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Book 1: Blood
Chapter 6: Sealed
"And what is it you need our help with, Moro?"
She narrowed her eyes. "I need the Avatar's help; you need to defeat Susanowo."
A hearty laugh escaped from Argho's lips. "You don't need to worry about that. We're forming a strategy as you and I speak!"
"I don't think you understand—!"
Shen took a step forward. "Then help us understand." He turned to Argho. "No secrets; remember?"
The Avatar nodded. "Shen's right. Why have you come? Why do you want to bring down Susanowo?"
The Bloodbender chewed on her lower lip for a moment. "Susanowo...if you didn't notice, likes to have Bloodbenders under his thumb; they're his polar bear dogs, his bootlickers. And I have been on the run for a while because I am one, not that you couldn't already tell."
"But why?" Shen massaged his temple. "What makes you so special?"
"I..." Her fingers reached toward her forehead, but stopped upon brushing against her black bangs. "I don't know."
Kuan Ti glanced at Argho. "Well? What's the verdict?"
Shen narrowed his eyes. "Argho, can I speak with you out in the hall?"
"I know that I am asking much of you, and I know you cannot yet see the benefits. However, if this works, and I am confident it will, the Water Tribes will be the most powerful nation in the world. Forever."
"Lord Susanowo, what you are asking...is this even possible?"
The Spirit of Tempests smiled at his five loyal followers: The spirits of Ice, Winter, Rain, Clouds, and Tundra. "It will be. My brother knows every route, forbidden or not, into the world of men, and there will come a day when we will come and raise the Water Tribes both to their true glory!"
"How? We are but lowly spirits. Our power...it's nothing compared to the likes of Koh or Otokami, and once they find out, they will surely—!"
"No, my friends, I have a way to bring power to myself, to make myself their equal!"
The Spirit of Ice snorted. "Bloodbending? Come now, Susanowo, you may have created the art, but you have no power over it."
A wide, malicious grin spread across their leader's face. "What if I told you...I did?"
"Are you out of your mind?!" Shen paced back and forth, seething. "She. Is. A. Bloodbender! Argho, please, don't take her on! We have enough hands as it is!"
"Many hands make light work." He smirked.
The Airbender rolled his eyes. "That's not what—!"
"It doesn't matter what bending art she practices; I look toward intent. Hers is not for ill."
"But you know that Susanowo will just bend her to his will like he does to every other Bloodbender! We can't let anything get in the way; we can't fail!"
"Calm down, Shen. What would you have me do? Would you rather I turned her away so Susanowo's men could find her? The same end would occur."
A sigh escaped the young man. "I hate this, Argho...I don't want to be like this. I know what is right, I know what to do...and yet...I am willing to condemn someone else just to save—!"
The air was knocked from his lungs as the Avatar clapped him on the back. "Enough with the dark talk, Shen! I know why you act like this, but please, try to be a little more understanding."
"Even for a Bloodbender? I can try..."
"That's the spirit!"
"So...I guess we go back in and—?"
"And you can personally welcome Moro as a member of Team Avatar." The grin was unmistakable.
Shen rolled his eyes. "Get over yourself, Argho..." His fingers wrapped around the doorknob. "Let's welcome her, then."
As soon as the door opened, the two allies noticed that several things were amiss. One: the wind whipped through the shattered window, and two: Kuan Ti was held in the air by a female Bloodbender.
Shen was the first to move, surprising the attacker by jumping forward a thrusting his arms out and creating a gust that sent her flying out of the window. As Kuan Ti dropped to the floor, the Airbender rushed forward after his quarry, expressing his shock at landing on a massive ice pillar in the form of a gasp.
They had come quickly, shattering the window and dragging Moro out with a water whip. When Kuan Ti tried to intervene, the female held him aloft with her power.
The male Bloodbender soon realized that both of them were needed when Moro evaporated the water whip and landed on the ice without breaking a sweat.
"You're new; he hasn't sent you two yet." She placed her hand on the ice and lifted a hammer from it in a matter of seconds, brandishing it and smirking. "I already told the last two...I'm not going to work for Susanowo."
"You don't have a choice." The voice sounded younger than she expected. "None of us do."
"I always have a choice." With that proclamation she flipped forward, bringing the hammer down toward his head, but he backpedaled enough that it sunk into the ice. However, that was the idea, and Moro, as soon as her weapon struck, turned the ice beneath his feet into water, causing him to plummet several stories before he could dredge up snow to catch himself.
Moro melted the ice in front of her just enough to make a ramp, which she slid down to meet her opponent. "Why do you insist on pursuing me? What—?" The scream of his female ally as she fell diverted his attention for a moment until she hit the pillar. "What am I to him?"
His right sleeve fell away and revealed a symbol on the back of his hand. It consisted of a line going straight down with another line going through the middle, only the second one curved in opposite directions. "This is why he is after you! We have an obligation to fulfill."
Her eyes widened. "Shut up!"
She attempted to swing her ice hammer, but a force stopped her.
The female stood behind her. "You're coming with us. I'm sorry."
Moro gritted her teeth. "Never..." She pulled forward and rushed at the male, hammer swinging, and her sudden burst caused the female to collapse from the strain of trying to hold her back.
His dodge was a risk, bending at his knees to avoid the weapon, but as soon as his hands touched the snow-covered stone, he kicked her wrist and sent the hammer skittering. Moro's immediate response was to shove out with her hand, catching him off guard when the fluid inside of his body was pushed back quickly and caused him to fly into the wall behind him.
A thud sounding from behind followed by the sound of a body hitting snow told her that the other had been dealt with, and she turned around.
Shen knelt, checking the female's pulse, sword removed from the hilt and resting, reverse-gripped, in his other hand. "Not a problem."
The adrenaline was beginning to wear off, and both Airbender and Bloodbender took notice of the stares coming from everyone in the plaza.
"Time to go?" Moro inquired.
Moro sat on the bed as Argho paced back and forth, Shen and Kuan Ti standing back. "You weren't joking...this is serious." He stopped. "We can't stay here; we've drawn far too much attention to ourselves."
"Well, where do we go?" Shen asked. "Susanowo is here!"
"It's too dangerous for us to stay in the city, Shen. We will finish this, but we have to be...precise."
"I have a place." Kuan Ti said. "My Equalists and I have a base not too far from Tunturia Outpost; we can stay there until we figure out our next move."
Argho nodded. "Fine enough; we have our heading. Now..." He glanced at Shen and smirked. "There is the small matter of Moro..."
The Airbender ran his hand through his hair. "Yeah...Moro...?"
She raised an eyebrow. "Am I in? Do you trust me?"
Shen nearly turned away. I wish I could... "You're in. You're now part of Team Avatar."
She smiled. "Thank you...all of you."
"Now, we must get ready to move." Argho had a determined look on his face. "We're going to Tunturia Outpost."
"And I am allowed to...assess the degree of Susanowo's transgressions?" Lu Ten wished for the chance. I could, once again, put that pompous fool down.
"No...I am sending you for a different reason." The figure was obscured by a blinding light. "You may engage Susanowo only in the most extreme of circumstances. I actually need you to assess the other issue and report to Argho when you're done."
The Protector knelt. "Yes, my Lord."
"You and I both know what will happen if the spirits run rampant, but you could not have foreseen this."
"But you did?"
"Look alive, everyone! We're leaving in five minutes!" Kuan Ti got his Equalists moving quickly, sending some ahead to prepare.
"Do we have everything?"
"I think so..."
Moro watched the exchange, in two parts content and terrified. She finally had a chance to accomplish her goal, but...
She remembered the male's words.
"This is why he is after you! We have an obligation to fulfill."
She turned and made her way into the bathroom, staring into the mirror. She lifted her bangs, exposing her forehead.
The same symbol was there; it had always been there.
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