[size11 [font roman [b Disclaimer:] This will be a one-on-one roleplay. You will be required to [b [u double.]]
This is a [b [u parallel]] universe to the actual show.
[kurale Once, the four nations of Air, Water, Earth, and Fire lived in harmony with one another, until the Fire Nation declared war in an attempt to conquer the world. A century later, there is still no end in sight to the destruction and the world has been plunged into chaos. The legends of the 'Avatar' speak of one who can master all four elements and restore peace and harmony to the world, but there is no sign of this legend being true, and four youths from each of the four nations are determined to restore peace to the world and find the elusive Avatar.
Basically, none of them are aware of each other or that they share the same goal until they meet, and tension between the nations is still high. But fate shall pull them together to restore balance to the world. The Avatar may or may not be real in this parallel universe.
[i [b "The Air Nomads detached themselves from worldly concerns and found peace and freedom."]]
Air Nomads is the collective term for the monastic order of men and women who practice the discipline of airbending and their seclusive, theocratic society. One of the four major nations, the Air Nomads were wanderers by definition, but had four air temples, one at each corner of the globe, hidden away atop mountain ranges and under cliffs, in the northern Earth Kingdom and on three remote islands. Unlike the other nations, the people of the Air Nomads were, without any seen exception, all benders due to the high level of spirituality of their people
They were the most spiritual of all the cultures and lived in harmony with nature. They also were fun-loving and had a strong sense of humor
[b [i "The people of the Water Tribe are capable of adapting to many things. They have a deep sense of community and love that holds them together through anything."]]
The Water Tribe is a collective term for the nation of people who practice the art of waterbending. It is one of the original four nations and its citizens primarily inhabit the northern and southernmost regions of the globe, near both poles. Many people of Water Tribe ethnicity also live in the United Republic and there is a small community of waterbenders that populate the Foggy Swamp in the Earth Kingdom, although they were isolated from their sister tribes for generations and others were largely unaware of their existence.
The people of the Water Tribe are generally peaceful, and strive to live in harmony with nature and the other nations of the world.
[b [i "The people of the Earth Kingdom are diverse and strong. They are persistent and enduring."]]
The Earth Kingdom is one of the world's four nations. Spanning an entire continent as well as several subsidiary islands, it is the largest and most populated sovereignty in the world and encompasses much of the eastern hemisphere. The kingdom operates as a monarchy under the rule of a king or queen, although the 54th Earth King, Wu of the Hou-Ting Dynasty, announced his intention in 174 AG to abdicate the throne in favor of splitting the nation into independent states with democratically elected leaders, akin to the political system used in the United Republic of Nations.
The people of the Earth Kingdom are proud and strong and adhere to a philosophy of peaceful coexistence and cooperation with the other nations of the world.
[b [i "The people of the Fire Nation have desire and will, and the energy and drive to achieve what they want."]]
The Fire Nation is one of the world's four nations and five sovereign states. It is an absolute monarchy led by the Fire Lord and home to most firebenders. Geographically, the nation is located along the planet's equator in the western hemisphere and is composed of several islands. Its capital is simply known as the Fire Nation Capital. The people of the Fire Nation are referred to as "Fire Nationals".
The people of the Fire Nation are strong-willed, fierce, passionate, and driven. They will stop at nothing to get what they want and nothing will stand in their way.
[b There is no limit to how many characters you can play as, but your main character must only be from one nation. By this, I mean your main character can not be from the same nation as another main character, but side characters can.]
Strictly [b 18+].
This roleplay will potentially be following heavy, mature, possibly triggering themes.
Romance is completely allowed and almost encouraged.
I don't care about sexualities or pairings ; all sexualities are fair game, just let me know if you have a specific preference.
Illustrations or real-life photographs can be used, I don't have a specific preference.
[b Please use images that accurately represent what nation your character comes from.
For reference, The Water Tribe is based on Inuit, Yupik, and Sirenik Eskimos cultures; the Fire Nation on Imperial Japan with Chinese and Korean cultural influences; the Air Nomads on the Tibetan culture, Buddhism and Hinduism; and the Earth Kingdom on Imperial China with Korean cultural influences.]
Plot discussion and further planning will be required. I'd like for you to be [b [u active]] in planning and plot discussions.
Please make sure you have read everything before sending me a PM.
Please also specify which nation your character(s) are from and a very small, basic skeleton with an image included.
You don't have permission to post in this thread.
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[font roman [size12 How foolish! In no way did Poallu see what was obviously next to come. An act of attempted heroism and peacekeeping now completely turned against her, all Poallu was in the eyes of the Dai Li agents now was a very poorly thought out criminal. Her mother had always said her naivety would be her downfall one day if things didn't change, seems that prophecy was true.
She could only helplessly watch as Zheng was handcuffed, and as soon one of the agents approached her and coldly stared into her eyes, Poallu just looked forlorn and afraid. She struggling slightly at her own hands being cuffed in stone. [b [#7092f5 "What?! No, no. I was just trying to hel-"]] Her voice tripped from the shock of being kicked and forced to kneel, and Poallu just shook her head in disbelief. She looked up at the man being arrested alongside her and just looked down in full shame. No way, Poallu couldn't face him. She was the reason this was all happening, the reason why his friends had abandoned him to be arrested and taken away alongside her. This was all her fault and nothing would change that in her mind, nothing could be done to fix their situation now.
She just wanted to help, calm everything down, and keep the peace, at least prevent a full-blown fight, and now look where that got her. Granted, her choice of [i peacekeeping] wasn't the smartest in the world, but points for trying, right? All Poallu ever wanted was peace, that was all the whole point of her mission. Great, now her journey to the North Pole ended here, being dragged away by some agents of a nation that wasn't even hers, and into the back of a jailor's wagon with the man she had completely screwed over.
She had situated herself into a small corner, trying to huddle herself away in shame and self-pity, but Poallu had soon given up on that act as a hefty sigh blew straight past her lips. She had never been arrested in her life, never thought that would even be a problem, and now look. Oh, how the South Pole would be [i proud.] Poallu mostly kept her eyes away from Zheng, avoiding eye-contact, but listened to him. She just regretfully sighed again. [b [#7092f5 "I know, but. I couldn't just leave. It just felt wrong. I mean..."]] She struggled to find the words to justify herself. She leaned back into the wall. [b [#7092f5 "Of course I don't."]] She then just quietly said, her thoughts filled with nothing but the future beratings of her people if they ever found out about this, and what was next to come. This wasn't even her city, arrested in a place she barely understood. As he introduced himself, Poallu calmed down slightly, a bit of familiarity always helped after all, especially if you were being arrested together. [b [#7092f5 "Poallu, I-"]] She answered back, on the verge of apologizing before the guard yelled at them from above. It was enough to keep her quiet until Zheng spoke again.
Collaboration. It was all they had, but Poallu didn't want to take risks anymore. She already took one and look where that ended up. But, being taken away to a place where surely nothing good would happen, an escape plan was exactly what they needed. She nodded in agreement, but her eyes betrayed her, filled with doubt and anxiety. She leaned in close so they could whisper quietly amongst themselves, avoid the prying ear of the guard above. [b [#7092f5 "How? I, I don't know anything about this place. I don't want to get us in any more trouble, Zheng. I've caused enough."]] She sighed. She had no clue what punishment awaited for them but could take a wild guess. But, she knew they had to escape somehow, and it was the least she could for him. Working together was all they really had.
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[center [i [size10 The shielding hats of the Dai Li kept them from feeling the scorching tea, but the hot water did splash into the rest of the fight, causing some to hit Zheng himself. He hissed and lost concentration for just the right moment, causing his hands to be locked by a set of the stone cuffs he had grown to dislike. Then he felt a sharp kick to his lungs, knocking the rest of the air out of him. He doubled over and hit the floor as one agent turned to face Paollu.
His gaze held no sympathy for the confused water tribe girl. Instead, in an authoritative voice, he told her coldly, [b "For attacking a Dai Li agent and interfering with a criminal apprehension, I will be placing you under arrest."] Next, he launched his hands forward together, throwing a set of stone cuffs at the girl next. They locked around her wrists to prevent her bending.
Another agent slid behind her and kicked her at the back of her knees, forcing her to kneel there.
[b "You're in quite a bit of trouble, young lady,"] the agent behind her stated.
Jet knew he was beat though... for the moment, anyway.
[b "Freedom fighters! Retreat! Sorry, guy."] Jet and the Duke moved out of the tea shop as the smoke finally started to clear. Zheng was surprised that the other guy had left so quickly. Then again... he would have too. He just assumed that, with all the trouble Jet went to to rescue his friend, he would have stuck it out to get an ally free.
But Zheng wasn't really his ally, was he? He was just a hired hand. A little money or a way out of Ba Sing Sei was his price, it seemed. So be it. He looked at the woman who had also been arrested.
Now she was, most certainly, a surprise. What did a girl like her gain from getting into a fight with the most feared agents in Ba Sing Sei? Did she not understand the position she was now in? He remembered the splash of burning water as both were scooped up and dragged toward a cart on the street. A water bender... It was so unusual to see one in the city at all. He wondered why she even wanted to come! Then again, he knew that the outside perception of Ba Sing Sei was its protective walls, a shield from the horrific war that continued to destroy the land.
Well... if she sought protection, she found something quite different. It was as bad as facing a fire nation battalion. At least then you knew who wanted to kill you. Inside Lake Laogai, those views would be very quickly warped, whether you wanted them to be changed or not.
The pair were chucked into the back of the jailor's wagon. Zheng took to a seat in the corner as the door was slammed closed and locked. Through the bars, he observed people on the street turning away. This was also a view he was familiar with. He took a deep breath and looked around their prison.
Then he looked at the other woman as she situated herself too.
[#00801d "You could have walked away,"] he pointed out to her, choosing to speak to her for the first time. [#00801d "It would have saved you from this."] As he spoke, he looked around their new ride to prison pointedly. [#00801d "I hope you know what you've gotten yourself into."] She likely didn't... and he pitied that a little. If he had known what the Dai Li was from the start, he would not have joined at all. So much for upholding "cultural heritage" for the people. He policed opinions, not public peace.
[#00801d "I'm Zheng,"] he introduced, trying to keep his voice low. Still, the second he said anything, there was a bang on the wall.
[b "Shut up, traitor!"] came a somewhat muffled voice. So it seemed they would need to be quieter. That wasn't an issue. He scooted closer to where Paollu sat, leaning in to speak at the lowest volume he could manage.
[#00801d "We're going to a bad place, and I want to avoid that... So let's work together."] Trust would not be the issue for now. They had little choice in the matter. It was either work together to escape, or suffer the fates given to them by the Dai Li. Particularly Long Feing.
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/lP7LDe1.jpg]
[size12 [font roman Akiho didn't need to see the guilt on the girl's face, all that mattered to her was that the girl has disrespected her belongings, and by extension, her. That never sat well with her, not with her upbringing at least. She stared daggers at the girl with her arms firmly crossed. [b [#f05c64 "You should be sorry! Messing around with stuff that ain't yours. And damn straight."]] She authoritatively growled through gritted teeth, too preoccupied with her anger to even notice the girl's continuing mischievous intent, but it didn't take her long when the sudden gust of wind blew the covers up, conveniently allowing the girl to escape.
Not that Akiho wanted a wild goose chase with some rowdy child, but her grudges were usually quite strong. She hurried to the side of the caravan where she guessed the girl would be but was too late to stop her from doing anything further. Now with the mount gone and the girl gleefully escaping on it's back, Akiho was beginning to really lose what little patience she had left. The air had became hot enough now to make someone sweat and the smell in the air just stank of burnt grass and mud. [b [#f05c64 "You no good, useless brat!"]] She yelled with anger, loud enough to catch the attention of Banta who was busy haggling one of the village's merchants.
[b "I'll be... just a second."] Banta meekly reassured the merchant before turning away to approach Akiho, who was quite literally seething with rage and stared at her almost confusedly with a minor concern, but honestly, he looked more annoyed than anything. [b "What the hell you yelling about now?"] Banta chided with his arms outstretched as if to say [i what gives]. [b "First the nuts and now this. What gi-"] He continued, but was swiftly, and rudely, interrupted by Akiho who pointed at where their mount should've been and then at the tracks in the dirt. [b [#f05c64 "Some [i child] messed with our stuff and then took off with [i your] Nobu. [i That's] what I'm yelling about, you meathead. It's them [i dirt people.]"]] She angrily explained. Banta seemed to finally understand but was actually more concerned about his mount than anything else, though, he lowered Akiho's hand to her side. [b "Uh, wow. You had me at horse theft. But, geez, calm down Aki. So much for secrecy, I think you just roasted every nat around."] He chuckled, but Akiho quickly ripped her hand away from him and continued huffing and puffing, which just prompted Banta to roll his eyes and endure the oncoming rant.
Though, as they continued to bicker, they were approached by two other strangers who appeared to be associated with the girl. Banta was the first to notice, nudging Akiho to attention, and Akiho was the first to speak, albeit with the same anger as before. [b [#f05c64 "Did your sister cause much trouble? Uh. Let's see. She messed with our stuff, our [i personal] belongings, and then took off with [i our] mount! [i 'Cause much trouble.'] All that brat brought was trouble!"]] Akiho's anger was starting to annoy Banta, as he just rolled his eyes again and pulled her away behind him; apologetically smiling at the other two and chuckling with slight embarrassment. [b "Apologies for my curt friend here. She's just, uh, a little 'worked-up'. We ain't from around here, you see. That caravan's all we have."] He explained, trying to save the situation, with a few harsh glances in Akiho's direction. Akiho just loudly huffed again, leaning against the caravan, avoiding all eye contact as her glowing red cheeks finally started to dim.
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[size10 [i In Mei's defense, she looked properly guilty... for a split second. The woman's attitude lit her up, causing her to plan a more difficult escape than she had intended. Farmers! The absolute [b nerve] of this lady. She Dropped the items and smirked.
[b "Sorry!"] she squeaked out, trying to contain her glee. [b "Guess I'll have to clean up after myself, huh?"] She smoothly made a swirling motion with her hands, and a very powerful gust of wind blew into the caravan, disturbing the canvas of the covers and blowing it off in a few spots. One spot was enough to the petite girl to slip out of.
She dove out of the canvas, pulled the connection between the mount and the cart, and hopped on the mount. Then, she looked back and wiggled her fingers in a goodbye before spurring the mount into action.
[b "Us farmers sure have a way with animals!"] she called behind her as the mount sped off. She cackled madly as he sped along.
This hysterical laughter did not escape Sunan or Kamon as they searched for her.
[#0075eb "Oh Mei..."] he sighed. Then he turned to address Kamon. [#0075eb "Will you make it back to the farmhold alright?"] he asked. Kamon gave a small nod before waddling off. Sunan took a deep breath... then ran.
He took a path more out of sight. With a small push, he jumped, and launched himself between two walls in an alley. He jumped until he reached the roof. From there, he saw the dust kicked up by the mount, and the laughter coming from it told him everything important.
Mei had caused trouble again.
Sunan ran again, speeding along until he was able to make a graceful leap from the roof onto an awning. The awning propelled him in the direction of the horse, which he not-so-gracefully managed to land on behind Mei.
[b "What gives!?"] Mei snapped. Sunan wrenched the reins from her and pulled the animal to a stop.
[#0075eb "Mei! Go home now!"] Sunan commanded to her in a yell-whisper. [#0075eb "Quickly, finding Kamon and escort him home. You've caused enough trouble."]
Mei was close to arguing... until she looked behind Sunan. Something she saw had her fleeing quickly. Sunan turned the ostrich horse around, coming face to face with what intimidated his troublesome Mei. Something with that kind of presence could mean trouble for him too. His face smoothed out into the calm he tried to present to strangers. His back straightened.
To the person who confronted him, he asked gently, [#0075eb "Did my sister cause you too much trouble?"] Sunan dismounted and started to prepare the apology in his head.
Mei had not gone home, though. She looked... dejected. Sunan stood in the face of her troubles. She appeared to cause far too many, and it wasn't the first time too. The disappointment on Sunan's face was quite a burden for her as she had started to leave. Perhaps... perhaps it was time to leave somewhere else. Away. Where she could be free to run without making another person mad.
Mei started back to the farmhold, her intention to pack. Her jaw was set as she prepared herself to leave.
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[font roman [size12 One step inside the tea shop and already the air felt strange. Poallu had always been quite intuitive and in tune with the word, but this just felt a little too foreboding. She couldn't quite tell what though and tried to ignore the feeling as much as possible whilst walking over to one of the free tables beside the window; a nice view would hopefully calm her nerves for a little bit. Though, before her mind could completely wander off, Poallu caught sight of someone approaching the shop; a man, kind of striking, with a rather suspicious stance. There was something quite off about him as if something innate was chewing away at him, but that was none of her business. She couldn't really look away, though, for a reason she didn't quite understand yet.
A finger wove through the handle of a pretty cup set down on her table and Poallu distractedly chewed at the chapped skin on her lips, but that man was always somehow within her sights. It wasn't that there was something wrong with him or anything like that, Poallu was just glued, a slight staple for her to just stare at and daydream all day. She quickly snapped back into reality when a rough-looking kid entered the shop and approached him, though. There was no doubt that kid was up to something; something that obviously didn't concern her at all, but her curiosity just peeked. Perhaps her feelings of dread earlier were about to become valid, but Poallu couldn't guess at all what was about to happen, just that what was taking place right now wasn't just a simple friendly meet-up.
It really wasn't any of her business at all, and consequently, felt guilty for even being slightly snoopy, but if something was about to happen in the shop itself, Poallu didn't really want any part. She couldn't afford to have her journey interrupted, even if that was a little selfish, and besides, the earth people were known to be able to care for themselves. That thought alone kept her mind at ease and supported her decision to begin to make her leave, but as Poallu gathered her bearings and straightened her clothing, a small crowd of Da Li agents suddenly filled the room and surrounded the two boys, as if on cue to inconvenient Poallu after her decision to leave.
She was stood there like an awkward bystander, witnessing everything go down. There was no opening for her to even slip past barely noticed, and as soon as her mouth opened to make an awkward apology and announce her leave, a gaggle of unruly children just appeared and added to the chaos. Poallu wasted no time in slipping behind a table and shielding herself from the fight; there was no point in getting caught up in this mess and injuring herself. She intently searched around the room for an escape, a way to slip away, and as soon as one was found, Poallu quickly scuttled towards the exit to leave everything behind. But even then, something just had to happen; the room filled with dust and dirt, the fight seemed to rage on even more, and the exits were all blocked off by the sheer violence. It was no use in even yelling for them to stop or calm down, clearly, they were all too wrapped up in whatever beef they had with each other and it was only getting worse. If she was going to make it out unscathed, she had to do something, maybe even something to pacify everyone for a short time.
She looked around, trying to scope through the smoke that blocked her vision, and snuck towards the counter of the tea shop were a steaming kettle of tea sat just waiting to be used. It was only a small amount of water, not enough to do much, but enough to distract and simmer things down, or alternatively, make things worse. Whatever; there was no use ruminating about the consequences now, it had to be done. She stood up straight and angled her hands towards the kettle; bending her hand to the side and motioning her fingers towards the tea, as if coaxing the hot liquid to slither through the kettle's snout. Her concentration was limited, too distracted by the chaos in the background to really focus her skills, but it was enough to pull all the tea out from the kettle and form it into a floating ball above a few of the Da Li agents and whoever was unfortunate to be beneath the ball of hot tea. As soon as the time was right, Poallu let go of her concentration and allowed the ball to fall; splashing whoever was near.
[#7092f5 [b "Everyone, that's enough!"]] She yelled, but her voice suggested insecurity and a lack of confidence. It really didn't seem like anyone would listen anyway, but with a steamy ball of tea crashing the party, maybe a few would be inclined to at least listen a little. Actually, maybe not, but at least her [i assistance] created a small window.
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[center [size10 [i There was time before the sun set. He had to keep himself hidden until then. He slipped through the crowd, lifting a few extra coins here and there. The Dai Li had trained in all manner of things, but pick-pocketing was Zheng's specialty. Many of the current agents had a more... darkened past before they were recruited. A child thief was the tamest of them, thankfully. Still, he only managed a few silver coins, and a few copper. He felt guilty lifting it from the obviously needy peasants, but his need to survive seemed to squash those feelings too.
It was a conflicting battle in his mind as he used the coins to purchase a small knife, which he used to cut his hair. Originally, it was a dark braid down his back, typical of the agents. It was a mark of who they were, a unit meant to protect the cultural heritage of the Earth Kingdom. How disappointed Kyoshi would be to see her agents now.
Zheng pushed that out of his mind and focused on his clothing next. He was still in the peasant garb, but he would have to remove the earth hidden up his sleeves. With a small step and a deep breath, he threw his arms so his fists pointed down. They clenched tight, and crumbled earth seemed to slip out of his sleeves. If he kept them on, any Dai Li agent could spot them a mile away. With this done, he checked the time. It was nearly sunset. He headed toward the tea shop.
As he approached, he stopped short. A beautiful girl had breezed into the shop before him, but it wasn't the lovely face that forced him to freeze. It was her garb. How strange! He hadn't seen anything like that in all of the Earth Kingdom, and [b never] in Ba Sing Sei. Zheng figured she couldn't be Dai Li, but was this the trouble he needed to watch for in the case of the shady kid?
Zheng slowly entered the shop now, and selected a seat by the door. He watched her for a moment, meaning to simply observe. Perhaps all of this time in a secret organization made him a bit... neurotic.
Time ticked by slowly from that point. An elderly man with a cheery disposition took his tea order, and Zheng didn't even touch it when it was set in front of him.
She was definitely as pretty as a first glance determined. He also finally realized that those clothes were likely water tribe. What was the water tribe doing here though? Or was she trying to get somewhere safe? Did one of the tribes fall completely to the fire nation then? After a while, the sun set entirely. The kid with arched brows came back into the shop and seated himself across from Zheng.
[b "Good work. We're ready to go."] He glanced around the shop. [b "And the deal was just for you, so don't think about inviting your girlfriend over there."]
Zheng felt his face heat up. [#00801d "Not my girlfriend,"] he grunted. [#00801d "Just watching for trouble..."] As if on cue, trouble entered. They streamed in rather suddenly, and they surrounded the table. Dai Li agents.
[b "Zheng, you're under arrest for crimes against the Earth Kingdom."]
The kid frowned. Then whistled. Within a heartbeat, the quiet, peaceful tea shop exploded in chaos and fighting. Dai Li agents, and what looked to be a gaggle of children, were fighting back and forth. One of them yelled, [b "Jet! Get Tiny and get out of here! If the Dai Li get him again, we're toast!"]
[b "I'm not leaving anyone behind, Duke! Is Longshot in place?"] The kid, Jet, drew a set of dual hooked blades. As he was about to swing, a section of earth in a hand shape flew through the air and clasped over Jet's hand, pinning it to a wall. Zheng brought up a fist and slammed it into the rock, crumbling it to bits while managing to avoid damage to Jet's hand. Duke took advantage of that moment to whistle another signal, and a second later, there was a sound of popping. Smoke started to fill the room. Zheng coughed and looked around, struggling to get his bearings... Jet was right next to him, and it seemed two different kids were giving these well-trained Dai Li agents quite the run for their money. It was no use though. They were outmatched and out skilled. They just needed something unexpected to get them out. Something to give them the upper hand.
Zheng joined the fray either way. If it was his last fight before retiring to Lake Laogai, he would make it a good one. Zheng began to unleash a stream of earthbending moves meant to use small pebbles to hit key points. He aimed for wrists, hands, ankles... anything to break an earthbender's strong foundation.
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[size12 [font roman Akiho was quiet, for the most part, and completely content with staying on the sidelines of the village whilst her partner did his usual shtick, mostly haggling with the few traders or chewing off the ear of some bored local. Akiho wanted no part and didn't want to engage with anyone, leaving this stuffy place behind was all that was on her mind, but with the way, Banta was completely out of sight and out of mind, leaving this damn place was going to take awhile. She supposed getting used to the mud pulling her feet further into the sloppy floor was going to be vital, having no hope for Banta's speedy return.
Sneering at the stench of manure and cattle, swatting away the nats that buzzed around her ears, and brushing off the dust that clung to her clothing, Akiho loudly huffed with obvious frustration. How could anyone live in this filth? She could've sworn that pang in her chest was regret for leaving the clean streets of the Capital behind. Though, Akiho just shook her head and crossed her arms, thinking like that wasn't going to help anything at all.
She'd just have to relax and enjoy the 'pleasant' outdoors as much as she could, it wasn't like Banta was going to rush things for her. She couldn't let her frustrations take over anyway, the risk of letting her emotions run high was too much. Akiho kept her eyes on the caravan just to concentrate on something other than herself and her discomfort, but mostly looked through the worn-out thing rather actually concentrate on anything particular, but the sound of rustling and supplies knocking together garnered most of her attention. Akiho didn't expect much from the noise but decided to investigate anyway, the caravan did hold some important items, after all, mostly her old clothing and a few family heirlooms that held sentimental value Akiho couldn't bear to let go. Anyone who messed with her belongings would surely make her more than just annoyed, but Akiho didn't really account for that.
She slowly approached the caravan and peered around the side, her eyes pulled into a suspicious squint and her eyebrows pinched into a frown. She caught the perpetrator right away and just glowered at them angrily, an itchy-burning sensation in the palm of her hand in-tune with the anger boiling inside her. If one took the time to notice, the air around the caravan became quite hot and stuffy, as if the weather had suddenly changed to that of a very sunny-muggy day. She stepped closer to the prankster, leaving a smoky charred footprint in the dirt, and let out an authoritative 'ahem'.
[#f05c64 [b "What do you think you're doing, you thief?!"]] Akiho demanded, mistaking the young girl for a looter. She stood straight, arms tightly crossed to her chest, and kept her 'brow raised, waiting for an answer. Though, Akiho did relax slightly, feeling her anger grow a little more. She was just a few pushes away from turning herself into a living flamethrower, and that surely wouldn't sit well with anyone. [#f05c64 [b "Get away from here, you filthy little thing. Didn't anyone teach you simple manners? You farmers are all the same."]] She grumbled, hands placed upon her hips which jutted out to the side, giving her a sense of superiority and sass.
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/BLjToDG.jpg?1]]
[center [size10 [i Sunan began his search around the docks. It was so crowded here. He remembered why coming to the village put him on edge. He and Mei didn't really have arrows, and their clothes matched that of typical Earth nation farmers. Still... it [b felt] like they stuck out. Or perhaps it was just Sunan. He could already imagine Mei forgetting their search for Kamon just to run around and play with other village children. Her plans often shifted faster than the breeze, and she was particularly good at keeping herself on task. Discipline just wasn't for her. Sunan craved it, though. That calm would come in handy now to find Kamon...
For a moment, he closed his eyes. His master always told him that everyone and everything was connected in some way. While Sunan was not too keen on spiritual connections, he knew if he could just focus...
Kamon! The din of the crowd melted, and he could hear a wheezy, yet extremely strict voice. That crotchety voice could be a beacon. Strange... Kamon appeard to be examining a stall with pretty accessories in it. How oddly frivolous... Kamon would never go out of his way for something so useless! Sunan walked over to him and gently placed a hand on his shoulder.
[#0075eb "Father, it's no good to wander too far from the family,"] Sunan said. His voice was just a tender as his hand. Kamon was years older than him, a monk who helped raise him. Even if he was mean, Sunan respected him, even cared for the grump.
[b "Hey! Get your hands off me!"] Kamon shrugged the hand off. [b "I came here on some very important business, and I don't need you interrupting it. Where's the damn necklace?"]
A lady, probably the one running the stall, said angrily, [red "Old man! You don't even have any money! I'm not giving it to you."]
[b "It's my birthright to have it! Just lemme see it."]
Sunan looked confused. He didn't have much on him, but if it brought Kamon home faster, Sunan could buy it, right? [#0075eb "May I see it?"] Sunan asked. [#0075eb "Perhaps I can by it for my father, and then we can leave... quickly."]
The lady 'harumphed' and went over to a small box made of a dark wood on a back counter. She brought it over, and with a flourish, opened it up. Inside were a few different pieces, appearing simple in nature. It didn't hide the single treasure that Sunan was instinctively drawn to. It was a set of meditation beads with a circle pendant as the focus. There were three swirls etched on the pendent. It was a dead giveaway to Sunan. That alone was an airbender artifact.
[#0075eb "How much?"] Sunan asked quickly.
[b "It's fifty silver pieces,"] she said sharply. Sunan reached for his coin purse and checked the amount he had.
[#0075eb "It looks like I only have 25 Kamon... I'm supposed to save it for a supply run with Mei later this week."]
Kamon looked angry. Still, he bit his tongue and grabbed his own coin purse. [b "Can't believe I'm paying for my own heritage,"] he grumbled under his breath. He had even less, having only 10 silver pieces on him. Sunan sighed. [b "Well, it doesn't matter. Not like anyone cares about the history of the likes of us anyway..."] Sunan felt a pang in his chest as he heard Kamon say that. He looked back at the lady.
[#0075eb "What about 35 silver pieces, and he never comes back to this stall again."] Sunan eyed the lady as steadily as he could.
[b "Deal, but if I see him again, I'm going to bury that man in the ground."] She held out her hand. Sunan and Kamon combined their coins into one of their bags and handed it to the woman. In return, she gave the necklace to Kamon, who slipped the beads around his neck. Then he clasped the pendant tightly in his fingers. Sunan looked around them. [#0075eb "Let's find Mei in go home..."] Kamon gave a grunt in response, content to follow Sunan.
Mei, on the other hand, was finding a little trouble. Life on the farm was stuffy and boring, and she was itching for something exciting! She hated how quiet it was there, how everyone seemed to be like a mouse... She wormed her way around a cart where another girl and a man were bickering a bit. Her airbending training came in handy as her feet silently propelled her under the cart as it stopped moving. She waited for the two sets of feet to leave before sneaking into the back. She didn't want to steal anything. She just wanted to play a little prank.
What was here... what was here... She looked at some of the items, thinking of just mixing up the stock a bit. She could also unhitch the caravan from its steed. That was always a bit of a laugh. She picked up a small bag and opened it. Inside were someone's belongings. Clothes and the such. She giggled as she started separating each item and stowing them in a different crate or bag, a piece at a time.]]]
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/Qt2ec9Y.jpg]
[font roman [size12 [b "Are you sure you've packed everything? I've asked Ashuna to prepare an extra batch of seal jerky for the journey. You know, hunger is the biggest killer on expeditions like this!"]
It was the same nagging concern that Poallu had heard many times before if one foot was stepped outside of the village borders, but this time the concern was genuine, at least more genuine than the others. It almost made Poallu frown with inner doubt at the thought of leaving her family behind, but at this point, staying behind in the village wasn't an option anymore. She had made the daring choice herself to leave and seek out the Northern Tribe within the faraway North Pole and had filled her people with enough hope to make chickening out an incredibly cowardly option, and already two within the village had set out on a similar journey to Poallu, an action that had inspired her immensely to do the same thing and follow her own course. It was almost her destiny, to prevent the war from getting worse and protecting her people from the Fire Nation's wrath, at least that's what her naïve little brain thought.
Her journey had taken a few days, borderline a week, until the frustration of constantly traversing in the middle of nowhere as her food supply ran low and her exhaustion high took a massive toll on her. She wasn't about to perish with barely any progress in her mission, not now. Poallu really should've of just caught up with the other two from her village instead of even attempting to do this alone, the thought nagged her almost every few hours, but her positivity tried to outshine that speck of negativity. But without much skill in the waterbending department and no true experience outside the village, Poallu's choice to be one of the few to reconnect the tribes was slightly overzealous and risky.
It was a short walk until the unmissable impenetrable walls of a very large city entered Poallu's view and the girl was left slack-jawed at the mere sight. She had never known anything but igloos and shoddily built walls of ice and snow in a very small and compact village. This was like a whole new world to her and even just staring wide-eyed at the walls of hard rock overwhelmed and astonished her enough to imprint the memory in her brain forever.
She had heard of such a city before whilst listening to stories around the campfire back home; Ba Sing Se? The description of the fortress-like walls matched perfectly. The capital city of the Earth Kingdom and the largest city in the world, a supposed haven for refugees displaced by the Fire Nation's raids, but Poallu wondered if that merely applied to those of the Earth Kingdom or everyone else. Either way, this city seemed like a staple in her journey to the Northern Tribe and a place to tucker down for a few days to replenish her energy, and getting inside was a lot easier than Poallu thought.
It wasn't long until she had found herself stood in a small crowd of peasants and the common folk, in the ring where the poor citizens called home. She felt incredibly alone despite being surrounded by masses of people, but being an outsider would do that to anyone, she rationalized to herself. Still, it felt quite awful to be the only [i one] of something, which she had convinced herself she was. She kept herself on the sidelines for most of the day, out of sight and out of mind. She was only here to wind down for a few days before everything picked up again.
A small teashop caught her attention though, standing out amongst the other buildings as if it was the most important place in the world in Poallu's eyes. It looked quaint and quiet, exactly what she needed, and a teashop was rife with enough peace to forget about the chaotic world outside. Even if the sun was going down, Poallu just wanted a few moments to herself, and besides, she had never actually seen an actual teashop before. She walked towards the entrance, careful and slightly insecure, and pushed open the door with a slight smile on her face, an almost apologetic one as if she felt guilty about disturbing the owner and the few people inside.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/PmiFPhf.jpg?1]]
[center [size10 [i [b "Zheng! Pay attention!"]]]]
[center [size10 [i That what when he ran. He ran past the walls of stone and lies, even as they blasted from the ground his feet touched. It just served as a jumping off point. He felt his muscles respond without thought. Without question. All he had was a split second before he could respond, an almost imperceptible tremble of the ground that he only seemed to notice with his increased adrenaline. He fled into the night, and the flag of Ba Sing Se fluttered harmlessly to the ground.]]]
[center [size10 [i By then, Long Feng had moved his last few pieces. The king was deposed, and soon incarcerated. There were whispers on how Long Feng would deal with the king, but nothing concrete was announced... yet. Whispers had a way of becoming true in Ba Sing Se. Zheng refused to be one of them, so he simply ran. He would come back for his king, but for now, he must find safety and aid.]]]
[center [size10 [i Shame he had no way of knowing where to start. In the Dai Li, you were taught that all of your loyalty was to the one who lead you. In the case of Long Feng, though, the real leader broke strategic political ground, kept a firm grip on control in the city, and... Possibly even rescued Zheng from a fate like death. It was hard to think that he had any real allies anywhere else at the moment. Even worse, he couldn't seem to leave Ba Sing Se. He wasn't always a Dai Li agent, though. As soon as he had made an initial gap of space between himself and the other agents, he began to change his clothes. To do this, he knicked a simple peasant outfit from someone's drying laundry. It was still a bit damp, but it was different from his Dai Li uniform.]]]
[center [size10 [i Now to actually leave Ba Sing Se. This would be the real challenge for him. Dai Li agents were likely searching for him at all of the usual exits, and even some of the more... unusual ones. He could hide, but that would only last so long. He quickly traveled to the first ring, mixing himself among the peasants as quickly as possible. Here he felt... at home. For thirteen years, these were his streets too. He wondered if... No. No she wouldn't be there anymore, and even if she was, it wouldn't matter. Zheng hadn't talked to her in years. He would need to find a place to hide quickly, though, but he seemed to be... stuck.]]]
[center [size10 [i He checked what he had left on him. A little money. Barely enough for a light meal. As he was counting his coins, he heard a small "Hey" from a few feet away. He stowed his coins away, and turned to face the stranger. He had sharply arched brows and a piece of straw dangling from his mouth. Zheng looked annoyed. [#00801d "What do you want, kid?"] The kid, in response, shrugged. [b "Nothing. Just looked like you could use some money."]]]]
[center [size10 [i Zheng could have cursed. For someone trained to stay hidden, he had been caught by some punk trying to act cool. [#00801d "None of your business,"] he stated coolly. The kid shrugged. [b "Hey, if that's how you feel. I was just going to offer you a job. That's all."] Zheng couldn't believe his ears. How was a child supposed to offer him work! The child seemed to read his mind, and he held his hands up in a surrendering manner. [b "I know what you're thinking. I'm just a kid, right? But I'm here on an important mission. See, my friends and I... We're trying to get out of Ba Sing Se in one piece right now, but we got in a bit of trouble."] The kid pointed toward a small tea shop. [b "I'm going to get them tonight and meet up in that tea shop with the rest of my group, but we don't have someone on the inside who can look out for... you know."] He seemed to give Zheng a pointed look. [b "All you have to do is sit there and look as mean as you do now, and if you see something... bad... Just walk out the door and leave. That's all you have to do."] Zheng looked a bit surprised at this point. There was something about how the kid spoke. It made him a bit uncomfortable to hear what sounded like a halfway decent plan out of this kid.]]]
[center [size10 [i [#00801d "How are you guys getting out of Ba Sing Se if your friends are in trouble?"] Zheng asked. [#00801d "You know that get's tricky when you're in trouble."] The kid was already waving a dismissive hand. [b "I have a way, trust me."] Zheng considered this. [#00801d "Keep your coin,"] he started. [#00801d "Keep your coin... and show me too."] The kid measured this counter offer, then nodded. [b "Fine, but remember. At sundown, walk into the shop. If things get tricky, like you say they do, then just leave the shop."] Zheng looked at the door. If things got "tricky", he would definitely be leaving the shop. It would likely be for quite a different reason than the kid though, though.]]]
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/lP7LDe1.jpg]
[font roman [size12 [b "Chin up, Lady Akiho. This is all for a good cause, you know that, right? We are merely trying to help the other nations realize that firebending is the only way to restore our world. There's no need to be upset."]
The soft and honey-glazed words of her former nursemaid echoed in the back of her mind as her fingers weaved through the ragged ringlets of her own messily braided hair. It had been almost a week since she had snuck away from the safety of her family home and ventured outside the security of the Capital's walls on the back of a merchant's caravan, but Akiho was still questioning her own decision to leave. It wasn't like there was any specific goal in mind, Akiho had no destination nor actual reason to leave her former life behind, but the constant rumblings of the Fire Nation's actions against the other nations were becoming too much. Her family was well acquainted with the military personnel and heavily wrapped up in the Cult of Personality ideology, even Akiho had her mind warped by their endless propaganda.
She felt guilty for a crime she didn't even commit, but sitting back and letting the atrocities happen, allowing her fellow firebenders to invade and oppress the other nations for practically nothing; Akiho was just as bad as everyone else, at least in her mind. In the middle of the night and away from the prying eyes of her family's servants, Akiho had contacted her friend Banta; a Fire Nation [i traitor] who disguised himself as a merchant to smuggle deserters outside of the Capital, to do just that for her. It wasn't an easy task and the back of his caravan was never the cleanest place in the world, but Akiho had found herself outside of the walls for the first time since her early childhood and on the move.
But, thinking back on the night and the few days of seemingly aimless travelling, Akiho was beginning to doubt her rather crass decision to abandon everything because of a guilty conscious. She had practically thrown her whole life away, no doubt her family had already branded her as a [i traitor], but maybe this was the beginning of something even better. What that was exactly, Akiho didn't quite know.
[b "Gotta make a pit stop real quick, I'm starving!"] There came the constantly grating words of Banta upfront of the caravan, pulled by a rather peculiar ox-looking creature lazily slugging itself towards a small village closeby. Akiho just rolled her eyes in response, but she wasn't quite content with the idea of entering an Earth Kingdom village.
There was still a sense of superiority and prejudice in her mind against those of the other nations, and the fact that she [b was] both a Fire National and firebender already garnered her a bad reputation even if nobody knew. Banta was a nonbender anyway and regularly disguised himself as anything but a Fire National, but even with the disguise gifted to her by Banta that made her look like an average trader, Akiho had no true control over her power; anger, happiness, sadness, and any emotion that could be considered extreme, [u [b fire]works.] She had to keep her cool for as long as possible.
[b [#f05c64 "Banta! We have a whole stock of nuts at the back of this stupid thing. Can't we just wait and eat them?"]] Akiho nagged with a frown as they weaved through a very small crowd and finally settled near a stall. She knew Banta wouldn't budge, but getting out of this village was her main priority. [b "I'd rather have you blast me in the face with your weird magic hands if I'm being honest. Just stay here if you're so nervous, worry-wart. It's not like this village has much to offer anyway."] Banta just droned back but in his usual cheery tone that only succeeded in lightly infuriating Akiho. She sneered at him before sliding down the back of the caravan and onto the floor, bringing the hood of her robe up to cover her features, just for extra precautions. She didn't exactly want to spend any more time in the back of that stinky old thing, getting a bit of fresh would be nice.
She stood on the sidelines of the village, her feet sinking into the mud with only a small grimace on her face to indicate such. The earthbenders sure loved their icky dirt and smelly farms, Akiho couldn't understand why.
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/BLjToDG.jpg?1]]
[center [size12 [i He counted the years that his Master had left. Four years? No. Five years. It was quiet in their small space during those five anxious years. And now? One of them was missing. It was Kamon, the grouchiest of them. For a somber community, he was especially bitter. As the oldest of them, he seemed to act as if it was his responsibility to cling to what they once were. Sunan didn't even [b know] what that meant! He wasn't a monk from a temple floating close enough to the sky to rest in the clouds. Such a fantasy was unreal to him. Instead, his feet sank into the dank mud just south of a small Earth Kingdom village. So many farming communities were easy to hide among for the remaining few Airebenders.]]]
[center [i [size12 "Remaining few". There were six, discounting his Master and Kamon. Six of them scoured their small plot of land, hoping to find the old man meditating by the small stream near their home or hobbling along the path toward the village. Sometimes he went there to people watch, more content when he was obscured by a crowd. Sunan didn't find him by the stream, so it appeared the Earth village was next.]]]
[center [size12 [i But who would go? Every Airbender that went into the village was at risk of discovery. Most of them had their tattoos. Sure, they could be hidden, but one wrong move and... Everyone could be taken. The only ones without were Sunan and Mei. As Sunan returned to the farmhold, he prepared himself to find her. He best not try to hunt Kamon down alone.]]]
[center [size12 [i Mei was sitting with an older woman. The two had been preparing supper together. Mei gave Sunan a cheery grin and waggled her fingers at him.]]]
[center [size12 [i [b "What? Was that old grouch mean to you again?"] She had a high-pitched, piercing tone. Sunan was attached to it, though. After all, she was like family to him. Still, he was already scowling at her. [#0075eb "Hardly! He's probably in the village scowling at people. Come on, Mei."] He gestured for her to follow. Mei was already laughing and hopping up to join him. As she did, a small breeze seemed to aid her to her feet, carrying her an inch from the ground for just a moment. It was so second nature for her to float... Sunan placed his hands on her shoulders and grounded her immediately.]]]
[center [size12 [i [#0075eb "Mei!] he hissed. [#0075eb "None of that in the village! You know the risks."] Even the woman she was with was giving a disapproving frown. Mei looked a touch guilty.]]]
[center [size12 [i [b "Sorry...] she mumbled. [b "Since he left, though, I just feel so... so... Uhg!"] Mei rolled her eyes. [b "You wouldn't get it."] Mei started to stomp ahead. Sunan followed her, feeling some sympathy. [#0075eb "Mei come on... You know he was my master too."]]]]
[center [size12 [i [b "Then why were you so quick to let him go alone!"] Mei started to move faster. This was a familiar fight. Sunan was twelve when their Master left to join the war effort, following after his bending teachers. Five years of quiet and stale breezes. [#0075eb "Because he asked me to stay here,"] Sunan calmly explained again. [#0075eb "We're meant to preserve as much as we can."] [b "Right,"] Mei said, sounding as if she had yet to forgive Sunan. [b "Preserve the last of the Air bending culture. I would have gone with him no matter what."] Mei slowed her stride a little, finally walking beside Sunan. For a while, the pair walked in a comfortable silence, but as they reached the village, Mei had a slight spring in her step. She seemed to feed off the energy here, wanting to bounce from activity to activity. They entered the village together, immediately splitting up to search for Kamon.]]]
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