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Chapter 35-Etake ValeEdit
An Hour After The Battle Between The Beinstyrke & The Republic's ArmyEdit
Omen sat forward slightly, "There it is!" Aang looked around her at the twin peaks jutting up even above the surrounding mountains, "Where? Up on those mountains?" Omen elbowed him gently, "I told you Etake Vale is under the mountains." Aang thought for a moment and remembered their conversation just over a week previously, "Oh yeah. Sorry, I forgot." Omen smiled over her shoulder at him, "It's ok, I'm just glad to be home."
Twenty Minutes LaterEdit
Omen and Aang hopped off Appa as they landed along with the Mammothines, and Aang paused, stunned at the sheer enormity of the cave before them. The entrance to Etake Vale was easily big enough that two Mammothines could have easily flown in at the same time. He didn't get to gawk long though; Omen caught him by the arm and pulled him along, "Come on, we've got to get down to the palace and talk to King Etachi."
Sokka and Katrina were suddenly walking alongside them, and Aang looked over his shoulder as he heard four massive sets of feet behind them and saw that the Churaians, Chit-Sang and Dread-Eye had joined them as well. Omen whistled as a team of sentries appeared seemingly out of nowhere in an explosion of snow. They quickly recognized her and snapped salutes. "No time for niceties!" Omen called, "Get word to King Etachi and Princess Iarna that we're here immediately. Get moving! We're on a tight schedule! Get the entire army and city watch out here. If they're asleep wake them up. If they're eating they can bring it with them as long as they bring their weapons too."
The leader of the guards blinked, "Certainly your highness, but may I ask why?" "There's an army bearing down on this location with enough firepower to demolish the city," Aang said bluntly, "We've only got a few hours at most, so you might want to get a move on." The guards all paled and ran to carry out their instructions as quickly as they had appeared. Aang smiled and turned to Sokka, "Hey Sokka, see if you can get to a good vantage point and keep an eye on the horizon to make sure they don't get the drop on us any more than they already have."
"Don't bother with that. Get these men to the plain a mile south of here," Iarna said bluntly as she appeared seemingly from nowhere, leading Aang to flinch away slightly in surprise. She turned to Omen, "I'm surprised at you Omen. You know we can't let them get anywhere close." Omen sighed as she realized her mistake, "Hi Ia. Still got that poker face of yours I see. You know most people would at least have the decency to pretend to be worried." She turned and whistled, prompting all the Beinstyrke to stop and look at her as she rattled their bones slightly with her magic, "Head for the plain a mile south of here!" She called, "We can't have any explosions near the city! It could bring the whole place down!"
The Beinstyrke nodded in unison and quickly began packing their war equipment back onto the Mammothines. Iarna turned to one of the guards as they began to swarm out of the city in a wave of figures blurred by speed, "Captain, take some men and get our Mammothines woken up and in their combat gear." Iarna turned and looked around, scanning the Beinstyrke, "Where's Graveren?"
Omen blinked, "Graveren? You mean Prince Graveren?" Iarna sighed as she remembered that Omen didn't know Marrow's real identity and had never met him before his supposed demise, "Yes but you know him as Lord Marrow. He sent his troops, I thought he would be here too." She sighed, "But I guess he had to stay and guard Full Moon Bay didn't he?" "Actually," Aang said, "He was gone by the time we got there. Said he was going to intercept a second army. The White something or other." Iarna raised an eyebrow, "The White Hunt?"
Aang snapped his fingers, "Yeah that's it. Wait, how did you know?" Iarna looked at him as though he were a hopeless buffoon, "I spent over a year in Omashu when I learned I was betrothed to Graveren. He had several skirmishes with them while I was there. Always came back bloody and hungry." She sighed, "Well at least he'll finally be able to wipe them out."
Omen recovered from her shock and said in a stunned voice, "Lord Marrow is Prince Graveren?" Iarna looked at her as though wondering if she were drunk or just a bit slow, "Yes. That's what I just said." Omen stared, "You told everyone he was dead..." "I lied," Iarna said bluntly. Aang blinked and looked from one to the other and back, "Wait, who's this Prince guy? What's the big deal?"
Iarna looked at him, "Where have you been for the last ten years? Prince Graveren Kaninstein is my fiancé, heir to the throne of Omashu, the most dangerous and possibly the most powerful Bone-Monger alive, one of the strongest proponents for reunification in the world, and before Omen was revealed to be the heir to the Imperial Throne he had a fair shot at the title. After he stormed Ba Seng Se alone two years ago, personally destroyed dozens of War-Mechs and single handedly burned half the city to the ground, we faked his death so that my family and I could lure the Black Hand cell in Etake Vale into open revolt. Finding out Omen's nature as an Imperial was a happy side effect."
Aang blinked and pulled Graveren's letter from his gi, "So this letter is for you?" Iarna looked at it, "Well that is my name on it." Aang handed it to her and she quickly opened it. Her eyes flickered back and forth across it as she read it before folding it back up and putting it back in the envelope before tucking it away into a pocket with a smile, "Bullshit. He was always such a hopeless romantic."
Aang tilted his head to the side, "What?" Iarna smiled, "He just wanted an excuse to write me a love letter and come see me. Somebody should have Lefko and Sylvie's heads for being such terrible enablers. I knew he was dying to see me, but I didn't think he was this desperate." Aang and Omen stared at her, "What?" Iarna smiled smugly, "Even if the White Hunt really is headed this way, Grav can handle all of them at once all by himself. If Toph's following them and helps him out, they'll finish that fight in minutes. As for these Mechs the Republic's sent, if you had seen him at Ba Seng Se, you'd know he's blowing this whole thing out of proportion."
She smiled and looked at the horizon, "Just wait, he'll come sailing over that horizon and apologize for being late right before he tears this army of the Republic's apart. Graveren's unstoppable. You just wait and see. Nobody can beat him. We just have to hold out until he gets here."
Graveren coughed blood as Lycaon's fist slammed through his breastplate and the bones beneath. Graveren's whole body shook with pain as the Kimarehto Knight's deadly claws curled around his heart. Lycaon smiled at him viciously, "Any last words?" Graveren smiled at him weakly, "So long... sucker!"
Lycaon's eyes widened as Graveren put the last of his strength into catching hold of Lycaon's ear. Before Lycaon could get away, Graveren electrified his armor, sending thousands of volts of electricity racing up the Kimarehto's arm, across his heart, up his spine and into his brain. Lycaon shook and Graveren roared with pain as the electricity made the Kimarehto's fist contract on his heart.
The spectacle went on for a few seconds which seemed like an eternity until Graveren's armor ran out of power. When it finally did, there was hardly anything left of Lycaon, just a smoldering statue of ash. Graveren slumped to his knees and with the last of his strength, pushed Lycaon's corpse away from him, even mustering the strength to get up and take a few shuddering steps toward Etake Vale. He only made it that far though. He collapsed to his hands and knees, clutching the smoking hole in his chest, "I...a..." then he collapsed onto his back and lay still, blearily aware of a taste like burning aluminum in his mouth through the pain.
A few feet away, a tiny gray mouse crawled from the ashes of Lycaon's body. Lycaon opened his red eyes and smiled.