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|Brave New World|
Book 3: Dawn
Epilogue: Brave New World
Hizumi's combat boots slapped against the cement sidewalk, while another, larger pair of boots did the same beside her.
"So...what am I supposed to do while you're in this meeting, great-grandfather? I'm not one for sitting around.
Kyani smiled as he walked, taking long strides that the young Kyoshi Warrior struggled to keep up with. "You misunderstand, Hizumi. You're coming with me."
She inclined her head. "But the Avatar—"
"—has asked that I bring you with me. Trust me; you'll be welcome."
She nodded slowly as they walked toward Argho's residence in Ba Sing Se. "So...what do you think he invited us here for?"
Kyani shrugged. "I've got no idea. If you want the truth, I haven't been this excited in years."
Both of them stopped as a green, ethereal fire ferret crossed their path, sniffing the air as it went. Kyani couldn't help but smile as it dove into an alley and out of sight.
"It must be important," she said, ignoring the creature entirely.
The Ancient Master chuckled. "Or he could just be in need of some company."
Hizumi raised an eyebrow. "It is Argho, sir. You're assessment is...unlikely."
"Maybe so, but an old man can dream of peace, can he not?"
Moro stepped out onto the train platform once it stopped in the Upper Ring. She smiled; Ba Sing Se, with its solid stone construction, was demonstrably different from either the North or Republic City. It looked like it was stuck in the past.
The fresh, not-freezing air blew around her, and she inhaled deeply before glancing at the letter in her hand.
"What are you up to, Argho?"
Another gust of wind accompanied a familiar, and not unwelcome, voice. "I was wondering the same thing."
Moro whirled around, sporting a massive grin. "Shen!"
As he closed his glider, she nearly tackled him. "Spirits, it's been so long! Six months and only letters from you have not been enough."
He smiled. "I missed you, too, Moro. I tried to get some time to come see you in the North, but between the fallout from the trial and the work on rebuilding, I wasn't able to—"
She placed a finger on his lips. "I know; I was messing with you. To be honest, taking care of Mom and dealing with Kulok's imprisonment haven't been easy, either."
Shen nodded. "So the North decided to handle that...bootlicker after all? Given that he supported Susanowo, I'm not feeling much sympathy." He wrapped his arms tightly around her. "I did miss you."
"How are your parents? I bet they've got their hands full."
"They're managing. A new Council of Elders is being formed slowly; we're not risking our nation on rash decisions. Unfortunately, everyone wants me to take a place on the council, even Otokami."
"And you don't want to?"
He shook his head. "No, it's not my place. I can't be any kind of leader to my nation; I'd much rather work as an ambassador."
Moro inclined her head. "You'd make a great leader. What are you talking about?"
"I have far too much baggage from all of this." He sighed and pulled away. "I still can't think clearly sometimes."
She nodded. "I see."
"Before I forget," he glanced at her as he spoke, "how is your mother doing?"
"She's...she's still all over the place," Moro replied. "Don't get me wrong; she's doing better. But...she'll never be the way she once was."
She shrugged. "I'm just happy that she's getting better, although I wish Kyrie could be here..."
Shen frowned. "He's free to see his mother recover away from Kenshin's influence. I hate to ask, but..."
Her eyes narrowed. "I asked Rena and Turi to guard her while I'm gone." Her somber expression turned to one of joy. "They were happy to, provided we came to their wedding."
Shen smirked. "We?"
"Yeah," she grinned. "They seem to think we're a couple, or something."
"They are very astute," he replied as he held out his hand. "Shall we? I'm interested in what Argho has for us."
Moro placed her hand in his. "So am I; let's get to it."
Rioku leaned back in his chair and placed his feet on Argho's stone dining room table while the Avatar watched the stove, where a pig deer stew boiled. The one-eyed Earthbender inhaled and smiled.
"Well, it's been quite a while since you've actually cooked; I have to say, from the smell, that you haven't lost any of your touch."
The Avatar cracked his knuckles as he watched the stew roll in the pot. "It is one of my lesser used talents."
"Pity. I had hoped to get a taste of gemsbok bull before the others got here."
The Avatar shook his head. "I told you: I'm saving that for when everyone arrives."
Rioku stretched and yawned. "They're all late; we should get first go, seeing as I was here a couple of hours early."
"There won't be any left, at that rate."
Both men began to chuckle, but they went silent as they heard a knock on the door. Rioku stood and made his way to the threshold, and his expression lit up as he opened the door.
The nonbender smiled and embraced Rioku. "It's good to see you."
The Earthbender furrowed his brow. "Wait, what is that around your lips? Is that—?"
"A goatee? Yes," he replied. "Yes, it is."
Argho placed the pot of stew on the table. "Welcome to my humble abode, Kuan Ti. Have some stew." He took a closer look at the nonbender. "Damn...the hair is off-putting."
"Well, I'm not shaving it."
The Avatar shrugged. "Suit yourself, but I predict that you'll have a change of heart."
Kuan Ti smirked. "So you say."
Another knock brought Argho to the door this time. He opened it to find Shen and Moro standing before him, hand-in-hand.
"It's about time," the Avatar said as he motioned for them to come in.
Moro cocked her head. "Are we that late?"
"Not what I meant; have some stew."
Shen and Moro glanced at each other and shrugged. As Argho was about to close the door, another voice rose to his ears.
"You are not going to tell me you couldn't feel me coming," Saitei said, "Have your senses dulled so easily?"
Kuan Ti dipped his finger into the pot of stew before pulling it out to lick the mixture off. "It has been six months without a major incident. Kenshin's a no-show, and no other spirit's dumb enough to tangle with the Avatar, not after what happened in Republic City."
Saitei sighed. "That is no excuse. Should we have an agni kai to prove my point?"
Argho's eyes widened. "Not in my house, Saitei! Even stone can't stand up to your Firebending!"
The Fire Lady smiled. "I am well aware; we can go out to the street."
"I'll pass, thanks."
"As I suspected," she replied, her smile forming into a smirk, "you've given way to weakness."
The Avatar inclined his head. "Discretion is often the better part of valor."
"That is the only time I think I've ever heard you say that," Shen said.
Argho nodded. "It will be, unless Saitei asks for an agni kai later, of course." He cleared his throat. "At any rate, let's get started."
"Without me? I'm hurt, Avatar." Kyani pressed on the door, which no one had bothered to fully close, and he and Hizumi stepped inside.
"You really should be paying attention, Argho," Rioku said.
Shen's eyes widened. "Ancient Master, I wasn't expecting to see you here."
Kyani smiled. "And yet here I am, young Airbender."
"Uh Shen," Moro stuck her elbow in his side, "who is that?"
"The Ancient Master," Saitei replied to Moro's question with an air of awe in her voice. "This is interesting."
Moro leaned toward Shen. "Who is he?"
The Airbender shrugged. "I'm really not sure; I've only met him once before."
Kyani sighed. "This unintentional mystery surrounding me is unnecessary, especially from you, Saitei. I've been friends with every member of your family for quite some time."
"It makes it difficult for me when you spend most of your time on Kyoshi Island; it's been years."
"I will rectify that if I can, then."
Argho stood and cleared his throat. "Before we get started, it would probably be best if we diminished that mystery, Ancient Master, but I'll allow you to—"
"I understand, Argho," Kyani replied. "I can easily rectify any confusion. The locals of Kyoshi Island saw fit to begin forming a near mythology around me as the Ancient Master, but my real name is Kyani. I was a friend to Avatar Aang and his family, as well as Fire Lord Zuko's children. My father, Sokka, trained me to wield a blade like no other, and I misused that gift quite a few times in my youth."
Hizumi spoke up, "Great-grandfather, you must have done what was—"
He raised a hand to silence her. "No. It is not a story I tell often, but suffice it to say, anything you were about to say to reassure me would be wrong."
"So, you're a nonbender?" Rioku asked. "Just how skilled are you?"
"Let's put it this way: my father and I had both dueled spirit warriors; my victory was a tad more decisive."
Argho smiled. "It's good that you mention that. I imagine you are all wondering why I called you here." He watched as everyone in the room nodded. "Come; let us gather around my dining room table."
An Airbender, a Waterbender, a Firebender, two Earthbenders, and three nonbenders gathered around the table.
"So," Kyani began, "what did you call us here for?"
The tiles slid, seven in total, to each person at the table besides Argho. The Avatar waited as each person got a chance to look at their tile; each bore the symbol of the White Lotus
Kyani chuckled. "Oh, Argho..."
Saitei's face held a reserved smile. "Well, what have we here?"
"I'm a little confused," Kuan Ti said.
The Avatar placed his hands flat on the table. "The reason I've invited you all here is this: before he died, Koh opened an unknown number of portals from the Spirit World to our own."
"That would explain several things," Kyani said.
Argho nodded. "If you haven't noticed by now, spirits can and have begun to move between worlds. Thus far it has only been small or insignificant spirits that mean us no harm, but I doubt that's what Koh had in mind. I imagine he knew more than a few who would cause trouble for humans, who would try to do what Susanowo and Otokami did."
Moro blinked several times in rapid succession. "So...why call us?"
"The reason I've called you here is twofold. My first goal is to rebuild the Order of the White Lotus in a way that would do its history proud, unlike what it became in recent memory. I intend to bring the Order back into the shadows, out of the limelight. Recruiting will be very selective."
"For what purpose?" Kyani asked. "Unlike the old men who would sit and twiddle their thumbs, you are not one to disassemble an organization, only to reassemble it without purpose."
The Avatar nodded. "Indeed. We will get the Order back to the job of helping to maintain balance, but I have a second reason. All of you are capable warriors and honorable men and women. Additionally, most of you have either fought spirits or dealt with the Spirit World. With the potential problems created by the existence of these portals, I want this organization to be the first response to threats from the Spirit World, if necessary." He glanced around the table. "What do you think?"
Rioku didn't hesitate. "I'm in."
"So long as you remember where my first duty is, Argho, I am in, as well," Saitei said.
Kuan Ti grinned. "Why not? Someone's got to do it."
"If I can stop anyone from going through what I did," Moro said, "then I am definitely all for this."
Shen smiled. "I knew you had a good reason for this meeting; I wasn't disappointed. Count me in."
Hizumi glanced at her great-grandfather. "What will we do?"
"I am not your parents, and even if I were, I could not make this decision for you," he replied. "This is a choice only you can make."
The Kyoshi Warrior frowned and held the tile in her hand. "Very well, I'd like to see where this leads. I'll be a part of this, if you'll have me."
Argho nodded before turning his gaze to Kyani. "What of your decision?"
The swordsman's grin grew as he gripped the hilt of his blade. "Anything to get me off of that damned mountain! I've been waiting for an opportunity like this."
The Avatar smiled. "It seems we're all agreed, then. Good. Now that we've got that business out of the way, how about we eat?"
Lu Ten watched them go their separate ways as they left Argho's home. The sun was setting, and an overabundance of orange cloaked the city of Ba Sing Se as he sat outside of a diner.
"Would you like me to take your order, sir?" the waitress asked, drawing his attention back.
"Just ginseng tea, if you wouldn't mind," the Spirit of Dawn replied.
"Excellent choice, sir."
As she went off to put his order in, Lu Ten glanced back at the Avatar's home. He smiled; if Argho had gathered so many together, he had to have a plan.
"I'm excited to see what you do with this new world, Argho. We expect great things from you."
- I hope the epilogue was to your liking, my faithful readers. I still intend to do one-shots relating to characters and events in the Spirit War Trilogy, but those will come later and sporadically. If you'd like to be notified when those come out, let me know either on my message wall or in the comments, and I'll add your username to the Spirit War Trilogy hub page.
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