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|The Ancient Master|
Book 2: Sound
Chapter 5: The Ancient Master
Moro pulled herself out of the water, looking over her shoulder as the train continued on. She grimaced. Kyrie...why wouldn't you fight?
"Daddy! There she is!" A small girl's voice called out. "I told you; she fell from the train!"
The man and his child ran over to Moro. "Are you alright, Miss? My daughter saw you...did you really fall from the—?"
They both gasped as Moro looked up at them, and the girl hid behind her father. The Waterbender cocked her head. "What's wrong?"
"Y-your eyes? They're...blood red!"
"Oh..." She smiled. "That's...that's normal for me. No need to worry!"
"Oh...alright then..." He offered his hand, and Moro took it as she stood. "Well, if you don't mind, we can take you back to our home so you can recover and keep dry."
She shook her head, maintaining her smile. "I don't need to worry about keeping dry." The Waterbender pushed her hands toward the ground, and both father and daughter watched as the liquid that had soaked her clothes coalesced. She was completely dry in seconds.
"Very impressive, Miss..."
"Moro, my name is Moro."
"I'll ask you once more, sir," the Kyoshi Warrior held out her hand, a gesture meant to keep Kuan Ti at bay. "...to step away from us as we conduct our business. This is what we do; let us handle it."
The Equalist shot them his best charming grin. "Now, ladies, I think that—"
Crack! He went face first into the street as she rammed her fist into his jaw.
Shen and Rioku glanced at his fallen form, and both managed to keep their amusement to merely a snicker.
"That felt good." The warrior exhaled and looked at both of them, exhibiting a sardonic smile. "Your friend allowed me to let off some steam. When he gets up, thank him for me."
As the Kyoshi Warriors left with the thieves in tow, Kuan Ti propped himself up and rubbed his jaw. "Tell no one..."
A glint appeared in Rioku's eyes. "No promises."
"Kuan Ti, you were the second to last one I'd expect to be lounging around." Argho walked up to them, all the while carrying two packs. He handed one to Shen. "Make yourself useful. Come on, we need to convene at the hotel before I go to see him."
Shen spoke up. "I want to go with you."
Argho cocked his head. "Why?"
"Well...if this Ancient Master can tell you about the Spirit World, maybe he can do the same for me."
Kuan Ti continued to massage his jaw. "Is this for Otokami...or Moro?"
The Airbender shrugged. "I don't know."
Susanowo ripped the chunk of wood out of his chest, allowing it to seal once more before glancing around at the destroyed train car. He turned to Kenshin and sighed. "Will he never stop?"
The Spirit of Ice frowned. "He has been interfering more than usual these past few decades...I am more concerned about my daughter. It is likely she survived the fall."
The arbiter of Bloodbending shook his head. "It does not matter now. We can only make for Republic City and hope for the best."
"But what if she—?"
"If she returns for her brother, we will be waiting. For now, get your boy up off of the ground and make sure that this train stays its course."
Kenshin picked up Kyrie's unconscious body and nodded. "Yes, Lord Susanowo."
"So...if you don't mind my asking," The man offered Moro a cup of Ginseng tea as his wife sat down beside him, "Why...why did you fall from that train, and, pardon me for asking, but why are your eyes red?"
She pursed her lips as she brought the cup closer. "It's a long story..."
"Moro...if we're going to allow you to stay, my one condition is that you tell us everything. I will not put my family at risk without cause."
The Waterbender nodded. "Do you believe in the spirits, sir?"
He was taken aback. "Well, yes, of course I do, but I don't see what—"
"It has everything to do with it." She narrowed her eyes. "You're asking questions you don't want or need the answer to. All you need to do is find a way for me to get in contact with the Avatar." Her gaze softened. "I'm sorry...that was uncalled for."
The woman placed her hand on Moro's shoulder. "We understand that you are under a lot of pressure, but anything you can tell us would be useful."
The man cocked his head. "What do the spirits have to do with this?"
Moro glanced away. "Sir, please, the less you know, the better. Can you find me a way to contact the Avatar, like a messenger hawk or something?"
His wife chuckled, but quickly put her hand to her mouth. "Messenger hawk? Dear, we have a telephone, you know."
Moro raised an eyebrow. "A what? We don't...we don't have anything called a...telephone in the Northern Water Tribe."
"It's down the hall. Lines run all the way to Ba Sing Se!"
"I'm...I don't know what you're talking about, honestly..." The Waterbender played with her black locks of hair. "Could you show me?"
"I would be happy to, Moro!"
The very same Kyoshi Warrior that had knocked Kuan Ti to the ground met Argho and Shen at the base of Kyoshi Island's one mountain; they learned her name was Hizumi.
"Avatar, I need you to know that we can let you up to see him, but the Airbender cannot be allowed to go with you."
Shen struggled to contain himself. "What do you mean I can't go!?"
"I agree," Argho frowned slightly. "What is the issue with Shen accompanying me to see the Ancient Master?"
Hizumi shook her head. "The Ancient Master cannot be disturbed unless in extreme circumstances; I'm sorry. You are the only one allowed to see him."
"Hizumi..." An armored man with a patterned cape and a katana at his side walked up to them. "It is alright; they can both come."
The Kyoshi Warrior cocked her head. "Are you sure?"
He nodded to her before facing Argho and Shen. "I'm guessing you both have some questions for me? Come on, we can talk when we reach my home."
"What's going on, Dad?" Shen asked as Gyatso, Petrine, and he moved quickly toward the main courtyard.
His father smiled. "You'll see."
They opened a massive door leading into the hub, and Shen marveled at the sheer amount of Airbenders all in one place. Even some from the other temples were there. The true marvel, however, lay in the center of the crowd. A massive, black-armored figure stood tall above the rest.
Shen's eyes widened. "Who is that?"
Gyatso's countenance grew brighter. "You'll see; the elders are about to speak."
Ula, Shen's mother, stood among the elders as they gathered in between the crowd and the armored figure. She cleared her throat and began manipulating the air currents underneath her feet to put herself in view of the assembly.
"Air Nomads, I welcome you to this great celebration! Soon even more of our brothers and sisters will join us! Now, I know that all of you want to know who this is that stands with us, and I will not disappoint!" She indicated the black-armored being with her hand. "I have the pleasure of introducing our patron spirit, the great Lord Otokami, the Spirit of Sound!"
Silence filled the air for several moments as the collective attempted to take in the revelation. Ula touched the ground once more as another elder took to the air.
"Otokami has come to us to further ensure our growth and further bless us! He is the reason that we can all Airbend, and he is here to help us!"
Petrine and Shen stared in awe as the spirit took a step forward, and both instinctively lurched back as a deep, booming voice shook the courtyard.
"THANK YOU, GOOD AIRBENDERS, FOR THIS RECEPTION! I AM HERE TO SERVE, AND I WILL HELP ENSURE THAT YOU THRIVE!"
Petrine exhibited a glint in her eye. "Shen, I think things are going to change."
Moro stared at the telephone for what seemed like hours; they had been nice enough to offer and even nicer to teach her how to use it. Only after learning, though, did she realize that she had no idea where Argho was.
Where would they even go? If I knew that...
Her red eyes burned with anger; she never should have left. And her father...the man who should've been there for her and Kyrie, couldn't care less.
She gritted her teeth and picked up the phone; Moro knew what to do. Twirling the dial, she put the device to her ears.
"Thank you for calling the Ba Sing Se extension of our telephone service. Who would you like us to connect you to?"
The Waterbender took a deep breath. "Yes...I would like you to transfer me to Avatar Argho's residence."
"Yes, one moment."
It wasn't long before Moro heard another voice, but it was not Argho. It was female.
"Hello? Who is this?"
"Um...yes...Ma'am, I am...is Argho there?"
The line was silent for a moment. "No, he is not; he is on a...errand at the moment. He has allowed me use of his residence in his absence."
Moro bit her lip. "Who..." A chill went down her spine. "I'm not speaking to a human, am I?"
Silence. "Who are you, child?"
"I could ask you the same question."
"Now," the voice no longer came from the telephone, but instead from directly behind Moro. The Waterbender whirled around and found herself face-to-face with a stunning, white-haired woman. "That is no way to address the Spirit of Dawn." Usha stared at her for a moment, taking notice of her features. "Ah...you are one of my son's...pets."
Moro narrowed her eyes. "If you have anything to do with Susanowo, I'll—"
The spirit held up her hand. "Calm yourself, child. You bear his mark and the traces of a Bloodbender. Why is it you seek Argho?"
"I need him to help me stop Susanowo and save my brother."
Usha smirked. "And what will you do if you do not know where he is?"
Moro glanced away. "Please...I have to find him! He's the only one who can stop the Spirit of Tempests!"
"That he is." The Spirit of Dawn folded her arms. "And what will you do once you find him? With my son able to control you, you will only be a hindrance."
"He can't control me!" She cried out. "I am tired of saying this!"
Usha smirked. "Such fire...and yet you have nothing to show for all of your talk, Moro Kenshi. You are the daughter of that insignificant lap dog, Kenshin, and you showed your true nature when you nearly killed that Airbender, on Susanowo's order!"
Moro sagged against the wall, sliding down until she met the floor. "Yes...he managed to...to do I don't know what...but he convinced me to...to attack Shen. I'm not denying that. But I'm doing everything I can to make up for it now." The Waterbender glared at the Spirit of Dawn. "So if you're here to throw my mistakes in my face without offering to help, get out! But if you want to tell me where Argho is," Her gaze softened. "Please, I need to find him."
The home of the Ancient Master was really more of a small hovel at the top of the mountain, and it took them about an hour to get there. Argho and Shen both stepped inside as he opened the door for them.
"Now, feel free to ask your questions, and I will do my best to answer." The three of them sat around a small table.
"To start with," Shen began. "Why do they...please don't take this the wrong way, Sir, but why do they call you 'ancient'?" The Airbender glanced at the man, who only had a few streaks of gray in his brown hair. "You don't look older than fifty, and even that's a stretch."
The Ancient Master chuckled. "I am actually one-hundred and eighty-two years old, believe it or not. So I've been around."
"That is impressive!" Argho leaned forward. "So you were alive before Avatar Korra, then!"
"I was. In fact, I knew Avatar Aang." The old man turned to examine a photo on his shelf for moment. "But you are not here for the memories of an old swordsman. Ask your questions."
Argho was the first to speak. "Do you deal with spiritual matters, Ancient Master?"
He nodded. "When it is necessary, yes."
"Then I have an imp—"
"You are referring to the disturbance, the tear we felt, am I correct?"
The Avatar nodded. "Yes, is it another spirit?"
"No." The Ancient Master shook his head. "This is the work of someone else entirely."
Argho's chair slid backward as he stood. "Wait—what are you talking about? I'm the Avatar; if there's something wrong—"
Another chuckle escaped the old man. "Argho, calm yourself. This is not your fight; that is being left to others. It is their path, their journey. Now, settle down."
Shen cocked his head. "But what if they...what if these other people need our help?"
The old man held up his hand. "Like I said, it is their battle, not yours. But I sense you have an entirely different thing on your mind, Airbender."
"Well...I just..." He glanced away. "No...I will handle this myself."
The Ancient Master smiled. "Are you sure? I'm open to anything you have to ask."
"No...this is my fight."
The sage nodded knowingly. "I can respect that; I was much the same way when I was your age." His gaze moved to the sword at his side. "Do you know how to use the weapon on your belt?"
Shen raised an eyebrow. "Yes, I do. Why do you ask?"
He moved toward the door. "If you don't mind, how about indulging me in a little duel?"
- Sorry for the delay on this chapter. Exams have been kicking my rear lately.
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