[18+] it is not pow...
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[18+] it is not power that corrupts but fear [r.krissieten]

Joined: 6 years ago
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A shameless theft of ATLA 

Books always mentioned a harvest day in relation to some meaningful event, but Aela found that to be fanciful poetry. If it was one single date, then she would be able to spend much more time in the comfort of the woods just beyond the edge of their farm. Every day in the late spring and summer she would rise before the heat sweltered, to pick the beans, shuck the corn, and dig potatoes. Harvest was a whole season, not one day. Their table was fairly bountiful with the fortune of being blessed with a waterbender for a father to keep the soil nourished and the plants growing tall. Deft fingers slipped through the vines and selected the beans based on their skins’ texture and thickness. Dark eyes did not even need to fully set their gaze to the chosen vegetable to know if it was time to pick - she had been performing the same task for over fifteen years. Ever since she was eleven, the tasks given to her by her parents consisted of the harvesting and attracting as little attention as possible.

The basket at her hip showed the early signs of overflowing so she adjusted the strap that kept it secured to her body. Aela ran an absentminded hand across the green beans to shake some more room free, but none appeared.  She brushed back the baby hairs that the morning’s efforts had whipped free from the confines of her cream-colored ribbon.  Another mundane day, the ideal day. Uneventful afforded them the protection they needed. There were still two more rows to check but her basket was full. Great. The sarcasm was almost palpable. Careful not to bend over too far to lose what she had gathered,strong hands grabbed the corn basket by its worn handle and hoisted it up into her arm on the opposite side. The trudge back to their little farmhouse afforded her the time to daydream in the sunshine.

Aela often found her mind wandering to thoughts of visiting the capital city to watch the firebenders perform or to experience the excitement of walking down a road of cobblestones rather than dust. What a treat it would be to see the palace as well, in all of its majesty, with intricate designs carved into the stone by the attentive fingers of earthbenders. The young woman was well aware of the beauty and architectural marvels wrought by those that were exceptionally gifted with earth manipulation. Her mother had some minor skill in that area and demonstrated it when needed. It was for that reason that the farmhouse just ahead of her rested on a solid layer of stone with stone steps leading up to the door. Her mother had insisted on it to keep as much mud away from the inside of the house as possible.

The house itself was made of wood and stone, setting her father more at ease. The man supported and appreciated his wife’s gift, but even as a very minor airbender, he felt confined in a house made entirely of stone.  As she approached, the conspiratorial whispers of her twin siblings, Bayu and Brisa, met her ears. A dark glance was cast towards them as they headed off with their pails to feed the chickens and milk their solitary cow. The pair were notorious troublemakers, even at nineteen, due to their exceptional airbending gifts and minor talent with waterbending. Bayu even had a small ability to start fires, but they were often extinguished with no more than a heavy breath.  It made him quite the subject of conversation in their small county, being a triad.

In contrast to the twins, Aela was remarkably ungifted, or so the family maintained to anyone that passed through or when they visited town. It was rare to have a completely non-gifted child from two partially gifted parents, but rarer still if she revealed what she truly was. Even her siblings did not know. It was for the best that no one beside her parents ever learn she was a bloodbender.

Bloodbenders, legend told, had once been the most revered of the five talents. They were capable of extraordinary feats of healing,  painless transition to the afterlife and humane hunting techniques. They advised kings and scholars, capable of learning the truth with minimal pain to those that concealed it. That all drastically changed when Akeldama Heridu manipulated the Queen of their nation into the genocide of an entire House that had slighted his honor. The treason was discovered and all benders turned against those with the blood gift. The slaughter of Aela’s people turned out to be a fairly simple task. Within the span of twenty-fire years, the crown declared that bloodbenders had been eradicated with the exception of a few in hiding beyond the borders. Her gift was the reason that her parents had fled to the very outskirts of their once great nation. Aela’s grandmother had been a bloodbender and passed on the gift to her. Fortunately for the dark-haired maiden, she was able to hide any nicks or scratches with the help of her father’s waterbending healing abilities. They were minor skills compared to the power that Aela’s grandmother had once wielded and to what Aela herself might be capable of, but it was all they needed to keep her safely tucked away.

Gray plumes of smoke drifted from the stone chimney as she entered with the corn and the beans. Her mother was at the kitchen table, kneading dough for bread but she had already prepared the canning materials for the beans.

“Looks like a big bunch,” Helle Prim comments to her daughter with an appraising glance. Despite her shoulder stature, it was clear that she commanded attention when needed. She had been a teacher before they had fled to the further reaches of the realm, a highly sought after professor at the capital’s university.

“Still have two rows to do but I figured I’d bring the corn in for you and empty the beans in the snappin’ bin.” Aela smiled slightly and set about her tasks until the basket was empty yet again. The heat from the fire was stifling in the later summer heat. Opening all the windows, Aela once more shouldered the strap of her now empty basket.

“Make sure to check the tomatoes. I doubt they’ll be worth a damn this season with all the heat. Your father has had trouble keeping their soil moist.” Aela nodded at her mother’s words and exited the house, only to find her siblings racing back towards her.

“Aela! Aela! The cow won’t stand up. She’s sick. Something’s wrong,” Brisa shouted before shoving her brother. She urged him in the direction of the workshop across the plot of land, where their father was chopping down a rather large tree in order to make a new door for the barn. The previous hadn’t faired well against a stray gust of Bayu’s wind during bending practice. He took off running as Brisa motioned for Aela to follow. Losing the cow was not something they could afford. Their father was exceptional at turning her milk into a delicious, creamy butter that sold for a good price at market. The funds obtained from the profitable butter was the only way they’d be able to attract a match for Brisa and Bayu. The bloodbender took off after her sister, leaving the basket discarded on the stone steps.

The cow was laying on her side, breathing heavily. Before Aela even laid a hand on the great, suffering beast she sensed that there was a blood clot in it leg and one that have travelled to its lungs. The swelling was minimal on her leg but she as struggling to get oxygen. They couldn’t lose the cow. They must not. Aela’s fingers twitched slightly. Her gift was used so rarely, in fleeting moments when she was completely alone in the dense woods beyond the proper. She had saved injured animals here and there but nothing on this scale.

“Brisa, go get some water for father to use when he arrives. Hurry.” Aela motioned away, as her sister slipped away with a nervous movement. She kneeled down by the great beast and closed her eyes, running her hands delicately over its side. The rapid pace of its heart thrummed beneath her fingertips and she felt the twisted coagulation of blood in the lungs. She delicately moved her fingertips, slowly moving them from her pinky to her pointer finger to contact her thumb. Over and over she manipulated her fingers until the blood began to cooperate. She did not have a spare second to glance over her shoulder as she worked. Bending was difficult for her, so foreign, but the cow had been a part of the farm for eight years. It provided for them, nurtured them, aided them. The least she could do would be to attempt to save it before their father arrived. Sweat beaded at her brow as the blood was pulled from the lungs, drawn out and back into its proper place. Immediately, the cow’s breathing eased, taking snuffling breaths to test out its ability.

Aela felt a swell of pride inside her chest, having eased its pain and saved it from the immediately threat. Still, clots remained in the legs that may travel back to the lungs. Firm touch massaged both hind legs, from hip to hoof. She heard the pounding footsteps and someone returned and hastened her movement. Two clots freed themselves and flowed harmless along. One remained but she crawled backwards as her sister, brother and father all entered. Dirty hands were hastily wiped on her dark brown breeches.

“She seems to be a bit better already. Maybe she just needed a rest.” Aela suggested at the cow’s miraculous recovery. She would have to come back later to remove the final clot. She excitedly bit her lip to keep her joy contained. At her words, The cow righted itself and then stood with a lumbering movement. How marvelous to see the effects of one’s gift used for the benefit of others. Edgar Prim narrowed his eyes and looked at Brisa and Bayu.

“Maybe we shouldn’t jump to hysterics right away?” He chided gently, rubbing at his sweat covered neck. He smells like walnut and salt, Aela thought fondly of her father as he gave a heavy sigh. “But at least it is not as bad as we thought, hmm?”

“Pa, I know she was sick. I could feel fluid in her lungs, she couldn’t breathe.” Bayu protested, surprise and irritation flickering across his face. The man was accustomed to being the most perceptive, the most skilled bender in the room.  “Did you do something?” His eyes turned accusatorially on Aela.

Aela gave him her most practice look of annoyance and held up her hands. “What could I do? Sing her back to life?” The rotation of her wrists waved her ungifted hands about towards his face. Bayu’s head conceded with a nod but Brisa did not fail to notice the way their father had slightly stiffened.  She narrowed her hazel eyes at him as he clapped and ordered them back to work. The remainder of their tasks were at an abnormal pace. The twins slowly completed their tasks, dragging their feed as the wheels in their mind turned over and over and over. Aela, in contrast, finished the rows of beans, the snapping and canning as swiftly as possible. With an hour left before they’d eat, she gave some hurried excuse to depart and ran off into the woods.

Far from the sounds of the farm, the bloodbender slowed her pace. Knee high leather boots strode lightly through the brush. The gentle rustle of pines from the summertime breeze eased the anxiety that had built in her chest at the accusatory stare her brother had given her. Would Bayu and Brisa understand what she was? Would they still love her? Aela let the wind cool her warming cheeks at the stressful thoughts. She walked the paths of the forest that only she was familiar with, feeling the earth beneath her tread and the hum of soft animal activity all around her. She closed her eyes, usually able to maneuver without needing to see it. As she did, bright pinpricks of awareness sparked behind her eyelids. She slowed her breathing and focused, each burst became brighter when she turned her attention that way and she could hear the steady (and sometimes rapid) beat of the beings heart.

Aela smarted, the realization that these were living beings and she could sense them startled her. The surprise was so great that normally surefooted steps faltered. Stumbling forward, a ready hand shot out to grasp the nearest tree trunk. The movement permitted her to right herself, though she cut her hand on a sharp projection of bark. A hiss drew itself through her gritted teeth and she gripped her hand. Fear shot through her when blood dripped through her clasped fingers to the forest floor, bright and shimmering gold. For their metallic color of their blood, bloodbenders were easily eradicated. A simple prick of their finger yielded a golden well of blood on the skin, effectively signing their death warrant.

Dark eyes darted around the forest and in her panic, she saw no one. No one saw, she consoled herself. No one saw. She inhaled and drew the unspilled blood back into her palm, slowly allowing the skin to stitch itself back together. She wiped and wiped at the blood until it turned thick and crusted, falling to the ground, no evidence remaining on her body. Hurriedly, without another glance, she raced back to the farmhouse. Unbeknownst to her, a hunter watched.

And he did not like what he saw.

The next morning started as all other mornings had. The same eggs and crusty breads, smeared with just a bit of the Prim family butter and a sprinkle of salt. Edgar had a gulp of coffee, while the rest drank fresh milk. Aela was always the first one out the door, trying to avoid as much of the heat as she could. Yet, when she opened the door her eyes fell on a plum of road dust down the hill from their farm. Brown eyes narrowed, struggling to discern at first before panic slid through her. Riders. Multiple riders.

“Mama, someone’s coming and I think...” she looked down at her healed hand. “I think it’s for me mama. I think they’re coming for me.”