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June 5, 2012
"Ow," said the enigmatic teenage prodigy.
"WHEEE-AHHHHH!" shouted the hyperactive, constantly moving, toddler.
"This is fun!" said his older, yet still hyperactive sister.
Meelo was perched on Tai's shoulders, his short legs dangling in front of him, he held onto fistfuls of the boy's hair, and was trying to steer him around like a car. Tai was slightly hunched over, and was too overpowered to resist. Mainly because of the little girl wrapped around his left shin.
Another girl, sitting cross-legged on a flat rock nearby, flipped a page in her book as she chuckled to herself.
As he was spun around by the two children, he tried a glance at Jinora. "I-agh- see you won't help in any way?"
"They like you, and it's fun to watch."
"Why does this happen to me?" he groaned.
Meelo slapped him in the head; he grumbled and glared at the boy as best he could.
"You're an air bender, why aren't you having fun!"
"I have different ideas of fun, Meelo." The child laughed as his grip tightened on Tai's hair.
The girl clinging onto his leg looked up at him, a question forming.
"Yeah, you aren't very fun!"
"I can be fun, just let me go and I'll show you." He put on a cheery smile.
The two of them momentarily stopped what they were doing, and looked at each other. Tai sighed, glad the ordeal was over.
Suddenly the assault renewed, and he gritted his teeth and bore it.
"Kids! Dinner!" a voice called from inside.
They dropped from him instantly, running towards the warm glow of the house's interior.
Jinora closed the book and got off the rock, walking after them. "Come on, Tai."
He dusted himself off, and gingerly rubbed the spots of abuse where Meelo had purchase. He followed her into a narrow hall, with the floor made of polished wooden boards. The walls were a warm creamy white, with dark brown beams lining them.
He followed Jinora through a sliding door left of the entrance outside, walking into a large rectangular space, with the central part of the floor covered by a low-lying table, currently Pema and the two younger siblings were sitting at it. In front of them was a massive bowl of broth, with chunks of vegetables and meat lazily drifting on its surface, tracing hazy lines.
Meelo was staring at the massive bowl, while Pema was busy spooning it out to their bowls. Jinora slid her bowl over to it, and Tai did the same uncertainly.
Once all bowls were full, she filled her own, sighing with content as she sat back down onto her seat. Meelo slurped his soup noisily, getting a few laughs from Ikki, who was busy dissolving pieces of bread into hers.
Jinora sipped hers gracefully, Tai was cautious, taking a few spoonfuls every now and then. He watched as Jinora broke off a piece of bread, dunking it into her bowl and chewing at the end.
"Jinora, can you pass the bread?"
She slid the loaf over to Tai, he grabbed the knife laid next to his bowl, cutting a moderate slice off of the loaf. He slid it back to its original position, folding his slice and putting it into his bowl.
"Hey Tai, how'd you get to Republic City?"
He stopped, spoon raised halfway to his waiting mouth. Jinora had put down her book, and was looking at him with curiosity.
"The Kama mountains, up north."
"Wait, you walked all the way?"
"Pretty much, stopped at a few villages and towns along the way when I couldn't go any further."
"So why did you come?"
"I'm looking for someone," he said with a frosty tone.
Pema noticed this, looking at Jinora. "I think that's enough for now sweetie. Maybe he'll tell you later. Ask nicely."
"Okay mom!" she said brightly, going back to her soup in an instant.
The knots in Tai's stomach released a little as she stopped questioning him. Good, don't want to get into that now, possibly never.
They all continued eating, moments of quietness punctuated by Meelo or Ikki laughing as they made a mess or funny shape with their bread.
Pema sighed as she watched them do this, a tired smile on her face.
With a clatter Meelo had finished his bowl, smacking his lips and running off goodness knows where. Ikki followed him, presumably to watch his antics.
She sighed again as Jinora and Tai finished their bowls. "I've got to teach them how to sit still."
"Mom, I don't think that's possible."
She sighed even more despondently. "I know."
Tai had emptied his bowl, and deposited the knife and spoon in it, placing them on top of the plate that had held his slices.
"I'll help clean up." He offered.
"Oh. Thanks Tai."
Jinora offered Pema her empty bowl and plate, helping her gather Ikki and Meelo's into a stack. Tai his as well, placing them on top. He grabbed the whole thing.
"Where can we clean these?"
Jinora went to leave the room. "That was good soup mom."
She disappeared into the main hallway, heading upstairs to her room.
Pema walked off through a doorway in the other direction, with Tai trailing behind trying to balance the pile. It opened onto another hallway, this one much smaller than the other one, close by was a sliding door, which she slid open and headed through. Tai followed her into a kitchen area, the walls had brown wooden panelling, and the room was dominated by two long benchs, a shorter one ran parallel to them, and held a sink. She turned the hot tap, opening the pipes for hot water to stream through, coming out of the tap and splashing down onto the bottom of the basin. She grabbed a cloth.
"Over here Tai." She pointed to a space on the bench left of the sink. Tai nodded, carefully placing the pile down, quickly stopping the bowl on top from falling off. She took it from him and placed it under the running water, washing the dregs of soup into the drain. She placed it on the rack that dominated the right of the sink.
Tai grabbed a tea towel from a hanger nearby and wiped it all over the bowl, drying up excess liquid and it leaving dry and ready to go back into the cupboard.
"Thanks for the help, Tai."
"Don't worry about it, I'm usually stuck doing it wherever I go."
"So, your fourth child?"
"Yes, I've got my fingers crossed she won't be a bender."
"What's wrong with bending?"
"Nothing!" she said quickly. "Well, having three kids who control the wind is very stressful sometimes."
"That's a good point."
"Tenzin said that too."
"So...know what I can expect from him in training?"
"Lots of bruises, broken bones, and tears."
"I've dealt with it before."
"I thought you would have."
They continued washing the bowls and cutlery in silence, punctuated by Tai opening the cabinet nearby to place them in. He heard Pema curse softly.
"We left the soup pot on the table, Tai can you please empty it outside and bring it back to me?"
"Don't take too long."
He closed the cupboard, placing the tea towel near Pema. He walked back into the dining room towards the table. He grabbed the heavy soup bowl with a grunt, and held it flat in front of him. Slowly, he walked out into the main corridor, going back outside.
The stars were shining now, and studded the black night sky as they twinkled with a brilliance quite unlike anything else. He ignored the spectacle, focusing on tipping the soup into a drain nearby.
As the soup fell past the thick iron grates he heard a chattering sound nearby. He turned to look at the commotion, noticing a small white creature sitting on the ground nearby, watching him with massive green eyes. It had massive ears which hung to its waist, and it sniffed the sweet aroma of the soup being tipped with a tiny black nose. It moved forward a bit on two thin and long arms, resting on its knuckles.
Tai shrugged and stopped tipping the soup away. Better it goes to someone in need than down the drain he reasoned.
He set the bowl down in front of his feet, and pushed it gently towards the small creature. It sniffed vigorously, eyeing him for a split second before dashing forward, lapping at the warm mixture.
He leant back against a corner support, watching the stars while waiting for his furry friend to finish his job for him.
He didn't have a chance to stop and actually think about where he was until now. He was certainly in a better way than before, now he actually had a place to stay, a teacher to train with, and dare he say it, people who'd back him up. He wasn't sure, but he thought he made a friend in Jinora, Pema, and Korra. And he intent on keeping it going.
And yet...he still wasn't satisfied, he hadn't done what he came to the city for, the bastard was still breathing, and Tai knew he wouldn't be able to rest until he had ended him. He needed training though, and he knows it.
The bowl clattered, drawing his attention. Some of the soup was left behind, making Tai shrug. He picked it up, tipping the remainder down the drown and turning to head back inside.
A noise, or rather, the absence of noise stopped him. There was nothing, no chattering, no laughter from the sentries quarters, nothing. Just the lonely wind which blew constantly over the island.
He heard a crash inside, and dropped the bowl, charging towards the warm light of the doorway. A masked figure greeted him, he didn't show his surprise, merely dropping into a sliding kick the first chance he got.
The masked man was too slow to dodge it, and was thrown to the floor; he tried to get up, warranting a punch in the face to knock him out. He recognized the green lenses and brown material. Equalists.
Stopping for a moment, he noticed the house was completely silent, not good. He ran down the hallway, turning left towards the kitchen door. He was about to enter when an arm slammed into his face, he spluttered and coughed as he tipped back, landing with a crash on his back.
Pema peered around the doorway, a look of savage triumph on her. It soon changed to a sheepish look as she realised who she hit.
As he lay there on the floor, Tai was mumbling. "How much abuse does my face need to take?..."
"Tai! Sorry about that!"
"No problem happens all the time. How many are there?"
"I have no clue, and I don't know where they are or what they're after."
"I'll see if I can takedown a few, Pema, can you stay here please?"
"I'm won't stay here while my kids are still out there-"
"I know that, and I'll be quick."
He stalked back down the hallway, rubbing the large red welt on his cheek.
He ran up the staircase, trying to draw attention to himself. He found himself at an intersection at the top, with four corridors leading away from the staircase. He looked down the closest one, and saw a gloved hand holding onto the open windowsill.
He ran forward, just as another Equalist came into view, flipping over the windowsill and flinging a smoke grenade at him, he ducked as it whizzed over his head, and clattered down the other end of the hallway. Tai came back up, kicking him in the stomach, there was no reaction as the Equalist grabbed his leg and spun him around, flinging him to the floor. Tai rolled quickly, watching an eskrima stick slam into the floorboards where his head was, he raised himself up and swept his leg around, catching his feet and dragging the Equalist to the floor. He sprang up, and kicked the man in the face, his body went limp and he slackened.
Tai threw the door nearby open, hoping to find Jinora inside. The room was devoid of life, and with a curse he went back towards the stairs, only to see the door in the opposite hallway fling open. Another Equalist was thrown into the hallway, crashing into the wall with a sigh.
Jinora flipped a loose strand of hair out of her face, holding onto a staff with other as she walked out into the hallway.
"Tai! What's going on?"
"I think they're Equalists. Do you know where Ikki and Meelo ran to?"
"I saw them from my window, they were going towards the training area."
Tai faltered. "Ca-can you show me?"
Jinora rolled her eyes, heading downstairs. "Come on."
Tai followed her down into the main hallway, heading past the empty dining room. They reached the front door.
"Take the left path here and keep going, you'll know its the right way when there's a bamboo forest around you, the path will open onto a clearing, that's the training area.
She took a step outside when Tai halted her.
"You need to stay here with your mom."
"Ikki and Meelo are over there!"
"There's no need for you come along."
"They're my brother and sister!"
"You need to stay here and make sure no more Equalists come in."
"I-" her protests died away as she thought rationally about it. "Alright."
Tai ran outside, "I'll be back with them soon!"
He took the path Jinora described, his breathing audible as he pumped his arms to get speed. As he ran he noticed shadowy shapes moving in the forest and landscape nearby. His eyes narrowed as he ran past the first of a massive thicket of bamboo stalks. He kept on going, following a bend in the path as it went right.
It straightened and widened into a circular space. In the open space ahead was raised circular dais, a maze of boards, decorated with ancient Air Nomad insignia and writing, covered the top. They were the focus of the area, and he saw three Equalists advancing towards them.
Suddenly a line of gates on one side spun furiously as the air around them was whipped into a fury, it blasted outwards, catching one of them in the chest and flinging him away.
The other two Equalists advanced cautiously, grabbing smoke grenades from their belts. Tai ran faster, making as much noise as possible to draw them away from the dais. The one closest to him turned around and threw the silver canister at him. He swiped his right arm outwards, using a gust of air to send the grenade tumbling away from him. The Equalist ran towards him, drawing a long black staff in the process. The head of the staff was aiming for his head, so he ducked, dashing forward with a blast of air for help. The staff was suddenly dropped and his side burned as he felt several jabs land in quick succession.
He growled turning towards his agile foe to direct a blast at him. His arm stung all over as his nerves felt like fire. He cried out and twisted over in pain, giving the Equalist an opening to step back from him. He found himself facing the discarded staff, and went for it, throwing it at the Equalist. It found nothing but air as it clattered on the ground near the other one.
He turned, distracted momentarily by the weapon. Suddenly the gates were spun around again as a massive wind-blast drove into him, picking him up and throwing him to the edge of the clearing.
He heard a cheer come from within the forest of gates, but couldn't focus on it. The burning had died down and he sprang back up, putting his all into a massive sweeping arc of fire. It slammed into his enemy, scorching the leather armor and sending him crashing to the ground, unconscious and beaten.
He nodded, and went to the dais. He saw the gates spin furiously again. And he held his arms up. "Guys! It's Tai!"
They slowed to a halt, and he heard a clattering and shaking as the two children came out towards him. The two of them were on edge, and he had to calm them down.
"Hey." he knelt down to their height, looking them in the eyes. "It's fine, they're knocked out cold, and I think that was all of them."
He whipped his head around as he heard shouting and saw the light of a lantern cast long shadows into the bamboo stalks.
Three men dressed in blue and white armor ran into the clearing, and they all had a curious look on them.
"What happened here?" the lead one, a stocky and solidly built man asked. His stern green eyes boring into Tai.
"Three of them tried to ambush Ikki and Meelo. They failed."
The short man nodded. "Police will be here soon to take them away."
"What's going on?"
"They've finally decided to break cover, key spots all over the city have reports of masked figures attacking citizens, primarily benders. Arenas been hit the hardest though."
Wait. The Arena?
"I've got to get over there!"
"Unless you're a water bender, I don't see that happening, boy."
Tai rolled his eyes, and stood up. He looked at Meelo and Ikki. "These guys will take you to the house, Jinora and Pema are there."
"What about you?" Ikki asked.
"I've got a match to be at."
He nodded to the White Lotus guards, and dashed back down the path. A million thoughts were racing through his head, most of these were centered around a burning revenge, while surprisingly a fair few were centered around concern.
He shook his head clear, trying to focus on the reason he came to the city for. He cleared the bamboo, and ran past the house. He stopped for a moment, noticing the folded glider that was leaning against a corner post. Tenzin must have left it behind.
He grabbed it without a thought, and looked around for the highest point on the island. There was a massive hill that rose up nearby, casting its shadow over a meticulously kept garden.
He ran through the garden, using a path that cut straight through. It went up, running up the incline towards the crest of the hill. Once the ground leveled out, he found himself staring at a sea of stars above, absolutely stunning in their brilliance. He gasped for air, taking a minute to stop.
He looked out towards the bright lights of the city, and noticed a few plumes of smoke intermingled among the warm yellow glow. He looked right, seeing the golden arena standing on its lonesome, hosting the largest smoke plume of all. He narrowed his eyes in concentration, and shook the glider, it opened out, forming a fan like shape.
Holding onto a crossbeam at the front of the glider with his right hand, he ran forwards, forming a cushion of air underneath him with his left. The ground dropped away as he the compressed air rushed upwards. As he began to fall back to earth he grabbed onto the glider with both hands now, and directed his bending through it.
He glided across the dark waters of yue bay, heading towards the pro bending arena.
The lower parts of the platform holding the arena were a maze of piers and tunnels, almost impossible to navigate without a map. On a walkway hugging the eastern face sat two Equalists.
"Sounds pretty rough in there." Lagi said.
Maro had his arms crossed, watching the waters lap against the poles beneath them. "It does."
He squinted, noticing a tiny imperfection in his view of the bay.
"He's getting serious about our goals. Had to happen sooner or later."
"Did we need to do what we did back there?" Lagi asked, referring to the burning police boats that encircled the arena.
"Amon's orders. He says we do it, then we do it."
"Alright," he said with a dejected tone.
The imperfection grew larger, and he thought he could see a trail of disturbed water under it.
"I should get a souvenir while I'm here, for Nari."
"Is that really a priority?"
Lagi shrugged. "We are stuck watching a empty walkway."
Maro actually thought that was a good point. "Lieutenant told us to keep watch down here and we will."
"You can cover for me can't you?"
Maro sighed. "I don't think it's a good idea Lag-"
Something dropped into the water in front of them, spraying them with froth.
Lagi stopped what he was doing, and got up immediately. He looked over at Maro with a question.
The surface of the water broke, and the green goggles of the lieutenant were looking at them. The rest of his body followed, and he swam to the posts. He climbed up them with no effort, and looked at the two Equalists.
"We're leaving." he calmly stated.
The sound of rushing wind reached them, and as one they all turned around to face the sea. A figure hanging onto an orange wing flew towards them at a frightening speed, the glider twisted as it passed between them, heading up to the surface level of the platform.
The lieutenant pointed upwards, and left them, running up a stairwell nearby. Maro and Lagi looked at each other, and followed him.
Tai dropped onto the pavement with a thud. He hid the glider behind an abandoned stand, and ran towards the arena. As he got closer he heard the crackle of fires burning, and screams of people trapped inside. He tried to put it out of mind, and failed. Gritting his teeth he ran alongside the side of the arena, trying to find a way up that would get him to the top of the glass dome.
He stopped as he found a way up. He saw the beginning of a balcony stretching a long way down the length of the building, with another above it doing the same thing. About seventy meters above it was the edge of the arena's roof. He used a push of air to get him within reach of the balcony, he held his arm out towards the rail lining, managing to get a good grip on it. Holding himself up with one had wasn't doable for long, so he swung himself up onto it, now hugging the rail with his entire body. He cautiously stood up, preparing to hoist himself up to the second balcony, one more push of air and he got a hold on the bottom of it. Quickly he used another push to get himself higher, tumbling awkwardly over the rail and onto the floor.
From here he had a clear way to the roof. He didn't hang around for any doors to open, he ran towards the wall and sprang upwards, his hands getting a hold on a pipe running to the top. He climbed up it, the metal clanging slightly as it held his weight. With a grunt of effort he grabbed onto the edge, dangling for a moment before he pulled himself up quietly.
He rolled before getting up, and was treated to a spectacle. Above the arena hung an airship, different in style and theme to the ones issued to the police. He guessed that it was probably stolen from them, repainted and modified enough to be a completely different variant. The balloon which held the helium mix had a crimson skin, with the Equalist symbol plastered on the bottom. A steel box clung to the bottom of the balloon, and its windows glowed from the inside with warm orange light. He saw four cables dangling from it, and saw a familiar figure falling in between them towards the dome.
He ran towards the now broken glass dome, only to be waylaid by a familiar stinging sensation in his back, he fell forwards onto the cement, gritting his teeth in pain.
He rolled back up and turned around, facing the man from the steam tunnel. He ran forwards, using a blast of fire to deter a frontal hit, the masked man dodged it by rolling to the side, and drove at him with the other stick. He threw himself backwards, seeing the sparking tip of the weapon brush against his cuff. The man responded with a vicious kick to his side, and Tai tried to twist out of the way, and tried to grab his boot. He got a weak hold, and wrenched it away from him, so that it hit thin air.
The man pulled it back, now on two feet again, he used the moment to step into a half-spin, retaliating with his other foot. This one connected properly, hitting him on the chest.
The air was taken from his lungs as he was flung away by the force. He gasped for air, and moved his hands in a circular gesture, using a technique to get oxygen into him quickly. He felt a horrible drowning sensation as air was shoved down his throat. Shaking his head he got back up, and threw his arms out from him. The lieutenant had both batons at this point, and was running towards him.
Tai smirked and brought them together, creating a massive blast of fire that streamed towards his foe. The Lieutenant couldn't get away in time, and was thrown five meters by the impact.
With his opponent taking care of for the moment he looked back at the airship, the cables were retracting slowly, as two Equalists made a mad dash for them. He shook his head as an aching sensation made itself known. He hissed as his arm began to hurt terribly, he cradled it against his chest, and limped towards the dome. He looked around it, trying to find a sign of Korra. Nothing.
He saw a stairwell nearby and headed towards it. Taking the steps two at a time. The door at the bottom was locked, he growled, blowing the door off of its hinges with an uncontrolled gust of air. He stepped through, nudging aside a few fragments as he did so. The hallway it connected to was an absolute wreck, the wall that ran opposite where he stood was gone, replaced with a massive rent that revealed the support structure of the arena seats. In front of him was a bare rectangular tunnel, cutting through the seats and opening out at the other side of them. He heard a massive chorus of voices from the arena, some were crying, others were angry, and all were terrified.
He limped through the tunnel, keeping his bad arm steady as he approached the other end. He emerged from it, blinking rapidly as his eyes adjusted to the bright floodlights dominating his vision. He looked to his left, and groaned inwardly.
He thought about giving her the silent treatment again, he was certain she wouldn't rough him up in public...maybe? He decided against it, couldn't be bothered.
"I thought he'd be here."
"Yeah well, you just missed him, he escaped in the airship." she sighed. "He played me."
Tenzin walked over to them, with Korra following. He put a hand on her shoulder. "Lin, stop blaming yourself."
"Why not? I forced the council to make a decision, and look what happened. A damn crisis."
"We'll catch him, and put a stop to his plans."
"I was hoping for something more grounded than that."
"I'm a air bender, grounded is not my thing."
Tenzin looked at Tai. "I thought I told you to stay at the sanctuary?"
"The Equalists were there-" Tenzin tried to interrupt. "-They're fine. Master."
He breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank you."
A lance of pain drove up his side. His hand shot to his side, and he gritted his teeth.
Korra looked concerned for a second, before giving him a smirk. "Who roughed you up on the way here?"
"Some guy who loves using sticks to hit people."
"Him? I remember kicking him off the roof. He must have climbed back up to escape, did he reach the airship?"
"Nope, I left him lying there. He'll probably be back."
A pair of metalbenders rushed up to them. They snapped of salutes at Tenzin and Lin. "Chief, we need some assistance out there."
Lin nodded. "I'll be there shortly." She nodded goodbyes to each of them, and left with the two officers through the tunnel.
Tenzin sighed, and his shoulders dropped with weariness.
"I take it we'll be going now?"
"You take it correctly, Korra. Let's go home."
Tai spoke up as they walked back. "Had enough of this place."
Oogi landed softly, and Tenzin dismounted first. He walked around to the bison's face, patting his nose as he grabbed the reins, steering him towards a cavernous stable nearby. Pema and the kids ran out of the house.
Jinora and Ikki got to him first, wrapping around him as he stroked Oogi's fur.
"Are you all alright?"
"We're fine, Daddy." Ikki buried her face into his shin.
"Tai helped us." Jinora stated.
He waved wearily as he stood next to Korra.
Pema smiled at Tenzin. "How about you?"
"Just a few scratches, dear."
"That's what you always say."
"It's what I always get."
She chuckled and gave him a warm hug. "I'm glad your safe."
Korra tapped Tai's shoulder, beckoning for him to follow her.
"Where are we going?"
She punched him on the shoulder. "We have separate quarters idiot."
She led him up the path, past the fork that led to the training area. It hugged the edge of the bamboo thicket as it wound left. A wooden bridge over a small creek of clear water led to a group of four separate buildings, each one about the size of the main house's dining room.
She went for the one closest to them on the right, and opened the sliding door. There wasn't much inside, apart from a few shelves lining the walls, and a bed shoved up to the opposite wall.
He looked out of a window near the bed, noticing an extremely large mass of pure white fur, it wriggled a bit, and he jumped back.
"Sit on the bed."
"If we have separate rooms, why am I here?"
She answered him with a stern point at the bed. He shrugged, and sat on it, failing to get comfortable on the hard material.
"Take off your coat."
He obliged her, shrugging it off and handing it to her. She had the misfortune of sniffing it, and winced. "Thank the spirit we have a laundry."
He scowled and she smirked. He was dressed in a simple grey shirt, with a dark red line tracing its way up the arms and to the neckline.
She looked him over, and nodded. "Off with the top."
Sighing, he took it off, placing it on top of his coat which sat on the floor.
He had a wiry, but fairly strong frame, his muscles were compact, and well toned. On his right side was a massive bruise which ran almost the entire length of his torso, ending just before his shoulder joint. His right arm dangled, in contrast to his left, which was held normally. Going down it was a trail of bruises and scrapes. She drew a stream of water out of her pouch. Molding it like she did at the police station, she covered his wounds in it. It glowed blue, and Tai felt sensation return to his side. He heaved and breathed out, smiling as no pain shot up his side. The bruises disappeared, leaving unmarred, but very white, skin. The water flowed over to his arm, absorbing into the mass there. That sped up the process, and before his eyes the bruises shrunk down to almost nothing, and the scrapes and cuts grew smaller, and were now neat and shallow lines on his skin.
"I am the only one around here who can heal worth a damn, you know."
"You aren't going to let me forget it, are you?"
She gave him a wink. "Not as long as I live. Night." she steered him out of the room, giving him his clothing before sliding the door shut. He watched as the warm lights from the house shut off, leaving the moon's light free to dance across the Island. He walked across to his room, opening the sliding door. It was fairly similar to Korra's room, which didn't surprise him that much. He dumped his clothes in a messy pile next to the door, and stumbled over to the bed. All of the events during the past few days had finally caught up with him.
He dropped down onto the hard mattress, burying his face into the pillow feeling very content. He was out like a light.
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