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Book 2: Sound
Chapter 4: Warriors
The sight that greeted Team Avatar was that of an island with several massive platforms jutting out from it. Kyoshi Island faced them now in all of its glory. Over the past week, they had taken to land after finding Rioku and moved to the edge of the Earth Kingdom. From there it only took a couple of hours on another boat to reach the island.
Kuan Ti narrowed his eyes. "Why are we stopping here? We need to get to the Fire Nation before the Air Nation does."
Rioku raised an eyebrow. "What's with you? You're acting like Shen."
"Now wait—!" The Airbender began.
"We already let one spirit through the cracks, Rioku." The Equalist continued. "And we can't in good conscience go after him while the Fire Nation is in trouble. I'm sure Argho's brought you up to speed by now on the details."
The Earthbender nodded. "He did, but I'm still not particularly ecstatic about having to go to the Fire Nation in the first place; we could use a breather here."
"While I'm usually one for times of reflection, time is a luxury we don't have." Shen gripped his sword as the cold spray of the sea hit him in the face.
Rioku leaned against the railing. "Then ask Argho when he's done meditating; he might allow us to bypass Kyoshi Island entirely."
"I will do no such thing." The Avatar stood in the doorway that led below deck. "I felt a disturbance...something is not right with the world. I need to find out what I felt, but to do that, I need to pay a visit to someone on Kyoshi Island."
Shen cocked his head. "Who?"
"The Ancient Master."
Moro stared out of the window as the train barreled toward Republic City, carrying the Spirit of Tempests and his upper echelon. Her father—although she hated using that word—was in the next car over, and Kyrie sat down beside her.
"It has been so long since we've talked, Moro..." His voice cracked with emotion. "I was afraid that I would never be able to see you again..."
She pursed her lips. "Kyrie...why has it taken you this long to talk to me? We...we haven't spoken in months!"
The sun shone through the window and glinted off of his light blue armor. "I know...I didn't...didn't want you to see me like this. I never wanted you to get involved in this; I tried to convince Kenshin to let you go! But he wouldn't listen!" His tone grew louder and louder. "You should've run from Susanowo!"
"I couldn't." The Bloodbender gripped the window sill.
"Why? You've proven that he can't control you like he can do to the rest of us!"
She faced him. "I joined him to save you, Kyrie!"
He stood and turned away. "How foolish of you, sister..."
"Oh, so it's foolish to try and save you!? Kyrie, we could leave...Argho can help us..."
"Where was that attitude when you stabbed your friend?" His eyes widened. "Susanowo told me you killed him!"
Moro furrowed her brow. "What is wrong with you? I was...confused!"
"All you've proven is that you are just as susceptible to his control as any of us!" His fist splintered the wooden window sill. "I tried, Moro...same as you...and I failed!"
"Argho can help us. I know it. We can't let Susanowo tear us apart again, and I can't let him take Republic City!"
"Kenshin," the voice of the Spirit of Tempests moved through the train cart. "Why is it your brood has caused me so much ill will?"
Shen and Petrine walked along the edge of the Southern Air Temple, anxiously awaiting the beginning of the first meeting of representatives from all four temples in fifty years. Shen was also excited because of his upcoming birthday. He would soon be eighteen, old enough to begin to think about his future.
Being an Airbending master—all thirty-six tiers were under his belt—allowed him to choose, if he so desired, the position of an instructor.
He sighed. "It's so close, Petrine..."
She had also mastered all of the tiers, and routinely worked with her father, who was a member of the Southern Council.
"Do what makes you happy, Shen. If you want to teach, then teach."
He smiled. "Thanks for that, but what I think I really want to do is work with my mother, maybe even take her place as Republic City Council member when the time comes."
The twenty-two year old shrugged. "My advice is still the same."
The young man jumped up onto the railing and continued walking. "You know...you didn't have to antagonize Hoska again..."
"Do you know why I do that, Shen?"
He smiled warmly. "No, Petrine...why do you torture our former instructor?"
"Because," She turned to face Shen. "He refuses to admit that we did anything wrong before the Hundred Year War. He refuses to see that we should've opened ourselves to our emotions..."
"Well, there's nothing we can do about it now. We should just—"
"Shen...stop. I've heard everything you're about to say before, and none of it makes me feel any better. Our nation was almost wiped out by Sozin and his precious Fire Nation, yet when Avatar Aang had the chance to mete out justice, he refused."
"Justice...Petrine, I think—"
"Children!" Gyatso barreled towards them with an air wheel, and Shen rolled his eyes.
"Dad, we aren't kids anymore."
His father shook his head and chuckled. "We'll discuss that later; you both need to come with me!"
Petrine cocked her head. "What's going on, Master Gyatso?"
"Just follow me."
The four members of Team Avatar stepped onto the dock, greeted by the hustle and bustle of the port city of Oyaji. Once an isolated village, it gained in both size and popularity after the conclusion of the War of Kings; now it hosted merchants as well as tourists. It was also famous for its swordsmanship dojo, The Meteorite Dojo.
Rioku took a deep breath. "It's been too long, Argho. How long ago did you and I come here?"
The Avatar glanced around. "I'd say six or seven years by now."
Kuan Ti threw his cloak over his shoulders. "Well, I for one am eager to get this over with, so let's find this 'Ancient Master'."
"We'll be a few days, my friend." Argho began moving toward the customs booth. "So you'd better find us some lodging."
The Equalist sighed. "Fine...Shen, Rioku, let's go..."
They made their way toward the edge of the port authority section; the Earthbender began absentmindedly cracking his knuckles.
"I think there are some hotels to the left as soon as we get out of here."
Kuan Ti nodded. "The sooner we get this done, the better."
"Why are you so eager to get to the Fire Nation?" Shen asked. "I mean, not that I don't agree with you..."
"You want to know? The sooner we deal with all of this, the sooner we can get back to ending Susanowo. I told you once that I held a grudge against the creator of Bloodbending, but as to why...well, he—"
"—used it to control Amon, as he would any of his other subjects. Is that it?" Rioku frowned.
"Yes...the Equalists under Amon's leadership set relations between benders and non-benders back decades." His voice grew. "I mean, it's been over a century since Korra defeated him, and they still hate and distrust us!"
"Finally..." Shen smirked. "All of our secrets are out in the open, at least in part."
Kuan Ti gritted his teeth. "Yeah? Well, let's just find a place to stay. Maybe we'll continue this later."
"Lord Susanowo," the Ice Man gave a slight bow. "How would you like me to...discipline...my daughter?"
The spirit sighed. "I am tired, Kenshin...have Kyrie do it. I will have one of the Chosen, at the very least." He stepped backward and turned toward the door. "I expect this to be done promptly."
Moro's eyes widened. "Wait...no!"
The Spirit of Ice gestured to his son. "Kill her."
Kyrie moved his gaze to his sister, and beads of sweat slid down his face as he lifted his hands. "Moro...I'm sorry..."
She felt his Bloodbending grip enclose around her, and it was all she could do to keep him from snapping her in half. Shen...I'm so sorry...
His voice shook. "Moro...I can't..." The armored Bloodbender drew water from the air into an ice ball, which he used to drive a hole in the wall of the train. The wind whipped throughout the train car as the vehicle banked around a sharp turn, exposing a cliff that led to a large lake.
Both of them felt the air get colder, and Moro was filled with a sense of dread.
"If you cannot do this, I will!" Ice spikes formed on his knuckles. "Susanowo will not tolerate disobedience!"
The door shattered as Susanowo flew backward through it into their train car followed by a wisping trail of blue fire, and a blinding light revealed the silhouette of a young man. The light soon dissipated, exposing a familiar face to the two spirits, Lu Ten.
Before Susanowo could get entirely to his feet, another blast from a golden-eyed young man slammed into his chest and drove him to the floor again. Kenshin whirled, and Kyrie used the confusion to his advantage, resting his gaze on his sister's face.
"I am so sorry...maybe you'll have a better chance with the lake..."
She furrowed her brow as tears formed in her eyes. "What are you—?"
Her breath was stolen away when he shoved forward and sent her flying out of the train and toward the water below.
Kuan Ti sipped his lychee juice while sitting across from Rioku and Shen. They had found a place to stay, The Lotus, and made reservations. Now they occupied their time while waiting for Argho to return from the customs station.
"I wonder what Argho needs to see this 'Ancient Master' for..." Shen manipulated a tiny sphere of air above his hand absentmindedly. "I hope it's not another spirit; we have our hands full as it is."
Rioku narrowed his eyes. "I'm actually interested to meet this...Susanowo...and put a rock through his chest. You guys make it sound like he's powerful."
"He is." Kuan Ti again raised his glass to his lips. "I've fought him twice now, and each time he's easily outclassed me."
"You said your master was dead." The Earthbender's eye patch came into view as he gazed down the street. "Did Susanowo kill him?"
The Equalist frowned. "No...Zhan and I found his body filled with bullet holes on Whaletail Island...we had a base there, but he was supposed to have met with an Airbender..."
The sphere in Shen's hand dissipated immediately. "Who?"
Kuan Ti shook his head. "I don't know...it had something to do with Republic City and representation. All I know is that he never made it; someone murdered him first."
Rioku nodded. "Not to step on any toes, but does the Air Nation ever use firearms?"
The Airbender shook his head, a sick feeling growing in the pit of his stomach. "No. We've never even considered manufacturing them. We have...other weapons that are far more potent."
A commotion arose down the street, and all three heads turned to see two men sprinting down the street with coin purses in their hands and a shopkeeper desperately trying to pursue. Kuan Ti motioned for Rioku and Shen to stay seated as he himself stood and removed one of his revolvers from its holster.
The thieves barreled down the road, but soon ran into the non-bender as he stepped out into the street, gun raised to eye level.
"I would drop those if I were you and walk away. Now."
Their eyes widened, but before they could make a move one way or another, three slim forms slipped out of the crowd and began striking them in precise pressure points. The two men dropped like rocks, and Kuan Ti finally got a good view of the warriors. They wore thin armor, dark green in color, and had katanas at their hips. The most defining feature, however, was the face paint they wore, somehow making them even more intimidating.
One of the women faced Kuan Ti. "Thank you for your help, citizen, but I would suggest that you put that gun away. The Kyoshi Warriors can handle things from here."
Zhan grabbed the last of the bags off of the boat, preparing to take them to The Lotus. Argho was still clearing their things through customs, but the quiet allowed the Equalist to think.
I trust Kuan Ti's judgment; working with Argho could finally lend us some legitimacy.
"Pardon me...but would you be a member of the Equalists?"
Zhan whirled around to find a man with a deep purple cloak standing next to him. "Who are you, and how do you know me?"
The man bowed. "My apologies. I simply noticed your cloak and connected the dots."
The Equalist's hand went to the kali stick hanging from his belt. "Who. Are. You?"
"My name is Lin Quei, and I have a proposition for you."
Zhan raised an eyebrow. "What in the world could I possibly offer you?"
"I appreciate that the Equalists have continued the good fight in my absence, but I think that it is time for us to...become more aggressive in our endeavors."
"Are you dense?" Zhan narrowed his eyes. "I don't know you, and I'm certainly not interested in anything you have for us! I won't betray Kuan Ti's trust so easily, and I'm insulted that you think I would."
Lin Quei chuckled. "I am sorry if you misunderstood me; I never asked, nor intended, for you to betray anyone. However, should you wish to know more about who I am and what I want, you will be able to find me in Republic City. If you happen to arrive there, I will know. We can arrange a meeting if you so desire."
The Equalist shook his head. "Sorry, but I don't see that happening."
"You know where to find me if you change your mind, Zhan."
- After a month of inactivity, IAE is back! I decided to take mercy on my poor readers, so a few secrets are now out in the open.
For the collective works of the author, go here.