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|City of Lights|
Chapter 5: City of Lights
The Royal Family's tower was so far beyond anything they had seen in the Southern Water Tribe. Sora was overwhelmed by the sheer scale, but Tenzin soaked it all in, planning as he went.
The others began to make themselves at home. Chikyuu began to examine everything in the main room as if it was a priceless artifact, and Sanaki sat down on the couch to read her book.
Kyani motioned over toward a large window. "Lu Ten, is that the balcony?"
He nodded. "One of them."
Sora walked down one of the hallways. "Hey, Lu Ten, where's the bathroom? I want to take a bath."
"Third door to the left, but this building has running water. Being part of the Royal Family, we were able to get first pick of certain new amenities."
Sora shook her head. "I didn't understand any of that."
Lu Ten smiled. "See for yourself."
Tenzin laid down on one of the other couches and put his hands behind his head. "I think we're going to enjoy this." His grin widened.
"Avatar Aang," Lin Quei stood, arms folded across his chest. "I have made my decision. Killing a spirit is a terrible offense."
Aang winced, anticipating what was to come. I'm so sorry, Katara.
"However, you did it with enough reason to make it forgivable. Therefore, my verdict: you are guilty of murder, but you saved both worlds in doing so. Avatar Aang, you are absolved of all charges."
Aang's sigh of relief did not even have time to occur, as the outcry from the three spirits who had been against him rattled the very earth itself. "YOU CANNOT ALLOW THIS! He is guilty; he deserves death!"
"My decision is final! You will not question it." The Judge turned to Aang. "It is done; leave now. You are no longer needed here."
Roku laid a hand on Aang's shoulder to usher him back to the entrance, but before they could leave, an ethereal voice rang in Aang's head. I will destroy you, one way or another.
Once they had gotten acquainted with their current living quarters, they were ready to explore the city itself. Lu Ten and Fiora each wore a simpler version of their royal accouterments, while Chikyuu and Kyani each wore simple Earth Kingdom tunics. Sora chose to dress in her blue-black Waterbending Master Robes, and Sanaki had on a sleeveless bright red shirt with dark red pants and a waist skirt. Tenzin decided on a gray shirt with gray-black pants and a red sash belt. On top of all that, he grinned as he put on a maroon over-cloak with a hood.
"I don't know about you guys, but I'm ready to hit the city!"
Lu Ten pulled out a map. "The World Meeting is in a week, so—!"
Tenzin ripped the map away from the Crown Prince. "Forget that! Let's just explore. See what the city has to offer."
Kyani rolled his eyes as Lu Ten glared at the Airbender. "Because plans are nothing but restrictions in disguise?"
Tenzin rolled up the map. "Exactly!"
Chikyuu piped up. "Then what did you call bringing everyone here?"
The Airbender opened his mouth to speak, but for once found that he didn't have an answer.
"She's got you there."
"Shut up, Kyani."
"P-p-please..." The Earthbender had put up a fight, but it was not enough. "Let me go...I haven't done anything."
Weak fool, soon all of them will fear us. A silver haired man wielding two knives knelt before the broken man. "Your crime, your hubris, has been shattered by our considerable abilities. No longer will your kind taint this world."
The silver haired man snorted. "Very well." He turned to a small masked figure. "Kitsune, show him mercy."
The figure nodded before kicking the victim's throat, knocking him unconscious.
The most jarring part of Republic City was the skyscrapers. The seven children navigated the streets, taking in the sights.
The sheer amount of shops and stores told Sora that saving up all her life had been smart. Lu Ten and Fiora smiled; they had access to the Royal Family's account, within reason. San, Kyani, and Chikyuu had enough money, but they would have to be intelligent with it. Tenzin, however, was flat broke.
He grinned. That wasn't going to stop him. "Hey, Gang, I have an idea."
Everyone looked at him expectantly except for Sora and Kyani. "What is it now?"
Tenzin chuckled. "C'mon, Sis, have a little faith in me. I think we should split up for a couple of hours and take in the sights at our own pace."
Kyani shook his head. "I hate it when you throw us off with things like logic."
"What do you mean?" Chikyuu glanced back and forth, a confused look on her face.
"That's easy, Chief," The tiny Earthbender narrowed her eyes, and Tenzin decided to quit while he was ahead. "If we split off, we can go as fast or slow as we want. If we go in a big group, it'll take us forever to do anything."
"Oh, okay..." Her smile widened. "I call Sora and Fiora!" The two older girls smiled.
"I guess we have our group."
Tenzin nodded. "Fair enough. Kyani, you're with me."
"Need the best warrior to watch you're back?" Kyani teased.
"No, I'm gonna show the uptight suck-up how to have some fun."
Lu Ten shifted nervously from one foot to the other. "So that means..."
Sanaki smiled. "I guess we're together, then."
Sora turned back to Tenzin. "Before we start tearing up the city, you should know that I'm not going to loan you any money."
"Then how're you going to—?"
"Watch and learn." With that, he waded into the crowd.
Unbelievable. Kyani shook his head. Is there anything this guy can't do?
Tenzin walked back toward his cousin, sack of coins in hand. "Where's everybody else?"
Kyani shrugged. "They got tired of watching you perform 'magic tricks' with your Airbending, so they left."
The Airbender shrugged. "Spoilsports..."
"So, where exactly are we going?"
The grin that came made Kyani particularly nervous. "I'm starving! Let's eat, and then we can really get moving."
Sanaki and Lu Ten strode down the street, both in awe of the sheer amount of anything and everything. "I've never seen so many...just...shops and restaurants..."
Lu Ten's eyes were wide. "I know; it's just so big. How can anyone ever get tired of this city?"
San held her book tight against her chest and shook her head in disbelief. Lu Ten turned to her. "What book are you reading now? It seems like you always have one on you."
"Oh, this? This one is A Treatise on Firebending in its Original Form."
Lu Ten smiled. "Uncle Iroh's best memoir..."
She nodded. "I think it's the best book to learn Firebending from."
"Maybe, but nothing beats learning from a true master. Homeschooling isn't gonna get you anywhere."
"So brushing off Master Shoji's Firebending lessons makes you the better Firebender?" He turned to glare at her, but stopped when he saw that she had a genuine smile on her face.
"I guess I could pay a little more attention to his lessons."
A smell wafting from a building up ahead caught their attention. Food. Both of their thoughts instantly turned to their stomachs.
Both older girls had to laugh as Chikyuu ran from shop to shop with a seemingly unending supply of wonder and energy. "C'mon, guys! Hurry up!"
"That girl...so different from her mother." Sora mused.
"But every bit as powerful." Fiora inhaled. "I love the feel of this place. Freedom is...you can just feel it."
"I just hope Tenzin doesn't go overboard with this new freedom."
"Hey, I never really got a chance to see how you guys were doing."
"Well, as you can see, the Southern Water Tribe hasn't killed us yet. Other than Tenzin's occasional hair-brained scheme, it's pretty quiet back home."
"As strange as ever. I swear he loves the cold."
Fiora shivered. "I can't imagine what it's like living there."
"So what about you?"
She sighed. "Where do I start? Dad and Mom are great, but...it just doesn't seem like they have much time for us anymore. They've become...distant. What with Dad's position and Mom's support..."
Sora put her hand on her friend's shoulder. "I'm sorry. What about Lu Ten? How is he handling this?"
"He wants Dad's approval so much, and he's been working non-stop to get it. But at the same time he's getting an ego." Resentment burned in her eyes. "I don't like what our family is becoming, Sora, and I feel like my dad only let us come because it would get us out of his hair."
Sora shook her head. "Fiora, your parents love you; they wouldn't just send you away."
The Fire Nation princess' eyes glistened. "Then why do I feel so alone?!"
Sora embraced her friend until a small voice broke the silence. "Are you guys okay?"
Fiora turned. "Yeah, Chikyuu, we're fine."
The little Earthbender raised an eyebrow. "Okay..." Her eyes suddenly grew large. "Oh! I almost forgot! Look at what I found!" She held up a poster.
Sora and Fiora took a look at the poster before glancing at each other.
"You know Tenzin's going to see this."
"And Lu Ten." Fiora added.
"And they're going to want in on it." They said in unison.
Gareth raised his binoculars, looking down at the street. "There they are."
"You're sure?" Doma stared in disbelief. "They don't seem like—."
"Look closely." Doma gasped.
"You...it is them, but what do we—?"
"We call the others and have them separate the group. One by one we'll take them out, and this city will be safe from them."
"So we take the..."
"The small one."
Doma shrugged. "Should be easy enough."
Gareth glanced at his partner "Don't underestimate them. They train for encounters like this."
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