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|The Man in the Mask|
September 28, 2013
Jiàn felt the cloth being pulled off from eyes. As his eyes adjusted to seeing light again, he found himself standing in very damp, dimly-lit room. A figure emerged from behind him and stood to his left. Once his eyes finished adjusting, he made out the face to be that of the Lieutenant.
"My apologies for having to blindfold you," the Lieutenant told him. "But my master did not wish for you to know the location of our base of operations." As quickly as the Lieutenant entered, he was gone, disappearing back into the shadows. Jiàn was a bit surprised the Lieutenant left him but shrugged the concern aside. The Lieutenant was probably just standing in another corner of the room waiting until the meeting finished, he thought. A few moments later, another figure emerged from the shadows. It belonged to that of a hooded man clad in dark clothing amidst dark red armor. As the figure got closer, however, Jiàn recognized the man's most prominent feature: a gold mask with a red dot on its forehead that covered his entire face. Jiàn stood face to face with this mysterious man, waiting to hear what he had to say.
"So, you're Mayor Huán Jiàn," the masked man said. Jiàn nodded. "My second in command tells me you have some interest in our cause." Jiàn made no reaction, which seemed to surprise the mysterious man. "You seem confused," the masked man inquired. Jiàn shrugged, finally deciding to speak.
"I suppose I was expecting someone a little...'different'," Jiàn replied. "Your mask, your attire, the fact you're asking me to join your cause without even mentioning your name. I expected someone who strives for equality to not look so...suspicious." The masked man stared at Jiàn from beneath his mask; Jiàn stared right back. Then, unexpectedly, the mysterious man let out a small chuckle.
"I heard you were a very inquisitive person but you certainly are more than I anticipated. I apologize for jumping so soon, but seeing someone of your status with interest got me a bit anxious." Jiàn smiled a little, but the masked man could tell he was not totally buying his words. "I am Amon. At a young age my parents were killed by firebenders. I survived but my face was severely burned, so I had no choice but to hide it behind this mask." Jiàn nodded. It seemed like a simply story, but not that implausible he thought. Amon continued. "Benders have done nothing but abuse their powers and oppress non-benders I. I'm sure you can relate to it, especially with how the Council takes advantage of you and constantly diminished your authority as mayor." Jiàn thought for a moment. He was sure that was not the sole reason Tarrlok hated him, but it very well could be why Tarrlok often tried to take advantage of him. Noticing he made a good impact, Amon continued. "I formed the Equalists as a way to unite non-benders together to end the oppression of benders over non-benders. With it we can make this city and the world a better place." Jiàn was rather stunned. Perhaps he misjudged this man. Maybe he was over thinking his mysterious appearance this whole time. Jiàn decided it would now be best to speak.
"I must say I had some suspicions when I first saw you," Jiàn replied. "But your goal of getting non-benders on equal footing with benders is a dream much like my own. I too have suffered when I was younger thanks to benders, so I am glad someone else is willing to take a stand." Although Amon's face was covered, Jiàn had a feeling he was smiling underneath that mask.
"So will you join us?" Amon asked. He was surprised to see Jiàn shake his head.
"With everything that has happened recently I need to be very careful about who I help," Jiàn answered. "However, that is not to say I do not agree with your ideas and will not consider supporting your cause at a later time."
"That is understandable. You wouldn't want the Council accusing you of corruption or something along those lines. However, I do have a few well-known citizens of the city who have already aligned with me if that helps ease your decision." Jiàn simply nodded.
"Thank you but for the time being I cannot commit to this." He then held out a hand to Amon. "It was good to have finally met someone who is willing to fight for equality in this city." Amon shook his hand and bowed.
"The pleasure was mine Mayor Jiàn." As they finished shaking hands, the Lieutenant emerged back from his corner with the blind fold. As he handed the cloth to Jiàn, he stopped to listen to Amon. "One last thing. If you ever want to try raiding another gang hideout, I can supply you with a few men any time. They know how to keep secrets." Jiàn nodded as he placed the blindfold back over his face. The Lieutenant escorted him out of the building. As Amon watched Jiàn disappear into the dark, he began to speak to himself. "You'll join us soon enough."
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