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Previously on The Avatar Rhythm
|""Well," Shinji replied, "I'm not going to just knock on Miss Avatar's door and ask if I can kill her. Anyway, by then the Quadrination Bandits will probably be on us again." |
"Again," Shirou repeated, annoyed, reaching his arm up to a big ledge halfway up the cliff. "I've got your back, Shinji. It's my end of the deal. Lets see, how about if you kill Hotaru, I will recruit the Air Nomad army to protect us from the Quadrination Bandits. Deal?" "
|— From Nun Gate|
|"We've faced The Quadrination Bandits, poisons, The Procession, fruit flies, an armadillo bear, and now cliffs, but we did it." |
"We're going to The Western Air Temple." "
|— From Nun Gate|
August 23, 2011
This is Chapter 21 in the The Avatar Rhythm Series
"Ha!" shouted Shirou, moving his miniature Orchid Tile across Shinji's travel Pai Sho board. "Beat you again, for what, like, the tenth time?"
"Eleventh," Shinji corrected dully. "I'm tired of this game. We've been flying for hours."
The duo had been riding Shelly the Sky Bison since they were at Nun Gate, with a young Airbender pilot atop the large animal's head. The sky was clear and the heat of the sun was sickening. And the only thing that they had to entertain themselves was Shinji's travel Pai Sho board.
"Want to play again?" asked Shirou, trying to smile in the fearsome heat.
"No." stated Shinji.
Shinji looked over at Shirou, and just raised an eyebrow.
"Yup," Shirou said. "I get you." He turned his head over to the Airbender pilot. "How far are we from the Western Air Temple?"
The pilot looked up, and pointed to a huge crack in the plains they were flying over. "See that canyon?" she said. "It's in there."
"In there?" Shinji asked quizzically.
The pilot continued. "You'll see." She paused. "Oh, here it is!"
Shelly the Sky Bison flew over the canyon's rocky edge, and started hovering downwards. As they turned around, the duo immediately gasped. Shining stone platforms and towers hung from underneath the cliffs. Tunnels, statues, and rooms were carved into the rock face. Even Shinji could say it looked beautiful.
"Here we are," the pilot said, as Shelly drifted towards a large stone platform jutting into the canyon air, and landed on it with a thud. "You can get off now."
Shinji quickly stuffed all their supplies into his backpack, and jumped off the animal onto the flat stone platform - falling hard. Shirou heard a crack, and decided to slide down Shelly's tail instead. "Nice landing," he told Shinji, as the Sky Bison flew away.
They looked over, still amazed at the sight of the Western Air Temple. Carvings were around every tile of stone in sight, and Air Nomads - mostly female - were scurrying around the halls and bridges of the temple in every direction. Out of the crowds, a middle aged nun, marked with the tattoos of an Airbending master, walked towards the duo. Children passing by her bowed.
"Who's that lady?" asked Shinji.
"I think we're about to get answer."
The Airbender stepped up to them, and spoke in a clean, calm voice. "Hello boys. You must be Water Chief Riku's son..." She peered at Shinji. "And his friend. I heard you'd be coming."
"Who are you?" Shinji asked.
"My name is Sister Sora." she stated. "I am the Mother Superior of the Western Air Temple. Me and the other nuns run this place. May I ask why you're here?"
The duo looked at each other, and Shirou spoke. "We are... uh... traveling," he lied. "We came here because we wanted to see what it was like. It's been a long trip."
"Well, we better get you washed up," Sora said. "Follow me."
The duo hesitated, and followed the Mother Superior up a stone staircase a couple feet away.
An hour later, Shirou was lying down on a bed in a guest room of the Western Air Temple, awake. Shinji was near him, sitting by nearby table, with his head in his arms. They were both extremely tired.
"So when do we start?" Shinji asked. "When do we start our plan?"
Shinji sighed. "Remember? If you hire the Air Nomad armies to protect us from the Quadrination Bandits, I'll kill Hotaru. We made a deal on that yesterday."
"What?" Shirou mumbled. "I said if you killed Hotaru, then I'll get the Air Nomad armies."
Shinji scowled. "I came this whole way with you to help, and we've made a deal. There's not going to be any double-crossing."
"Okay then," Shirou stated. "Compromise. I'll recruit the Air Nomad armies while you kill Hotaru. Sora said she'd be back soon, and saying that she runs the place, I bet she runs the military. I'll go with her, and while we talk, you find out where Hotaru is. That's fair enough."
"I guess so." Shinji sighed. "You want to play Pai Sho?"
Far away, back at Nun Gate, a group of Air Nomads were hurriedly walking through the streets of town. One of the nuns in the group shot an air blast at a nearby door, and it opened. Inside was the leader of the village, who immediately looked worried, sensing bad news. "What is it?"
Another nun spoke up. "Sister, bandits have been spotted within the city. They've killed two citizens - one a child. I don't know what's happening!"
"This is bad!" the leader of the village shouted. "Warn the-"
She never finished her sentence.
A huge blast of flame, erupting with intense heat, swirled through the walls of the house, and shook the ground. The nuns were caught off guard, and fell over.
Fire was everywhere, and suddenly, a wave of earth lunged at the leader of the village. She stood back, afraid, and watched the stone circle around her neck. "Show yourself!"
Out of the broken earth and flames, four figures stepped out from the shadows. Three men, one women. All were wearing black uniforms, each was embroidered with the four elemental symbols. The Quadrination Bandits had came to Nun Gate. Gephel, the Earthbender, walked forward. "Pitiful fools," he scowled. "Tell us how we get to the Western Air Temple."
The leader of the village only shivered, and tried not to show her fear.
"I said," shouted Gephel, tightening a fist, closing the ring of stone around the nun's neck, "Tell us how we get to the Western Air Temple!"
"No, I can't, what are you doing?"
Gephel tightened his fist more, and the ring around her neck became even smaller. "I think you can. I really think you can."
The leader of Nun Gate, straining her neck muscles, gasping for air, looked around. No one was coming to help. "Why are you doing this?"
Anil, the bandit's Airbender, stepped up and looked the frightened nun in the eye. "If you want to live, you won't ask questions."
"Okay, okay!" she sputtered, gasping for air. "I'll talk! It's up this mountain, and there's a cliff, no, a canyon, and underneath it, there's the Western Air Temple. Now, please, just let me go! I gave the information that you want from me!"
Anil chuckled. "I'm afraid we can't do that. We can't afford to have another person know of us." He picked his hand up, and drew out his fingers, slowly curling them upwards. The nun emitted a scratchy growl, and her eyes became faint, less aware, rolling to the back of her head.
Anil was bending all the air in the nun's lungs out of her body. She gave one final plea of help, then coughed up a rough gasp for breath, but it was too late. He had suffocated her with Airbending.
The Quadrination Bandits laughed. "We're going to the Western Air Temple."
Meanwhile, Shirou and Shinji looked up as a knock pounded on their door.
"Come in," Shirou grumbled, and the door opened. Behind it was Sora. "Hello," she said. "I'm just checking if you two need anything."
The duo looked at each other. "Umm..." Shirou muttered, "I think I need to talk to you about something."
"Okay," stated Sora, holding the door open. "Come with me then."
"Good luck, Shinji said, as Shirou and Sora left the room. He looked down, and tried assuring himself that nothing could possibly go wrong.
But something would go wrong.
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