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Book 2: Sound
Chapter 13: Separate Paths
Shen laid the note by Argho's bedroom door, struggling against a wave of dizziness as the boat rocked on the water. He grimaced. Since the palace was mostly destroyed in the fighting, even Saitei elected to stay with her extended family while the rebuilding happened. Unfortunately, that meant that Team Avatar got to stay on the Equalists' ship.
The Airbender narrowed his eyes as he turned to leave the vessel; he only had a limited amount of time before it would be too late. He adjusted the blade at his side and hoisted the small sack over his shoulder as he opened the hatch leading to the upper deck, inhaling deeply as the cool night air hit his face.
Of all the knee-jerk decisions...
Shen frowned. Was it the right decision? The port glowed, even at the early hour, and Shen sighed. He didn't have much time.
Moro Kenshi slipped her black robes over her head and glanced briefly out the window. Her heart was heavy as she picked up the bag that held her belongings. Though they would probably meet in Republic City, the team didn't trust her.
Rightly so...I wouldn't trust me, either...
"I still don't..."
With dawn would come the departure of one of Saitei's ships bound for Republic City, a ship she had been given permission to travel on.
She made her way to the door, but a knock stopped her in her tracks. She narrowed her eyes and drew water from the air, forming an ice spike; it was far too early for anything good to be on the other side of that door.
Moro gripped the knob tentatively with her other hand and pulled it open, but she was taken aback by the figure in the doorway.
Shen glanced at the ice spike in her hand and winced, causing her to snap out of her stupor. Her eyes widened, and she quickly melted the makeshift weapon.
"Spirits...Moro..." He smiled sadly. "Already?"
The Waterbender furrowed her brow. "What are you doing here?"
He inclined his head. "I...I need to know something. When you came to us yesterday—"
Her expression grew sour. "When you guys basically told me to leave..."
"We can't trust you, Moro." The way he said it made her heart sink further. "But—"
"Then why are you here?" Tears formed in her red eyes, but she blinked them away.
"You didn't let me finish..." Shen's smile was genuine. "Argho and the others were just as hurt by your betrayal as I was, but I realized something. It...you would never betray us—me—willingly. It was Susanowo."
"No, it wasn't. I...he did mess with my head, but he wasn't controlling me. I knew exactly what I was doing."
Shen's hand inadvertently moved to his midsection and his fingers slid over the still tender scar. Moro pursed her lips before pulling water from the skin on her hip.
"Here...let me finish healing that. It's the least I can do."
The Airbender shook his head. "It's almost healed as it is. I'm fine."
She furrowed her brow. "But..." A sigh escaped her lips. "Why are you here, Shen?"
His lips formed into a thin line. "You mentioned something earlier...about the Republic City Council. I have an idea about how to get Petrine out in the open."
"Why come to me?"
"I need to know...what did you have in mind?"
Moro inclined her head. "Well...if she won't turn herself over to your Council of Elders, maybe you could force her to come under the scrutiny of the Republic City Council."
"They have no jurisdiction in this whole mess, though...but..." A small smile grew on his face. "The World Meeting is currently in progress there. If we can get a message to them—"
"Then they can force her to meet with them..." Moro mimicked his smile. "That's what I was getting at."
Shen slid his hands through his hair. "We'd have to get a message to them before we leave here."
He sighed. "Moro...I've decided that Argho and I have separate paths now. I've decided to leave before he does to get my job done."
She narrowed her eyes. "Why would you come with me? You've already made it perfectly clear that you don't trust me."
"Moro...I let one of my closest friends slip away from me because I was unwilling to do what I needed to do. I cannot let that happen again."
The Waterbender thought for a moment before replying. "On one condition..."
She smiled. "You let me heal that wound as best as I can."
He exhaled in exasperation before consenting. "Fine. Spirits...you're persistent."
Moro chuckled as she pulled water out of the skin. "Coming from you..."
"Well, if we're giving our honest opinions, I think that you're both fools." The deep voice shot through the room, causing both Moro and Shen to whirl around, coming face-to-face with Rioku.
"What—what are you doing here?!" Shen asked incredulously.
The Earthbender let out a loud laugh. "Seeing as you were staggering around the boat like a drunk, you were impossible to not notice, at least by me. And your note...well, I had to see this for myself."
"Are you here to stop me?"
The question prompted another brief chuckle from Rioku. "Stop you? That's not possible. No, I'm here to make sure you two don't kill each other. I'm coming with you."
Both of their jaws dropped. "You're what?!" Moro cried out.
The morning sun showed through Argho's bedroom window, alerting the Avatar to their time of departure. He stood and stretched, yawning as he made his way to the door. As he approached, he noticed a piece of paper sticking under it.
"Huh?" He rubbed his eyes briefly before retrieving the note. "What..."
Argho, I've gone to make sure the kid doesn't get himself killed. I think he has some sort of insane plan, but I'll be watching his back. You and Kuan Ti need to get your rear ends to Republic City. That's where we'll be. See you there, old friend.
"Damn..." The Avatar crumpled the note. "Shen, I hope that you know what you're doing. If you don't...I won't be able to help you fight a losing battle."
"What's going on, Argho? Where are Rioku and Shen?" Kuan Ti walked toward him.
"Gone." The Avatar's reply was brief.
"Shen went with Moro like a love-struck child, and Rioku followed to ensure his safety." Argho sighed. "Then again, perhaps this is the path that they needed to take, regardless of their reasoning..."
"So, what do we do?"
"Prepare the ship for departure. We'll meet them in Republic City, and we will find out if they made the right decision or not." He made his way back into his room.
"What are you doing?" The Equalist asked.
"I'm going to call upon some old friends. It appears that I am in need of some answers."
Rioku frowned as the passenger ship rocked above the waves. This is a mistake... He watched as Shen and Moro stood at opposite ends of the deck, and he rolled his good eye. Those two were more than likely to get each other killed than actually do any good. I can only hope Argho makes it to Republic City and stops them before this goes south.
The wind blew across the deck, and the Earthbender inhaled. "I will protect them as best as I can, old friend. Please...hurry."
The ship was fast; Rioku could already see the Earth Kingdom shore after a mere two hours. His heart began to beat quickly.
"What have we gotten ourselves into?"
He remembered Shen's determination to save his nation, as well as Argho's own powerlessness against Otokami. The Earthbender grimaced and turned toward the left side of the ship, where Shen rested against the railing.
The Airbender glanced in his direction. "You think that I've made a mistake."
"Of course I do. You can't trust her, Shen."
The young man shook his head. "I...I do trust her. Think about it; she came to the Fire Nation in the middle of a war to warn us about Susanowo!"
Rioku sighed. "I'll give you that. But what assurance can you give me that she won't betray us again?"
Moro's voice piped up behind them, causing both men to turn around. "You don't. But I won't. Not again."
"I guess we don't have a choice for the moment." The Earthbender replied. "But I will be watching you very closely, Bloodbender."
- This chapter was a bit short, but I had writer's block and was barely able to get through it. :/
- I hope Moro and Shen's interaction was as awkward for you as it was for me.
- This is the last chapter in Book 2; Book 3 will begin soon.
For the collective works of the author, go here.