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Previously on The Avatar Rhythm
|"Once she mastered the art of Firebending, which would be soon, Hotaru was to leave to the Western Air Temple of the New Air Nomads, and by then she'd be untraceable"|
|— From Into the Fire|
|"Akata looked up at Shirou and asked, "Airbenders? You kidding? There's probably only 70 of them in the world, and just about all of them reside in one of the two New Air Nomads Temples. I've only seen an Airbender once in my life." "|
|— From The Island|
|"And there all of them are menaces! Anil, their Airbender, is quick and tricky. Kyong, the Waterbender, able to bend blood and always will go for the kill. Their Firebender, Zhena, is the only female in the group. Her cute looks are deceiving, and she'll never think twice about striking you in the heart with a bolt a lightning. The Earthbender, Gephel, is bold, bright, and will bend the earth in your bones until they crack. You can't mess around with any of them. They're too strong."|
|— Shinji describing The Quadrination Bandits from The Procession|
August 7, 2011
This is Chapter 17 in The Avatar Rhythm Series
"The thing was an armadillo bear," Shirou mumbled, as a cold mountain gale whirred through his hair. He and Shinji had been hiking in search of a village for hours, with no luck. The only things they had passed were a small stream, some valleys, and a huge rock face which they had to scale.
Shinji, who was behind him, replied, "There is no way you could have possibly seen an armadillo bear. They live hundreds of miles away on a different continent!"
"Okay then." Shirou muttered. "What kind of other kind of big, brown, scary animal would have I seen?"
"There's a simple answer," Shinji dryly stated. "You were obviously hallucinating. All the walking? Lack of water? You were dehydrated." He waved his arms around, and continued, "It was all a mirage..."
"What do you mean, lack of water?" Shirou asked. "We had just passed the river!"
"That doesn't mean you weren't dehydrated."
"Yes it does."
"No, it doesn't."
"Yes it does."
"No, it doesn't."
Shirou became bored of this, and asked a logical question. "So I was hallucinating, huh? That explains why you were the one who spotted out the armadillo bear."
"What have I been telling you?" Shinji asked. "It wasn't an armadillo bear! I simply heard something rustling in the leaves."
"Yeah, yeah, keep talking," Shirou teased. "You saw it. Admit it."
"I don't have to admit anything."
Shirou suddenly stepped back, and shouted in a frightened voice, "Actually, I think you do!"
Shinji looked up. There, running straight towards them at full speed, was a big, brown, scary creature, and it didn't look happy.
Meanwhile, very far away, Hotaru was running through the shiny stone hallways of The Western Air Temple, breathing heavily, late for Airbending class. Her teacher, Sister Palden, was fairly strict when it came to being on-time, and she didn't want to get punished. The last time she was late, Palden had made her practice bending ten hours straight without stopping, and by the end she was exhausted out of her mind. On the other hand, intense training had made her become very good at Airbending, and she was already practice advanced sets.
Approaching the door to her classroom, she shot a gust of wind out of her fist to open it, as always instructed.
In the room, Sister Palden sat with her eyes closed, meditating.
"I am here, and ready to be trained."
"I know," the Airbending teacher replied. "I could hear you."
"What should I practice today?" Hotaru asked, uncomfortably.
Sister Palden's eyes were still shut, and meditating. "Show me what you can do."
Hotaru hated when her teacher told her this. She was the Avatar! Palden knew what she could do, after two and half months of training! Just yesterday she had practiced making a tornado! Although that might be a bit difficult inside an enclosed room. Hotaru decided on the Air Vortex. It was fairly easy, powerful, and impressed people almost effortlessly.
Sister Palden, who was still meditating, stated, "Begin."
Hotaru set her feet back, lifted her hands up, and curled them downwards, drawing a circle of air rotating around her. Then, bending her arms up, pushing them forward, speeding the wind up around her, Hotaru spread her hands apart, creating a small, swirling vortex of air, and shot it forward with a flick of her wrist.
Palden had not opened her eyes the whole time. "Do it slower," she said, "And bend your legs more. Tighter fists next time, too."
Hotaru sighed. This would be a long day. She repeated the form.
Back on the Air Nomad island, Shirou and Shinji were running for their lives, a giant beast behind them, roaring loudly.
"We're doomed!" Shinji cried, sprinting down the rocky road.
"Now you believe me, right?" Shirou shouted. "See the plates on it's back? That's an armidill-oh no!"
They had run too far. Shirou and Shinji had come back upon the huge rock cliff they had to scale, a fifty-foot drop to a hard, stone ground.
There was nowhere to go.
The huge beast was coming towards them.
"Shirou..." Shinji whimpered. "I don't want to die like this!"
Shirou looked over. "I don't want to die in general!"
The huge animal lumbered towards, them only twenty feet away...
And suddenly, a huge whirring noise came out of nowhere, and gust of air ran underneath the duo's feet, turning into a huge gale that lifted the beast about to attack them up into the air.
"An Airbender," Shinji cried, slipping backwards. A young man dressed in Air Nomad robes ran towards them, and sent out a gust of wind that flung the huge animal right over their heads, throwing it off the side of the cliff. The duo stumbled backwards, and smashed their heads on the hard, stone ground.
Shinji, worn out, grumbled. "Now that," he said. "Was obviously a moose-lion."
"What?" Shirou asked. "You're kidding. That was an-"
The mysterious Airbender interjected. "Actually, that was a Gemsbok Bull. They live around here."
"Hey," Shinji said, annoyed, "Who do you think you are?"
"My name is Takumi," he said, unfazed. "I'm the only Airbender on this island."
The duo looked at each other.
The next day, Shirou and Shinji were in Takumi's village, watching their Airbending savior perform for the rest of the citizens.
"He's like a celebrity," Shirou said. "There's no one else like him in this whole island."
As Takumi performed, juggling dozens of pots and pans with Airbending, Shinji replied. "We're leaving tonight. But yeah, I guess he's cool."
"What?" Shirou asked. "Look at him! He's amazing!" Takumi was creating a little cloud in his hands, and shaped it into a bird, which he made fly over the dozens of small children watching him.
"Your jealous." Shinji stated. "Don't hide it. You've always been jealous of benders. When you tell me about your Waterbending siblings who made you forgotten, now I realize you didn't actually hate them. You just wished you were like them! That's why you ran away!"
"That's not true!" Shirou demanded. "That's not true. I never wanted to a bender. I'm not a bender! In fact, I'm glad not to be a bender! You just, you just," he sighed, and looked down. "Yeah, I'm jealous."
They were silent for a while after that, watching Takumi perform. Right now he was spinning a little girl from the village around in the air. Then he flung a rock in the air, and before it would touch the ground he'd bounce it back up. After that, he created a miniature tornado, and flung a bunch of pebbles in it, which twirled around and around. It was impressive.
After the show, Shirou ran over to Takumi, who was heading to back to his house.
"Hey," Shirou said, "That was pretty cool. You know, you're a good Airbender."
"Thanks," he replied. "How long are you going to stay here?"
"Until tonight," said Shinji, who had run up behind them.
Shirou tried to explain. "We're headed to The Western Air Temple. And, we're kind of on the run."
"The Western Air Temple?" Takumi asked. "I'll be going there in a couple months. You see, when I turn twenty at the end of Autumn, my parents are going to buy me my own Sky Bison, and I'm going to fly to The Western Air Temple, so the nuns there can test me to see if I'm a master Airbender! Then I'll get the tattoos and everything."
"That's cool," Shirou said. "Well, we have to-"
Suddenly, a huge crash erupted from the distance, and the friends stepped back, scared out of their minds.
Shinji looked especially frightened as the sight of dark silhouettes hopped through the horizon. "The Quadrination Bandits! They're here!"
"The Quadri-who?" Takumi asked, but he didn't get to finish his question. A huge burst of fire streamed through the alleyway they were walking down, and the trio barely had enough time to escape it's burning blow. Shirou and Shinji jumped up atop an ornate Air Nomad house, and ran across roof to roof, running for their lives. Suddenly, they stopped at the sight of a large, tall man on the next roof with a black outfit embroidered with a green Earthbending symbol.
"That's Gephel, the Quadrination Bandit's Earthbender." Shinji stated under his breath. "You can't block his attacks and you can't attack his blocks. Watch out."
Gephel abruptly drew his hands up, breaking part of the wall of the house he was standing on, and with a punch shot it at the frightened duo.
Shirou, ready for the attack, took his sword and chopped the huge block of stone in half with a slash, breathing heavily.
"So I see you brought a friend," Gephel said in a deep, raspy voice. "He won't last long." The Earthbender drew his hands back, and the two pieces of stone Shirou cut flew back up on either side of the duo, ready to crush them. He flicked his wrist inwards, but before they could crush the duo, a huge gale came towards the stone at full force, that blew both the pieces away, back at Gephel.
"Takumi!" Shirou cried. Following their rescuer was a man with a similar black outfit as Gephel's, except his uniform had a yellow airbending symbol on it.
"Anil." stated Shinji.
The airbending bandit shot a swirling vortex of air at the trio, which Takumi parted easily.
"Let's go!" shouted Shirou, grabbing Shinji's hand, jumping off the side of the roof they were on. But when they hit the ground, their feet splashed in a strange puddle, which froze before they could do anything about it. A Waterbending bandit jumped out of nowhere, and sent a storm of icicles shooting towards them, which Shinji immediately melted with a punch of fire. In the meantime, Shirou slashed his feet out of the ice with his sword, and started to work on Shinji, who was shooting jets of fire at Kyong, the Waterbending Quadrination Bandit.
Suddenly, a fire blast shot out of another alleyway, and out of it came a young women with a Quadrination Bandit uniform embroidered with the Firebending symbol.
Shinji, out of his icy grip, said, "That's Zhena," and started to run, closely followed by Shirou. Suddenly, a stone wall shot up from the ground blocking them, and they saw Gephel had came back, and he was standing on a roof above them. Shirou slammed his sword into the wall, and jumped up, using it as a step, followed by Shinji.
All of a sudden, a huge swirling beam of water from Kyong was shot out at them, and for a third and final time, Takumi saved their lives, sending an enormous gale at the water-blast that instantly froze it, sending it to the ground.
"I'll hold them off!" Takumi shouted. "You guys go!"
Shirou looked back.
"We can't afford to wait." Shinji said, patting Shirou on the back. "The Bandits will kill us if we do. Takumi is going to be okay."
And with that, the duo ran off into the distance, leaving their friend, their boat, and a home behind them. All they had was Shinji's backpack, and the duo wondered how that could possibly get them to The Western Air Temple.
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