Hey The Wandering Shadow is back again! And this time not a year later! Thank you for all of your compliments and critiques. I'll be sure to fix any issues I have, and continue to expand on a story I hope you all love! Anyway, back to The Wandering Shadow.
Don't own Star Wars or ATLA you know the drill.
Chapter 4: Return to Sender
It's a beautiful thing, the sky, that is. Kel nearly forgot the simple pleasure of wafting through the clouds, his hand feeling the moisture rush against his skin. And this time was no different. Granted he did have his sword to a boy's neck, and he was threatening a group of rather strong kids; but it still amazed him. He could have massacred every person in Castarn and the world would just keep on turning. It would not mourn their loss, just like the force wouldn't mourn his if he perished. "Tell me," Kel said as he brushed the edge of his blade against the underside of Sokka's jaw. "Would your friends mourn you if I cut your head off?"
"Sokka!" Katarra yelled as she instinctively reached for her water-filled flask. She couldn't even touch the cap before Kel pushed the blade deeper into Sokka's neck. And this time he made sure that he drew blood, not much, but enough to send a message. Luckily these kids weren't idiots, they understood his message and were quick to lower their arms. He felt Sokka shudder as he pulled his sword away and grinned.
"You four really aren't used to this are you?" Kel said as he stroked the side of Sokka's head. The boy was pale as a sheet. However, his words fell on deaf ears. They were all too worried about what he'd do to Sokka to pay attention, and he hated being ignored. As punishment he took Sokka's Water Tribe sword and buried the blunt side into the boy's gut. Now he had their attention. "You know it's rude to leave a person hanging when they've asked you a question. And in a situation like this..."
"What are your demands?" Aang interrupted him. When Kel saw the seriousness in the boy's eyes he couldn't help but laugh. It started as a light chuckle and then grew into a rumbling gale. "What's so funny?" Aang asked him, Kel stopped and wiped a tear from his eye.
"I just find it funny that you think this is a hostage situation." Kel said as he removed his blade from Sokka's neck. The boy jumped up so quick that he nearly fell off the side of the bison. With his hostage now released Kel soon had three of the four elements aimed straight at his head; however, his calm composure stayed the same. "Do it," he said as he stood up and placed his sword over his shoulders. "Drown me, cut me with your blades of wind, shoot me with those pebbles, end me..." Kel said as he opened up his stance, which completely confused the four members of team avatar.
"What are you doing?" Katara asked him as she took a step forward. The watery spears floating above their heads only seemed to get sharper as time passed on, Kel smirked, at least she had some good instincts. But Kel knew he was safe. He knew none of these kids had the courage to pull the trigger. And so he hopped out of the ginormous sky bison saddle and walked over to the edge. Everything down below was so tiny, but he found what he was looking for nonetheless.
"For a Fire Nation spy you sure are weird." Toph said as she morphed some of the rocks she brought into a stone gauntlet. "What? Are you too afraid to fight us?" Kel giggled again and smiled. Now he was starting to unnerve them.
"Don't get me wrong," Kel said as he pointed his sword at Toph's head. "There's nothing I love more than a good fight, but I'm different then all of the other people you have faced so far. And do you want to know why?" Kel's words were met with silence, so he continued. "It's because I'm actually going to kill you."
"If I had a coin for every time I heard that." Sokka said as he raised his boomerang in the air. "We're up against the Fire Nation, half of the world wants us dead. And none of them have succeeded." The sharpened blade of Sokka's boomerang glinted in the sunlight. "That prince Zuko couldn't do it and neither could his sister. You'll fail just like them." Kel smirked, this boy sure could talk big when he didn't have a sword to his throat.
"Do you actually think they want to kill you?" Kel said as he turned back to the edge of Appa's back. He could almost hear the four comrades eyes roll as a gust of wind blew forth from the east. So my target's downwind. He thought as he stared at a small mass of dots on the horizon. Excellent.
"Are you daft? Aang's the avatar! Of course the Fire Nation royals want to kill him!" Sokka started; however, he stopped when he saw Kel throw something at him. It was small and seemed to be made out of silver. "An emblem pin?" Sokka mumbled. Kel clapped his hands together, so the boy wasn't completely hopeless after all!
"It may be a fake, but that's a noble's pin. See how it glitters in the sunlight? It's beautiful, but it doesn't serve a purpose. Just like how killing the four of you out in the middle of nowhere will serve no purpose." Quick as a flash Kel snatched one of Toph's pebbles out of its spot in the air. "People like that prince and princess don't want to kill you. They want to execute you. Sure they may try to mortally wound you, but in the end all they want to do is bring your heads back as a trophies. But..." Kel said as he tossed Toph's pebble up into the air. "I'm not like them. I don't want your heads as trophies, I don't want recognition, all I want is a good fight."
"Then let's fight!" Sokka yelled as he lunged at Kel; using the force Kel put Sokka off balance, causing the Water Tribe warrior to rush past him and over the edge of the bison. Sokka's eyes widened to the size of saucepans as he felt himself begin to fall; however, right before he was completely over the edge Kel grabbed his arm and tossed him back into Appa's saddle. He smirked when he saw Sokka's confused gaze. "I thought you said you were going to kill us?" The boy mumbled as he tried to regain his balance. Kel shrugged and sat down on Appa's soft fur.
"That would be no fun," he said as he dangled his feet over the edge. The wisps of cold wind tickled his limbs as the moisture from the clouds dampened his pants, the bison's fur was practically soaked.
"So are you going to fight us or not?" He heard Aang say as they wafted down into the clouds. Kel said nothing and continued to scour over the horizon. The village he was looking at before was closer now, instead of simple dots on the horizon he could fully make out some of the buildings. It was time for him to make his move.
"I don't want to fight you yet because you four aren't at your full strength." Kel said as he dug his right hand deep into Appa's thick fur. "I was just curious, I wanted to see if you four would be opponents worthy of my time."
"Well did we pass your test?" Toph growled as she stepped forward. Kel grinned and nodded when his hand finally found Appa's leathery skin.
"That's why I haven't killed you yet, I think I'll give you all some time to simmer before I finally give you rest." Sokka's eyebrow twitched as he, once again, reached for his boomerang.
"I've had enough of you!" Sokka yelled as he lifted his arm up to throw his weapon, but the throw never came. Instead it was replaced by a sudden jerk, almost like an earthquake. "What's going on?!" Sokka yelled as he held onto the reigns of the saddle for dear life. Aang, Katara and Toph found themselves doing the same when they felt Appa suddenly fall from the sky.
"Appa! Buddy what's wrong?!" Aang yelled as he tried to get Appa to regain altitude. "Yip yip! Yip yip!" He yelled, but it was all for naught.
"Fly too close to the sun and you may lose your wings." Aang turned to find Kel standing behind him, the boy's black sword brushing up against Appa's white coat.
"You! What did you do to Appa?!" Aang yelled, but Kel just shook his finger and returned to the edge of the bison's body.
"That's a question for another time." Kel said as he waved to Aang and the others. "I'll be looking forward to the day when I can fight you all for real. So please make an effort to get stronger." And with that the boy did something none of them expected: he jumped off of Appa and into the open air. As soon as the boy's feet left Appa's body the sky bison returned to normal. Their terrifying plummet to the ground came to a sudden, and very disorienting, halt. The second the four friends regained their composure they rushed to peer over the edge. But the boy was gone.
How disappointing. Kel thought as he hovered beneath the green canopy of the forest. After hearing all of the hype surrounding the avatar he expected a little more, and he hated when his expectations were dashed. For you and your friends sake you better get a lot stronger. Kel thought as he stared back at the small white dot flying off into horizon. He wasn't one to give second chances, and there was no way he had the mercy in him for three. He landed on the forest floor with a hearty crunch, courtesy of the piles of dead leafs that covered the ground, and looked up. It was hard to make out from his position, but from there he could already see smoke wafting up into the air above the village. So the traitor's already made his move huh? Kel thought as he quietly moved closer to the village. He sighed when he saw an Earth Kingdom flag wafting high above the rooftops. So much for the reliability of the mighty Fire Nation military. Kel thought as he surveyed the area. Azula told him during the briefings that this abandoned village would be their temporary base of operations; however, he couldn't find a single defensive barrier, even the supply crates remained unpacked. Must've been ambushed before they could react.
"Mighty earth bender my ass!" Kel heard someone yell from a nearby shack. "What earth bender worth his salt can't even open a metal safe?!" The voice said again. Quiet as a mouse Kel used the force to pop a peephole into the shack's wooden wall and looked inside. There were five men, all Earth Kingdom soldiers, standing around what looked like a safe. And a very familiar safe at that. "Here let me try!" A soldier yelled as he pushed his friend out of the way.
You'll never get that safe open. Kel thought as he readied his blade. He recognized that safe, it was the one he buried back in that husk of a village. The one he shielded with the force. But how in the world did these five idiots manage to find it. The only way they could've discovered the safe was if they were looking for it; and the Earth Nation would have had to have known about Azula's previous encampment up in the mountains. Which meant that... Kel smiled. He knew it. So our little traitor has made his move. He thought as he quietly drew his sword. The traitor that Dai Li operative mentioned must've spilled the beans on the locations of their previous encampments. Logically speaking, it made sense that Earth Nation soldiers would return to said spots to look for evidence and loot. These five must've just gotten lucky, or unlucky, considering it was his safe they stole.
"Maybe we should go ask that Fire Nation commander. He may know how to get into this safe-" One of the soldiers said right before Kel shoved his sword through his legs. Two clean cuts were all it took to silence the man. And his buddies came soon after. Before any of them realized what was going on, they were all lying dead in a pool of blood. Kel then sighed and turned to his safe. With a flick of the wrist he released the force-seal he placed on the metal box. Like a puppet whose strings were cut, the box fell to the floor and opened. Kel grinned as he removed his lightsaber and black hood from the safe. First he slipped on his hood, which went with his purple and turquoise robes perfectly, and then activated his lightsaber. With his bloodied sword in one hand, and his red lightsaber in the other, he exited the building.
Now where is our little traitor? Kel thought as he silently made his way through the village. Littered throughout the small town was splashes of blood. The fighting must've stopped recently. Kel didn't need to guess who was the loser; the various trampled Fire Nation flags on the ground told him all he needed to know. What was once a soothing forest breeze had been stained with the stench of blood. Mixed into that stench was the musty and dull scent of unearthed rocks; however, that wasn't all. To the east, just upwind, Kel could smell ash and fire.
He could have easily slaughtered every patrol he came across, but that would've been no fun. Plus, if he started a large battle, he could risk losing the turncoat. Traitors, at least in his experience, usually resorted to running when things started to get tough. And so he sank into the shadows, the only notification of his presence being the dull red light of his lightsaber. The wet mud had caked onto his sandals, and by the time that he reached the center of the village his toes had nearly fallen off. Still... Kel grinned. This cold is nothing compared to the barren wastes of Hoth.
"Have those five finally managed to open that safe they found?" One of the heads of an Earth Nation patrol asked as they walked past Kel. The leader's comrades just shrugged and shook their heads.
"Not yet sir, maybe we should ask the captain, he reports directly to Azula after all." One of the soldiers asked, but their commander wanted none of it. He turned his poorly shaven face towards the ground and spat into the dew-covered grass.
"The day I turn to a Fire Nation lackey for help, turncoat or not, is the day that I die." The man then turned to a poorly built door and tore the rotted thing from its hinges. "I still don't see what the general saw in that man. He was so quick to abandon his princess and comrades. Mark my words, if given the chance he'll turn his back on us as well." The commander then pointed into the desolate house and whispered. "Be careful while you search, some remnants of that Fire Nation troop we defeated may still be in here." The soldiers nodded and carefully stepped into the charred house. The only sources of light in the building consisted of just a few solitary beams coming from the torn-out windows. The window blinds and covers were burned, and the fires that burnt them had all gone cold.
"I thought summer wasn't that far away." One of the soldiers mumbled as frost misted out from in between his teeth. The other soldier nodded and raised his hands to his lips, in a vain attempt to rekindle that lost warmth. "Hey commander..." The soldier said as he turned back towards the entrance. "Something's definitely in here..." He started, this wasn't a normal cold, it felt empty and merciless; all he and his partner wanted to do now was leave. However, his pleas were met with deaf ears. As the commander had vanished. Cocking an eyebrow the soldier's partner hastened to the doorway, but it was too late. By the time his frozen feet managed to reach the charred entrance a massive pile of stone erupted from the ground; trapping the two men inside.
"Alright! Who did that! I'll be sure to report you to the general!" The other soldier yelled as he pounded on the wall of stone; again, the two men were met with silence. The two soldiers started to rub their biceps, it was really getting cold now. Their breaths became massive clouds of fog as they tried to suck back in the life that was leaving them. Eventually, the rapidly dropping temperature became too much for the men to handle.
"Commander! If this is some sort of test, then we're sorry!" One of the soldiers yelled as he lowered his arms towards the ground. "I'm going to remove the stone wall now!" He then shoved his fists into the ground. However, much to his horror, nothing happened. "What the hell?!" The soldier yelled as he shoved his fists even deeper into the charred floor. But still the wall persisted. The man's partner, tired from the cold and from waiting, pushed the man aside and raised his hands.
"Someone could be keeping the stone in place. So we'll have to make another door!" The soldier then lifted up a few pebbles that lay strewn across the floor and shot it at a nearby wall. After all, the wood was charred and brittle. It should fall easily to his bending. The pebbles bounced off the wall like bullets, yanking up a cloud of black dust from the wall; however, when the dust cleared the wall remained intact. The pebbles, which the soldier had thought he'd shot into the wall, were floating in the air. Suspended by some sort of invisible wall, that rippled like water. "What in the world is this?" The soldier wondered as he placed his hand on the wall. Much to his surprise, the strange phenomenon was not as penetrable as water. Instead the invisible wall was as hard as steel, and impossible to bend. A few tests was all it took for the two soldiers to discover that the whole building: the rock wall, the floor, the windows. Were all barred from entry. And still the temperature continued to drop.
"Wha-what's going on?" The two men said as their teeth began to rattle. It was getting hard to speak now. It was so cold, so cold. The two sat there for what seemed like hours, before a sound finally broke through the deafening silence.
"Ahhhh!" It was a scream, and not just any scream. Those two would recognize that tone anywhere. Granted it was far from the battle cry they were used to, but it was familiar.
"Commander?!" One of the soldiers said in disbelief as he bolted towards the run down steps. His partner was quick to follow. They had to go slow at first, to avoid falling through the decaying floor, but they made it to the second floor. The screaming continued for a few moments before finally going silent. The men rushed down the hallway, quick as lightning, before coming up to a dilapidated door frame. One of the soldiers quietly motioned to the other before the two busted into the room.
What they saw horrified them. Lying dead, in a pool of blood, was their commander. His corpse lay strewn across the room; however, the actual slash wounds were charred closed. Multiple deep gashes dotted the man's body, it looked like a grisly fight. They didn't need to search for the culprit either, as standing at the end of the room, staring out of a window, was a boy. He wore an intricately woven pair of turquoise and purple robes; however, the boy's face was hidden under the shadow of a dark hood. In his left hand he held a pitch black sword, while in his right he grasped, what looked like, a blade of pure fire.
"Your superior couldn't answer my questions." The boy started, the words dripping like poison off of his tongue. He then turned to the two soldiers and pointed the fire blade right at them. "Maybe you two can." The two soldiers didn't even have the time to react before they felt a strange influence wash over them. "Tell me," the boy started, "where can I find the traitor?"
Meanwhile in the camp's canteen...
The soldiers whistled as the watched the beautiful torrent of flames flow out of the man's hands. The fire had transformed itself into a multitude of different shades: purple, blue, green, white, it was truly quite the sight. When the man finished his little show he hopped off the stage and cracked his knuckles. "How was that for fire bending?" He said. The soldiers burst into cheers.
"I honestly didn't think the Fire Nation had anyone like you on their side." One of the captains said as he walked up to the man and threw an arm over his shoulder. "You made the right choice coming over to our side Caellen." The captain then raised a mug into the air and yelled. "Three cheers for our brand new comrade!" He yelled.
"Oh please, I don't deserve this." Caellen said as he waved his hands in the air. "After all, I am a man with no honor who betrayed his comrades." He said with a cocky smile, the room of soldiers exploded into a bout of laughter.
"Trust me, you betrayed the right people." One of the soldiers said as he raised a glass to the traitorous fire bender. Again Caellen bowed and turned to the Earth Nation commander.
"So when are we going to 'take care of' my late comrades?" He asked the man as his eyes darted back to a tent near the back of the camp. "Survivors talk too much, if we aren't careful then..." The commander stopped him mid-sentence as he shoved a mug of sake into the man's hand.
"Hush hush, now is the time for celebrating! After all, you only have a day before you return to that witch-of-a princess's command. So why not relax?" Caellen smiled and nodded as he sat down next to the other soldiers. Steam from freshly made meals wafted off from the warm plates and out of the tent.
"What do you think she's going to tell you next?" One of the female soldiers asked him. Caellen shrugged and raised a hand to scratch his chin.
"Honestly I don't know, considering that her plans for Castarn just fell through. I doubt that she'd try anything major; although..." Caellen pinched the bridge of his nose. There was something he was forgetting, something important. He was so caught up in stopping the Fire Nation invasion of Castarn, that he had completely forgot an important piece of intel. "Eh whatever." He shrugged, even the best spies forgot something every once in awhile. Right now all he should be focused on was relaxing.
The party continued on for quite some time, well into the afternoon, before something finally happened. "Hey Caellen! My wife's here! Why don't you show her that little rainbow trick!" One of the men called from the back. Suddenly the turncoat found himself swamped by requests for an encore. One that he was willing to provide. He laughed and then stood back up, thanks to the sake it took awhile for him to find his balance, but it didn't take long.
"Okay, watch closely now." He started as he pushed his hands back. "I'm only going to do this one more time..." And he shoved his hands forward; however, much to Caellen's surprise, the torrent of flames was reduced to a small ember. What in the world? He thought as he continued to force more energy into the flames; however, the ember did not grow. Instead all he got was a small blue shimmer, like the ripples of an invisible shield containing his flames. Sad to say, it was too late for the fire bender. Suddenly the ripple dissipated. And all of his flames that were contained within that tiny invisible shield came forth. The explosion was massive, and within a matter of milliseconds, what was once a peaceful party became hell on earth. "Ow! What the-" Caellen cursed as he gripped at his ears. Surprisingly he was mostly uninjured, save the horrible ringing in his ears, but that could not be said about his fellow party goers.
"Yuma! Yuma!" Yelled one voice in the smoke. It was that soldier's wife, who was crying over her husband's body. Caellen quickly ran over to the grieving woman and placed a hand on the man's chest. "What are you doing?! Can't you see he's hurt!" She yelled, but Caellen continued to press on the man's chest. There might still have been hope, but after a few minutes of pushing, he could tell that the man was gone. The wind finally started to blow away the smoke, allowing everyone to take in the horrible damage.
"Caellen! There you are!" One of the commanders yelled as he, and a multitude of soldiers, ran up to him. "Are you okay? What happened?" He asked, but Caellen could only shrug. That explosion definitely wasn't his doing, it was his flames that served as the catalyst, but he did not pull the trigger. The commander took a second to regain his breath before he continued talking. "Almost half of us were caught in the blast, any idea what caused it?" He asked him. Caellen shook his head.
"I have no idea. Maybe it was..." The turncoat couldn't finish his sentence. As he was interrupted by the sound of screams coming from the entrance of the charred tent.
"Did you enjoy my present? You little traitor?" A sinister voice said as the screams grew closer. It was a familiar voice, but it wasn't until the sound of dropping bodies reached him that he recognized who it was.
"Kel..." Caellen nearly slapped himself. How in the world could he forget Kel?! Caellen quickly turned to the commander and the other soldiers to speak, but they were gone. In their place lay their corpses, collapsed like puppets cut from their strings. Honestly he was just about to scream for help, but his voice was cut off when he felt a strange force drag him up into the air.
"I remember you." Kel's viper-like voice said as he walked out from behind a pile of bodies. "You certainly didn't speak much, but you were there." The boy snapped his fingers and smiled. "I didn't know why then, but I always had this itch to put my blade through your gut, now I know why."
"Gah! Wh...a...guh!" Caellen started, but he couldn't continue. He was too busy struggling for breath to speak; however, he didn't need to. His eyes said it all. A black hood... and a sword of fire? He's! Kel grinned and gave the man a round of applause.
"I can tell that you recognize me. So tell me... are you scared? Wait! Don't answer that!" Kel said as he lifted Caellen even further up into the air. "I'll just let you hang there. You've served your purpose." With a snap of his wrist Kel dragged two large boulders from the ground and aimed them at Caellen. "There's no need to keep you alive. Two very helpful soldiers already told me everything. Tell them I said 'thank you'." And with that Kel's fist closed, and the turncoat was gone. Now that he's dealt with. Kel thought as he turned to the large tent in the back of the camp. It's time to 'free' my allies.
"What was that?!" One of the tied-up captains yelled as he felt the ground begin to rumble. He, and the rest of the captains, waited with baited breath as the screams of the Earth Nation soldiers drew closer and closer. Suddenly, the iron-bound door to their cell blew open, and the guards collapsed in a bloody heap onto the ground.
"Who's there!" Another captain yelled as a figure walked through the doorway. Everyone recognized the figure immediately.
"Kel!" One of the captains yelled as the boy waltzed towards them. The strange fire sword was new; however, all of them were too happy to care. Even the ones who despised the boy couldn't help but leap in joy when they saw him. They were free!
"Is Azula out there? What happened to the mission?" One of the commanders asked the boy; however, Kel remained silent and just grinned at the captains. "Well are you going to answer my question or-"
"Shut your mouth." Kel said as the captain's head rolled down onto the floor. The others recoiled back into their cells, and with their hands and feet bound, none of them could defend themselves. What proceeded next was a massacre. Body after body, slash after slash.
"But why?!" The last captain yelled as Kel raised his sword.
"Because..." Kel started as he plunged his blade into the man's body. "With you guys out of the way. I'll have the princess's ear all to myself." The last captain could only glare at Kel as the life left his eyes. A few seconds later he too was dead; making Kel the only living being left in the camp. "Now then," Kel lifted up his arms and wrenched two large stones from the walls. He sighed. This was the part I was dreading. And with that he brought his hands together, and slammed his body with the stones. The young sith lord could feel his bones crack underneath the pressure of the rocks; large bruises started to appear almost immediately. It looked like an earth bender had given him quite the rough time. And that was exactly what he was going for.
His body now properly battered and bruised from 'battle', Kel walked outside and lifted his right hand up into the air. It took a few minutes, and quite a lot of whistling, but eventually a Fire Nation messenger hawk appeared on the horizon. He took the blank piece of parchment attached to the hawk's leg and wrote a message:
Central camp taken. Me and the captains captured. Executions draw near. Send help.
"Give this to the princess." He said, and he released the bird.
I'm back again guys! How's it going?! A tiny bit late but that was because I was working on another story! Don't get mad please! You know how writing gets... Anyway! Things are starting to pick up! I'm not going to say anything else. Just know that the next few chapters are coming soon!
Also, I was thinking about doing a pairing. If you guys don't want it I can take the hint. But if you wouldn't mind a pairing, or just a little comedy thing on the side. Please don't hesitate to give me your desired candidates! I'm leaning towards Ty Lee! But I would like your input since, you know, your the ones reading the story.
Anyway, please review(PLEASE)and rate, and I'll see you on the next chapter of The Wandering Shadow!
Chapter Five: Checkmate