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|Green Man: Prologue|
May 13, 2013
Fire, everywhere, chaining him. He was climbing up the ladder to escape the blaze. Above him was light and a cool salty breeze. But no matter how fast he climbed the exit was always just a few rungs too high. He felt the burning chains weigh him down, becoming heavier and heavier with every passing second, making it harder and harder to reach that one last rung. He climbed and climbed, desperate to escape the heat that was fast approaching. It was beneath him now, creeping up the ladder, his legs felt hot and the chains began burn into his skin.
He was almost there, he could feel it. Just one last rung, he reached out his hand to grab it. He leaped upwards so he could propel himself up and out. As his hand approached the final rung, a great pain shot up to his elbow. Before his eyes, in slow motion, a black decay spread through his arm, turning it to dust. He fell. Fell into the burning flames. Zhi burned, the pain was unbearable. Thunder struck.
He was sinking, the chains dragging him down to the black depths. His arms were too weak to move, his vision began to blur. He hit the sea bed with a thud, and his ears were crushing his skull. Zhi looked up but saw only black, suffocating and endless....
He awoke with a start. His heart was racing, and sweat was pouring down his brow. His eyes adjusted to the darkness of his room. It was pretty bare: a simple bed with a small cupboard for his two different outfits. But there was something exceptional inside it. Well, two things. Two potted plants by his bed. Between them they more than filled the room. Thick branches went from wall to wall and their "stems" (at this point you could easily call them trunks) extended from floor to ceiling. It resembled a wooden spider web, all centered around the open window, the moonlight falling onto the dark leaves.
It was a cool quiet night in Republic City. The streets of lower town were empty, betraying the chaos that took place inside a small pub off the main road. Inside, people laughed, sung, drank, and fought, all with a cheerful smile on their face. The glee was infectious, filling the pub with joy. Two floor above this pub, Zhi lay, staring at the ceiling.
Zhi propped himself into a sitting position, his one foot on the cool floor and groaned. He was exhausted, he again had found a way to bend the plants in his sleep and the energy it cost was taking its toll. He extended the stump on his right up to touch a branch. Upon contact the branched quivered and rippled like a pond. coiling around his stump like a mold. He knew what shape he wanted, it was as natural to him as breathing. When he finished the room contained half as many branches. in place of his stump was a wooden arm. Out of habit he experimentally moved his fingers, all good. Zhi got up onto his one leg, then extended his left hand and began moving it through the air in soft graceful motions. The plant responded to his movements and bended itself, down and around the place where his left leg once was, until the only sign that the room had ever had plants were the two empty pots filled with soil.
Zhi moved to the open window, he knew he wouldn't be able to sleep again tonight. Muffled sounds could be heard from below him. Otherwise, it was a completely calm and silent night. He inhaled deeply, allowing the air around him to cool forming water droplets before his very eyes. He exhaled and the droplets zoomed towards his arm and leg, the wood hungrily absorbing it in. The psychic waterbender repeated this several times until the wood could absorb no more. Then as if to show satisfaction, tiny leaves sprung out of the wood soaking in the moonlight as it danced in the air.
The silence was broken by chanting, drums, and shouting. A large group of people, many wearing masks, marched down the street. They were loudly declaring themselves as Equalists, and that Amon will make sure they overthrow the corrupt bending government. Zhi could hear windows slam shut and noticed quite a few more lights turning off. The pub below fell into a hushed silence, as man on a megaphone declared all benders were now on borrowed time.
Zhi wondered how he would pay this week's rent.
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