|More from Minnichi||Romance/Angst/Action||PG-13||Very Positive||Over Here|
|Chapter 1 - The Peace Orator (SHiE)|
One must not forget those who risked their lives to guide Avatar Aang in his journey to restore balance to the world. Countless individuals, from kings, priests, soldiers, merchants, to peasants, faced the wrath of the Fire Nation with remarkable courage. Some were imprisoned. Some were tormented. Some lost everything…including their lives.
Sworn to obedience and taught to disregard emotion since childhood, gifted with wonderful and terrible capabilities to manipulate the earth…a crowd of identical, grave, and silent assassins bore their vacant faces like masks.
Beneath the mask, however, one soul ached with emotion. One soldier abandoned the rest of the clones, abandoned all reason and logic…and he, too, eventually joined the sea of souls who lent their hands and hopes to Avatar Aang.
But hope could not explain the impossible betrayal of a Dai Li agent... Many failed to understand the spontaneous turn of events. The dissenter never understood it himself.
He only knew the bleeding of his heart, and how to stop it.
The Yawn Edit
"There is no war in Ba Sing Se."
"THERE IS NO WAR IN BA SING SE." The cold, grey walls of the dreary chamber echoed with the drones of a hundred voices.
"There is no war within the walls." A single, thoroughly trained voice cut through the damp air a few seconds before the rest. Its smooth, captivating tone displayed several years of experience and unmistakable command.
"THERE IS NO WAR WITHIN THE WALLS." One hundred pairs of eyes stared after a glowing, orb-like lantern that emitted an eerie hum as it circled across a thick, rusty rail.
"Here, we are safe."
"HERE, WE ARE SAFE."
Yuhan stifled a sigh and strained to resist covering his ears. The "Conspiracy Resistance," as named by the Dai Li, had struck with a rather large force this time. It had taken almost every agent in the city to break the riot, to reassure the commoners of their safety - to silence Ba Sing Se once more. It had taken even longer to drag the struggling bodies beneath the shadows of Lake Laogai.
Tonight, Yuhan was (as always) the unlucky nominee for Peace Orator. He'd learned to accept that the other agents liked nominating him in particular, for he typically obeyed commands without complaint and with remarkable courtesy, even for Long Feng's most trivial requests. Some were appreciative of his willingness to take their place, while others smugly assumed that he'd be polite about it anyway; either way, he was always nominated. Of course, this agent didn't enjoy holding a 203 record for delivering the anti-war speech to countless civilians. It was simply in his belief that he should be appreciative of his highly esteemed position and show his respect to his leaders and fellow members - even if that respect sometimes took the lives of innocents.
…But they weren't innocent, he reminded himself. If those people were left untouched, Ba Sing Se would fall into chaos and turmoil…Yuhan shook his head. As usual, the Dai Li's reasoning behind its brainwashing only barely provided enough incentive to stand here in front of Ba Sing Se's bold civilians. To stand here, and force the words from his throat into theirs.
"Here…we are...are…" The young orator suddenly let out a long, drawn out yawn. Startled at himself, he quickly clasped his hands over his mouth.
It was too late.
"HERE, WE ARE, ARE…AAAAAUUUUUUUOOWWWHH!" The chamber rang horrifyingly loud with the unnatural, recited noise. The rotating lantern stopped dead in its tracks while the rebels stood in confused, zombie-like silence.
Long Feng came storming in immediately. "Just what do you think you're doing?" he demanded. The creases in his naturally cross face seemed to dig even deeper and more terrifyingly than usual.
Yuhan grabbed nervously at the folds of his emerald-colored sleeves, his dark green eyes flickering with panic for the briefest moment. I'm dead. Swallowing a gulp, he barely managed to mutter, "I-I'm very sorry, sir. Please forgive me - I'm tolerating my lack of rest very poorly, and it is difficult for me at this hour to -" A snarl started forming on the peeved leader's face. "- but I understand that I must perform my duties to the highest standards of the Dai Li, regardless of the circumstances," the Peace Orator quickly added, his voice automatically taking on a respectful, confident tone. "It was unacceptable for me to let my personal needs interfere with those of our organization, and I only hope that you will pardon me for my failure to recite my speech with poise and clarity. I assure you that it will not happen again." If I even live to see it happen again...He knelt to the cracked stone floor and bowed, holding his breath.
Miraculously, Long Feng's expression softened into something that almost resembled a smile. "I was somewhat startled of your fault today, for minor faults appear to me like earthquakes when they originate from someone of your character." His simple tone was as detached as ever, but anyone who knew the Grand Secretariat would've taken the dull compliment over his usual threats any day. "Your commitment to the Dai Li is commendable without question, and thus I am confident that you will not repeat this mistake. You may rise."
"Thank you, sir." Yuhan let out a great sigh of relief as he straightened himself back up, watching the retreating figure of his leader disappear back into the shadows. Turning around to face the crowd of rebels, still standing and staring like awkward statues, he almost sighed again.
"…There is no war in Ba Sing Se."
At 5 a.m., the tired Orator plopped face-first into his mattress, still in uniform. The familiar room was the same one assigned to him since the day he'd joined the Dai Li years ago. Everything was stone, and everything was green. The thick mattress rested upon a high rectangular platform of stone against a corner of the wall, draped with silk sage sheets and a thicker, forest green blanket. Across the small room was a simple, perfectly rectangular desk, appearing to grow from the same smooth stone as the wall itself. The chair was a flat pillar jutting from the ground, which Yuhan could easily manipulate if he wanted to move it elsewhere. Next to a small pile of Earthbending scrolls and psychology books, a jagged piece of rock was mounted on the desk, yielding a couple of brightly glowing green crystals. These mysterious, ever-glowing minerals had been taken from the catacombs of Old Ba Sing Se and served as effective lanterns within the pitch darkness of the lake. Their brightness irritated Yuhan at the moment, who drowsily reached over and threw his cone-shaped hat over them. The light was diminished, and he dug his face deep into a dull green pillow. All the aches in his body that he'd ignored earlier seemed to come to life at once, and it took several moments before the soothing effects of the mattress finally sank in.
It had taken four more rounds of the anti-war speech to get the cursed yawn out of the rebels' memories. But still, the tired agent had to admit that he'd done a good job. He almost felt proud for still being able to pull it off and for successfully converting over a hundred rebels. And at the end of the day, he was still in Long Feng's good favors. Yuhan deserved this rest. His eyes grew heavy, and his mind began drifting off into slumber.
A loud moan from somewhere outside his room startled the agent back awake. Irritated, he rolled over and pulled a few specially prepared rags from his pockets, stuffing them into his ears. Another difficult prisoner…I'll never get why they'd put the cells right across from the sleeping quarters...
A sudden image flashed somewhere between his disgruntled thoughts. A distorted figure spoke within the brief vision. Its body was hazy and indistinguishable, but its dark, wrinkled face was clearly twisted in a deep and terrifying fury. "You'll pay for everything...I swear…you're going to burn to the ground..."
Yuhan cringed. Curling up on his mattress, he tried to focus his mind back on the comforts of his much needed rest and on the kinds of errands Long Feng might force upon him in a few hours.
Somewhere deep within the crevices of his heart, the sleep-deprived agent knew that everything around him was terribly wrong. He'd hidden away this awareness long ago, focusing instead on what he was told to do and keeping his family's honor. Still, the awareness would leak out in little streams when his mind was most unstable, during the pause between consciousness and sleep. But, as a devoted agent, Yuhan always managed to chain it back down in the end. Most of it.
I'm more fortunate than the majority of Ba Sing Se's people, he assured himself for the thousandth time. I should be happy that I'm so respected and treated well by citizens, the Dai Li, and even Long Feng. My parents are well. The city is at peace. There's nothing to worry about. No one I care about is getting hurt...Yuhan drifted into an uneasy sleep. Would those words hold true forever?
It'll all come back... Edit
"My son! MY son, has been requested to join the Dai Li! I always knew that Ba Sing Se couldn't ignore his Earthbending for long! Didn't I always say that he's got talent? Just picture it - Yuhan, the protector of our walls! The elite keeper of peace! Happiest day of my life, I tell you…"
An adolescent Yuhan covered his face as his father, tears streaming down his aged face, waved the gold and emerald-trimmed letter around the whole shop. Due to the man's outburst, a small crowd had gathered around to congratulate the boy and shake his hand, and some children even requested autographs. He forced a modest smile, throwing out some excuse about "picking up his uniform" while backing slowly towards the door. Honestly, he didn't even know what he'd done to be chosen by the Dai Li. All he knew was that it was a very hard thing to accomplish, even if he couldn't figure it out. Should he be proud?
"Just look at the designs on this thing!" His father was still obsessing over the elegant scroll, the summon from the mysterious organization. The crowd shifted their attention back to the letter, racing to look at it more closely and to hold it in their hands. The young recruit took this chance to slip quietly out of the shop, retreating into the back alley. He leaned against the dusty wall outside and exhaled.
Yuhan nearly jumped when a cold, bitter voice pierced the brief silence.
"So, you're going to add new bars to the prison of Ba Sing Se…You must be proud." An old, ragged man had been sitting against the wall a few feet away. The tattered remains of a faded brown robe hung over his shoulder like a toga, revealing the dark skin of his bony chest. His long, dirty grey hair hung before his eyes but could not hide the horrible scars that marred his face. One of his cheekbones looked oddly out of place as he spoke. Yuhan felt an uneasiness forming within his gut as he looked down at that face. He almost asked about the injury, but the old man spoke up again, his black eyes flashing dangerously. "The Dai Li are quite something…" he remarked. One hand lifted to touch the distorted cheekbone. Yuhan swallowed. "I hope you enjoy yourself in there, boy. It must be so much fun prancing around the kingdom in fancy outfits, forcing everyone to worship you…" The old man appeared to be talking to himself now. "I swear, one day it's all going to come back to them. They'll pay for taking Yuki from me...They'll all burn to the ground for what they -"
Yuhan nearly screamed, staring in horror as the frail body of the old man suddenly flew 20 feet down the walkway with unnatural speed, flipping and crashing against the dirt. He twisted in agony on the ground, clutching aimlessly at the now crushed bones of his face. His skeleton arms waved about his head in twitch-like motions before dropping to the ground, sending up small clouds of dust. Yuhan gaped at the sight of a single, carefully aimed slab of stone that now lay a few feet from the elderly man's head. The young recruit let out a cry of dismay and bolted towards the broken body, his own head spinning.
A sudden force wrenched his body out of the air, wheeling him backwards. Struggling and kicking against the dirt, Yuhan angrily pushed himself forward without considering what had stopped him. He struggled to reach towards the old man in the distance, whose body was beginning to look dreadfully still. The harder he tried, the harder he felt cold, hard fingers pinning his wrist to the ground as he reached out.
"Leave him." Yuhan twisted upwards to face the direction of a new and frightfully calm voice. He immediately froze upon sight of long, emerald robes and a pointed hat of the same color.
"I deeply apologize that we had to meet this way. We're lucky not to have any passersby around, though. I will explain what you have just seen very shortly." The agent slightly lifted his arms, spreading out his fingers. Several tiny pieces of rock flew to cover his hands completely, like gloves. Yuhan suddenly realized that the stone hands had been holding him down this whole time. He looked remorsefully at the limp figure of the old man, then up at his new acquaintance, whose arm was now outstretched towards him. Yuhan reluctantly grasped the stone-covered fingers, allowing himself to be helped back to his feet.
"Try not to think too much on this - It'll all make sense soon. Yuhan, was it? Good to have you in the Dai Li, kid."
Author's Note Edit
Oh, and this is Yuhan ^^
...Okay no, his realistic-ish portrait is linked in the chapter box below. But this was too cute for me to leave out. It came as part of my prize package from arriku's deviantart writing contest ;)
As always, I forever worship the talented artists of deviantart.com who made all the illustrations possible for my fanon.
p.s. There's actually a reason why Yuhan doesn't have the hair braid. It's probably more ridiculous than you think...so don't think about it xP
- Minnichi wasn't sure how to write out the sound of a yawn originally, so the dialogue was literally "YAWNNN!" She decided to search on yahoo questions "what does a yawn sound like?" and copy/pasted the best answer she found! heheheh
|Silent Hero in Emerald|
|1: The Peace Orator -- 2: Old Friends -- 3: Tea House Scuffles -- 4: Recognition -- 5: Her Only Family -- 6: Friendly Conversations|
7: The Favor -- 8: Subtle Messages -- 9: Duty First -- 10: Peasant Meets Royalty -- 11: Agent Greets Royalty -- 12: Salty Rivers
13: Unanswerable Questions -- 14: Judgment -- 15: City of Twists and Lies -- 16: Foolproof -- 17: Fire and Earth -- 18: Those Left Behind
|Full couple picture - Yuhan portrait - Riya portrait - In-story images - Minnichi's fanon scribbles|
|FanFiction.net profile - Liberal Ba Sing Se -|
For the collective works of the author, go here.