A/N: I still plan on finishing this short story concept, but I might as well post the first half since a few people have asked about it. This is just for fun, a crossover between Avatar and Skyrim. Bear in mind that Smellerbee's interpretation in this story is based on the Skyrim character Njada Stonearm, who even wears the double-striped facepaint on her cheeks like Smellerbee does. I felt like writing a non-canonical romance, since...well, this is just for fun! Plus, SRU!Sokka & Smellerbee have had their moments of tension, oddly enough, so you can look at this as an exploration of that. The concept of this series would be to explore different for-fun crossover side-stories, inspired by the episode, 'Tales of Ba Sing Se.' By now I actually can't promise I'll write all of them, but I do at least intend to finish this one eventually. Have fun!
-The Tale of Sokka -
Snow clung to his ragged beard. Winds tore at his numb skin. His legs ached, rubbery and exhausted. His lungs heaved out rough breaths, vapor puffing from his lips, whisked away by the gusts. His hands trembled from the exposure to the cold. His jaws were locked tight, teeth clenched and bared. He was worn, freezing, mentally drained.
But Wangfyre would not stand down.
"You speak the words, Dovahkiin," cried his instructor from behind him. "But you lack conviction!" The man in the gray hood pounded his weathered staff against the rocky ground. "Again!"
Wangfyre pushed out a sigh, closing his eyes and gathering his focus. Icy air flowed into his nostrils in a deep inhalation of concentration. It hung, contained within his hardened chest for a moment. Another moment, this one longer than the last. He was ready.
"FUS..." The first word slid out softly, like a fuse being lit. The next two exploded out, force ricocheting force. "...RO DAH!"
The snow at Wangfyre's feet was scattered like a tsunami, cast forth like dust from a bellows, exposing the rocky mountain beneath.
His pale blue eyes gazed at his feat with pride as the skinny hand of his teacher slapped his shoulder.
"Good, good," came the voice. The individual was hardly any older than he was himself, by far the youngest of this small, reclusive group. They called themselves the Graybeards, keepers of the mysterious Voice, the ancient language of the Dragons. "You have finally mastered your first Phrase, Dovahkiin." He nodded, scratching at the tiny tuft of gray hair on his chin. Wangfyre found it odd that such a younger man with a beard that paled in comparison to his own could stand as a member of this sacred order.
"Teach me more, Master Aang," Wangfyre grunted through the harsh conditions. "This power...it's...incredible."
"Indeed, it is," muttered Graybeard Aang with a sage nod. "You have demonstrated with your rapid mastery of the Voice that you are, as suspected, the Dragonborn. But before I can teach you more, you must prove your worth as someone with whom such power can be entrusted."
Wangfyre adjusted his horned iron helmet, which had been knocked slightly from impact of his exercise.
"As someone whose duty it is to defend Skyrim," he derived from Aang's statement.
"Correct." Aang pointed his staff to the clouded, gray horizon. "No more than a fortnight ago, the very temple in which we reside was attacked by an ominous beast."
Wangfyre's muscles tightened, for he knew where this was heading.
"The Graybeards managed to fend him off but we sensed great darkness in his Voice. I fear that - as we speak, this very moment - he could be causing untold harm to people of our land. He is a threat, to be sure, moreso than others of his kind, I imagine."
"What is this demon? Where shall I find him?"
"He calls himself the Dread Dragon Ozai," Aang darkly informed, grasping his wooden instrument in both hands with a solemn expression. "Regrettably, we know not of his current whereabouts, but last we heard his Shout, it was from the north."
Wangfyre nodded, recognizing his master's task.
"Very well. The Dread Dragon Ozai shall fall." He pounded his icicled fist into his chest. "I swear it."
Graybeard Aang nodded, casting a wave of his hand in blessing.
"Sky guard you, Dragonborn."
After a humble meal with the Graybeards, Wangfyre set off down the long, winding path of the Throat of the World, the tallest mount in all of Skyrim territory. The journey down proved much easier than the one he had endured upward, but took all day, even at his unfettered pace. The next couple of days were slow and uneventful as Wangfyre made way back to his home, warding off stray bandits and wild wolves, living off of the hunt.
It was while at the foothills of the mountain, sitting before a crackling fire in the frosty woods, that a most mysterious event occurred, unlike anything he had seen.
The night sky trickled like rain with drops of light - stars, sliding around in a shower of radiance. He enjoyed the spectacle for the brief time it lasted, until - much to his surprise - he realized that one of these streams of light was in fact a flaming orb, careening down to the earth. The land quaked upon its impact, merely a mile or so away. Startled and intrigued, Wangfyre left his camp - makeshift tent and all - to pursue this object. Upon reaching it, the flickering flames that licked from its surface were mellowed by the cold winds and snow it had buried itself in.
As Wangfyre drew closer to this object, the hairs on his arms stood up, tingling from the mysterious, otherworldly energies emanating from the object. Further inspection concluded that it was...a stone. A black, charred stone of course texture unlike any ore he had seen, pulsing with a magical force unseen in any natural rock he had encountered. His mind whirled at the prospect of harnessing it. He sucked in a deep breath and spoke out in a deep, bellowing word.
The gentler force of this single word was still strong enough to snuff out the flames that had been burning at the stone's surface. He hacked at the rock with his steel sword, chipping fragments of the rock off. When he'd finally collected a decent amount, he filled a belt's pouch with this rare substance. He wasn't too far from home - it was visible in the distance, and it was unlikely that this rock would be moved in the time it would take to head there and come back.
He was eager to utilize this material that had come from the sky. He only knew of one person who could help him truly take advantage of its properties.
Whiterun had become his new home. After having been nearly executed for reasons that seemed political (he wasn't interested in the details, frankly), he had been fortunate enough to be saved by a Dragon - the very unseen thing that Skyrim had thought long extinct. 'Saved' was perhaps not the best word, as it had attacked, really, enabling him opportunity to escape. The serendipitous timing, however, did not seem so much a coincidence, after all, when he had learned of his role as one of a breed also thought long-gone: Dovahkiin - translated as 'Dragonborn' in the tongue of the mighty creatures themselves.
In the time since, he had earned enough coin to buy himself a home in Whiterun, a burg in the central region of the land, and also home to the greatest blacksmith he knew.
After unloading his possessions in his house, he rolled out a barrel, stocked full and heavy, along the dirt road, bringing it to the doorstep of his neighboring building: the Warmaiden. He rounded the corner of the wooden structure, only to find - as expected - the woman herself, of whom the establishment was named. She was a short but slender woman, raven hair tied in a tight bun, with muscular arms to show for her years of labor, her hands calloused and filthy as was her face, expression and all, whilst she toiled away at smelting iron into ingots.
She could hear his footsteps as he approached, and spoke without looking.
"You've come to right place, Lad!" After shoveling one last pile in, she whirled around. "The finest weapons and armor in all...-"
She let her marketing ploy fall short upon recognizing her friend. She huffed out air, pushing her lengthy bangs to the side of her face to reveal her crisp, emerald eyes as a wide grin sprawled across.
"The finest, eh?" Wangfyre mocked. "It's a funny thing - it seems every blacksmith in all of Skyrim claims that title."
"Feh," she scoffed, arms folded over her chest. "What makes a Skeever-arse such as yerself question my word?"
Wangfyre smiled back, pulling at his long, pointed mustache hair with a slyness about him. He reached out his arm, elbow bent up, and she took his hand tightly. They clenched fingers in a forcive gesture of comradery. As they broke off, Wangfyre answered.
"Never questioned it, Toph. Merely...presenting the notion that other smiths might need correcting." Their eyes played a game of cat and mouse until the cat abandoned the chase, green irises diverting back to the wheelbarrow of iron at her side. As she continued to pour more deposits into her smelter, he questioned her.
"How did you know I was a 'Lad?'"
"A Lass'd carry herself wit' lighter steps," Toph explained without skipping a beat. "An' only a Lad would sneak up on a Lass," she added coyly as she finished dumping the rest in. She sighed deeply, wiping a thick layer of sweat from her forehead with a wide sweep of her sleeve. "Now, then. Speak up, Wang. What brings ye here? Surely not pleasantries." She raised a brow at him. "For ye know full well I can't stand the stuff."
He flashed his teeth at her as he unstrung one of his pouches, handing it to her.
"I wish to craft one of those 'finest weapons' of which you spoke...with this."
Toph's eyes widened with wonderment as she peered into the small sack. She plucked a piece out and cast a critical eye upon it.
"What manner of ore is this?" she mumbled, baffled.
"It fell from the heavens, calling my name," Wangfyre regaled. "Can you help me smith a worthy blade from it?"
Toph clenched the rock tightly in her fingers, sniffing at it with interest. She dropped it back in the bag cautiously.
"'Tis an odd material," she noted, wrinkling her nose. "Magicka flows through it - ye knowhow dangerous smithin' enchanted objects can be." She handed the bag back to him
"Precisely," he replied, pinching at his pointed mustache. "You're the only blacksmith I can trust to work with this."
She rubbed her chin doubtfully, scanning his wily expression with caution..
"I'll pay you well for it," Wangfyre insisted as he stepped back to the shop's entrance, waving her to follow. He cracked open the barrel and watched as her eyes lit up. "And I brought some extra incentive."
The barrel was chock full of potatoes, which seemed to be the 'Warmaiden's' only weakness.
"It's an agreement," she said boldly as she grabbed one of the hardened vegetables, biting into its raw flesh. She swallowed, gesturing the bitten potato in his direction. "Yer the type who gets things done, Wang...I like that."
He swung his arm, his hands gripped around the hilt with confidence. Cold, dark metal ripped through the Imperial warrior's fragile flesh as if it were goat cheese. Upon contact, rippled veins in the clean blade sparked white, and by the time sword had cut a swath through the man's arm, the edges of contact from the cut were burning with an ominous white flame. The man screamed, his smoldering limb collapsing in on itself as the shield it had been holding clattered to the ground. Wangfyre wasted no time in piercing the attacker's abdomen, then kicked the body, which now had a sizzling white gash in it, off his weapon and to the ground.
The chaos of battle swarmed all around him, while his mind spun circles in panic.
Where was she? Surely she was safe...In sparring, he had never seen anyone cut through her defense, after all.
Jorrvaskr, the house of his clan, was surrounded by skirmishes while guards made their way roundabouts, and Wang sprinted through the open doors. His concerns for his favorite Companion withered away at what he saw next.
Kodlak Whitemane, the Harbinger of their mighty guild, lay sprawled on the floor of the great hall in a pool of his own blood. Surrounding him were a handful of bodies - likely the attackers who'd ambushed him and thus fallen in retaliation. Ambiguous a leader though he was, Kodlak was the Elder of their clan and well-respected, as close to a father figure as their group had. And now he was dead.
While the clattering of weapons echoed in the distance outside, Wangfyre's heart sank, and he feared that perhaps his own actions had played a role in all this. He couldn't draw close to Kodlak, as the man's lack of existing was still being mourned by fellow guildmates. Instead, Wang inspected a nearby carcass, its leg hacked off, its face frozen in agony - just as well, for attacking the Brotherhood. But his sword...Wang couldn't dare touch it. Simply bowing near it sent a shiver down his spine - it was a sword crafted of silver, designed for slaughtering the undead. He rose back to his feet, wiping the blood of his recent foes from his beard.
All of the corpses of their foes had possessed such weapons. This was the work of the Silver Hand.
After the chaos had settled and the guards of Whiterun began inquiring witnesses, Wangfyre reunited back at the hall, where things were still being cleaned up.
"Where have you been?" bellowed a familiar voice. Wangfyre's body tightened as he turned to Vilkas, a sturdy man in higher standing here than he.
Wangfyre swallowed the fear trembling in his guts. He didn't know how to reply. Training with the Greybeards, forging a weapon sturdy enough to carry the burdens of his duty...?
"I hope it was important," Vilkas seethed, his face bubbling with the pain of betrayal. "Because you weren't here to help defend us. And now Kodlak...is dead."
"Was...anyone else hurt?" he managed to ask. It was selfish, but the fear of losing her hung heavy with him.
"A few," Vilkas admitted with a solemn nod. "Courageous brethren that sacrificed themselves for our sakes..."
Wang's eyes fell to the body of Kodlak, his beard stained brown and red. His hammer lay at his side, its end still wet with the brains of the unfortunate soul who had attacked him first.
"But Aela and I are going to avenge them," Vilkas announced, raising his voice so all present could hear. The huntress of whom he spoke stood up from Kodlak's remains, her face as heavy with anger as always - yet not a tear. "We will bring the battle to their chief camp," Vilkas declared his plan. "There will be none left living to tell their stories. Only songs of Jorrvaskr will be sung."
There were some riotous cheers, cries for justice and revenge.
"We will avenge Kodlak! And they will know terror before the end!"
Wangfyre could not bring himself to join in the cheers. He was burdened with guilt. No one questioned that two mere warriors, all on their, could destroy an entire camp of foes. Some of the Companions knew full well why the strength of these two, in particular, could be counted on, while others simply didn't need to know the whole story to understand that where Vilkas and Aela went, destruction followed.
As the commotion quelled, Aela went back to Kodlak, and she and Farkas, another of the guild's most respected warriors, lifted the man's body from the ground. For as old as he was, he didn't appear to be so fragile.
"What shall I do in all of this, Vilkas?" Wang demanded with vigor.
"You clearly have 'more important' duties to attend to you than the Companions," Vilkas sighed. "Do you not, 'Dovahkiin?'"
Wang frowned with some resentment. It seemed that wherever he went, everyone he ran into seemed to expect him to fix it.
"It is a heavy burden to bear," Wangfyre defended his actions. "But I am still loyal to the Brotherhood. You know this."
"Indeed, it is not your loyalty I doubt," Vilkas huffed, running his hand through his own grizzled facial hair. "It is your undivided attention which I feel I cannot ask for, which is what a matter this grave is one you cannot assist with."
"How can you say such a thing?" Wang snapped.
"Because," Vilkas roared back, "While you were away, you received a message from the north. I understand you are needed up there more than you are here. The calamity has already passed." He took a deep breath, and Wang could see his face scornful with regret. "I did not mean to question your resolve, Wangfyre. This is as troubling a matter as we have seen in a great while, but the truth is that the Companions do not rely on the strength of one alone. I cannot tell you what to do or not do - I am in charge of me, and you are in charge of you. You have already proven yourself to the Companions, and we must respect your choice to aid the people of Skyrim as you see fit." He extended a hand and Wang took it - a hardy, solid handshake. "I apologize for any disrespect...Dovahkiin. It is an honor to have you among us, and I have faith that your toils assist more people than the Companions combined are able to affect."
"Thank you, Vilkas," Wang accepted their make-up, knowing that Vilkas was understandably upset over what had transpired here. "Now, this...message that you spoke of...?"
"Ah, yes...Stonearm has been holding onto it for you," Vilkas advised. "She retreated to her quarters after the attack was over...After she realized you had returned."
Wangfyre's stomach lurched. That sounded bad.
"Is she...-?" He opened his mouth, wondering if she'd been injured, but Vilkas scoffed at his doubts.
"Hurt? Wang, surely you know her better than that. She saved two of our new recruits today with her skill. It is not her flesh I would be concerned about, but rather, her spirit..."
Wangfyre snorted through his itchy nose and nodded precariously.
"I understand. I will...see what I can do."
As Wangfyre trudged down the steps to the quarters, his body still a bit weary from the recent battle, his mind swam through the myriad concerns he was adrift in. He already knew what the message was about - the Dread Dragon Ozai. He knew it in his gut. If it wasn't random passersby relying on his aid, it was the Greybeards. If it wasn't the Greybeards, it was the Companions. And if not them, then Stonearm, one of the few people whom he truly did not want to let down. And yet he knew how selfish it was, when it seemed everyone else needed him...All the same, could he not be allowed to need but one person in all of this?
When he reached her room, he found her laying in her bed on a layer of elk skin in the corner, her face to the wall. Her ragged, wild brown hair was shaggy, and short for a woman, but Wang still appreciated its rough texture and the unique scent it omitted. He stood awkwardly in the doorway for a moment in this underground bedroom.
"Finally returned, did you?" muttered her raspy voice. It would've been much more relieving a sound if it didn't bite with such hostility.
"I have," Wang solemnly replied. He took a couple of steps toward, but before he reached the bed, she sat up, glaring at him with wide, dampened eyes of gray. A blue band of cloth was wrapped tight around her forehead, and her eyes hung heavy with dark rings - each cheek was dashed with two streaks of red paint.
"No one asked for you to come back," she snapped coldly, her eyes trembling.
"Smellerbee..." Wangfyre gently spread his arms, as if opening himself up for her to take a stab at him. "I did not ask to carry the weight I have been tasked with," he explained. "I returned here because I am loyal to the Companions...Because I am loyal to you."
Smellerbee's upper lip - a bit fat compared to the lower one - sunk beneath her lower jaw, and her eyes scanned his viciously.
"What about that blacksmith girl?" she grumbled. "I've heard tell of you and she having rather intimate time together..."
Wangfyre shook his head at her in protest, sitting down beside her.
"She's a friend, and nothing more," Wang insisted. "She has the steadiest hand - the most skilled art of bending metal to her will that I have ever seen." He reach up to his back and unsheathed his mysterious weapon, recently polished off from the foes he'd recently slain. "I required her aid in forging this blade."
Smellerbee's doubts suddenly drifted off as she gaped at the sword, its blade black and glistening in the candlelight of her room.
"I...see," she muttered after moments of gawking. "Truly, it...appears to be a fine weapon," she conceded, regaining her bearings and remembering her own irritation. "But why did you not come visit sooner?"
Wangfyre shrugged. It was partially from the fear of confronting her given the argument they'd had last time, but also because he had wanted to be able to truly dedicate time to spending with her. In a way, mere minutes with her at a time was more painful than simply waiting another day or two.
"I...wanted to see you when I could properly appreciate your presence," he struggled to find the words. She squinted at his earnest, pleading expression beneath that ragged hair she had come to adore. She reached out a gloved hand and tugged slightly at it, and he flinched in surprise while her slits for eyes examined him. Their eyes were locked for a couple tense moments, like one sword blocking another from cutting through.
Then she buried her face in his beard and hugged him, arms shaking.
"You're a fool, Fyre," she grunted, her voice muffled. "But at least you're an honest one."
Lips connected, hands slid across cheeks. They parted as Smellerbee's expression winced with yearning.
"Rough-housing ought to wait," she sighed out, rising from her bed and drifting to her dresser. She pulled out a sealed envelope, stared at it wistfully, then extended her arm to Wang, eyes still downcast.
Wang took the letter, examining its wax seal - a three-towered castle.
"It's from your sister, isn't it?" Smellerbee mumbled, leaning against her wooden furniture. She slipped her dagger out from its sheath on the dresser and handed it to Fyre, who accepted it solemnly.
Wang didn't reply to her but broke the seal and read the message within.
I pray all is well. I miss you. And while I am certain that you are busy as ever, I have been asked to pass this request to you.
The college was recently attacked by one of the fierce beasts you have told me about. I always thought the Dragons were extinct, but never have I heard such a mighty roar, or feel the earth tremble with such force from the steps of a creature. Twice now have we been assaulted by this monster.
Luckily, we are well defended here in our castle, and our magicks prove effective at deterring its force. However, our efforts alone have not been able to stop it, only drive it off temporarily.
I fear for the people in town, and have heard tell of some wounded and killed by its attacks. I have tried to help them in what ways I can, but it feels like a futile effort.
Please, come to our aid. I don't know who else to ask. I promise I will make it up to you.
I miss you.
Sighing, Wangfyre folded the letter and set it down on the edge of Smellerbee's dresser.
"You're needed...Aren't you?" Smellerbee grunted.
"Indeed," Wang muttered. "I am..."
"I suppose you'd best get a good night's rest and depart, then," Smellerbee advised with a bitter bite to her tone.
Wangfyre's heart bubbled with frustration. He had never let Smellerbee come with him on his journeys. It was for her own safety, he assured. After all, he couldn't have her knowing about his secret. She would already be at risk enough simply to be traveling with the Dovahkiin, but he couldn't bear the potential damage that could be caused if...-
"Best get on yer way, then," Smellerbee growled impatiently, arms crossed round her waist, eyes sunken and full of remorse.
Wangfyre ached at the sight, the dull emptiness in her eyes when she'd glanced down at him. This game of Skeever and Sabre Cat had been going on long enough. He couldn't be sure as to how well this mission would go, and if the loss of Kodlak was any indication, he was equally uncertain as to whether the girl would still be here when he returned.
"Will you come with me?" he asked, breaking the tense silence.
Her eyes popped open wide, and she stared at him with disbelief.
"Wh...-? Is this a trick?" she immediately spat, dubious.
"Not at all," Wang seriously answered. "I require the aid of a fellow warrior in this endeavor." He stood up, inched toward her, and slapping his arm over her shoulders. "Someone I trust."
She gaped at him, the red on her cheeks flushing to match the paint streaks she wore.
"Truthfully?" she muttered, still confused.
"Yes, truthfully," he chuckled, his heart suddenly lighter. "I have grown weary of lonely days in the wilds."
Smellerbee's mouth curved up in a slight slant.
"And," Wangfyre said shakily. He cleared his throat. "I can't bear the thought of my closest Companion being left without my protection," he shifted his words into a bold proclamation, attempting to talk up his own strength.
By now Smellerbee's smoldering eyes were burning like stoked coals. She grinned wide.
"You say I'm the one what needs protection? A fool, to be sure. That's what you are, Fyre."