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Heart of the Wounded - Chapter 18

The Water Tribe set up a big meeting in the large speaking hall. All of the warriors were there, and made up the majority of the group assembled. The diplomats and highest- ranking Waterbenders, including Master Paku, were lined up on either side of the Tribe’s Chief and the royal family. There was also a large handful of civilians who were worried about the state of their nation or loved one. The Firebenders and Jin had their backs to a wall off to the side. A large circle had formed around them. Many of the Water Tribe would send accusing glares towards them. At first, Jin had glared back and thrown comments at them, but eventually, all of them just ignored them.

The room was loud with talk. Everyone was talking about what it was the Fire Nation could possibly want from them, how could they possibly stand up to them, and most importantly, how could the Fire Nation find them?

Jin on the other hand, was hardly affected by the presence of a Fire Nation ship. “I can’t believe that Yue is a princess. Why didn’t you tell me, Wolf? I mean, it was kind of obvious, because she was really beautiful and she acted so regal, but I didn’t think anything of it when she brought us that food. I guess I just don’t know Water Tribes well.”

After a while, the King stood. Everyone fell silent immediately. “The time is upon us,” the Chief started. “We have been found and are being dragged into the war. It is only one ship, but there may be more! We cannot let these enemies escape us, for if we do, there will be more.

“They will not show us mercy. They will be upon us before midday and they will not stop until the sun sets. They will use the sun to their advantage, and ruin our chances. In order to win, we need a plan. With a good strategy, we can win. Wolf!”

“Yes?” Wolf asked, surprised, stepping forward.

What does he want? Ma Lir grumbled.

“You know tactics that the Fire Nation may use against us. What do you think we should do?”

Oh, this is good. He’s asking you for advice? What makes him think you aren’t the reason the ship is here?

Wolf opened his mouth to speak, but someone spoke out.

“Wait!” a young man called, stepping forward. He was dressed like a warrior. A stern gaze outlined his pale blue eyes. His brown hair framed his face. “How do you know we can trust them? They are Fire Nation.”

“Han, you wish to go against my judgement?”

“I don’t think they can be trusted. We have never had problems with Fire Nation until they came here. They probably led them here.” He pointed an accusing finger towards the four.

“If we led them here, why are they choosing now to attack. It would have been better to do it earlier,” Jin was glaring at the boy as she spoke loudly.

“Unless their General ordered them to stand back until further notice, just to avoid such a suspicion.”

“If you are suggesting that I am a General, you are wrong. I am no longer associated with the Fire Nation,” Iroh replied calmly, albeit a little defensive.

“Prove it. Where’s your mark?”

“Watch it, kid,” Wolf growled warning.

Han stepped forward. “Are you going to try and make me?”

“Silence!” the Chief shouted. The boy slunk back, huffing. “I trust Wolf. Therefore, I trust those that he calls friends. I want them to lead this fight.”

“What?” Han shouted indignantly.

The chief looked coolly at him. The boy looked down, slightly embarrassed. “As you wish, Chief.”

Ha Ha! Ma Lir laughed, cheering. Eat that you little snot!

Wolf pulled back to his small group and asked quietly, “You guys want a little fun?”

“What are you talking about? Of course!” Jin exclaimed in the low tone.

Zuko nodded eagerly.

“I know your definition of fun. I think I know where you’re going. You want us to fight. That works for me. We all need to stretch out legs,” Iroh reasoned.

“All right.” Wolf turned back to the king, smiling. “I would like it if you would let the four of us take care of them.”

“He’s just saying that so he can go join with his companions!” Han hissed.

“You think those outside are my companions. I would shut my mouth if I were you.” Wolf glared daggers at the kid. He shook it off and turned to look at the rest of the warriors that apparently shared the boy’s ideas.

“Where’s the harm in letting us take care of this? If we are Fire Nation spies, you would just be fighting four more than you already will have to face. But, what if we aren’t? It would be our blood being spilt, not any of your Water Tribe’s. Even if we loose, and the four of us die, you will be able to defeat what’s left with little cost to your families.”

A few of the by standers cheered. Princess Yue stood. “You can’t do something like that. It’s suicide!”

Wolf smirked. “We’re better than that, Princess. Trust me.”

“I see no down side to this. Wolf makes a very valid point. We will accept his proposal.”

More people cheered.

The chief continued. “I want five of the warriors and our Benders to stay here. Everyone else, pull the women and children back away from the walls.”

Everyone hurried to do as the king commanded. Angered by the proposal, Han turned and stormed off, taking some of the best and most loyal warriors with him.

“We have an hour to plan before we need to start acting. It will be about three hours until the ship arrives,” one of the side diplomats muttered as Wolf and his group got closer.

“It’s simple,” Wolf stated confidently. “You guys have the edge in position. Here’s what I think we should do.”

……………

It only took a half hour for Wolf to get his plan across. The king let them go to work on making final preparations. Things wouldn’t take long.

Wolf left the audience hall and started drifting off to set about on his own, private preparations.

“Wolf, where are you going?” Iroh asked from behind him, warning in his tone.

Wolf stopped. “Out,” he replied, a question forming. Was it all right for him to give that response, or was it the same kind that Ma Lir had used?

“Out to where?”

“Iroh, do I have to tell you everything?”

“You tell me Wolf.”

What the hell is up with the old man? He acts as if you’re not trustworthy, Ma Lir laughed.

Whose fault is that? Wolf shot back.

“I’m going to see a friend. I’ll be back in a bit, I think. It shouldn’t take too long.”

“A lady friend?” Iroh asked, smiling.

Wolf shrugged. Iroh frowned, pouting. “Fine. Don’t tell me.”

“All right. I wont. Watch after Zuko and Jin for me please.”

“They don’t need looking after,” Iroh replied, exasperated.

“I know. Just wanted to make sure,” Wolf turned and started off.

Why didn’t you tell that old fart where we’re going?

He doesn’t need to know.

That’s so unlike you, Moltov.

I need to work quickly if this is going to work.

If that’s your excuse, fine.

Wolf wasn’t far from the place when he ran into Shiro.

“Wolf, I was waiting for you,” the boy exclaimed, excited. “I was watching the whole thing. My dad’s one of the warriors who wanted to go with you. Are they going with you? If so, I hope my dad helps you out. It would make me happy.”

Wolf ruffled the child’s hair. “I hope he does too. But right now, I need your help. The other day, you said that your mother was a healer, right. Can you take me to see her?”

Shiro’s eyes widened. “You mean it? Yeah, come on. Let’s go.” He grabbed Wolf’s hand and started pulling. “Mom went home as soon as the meeting was over. She looked sad for some reason. I think she’s scared that Dad wont come home. But, I’m not. Not really. He’ll be there with you, right? So there’s nothing to be scared of. Mom told me to go play, but I had a feeling that you might have wanted something. You know, though, I don’t live that far away. We’re almost there.”

Damn can that kid talk! Why do you let him do that?

A few minutes later, they had arrived. Shiro opened the door quietly and pulled Wolf inside before shutting the door and heading into the house. “Mommy! I’m home!”

Wolf followed the kid into the kitchen where the mother was standing by the water basin with her back to them. She brought her hands up out of sight, appearing to touch her eyes before turning, a happy expression on her face. “Shiro, welcome back sweetie. Did you have fun?”

“I brought Wolf here to see you!” he exclaimed.

The woman looked up mistrust in her gaze. She walked up to Wolf, scrutinizing him carefully. Wolf watched her do so levelly. Her gaze softened slightly.

She turned and started tidying up the kitchen, turning to look at Wolf as she talked with cold tones. “My name is Emiko. You play with Shiro, right? Play that War with him, and tell him stories. I’ve heard about all that. Now, what do you want?”

“I just wanted a little help. If I can do anything for your people, I need to move quickly. I can’t do that right now.”

“Why not?”

Shiro broke into the conversation. “Mommy, I thought I told you! Wolf’s hurt. That’s why he told us stories. Help him Mommy, please!”

“Go play on your own for a while,” the mother suggested.

“All right, Mommy,” moping at having been turned out, the boy trudged out side.

“You’re taking care of us, aren’t you?”

“I guess you can say that,” Wolf replied with a small nod.

“You will protect my husband, won’t you?”

“He won’t be involved if I can help it. I can’t tell you too much, but worse comes to worse, he will be.”

“I see.”

“I need your help to make sure that that doesn’t happen.”

Emiko sighed and turned to look at him again. “Where are you hurt? Wait, I can see a little. You use that staff because you hurt your leg. Fighting? Well, that’s a stupid question.”

“My knee, to be exact.”

She knelt by him to touch the injured area. “You messed this up really bad,” she muttered half to herself. “I don’t think I want to know how. You should have seen a healer before this.”

“Can you help me?”

She stood and went back to the sink. “I can, but it will take a while.”

“I have time.”

Emiko pulled a smaller bucket out of the larger basin and filled it with water. She grabbed a small rag and motioned for Wolf to follow. She went into another room and motioned to a mat. “Sit.”

Wolf sat and leaned his back against the wall. The mother took the staff and set it by the door. She knelt by Wolf’s side. “Roll your pants leg up.”

What the hell’s her problem? She could be a little less bitchy, Ma Lir commented as Wolf obeyed. How come you didn’t even tell me that you were actually gonna stop being stupid and gonna go see a healer?

When Wolf had finished, the woman took a small bubble of water out of the bucket. She manipulated it over and put it on Wolf’s knee. The cold water sunk through his skin, making it glow a faint blue as she worked her craft. It burned slightly.

Emiko was looking carefully through half lidded eyes, concentrating. The glow subsided. “I see. You tore all of the ligaments in your knee.”

Good one. How’d you manage that one?

“The what?”

“You never studied anatomy?”

“Nope. I just learned where to attack.”

“Typical Fire Nation,” the woman muttered below her breath. She turned back to the water. “This is going to make this more complicated. I can’t completely heal it, but I can set it on the right track. Give it a week without to much movement, and they will be almost as good as new.”

Using her Waterbending skills, Emiko pulled another bubble out. Wolf noticed that this one was almost half a size larger than the other one. “I’m going to start the healing process now.”

Wolf nodded. The water covered her hand, enveloping it in a watery glove. Emiko brought her hand to Wolf’s knee again and started touching it gently, massaging the healing water in. Wolf closed his eyes. For some reason, he had thought that healing was supposed to heal pain, not make it worse.

“Hey, is this supposed to hurt?” Wolf asked.

“It’s because your Fire Nation,” Emiko replied quickly. Before Wolf could deny the fact, she continued. “Our elements are polar opposites. Even when we weren’t at war, Waterbenders rarely healed Firebenders. We can heal Earth Kingdom people quite easily. I guess it’s kind of how plants work, or something. Not that I’ve seen any, but the teacher said that. The pain is the reaction between opposites.”

“Is that why you hate me and told your son not to see me? Because I’m Fire Nation by blood?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I’m glad. You’re prejudice against Fire Nation in general, not just me.”

……………

……………

Chapter 18 – END