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|Bodies of Government|
Foundations of Stone
20 March 2011
Bodies of Government is the second chapter of Foundations of Stone serial., and the second chapter in the
I am terribly sorry about the amount of time it took for me to finish this chapter, but I said I would finish the first serial at least, and that I will. This indeed, was a massive trek to get through, what with all of the dialogue, and sort of important information pumped into this chapter. Anyway, I hope you enjoy, and follow my news and updates page! -
Teru is taken to the palace to discuss his future as the Avatar, and meets his earthbending master, Jiaoshi. Unfortunately for Teru, his first earthbending lesson doesn't go quite as planned, and he finds himself faced with his first challenge as the Avatar.
In a dark, candle lit room, with walls of stone, one man sat at his wooden desk, shrouded in shadows. Whilst he sat, another man entered the room. This man was tall, with black scruffy hair, and a great scar ripping down the side of his face, starting above his right eye, and running down to the corner of his mouth. The man at the desk looked up.
"Yes?" He said menacingly.
"Mrs Hakiru is dead," the scarred man said.
"Good, very good indeed," said the seated man.
"There is a small boulevard, in the Upper Ring, kill those living in its surroundings," the seated man said.
"Yes sir, but before I leave," said the scarred man. "The Avatar, they have found him. What should we do?" The seated man sat quietly for a moment before speaking.
"If he interferes, kill him."
"Open the gates!" Yelled the nobleman, leading Teru through the city. He had been walking for at least ten minutes, and finally reached the inner wall of the city. Up upon the walls above stood armed guards, who used their earthbending to move the enormous stone walls, so that Teru, the nobleman and the procession could enter the Middle Ring of Ba Sing Se.
As the gates finally opened completely, the nobleman turned to Teru.
"I am General Lionel, of the Council of Five. It is a pleasure to meet you," he said, taking Teru's hand and shaking it.
"Yeah, um, I'm Teru," he replied, still in shock from the recent news. The General started talking, but Teru didn't listen. He was busy looking at the awed onlookers standing on the side of the street. They were pointing at a dazed and confused Teru.
After another ten minutes of walking, the procession stopped once more, this time at the Upper Wall. The guards at the top opened the gates, and the procession continued.
"Have you been to the Upper Ring before, Teru?" Lionel asked. Teru looked at his own feet.
"Ah, no sir. I have never had any business outside of the Lower Ring," he replied.
"Ah well, you are in for a surprise," Lionel said, clearing his throat, "The Upper Ring has some of the most beautiful sights in all of the Earth Kingdom!" As the word "beautiful" came from the General's mouth, Teru was reminded of the girl who visited him that afternoon.
As the procession passed the wall, numerous carriages sat before them, Ostrich Horses tied to each one, the drivers sitting on top with reigns in hands. General Lionel, Teru, and two Royal Guards stepped into the nearest carriage, and as they sat down it began to move.
"Uh, sir," Teru said, looking at General Lionel.
"Ah! My boy! Do not call me sir, it is I who should be calling you sir!" he said, smiling.
"Okay, uh, General," Teru started. "Why are there so many carriages, I mean, couldn't just four people have come to get me?" The smile vanished from Lionel's face, and the two Royal Guards looked at each other.
"Why? Because there is a war amongst the streets of Ba Sing Se," Lionel said, as the two guards looked worriedly out of the carriage.
"A war? With who?" Teru asked.
"Oh don't worry yourself boy," Lionel said, jumping back into his light and happy mood. "If it is of any importance to you, your Earthbending teacher will tell you." Teru looked at him confused.
"I don't have an Earthbending teacher," Teru said. Lionel looked at him and smiled.
The carriage stopped suddenly, and Teru could not help but jerk forward.
"Ah! We have arrived!" Lionel said, opening the carriage door, allowing Teru to leave first, and as he did so, Teru looked up.
Teru was standing on an enormous stretch of concrete, at least twenty metres wide, and hundreds of metres long. Luckily, Teru was at the far end of the stretch, standing at the foot of the massive earth stairs, which led high up into the palace itself. Once outside the palace, Teru stood before great green pillars, and a magnificent green carpet leading from the top of the stairs, to the throne room itself.
"Beautiful, isn't it!" Lionel said, smiling. Teru was speechless. "I wish that one day, I can bring my daughter here," Lionel looked at Teru. "She would be about your age." Teru continued to stare at the palace, as the procession began their last leg of the journey, and entered the throne room.
This room was even more beautiful then the palace itself. The walls were encrusted with brilliantly glowing green jewels, and at the end of the palace was the throne, also encrusted with the same jewels, bordered with a sparkling golden thread, and behind the throne was the image of two badger moles, also crafted from gold. Next to the throne was a separate seat, equally as beautiful as the thrown, only smaller. Sitting up straight on the seat was a tall, thin man, with a black, braided ponytail running down his back to his waist. Sitting on the throne, was the Earth King himself.
Resting his head in his hands, he looked up as he heard the procession enter the palace. The procession halted halfway across the throne room, then Lionel stepped forward.
"Earth King, sir," he said, bowing onto his knees, then rising. "I bring you the Avatar," he said.
"This boy, is the Avatar?" the Earth King said.
"Indeed," Lionel replied. The Earth King looked at Teru sternly, and frowned, turning to his guards in rage.
"WHY IS THE AVATAR NOT BEING TREATED TO A FULL BUFFETT WITH A FRUIT PLATTER?" Two of the Royal Guards jumped, then turned and ran out of the throne room. The man sitting next to the King sighed and rolled his eyes, whilst the King stood up from his throne and looked at Teru. "I am terribly sorry about this, your Avatarness. Please forgive me," he said bowing towards Teru. The rest of the procession did the same.
"Uh, you are forgiven?" Teru said, and the Earth King jumped to his feet.
"Excellent! You are ever so kind," the King said. "Now, to business!" the King said clapping his hands, and the procession sat on the ground. As Teru went to sit, a chair was rushed underneath him, before he began to even bend his knees.
"Uh, thank you," he said to the man holding the chair, who walked out of the room backwards, whilst bowing.
"Now I suppose you are wondering why I have brought you here," the King said. "As you may be aware of, recently in Ba Sing Se there has been a string of murders, completely unconnected except for one thing, the murder weapon. At the most recent crime scene, the detectives found a knife, which fits the wounds of the other victim's bodies perfectly. Along with the knife, a small message was found, carved into the ground. The message read, Ba Sing Se will fall."
Teru looked around the room, waiting for someone else to speak. But when no one else did, Teru decided to.
"What do you want me to do? Teru said, looking at the Earth King.
"We want you to bring the murderer in, so he can be brought to justice,' the King said.
"But, I'm just a boy, I may be the Avatar, but I don't know any other elements other than Earthbending, which I haven't mastered yet. What am I supposed to do?" Teru asked, worriedly.
"You are supposed to work with your master to find the killer," the King said, pointing to the back of the room. "And here he comes now." At the back of the room, stood a tall man, with black hair and broad shoulders. He wore magnificent green armour, which matched the walls of the throne room perfectly. The man walked to the front of the throne, then bent down onto his knees, bowing.
"Earth King sir, we have found a message from the killer in Mrs Hakiru's restaurant," the man said, in a low voice. He then looked to his left, to Teru. "Who is this?" he asked.
"This Master Jiaoshi, is the Avatar," the Earth King said calmly pointing to Teru.
"Ah, so General Lionel brought you from your home just like I asked?" Jiaoshi said, shaking Teru's hand.
"Yes, all the way from the Lower Ring," Teru said, smiling. As he said it, he saw the man sitting in the chair next to the King rise.
"You brought him from the Lower Ring?" he said cynically. Lionel looked at him and frowned.
"Yes, I did," the General said, eyebrow raised. "He does live there."
"What! But the Avatar could not possibly come from the Lower Ring, that is a place of poverty," the man shouted.
"I was born in the Lower Ring, Huang-Fu, and I am a general of the Council of Five, who is to say this boy cannot be the Avatar?" Lionel said, calmly but upset.
"True," Huang-Fu said, taking a step back. "But you are still filthy." As Lionel opened his mouth, Teru stepped forward.
"Hey mate, you may be sitting next to him, but you aren't the King. You resemble that of a whiny baby," Teru looked at the man's chair. "Oh look, you even have the baby seat." Lionel, Jiaoshi and a few of the guards laughed as quietly as they could, whilst the King smiled.
"Teru, this is Huang-Fu, my political advisor," said the King, waving to Huang-Fu, who stepped forward in rage.
"How dare you, you insolent child," he said, spitting as he yelled. "You march up here and speak to me like that! I aught to-"
"Sit and be silent," the King said quietly. Huang-Fu sat with a huff, and looked to his right angrily. "I am sorry, Avatar. Back to business, this is Master Jiaoshi, and he is currently investigating a string of murders in the Lower Ring.
"Yes, and I believe them all to be related," Jiaoshi said to Teru. "Just today, I found a message carved into the floor of one of the victims."
"What was the message?" Teru asked.
"Ba Sing Se will fall," Jiaoshi said, repeating the message he had read only an hour before. The entire room was entirely silent, but for the tapping of Huang-Fu's hand on his chair.
"How can you be sure the deaths are related?" Huang-Fu asked.
"Every victim is different in every way, different age, location of death, not related, no connections, absolutely nothing," Jiaoshi said.
"Then how can you be sure they are related?" Huang-Fu asked sceptically.
"They are all victims of stab wounds," Jiaoshi said. Huang-Fu however, was not convinced.
"Hundreds of people die each year by the falling of a blade, how can you be sure they are related by their cause of death?"
"We can't, but it is my job to investigate all possibilities," Jiaoshi replied. The palace was completely silent. A mouse-rabbit could run through the room, and every patting of its' tiny feet would be heard. The silence was broken by Teru.
"And, why do you need me?" he asked. Jiaoshi looked at him.
"We have evidence to believe that the murderer was different for each victim, and that they belong to an unknown gang, responsible for a string of crimes in the city. If it is a gang, then we need someone intensely powerful to put an end to it, and that person is you Teru." Teru was shocked at Jiaoshi's words, but somewhat pleased also.
"But, I," Teru shook his head. "I'm not intensely powerful. And with my Earthbending I have only ever moved small boulders, and played Earthbending soccer. This is too much," Teru said, pleading.
"We will find you a master Teru," the King said. "And with a highly knowledgeable Earthbending master, and regular training sessions, you will become powerful in due time."
"A master? No, I could not afford it," Teru said. "My only form of income is through my work on the farm, and since mum and dad died, it has been hard to even buy food for myself."
"You need not to worry about funding," the King said. "All expenses will be taken directly from the royal trust."
"And my master?" Teru said, looking at the King.
"We will find one for you," the King said. "Perhaps, General Lionel?" The General smiled gleefully.
"It would be my absolute honour, your majesty," he said, bowing, before straightening up again. "But unfortunately, due to my wife being pregnant, and my daughter's advanced schooling this year, I doubt I can find the time. I am truly sorry," Lionel said, bowing once more.
"Never mind," said the King. "Maybe Master Lionel? It would be helpful to have the Avatar by your side whilst investigating the crime he must stop?"
"The honour would also be mine, but due to the investigation of the crimes, I also, would be unavailable," Jiaoshi said. At this, Teru saddened. It seemed he might not have an earthbending teacher after all.
"This is quite unfortunate," the King started, before being interrupted by Huang-Fu, who rose from his chair.
"Oh I don't know about that your majesty," he said menacingly. "Perhaps Jiaoshi could take some time off the investigation. I mean, why bother investigate something, you won't be able to stop yet?" he said. "All of his concentration should be on training the Avatar, not running about making ridiculous claims of gangs."
"You are right," the King said. "Jiaoshi, you are to take full responsibility for the care and training of the Avatar, and you are thus relieved from the investigation." Jiaoshi was shocked.
"My King, I protest-" he started.
"No, my decision is made," the King said, turning his head to Teru. "It looks like we have found you an Earthbending teacher." Teru smiled at Jiaoshi, who did not return one.
"Teru, if you could please leave the palace, we have further matters to discuss," the King asked, and Teru stood and left the room. As he arrived outside the front of the palace, he saw a tall girl, with black hair, and seemed to be very familiar. Of course, it was the girl from Mushi's farm earlier. As he approached, she looked up and saw him. As she looked into his eyes, shivers went down Teru's spine.
"So, you're the Avatar huh?" she said casually.
"Ah, well, yes, and, yeah," Teru replied.
"Are you okay?" she said, looking at him a little puzzled.
"Ah, yes," he said. "Quite alright. Just a little nervous. Not about talking to you I mean! I mean, you know, being the Avatar, and stuff. Ha ha?" Teru said.
"Right," the girl replied, clearly blushing.
"Anyway, you never told me your name," Teru said, looking at the girl.
"My name is Lin, I'm General Lionel's daughter," she said. "I'm actually waiting for him now, do you know when he will be finished in there?" she said, gesturing towards the palace.
"No idea, but-" Teru started before he was interrupted by a guard.
"Sir, you are required back in the throne room," he said.
"Oh, okay," Teru said, sadly.
"Well, I'll catcha later then," Lin said happily.
"Yep, hopefully," Teru said smiling, as he entered the throne room again.
About an hour later, after finalizing the accommodation plans, and calling Mushi up to the palace to notify him of Teru's resignation (to which Teru found largely humorous), Teru stood across from Jiaoshi in a large arena-like courtyard of stone.
"Now, Earthbending is all about being strong, stable, and stubborn. To move rocks, you must become a rock. Understand?" Jiaoshi said.
"Ah, yes," Teru said, incredibly nervous.
"Right, now show me any Earthbending forms and techniques you know," Jiaoshi said. Teru dropped into an earthbending stance, and tried to look as professional as possible. Teru's skills were only very basic, but he was out to impress. Just before he executed his move, a royal guard interrupted, to Teru's pleasure.
"Sir, and sir," the guard said to both Jiaoshi and Teru. "I am sorry for interrupting, but there is a problem."
"What is it?" Jiaoshi asked.
"There has been another murder," the guard said.
"Anything else?" Jiaoshi asked.
"Yes, he is trying to make an escape, but other guards are on pursuit," the guard replied.
"Where is he?" Jiaoshi asked, as there was a large explosion about fifty metres away, in Azuri Square. Teru and Jiaoshi could see the plumes of smoke from their position.
"Take a guess," Teru said, referencing the smoke. Jiaoshi started to run towards the rising plume, and gestured Teru to follow, and he did.
The two ran at high speed towards the smoke, and when they finally got there, they found a firework cart on fire, and half a dozen guards sprawled across the ground, most unconscious from the explosion. Jiaoshi ran up to a conscious guard and shook him.
"Where did he go?" he asked. Using the strength he could, the guard pointed into the plume of smoke, and fell unconscious. Jiaoshi ran through the plume of smoke, and Teru followed, coughing his way through. Just ahead, Teru could see a man dressed in black running, with a bloody knife in his hands.
"There!" Teru yelled, pointing and running towards the man, Jiaoshi followed. The two sprinted after the man, and gained enough ground so that they were only five metres behind him, when Jiaoshi stopped and trusted his hands forward, blasting several rocks from the ground toward the man. The cloaked figure stopped and bent a pillar of earth beneath his feet, which threw him up into the air, and he landed gracefully on top of a roof. Jiaoshi followed suit, and continued the chase on the roof. Teru however, was unable to do this, and pursued on foot.
It was hard to see Jiaoshi and the man, but he could hear them running along the roof tops, and followed by sound. Jumping through and over countless obstacles such as people, animals and carts, he found himself in the path of an oncoming carriage. Reacting quickly, he jumped onto, and ran up the carriage, jumping off the back high into the air. For the seconds he was in the air, he could see the cloaked figure about to jump off of a building just to Teru's left. As Teru landed with a roll, he saw the man was going to land on a thin rock wall, possibly thin enough for Teru to bend.
Running faster than he had ever ran in his life, he saw the man in the air above his head, already readying to land on the wall in front of Teru. Teru had to act now, before he got away, so he stopped, and with two fists, punched the air in front of him, crumbling the wall to the ground. It happened so quickly that the man was unable to recover, and crashed into the ground, and rolled to a halt in a dead end alleyway just ahead.
Teru cornered the man in the alleyway just ahead in an earthbending stance, and Jiaoshi followed just behind. Before Teru could do anything, he heard the sound of rumbling earth, then all of a sudden a rock pillar shot out of the ground behind the man, and impaled him through the stomach, causing blood to seep through the hole the pillar had made. The man let out a yell, and then died. Jiaoshi reached a stunned Teru.
"What did you do?" he asked angrily.
"I, I didn't do anything," Teru replied, shaking.
"Well someone did," Jiaoshi replied, when from behind the man, walked Huang-Fu.
"I'm sorry, I took the liberty to dispose of the criminal," Huang-Fu said smiling.
"We needed him alive for questioning," Jiaoshi said angrily.
"Really? I'm so sorry," Huang-Fu said sarcastically. "I thought he was about to kill the Avatar, so I had to stop him."
"Yes, but you didn't have to kill him," Jiaoshi replied.
"Yes, and you didn't have to give chase, but I guess we are both good Samaritans," Huang-Fu said. "Good day," he said, walking past Teru and Jiaoshi into the crowd of people. Jiaoshi sighed, as Teru remained quite still, starring at the corpse.
Back at the courtyard, Teru continued training with Jiaoshi, and neither spoke about the chase that had just occurred. Until Jiaoshi approached Teru.
"I want to talk about what happened before," he said. "You were rookie to say the least. What should have been a simple chase escalated because you didn't act in time," he said grumpily. "If you had of captured him, we could have a witness right now, but we don't."
"I'm sorry master," Teru said, looking at his feet.
"But regardless of what happened this afternoon," Jiaoshi said, turning to Teru. "You did good." Teru looked at his master, and smiled. A smile, which Jiaoshi returned.
For the collective works of the author, go here.