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July 10, 2012
It was noon. Lien was waiting where she had met Bo the night before. She was about to just give up when she heard footsteps behind her. She turned to see Bo.
"Good afternoon," he said.
"Good afternoon," Lien replied.
"Come on, follow me," Bo told Lien.
"Why can't you tell me about bending here?" Lien asked.
"Because, as I have learned since last night, it's too easy to find, especially during the day when everyone's out. Besides, you're going to find my place very interesting." Bo responded as she followed him through the bamboo forest back to the stone. Bo slid the stone aside and they hopped in the hole as it slid back. The tunnel was very dark and when Bo realized that Lien was having a hard time finding her way through it, he firebent a light so that she could see.
"How can you see in this?" Lien asked.
"Look at my feet, I don't wear any shoes and so I can use my feet and earthbending to see where I am." Bo told her. "But for your purposes, I'll give you a light." Bo raised his hand showing her the fire-ball in his hand, illuminating their way through the tunnel.
They proceeded down the tunnel for several minutes until it opened into what seemed like an underground prison.
"We're now within the walls of Ba Sing Se," Bo announced. "This is where the Dai Li trained their agents, organized their conspiracy to control the Earth King."
"Who are the Dai Li"
"The Dai Li were the cultural agents who made sure that the heritage of Ba Sing Se was preserved, they were organized by Avatar Kyoshi in response to a rebellion that occurred here thousands of years ago, eventually Long Feng, the leader of the Dai Li in the year 100, used the Dai Li to control the Earth King, eventually the Dai Li was dissolved because of this conspiracy." Bo explained. "Anyway, this is where I live."
"Cool, but if you live underground, what do you eat.?" Lien asked.
"Come, I'll show you." Bo led her down another long tunnel until they came to what looked like a long shaft, leading upward to the surface. Bo airbent and within a matter of seconds, they had come to the surface of the Earth again. "Welcome to the outer ring of Ba Sing Se, or at least what's left of it. This is where I farm, I use earthbending to dig the ditches and plant the seeds, and I waterbend the water in from Lake Laogai."
"So this is how you can feed all those prisoners." Lien remarked.
"Come, let's go to the upper ring, that's where the library is and that's where I can teach you more about bending."
Once they made it to the library, Lien asked, "Wait a minute, where are your parents?"
"Well, my parents were also benders, they used to be the biggest wheat growers in the entire fief, then Wàng's discovered them and sent the marauders to capture them, he drowned both my parents in the lake. They didn't find me though which is why I'm still here to day!"
Lien was now sorry she had asked so she quickly changed the subject, "So what else is there to learn about bending?"
"Come right this way," Bo led them to a row of shelves and began removing scrolls. "Here, here are some of the basic things to learn about bending, history, the elements, famous benders, the works."
They both spent the next several hours perusing the scrolls in the library, eventually lien asked, "What is an Avatar? I've seen it written several times in these scrolls and I don't know what it means."
"The Avatar could bend all four elements, and had the ability to contact the Spirit World, the Avatar was also reincarnated every time he or she died into the next nation in the cycle, it was also the Avatar's job to keep peace throughout the world."
"Wait, I know why you can bend all four elements now Bo, you're the Avatar."
"What? No, no, no, I also said that the Avatar had to be able to contact the Spirit World. I can't do that." Bo said.
"Maybe, but it also said in one of these scrolls here that Avatar Korra couldn't contact the Spirit World for a very long time either."
"I don't think so, because another thing that the Avatar is supposed to be able to do is go into the Avatar State which can be triggered by any number of things including emotion, that means that I should have wound up killing all those soldiers before my parents were even captured."
After this thought, Lien couldn't come up with any other ideas for why Bo would be able to bend all four elements. After a few more hours reading through scrolls Lien asked, "Can you teach me to bend?"
"Why?" Bo asked.
"I think that it would be something good to learn in case I wind up in trouble again like I did last night."
"That is a good point, however, I don't know if you'll be able to, if you aren't spiritual enough, then you can't access the energy that flows through you allowing you to control an element."
"I can learn."
"Okay, I'll teach you," Bo said, "but you have to be sure that you practice it only within the ruins of Ba Sing Se or else someone will find you."
Over the next several days, Bo taught Lien to bend, beginning with meditation. Bo was teaching Lien to earthbend considdering that she had been born in the former Earth Kingdom and according to the vast history that was in the library, Lien would only be able to bend Earth. Lien was a fast learner and by the second day she was moving pebbles around the courtyard of the old palace of the Earth King. Third day she was able to create entire walls and dig trenches. Day four, she was beginning metalbending.
It was the fifth day of learning when Lien suddenly had an idea, "Bo," she said.
"I think I finally know why you can bend all four elements even if you aren't the Avatar. You remember how in the scroll labeled The Legend of Korra two of Avatar Korra's friends Bo Lin and Makko were brothers?"
"They were both born in what was technically the Earth Kingdom, so if the logic that what you could bend depended upon where you were born, they would both have been earthbenders, but they weren't, Bo Lin was an earthbender while Makko was a firebender."
"Where are you going with this?" Bo asked.
"Anyone can bend all four elements, not just the Avatar!" Lien exclaimed excitedly causing the piece of sheet metal that she was practicing on to fly into the palace behind her.
Bo began to laugh hysterically.
"I don't see what's so funny," Lien told him indignantly.
"First of all, that was the best metalbending you done all week, second I think that your idea is rather silly." Bo said still laughing.
"Well, I at least should get a chance to prove my idea correct, I want you to teach me waterbending."
Bo stopped laughing. "You want me to do what?"
"Teach me waterbending."
"No, I won't teach you waterbending because you aren't a waterbender and you haven't even finished earthbending yet."
"Correction, I'm not a waterbender yet, and I can easily postpone metalbending until later."
"Well, I guess I can teach you, if nothing it will be at least entertaining for the both of us to do something different for once."
And with that, Lien began to learn waterbending. Unlike with earthbending though, she seemed to be getting nowhere with waterbending. After the second day, she decided that she would just give up and go back to earthbending, she had been disproven and for the rest of that day, she practiced poorly so Bo decided to let her go home and have a break.
Lien began to walk back home through the tunnel that lead to the bamboo forest, she slid the rock aside and went back home in the sunlight.
When she arrived home, her mother was there waiting for her with a rather cross expression on her face. "Lien, I know where you have been and what you have been doing, and your friend isn't any normal friend."
Lien froze, How had she found out? she thought.
As if in answer to her thoughts, Li stepped out from the shadows, "I followed you, because I knew that you were up to something, you're usually a good liar but not this time, I saw you bewitch the rocks."
Lien knew what she had to do now, she turned to run but her path was blocked by a tall man in heavy armor with a long steel tipped spear in his hands pointed directly at Lien. Lien earthbent a hole in her floor and began to tunnel surfacing only when she was sure that she had escaped. She then ran through the tunnel behind the boulder and into the ruins of Ba Sing Se. "Bo!" Lien cried, "Bo, they found me out, their coming to kill us. Bo --"
A hand grabbed her mouth and silenced her. Lien began to struggle when she heard the person behind her speak, "Shhh, come on, we have to get out of here, there's a secret way out." It was Bo and Lien immediately relaxed and followed Bo to yet another tunnel. By the time they finally surfaced again, it was morning.
"How did they find out?" Bo asked.
"My brother, Li, followed me and saw me going to the tunnel, he told my mother and they told Wáng."
"Oh well, I guess we'll just find another place to live."
"That's easy for you to say, I still have family there, I'm still atatched to home." Lien said.
"We're almost to the border of the fief, once we're there, Wáng can't catch us, he'll be attacked by their soldiers!" Bo exclaimed.
Both broke into a run but once they had almost crossed the border marker, they were ambushed. Metal cages were dropped on both of them. Lien tried to metalbend her way out, but for some reason she couldn't.
"Ha ha ha ha!" a sinister voice laughed from outsid the large metal capsule, "You can't bend your way out of this one, it's pure platinum, you're trapped until I let you out." "Take them to the holding cell and prepare them for questioning and execution."
Lien's heart sank, she was going to drown, she was going to drown in Lake Laogai and her memory would be forever shunned.
A bright light shone on her, she blinked repeatedly to help her eyes adjust, standing over Lien was a man who wore glasses. "Where am I?"
"You will not be asking the questions here, I will," the tall man said monotonously. "First, are you a witch?"
"No! I'm a bender."
"There is no difference, next, when did you become a witch?"
"I told you, I'm a bender, not a witch!"
"What you choose to call yourself is irrelevant, just answer my question."
"This week." Lien said growing angry.
"Who coerced you into becomming one, was it the boy?"
"No, no one coerced me, I did it on my own free will." Lien told him still growing angry.
"You're lying, the witch who coerced you to join has made you think tthat you did it yourself, but you know that you're lying, only if you confess can you be freed from their grasp, only then can you see the truth of your situation and be able to surrender your evil power," the man said remaining as monotonous as when the interrogation had first begun.
"No, I will not confess to something that is not true." Lien remained defiant.
"Very well, then we shall have to use some "friendly" pursuation." The man snapped which apparently signaled to a guard outside the chamber to enter. As the guard entered, Lien noticed that he was carrying a bucket of water, and a potato sack. Lien's terror grew, as the guard began to put the sack over her head the man asked, "Are you ready to confess now?"
It wasn't until the water began to pour on Lien's head that she cried out through the bag. "Yes! I confess, Bo coerced me into it he coerced me into it!"
The man removed the bag, "Very well, you can go home now and be with your family, this boy, Bo, though didn't break so easily, he is going to be executed tomorrow at the lake."
It was the next morning and the entire fief had gathered around Lake Laogai to witness the first execution of a witch in many many years. Bo stood at the center of the lake shackeled in platinum with a large platinum ball attached to his foot.
Lien heard the sinister voice again, "Now, subjects of this fair and wonderful fief that I call my own, gather and witness the first execution of a witch in over ten years." The voice was emanating from a man in dull green robes behind the crowd at the lake. This man's robes were opulent and boasted of the man's wealth, and the only man that wealthy in the entire fief was Wáng. "Now, watch as the countdown begins and remember that if this witch were to live, all your lives would be in danger!"
The crowd began to shout in unison as the countdown to Bo's execution began.
"Three, two, one!"
Bo was pushed off of the boat and he bagan to sink. Bo wouldn't survive, he was shackled so that he couldn't move his arms or legs preventing him from bending, and he couldn't metalbend out of the shackles because they were made of pure platinum.
Lien bagan to sob as the crowd cheered and reveled in the cruelty that society had created to be normal over the past 200 years of virtual lawlessness. Then, in a fit of anger, Lien lunged forward and before she knew it, she was using a waterbending form she had found in the library scrolls. Within a matter of seconds, Bo was catapulted sky high by a pillar of water. Before she knew what she was doing, Lien had not only waterbent, but had also freed Bo from his shackles with the water-blade.
In a matter of seconds Bo was back on the banks regaining his breath, and Lien had cooled down enough to notice that everyone was staring at her. She looked at Wáng whose face had contorted into one of utter disgust. "Don't move!" he yelled at the two kids on the ground.
"What power do you have over us Wáng, we're out in the open and can easily escape, there's no way for you to ambush us now!" Bo yelled back at Wáng.
"Oh, but you are mistaken," Wáng muttered under his breath.
Suddenly Wáng moved in motions that the entire crowd recognized as the earth witch's way of summoning rocks or metal from a distance. Bo and Lien turned just in time to see the platinum cage hurtling towards them, open and ready to trap them once again. At the moment when the cage was right on them, Lien sliced it in two with the water blade.
Wáng felt the eyes of the entire crowd upon him, he knew that he had just blown his cover. My plans will have to be accelerated, Wáng thought. "Soldiers, control the crowd and bring me those two kids, alive!"
Suddenly Wáng's soldiers who had been standing guard, also earthbent. It was clear now what was happening, Wáng had secretly learned how to earthbend and also taught his soldiers to do the same. Wáng had also amazingly figured out how to bend platinum. He had been secretly building his army, waiting for the right moment to seize control of the entire former Earth Kingdom.
As the soldiers held back the crowd with walls of rock, Wáng and his personal guard closed in on Lien and Bo.
"You have threatened my plans and now you have forced me into accelerating them," Wáng said angrily as he approached the two who stood still stunned by what had just happened over the past two minutes. "You, and all the world shall now suffer the consequences!" Wáng and his guards moved to earthbend and kill Lien and Bo but Bo had come out of his shock just in time to raise an air shield to block the earthen spikes that hurtled toward them.
A split second later, Wáng and his men were hit with an gust of air which thrust them back towards the rock walls that had been erected by the soldiers. After a few quick fire-blasts which stunned Wáng and his guard, Bo airbent him and Lien away from the lake and the crowd.
The two landed in the campus of Ba Sing Se University. "Why did we come here, they're just going to get us again." Lien said.
"No, they're not, there's a museum here, it has some old airbending relics and machines." Bo said. "Here, grab all the gliders." Bo began handing Lien a series of sticks of different sizes.
"These are just staffs."
"No, press this button here." Bo pointed to a small round circle on the staff. Lien pressed it and the staff ejected two orange sets of wings which startled her. Lien pressed the button again and the glider closed back up.
"Okay, but I still don't know how to fly it."
"I'll teach you later, but that's why we're going to the section with the machines from the late Hundred Year War." Bo led them quickly out of the Museum of the Elements and into the Museum of War History. As they were entering the building, Lien glimpsed Wáng's soldiers as they hurried off the old train that used to run through Ba Sing Se and into the second ring.
"Whatever you're doing Bo, it needs to be fast, they're almost here."
"How'd they find us so quickly?"
Lien was on guard looking side to side frantically when she noticed the security cameras that were mounted on the walls and ceiling. She noticed for the first time ever that the cameras were actually still operational, then it hit her, that's how the soldiers had found them so quickly, that was also how they knew where to look when Lien ran. Wáng had been watching them the whole time, he had been watching Bo the whole time he had lived there without his knowledge. That's how they found Bo's parents.
"The cameras," Lien gasped.
Bo turned from what he was doing and saw the cameras above him focusing on him and Lien. Lien looked at him as he stood still staring at the camera above them for several seconds, and she knew that he was thinking the same things she had been thinking just a few seconds before. Bo hurriedly returned to his work and a few seconds later he shouted, "Done!" "Lien hop in!"
Lien jumped into what seemed to be an oversized grain basket with a stove in the center and an old and also oversized electric fan at one end.
"Lien, help me take out the roof!" Bo said.
"Why?" Lien asked.
"Just do it Lien."
So both Lien and Bo proceeded to bend boulders and floor tiles from the floor beneath them to the roof that covered their heads.
Just as the roof collapsed Wáng's soldiers entered the room and began to launch rocks at them.
"Cover me!" Bo yelled as he turned toward the stove looking thing at the center of the basket.
Lien began to deflect the rocks that were hurtling toward them. She even launched some of her own rocks at the soldiers injuring at least two of them. This whole scene made her think, Wáng didn't train these guys very well.
Lien stood there and deflected rocks for about a minute before she felt a jolt beneath her feet. At this point she almost gave up, Wáng found us, now he's going to kill us from below, Lien thought. A few seconds later when she noticed that the soldiers that had been attacking them were just staring up at her and that she wasn't dead, Lien turned to look at Bo who just sat there smiling at her.
Utterly confused, Lien turned back to the soldiers to make sure that she was indeed still alive and not just ascending to heaven. Lien reasoned that neither the soldiers nor the ground should be down there when she looked back. Sure enough though, they were there, but even smaller than they were when she had looked away and they were growing smaller. Lien turned back to Bo who was still smiling but also laughing his head off now. In his desperate attempts to breath through his laughing Bo pointed to the stove thing in the center of the basket. Lien looked at it then noticed that there were wires leading from it, her gaze followed the wires until she saw a gigantic balloon with the Fire Nation emblem on it.
Lien now realized now what she was in, she was in an old war balloon that also was still surprisingly functional. With this realization, Lien relaxed as the ruins of Ba Sing Se shrank below her and as they moved farther away from her and Bo.
After Ba Sing Se was out of sight, Lien asked Bo, "So what do we do now, it's not like this thing's going to run forever and it's also not like we have an infinite food supply."
"We're going to the Northern Air Temple, there are some airbenders who still live there," Bo said.
"I thought that there were no more airbenders." Lien commented.
"No, they're still there, it's just that they have isolated themselves from everyone else, I guess that's the advantage of having your cities secluded from the rest of the world, you can hide from any disaster or war that happens upon the world." Bo said.
"Okay then, but why the Northern Air Temple, what can we hope to gain by going there?"
"Well, we know that Wáng is building an army to control the world, we need guidance and wisdom, wisdom that only the airbenders can provide us, hopefully we'll know what to do about Wáng after we talk to them," Bo said.
They spent the next several hours in the air practicing waterbending now that it had been proven that anyone can bend all four elements with enough willpower to do it and by nightfall, they had traveled halfway to the mountains that hid the Northern Air Temple.
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