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|Chapter 2: The Blade Brothers|
September 28, 2013
Jiàn returned to his office building shortly after the council meeting. It was a quaint business complex which he shared with many local workers, most of whom were either newspaper writers or historical scribes. The mayor used to hold his own small home, but Jiàn did not argue when the Council suggested they use the land the mayor's house stood on for "more important purposes." He felt perfectly content with his office and, in his words, felt it would be best that he "lived close to and in reach of the citizens of Republic City." His office was on one of the middle floors and adjacent to many other employees. It looked so plain that one could easily walk by his room and mistake his office for anyone else's, which people did on a daily basis. However, as far as living went, Jiàn owned the top two floor of the building, which had a set of small rooms and a bathroom available for Jiàn's private employees and/or his guests on the lower of the two floors, and a small kitchen and dining room remained on the upper most floor. Only Jiàn had access to the roof of the building, as it was where Jiàn usually slept (it was encased by glass walls and a glass ceiling so as to be protected by storms). As Jiàn entered the building, he was greeted by a few people, but not nearly the multitude of people who would normally greet someone of public authority. He shook hands with a few of them, exchanged in some brief small talk with them, and made his way to the stairs. There were potentially quicker for Jiàn to reach the top, but he always elected to take the stairs up to his office. He reached his floor relatively quickly and began walking to his office. Jiàn reached his office to find a young, rather fit man leaning against his door. His black trench coat and black undershirt made the man out to look quite suspicious, and his dark, rugged pants, brown combat boots, and blade on his belt hinted that the man was well-suited for killing. The man raised his head and spoke in a very calm voice, but his calmness had an almost eerie tone to it.
"So how did the Council meeting go today Mayor?" the man asked. He then grasped the hilt of his sword. "Perhaps something needs to be done about Tarrlok and the other council members?" Jiàn looked around to see if anyone was watching, then replied to the enigmatic fellow standing against his door.
"Just as soon as your brother gets here we'll discuss it." Jiàn said sternly, purposely delaying answering the man's question to ask his own. "Where is your brother anyway?" Just as he said this, a very intimidating figure appeared behind Jiàn and tried to grab him. Jiàn's keen senses and sharp dexterity allowed him to quickly grasp the large man's arm and flip the man over his head and onto the floor in front of him. The brute was quite a scary fellow, much like the swordsman against the door. He wore a similar outfit to the thin swordsman, except his trench coat and undershirt were colored crimson, and the trench coat was torn to have short sleeves. The swordsman and Jiàn looked quite small when compared to this brute's massive shoulders, thick arms, and towering height. The brute looked quite surprised that Jiàn could overtake him so effortlessly, but he admitted defeat as evidenced by his grunts of pain when he stood up. Suddenly, all three men burst out into laughter over the brief confrontation.
"Man, I swore I had you this time Jiàn!" the muscular man said amidst the laughter. "I bet my brother hinted to you I was I was coming." He then looked at the swordsman. "Didn't you Bayne?"
"Nope, Byron, I did nothing of the sort," Bayne replied. "Just brawn was once again bested by dexterity and coordination, not to mention actually fighting skill."
"Shut up, you know I'm just as good a fighter as you!" Byron replied. The two jeered at each other jokingly for a few moments until Jiàn interrupted them.
"Now then, I do believe I was going to tell you the happenings of the last Council meeting correct?" The brothers nodded and followed the mayor into his office to hear the happenings of the meeting. Jiàn explained all the details of the meeting, especially his clever word play to get his plan approved by Tarrlok. He then explained his own plans for reducing to gang problem: to recruit a small, elite team of fighters and target the most critical gangs at the source. "We may even get to face some Triple Threats." Jiàn added. "So are you two in?"
"If it means bringing some justice to this city, then you can absolutely count me in," Bayne replied.
"Yahoo!! It's time to pulverize some benders!" Byron shouted.
Before the story continues, one should know the history of the two blade brothers so as to understand them more. Bayne and Byron's father, Balard Blade was the leader of an artisan group known as the Steel Rat Vipers, one of the many groups of people who moved to Republic City after it was built in hopes to make some good profit. Balard was quite a menacing looking man, but he and his workers were a respected and honorable group of people. Although not a bender himself, Balard allowed benders and non-benders alike into his band of workers. The Steel Rat Vipers was a group to be feared, but it was also a group that merited quite a bit of respect. The only drawback of the Steel Rat Vipers was Balard's cynicism; he was not very trusting of any form of large government, which often caused him to get into small disputes with the police and other people of authority. However, his reverence to spirits and other inexplicable beings made him quite a devote man, his faith outmatched only by the Air Nomads. Balard worked tirelessly day and night to keep his men occupied with any jobs needed in the city. However, despite the company of his companions, Balard felt like something was missing from his life.
After moving into the city, Balard met a young woman named Freya, and the two fell in love almost instantly. However, their love was cut short quite quickly. Shortly after she gave birth to the twins Bayne and Byron, Freya fell gravely ill and died, leaving the twins as Balard's sole remnant of her. This was especially true of Bayne, who held the same deep blue eyes as his mother. Devastated but determined, Balard began raising his two sons on his own. Roughly eight years later, Balard met Sakti, a very physically attractive fire bender whom Balard also fell in love with very quickly. Sakti had lost her spouse as well, or so she told Balard. She had actually been employed by "Lightning Bolt" Zolt to marry Balard so that she could gather information from him in regards to the Steel Rat Vipers and then kill him. Zolt held quite a grudge against Balard, as his group held opposite views on the concept of honor and often skirmished with the Triple Threats in small groups. However, Sakti actually developed some feelings for Balard during their time together, which in return resulted in the "accidental birth" of their daughter Naomi, the only bender of the family besides Sakti, and the delay of Balard's inevitable death. A day or so after Naomi's birth, Zolt and numerous Tripled Treats assaulted Balard and his family as they walked home from the hospital with Naomi. Zolt was tired of waiting for Sakti to finally kill him. Sakti could do little to protect her husband from the gang members due to her recent giving of birth, but Balard fought quite valiantly with his hand-crafted hammer to defend his wife and children. However, Zolt caught Balard off guard by shooting lightning at Sakti (thankfully, Bayne had already taken Naomi and his brother to a nearby safe-spot). Awestruck at her death, Balard could barely move, allowing Zolt enough time to kill him as well. Zolt then spat on Balard's body before leaving and saying these words: "The Steel Rat Vipers are dead. I already got the info on where all of your comrades are living; it'll only be a short time until they're all gone. It's hopeless Balard; you never should have tried messin' with the Triple Threat Triad." Bayne and Byron ran to their parent's bodies once they heard their father moan to them once the coast was clear. The Blade brothers wept over their parents bodies, causing little Naomi to cry too because of all the loud noise. Balard could say very little because of his injuries, but he managed to speak a few words of encouragement to his children.
"My children, it will not be long until Zolt and his men start looking for you too. I wish I could see you grow up with my own eyes, but it appears fate has not looked kindly towards me. Please, my sons, take your sister and get as far from this area as you can." Balard then looked to the sky and shouted his final words. "Oh spirits! Please watch over my children and see that they find a safe place to stay and have a future far brighter than my own." Somehow, Balard knew in his heart the spirits would find a safe place for his children. Sure enough he was right; an old vagabond named Gommu found the three children wandering aimlessly in the streets shortly after Balard and Sakti were killed. He led them to his hideout of benders and non-benders, where the three lived for a few years in relative safety.
During their stay in the hideout, Byron grew very hostile towards benders, including his own sister. He felt benders were the reason his father died; he argued that if Sakti, a bender, had never married Balard, none of this would have happened and that Zolt, also a bender, would never have gotten to their father. Bayne was far more level-headed about the situation; although he wanted revenge on the people who killed his father, he felt they were just bad people who had to be dealt with. However, Bayne could not calm his hot-tempered twin's harsh feelings. One day, Byron was especially upset and shouted at Naomi, telling her that she should never have been born, which caused her to burst into tears and run away. Bayne was away at the time, but returned a few minutes later with food to find his sister gone and his brother standing perfectly still after having said such hurtful words. Withholding his anger, Bayne brought his brother to his senses, and the brothers went to search the entirety of Republic City for their sister. They searched for several days, but it was to no avail; Naomi was gone. Bayne remained forever hurt that his step-sister was gone; yet he remained by his brother's side despite Byron being the cause of Naomi's departure. Byron also felt awful about the whole thing. Ironically, his feelings were not as strong as his brothers, perhaps due to his prejudice against all benders.
One night a few years later, as the full moon glistened in the sky, about a dozen or so Triple Threats assaulted Bayne and Byron as they were walking down a dark alleyway, returning from tasks unknown. Bayne defended himself fairly well with the falchion his father helped him make, quickly weaving back and forth and utilizing many flips and somersaults to close in on his targets. Byron also managed to hold his own, but he wielded numerous tomahawks to match his bending foes' ranged attacks as well as a large halberd to clobber anyone close to him. The two brothers fought valiantly, but they quickly found themselves motionless, unable to move suddenly. They were soon forced to fall onto the ground. As they well, a man in dark blue, hooded robes trimmed with silver emerged from a shadow in the alley, holding the brothers in place. The few visible parts of his face were littered with scars, making his eerie smile even darker. However, beads of sweat beat down this man's face almost profusely, hinting that this blood bender was certainly not on par with someone like Yakone. The hooded man also breathed very heavily as he spoke.
"To think...everything your father did to protect you...it was all for not. Zolt will be pleased the Blade brothers have finally been..." Suddenly, the hooded man let out a horrifying yelp of pain and fell dead to the ground. His back was soaked with blood, where a sword had apparently gone right through him. A man in a cyan tailcoat and beige pants emerged from behind the hooded man. He wiped the blood off the tip of his exquisite sword with a small cloth, which he then placed inside his pocket. The man then readied twirled the sword in his hand a few times casually.
"Hmph, blood bending, that seems REAL fair against a couple of non-benders," the man said. The brothers as well as the gang members looked stunned that this man had caught the blood bender off guard so easily; where had he come from? The bending gang quickly turned their attention to this new swordsman. The man smirked and readied his sword. The fire benders of the group acted first and launched fireballs at him, but the man swung his sword at unspeakable speeds, fully extinguish the flames launched at him. He then leapt into the air and dodged. He landed immediately on top of one of the gang members, using the member's momentum to launch him at one of the fire benders, who was still awestruck at the swordsman's deflection of his flames. The man moved so swiftly and effortlessly against his opponents that they could barely even react. Although he knocked a few of the benders aside with his sword, the man mostly used chi-blocking to cripple his opponents them to the ground. In a matter of seconds, every Triple Threat lay on the ground or against a wall, unable to move an inch. Bayne and Byron's stood wide eyed with mouths agape. The swordsman brushed some of his long, black hair out of his eyes and smiled
"You boys certainly put up quite a fight against those filthy benders," he spoke. "I wish that blood bender hadn't shown up so I could continue to watch you two fight." The brothers looked at one another unsure of what to say. The swordsman then laughed. "Oh! Where are my manners?! My name is Huan Jiàn."
"Wait, you're the mayor of Republic City aren't you?" Bayne asked in shock. Jiàn nodded. "Correct, and I believe you two are the sons of Balard Blade if I am not mistaken. And I would be honored if you two would be willing to work for me." Byron gave the mayor a very disapproving look.
"Pft, you're a guy of authority. And we ain't the kinda guys who wanna work for the filthy, corrupt government of this city," Byron stated apathetically. Jiàn simply laughed again.
"Oh please, I have about as much authority in this city as that trash can," Jiàn replied sarcastically. He then made a more serious expression. "Listen, I heard of how your father was brutally murdered by the Triple Threats. I've seen way too many good people get bullied, assaulted, and even murdered by cruel people, especially benders. I'm sure you two don't want to just stand around and wait for the government to act. All I ask of you is to help me when I need it, and I can give you a nice place to stay, plenty of food and" Jiàn looked at the tattered rags worn by Bayne and Byron. "Perhaps some new clothes as well." The two brothers looked at themselves, realizing that they really could use all of the things Jiàn offered. The brothers nodded to each other and replied with a resounding "Yes." From that moment on, Bayne and Byron remained faithful workers and friends to Jiàn.
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