Avatar: A Legend Reborn

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Prince, Nov 8, 2014.

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  1. 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 (open)

    Prior to Uquo (open)
    "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 (open)
    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 (open)
    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.
    #1 Prince, Nov 8, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 4, 2015
  2. Makki couldn't believe it. She'd spent years with this crazy waterbending plant worshipper. Years of her life. Even if she'd planned out what she was going to next before meeting Tenten she couldn't have planned any of this. The idea that she'd come here only to be hounded by this strange woman was almost backwards to her.

    It had all started with Makki being impatient about trying to find the Rising. The only thing she knew for sure about the Rising was that it recruited in swamplands to the south, and that she had no way of even approaching them now without appearing shady. To the waterbender the Omashu heat was near unbearable, her furs and boots were more suited to colder weather.

    She had these clothes since... since before she decided to do something about the Phoenix Nation troops in her own home that she'd carved out for herself here in the city. Her anxiety and urge to find someone to recruit her was more than enough to cause her to pace back and forth outside of the city. Her long brown hair swirled in the circles she paced, her blue eyes to the ground as though she could make it tell her what she wanted to know.

    Ultimately, Makki decided to sit down on the grass cross-legged, like a small child throwing a temper tantrum and whose only rebuttal could be sitting down on the floor as hard as they could, pretending that they were and Earthbender and could break it through those motions alone.

    "Weeks and weeks of asking around and I get... nada. I get to be outside and sit on the grass like that's gonna make the Rising come up to me and say I've been recruited! They'll even throw a party for me, Makki the ever powerful Grass Sitter," Makki flung her arms up to the sky, "ugh..." she fall back onto the grass, laying there for a while, and unbidden memories came to her.

    "Hey, Makki!" a young voice yelled from the kitchen. "We're out of cabbages again!" the owner of the voice was young, twelve, maybe thirteen, but he was already starting to hear his voice crack and change to become a full adult. He was still skinny and nearly bare-boned from the life of the street, but Makki hoped to change that soon enough with more food.

    "Aw, but the cabbage guy is nice, I need to at least pay him this time, Pukiq," Makki said, strolling into the meager kitchen, "we'll have to be more careful with them this time. No need to draw too much attention to ourselves over a bunch of cabbages."

    "I know, but I wanna make cabbage stew this time!" Pukiq said, jumping down from his small stool.

    "Pukiq we had cabbages yesterday," a small black haired girl wandered in from hallway leading to the bedrooms. "I hate cabbage." she had a stubborn tone to her, this eleven year old girl. It was clear from vibrant reds and crimsons she wore that she was Fire Nation, as opposed to Pukiq, who was dressed plainly in neutral colors. She carried herself more carefully than Pukiq, as though she had once been a noble from a rich family that had long since left Omashu.

    Makki sighed and moved to leave. "Akane, you know I'm a lousy cook. Besides, cabbages are cheap enough to get anyway. I promise I'll be back before you know it." Makki was halfway out the door and prepared to leave when a hand grabbed her shoulder.

    "Makki. I have a bad feeling about this," said the eldest of the group. He was a lot more muscled than the other two, and darker skinned as well. "Don't go, stay. I'll make dinner tonight."

    "Nope," Makki said, easily breaking hand hand on her shoulder away from her. "It's Pukiq's birthday and that means he cooks so we can all get him presents while he's not looking."

    "What was that?" Pukiq yelled from the kitchen.

    "Nothing!" Makki yelled back, smiling like the cat that ate the canary and vanished from sight.

    The ride over was quick and easy, she always took the mail system, it was quicker and more importantly, more anonymous. It was harder to pin down whoever was riding the mail system if the person you saw was merely a blur. Heck, she even saw a few others riding the system too, though it was more likely that they were Earth Benders. That made getting off easier than her method.

    Once she was near her destination, she bended water out of her water flask quickly creating an icy slide down that she'd have to time right to jump on so as to manage to not break her foot. She waited on the edge of the earthen box, placing her foot on the edge and leaning into the momentum. Once she timed herself to the correct amount of time to wait, she jumped, flailing around to reach out to the ice slide.

    She almost missed, her legs slamming into the slide while the rest of her body was forced to lean over the top, leaving her to lay over the top, gathering her breath again. She managed to push herself back up, only to stand on top of the ice slide before leaping again after hearing an ominous crack, to the top of a building. As she landed on the roof, the ice slide cracked and fell apart, the ice not having been thick enough to hold her in the first place anyway.

    That's it, next time I'm walking. Makki thought as she carefully worked her way back down to the ground. That was just too close. What would the group be without me? Makki pondered the question for a moment as she walked to the cabbage stand. As she neared it, she came upon the answer. A broken family like the one she'd left in the North Pole.

    Moving calmly and confidently, Makki moved past the cart, her quick hands snatching up a cabbage head while the shopkeeper was distracted with another customer. She rounded the corner just after hearing, "my cabbages!"

    Makki snickered and quickly moved back up to a rooftop, leaving the cabbage to perform her second act of 'thievery'. While the shopkeeper was looking around, she slipped enough money for the cabbage onto the flat surface of the cart. Then she was gone again, moving along the rooftops instead of on the mail system. She'd had enough of that for the day.

    Makki's trip back wasn't as eventful, only the rhythm of keeping on the rooftops stopped her from drifting off and thinking of random thoughts. Once she arrived at home, she landed in front of her door. Something was off about the scene, something that she'd never ever do or allow. The door was slightly open, as though the house was abandoned or a draft had blown it open while the owners weren't home.

    Makki dropped her cabbage and against her better judgement opened the door wide to see inside. The Phoenix Nation police had made good on their promise to eliminate them as a problem. Now, Makki was the only one left of her family, and she was alone... again.

    Makki shook the images out of her head as she sat up again. She'd make them pay so it wasn't necessary to dwell on the past right now. When she found the soldiers who'd done the deed... she would make them see those small broken bodies again, and they would pay for every drop they had spilled that day.

    Makki saw them then, a man who moved like an airbender and a girl who looked like Fire Nation. She was on her feet and moving to trail them before she was even fully sure they were part of the Rising. She'd follow them regardless, they looked armed and ready for a fight, and whether or not they meant harm was yet to be seen. However, Makki kept her distance, making sure they were almost specks in her vision before following them.

    The trail went on for two days, and though Makki was prepared for a long journey, that didn't mean that she enjoyed walking for days on end. She was about to give up on the pair when they reached the swamplands. She started to catch up quickly, only to watch the pair dart off into the swamp. Makki was pretty sure that they were both airbenders from how they moved. It was too quick for her to follow, so she waited outside the bog, setting up for however long that the two were going to be in there for.

    After some time passed, Makki heard a large gust of wind go by, almost moving her off her rump and back into the open. After looking back into the swamp, she discovered the source of the wind, or rather, she looked at the wake of destruction it had caused. Was this the cause of the airbenders? If so, Makki was sure she'd want to be on their good side. First, she'd have to hide and fast.

    Thinking on her feet -which was what she did best- Makki set her stance and moved her palms upward, lifting some of the murky swamp water into a sphere in front of her. She took a breath, and began to cut the air with her hands, causing the murky swamp water to peel off quickly and stick to the tree in what looked to be steps. Makki moved quickly up them, moving the muck as needed to fashion extra steps. Once she reached her target branch, she set her stance again and breathed in, moving her hands in a circular motion and leaving them both palm down in front of her stomach.

    Once finished, the muck and ice returned the swamp where they had been before, and Makki waited to see if the duo would reappear with another person in tow, presumably the Rising's newest recruit. They did not, and instead appeared only a little worse for wear. Maybe this whole thing was pointless after all. The only thing I know for sure is that they're wearing disguises and are heavily armed. For all I know they could be Phoenix Nation. This could have been a big waste of time.

    It wasn't, however. After staying behind to follow the terrifying airbenders from a safe distance, Tenten had shown up. It hadn't been intentional, but the branch made a startling cracking noise and given her position away. Makki moved away, but lost any way to track the airbenders. So she stuck with the strange waterbender who had come, and discovered that the woman had ties to the Rising. That was good enough for Makki to approach her and stay with her.

    Revenge was Makki's only path now, after all. Who better to help her find vengeance against the Phoenix Nation than a fellow waterbender anyway?
    #2 Karyra, Dec 28, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2015
    • Love Love x 1
  3. Stories Around the Campfire
    Krane could barely hide his cheeky grin as Tanvi had finally gotten to him. The group had been chatting for hours since dark and honestly it had been a long time since Krane had enjoyed himself like this. In the Rising, he was almost constantly surrounded by questionable people, enemies or people just plain older than him. This was the first time he was surrounded by people he could relate to for more than just their disdain of the Phoenix Kingdom since he was exiled from the Fire Nation. It was an odd feeling for Krane, considering previously he felt this way with Azula or maybe Zuko on a good day. On this night, however, it was Suzzio, Tao, Tanvi and Zarina, and the nostalgia was overwhelming.​

    In most circumstances, Krane didn't talk much about his past. He just didn't. There was too many complications with it, such as the fact he was connected to the Fire Nation royal family or just that there was no call for talking about his past. This night, however, the group was sharing stories about their lives; some sad, some impressive, some just unique to themselves. Up until this point, Krane was just listening. It was his job to oversee the whole group, so hearing what they had to say was important. Tanvi, now a close friend to Krane and the second-most veteran member of the group, had pestered him to share something about himself. She once brought up his melodramatic reaction in the swamps from what felt like months ago, but Krane himself hadn't spoke much about himself aside from his usual boasts. Finally, with the right amount of persistence, Tanvi convinced him.

    "Alright, alright," Krane said as he also sighed somewhat contently. "I'll tell you about the time I shared tea with Iroh," Krane said and added a pause. "Yes, I do mean Fire Lord regent Iroh. Suzzio, you're likely the only one who hasn't heard, but I'm an Elba. My family worked as close secretaries to the Fire Lord. Anyway... the first time I ever met Iroh for more than just a brief conversation was when I was thirteen. It was also the first time I really felt nervous about being close to the royal family. I was dueling Azula... and I had the upper hand. Her moves were a bit sloppy, she seemed less focused. It turned out, she had been practicing Lightningbending instead of Firebending, so she was a bit off. Even that little bit was enough to make her frustrated... and she shot lightning at me."

    Krane chuckled at the idea, although it could have been deadly. Another pause permeated the air before he went on. "I dodged it, but she stopped. I don't know why... maybe she felt bad for an attack that could have actually killed me. Maybe she was disappointed she let it get to her. I wasn't for sure. Either way, training was called off by Lu Ten. The next day, when training rolled around. Lu Ten said his father wanted to meet me. So he did. I sat down and drank tea with him... this is where it gets odd. For being the Fire Lord, he seemed calm. He asked what kind of teas I like, how I like mine prepared, and eventually settled on a Jasmine. I remember it clearly. Iroh asked me about myself and my goals... but eventually he asked me about the Lightningbending. I knew what he wanted; he trying to keep the technique a secret and see how scared I was."

    Krane allowed his cheeky smile to deviate into a grin. "I told him I wasn't scared. I had no fear of the lightning. I do not fear the blue death to this day. I told him I wanted to train with her, against her, against it, until I could fight it. Iroh only smiled at this. He took out a pen and parchment, then drew the four elemental symbols on it. Earth, Fire, Water, Air. He told me he had traveled the world at one point and seen every style as to understand it. He said if I wanted to fight lightning, I had to understand lightning. To create it, you must have balance. Your chi, yin and yang, must be so balanced that you can create a spark and control it through sheer willpower. He told me that lightning could not be absorbed or deflected, only redirected. I asked him if an airbender could redirect it, but he did not answer me. Instead, he told me 'if you look at what airbenders have done, you will be blind to what they can do.' "

    Krane leaned back on the log he was sitting on, and stretched. It was a late night and he was getting tired, but not so much that he wouldn't hear out the rest of the group. He also intended on finishing his story. "I sparred with Azula day after day. At first, I could only dodge her lightning. I had to watch her movements because after it was fired, I wasn't fast enough to dodge it. Overtime, I learned how lightning worked. She had to balance herself out to release the lightning, but lightning is only one part of the balance. If I could balance myself and fill the air with its opposite, I could scatter the lightning into the air. Opposites attract. Lu Tun was astonished the first time I dissipated lightning into air. Iroh was, too, but he was just as impressed. After that, he told me it is good to see the unseen. I never liked how he spoke in riddles, but I guess it worked."

    Iroh wasn't the only person he knew that spoke in riddles, however. As a matter of fact, plenty of leaders and powerful people did. Krane had speculated it was because when speaking in a riddle, you create a journey to the answer instead of just making the destination and knowledge available. Either way, Uquo was the same way. The story Krane wanted to tell, but didn't, was how Uquo tracked him down and found him. Krane fled as far as he could from the Fire Nation. Krane had almost made it entirely through the Si Wong desert with a group of sandbenders before he encountered Uquo. A small outpost in the western portion of the desert stopped Krane and intended to arrest him. It turned out these Phoenix Kingdom soldiers were just out for a toll that Krane didn't have.

    Krane, the hotheaded punk he was, allowed himself to be captured only to surprise the soldiers with his airbending last second. Similar to his feat in the swamp, he slashed through the outpost with torrents of air and slaughtered the Police force without a whole lot of remorse. Krane only did what was necessary, however, and word eventually spread. The clues added up from word from the Fire Nation to and Krane became a hugely wanted criminal. This attracted Uquo. Just a few weeks into his infamy, Krane Uquo found Krane in Chin Village. Using the cover of a fog so thick Krane could harldy bend it, Uquo introduced himself the Rising to Krane safely. Krane wanted to explain to the group how eerie and powerful the fog was. It was a simple ability, sure, but Krane could never quite explain just how influential it was. The fog wasn't like in the Swamps. This fog was made by Uquo, and it was almost impossible for Krane to bend. Krane couldn't see it in. No one could. In the fog, Krane was at the mercy of Uquo, but... Uquo was being merciful. Uquo offered to stage Krane's death and give him a place. A new home. A new hope in the Rising. That was the story Krane wanted to tell. Krane just... just didn't have the words to explain the fog.​
  4. Just a friendly chat around the camp fire~

    Sitting around with everyone else Tanvi Anil, was 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. Leather guards were added on to this attire, and Tanvi found a pair of boots that worked for her. She was used to lighter clothing, considering she came from a circus and normally travelled light, but with the new gear, it was protective and she was able to move about freely as well. The chi blocker came to like the look, and since they weren’t in the middle of any battles, she kept her hair down. The young woman rested on a stump with her legs crossed. Fei draped over her shoulders staring at the group of Suzzio, Krane, Tao, and Zarina. The fire ferret had still been getting used to the others of the group. Being around several benders had made the poor animal high strung in the beginning, however now, she was at least somewhat comfortable around them. Somewhat. In complete contrast, being around so many benders in Tanvi's eyes was pretty calming. They were all pretty unique, and could easily defend themselves.

    “See? That wasn’t so bad now was it?” Tanvi teased Krane before resting her head in her hands and looking around the fire at the small group they had obtained from the past few weeks. They were surely an odd bunch, but hey, they’re heads were in the right place. Eyes fell on her and she blinked. “Is it my turn? Eh, I don’t have any interesting stories to tell, but I guess I can tell the story of my own recruitment.” With a short stretch of her arms, she began. “It took me some time, but I had finally gotten enough information on the Rising in order to meet them. That was a pain on its own. Why I did it? I’m a traveller, I had nothing better to do. My family consists of me and my father who is a Fire Nation soldier. So, why not. Besides, the Phoenix King is a tyrant and no one needs that. Anyway, the meeting place was in a swamp- where I found Mr. Cool and Collected there. We talked, well, he mainly complained about how uninteresting I was. I only wanted to know if the Rising was real or not, and somehow that got me a pass in. During our little meeting, the Phoenix Kingdom Police had found us and attacked. Krane took care of them and well, long story short I found my way to the secret city, Uquo judged me and...here I am.”

    To think, all the non bender wanted was answers. Her monotonous exploration had been enough for her, but she couldn’t just keep her curiosity contained, could she. Tanvi Anil had little do with either part of the bigger picture. Not the king’s tyranny, and definitely not the ones who wanted to fight back. She walked along the borders and did what she had to in order to survive- and she had been pretty good at it. Then, in the matter of days, after finding herself in a swamp and then in an Underground City, she and of course she couldn’t forget her little Fire Ferret Fei, had ended up alongside Krane in attempts to be recruited. Sure, Krane and Tanvi weren’t the best of friends from the start, but his...cockiness grew on her and even continuously being called ‘dull’ didn’t seem to phase her any more. Even Fei liked the airbender- which was and still is her excuse of sticking around.

    After her recruitment- a rather easy one considering she was asleep for it- she and Krane were paired up in order to recruit others. It hadn’t been too long ago since her own recruitment, so the girl didn’t expect much action. However she didn’t anticipate it either… It was still rather hard to believe that she could even fend for herself when no one had ever seen her in a true fight, save for the few spars with Krane. As it fell silent, Tanvi looked around the group and shrugged. “Um, Next?”
    #4 Capt. Blu, Dec 31, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2014
  5. It was odd being around other people like this again. The last time Tao had done something like this was a year ago with Sitqa, and her siblings. It left a warm feeling in her stomach, and a small flutter in her chest. She had missed this. Being able to relax, laugh, and talk among friends--at least, she hoped they were her friends. Since meeting Krane, and Tanvi, and eventually Zarina, and Suzzio, she didn't know what else to think of them as. She shared the same goal as these people, travelled, and fought alongside them. Master Kong had once told her that 'it was better to have a friend at your back, then a stranger', so she really couldn't think of them as anything else. Besides, acquaintances sounded too up-tight, and comrades was too militaristic.

    Her eyes drifted to each face, listening to them carefully as they spoke. Even if they didn't think of her the same way, they were still bonding, and that was good enough for Tao. So as she sat on the ground and listened to everyone share their stories, a visible smile was clear on her face. Enjoying the peaceful moment, and the warmth from the fire, she allowed herself to get lost in their words.

    Before long Tanvi had finished her story and the group became quiet. Aware of the silence Tao stiffened her back, sitting up straight with a large and enthusiastic grin along her face as she pounced on the opportunity to speak, "Oh! Is it my turn?" Throwing some glances around and waiting for anyone to object, the brunette bounced eagerly in her seat before calming, a concentrated look immediately taking over her features in a fast, almost comical manner. "Hm. Well, I guess I can tell you guys about Master Kǒng, and how I got him to train me."

    Adjusting herself along the floor, she crisscrossed her legs over one another and sat her hands comfortably on her lap, "So, to start things off, my parents academy goes by a rank system that's based on age. For example, six year olds to ten year olds are known as beginners, and are taught basic techniques along with the history of EarthBending. Eleven to thirteen are intermediate, so their studies are centered around more advanced techniques, and defensive maneuvers. While fourteen and up are advanced and their trained solely in combat. But! The really cool thing about advanced classes are that students can choose a specific teacher to train under until graduation--kind of like a make-shift Master."

    Realizing she was drifting off the subject she cleared her throat and refocused her thoughts. "So when I turned fourteen and I started my advanced classes, I picked Master Kǒng as my personal teacher. Now, Master Kǒng doesn't just train anyone. Originally he was my fathers Master before becoming my older brothers, and since then he hasn't taken anyone under his wing. 'Course, I only thought it was right that I trained beneath him too seeing as my dad and brother did. He denied me almost immediately, though--Well, he laughed at me first, then said no. He told me at the time that I was weak. That I wasn't ready, or worthy to be trained by a Master."

    Smirking slightly, she leaned back against the log and stared up at the sky as she thought back to that moment, "I was so mad--so, so mad. I had trained for years at the academy, and out of anyone there I thought that at least I had a shot at training with him. I didn't know it at the time, but it was those thoughts, and that feeling of entitlement that made him not want to train me. Getting so caught up by his words I challenged him to a fight. I wanted to prove to him that was ready, and that I was strong enough. So he agreed, and absolutely crushed me before I could even go into proper stance. He knocked me out in one solid move and I was out like a light in front of my whole class."

    A small chuckle rumbled from her chest, cheeks burning red with embarrassment, "It was humiliating. My whole class laughed, and made fun of me after that. I didn't let it get to me, though. If anything feeling that loss, and humiliation was the push that helped me continue to pursue him. I challenged him every day after that, and day by day I got my ass kicked left and right. It was brutal--I mean, I couldn't even land a hit on him. He was so fast, and so strong--It was just incredible. Didn't matter how badly I got beat, just watching him fight made me want to be like him more and more." If she closed her eyes, she could almost see him now. Moving so precise, and confident. "After a month of getting tossed around, I finally approached my brother and asked him to give me some personal lessons on the side. I still wanted Master Kǒng to be my official teacher, but I was getting no where fast with the level of skill I was at. Give or a take a few weeks I challenged Master Kǒng again, but thanks to a some techniques my brother taught me I was able to keep up in the beginning."

    She moved her body about, playfully throwing punches and ducking from invisible attacks as she continued with her story, "He came at me with the same attacks, and instead of rushing in, I countered them. I guess he wasn't expecting me to do that since it surprised him and gave me the opportunity to finally land a hit. But in return, I took a hard hit to the head and got knocked out. When I woke up in the nursing quarters Master Kǒng was there, and he was laughing at me again." Her grin grew wide, cheeks burning with pride as she leaned back against the log and relaxed.

    "He called me a menace, praised my resilience, and then finally agreed to become my Master. Oh man--but Master Kǒng is really the coolest! He has this really mysterious side to him, cause no one, not even my dad knows his backstory. Back home there were some stories about him being ex-Dai Li for the old Earth King, but my brother told me this story he had heard from his friend that Master Kong had fought in the war against the Pheonix King, long ago. Gosh, I can't wait till you guys meet him, I--"

    Tao's voice came to a sudden stop, and in that moment reality had set in and it hit her like a ton of bricks. Growing tense and losing her smile, she stared hard at the fire and then her hands. Regret, and anger churned in her stomach as she thought back to Gaoling. All this time she had purposely avoided those painful memories. Not only hard to think about, they were hard to accept, and with the knot forming in her throat Tao wasn't ready to talk about it, either. Eventually noticing the tense silence, green eyes shifted from her now clenched fists to the others. "Ah.. sorry." The edges of her lips curved into a soft smile, eyes closing and hiding the pained look behind them as she tried to change the subject, "Who's next?"

    Despite all the pain that came from those moments something good did come from it. If it hadn't been for that day she would have never met Krane, or joined the actual Rising.

    She had made a lot of stupid decisions after Gaoling, the worst one being her association with a group of bandits that lied to her and called themselves 'The Rising'. Manipulated, and lead to believe that their efforts were to help the citizens being oppressed by the Pheonix King, she eventually saw past their lies and realized this so called 'Rising' were really nothing more then thieves, and criminals look out for their own gain. They took money, and lives wherever they showed their face despite spreading rumors that they were doing the opposite.

    She had finally retaliated against them during a caravan robbery when they attempted to kill the men guarding the convoy. Having no trouble with taking care of the rest of the gang, Ryu was another story and Tao would have met her end had it not been for Krane intervening. He had given her an opportunity to change, and become the person she always wanted to be, and Tao wasn't about to waste the opportunity to make a difference. Mind and body finally settled, she let out the last of her tension with a quiet sigh as a single thought entered her head.
    Maybe she should have told that story, instead?​
    #5 Valhalla, Jan 2, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2015
  6. Campfires are...strangely addicting, aren't they?​

    It was strange being around these people. Zarina hadn't really been one to make friends, her only true friend ended up being her masters and her mother. Others would find that rather sad and strange, but Zarina had been content.

    She didn't exactly know what to make of the rebellion she'd join, let alone the people she was now grouped with. But if she wanted to kill her siblings and step-father...well, she could at least be sociable right?

    She listened to the stories with rapt attention while excitement shone in her eyes in the fire's glow. The campfire was warm and inviting, but in such an intimate setting, reciprocation was required.

    Once Tao finished her story, she stared down at her hands then spoke up, "I guess I'll go next." She looked around to see if there were any objections then continued on. "I don't have many stories, but I think I can come up with one." Her amber eyes drifted back to the glow of the fire, where she just stared.

    "My step-father made my mother send me to my grandparents when I was young. It was there that I began my training. My family didn't believe in schools or group learning. Should I have any aptitude, a teacher would be hired right away to teach me personally. My grandparents were people of excess..." she smiled at a memory, "They spoiled me to the sky. Not with money or the like, as I was a simple kid with simple tastes. I didn't like the courts l, so my grandfather would let me stay in his office while he went off to one meeting or another. My grandmother taught me simple healing arts, as she once thought I'd become a water bender. They had dinner with me every night, and listened to me talk on and on about my lessons of the day. They spoiled me with their time. I hope they are ok, I sent messages telling them to stay in the Fire Nation." she grit her teeth before releasing a calming breath.

    "I was discovered to be a fire bender. A good one from a natural standpoint. My grandfather was proud, as my mother had been the same way. So, they got me her old teacher, Master Han Wu. He was a strict taskmaster, and held back very little. Master Tanzik had been my water bending teacher, as hired by my grandmother before Master Han Wu. I still begged them to let her stay, as the forms for water bending calmed me after getting my butt kick by Master Han Wu. Before my lessons with my fire bending master though, I had air bending forms with Master Jah. You know, to stretch and warm up alongside working in my flexability. Obviously, I didn't have many friends." she gave a laugh. "I was a noble, but I devoted so much time to training that few knew I existed." Her eyes flicked over to Krane before they returned to the fire. "This went on for years, until one day, Master Han Wu said something out of line. I was so angry with him that I attacked. He was an old man, strong of course, but his age was catching up to him. I was agile and quick, but accurate and ferocious. I managed to get a strike on him and he flew back a few feet. When he landed, he didn't move. I freaked out, and my anger drained away as I ran to him. The old codger was laughing when I got to him." she closed her eyes. "He'd told me that a fire bender's most destructive state is when they are in a state of anger. But a state of loyalty and balance meant that the fire bender would be in a constant state of great strength. I never forgot those words." Her face turned into one of sadness.

    "He died a few months before...I was recruited." she'd paused to choose her words carefully. "If it wasn't for a combination of his and my mother's advice...I'd be no better than the Phoenix King right now. So...who's next?"

    Many things went unsaid during her story though. They didn't need to know how she murdered three of her siblings and laughed in happiness at their screams of agony. How, in her rage, she used her plasma to dismember them even, as they lived. The cruelty her men had seen in her eyes, and the pure hate that radiated from her very being at the sight of her mother's body in crimson snow. Unbidden, tears leaked from her eyes and her body shuddered as she struggled to keep her sobs in. She wanted them dead. Deader than dead. Just so she could bring her step-father and step-brothers back from the dead to immolate them in the bright green of her plasma.

    Maybe she should have told the story of how Krane found her. Ha, that probably would have been funny and would have brought up a lot less anger. But ah well. She'd been settling in a little farm town in the middle of nowhere with the few troops of her mother's that remained loyal. They hadn't been trusted for a good month or two, before the people of the town began to allow them to work. Some worked as guards while others worked in the fields. Zarina took up the role of town healer and tended to cuts, bruises, sicknesses, and illnesses. After a time, members of the Fire Nation army, under the control of a member of the Phoenix King's army, marched into the town. Zarina went unnoticed, as she'd taken to wearing Water Tribe clothing. Few looked past her clothes and her dark skin to scrutinize her features or eyes. Life remained on edge due to the occupation, until one night. The Fire Nation soldiers decided they were due some reward, and the Phoenix King's official agreed. They corralled the women into one of the fields, Zarina included, and began to claim them in the most beastly way possible. Once content to just get it over with, Zarina snapped when the screams began. Zarina's green fire cracked as she created whips, and soon cries of a different sort rose into the air.

    The smell of burned flesh rose and calmed her, keeping her grounded as she slaughtered the army men. A few got their wits, and pants, about them and fought back. But they were unprepared for this "waterbender's" ability to redirect their fire bending. Her fluid and quick style combined with her clear mind and calm ferocity made short work of the majority of the Fire Nation army squad. She stalked after the few that lived to report to the Phoenix King's representative, and set an inferno of green fire upon the wooden building. With no survivors and the townspeople sworn to silence, the incident was buried.

    It was a week before her recruitment that she lost her men to an aggressive sickness she couldn't cure. Whether poisoned or legitimately sick, their loss tore her apart. The town's leader urged her to leave, as he'd heard seen a wanted poster bearing her face. In respect, she did as he bid as she didn't want to cause trouble for the town. The family that'd adopted her gave her a handmade cloak to keep her warm, while others gave her some food for a few days. She then set off, alone in the first time in her life.

    She'd been in a very dark place following her departure. With no home, little food, and only the clothes on her back, she began to lose the will to live little by little. It wasn't until an irritating, spunky, loudmouth earthbender crossed her path that her life changed again. The two came to violent blows following some choice words from the earthbender. It had been the first time she'd fought an earthbender, and she was quickly becoming angrier and angrier as the fight continued on. She'd barely had the time to slip into a water bending form to use her plasma when a gust of heated wind knocked her off of her feet. The earthbender seemed to be in the same state as Krane stood between them. She hadn't had a scolding like that since Master Han Wu caught her in the "adult" courts as a kid!

    She was always going to be grateful to Krane and Tao for what they did. It was Krane's words that renewed her thirst for justice against her step-father, as well as against the Phoenix King for endorsing the man's cunning and strength to pull it off.
  7. Campsite Conversation

    Tenten's two large hands held firmly to a wooden spoon that stirred together ingredients for a stew. It was a combination of meats and vegetables she was able to get from the forest. All the flavors would work well together. There were hot flames warming it up in the pot, giving the air a pleasing aroma. Laying near the fire was Lee, a frogsquirrel who just desired a nap. Tenten would be kicking the lazy little critter if she wasn't so fixed on cooking, and listening to Makki's complaining. Her bones popped in an unsettling way as she turned her head to stare dryly at the girl through strands of black hair that hung in her face. Needless to say, it needed some grooming.

    What made Tenten hold her tongue was seeing that Makki was deep in thought. She preferred to not hassle her during those times, so she spared her the misery and turned attention to the rest of the group. They had a nice setup for the night. Being in the wilderness was never a bother to her, however she did wish they could be under a roof instead. Her friends deserved that and more.

    Back at home, her tribe liked to exchange stories while pitching in to make meals, or just joining around a fire to keep warm. They were a tightly knit community of sorts, and she dearly missed it. These three individuals who put their trust in her were the closest thing she had to home. "We can't all be private thinkers like miss moody over there," Tenten commented with a softness that indeed reflected motherhood. A raspy laugh followed, enhancing the image of a swamp witch who was stirring her brew. The amusing part was that she didn't realize how well she lived up to that nickname. "Reminds me of my daughter, Syd. Hmpf." Her voice then got quieter, more like a grouchy mumbling.

    That Syd, she was trouble from the start. Tenten should have known it to be true when she started noticing how much of her father she had in her. If that man was still alive, he would have traveled beyond the Foggy Swamp in a heartbeat if it meant he could make their home safer. It was almost as if he was speaking through her that night she proposed they do something about the Phoenix King's destruction to the wildlife.

    This could easily put her in a sour mood if she continued to think about it...

    So at the snap of two fingers, her posture straightened and a friendly smile touched her lips. She did not want to dwell on the darkness of her past. Instead, she searched her mind for fonder memories. Most of them related to when she first met the friends who were here with her tonight. She was sure they all thought she was a nutcase, but they accepted her enough to stick around. That meant a lot to her. The Rising played a big role in helping shape her into a decent enough leader and hopefully, with the help of these fine people, she could get even better at it.

    "Anyway," she continued, clearing her throat to get everyone's attention. She earlier hinted that people should say what's on their minds. Share some thoughts, tell a story, anything to break the disturbing silence. "I should tell you guys about one of the times I got myself in a mess of trouble after I ventured from the swamp." They were entertaining tales to tell. The older Tenten got, the harder it was to embarrass her. She didn't care. "Don't quite remember where it was, but it was a little village. Nice and peaceful. I was just walking along, minding my own business and trying to figure out who was in charge. I had no clue where I was going, or what I was even doing."

    Tenten gave stirring the stew a break and sat back, smoothing out the traditional green attire the people of her tribe wore. "There was a man all dressed up in dark clothing with a mask on his face. Jumped at me from out of nowhere to trap me between him and a wall. I'll tell you what, I don't like feeling trapped. It makes me nervous, it makes me... Angry." A thumb flicked at her nose while her eyes narrowed at the fire, as if she were imagining that fool perishing in the flames.

    "He was trying to rob me. I didn't know it at first. Actually, I tried to get him to help me. After I asked him where I was and who I should speak to, he instead demanded all my money--which I didn't have even a little bit of--or else he'd get feisty with me." She made a shrug and a look of disbelief while shaking her head. "When he reached out to try to take my travel bag from me, my first instinct was to bite him. So, I bit 'im. On the hand. The wuss ran away and then reported me to the security of the village.

    I had no evidence that he was trying to rob me, so I got in trouble for chomping on his fingers. It was really weird."

    The woman let out a sigh before getting to her knees, hands grasping the spoon again so she could make finishing touches to their dinner.

    She then looked up, widening her eyes an uncomfortable amount as she looked to each of the other three, fully expecting somebody to follow up with something of their own. At the same time, it was as if she dared them to make a snarky comment about her story.
  8. C a m p s i t e C o n v e r s a t i o n :stirthepot:
    With one last grunt, earth cracked and shifted into a feasible place for the four of them to sleep. "Whew." He put his hands on his hips, proud that he was able to provide shelter. It was a useful thing to do. "Look. A place for us to sleep, as if from nowhere." Karan gestured to his earth tent as if he wasn't the one who put it up.

    A smile came across his face, and the buff bard returned just as Tenten began her story. The mother hen, wanted her chicks to gather around. He plopped in the grass and began playing with the blades of green. It's not like he would need to worry about grass stains since his pants were already green.

    Setting up camp was easy enough and with a couple cook, there was about to be some yum yum in his tum tum. It smells so good. Until then, we would have to listen to her talk. This wasn't a bad thing, because Karan loved a good story or seven, but if it was keeping her from handing out the food, there was going to be an issue. A possible boulder to the face issue. But no no no no no, the food can wait. It would be rude to not walk over and eat ALL of it.

    As she reveal the tale, his eyes wandered to the other two new companions. They had not interacted much beyond the greeting when they first met. He did intend to change that but today was a bit busy. Perhaps with the campfire they will be able to talk more. That would be a nice change and would probably be smart considering he was the only male and hope this wouldn't be noticed to a negative degree to anyone. Though, he was probably thinking about it more than it would even crossed their minds.

    He flicked a bit of dirt from his black over shirt before going back to listening. Smiling when she mentioned she bit the attempted thief. Got what he deserved then. With her eyes widening at him, his eyebrow was raised. Now she was slowly demoted to creepy aunt. She did have a point. Someone, should go next.

    Standing, a smile and nod was given to the rest of the group. "I am sure it wasn't long before all benders end up breaking something." His smile turned to a smirk. "The first time my older brother and I played earthbending, well one of the first times, he was of course not going to take it easy on me. We wanted to impress father. I had yet to make any real progress in my forms, and basically the first minute he was chucking rocks at me until he tripped me into some bushes. Father was yelling to do what he taught but I was scared. I didn't know what the heck was going on." He was trying to hold in his laughter. "As he came over to check on me, I blindly threw a rock that ended up hitting him in the...you know where. He laid in the yard for a few hours. So the first thing I broke was my father." Karan stared at the ground reliving the memory vividly and he smiled more. "Anyone care to go next?"
  9. Campfires and stories go well together
    After he was done listening to everyone else Suzzio spoke up. "Guess you want me to say something now ?" His eyes looked deep within the fire and the yellow flickers reflected in them. He had never told anyone about his life, but then again nobody had ever asked. "Well I have never really told people much about my past, so... here goes nothing" With that he started

    "I was born and raised by traditionalists. They might be a bit stuck in their ways, but most of their hearts are in the right place.My mom is a traditionalist and she is most likely still sitting at home cursing the day I started to firebend and not airbend." A soft sigh left his lips before he continued. "Its not like she hates me or anything, it just made a whole lot of trouble for us. I was about twelve and it wasn't like I planned. The thing was just that everyone around me started to airbend and I sat there and couldn't move as much as a leaf" He still remembered the rage he felt that day and he could still feel his blood boils slightly just thinking about it. "So in rage I stood up and told everyone how stupid it was that people that didn't know the first thing about airbending could do it and here I was, I trained hard, always tried my best and as I said I couldn't move a god dammed leaf" He felt his volume was raising as he spoke and took a moment to calm down. "My blood felt like it was boiling and then as out of nowhere... fire... and loads of it"

    "There was about a 10 minute delay from me shooting fire at some unlucky students until me and my mom was dragged in front of the elders and forced to explain ourselves. As you can guess I was pretty much to shocked by what I did to even make sense, however my mom had the answers, answers I feel I should have gotten before." Biting his lip he prepared for the next part. "My dad is a firebender and he is from the army-" and he quickly added "-not the Phoenix Kingdom Army. The traditionalists really didn't look to pleased with that answer, however for some reasons they let me stay, train even"

    His eyes fell to Krane "So I learned to firebend. Its in the style of an airbender and sure I dont pack the punch most of firebender do, but Im about 10 times as good at avoiding as they are." he smiled softly "and Im good at fighting airbenders, when they act like they should"

  10. There were a lot of stories around the campfire, and all were interesting. Krane could tell that some of them were still holding back, but it was expected. Hell, even Krane held back. The idea was for them to slowly open up about themselves and the fact that they were sharing at all was the important part. Krane was getting insight as to what kind of person each of these new recruits actually were. While Krane wanted the whole world to know the truth, he felt Tanvi - regardless of how much he trusted her - was mostly just along for the ride. Granted, he could see that she wanted a where the problems she saw around the campfire never had to happen, but her convictions weren't exactly the same. To Krane, Tao seemed a bit formal and at times a bit silly in how she spoke about her masters. He wondered at times if she listened to how she sounded, but he never questioned her convictions. He could see a passion in her eyes. A pain in her heart, through all the red tape surrounding her wordplay. Zarina, however, was almost the same way. Very formal, sometimes a little uptight and to Krane her serious nature about her training was just silly. Maybe Krane was just too lax. If it was apparently normal for them, maybe Krane was the odd one? In any case, Krane saw a similar passion inside Zarina, too. The different he felt between Tao and Zarina is that Zarina felt torn between two worlds where Tao felt wronged by just one. Then came Suzzio. Suzzio, much like Tanvi, seemed like someone just along for the ride. His convictions were there, sure, but to Krane, Suzzio wasn't nearly as passionate as Zarina or Tao. Suzzio seemed like the offspring of an unfortunate situation with the airbenders more than the Phoenix Kingdom, but Krane believed that with some exposure to the real world, Suzzio might become more loyal. Nevertheless, all four of them were great assets. Probably even greater friends, if time allowed.

    Krane could have replied to any one of them, but Suzzio was the last to talk. His final remark led Krane to chuckle. Krane replied, "I never was real good at doing what I ought to, Suzzie." Krane didn't have a follow up. Well, he did. He could have made a comment about his own ability to fight fire benders, sparked an argument or just said something witty. Krane had more tact than that. Suzzio was just fresh to the group, and insulting him too harshly was an idiot's move. Calling him by a nickname, though? Now that was an interesting, and even relatively innocent, way of getting under his skin.

    Krane leaned over the fire some, then scanned the four of them. "Tomorrow, we enter the Underground City. Tanvi has been there a few times, Tao had her visit cut short since we came to get Zarina. Get some rest, it's a long, damp, dark walk, and you'll be meeting some important people. I'll also figure out just what I'm going to do with our merry little band," Krane told them as a somewhat closing statement. The reality was, and he was sure they all were aware of this, that they had been up chatting far later than they should have. It was fun, though, and harmless. Krane saw no reason to overly object to it. Krane stood up and stretched, then bellowed out a yawn. He would leave the fire to whomever the last person to pass out was. Aside from Tanvi, they could all effortlessly put it out anyway. Krane headed back to one of the earth huts Tao had created for them. They were rough for now, but a quick survival class in the City would show her how to make highly suitable shelters in no time that could easily be hidden. Actually, there were useful classes in the Underground City for all types of bending. Krane might see if they could all invest some time to pick up some useful skills.​

    The next morning...

    Travel with Krane was normally silent. Tanvi and Krane had just about every conversation under the sun imaginable within the first month or so, and smartass remarks just wasted energy. But, the group was new. Chit chat and idle paces permeated the group, and Krane honestly thought it helped more with bonding. It seemed Suzzio grouped up with Krane and Tanvi, sating his curiosity with questions while Tao and Zarina seemed to hit it off. Whether they got there at noon or dusk, the walk through the dark caves beyond the oasis to enter the City would be all the same, and Krane somewhat doubted they'd have such conversation in the blackness of the caves. Of course, with a firebender, keeping it lit was easier, but Krane didn't need light to navigate the tunnels. Using gentle gusts to feel out the tunnels was enough with his memory to get them there. That trick was actually one taught in the classes from earlier. Utility often outweighs practical combat. That fact was somewhat irrelevant as the group came up to the unmarked, unnamed oasis that marked the entrance to the tunnels. It was one of the few that had water that fed Omashu using underground ducts, and it was oddly perched on a cliff. Some called this oasis the edge of the world, as it looked like the barren wasteland turned into a Nirvana only to come to an abrupt end at the ocean. In any case, Krane used this time to take a quick rest and see what the group had been thinking.​

    "Your next few steps will be into caves engineered by the Rising... once your feet hit that ground, there's no going back. You ready?"
  11. The stories that were told around the campfire were quite interesting compared to her own. They all had some sort of motivation to get back at the Phoenix Kingdom whether it was loss of a home or loss of their family. They all had some sort of resentment towards the kingdom...all except for her. Tanvi's head slumped into her hands as she listened. What was she trying to prove? What was her motivation to be in this war, compared to watching on the sidelines? Even their training sounded somewhat overbearing and relentless. Her training as a chi blocker may have been tough, but she had mostly trained in acrobatics for the sole purpose of her circus performances. Incorporating it in her fighting style came natural. The time for questioning had ended as Krane informed them that it was time to sleep. Compared to the sleeping habits of the rest, she took to perching up on a branch, out of sight. To her it seemed safer. She doubted anyone would attack, but it still gave her the element of surprise if that happened. Sleeping on the ground wasn't all that comfortable anyway. "Now that we've played pick up, we can actually do a few assignments." She mused before yawning as well and heading to sleep as well.

    The next morning...

    Tanvi was one of the first to wake up and woke up the slackers who wanted to sleep in. "Rise and shine. We have a trip ahead of us." When they were on their way back, usually it was pretty quiet and quick between she and Krane, but now with a larger party, things were much more lively. She listened to all of Suzzio's questions, answering ones she could and letting Krane answer the rest. Fei draped over Tanvi's shoulder, occasionally leaning closer to Suzzio or going to sit on Krane's shoulder. However, when they reached the dark caves and all got quiet, Fei returned right back to Tanvi.

    She had gotten familiar with the dark paths that lead to the Underground City. The trips back and forth became muscle memory. Despite seeing it over and over, the chi blocker was still impressed with how everything was created. The entire city, intricate city was right under the noses of...well everyone. It was amusing to think how hard authorities were searching for the Rising and their base when they had more than likely walked over it hundreds of times. As they came to a pause at a familiar oasis, Tanvi looked at the group with her hands behind her back.

    "I'd think once they began going into the caves there was no going back. Surely you all can't be having second thoughts now of all times right?" Instead of talking on about how the Underground City had such a home-like feeling and everyone was pretty nice, she decided to let them experience it for themselves. It was much more interesting to see their reactions that way. "Well?" She gestured forward to the entrance, awaiting their decisions.
  12. [​IMG]

    By the end of the night, Tao had moved passed her dreary thoughts and sat merrily amongst the others. Listening to their stories and sharing her own had done more for her then she had imagined, and once Zarina, and Suzzio shared theirs the tall brunette found herself laid out along the ground, feet close by the fire and head leaning against the log. The combination of warmth, and stories had settled her troubles and relaxed her.

    Her time with Ryu and his group had been stressful, and she could never bond with the others--which now made sense since they were all thugs. However she had to remind herself that things wouldn't always be this easy. She was apart of a growing resistance now, and if she wanted to fulfill her goals she needed to be serious. Trials, and obstacles were sure to be in her future, but even still, Tao could only find the patience to relax and enjoy her time around the fire with everyone else.

    Eventually their attention shifted to Krane, his calm voice breaking through the silence, "Tomorrow, we enter the Underground City. Tanvi has been there a few times, Tao had her visit cut short since we came to get Zarina. Get some rest, it's a long, damp, dark walk, and you'll be meeting some important people. I'll also figure out just what I'm going to do with our merry little band," Sleep sounded nice, and with tomorrow being such a big day Tao didn't stall like she usually did to head off to bed.

    The next morning...

    Unfortunately for Tao anticipation had kept her up most of the night, and by the time she had fallen asleep daylight quickly crept up on her. A light sleeper already, she was quick to rise once Tanvi started to get up. Lack of sleep had never troubled her, and with excitement purely fueling her now, she couldn't fall back asleep. There were obvious bags beneath her eyes, and as Tanvi proceeded to wake everyone up Tao went about her morning stretches, forcing out any remaining exhaustion before they began their journey to Omashu.

    With Krane, Tanvi, and Suzzio up ahead, Tao kept to the back with Zarina. Since their fight she had been especially kind to the firebender. First impressions were never Tao's forte, and she didn't like knowing that they had met on bad terms. They may have made up, but she still understood how damaging words could be. Before long their short journey eventually led them to the edge of Omashu, where Tao found herself marveling at the small Oasis. It was a nice change compared to what they just had to walk through.

    Leaning over the edge of the cliff carefully, Tao's mouth widened in awe as she took in the height and the crashing waves far below. "That'd be one hell of a fall.." Slowly stepping back she refocused on the group, more specifically Krane as he began to speak. "Your next few steps will be into caves engineered by the Rising... once your feet hit that ground, there's no going back. You ready?"

    The edges of her lips curved into a wide grin, excitement coursing through body as goosebumps covered her arms. Before Tao could reply Tanvi was quick to continue, "I'd think once they began going into the caves there was no going back. Surely you all can't be having second thoughts now of all times right?"

    Second thoughts? She may have been nervous, but there was no way she was about to back out now. She had been searching for the resistance for months and now that she was its doorsteps, Tao never felt more ready.


    At Tanvi's gesture towards the entrance her green eyes shifted over to Suzzio and Zarina. Since they had been gathered together Tao only felt it was right that they enter together. "Come on," Taking confident steps forward she smiled back at the two firebenders before waving her arm, motioning for them to follow, "Lets not keep everyone waiting!"
    #12 Valhalla, Jan 11, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2015
  13. The stories had not been what Zarina was expecting out of the night, but they were welcomed nonetheless. The campfire relaxed the young woman even as she sought the comfort of the stars and moon. She found herself drifting off as she stared at the ancient waterbender, and was soon lulled into a meditative trance. She roused from the trance due to the call of the dying embers of the fire. She snuffed them out before she drifted into fitful sleep.

    After a few hours of tossing, turning, and whimpering, the young woman rose before dawn. Quietly, she made her way a little ways away from camp and began her waterbending exercises. Fluid and smooth, she twisted and circled her arms and stance until she faced the rising sun and switched to firebending stances and exercises.

    When Tanvi began to wake the others,
    Zarina made her way over. It was apparent that she hadn't slept well, but a glance over Tao's face comforted her. It seemed she wasn't the only one that couldn't really sleep. However, Zarina was up and the exercises had rejuvenated her mentally.

    Zarina found herself pairing off with Tao for the journey to Omashu. While their first meeting hadn't been the best, Zarina was most comfortable with the kind-hearted earthbender. She'd lost count of how many times she mentioned that she forgave Tao for her words, but she didn't really lose patience. That sort of genuine regret was something Zarina could understand. Not to mention, Tao was a great fighter, someone whom her mother would have trusted thanks to the conviction Zarina felt during their little tizzy. That went a long way with Zarina, and garnered her a respect she hoped was reciprocated.

    Once the group reached the Oasis, Zarina barely resisted the urge to jump into the inviting water. She gave a light chuckle at Tao's observation then focused on Krane. "Your next few steps will be into caves engineered by the Rising... once your feet hit that ground, there's no going back. You ready?"

    She bit her lip and turned away from the group. She loved her nation. In another life, she would have succeeded her mother, would have been the soldier to hunt down the very people she stood with. But...they didn't help her nor her mother. The officials that represented all she loved harmed innocent people...would have harmed her. No, the Phoenix King's influence permeated her beloved nation's army and had poisoned it. He needed to die, and her nation needed to be purged of his influence.

    With conviction firm, she followed Tanvi with a quiet, "Ok."
  14. Campfire Conversation...Or not?

    Sitting on the ground with her back against a rock, Yoshino listened quietly as Tenten spoke and said her story, and afterwards Karan told his. She had known Tenten for a bit of time already, but she didnt know the other two too much by now. She wondered for a bit if she should tell one of her stories or not. She closed her eyes and pondered on this for a bit of time.

    "I'm gonna pass for now. Perhaps another time I'll share one of my stories with the rest of you. Though I can relate to getting into trouble for something you didnt do, Tenten." Yoshino spoke in a calm and relaxed tone, as if at the moment she had no worries on her head.

    The truth, however, was different. After Tenten mentioned her daughter, which Yoshino knew was in a prison, she thought about her grandfather and how he might be doing. Then she went on to thinking about her father. She hadn't heard anything regarding him since the day she left her home. Did he finally realise the error of his ways and decided to fight back and was caught as well? Perhaps he informed the Fire Lord of what she did and now works with someone to try and capture her and bring her back, if not to just kill her? The possibilites seemed to go from bad to worse to things she didn't want to think of.

    While she did see the small rock tent Karan had made, Yoshino didnt feel like she could trust him and Makki enough to sleep in such close proximity to them. She merely turned her head to the side and closed her eyes "I won't be having dinner tonight Tenten. But the rest of you have a good meal." She said and then let her head rest against the rock behind her, hoping the others wont take it as her not trusting them but rather as her being tired. After all of the thoughts running through her head, she did feel a bit tired.

    Barely a minute after speaking and attempting to rest a bit, she realised that the rock she was leaning against wasnt as comfortable as the proper ground was due to the angle she was trying to sleep in. Opening her eyes and standing up, she gave all of them a small nod of her head, as if to excuse herself, and went to the tent Karan made. Even though she felt like she couldn't trust them too much yet, perhaps she could let those feelings go away faster if she did actions that would make her feel more comfortable around the others, such as sleeping in the tent with them.

    Laying on the ground beneath the rock tent, Yoshino let out a small yawn and placed her head on the ground. She hoped that she could learn to trust others with a bit more ease, but she figured that it will eventually come to her, in time.
  15. [BCOLOR=#000000]From t[/BCOLOR][BCOLOR=#808080]he Cam[BCOLOR=#999999]pf[/BCOLOR][/BCOLOR][BCOLOR=#999999]ire to t[/BCOLOR][BCOLOR=#ffffff]he Caves[/BCOLOR]

    Krane chuckled to himself as he took the first steps into the cave. The light from the oasis outside was still bright enough to at least give some lighting to the dark, damp interior, but it wasn't the sight that Krane found entertaining. No, it was his memories. As he took his steps into the cave, he recalled the first time he brought Tanvi here. If there is anymore walking I have to do, you're going to carry me. The incessant complaints from Tanvi were only, if barely, quelled by the half-witted remarks Krane gave them: If I carried you, miss Tanvi, you'd never want to leave my arms. Miss Tanvi considered it obnoxiously 'charming'; Krane found it whimsically hilarious, and still did as he obviously laughed about it. Tanvi had toughened up considerably and eventually stopped complaining about the travel... for the most part, but Krane couldn't forget the almost-entertaining amount of whining she provided in the beginning.​

    Suzzio had stepped beside Tanvi as Tanvi stepped behind Krane. Tanvi was well aware of how Krane scouted the caves, thus knew following behind him worked far better than beside him. This time was different, however. With so many people. Krane had to stop and pull out a piece of knotted rope. He tossed it to Tanvi, whom in the dim light managed to catch it. "The cave darkness of these tunnels is absolute, and I only know the way using my airbending. You may light a torch or use firebending, but it won't help me so it won't help you. Tanvi almost has them memorized, but until we all do, we're going to travel with the rope. Grab a knot and hold on tight. These caves were built to get lost in, and if you get lost, you die," Krane explained to the group. It was true. Krane only knew the way using his airbending to feel the tunnels, to having them lit would be irrelevant. The tunnels were also complex and networked in a way that seemed natural, so the entrance to the Underground City hid in plain view of a death trap.

    The next four hours were spent trekking through the dark, damp tunnels beneath Omashu. These tunnels, although seemingly natural, were manufactured by Earthbenders from the former aristocracy of the Earth Kingdom, and their skill was nothing to scoff at. The tunnels were mapped out by engineers and created by artisans that practiced the tunnel-making in such a way that the caves left behind would be somewhat random and nonuniform to eliminate their man-made feel. Uquo orchestrated all of the details, making sure nothing was over-looked. He had done this for all of the outposts. These tunnels and more over the Underground City itself were meant to be more than just places for the Rising to congregate; they were meant to give the Rising a sense of unity and culture. If they had to live in the recesses of the world, they would live in the Underground right below a major city. If they had to live in the shadows, then they would make their own light. That was the way of the Rising.

    At the end of their trek, the group came to a single, albeit large door. Made from a dried-out, coarse grained wood strapped together with thick iron rings and bolts with a frame of solid stone around it, the door was not only out of place but it was also fairly well-enforced. A single torch was lit to the left of the door and acted as a marker for it. One would think that after all of the effort to hide the door, putting a marker by it would be counter productive. This marker, however, was so deeply hidden in the caves that at the point one finally reached it, the purpose it served for guiding members of the Rising far outweighed the risk. Or so was logic at hand. In any case, Krane knocked on the door. After a bit of mumbling through the door, Krane said, "Rayah, every damned time I come through, you hold up the door. I will drill through solid stone to kick your ass!"

    After a brief moment, the doorway opened. Rayah, the same red-headed, dark-skinned girl from the first time Krane and Tanvi visited - as well as every time anyone visited - held a large hatch in her hands and snickered as she did it. What the group was ushered into was a foyer of sorts. A small room with an even larger iron gate behind it. This room was the true entrance to the Rising. Krane collected his rope with a quick tug and pushed through the iron gates while rolling it back up. These gates opened for Krane without the resistance of Rayah. This was the Underground City of Omashu in all its glory. The streets were paved with the same cobbled stone design of City, and a warm orange light shone down from the ceiling. Although more dim than outside, the new and unnatural lighting of the Underground City is what set it aside from any other city in the world.

    Above them was scattered a complex system mounted and suspended glass, mirrors and lenses created and intelligently placed by the engineers of the Rising. This complex system was designed to reflect, refract, amplify and distribute the intense light coming from a single bonfire lit in the center of the City in such a way that it shone down onto the streets and even outshone the lamposts that provided their own light. Each block had these lamposts that mostly just illuminated street signs or turns, some were purely decorative. Each house, shop, in or place of interest had its own unique method of lighting their signs. Some captured the light that rained down using a similar complex system to light a reflected sign while others used torchlight - some used a combination of both. Everything about this city was designed by man to replicate the world above, and in some ways provided more than the actual City of Omashu in a significantly smaller space.

    As Krane exited the gate and walked on one of the side streets, he explained, "Omashu was originally a city known for its royal family. It even had a King. When the Phoenix Kingdom removed the aristocracy, educated people from all fields were enraged. Scholars, philosophers, engineers, politicians, so on and so forth were basically kicked the curb. What you see here is the spirit of Omashu, a spirit suppressed by the Phoenix Kingdom, refusing to die down. This place was created almost entirely by those originally wronged by the Phoenix Kingdom, their later generations and Earthbenders from all over trying to make a living. The Rising is more than just a rebellion, and it needs more than just soldiers. People from all walks of life can help, and they do." Although the explanation was fairly lengthy, Krane assumed that the group would mostly be in awe from the City and likely didn't want to make them focus on a real conversation, so he just droned on.

    The building Krane took the group to was the same building the Krane took Tanvi to. This was where one took new recruits, so there was truly no other place to take the group considering three of them hadn't even met Uquo yet. Krane opened the door and left it open for the rest of the group. Inside was essentially a lounge with what could be best compared to a diner-style bar. Krane walked up to this bar, took a seat and said, "Krane Elba has three visitors for Uquo. Recruits." The server, a younger and well-dressed gentlemen nodded, then asked, "anything for you, Krane?" This gentlemen had seen Krane plenty of times before, spoke to him like a friend even. Krane paused for a moment and said, "a potato and onion platter. Should be big enough for us, but I don't want to invest anything before Uquo shows up. Y'know what he's known for." Krane chuckled, and so did the server. The server nodded to Krane before Krane got up, albeit still chuckling. Uquo had his quirks. At times, one might call him unpredictable.

    In any case, Krane walked through a cloth-draped doorway and took a seat. This is where they would wait. This is where they would discuss what they saw because Krane couldn't let them see anything unless, aside from Tanvi, until Uquo approved them. Chances were, the potato and onion platter would arrive far before Uquo. Diced potatoes grilled in seasoning with onions as well as a crunchy onion platter cooked in eggs and batter made the meal taste great, but terrible for one's waistline and even worse for their breath. Krane was a huge fan of the platter, but rarely ordered it due to the simple fact it was a large platter and wasn't made in smaller portions. With a group this size, however, the portions were perfect, and there would even likely still be some left over. Depended on how hungry the group was. Krane sighed and leaned back in his chair, just like the first time. This was his job. His duty to the Rising. He had done it dozens of times, so he thought this time would be no different. So he thought.​
  16. Everyone agreed. Perfect. Just as she did, they had all made it this far and there was no way they could back up now. Even though she had committed the cave's paths to memory, she figured it would be best to stick behind Krane since they had an entire troop to take with them. It seemed Krane had the same idea too since he passed them a rope. Tanvi passed the rope to Suzzio and he continued the cycle till it was at the last person. "A tad childish, but I guess this works too." Her comment fell on deaf ears and they began their trek to the cave. A long, long, walk. Tanvi remembered once counting how long it took her and Krane to walk through the caves to get to the actual city. "Three hours and fifty three minutes..." She recalled aloud and then sighed. Sure she didn't complain anymore, but it was still such a long walk. However, it was a good workout and that counted for something. Tanvi's mind wandered off on a tangent until she watched Fei stand on all fours on the rope. The group held it tight enough for the ferret to walk to poke at the others of the group.

    "Four hours exactly. We really need to work on that timing. One record was three hours and ten minutes." As they approached the large door that led into the city, she couldn't help the chuckle. It was questionable to the others as to why she laughed, but then, right after, Krane was yelling at the door. It happened every time they got to this point, and every time Tanvi laughed. "I don't see why you bother Krane." Rayah's teasing never got old. "Nice seeing you again Rayah." Tanvi smiled as the door opened. Rayah grinned and playfully saluted Tanvi before nodding to the others. Once all of them were inside, the door once more was closed and shut tight. Now that they were in the city, Tanvi moved to Krane's side and walked along the makeshift rode. As Krane was explaining the variety of people who lived Underground, it was shown before their eyes. A couple sat outside of their small home watching children play together. There were markets to buy things from and places for teens to relax. All that was missing was the actual open sky. "It is called a city... And soldiers don't make up a city." Tanvi mused, more to herself than to the others. The chi blocker always admired the city and its hard work and detail. She also knew where they were going, so there was no need to focus on the path ahead.

    A few people that knew her waved and she waved back, others gave friendly smiles to the ones they didn't know. "It's a home-y feeling really. Despite this being an 'organized crime' against the Phoenix King, everyone is quite civil." She looked over her shoulder towards the group and at their expressions. Even someone as calm and collected couldn't just shrug the amazing creations off. Too bad they had to wait to see the rest of the city. However, even the bare minimum was pretty intriguing. Uquo would be waiting for them- well, technically they'd be waiting for Uquo and they'd get their final judgement.

    As they entered the building she had to sit in, in order to wait for judgement, she couldn't help but laugh softly. "May I suggest not falling asleep? You may miss him." The chi blocker plopped into a soft and cushiony chair that she practically sank into and stretched her legs out. Fei had crawled off to where the smell of food was, only to return when a young man holding a large platter came in.

    "Lucky for you guys, we already started making some food." Tanvi wasn't very hungry, but with the time they were going to be together there was no telling when the next time they'd be eating again. That, and Fei was already helping herself. So, it seemed best to take a little off the platter. The chi blocker looked around the room for a moment. Two firebenders, an earthbender, and an airbender....They had some diverse group, save for the lack of a water bender. Tanvi still wasn't sure how to exactly start conversations with people she barely knew, at least not without sounding awkward. There was also the chance of accidentally bringing up sore spots with them like dead family or something of the likes. She wasn't going to risk it. So, she decided to let things play with the newer group and see what they thought about everything.
  17. Tenten and Karan tried to keep up a dead conversation, and Yoshino looked like she was just going to sulk the rest of the night away so Makki figured she'd at least try to get to know these people. She didn't really know what story to share with them, however, without telling everyone that she was a thief and stole pretty much her whole life. The Rising seemed to made up of people who liked to be on the straight and narrow. Yoshino might not be happy to work with someone who stole stuff pretty regularly. Makki stood to see if the stew was ready to eat yet.

    "Hey Tenten, when can we eat? I'm starved, and that stew is starting to call my name." Makki said, looking into the pot. If she'd learned anything from traveling with the swamp woman for all that time, it was not to question what was in the pot. Makki had eaten worse on the street, and she'd gotten used to the taste of bugs, but it might make Karan turn down the stew.

    Heh, it reminded her of a story from when she first moved to Omashu. It still had stealing in it, but she was poor going in so stealing wasn't... too morally wrong. "Well, I suppose now I should tell a story too now, huh?" Makki paused to find a comfortable spot next to the fire, her old spot was too close and Makki could feel the heat on the side of her face still. "Okay, this is from when I first moved to Omashu, and keep in mind I wasn't walking in rich either, so all I had was the clothing on my back and a rucksack from my travels. So when I get into town, I realize I'm hungry and the closest thing I can find is this goofy looking mail system full of food just flying around."

    Makki stopped to wince at the memory of what happened next. "So I went to a stop and got into the cart full of food, thinking that it all leads to one place. Turns out, in Omashu they move the carts around with bending, and that means that I was moving so fast down this giant hill and lurching at every stop... so let's just say the stop I got off on was exactly appreciative of my stolen food. However, they did at least get it back in the end..."
    The next morning....
    Makki was the first awake in the morning, which was unsurprising. Makki hadn't slept well since... well since everything happened. As she moved carefully out of the tent, she snagged something from the floor. It probably wasn't hers, but Makki didn't care. Finders keepers, right? As she sat outside to see the dead campfire, she wondered how far it would be to go back to Omashu. If The Rising was based out of the city, then they'd have to go back soon anyway. Makki sat down next to the dead fire, waiting for the sun to rise and the rest of the group to wake up. It probably wouldn't be too long now, but she'd been wrong before.

    Makki looked at the dark area around her, pondering yet again how far they were from Omashu. On that thought, Makki realized she wasn't entirely sure she knew where the group was.The sinking feeling in her stomach only increased as Makki remembered that she'd been following Tenten, but Makki knew that Tenten had barely ever left her swamp, or if she had she'd certainly never been to Omashu proper. Makki desperately tried not to picture wolfbats in the darkness around her as she came to this startling revelation, trying to make herself small in the meantime. Hopefully the rest of group would wake up soon and they would know where they were, because at least one person had to know right? Right?​
  18. Zarina didn't really notice how long the walk had been. She'd been to entranced by the little ferret as she walked along the rope. Between gentle, if not hesitant, petting and general curiosity, Zarina was in her own world. She was incredibly thankful for the ferret's distraction though.

    Growing up in the relative openess of her grandparents' compound, as well as her teen years back in a Northern Water Tribe Colonies, meant she didn't spend a lot of time in enclosed spaces. She preferred to be outside, with the sun and moon and stars. But as they walked deeper and deeper into the caves, it became apparent that she would be relatively separated from the sky. Once they came upon some sort of checkpoint, Zarina was skittish and hyperaware of the cave walls. Her good manners still made her acknowledge the doorkeeper, though her nod was made with shaking hands and an equally shaking smile.

    Despite Krane's words and Tanvi's musings, Zarina was not exactly enthused about living underground. How would she know when it was day or night? The enclosed space made her plasmabending much more dangerous than it already is, as its radiated heat was much hotter. Did that mean she would be unable to practice?

    She hoped there was more to here than what met the eye, but she did take a measure of comfort in the marketplace. It reminded her of the marketplace she'd pass when she'd lived in the Fire Nation. The firebender flinched a little bit when she stopped to watch the happy family as they stood and watched the group of new recruits. She couldn't help the rise of bitterness at the ironic undertones between their family and her own. However, she stamped it down with a violent shake of her head and hurried to catch up with the group. A passing store reminded her that she needed to change clothes. While she'd been thankful for them, Earth Nation clothes weren't exactly her cup of tea. She'd keep the cloak though...she'd promised she would.

    It wasn't much longer until they reached a bar-like diner. While she was impressed with what the Rising had managed to do underground (amazing architecture aside), Zarina just wanted to get the meeting over with. She needed some time to acquaint herself with the life she'd chosen as well as to reconcile with herself. She honestly dreaded what the night ahead would hold, as she was sure she wouldn't get much sleep.

    The smell of food awoke her from her inner musings. She looked at the platter in confusion then blinked. "What...are these?" she asked softly. In all of her time, as a noble and a fugitive, she had never seen a potato or an onion. In the Fire Nation, most of her food were the native meats and vegetables. While in the Colonies, she often ate the bounties of the sea, though she never really liked fish she hadn't bought, cooked, or caught herself. As a fugitive healer, she ate what her hiding family did, which was usually cabbage and carrots and the occasional Earth Fowl they could scrounge up. Something as dense as a potato and as smelly as an onion were foreign to her. Though the onion probably wasn't as bad as three day old fish. So...that was a plus.
  19. Pulled along by rope, which was tied loosely to her wrist, Tao covered the end of the group during their trip through the tunnels. It was just as Krane had said, the tunnels were pitch black but it was no problem for the Earthbender. With each step the brunette could feel the vibrations of their movement beneath her feet, the shifting of rocks and earth within the complex system. If she had a little time to stop she could probably get a good reading of the tunnels herself, but with the group pulling ahead she didn't want to stall any longer then she was already.

    As they entered the Underground City her eyes wandered from the group to the area around them. It was unlike anything she had ever seen, and as Krane continued to explain the history of the Risings home, Tao only partially listened to his words. She didn't mean to ignore him, but the cities magnificence had absolutely blown her away. This was nothing like Gaoling, but then again this was Omashu. She had been to the city above with her father long ago but she could have never imagined something like this sat below the old kingdom.

    With every new face that passed, Tao made an effort to smile and wave back. The greetings were heartwarming, immediately bringing any anxiety within her to a halt. The chi blocker was right, the underground city was home-y. Making their way to a small building, the group separated from Krane and followed Tanvi into a smaller room, where Tao quickly singled out a large red chair on the opposite wall. Slipping past Suzzio with a small 'scuse me', she plopped into the cushion and let out a long sigh.

    "Jeez, I never thought we'd stop walking." She had been on the road for longer then a month, aimlessly traveling the coast and the edge of the desert. Her confidence had been crushed multiple time, forcing her morale to fall to an all time low. But since meeting Krane and Tanvi that all seemed to end. She was finally able to call a place home, relax, and forget about everything. Even if it was only for a little bit.

    "May I suggest not falling asleep? You may miss him."​

    Eyes closed and resting only for a moment, Tao headed Tanvi's warning about falling asleep as she sat up and shifted in her seat. She had slept less then a few hours so getting too comfortable didn't seem like the best idea. Besides, they'd probably find time later to rest--or at least she hoped they would.

    As the chi blocker continued, Tao felt her heart skip a beat at the mention of food. "Food.." Her response was drowned out by the sound of her stomach growling, the idea of food had brought out a heavy rumble and as the sound echoed in the room Tao's face grew a bright red. Breaking the awkwardness with a sheepish grin, she rubbed the back of her head and snorted lightly, "Hehe.. sorry." Scooting closer to the platter she could feel her mouth watering at the sight, "Man, I haven't had a good meal in ages."

    Just as she was about to dig in Zarina's sudden words forced Tao to stare wide eyed in horror at the girl. "What.. did you just say?" How does one not know what a potato is!? The single vegetable had been always been included in some of her families main dishes for ages, from fried, to mashed--hell, potato's were considered a blessing by some of the lower privileged citizens in Gaoling!

    Feelings of disrespect soon turned to pity as she stared at the Fire Nation noble, head slowly shaking in disbelief, "You poor, poor girl." There was no sarcasm behind her words, only true sympathy as she placed her chopsticks down in shock. It was unlike the Earthbender to not hop on the opportunity to eat, but instead of diving into the platter she instead and stopped and waited for Zarina to try the food, "Potato's and onions are actually really good! You can cook them in all sorts of ways, and they can be added for flavor--especially onions. My mother always made this really good soup with potato's, onions, and Turtle duck--oooh, it was good. Then there were times were we would mash them until they were soft, and that was always so good!"

    Almost drooling on herself, Tao hummed happily at the thought of homemade food before refocusing on Zarina, "You should try it though! Don't wanna' meet Uquo on an empty stomach, ya' know?"
  20. Tenten was sleeping upon her back beside a healthy looking tree, a lot of times preferring this over using a tent. There were huts back home, yes, but even then she'd sometimes be found curled up on a pile of dead leaves or cuddling with a group of animals. Hard to believe that this woman went from doing odd things like that, to recruiting people for The Rising. Two years had past since then and she still couldn't believe it. Perhaps she never would!

    Feeling a slight warmth from the rising sun, she began to stir. The frog squirrel sleeping on Tenten's pillowy chest poked her head up from a pile of bushy tail. There was no more time to react as her human friend rolled to her side, causing the little animal to fall clumsily to the ground. Lee croaked with annoyance and rolled far enough to avoid Tenten's body stretches. Following the sound of tired bones cracking was a drawn out groan akin to the voice of the rising dead. The slow way in which she sat up only enhanced the creep factor. Morning was when she looked the most beautiful, sarcastic observers liked to say.

    Her hazel eyes maintained a blank stare that was locked on the nothingness beyond them. It was too early for her to do much thinking, but she was reminded that they were technically lost. They weren't too far from getting back on track; Tenten somehow knew this in her gut. The obstacles of the forest threw them off track, but they would find it again sooner or later. This was unfamiliar territory that needed more exploring. In all truthfulness though, everyone who ever traveled with Tenten was lost. Unless she had detailed instructions on how to get from point A to point B, every direction she took was based on instinct or a good guess; or sometimes a bad guess. Fortunately, she was for the most part in her element. Homes of the plants and animals were easier for her to guide through; nature communicated with her better than people did.

    After filling her lungs as much as possible, the air came out in a sigh. "Quit givin' me that look," she muttered, noticing the frog squirrel who was pouting a few feet away. With a quick reach across, she snatched the critter up into her large hand. Lee's long tongue extended out to stick itself to Tenten's cheek, bringing a warm giggle from the woman. Seconds later, she was scurrying up the human's arm to nestle into her neck, hiding amongst the hair that was desperately in need of grooming.

    Turning her head, she spied Makki, who seemed to shrink beside the dead campfire. She was always the first one awake, and the signs of sleep deprivation were often visible on her face. That, of course, was worrisome. All motherly qualities aside, she was simply a caring person. Hopefully, before too much longer, her young friend would be able to find peace. She hoped that for everyone, really.

    The rest of the group would be waking as well, if they hadn't already. Quiet footsteps carried her closer to where the fellow Waterbender was sitting, so she could sit on the other side of the fire pit. Makki had been with her the longest, so she'd learned to be fond of any shared silences they had. To not disturb it too greatly, her greeting was soft spoken: "Mornin', Makki." Having spent so long being alone, she welcomed any company she could get. A small smile lingered on her lips as she pawed through a travel bag of hers, sorting through items to pass the time until someone said they were hungry, or needed something else. When everyone was ready, they could make a plan to figure out how to get on the right trail again. With their combined skills and smarts, that shouldn't be too hard! ... Right?
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