Tahra sobbed at the feet of the general. She was given one rule to follow more carefully than all the rest, and she took the risk to ignore it. By doing so, she knew she had sealed her fate along with her family's, her earthbending master's, and her earthbending master's family. Tahra looked up at the general whose figure was blurred from the tears in Tahra's eyes. She was so welled up with anger she couldn't stand it. She had been turned in by the boy she thought was her friend. He came to her father's bakery nearly everyday to eat and chat shortly with her. He was kind unlike the others that had invaded her village. He always wore a helmet that covered most of his face but left open just enough to see his smile and his eyes. Tahra hated herself for getting so close to someone she knew was the enemy.
"Leave my family alone," Tahra demanded of the general through her tears. "They did nothing wrong."
The general's nostrils flared up before he moved his foot rapidly. The next thing Tahra knew, she was face down in the dirt with blood pouring from her throbbing nose. It took all her strength to not shriek out in pain. She ran her tongue over her teeth to make sure they were all still intact.
"They did everything wrong," Then general spat at her. "They did not turn you in when all earthbenders were required to be handed over to us. They harbored a criminal. For that, they themselves are criminals."
I wanted to scream at him. I wanted to tell him how much of a demon he was. I wanted to fight back and rid my village of the Fire Nation forever. I wanted so badly to fight back, but I couldn't. There was nothing I could have done. If I said another word I might as well have lost a limb or two. The thought of my family being tried as criminals made my heart sink to my stomach. I couldn't form words in the midst of all the tears forming and falling from my eyes.
"The punishment," the general called out to the crowd of people frozen at their front doors to see what was happening, "for the harboring of earthbenders is a severe crime punishable by death. If there happen to be any other earthbenders here I invite you to step forward on your own. No harm will come to your families by doing so."
I knew in my heart that the general was lying. Meanwhile, the town was so quiet I could hear a pin drop until I heard feet walking towards the general and I. I looked up to see my master stepping up just to the left of me. The general looked furious. Once again, his nostrils flared before striking down my master with a heavy left hook to the jaw. My master was a man well into his fifties, so I wasn't surprised if his jaw was broken.
"Two earthbenders in a matter of ten minutes at my feet?" boomed the general. "Shame."
Like clockwork, the soldiers standing behind the general all moved together to search the homes of the village. Two of them stopped to take my master and I away to a cart where we would be transported to a prisoner's camp. For a short moment, my eyes met those of the boy that betrayed me. I poured every ounce of hatred into my glare at him hoping he would feel the sting of regret I secretly wished would kill him. The general placed a hand on his shoulder as I looked away to say something along the lines of how he was proud of the work the boy had done that day.
As the soldier turned to place me into the cart, I saw a group of soldiers grabbing my mother, father, and four younger brothers to take them away. I knew they would be sending them to an execution for keeping me safe because I'm their family. Again, the rage returned and took over my movements. I slammed my head into the head of the soldier holding onto me and began to fight.
The other soldier reached for me but I kicked him away. My hands were of no use to me tied up, but there was nothing I could do about it at the moment. I pounded the ground with my foot to bring up a chuck of earth the size of my head and kicked it towards the general. It nailed him straight in the back and sent in falling into the dirt like he had done to me. Rather than go at the boy who betrayed me I went after the soldiers dragging my family away. They had all seen me take out the general, so my element of surprise was gone. As if it were rehearsed, all of the soldiers holding each member of my family held up a flame next to their heads. I stopped dead in my tracks. My mother as well as two of my brothers held back tears, one whimpered quietly, and the youngest wailed having been awoken by a soldier.
"Don't make another move," said one of the soldiers to me.
My father held his hands up to me as if to tell me to stay back. "It's okay, Tahra," he said calmly. "Everything's going to be alright."
The last thought I remembered having was "No, it's not" before I was struck on the back of the head. Everything was dark after that.