The Underground City a collab between Prince and Capt. Blu The air had an odd aroma of humidity and heat as the evening continued to cool off. A gentle breeze pulled the humid air like an angry mother dragging her child through the marketplace, a forlorn force acting on a resistant and reluctant object. Although it was warm now, it wouldn't be for long. The sun was setting in the southern Earth Kingdom swamplands, and with it was the only warmth the entire region knew. The entire region, with its thick canopy, was known for being dark and dank, but at night it was only exemplified by a dense fog caused by the condensation of the miserably humid atmopshere. The swamplands at night, with its darkness, thick fog and chilled air, was miserable at night. So miserable that only the desperate would travel there. And, it was for that reason that the Rising choose it specifically as a meeting grounds for some of its more questionable, potential members. Those that sought out the Rising weren't always the most upstanding, some of them actual criminals attempting to achieve amnesty for their crimes through assisting the rebellion, or worse, by turning them in whenever the chance would arrive. For that reason and dozens more, the Rising had to sift through its less-than-desirable applicants. It was their duty to give anyone that wanted an opportunity a fair chance to have one. Anyone from any walk of life, any style of bending, any practice or skill, any story or dream. Anyone whom sincerely wanted to join the Rising, but had no one to vouch for them... had to be desperate to travel to a swamp a place like this. Time passed, the night grew more chilled, the dense fog rose from the ground and made walking feel like swimming as one could feel the wetness on their skin and had to trek thought mud and muck merely walking. The moon moved swiftly through the air, full on this autumn night. It would have done well to illuminate the clearings and pathways if not for the thick capopy and thicker fog. Krane never minded the swamplands. He could jump from tree to tree, avoiding the muck. He could clear the fog away from him and create a decently insulated bubble. He could even sense those around him through the fog as it moved, as long as he focused. What most hated about the swamps, Krane used to his advantage. Just one girl, he thought, was all he was supposed to meet. A whole month and just one little girl from this specific area wanted to meet the Rising, for whatever reason. At times, there were upwards of fifty people looking to ask questions or take in a traitor, but this month, there was but one. It was an oddity, if anything, but of course not many people even lived in this area to begin with. A fairly large clearing in swamp, with notably less fog, was the meeting spot chosen by Krane, whom told those that assisted the Rising in the local towns and village to direct anyone looking for him here. A simple clearing that Krane could observe from a distance. It made all the difference. All the girl wanted was a few answers. It was as simple as that. She asked, and they told, but of course, everything had to be way more complicated than usual. If she wanted answers, she would have to travel to one of the dirtiest, well muck and dirt wise, places in the four nations. If one could even call them that. Tanvi contemplated not going. Her curiosity about some rebel group could have easily been deterred by something equally interesting...Too bad there was nothing equally interesting. So, after some time doing southbound travel, Tanvi was stepping through the swampy marshes in order to find this 'particular spot'. Throughout the trip, she wondered if it was really worth it. And there was also the possibility that the entire thing could just be a scam, or worse, a trap. "Maybe I should have came earlier...when it wasn't so dark." Following the light of the moon was a lot more difficult when a series of obstacles like roots and holes were in the way. A chittering sound came from her sleeve, and as if it was a coherent language, Anvi retorted. "I could've stayed back at the Earth Kingdom, but you and I both know that there was nothing else to do there." The girl continued walking, occasionally glancing up at the tree bramches. Too bad they weren't low enough. If they were, she could have climbed those instead of having to walk. Those circus skills did come in handy. From her sleeve to the neck of her shirt, shifting occured until a small furry head appeared. "Ssh, unless you want us both to get caught." Both had spotted a figure a little ways off just sitting there. "He could he dead...Never know. Then again, could be a trap." Risk it all, or go back to the city? Well, for some odd reason, Anvi was feeling a bit daredevil-ish. She walked forward, only clearing her throat to be acknowledged. Fei, the fire ferret, decided it was best that she stayed in hiding amongst Anvi's clothing. 'Well, he's not dead...And I didn't see anyone as I walked up.' Her perceptive eye had done a quick scan of her surroundings as she decided to take the risk. No one around. Just...some kid. Krane noticed the girl, the only person he was told would be visiting him this go around, far before she reached the clearing. The fog moved around her and Krane could feel its unnatural movements. He could feel almost every create around him, as long as he laid still on the branch he did. This was one of the only real applications of meditation he had from his days with the Air Temple, but it was notably quite effective. He could tell who was coming, who was around them. He could even tell that the girl had stumbled as she walked through and overlooked the designated clearing quite a few times before reaching it. Simple techniques provided a significant amount of useful information. As he seen she finally made it to the clearing, it was time to actually begin the initiation. Breaking his concentration, he leaned up and began to swirl his hand, cascading his fingers back and forth in a fluid, clircular motion as if spinning a ball in his hand. As he did, the fog that was once thin in the clearing began to swirl around the girl as she stood there, thickening as it did due to the nature of humidity, and incircling her in a wall of thick, dense fog. As it spun around her, a vaporous whirlpool if anything, he changed his gestures to a simple variation of a come hither sign, making the fog react by thickening in front of her. Simple techniques. Simple diversions. Instead of being greeted in some type of formality, he merely began playing around. Her hair swayed with the small gusts of wind, but Tanvi herself stayed still. With a raised brow, the girl watched the little show he put on for her. If this was how he was greeting her, she could only imagine how long it would take for her to get solid information. "How troublesome..." Anvi murmured and crossed her arms. She noticed the cloud thicken until she couldn't see behind it. That's when she focused a little more, despite the yawn afterward. "I honestly am not looking for any type of fight. So if that was your intention, you can so kindly just cuff me or something. I'll go willingly." It was a lie, but the monotonous voice she had made it hard to tell. "You're rather dull," said a voice that came from somewhere behind the girl. The whirling fog disrupted it thoroughly enough to make directly finding its source impossible. Krane was somewhat unethused by this youth. She acted so serious and calm, far more than some of the people he was in normal company with. Far more than himself, and he was only two years senior. What purpose was there in being so serious? It made Krane less than enthralled by her immediately. He saw nor felt passion within her. "Cuffing you would be dull, too," he added, "and, I hardly know you, so there's no way to make it interesting." All at once, the fog cleared. A surpringly potent gust of wind pushed the fog out of the area, creating a thick dome around them, but leaving the entire area as clear as the arid deserts far north of the swamplands. This happened near the end of the last sentence spoken by Krane, allowing the girl to actually identify his position. He was just barely a foot away from her, behind her. The entire area was perfect for a stealthy airbender, and he made good use of it. He finally said, "but, that is the problem. I know nothing about you." "Dull, eh?" Tanvi gave a soft laugh before shrugging. She had heard worse from old women biting her head off just to get her to stop being so 'lazy'. Anvi thought of it as conserving energy. His voice was behind her, but she only turned her head slightly. Any sudden movements made would probably lead into some falsely accused reason to attack. And she was serious about not wanting to fight. "Well at least that let's me know you aren't any type of official." If she wasn't going to prison now, he couldn't have been any authority figure. Her brow raised again towards the last part about her being cuffed, but it was soon shrugged off. When the fog was gone, Tanvi faced Krane. "You know nothing about me? I would think that's a good thing for me...What- more rather, why do you need to know me?" She paused and shook her head. "Don't answer that. Obviously, you're trying to find out backgrounds and connections. To keep this little gang of rebels from being ratted out." Tanvi crossed her arms, ignoring the slightest shift in movement in her loose fitted top. "Well, if it eases your troubles, I am no one important. Just a wander- no, traveller of the four nations. But of course, it'll probably take more than that for you to believe me." "You talk a lot, but say so little," Krane told her. He was still so unenthused by her. She was so direct, so dull in how she talked. She had no secrets, no depth. As she spoke, Krane even went as far as recreating the cascading fingers that he used to create the whirlwind earlier, but this time just creating a little ball of air to play with in his hand. He had to have smoe form of entertainment when dealing with such a dull girl. He didn't care if she found it rude, either; his place wasn't to impress those looking for a spot in the Rising. After she finished her rant, he simple said, "Let's start simple." "Why are you here?" he asked. That was new. Tanvi wasn't known for talking a lot, but once again, she merely shrugged the comment off. She watched the male in front of her, entertain himself with his airbending tricks. The next comment he made Tanvi outwardly laugh. It was short and not very loud, but in the silence of the swamp it was very noticeable. "If you say so. I prefer to call it, being calm and centered...even when I was told to walk through the swamp." She wondered what his deal was. Was it part of being thorough? Question every little detail just to find the one mistake? Tanvi let out a soft sigh and looked up at the sky before returning her gaze to Krane. "Simple it is. Believe it or not, I don't really care. But, I'm just curious about the rumors I've heard. Something so insane like taking down the Phoenix King," Her voice got noticeably softer as she spoke of them. "It peeked my curiosity. What were a few...twenty maybe one hundred people running into suicide for?" Tanvi simply nodded and gestured for him to speak again. So far, the two were beginning at a zero when it came to how useful the other was. She spoke so directly. So bluntly, even. This entire evening would have been miserably dull if not for the fireballs launching through the thick wall of fog. Krane quickly tossed down the little ball of air, then through out his hands in a quick motion, causing it to expand and block a majority of the fireballs being launched. Not only were they caught conspiring, but this dull and somewhat dense girl just alerted an entire enemy squadron that most likely tailed her here at a distance far enough away that Krane couldn't sense them. They even had confirmation due to her wording. "On behalf of Phoenix King Ozai, you are to be arrested and detained for crimes against the crown. You have been caught in the act of tre-" were the unfinished words of what on the Pheonix Kingdom Police Force. He was the squadron leader, but he didn't last long. Krane took an orthodox airbending stance, then outstretched his leg and cycled his arms down, moving quicker and quicker as he did. Near the final stage of his tecnique, he curled his wrist over three times, his entire arm moving with it fluidly. With movements so swift the police couldn't finish his sentence, a little ball appear at the tip of Krane's two fingers as he extended them, then launched a torrent of pressures wind that ripped through the platnig on the policemen, then drug over to one adjacent frmo him and slashed through him as well. The police saw this and were somewhat astonished. An airbender... that just killed? Airbenders held all life sacred. Of all people, they made the worst soldiers and combatants. One rarely ever fought an airbender to the death, instead just played a game of cat and mouse. After their astonishment, however, the firebenders unleashed a torrent of fireballs onto the two. Krane responded by deflecting a majority of them via a leap in front of Tanvi, which resulted in his heel bringing down a wall of wind. While it spawned, he made the same movements as before and cut down two more police with vicious airslashes. The four remaining police took open stances and breathed in deeply before stomping forward and thrusting up their hands to create a large wall of fire. It was actually a technique taken from Earthbending, but was potent in the stance that it was a literal 12 foot tall wall of fire. Krane looked back to Tanvi with a smirk despite the wall's advancement. He took a similar stance from before, but squatted down and lengthened his body. He centered one of his hands, which was creating what seemed to be his signature cascasding fingers while his other arm was making large, circular motions as he outstretched himself along his extended leg. Then, Krane launched out his centered hand, creating a large gust around him, but that was only an after-effect. The ball created in front of his index fingers this time launched a powerful, visible jetstream of air that merged with the fog around it, creating an even more visible stream that slashed through trees, then cut through the fire. In a mere few seconds, Krane leveled an area with a quick, horizontal slash, then canceled the ability by withdrawing his hand. In a few moments, the wall of fire fell and so did four guards that were almost completely cut through, armor and all. After he was done, Krane rolled his neck and stood up from his squatting position. He turned back to Anvi with a smirk on his face, as if he enjoyed showing off his less-conventional airbending style. Fact was, he did. As the police bled out, Krane asked Tanvi, "What was your last question?" Everything happened in the matter of moments. Sure, it was possibly longer, but watching Krane as he fought made everything seem like it was a snap. First the police appeared, and right before Tanvi could make a snarky or witty retort, they were firing at them. Unlike some who would panic and freak out, she merely sighed. Guess their conversation would have to wait, wouldn't it? As the flames were shot towards her, she was more than prepared to snake right through them with ease. But that moment never came. In fact, all attacks on her end, ended up being dispelled or blocked. "How courteous." Tavi crossed her arms and smirked. He was fighting all the men for her. Wasn't he just a gentleman. Tanvi laughed a little at the thoughts, but she kept a keen eye on Kane's work. This was not the type of airbending that was typical. It even looked a bit like a style one may have learned as a fire bender. "Interesting." She had been a little too wrapped up in the new style that she had noticed the wall of fire being erected. The heat of it did manage to turn her attention though. And in an instant, that was gone too, along with the police. "Well then..." She looked at Krane as he returned to their conversation. Anvi forgot what that question was, but she decided against trying to think about. Instead, she replied with, "You couldn't have found a better place to go searching for illegals?" Krane simply shook his head. He wasn't for sure if the girl didn't realize she was tailed or if she was actually cracking the first joke since he met her. She wasn't exactly known for her sense of humor at this point. In any case, Krane replied, "Chances are, they found this place by finding you. I'd assume you asked around, and asked the wrong person. Sound about right?" Although he ended his sentence in a question, there was no need for an answer. "We can't all be perfect. Speaking of such," Tanvi gestured to the dead guys behind them. "Those weren't airbending techniques. I may not have gotten to the Air Temples yet, but I'm well aware of the style." As she recalled, airbenders 'defended to attack'. Their style- no, there culture never consisted of bloodshed like what she just witnessed. This was something new. A mixture of different techniques. "I'll admit. It was pretty impressive. And," Tanvi nodded slightly. "Thank you. You know, for the 'saving' me and the likes." She wasn't going to complain about how she could have taken care of herself. She could have, but Tanvi had the feeling he would expect her to prove it. With eight of the nation's police for down and out, suspicions would soon rise. But Tanvi could guess that Krane was well aware of all of that. She could make her escape out of the swamp just as well as he could, so that was the least of her worries. The main focus now was just to prove herself of being given information. Or was it rove herself that she wasn't a conspirator? Either way, Tanvi thought she had given him the message. Though in giving that message, it didn't seem like Krane and Anvi were making a good first impression with each other. 'Hope that doesn't shorten my chances.' Before she could say anything else about the fiasco or about what she came for, the ferret poked her head out of Tanvi's shirt before perching on her shoulder. Fei only stared at the stranger in front of them. She sensed the threat he possessed, but because he wasn't attacking Tanvi, there was no need to be too alarmed, or hidden amongst clothes. "Travelling companion. Fei. Now, back to your questioning?" "You're still quite dull," he told her before cascading his fingers once again, creating yet another ball of air in his hand. As the ball swirled round and round, Krane added, "but, they attacked you. If you were an informant, they wouldn't have been so quick to attack us." Krane then clenched his hand, an act that rarely happened in airbending. The ball shrank down, then Krane aimed it at the muddy ground in front of them and launched it. The ball flew forward and into the mud where it exploded, making mud rain down everywhere - covering the bodies. Meanwhile, Krane gently waved his hand in a short, circular motion, creating a barrier around them to keep mud from ruining their clothing anymore than it already had. "Besides, you're cute," he told her as an after thought. It might have just dawned on her now, but he had all intentions on allowing her to ask her questions or at least delve deeper into the situation. As the mud finally stopped falling, he returning to his cascading motion. It seemed he never liked his hands to be empty. Krane then looked back at her, making deliberate eye contact for essentially the first time. Who are you, miss, and what do you want to know?" he asked. Tanvi initially pouted, albeit playfully, towards being called dull again. "Well now that that is settled and clear-" For the first time in her meeting with Krane she showed another expression besides blatant boredom. She was a little surprised by the sudden declaration, but the moment passed seconds later. It did ease her thoughts on whether or not she would get information she wanted. An annoyed sound came from the animal on her shoulder when mud was splattered around. Tanvi would have been upset too, but he was kind enough to prevent their clothes from getting even more stained. "The name is Tanvi Anil. I'm the daughter of a man who serves under the Fire Nation Army. I left home about a year or two ago to start my journey as a traveler. Staying in one place is rather dull so I chose to leave. I have no significant history if that's what you were trying to find out. I'm just a person trying to learn something new in each nation. Well, used to be four nations." In her brief monologue, Tanvi didn't mention anything about her own skills or that she was once in a circus. It wasn't anything embarrassing or something to hide, it was one of those pieces of information that was only given when asked. "Do I get to know your name, or is that top secret? As for what I wanted to know," The girl paused and thought it over. "I honestly just wanted to know if these rumors were true. And if they are..what makes a gang of rebels so confident when the Pheonix King has control of everything?" What was their secret? They must have had a major plan to take someone so powerful down. Krane chuckled at the girl. She wanted to know if there were people in the world that could actually take down the Phoenix King. She masked it was curiosity, but it came off as hope. She hoped that there was an answer. Krane could read it between her words. This little girl, a girl whom might have just been killed for her actions, came here in hopes of being told that someone in the world might just be able to take down the King that rules it. That's all he saw in this girl: Hope. "My name is Krane Elba. Former secretary-in-training of the Fire Lord regent. I trained alongside Azula and Zuko, and developed this style using Firebending stances and mimicing Lightning Bending. It's unlike any other," he told her. His story was meant to be a bit more enthralling. He also turned around and began walking in what seemed like a random direction. "When you're fighting an enemy like the Phoenix King, you can't worry about the lives of a few pawns. My duty is to show the whole world what the Phoenix Kingdom is really diong, not to maintain a few age-old airbending principles," he explained. Albeit, the tone he explained it in made it sound like he was convincing himself more than anyone. So he was some fugitive of the law. That was to be expected. There probably weren't too many regular citizens like her that joined the group. He spoke of his talent, leaving her with a curious expression. Now why did that sound so familiar? Not a familiarity that she had come into contact with such a talent, but it was as if she had seen it once before. That's when it hit her. Ty Lee had often gone to visit her friend Azula and it seemed like she was forever training. One faithful day, Tanvi had to retrieve the bubbly show girl from the Fire Nation palace and that's where she had witnessed it. "I have seen you before. Maybe once or twice when I was younger." She wasn't necessarily speaking to him anymore, it was for her own realization. She noticed him walking off and started to take steps forward, only to pause again. "I see... " This Rising had good intentions. Crazy, but good. "What's your title in this group? To be doing something so official, you must be high in rank. How many people are in this so far?" Krane was quite curious as to how she had seen him. Almost no one had seen him. He worked for the highest Fire Nation royal family, only ever going through the channels for his secretary work, and even then he had a myriad of third persons to give him reports and information. Moreover, she began asking questions. Ranks? Positions? They didn't exist within the Rising, at least not like she thought. Krane continued his trek until he reached the end of the clearing, then jumped onto branches using airbending. He had a natural advtange on her, and agility that was nearly as impressive. "I have no rank. There are no titles. We have leaders, but aside from that, we are all equally fighting alongside each other. Whether it is front lines as you just saw, or hiding fugitives, passing them off as civilians. We all fight," he explained to her. He waited for her to trek. He doubted she had any way of climbing the trees, and guessed she would need to walk. Like normal airbenders his feet were rarely on the ground. "I trained alongside Princess Azula, even beat her in duels. When did you see me?" he asked, as if far more curious about this than he was the Rising. She watched him leave, only starting to follow when he paused to wait. Finding out that they had no systems besides the leaders that rallied them together made her nod. "Good. Less likely for the group to become corrupt. The moonlight aided her in seeing that the path only got muddier from where she stood. She heard his question, but her focus turned towards two trees that were a decent amount of space apart. Tanvi refused to walk through more mud. She put one foot against the tree and looked up to see the closest branch. "Hold on Fei." She mumbled before pushing off of one tree trunk with her foot and then to the other. She reached out and grabbed the branch, easily lifting herself up to a standing position. She had unnatural balance as she casually walked along the branch she was on, before jumping to the next. "I've seen you fighting Azula. It was a while ago when I was younger, but I remember having to fetch Ty Lee and she was hanging around while you and Azula trained." Tanvi gave a simple shrug and had once again balanced onto another branch, walking along it as it were easy. "Ty Lee?" he said. He had only met her a few times. The girl was oblivious to her charm, but she was far from hopeless. She had the unique ability to chi block and could easily take down both Krane and Azula in the same fight if she wanted. She had no real destructive abilities, but she didn't need them. Azula often brought her in to train in agility, and the differences in Azula were noticeable after a week with Ty Lee. Then it dawned on Krane. "You ran away to the circus, didn't you?" Krane said, as if poking fun at her. Krane found the idea humorous. This serious little girl a circus performer. It made sense. She was odd to begin with, but her freedom, boldness and apparent agility on the branches they walked on led Krane to believe she had spent plenty time working on the techniques. "I didn't run away to the circus. I walked up and joined, thank you." There was a hint of playfulness in her voice if he paid close enough attention. It was true though. She lived with her neighbor who was an elderly woman. She was scolded for doing nothing, so why not join the circus? "I had nothing else to do so I joined and learned alongside Ty Lee." Tanvi had successfully made it to the branch behind him, before adding on. "Yes, the bubbly girl that helped you two, or at least watched you two train. That Ty Lee." She stood on her toes and grabbed the branch above her to be higher up as they journeyed to where ever Krane was taking them. Krane kicked himself up through the branches, gliding through a few of them with a simplistic grace. He rolled into a flip, landing in front of Tanvi. With the same smirk as before across his face, he asked, "And, what skills did you pick up from miss Ty Lee? I recall one of them that might actually be of use..." The girl watched him show off before landing right in front him. "Oh, it's easy when you have an element." She said with a light tease before jumping to the next branch. Instead of telling him, she decided to show him the skills she picked up. Tanvi leapt through the branches, executing flips and tricks normal people wouldn't dare do without safety. Having an element to would have been a mere bonus for her. Tanvi made every move fluid and seem like the easiest thing in the world. When she finally stopped, she was lifting herself on a branch with one hand before swinging to sit on the branch right under. "There's that...Oh, and there's the Chi Blocking. Can't forget about that." Tanvi spoke of it as if it were no big deal at all. "We had the same teacher. We learned the same thing. And we're both good at what we do." Krane gently placed his hand on the hilt of his sword before he started to smirk. Trained by the same mentor as Ty Lee, huh? Ty Lee, the girl capable of dueling him and Azula, and often winning. The girl with a fighting style so dangerous that Lu Ten tried to enlist her and Iroh gave some silly quote about how the most unlikely people can have the most useful skills. If this girl was another Ty Lee, things might get interesting. "I fought Ty Lee a few times," he said, tightening his grip. "She knows about all four bending styles, how to counter them. How to stop us. To beat her, I had to pick up something she didn't expect a bender to use, and show her something she hadn't seen," Krane explained. His tone had picked up. So did his body. With a quick slash from his sword, he launched a wave of air sharpened by the edge of the blade itself. Krane then kicked off the branches and into the air, swirling at a rate only an airbender could achieve with the assistance of his bending style. Air currents flowed all around him, releasing seemingly hapazard slashes of this razor wind that cut inches deep into the trees and even stones around him. Albeit, all were intended to miss Tanvi. As he flipped through the air, it was unlike before. It wasn't concentrated or isolated. It was fluid. Fluid like her. Fluid like Ty Lee. This fighting style returned to the basics of airbending in the sense of was meant to be lighter than air, but this one had one new addition. It used agility to become as precise as a swordsman, and that Krane was thanks to Master Piandao. As Krane landed, there was a trail of destruction all around him, but it followed a pattern. His flips and turns through the air were guided. They were intentional. Every graceful movement he made was intended to distract the eye from where the blade of wind would go and when he gently landed on a protruding rock, sheathing his sword, it was as if a distrurbing display of destruction had been performed by a masterful artist from the circus Tanvi once attended. Krane had his eyes closed as he said, "Even Ty Lee could not dodge every slash and she couldn't get close enough to stop me. If you share her skills, you should share her... disdain of a technique like this." Tanvi carefully watched his performance. What he said about the girl that was once her partner in performances was all true about herself as well. One major difference though, was that Tanvi had decided to do more than just learn about the bending styles, Tanvi decided to learn them as well. If she could mimic the styles of a bender and incorporate her own skill into such techniques, she would be..well, she'd feel more than proud. Ty Lee knew of the elements and how to counter them, but she didn't know how to fight like them. Tanvi herself was still learning, but she had accomplished learning fire bending techniques thanks to her father. This skill he displayed, she watched intently. Tanvi didn't move from her spot, trusting him enough to know that she wouldn't hurt. Fei on the other hand trusted him less and hid away again. Her brow furrowed as watched him. There was no way to weaken his defenses or land a numbing blow. "Hm..Well I'm not Ty Lee. I'll figure out a way." Tanvi gave a determined nod before looking around at all the destruction. "Eventually I'll figure it out." That is, if laziness didn't get to her. With a sigh, she leaned against the trunk of the tree. "So, what's next? You're just going to let me have information and then just go my way?" "I would assume," he told her after opening his eyes, "that you would be coming with me. It would make you so much less dull if you did." Krane then kicked off of the rock, tumbling through the air to plant himself not too far off from Tanvi. He rolled his neck as if using the technique was some kind of burden, then added, "you've got a useful skill in chi blocking, that little ferret of yours might be useful and you've learned a bit too much to just let you go. Besides, you're pretty cute. It'd be a waste if I just let you go." She listened, trying to hide the surprised expression once more. "Well, Fei and I don't have any plans. And I suppose I could do without being as dull." She patted the ferret's head as she once again peered out at Krane. Tanvi hoped he wouldn't be too disappointed when he found out that putting her through a certain amount of work would end up with her being...just a lazy aabout it- unless it was extremely urgent of course. Well, he'd figure it out. "I'll take you up on that offer. Lead the way Krane." And so, Krane did. It was a short trek to the safehouse Krane had setup for the night. It looked like an abandoned hut from the outside, but on the inside it made it appear far more safe. Plenty of these types of huts had sprung up across the countryside; Earthbenders made them quickly, then debri or run-down housing materials were blotted to make it less conspicuous. This was only the beginning, too. The two made a two day trek North, once staying in an inn along the road and the next night eventually ending up in the great city of Omashu. They didn't take the marbled path leading to it, however. A fugitive would never make it through the great wall of Omashu with all of the Phoenix Kingdom guards. Instead, they took a more shadowy route through a cave several miles away from Omashu. The cave itself led underground and inetegrated into the sewers, using their networking to get into Omashu unseen. However, it was what the secret underground of Omashi hid that was important. After hours of trekking through this underground passage, going over several doors and tunnels, Krane noted, "that's it up ahead," then curled his fingers through the halls, making a gust of wind blow the torchlights to enlighten a large, dark-stained door. "You're going to have to start carrying me or something." Tanvi said probably more than once on their trip. She didn't ask questions. She figured the answers would come in no time at all. Especially like how they were suppose to get through Omashu. "Not through...under." She could definitely admit to the fascination it brought. It may not have shown on her face, but it was there. Fei had jumped from Tanvi to Krane's shoulder and sat there, looking around defensively. The girl on the other hand had already began her trek towards the door. Her fingers ran across the handle before she pushed it open. Fei bristled a little before crawling off Krane to follow Tanvi. "If there is anymore walking I have to do, you're going to carry me." Krane listened to the girl complain the entire trip. She was from a circus. Weren't they vagabonds? Traveling performers? Did she literally ride in a wagon the entire time? Of course, most of the time, he quelled her complaining with a quick-witted remark, which mot of the time left her more frustrated than flattered. This case was no different. "If I carried you, miss Tanvi, you'd never want to leave my arms," he replied to her in the most sarcastic tone he could. The dark-stained door was obviously new. There were no cracks nor rust on the iron that bound it together. This entire hall, actually, looked surprisingly new, and it was. These halls were made recently by Earthbenders and Underground Omashu was made into one of the main headquarters of the Rising. There was a whole world below the complex mail-delivery system above it. "Besides, it's right here," he told her. It was just a brisk few steps between them and the door, the torchlight itself mostly just a marker. Krane knocked on it a few times before boldly saying, "Damnit, Rayah, open the door or I swear to the spirits I will cut it down." Krane looked back to Tanvi and shrugged before offering a quick explanation, "No one knows this is here, so no one pays attention to when someone shows up." "Charming." That was a hard bargain he pulled. Walk or get stuck in his arms? Maybe she'd rather walk. And as he said, they were already there. Where ever there was. He cursed at no one in particular, so Tanvi waited for something interesting to happen. Fei had once again returned to Krane's shoulder and tilted her left and right as if trying to figure out who he was yelling at. "Well, it's pretty secure that's the case." Krane walked through the door after it opened, not really motioning her to follow, just assuming she would. Inside, it was essentially the same as any of the huts they used as quick havens, albeit it was larger with more unique furniture. The area they walked in was just a foyer, however, with dark-skinned, red-headed girl standing behind the door holding a large latch. The entire room itself was really just a gateway as another gate, this one being opened by Krane, was behind it. Through this gate was an entirely different story. It was as if a few city blocks from the surface had been moved straight underground and integrated into the walls. This place was its own little world. It was illuminated by series of lamp posts all burning, but above them were large chambers that ventilated the entire area. The very top of this huge chamber, no less than thirty-foot tall, was covered in mirrors and glass that resmembled a complex chandlier that reflected large bonfires that swayed in the drafts created by the warm and cool air. Krane guided her through the streets and as he did so, he explained, "We have some incredible engineers. People that help out with unique skills just like yours." He then gestured all around them, walking through the streets that were cobbled all the same as the surface. "They designed all of this. The lights reflect back that huge fire, but the heat warms the air. The roof above that is designed like a cone and a series of vents force the hot air out for cool air through chambers above. The drafts keep the air circulated, which lets the fire stay alive and lets us have this entire place underground without no one even knowing. The engineers got the idea from the sewer systems, but... well, it's a lot cleaner. We do have working bathes, tho," he explained as they walked through the streets. Although dim, one could see. One could see far better than on the foggy night the two first met. The steps in front of them, the detail that was in every building, the fact that this place, this underground Omashu, was designed to mimic the real thing. Krane didn't have much more time to explain as they arrived in front of a tall building carved into one of the sides of the area. He opened its door and within were several others all sitting around a table, most drinking or eating. Most of them greeted him quickly, while others, such as Shila and Kalani, didn't mind his visit whatsoever. Krane guided her through this building, even, taking her through a clothed doorway to a backroom with slightly more cushioned seats. Krane sat down comfortably, then explained, "This is my room. If you've been here long enough, you get your own. Once our boss gets here, he'll assess all of the new recruits more thoroughly. Make yourself at home, miss Tanvi." As they walked through the underground city, Tanvi looked around amazed by all of the creations. "Who would have known." She'd remark, pausing like a tourist to curiously look at something, only having to hurry and catch up. Her marvelling was short lived and she couldn't roam the place like she would want, but the tall building in front of them looked pretty interesting as well. She walked in, half waving towards everyone that greeted her so kindly. Fei nearly jumped off Krane to nab some of the food, but decided to wait for a better opportunity. It wouldn't have been a good idea to wander away from Tanvi and get lost. The girl continued following him until they came to a rather plush room. At least, it looked comfortable enough. "This place is amazing." She marveled, taking a seat in one of the cushioned chairs. "The city, not your room." She added, and then got comfortable deciding to lay down with her feet propped up. She was courteous not get any dirt anywhere- just in case. "We didn't really need this city," Krane explained. Soon enough, a few people brought them in some water and a simple meal of spiced bread and some stew. Krane took a quick drink before explaining, "Our leader wanted to make a statement. He wanted to tell every person that is part of us... that they are worth something. You don't need to be in an army or a bender. Every skill, every action - everything you can do means something. That is why he insisted this be built. It started just a few years ago. A handful of enraged engineers kicked out of Omashu for their loyalty to the old ways. They were more than happy to help us. You can even access Omashu from the sewers, but it's kept separate and clean." Krane then rolled his neck and leaned back to relax. He pushed his bread over to the ferret he saw curious about it before, then said, "And, this is just one." He Who is Uquo (Move your mouse to reveal the content) He Who is Uquo (open) He Who is Uquo (close) Prior to Uquo (Move your mouse to reveal the content) Prior to Uquo (open) Prior to Uquo (close) "Didn't need it, but it has a good purpose." She was sitting up again with her legs crossed and pulled close to her. "Oh, thank you." Tanvi collected her food and ate while he explained a little more. "As I said before," she started after drinking some of her water. "This place is amazing. And it's quite large. How long has this been up?" She watched Fei happily snag the bread and sit next to Krane as she ate. This was definitely not what she expected. "Here I thought you all met in abandoned towns or caves. This, this has a lot of work and history put into it. Are there any more new recruits? Or was I the only one for this...sector?" If there were more cities, that meant they had to be in all four nations, all designed a different way. "Will we be going to visit these other cities?" It would give her the perfect opportunity in her travels. Krane chuckled at her curiosity. He hadn't seen her perk up since he first met her. He was beginning to think she resented him, but she didn't ditch him before. She seemed, before, like hope to him, but now he saw the childlike curiosity he expected. She looked so young, not like he wasn't, but just not someone you would expect to see in The Rising. Granted, one might not consider Krane to look like a killer, nor Azula or a maniac or Ty Lee capable of taking down all three of them, if they didn't pay attention. It really dawned on him how different things were from how they appeared. "I don't know and I don't know. We recruit once a month, and in that month, I can be given a dozen different missions. I never know where I'm going, who I'm going with, who I'm fighting... I don't even know what will happen with you," he explained. Up until now, he was her only real gateway to the Rising. Her only source of answers. He wasn't for sure if she considered the fact he might not always be around. They only spent three days together, but he was guessing she hadn't had consistent company since she left the circus. Hell, neither had he. She frowned a little when he couldn't give her the answers she needed. It was short lived and went away with the sigh she gave. Tanvi set the now empty bowl to the side and held the bread in her palm. She whistled lightly and Fei, already finished eating, scurried over. Tanvi tossed the bread up in the air, only for Fei to jump and catch it. "Oh?" She didn't know what to think about the possibility of meeting dozens of new people every day. It sounded like it would drain her of her energy. It was as if she didn't join a circus and was forced to actually work. She was almost sure she was going to stick around with Krane for the time being. "Well, I guess we can only wait for time to tell." Krane yawned lightly, already bored, and only made more so by her notion of waiting. He explained to her, "A lot of this job is just waiting... being at the right place at the right time to do just one then, then getting out alive." He sighed as he explained. One might think the life of a rebel, especially a rebel that often stood alongside the rebel leader himself, Uquo,would be more interesting, but the fact was, it wasn't. All of his work had to be done in secrecy and his free time could either be spent training, or drinking like a few others. His yawn was contagious and Tanvi ended up yawning as well. It wasn't out of boredom though- well maybe it was, she wasn't quite sure. "Well, if there is nothing to do but to wait, why not give me a better tour of this place?" Even though she suggested such, she would have been happy laying around and possibly going to sleep. After all, wouldn't they need their rest for some big meeting with the leader? Tanvi pushed her brown hair to one side and leaned back, getting even more so comfortable in the seat. Krane shook his head. He saw her stretching out and took it as a notion to do the same. These boothes were comfortable, sure, but he wasn't for sure just how proper she was raised to be. In any case, he explained himself, "I can't show you anything else. You aren't really in yet... I just thought you'd be worth showing the guy who makes the real decision. Besides, the trip back here is so boring alone." The last half of his explanation was the sarcastic, semi-flirtation she had most likely gotten used to over the course of the trip. He used it like a little pin prick to annoy her, since she didn't seem to reciprocate it. "How troublesome." Tanvi commented before glancing over at him. "Would you happen to know what my initiation would be?" She did note that she was an 'honorable mention' for the leader and had a small amount of pride for it. Not enough to make her mention it again though. Once more, as she had gotten accustomed to, Krane teased or said something that just wasn't...common in a sense. It was odd, whatever he was doing. And it only annoyed her because she didn't understand what he was trying to accomplish. Krane let out a long groan as he slouched over the seat. It was almost feline how he had his back curled backwards and was stretching. After what could best be described as a long, aggressive yawn, Krane flexed back into a more normal position and scoffed slightly. Not really a condescending scoff, but more along the lines of a half-laugh that didn't quite merit a chuckle. "If he likes you and you get in, he'll ask you what you want to do. Chances are, that's what you'll do. Since there wasn't a sign-up sheet for meeting the most attractive women in the four nations, I decided to volunteer for the more dangerous jobs. Tho... this might be the closest I've been," he explained, again trailing off in one of his half-hearted additions. She thought about what she could do. There was always the dangerous missions...but that required a lot more than she was probably willing to give. Krane proved that when he killed the police force. "Hmm, maybe an assistant or an infiltrat-" She realized how dangerous that would be if she tried to be a spy and then got caught by the police, or worse, the army. Not once did she think of what her father would say or how he'd react to her being in the Rising. He was pretty lenient, lettIng her do most things that she wanted, but this was probably a little extreme for him. "Hopefully my father doesn't get in the way...He's just a soldier doing what he knows how...I don't think he even likes the morals of the Pheonix King." She was rambling gently, staring up at the ceiling. Tanvi coughed awkwardly towards his accusations of her being 'attractive' and simply looked off to the side as if that would prevent some sort of blush that formed. Well, if that was the case, then it worked. Once more, she ignored hIs lItle flirtatious commemts. Fei became her little deus ex machina at the time, deciding to pounce on Krane's lap and get comfortable. The ferret had come to like the boy since their little travel through to Omashu. Krane gently stroked the fine hair on the ferrets back, allowing the warm little creature to take refuge in his lap. Tanvi was entirely unlike Ty Lee in the sense that Ty Lee worked the energy she could make with her body, knowing full well what she was capable of. Tanvi most likely spent her youth in the shadow of Ty Lee, so she had no idea how to react to anything. "I'm sure I'm the disgrace of my family. The Elba line has assisted the Fire Lord since Iroh before Ozai, kept as advisors when Ozai took crown and we gained even more duties when Zuko was named Crown Prince. Now I'm a fugitive. A liabiity that made Azula turn on Lu Ten," he told her, as if reciting verse from his life. He had thought about this a lot. He was a prodigy in a sense, great friends with Azula and trained with the royal cousins. He had a prosperous life ahead of him and tossed it all away. Tanvi's eyes closed as she listened to Krane speak of his life. "A disgrace? That might be. But you're doing something for a good cause. It's better to disgrace your family and save nations, rather than honor them and go against what you believe in." She opened her eyes when he spoke of being a fugitive again. "If Azula was willing to risk herself for your sake, you couldn't have been a liability. You were a friend." Tanvi's eyes closed once more and she shrugged. "Friends help each other when they need it. Not because they have to, but because they want to." She didn't mean to sound sentimental or knowledgeable about the situation, Tanvi was only expressing what her thoughts were on the matter. "And if you think about it," she added, "If this- once this is all over, you and everyone here would have achieved something far greater than anyone could imagine." Krane only yawned again at hearing her. Everything she said was something that he had heard from a dozen others in a dozen different ways a hundred times over. People were odd like that. They think you need consolance. No amount of words could ever take away the feeling Krane had. The regret he had for leaving behind his life. The questions of what if? They could try, but it would never amount to much. Most of the time, Krane just had to ignore it and move on. People. They often have the best of intentions. "Remember what I said at the swamp?" Krane asked. He let his neck roll over slightly so that he could look at Tanvi as he explained, "You talk a lot." Krane scratched underneath Fei's chin, letting the little ferret take ease in his lap. "Its the curse of all pretty girls, y'know. No one ever wants to offend you, so they never tell you. It's human nature. We learn it in the palace. If we make a single gesture that communication is unwanted, it makes people less likely to visit - and that's bad for a palace image. If you get offended, most people think you'll never want to talk to them again, and for most men there are few worse things than never getting to talk to a pretty girl again," Krane told her. He went into a pretty thorough explanation as well. It was as if this was something he had contemplated over time. With her eyes still closed, Tanvi smirked a little. It appeared he didn't want her two cents on the matter. That was fine with her. She didn't have to say anything, in fact, he had probably heard different variations to what she said constantly. His insult, as she took it, didn't hurt her in the slightest. "The only reason I'm talking now," Tanvi paused and yawned. "Is because I didn't want to seem rude and fall asleep." She didn't mind the honesty of what he said, even if it was a little rude. But he was right, people would get offended if they just blatantly told others to stop talking. Once more, she ignored the compliment he had given since she wasn't sure how to respond to it. "Don't worry, I'm not going to stop showing up because you'd rather have your peace. It's not like I have many places to go anyhow." Krane chuckled at her. She seemed so focused on reassuring him or saying the right thing. Even if she was relaxing physically, he was sure she was still somewhat on edge. It made sense to be, too. She was in the middle of the underworld, surrounded by fugitives and rebels. "Don't avoid it," Krane told her, "you're only sticking around 'cause the ferret likes me." The comment made her open her eyes. She turned to see Fei happily sprawled against his lap and being petted. Tanvi rolled her eyes and smiled. "Ah, yeah sure. I wouldn't want to leave her behind. Guess I'm stuck here thanks to her. Thanks a lot Fei." She recieved a squeak in response before Fei returned her attention back to Krane. Krane just laughed at her before rolling back into his sprawled out position. "Could be hours before he shows up. All we're ever told is what day to show up. You mght be stuck here for a while," he explained to her. Of course, he didn't stop petting Fei. At this point, the tired little ferret was likely considering a nap, and so was Krane. The more he spoke of how long it would take, the sleepier Tanvi got. Fei was already drifting to sleep. She rested her head against the back of the chair she was sitting on, pulling her knees up to her chest. Instead of speaking, she hummed a response to let him know that she heard. There was little for them to do to occupy their time as Krane said. And she was comfortable enough to know that he wouldn't try and kill her in her sleep. If he did, well, she was a light sleeper so slight movements would be heard. As much as Krane wanted to, he wasn't exactly allowed to nap. He was responsible for Tanvi as she was in the underground city, thus he had to watch over her until she was approved or sent elsewhere. This didn't mean she couldn't nap. Or Fei. Just not him. He would have to silently, if she was sleeping, wait it out until Uquo came. This wasn't the worst fate he had been given in his time in the Rising, but it was still a dull one. Fei had fell asleep, and soon enough Tanvi was asleep as well. It was no bed, but the chair was pretty comfortable. And being curled up was no problem for her. All the moving about was pretty tiresome, but she had the endurance to do all that travelling. Without being disturbed, Tanvi slept soundly. And after at least thirty minutes, maybe longer since she wasn't keeping track, she woke up with a yawn and a stretch. Her head turned to where Krane had been, noticing that he was just sitting there. She was about to question it, but she merely sat up. Fei on the other hand stayed asleep. "Well. I feel refreshed." "You missed Uquo," Krane replied. The words may have echoed a bit. Maybe it wasn't a real echo, but more akin to one were the listener wonders if what they heard was right. In this case, it was. A mere twenty minutes into her nap, Uquo had visited the rec center. His assessment was both quick and thorough; a quick look and conversation with most new recruits led to a majority of them being accepted. Few were not. Those few would be destined, or more accurately fated in the most unfortunate way, to be dealt with before even leaving the Underground City. It was secret that must be kept, and those visiting all risked their lives. If not for being considered a traitor to the Phoenix Kingdom, than to the traitors whom demanded absolute loyalty. It was a odd and somewhat contradictory, but a necessity all the same. ...Just a few minutes earlier... Uquo walked into the rec center. Although he didn't have the appearance or intimidating stature one might expect from a Waterbending master and elite solider from the Northern Water Tribe, he all the same demanded respect merely by walking in. His garb, at least while in the Underground City, was a thinner variant of the traditional Waterbending wardrobe, complete with wolftooth earrings and a white-skinned mantle. As a matter of fact, this type of garb would immediately draw attention and make a bold statement literally anywhere else in for hundreds of miles. Aside from the Northern and Southern Water Tribe, such attire would be a taboo; and, that was the reason Uquo wore it. Everything Uquo did had a purpose, and wearing symbolic clothing to deliver a powerful message was definitely one of them. Anywhere else, this would have drawn immediate attention. He wore it to remind everyone that this wasn't anywhere else. Uquo had only brief conversations with any single recruit there or their respective recruiter. Even Krane was only given a quick wave. Tanvi wasn't even awoken; she was approved with a quick nod, and left in her tentative sleep by a silent slip of a paper given to Krane by Uquo. Everyone else was essentially rounded up after their introductions for a quick explanation of their goal. It was simple. There were more new recruits this month than ever; normally, recruits were attained via political methods from Uquo, not single-handed recruitment such as this. For the next month, instead of being given immediate approval, the new recruits would shadow their respective recruiters, being analyzed, since Uquo quickly decided he didn't have time to do it himself, and learning more about the Rising. Or, if they were not 'accepted', making sure what they learned was put to a permanent rest. There was an atmosphere created when Uquo entered. He couldn't have been there longer than twenty minutes, twenty-five, tops. There was no uproar. His presence was actually quite light. Yet, at the same time, one knew to listen. When he spoke, there was a sincerity in his voice. Even though he was mostly dismissive and seemingly rushed, Uquo never sounded nor seemed the least disrespectful. Even to the youth, whom always demand attention, he seemed so busy and blurry that just a greeting from him was enough to sate their thirst for attention. To those that demanded respect, such as the Airbending Masters in the room, it was easily read that Uquo was not disgracing them with his rush, but methodically realizing that he didn't have the ability to assess all of them, and thus designed a new system on the spot. To some, he asked more. He asked them to stay for a coronation ceremony, the lighting of the autumn blaze, which burned a darker red with purple hues. In the Underground City, the fire essentially lit everything, thus its light and its hue set the mood. As summer was ending, it was time for the brighter fire to be quelled and the new fire to be set ablaze. Those Uquo asked to stay for this ceremony were those he wished to speak to in more depth. Others were not obligated to, but were just as welcome. It was one of the few actual festivities within the Underground City; most activity was, quite factually, pure work. A rebellion was not the setting for frivolity and festivity, but Uquo did attempt to keep the morale of his people up. There were similar festivities being held in the other headquarters of the Rising, so this concept of morale and culture was perpetuated within the entire Rising. One could say Uquo had created a culture of rebellion. Return to the Swamp (Move your mouse to reveal the content) Return to the Swamp (open) Return to the Swamp (close) Fei had yawned and rolled on her back to stretch as Tanvi reached her arm down. When she did, the ferret climbed up and rested on her shoulder. It took her only a second to realize what the airbender across from her said. Tanvi blinked and crossed her arms. She missed Uquo... The one person she was supposed to meet that would determine if she was acceptable...and she missed him. She mentally sighed for getting too comfortable. That was not only a dangerous thing to do considering she was amongst a band of rebels and potential threats to her life, but now because of the setbacks as of late. "So...does that mean I have to wait even longer?" Fei even frowned up at the idea and slumped on Tanvi's shoulder. She had the idea to pass the time walking through the underground city, but Krane did tell her she had to be official before she could go off alone. Krane had thought his unconventional declaration would illicit more of a response, but the one he received wasn't a surprise. Of all things, she was worried if she'd have to wait even longer. Now, that level of impatience could just be the fact she was a fiery youth that had been stuck in a dull rec center for a couple hours, after two days of traveling.On the other hand, she could be impatient because such a delay would lengthen a mission if she was in fact some type of spy or infiltrator. Those were thoughts that had to travel through Krane now. Uquo had boldly, albeit silently, put him in charge of Tanvi and their soon-to-be recruit, Lien, as their assessor. In the past, Uquo had always assessed the new recruits. Granted, the Rising was expanding at an expotential rate it seemed and Uquo was only one man. Krane had to take on more responsibilities. "Heh," Krane replied after a brief pause. "You wear impatience like Bison flies," he told her. He then stood up stretching, his lank body extending from its sockets. After a small yawn, he explained, "No, no more waiting, but you don't get to just go, either. We have another recruit to pick up, and you'll be helping. You and I, miss Tanvi, are headed back to the swamp." Krane wasn't about to tell her he was her new assessor, but he was obligated to keep her with him until he made a formal judgement. That's what Krane was. Krane's mission was to be her judge, her guardian and her ally until she either proved she was trustworthy... or he had to kill her to preserve the secrets of The Rising. Tanvi didn't respond to his comment. She felt she had all right to know, especially after such a big deal was put into Uquo. She only gave a small shrug before he continued to speak. "Well would you look at that. Heh, hear that Fei? We get to accompany Krane. How delightful." She smirked a little and crossed her arms. It would be an interesting experience with how their relationship had already started. Tanvi didn't think it was too bad... But hey, there could've been some 'improvememt' if she had a say in it. A trip back to the swamp wasn't what Tanvi had in mind, but if it meant helping the cause, she didn't mind too much. In a slightly teasing manner, she spoke, turning to the door in the process, "Don't worry, I won't complain too much this time." Krane chuckled at her notion that she wouldn't complain too much. She had complained for nearly the entire trip to the city. Compared to the grueling deserts just west of them, the trek between Omashu and the Foggy Swamp was simple. "We'll be missing the lightning ceremony," Krane said as he hung around the doorway between their room and the more open hall of the rec center. "Uquo said our next objective was of a high priority," Krane explained. Krane then put his hand on the back of his neck, then rolled it to pop it. "But, we'll be getting you some equipment. You'll end up half nude traveling the world in clothes like those," Krane told her, waiting for her and Fei to follow. "What's this ceremony for?" Tanvi followed Krane out the door and into the hall. She looked down at her clothes, tugging the bottom of her shirt. "I guess a set of new clothes would help." She had started travelling light. All she wore was a simple pair of loose red pants for easy movement and gray shirt. They didn't pertain to any nation like most styles and she liked it better that way. Tanvi saw no point in claiming a nation when she planned to travel around frequently. "Recruits are high priority? Or is there something else that we have to do?" Krane listened to her as they left the rec building, traveling through the dim streets. The Underground City always made Krane feel like he was within a giant alley. It was dim, although far from dark, and had the ever-present atmosphere of a man made landscape. Krane never did like it, despite the interesting nature of the place to begin with, Maybe it was his airbender nature, disliking the enclosed area or the lack of natural integration. "The color of the fire changes every season to a different color. The old fire is doused and a new fire on new materials is lit. It celebrates the change and the new illumination represents the season," Krane answered her first question while they were strolling down the streets. "Some are. This one in particular isn't as much as a recruit as she is a volunteer. Uquo wants me to escort her as an act of good faith. Alone, she might get into some trouble," Krane answered her second question as vaguely yet informatively as possible. The ceremony sounded like a nice sight to see, but there were other priorities to be dealt with. "I suppose I'll see it the next season. If I get to stay that long." Tanvi was speaking more to herself as her eyes wandered over the Underground City. Who knew how long they'd decide to keep her. Tanvi only knew limited details about this band of rebels. Sure they wanted to stop the Pheonix King, but at what cost where they willing to do something like that? It would be a tough battle, but the ones that were already stationed in the city had already come to terms with the dangers. It made her think... Was she really willing to die for the cause? 'What am I worried for? I'm not going to die. Everything will be fine.' Her mind wandered to what would make this new recruit- or volunteer so special, but maybe that was just it. She volunteered to be in the group. Tanvi wasn't given much to go off of, so she simply nodded. "Alright then." The girl assumed Krane knew little about the new recruit just as he had known little about her, so she saved her questions for when they met the newcomer. As Tanvi didn't exactly ask a question or spark a conversation, Krane didn't continue one. He was more interested to see what she might like from the clothing distributor he was taking her to. Her clothes simply wouldn't do for their line of work, and she was going to need more adequate equipment anyway. As long as she was with Krane, it was all going to be free on the grounds of the Rising as well, so she would essentially get free reign to almost anything they could provide as well. The Underground City wasn't large, so it was only a few minutes and a few blocks away from the building that Krane was taking her to. The leather and clothing, at least, were on this side of the city. If she wanted a weapon, the forges were a good distance away - for safety purposes. In any case, Krane said, "pick what you like, and make sure its sturdy. Heavy leather, or maybe ostrich hide if you can't handle the weight. Boots, gloves, embroidery. Any cloth should be thick and dense... but I guess you need some mobility," he told her, remembering her agile nature as an afterthought. Meanwhile, he pointed at the displays through the glass of the building, which had impressively high quality, verdant leather tunics. Doubtful that was meant for someone like Tanvi, but it was still above expectations for an underground city. Minutes later, Tanvi was in a building filled with various styles of clothing. She stood at the entrance, looking around, mainly to catch all of what Krane had to say. "Sturdy and protective. Got it." Fei jumped off the girl's shoulder and on to Krane's as she began her trek to find a new outfit. She had been so used to wearing the light clothing for circus acts and simply easier wear, so it was a little difficult to actually pick something. Tanvi picked up multiple pieces of clothing, some heavier than others. Occasionally, she would glance over at Krane, but it would only last for a short moment before she was once again rummaging through clothing. "This...I guess this can work." One of the women working the store showed her where she could try on the outfit to make sure it fit. When Tanvi returned, she was now in a mid length burgundy robe that stopped at her knees. Despite the style, the fabric was sturdy and protective as he advised her to choose. Underneath, for her mobility, she wore wide pants of the same color that allowed her to move freely. "Not bad. I can work with this." She shrugged and then removed her hair from the loose ponytail it was in, planning to fix it later. "I would suggest asking the seamstress to add leather guards," he told her. He was leaning against a wall, mostly just waiting for her. He hadn't sustained any important damage, but he did swap out his boots, which were made of a lighter leather, but mostly due to the wear on them. He was hoping Tanvi would do the same, preferably without him instructing her to. Of all things, durability and water resistance in their footware was probably the most important part of this visit. He did explain his logic, however, "We need to go to the smiths to get your napsack, and some knives and a weapon if you want. She should be done by the time we're back, and the additions will lengthen the life of your clothes by months." Tanvi rubbed her wrists and looked back when he mentioned the guards. That would have probably been a good idea if she was succumbed to close combat. At least she knives and sharp objects wouldn't cut into her on impact. She walked off to find the seamstress and asked for the leather guards, adding on that some for her legs would be useful too. Her shoes scuffed the floor, and almost instantly she remembered that the swamp and her flimsy slip ons would not work. While the seamstress went to find a set of guards that would fit Tanvi's small frame, the girl found a pair of boots. It wasn't much her style, but the tougher leather would help with all the walking they had to do. The weight of them weren't too heavy either so she was fine. "And now, I'm done." Tanvi adjusted the leather on her legs and then looked at the leather guards on her arms. Different, but it would do. She went back and changed into her previous clothing, but left boots on. If they were going through the swamp she would need them. As for weapons, Tanvi preferred knives. It was easier to hide the weapons on her when she was in close combat. "Alright, let's go." She gestured them on after Krane did whatever he had to do, like pay for the items, and followed him to their next destination. Tanvi would be able to have her new full attire later on. Krane stayed behind, just a moment, as he gave further instructions to the seamstress. Soon after, less than a minute really, he followed Tanvi, or one should say caught up to her, then led her through the entire under city. This walk would be significantly longer, about twenty minutes, as the forges were located by one of the water sources, which were fed from the same nearby springs that created the oasis that actually fed Omashu its water supply. As they strolled through the city, Krane actually explained this to Tanvi, "There's a lot of mining that goes on here, too. A lot of real rich metal, so we forge it. They made special ventilation shafts and isolated the forges and cooking areas around water, so that in case of a fire, not too much would be damaged. You'll see soon." During this much longer walk, she noticed more people here and there. The ones that did notice her gave nods or friendly waves in which Tanvi would reply with a nod. "Everything has been carefully thought out...How long has the Rising been together? Well, how long has this place stood?" It was really a sight to behold knowing that such a large place was hidden right under the noses of many who were trying to get rid of the rebels. Krane sighed as they ventured through the streets of the city. He really did have a distaste for the darkness and lack of real illumination, although he did quite like the night normally. It was an odd sensation being underground for him. Despite all the marvels and ingenuity, he just never felt at home. "The Rising has been around over a decade. This place started out as tunnels from smugglers, but was expanded to all of this in just a few years. Uquo has made leaps and bounds. He's trying to make a dream a reality, y'know," Krane exlpanied, although the discomfort might be heard in his voice as they continued their stroll. Tanvi looked up at what normally would be the sky. Instead, it was like a ceiling. Of course, because they were underground. She realized she never went underground before, but she was sure it was nothing like the city they were in. She always believed her first time being underground would give her a feeling of clastrophobia. This wasn't all that bad...Though she did prefer the sky, mainly the moonlit sky. "He's doing a fine job so far..." Tanvi spoke softly and looked over at Krane. She raised an eyebrow, but decided to let it be. She could've just been over analyzing the moment. "I'm curious..." There was a hesitation before she continued on. "If you were...still with the fire nation royals, you'd probably have went against the Rising, no? I mean, after all you must've had your life set." She didn't know why it came to mind, but she decided to ask nonetheless. Krane snapped out of his deluge of discomfort as she asked him about his old life. Although yes, the idea of leaving it behind was painful, he had found that talking about it avoided him becoming as bitter as some of the other members of the Rising. So, he answered her, "I'd imagine you're right. I was being trained to be an apprentice to the Fire Lord and oversee their more monotonous internal affairs. It turns out, the Fire Nation does pretty terrible things through the Phoenix Kingdom. As a sheltered kid then, I had no idea. It ate me up inside, so I eventually asked some questions, and was forced to leave - and leave quick. Chances are, if I waited just a few years later, I probably wouldn't even be a fugitive now." Krane sighed, this time from recollection. "A few wrong words at the wrong time can change your life," Krane told her. It must have been tough to go from having everything to be left with nothing. It must've also been tough when he realized how awful things really were. Tanvi decided not to press on about his past. She didn't want to bring up too many painful memories for him. She patted Fei's head when she leaned downward. "At least those words changed you for the better." Tanvi looked around, expecting the building they were supposed to be at to be somewhere near by. She fell silent again and continued looking around. "You don't know that," Krane told her as they marched through the dimly lit streets. "You didn't know me before, you barely know me now, and none of us know if what we're doing is truly for the better," Krane explained. Krane hated it when people said things like that. He hated hearing 'I'm better because of it' or 'I'm better off' because chances were, that's just how people coped. It was ignorance and he hated ignorance. The best he could do was meet ignorance head on. "When I first left, not a day went by that I didn't miss my parents, my friends or Azula. Not a day. Every night, I wished I had kept my mouth shut so I could have stayed with them. Even when I met Uquo and realized there was hope, I still wished I could be at home in bed, waiting for my next lesson on the new steel industries in the Fire Nation or my next sparring match with Azula. Am I better now? Am I a better person because I'm an exile and a fugitive?" Krane told her, working himself up a bit. He did it on purpose, tho, because just a second later, he had calmed. "No, I'm not. Uquo isn't better because he's leading a resistance, Ozai isn't better because he's the Phoenix King. You're not better because you've never killed a man - assuming. Things can't be better until you determine what is good and what isn't," Krane told her, now talking more like a teacher than anything. "If I learned anything from my airbending instructors, it's that good and bad only exist within us. We can either accept things as they are, or resist the flow. Attach ourselves to an earthly world, trying to change it because we think our inner good needs to be the outer good, or we can detach ourselves from those ideas." She set herself up for the riled up speech she got after her comment. Tanvi was still calm, even as he went on. Krane had a point about what he said, and really, Tanvi had only said such a thing because she didn't know what else to say. It was basically a 'default' response to what he said. In a perfectly normal state of mind, she would assume that anyone would want to go back to his high and royal life. And he had a girlfriend, or whatever he wanted to call her, that he passed up. The kid could have been broken up inside, keeping the calm facade just to ease everyone else. Her eyes wandered over to him as he calmed down. He spoke as if he was wise with age, and Tanvi crossed her arms. She pushed her hair behind her ears and then looked ahead. "Well, I guess we'll find out when this is all over. Or somewhere in that time." What would they determine to be good or bad? "And no. I haven't killed a person. The closest I've gotten was paralyzing them for...maybe a couple of hours, maybe a day or two." She gave a shrug and continued walking. Fei climbed down Tanvi and walked on ahead, curiously peeking around the city, but not going too far ahead. "Being trained as I was," Krane explained, "rewarded me with the ability to read body language. I don't even need to look at you; the air down here is so stagnant I can read you as long as I watch close. You're avoiding the harsher topics on purpose. You probe, then you block yourself off. Your body language changed from open, gazing at everything here, to closed, as you focused more on the conversation between us than this place - which you were fascinated with earlier." Krane turned to look back at her with a smirk. Of all things, a smirk. He was just riled up before, but only with his words. She didn't even see his face; the assumption was that he was worked up. Just as she was probing him, he was probing her. "Don't hold back on account of upsetting me. I've killed for plenty of reasons, but never because a recruit mouthed off," he told her. His smirk was ever present. As if he was bragging about how he killed. Or that he had killed 'plenty.' He was intentionally facading pride, just to irk her. Nevertheless he set his gaze in front of him, avoiding eye contact again. "We each choose our own good and bad, Tanvi," he told her. 'Each and every person here chose to come here, chose to be part of us, because we are doing what they think is good. Even if good and bad come from within us, together we can do a good we all agree on. That, Tanvi, is making things better," Krane said to her as he ended his speech. At the same time, he wanted to illicit a response. He'd never learn anything if she was always so... dull. She was called out on her actions. And she couldn't deny that he was right...unfortunately. Her arms stayed crossed and she looked off to the side for a brief moment. So what if she did seek to avoid topics of harsher degree. It saved her from many painstaking lectures or 'sad' moments. It wasn't like she was avoiding information that would help her in the long run. Tanvi caught the smirk Krane put on and couldn't help but roll her eyes. "Holding back on account of upsetting you? Don't flatter yourself. Upsetting anyone else? Maybe." She huffed and looked ahead. "Besides, it was just a question. Nothing more." She found no reason for him to prod on about the topic but he did nonetheless... "I get it alright? The whole, everyone chooses their own path whether it is good or bad. In the end you are the one decides. And all that." Her arms remained crossed, but she avoided eye contact and let her eyes follow the ferret going back and forth. She wasn't upset about his analysis or words of wisdom. Tanvi just wasn't used to having others call her out. Then again, Tanvi had been on her own most of the time. Even during her days at the circus, she never compared to Ty Lee's bubbly personality and she preferred to not be surrounded by dozens of people. Being with others, even a small group was going to a...relatively new experience for her. "You really don't," Krane told her as they continued walking. "You have been told, sure maybe you understand the idea, but what you don't seem to fathom is how it really works." Krane walked closer to the side of a building now, running his fingertips across it daintily. "In your voice, I can hear it; you talk about paths and use the phrase 'in the end', but really, you have no clue what you mean. Air Nomads spend their entire lives searching for enlightenment, seeking out truth in the darkness, removing themselves from such notions of good and bad," he explained, "to believe you understand it is sheer ignorance." Krane took a corner, changing directions through the streets, but only out of necessity. "The question you should be asking is why did I bring it up? I've never delved into the teachings of air nomads. My teachers weren't even fundamentalists. All you see is this topic at face value, and that is what you understand least. I am no air nomad. I don't look into the world without seeing good and bad, Tanvi. I am no enlightened nomad, but don't treat me like some kid taken from his home. This world is full of bad people and bad things, and its my job to make sure you... that you fit in. It's my job to make sure that the good in you is the good we need in the Rising. The kind of good that can make the world a better place." For once, Tanvi felt rather annoyed. The fact that Krane seemed to have an answer for every little detail was effecting that. She had no reason to think he was wrong though. In fact, he was probably right about everything he said. He sure did hold the air that he was. Tanvi ran fingers through her hair and huffed. She shook the loose strands away from her face and calmed rather quickly. There was no need to get upset over little things. "Well, I guess I have a lot of learning to do. And you'll have a lot of teaching to do." Tanvi didn't have any comeback to his speech. She simply accepted it. Did she disagree? To her, it didn't really matter if she agreed or disagreed. It wouldn't do her any good arguing a point that he was well aware of, and she had only clouded judgement on. She recalled what an old woman had told her, mumbling the quote. "Living isn't always easy with your eyes closed..." That was something dealing with the ignorance he was talking about. Well, now she started to understand what the woman had said a little more..Thanks to Krane's endless speech. It did make her think that the easy life she had was about to change. And Tanvi wasn't sure if it would be for the better. That was for her to find out. And so far, her 'ignorance', as Krane pointed out, would not help her. Meaning, she'd probably have to put more effort into knowing. Tanvi continued following the male and glanced over at him when he spoke of being treated like a child. Her eyes went forward again and she spoke. "As much as I can reassure you that my intentions are overall good- to standards, I suppose I have to prove myself." Krane listened to her. He had little choice not to. She replied in the over-so defensive tone she held as soon as he brought the topic up. She seemed incapable of going into depth or taking the conversation as anything other than distrust. In a sense, this somewhat proved that she had a goal or at the very least had a strong desire to stay n the Rising. If she had stronger morals or a more influential mindset, she would have simply replied with her beliefs, which in retrospect would have been far more annoying to Krane. Krane sighed lightly, somewhat losing the spark he had for the topic and made bored by the conversatiom. Luckily, there was no need to force the conversation further. Right around the corner was the final paved pathway to the large bridge that was surrounded by a moat of flowing water that poured from spouts carved via Earthbending. A relatively wide, stone bridge connected what looked like a giant, smoke-breathing hut of cobbled stone, and some surrounding areas. In fact, the largest and most foremost part fo this little island was the forge, made big enough to be shared and used simultaneously by a dozen or so craftsmen. The air chambers above the forge sucked the smoke passively and there was little room for it to escape, making this underground forge possible. The firebenders and blacksmithes help didn't hurt, either. The conversation finally ceased and she made no move to continue it. Tanvi appreciated the silence much better anyhow. The two continued their trek until they were met with a little island. There was no doubt they were at their destination. Before she moved further, she snapped her fingers, calling Fei over. "This shouldn't be too difficult." She looked over at Krane, half expecting him to respond either with a retort, or piece of advice for their future travels. "Regarding weapons, I don't use many besides daggers." She followed him, planning to get just that. She had her moments with swords, but she preferred something more close to home. Krane didn't expect her to take much interest in weapons. With her abilities, she likely rarely needed them. Despite that, it would be entirely unsafe and impractical to go competely without something, so Krane was somewhat eased by her desire for daggers. "Smaller blades, easier to conceal. That's the name of our game. I wouldn't carry around this sword if not for the things I can't do without it, and even then its small and goes easily unnoticed. I'd suggest getting a toolkit, too. Has a set of knives, serated blades, flint, scizors, some stiches and if you can pick locks, it has a set. Uquo designed them to be a utility for all of us, and they've proven reliable," Krane told her. He notioned over to small, bifold pouches of coarse leather. When untied and opened, they revealed a myriad of useful little tools. Things most people wouldn't even consider until they needed them. "Sounds like my kind of game." She planned to get at least two trusty blades to hide. One against her left leg and the other in her sleeve. The toolkit would obviouslybe bonus. Especially if there were tools for things like lockpicking. That was another skill she knew. So, just as he advised she asked the workers there for the appropriate weapons. Instead of two hidden blades,she decided on four, for just in case purposes. It was simple enough. The supplies she needed were minimal, but she was given the same options all new recruits were. Any weapons or armor that was needed, as well as the toolkits, were provided. Distribution was almost always abundant. There were plenty former royals with a lot of wealth willing to fund the Omashu headquarters. At a time, it was a city full of rich royalty that were denounced during the installment of the Pheonix King. In any case, Krane escorted Tanvi back to the tailor, this time the atosmphere far more quiet while Tanvi toyed with her new playthings. Krane walked in first, sure Tanvi would follow. He was silent, but mostly due to his own contemplation. As he walked in, the seamstress from before greeted him and showed him what she had done, which prompted him to wave Tanvi over. "I asked her to add a few extras," he explained, "now there are compartments to hide bolts and throwing knives." Krane took the robe from before and stretched it out in places, revealing not only the dark, leather stitching that accented the naturally dark burgundy color, but also the new compartments just big enough to slip in and cover small weapons. There were 11 small compartments scattered all across the robe, ranging from behind its arms to its waist, the sides fo the breasts where the leather made a sort of brazier and even down near the robe where the folds easily hid the added thickness. Krane then pulled out a roll of bolts and small knives - significantly smaller than the weapons Tanvi picked out - and added, "I believe these will be useful. They're silent and will give you distance - both can save your life." It didn't take long for the two to get appropriate supplies that were needed for their journey together. Once Krane added his two cents about what else Tanvi might have needed, she complied getting such as well. After the equipment was gathered, Krane led the way back to retrieve her clothes. It had been plenty of time since they left, giving the seamstresses ample time to add the leather guards to the clothes. And just as Krane had said, they were done. "Here you go missy. All done and sized up." Tanvi gave a polite smile and went to change into the new outfit. It fit perfectly- the weapons were even snug under her clothing thanks to a few new pockets hidden on her. Tanvi walked out, even managing to braid her hair into a single braid instead of leaving it all messy. It was a completely new look to her, but she liked it, so she didn't complain. Fei had climbed onto Krane's shoulder in order to wait for Tanvi, but after waiting so long she decided to just stay on his shoulder when the girl walked out. "And our next task is to go back to the swamps." It wasn't a question. It was more of a reminder that she would have to trudge through the muck again- or at least try to avoid it. "Indeed it is," he added, more or less answering the rhetorical statement. Just as swiftly as they had entered - which in retrospect, is actually a drawn-out, tedious process - they had left. This time, with more equipment and a far different drobe. The cool, damp cave innards were likely far different with the different clothing and new boots. Krane, however, felt no difference as he used an air nomad breathing technique to insulate himself. Even after the three-hour trek through the cave, they still had a two-day journey South through the coastal forrest roads as they made their way back to the Foggy Swamp, all to follow-through with a promise made by Uquolaan himself. Temper Rage and Destruction - A Failure in the Swamp (Move your mouse to reveal the content) Temper Rage and Destruction - A Failure in the Swamp (open) Temper Rage and Destruction - A Failure in the Swamp (close) After two days of traveling the same path the two used to reach Omashu unnoticed, through only a slightly arid area before entering a thick forrested one down the coast, Krane and Tanvi had yet again reached the borderlands of the Foggy Swamp, which was really where the humidity and overall liquidity of the area had increased drastically, as most of the area itself was coastal forestry anyway. The last time they were in this area, however, it was at night and the two had been assaulted by either Phoenix King guards or Fire Nation soldiers; Krane hadn't taken the time to identify which at the time. "Now, we need to find the tip of the river," Krane told Tanvi. "We just follow it until we reach a camp, then light the fire. We should be met by escorts there," he explained. Over the course of the two days, the two mostly talked about others more than themselves. The topic of Ty Lee, a terrible flirt that was often threated by Azula when she called Krane a 'cutie' became frequent, as she seemed to have a similar trend. Krane had began to believe she flirted solely to spark irritation in others, not really for her own desires. Krane still had yet to figure out what Tanvi really thought, however. The days spent traveling through Omashu and then to the swamp were fairly pleasant. Time went by much faster this time compared to their first travel together. And the more the two conversed, the more she realized they actually did have something to talk about. Though, having the silence between them every once in awhile was decent as well. Their conversations, she noticed, never focused on them but the people around them. Tanvi learned a little more about the royal family than she had thought she would, and she shared information about the, as she called them, normal people of the Fire Nation. Of course, Tanvi even spoke of her months being in a circus. "I've known Ty Lee for quite some time. I can assure you. She isn't as oblivious as she appears... Contradictory to that, she is very oblivious." Tanvi had decided to take a higher position to see if she could spot the river any faster, but the trees were dense. Hopping back to Krane's side, she shrugged. "I don't know. The girl could have been serious about flirting with you. But who would want to pick a fight with a princess?" Tanvi had been quick to defend Ty Lee whenever Krane spoke even remotely ill of her. To Krane, this made the conversation somewhat more dull, but dancing around a topic wasn't anything new to Krane. Moreover, as he learned around her, he made an image of her assuming she was lying and assuming she was telling the truth entirely. In one image, she was a dangerous chi blocker sided with Ty Lee having ties to the Fire Nation, possibly closer than one might initially consider. In the other, she was just a young girl with trained agility and novice chi blocking abilities. In any case, she was likely far inferior to Ty Lee as Ty Lee was inferior to her mentor. "Who knows," Krane replied, changing his tone. "I did, and beat her plenty," Krane added, allowing a sense of pride in his voice to seep out. In fact, he had dueled and defeated Azula, but it wasn't exactly as clear cut as that. They spared dozens of times on their free days, often making new limitations. Without swords, without bending, beside Zuko and Lu Ten - they had plenty of variations, so their wins meant far less. "Lu Ten," Krane told her, "he is the one to watch out for. He was a prodigy, just like Azula; and he has became a master, no different than Iroh or Ozai. His firebending style, though... he is more like a beast. His fire consumes without hesitance." They were beginning to enter a muckier area of the swamp, so Tanvi kept to the trees. It was easy to manuever with the branches being so close together. The girl was doing such to get used to her new attire, making sure it didn't get i the way of her movement. She listened to Krane, looking down, catching the sense of pride in his voice. "I've heard." She mentioned. "Ty Lee use to babble on about you two." Ty Lee felt the need to try to drag Tanvi along with her when she went to visit Azula and Krane, but Tanvi always passed up the opportunity. She felt out of place with Ty Lee. She was positive that she'd feel the same way, not like it mattered to the hyperactive acrobat. "I've only seen Lu Ten... only once I believe. But, I'll take your word." The idea of mixing firebending and feral attacks sounded like a sloppy fight, but nonetheless it would be dangerous. Krane mentioned him as a prodigy and she nodded, keeping mental notes about the information he gave her just in case it needed to be remembered at a later date. "I have never fought a bender that could consider themselves a prodigy, or a skilled fighter. I've sparred with Ty Lee from time to time, along with the firebenders of the circus. Other than that, the other times were just run ins with trouble. Hardly worth calling it a fight." Tanvi would have to catch on fast when, or if she had to spar with the people of the Rising. Especially if they were all as skilled as Krane. Luckily, she learned fast and didn't plan to be pegged as the weakest link in the group. Although Krane augmented his acrobatics with his airbending, he leaped from branch to branch all the same as Tanvi. She picked up quick, and made sure to stick to the thicker canopy to avoid the muddy ground. Even though Krane had an identical disdain for the mud, he couldn't help himself from thinking 'typical girl'; he kept that thought to himself, however. He found it odd Ty Lee would babble on. Did she merely boast about her time spent with Azula? Krane spent plenty of time with her, too, so that's likely how he fit in, but the prospect amused him nonetheless. "Chances are, it won't be a week before you'll save your own life if you stick around. This is far from a safe occupation, and now that you're in," he told her, this time putting a darker emphasis in his tone, "there's no getting out. You either live to see the Rising overturn the Phoenix King... or die waiting." Krane was quite sure Tanvi was still tentative in her loyalty to the cause. As a matter of fact, he questioned if she wouldn't turn on him the first chance she got. The information she had now could make her rich in the Phoenix Kingdom, both through gold and through favors. That was the conflict almost all rebels faced. Tanvi paused. It was for a split second, but Krane was observant and she was sure he noticed. She weighed the outcomes of the event. The day she saved herself could either go very well, or very bad. Hopefully, it was the former. "Well, I took the effort to join. I'm not to let that go to waste." Once or twice the thought of going back did cross her mind. Tanvi and Fei had simple lives and not a problem to worry about only a few days ago. Now, she was risking it all. It was a gamble, but in the end, Tanvi thought the choice was a good idea. "And the idea of attempting to leave sounds like a bigger threat to my life than any army." She smirked a little and paused when Fei called out to get their attention. "Oh good, the river isn't that far away." Krane decided to make this moment, before they reached the river, a pivotal moment. If she broke under pressure, or at least pressure from Krane, he wanted it to happen before he could be perceived by the Foggy Swamp tribe, and he was explained that their leader, or one of them more specifically, could see almost everything that the water weaved together, including the roots and the trees. He hoped, at least, he was outside the perceivable range. "Sixteen," Krane said. "Sixteen is the number of failed recruits that were killed three days ago. They weren't given a chance. They didn't even get to prove themselves like you. They were led out, believing they would be going on a mission, just like we are, but after the first quick turn or dark alley, they were eliminated. Uquo did not trust them with our secrets, so they took them to an umarked grave." Krane stopped moving through the trees, this time standing on one of the branches and looking at Tanvi, almost with an intense glower. She paused again. This time it was thanks to them reaching the river. Sixteen people died due to not being trusted. That meant, what Krane told her could have been a lie. When she woke, he told her that she was accepted into the band of rebels. And now, there was the possibility that she could have been following Krane to her death. Her brow furrowed for a moment in contemplation. "What an unfortunate group." What seemed like a boost of confidence happened and she stood straight on the branch she was on. "Well, there's no use standing here talking about the demise of others. Don't we have a new recruit to gather?" For some odd reason, she had faith that Krane wasn't going to kill her. Why, she had no idea. Tanvi couldn't even be sure she trusted the guy. Tanvi just thought of it as an intuition. Krane shook his head, as if disapproving of her reply. Reality was, he didn't exactly disapprove as much as he had a distaste for his tactic not working. Just a moment later, Krane kicked off the branch he was on, shooting upward through the canopy until he reached its top, then returning back down just as graceful. After regaining his footing, which took little time, he said, "The nearest camp is East along the river. We just light a fire and wait." Tanvi paused, taking a seat as Krane decided to head upwards. She waited, watching Fei climb higher in curiosity. It wasn't long before he returned and once again she was leaping from branch to branch in order to head East. Seeing the clearing, Tanvi headed downwards and out of the trees. "Going through here a second time wasn't so bad." She looked over at Krane, taking a seat to face the river. They'd more than likely have to get wood for fire, unless Krane decided to do it himself. She doubted it, but it couldn't hurt to hope. Tanvi was gaining speed in her leaps through the canopy, but was still leagues slower than Krane could have been air bending through the trees. Krane wasn't concerned about it, though. He had often worked with far slower, so there was little actual frustration. "Most likely because your feet aren't sunk in the mud," he told her. It wasn't far to the site, but the camp was barren. Likely unused for ages since the first encroachment of the Phoenix Kingdom. Krane quickly drew his sword, releasing a razor blade of air that slashed through a single branch. It was quick with finesse, but the loud thud it made wasn't. Krane followed up with a few quick slashes, no real force, but enough to break the limb into manageable pieces."I cut it, you light it. That kit came with flint and steel; you best know how to use them." Krane told Tanvi. Apparently, the girl got her hopes up for something. Krane made the task easy but it still meant Tanvi didn't have to collect the wood. "Fair enough." She rummaged through the bag she recieved and then into the organized supply kit. "Don't worry, I'm not as simple minded as you may think." Fortunately, she had a skill in survival tasks thanks to her travels. She sparked the two objects together a few times before the fire actually started. She had even made sure the wood was in a suitable pile before lighting it. "There. Now, we wait." Tanvi moved back and watched as Fei wandered around their camp. Lein had already said her goodbyes to the only people she'd ever known. The Foggy Swamp Tribe was her family, even the ones who weren't related to her. Huu and her mother had been the hardest to leave, but in the end, she knew she had to go. No one else was willing to leave the Swamp to find help. She didn't know if it was fear of the unknown or pride in needing to make their own accomplishments, but she was the only volunteer. Learning that Huu had known about those people traipsing in and out of the Swamp, gathering recruits and leaving only to come back later for more, had been a little frustrating. As open as he was with his teachings, he still had a lot of secrets. This one had been revealed because Lein had been so determined to leave the Foggy Swamp immediately to find them. There'd been a chat and a lecture which had instilled a bit of reason into the Tribeswomans head, and she'd agreed to stay and wait for them to come to her. It wouldn't have gone over well if she'd stalked them to their camp, arriving unannounced, after all. Lein felt their presence. They were quick, moving from tree to tree in the same fashion she generally utilized. It was faster than trying to traverse an area that was so obviously a little unfamiliar to them, but one of them seemed to know where to go. That one was familiar. She'd felt this presence more than a couple of times in the Swamp. The second one was less familiar. If Huu had known about them, and if he'd let the familiar one in and out without giving them the fright of their life, then that was enough for her. She opened her eyes and grabbed her pack before climbing higher into the canopy and leaping from branch to branch to their location. It only took a few moments, but as she neared their camp, she slowed, making her presence unknown. Each movement was made to fit with the natural noises of the Swamp life. Once she got close enough to see them, she paused, crouched on a branch, watching from the shadows. She could feel the sting from a nearby tree, carelessly cut without a second thought. These were the sort Huu said he trusted, people who hurt the same place they were working so hard to protect? Her eyes narrowed as she watched them. Their faces were reflected in the firelight. They were kids. Now, Lein didn't want to judge too harshly. In the Foggy Swamp Tribe, lots of youngsters were able to do better than some adults. Even so, those kids wouldn't be made leaders of other people. It was strange to see, but Lein had to trust. This was her only way to get these people to help save the Swamp. She would help them, and they would help her people. That was the agreement. She could get along with these two for the sake of her home. Casually as could be, she dropped from the branch. "Ya'll done a good job lightin' that there branch, considerin' it wasn't even dry. We don't take too kindly to people cuttin' on trees 'round these here parts, so I wouldn't be doin' it no more if'n I was you, 'specially since we been lookin' kindly on your usin' our home as a recruitment site. Wouldn't do too well for the deal my tribe struck with yours that I help you and you help us. Ya hear?" "Actuallly," Krane replied without even looking away from the fire, "I was given an answer to give to you when you said that. I was warned you might actually attack us if I cut down a branch." Krane was completely aware of the protective nature the Foggy Swamp Tribe maintained. He had actually met plenty of them. Some, in his experience, would have tried to kill him after his last encounter with the firebenders in the swamp, giving his techniques destroyed a significant amount of foliage. Others he had met would have justfied it as his defense, and said the bodies of those firebenders would have replenished much of what was lost. As with all peoples, there existed variation within the Foggy Swamp. Krane stood up to face Lein, his back now facing the fire. "All that lives is one. Take only what you need, use all of what you take, and all will be forgiven," Krane added to his speech. There was no smile, none of his trademark pride. Krane was serious in every way. "Cutting a branch was the quickest way to get your attention and my instructions told me to start a fire to signal we were here. I took only what was needed," Krane finished by justifying himself. It was a bit of a long-winded speech, but seeing that the girl meeting them was a grown adult and already off on a seemingly bad foot, Krane was taking extra steps to express his stance. Lein cross her arms over her chest, leaning back a little as he made an attempt to justify himself. Unfortunately, his explanation didn't go over too well with her. "I ain't gonna attack no one without givin' 'em a chance to 'splain themselves, not when ya'll're supposed to be on our side." She took a step forward. "Gotta say, ya'll might'a thought you were takin' what ya needed, but if ya'll'd taken a gander 'round here, you'd'a found some branches what fell naturally from them trees. They'd'a been dryer and easier to light even, an' I wouldn't'a had to hear that poor tree cryin' on account'a what you done to it." She sighed. What had she agreed to? At this point, it almost would have been better to just go on her own than wait for these kids. "Ya'll think you ain't already had my attention, but that just means ya'll didn't bother to learn nothin' 'bout the person you were coming to pick up which don't speak too highly for you. Huu, bein' my mentor an' all, taught me how to see people comin'. I knew ya'll were here long 'fore ya even made it to this spot. The fire was just so I could get a good look at ya'll 'fore I made myself known. Had ta' know what I was gettin' myself into 'fore I agreed to go with ya'll. On account'a ya'll makin' a bad first impressi'n, why don't ya give me a good reason why I should join people who ain't respectin' the place I been dedicatin' my life to protectin'?" Krane was getting frustrated with this girl. Highly frustrated, acutally. Krane came from the Fire Nation royal palace. He was taught to be refined. He was taught the complex inner workings of a mostly corrupt political system that essentially existed to be a militant backbone. Everything about this woman, considering it was more logical to think of her as such, was something Krane found distasteful. Her mannerisms, her accent, her outlook; he even found it odd that she thought the tree itself was crying. Most of all, she spoke down to him. That alone was enough to urge Krane to disregard her question, as if she earned it. "I'm going to clarify something for you. I was given a single piece of paper with a few sentences on it. Those were my instructions. All... of my instructions," he explained. Krane looked at her, a rage-like frustration filling his eyes. Moreover, the swamp could feel his rage. His airbending chi growing in excitement and the restrained malice that radiated out of him were made blunt due to the nature of the Swamp. "I don't know who you are, whom Huu is, and the rest of the world isn't quite adapted to the swamp mentality. What I do know is that I was sent by a man named Uquola'an, whom is allied with the council that leads your Foggy Swamp. Our instructions were to guide you through the outside world in a way that wouldn't get you caught or killed," Krane told her. And, this time, with an emphasis that bordered into a threat, "and, if you treat people like that when you leave this swamp, you'll will most certainly be killed." Lein could feel the anger reverberating from the boy. Something about his already unique lifesong was changing for the worse, altering while still maintaining itself. It vibrated from him almost like a living thing, pulsing into the plantlife around them. She'd felt something like this before. Loud laughter left her mouth, and she slapped her thigh. "Woo-ee! Someone's got their leaf-pants all bunched up! For someone actin' all high and mighty, actin' like ya deservin' some kind'a respect just fer showin' up, ya sure ain't got the first clue about how t'be respectful yerself." She stepped closer to him, the firelight flickering over the white dots tattooed under her eyes and the matted dreads that formed her hair. She wasn't afraid of the temper tantrum it was obvious he was throwing. She'd felt anger just like it from the kids in her Tribe. To be sure, she'd thrown a few herself in her younger years. It wasn't anything new to her, and she wasn't going to back down just because some outsider thought himself too good to respect a place he didn't understand. "I know all 'bout yer leader, Uquola'an. He'n' my mentor, Huu, have an understandin' 'bout the Swamp. We let ya'll use it fer yer recruitin', and ya'll don't go 'round harmin' it. If all ya'll got was a couple'a instructions and no details, it means ya'll ain't got the authority to go on not answerin' my questions. Huu got a lot'a secrets from me, too, but he ain't 'bout to send me somewhere I don't know without tellin' me a bit about where I'm goin'. The rest is up t'ya'll to fill me in on." She uncrossed her arms, a look of bemusement on her face. "Now, yer gonna calm down outta yer thunderstorm, Airbender. The three of us, we can talk like calm people and earn respect all 'round, or I'm gonna have t'go right on back to my Tribe and let 'em know that ya'll'd rather hurt the Swamp than help it. I'm sure Uquola'an'd be real happy to learn that ya'll broke our trust." "You will shutup," Krane told her. "You will shut up, and you will understand your place here." Krane was quick to pull out his sword. He had heard enough. More than enough, actually. She kept speaking down to him in that accent that irked him endlessly. She was so unrefined. So uncivilized. Some of the first words she said ostracized him. Her introduction itself was rude, as she essentially began asking questions without ever offering her name. Krane had all intentions on going on a destructive rampage utilizing the air slashes from his sword to add insult to the soon-to-be injury. "We came here on request," he said, slinging his sword down to the side, resulting in a blast of air that mostly only kicked up mud. "We came here attempting to play by your petty rules," he added. As he spoke, his frustrations only increased. The Swamp itself became home to a new predator as the malice from Krane fed into it. He had no restraint in how he allowed this specific rage to flow. In a thousand other stressful situations with the most petulant punks, Krane had maintained his cool. But, not this time. "You were rude. You failed to introduce yourself properly. You questioned us, indirectly insulted us - you treat us like children. You're an ignorant girl sheltered in a shitty swamp that knows nothing of the outside world. You don't know how it works, how people treat each other, what is rude, what is polite or even what matters to the rest of the world. All you know is this swamp. You even go as far as trying to black mail me, telling me I have to abide by your mentality of face consequences from Uquo," Krane ranted, his speech patterns quickening and the rage radiating off of him even more so than before. "I am bound to no one and nothing, woman, and I will kill you right here if you don't shut up, take a moment to think through the next sentence out of your mouth and make sure its not as insulting as those last ones." The odd accent was the first thing the girl heard. It took her a moment to understand what the woman was saying, but she managed to catch on. In the time Tanvi began putting her items back in her bag, a slow boiling anger was festering in the both of them. She was still seated, now looking between the two as they went back and forth. "...So much for introductions." Her voice was soft under theirs, not planning to be pulled into the argument. She was a recruit. A new one at that. She had no place in the argument, and Tanvi was sure as hell she didn't want to be in it. Without her realizing it, Fei had slipped into her robe, peeking out to watch them as well. It was probably a rarity to see Krane this worked up, and Tanvi made a note not to make him angry...or the new woman if she lasted to make the 'cut'. At least there was one thing Tanvi could be sure about, and that was that the idea of Krane leading her to her death was a false one. When Krane had stopped, Tanvi finally stood. She started to get their attention, but decided that was more of a bad idea than just letting them fight it out. "Maybe we should just start over...and you know, not threaten each other." Again, Tanvi's voice was soft, more so speaking her thoughts out loud than directly. Even Tanvi at this point fed into the rage of Krane. Although not particularly angry at her, his overall hostility was growing. Krane was pushed to his limit, too. All Lein had to do was open her mouth one more time, and he was to act. To explode. Lo and behold, she did. Before a single sound could be uttered, the shriek of the wind roaring off the edge of Krane's sword cut through whatever words Lein might have uttered. Krane slashed a half dozen times at her, sending slashes of sharp, howling wind at her, echoing through the forest. A quick shriek with a far different tone than his wind shot out, but not before the vines of the swamp itself manifested in front of Lein, blocking at least a majority of the slashes. Krane, however, only saw this act as more enraging. Huu, just off in the distance, bent the plants themselves in an attempt to halt Krane, but this specific battle was one neither would come out victorious in. Althought Huu bent the plants of the entire swamp, Krane was albe to emit a huge destructive force in his well-trained slashes, each severing through plants and cutting deep into the dark, damp wood of the trees and splattering mud into the air as if it were the blood of slaughtered innocents. Moreover, Krane slashed relentlessy at the behemoth of vines created by Huu, crippling it into nothing more than a diced all. "I know who's youse is, Krane-boy," Huu shouted, all while trying to maintain what defense he could. "I ain't got no wantin' to fight. Youse gotta temper, boy, I see'at.An' she ain't got the wit to know bettah. You ain't gotta worry bout our swamp no more." At this point, Huu just wanted Krane to leave. He had no idea what shape Lein was in, and even if he could stop Krane, it would take decades for the swamp to heal. "Jus' go! You can' tell Uquo nuthin's changed, I dun care. We just too differen' a people." Krane had stopped, and so did Huu. As an act of faith for Krane, Huu stopped regenerating his vine behemoth. Krane glared at Huu, but sheathed his sword a moment later. "I'll tell Uquo that the swamp is no place for the Rising anymore. Badger moles will fly before I return here," Krane retorted, in quite possibly the most disrespectful tone he could muster. He kept his hand on the hilt of his blade, then turned to walk off. At this point, he hadn't a care in the world what happened to Tanvi. He was blinded by his own rage. Obviously, she was overlooked at this point. Both of them were enraged and ready to fight. Tani was definitely not going to stand in the way of that. She knew litle of both their strengths, so she decided to sit out and watch. Unfortunately, in the sudden gusts of wind and swamp plants lashing this way and that, the branch she was perched on snapped from under her. At the last minute, she managed to hang on to the one above her, nearly dropping Fei in the process. "Hurry up and climb before those attacks start heading this way again!" Tanvi hoisted herself up a little higher, and then to a different tree to watch safely. "So much for their alliance." Tanvi heaved a sigh as their final words resonated and weapons were put back. She looked down as Krane began walking, and then looked at Huu who did the same, although she occasionally glanced backwards to make sure Krane didn't try anything. "I guess it's time for us to go Fei." The ferret was just about to scurry down, curious to see for sure if Krane was still angry, but that plan was stopped as Tanvi held the animal by her tail. "You're asking for a death wish aren't you?" She followed after Krane, wondering where they would be going now that Huu and the rest of the swamp was practically banned from the Rising. She assumed they were going back to the underground city, so Tanvi decided she'd keep quiet until he said something worth replying to. Krane didn't mind Fei, albeit he didn't pay her any attention either. Of course, the ferret didn't actually make physical contact with him, and that was likely for the better. Krane wouldn't have hurt him, but he wouldn't have been affectionate either. Moreover, he would have likely knocked Fei off of him, which would have likely insulted Tanvi as much as it would have the little furball. Krane simply wasn't in the best of moods. After trekking essentially the way they came in, Krane darted through the trees at his full speed. With the augmentation of his airbending through the trees, he left Tanvi and her sight in just a few moments, but for the most part headed in the same direction. "One moment he's here and the next he's gone." Tanvi paused for a brief moment as he disappeared ahead of her. With his airbending boosting that speed, she knew she wasn't going to catch up, so there was no reason to start a chase. Tanvi did pick up the pace, sticking to the trees to avoid the mud. Luckily, she had enough sense of direction to remember the way they came through, even if some of the stuff looked similar to each other. She spoke sarcastically as she hurried out of the swamp. Tanvi would have been slightly off from where Krane exited the swamp, just a few feet. It was hard to miss him as he stood upon a floating sphere of air, likely around 12 feet above the ground. He held his sword with an extended arm, another ball far smaller floating at its end. "You know, we learn about famous monks and masters in classes. The Airbenders of the Fire Nation treat it like a history class. There is a story," Krane explained, "of two monks. Monk Airashi and Monk Isiho. Brothers, actually. They competed as children and took different routes in life. Airashi is said to be the father of technique that makes the spheres I stand on while Isiho is said to have been the first cloud bender. A storm bender, actually." Tanvi landed on the ground, walking towards Krane when she noticed he was off to the side. Her arms crossed, hidden in her sleeves as he spoke. She was going to respond with a 'go on', but insteaf her response was hummed and she looked around at their surroundings. What this story had to do with anything that had just happened, she had no clue, but sooner or later she'd find out. "The story goes that they both grew into great monks and received their tattoos early in life, but Isiho wanted more. He wanted to bend the raw power of storms itself. He found that with a waterbender, he could conjure storms as vicious as the hurricanes of the sea, but for his work, he was banished. His brother, Airashi, practiced a different technique. The fine control of spheres. The story says he could control thousands of them at a time, but doing so was dangerous. If these ever touch, the air hits itself and causes turbelence so great that even masters lose control," Krane continued on, now hopping off his spheres. He stretched out his body, performing slender moves akin to tai chi stances with his sword, the balls of air shrinking down with one at the hilt and one at the tip. "Isiho asked his brother to come with him, but Airashi refused. He uttered words that later inspired many monks: 'the wind is not meant to be controlled by any man. He who guides even the greatest storm chooses only its path; there is no man alive that can harnass its power. He who believes the power of the wind is his alone is a fool.' Spurred, Isiho sought to vindicate himself and his beliefs. He conjured a storm so great it could cripple an entire temple, but Airashi claimed it would never reach the mountains," Krane continued. His circular movements left a trail of wind as the balls cut through the air, leaving currents around his body while practiced his stance. "Airashi met the great storm alone. He stood atop a single peak, as he had for days, creating and controlling thousands of these spheres. When his brother rolled in on the clouds, boasting of his control over the storm, Airashi repeated himself: 'He who believes the power of the wind is his alone is a fool', then launched his spheres into the clouds. The story goes that when the turbulent air mixed, Isiho lost control over the storm as it was too ferocious for him. He was torn to pieces by the wind, and Airashi used his spheres to keep the storm in its place." Krane stopped his movements, holding his sword with his opposite hand and extended it out from him. There were currents of air dancing around him, left by the trail of the spheres on his sword. "South of the Western Air Temple are sharp mountains called the Airashi Peaks left by this storm. The story is used to teach us that we cannot control great power, and that honiing ourselves is more important than seeking out strength. What I gained from the story was insight... to the technique used by Monk Airashi. He used thousands of these spheres; I can only use two..." With that ominous statement, Krane crossed his arm over his torso. his sword now extended in the opposite direction. With a quick and somewhat elegant slash, the sphere on his hilt exploded into a torrent of wind while the sphere at the tip of his sword swirled into a large spiral pattern as he followed through with the slash. The result was an enormous projectile fired from the slash launched into the swamp itself. It slashed through trees viciously, rendering them into splinters in a small linear path a few feet wide. More remarkably, it kept going. And going. And going. The torrent created a visible cyclone that began tearing through the swamps with no clear end in sight. Krane, this time, said, "It takes me so long to prepare the technique... but once I unleash it, it won't stop until it runs its natural course." The chi blocker listened attentively to the story. She stayed silent, watching his movements and the spheres of air he created. She made sure to stay out of his targeted area, although she was almost positive that he wouldn't attack her. It was better to be safe than sorry. Tanvi imagined what he'd be like if he did manage to accomplish a feat like the monks did. It was an interesting thought, although the thought of it becoming too dangerous did come to mind. The attack alone was dangerous as it was, but to do that with thousands of spheres of pressured air seemed irrational. Why would it ever need to be used? The girl said nothing, but she did nod in understanding. Fei however, chittered in response as she rested on Tanvi's shoulder. "I believe my message is clear," Krane said. He slowly sheathed his sword and the air died down around him. The aggressive atmosphere was gone as well. Krane closed his eyes for just a moment. He breathed in deeply, filling the air with only silence. As Krane exhaled, everything returned to normal. His eyes repoened to the same relaxed state they were before. He let go of his sword, for the first time in a while, and simply stared off for a moment. "I wonder what Uquo will think..." Krane said, as if he didn't have a care in the world. "Crystal." Tanvi retorted and began to walk off in the direction they came from. She sensed the calm before she actually looked over her shoulder to see him look a lot less threatening than before. "Pretty sure you're probably going to have to find another recruit. Or you know, sit around like we've been doing the past few days." She shrugged and turned to continue their journey back to the underground city. She was going to end up knowing the path with her eyes closed if they kept up going back and forth like they were. Though, with the swamp now banned, she wondered if they'd finally be able to go out to other places. "There are plenty of recruits." Krane told her. Krane trekked off in the same direction, going North back to Omashu. "They live in every corner of the world," he explained as he walked over the same path he had a dozen times before. "I believe it's time I find a new corner for myself. I've been recruiting in the Swamp for months now. It was getting dull anyway," he added. She smiled a little at the idea of it being finally time to travel. In a teasing manner she commented, "Can the next corner you find be cleaner? You know, less mud." She smiled again. As the two journeyed back, she eventually fell in step alongside Krane and sometime along the way, Fei had decided to hop to his shoulder, which Tanvi didn't mind.