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|The Mystery Deepens|
January 23, 2013
A lone mountain stands dominating the landscape of the southern Earth Kingdom, as a single man tall and wide as a man can be, stands alone unwavering and retrained in front of a flat wall of stone and rock, standing with only a massive war hammer. As moments pass an object approaches in the distant, making the man look in anticipation. The object draws ever closer until it is revealed to be a carriage he then walks forward until the carriage stops.
" Halt! who so ever dares approach the home of the assassin should be ready..." "Oh shut up already Yevgeni!" The spy and Kiran leave the carriage as the carriage stops. " Kiran you came back already. What was the result of your mission?" " The mission was a success but our associates were captured..." "What you allowed fellow brothers and sisters to fall, our entire society could be revealed to the outside world." The other man finally speaks.
" Like that wasn't going to happen eventually the league has served for generations in the shadows, the light had to shine eventually." " And who are you to decide when such a moment has to arrive." The spy pushes out his fist to reveal his ring. " The order governs all even your pitiful excuse of an organization." The man growls.
" Watch your tongue or I will cleanse it for Wen the great, it was your mission that doomed our fellow siblings." "Don't worry I'm sure our friends will arrange to have your associates freed without notice. " " We do not need your help the league looks after themselves." Kiran in annoyance speaks up. "Oh will the two of you just shut up already, you're just like children. Yevgeni just let us in already!"
The man simply stops and walks to the stone wall behind him, he pulls his hammer and uses it to hit the wall. Moments later a piece of the mountain wall rises up as to reveal that a doorway that leads into a massive lit room hollowed out of the mountain. As they enter the room closes behind them to reveal a hangout filled with many other assassins.
The group walk in silently as they cross the room and enter a steel platform as it rises to a higher level and walk through a series of hallway until they finally arrive at a solid door and enter.
The room is shrouded in darkness lit only enough to see the wall lined with trophies, relics, and memorial shrines to past members. In the center there is only a lit bon fire as a man sits there in silence.
" Yevgeni leave us." "But master it would be wise..." " I said leave us!" Yevgeni only stands in shock before complying and then exits, leaving Kiran and the spy alone with the man. The man then stands as showing his physical build and size, littered with scars and thicken over the years as an warrior, his face defined and shaped to match his experience.
" So tell me how was the mission?" " Your subordinates performed adequately enough Wen." Kiran then steps back in fear. " Please Wen let me explain what happened..." The man suddenly rises with a blade pointed at her neck. " For generations the League of assassins have operated with the highest demand for success to represent the best of what the world could offer."
Kiran falls to her knees " Please master I have served you faithfully and with loyalty for years, please excuse my inefficiency ." Wen continues to hold his blade in place but then places it back in his hilt as Kiran rises in relief. " Thank you Wen." " Have comfort in the fact that you at the very least have succeeded in your mission." The spy then speaks out disgusted with his sight.
"Your society wastes such skill for hire. Wen your services and resources could be put to much better use." Wen then just snaps at the man as he holds his blade up to the spy. "And what use would that be?" " The Order has much demand for a skilled fighting force such as yourselves." " We have our traditions and you have yours." The Spy merely shrugs. " Very well! Now Kiran if you don't mind."
Kiran then takes out the same sealed envelope she looted from her mission and hands it to the spy, a hawk flies down from the ceiling as it lands on the spy's' shoulder. He places the envelope in a messenger box tied to the hawk's back and whispers into its ear. The hawk then flies into the room and leaves through a small opening in the ceiling and flies away into the sky. " The Order will be pleased with the results nevertheless."
The spy then grabs two bags and throws them to Wen. " There your reward, and a bonus this transaction never occurred." Wen picks up the bags to reveal that they are revealed to be filled with gold pieces. "They never do." Kiran finally speaks out in anticipation. " Fine you got what you wanted, now leave." " As you wish my dear, I have business elsewhere anyway."
As the spy prepares to leave a sudden explosion sounds in the distant, he opens the door to see several assassins running to investigate. Wen and Kiran charge into the hallway to follow." You there! What is happening?" One of them stops to address the two of them. " Master Wen we are under attack! By whom we do not know!" " Impossible no one can pass Yevgeni he is the gatekeeper."
1 Minute earlier
The doorway closes behind Yevgeni as he once again resumes his post. " Pathetic Order slum, they know not what the league is and what we stand for." As he stands he notices a small object again approaching from the road in front of him. " Halt in the name of the league of assassins you will..." He is silenced as a massive row of spikes in earth rises and crashes into him sending him flying into the wall smashing it down as the doorway is revealed.
As the assassins move in and surround Yevgeni as he regains his footing. " Who dares violate the scared home of the league..." They are met with the sight of a flying bison that charges in roaring, as Aang and Toph jump into the air. Appa leaves the cave as Aang follows with a massive blast of wind that blows into hideout blowing many of the assassins onto their feet and Toph lands on the ground shaking the foundation of the mountain as it violently shakes causing debris to fall.
"It's the Avatar run!" Before the others could flee, a commanding voice takes control. " Do not run cowards, fight back and strong for the glory of the league of assassins and master Wen." Many then turn back and join the charge with Yevgeni as they run toward the trio. They respond with many shuriken and arrows that fire, while the others assault. Aang raises a wall of earth to protect them, while Toph kicks the floor leveling it the other side plunging the forces into disarray.
" You know Toph we could have just waited for them to leave and captured one as they left." Toph responds by quickly pinching him. " This is personal Aang! and you know why!" Several assassins jump over the wall, and attempt to attack the duo with blades. Only to end in failure as Aang blasts one with a powerful gust of wind knocking him out while Toph encases the other in rock and throws him into the air across the room. Then a heavy swing of a hammer smashes through the wall set up.
" You dare attack the home of assassins! You shall pay!" He swings his hammer slamming it between Aang and Toph separating them. Yevgeni then swings his hammer toward Aang only to be avoided as Aang dodges it, he then slams it down only to be stooped Aang fires a burst of fire in front of him temporary blinding him. Toph collapses the ground beneath Yevengi making him lose his balance and falls down under his own weight. Aang and Toph then come together and make a massive fissure that blows Yevgeni across the room knocking him out.
Several more assassins attempt to attack only to be stopped as Aang sends a long stream of fire that fills the ceiling, while Toph collapses several Stalactites hanging from the ceiling causing debris to fall from. The combined attack demoralizes the assassins as they flee from the two benders. Toph advances the attack by bringing her hands together creating a massive wall from each side of the cave and uses them to trap the fleeing mob.
Kiran and Wen arrive at the balcony overlooking the carnage and stare in shock. " No! How could they have found us?! " " I can give you one guess Wen." " That does not matter Kiran we must intervene." The sounds of the battle continue on the ground below followed by another violent shaking of the ground. " Wen are you sure we can still escape through the..." Wen then smacks Kiran across the face.
" You dare call me a coward Kiran! I never run from any fight! Much less one in our own home!" Wen then draws a blade and jumps down into the fight, followed by a very nervous Kiran.
Toph finishes a fight by bending a series of debris and sends a massive rising a line of rock toward a group immobilizing them, Aang finishes another confrontation by recreating a small whirlwind that sucks many assassins into the air and then stops it sending them all crashing into the walls of the cave.
The remaining assassins rally behind the destruction as Aang and Toph walk towards them where suddenly Wen and Kiran land from the second floor. Kiran immediately locks eyes with Toph seeing a face of sheer anger and hatred, Aang meanwhile moves to confront Wen.
" Listen to me whoever you are, there is no need to escalate this fight any further." Wen merely laughs at this statement. " I doubt that even the two of you want to talk." " You can say that again!" Toph responds by suddenly launching a massive boulder at them, only to be stopped as Wen punches the boulder in midair breaking it into pieces.
" So hostile like the rest of your kind." Aang runs to Toph and tries to restrain her. "Toph calm down! We need answers not violence." Toph then grabs Aang and throws him across the cave. "Speak for yourself!" She then just charges at Kiran with a massive wave of earth.
Just before Toph crashes full force into Kiran a small rock emerges from the ground tripping Toph collapsing the wave she created. Taking advantage of the situation Kiran fires several shuriken at Toph, only to be stopped by Aang who stops the attack with an air shield. " Why did... Why did you do that?!" " Please Toph we need to know what is happening ? and besides I know we wouldn't be able to live with yourself if you killed her." Toph simply stops as Wen approaches and speaks.
" Tell me young avatar why do you seek to gain from here?" Aang then returns to a new verbal confrontation. " Your associate there murdered the parents of my friend here, we simply want to know who ordered that mission and what your role in it was?" " You expect me to answer that!"
" You invade my home, assault my family, and now have the gall to demand answers from me!" Wen draws a blade and points it to him. " Please sir we do not need to fight I am willing to..." Aang is silenced as Wen just charges at him, Toph is able to escape from Aang and then again runs in a fury driven assault toward Kiran.
Aang is just barely able to evade attacks as Wen repeating swings his blade violently, even predicating where Aang will evade to with near accuracy. Aang is then able to jump over Wen and lands behind him only for that to be a mistake, Wen swings his arm back and slashes Aang's back making him scream in pain.
" You are indeed powerful, but you are still a child." Wen again slashes again this time slashing the floor as Aang rolls across the ground, throwing several blasts of fire at him. Wen is easily able to evade the attacks and again swings his blade, Aang responds by sending several mounds of earth at Wen only to be stopped as Wen again either evades or destroys them.
Aang finally just raises an entire wall of earth and sends it flying at Wen, he is then pushed violently into the wall as it stops right before he is crushed by the side of the cave. Aang then breaks the wall and encases Wen into a box of stone, a small explosion then goes off blowing a side of the box allowing him to escape. Aang fires several blasts of fire at Wen only again to end in failure, Wen strikes only to be stopped as Aang pulls out his glider to block his attack.
" You fight well avatar, but you lack the will to truly finish a fight." " I don't kill." " Weak." " That's a point of view." Aang then breaks free of the lock and blows Wen's blade away as he charges forward with a series of coordinated punches and kicks, Aang is effectively able to dodge all the attacks and ends the fight by blowing a massive blast of wind at Wen throwing him against the wall of the cave.
Aang then runs up to Wen's body and checks his pace to see that he is still alive, and turns away to help Toph. Another mistake... Wen then awakes and grabs Aang and throws him against the wall and then pins him with another blade. " You are powerful, but that is no substitute for experience." Aang's eye spy a pipe in the corner of his eye and notices a small drop of water falling from it. " You know I couldn't agree more."
The pipes suddenly shatter and break as water is blasted into Wen forcing him onto the floor, Aang then follows by freezing the water trapping Wen onto the floor and entrapping his body with a layer of rock for security sake. " This won't stop me forever avatar! You will come to fear the league of assassins! I swear it!"
Aang merely walks up to him as he is trapped upon the floor. " I just wanted to talk, you could just as easily avoided this." Wen looks to the corner of his eye and then smirks. " I doubt she wants to talk." Aang then looks up and sees what he means and charges at the sight.
" No Toph! You can't...!"
Toph charges in a fit of rage at Kiran pulling a spear of stone out of the ground and throws it at Kiran's head. " Shit!" Kiran crouches and avoids the attack just barely, Toph follows by collapsing the floor and ceiling around Kiran attempting to crush or trap her with debris. Several other surviving assassins join the fight and surround Toph, only to be blown apart as Top slams the floor blowing the floor sending them all into the air.
Kiran attempts to go escape by going back to the second floor, she is stopped as the ground rises from out of the ground and pulls her back. Toph then runs and stops on top of her, Kiran then jumps up and throws a small powder into her eyes which only bothers Toph temporary. " You murdered my parents..." Kiran runs off again only for a wall of earth to rise in front of her.
" You murdered my parents and now you use this against me!" Kiran draws her blade and backs into the wall. " You murdered my parents! and you used to try and blind me!" Toph laughs and grabs Kiran's blade bending it backwards, causing Kiran to fall to feet in utter fear. "Did you ever knew anything about me?! I don't need these eyes! I never did!"
Kiran strikes forward in a futile attack, Toph then grabs her arms and sends her through the wall sending her rolling across the floor. She attempts to stand up only for Toph to grab her and stand her up and then punches her, sending her flying across the room. Kiran is now just barely able to stand as she holds herself up, her face alone battered and bloodied as Toph only continues her assault. " Please... stop..."
Toph ignores her as she bends restrains around her feet and hands, followed by Toph approaching her manically and deranged, she wipes the substance from eyes and opens them to show her rage and fury. She then enters a battle stance and places her hand and foot forward. Toph speaks with spite and utter hatred.
" Give me one good reason." Kiran throws her head down and closes her eyes as she waits for her fate. Toph then launches her arm creating a spike from the ground and launches it toward her.
End of POV
" No Toph! You can't...!" Aang bends a stream of water to Toph's arm and leg to restrain her, stopping the spike only inches from Kiran's face. " Aang what are you doing?" "What do you think you're doing Toph. What do you expect to accomplish by killing her." " She deserves it for what she's done! She's killed my parents and who knows how many other innocent people!" Kiran now looks back in fear of what might occur.
" Toph please don't do this! Revenge does not help anyone it's a double bladed sword, it takes a life and destroys the person inflicting it." " I think I can live with that Aang!" "No you can't
Toph I've known you for years and I know that you won't be able to live with yourself, right now you are angry and filled with adrenaline. You aren't in full control of your actions back down before you do something you'll regret!"
" How do you know Aang! How do you know the pain?! You don't! So just let me go..." Aang then walks up slowly to Toph as her eyes open in realization. " Toph, are you really that angry and blinded by hatred to forget. I know that pain all too well, my entire people and culture was destroyed in a day because of me, and yet I survived by pure luck and faith."
Toph then looks down as the thick fog in her mind clears. " I'm sorry Aang." Aang then reaches as grabs one of her shoulders. " I understand your pain Toph, the pain of knowing how powerless and vulnerable you can be, but I know this if you go through with this you will never forgive yourself." Aang then releases Toph leaving her unrestrained.
" Tell me Toph will you grow or will you drop yourself to her level?" Toph then lifts her head up and focuses on Kiran, feeling her heartbeat racing at miles an hour, her face filled with utter terror and fear suspenseful of what might occur next. Toph then makes her decision, she lower the spike and enters a default stance. Kiran finally relieved passes out from exhaustion.
Toph then turns around looks up at Aang and enter a hug with him. " I'm sorry... I'm so Sorry Aang." Aang then wraps his arms around Toph and comforts Toph as begins to sob. " Don't worry Toph you have proved your strength today." Aang and Toph stay in that hug for a few moments until it is finally broken and look around. " Well know what twinkle toes?" " I don't know Toph, I just wanted to capture one of them and talk so we could find answers." " Yeh sorry about that... let me check something."
Toph walks to the center of the room and then slams her foot against the ground, sending vibrations throughout the cave, sensing the bodies scattered through the cave. Until she finally detects a person in a locked room in the floor above them, Toph looks up at the second floor along with Aang. " There's one last person left up there."
The spy is seen in front of the bon fire throwing several papers he was carrying into it, all of a sudden the door behind collapses and rock around suddenly rises and encases his body and is risen into the air as he is dragged to the entrance as Aang and Toph enter. " Now you are you?" The man then places a small object on a packet of paper as it falls to the ground, Aang goes and picks them up. "I'll ask again who are you?" The man merely smirks.
" I'm nobody and I won't talk to you or anyone." " We'll see about that." The man then grins an insidious smile. "No you won't." The man suddenly jerks up in his mouth and bites down hard and opens his mouth to show that one of his teeth is gone. " Know this I am not alone and though I fall, others will carry on my mission. All... shall... see o... Orde... Order." The man flumes at the mouth and quietly dies.
Toph merely releases him knowing the irrelevance in holding him. " Who was this guy?" " My god! Toph you have to look at..." Toph then turns and gives Aang a "Really" look, causing Aang to slap his face lightly. " Sorry, but this is important." " Well what is it?" Aang looks through the packet of paper seeing images of people with red Xs across their faces. " It's a hit list, everyone in this list is someone he or someone else killed!"
" How many people are there?" "About a dozen." "Who were they?" " Governor Chin of the Pao City, General Tui of the Southern army, Fire Nation Grand admiral Howe." Aang suddenly jumps up in surprise. " Long Feng?" Toph also responds in shock. " Wait that's impossible, the guards reported that he escaped and disappeared?" " Apparently he didn't." Aang continues to look until he arrives at a familiar face.
" Well look at this!" Aang sees an image of Zuko followed by Lao and Poppy Bei Fong all with red Xs across their faces. " Toph, Whoever ordered your parents' death also called for Zuko's assassination." Toph rises his hands to her face. " My god. Who could do this?" Aang turns back to the front of the packet and sees a symbol. " This symbol... it means Order, and it was his last words. All shall see Order." " The Order? what is that supposed to be mean?" " Who knows, that's still one last person."
Aang flips back to the back of the packet and sees another familiar face. " You've got to kidding me." " What is it? Did they kill someone else?" " No they're going to kill..." A small object on the back of the packet suddenly lights up and releases a spark of fire that ignites the packet and engulfs it in flames, Aang merely drops the packet in response. "Damn it. NO! " The packet is merely incinerated as the flame devours the evidence leaving only the small object.
" What happened?" " Doesn't matter anymore we have to go now!" Aang runs out the door followed by Toph, Aang blows his whistle again bringing Appa back into the cave. Aang and Toph then climb onto Appa as he then flies them out. " Aang what is going on? Where are we going?"
" Whoever these people are they are apparently responsible and powerful enough to kill generals, politicians, and Fire Lord Zuko without concern! So we have to be careful, but now we know where to head next." " And where is that?" Aang grabs Toph and pulls her in and whispers in her ear, followed by her leaping up in shock.
" No way! No way twinkle toes! We are not going to save..." " What choice do we have Toph, we don't know where to go to next and who is involved in this! I don't like this anymore than you do, but it's our only lead into what's happening! " Toph stands preparing to argue again, but gives in. " Fine, but I don't have to like it."
A few minutes of silence go by as they merely analyze recent events, finally Toph breaks the silence. " Aang..." "Yes Toph." " Before we go can we just do a thing or two?" " No Toph I'm sorry but I don't know how much time we have..." Aang looks back at Toph seeing something he never saw before; vulnerability, fear, and sadness. " We know maybe we do have a little time." Toph quickly walks up to Aang and whispers. " Thank you." She leaves a small peck on his cheek, as she goes back and curls back into a small ball. Aang looks back and sighs. "Why her? How is this all happening?"
The Next Day - An Undisclosed Bar
A cloaked man walks into a bar in the middle of an empty rural countryside, inside the bar is a sheer contrast. Filled with several bar fights as violence strikes out in every corner and table. "Filth." The man only continues to walk until he stumbles across a crowd gathered around an event. The man sits down as the crowd cheers on in a drunken and wild mass, a few moments later a man is literally thrown into the air beginning a massive set of cheers and roars. The man then gets up and goes through the crowd as they are distracted by drinks and currency pieces, until he arrives at a table held by a woman cuddling with a pile of money and a pint of alcohol.
" Oh life is good!" " I know, June long time no see." June suddenly looks up in shock as the man sits in. " Oh Vladen it's you, haven't seen you since that job in Omashu." " You mean the job where you left me dead and ran off with the bounty." " You have your, Verizon. And I have mine." Just then a man falls from the second floor. " Wouldn't mind if we continue this conversion in a more tamed environment."
Moments later June and Vladen are outside where they are attacked by a massive shirshu. " Nyla calm down it's just an old friend." " You own me June for that job and you know it." "Oh Vladen I love to pay you, but I don't have much spare cash." She says as she throws a bag onto Nyla with a heavy clink.
" You can keep your money, I just need your services, mainly Nyla." Nyla strikes at the man to terrify him, but he remains motionless and timid. " What do you need Vladen?" " I've been hired to find a certain man and Nyla here can track him." and I care why?" " The bounty is a 1000 gold pieces." June eyes open wide in shock and trembles slightly.
" A thousand... who is this guy?" " The Avatar." "Ugh him again. I tracked him already three times, his scent is practically burned into Nyla's noise, but if the price is right." " You can keep the entire reward June, minus the amount you own me." June rolls her eyes at this statement. "Really why so generous Vladen?" " Its Personal." The man removes his cloak to reveal his face, bald with a heavily defined face and a bread; with a center eye tattoo printed across his forehead.
Gaoling Cemetery A sun sets in the horizon, leaving a red sky overshadowing the area. Two cloaked individuals enter a cemetery, throughout the land it is littered with tombstones and actual tombs spread for rows across the land. Many still attend to grieve for those who fell during the war, whether they be friends, family, or even fellow squad mates. The two cloaked figures still continue to walk until they reach a fenced in area lined with marble and decorative gates, as well as a guard that approaches them.
" I'm sorry people but this area is reserved for valued citizens and lords ships, I do believe you have any..." One of the figures throws out a bag at the guard. " We just need a few minutes." The guard picks up the bag and opens it to see it filled with silver and gold pieces, the guard then speaks with giddiness and glee" Very well... very well. If you just step over here, You can have all the time you desire!" The two figures walk in and ignore the guard as he runs with his prize.
Aang and Toph remove the cloaks covering their heads. " Where did you even get all that money Aang?" " I guess after ending a war you get a lot of grateful people who really want to express their gratitude, and not a lot of them take no for an answer." Aang and Toph continue to walk passing several rich nobles, officials, and regional leaders. " The Upper crust of society... Yuck."
Aang and Toph stop in front of a gate inscribed with a flying boar as they enter quietly and stop in front of two fresh tombstones. " For generations my family been buried here, and now my parents join them." " Was there anyone to see them off?" Toph merely stands motionless for a few moments and then speaks. "No aside from a few friends and "business, we were really isolated and alone. Now I'm all that's left. Assuming they weren't going to disown me."
Aang places his arm on Toph's shoulder to comfort. " I'm Sure they loved you Toph, and in the end they did see you as their daughter." Toph laughs lightly as a tear falls from her eye." Straight for the cheese ah twinkly toes." Aang laughs briefly before making a serious face. " I'll give you a moment." Aang quietly leaves as Toph sits on the ground as well as places her hand on the floor.
" Hey Mom... Dad... it was nice to see you again for that last peace celebration... I still remember the old days when it was just the three of us. Sure you guys were idiots and never let me do anything, but you did care." Toph begins to cry as tears fill her eyes. " I'm sorry... I'm sorry that I couldn't be there for you guys more, maybe just maybe... we could have just been... a family."
Toph takes another pause as she looks down in sadness, only to look up to see Aang had came back grasping her shoulder, she stands up slowly and quickly hugs Aang as she just breaks down in tears. " Let it out Toph, just let it all out."
Toph continues to cry as Aang holds her still for what seemed like hours, while only lasting a few seconds. Toph then let's go of Aang and walks back to the tombstone. " I promise... I will find out what happened, and why it did! I swear it!" Toph places her hand over her heart as she makes her oath. " I'll make you guys proud one last time." Toph takes a step backwards for each word she speaks. " I... Love... You... Mom.... Dad..."
Toph then turns around and leaves as Aang pulls something out of his robe and leaves it between the tombstones. " I may not have known the two of you for long, but I do you what you guys meant to her. I promise I'll look after her while we find the truth." Aang then catches up to Toph as they both leave the cemetery.
Between the tombstones lies an sealed envelope protected by the both of them.
An hour Later The dark one, Penga, and Ho Tun are seen practicing metalbending by firing metal coins at a target board hanging on the wall. As they wait patiently for the return of their master. Their prayers are answered as the sound of a bison roaring across the air is sound. They looks up to see Appa soaring across the sky.
" Toph's back!" " Hopefully she didn't get into too much trouble with the Avatar." The duo run off as the Dark one remains twinkling around several coins. Penga then runs back and grabs his arm forcing him to come with her. " Come on Dark one let's just go and see them." He just reluctantly responds. " Fine." As he is carried off the teenage girl.
Appa arrives right next to the entrance of the academy as Toph jumps off alone. " Sure you don't want to stick around Twinkle toes? This shouldn't take long." " Don't worry Toph I'll be back in a little while, besides this is between you and your students." Aang then turns away. " Yip. Yip." Appa then flies away as Toph looks feeling the draft of air knowing his trek into the sky.
Toph then kicks the door open as she stomps the ground, seeing only two pairs of feet moving towards her while one is dragged. " Gee wonder who that is?" Toph hoping to avoid that confrontation as long as possible charges toward her room.
Toph begins to gather clothing, supplies, and a possession. It being the Bei Fong flying boar emblem on a small cloth, the only thing she has left of her days with her parents. " Why was I so afraid? Why couldn't I just give them a chance?" She holds it tightly against her as a tear falls from her eye.
Her thoughts are broken as three bodies burst into the room. " Master Toph, you've returned!" " Yeah... welcome back." They continue their approach until stopping as they see Toph's travel bag and herself still in deep thought.
" Toph are you alright?" Toph remains silent for a moment until finally responding. " No." " What's wrong?" Toph then drops the cloth as she silently wraps her belongings together. " Listen guys me and twinkle toes are going on a trip." Toph then turns to them. " You guys are my best students, until I return I leaving the school in your hands."
They stare in awe at her face red and full of tears not even noticing their promotion, even the dark one grows concerned for the person he has grown to respect. " What happened?" Toph then turns away as she becomes distant and firm. " I don't want to talk about it!" " Please master don't keep us out, there is no reason for to doom..." Toph then snaps.
" Shut up with Doom! I've had enough of this doom thing you've always had! You know not everyone is doomed to just die for reasons... that they... never told you..." Toph then gives in as she sits down on her bed and begins to weep again, her students join her as they comfort her. " Tell us. We're here for you." Toph and the others are shocked as that voice came from the Dark one.
Toph cries for a few more moments longer until finally recollecting herself. " You guys knew that I was going to see my parents again." " Yeah you said that they were in trouble or something." " Yeah but I didn't think you were serious, given your guys' history." The Dark one is then punched as Toph finally smiles briefly.
" You don't have to remind me. I was there. You all know what I did to them. " Penga then speaks. " But that was years ago. What happened yesterday?" Toph reminds in silence for a moment as the image of her parents being slaughtered by Kiran reenters her mind. " They... killed... them."
" Who's they? Who died?!" Toph continues to struggle to speak as she finally reveals the tale. " My mom... My dad... they're dead." Penga and Ho Tun look on in shock and worry, even Dark One's eyes pop out. " Who killed them!? Why?!" Toph rubs her eye as the tears stop and a new sense of strength begins to rise. " An assassin. I don't know why." Toph then stands up now determined and slightly angered. " But I'm going to find out! That's why I'm leaving"
Her students then stand with her. " Take all the time you need master. We'll hold down the fort for you." Toph then looks down. " There's more. In the next few weeks you guys are going to hear lies about me and Aang. Even Aang murdering Zuko was bullshit. and it won't end there."
" Don't worry master we'll know the truth. " " But be careful out there, you might do... just take care of yourself. " " I will Ho Tun." They share a group hug as the Dark one looks on, suddenly an arm reaches out and pulls him in. " You're not getting out that easily." The Dark one then reluctantly joins in.
They remains in that position for over a minute until they break. " We wish you luck on your journey and hope you find the answers you deserve." " I will or die trying."
Toph waits atop a balcony overlooking the vast empty valley she decided to make her home in. She looks on in worriment pondering on what is happening, and what will occur. " Why did this happen? Why were you killed? Why couldn't I save you?!" Toph then buries her face in her hands as tears begin to fall from her face.
Finally Toph hears a roar in the sky. Toph without a second though knows who has finally returned. She walks in her room and takes a bag she prepared containing another set of clothing, some food, and her memento. Toph as she walks through the hallways her mind still cluttered with thoughts on her school, her students, and what will happen on her new adventure.
Right before grabbing the door she stops and looks back seeing what she hoped to accomplish with this place. She remembers her dreams of seeing metalbending reaching every corner of the world helping society in anyway. " I'll be back... One day."
Aang remains still on top of Appa waiting for Toph in front of the school, finally returning from his task. " It was a risk but it will be worth it." Aang train of thought is broken as the door opens to reveal Toph emerging. She stops briefly to smile and pet Appa' snout as he licks her. Aang smiles as Toph laughs briefly, if only moments like this could continue.
Toph then throws her things onto Appa's saddle and then climbs up his leg to join Aang. " So how was it?" Toph just sadly responds. " Fine." " You know Toph if you ever want to talk, I'll be right here." Toph then looks up and finally shows encouragement. " I know you will, Aang." Aang the pulls the rims of Appa's head alerting the bison that it is time to leave.
Aang and Toph are on Appa as they fly into the horizon unaware of what awaits them as the mystery of the world only deepens around them.
On the ground in Gaoling a man is seen hanging a poster. " What a shame." He then leaves as the poster hangs on the wall.
TOPH BEI FONG
CRIME: AIDING AND ABIDING WITH WANTED FUGITIVE AVATAR AANG, AND POSSIBLE ROLE IN THE MURDERS OF LAO AND POPPY BEI FONG
AWARD: 800 GOLD PIECES
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