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|More from MarblesG||Adventure||PG-13||None||None|
|We Are Ronin ~ Chapter 1|
November 11, 2014
Ba Sing Se was the largest city in the nation. With tracks carrying the trains all over the expansive area, one could start at the lower rings, home to the mass of poverty, and arrive at the upper rings who housed the lords and ladies that influenced the monarchy. The so-called impenetrable city was definitely the destination of many who aimed to be members of the upper ring. Those with experience already knew that something that miraculous was pure luck.
Sokka entered the city anyways.
He wasn't here to gain nobility or money. He didn't need any of that considering he looked the part. Sokka was technically a prince after all. Being the son of the Chief of the Water Tribe of the South made him the title.
As he walked past the groups of people in the lower ring, Sokka wasn't blind to the envious looks. He wore his blue samurai armor over his traditional dark robes. This consisted of gauntlets and fingerless leather gloves. He also had shoulder pads and a chest plate that ran down past his waist covering his crotch. From there, he wore another plate that covered his thighs The armor synched at the waist keeping it tight to his body. His legs sported shin guards which where then covered by his brown boots. Last but not least, his hair was pulled back into a slick ponytail.
Most of the greedy eyes were glued to his katana secured on his right hip. It would sell for thousands of yuans if successfully stolen. Sokka knew that if anyone were to come near the sword, it would be because he was slicing in their direction. He continued walking.
He was by no means rich. Not at all anywhere near nobility. He was privileged. Sokka had worked with his friends to raise enough money while roaming the nation, enough to buy nice clothes and food, but they never had enough to gloat about. Not that they would want to anyways.
Sokka boarded a train, seeing that his target would logically be in the upper ring among the wealthy. She came from a well known clan and even if she had gone a-wall, she was still rich. Story has it that her father and mother loved her to the point of protecting her from every little thing. If it was a speck of dust, he knew that these parents would evacuate their daughter from the room. According to the rumours, the young woman didn't like their behavior and left home. Other people he had come across told him that she was beautiful until you looked her in the eyes. Her eyes were nothing.
At least that's what people said. Sokka didn't understand the description and no one wanted to help him it understand either.
You'll know it when you see her.
"Are you a samurai?"
He flinched and turned his head to the right. Sokka came eye to eye with a boy. Green eyes, native citizen of the Earth Kingdom. Gold hat with gems and matching tunic, pants, and shoes. Over robe was green. He gave a guess of about ten years old. Sokka cleared his throat. "Yes. Yes I am."
The boy looked around before whispering between them. "Do you discipline in an element?"
"Oh, of course not. That's illegal. I'm a non bending samurai."
"I see." His face seemed to deflate wit excitement. Sokka realized that the boy had no prejudice against benders meaning that his parents weren't as close minded as others.
Sokka nudged him. His hand cupped the boys ear and he whispered. "But I know people."
And just like that, the boy lit up.
"What's your name, boy?"
He stood up even though the train was moving and bowed. "Hiro, sir. Hiro Phan."
Sokka nodded acknowledging the gesture of respect. Hiro sat back down. "Phan. Your family must be very privileged for you to wear clothes like that."
"Yes. My family lives in the upper ring of Ba Sing Se. They have for many years, Lord...?"
"Sokka. Of the Southern Water Tribe."
Hiro bowed from his sitting position. "An honor to meet you, Sokka-sama. May I ask what you are doing here in Ba Sing Se?"
"I'm here to meet someone. I have some things to discuss with her."
"Is she your partner, Sokka-sama?"
"Not at all. This will be the first time I meet with her actually."
The boy seemed to be very interested. "Were you sent by your master?"
Sokka moved his head from side to side. "In a way, yes. My master needs her assistance for something. He couldn't meet with her himself so he sent me."
"How exciting! A mission."
"What about you, Hiro?" He turned himself more towards the boy. "What are you doing riding a train by yourself? You're what? Ten years old?"
"I'm nine, Sokka-sama."
"Okay, now that makes me more concerned. What is a wealthy nine year old doing roaming around the city?"
The boy laughed. "As far as my parents are concerned, I am training with my master. Which I really am, but every now and then my master sends me to do errands." He pulled a cake box from behind him. "She wanted cake."
"What a waste of time to send your student to run your errands. What kind of master are you exactly studying under?"
"Sokka-sama, she is an excellent samurai. Mastered at such a young age. My parents are kind and employed her to be my master when she was a ronin."
It was now Sokka who was intrigued. "Ronin? What happened to her master?"
"She left them."
"That's unusual." Sokka pondered on such a character. "I admire your family's kindness, Hiro."
The boy bowed at the compliment. "Thank you, Sokka-sama. I promise you she is an excellent master."
"You'll have to introduce us sometime if we meet in the future, Hiro."
Sokka looked out the window and found the train approaching the station. This was his stop. "Well, I'll be getting off here. I enjoyed talking to you, Hiro."
The nine year old shook his head. "Please, let me escort you to your destination. My master would kill me if I didn't do this for a fellow samurai. I'm getting off here as well."
"I appreciate that." Sokka lead them out of the train, easily clearing a path with his appearance. As they walked away from the station, he couldn't help but question the boys choice of clothing if he was studying to be a samurai. "Hiro, I have to ask, if you are becoming a samurai, why are you dressed like that?"
"My parents still like it when I dress in regal garments every now and then. I dress in my robes any other day. Master said I had to dress like this for some strange reason. Wouldn't tell me why and there was no way that I would defy her orders. It's a nice change." Before Sokka could ask, Hiro beat him to it. "And I do have a weapon on me. I keep my bo staff on my back."
The Water Tribe warrior raised an eyebrow. "No katana?"
Hiro shrugged. "I have one. Don't use it much."
"I see. Your master favors the bo staff."
"You'd understand if you met her, Sokka-sama."
"Well let's do that then."
The boy tripped slightly at his words. "I'm sorry. Can you say that again?"
"I'll meet your master."
"Don't you have to meet up with someone?" Hiro scratched his head with his free hand not holding the cake. "I'm sure that's more important."
Sokka just shook his head. "It isn't anything urgent. Please, it would be an honor."
The two continued walking through the streets of the upper ring. People still bowed to Sokka in respect, but now the streets had several samurai walking around making him feel less targeted. Hiro provided most of the conversation, asking questions about his life as an older samurai. Sokka couldn't help but be amused by his energetic attitude. At this period of time, he didn't meet kids excited to grow up. Especially those chosen by the spirits to train in the discipline of an element. It only made those fear for their lives from the bounty hunters. Nonetheless, Hiro wasn't scared of the revolution occurring between the non benders and the benders.
That or Hiro just didn't know the extent of fighting going on.
It pained Sokka to know that Hiro wouldn't like what he saw when he finally joined the fight.
"Here we are!"
Jasmine Dragon Tea House
Sokka looked at the nine year old confused. "This is where your master is?"
"Yes. She comes here a lot. Best quality tea in the city. Why, Sokka-sama?"
"It's where I'm supposed to meet my associate."
Hiro perked up. "Wow! What a coincidence. Killing two birds with one stone then?"
"I guess I am, Hiro." The duo entered the tea house and found it to be crowded with nobility. Sokka knew that Hiro wasn't lying when he said this place had quality tea. The young boy flagged down a waitress. They exchanged a few words then Hiro gestured for Sokka to follow.
"Where are we going?" Sokka whispered into the boys ear.
Hiro turned his head. "Master has a private room in the back."
"She must be pretty famous around here."
"Nah. My parents own this shop."
"I see." The older samurai chuckled. "Now I know how you can afford those clothes, Hiro."
The waitress stopped next to a door and pointed with her hands. She bowed and slid the door open. Hiro entered the room while Sokka continued to follow. The room was almost pitch black.
"Are the lights broken?" He asked.
This time Hiro laughed. "No. They just aren't on, Sokka-sama."
He in turn frowned. "Well that's stupid."
The boy didn't answer back. Instead, he slid the cake box across the table. It was then that Sokka noticed a figured move on the other side. He cringed slightly, something that Hiro caught and the boy giggled some more. The voice of a woman speaking made both of them freeze.
"Did you get the goods?"
Hiro bowed. "Yes, Master."
"And they got the order right? Green tea cake with whipped cream?"
"I believe so, Master. I didn't open it like you asked to preserve the freshness."
Sokka watched as a pale hand came out of the shadows. It was slender but calloused. Sokka knew that this woman had experience on her hands. He searched the dark for glowing eyes. The cake box disappeared to the other side of the room and the only sound was cardboard being shuffled.
A good minute of silence past.
When the silence was broken, the indifferent voice of the female cut it. "Hiro, turn on the lights and then come here."
"Um, yes, Master." The boy got up and walked to the door. He turned on a switch and Sokka's face flushed.
The first thing his eyes focused on was her hair. It was sleek and black, braided to the side with just a few unruly strands to make it look effortless. Her hair let his eyes travel to her clothes. Emerald green robes framed with gold, nothing expected out of the ordinary from a master samurai. An emblem of a flying boar sported her right side which he could only assume was bigger on the back. Next, he stared at her lips. Pink and parted slightly with a shine to them that pulled Sokka in. Her skin was pale, but beautiful like delicate porcelain.
And then he came to her eyes.
Or where they should have been.
Hiro approached his master. She spoke without emotion. "Take a look."
The boy did as he was told and peeked into the box presented to him. Sokka found the color drain from the nine year old making him pale, and not the good kind.
She slapped him on the back side of the head.
And just like that, Sokka was broken out of the spell of her beauty.
"Boy! Where the hell is my whipped cream!?"
Hiro covered his head and bowed forward. "I thought they put it there, Sensei! I asked them and they said!"
She clenched a fist and scowled. "Those damn bakers are trying to trip me up again. They're just blaming me for their son's misfortunes!"
"I'm sorry, Sensei. Forgive me!" The nine year old peeked from his arms. "Am I punished?"
The woman sneered, but calmed herself down. "No. It wasn't your fault. I'll show those baker's whose boss. Just because I threw their criminal of a son in jail doesn't mean I should be treated any different. If anything I should be getting special treatment. Remind me to talk to them."
"Yes, Sensei." The boy pulled out a notebook from his robes and scribbled the event down.
"Now then," she cleared her throat. "Please tell me you didn't bring another stray home. You know how your parents feel about it."
Sokka decided to input. "I am not a stray!"
Hiro shook his head and pulled on his master's robes. "He isn't a stray, Sensei! He is a samurai too!"
"I see. Why is he here?"
"He's here to meet someone. He was sent by his master on a mission. Can I have a mission soon?"
"What are you talking about? I just sent you on one."
"Hush." The woman smirked in Sokka's direction making him hold in a breath. In the few minutes he had seen her, he knew for sure this woman with a mind of her own. She spoke teasingly. "You got a name?"
"Sokka. Of the Water Tribe of the South."
"Well, well, well. About time you got here. Your friend...what was his name again?" Hiro whispered into her ear. "Ah yes! Aang. He sent your ass here, right?"
His eyes widened. "How do you know that?"
She laughed and continued to smirk.
"Toph Beifong. Of the Beifong clan in Gaoling. And yes, those are bandages over my eyes so shut up about it."
For the collective works of the author, go here.