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October 21, 2014
Zaheer and Anu are on their way to the mysterious Chin Village, where they hope to find temporary refuge, only they may find that this mysterious village has a surprise for them.
Zaheer could feel the ground shaking as he watched the Dai Li begin to fill the emptiness of Boru.
"Are you sure about this, Zaheer?" Anu questioned.
"Yes," he responded sternly. "I'm tired of running. It's time to put what you taught me to the test and face the Dai Li."
"We don't even know how many of them there are," Anu disputed.
"You once told me that the number of opponents you face is just that - numbers. And a number is nothing. The Dai Li are coming. This is no time to back down on your word. It's time we face them, and set the battle on our terms."
Anu contemplated for a moment. "I'm proud of you, Zaheer. You've shown me the true error of my ways. It is time." Anu drew his sword, and Zaheer leveled his hands, ready to confront any threat.
Tall and lean men in black and green garbs and green hats with golden tips. Over their hands and feet were gloves and boots of flat earth. In the center of their chest, the insignia of the Earth Kingdom was wide and prominent. There were ten or twelve of them; master earthbenders who had spent of predominance of their lives training to do things like this. The Earth Kingdom was corrupt beyond redemption. Zaheer saw this and focused his hatred of the Earth Kingdom, the Dai Li, and most of all the Earth Queen, Hou-Ting, into the oncoming battle. He focused it in his center. He was not ready to release this.
"You're outnumbered," said one of the men. "Surrender, now!"
Zaheer and Anu refused to submit. They continued to keep their hands in the position they were in. All at once, the Dai Li fired their earth gloves. Zaheer punched through those in his direction before ducking down and gathering the force for a powerful jump that would ascend him into the air. He went from behind those attacking him, dodging the rocks would they sent at him. He bounced off of them, redirecting some and throwing others back. He dropped down, ready to strike.
Anu sliced through the rocks, preventing others from coming towards Zaheer whenever possible. His style of fighting involved closing in on the enemy, which he did as he forced his way through the Dai Li's attacks, until he had them isolated. Then he could take hold of victory.
Zaheer had already taken out three of the Dai Li agents before the going got tough. The attacks were more varietal and different in shape. He broke the small rock with his bare hands, forced to evade the others. At when he thought it couldn't get worse, his hands became encased in rock. He pulled apart, but they get sustaining themselves. At last, a Dai Li had Zaheer locked. He lifted a rock from under his feet lunging, and turning in the air. He let his hand go freely, and the chunk of earth followed. But Zaheer was not out of the game yet. He kicked up and to the side rolling over the ground. He jumped over his arms so they were to the front of his body, rolled past the Dai Li agent, and using an ancient technique, jabbed at a few points in his neck until he lost consciousness.
In time, the whole of the Dai Li had fallen. Those who remained, fled from Boru.
"It's not in their nature to flee like that. I'm certain they'll be back with reinforcements," warned Anu.
"And by that time, we'll be gone," Zaheer told him.
"Who's to stop them from picking up the trail again. Face it Zaheer. On foot, we're hopeless to get away from the Dai Li. Are you sure this plan to get to the Fire Nation is well, earth-proof?" Zaheer took Anu's words to heart. Who was to stop the Dai Li?
He answered him saying, "There's a village not far from her. By nightfall, we should be there. It'll be the perfect place to stay until we reach the Southwestern Peninsula."
"I don't know. Wouldn't it be better to just make our way there without any stops. Trust me. If we're planning on getting to the dock in a few weeks, we should at least have enough supplies. The boats are all sending out their trading shipments soon, meaning, we have to catch one. Besides, Chin Village will grant us the necessary equipment for a boat ride to the Fire Nation. Trust me."
The idea met Anu with resistance, but soon he found himself backed in a corner, grateful for Zaheer's plan. "You're right. We'll need our strength for the trip."
And so they walked past the borders of Chin Village, making their way through the slightly mountainous Southern region of the Earth Kingdom.
Night fell quick. The night seemed haunting. Out alone, they were prompted of the nights where they felt their future was without hope. The Dai Li were under direct authority of the Earth Queen, and they felt as though their freedom had been forfeited for no reason. To Zaheer, freedom was not something that you could give or take on a whim. He had not known how to complete that philosophy of his. He lacked the creative freedom, something that he was deprived of, along with Anu.
"It's a shame," Anu suggested, "that we couldn't bring our family."
Zaheer responded saying, "They had to sacrificed. They would've only slowed us down."
"I don't know, Zaheer. It would've nice to be able to bring them along."
"We're past that point. We're here."
Seeming like a floating epicenter of night, a great village like the Yai Province. Chin Village was illuminated from lanterns that seemed to be welcoming their presences. They entered the round village, feeling the warmth of the dirt roads, and the feeling of hospitality became one with them. Anu took his pack and put it on the ground - and he embraced the ground sniffing the scent of natural and fresh earth. For the first time, after being with Zaheer for over a month, he felt - what's the word, he thought. Ooh . . . safe. Zaheer, saw hope in this place. It was a sign his cause was a righteous one, and the people of Chin would welcome them with open arms.
All of a sudden, a commoner greeted them in special garbs. "Welcome to Chin Village!" he exclaimed. "I assume you've come a long way."
Anu stepped past Zaheer answering, "Yes, we have."
"Well, you're safe here." And the man grinned. Zaheer doubted the genuine attribute of his smile, but gladly accepted his welcome. Finally, he could rest.
The man introduced himself as an innkeeper and brought them to his inn in the center of the village and sat down with them while they enjoyed their dinner. He inquired, "So where did you people come from?"
Zaheer seemed to be fretting over the question in his head. "We're actually on our way to the peninsula nearby in only a few weeks. We thought we'd stop here for the night."
And what brought you to Chin Village in specific. The province is filled with villages. If you ask me, Chin isn't the place for nomads like you."
"And how would you know what's good for us?" Anu interrupted.
"I don't know, but my intuition compels me to wonder, where are you heading?" he asked sipping his tea.
An eery silence began to fill the inn. Zaheer could feel his seat vibrating. So could Anu. They got up hastily, and Zaheer flipped over the table, drawing Anu's sword sword and letting the tip rest on the left side of the innkeepers shoulder.
"What are you doing, Zaheer!" Anu wondered.
"It's a trap!" Distracted by Anu's babbling, the innkeeper pounded the ground with his foot, unleashing a fissure in the ground, which Zaheer fell into. The sword was balncing in the center of the earth, only slightly. It could be lost at the slightest gesture.
Anu lunged towards the innkeeper dodging the columns of earth he shot out of the ground, went for his sword, and aimed it at the innkeeper, about to let it tear through the wind freely, but was stopped by the innkeeper's words. "You wouldn't want your friend to "slip" into the ground, if you know what I mean. So how about you lower that sword of yours, and then no one has to get killed. Anu quickly sheathed the sword.
"What are you doing?" Zaheer questioned.
The innkeeper uttered softly. "Now drop it."
Anu let the scabbard fall to the ground. The innkeeper nearly crushed Zaheer right before releasing him, and stomped his foot, bringing the sword up, and he caught it. "So you're the so called outlaws. I myself doubted that you were who you were, only after you mentioned the Southwestern Peninsula were my doubts proven wrong. And when you had not an answer for coming to Chin, I knew it had to be true." Rage surged and was evident in Zaheer's eyes. Anu was just disappointed. "I myself was never going to kill you. No. The Dai Li will pay a fine price for your return, to Ba Sing Se. And to show you to the Earth Queen herself, ooh. You've just made my day." The innkeeper let out an ominous laugh of joy. Anu was fed up with him and lunged, ready to take back his sword. The innkeeper, up in laughter, was not anticipant enough, and Anu had brought the old man to the ground. He grabbed Zaheer and placed him over his shoulder and back. Then he got them out of the inn. They ran outside, unable to take a step before seeing that they were surrounded by Earth Kingdom soldiers. The innkeeper quickly came out, and surrounded their bodies in shells of earth. "It's alright boys. I've got this one personally. Everyone, secure all of Chin. I don't want either of these two escaping tonight. We leave at sunrise."
One of the soldiers blurted, "But agent Izu. What about the exchange at the peninsula?"
"What about it?" the innkeeper questioned.
"What I mean to say is, when we're on the road there, who's to stop them from escaping? After all, the exchange is in weeks."
"Then we'll just ensure there are no hindering calamities. Now start securing the perimeter." A majority of the soldiers began riding the earth to the edges of the village and raising thick walls of earth around the borders that were tens of feet tall. Anu and Zaheer looked to their shadows and saw the darkness enveloping the village.
In only a matter of time, Zaheer and Anu had been thrown into prisons of impenetrable earth. "Now what are we going to do?" Anu complained.
"Isn't t obvious? Anu, you're an earthbender. You could us out of here."
"C'mon, Zaheer. Don't be coy. You know how bad I am at earthbending. Besides, the walls of this prison are too dense. But . . . I feel something else." Anu placed his hands on the ground, and felt for something odd."
"What, what is it?" Zaheer was anxious to know.
* * *
A dark force broke through the winds, a shadow burying itself into the forest. She sprited up a tree, digging her metal fan into the wood, until she was firm in place on the branch below. She moved aside a few twigs and leaves, looking at a large wall of earth, taking the place of Chin Village, on that night, the renegade Kyoshi Warrior, K'rin, would break into Chin, and locate the two men that she had been watching for months. She would not only find them, she was busting them out.
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