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Heart of the Wounded - Chapter 4

Wolf opened his eyes. It was mostly dark, which made him feel slightly better for a moment, until he realized fully what it meant. A growl rumbled deep in his throat. As he adjusted to his surroundings, Wolf discovered that he was being forced into a standing position by two iron bangles attached to chains, still in his wolf form.

Wolf tried pulling at the chains. No weak points, his human mind determined. He tried twisting around, but with the first swivel, decided that it would hurt more to fall at this point. It was best to keep standing in a tense form to keep from falling.

Several people walked around somewhere near. Wolf heard their footsteps and his ears perked toward the sound. Most of them stopped, but a set came closer and stopped in front of the door.

“Leave me,” a deep voice commanded.

Wolf snarled. He knew that voice. The door opened. A figure was outlined in light. That figure walked into the room. With a simple movement, the person created a small flame and put it to a small indentation in the wall. A trail of oil in the crevice sprang to life, illuminating the entire room.

Before the captive wolf was a man. His hair was long despite being held in a small bun on the top of his head, and merged with a neatly trimmed beard. It was dark and streaked with silver. His eyes were narrowed so that he had a perpetual look of disdain. The irises were the deepest fiery gold Wolf had ever seen. He wore highly well kept armor that was red and black, with golden trim.

“So, spirit, what do I owe the honor of your visit?” the man asked quietly. He strode around the snarling wolf. Wolf followed with his eyes, turning his head as much as possible so as not to loose sight.

The man made a complete circle around Wolf and stopped. Wolf’s wolf form standing on two legs was almost as tall as the man was. As the man approached, Wolf started growling again.

“Let’s have you talk to me. Using human words,” the man said in a suggestive tone. His hand reached out and pushed under Wolf’s ribs.

With a small whine, Wolf fell forward and was suddenly human again. Panting for breath, Wolf glared up at the man. The transformation was usually mildly painful, but Wolf had gotten used to it. Being forced into it was ten times more agonizing. He stood slowly as he regained his breath. When he had fully stood, he launched himself at the man.

The man took several steps back.

“Let’s talk, shall we? Let’s start with a question. Who are you?”

“Come on now, Ozai. You should know that one,” Wolf hissed.

“It couldn’t be.” The Fire Lord had made a full trip to stand at Wolf’s back. “What’s this?” Ozai brushed his hand over the flower brand on Wolf’s shoulder. Despite the fact that he was a Firebender, his hands were icy cold as the rested right around the bottom corner. A small chuckle echoed in the room. “Aconite? You really are the one.”

Wolf growled and tried jerking out of his chains.

“I thought you would be dead by now. A life without me should have meant death for you.”

“Don’t flatter yourself. I respected your position and your friendship, that was all.”

“I see. So, all of these long years, you have spent coming to seek your revenge on me for turning you into a beast.” Ozai started striding leisurely around the room.

“I have questions for you too. Did you know that practice that turned me into a wolf was forbidden?”

“I am a king. Why should anything be forbidden?”

“Answer me!”

“Yes, I knew it was forbidden.”

“Another question. Your father, he didn’t die of natural causes, like every one said, did he?”

“That is a question I will leave you to answer on your own. You know me well enough to.”

“You…”

The fire lord cut him off. “Now, I will ask you questions. I think you will answer them.”

“I doubt it.”

The Fire Lord had Wolf’s back again. He took a couple steps back. He was quiet for a minute, then, “Are you the one instigating this pathetic excuse for a revolt?”

“I refuse to answer.”

Wolf heard a sharp crackle of flames and a whoosh of air. A sharp pain seared a line across his back. The flame whip sliced open the skin and burned it at the same time.

“You might want to reconsider that answer,” Ozai laughed. “I have some of the men who partook of this…revolt? Or rather, the attempt. Maybe they will talk better.”

“Yes, I am the leader of this revolt. Don’t pester any of the others. They don’t know anything.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure. How about where you are hiding out right now?”

“That I won’t tell you. I’m not going to endanger anyone.”

Wolf felt the whip hit again.

“How noble. How very sickening. Do you really think that I will take that as an answer? You were once one of us, you still are. You would much rather save your own skin than that of some other element.”

Wolf winced at the thought he knew he was going to say. What hurt was the idea that he was intentionally going to go through with it. “No. I wouldn’t. Because of that, you can’t make me tell you anything.”

The whip licked out again. Wolf whimpered quietly.

“Are you sure?”

Wolf nodded his head. “Yes.”

The flame whip hit again.

Wolf bit his lip against the pain. I will prove him wrong. The barrage continued. Wolf could feel the pain taking over his mind. Thought started to loose meaning.

“You are a stubborn beast. Any answers I get from you now will probably be insensible or false.”

Ozai walked around to glance at Wolf’s face. “Make life easy for yourself, Moltov. It would be in your best interest.”

“You should just kill me now. It would be in your best interest.”

The fire lord laughed. “That's just like you.” He turned serious suddenly and kicked. His foot connected perfectly at Wolf’s gut. “Stubborn to the core.” The Fire Lord paused for another second, a cruel smile covering his face. “I made the point of retrieving your shirt for you. Let me return it.” Ozai wrapped the now tattered shirt around Wolf’s shoulders. The cloth rubbed against the fresh wounds, making them burn fiercer than they were.

With that, Ozai strode out of the room and the door shut. Wolf was left gratefully alone, gasping for air and being absorbed by the cloud of pain.

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Chapter 4 – END

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