Monthly Archives: October 2015

I owe an explanation I suppose….

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Believe it or not there is a reason for my radio silence the past few weeks. No, I don’t suddenly have an overly active social life. Rather I have a degree that is out to kill me. That and I had the mother of all colds (read: cold and Fresher’s flu at the same time) for the past week. And when I say my degree keeps me busy, I mean it in the no-time-to-eat-and-sleep way. It came to the point when I was catching naps between seminars and lived of toast and Starbucks coffees.

I wish I could say that this is the post where I announce my triumphant return. Unfortunately no. My load won’t be getting any lighter up to at least January. So rather than adding to my stress levels and producing sub-standard posts I decided to take a TEMPORARY hiatus. I am not abandoning this blog. Instead I’ll take a break until my schedule is a little more manageable and come back (probably in January) with new content and more energy and time to devote to my little corner of the internet.

Until then peace out and thanks for all the hits/likes/comments and overall support. I promise I will be back!

All my love,

LiatheBookworm. ❤

Twilight of the Spirit World: Ruins

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Author’s note: In which more things than a building lay in shambles, angry words are spoken and after much deliberation the author decided that no, she is not through tormenting her characters. Also, in which the author could not read her own outline properly and stuck the opening scene for the chapter as the final seen of the previous one. Make of that what you will about my writing process.

Previous chapter: link

Next chapter: link

***Ruins***

It was only Aang’s relative calmness that saved them from an incredibly gruesome death. The Avatar bended a funnel of air around them, slowing their descent enough to save their lives. Even so, there were a lot of pained groans as everyone picked themselves of the ground. Behind them the temple collapsed under its own weight, the damage done during the battle too great for the ancient structure to withstand. Aang hurriedly pushed the massive cloud of dust that rose away as they all watched in frozen silence. Almost all that is. Lia, despite the strain on her very essence that the Air crystal had put was the first to get over her shock, white hot fury replacing it as what exactly had just happened sunk in. She turned to Agni and with every step she took towards him the ground under her feet smouldered, what little grass there was around lighting up with sparks that escaped from her hair. She was silent but it was the silence that comes before the lightning storm and Agni watched her warily. The crystal that still hung around his neck glowed for a moment before turning even darker. Lia grasped it, forcefully tearing the chain from his neck and fastened it around her own. Sokka opened his mouth to say something, anything to break the tension, but Ao silenced him with a look. Anything could set Lia off at this moment and none of them wished to be at the receiving end.

 

In the end the redhead was the own to break the silence.

“The crystal was right there,” she said in a voice ominous in its calmness. Even the flickers of fire around her seemed to pause expectantly. “It was there, I could have got it and victory would have been easy. And you,” her eyes flashed and without warning lightning struck between her and Agni, “STOPPED ME?”

“If I hadn’t, we would all have been buried under the rubble,” Agni snapped back, his own temper being on a rather short fuse after everything that had happened. “All the power in the world cannot save you if you are not able to harness it properly.” The ground was beginning to melt around them, creating a small stage for their confrontation. Lia laughed scornfully.

“With all four elemental crystals on our side?” she scoffed. “We’d have burst out as easily as melting snow and you know it. Are did you feel like giving the other side a sporting chance?”

“Don’t patronise me! I know far better than you what these creatures are capable off. You’ve never had to deal with them. Or do you think I get away with everything I do just because I don’t make a scene all the time?”

“Don’t make a…when have you ever been involved in anything major and NOT caused a scene? I’ve seen you do nothing but cause scenes since the day I met you!” Agni raised an eyebrow.

“I don’t recall you complaining about me causing a scene back then. In fact I distinctly remember you being glad to see me.”

“It’s not like I knew better.” Lia crossed her arms, in a posture that was half-confident, half-defensive. “I was more concerned with those firebenders of yours.”

“Yours too love. You just didn’t know it yet.” Lia actually took a step back when she heard this.

“Never mine,” she said. “How could they be? I was mortal. You made me a Spirit.” Agni shook his head.

“You were an elemental confined in the body of a mortal. You just needed the right push to reveal your true nature.” Lia’s eyes widened in disbelief.

“Is that what you think happened? I would give back every single moment of eternity that I’ve spent if it meant keeping that day from happening.” Agni took an angry step towards her, his anger finally loose as he spoke without thinking:
“And I wouldn’t! Your place was and still is at my side as my equal and opposite and even if I could go back to that time I would not change a thing. I’m glad everything happened as it did.”

 

The hush that fell after that statement could only be described like the vacuum of space. All the fires around the two Spirits extinguished and even the air seemed to grow colder. It seemed that all the warmth, the fire, the very life of world around her had condensed in a ball of energy that shone like a tiny sun on Lia’s hand.

“Get out of my sight,” she told Agni murderously. “Now, or I will not be held responsible for what I will do.” Agni seemed to realise that there was no going back from what he had just said. With an angry curse he disappeared, leaving the faintest trail of smoke behind him. No sooner had he disappeared that Lia turned and without warning hurled the ball of energy at the remains behind them, reducing them to dust even as she screamed in fury. Over them the sky seemed to mirror her emotional state as it rumbled, sinister clouds appearing out of nowhere and the wind picking up. The lightning storm that her earlier chilling calm had promised was upon them.

“We need to find shelter!” Katara yelled over the sound of the storm, effectively breaking through the spell of horrified awe that had fallen over everyone. “Ao, can you get us out of here?” The blue-eyed Spirit nodded, his brow furrowing in concentration as he cast his mind, trying to find the closest place that could offer them sanctuary. They were all too exhausted to manage a long-distance teleportation at that point. Finally he nodded curtly.

“Got it!” he called out to the others, motioning them to step closer.

“Wait!” Zuko called back, noticing that Lia was still standing at the heart of the lightning storm she was conjuring, too wrapped in her own fury to notice the danger. Her brother ignored the alarmed yells of his friends and ran to her side.

“Lia!” he yelled, grabbing her by the shoulder and trying to shake her out of her trance. For the longest moment it seemed like he wouldn’t get through to her. Then Lia’s eyes focused sharply in his, helpless fury to concerned care, and she followed him silently to where the others were waiting. As soon as they had stepped close enough Ao transported them.

 

The ravaged landscape where the tower once stood disappeared and was replaced by a forest clearing with a small pond. The contrast between the two was eerie and more than one person shuddered at the sudden absence of the howling wind and sparking lightning. The group looked at each other in uneasy silence. Lia, seemingly having gotten her emotions under control for the moment, gave them a cursory glance. Most of them avoided her gaze, even though Zuko, Katara and Ao were giving her concerned but sympathetic looks. The redhead managed a small bitter smile before she turned and disappeared in the forest.

In which I am tireeeeeeeed

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Big surprise I know, but dear gods my schedule’s killing me! You know how in high school “independent study” meant free time and in an undergrad degree it mean procrastination? Yeah, no. Now it has the more pleasant connotation of “study till you drop. Then study some more.” Hence the series of late posts. Hopefully I’ll back on track by next week so I don’t end up waking early and going to bed late in order to keep up with everything.

Here’s to hoping I suppose….

Although that might explain my default mood of:

alarm clock

Twilight of the Spirit World – The Temple

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Author’s note: In which there is tension mounting, deadlines approaching and a very evil cliffhanger, curtesy of the author.

Previous chapter: link

Next chapter: link

***The Temple***

Even with Katara’s healing abilities, Azula’s injuries caused the group to slow down its progress. This was not necessarily a bad thing considering that none of them had much of an idea where to go next. So far they had been following the trail of clues provided to them by their friends and allies. Now they found themselves at a loss. Nobody, not even Agni who was by far the oldest in the group knew where the Air Elementals resided, just that they were as flighty and elusive as their mortal counterparts had been. A quick trip to the Library for more clues was out of the question, what with Wan Shi Tong probably out for their blood. The parchments that Sokka had stolen proved to be more unhelpful than they had initially realised. They were written in such a complex code that none of them could make heads or tails of them.

 

The rendezvous time with the rest of the army was fast approaching, bringing with it nervousness, short tempers and an overall gloominess. Even Ao, who was probably the most careless in the group, seemed to be dragged down by the atmosphere. Lia had taken to not speaking unless absolutely necessary, seemingly convinced that she might admit something she should if she said more than five words at a time. It made the rest of the girls feel worse, since it was their prodding, no matter how well-meant, that had started it. The boys in the group, sensing the nervous tension, were walking on eggshells. It seemed that even the slightest thing might cause an explosion, although when it finally arrived it wasn’t quite in the way any of them expected.

 

Amongst the many things that Agni had not taught Lia was the art of pickpocketing. However, he lacked the manners (and some might say morals) to hesitate to “borrow” somebody else’s things. Which was how he ended up one night, long after everyone else had fallen asleep, shifting through Sokka’s parchments by the slowly dying embers. True he had had a quick look at them before, but they had been snatched out his hands by some of his more impatient co-travellers before he had a chance to really study them. And despite the tentative truce that had existed since their stint at the swamp the others were still a little wary of him. Add to that Lia’s sudden depression and Agni was determined to end the war brewing at the horizon at his own terms. Not at it would be easy. He had already studied half the parchments and even if he had an idea on how to decode the rest, the text did not seem to offer any help. Determined not to give up he picked another leaf and scanned the opening lines. His eyes widened and he read them again more carefully. Within moments he was frantically searching through his satchel for any sort of blank surface and –after finally finding a few loose leaves- scribbling down the text’s translation. It seemed like Sokka’s strange brand of luck had struck again.

 

The morning dawn grey, with the promise of storm clouds looming in the distance. The heavy weather didn’t encourage anyone to leave their tent bright and early but at last they all gathered around the rekindled campfire where Katara and Suki were teaching Azula how to cook. Lia and Toph sat next to them, fiddling with their crystals nervously. The quiet conversation between the girls stopped as soon as Agni approached.

“What do you want?” Lia asked warily, her grip tightening around the burgundy red crystal until her knuckles turned white. Her partner gave her an unreadable look before handing her a parchment.

“Courtesy of the Library,” he said simply before moving to stand a little away.

 

The redhead looked down on the page with a slight frown, her eyes skimming through the lines. Then, to everyone’s surprise, she swore loudly and jumped to her feet.

“We need to leave,” she said, hurrying to the closest tent and starting to pack. “NOW!” she barked when she realised the others were frozen to their spots.

“What’s going on?” Zuko asked her alarmed, moving to help her nonetheless. She waved the parchment she was still clutching to his general direction.

“We had the location of the Air Crystal all along,” she explained exasperated. “We just didn’t know it.” At these words the others jumped to their feet, breakfast forgotten completely and rushed to shove everything in their bags. As soon as everything was put away, and any sign of their campsite hidden or erased, the three Spirits formed a triangle around everyone else, pooling their energy together. A sphere of lightning blue energy crackled around the group for a moment before everything turned white.

 

When the world re-materialised around them they were standing near the edge of a cliff. In front of them was one of the biggest stone buildings anyone of them had ever seen. Built out of white and grey marble it towered and somehow blended with the heavy sky above. The wind seemed to batter at it from every direction and as they entered it they realised that not even the inside was safe. The deceptively solid walls were littered with small, almost invisible holes that left drafts rush in and created an eerie music in the air. Light drifted in sporadically as well, lighting the dust around them like little floating flakes of silver. Their footsteps echoed oddly inside the empty halls as they ran from one room to the next, desperately looking for any indication that the Air Crystal was still there.

“We need to go to the top,” Aang said suddenly, the only one in the group not breathing heavily. Sokka opened his mouth to add a comment but he could only wheeze for breath. He had never felt so starved for air even when Aang had flown Appa higher than usual.

“Closer to the element,” Azula managed to gasp in agreement as they hurried towards the large staircase that dominated the middle of the building.

 

By the time they reached the highest floor even Aang was struggling for breath. The grey-white crystal floating serenely in the middle of the room seemed to absorb all the air around it, the soft light it exceeded pulsing mesmerizingly with the short breaths everyone was taking.

“Well, hurry up Avatar!” Agni managed to say through gnashed teeth. He could feel his very essence being distorted by the uncontrolled energy and if Lia’s glazed eyes were any indication she wasn’t doing much better. Aang nodded once and moved closer to the crystal, swallowing down the nausea that almost overtook him as his hand wrapped around it. But before he could actually grab it, the Crystal zoomed upwards meshing itself with the ceiling high above them. The airbender had barely a chance to widen his eyes in surprise before a coil of energy shot from the opposite side of the room and hit him square in the chest.

 

Too late did they realise that the hall had another entrance and their pursuers had caught up to them again. Toph and Katara where the first to jump to action, their elemental attacks being enhanced by the crystals burning against their skins even as Azula and Suki dragged Aang out of the line of fire despite his loud protests. The others joined the melee, charging against their opponents who looked like amorphous masses of dark energy. However they seemed more ferocious than any previous Spirit the gaang had faced and they found themselves being pushed backwards. Aang, seeing his friends in trouble, jumped in the fray again and his air-based attacks seemed to have more of an effect on their opponents than anything else, forcing them to retreat towards the shadows once more. As the wind outside the building picked up even more a deep groaning echoed around them, almost as if the tower was in pain. Its echoes were drowned by the victorious cries that the group let, thinking victory in their grasp, and the cracking sounds that followed were swallowed by the wind.

 

Agni was the only one to notice when the stone surrounded them started to break, deep cracks appearing on the floor and spreading rapidly on the walls and ceiling. The others didn’t seem to notice, too focused on their enemy. Any words of warning died in his throat when a massive piece of the ceiling landed next to him, finally drawing everyone’s attention to the fact that they were in a more perilous situation than they had thought. To his surprise however everyone stood their ground, neither group willing to concede defeat. He saw Lia rise to the air, flying towards the Air Crystal, using the power of the one hanging around her neck –now dark like blood that had dried- to counteract the effects. She had almost reached the Air Crystal when a stray bolt of dark energy shot towards her, honing on her aura that was almost visible around her in the effort she was making. With a curse Aang forcibly summoned the Fire Crystal to himself, ignoring the pained scream that escaped the redhead as the energy emitted by her prize hit her, sending her plummeting to the ground. Aang rose to catch her even as the floor finally gave way under their feet and Agni used the Fire Crystal to blast their entire group out of the closest window.