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Previously on The Avatar Rhythm
|""Commissioner Markale," one of the Procession members said. "Shirou and his friend have escaped the airship. Where should we be headed?" |
The man behind the desk shook his head. "Get to the Earth Kingdom. We need repairs, and recruits. Also, would you mind sending a message to the Northern Headquarters in the Water Tribe? Tell them that I want Shirou, alive." "
|— From The Land of Ice and Fear|
The boy looked up, and smiled. It was the Airbender who saved their lives several times when they first encountered the Quadrination Bandits, a friend who they thought they'd never see again.''"
|— From The Polar Revolution|
|"Asaki kicked the wall as she flew upwards, sending her towards the boats, and she gracefully landed on the tip of the mast of their ship, untouched. |
"That is one girl," Shirou muttered.''"
|— From The Polar Revolution|
|"Shinji pulled the anchors from the icy riverbed, riding away as a criminal. He was a part of The Polar Revolution. And there was nothing that could be done about it. "|
|— From The Polar Revolution|
October 16, 2011
This is Chapter 30 in The Avatar Rhythm Series
The quiet splash of a two canoe's oars hushed through the desolate evening air of the North Pole, as a harsh winter breeze blew sparkling white snow across the sky like dust. The rippling water blended in with the rest of the cold sounds, and no one in the great Water Tribe port of Glacier Cove suspected any harm.
But they should have.
Shirou, Shinji, Takumi and Asaki were rowing in the two canoes about fifty feet off the nearest icy coast, dressed in their dark blue Polar Revolution uniforms, readying themselves for a mission.
"You three are going to need these," Asaki said, handing them knives. Just in case things get... inconvenient."
"I get you," Shinji muttered, sliding the knife into the sheath on his belt.
"So what exactly are we doing at this place?" Shirou said. This was going to be his fifth mission, the first without Asaki tagging along the whole time. He didn't want to mess up.
"Haven't I told you?" she asked, annoyed.
Takumi chuckled. "Multiple times."
"Glacier Cove is the largest port in the Northern Water Tribe. The Procession's new recruits come here, shipping and mail goes through here, it's the main business place of this nation. Your job is to ambush the port's chieftain, their governor. His name is Akio."
"Are we killing him?" Shinji asked.
Asaki shook her head. "I'd rather you not. All you trio need to do is find his Tribal Seal, a sort of stamp that the Chief and Chieftains of the Northern Water Tribe use to sign their important documents or letters. If we were to have it, we could perfectly forge official Water Tribe operations, in our favor."
"Sounds easy enough," Shirou mumbled. "Oh look, we're at the docks."
The four rebels paddled over to a nearby chunk of ice that was jutting into the water, and jumped onto it, off their boats, shivering.
Shinji pointed to a nearby path that lead to a bigger piece of city. "Should we go that way?"
"No, lets keep low-profile for this mission," Asaki said. "Anyways, most off these governmental buildings are built straight into the ice. You're a firebender, right?"
"Just melt a tunnel through these walls."
Takumi nodded. "Sounds good."
Everyone looked at each other a bit awkwardly for a second.
"So..." Asaki mumbled. "I'll be getting back to the base now. Try to finish this mission quickly. I've got gold pieces for you when you get back." She looked at each of them. "Shirou, don't hurt yourself. I wouldn't want a good recruit like you lost so quickly."
Shinji's lifted an eyebrow. "What about me?"
"Yeah, you too, I guess." And with a nod, Asaki jumped back in her canoe, and started paddling away.
Shirou looked over at his friends strangely, as if they were going to say something to him, but didn't want to. "Start a flame," he said, looking at Shinji. "Lets get moving."
Not very far away, in a small meeting room of the Northern Water Tribe's Royal Palace, a tall, skinny man dramatically opened two whale bone doors, and slowly walked onto the icy floor, taking a seat on a chair, pulling his green cape out from under him. He set his two hands on the braided table he was in front of, and gestured to Water Chief Riku, who was sitting across from him. "You called?"
Riku nodded, intimidated by the man in front of him, whose scarred skin and boney face let out an aura of fear in the cold room. "I want my son back."
"I don't have your son," the man replied.
"No, but you almost do. I know, and you, Commissioner Markale of The Procession, know too."
"What do you want me do to about it?"
Riku shook his head in frustration. "I want you to stop looking for Shirou. He's in the North Pole, right now, and I don't want to lose him again. Are we clear?"
The man, Markale, sighed. "I can't do that."
"This operation is one that The Procession has been trying to pull off for months! Don't you get it? Shirou dumped eleven hundred of our gold coins into the bottom of the ocean, almost destroying the world's economy, throwing us in debt. We've spent almost a quarter of our remaining funds to solve this matter, planning an intense operation that will be executed in just a few weeks. We can't let more money go to waste. As the leader of the third largest colony on Earth, I'd expect you'd understand."
Riku tensed his jaw muscles, resisting the urge to shout. "We're talking about my family, here."
"We're talking about my business, here."
"I don't want make this offer," the Chief said angrily. "Stop your operation or I will fire you from the Northern Water Tribe!"
"I'm afraid you can't do that," Markale said, unfazed. "Because The Procession collects your taxes, and you know that we do it better than any other organization could ever do. Your economy runs on our economy, if you get it. When we have money, your government has money. When we have money, the world has money. You live off us."
Riku sat back in his chair, defeated. "You beat me."
"Well get out here, then. Thanks for the cooperation."
Meanwhile, Shirou, Shinji, and Takumi were crawling through a small cloudy stream of water flowing through an icy blue storm drain, it's with walls speckled with dirt. They entered through a tunnel which Shinji had made, and now had access to any major streets of Glacier Cove.
"How long is this place?" asked Shirou, fighting off the strong scent of the drain, swatting trout flies that buzzed and picked at waste left behind in the drain.
"Why are you asking me?" Takumi asked. "You lived here, didn't you?"
"I never adventured through my town's sewers, if that's what you're asking."
Shinji turned around at his friends. "Guys, look ahead!"
Shirou tilted his head upwards, and saw another hundred yards of icy tunnels extend into the darkness in front of him. "Ooh. Drains. That's a surprise."
"No, look ahead at the ceiling," Shinji muttered, pointing to a spot of painted text above them.
Takumi walked forward, tilted his head up, and read what was written in large bold letters above them. "Main Outflow to Sapphire Plateau. Storm Drain to Glacier Cove Governmental Complex. You think that means something?"
Shirou chuckled. "Well, saying that we need to get to the governmental complex of Glacier Cove-"
"Shut up," Takumi laughed. "It means we have to go up through the storm drain above us." He thrust his hand upwards, sending a blast of wind that seemed to coil around the grated plate that was dripping water onto them, moving it into the icy streets above them, clearing a path. "Lets go."
Takumi shot himself upwards with a jet of wind, and helped Shirou and Shinji out of the sewers, landing them in the center of an elegant frozen road, with tall buildings shooting up into the sky on both sides. A light snow fell over their heads, and landed on the shining icicles that curved and twisted across the street, and up the walls of the towers around them. The crystal blue shimmer of ice seemed to dance across the sky, the essence of royalty wafting in the air.
And in the middle of it all, were Shirou, Shinji, Takumi.
In dark uniforms.
Dirty and scarred.
Shinji looked around, realizing that he was really the only one to notice how much they stood out in the city. He was the only one that understood who they were. And he looked at his hands, he looked at the same pale gray skin he had seen in Shirou. He was transforming into a monster, before his own two eyes.
Takumi looked over at his friend, breaking his train of thought. "You coming?"
"Oh, yeah," Shinji muttered, following them across the road.
They mumbled a plan to each other, and placed their hands onto the wall of the nearest building, starting to scale up it, grabbing crevices and cracks in the cold bricks. They jumped up towards the window, and Shirou smashed it's icy frame to shards with his knife, allowing the trio to jump in the building. Inside, scrolls and pictures were hanging around the walls, and a sense of warmth wafted through the halls.
Suddenly, Takumi jumped at the sight of a skinny man cowering in the corner of the room, and instantly blasted him into the wall with a gale of wind. He shuttered as Takumi looked in the eye. "Where's the chieftain's office?" he muttered.
The skinny man coughed up a few words, petrified. "I, I think, it's just down the hall. The last room in the hall. The last one, at the end. Please, please, just-"
Takumi threw him to the ground, and led Shirou and Shinji into the hallway. They nodded to each other as they approached the large icy door at the end of the hall, knowing that the battle ahead of them would be quick and fierce. Potentially fatal.
But if it wasn't done, Asaki would make them pay the price.
Shirou walked in front of them, grabbing the whale tooth doorknob, slamming open the large door in front of them.
Inside, was a small icy room.
With one desk.
And sitting at the desk, was a man.
He was a bit more plump than the first person they found, definitely more confident, as if he knew the trio was coming. It was Akio, the Chieftain of Glacier Cove.
"Hand over your seal and no one gets hurt," Shinji mumbled, set on ending this mission quickly.
Akio turned around on his chair, and opened his eyes wider when he saw the trio that had just broke into his room. "Ah, is that Shirou in front of me? Well, I'm not sure why exactly you're here, but I'm afraid that I don't really give out my Tribal Seal just when people ask. It's sort of, a special item of mine."
Shirou, confused on how Akio knew his name, scowled. "We need it."
"You aren't getting it."
"Is that so?" Suddenly, Shirou leapt towards the Chieftain, throwing him off guard with a slash of his sword, pinning him to the wall with his knife. As Shinji leaned towards his desk, looking for a stamp of some kind, Takumi shot a blast of wind at Akio was shaken quite hard, still not showing fear. He patted his thick black hair down, and looked at the three attackers. "I wouldn't do this if I were you."
Takumi scowled. "I would."
"But would Shirou?" A smile grew on Akio's face. "I visit your father almost every day, Shirou. I tell him everything that happens here. You mine as well be turned in innocent than guilty, wouldn't you?"
Shirou, shaking, shook off the growing aura of guilt that was coming over him. "Shinji, have the seal?"
His friend nodded.
"Lets get out of this place."
That night, Shirou, Shinji, Takumi, and Asaki were huddled around a small icy table, dressed in their Polar Revolution uniforms, discussing everything they had earned together so far.
"Mission accomplished?" Asaki asked.
"Yeah." Shinji muttered. "So what are do we need to do now? Forge a letter from Akio to stop The Procession?"
Asaki shook her head. "We're forging a letter to double the amount of Procession forces in Glacier Cove, actually. Just getting less Water Tribe soldiers on duty.
"We can't give The Procession more power," Shinji muttered. "That'd be suicide if anything."
Shirou looked over at Asaki, interested in her answer. He had been part of The Polar Revolution for a two weeks now, but for some reason whenever he looked at his new leader, a strange feeling still came over his body. And it was happening more and more.
Asaki turned her head over to him, and Shirou instantly looked away, fighting back a blush. "Do you have an addition to this conversation?" she asked him, curiously.
"No, I don't think so."
"Okay then," Asaki murmured. "With this, I am planning a massive battle against The Procession. It may be difficult to achieve in these conditions, not to mention that our forces are not as large as theirs. But it can be done."
Takumi spoke up. "How?"
"The Procession operates through political power. The reason they've conquered so much of this world is because they are said to only help the government with taxes. All four nations have given them authority. By the time they regret their decision, it's too late."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"They have no real power," Asaki said. "Don't you get it? Once their authority is gone they're weak. Once we take out their root, a siege would harm them. Even a small one. All their intimidation grows from more and more recruits coming. And a file we've stolen says that 100 more are planned to come next week. When we attack them, we'll catch them off guard. We'll make them look foolish. We'll make their reputation fall."
Shirou's eyes widened. "What do you mean?"
"Prepare for the Battle of Glacier Cove."
That night, Shirou and Shinji sat on their two short beds, facing each other, tired.
"I need to go to bed," Shirou mumbled.
"Or you could prepare for the battle next week. That would be helpful."
"You're out of it."
Shirou looked at his friend. "Huh?"
"I'm not sure what's come over you recently, but you just haven't been you."
"Can you keep a secret?"
"What for?" Shinji inquired.
Shirou looked down to the ground, just coughing out the truth. "I'm in love with Asaki."
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