi ultimately.

“And I think I should go back to the girls,” added Asha.

Kavi scratched his head.

“You know that I love you, right?”

A quite obvious question. It was more like an apology from him to Asha.

“Yeah. I love you too.”

They hugged each other and had a short kiss.

Asha felt confused and stupid. Those thoughts she had when they were cuddling on the top of the box were still lurking in the back of her mind, and she had to admit, they looked rather shameful from there. Such an elite warrior like her shouldn’t give away herself like that. She must show discipline and self-control.

She decided that maybe she should discuss this rather sensitive matter with Nirmal. The healer of the group was the master of the human body without question, so she probably had something smart to say. Personally, Asha knew little about these things, and even though she participated in most of Moritha’s “educational classes” she wasn’t sure if she could use anything she had learnt there.

Kavi gave her a goodbye kiss to her forehead and left the room without saying anything. She could see some major confusion on him and it eased her own mood a little. It was good to know that she wasn’t alone with her embarrassment.

She took a deep breath. Maybe she wouldn’t head back to the cell but visit the prison yard instead. She really felt the need for some fresh air now.

Keeper of Suki's firebending ancestry, the Kyoshi Warrior dojo, the love potion made from rainbows and sunsets and the mecha tanks.

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« Reply #18 on: Mar 10, 2014 08:46 am »

Pema aimed her punch right at the specified point, and as far as she could see, she hit it perfectly. The angle was right, the force was okay and her striking hand was slightly relaxed, just as she was told.

The attack shook Okako a little bit, but that was all. If Pema had hit her on the shoulder normally, she would have had the same effect. Okako should have collapsed to the ground, paralyzed, but she defied the expectations with a sympathetic smile.

“Come on, it isn’t working!” hissed Pema angrily. “The punch was spot on, but it has no effect!”

“It felt exactly like an average punch,” added Okako resignedly.

Ty Lee’s answer was one of her characteristic big smiles.

“You didn’t hit her on the right point!” she noted. “Aim higher!”

“Higher?! If I aim higher I will hit her neck!”

“Aim higher on her shoulder!”

Pema grinded her teeth. She was clueless how she should do this. The instructions didn’t make any sense as she had already aimed as high as she could.

Now, it was Okako’s turn to try. The lieutenant pouted as she tried to find the spot and then struck out. She hit the lower part of Pema’s neck, just above her shoulder. She didn’t even punch but more like poked with her fingers stuck out. It was a weird attack, and at first, Pema was sure that it was unsuccessful too.

But then, a cold, numbing pain struck her on the point where Okako had hit her. It felt like an ice cube on her skin, slowly pushing into her body. It was weird, but Pema was not sure if she should feel this or not. When Ty Lee chi-blocked her in the forest battle, she didn’t feel anything like this.

Her motionlessness warned the others that something had happened.

“Are you alright?” asked Okako worriedly.

Pema was just about to answer, when the strange feeling suddenly disappeared without trace. She stretched her arm and her reward was a small but sharp pain around her shoulder.

“I don’t know,” she admitted finally. “I felt a little numbness, but that’s all.”

Nirmal stepped next to her, and checked the spot that Okako had hit. She hummed a little and ran her fingers through Pema’s shoulder and down on her arm.

“Okay, I think I have it,” she said. “Not exactly what we want, but… it will hurt a little, sorry.”

And with that, she hit Pema roughly on the same spot as Okako, but with much bigger force.

If Okako’s attack felt like a slowly melting ice cube, Nirmal’s was a massive ice spike. It pierced her skin and flesh and only stopped at her bones. Pema barely had time to scream, and the freeze spread all through her body, running up to her neck and exploding in her head. She blacked out for a moment, and when she regained her senses, she realized that she had lost control over her body. All she had below her neck was just rigid ice. Even her lungs stopped working, and to her biggest horror, she began to suffocate.

She helplessly tumbled forward, but at least the collision with the floor snapped her out of the paralysis. She closed her eyes, gasped for air and instinctively curled up as she tried to combat the numb pain that remained.

Someone helped her to her feet. When Pema looked up, she could see Okako’s worried face as she was carefully holding her. Without her support, Pema would surely fall back to the floor.

“This one was surprising,” admitted Nirmal apologetically. “I only wanted to paralyze your arm…”

“Well, you paralyzed my whole body!” barked back Pema. “It was horrible! I would rather take a lightning bolt from Azula than experience that again!”


“No need to apologize.” Pema pushed herself away from Okako and flop onto her bed. “We are looking exactly for this, aren’t we?”

“We are,” added Okako with a relieved voice. She was clearly glad that her sister took this little accident so lightly.

As she was lying on her bed, Pema massaged the spot where Nirmal had hit her. It felt numb but the area around it had become very sensitive. The healer sat down next to her and she checked it too.

“This point is above a very important nerve cluster,” she explained. “Normally, you couldn’t do this with it, but I suspect Okako’s strike shifted a chi nexus right over it, and when I hit you, I snapped both the nerve connection and the chi flow at the same time. What you felt was the resulting trauma as your body suffered both a physical and a spiritual injury.”

“Nerve cluster?” interrupted Ty Lee confusedly. “What is that?”

Okako hushed her with a hand move.
“And can you make it work for us too?” she asked Nirmal.

“You have to learn the locations of all the major nerve clusters and chi conjunctions, but if you are up to that, then I would say yes.”

“But it isn’t the same thing that Ty Lee does!” protested Kitara. She seemed somewhat offended as she and Asha were making progress with Ty Lee’s technique.

“I take it anyway!” noted Pema. She shot an angry glance towards Ty Lee. “At least we will have something Azula does not know about us! And she won’t, right?”

Ty Lee flashed an awkward smile.

“I’m really sorry about that!” she said timidly. “I didn’t know that your secret handshake is so secret!”

They had gone through this a few times in the last few days, but Pema was still unable to digest it. It wasn’t the fact that Ty Lee practiced her Kyoshi Warrior handshake with Azula –exposing the hidden message inside it in the process – even though she could do it with any of the girls. No, it was the stupid naivety behind her actions.

The young acrobat actually thought that teaching Azula the secret handshake would improve the cold relationship between her and the Kyoshi Warriors. For Pema, it sounded like Ty Lee was speaking about a different Azula. One who was actually likeable and kind instead of being a heartless, wicked monster.

Only Kitara seemed to understand Ty Lee’s decision. But it was expected, considering how they matched each other so well in silliness and carelessness.

Nirmal cleared her throat.

“So, overall, I firmly believe that you can learn this over time.” She turned towards Ty Lee. “Sorry, Ty Lee, but we don’t possess your incredible accuracy so we have to… bastardize your technique.”

“No problem!” chirped the young acrobat. “But I don’t know why it is so hard for you. You just need to hit the bright points and that’s all!”

Pema had a harsh reply on her lips about a possible connection between bright points and unpleasant life lessons, but the cell door opened up just in time to make her swallow her words.

Asha entered through the door. She looked jumpy and all stirred up. The girls watched as she danced to Nirmal and whispered something to her ear.

“Really? Why should we?” asked back the young healer loudly and with a surprised tone.

Asha leaned close to her again and probably gave some good explanation, because Nirmal’s face brightened up.

It was something naughty. Pema could feel it in the air. And on Asha’s red face too. The youngest Kyoshi Warrior was also in disarray: her slightly ruffled hair and crumpled clothes were signs Pema couldn’t ignore. Not to mention that she was last seen with Kavi, going to “watch his firebending training”.
She grinned as her mind slapped together the pieces. This was her expertise. Even though she was relatively young, Pema was already a master of romance and seduction. She couldn’t help it; she just loved the admiration of the boys as they became infatuated with her. As a beautiful and smart girl, Pema never failed to get whoever she wanted, but her opportunities were depressingly poor nowadays.

Actually, other than Kavi, there were no boys worthy of her attention. The people in this prison were way too old for her liking, and she never had the chance to see what the Capital City had to offer. 

Asha and Nirmal went to the bathroom to have some privacy. All the other girls except Pema crawled closer to keep listening, but they could only hear some inaudible whispering and Nirmal’s occasional giggling.

Pema just rolled her eyes. She could easily guess out the whole conversation without even hearing a single word.

The two girls finished quite quickly. When Nirmal appeared in the door, the audience in the cell immediately turned away and tried to make an impression that they were busy doing something irrelevant.

Nirmal just shrugged and stepped to Ty Lee.

“Ty Lee, can I ask you to do something for me?”

The acrobat looked up to her, and flashed a big smile.

“Of course! What should I do?”

“If you would be so nice to visit Mai and ask her to send me the leftover ingredients for the potions I had made for her, I would deeply appreciate it.”

“Okay!” said Ty Lee, but Nirmal didn’t step away from her. It took a short moment of confusion until the girl realized what Nirmal wanted to say with this. “Uh, you mean right now?”

Nirmal slowly nodded.

“Yes, right now.”

Without wasting any more words, Ty Lee leapt up from the ground, gave a goodbye hug to Kitara and unceremoniously left the cell room.
Pema rose from her bed and slipped next to Asha who had just stepped out from the bathroom. She pressed herself against the younger girl from behind, and grabbed her sides.

“Just look here!” she began on a mocking tone. “We should make bids on how many big hand marks are on this lithe body of yours!” Asha’s face reddened upon hearing this implied accusation. “I have twenty-four copper pieces on at least two dozen!” She leaned closer to Asha’s ears. “Yeah, he was eager to go for it, but he is just too much of an awkward guy. So he started slow, waveringly moving upwards…”
Nirmal intervened and roughly pushed Pema’s face away from Asha. But Pema wasn’t so easily thwarted. She stepped away, right in front of Asha, making an unmistakable gripping gesture with her hands towards Asha’s chest.

“And did he get his reward?”

Asha just stuck out her tongue instead of giving an answer.
Okako and Kitara laughed out loud, and even Nirmal joined the cheerfulness with a moderated giggle.

“Leave her alone Pema!” chuckled Okako. “I suppose she knows what she is doing!”

“I just want to make sure that she listens to someone who is actually experienced in the topic!”

Nirmal frowned.

“Thank you but I must remind you that I’m just as experienced as you are,” she said coldly.

“Well, I can take care of myself!” announced Asha angrily. She stepped forward and roughly pushed away Pema from her way. “And now, if you excuse me!”

Her embarrassment made the girls laugh again.

But Pema just smiled as she watched Asha slipping to her own bed.

When she and Okako devised the plan to bring Asha and Kavi together, this wasn’t exactly what they had in mind. The boy definitely outgrew his role. Instead of just providing a solid ground for the girl, he became a path. A path that led Asha to an important yet dangerous place: a crossroad where she had to make a choice on her own. There were no people guiding her anymore, and nobody pushing her towards a specific decision.

And from the looks of it, she knew what she was doing. Asha felt strong enough to make her own decisions, on her terms without clinging onto anyone. And while this was amazing in the bigger scheme of things, it also scared Pema.

Because no matter how innocent this case looked like, it still had the stench of Azula all over it. The ability of the fire princess to manipulate people knew no limits and watching it in work was a frightful experience.

She used fear to gain loyalty.

She used terror to enforce obedience.

She used love to ensure assimilation.

Okako just couldn’t sleep this night. She just lay in her bed, staring upwards in the pitch darkness of the room. She was pondering all sorts of stuff, and it gave her all the bad thoughts she could have.

She was mostly thinking about Azula. For one, she tried to put aside her antipathy to the fire princess to see a clear picture. Their last meeting eight days ago showed the real extent of the princess’ power. It was terrifying to behold, but in its essence, it was disturbingly familiar.

Azula controlled people by inspiring fear. And to do it, she simply demonstrated her overwhelming power in as terrifying way as possible. She showed her superiority, putting people in their places where she could easily manipulate them to do whatever she wished.

And to be honest, Okako had met with this kind of behavior before.

Suki has been doing something very similar as their leader.

Tamara did something very similar as their instructor.

They were the Kyoshi Warriors. It was natural that they sometimes played rough with each other. Not just in the Circle Fights but in other cases too: Instructor Tamara was always very creative with her disciplinary methods and the girls often obeyed her purely out of fear of punishment; on the other hand, Suki was the leader of the cadre out of the merit of being the best warrior, and she often had to remind her sisters to this by putting a few bruises on them. So yes, the Kyoshi Warriors weren’t unfamiliar with fear. As the second-in-command, Okako herself had to use it once in a while.

But for them, fear was just a thing, and far from the most important one. The real force that kept the Kyoshi Warriors together was love. Maybe they had tough moments, but they always kept an eye on the other. They were sisters first and foremost, and they treated each other with trust and respect.

And this was a concept that was completely absent from Azula’s behavior. She was a monster. She hadn’t shown even the slightest sign of compassion, and it made Okako sick. She couldn’t even imagine how the fire princess could have a normal life. It definitely implied that her environment was just as unhealthy as Azula herself.

Okako had a strange notion that maybe Azula would be a different person in a different environment. Maybe she was a very bad person, but she also had undeniable positive traits: her charisma and intelligence were phenomenal, and the willpower and determination behind her motives were awe-inspiring. Really, if she had been nicer, Okako would have seriously reconsidered her attitude a long time ago. She would serve the fire princess willingly if Azula wasn’t this horrible being.

What a shame.

She rolled to her other side in the bed. She could hear a soft humming from the wall behind her and from this she knew that that the prison would soon turn to the day cycle. She had just spent the whole night thinking stupid things instead of sleeping.


Then a crack broke the humming and the door of the prison cell slowly opened up. Okako lifted her head and watched as someone snuck through the small opening, carefully closing the door behind her.

She was Asha, and Okako had no idea what the girl had been doing. She didn’t even know that she was away for the whole night. It was strange, because Asha had rarely left the cell since her “accident” with Kavi three days ago.

Okako sat up in her bed and as she could notice, the other Kyoshi Warriors were awake too. She didn’t need light to see their smirks. It was quite obvious that she wasn’t the only one who has stayed up for the whole night.

Asha stopped at her bed when she realized from the noises that she wasn’t careful enough with her entrance.

“Look! The big girl has finally arrived!” whispered Pema maliciously. “Maybe she will share her experiences with us!”

“I can smell those experiences from here…” added Nirmal.

Okako got out from her bed and walked to Asha. Now she could also feel the stench that surrounded her. It was mostly sweat but there was something else too… it reminded Okako of the odor from the glop Moritha used to can food.

“Sorry for the smell,” said Asha. “It is just some fire-proof coating that stuck onto me from the sheets.”

“From the sheets!” cracked up Pema. “It was a wild ride, huh?”
“That’s not your business!” hissed back Asha.

“Good night everyone!” added Kitara with a naughty tone, and from the sound of it, her reward from Asha was a pillow in the face.

Okako just smiled at this and sat down next to Asha in the bed. Now she knew what had happened and why the others didn’t share it with her.

She could feel as Asha turned towards her and wrapped her arms around Okako’s neck. Okako returned the hug and she could hear that the others also began to crawl out from their beds to join.
“You know, I was thinking about our chances a lot lately,” started Asha thoughtfully. Her voice was a little bit shaky from excitement. “Maybe Nirmal is right to an extent. We can give Azula the pleasure of serving her.” She took a brief, sinister pause. “But she is just a human. She has to sleep. And when she does, we can sneak into her chamber and put a sword right through her heart!”

Okako raised an eyebrow to this. She wasn’t exactly sure if Asha was joking, but according to her tone, she wasn’t.

“Wow! Someone drank from my Potion of Killyness while I wasn’t watching!” replied Kitara. “You can’t just kill the fire princess and get away with it! Or at least not in the middle of the Royal Palace of the Fire Nation!”

“We can make it look like an accident!” protested Asha angrily. “It is a good idea! But if you have something better, then go ahead, I’m more than eager to hear about it!”

“I can see it…” began Nirmal sarcastically. “The fire princess accidentally fell into a sword! In her own bed! Five times! The most believable story I’ve ever heard!”

According to the sounds, Asha kicked Nirmal down from the bed as a sign of disapproval.

“Slow down Asha.” Okako’s voice calmed down the younger girl instantly. “The others are right, killing Azula is not an option. She is the fire princess after all…” She bit the end of the sentence as a thought come up in her mind. “But maybe we can run away from her! Or with her! If Suki and Kei were with us we could beat her easily, especially now that Ty Lee would be on our side too!”

“You girls are crazy!” cried Pema. “First we had this treason thing and now we are thinking about double treason?”

“How ironic!” snapped Nirmal as she crawled back to the bed. “Our mischief specialist has raised an objection against fooling someone!”

“Well, sorry that I’m not a spineless traitor like you! I still have dignity, and I say we could get over this without betraying anyone!”

“Maybe you can ask your dignity to bust us out!” added Kitara with a hearty laughter.

Pema didn’t even answer to this. Okako could feel the situation heating so she quickly turned around to position herself between Pema and the others.

“Okay, can we drop this topic please?” she said sternly, and the girls fell silent. “We should talk about something positive for a change of pace. For example the nightly adventure of our princess-killer…”

ItwasjustanotherdateIswear!” squeaked Asha but the girls just laughed on her.

“This smell says otherwise!” chuckled Kitara. “Tell us everything!”

“I don’t know...” Asha wavered for a moment, but Okako reassuringly tightened her hug and this gave the young girl the necessary push. “Uh… So he was nice… And it was good…”

“Details Asha!” noted Pema impatiently. “Give us details!”

“Should I?”

“Yes you should!”

“Can’t we just jump topic again?” pleaded Asha. “I like my private life just like that… private.”

Everyone laughed. This was one of the rare occasions when the Kyoshi Warriors could finally find some relief from bitterness and desperation. A small gleam of joy amongst the endless mass of dark clouds, but it was still a precious sign of hope that there is light beyond the menacing darkness.

Keeper of Suki's firebending ancestry, the Kyoshi Warrior dojo, the love potion made from rainbows and sunsets and the mecha tanks.

My fanficions.

My Avatar RPG system.
Never Gonna Give Yue Up

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« Reply #19 on: Mar 12, 2014 02:06 am »


The young woman tried her best to imitate Kitara, but her clumsy movements were comically bad to watch. She leaned to her left, then to her right, threw her hands into the air and made a few steps backwards.

Kitara smiled and repeated the move so the woman could have a better idea on how to make it right. Her motions were stark contrasts in every respect: she coiled to the sides with the elegance of a serpent that is just about to strike down its prey; her arms rose slowly to open wide with a fluent motion giving the impression of a blossoming flower.

The woman just sighed and massaged her temple.

“Okay, I think I’ve finally got it,” she said wearily. “Let’s do it again.”

“We can take a break,” recommended Kitara, but the woman shook her head.

“Thank you, but I only have one day to learn this properly. I wasted enough time with your stupid warden so I don’t have the luxury of rest.” She slightly bowed towards Kitara. “So may I ask you to continue?”

“Of course!”

They repeated the moves a few times. The woman’s dedication to learn them was incredible, but sadly, she didn’t have the physique and agility to perform them properly. Unlike Kitara, she wasn’t a highly trained warrior with years of experience.

Her name was Mizuki, and she was an actress, playing the role of Suki in a play from the Ember Island Theater. And she took this really seriously, to the point where she looked for the Kyoshi Warriors in their prison so she could learn and give the most accurate performance.

Her presence was a welcome change. The last week had been even more boring than usual, and the Asha-jokes Pema was making had grown old very quickly. Ty Lee disappeared but at least Azula didn’t show up instead. The Kyoshi Warriors had been having the most blank and meaningless week of their stay in this prison  

Mizuki’s arrival has shaken up the mood and she didn’t come empty handed either. She brought several gifts to win over the girls and more importantly, she brought information.

She told the girls that before she came here she had visited Kyoshi Island too. To everyone’s great relief, she couldn’t relate any bad events and it seemed that the island escaped the horrors of the war. More importantly, she said that the Kyoshi Warriors she had found on the island were all young girls from the village or the harbor. She didn’t meet with Kei as the assault specialist was away.

And that was good, because it meant that Kei was looking for her sisters so it should be only a matter of time before she could find them.

On the other hand, Mizuki also visited Suki. Or at least she had tried. According to her words, the leader of the Kyoshi Warriors was kept in the highest security prison of the Fire Nation, a place called the Boiling Rock. Luckily for her, Mizuki had a royal authorization that allowed her to move freely around the Fire Nation, so she could get into the Boiling Rock…

…but she couldn’t get through the overseer of Suki’s block. Mizuki had a rather hazy description of this woman so the girls didn’t want to make assumptions but it looked like she was in fact Instructor Tamara. Their long lost instructor and foster-mother had returned after two years and she was with Suki, probably keeping a watch over her.

They celebrated these things only quietly, with repressed excitement. It was just too good to be true. Mizuki’s trustworthiness was questionable at best and she shared quite a lot of vague and inaccurate information. Maybe she was just forgetful… or maybe she was in fact an agent of Azula.

The fire princess played her games carefully, and the girls weren’t exactly sure that this wasn’t another one of them. Though they hadn’t voiced it in front of the woman yet, the Kyoshi Warriors seriously suspected Mizuki of having a much more sinister purpose than she showed.

Personally, Kitara knew that with Azula, even a simple hair combing could be a fatal trap.

She took a deep breath as the memory of that stupid incident came up in her mind.

“Is there a problem?” asked Mizuki with confusion. “Am I doing something wrong?”

Kitara forced out a half-hearted smile.

“Nah, you are okay.”

“She has just run out of Kitara Happiness Energies!” added Pema from the background. “Don’t worry, it often happens with her nowadays!”

Kitara ignored the comment. Mizuki brought a whole bunch of theatre props to show them to the girls, and now everyone was busy trying out the hilariously bad costumes and accessories. Except Kitara, who was instead tasked with training the actress. She got the work, the others got the fun.

And this left a bad taste in her mouth.

Mizuki tried to perform the moves again, now with marginally more success. They were simple dance moves the Kyoshi Warriors used to play during Kyoshi Day when they were little. Kitara had spiced it up a little to make it more theatrical, but the complexity and sophistication of the new moves were sadly beyond Mizuki’s abilities.

The young actress panted and started it yet again. Her body twisted and twirled as she forced some speed and fluency into her moves. She awkwardly raised her arms to get the final stance, but when she tried to open them up, she lost her balance and tumbled to the ground with a panicked scream.

Her reward was some muffled laughter from the girls.

“Should we take a break?” asked Kitara worriedly. “You are getting better and better… but you are also getting more and more exhausted.” She tried to cram some sincerity into her voice but she still had a sarcastic edge in this sentence. Unfortunately, Mizuki didn’t miss that.

“I must learn these moves properly,” she hissed back coldly. “I have only this day to do it, so please, if we could continue…”

“Take it easy Mizuki! Nobody can learn this perfectly within one day!”

Pema’s comment was simply ignored by the actress. She readied herself to repeat the moves yet again, waiting for Kitara to do the same.

The young swordfighter frowned. She too grew a little bit tired and she intended to end the training session in the next few seconds.

Kitara stiffened her back to announce the break whether Mizuki would like it or not. If the actress tried to protest then she would be silenced with the same method Kitara had been using to cut off Ty Lee when the acrobat was a little bit too chatty: with a sudden, friendly, warm and embarrassingly tight hug. It always worked, without fail.

Before anything could happen, the loud creak of the metal door interrupted them. Someone tried to get in but didn’t know how to open the door properly. The girls exchanged glances. They weren’t expecting visitors today. Even Mizuki was a big surprise and from the looks of it, she wouldn’t be the only one.

Kitara could hear two blunt thumps then the door finally burst open with such a force that its momentum nearly tore the frame out from the floor.

“Uhm… Sorry… I’m kinda’ new here.” The harsh and snappish voice belonged to a woman. Kitara raised an eyebrow. Whoever opened the door should be a new prison guard because her voice wasn’t familiar at all.

“Do we have new prison guards or what?” whispered Pema irresolutely, but Okako hushed her.

A large person, clad in black and crimson armor entered the room. Kitara needed a fleeing moment to recognize the characteristic uniform of the Royal Firebenders. And these guys could mean only one thing…
Five other Royal Firebenders followed him. They walked to the Kyoshi Warriors and each of them grabbed a girl, rudely dragging them apart.

Kitara chose to comply and voluntary took her place at the entrance of the junk-room. The firebender next to her didn’t release her though, to the point where he got an even stronger hold on her with both of his hands, restraining Kitara’s arms completely.

The other Royal Firebenders did the same with their girls. The Royal Firebender who couldn’t get a girl simply threw Mizuki out from the cell. The actress had a chance for a protesting yell but then quickly disappeared through the door, taking a crashing fall down the stairs.

The girls hissed as one when the sound of Mizuki hitting the floor of the hall below reached them.

“The room is secured, Princess Azula!” said the Royal Firebender who had just kicked out Mizuki. She was a woman and she sounded somehow familiar to Kitara. It wasn’t really the voice but rather the tone. Kitara was sure that she has heard it before but maybe with a deeper voice.

She followed this strange Royal Firebender with her eyes as she stepped to the firebender holding Asha and took his place. Kitara would actually pay to see her without the helmet. She had a notion to ask her to do so, but she swallowed it. This woman was probably some sort of officer and it was clear that she took Asha for a good reason.

Asha also realized the strange occurrence and when the woman grabbed her arms, she tried to break free. The young girl made a step back, pressing her back against the woman’s chest armor and simply tossed herself sideways. Her trick worked and the woman had to release Asha’s right arm as her motion of keeping up with the girl was blocked by her bulky armor.
“Watch out captain! My warriors are just as impetuous as dangerous!”

The voice of the fire princess froze Asha as she was about to continue her escape attempt with a sweep against the woman’s legs. The Royal Firebender quickly seized the moment and regained the control over the young girl, grabbing her again with a much stronger hold.

Azula entered the cell and the atmosphere instantly changed. Her appearance drew baleful air, the stench of evil. A cloak of fear and darkness followed her, enveloping the hearts of the Kyoshi Warriors with its cold touch.

The prison cell was relatively cold, yet Kitara could feel a drop of sweat running down on her back. The mere sight of Azula filled her mind with the taste of pure terror. Her breathing became heavy and she could feel her heart rate increasing.

And that wasn’t all. Within the malice that surrounded Azula, there was a web of incredible personal power. The fire princess was a walking avatar of confidence and superiority. There was no obstacle she couldn’t crush, no skill she couldn’t master and no will she couldn’t break.

It wasn’t the fear that paralyzed Kitara. It was the awe, inspired by the overpowering aura of the fire princess, the delicate duality of fear and supremacy.

And Kitara couldn’t explain the source of this feeling. It was like their little incident two weeks ago had opened up Kitara’s eyes and now she could see who the fire princess really was.

She gulped as Azula passed by in front of her. She had a bad feeling about this.

Azula walked around the room, glancing through the Kyoshi Warriors.

“Nice uniform!” she noted gleefully when she saw Pema, who wore one of those ridiculous theater costumes. “The light green on the sleeves really enhances your pretty eyes!”

She picked up a paper fan from the floor for some examination. She tried its stretchiness but the cheap theater prop proved to be frail and it snapped in her hand.

“What a shame…” she turned around and threw away the ruined fan. “I think that… Mizuki hit the bottom of the stair a little bit too hard.” She pointed at the idle Royal Firebender. “You! Go back down there and take her away! I don’t want to see her again in this prison!”

The firebender complied without a word and left the prison cell in a big hurry.

“Oh yes, this brings us back here.” She brought out a small green item from her belt. Kitara couldn’t see it very well, but it was thin and rounded, like a sheath. “Today, I came here to ask something from you…”

“You can stick your request up to your nose!” snapped Asha suddenly. “Smokebelcher!”

The air immediately froze in the room. For a long moment, everyone remained silent and motionless. Kitara could even feel that her heart probably missed a beat or two from the shock.

Azula turned towards Asha, with a furious grimace on her face. Asha returned the favor and put up a similarly angry face.

This finally roused the Royal Firebender who held the young girl. She quickly clasped her arms through Asha’s and simply pushed the girl downward.

Asha yelped up as her arms stretched in the grasp of the woman. It sure looked rather painful.

“Silence, prisoner!” barked the Royal Firebender, and put on some more pressure, forcing out another scream from Asha.

The youngest Kyoshi Warrior was now in some real pain, but her suffering at least satisfied Azula. The fire princess just smiled and turned back.

“So…” She raised the small sheath above her shoulder so it became visible for everyone. “Yesterday, I was thinking about this stalemate we are in, when an idea struck me.” She slowly spun around, smugly glancing at each Kyoshi Warrior again. “I’ve realized that the source of our problems is the numbers.”

“Just tell us what you want and leave us alone!” hissed Okako, but Azula ignored her.

“It is hard to admit, but you are a little bit too numerous for me!” The fire princess grabbed the free end of the sheath and drew it out. It was actually the hilt of a small dagger. “But don’t worry, I’ve worked out a very good solution to this!”

Now, this really startled the girls. The sinister tone in Azula’s voice was a herald of bad things to come.

The Royal Firebenders tightened their holds on the girls. Kitara hissed as the firebender behind her strengthened his grip on her arms. She was now almost completely immobile. Maybe she could break free as her Royal Firebender seemed to be rather inexperienced with holding another person but it would take quite some time to Kitara to actually do it.

She couldn’t risk it. Not while Azula was in the same room as her at least.

From the corner of her eye, Kitara could see that Asha’s Royal Firebender hadn’t changed position. She still kept the young girl pressed down, but then Kitara caught the firebender leaning her helmeted head forward slightly, and Asha’s eyes opened wide from surprise, almost as if the firebender had whispered something to her.

Keeper of Suki's firebending ancestry, the Kyoshi Warrior dojo, the love potion made from rainbows and sunsets and the mecha tanks.

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« Reply #20 on: Mar 12, 2014 02:09 am »

Then Kitara noticed that Azula was looking at her, and Asha and her strange Royal Firebender quickly became insignificant.

“Question is…” whispered the fire princess malignantly. “…which one of you should make the ultimate sacrifice…”

“None of us!” screamed Okako desperately. “Please, just leave us alone!”

“There is no fun in that!” replied Azula.

Her transfixing gaze was still on Kitara, and the young swordfighter began to feel quite uncomfortable. Terror gripped her heart, and it was immensely worse than the hold of the Royal Firebender. She tried to combat it with all her willpower, but only to a marginal success.

Azula walked to Kitara and grabbed her chin. The girl tried to at least turn away her head but as the panic overwhelmed her senses, she lost control over her own body. Her right hand instinctively made a snatch towards her belt where her sword would be and her whole body reeled back to get away from Azula’s hand. The Royal Firebender behind her just barely managed to keep her restrained.

Kitara was on the edge of fainting. Darkness gathered on the edges of her vision and she could feel all her muscles tightening under the mental pressure.

But she still had strength to gulp back a squeak. She closed her eyes and prepared herself for the worst.

The touch of cold metal surged through her nerves. It ran down from the top-left corner of her neck to her right collar-bone. She could feel the blade of the dagger scratching her skin, but it didn’t cut into her.

“You decapitated that guy, right?” Azula’s whisper was like chant of death for Kitara. “It should have been an incredible experience.”

“Yeah, it was pretty neat,” murmured back Kitara. She now really felt the urge to finally black out.

Azula took away the dagger and flashed a small smile.

“You are definitely one of my favorites, Kitara.” And with that, the fire princess stepped away from her. “If I remember correctly, you said that if I want to do something nasty with one of you, then I should do it with Nirmal, right?”

This immediately cleared Kitara’s head.


Azula made a few steps towards Nirmal, spinning the small dagger between her fingers. The healer’s eyes widened as she looked at the fire princess then at the dagger and finally at Kitara.

The young swordfighter had to strain her memory to remember that occasion. She had some blurry memories about this, but she didn’t mean it then.

But as Azula approached Nirmal, it became clear the she hadn’t got the joke.

“N-no, w-wait!” stuttered Kitara. “That wasn’t what I really meant!”

“Why? Who should I pick then?”

Even in her unsettled state of mind, Kitara spat out the right answer in an instant.

“Pick me!”

She heard the hiss of the other girls and saw their worried looks, but at this point, she didn’t care. Yes, maybe it was a trap from Azula. To force Kitara to volunteer and eventually perish under whatever unpleasant thing the fire princess devised for her.

But she would rather suffer than watch one of her sisters getting hurt. If she had to walk into this trap to save Nirmal, then so be it. They were sisters and Kitara knew that in a different situation, Nirmal would do the same for her.

“Blah!” And this was Azula’s whole response. She didn’t even turn back towards Kitara.

Nirmal released a pitiful whine as she realized that Azula really picked her this time. She tried to push herself away from the approaching princess, but the Royal Firebender holding her proved to be stronger.

Kitara witnessed something she hadn’t for ages: Nirmal completely lost her self-control. The young healer’s body shook and buckled as she tried to break free and her whining turned into crying then terrified screaming. The sober and composed girl disappeared and all that remained was just a pitiable, scared animal.

“Why do you do this?” shouted Okako to Azula, but the princess ignored her again.

The princess reached Nirmal, and grabbed her head with her free hand. The touch literally froze Nirmal. She immediately stopped moving and her screaming changed back to a barely audible whimper.

Azula raised the dagger to strike. Kitara turned her head way. She didn’t want to see what was going to happen.

Kyoshi, save us!

She could hear a slicing sound, followed by Nirmal’s shrill scream.

A heavy silence fell to the room.

“Come on, it wasn’t such a big deal at all!” Azula’s voice was like a sword, cutting right into Kitara’s heart.


Kitara took a deep breath and opened her eyes. The first thing she could see was Nirmal, and she was still alive, sobbing and clearly scared out of her wits but as far as Kitara could determine, she was physically unhurt.

Or at least her body was unhurt. Kitara had an odd feeling that Nirmal was still missing something, and it took her a moment to realize what.
Nirmal wore her hair in three buns: one was on the top back of her head and the two other were on the sides of the bottom back slightly angled downwards. They were like the sides of a triangle that pointed down towards Nirmal’s neck. Or at least they were, until now.

Azula drew out a small piece of cloth to put away her newest acquisition – Nirmal’s big top bun. She used the dagger to cut down the bun.

Just the bun.

“Okay, I’ve got what I wanted!” said Azula. She turned towards the Royal Firebender holding Asha. “Pack up your men, captain, we are leaving.”

As an answer, the firebender roughly tossed Asha towards the center of the room and put enough strength into it to send the young girl to the ground. The other Royal Firebenders did the same with the other Kyoshi Warriors, too, and soon Kitara found herself in the middle of the cell, piled on the floor with her sisters.

With her prize secured, the fire princess left the room without even glancing back at the girls. The Royal Firebenders followed her without hesitation, and they even forgot to close the cell door behind themselves.

“Well, that was weird…” murmured Pema as the last Royal Firebender disappeared in the entrance. “Azula sure knows how to make a show.”
“Tell me about it,” added Okako. “She totally freaked me out.”

She crawled to the still sobbing Nirmal and reassuringly wrapped her arms around her.

“Are you alright Nirmal?”

The young healer sniffled and wiped off her tears.

“I was so scared…” she whispered. “I thought she was going to kill me… I… I really thought…” She gulped as she tried to pull herself together. “I was so scared…”

“Everything is alright.,” hushed her Okako. “We were all scared.”

Kitara noticed that Asha remained silent, as if she had other things to worry about. There was something with that Royal Firebender who had held her. Kitara had a feeling that something odd happened between those two, and she couldn’t wait to investigate.

“And what was the deal with your Royal Firebender?” she asked from the young girl quietly. Luckily, the others were occupied with tending Nirmal. “Do you know her?”

To Kitara’s biggest surprise, Asha nodded.

“I think I do,” she replied with uncertainty, and then she stood up and started to walk away towards the door.

“Where are you going?” asked Okako.

Asha looked to the left, then to the right, and then simply shook her head in confusion.

“Sorry, but I have to find Kavi as soon as possible!”

And with that, she rushed out from the prison cell without giving any more explanation.

“Okay, and what now?” Pema gave voice to the inevitable question. “I don’t know what you got from this little incident, but I’m rather anxious about Azula’s newest revelation. What did she mean with this numbers thing anyway?”

“Maybe it was a joke we couldn’t get!” guessed Kitara but Pema put her off with a frown.

Okako sighed. She tightened her hug around Nirmal, and looked up, right into Pema’s eyes.

“I don’t know what game Azula is playing,” she said bitterly. “But we have had enough.”

She stood up, and the other girls did the same. There was something grave hanging in the air, Kitara could feel it. It was an inevitable course of action, something they should have done for a long time by now.

Her lieutenant stiffened her back and raised her head. Her eyes sparked up with determination as she announced their next move.

“Tonight, we are going to break out from this prison!”

Asha had to wait a good ten minutes - hiding in a corner of the hall under the prison cell –while some of the Royal Firebenders stopped for a little chat in the corridor that connected the hall with the rest of the prison.

It was inconvenient, but at least she could go through the exact words of that woman again.

“If Azula comes closer, I will let you escape. Don’t try to fight, just run down to Kavi. He will know what to do.”

The Royal Firebenders finally began to move and Asha quickly seized the opportunity to slip past them. Using the bad lighting of the corridor to her advantage, she moved through the four firebenders like a shadow, and by the time they realized that something has just sneaked through their ranks, Asha was already behind the next corner.

She kept on running through the passages of the prison, right towards Kavi’s living quarters on the first floor.

But she had to stop at the final turn. She could hear a conversation going on, and even though the voices were familiar, she decided to stay put and keep listening for a while.

The first voice was Kavi’s. He sounded rather furious.

“…it’s just unbelievable! These five women just appeared out of nowhere, waved some random papers in front of the warden and in return, he gladly gave them everything they wanted! And when I tried to question them, he ordered me to hold my tongue!”

The other voice belonged to a woman. It lacked the rigorous edge but Asha could still recognize her Royal Firebender.

“Just keep it calm, Kavi! You should be happy to have some extra heads here. With them, the warden will give less work for you so you can spend more time with your girlfriend!”

“Yeah… About that… Those women have taken the whole upper level! They don’t allow anyone to enter, not even me!”

“Oh… Poor you. Maybe I can get you a special permission or something. Those women are probably here to guard Princess Azula’s friends.”

“That’s not funny, mom! It is just one thing that I can’t get in, but I’m afraid they won’t let Asha out either! I’m gonna die without her!”

Asha nearly chuckled upon hearing Kavi’s tormented confession. He was just so sweet when he was anxious.

But she got the information she needed, too: Kavi called the woman “mom”. Asha wasn’t exactly happy that her suspicion turned out true, especially since she had called Kavi a liar when he tried to tell her.

And Kavi’s mother really turned out to be a captain of the Royal Firebenders. The fact left a bad taste in Asha’s mouth. The Royal Firebenders were the elite of the Fire Nation military. They were the best firebenders of the world and the living incarnations of the virtues the Fire Nation held dear like blind loyalty, ruthlessness, and utter devotion to the superiority of the firebenders.

For Asha, it was unsettling to know that her boyfriend was the son of one of these people. Not to mention that this automatically gave credence to the other stuff Asha hadn’t been able to believe about Kavi, like that forgotten city and his ancient tribe of firebenders.

She decided to face this nuisance though. She could slip back to the cell room, but it wouldn’t solve anything on the long run. She was a big girl now. She could deal with this, one way or another.

As she finally took the turn, she had a feeling that she had just made another important step to finally finding satisfaction in the messy situation she was in with the other Kyoshi Warriors.

In the short corridor behind the corner lay the entrance of Kavi’s room. And, and in the front of it stood Kavi and his mother. Without her helmet, the woman was disturbingly recognizable. She had the same long, black hair as Kavi and they shared many distinctive facial features that overall made their relation undeniable. She was probably in her late thirties, and Asha could even see some grey strips in her hair. But what was even more interesting was that she had light green eyes, so she had some Earth Kingdom blood, too. This immediately made her a little bit more likeable.

“ASHA!” Kavi’s shout was full with happiness and relief. He ran to the girl and clasped her in his arms.

They kissed, long and passionately. For that moment, the world ceased to exist for them; it was swept away by their overwhelming love.

“You two are a lovely couple.”

The woman’s slightly mocking comment broke the magic. Asha peaked over Kavi’s shoulder to see her face but it was so neutral that it was impossible to get what she really meant.

Lacking a better idea, Asha gently pushed Kavi aside and slowly walked to the woman.

“My name is Asha,” she said to her, and offered her hand.

“I know. Kavi has talked a lot about you and I’ve seen your prison files.” She accepted the hand. Her shake was strong but friendly. “My name is Kwang. I’m Kavi’s mother.”

“I’m aware of that,” noted Asha sharply.

Kwang’s neutral impression suddenly turned into a sad smile.

“Look, about the things that happened in the cell…” she began with a careful tone. “I appreciate your boldness to stand up against Princess Azula, but we have a saying: if you play with fire, you will eventually burn yourself.”

“Don’t worry, my shoulder is okay,” snapped Asha. She couldn’t decide if Kwang had just made an apology or wanted to lecture her. It sounded a lot like the latter. “And we have a saying too: if you can’t hold down a young girl properly, then maybe you should take extra hand-to-hand lessons.”

This took Kwang by surprise. For a moment it looked like she would return the sting, but at the end, she let it pass.

“Anyway, all I want to say is that I know how you feel about this stupid captivity and…”

“You don’t!” Asha interrupted angrily. In her head, Kwang was going from acceptable to ridiculous with a steady pace. “You are just an insolent firebender lapdog!”

It was maybe a little bit too strong, but Asha felt no regret. Kwang played the stereotype so far with all this clearly faked friendliness and the stench of cold, calculating professionalism behind it. She was from the same batch as Azula.

“No problem mom, she called me a big stupid prison guard at the beginning,” noted Kavi with a clear intention to save the situation. “Her disposition will improve over time. You definitely don’t have to judge her now just because of this!”

Kwang barely flinched, but her face hardened – a sign of irritation. The air in the corridor grew hotter and Asha knew well that it was coming from the woman. Her anger was rising, and so was her firebending power.

“The tribe is going to love you,” she spat out coldly in the end, and prepared to leave.

Asha followed her with her eyes as Kwang parted from Kavi and slowly walked away. She only stopped in the corridor to shot a stern look back at Asha. Of course, the young girl couldn’t leave this without bidding a proper farewell

“Hope you will have fun celebrating your victory over a bunch of helpless girls with the other ashmakers!”

Kwang just sneered.

“The only girl in that room was Princess Azula, as we all know, right?” she replied sharply. Asha’s face instantly turned red from the embarrassment. “And personally, I have no problem with beating women.”

And with that, she disappeared behind the corridor, leaving Asha and Kavi alone.

Kavi tried to be small and insignificant. It was pretty hard under Asha’s wrathful gaze.

“Did you tell her or what?”

It was a rhetorical question from Asha’s part, but Kavi still had the urge to answer it.

“She kinda’ found out on her own.” He took a big breath. “Look, you don’t have to be like this with my mother. Yeah, maybe she is a Royal Firebender, but nobody can be perfect. I know that as the part of the nobility, you are naturally inclined to spit on the members of that organization, but maybe you can make an exception with her.” He slid a little bit closer and gently hugged Asha from behind. “Can you do it for me?”

Asha sighed. As she repeated the scene with Kwang over and over again in her head, she had to admit that she was undeservedly rough with the woman. She should at least let her finish her sentence about why she knew how Asha was feeling about her time in the prison.

She still had a chance to learn this, though.

“Why did your mother say that she knew how I was feeling?”

Kavi stopped the cuddling for a moment. He hummed like he was unsure if he could tell this to Asha, and then gently spun her in his arms so they were facing each other.

“My mom was pretty much a captive of the Sun Warriors tribe for eight years. It is a… very complicated story, and she is not very proud about what she did then. I guess she referred to those times.”

This hit Asha badly. Now she felt horrible for being rude with Kwang. That woman just wanted to show some sympathy and she repulsed her just because of her prejudices.

Kwang played a nice game and in return, Asha had been a complete jerk.

She felt really, really stupid. And it was odd, because she wasn’t used to regretting her outbursts like this.

“Oh and there is something else!” said Kavi suddenly, breaking Asha’s chain of thoughts. “During her stay with the tribe, she had someone who comforted her: a boy called Kavi, her son. Very familiar, isn’t it? This Kavi sure knows something!”

At least this cheered up Asha a little bit. She playfully pinched his nose and snuggled up to him even more. She decided to hold no regrets about Kwang. She was a big woman; she would swallow this little incident after some time anyway. And then maybe they could be friends too.

“Your mom also said something similar,” she whispered seductively.

“Uhm…” Kavi staggered back as Asha pushed forward, towards the door of his room. “Is this going somewhere? Because I kinda’ want to know what happened with your shoulder and all that…”

“Don’t worry, it was nothing serious.”

“O… Okay…”

They finally got into the small room and Asha quickly closed the door behind them. This day had been horrible so far, but she was sure that she could at least end it with something good.

Keeper of Suki's firebending ancestry, the Kyoshi Warrior dojo, the love potion made from rainbows and sunsets and the mecha tanks.

My fanficions.

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« Reply #21 on: Mar 14, 2014 01:51 am »


The griddle was big and heavy. Ming used it to cook pancakes for half the prison, so it had quite the size and all the necessary durability too. Its thick plate was made from hardened steel and the wooden handle could probably take some punishment, too, before breaking.

“…so I asked the warden why we should clean those unused cells, and he said we would need them soon. Very mysterious.”

Kavi threw the remaining dirty plates into the wash-tub with a single sweep of his arms. He picked up a scrub and began to clean them one by one. His lack of skill with washing was painfully obvious. The plates he put on the rack were probably even dirtier than the unwashed ones.

“Of course those five women were completely useless. They didn’t even want to help at the beginning; they joined only after the warden specifically asked them to do so.”

It was late night, and the prison was silent and empty except the activity in the kitchen. Ming was on a leave so Kavi had to pick up her work. Or, rather, one of the new women was supposed to do it, but Kavi had traded the washing for a shift in the top level.

“I don’t even know why they are here. We have enough prison guards to keep the whole place locked down. We don’t need these women. They only make everything awkward and uncomfortable.”

Asha tightened her grip on the griddle. This day turned from fairly plausible to nightmarish in such an erratic fashion that the young girl began to lose thread on the actual progression of events. And the end was still far away. 

“Anyway, at least I could make this fancy little deal with that… Varija, or something. She actually looks like a decent person, unlike that… Sanga… or Senge… Agni help me, I can’t even remember their names correctly!”

She raised the griddle. Somehow, she had maintained her cool and kept her mind unclouded. And that was good, because she needed all her strength to accomplish the task Okako entrusted to her. She would have only one chance to do it.

“Like, seriously, it is just so obvious that they are some sort of elite covert ops team. But why are they are here? It makes so little sense!”

The time had come and Asha knew it. She sneaked behind Kavi and readied the griddle. She was perfectly silent. A falling leaf would have been louder.

Only one chance.

“Kavi, I love you!”

“I love you too, but wh…”

His sentence was cut short by the griddle. As he was turning around, the massive plate hit him right in the face. A sharp metallic clang and an awful crunching sound marked the victory of steel over flesh and bone.

With Kavi’s nose, Asha’s heart also broke into pieces.

The momentum of the strike was big enough to make the poor boy twirl around and smash into a nearby cupboard. Luckily, the furniture was tough enough to endure the impact and didn’t collapse on him.

Kavi made a strange grumbling sound, his face twisted into a dumb smile, and then he simply fell to the floor with the grace of a sack of beans.

Asha carefully stepped over to him and checked the body, with the griddle readied for a follow-up strike. But Kavi was knocked out. The sight nearly made Asha cry. She regretted her stupid action in the moment she had swung that griddle, but it only made things more painful for her.

“Gosh! I thought you would never make your move!”

Pema’s cheerful voice snapped out Asha from her misery. She appeared from behind kitchen door where she had been lurking and rushed to the body of the boy.

“Kyoshi’s blood, you knocked him out for good!” she noted. “The roughest breakup I’ve ever seen!”

Asha swallowed the urge to strike Pema too with the griddle.

“We are still together,” she hissed. “He will understand this and forgive me.”

Or at least that was what she hoped.

Pema replied only with a small, pitying laugh. She reached down to Kavi’s belt and took his keys. With the job done, she hurryingly left the kitchen, dragging Asha with herself.

Kitara cautiously poked the shoulder of the old man through the bars, but the only response was a loud snort. He was seemingly in a deep sleep and clearly lacked the mood to wake up.

Okako shook her head and left the small prison cell. She stepped over the unconscious body of the warden and turned back for a short moment to signal Kitara to leave too.

She glanced through the old man again, but he was still asleep. Or at least he pretended to be asleep. It was actually pretty transparent that the girls had woken him when they ambushed the warden, but for some reason, he chose to stay out from their escape attempt.

General Iroh - the traitor prince of the Fire Nation – didn’t feel the need to get out of the prison, even though he was in a much grimmer situation than the girls. And it was a real shame, because Okako had hoped that the Kyoshi Warriors could gain a powerful ally with him.

The silence of the corridor was broken by hurried steps. Soon, Pema and Asha showed up from behind the nearby corner that led to the higher levels of the prison.

“We need to hurry, Lieutenant!” began Pema without hesitation. “Something stinks here. The whole prison is empty. All the guards have mysteriously disappeared and I don’t like it.” She pointed towards the warden. “And what has happened with him?”

“Nirmal took him out for good!” inserted Kitara. “You should totally see it! It was awesome!”

“And what about Kavi?” asked Okako.

Asha just timidly showed her the griddle she was holding in her hands. Its plate had a huge dent on it. It was shaped like Kavi’s face.

Okako just nodded and gave a quick, reassuring hug to the young girl.

“Don’t worry. He is going to understand.”

Asha flashed a small, weak smile to Okako’s encouragement, but she already had tears slowly dripping from her eyes. She was in horrible shape as far as Okako could determine, but she was sure that the youngest Kyoshi Warrior would get over it quickly. They had no time to waste on lamenting lost boyfriends, and Asha knew it.

Okako gave the signal to move on, and the girls rushed through the prison to join Nirmal in the large main hall. Their healer had been sent here to watch over the entrance of the building, but the place was entirely devoid of people.

Nobody gave a second thought to this. Pema opened the large door with the keys she had gotten from Kavi, and they poured out into the prison yard like a pack of wild goat-dogs. Freedom was literally just a few meters away.

They didn’t even notice how unusually well-lit the prison yard was.

Nor the suspiciously wide open door on the main gate.

Only a couple more steps and they would finally be free. They would leave that stuffy prison cell behind, never to return. They would no longer have to endure Azula’s sick power games and they could finally live their own lives again.

Okako nearly screamed for joy. She was at the end of the group, making sure that everyone got through the door.

They were so close!

Pema was the first to realize that things were horribly wrong. As she led her sisters to freedom, she caught a shadow shifting, revealing the form of a person hiding in the darkness. It was just for a tiny moment, but the sudden shock of recognition immediately snapped her mind into the right place.

“This is a trap!” she screamed, but it was too late.

The five women leaped out from the shadows of the wall, and each of them charged a girl. Their ambush was almost perfect, four of them acted in complete unison; only the fifth woman launched her attack a bit out of rhythm. It was a small thing, but the whole situation was on an edge where even this slight deviation meant an invaluable loss of initiative.

She targeted Kitara, but her path crossed the way of Pema’s opponent and the woman had to stop to let her companion go. It gave Pema an opportunity to prepare, and she dodged the first attack with ease. The woman’s kicking leg hit only the air and her follow-up punch was disrupted by Pema’s counter-attack. The girl’s elbow sank into her stomach but the woman simply shrugged off the attack and returned the favor with a storm of quick jabs.

Flowers of pain blossomed on Pema’s chest as her defense collapsed under the furious offense. She blocked a few and somehow dodged the strongest blows but the majority of the jabs still hit her. As she stumbled backwards from the forces that raked her body, the woman swept her legs and Pema fell to the ground.

She blacked out for a second, but a sudden surge of strength brought her back. She stumbled back to her feet and just barely evaded a kick aimed at her head. Her vision was hazy but she still managed to catch the leg in the air and forcefully swing it sideways. The woman yelped as she partially lost her balance and Pema used the chance to give her own kick.

Her opponent barely had time to regain control over her movement when Pema’s feet struck her in her side. The woman hissed and struck out with an unbelievably fast punch. It was just a blurred streak, a lightning fast attack that Pema had never seen before.

Or at least she couldn’t recall any instance in that split second. She helplessly watched as the attack approached her face. She didn’t have even the slightest chance to block or evade.

The world turned black again for her, this time permanently.

Kitara took her opponent’s charge, and when the impact came she let the momentum pass through them and used the force to take the woman by surprise and her a strong push.

The woman evidently wasn’t used to this classic Kyoshi Warrior move and only managed to gain some control over her fall so she could roll it out and get back to her feet instantly.

This momentary broke the fight so Kitara had a chance to take a look at her opponent. The woman was maybe in her late thirties, with a strong, well-shaped body and a long, jet black hair. Her triangular face, small green eyes and stumpy nose gave her a very fox-like appearance.

But her moves were stiff and steady. Her fighting stance reminded Kitara of those large birds she had seen in the Earth Kingdom. The refugees called them cranes, and this woman’s pose was oddly familiar to those birds.

“I heard they had made you a weapon specialist!” she snapped suddenly, drew out two long sheaths from her belt and threw one of them towards Kitara.

The girl caught quickly it and to her biggest surprise, it was her very own Kyoshi Warrior longsword. As soon as her hand found the familiar grip, her self-confidence was restored to its best. She didn’t even wonder how this woman got her sword. It was finally with her and that was all that counted.

The woman had a simple, straight longsword and from the looks of it, she was a skilled user of the weapon. Kitara took a deep breath. No matter how happy her reunion with her longsword was, she had to admit that she had gotten the worse end of this fight. A real sword duel was not something she could take easily, as if it was some brawl. These were real weapons with real blades spilling real blood with each successful cut.

The woman attacked as soon as Kitara took her fighting stance. They clashed in a flurry of flashing blades, and the sharp, rhythmical clangs of the colliding swords soon filled the prison yard.
It didn’t take very long for the woman to regret her decision to let Kitara use a sword. The girl could see on her opponent’s face that she was struggling to keep up. Her stiff, deliberate fighting style was no match for the quick and fluid Kyoshi Warrior swordsmanship. Unfortunately for Kitara, what her attacker lacked in style, she compensated for with skill – she was clearly a seasoned fighter and her experience evened her odds.

But it was still just a thread short of enough. As the woman tried to launch another attack, her movement slipped, giving Kitara an excellent opportunity. The girl parried the strike easily, and as the blades met she suddenly twirled her sword and pushed forward. This trick took the woman by surprise and she lost control over her own weapon as Kitara’s sword twisted it out of her hand.

Kitara didn’t give her a chance to recover. She lashed out with her sword and the blade only stopped at the neck of the woman.
“Hah!” snapped Kitara with glee. “I’ve got you now!”

The woman hissed as she realized that she was defeated. She dropped her sword to the ground and kicked it away as a sign of her surrender.

“Yeah, this meeting isn’t proceeding as I expected,” she breathed heavily. Kitara couldn’t miss the complete lack of panic in her voice. The girl had a bad feeling about this so she pressed her sword a little bit closer to the woman’s neck.

“Well, jokes on me then!” Kitara’s voice was shaky from flutter. “Now, tell your friends to let us pass!”

“They are not my friends,” the woman flashed a small, uneasy smile. “And I don’t think that you can threaten me like that.” 

And this was the moment when Kitara realized why the woman was so bad in the fight: she was proficient in the use of a much different weapon. Kitara could feel it crawling up on her hands from the hilt of her sword, slowly encroaching her arm. It spread in a wave of itching, leaving only numb flesh behind.

Poison. The hilt was probably drenched in it but Kitara hadn’t noticed it in the heat of the fight. The girl began to feel funny. The world began to spin but her paralyzed body stubbornly remained in place.


Those were her final words before the woman spun into action, tossed away the sword from her neck and knocked the weakened Kitara unconscious with a single well-aimed punch.

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« Reply #22 on: Mar 14, 2014 01:53 am »

Okako’s opponent seemed to be the leader of the women. The girl could see her signaling the attack just before Pema screamed the warning. 

The woman reached her with a few bounding leaps and started their fight with a high spinning kick. Okako blocked the attack and caught the woman’s leg. One strong push and her opponent fell to the ground, hitting the flagstone of the prison yard with a pained groan.

Okako knew that she had to end this as quickly as possible. Their window of opportunity to escape from the prison was closing fast: she could already see Pema and Asha having trouble with their opponents and a little bit further Kitara had just began to fight a sword duel, even though Okako had no idea how their weapon specialist had gotten a sword. Things were slipping out of control and they were on a tight schedule.

Her opponent pulled herself together, but she didn’t enjoy this recovery for long. Okako’s knee hit her in the stomach and before she could recover she got an elbow to her nape. This combination of attacks nearly brought her down but to Okako’s surprise, she still managed to shake off the pain. She caught the girl’s right arm and twisted it, making her tumble down to the floor, too.

Okako’s sight turned red for a moment because of the sharp pain in her arm. It wasn’t just a simple twist as the pain was followed by a strange numbness, similar to the effect of Ty Lee’s chi blocking. But it wasn’t a big loss – maybe she had one arm paralyzed, but her left arm was still good, and Okako was ambidextrous, just like every other Kyoshi Warrior.

The woman, still dizzy from Okako’s previous attacks, made a weak attempt to punch her in the face but she missed. The girl took the opportunity and hurled herself at the woman. They immediately got entangled and their mutual attempts of wrestling only resulted in a chaotic mess of limbs, rolling around the prison yard uncontrollably.

They only parted when they bumped into the unconscious body of Kitara. The woman kicked Okako off and quickly got to her feet. The girl landed on her back and as she tried to brace herself on the ground, her hand found the hilt of Kitara’s sword. It was strangely wet, and as Okako grabbed it, a tiny spark of pain ran through her, but it quickly disappeared.

Okako felt a wave of power running through her. It was warm initially, but as it spread out in her body, it became cold and oddly comforting. The numbness disappeared from her right arm, as did the pain from the bruises she had accumulated. She shook herself and rose to her feet, with Kitara’s sword in her hand.

She was ready to end this fight. She was ready to kill. Actually, she wanted nothing more than to finally do that. To sunk her blade right into the woman’s chest. For a fleeting moment, she could feel a dark urge in her heart that pressed her to kill everyone. It was so strong that it nearly took her over, but Okako beat it back. She had better things to do than go into a fighting frenzy.

The woman also regained her senses: her movement became better coordinated, she assumed a defensive stance, and she began to gain some distance from Okako. Her face was as unfathomable as a calm pond.

They started to slowly circle around each other. The woman was careful to not provoke an attack and Okako kept a fair distance from her. The battle around them was close to an end and even though the girl couldn’t tell the actual result, she had a bad feeling that the Kyoshi Warriors had lost.

As she tried to get a better impression of her surroundings, she involuntary lowered her guard. It was an amateurish mistake, and the woman quickly seized the moment to attack.
Time slowed down for the young lieutenant. She could see the woman closing and she seemed to be floating in the air while doing so, one hand high above her shoulder to deliver a powerful strike while the other was low and open, ready for a grabbing attempt. Okako tried to do something with her sword, but her limbs answered to her commands with painful slowness.

She managed to point the end of the sword towards her opponent’s chest but the woman knocked the blade away easily. As her strike was about to reach Okako, the time flow suddenly returned to normal for the girl, bringing forth a cascade of sensations.

Mostly pain.

The punch was pretty strong and the world fell into darkness for a few moments. Okako could feel the sword slipping from her hand and oddly enough, she could swear to Kyoshi’s blood that her feet no longer touched the ground.

This last thing brought her back and as she opened her eyes, she realized that she was really flying in the air. Worse yet, she was on a collision course with the prison wall.

Okako had a tiny slip of time to reflect on how she had been thrown away by the woman like a bag of rice, and that for her at least, this would be the end.

Then she hit the wall and blacked out immediately.

Asha had one advantage over her opponent: she had a weapon. The griddle had already demonstrated its effectiveness and now it was time to prove it again.

She swung it towards the woman, but she dodged the blow. Asha moved closer to get a better angle and struck again. This time, her opponent chose to turn into the attack and launched a simultaneous counter-attack, kicking out towards Asha’s stomach.

The girl reacted quickly and threw herself sideways to evade, only to realize that the kick was a feint and the woman’s real target was her attacking arm. She caught it easily, and forcefully pushed it backwards.

To Asha’s biggest horror, the griddle suddenly changed direction and now it was moving towards her own head. Its deep whooshing sang the promise of a short fight.

As the heavy plate finally reached her face, the world exploded into a shower of stars. The concussion shook Asha badly, but it wasn’t enough to take her out.

The following kick did the job. It hit Asha in the face, breaking her nose and sending her to the ground.

Through the haze of pain, Asha could feel a spark of strength running through her body. It felt refreshing and stopped her nose bleeding, but couldn’t clear her head. The girl tried to stand back up, first getting to her knees then even stumbling to her feet somehow. She could only see a great soup of murky grayness with lights randomly circling around and her ears were full with a strange humming.

She blindly swung the griddle one more time, and it actually hit someone. Asha perceived this as a good sign and attacked again and again, even though she didn’t know who her victim was.

She finally lost consciousness around the fifth strike. The last feeling her mind could pick up was a warm embrace as someone caught her when she collapsed. She fell to the darkness thinking that this person must be her beloved Kavi.

Nirmal had very familiar vibes. Her opponent was a tough-looking, more muscular woman, with mean looks and a sinister smile on her face. She was like the adult version of Kei, the assault specialist and team bully of the Kyoshi Warriors. Even the distant memory of the girl made Nirmal shudder.

“Come on girl! Let’s play!” chaffed the woman. The resemblance between her and Kei became quite scary.

Since she had no better idea, Nirmal took the initiative and kicked out. Her attack was blocked and answered with a few swift jabs. They were all aimed at insignificant points so Nirmal simply took them instead of trying to dodge. The hits were unpleasant but far from really painful – and at the cost of this little nuisance she could retain most of her positional advantage, an important aspect she needed to beat this woman.

Their fight went on like this for some time. They exchanged blows with simple, quick strikes, taking, blocking and dodging hits to the rhythm of the battle. Nirmal wanted to get a clear chance to deliver a finishing attack. The woman just enjoyed the mutual beating, often voicing her satisfaction with short grunts and sneers.

From the corner of her eye, Nirmal could see Asha fell. The youngest Kyoshi Warrior collapsed to the ground but her opponent caught her and dragged her away from the fight into the relative safety of the prison wall.

And there was something else that perked up Nirmal’s interest much more: a pale golden aura surrounded Asha and as the woman who was fighting with her drew the young girl a little bit closer the same aura became visible around her too. Nirmal has already seen these auras when she met with that dog-daemon.

Nirmal circled around her opponent to get a better view of the prison yard, and her initial suspicion was proved to be true. Nearly all participants had the golden aura glowing around their bodies. For some - like Nirmal and her opponent - it has just appeared, slowly unfolding like the first rays of a dawning sun. For others, it was already so strong that their combined brightness colored most of the prison yard gold. Only the woman fighting with Kitara lacked the aura.

Even more interestingly, these auras grew stronger when they came close to each other. It was easy to notice as both Nirmal and her opponent now had clearly visible auras that grew stronger each time they clashed. And from the undisturbed behavior of the others, Nirmal could also deduce that she was the only person who could see these auras.

She had no time to ponder about this though. Maybe it was just the result of her encounter with that dog-daemon, maybe it was something completely different, but this ability quickly became handy. The auras flowed and pulsed, drawing strange formations into the air and often growing extensions that reached towards the nearest auras, trying to make contact with them. Their demeanor betrayed the intentions of their owners: the extensions were the signs of attacks, the flows marked movement and the pulses were blocking attempts. With this kind of information at hand, Nirmal slowly gained the upper hand. She could divine the actions of her opponent and it was more than enough to make up for the huge difference in skill.

The woman has noticed the shift and quickly changed attitude. Her attacks became more organized and now she clearly wanted to take out Nirmal as soon as possible. But her aura gave away the direction and timing of her strikes so Nirmal could block or dodge them easily.

And then the opening came, and Nimral’s patience finally paid off. As the woman launched a spinning kick, both hers and Nirmal’s aura sparked up, revealing a tiny crack on the golden veil around the woman’s waist. The girl acted quickly, and stormed her opponent with full force, aiming at that specific point.

It hit the woman unprepared and both of them tumbled to the ground. Nirmal quickly rolled to the woman and sat onto her chest, holding her down. Her mind was working like crazy on what to do next, but she was completely clueless.

“Just hit the bright spots!”

Ty Lee’s advice came from nowhere. The young acrobat had been saying this a lot during her chi-blocking lessons, but so far, the girls had no idea what she meant. Now, with these auras, Nirmal suddenly had quite a lot of bright spots to hit.

She picked the brightest one, a point just a little bit over the woman’s heart and punched it with full force.

The woman’s aura shivered and flashed up as if it tried to repulse Nirmal’s fist. She surely hit something very important.

For a short moment, there was no real effect. The woman began to recover from the fall and reached up to push down Nirmal from her chest.

Her move was shaky and irresolute, like she had no control over her own arms.

Then her body twisted and arced upwards as a terrible spasm ran through her. To Nirmal’s horror, the woman under her had a sudden and powerful seizure. She remained in one place but she was quivering uncontrollably, and her eyes rolled up.

Nirmal immediately recognized the symptoms: the woman suffered from a sort of mental illness that caused awful seizures like this on occasion. She knew that the woman would fall unconscious for some time, and even after she woke up, she would be in no condition to fight.

One down, four to go.

Just as this though ran through Nirmal, another woman rushed to her partner’s aid. She caught the girl and pushed her down onto the still writhing body of the other woman. She wrapped her arms around Nirmal’s throat and tried to strangle her. Her attempt was good enough to make Nirmal panic. The girl beat the air like crazy but she couldn’t get a hold on her attacker. The world began to turn dark as she ran out of air, and her muscles burned under the pent-up strain this fight put on her.

She would have fallen there, but a spark of will granted her new strength. Her right hand found the woman’s side and as it ran over the thick prison guard uniform, Nirmal discovered a warm spot on her opponent’s body. She instinctively pushed it with her fingers and the choking stopped.

The woman screamed up in agony and toppled down from Nirmal. As the girl looked back she could verify that she had just taken out another attacker. The woman was writhing on the ground, pained and grasping her side where Nirmal pushed it.

Nirmal barely had time to celebrate her big victory when she noticed an alarming phenomenon: her aura was slowly leaking away, towards her defeated opponents.

Not just towards. The golden light from her body flowed right into their auras, smoothing disturbances and filling up uneven parts.

And with each passing moment, Nirmal felt weaker and weaker. With her aura, her life force was also diminishing, and soon she felt exactly like a fourteen years old girl after ten minutes of heavy fighting and a good two minutes of choking.

She gasped for air and tried to gather some strength to at least make a run for the door, but all she could do was roll down from the unconscious woman. She just lay on her back, suffering the rough flagstone of the prison yard under her.

According to the noises, the battle was over and Nirmal had a strong vibe that the Kyoshi Warriors had lost. Or at least they, the novices have lost. As she watched her aura disappearing, she couldn’t withhold the notion that these women were not their enemies at all.

They were the Kyoshi Warrior initiates. They came here to watch over the novices. To prevent them from doing stupid things, like escaping from the prison.

In her exhausted state, Nirmal had no idea how their escape plan was wrong though. Maybe they could ask these women later.

And if we can, maybe I can find out something about these auras too.

Nirmal gulped and tried to get on her feet. But as she rolled to her side, a shadow fell over her. She looked up, only to see a foot coming towards her face.

It was the last thing she knew. Then the kick struck her in the head and knocked her out instantly.

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« Reply #23 on: Mar 16, 2014 07:09 am »


The prison cell has turned pale and unbearable since their pathetic escape attempt two weeks ago. It was no longer a place they could accept. With each passing day, the walls seemed to be moving closer and closer, slowly reducing their living place to only a small spot. They knew that it was just an illusion, though they couldn’t help but rearrange their beds in the center of the room as far from the maliciously advancing walls as possible.

They spent their nights clumped up, drawing comfort from the presence of each other, and it always helped a little bit. The days were terrible, though. They should feel cheerless and dejected, but instead, they were full of vigor and power. And their newfound strength had nowhere to go – their daily routine was insufficient to work it off and as it began to accumulate, their shrinking cell room quickly became suffocating and even more unendurable.

Okako did the seventy-third push-up but she still felt like she had at least a hundred in her. She was in top form; she had regained all the strength she lost during her captivity. It was exhilarating, but also very inconvenient. She wanted to get out and do something besides these boring push-ups, but those women were still there, watching over the girls like guard dogs. They couldn’t take a single step outside this cell room without at least two women escorting them everywhere.

Two days ago, there was some big ruffle around the Capital City. The girls could hear the sounds of battle for almost two hours, and another five hours later the prison was full with the defeated attackers. Okako and Pema had paid a visit to them, but thanks to the rigorous watch of three guardswomen, they couldn’t do much with that ragtag band of Water Tribe and Earth Kingdom soldiers.

It turned out that fighters from the Earth Rumble also participated in the battle and been captured, so Pema got the autographs of the Boulder and the Big Bad Hippo, but it was hardly a worthwhile result.

One-hundredth push-up, and still a hundred to go.

Okako snorted and stopped doing the push-ups. She flopped to the closest bed and picked up the small rubber ball lying there. Soon the ball began its travel to the ceiling, bouncing back to Okako’s hand only to be launched in the air again.

Of course, it all wouldn’t have left such a sour taste in her mouth if not for one thing: in the chaos, Prince Iroh had simply blasted his way out of the prison. It looked like the Kyoshi Warriors were stinky for him or something, that he chose to escape alone. Or maybe he had struck a deal with those women. That part was unclear.

Because these women… Well, they weren’t the most talkative people. After they recovered from their defeat, the girls tried to find out something about them, but everyone was super-secretive. Only Nirmal had a little success when she managed to get a threat from the tough-looking woman she had knocked out during the fight.

The woman told Nirmal that she was going to beat her to a pulp next time they met in the Kyoshi Warrior dojo. She said this with such confidence that the girls immediately got the idea that she had visited the dojo at least once in her lifetime.

When they asked her if she was a Kyoshi Warrior initiate, the woman just flashed a smug smile and walked away without giving an answer. She might as well have said ‘yes’.
Okako’s zigzagging thoughts were disrupted by a sharp metallic clang.


There were two people amongst the Kyoshi Warriors who rejoiced the morning following their escape attempt. One of them was Kitara. The young weapon specialist had gotten a gift from her opponent: her Kyoshi Warrior longsword. The actual meaning of this rather unintelligible gesture evaded the girls, but the fact remained that Kitara had a sword – though a carefully blunted one. This galvanized the girl, who now spent day and night with the weapon, but her new occupation needed lots of space. And even though Okako could swear that their cell had had enough room for sword training, it still felt like Kitara was swinging the sword above her sisters’ heads, adding to the general lack of comfort they suffered.

The door of the cell opened up and a young girl slipped through. She nimbly passed through Kitara’s training ground and landed on the beds, right next to Okako.


The youngest Kyoshi Warrior was the other girl who had something positive out of that escape attempt. She reconciled with Kavi the day after and their love had been burning at the highest degree ever since. This was good, as Asha had an opportunity to vent off her energies so at least she wasn’t overstrained like the others, but it was also bad as she spent a little bit too much time with her boyfriend. So far, Okako has tolerated her absence from trainings and discussions, but she was close to putting a shorter leash on the girl.

Pema entered the cell next, holding three envelopes in her hand. Okako sat up at the sight to make sure that her eyes weren’t fooling her, but it was true: they had mail.

“The leader-like woman gave these to me,” explained Pema when she noticed Okako’s surprised face. “There is one for Nirmal, one for Kitara, and one for all of us.”

“I have a letter?” Kitara quickly leapt to Pema and snatched the bottommost envelope. She checked it thoroughly before she broke the massive dark-red seal on it. “About time!”

Pema placed Nirmal’s envelope on her bed and gave the last one to Okako.

“I don’t know if you are curious about its contents though!” noted Pema with a wink. Okako couldn’t understand the meaning of this at first, but as she started to open it up, she noticed the name of the sender on the grayish-bluish paper.

She immediately handed it back to Pema.

“Ugh… I’ll pass on the opportunity I guess,” she added. Pema just giggled and opened up the envelope with a single tear.

“Why, who sent it?” asked Asha with confusion. She also sat up to get a better look. “Suki?”

“Not exactly,” sighed Okako. “It is from Kei.”

Pema pulled out a rather long letter full with barely readable scrawls.

“Just the stuff you would expect,” she noted dryly. “Rambling, rambling, rambling, she told us that this would happen, rambling, rambling, we are nothing without her, rambling, rambling, it is all Suki’s fault, rambling…” Pema frowned as she reached the last part. “…wow! She is in the Northern Water Tribe! She has been looking for us there!”

“But we are not in the Northern Water Tribe…” added Asha. “What is she doing there?”

“That’s a good question.”

The girls fell silent for a moment as they tried to digest the information. Kei wasn’t the smartest Kyoshi Warrior, but the Northern Water Tribe was way too far off course to be a likely direction for even such a narrow-minded person like the assault specialist.

“Okay I think I got it,” announced Pema irresolutely. “So, we told that pesky boss-lady in Full Moon Bay that we were going north to do some reconnaissance. And when Kei arrived, looking for us, that woman told her that we had been off north. So she went north, until she ended up in the Northern Water Tribe!”

“That’s easily the silliest thing I’ve ever heard,” murmured Okako. “Kei was probably mislead to a place where she couldn’t do any harm. Guess these women are behind that, too.”

Their pondering was interrupted by a cheerful scream. Kitara jumped into the air, still screaming from joy and landed amongst her sisters on the beds.

“I’m a Fire Nation citizen!” she shrieked. “And my name is officially Kitara Kyoshi!”

Okako took the letter from her hands and glanced through it. It was a pompous document full with flowers of rhetoric and superfluous gushing. But it was really from the Fire Nation Ministry of Internal Affairs and it really acknowledged ‘Kitara Kyoshi’ as a citizen of the Fire Nation.

And it wasn’t even the weirdest thing.

“It says that your annual habitation report is two-hundred and fifty years overdue.” Okako’s skeptical tone was impossible to miss. “You are getting negligent, Kitara Kyoshi!”
They all laughed on this.

“Kitara is actually a rather popular name in the Fire Nation.”

The unfamiliar voice instantly cut the laughter.

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« Reply #24 on: Mar 16, 2014 07:10 am »

The girls turned towards its source only to see one of those women entering the room through the door Asha had left open. She was the one who fought with Pema and had been knocked out by Nirmal. Her unremarkable appearance made her a little bit hard to recognize, but Okako had a hunch that it was intentional: her face was altered with carefully applied makeup to be plain and featureless, and her movement was clumsy but just to the point where someone could mistake it for the awkwardness of an average person. Oddly enough, she wore long red robes like the servants of the palace instead of the usual prison guard uniform, like she had come right from there.

It was clear from her approach that she had friendly intentions. The girls didn’t have a plan for a case like this – when those women took the initiative to get acquainted with the girls – and Okako had to admit that it was a glaring oversight. 

“It doesn’t make it any less ridiculous,” answered Pema coldly after a brief moment of silence.

The woman just shrugged.

“There are worse things in the Fire Nation bureaucracy. You can believe me, I have quite a bit of experience with them.”

“Who are you and what do you want?” hissed Asha. Her muscles were tightened and her body was ready to launch an attack any moment.

“My name is Kazue.” The woman slightly tilted her head so she could see all the Kyoshi Warriors in front of her. “I’m a Kyoshi Warrior and I’m here to apologize for the rough treatment we had to subject you. It… wasn’t our original plan. We only wanted to restrain you, maybe spook you a little so you would know your place, but it went out of control. Sorry for that.”

Okako raised an eyebrow. This ‘Kazue’ sounded honest, but there was something fishy behind her sudden appearance. She had no idea what, but it was there.

“Don’t rush your apology,” noted Pema coldly. “Nirmal is down in the kitchen. Guess we should wait for her.”

“Aoi, our lieutenant, is with her as we speak,” said Kazue instantly. “So don’t worry, we won’t leave her out.”

“Okay, apology accepted,” snapped Okako. She felt impatient and wanted to get to the real point quickly. “What else do you want from us?”

Kazue smiled, walked to the beds and sat down amongst the girls. This gesture took the young Kyoshi Warriors by surprise, but they didn’t move. Maybe they didn’t know this woman that well, but what they did know about her was that she was a Kyoshi Warrior, a sister for all intents and purposes, it was more than enough to trust her.

The woman stretched her limbs and yawned deeply.

“You know, the biggest problem is that your current situation is completely without precedent,” she said suddenly. “Normally, novices are not allowed to leave Kyoshi Island without the supervision of their instructor or another initiate.”

“Well, it is not like we could just ask any of you to escort us!” protested Pema, but Kazue’s angry glance quickly silenced her.

“Then why did you leave?”

A heavy silence settled on the girls. Okako could feel a ball growing in her stomach. Not just because they had just touched a sensitive topic, but also because the answer was now up to her.

“It is a complicated matter,” whispered Okako eventually. She hoped that Kazue wouldn’t pry into it more.

She was wrong.

“I have time, so please, tell me.”

Surprisingly enough, it was Asha who began to speak.

“The main reason was Kei.”

“Kei? Your assault specialist?”

Asha slowly nodded. Now everyone in the room was looking at her.

“Yeah. She became quite burdensome after that incident with Takumi…”

“Takumi? The son of Oyaji?”

Asha nodded again. Kazue’s jaws dropped.

“Kyoshi’s slippers, it is getting complicated! And what was that incident?”

“Mostly love. And stuff,” inserted Kitara. “Takumi tried to warm at two campfires but he burnt himself.”

Kazue laughed up.

“Oh! This sounds familiar!”

“ANYWAY,” Asha raised her voice to regain everyone’s attention. Kazue stopped laughing and looked back to her. “Kei became unmanageable for us. Only Suki could keep her in check, but it was very taxing for her. Kei was insufferable, Suki was stressed, and it soon took its toll on the group as a whole. And then, the Avatar visited Kyoshi Island and trouble followed him. The Fire Nation attacked our village but Suki and the Avatar saved the day.”

“I heard about that,” noted Kazue bitterly. There was something in her voice that indicated some sort of a feud in the past on these events. Okako always wondered why the initiates didn’t come to defend the island and now it seemed that they had a quarrel about it, and by the time they made their decision, it had been too late.

“It was an opportunity for us to get some fresh air,” continued Asha. “Kei was… unable to come with us and we felt that maybe we could journey to the Earth Kingdom and help those folks. Or at least that was the plan… I guess. In the meantime, Kei were supposed to finally cool down and join us later… Or something like that.”

Kazue raised an eyebrow and looked through the girls.

“You had no plan, did you?” It was hard to miss her scolding tone. “You heard the world calling and you just wanted to answer it. That was really, really unwise of you.”

“We just wanted to do something meaningful,” stated Okako, revealing what had weighed heavily on the girls’ hearts. “We trained for years to be Kyoshi Warriors and we wanted to put our well-earned skills to good use.”

“We wanted to find Instructor Tamara, for example.” added Pema. “But we ended up in the army of the Earth Kingdom. And the rest is history.”

“And Kei…” continued Okako. “She is just so powerful! She steals all the action! Our action! We wanted to finally take a piece of that, so we left her behind!”

This was the point where Kazue’s face changed from neutral to skeptical.

“Girls… I don’t want to heckle, but Kei is your assault specialist. It is her task to steal the action!”

The novices just sighed.

“With hindsight, it was a stupid idea,” admitted Okako. She now began to feel really downhearted. As she looked back, their whole adventure seemed like a big mess. They blindly ran into a war then found their way to the most dangerous places only to be captured by the enemy.

The more she thought about this, more she believed that they actually deserved this suffering at the hands of Azula. And this went a hundredfold to herself. As the lieutenant of the Kyoshi Warriors, she should have at least given it a second thought and stopped Suki. It was supposed to be her duty. But she failed and now all the girls were in danger because of it.

Her self-loathing was interrupted by a hand on her shoulder. It was Kazue, and she actually tried to draw everyone into the hug.

“Look, girls…” began the woman when all the novices were finally in her embrace. “You are strong, make no mistake. But your true power is unity. This captivity will serve you as a good lesson, but please… Never, ever leave your sisters behind!”

As Okako looked into Kazue’s grey eyes, she noticed a fleeting moment of sorrow on her older warrior-sister. It gave her a bad feeling that Kazue had been forced to learn this the hard way.

They remained like this for a good ten minutes. Then Kazue suddenly burst out from the group hug and left the cell in a big hurry, only stopping at the entrance to quickly wave goodbye to the girls. As she closed the door, Okako caught a glimpse of her face.

Kazue was on the brink of crying. She had held out so far, but she probably couldn’t take it anymore and just had to leave the girls. She didn’t want to scare them with breaking out in tears.

The door closed shut, but it didn’t remain like that for long. Mere seconds later, it opened up to allow Nirmal to enter. The healer looked worn out, just as she always did lately. She had gotten a very rough beating during their escape attempt, and her incident with Azula had impaired her mental fortitude, too. The obvious signs - like her black-ringed eyes, ruffled hair kept in a simple ponytail, and the ugly, still visible bruise on the left side of her face – were bad enough, and they only represented the surface.

She walked to the beds and simply collapsed into the heap of her sisters.

“Kazue is crying down in the hall,” she said dryly.

“Do you know anything about that?” asked Okako.

Nirmal nodded.

“Aoi told me the story. She presented it as example on why we should stay here until Suki and Kei find their way to us.” She looked up at Okako. “Guess Kazue tried to do the same for you, but she couldn’t take it.”

“She warned us that we shouldn’t leave our sisters behind,” noted Pema.

“Yeah.” Nirmal rolled to her stomach and Okako could see that she wasn’t really in the mood to recall the story. But she did it anyway. “The scout of Aoi’s team was a peaceful girl named Tae Me. She disliked the warrior aspect of our cadre and she settled down in a small Earth Kingdom village instead of following her sisters, who became mercenaries. A few years later, the Hundred Years War caught Tae’s village, and she turned to her sisters for help.” Nirmal took a deep breath as she reached the important part. “She could only find Kazue and Haruko, the healer. At that point, Kazue had to make the call: either hold back Tae Me until the other Kyoshi Warriors arrived or send Haruko with her back to the village while she scrambled the rest of the cadre.”

“She chose to send Tae Me and Haruko back, didn’t she?” interrupted her Asha.

“She did. And three days later, the Fire Nation attacked the village and killed everyone. Tae Me and Haruko didn’t even stand a chance. Kazue had forgotten that the Kyoshi Warriors must stay together, and two of her sisters died because of it.”

The girls had nothing to say to that.

“Why do I have a feeling that Azula has something to do with this?” asked Okako.

Nirmal shrugged.

“She has learnt the importance of our connections to our warrior-sisters. She uses this knowledge to her own advantage, pulling strings in accordance of the internal workings of our group. We can’t beat her because she has become the master of our own game.”

“Do you think that our defeat is inevitable?”

“As Azula said, she has already defeated us. Technically, at least. She is only waiting for us to admit it.”

“There must be a way to ditch her!” whimpered Pema desperately. As the one who was opposing Azula the most sharply, she had the hardest time swallowing this news.

“Aoi actually proposed a plan. But you won’t like it.” Nirmal took a brief pause to let the last sentence settle. “She said that we should accept Azula as our master…”

“No way!” snapped Pema. “How could we beat her with this? It doesn’t make any sense!”

Okako quickly hushed her and signed Nirmal that she could continue.

“…and serve her for a time being. Then, when our whole cadre is together, we can strike back and remove her for good.”

“Can’t we just try to escape again?” proposed Kitara. “Now with the initiates helping instead of beating us? Or are they really serving Azula here? Because it sure looks like that from the point where I stand!”

Nirmal shook her head.

“They are not with Azula. I wonder if our fire princess has even the slightest idea about their real affiliation. The initiates infiltrated this prison to watch over us.” She sighed. “The problem is that they can’t get Suki out. If we had escaped, Azula would have punished her for our action. That’s why the initiates had to prevent our first try.”

Kitara sighed but otherwise she accepted this answer.

“So that’s it? Even the initiates advise that we should give up?” Pema’s voice was shaky as she summarized what Nirmal told them. She was clearly on the verge of crying, with tears already rolling down on her face.

Okako crawled to her and reassuringly wrapped her arms around her sister.

“We are out of options,” she said, addressing her words to everyone in the room. “We have to get out, reunite with Suki and Kei and work out a solution with them. As it now stands, the only way to do this is…” She closed her eyes and tried to swallow the bad taste in her mouth. A few months ago, she wouldn’t have thought that she could utter these words. And now here she was, in the doorway to a complete defeat. “The only way to do this is to surrender to Azula and kneel before her.”

Keeper of Suki's firebending ancestry, the Kyoshi Warrior dojo, the love potion made from rainbows and sunsets and the mecha tanks.

My fanficions.

My Avatar RPG system.
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