Tale of the DestroyerEdit
Lycaon and Mya padded into the low ceilinged shelter. Mya grinned at Azula in the way only a wolf can, "It's official, your Avatar isn't a tenth what he's cracked up to be." Azula sat up a little straighter, "You fought the Avatar?" "And his girlfriend," Mya replied cheerfully as she and Lycaon resumed human form. Azula's eyes hardened slightly at the mention of the water bender, "How did they fare?" Mya snorted with laughter, "I expected more! I could've gone toe to toe with a dozen of the kid at once! And his girlfriend was so angry she could barely talk, let alone fight properly." A smile slid across Azula's face, "Good."
"Saw your brother too," Lycaon said nonchalantly. Azula's gaze snapped to him, "You did? You've already assaulted the capitol?" Lycaon snorted, "No, he was flying around with the Avatar and his friends on some giant fluffy white thing. We bumped into each other. Really expected more from him. Quite frankly though, I found them all rather underwhelming." Azula blinked, as little as she wanted to admit it, Zuko had become a very skilled fire bender by the end of the war, and the blind earth bender was a formidable opponent as well.
Lycaon continued with a smile, "This is going to be so much easier now. They'll be quaking in their boots. Everyone in that town saw us beat them." "And they saw what you did to their Fire Lord," Mya added slyly. Azula blinked, a flash of doubt crossing her mind at Mya's words, "You did kill them right?" Lycaon laughed and shook his head, "No. Not yet." "Why not?" Azula exclaimed, certain it was folly to leave the Avatar and Zuko alive. Lycaon chuckled, "For one, I don't think you grasp just how thoroughly we beat them."
Then he continued, "Two, now the armies of the Fire Nation will be scared to face us. Three, I don't think your brother's going to be in any shape to fight any time soon, if ever again." Azula went slightly pale, "What did you do?" Lycaon shrugged, "I turned him into a living warning." Azula went paler, "What did you do?" Lycaon sighed and raised a hand, "I burned the imprint of my hand onto the front of his skull. Leveled his face out a bit, burned five nice wide stripes into his hair reaching almost all the way to the back of his skull." He continued bluntly, "He'll live, but I'll be surprised if he can still see out of that eye."
Then before Azula could say anything, Lycaon grew a bone boomerang from his palm and gestured with it, "By the way, what do you call this thing? One of the Avatar's friends hit me in the back of the head with one of these." Azula was still reeling with shock at the horror of what Lycaon had described.
She had smiled when Zuko received his first scar, thinking her father meant only to scorch him slightly, public humiliation and a light burn that would have healed in a few days or weeks at the most. She knew that initial smile at what she had thought was going to be a light punishment was all anyone would ever remember. Nobody remembered how the smile had turned to a look of horror as the burning continued, or the squeak of fear and shock that had escaped her as her father announced her brother's banishment.
Now Lycaon had made that initial scar look like a tiny blemish, "You scarred Zuko and left him alive..." Lycaon raised an eyebrow, "Yes." He frowned, "I'm sensing a question here, but you have to ask it or I can't answer it." "Why?" Azula whispered, "Why would you do that?"
Lycaon tilted his head to the side, "Why wouldn't I? You said yourself he's a traitor to his people, and he's the only thing between you and the cooking fires." Azula's eyes widened and she let loose a little squeak of terror, which she would later deny having done. Mya elbowed Lycaon and he looked at her in confusion, "What? It's true. She's next in line to the throne. If I had killed him tonight she would be the only available royal for the victory celebration. I don't know about you Mya, but I have no desire to eat her."
Mya thought for a moment and then frowned, "You know 'Caon, I can't recall you ever leaving an enemy royal alive for later, and quite frankly I'm really curious to know, why DON'T you want to eat her? You've never hesitated to kill, not since-" She caught herself before she could mention the Clan Wars. It was a touchy subject with her brother she knew.
"Since what?" Azula asked. Lycaon sighed heavily through his nose and Mya hurriedly said, "You know, I think you two need some alone time," and quickly slunk out. Azula looked to Xex, who was sitting in wolf form next to Ty Lee's sleeping form and saw that Xex was subtly shaking his head in warning, eyes wide in fear.
Then Lycaon spoke, "My sister refers to the day I earned the title "Destroyer," and Xex is trying to warn you not to bring it up because he knows how terrible my wrath at the mere memory of that day can be." He sighed heavily through his nose again and Azula thought she heard a hint of sadness in the sigh. Azula's curiosity got the better of her, "What happened?" Lycaon inhaled deeply and Xex moved to cover Ty Lee, certain Lycaon was about to unleash a terrible vent of his infamous fury.
Then all the air seemed to go out of Lycaon, "What happened Azula? The love of my life was murdered the very day our parents learned of our, up until then secret, romance and consented to our union. It should have been the one of the happiest days of my life." Lycaon's eyes screwed shut, "She died in my arms." Azula's eyes widened in shock at the depth of the pain in his voice. Before she could try to console him he continued, "My fury at her murder was so great that I stormed the city of the Spider Clan, the ones responsible for her murder, all alone."
"I pulled their city down with my bare hands and slew them all before dawn came. I painted the city red with their blood, and when dawn came, all of Kimar was on the surrounding hillsides, staring at me in horror. That's when I realized I didn't care about the blood on my hands and staining my fur and teeth. I realized, I didn't care who or how many I killed. None of it mattered to me anymore. My conscience had died with Kumiho."
Suddenly Azula gasped and Lycaon was snapped out of his reverie as she collapsed sideways onto the ground, writhing in apparent agony, clutching her head. Lycaon quickly scooped her up and held her close, having not the faintest clue what was going on. Suddenly Azula's eyes snapped open and she gasped, trying to breathe, her golden eyes now shot through with emerald green as her hair flashed silver before fading quickly back to black, along with everything else Azula was aware of.
As she fainted, Xex exchanged a stunned look with Lycaon whose heart had stopped for the space of several beats in shock. Suddenly tears sprang to Lycaon's eyes and he began to laugh as he hadn't in nearly a hundred years as he hugged Azula close.
Azula for her part was completely overwhelmed as a lifetimes' worth of memories flooded her mind at the mention of her old name from the person who had meant more to her than anyone else, quickly making her blackout from the overload. She tried to reconcile the two lifetimes struggling to dominate her memory, remembering her family as their faces flashed before her eyes.
Her father Ozai, never a particularly benevolent and sometimes even tyrannical figure who had abandoned her on the day of the Comet, and then Kumiho's father Raijin, a brilliant warrior and teacher who would never have abandoned his children.
Her mother Ursa, gone when Azula was only a child without even a word of farewell, then Kumiho's mother Inari, kind, clever and ever-present.
Her brother Zuko, who had betrayed his people, and then Kumiho's siblings, her brother Raiju and sister Piju, always at her side and as formidable and devoted of guardians as her people could ever have asked for.
She remembered her sole attempt at romance with that cowardly fool at the beach whose name she had forgotten, and then she remembered the hordes of suitors that had clamored for Kumiho's attention and the lone warrior who had unexpectedly won it on the battlefield. As her life flashed before her eyes, seeming to her an endless litany of failure, she felt tears trickle from her mind's eyes, wondering if she should just release her hold on her body for the altogether more successful Kumiho.
Then everything went dark and the images stopped flashing. A woman stood before her, young and beautiful, but the hair braided and hanging over her left shoulder was still silver. She wore light metal armor accented in blue, and at her sides were the twin halves of her bladed staff. Her eyes were a deep green and her smile was slightly more to one side than the other. Then she spoke and Azula was shocked to hear her own voice, "But I wasn't more successful than you was I, Azula?"
Kumiho, for who else could it have possibly been, waved her hand and an image appeared of Azula sitting the throne of the Earth King in Ba Seng Se, "The Clan Wars raged on Kimar for nearly fifty summers. I slew countless enemies, but I could never have conceived of a way to finish the war, and I was older than you. In less than a year, you ended a war that had been going for a hundred summers, and the only life you took was that of your staunchest and most terrible foe." "But the Avatar survived, and we lost anyway," Azula said quietly.
"Irrelevant," Kumiho said with a hint of steel in her voice as an image of airships flying over the capitol appeared, "it was your plan that turned the invasion on the Day of Black Sun into a rout of the Avatar's forces. Without you the Fire Nation would have fallen that day."
The image changed again, this time Coronation Plaza on the day of Sozin's Comet, "Had you not been at your absolute lowest point when the Comet came, you would be the Fire Lord now, and even at your lowest point, you beat your brother. At my strongest I would have been hard pressed to best either of my siblings. You only lost that day because you were alone and half out of your mind with grief." Azula looked her former self in the eye as Kumiho continued.
"Now you have regained the power you had when you were me, plus your own ten-fold. You have Lycaon. You have Ty Lee. You have me. Now pull yourself together and remind the world who you are." Azula's chest swelled slightly, Kumiho's pep talk bolstering her old confidence, then she shrank slightly, "But, what about you?"
Kumiho laughed, "Azula, I'm not going anywhere, and neither are you. We're not separate; just as the Avatar has his previous lives to guide him, so I can guide you." She laid a hand on Azula's shoulder and disappeared, her memories and Azula's suddenly lining up as the two lifetimes, the two personalities, became one.
Nearly One Hundred Years EarlierEdit
Lycaon swallowed nervously as his siblings and father looked at him wide-eyed and slack jawed. He had just told them that he had been seeing a woman from another Clan, one of their most formidable enemies no less. Then Kyvon spoke, "Isn't she the one with the blue and grey armor and silver hair that's tried to kill you on several occasions?" Lycaon nodded. Kyvon's eyebrows went up in disbelief, "You're kidding right?" Lycaon cringed internally and then Kyvon yelled, "Congratulations! That is fantastic! She's gorgeous!" and leapt to hug him. Lycaon blinked in surprise and hugged his brother back a smile growing. Then Kyvon stepped back and looked at their father and sister, "You do know who he's talking about right?"
Mya thought for a moment, "The middle one?" Lycaon nodded, "Yes." Mya sighed, "Well I was hoping you had fallen for Huitzi, I miss being friends with her, but I guess you're not going to..." Lycaon blinked, he had never even looked at Huitzil of the Bats that way, then Mya exclaimed, "When do we get to meet her?"
Lycaon blinked, "Um, I was going to bring her here tomorrow. That is, if Dad doesn't mind?" He looked at his father imploringly. Iath exhaled through his nose thoughtfully, Kyvon and Mya gathered themselves for a whirlwind of protest in the event he said no, then he spoke, "Raijin has always been an honorable man. If he will agree to this union, I will not oppose it." The cheers of the triplets stirred the whole city.
At midnight that night, beneath a full moon peaking through the cloud cover, in a stand of cherry trees, the only kind of tree which was allowed to grow on Kimar, on cobblestones left behind from a structure nobody remembered, the place where Lycaon and Kumiho had met each other in secret near every night for the past year, Kumiho died in Lycaon's arms as poison finally inflamed her heart beyond beating. Lycaon's roar shattered the night and brought all the wolf clan running from their city on the horizon. By the time they got there, Lycaon was gone.
Iath, Kyvon and Mya had bulled their way to the front and quickly recognized the signs of the Spider-clan's poison. The entire Tenth Legion set off as fast as they could for City of the Spiders, knowing that was where Lycaon had gone. They went with the intent of helping him, passing the city of the Fox Clan as they went and leaving half their number to search for and aid any survivors.
By the time they arrived at the City of the Spiders, Lycaon was tearing it down. He had surrounded the city with a ring of flames to ensure that none could escape him. The screams of the Spiders could be heard at the other end of Kimar, drowning out the sounds of battle between the Bat and Dragon clans, halting their battle and bringing them winging towards the disturbance, their battle forgotten.
They were the third party to arrive, preceded by the Birds and the Fish, who were closer. At first the Bat and Dragon Clans thought the others were attacking the Spiders, then when they realized the wolves and birds and fish weren't advancing into the valley, they landed and were informed of the magnitude of what was happening. They saw one lone spider warrior make it beyond the city's eastern gate as the Spiders' towers collapsed behind him, only for a bone spiked whip to rocket out of the dust and darkness wrapping around his neck and decapitating him before he could get ten paces from the gate.
The destruction went on, so complete and terrible that none dared interfere, even as all of Kimar came upon the scene, drawn by the screams of the Spiders. For the first time in nearly fifty years, Kimarehto moved between clans freely, sharing in the horror of the Wolf-man's fury, spreading the tale of the Fox-Clan's demise. Even the Fox Clan's bitter enemies the Snakes and the Birds bowed their heads in mourning and horror at the magnitude of what the Spiders had done, and the magnitude of the vengeance now being wrought upon them.
As the first hints of orange stretched from the horizon, a terrible roar thundered outward from the center of the now demolished city as Lycaon collapsed to his knees in exhaustion, his work done and his fury spent. He was too tired to even cry at the horror of what he had done as he looked and saw to his amazement that all of Kimar was staring at him. Then he rose to his feet wearily, knowing what Kumiho would have wanted done next.
He roared again before gathering himself and thundering out an ultimatum, "This war is over! Too long have we fought among ourselves, and too much has it cost us. This war is OVER. You Knights of Kimar, you will convene the council and you WILL elect a new king! This has gone on long enough! It is time to end this, before all of Kimar burns!"
The Knights convened that day, and a week of debate later, Kyvon was named King of Kimar, but not until after Lycaon had refused the position.