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|First Snowfall Part 1|
One: Hushed Mystery
July 20th, 2013
Previously in Tempests
Eizo has a cryptic meeting with Isitoq while Sohyon recovers from a sudden stress-induced sickness
As the snowfalls, so too will empires
"I'm going to this festival, Eizo. You can't say anything that would convince me otherwise."
Dawn had broken, with the early morning light pouring into the crowded main room of the Air Nomads' temporary residence. Sohyon stood in front of a mirror, adjusting his ceremonial robe. The robe was stiff from being stored for so long, causing Sohyon to also press out the creases as best he could. Eizo and Kanae were nearby, still looking half asleep. Despite the dark circles beneath their eyes, their energy for arguing seemed as high as ever. "At least let us come along," Kanae said, her voice groggy from a lack of sleep.
Sohyon shook his head, making eye contact through the reflection in the mirror. "There is no reason for you two to come along. You've caused enough trouble already; this is my last chance to make things right." After saying this, Sohyon ran a hand over his head to make sure that he hadn't missed any spots shaving. He looked like a completely different person in the robes: more mature, thoughtful, and less like the carefree Sohyon who had been playing the flute and dosing on rooftops in what seemed like another life. "Don't cause trouble. I promise we'll leave after the festival. If I can't get things straightened out there, I don't think I ever will."
"No matter what we'll leave after the festival?" Eizo clarified.
"Yes!" Now Sohyon turned to face the two. "If you have something to say, say it."
"It's just that things have gone so poorly so far..." the words stuck in Kanae's throat, as though she found herself literally unable to continue with what was probably a lie.
"Things have gone so poorly, and it might be best to just wait until the Avatar can take over. You know, so we don't make things worse for her." Eizo finished Kanae's sentence.
"I have not made things any harder for the Avatar, but you two surely haven't been a help." Sohyon scowled and turned to reassess his appearance again. "If you want to return to the temple, I won't stop you."
This reply stung both Eizo and Kanae, who looked at their friend in shock. Kanae looked like she was about to cry, whereas Eizo just looked as though he had been struck and run over by a cart. Though their external reactions were different, it was clear that both were honestly surprised by Sohyon's bluntness. "Soh, look..."
The mediator shook his head. "I don't want to hear your excuses, Eizo. I need to go to this festival, and I need to go alone. I'll say it again: if you have something to say, say it." With those final words, Sohyon turned towards the door and swiftly exited.
"Stay safe," Kanae whispered as he disappeared into the city.
Even this early in the morning, the streets were lit up with vibrant lights and colors for the festival. Sohyon stood in the middle of it, awe-struck at the transformation the city had undergone for the event. People he had seen bustling about were hard at work getting decorations up, and everyone seemed to be participating in some manner or another. The airbender felt like he should be helping somehow, but hadn't a clue what he could do. Further, he had that worry in the back of his mind that if he did help, he would only really get in the way of those who clearly knew what they were doing. "Tiáotíng Zhě!" Sohyon heard a familiar voice and turned to see the Emperor himself.
"Emperor Mashita! I assumed you wouldn't be out until the festival began!" Sohyon looked around, as if wondering why no one was star struck by the appearance of the Emperor himself in the middle of a village. Everyone seemed preoccupied with their tasks, which seemed especially bizarre.
"Are you kidding? I've never missed setting up a festival." He smiled as he spoke, which seemed to strike a particular chord with Sohyon. The smile seemed so sincere: the gathering was largely political, but the Emperor seemed to enjoy it so much.
Sohyon looked around before turning back to the Emperor. "Is Empress Ichihara around setting up as well?"
The Emperor shook his head. "No... I don't think she even knows that I come out. I personally can't just sit in my palace waiting for other people to set up a festival, though."
"What can I help with?" Sohyon asked, glancing over at a worker who appeared to be struggling with setting up some paper lanterns.
"Well, you're so dressed up I rather think you should just sit back and watch everyone else work!" The Emperor laughed, though Sohyon noticed he was just as dressed up. "The festival will start in a few hours, maybe go look around the village a bit more? I know you've been here a while, but it's totally different before a festival."
In fact, Sohyon did follow the Emperor's advice. For about three hours, he walked around the village and stared in wonderment at just how much work was going into this gathering. Literally every street was decorated: streamers and paper lanterns lined the streets, with merchants already setting up their stands for when the shoppers would sweep through. Everyone seemed in good spirits, and not because of some lavish party. Rather, it was because of a traditional, down-to-earth festival. Seeing the display of honest labor filled Sohyon with hope. Maybe I can make a peace between these people, the Air Nomad thought.
Eventually, it was time to return to the town center for the beginning of the festival. As Sohyon returned, he saw that people were already lining the streets. The airbender sped up to a light jog, arriving in the center to see that special seats next to each other had been set up for Emperor Mashita and Empress Ichihara. Symbolically, they were each sitting on the side furthest from their nation. They both nodded in acknowledgement as Sohyon entered, prompting Emperor Mashita to stand and speak. "I thank you all for gathering! I know that Ishi Sentō is as eager for a party as any city!" This prompted a laugh from the crowd.
More seriously, Emperor Mashita turned to Sohyon, gesturing for him to come to the front of the mass of people. The airbender obliged, pushing through until he was standing just in front of the two monarchs. "I'm sure you've all heard the rumors about the Tiáotíng Zhě here, but I assure that they are all false!" Whispers broke out in the crowd behind Sohyon, but the Airbender fought to not turn around.
"We meet here," Mashita continued, "to discuss peace! Something that has technically been here for many years, though has never really been apparent." He smiled at Sohyon. "Today, the Tiáotíng Zhě will do his job and mediate the crisis, to reach an agreement!"
After this sentence, Mashita stopped talking. His eyes widened in shock. Blood splattered from the sudden arrow wound in the Emperor's neck onto Sohyon as the Emperor's body lifelessly fell forward.
Sorry this chapter is so short >~<
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