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Chapter 26-The StormEdit
Three Days After The Imperial Party's Departure From Kyoshi VillageEdit
A Darkness which shall blot away even the sun
and allow only the jagged Flames of Death to shine through,
A thunder which shall shake the very Bones of the Earth itself
and bring their walls tumbling down,
A Ghostly Wind which shall ravage their armies
and blow out the flame of their civilization
And finally a Rain of Blood,
In which the rats crawling in the rubble shall drown.
These your Highnesses are your Horsemen!
Their coming shall be the ultimate storm!
One that will wipe the Republic from the face of the earth,
And ensure our survival for millennia to come.
The last thing Suki had done before the Imperial party's departure was to issue a prophecy. Now her words rattled around Aang's head ceaselessly. He had thought he knew who his horsemen would be, Old Gyatso and the Three Demons. Now though, he knew they would all have to be ancient, if they were even still alive. He scratched Appa's ears as he sat on the immense beasts shoulder looking out at the horizon.
Appa had been aboard the ship for a week and a half, and now as he looked over his shoulder at Aang, Aang knew exactly what his oldest companion wanted. Aang raised an eyebrow, "You sure Appa? It's been a long time." Appa's steady gaze seemed to have a frown in it, "Ok ok," Aang complied and quickly climbed onto Appa's back. He put a hand on Appa's back, "Wait a second. Omen!" Omen looked from the other end of the ship, "Yes?"
"Appa wants to go for a flight, do you want to come along?" Omen's face lit up with a smile and in a flash she was behind him, wrapping her arms tightly around his midriff, "I've always been curious about how this works." "Chimeras have Bone-Monger and Vampiri abilities," Aang said over his shoulder as Appa gathered himself for liftoff, "He could probably make himself look human if he wanted to." He paused for a moment, "You know, I think there's actually a legend about a city of chimeras that could-ah!"
Appa took off without any further warning, simply hurling himself thirty feet straight up and nearly bucking Aang and Omen off in the process.
Katara watched from the deck with a frown and sighed irritably. Sokka looked at her, "What?" "Nothing," Katara replied tartly. Sokka raised an eyebrow, "Really? You're wearing your somebody's about to die face and you think I'm going to believe nothing's wrong? What's wrong Katara?" "I told you it's nothing!" She replied angrily before storming off and going below deck. Dread-Eye looked over at Sokka from the helm, "What's her problem?"
Sokka sighed, "I don't know! I hate it when she gets like this." Dread-Eye sighed, "Well whatever it is, get it sorted. We do not need her and Omen at each other's throats." Sokka blinked and then looked at Dread-Eye, "What? Why would she go at it with Omen?" Katrina suddenly dropped to the deck from the rigging, "Think about it Sokka, before Omen arrived, Katara was almost guaranteed the spot of Empress, or at the very least a spot as the Emperor's consort.
"Now Aang's got Omen. Katara lost any chance she had at the throne the minute Omen came into the picture," Katrina continued, "And think about it, who's hurt him the most since he got back? I broke his nose, Dread-Eye made his scar permanent, but Katara?" Katrina made a slight face, "She gave him that scar, publicly humiliated him, and then kept abusing his affection." Sokka frowned, "What? What did she do?" Katrina and Dread-Eye both looked at him with a raised eyebrow, "Do you seriously not know what she threatened him with?" Dread-Eye asked.
Tonis and Mundo, who were mopping the deck at the foot of the stairs suddenly picked up their buckets and moved to the other end of the deck very quickly, not that Sokka noticed. He tilted his head to the side, "What are you talking about?" Katrina and Dread-Eye exchanged glances, "Um..." Dread-Eye raised an eyebrow, "You brought it up." Katrina made a face, "Really? I have to tell him?" "You told me and Chit-Sang," Dread-Eye replied. "Yeah," Katrina replied, "But you're not her brother."
Sokka's gaze flickered back and forth between them and he seemed to visibly swell with impatience, "What?! What are you two going on about?! What did Katara do?!" Katrina and Dread-Eye exchanged a very uneasy glance.
A few minutes later, Omen looked over her shoulder from Appa's back a few miles away as her Vampiri hearing registered Sokka's outraged explosion from the deck of the Albatross. She leaned forward and laid her chin on Aang's shoulder, "Hey Aang, let's stay up for a while, I think things might be getting a little heated on deck." Aang looked over his shoulder at her, "Well, I guess as long as we stay in sight of the ship we should be okay." Omen smiled, "Thanks." She raised up a little and kissed him on the cheek, earning a broad smile from Aang.
A few moments later a little butterfly of spectral energy came fluttering up to them. Omen looked at it curiously as Aang extended a hand and it landed in his palm, "What's that?" Aang smiled, "It's a specter message from Katrina." The butterfly cupped its wings so that they made a little bowl and suddenly Katrina's voice emanated from it, "Aang, Omen, Chit-Sang says there's a storm coming, so we're going to drop anchor at an island a little ways east of here."
There was a sudden burst of noise that made the butterfly's wings visibly shake and Katrina continued, "Also Sokka and Katara are having it out down here so I'd recommend staying up there for a while unless you want to lose your hearing for a while. Head for the island, we'll meet you there." Omen leaned forward, "I wonder what Sokka did?" Katrina laughed having evidently heard them the same way they could hear her, "Oh it's not what Sokka did. It's what Katara did."
Omen's eye bugged out a little, "So she really...?" "Looks that way," Katrina replied dryly. She paused for a moment, "If they keep this up, I may join you up there." The Churaians suddenly yelled in unison from the background, "Can we come too?" "No you can't!" Katrina barked at them, "We can't bring the ship into the bay without you three! Besides you're the ones who gave Katara the opportunity to do that!"
Aang looked over his shoulder at Omen, "What did she do?" Omen whispered in his ear what Katara had done and Aang's eyebrows went up as he began to process it, then his jaw dropped as the full import of what she had done hit him. He looked at Omen, "I could be wrong but isn't that...?" "Borderline criminal in Vampiri society?" Omen finished, "Yeah, I thought she was kidding about that."
"So you can see why Sokka's mad," Katrina said dryly through the little butterfly, "Apparently this is the first he's heard of her little indiscretions." Omen raised an eyebrow, "Little? There's nothing little about those three!" Aang looked over his shoulder at her, "How do you know?" "Katara told me," Omen replied without thinking, then she paused and covered her eyes, "Oh by Etake's Horn, I just realized how she knew that...ugh..." She shuddered.
Aang smiled, "Okay Katrina, we'll meet you at the island." "See you there," Katrina replied as there was another particularly loud burst of angry yelling in the back ground. Katrina sighed, "I'm going to see if I can separate those two. I may have to throw one or both of them overboard." "Go right ahead," Omen replied, "Just make sure you fish them out afterwards. They're the South's delegation to the Royal Court, we can't really afford to lose them both before we even make it back to Full Moon Bay."
Aang looked over his shoulder, "We can't?" "No Aang, we can't," Omen replied with a sigh, "I thought you grew up at court, surely you understand that we can't just bump off an entire delegation in times like these!" Aang made a face, "Back then I could have about anybody I wanted bumped off." Omen sighed, "Well now we can't unless they're criminals." Aang sighed, "Alright. Katrina make sure they don't kill each other."
Then he realized the little butterfly had disappeared already and raised an eyebrow, "Huh, guess she cut the line already." Omen raised an eyebrow, "I hope she doesn't kill them." Aang shrugged, "She probably won't, she's pretty level headed. Usually." Omen smiled, "Well, that's comforting." Aang turned Appa's head to the east, "Come on Appa, to the island!" Appa snorted and wove away through the sky as Omen's sharp eyes picked out the little patch of green and gray on the horizon.
About An Hour LaterEdit
The sky started to darken as the wind that had been blowing steadily for hours from the north brought dark clouds tumbling into the path of the sun. Aang and Omen watched from beneath the immense rocky overhang the Churaians had anchored the Albatross under as the rain began to pour outside. Omen looked up at the huge slab of rock overhead as the wind whipped the rain nearly sideways outside and the world continued to darken. "Just like home," she smiled.
Aang looked at her, "Is it usually this stormy in Etake Vale?" Omen smiled, "No, not the rain, the overhang. The whole city's built in a cave system that's miles and miles deep and wide. My family lived right at the outskirts of the city, in the very shallowest part of the cave before we found out I was the Empress." She smiled, "I used to sit on our roof and watch the rain and snowfall outside, listen to the distant roar of the wind as the sky cut loose with everything it had." She smiled, "I don't know how Iarna and Yue can stand living in the inner city, let alone the Palace. There's no sun, no rain, no wind or clouds or snow, it's awful down there."
She chuckled, "I've been thinking of having Shallow Fort turned into a winter palace. That way I can go home and enjoy the winter with my family without having to spend the whole winter down there in the Deeps." Aang frowned thoughtfully, "So is it nicer out in the shallower part of the city? That's weird, in every city I've ever been to, it was nicest right up close to the palace and got worse the further out you went."
Omen smiled a little sadly as she pulled her legs up onto the bench, "No, it's like that in Etake Vale too. The outer region of the city is, basically a slum. My grandfather's rule is more absolute there than the King's though, so I lived about as well as anyone could out there." Aang pulled her a little closer, "Who's your grandfather?"
Omen smiled, "Well now he's the Archduke in command of the outer region of the city. Before we found out I'm the Empress, he was the city's number one crime boss." She smiled, "He still is, but now his organization's borderline legitimate because nobody would dare cross him me and my dad and uncle all at once. Not after what we did to High General Pakku and the Black Hand." She smiled, "Oh the looks on their faces when we found out I'm the Empress."
Aang's ears perked up, this was the first he had heard her speak of her family and home, "What happened?" Omen smiled and snuggled against him, "Well, it started a couple of years ago..."