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It had been rather quiet for everyone back at Vintana's hideaway. Moving off from the barn near Zenshu due to Korra's departure, Vintana and the rest of her group had begun to go off away from one area, and off to another closer to their main destination. It was a bit of a jump for the most part, but, Vintana felt it was necessary. Besides, when the Red Lotus and Zikara were done in Zaofu, they needed a quick ride out of there when they need it. And for them, they got an airship of their own that was just what they needed to do that. Out of nowhere, maybe, but having one just in case was a good idea for Vintana.
Speaking of which, while they were flying over to Zaofu, Vintana was still working on her own messages. For the past couple of days, Vintana herself had been trying to write out the right words for her chosen contractors, in order to get them to go with her requests. While she crumbled up another letter, and threw it aside, Amon eventually came in to see her, not wearing his mask that time.
"Having some trouble?" Amon asked, walking in.
"Just trying to get this right. Not easy getting everyone together," Vintana replied, trying to think on what to put.
"I know what you mean. Here, let me have a look," Amon said, looking over to one of the previous letters Vintana was working with. After a quick look, Amon looked back to Vintana.
"Got the main idea, don't you?"
"Let me try to get the message, you've worked hard enough," Amon insisted, as Vintana got up. It was rather nice for Amon to give a try at it, as she smiled to him.
"You are sweet, you know that?"
"It's the least I can do for being reborn. You did save me from Tzumok after all."
"You and about four others. Though I'm great I got you to know better," Vintana said, moving closer to him. Amon took the advances with a calm smile. Then, after a bit, Vintana's lips touched his, both sides enjoying the moment of the kiss. Seemed apparent, the two were pretty close since Vintana got Amon out of the Soul Grove. However, while they were kissing, someone else ended up walking in to see them both. However, he ended up catching them kissing each other, and it was only stopped once he got their attention. The guy who came in looked like a Water Tribe chief, and his own experience in the past made him someone Vintana needed with her for the future.
"We're nearing Zaofu, Vintana," he advised.
"I'd appreciate it if you knocked before entering, Unalaq. But, thank you anyway," Vintana replied. Vintana didn't only get Amon out of the Soul Grove: but also got the dark spirit water chief Unalaq out, close to the same time she got the Equalist leader out. Unalaq went back to check the situation, as Vintana (after another quick kiss) went with him. After she left, Amon stayed to his word and began to work on the letter...
Speaking of Zaofu, the group at the area in question were, more or less, ready to get going. Team Avatar were unaware of the coming Red Lotus, which by the by were hidden out by the mountainside for the morning opening of Zaofu. They wouldn't be able to go in without any help during the night, and none of them had any connection with Zaofu since their last attack years ago. For the moment, it seemed that everyone was doing their own thing, not thinking anything was out of the ordinary. Even from far away, Zikara had a better view of the area from where they were. From what Zikara could see, the Beifong family, along with Team Avatar, were pretty much doing their own thing outside. Wei, Wing, Korra and Kuvira were doing Power Disc together, with members of the Beifong family watching them. Huan was working on his sculpture still, and a few others weren't seen around there. The Zaofu guards were still out in numbers though, so a charge in wasn't going to happen. P'Li, Ming-Hua, Ghazan, Zaheer, and Zikara maintained their patient visual, waiting to find a good vantage point to get Korra.
In Zaofu, their game was doing fairly well, Kuvira and Korra working together against Wei and Wing. Among those watching were Bolin, Mako, Asami, Suyin, Opal, Ziyou, and the animal companions Naga and Pabu. For the moment, it was a tied game with 5-5, keeping track by Asami and Opal. With Korra and Wei focusing on the movement while Kuvira and Wing were the goalkeepers. For the time being, it was rather intense for the moment, Korra and Wei trying to get into the goal time and time again. Eventually, after a good ten minutes of non-stop moves, Korra finally got it past the twins, and the buzzer went off for their victory.
"Dang it, we were so close!"
"Alright!" Korra said, high-fiving Kuvira for a good victory. Even with a rocky start, seemed their time in Zaofu was going a bit better. With most of the drama already dealt with, the others can try to calm down and just enjoy themselves. For the time, they almost forgotten their own troubles back in Zenshu, and the threats that had returned apart from Amon. In spite of everything, the days in Zenshu had been a nice time for them. However, when it comes to danger, the balance of safety for someone like the Avatar can easily become a precarious one.
Korra and Kuvira called it a game, and the tired athletes then went on back to the crowd, the score of 5-6, fully establishing the victors. However, as Korra began to head back to the others, triumph on her face, a very few began to notice something else on the Power Disc field. Exiting one of the goals, something began to appear from the shadows, eyes fixated on her target going back to the others. While most of them didn't notice anything, Naga and Pabu both suddenly sensed something was wrong, Naga getting up as Pabu hopped off of her back, both looking in the same direction. They both saw that she was about to do, her arm moved back as if ready to throw something. Naga was the first to react to the sudden arrival, and rushed forward, knocking Korra back, as a sudden chain shot out from the attacker's arm, grazing Naga's shoulders!
"What the heck?" Korra said, on seeing the chain. The chain began to move back to the one responsible, as she ventured into the light for them all to see. She didn't waste any time, and almost immediately started attacking the others, launching chains galore at everyone! Many of them dodged it, but the attacks were too quick for many of them to at least get their act together to attack. After the onslaught of metal chains, the first to attack directly was Opal, getting an air attack to slow down the chain wielding. When that was done, they all got a better look at the attacking figure. From their perch, the Red Lotus and Zikara could also see the sudden attacker, though their reaction was less shock and more annoyance.
The figure standing there, her eyes white in anger, was Kirra! How'd she got herself out again was a bit troubling to Zikara, for she had restrained her much more since her last runaway back in Zenshu. Obviously though, it didn't work out again.
"You again," Korra said, growing angry as she got up. Kirra tried to work out the chains again, but Kuvira then took action and used her own metalbending to restrain the movements of Kirra's attacks. Korra blasted fire at her, and Kirra dodged them with supernatural speed, as she neared them both. The others rushed over to help, but Kirra was too quick to get a proper hit on her.
"Your powers are nothing short of worthless," Kirra said, ready to attack again.
"Why are you doing this?" Asami demanded.
"Why is anyone doing anything anymore? Just be ready for the fight."
"A bit of a one-sided fight," Opal said.
"Not me." Kirra then pulled something out of her sleeve, and threw it like a ninja star at them! Opal caught it in a small air orb, revealing to be a sort of message, a slight bit of blood on the corner. Everyone stayed together, Kirra standing alone, unmoved by the reaction. The message itself read off:
I believe its about time we come face-to-face. I trust that you've met some of my own personal colleges by now, and I'd yet to fully understand how such a supposed saint such as yourself would resort to these criminal acts to make sure your competition wouldn't outshine you in your own goals. After all, your involvement in Zenshu, and that prison hold as well, were far beyond any saint's boundaries. All the same, I'd appreciate you to come to Laghima's Peak and surrender your role so we can truly see if you are a disgrace or not. We'll all be there to see you. Of course, if you rather stay away, and have Zaheer and the rest of the Red Lotus wipe out the leaders instead on your behalf, then that's purely up to you. As sudden as it is, my own colleges are getting a bit testy since you've either killed them in the past or sent them off to prison before. So, if you'd be so generous to appear at the peak, then that'll be nice of you. Feel free to bring as much as you wish; I'd much rather have this confrontation not be so one-sided.
The message was indeed out of the blue, but the information it contained was something that Korra wasn't ready for: especially the 'come here or I kill the world leaders' part. When they looked back to Kirra, she had already vanished, so, they couldn't say anything to her about it. Laghima's Peak was also an issue Korra wasn't prepared for: she was in Zaofu, all the way on the other side of the continent. And what did she mean by Korra having some of her colleges getting testy about her killing them before? Can't get testy if you're dead, right? Then again, Amon was found by her already. What did end up putting more thought on what side was the criminal acts. It was easy to figure out the 'surrender your role' part though: Vintana didn't want her to be around anymore, much like everyone else Korra met before she met Ziyou (to some extent anyway). None of them knew what that exactly meant, as most of Korra's actions when it came to fighting the enemy more benefited the world rather than wipe out competition... It was then that it dawned onto Korra: something she was told a long time back while she was missing herself. Thinking on what her past enemies wanted in an overall sense; Amon and Equality, Unalaq and freedom for spirits, Zaheer and freedom for humanity, Kuvira and stabilizing the chaos in her country, El Nino and caring for his Qishi, Voronon and their protection.
Protection, care, freedom, equality, stability...
"Korra?" Suyin suddenly said, getting Korra back to reality. Korra looked back at them, sighing on hearing the news.
"Well ... I guess we have no choice here. If Vintana wants that badly to see me, then I might as well get ready."
"You sure, Korra?"
"She just threatened to kill the world leaders if I didn't go, I'm not taking that kind of chance. At least I'm free to bring reinforcements this time around," Korra replied, going off to get herself ready ...
"Should I start some messages?"
"Yes, please do."
Meanwhile, back in their perch, the Red Lotus weren't sure what was going on. Sure, they could see Kirra fighting, but they couldn't see what the message said, or what it was about.
"And what stopped their tussle?" Ghazan asked.
"Seems they got the message a bit early. Guess we don't need to go in after all," Zikara concluded.
"We didn't travel all the way here just to ditch Zaofu," Ming-Hua said in anger.
"We didn't come here to start anything either, we came to show that you all are back. Seemed Kirra did that already - why, I don't know," Zikara explained.
"You're joking, right?"
"You'll know when I am. Let's head back to Vintana, she'll arrive soon to pick us up."
"This is dumb, we've traveled on foot for days, I'm not just -"
"Ming Hua, enough! Come on, let's go. We'll get to face her soon enough," Zaheer suddenly said. As unfair as it was, Zaheer knew that if anything went wrong, Vintana can easily wipe out them all and they'll end up in the same situation all over again back at the Soul Grove. Zaheer didn't want to loose them again, and end up back in jail ... especially P'Li. With some time to think it over, the group started to go off, some of them taking one look back before going off. However, one of the Red Lotus members didn't seem to be as ready to go off again after days of running around the Earth Kingdom. They moved off so far, and all they did was just sit and watch? At the very least, figure out if they actually did get the message, or why Kirra did that in the first place, or something for their effort! Come to think of it, leaving in the first place seemed odd with Vintana and what the heck she was doing. If that note was simply lies, Korra might not go for it, and if Vintana really knew what she was doing, it wouldn't end well. Still, Zaheer turned to him.
"Ghazan, come on," Zaheer said. Ghazan was still thinking it over, but, he then decided to go with the others anyway...
After sometime since being told, Vintana had docked the ship within the mountains, out of sight of any Zaofu guards. While they waited for the Red Lotus to come back, Vintana was busy with something else in her room: meditating. She had to be calm for this, and with the lack of people around, it was the perfect time for it. In her mind, she was in the Spirit World, wide open alongside a shoreline. The girl looked around a bit until she caught sight of a number of spirits along the shores.
"Spirits, I request your assistance back in the real world. I think an enemy needs to be removed of her power," Vintana said, as a few spirits began to circle her. One of these, a hare with bird wings, flew over to her with a slow wing beat.
"Our kind don't get involved in mortal conflict."
"And why don't you?"
"Our kind are at peace with both worlds, we refuse to be used as weapons in a conflict among humans," the spirit firmly stated. Vintana then smiled, despite the answer.
"Even if it meant keeping your god imprisoned in a mortal line forever?" That sort of talk got the spirits attention.
"What are you getting at?" one of the spirits said, sounding insulted.
"Listen: I for one have high regards towards all spirits, as with many people. So you mean to tell me, that even if Raava remained trapped inside the Avatar, none of you will stand up and try to free her?"
"Raava chose to stay with that human," one of the older spirits said.
"No, she was forced into staying with that human. The first Avatar nearly destroyed the world upon splitting her from Vaatu, and Raava had no choice but to give him godly power to keep it from getting there. In short; he blackmailed her so the world wouldn't burn. Now, if Raava was free, not only will your god have her own will back, but you'll get revenge on the Avatar for not just her, but for what the other Avatars had done in the past. I'm sure a few of the other Avatars had sinned your kind in the past at least once, no?"
Vintana closed her eyes, and waited for some sort of answer come out from them. The spirits by her were actually considering what Vintana was saying - something almost impossible with any normal person. Vintana knew her points, she knew the information she got, she had it all handled. Soon, one of the spirits went over to her.
"Raava's important to all of us. She needs to be freed."
"Wonderful. Meet us at Laghima's Peak. If all goes well, your beloved Raava will be free once again. See you then," Vintana said, as her spirit started to go back to her own body. Un aware to her, though, she wasn't the only one going places ...
Upon reentering her own body back in the real world, Vintana felt accomplished in that side-job of hers. Not everyday one gets to convince spirits into helping in their problems. However, when she opened her eyes to see the room, she was eye level with ... well, with another spirit. At least he seemed like a spirit, his body almost entirely made of water, his arms like Ming-Hua. She was sure that she told them all to go to Laghima's Peak, but then who was this guy?
"Hello," he said. Vintana needed a moment to think before speaking.
"I thought I told you spirits to go to Laghima's Peak ..."
"You did? Why?"
"Were you there when I told you?"
He actually nodded no.
"Oh. Well, the spirits are going to the Peak, I advise you to -"
"I don't want to. You just got me back here, I wanna hang with you for a while."
"It's been boring, and you are a smart women. Can't I stay for a while before going back? At least until I know what happened since I've been away?"
"... You can't look yourself?"
"One; I was stuck in Taiyin pool for years before now. Sure, I got out after the second time, but still I couldn't leave the water. Two; Spirits don't bother with me much anymore," he said. Vintana, pinching the bridge of her nose, calmed herself down.
"Just try not to cause any trouble, please, my plan's going along so well already."
As for the days that followed, both sides got themselves ready for the meet up. Both sides needed to get their information out for allies for both sides. For Vintana, that mainly meant getting Amon's troops up and ready, as among their group, Amon had plenty of fighters to get from around the United Republic. For Korra though, the number of allies maybe more, but they weren't already with her. So, with some help, she got the messages out during the next couple of days to get things ready for the confrontation. Amongst these included some reinforcements from Zaofu, courtesy of Baatar himself. Others included the police force from Lin, and some acolyte airbenders with Jinora, Bumi, and Ikki, along with some extra help from other friends whom agreed to come along. As for the leaders, Vintana had gotten that message out as well, with the location of meeting said upon it.
With the Air Acolytes gone, the Eastern Air Temple was a bit more quiet than usual. Amongst the family, Meelo, Rohan and Pema stuck around with some of the non-bending acolytes as the others went off to help Korra, or were away on the meeting. The main reason was, while Ikki and Jinora both were strong enough, Meelo didn't exactly come to pass just yet. Rohan was simply out of the question. While annoyed, Meelo knew he had to stay around.
At the moment, the mountainsides seemed decadent of any activity: not a sound apart from the blowing wind of the mountains, and an occasional chirp from the mountain bird. For Meelo, he was hanging out outside with Rohan and the ring-tailed winged lemurs. Their mother was nearby, along with a few other Air Acolytes, doing their own business.
"Watch this, bro," Meelo said, getting out a whistle from his pocket. Soon, Meelo started to use his whistle, the lemurs following the commands made by the calls. With a finger aimed, and whistle blowing, the other lemurs started to move about in the air in synchronized formation. Rohan watch, sitting down nearby with a smile on his face. Soon, the lemurs ended up forming a special picture in the air of a cute bunny rabbit, Rohan clapping at the results.
"My turn, my turn!"
"I just started," Meelo retorted.
"But I wanna go!" Rohan whined. As the two argued over the whistle, the lemurs began to feel a little antsy, their larger ears catching something much further away. None of the acolytes noticed anything odd, as the lemurs began to fly away from the air temple. Meelo and Rohan both notice them go after a bit, and then started to notice some other things. Much further away, they began to notice the forest birds starting to fly away for some reason, something beginning to move through. Since they were so far upward, the object they were looking at seemed to be very small. But in reality, the object was rather huge, castle tower size. The object actually was a large tower, somehow moving on its own towards the Eastern Air Temple!
"Cool tower," Rohan said with a smile. However, their smiles disappeared once they noticed something shoot out from the top. Something round was shot forward, and aimed right at them! Some acolytes noticed it, but Meelo could only tumble to the ground to avoid getting shot, the object making a dark explosion on the wall. More shots were fired, some acolytes getting hit hard, as the temple was getting hit.
"What the heck?!" Meelo managed to say, a lot of shots being taken at them. Pema tried to get the injured inside, but soon saw her children at risk, rushing in to help them. That only meant for her to get hit directly by one of the orbs, Meelo and Rohan getting knocked out of the way.
"Mommy!" Rohan yelped. Meelo and Rohan went to their mother, Meelo only able to drag her inside as more shots were fired. When all the acolytes were inside, the shots were soon calming down, and another voice suddenly echoed.
"Surrender your castle to King Caesar, or you'll fall!"
Straightforward, but threatening all the same. Meelo peeked out the window, not seeing anyone there at first. The only other place they could be hearing that voice was the new tower that somehow moved to their neighborhood.
"Mom, you alright?" Meelo asked. Pema groaned a little bit, and only then did they notice something's out of the ordinary. She wasn't dead exactly, yet, her skin had turned duller, and her mood far more depressed than normal. It was a surprise that she was still alive after taking a cannon shot like a champ. The other acolytes seemed to be that way as well. Rohan poked his head out to see the tower away, actually seeing someone at the top window. However, the figure was too darkened to figure out from the tower itself. Meelo went to the window as well, seeing the same thing. Some time for the best airbenders of the temple to go away. A few more shots were made around the area, landing at the temple when nothing answered the voice. The man inside must be this Caesar guy that he announced from inside. Meelo looked out from the entrance to the temple, trying to think on what to do.
"Will mom be okay?" Rohan asked.
"I think so," Meelo said, looking over at the tower itself. The cannon itself was removed after a while. Meelo, although rather quick in his own mind, the little airbender felt that their little answer should be inside the thing...
Fast, yes, but Meelo was usually fast on choices.
While Caesar was quiet for the moment, the eager airbender began to go off, making sure Rohan was out of trouble (far as he knew). Meelo started flying around, quickly getting in through the first window. No other shots seemed to occur, and when he got in there ... the room was dark, and empty.
"Hello? Caesar jerk, where are you?!" Meelo called, trying to get some sort of answer. However, unaware to him, the shadows had eyes ... and arms, which grabbed him from behind! Meelo barely had any time to actually react to anything, and he was suddenly wrapped in shadows! Meelo could only yelp before he disappeared into the shadows ...
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