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LP Chapter 30

Page history last edited by Volkes_Wagon 9 years, 8 months ago

A Hopeless Prayer

 

     "You! Na! Vi!!" Kuchiha couldn't believe the inglorious way she kept playing into Yera's hand. She shouted again between gasps of breath. "How're you! setting! these off!!??"

     The leader of the Navi touched the wall of mud lightly as he ran. Blue light flashed from his fingertips and dove into the wall, scattering into metallic patterns and forming a thin outline of a rectangle on the tunnel base. Kuchiha growled and tried to stop, but the momentum of her run drove an unwilling foot into the rectangle. The more or less firm mud that made up the tunnel base caved in and became the quicksand she had encountered in the desert.

     "Giant desert crab--!!??" She tried to grab the side of the rectangle, but the blue light was still there. When she reached outside the outline, the electricity shot up and formed a blue wall on all four sides, inprisoning her. In the back of her mind she felt a jolt.

     When she came to, it had been a couple seconds since she was knocked out. She could tell because, suddenly, all that was left above quicksand was her ponytail. [it's a sorry excuse for a ponytail, but...it's...it's just a messy ponytail. y'know.] Desperately she tried to wriggle back to the surface, but grainy muck was invading her mouth, her nose, every opening it could reach. She gurgled to spit out the taste, only sending more down her throat. I hate magic. She reached for her swords. It was painful how slow she had to move, like everything was bearing her down and dragging her with them...

     Something hard grabbed her arm and pulled her up. There was a disturbingly familiar sucking noise, and she was out of the quicksand, sputtering and pasted entirely over with an inch-thick layer of mud. "M-!" She choked and hacked out more dirt, then gulped in air.

     "Sure are lots of sand-traps. How many times've you fallen for them now? Three? Five? You're like a bee trying to act like a mole." Kucabara surveyed his handiwork. He had severed the blue line at one point, apparently causing it to lose its power. He released Kuchiha with a gold-clad hand and bent down to examine the cut. "You shouldn't be here if you value your life."

     "There's only been four traps total!! And none of them hurt me!" She spat out some straggling sand. After glaring at the Minister until she was satisfied, she turned back to the Navi. "That's not an answer!!! Chicken!!!"

     Besides an amused backward glance, Yera was unaffected by her insult. She wracked her brain for better words--someone once told her that the best way to make an enemy turn around was to make him angry.

     "Tumbling egg!!! Cockarock!!! Hungry hippo!!!"

     He glided to a stop, staring at her with a face that didn't know whether to laugh or look worried for her sanity. Kuchiha thought: It's working!

     "Tofu platter!!! Squat whale!!! Snot-covered rattatatal bumble-headed white weasel!!!" She froze, her tongue feeling aimlessly for something better than that. Her private cursing inventory was nearly dry. "...Loser..."

     "Hey, good ol' Yera." Kucabara straightened himself, casting a dismissive glance at Kuchiha. "I think we'd beter stop this game of cat and mouse."

     "Oh? A surrender?"

     "That's what we're trying to get you to do." He held up a piece of frayed wire, carefully keeping the spring between his skin and the remaining sparks. "It's pretty clear by now that you set off the traps with your Levista magic. The ones we've seen so far are fairly easy to dismantle; even if you kept using your traps we'd catch up in time to see the end of the Festival."

     Yera regarded the pair haughtily. "If you are so eager to catch me, why do you not try?"

     "Oh. So that's the way it's gotta be, huh. Just thought I'd warn you in advance before I started to wreck your escape route--it must've taken years."

     "Yes, it did take years. The Minister of Angel City would know the doings of its neighbors."

     Kucabara's eyes glittered. "The doings of one's neighbors should not be put under scrutiny unless the neighbor himself calls for it. Particularly an escape route--the whole point's the secrecy." The spring on his left arm began to creep into intself, coiling together. "Perhaps I should build one, too--it may prove handy for abandoning comrades and running away with tail between legs."

     Yera raised his head, as if in pretended admiration. Being in his own territory had given him a wealth of confidence. "Kucabara. Young Minister of Angel City. I understand why you don't want your precious comrades to receive their rightful punishment; I believe it would be similar to the desire to save a drowning pup who has leaped into the river himself."

     "No. I don't protect my people out of pity. It's more than just that."

     "Then what is it, child?"

     "The sins of the people are the sins of their leader. That's what responsibility means. You hurt Angel City, you have to get past me first."

     Yera's magic materialized from his body in long strands of electricity, stringing its ends around him as it arched out in jagged spurts of blue. "Why must you keep standing in my way? This is not a blind massacre. This is a precise political maneuver, aimed at preventing as much bloodshed as possible. If you continue to act in such a manner, I may be forced to put aside my original goal."

     "And your original goal is...?"

     "As I said. Preventing as much bloodshed as possible."

     Kucabara scoffed at him. "You don't know what you're talking about." The practiced calm of a politician evaporated and his golden springs hummed with constrained energy. "You don't know what you're doing here. You think you're saving the world when really all you're doing is crushing what little hope we had for peace."

     Kuchiha heard electricity snap.

     "You say this is peace!?" The Navi waved his hand around the black cave. "This isn't peace. War and strife in the South. Starvation and riots in the North. Troubles enough on both sides, and it's high time for them to start solving their own problems. And then they decide to declare war. Something's happening along the Path, child, something far more prominent than a scuffle between old enemies. Why do you think they want to stretch their ill-fated hands even farther than they already are? Some of their countries will entirely collapse when war begins, and it will begin, your wishes to the contrary. If it must happen, let it happen to those who can withstand the strain."

     "But if we, the single link between North and South--"

     "Kucabara!" Yera was pacing now. "How do you know that we're the single link!? The Path has many secrets. They say that one could walk from the Entrance all the way to the End and still never understand the ground beneath their feet. It's a hopeless prayer that others will follow you if you uphold your ideals and act like a role model."

     "It...wouldn't hurt to try--"

     "Kendra!!! [finally. a South equivalent of Stormfather. <3] You keep saying that, but we've been trying it for decades now!! And what has it accomplished? I planned this attack as I watched my friends burn, but I trusted you, and I let the matter rest. I had faith in you for ten years--ten years!!! But I can wait no longer--at last! The anguish of making the choice is over. Shall I tell you? I was told to keep it secret, but now--ah, yes. What a dead man hears is of no consequence. Yes, you should know.

     "Three days ago I received a message from the South Tribe. The South has declared war against the North. The War of Twin Powers has begun. It's over. All that's left for us to salvage is a quick victory."

     Kucabara's face had flickered from pain to anger to revelation to pain again, and by the time Yera stopped talking he had given up on deciding and was expressionless. He watched Yera now with hollow eyes, springs silent, and when he spoke his voice was crisp and cold. "It won't work, you know."

     "I knew you would never agree. This is the reason I didn't ask for your assistance. Your plan is twice as far-fetched and ten times more difficult to achieve than mine; why do you still insist on foiling it!?"

     He stared at Yera quietly, the gold fading and fading until Kuchiha's eyes strained to see his face. His gaze slid down and fell to the ground, head bowing slowly, like the weight of the world had rested on his shoulders for eternity and he could no longer pretend he couldn't feel it.

     "Poor lamb," he whispered.

     Yera's lips quivered. He pressed them tightly together and looked away.

     Kuchiha realized her mouth was hanging open and snapped it shut. Annoying. "What just happened!? Idiot, don't leave me out of the conversation!!"

     Kucabara shifted uncomfortably. She grabbed his shoulder and turned him to face her.

     "Look at me when I'm talking to you!!" He stared at her in shock. "Listen, I don't give a pinta about that whole Twin Powers thing, but I'm not gonna just sit there and watch you go weird. You're a Minister, and that means you take care of your own city, no matter what happens on the outside that tries to ruin it. If you give up now, who would be hurt the most? Your people need you right now. Jay needs you. If you're gonna let that ol' seagull take over Angel City, be my guest--but I'd never let you have the face to tell Jay to have confidence again. [urgh sentence structure narghaldjflsdkj]

     "This isn't like you. Come on. You're the type of guy who'd say straight back at his face that there's no such thing as a hopeless prayer, cuz there's gotta be hope for you to pray in the first place. People can change, whole communities can change just cuz a good role model shows up. Someone's gotta start. If your people really love you, they'll follow you to the end of the world. So are you gonna get out there and prove they're right about you, or what!?"

     Kucabara blinked hard. He shivered a little as the light in his springs returned. "...You know, you soak up a lot more info than you let up to [i think that's the right phrase]." Tentatively, and almost apologetically, he smiled. It really was a warm smile.

     "Pheh. My brain isn't an empty grey glob, y'know! (But what was the whole deal with the North and South again...?)" Kuchiha bent her knees and reached for her Wsword, tensed like a crouching tiger about to strike. "Alright!!! Let's GO!!!"

     She quickly summed up their surroundings. Yera's blue light completely covered the narrow tunnel's slick inside, and even with Kucabara revived, his golden glow was weak in comparison. All this time Yera had had a hand pressed against the side of the tunnel, channeling electricity to something deep inside. 

     "Kuchiha, I'm thankful for your help, and I admit you're pretty tough, but you should still--"

     "I'm not sitting out, you crazy coocoo bird."

     "Then...at least we should draw up a plan--"

     "Annoying!! Enough with all the 'should's, lemme get moving here! Just don't get in my way--the seagull's mine." There was a creaking sound from the wall to her right.

     "Wait, but Yera--"

     "Deserves to get kicked in his seagul face."

     A crunching and grating sound rattled her bones, and the corner of something metallic rumbled out of the tunnel's side. Kucabara slid backwards into a sturdy stance and grabbed his left arm with his right, emenating golden magic. His light seeped into Yera's and tumbled against the mud surfaces, wrestling for dominance. "I wouldn't be so sure."

     Kuchiha was too caught up in excitement to hear him, though. She leaped up and barreled ahead towards Yera, drawing both swords. She was hardly two arm's-lengths away from him, parallel with the metal, when he moved. [i think it was the left wall that the metal's coming from, right...?]

     All that he moved was his left arm. His hand formed a claw with its back in front of his face, and he flung it to his left like he was ripping a gash in the air. The protruding metal followed. Several long spikes sprang out, mimicking exactly his left hand. It blossomed out into a cold silver claw, glinting blue and ablaze with electricity. Kuchiha was still in midair.

     The blue metal met her own sharp steel. The force of the impact would have sent her flying, but the claw was moving faster. It was going to pin her against the opposite wall. She felt a numbing jolt.

     The metal spikes ground into the mud and squelched quite deeply into it, stretching across the length of the claustrophobic tunnel. Kuchiha was curled up right above, swords and feet dug into the wall to keep from touching the electricity. Her left hand was sizzling. One of the spikes was just a stub, half of it being crunched into the tunnel somewhere in the darkness behind Yera. A lifeless plate of gold lay underneath it.

     "Valiant effort." Yera flexed his hand. "You managed to impair one of my fingers with one of your arms. But I now have four, and you have three. In the next attack there will be no holding back. This girl will die the moment she touches my electricity."

     "That's not right. Normally your electricity can't even cause a jolt..." Kucabara's voice dwindled. He grabbed his right arm with his bare left hand.

     "Normally, yes. But through this wall I can magnify my magic to fifty times its actual amount. That just now was hardly anything, though I must commend the girl for remaining conscious after the shock."

     Kuchiha spat at him.

     "Don't let him get to you, Kuchiha." He turned to Yera. "That's also why you can move the metal with your hand, right? Magnetism. But it only works on that type of Lersi stone [the type of stone they use for arrowheads. forgot what it was called, so i made up a new name. hehe], thank goodness, otherwise Kuchiha's swords would be turned against us."

     "But, regardless, there is no way for her to block my attacks because her weapons conduct electricity."

     Kuchiha figured out her dilemma. "Oh." [and uh, ignore the fact that since the grips are leather electricution shouldn't be possible.]

     "I am a lion in his own den. If you come for me, I will defeat you. If you do not, the girl will die. Make your choice, if choice you wish to call it. Be quick about it. I have little time to spare."

     Kucabara mumbled something.

     "I can't hear you, speak up please. What did you say?"

     He grinned. "I said I've got plenty to spare. Let's take our time with this, shall we? Haste makes waste."

     Yera paused. Then he drew his hand from the wall and unslung his enormous bow. "Biding time is useless."

     "Why, my good ol' Yera, whatever put that thought in your head? I'm not biding time at all." The spring on his left arm was so tight that it was nothing but a halo of light circling his shoulder. And still tension was building. "Not at all."

     The Leader of the Navi aimed his empty bow and pulled back the string with liquid ease, watching his rival all the while. It looked like he was training an invisible arrow at Kucabara. Kuchiha was bewildered, so she promptly prepared to attack the object that was bewildering her.

     There was a deep, metallic groan.

     She turned around halfway and stopped. It came again, and she could feel the vibrations from deep inside the tunnel channeling through her swords. Two points in her brain clicked and set everything else on fire. She turned back and dived to the tunnel floor. 

     The Lersi spikes erupted out of the tunnel side where they had been buried, but this time without any sense of order. Their one purpose was to reach Kucabara, and they hurled towards him flipping and twirling recklessly. How? Kuchiha looked around frantically. Yera hadn't even moved!

     But Kucabara had been expecting this. His arm was outstretched and pointed toward the charging mess like a cannon. He took a deep breath and tightened his spring one last time.

     Out of the corner of her eye Kuchiha saw a flash of blue. Without wasting time turning her head, she figured out what the Navi was doing. He had set an arrow. From it came a deadly electric blue, and she knew the second it hit Kucabara, he would die. Gold conducted electricity. He didn't stand a chance.

     When Kucabara attacked, he would be left defenseless. She had seen how his magic worked when he had tried to save her. There was nothing to it but to stop the arrow herself. But she couldn't use her swords to cut it, since she was in the same pickled as Kucabara, except he had the advantage of magic. While she had none.

     It made her blood boil.

     The Lersi spikes tumbled into a line. It was the perfect time for Kucabara to fire.

     There was no time for thought. But there was time for instinct. And that was what she lived on.

     He released. 

 

Table of Contents

Chapter 29

Chapter 31

Comments (1)

Volkes_Wagon said

at 11:16 pm on Jan 22, 2011

ahh, finally. i was wondering how i was gonna make the climax sound like a climax. <3
seriously though...Kuch'd be a terrible politician. she's too personal. It's useful in manga, but not much else. jeesh. i still don't know what the whole point of this was. but now there's major uber foreshadowing and an entire plot development that was only supposed to happen way way way later but it just really *fits* here. hahah. i'll need to compensate then...

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