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|The Clash, Pt. 2 - Turning Point|
Book 3: Dawn
Chapter 8: Turning Point
Argho fumed as the White Lotus representatives made their exit, not without complaint. He sat down on the bench and ran his hands through his hair.
"I strongly dislike cowardice..."
Moro raised an eyebrow. "Were they always this...useless?"
"No," Rioku replied, "the Order of the White Lotus was once strong enough to retake the city of Ba Sing Se...twice in two years, if I remember my history correctly."
"Once General Iroh had passed, they became more interested in regional politics than balance. They lost much of what made them great over the years, culminating in Avatar Korra's refusal to allow them to train me." The Avatar frowned. "However, I did not realize that Master Kyani was still alive...and that we spoke to him, no less."
Shen furrowed his brow. "He's the one I sparred with, right? That would explain his age..."
"So, the Ancient Master you met with on Kyoshi Island is actually ancient? Who could've guessed?" Kuan Ti approached them, hands pressed deeply into his pants' pockets. "What'd I miss?"
The one-eyed Earthbender shook his head. "Where've you been, Kuan Ti? You ran off after...wait...where's Zhan?"
Kuan Ti turned to face the Avatar. "That is something that won't make you happy, Argho. Zhan's jumped ship, along with the entirety of our group."
All heads whirled his way. "What?!"
"He was manipulated into leaving by a spirit named Lin Quei." The Equalist frowned. "Although, Zhan was already angry at me for the way I've been doing things."
A scowl grew on Argho's face. "Lin Quei...why is that name familiar?"
Instantly, images of Aang surrounded by spirits of varying shapes and sizes assaulted his mind, and he was even able to pick out Usha, Susanowo, and Otokami. Aang's glowing blue form materialized in the midst of the vast menagerie of spirits, a creased brow the only sign of discomfort.
"Lin Quei was the Judge at my trial, where I was acquitted in the killing of Koh. Despite the circumstances surrounding my actions and the evidence in my favor, a great many spirits believed my actions unjust and demanded my life in return." He shook his head. "Had I known then who, or rather what, Lin Quei actually was I might've been more wary."
Argho absent-mindedly cracked his knuckles. "So what is he, then? Should I be concerned?"
"What is he? Only the spirit responsible for Amon's little revolt."
Aang simply bowed his head. "He used Noatak while Susanowo was unable to intervene, and his strengthening of the Equalists was obviously an attempt to consolidate his own power."
The current Avatar cocked his head. "And why couldn't Susanowo stop him? I am sure that he did not take kindly to a Bloodbender being used to end bending wholesale."
"It had something to do with a bet he made with Usha..." Aang sighed. "Something to do with Usha's vision regarding my daughter's death."
"So what does any of this have to do with what Kuan Ti has told me? What is the Judge's game?"
"He intends to restore the Equalists in the only way he has left. This revolution will be neither clever nor subtle; he will kill you to ensure its success."
Argho chuckled. "Not likely. I've got a trick or two up my sleeve, should he prove as resilient as Susanowo."
The former Avatar frowned. "Be careful, Argho. You don't know what these beings are capable of when cornered. I fear the worst is ahead."
Petrine looked on as the two spirits stared each other down in the middle of the Council Chamber, with the leaders of the world as a more or less captive audience. She glanced toward Ula and Gyatso, who were already moving to opposite ends of the mass of people.
What are they up to? Her questions would have to wait, however, as Otokami took a step forward.
"So now you finally have courage, Brother?" The Spirit of Tempests taunted. "You who stood behind your precious Air Nation as they died beneath the Fire Lord's flames!"
Petrine gasped along with the rest of the council when Otokami's voice permeated their minds.
"And you hide behind your brainwashed lackeys, content to let them fall before you do. You claim to want what is best for the Water Tribes, but have taken their best and brightest away from those who truly cared for and loved them."
Petrine's eyes widened. "...he's never spoken to so many like that..."
Susanowo's gaze darkened. "I don't expect you to understand; what I do is for the greater good. In order for many to thrive, a few must pay the price."
"Any of them can pay but you, Susanowo." The Spirit of Sound clenched his fists. "You take those that would have allowed your beloved tribes to thrive and gotten them killed; now you have nothing."
"The Avatar took that away from me!" He cried, spit flying from his mouth as he strode toward the armored spirit. His eyes became overshadowed with red, and his nails extended into something resembling talons.
Otokami fell into a forward stride, intent on meeting his brother in the middle of the room. "The Avatar was doing his duty, as any one of us is called to do. I would die for my people, Brother. Would you do the same for yours?"
"Silence!" Susanowo shrieked as he rushed forward, intent on crashing into the armored spirit before him.
Otokami allowed Susanowo to strike at his midsection with a focused open-handed attack, grabbing his arm before he could pull away. As his foe struggled, the armored spirit drove his knee into his straightened elbow, snapping it like a twig.
The Spirit of Tempests cried out as his arm flopped uselessly at his side for a moment. Soon enough, however, it reset itself as he healed. Once it had regained every ounce of mobility, the spirit rushed forward again. This time, he intended to tear his brother's arm off.
All eyes watched as the two powerful spirits continued their charge at one another, enraptured as they met once more.
Susanowo tore at Otokami's shoulder, but the Spirit of Sound brought his other hand up to his brother's face and snapped his fingers. What followed was a pure burst of Soundbending power right against Susanowo's cheek; the shockwave ripped through his body, nearly tearing it in two. His broken form smashed against the wall, cracking the stone beneath the force of his landing.
"...damn you..." The Spirit of Tempests stood shakily, blood still seeping from healing wounds. "I will tear...your world down for this!"
Otokami cocked his head, choosing to remain silent in the face of the threat. Their audience still had yet to say a word, but they were far too enraptured by the sight of the two powerhouses to do more than simply watch.
Susanowo took a tentative step forward, and his eyes were now completely blood red. "I will not be made a fool of! Never again!"
He dashed forward and pulled his arm back. Otokami began to march towards him, intent on stopping his attack before he could truly gain momentum, but Susanowo moved quickly. Soon both brothers were almost on top of each other in the middle of the Council Chamber.
Then their fists slammed together with the force of a bomb.
"Argho!" Shen's voice cut through to the Avatar as Aang's ethereal form dissipated.
He glanced around to find everyone staring at him. "Sorry, I had to discuss something important."
"We noticed." The Airbender replied. "Your eyes started to glow, and you didn't respond to anyone."
Kuan Ti inclined his head. "So, who'd you speak to?"
"Avatar Aang. He decided to enlighten me as to the identity of the spirit who you encountered, and his potential to cause harm is great, indeed."
The Equalist shook his head. "I'd say that he didn't look like much, but I've learned from my time fighting these beings. Nothing is ever simple with them."
"Agreed," Argho said, "But we have a meeting to attend, if I'm not mistaken."
Moro narrowed her eyes. "You mean we're actually going in there? It seems like the council wouldn't approve of our interference."
"Heh...the council can stuff it." Rioku folded his arms. "Argho isn't someone they can just say 'no' to."
The Waterbender smiled and shook her head. "True."
A massive boom emanating from the large council building drew their collective attention, and the shaking ground beneath their feet spoke to something ominous.
Argho's eyes widened. "What the—?"
"What is that?" Rioku asked. "It's as if the building's going to—!"
The one-eyed Earthbender was interrupted as massive cracks formed along the sides of the Council Building. Team Avatar looked on in horror as once enormous structure began to crumble, and none of them could do anything as the building collapsed.
"Are we going to continue simply observing these humans? Or is it yet time to act?"
Four spirits sat around a massive, winding tree that reached up high above most everything else in the Spirit World. It was a rare gathering, but they were left alone. So much condensed power meant that they were never trifled with. The one who had spoken was a quadrapedal figure with a soft glow emanating from its body. The others studied her for a moment before another's voice drew their attention, as if the golden aura surrounding and obscuring his features didn't do that.
"We must act, I think, but not for or against the humans, brothers and sisters. No," The Shinigami stood and began to pace, causing plant life to sprout in his wake. "Our task lies with these petulant spirits who think to use the mortal world as a playground. They run the risk of uprooting everything."
One of the other spirit—a smoky apparition—sighed. "So, once again we must reveal ourselves and clean up someone else's mess."
"We've created our own messes in the past. Let's not forget that." The glowing spirit replied.
The Shinigami nodded. "Yes, and now we have work to do, things to discuss, a world's fate to decide. So...shall we begin?"
- So, after a long and somewhat unintended hiatus, It All Ends is back! Hopefully, this chapter was up to snuff for y'all. :)
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