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|Old Enemies, New Allies|
Book 1: Blood
Chapter 3: Old Enemies, New Allies
Argho laid the yuans on the front desk of the hotel. "This should suffice for two nights; we will inform you ahead of time if we intend to stay later."
"Yes, sir." The woman nodded, a smile plastered on her face. "I will call for someone to help you with the luggage. Enjoy your stay at Hama's Point."
The Avatar chuckled and walked back toward the luggage. If only these fools knew who they were venerating with that name...Susanowo's influence is indeed great.
He imagined that taking down Susanowo would be difficult, but with the influence he held, especially in the North, it would be that much more so.
The stone reverberated, and Argho knew the steps of the men coming up behind him. "It would not be wise to attempt anything, here or elsewhere."
"W-we know..." The voice was recognizable, but shaky and full of fear. "We learned that the last time. Please...I implore you to hear us out."
The Avatar turned and noted the men; they were indeed the same ones that attacked him at Kenshin Outpost. "What of my friend?"
"Uh...well...we may have...lost him."
The two men jerked as Argho began to laugh. "That makes sense!" Shen, you're a genius! He quickly grew serious once more, however. "Now, gentlemen, what do you want from me?"
The train station, it seemed, never slept, and trains kept funneling in and out, bringing tourists and travelers to the Northern Water Tribe's metropolis. The noon arrival from Kenshin Outpost was of particular interest to the Ice Man, and his blue ceremonial Spirit armor caused more than a few stares.
"I have honored my end of the bargain, Lord Susanowo; the others—!"
Susanowo raised a hand. "Will come around to it eventually. And you promised me everything; you have not delivered."
"There were...complications. Rest assured, I will have honored my end in full by tomorrow afternoon."
The Spirit of Tempests smiled. "The noon train from Kenshin Outpost...you should not have left so soon."
The Ice Man gritted his teeth. He would fulfill his end of the agreement.
"We can't find what you asked for, sir." One of Susanowo's personal guard knelt before him. "What now?"
"As much as it pains me, I will have to inform Lord Susanowo that we failed. He will know what to do."
Another shiver passed through Shen's body as he realized that his white cloak and dark blue military dress uniform were not cutting it in Northern weather. He watched as a pale-skinned girl walked past him in a thick overcoat.
Envy is not an emotion I should possess... He smacked himself in the head. "It's my stupid fault for not packing right..."
He glanced upward, hoping to find his beacon, and find it he did. NowoCorp Tower loomed above everything else in the city, and Shen wanted an inside look.
A pleasant ring sounded as the door slid open, an easy trick for the company that had industrialized both Water Tribes. The young man made his way to the front desk, intent on getting some answers.
"Welcome to NowoCorp! How may I help you?" The cheery voice of the woman manning the front desk inadvertently caused Shen to smile.
Reminds me of...no...that...that was another life. "Yes, I was told you gave tours of the tower?"
"Why, yes, you just missed one, but if you hurry, you might be able to catch up!"
When his gaze finally focused after being pulled from the past, he noticed something that made his skin crawl. Her face was unnaturally pale, and her eyes were blood-red. Spirits...does Susanowo's entire staff Bloodbend? "Thank you." He hurried away. Argho told me the signs, but...this is one of the few times I've seen it myself.
Catching up to the tour was indeed a chore, as they had already made it to the end of the long, winding hallway and had almost gotten in the elevator without him.
"This lift will take us to the upper levels of the tower, where you will get to see all the work that goes into making everything we do a reality." The tour guide had barely even acknowledged Shen's arrival, but Shen definitely took notice of him. His pale skin and red eyes made it clear what he was.
"And you went to all this trouble to get rooms at the hotel we're staying at too." Argho smirked. "What does your leader want with me?"
The hallway was reaching its end, but Argho had just about had enough of the two men at his side. They feared him, something to be expected after the first encounter, but they still hid much. He wanted answers.
"We're almost there, Avatar Argho; he will explain everything once we arrive."
He'd better... Argho frowned as they stopped in front of the door. He could sense three individuals beyond it, but discerning anything else was difficult.
"You two go in first; I am not exactly trusting, at least when it comes to men who attacked me previously."
Both men shivered. "Y-yes, sir." The door opened, and his escorts immediately put as much distance between the Avatar and themselves as possible. One even almost cowering behind a chair.
A chuckle emanated from the man sitting on the bed. He wore a hooded cloak with the same design as the trenchcoats, and his hair was cut incredibly short. "Come now, you two are grown men running scared from this man, the Avatar. Show some backbone."
"B-but...Master Kuan Ti...look at him!" One of the men pointed at Argho. "He could snap us in two without even thinking!"
"But he won't." The man known as Kuan Ti stood and offered his hand. "Kuan Ti...I trust you got our package on the train?"
Argho shook his hand. "Yes...why did you do that? Who are you?"
Kuan Ti smiled and wrapped his hands behind his back. "Well, those men were Kenshin Outpost guards sent to kill you. Usually assassination isn't their style, but when Kenshin deems it necessary..."
"Kenshin? I thought—!"
"That he was dead? Hardly...he does Susanowo's dirty work, and I have an almost personal grudge with the arbiter of Bloodbending."
Argho took the chair and twisted it around so he could sit. "No more games. If you brought me here, I need to know everything."
"Very well." Kuan Ti knelt before Argho. "Avatar, I humbly ask that you accept us as your allies and use the Equalists as you see fit."
Weapons, amenities, industrialization...while this shows how and why Susanowo is treated with the utmost respect in the Water Tribes, this tour has yet to tell me anything about Susanowo himself!
"And now, for the part of the tour that I'm certain you're all very excited about! We will get to hear what all this has been like from the great Susanowo in the flesh!"
Shen glanced upward. Thank you, spirits, for your impeccable timing!
As the group approached the two massive doors leading to Susanowo's office, the tour guide actually seemed excited. "This is a rare opportunity, ladies and gentlemen. He usually does not allow such things, but today he has made an exception!"
"Indeed I have." Susanowo stood in front of the now open doors.
I didn't even see him do that...is what Argho said really true?
"I cannot take credit for all you see before you; both Water Tribes worked together so that we could build something great. And now, now we are the envy of all nations!"
Clapping rang out, and Shen made eye contact with the Spirit of Tempests. Or rather, Susanowo went out of his way to make eye contact with him. Chills shot up and down his spine; he just wanted this to be over.
I need to get out!
"Yes, my fellow Water Tribe members, my goal is nothing less than our prosperity! I thank you all, including those tourists who have come so far, for joining me here today. I hope that, together, we can continue to make our dream a reality!"
The tour guide smiled and began to usher the group toward the elevator, and Shen wasn't complaining.
"Hold on one moment, young man." Susanowo motioned him back. "Step into my office; I have something to discuss with you."
Spirits, help me! He gripped the hilt of his sword tightly, as if that would save him.
The swinging door, in his mind, signaled his end. No...I'm not even close to done yet! If Susanowo wants a fight, I'll give him one.
"I want to know why my brother would even bother...he had to know that sending you would be a death sentence...Airbender."
"I understand that you have your doubts about us, Avatar Korra." Kuan Ti stood calmly as the room was shaken by the power of the previous Avatar, who had, after his revelation, almost immediately taken over. "But try to understand, I mean Argho no harm. We have similar goals, he and I."
"Yes, Avatar Korra," Argho brought the elements back under his control. "Even Aang had the good sense to let me make my own decisions in regards to Usha. I ask that you trust me now."
A grin played at the edges of Kuan Ti's mouth. "It seems the new Avatar still must lecture the old. I was told that Korra was...hotheaded. Nonetheless, I meant what I said, my friend. My men and resources are at your disposal."
"You know what we're going up against, I take it?"
Kuan Ti nodded.
"Good. But know this: if you give me any reason not to trust you, it will not end well for you."
"I have no reason to betray you; you needn't worry."
Argho smirked. "Fine, just find some men with courage next time."
They shared a laugh. "No, Avatar, you misunderstand. They are trainees."
Another grin. "You are a very cruel taskmaster, Kuan Ti."
- Just to avoid confusion, the Ice Man and the other man in light blue armor are two different people.
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