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Heart of the Wounded - Chapter 2

“It’s just a little farther from here. This is the part where you want to be quiet,” Jin put a finger to her lips to enforce her statement.

The rest of the rebellion force nodded. The entire trip through the tunnels under the palace had been pretty quiet, but there was a little bit of chatter, mostly opinions on where Wolf had gone. It would be in all of their best interest if that ended now. Despite the fact that their guide was a girl, they listened quite well to what she said.

Above them, they saw a muffled stream of light and heard voices and laughter. Apparently, some of the Fire Nation guards were still living it up.

Quietly, the rebels walked forward. The noise from above became inaudible. The light disappeared as well. Jin stopped and turned to face the men and women she was leading. “This is the room where we serve meals. This is where we enter. If anyone wants to turn back, now is the only time you have available,” Jin spoke in a whisper. She waited to give anyone a chance, but no one took it. “All right. Going up.”

Silently, Jin undid the hatch and pushed it up. It opened silently, but it got stuck on a rug over it. Jin braced it up and pulled out a small triangular shaped knife with a circle on the end of a short wrap. The only sound was of ripping cloth before she crawled out.

The rest of the group followed one at a time. Jin shut it when everyone was out. It closed with a dull thunk. The room they had entered was dark. It was impossible to see anything, including each other. Someone lit a torch. The rest lit up almost automatically.

The plan was to break into the fortress after the residents were sleeping off the effects from too much food and drinks. When they were in, they were to go to the room where the Fire Lord slept, and, if possible, capture him and his family. If they resisted, they would die. Any one in the way would also meet the fate of death.

However, what happened was not what anyone in the rebel group had expected. Somewhere along the way, something had happened that threw the whole plan out of whack. Instead of being in a room filled only with tables, they found themselves in a room that had tables stacked along the walls and the entire Fire Nation army that was lodged there.

“Attack!” someone shouted. Both sides decided that was a good idea, and did so.

……………

Things had not gone well for the rebel force. They were out manned and out classed by the trained force of the Fire Nation. Only a few made it out of the massacre and back down into the secret passageway system.

Jin had been the one to re open it and usher those nearest down into it. They now totaled six. Besides her, there was one other woman, one from the Earth Kingdoms. Three of the men were also from the Earth Kingdom, and the last one was one of the Fire Nation insiders who had proven to be loyal to Wolf. All of them were cut or burned in more than one place.

They were now fleeing as fast as they could. Jin had abandoned a direct route and was only trying to get the small group back up to open air.

There was a clamor behind them. It sounded like armor. The group stopped to see if the two people were part of their original group.

“There they are! Get them!” one of the two shouted.

Twin fireballs were shot down the small tunnel at the rag-tag group. One of the Earth Kingdom men stepped forward heavily and part of the wall moved to intercept the fire blasts.

“You guys go ahead. I’ll hold them off,” the Earthbender ordered.

A rock wall dropped between the two groups. There was a sharp cry.

“Let’s go,” Jin decided. The group continued on their way. After several twists, they heard armored footsteps approaching. They got ready to fight.

Four Fire Nation soldiers came into view. The one in the lead immediately put his hands up. The other three followed suit. “Please, don’t hurt us!”

“We’re with you. We’re helping Wolf!” another exclaimed.

The group Jin was leading relaxed. Jin scrutinized the four for a moment. “Let’s go.”

Traveling underground distorted the time. It could have been hours that passed or only minutes. Eventually, they found an exit. A side door opened out into a spinney bush that poked through clothing. As the group passed through that, they found themselves out side of the palace, but still within the wall. It was night, but a quarter moon gave off enough light to see.

“To the gate. We can make it,” Jin nodded her head with the quick decision. They all hurried off in the direction Jin went.

However, when they got to the way out, the bridge was up. “Oh, no. Now what do we do?” Jin muttered as she pushed at the gate to no avail.

“Leave that to me!”

Jin looked up to see Wolf in the tower. Wolf waved down and then disappeared. Within a minute, the drawbridge was lowering. As soon as it started lowering, it dropped quickly.

Wolf appeared back over the edge. He called down, “You guys go back to the village. Just incase they were taking prisoners, leave the village and go to the second spot. Lay low for a while. I’ll catch up in a few days.”

“All right!” Jin called back.

The remaining rebels hurried across the bridge. They continued at a fast pace until the castle was out of sight.

……………

Wolf watched the remainder of his group get a good distance away. Satisfied that they would be safe, he started working to get the drawbridge up. It was hard work but he finally got it up. After latching it into place, he stood for a while catching his breath.

Wolf heard a sharp twang. He had no time to react. An arrow shot into the wall right next to his ear. Wolf tried to duck, but found out that the arrow had got his shirt. Finding it difficult to pull the arrow out, Wolf quickly undid the button replicas and slipped out of it. Just as he dove to the ground, several more arrows hit the wall.

Wolf transformed. The black wolf jumped out of the tower and onto the wall edge. He bolted down the stairs, dodging arrows. Near the end of the stairs, Wolf slid to a stop. A large burly fire nation guard stood in front of him at the bottom. This man was huge. He hardly seemed like a man. He couldn’t even fit into the largest uniform.

Wolf turned. He started running back up the stairs. Back at the top, Wolf spotted an archer with the bow pointed towards him.

Wolf was ready to take on the archer. He crouched down and went to jump. But someone grabbed his back leg and held him planted. Wolf turned with a snarl and scratched at the giant man. The big man howled and let go. Wolf prepared to leap at the archer again, but the big man had recovered.

With an inhuman shout, the big man threw himself at Wolf. Wolf moved off to one side, but the stairway was too small. The giant wrapped both arms around Wolf’s mid section and threw him into the wall. Wolf hit it hard and as he fell to the ground, he lost consciousness.

……………

……………

Chapter 2- END

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