Avatar: A Legend Reborn

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Everyone's opinions were taken into consideration. Silently, with a nod, she agreed with Yoshino that they wouldn't spend too much time on looking for water. Perhaps they could select a direction and then hope for there to be a source along the way. Then, the search wouldn't get them even more off track.

Noticing that the Earthbenders were getting to work on covering the fire pit, she stood up quickly. There was a faint smile on her lips; better work than she could do for sure. She and Karan always intrigued her with their bending. Part of it had to do with her still getting to know all types of people, she was sure.

Karan's use of 'mommy' made her smirk with amusement. Her motherly traits were dominant in her personality, true, but he was a full grown man who was maybe a decade younger. Even so, it was charming in its own special way. "Well done," she commented with a chuckle. However, the mood swiftly dove in a negative direction after he inquired about her or Makki being able to sense water. The youngest of the group was having another tantrum. Tenten understood the girl's frustrations and wished she could do more to soothe them. At the same time, it could get old...

Much as she wanted to argue that her cooking had nutritional benefits even with bugs in it, this was not the time. They had a mission to stick to! Operation: Get Un-lost, because she didn't have a very wide vocabulary or proper education. That, and her creativity seemed to come and go.

A snort could be heard as air was forced through her flaring nostrils. She was trying her hardest to keep them healthy and alive and it got stressful at times. "That's enough!" she barked quietly, not keen on raising her voice in the middle of nowhere. Deciding that was the end of that, she gave her body a turn so she was facing the direction she felt they should take. She was quick to let go of the fact she was annoyed a minute ago. Distractions were risky... The two years she'd served in the Rising was turning her into a more disciplined leader. She wore a brave face and spoke with more clarity: "We're getting out of here soon. I promise.

Are we ready to go?"
 
Suzzio' eyes grew in size as they saw even more food, but his stomach twisted from even thinking about eating another piece of anything. It all looked so good and consumable, but sadly his stomach had used it veto vote to make sure that nothing more would be eaten that day no matter how much Suzzio wanted to. "I wished someone could have told me there would be more food...." he whispered to himself.

"The fifth ?" It actually took Suzzio a moment to think before he reached the conclusion that the fifth had to be him and that his previous theory that this man knew nothing about him was confirmed. However he had not expected the man to know ether, after all he wasn't coming from a family that had any sort of power and he wasn't trained by a great master. There was one thing that bothered Suzzio and that was the looks Uquolaan keep sending his way. They made him feel uneasy and like Uquolaan suspected him of something, but the news that followed would snap Suzzio out of this.

"The avatar is dead ?" Suzzio was unsure how this would effect anything their group would be doing, but not having an avatar in the Phonix kingdom seemed awfully convenient. It would likely make their job easier in the future. However it also raised another question "How did the Avatar die ?" He did not mean to say it out loud, but somehow it just slipped out and it was to late to take back now. "I mean... Im sure you would know, mister Uquolaan"
 
Zarina followed the others after she shook out her arm a bit. She stared down the tattoo on her arm in wonder. While the skin was still reddened around it, she appreciated the beautiful tribal markings. She made a mental note to ask if he knew anyone that could do more work for a fair price...

She was cut off from her mental musings by the very familiar smell of carrots and various vegetables. Her eyes bugged out at how many foods she COULD eat and set about making a plate for herself before Tao could get to it. Once she was settled in her seat and eating, she listened to the leader speak. She was t surprised by Krane's promotion...kinda deal thing. He was a good leader, even if a little...weird. His skills were good, even as she longed to seriously spar with him. To pit her plasma vs his compressed air. She wondered whom would win just based on pure bending skill. As for hand to hand, she definitely wanted to spar with Tao. The young woman was strong, very strong. She could probably lift Zarina with one hand, and Zarina wasn't exactly light! From there, Zarina's mind dived straight into uncharted territory...the kind where she'd thank the spirits profusely that she had a darker complexion.

She continued to eat with gusto until she heard the real news. "The Avatar is dead?" She frowned and stared at her food. Growing up under the Fire Nation regime, Zarina idolized the Avatar. Her mother told stories of her, of how she helped break Ba Sing Se, about her efforts to bring peace in such a tumultuous time. She was a hero! While the others saw an opportunity, a big one she had to admit, it was still very sad. Though the Avatar would have been pretty old, she was sure, it was still terrible that such a great person had to die. But such is the way of life...

She remained silent in remembrance of the Avatar, of a woman that served as her hero, for so long and even now.
 
An Air of Silence...

[spacer]The news Uquolaan delivered left everyone essentially speechless. The few dull murmurs were from, if anything, those of the group that needed to reassure themselves. The Avatar was dead. Uquolaan knew this changed everything. Ukoda and Jet would want war almost immediately. Zhing and himself, however, would likely insist on more time to plot, plan and recruit - especially using this news as a driving force. The Avatar was old and cut off from her past lives to such a degree her spirituality didn't lengthen her lifespan as it did with Avatar Kyoshi. Kiareu wouldn't have put up an intense fight at her age even if contested, at least not in comparison to the Kiareu that sauntered through Ba Sing Se and the Northern Water Tribe as if they had offered her and the Fire Nation an invitation. The Rising had several plans on how to fight the Avatar if they needed to. With the recent events, chances were they would never need to. Even still, the burden that was lifted by this was one that would alter the fate of the four nations as the world knew them.

Uquolaan allowed more time for the reality to sink in. He finally began to eat, but those around him sat in silence. Krane could only stare outward. Normally he would play with his food if not eat it, but in this case, he sat there awestruck. Tao and Tanvi had very similar outward reactions of a silent shock followed by inaudible murmur. Both Suzzio and Zarina repeated the question; Suzzio event went as far as asking how. The fact of the matter was Uquolaan didn't know exactly how she died, just that she did. He chose not to answer Suzzio, at least not immediately. He felt, and rightly so, the group needed a few more moments to truly let this compute. Krane, now being made a leader, would have been excited - thrilled even - under normal circumstances, but he understood more than anyone of the group presently just what had changed. Krane saw the same revelations that Uquolaan did, and he would likely have to explain it to the others in due time.

A few moments passed. Uquolaan had nearly finished his plate. Krane actually started on his. The group had settled and it was an understood moment of collection. Most of the group seemed tentative to even eat in the atmosphere. This silence couldn't go on forever. Not because it shouldn't, but because Uquolaan was a busy man. He had set time out for this, sure, but he had other duties. "The passing of Avatar Kiareu still holds many secrets. She was old and she fought hard in her youth; few make it to her age to begin with. I know with absolute certainty that she is gone, even if I don't know how; I would be a fool to bring this to light of it were false. I am no fool," Uquolaan said, breaking the silence. His words sounded absolute. This was the tone of a leader from the Northern Water Tribe. While before, he was a charismatic leader, more akin to airbenders or even firebenders in their passion and fluency, his words now carried a cold conviction.

"The facts are simple. Avatar Kiareu was cultivated by Fire Lord Sozin, groomed to be a warrior and honed as a weapon of the Fire Nation. She became an idol to the Phoenix Kingdom - the right hand of the Phoenix King. I have never met her. I knew nothing of her besides her role in the war. But, I know that with her death is a great loss to the Phoenix Kingdom; not just in power, but in morale. This is the greatest advantage we could have ever hoped for. We don't need to seek out the next Avatar; we don't need to worry if the Phoenix Kingdom finds him or her. We will destroy them before they ever get the chance to turn another human being into a living weapon," Uquolaan explained. His words were fierce. The cold conviction from before had turned into a stinging sensation left by the frostbite of a bluesilver tongue. Uquolaan inhaled deeply. Part of him expected some type of retaliation from Zarina. She grew up in the Fire Nation where there was no greater hero than Avatar Kiareu - the Avatar that brought prosperity to the world. Uquolaan stood in a staunch position where he believed her wrong, and he hoped she knew no fiery words she could spit would melt him from his position.

"I have sent word via the falcons to the Patola Mountains. Our emissary there will be called here to be told the news, and shall take it back with her. Krane," Uquolaan said in such a tone that it caused the boy to immediately perk up and offer his full attention, "you are to go directly to the Treetop village and request Jet. I want no one else to know aside from him until he deems otherwise. The Freedom Fighters are his to direct, as promised. After that, I want you to tell Jet that I request his audience in a party of no more than six for more details. Lastly, tell him that your next stop will be New Taku so you can't stay long. You know how to get Ukoda, and I want this news delivered personally. Your entire party, Krane, will go to the Northern Water Tribe under my name." Uquolaan and his instructions grew specific. This was the militant side of the Rising. This was the side that few got to see. This was the part of the Rising that wasn't a culture or support to the oppressed. This was the part of the Rising fated to an eventual rebellion.

Uquolaan wiped off his lips, as if clearing his palette of his tone and speech as well as of any left over food - which there wasn't, the man was meticulous. As he stood, he looked at the group. Each of them one by one. He didn't even request a name or explanation about Suzzio, he simply left it in the hands of Krane. He left everything in the hands of Krane. Before Uquolaan left the room, he bent over behind Krane and grabbed his shoulders. At first, it seemed like another playful gesture. Until Uquolaan uttered his last whisper before letting go of Krane and promptly leaving.[/spacer]​

"Krane, if any one of them let the secret slip or even seem to flicker in their allegiance to the Rising... kill them. No loose ends."
 
Zarina remained quiet as she listened to their leader's words. Her fists were clenched so hard that the knuckles were lightened with exertion. Her breath quickened until she sounded as if she'd just run a marathon.

"Don't..." She gulped down a breath and willed herself to remain strong and calm, even as her voice wavered. "Don't dehumanize her. Don't make her out to be an object...a thing. Even if she was your enemy, and a formidable one...she deserves the respect of any other person. She wasn't a spirit consumed by evil and rage..." She looked up at Uquolaan, her eyes flashing a furious golden. She swallowed her words though, for she knew they'd be wasted. "She was a person. A misguided, manipulated person that was victimized almost as much as the people of this land. Her shackles were her beliefs and trust in an idea. The idea of peace through conflict. Her life was ripped from her, and she was kept so bound that she never had any choices in her life. She fought out of duty and a longing for peace."

"Regardless..." Zarina cleared her throat again then looked down at her fingers. "I am sure the Phoenix King won't hesitate to make a spectacle of this. I am sure there will be a grand funeral, maybe a procession and a festival in the Avatar's name. She was influential, and her passing will garner a lot of sympathy. He could even spin it to make it seem like the Rising or other rebels killed or had her killed." Her gaze shifted back to Uquolaan.

"I know you didn't ask it, and I am sure you already know this, but this is a golden opportunity to have your organization's name spoken about in a positive light. The Fire Nation is rife with propaganda, but it's people are easily split between opinions. Most think that the rebels are anarchists. That they care for nothing and hate everything. That is what propaganda tells them. If you can cast doubt on the events of Avatar Kiaeru's death before the Phoenix King from a "Palace Guard" I am sure that will put the Phoenix King on the defensive. Even if it was false, and the man claims that the leak was a mere rumor, the gossips will continue to talk about it in the courts. From there, they will leak into the streets and dissent will begin to rise. A call for answers will sound. Answers the Phoenix King cannot ignore. The murder of the Avatar is a very serious accusation, one that cannot be swept away with "It was Old Age or It was the Rebels". If the populace is split...the army will soon follow. Contrary to popular belief, the Fire Nation is it's own Nation. We don't blindly follow the Phoenix King as a people, since our ruler rules much differently than Ozai." She stopped then looked away. "Food for thought." She said before she stood quietly and began to pace.
 
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After a few heartbeats and simply registering what all the information meant, Tanvi went back to eating. Still, it was a rather slow and picky process due to the new information mixed with her already small appetite. Everyone else seemed to be as hesitant with the heavy silence, that was until Uquo spoke again. The tone he held this time was much different than before. It was much more of a straightforward assertion. Tanvi couldn't put her finger on it, but it was definitely one of the reasons Uquo was leader. Breaking through that silence had once again disrupted her eating, and once more she stopped to listen. Her full attention turned to him, despite knowing much of the information that came next about how the Avatar was used as a weapon. When he finished, Tanvi wasn't sure if his words meant they'd be striking the Phoenix Kingdom sooner than later, but it was clear they needed to be prepared. More and more people would know of the new discovery and the chi blocker assumed the news would soon spread like wildfire. In the midst of her thoughts, Zarina spoke out and dared to talk back.

Tanvi looked on with a raised brow and yet a rather passive expression. Her eyes darted over to Uquo, unsure what to expect from him. The festering anger that was building in the firebender seemed to die down as she stood to pace back and forth. The chi blocker thought it was a tad silly to just walk away, especially if she had no clue how to get around. However, she realized she was staying near by. There were no words that Tanvi could give to encourage or calm the girl. Fortunately, she was able to do the latter herself. Instead, she looked at the others to see if they could assist. She wasn't very good at comforting others, besides Fei, so she decided that it wouldn't be a good time to start trying. Uquo was still there, and he still had information to give. Once again, she devoted her full attention to the leader of the Rising.

She had heard of the section of the Rising in the Patola Mountains, yet she had never been, nor had she seen the ones living there. Tanvi had only been in the Rising for so long, and most of that time was spent in the Earth Kingdom...or at least under it. Hearing of the Treetop Village and the Freedom Fighters made Tanvi's own interest perk up, more so than before. It was another group she had snooped around about- while snooping around about the Rising, and learned more information when she was finally recruited. The Freedom Fighters were a bunch of powerful nonbenders- although over the months they could have gotten a few benders- all capable of holding their own, and all having unique talents. She thought it would be interesting to see them in action and see how good they really were. Though, this mission Uquo was giving Krane was merely a messenger mission, so Tanvi didn't get her hopes up. It would still be cool to see how their hidden village worked. As Uquo left, Tanvi rested her head in one of her palms with a soft sigh. "A chance to me Jet- well, the Freedom Fighters themselves, and go to the Northern Water Tribe? What a jump in progress. You guys are lucky, I've been around here since my recruitment. You guys get to venture right back out."

Even if it didn't show very much, Tanvi was excited about the new trip. It was her traveller's heart that made her so eager to travel. When she left her peaceful life in the Fire Nation, all she did was travel about, so being stuck in one place had gotten pretty dull. Realizing Zarina was still pacing back and forth, Tanvi cleared her throat. "Don't you think you should finish eating? Don't want to have an empty stomach when we leave."
 
Tell Me...

'No loose ends.' Krane had heard that phrase a lot, especially from Uquo. He had been with the Rising for several years, primarily as a recruiter. It was his job to scope out those that he believed could be an asset to the Rising. More importantly, it was his job to eliminate those that could become potential problems for the future. The loose ends that Uquo spoke of. Even though Krane was a recruiter, more often than not his actual occupation was hunting down those recruits that didn't pan out. Those that wished to return to their families, those with weak wills and even weaker constitutions. The Rising had to remain a secret - that was its founding principle. The Rising was the organized rebellion the Phoenix Kingdom wouldn't see coming. It should strike so fast and so unseen that the Fire Nation military shouldn't even have time to mobilize before the Phoenix Kingdom crumbles. Any loose end, a single set of loose lips, would be enough to topple over the organization. It took a significant amount of trust initiates to meet Uquolaan, it took even more for them to begin to learn the secrets of the Rising. Tanvi had been around Krane for some time, but Tao, Zarina and Suzzio were brand new. The trust here wasn't in Uquo. The trust existed in Krane. He had killed so many before, and Uquo trusted he would again if any of them wavered.

"You're right. The Phoenix King will make a spectacle, but not immediately. By the time her casket goes down, she will have been dead for months. News will seep out into the inner circles slowly, the secret spreading only when allowed. I know because I have seen it. I have seen how the Fire Nation only allows something to come to light when it can no longer be hidden or it is beneficial for it to become public," Krane said. His tone was sardonic. It was as if those three little words flipped a switch him. No loose ends. No liability. No chance for failure. Zarina had to be tested. Zarina had to be shown. "So yeah, you're right in saying her funeral will be grand. Unfortunately, Zarina, it won't be soon," he added.

Krane then looked at her specifically with the brown, beady eyes of an airbender that burnt with the passion of a firebending savant. Through his glower, he told her, "Do you remember why the Fire Nation took over for? Do you? I do. I went to the same schools you did, learned the same facts you did. Fire Lord Sozin maintained the most prosperous, powerful Nation and wanted to share that prosperity with the world. To do that, he destroyed two air temples and massacred over half of all airbenders. Food for thought. Fire Lord Azulon took it further. He walked into Ba Sing Se and told his soldiers the buildings around them were worth more than the lives of the people in them because it would all be rebuilt in his glory. Food for thought. Avatar Kiareu broke down the walls of Ba Sing Se and the Northern Water Tribe and killed until told to stop. Her hands have caused just as much death as either Fire Lord. Food for thought. Zarina, you need to understand that everything we are is against everything you were. I grew up in the courts, even closer to the royalty than you - I sparred with Azula daily. Lu Ten nearly killed me. Do you understand? You're not the only one from the Fire Nation. If you want to blame Sozin or Azulon, do it, but you won't cleanse the hands of any soldier, commander or even the Avatar. I can't cleanse my hands of what I have done for the Rising, and I live with it every single day...
[spacer]...I see faces of soldiers some nights, Zarina. Soldiers whose names I never knew, but they still haunt me. No one haunted the Avatar. No one haunts the Phoenix King. They are people just like you and I, sure, but they didn't feel like people should. So, lie to me, Zarina. Lie to me like you lie to yourself - tell me that they were just as human as we are. Tell me that they weren't monsters."[/spacer]


Krane waited.
 
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Tell Me...

'No loose ends.' Krane had heard that phrase a lot, especially from Uquo. He had been with the Rising for several years, primarily as a recruiter. It was his job to scope out those that he believed could be an asset to the Rising. More importantly, it was his job to eliminate those that could become potential problems for the future. The loose ends that Uquo spoke of. Even though Krane was a recruiter, more often than not his actual occupation was hunting down those recruits that didn't pan out. Those that wished to return to their families, those with weak wills and even weaker constitutions. The Rising had to remain a secret - that was its founding principle. The Rising was the organized rebellion the Phoenix Kingdom wouldn't see coming. It should strike so fast and so unseen that the Fire Nation military shouldn't even have time to mobilize before the Phoenix Kingdom crumbles. Any loose end, a single set of loose lips, would be enough to topple over the organization. It took a significant amount of trust initiates to meet Uquolaan, it took even more for them to begin to learn the secrets of the Rising. Tanvi had been around Krane for some time, but Tao, Zarina and Suzzio were brand new. The trust here wasn't in Uquo. The trust existed in Krane. He had killed so many before, and Uquo trusted he would again if any of them wavered.

"You're right. The Phoenix King will make a spectacle, but not immediately. By the time her casket goes down, she will have been dead for months. News will seep out into the inner circles slowly, the secret spreading only when allowed. I know because I have seen it. I have seen how the Fire Nation only allows something to come to light when it can no longer be hidden or it is beneficial for it to become public," Krane said. His tone was sardonic. It was as if those three little words flipped a switch him. No loose ends. No liability. No chance for failure. Zarina had to be tested. Zarina had to be shown. "So yeah, you're right in saying her funeral will be grand. Unfortunately, Zarina, it won't be soon," he added.

Krane then looked at her specifically with the brown, beady eyes of an airbender that burnt with the passion of a firebending savant. Through his glower, he told her, "Do you remember why the Fire Nation took over for? Do you? I do. I went to the same schools you did, learned the same facts you did. Fire Lord Sozin maintained the most prosperous, powerful Nation and wanted to share that prosperity with the world. To do that, he destroyed two air temples and massacred over half of all airbenders. Food for thought. Fire Lord Azulon took it further. He walked into Ba Sing Se and told his soldiers the buildings around them were worth more than the lives of the people in them because it would all be rebuilt in his glory. Food for thought. Avatar Kiareu broke down the walls of Ba Sing Se and the Northern Water Tribe and killed until told to stop. Her hands have caused just as much death as either Fire Lord. Food for thought. Zarina, you need to understand that everything we are is against everything you were. I grew up in the courts, even closer to the royalty than you - I sparred with Azula daily. Lu Ten nearly killed me. Do you understand? You're not the only one from the Fire Nation. If you want to blame Sozin or Azulon, do it, but you won't cleanse the hands of any soldier, commander or even the Avatar. I can't cleanse my hands of what I have done for the Rising, and I live with it every single day. I see faces of soldiers some nights, Zarina. Soldiers whose names I never knew, but they still haunt me. No one haunted the Avatar. No one haunts the Phoenix King. They are people just like you and I, sure, but they didn't feel like people should. So, lie to me, Zarina. Lie to me like you lie to yourself - tell me that they were just as human as we are. Tell me that they weren't monsters."

Krane waited.
Zarina stopped her pacing and faced Krane slowly. She listened to him then stared at him in his eyes before she began to speak. "Does it matter what I tell you? Does it? Will you allow your opinion to be swayed or questioned even the tiniest amount?" She asked with a slight grin. "I doubt it. But, I've been surprised before. Does it matter what the royal family believes? No. Not really. Because at the end of the day, even sheep will stampede if they learn that nice warm house they've been told is a mansion, is really a slaughtering house. Both of us grew up in privileged positions, and we can sit here and argue until we are blue in the face and passed out." Her gaze didn't wander from his.

"My convictions haven't swayed. I will still seek justice for those that can't seek it themselves. In that quest, I will become much like the Avatar. My own whims and wants won't matter. I will kill when told to, and I will withhold when commanded. My feelings, my heart? They will have no place. So whom would I be to judge her for her actions? The same actions I've already committed. I refuse to become a hypocrite to serve my own vanity. I know what I am. I know what you are, and I know what she was. She was a person. A person that never got the chance to live her own life. Subjugated since whom knows how long, to serve the needs of an arrogant, self-righteous man with a complex." She says with a flat tone.

"I see my cause, your cause, as the right one. I've made my choice. She was never offered a choice. If I am to serve as the hand of justice, I cannot discriminate. I am not saying she is innocent, I am merely suggesting that WE don't forget that she was a person. A person that SHOULD have been protected and cared for and wasn't." She says with conviction. "She has blood on her hands. Just like you, and just like me. I'll not judge her for doing what she has known for her entire life under unseen lies and a wish for peace. She was misguided, not malicious." She said then set her hands on her hips and tilted her head. "Besides, we are all monsters. Every one of us is. We are all capable of inflicting horrendous mutilations on our fellows. The difference between us and the true monsters, is that we find no pleasure in taking a life. We do so because we deem it necessary. We don't celebrate their deaths, and they do weigh heavy on our hearts. It is people like Sozin that use these deaths as glory marks that are the true monsters. The dead are nothing to them except trophies."

"Of course Ozai would take his sweet time. He has nothing but time right now. All I am saying is that we use public opinion to force Ozai's hand. Don't let him have the funeral in his own time. Force him to be hasty, to please and reaffirm his own pride as well as his glory in the eyes of his subjects. As I've mentioned, to the common people and the common soldier, the Avatar was an icon. A hero. Her brave acts, to them, inspired them and the prospering of the Fire Nation showed that peace was attainable in some form. To them, the Avatar was a bigger influence than even the Phoenix King. After all, it wasn't him that delivered Ba Sing Se. It wasn't him that brought peace to the battlefield. It wasn't him that helped to bring home so many sons and daughters to them. And i t isn't him that sits on the throne of the Fire Nation, and it isn't him that has negotiated trade routes nor built safe havens for the airbenders." She said with a shrug.


"I think you place too much in what the royals think. Royals are bound by their subjects and their army. Imagine if half of the Fire Nation army decides the Phoenix King is not worth fighting for? That is a lot of men and women that we don't need to kill. That is also a lot of martyrs should the Pheonix King try to force them into service or kill for having a difference of opinion, which is valued to the common man. And that is a lot of men and women that can affect the flow of money and the economy of both the Fire Nation and the Phoenix King. What is the best way to seige a heavily armed castle, you know...without the Avatar to break stuff? You suffocate it. You starve it. You take resources from the castle or the army, in this case money, and you force it to depend on itself. Royals can only pay so much and taxes can only rise so much before people begin to question their way of life."

"What better way to starve an economy than to place distrust between consumers and producers, the most basic form of making money? If the economy suffers, and opinions are subjugated, people suffer due to lack of goods, lack of products to fill needs and will look elsewhere or be forced to live in suffering. If the people suffer, they look for a scapegoat. And if played right...that scapegoat could be Ozin. And look at that...a giant rebellion within the borders of the Nation supplying the Phoenix King's policing army...it is a slow process. But one that can be very beneficial if you set it into motion while militarizing." she says diplomatically. She recalled the lessons from her mother and grandfather about the importance of an economy to an army and nation. "And all because we could, potentially, remember that the Avatar was a person, and should be given respect, despite the atrocities she inflicted as a manipulated woman. I am not saying she should be "forgiven" or her deeds "forgotten", merely put into perspective and respected in the way anyone respects a dangerous and skilled opponent."
 
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"I know your type," Krane said in response. She wasn't unlike Azula. She was strong in her convictions and only looked at those whom disagreed with her as those that she could not reason with. No amount of persuasion, at least not through words, would convince her otherwise. There was something that irked Krane. Everything he just said, whether it was cold logic or his own dark despair, she took it and continued on. She felt almost no empathy. Krane knew what she was trying to say, he understood her point, but this girl was slowly irking him in that she was rejecting the human element of this entire conversation. Krane couldn't stand it, and the whole group was about to know. "Maybe it's in the blood of you firebenders, but you think combat and honor mean so much. You think that just because she was manipulated, that just because she wasn't given a choice to even feel the guilt we do that she wasn't a monster - if anything, that made it worse. She was a living, breathing weapon, Zarina. She was a person that was raised to be a weapon just like I was raised to be a secretary to Zuko. Just like you were raised to be an officer, I'm sure. The Rising fights for that choice because the Phoenix Kingdom would have it taken from us."

Krane stood up, just like Zarina. He now faced her and grinned. "But, I know your type. I'm the leader of our new group and I need to know all of your limits. I will test them - in combat. I know what Tanvi can do, so this will be Tao against Suzzio... and me against you. Let us see if you will respect the words of a 'dangerous and skilled opponent' more than you do the words of those with differing views around a dinner table. If it takes combat to show you the difference between a man and a monster, Zarina, I will fight you a thousand times and hope that you catch a glimmer of the difference. But, before we go," Krane said as he looked towards the others now, wondering some what their periods of this outburst would be. "I have to explain to you why we don't bring the Rising to the light - ever. Nor do we bring the death of the Avatar to the Fire Nation," he added.

Krane addressed the whole group as he continued, "first, it should be enough that Uquo told us not speak of it, but if it's not, I'll elaborate. In the coming months, there will be important decisions and great conflict in the Rising. We have many heads and many varying opinions. It is important not to act hastily - not to do something that cannot be undone. For years, this organization has existed in secret. The Phoenix Kingdom has barely a clue we exist, and we work hard to maintain that. Now while it's true we could sway many, many people to our side by publicizing this news, to do that, we would likely have to step into the light. We have no greater advantage than the element of surprise - this is not politics, this is merely a build up for war. If we keep that element, we have a hand up on the Phoenix Kingdom that we can never regain once lost. So yes, I am sure Uquo will get in touch with Fire Nation contacts and try to sway more of them. I'm sure he will even invest time in proving that although Kiareu is dead, the Phoenix Kingdom tells no one. I am sure that proof of the deceitful nature of the Phoenix Kingdom does arise when they have their funeral in the months to come will earn us many allies. The thing is, those are the responsibilities and considerations of Uquo and those he works with - not us. If he can recruit those same people without revealing anything, then we have no reason to question him. In short, if we can amass as many allies as possible before we try to chop the head off the snake, we don't need to sway the Fire Nation because they will fall right after and if they don't we will have a plan. Lastly, let me remind you of history. Sozin failed to march on Ba Sing Se, push through the North or breach any defense no matter how much he starved the Earth Kingdom. New Ba Sing Se is even more impregnable; we have no hope of breaching it in a siege nor any hope of starving it out if Sozin couldn't. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it."
 
Zarina raised an eyebrow in question, "I am unsure if you are misunderstanding me intentionally or not." She told him. "While I am not one to back down from a good spar, and I will definitely fight with all that I've got this time, I am NOT saying that we forget. Maybe it's my tones, I'm not sure. But I am saying that we NEED to take into account everything she had went through BEFORE we pass judgment on her. Judging her on the same level as judging Ozai would be very wrong, and a gross mishandling of justice. Even passing the same judgment we pass on ourselves onto her is inherently WRONG. We were raised to be what we were supposed to be. But look at us now. We aren't what we were destined to be. I'm not a naval officer, raining fire on any of those opposed to me. I'm not taking what I want, whether a husband, a wife, a plaything, or a kid, just because I can. And you aren't someone else's lackey, forced to cover up incriminating documents or to keep Zuko's schedule. WE chose a different route in life. Because maybe it was all we had. Maybe because we decided that life wasn't enough."

She makes a vague gesture towards the ceiling, her tone still cold, but growing in passion, "But look at where the Avatar died. Look at where she lived her life. How she lived her life. She was chained, and broken down. She killed because that was all she could do. Tell me, should we judge a man that stole to feed his starving daughter, and the man that stole just to add to his collection of pretty things? They both stole, so should they both lose their hands? Some sort of punishment should be reaped on them both, yes. But shouldn't we try to help the one in need while serving that punishment? That is the justice I want to serve. I want to be the one that doesn't just punish, but punishes justly."

"You know more than I do about the organization. So I'll defer to your judgment on that. As I've said, it was only a suggestion." She shrugs again. "And I do believe that Sozin's idea of a "siege" was "burn everything to the ground until they submit to my rule, mwahahaha!" To lay siege to earthbenders requires a different touch. Like ice for non-benders, you have to chip away at it until it splits itself into manageable pieces. Sometimes, all you need is the right chip in the right place, and that will be more than enough to make the entire thing fall to pieces. Part of me wonders what would have happened had Sozin sent in a small, disguised team to wreck havoc from within the walls. A small chip, to the bigger ice flow of Ba Sing Se. Obviously, trying to smash through four walls with the power of "BURN!" Won't work. And earthbenders can easily run supplies beneath any opposing force right beneath their feet. I bet if he went the route of patience and subterfuge, as I am suggesting, Ba Sing Se would have fallen." She grins at Krane. "Enough talk, though I think we are somehow agreeing on the same principle but arguing about how we are saying it. Let's spar."
 
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Of course. Krane was convinced before the words even left his mouth that Zarina would want to spar. He saw her desire to fight, her desire to test her skills, before he even brought her to the Underground City. She was a firebender. She was part of passionate people always out to prove themselves if only to satisfy their own need to test their limits. Zarina was no different. Krane had met dozens like her. Namely, not nearly as influential in the Fire Nation, but they acted all the same. Many went on The Rising, others had to be eliminated. Krane couldn't judge her longing for combat, at least not in such a way that would test her loyalty to The Rising. Regardless, it was an attitude he had seen before. He even saw it in Azula whom would demand a duel after losing one and demand another after winning to settle the score. Krane grew up with this attitude and part of him loved it. Part of him even had it. That part, however, wasn't prominent now. "First and foremost, Zarina, you, Tao and Suzzio all business here in the City before we spar," Krane explained. It was true. Leaving the City was too great of a task to simply do, then return. Their spar would have to wait.

"The three of you will need far more suitable clothes. More durable, less cultural. To sneak around the Earth Kingdom, one can't dawn robes from Gaoling or Fire Nation threads. Especially not traveling like we do," Krane explained. "We will get essential equipment here; it's provided to all recruits. I can probably get you weapons if need be, but I'm the only bender I know that even uses a sword. Lastly, there are a few quick classes for effective techniques to help in a group. How to earthbend stone huts for housing, how to create natural earth textures, how to create torches and smoke signalling all come to mind," Krane added, explaining in more depth what he meant. "There are more things to do than fight," Krane said, "even thought it sounds fun." For a moment, the more frivolous side of Krane seemed to return. Just for a fleeting moment.

"Oh, and about Sozin. For the better part of fifteen years, he tried to suffocate Ba Sing Se. He couldn't. Not only could they support themselves, but supply lines from the North kept them in good shape. No matter how powerful their navy is, Firebenders won't be Waterbenders on the sea nor close to shore. Strategy didn't work. What worked was a woman made into a weapon, Zarina. Choice or not, she was a weapon. Person or not, she was a weapon. Blame who you want, the edge of a sword is still what slits a throat no matter who uses it," Krane said. "And, that'll be the last of that. If you have anything else to add, do it when we spar."
 
Of course. Krane was convinced before the words even left his mouth that Zarina would want to spar. He saw her desire to fight, her desire to test her skills, before he even brought her to the Underground City. She was a firebender. She was part of passionate people always out to prove themselves if only to satisfy their own need to test their limits. Zarina was no different. Krane had met dozens like her. Namely, not nearly as influential in the Fire Nation, but they acted all the same. Many went on The Rising, others had to be eliminated. Krane couldn't judge her longing for combat, at least not in such a way that would test her loyalty to The Rising. Regardless, it was an attitude he had seen before. He even saw it in Azula whom would demand a duel after losing one and demand another after winning to settle the score. Krane grew up with this attitude and part of him loved it. Part of him even had it. That part, however, wasn't prominent now. "First and foremost, Zarina, you, Tao and Suzzio all business here in the City before we spar," Krane explained. It was true. Leaving the City was too great of a task to simply do, then return. Their spar would have to wait.

"The three of you will need far more suitable clothes. More durable, less cultural. To sneak around the Earth Kingdom, one can't dawn robes from Gaoling or Fire Nation threads. Especially not traveling like we do," Krane explained. "We Xlothwill get essential equipment here; it's provided to all recruits. I can probably get you weapons if need be, but I'm the only bender I know that even uses a sword. Lastly, there are a few quick classes for effective techniques to help in a group. How to earthbend stone huts for housing, how to create natural earth textures, how to create torches and smoke signalling all come to mind," Krane added, explaining in more depth what he meant. "There are more things to do than fight," Krane said, "even thought it sounds fun." For a moment, the more frivolous side of Krane seemed to return. Just for a fleeting moment.

"Oh, and about Sozin. For the better part of fifteen years, he tried to suffocate Ba Sing Se. He couldn't. Not only could they support themselves, but supply lines from the North kept them in good shape. No matter how powerful their navy is, Firebenders won't be Waterbenders on the sea nor close to shore. Strategy didn't work. What worked was a woman made into a weapon, Zarina. Choice or not, she was a weapon. Person or not, she was a weapon. Blame who you want, the edge of a sword is still what slits a throat no matter who uses it," Krane said. "And, that'll be the last of that. If you have anything else to add, do it when we spar."
"Oh come ooooonnn." Zarina lost herself for a little bit when the chance to spar was yanked away from her. She pouted, much like a lonely kid would after being told their new friend has to go home. "You're such a tease!" The young woman huffed then set her fists on her hips in mock indignation before she she walked back to her plate and finished off her meal. It was a light plate, all things considering, as she hated the feeling of being uncomfortably stuffed. "I'll remember that, Boss. Just you wait." She rolled her eyes then chewed on a carrot stick before offering one to Fei. She smiled at Tanvi apologetically then motioned to her, now empty, plate.

"Thanks. Just got a little...heated." Zarina's face scrunched up, her nose wrinkling a little bit. "Ooh, that was bad. Bad pun." She had a lot to think about, but apparently..."Wait...classes? Clothes shopping? This is school all over again." She scratched her chin lightly then tapped it. Her stance shifted a few times, almost rhythmically so as she thought about the new information on Krane. "I guess I could use a bit if protective armor for my hands and wrists. You have anything like that?" She asked Krane.

"And while I would love to argue the point, I can't. All of my thoughts on what Sozin could have done are just that "could haves". If I ever get the chance to lay siege to New Ba Sing Se, you better bet that I'll want to give it a try." She grinned at him for a second then it fell again, "I'll respect your opinion on the matter as far as the Avatar goes, obviously, we'll never see eye to eye as she means more to me personally speaking, than to you." She goes quiet, her face contemplative before looks at Krane. "No matter how, directly or otherwise, the Avatar brought my mother back from war. A war that bastard of a King instigated and threw her at. A sword...a sword can't do that. Only a person can." She said with a look to Krane. "But...I believe I have said all that I wish to at this time."
 
Watching as Karan decided to help as well and turned the entire stone upside down so the fire marks were now underground made Yoshino grin. It was a clever idea, one which would definetly buy them enough time if inexperienced benders were to come and try to find any hints. When she heard his question afterwards, however, she half wished he wouldn't have said anything at all.

Makki's response made it clear that she thought along the same lines. Yoshino thought that the younger member could've been a bit nicer and explain to him that its not something that can be done in a more proper way. She was about to speak up when Tenten told them thats enough. Looking at their leader, she remained quiet at Tenten made it clear that they will find their way back and then asked if everyone is ready.

Looking at the now clear area of earth, Yoshino thought about what Makki said. They had no possible way of sensing water... But there are creatures that did have a way. Looking at the group, she smiled and nodded "I'm ready. And Tenten, some bugs and animals can lead us to a nearby water source, right? All we need to do is find some." She asked, and then looked at Karan "Eating bugs may not taste good and sound even worse, but its better than walking on an empty stomach. Especially if you are a big man like you." She said and patted his back before looking at Tenten and Makki, waiting to hear that the rest are ready to get going as well.
 
Karan just stood there, waiting for the water bender to get tired so that he could explain himself. There have been notions and legends of what benders can do. Though, part of him also wanted to retort that if they were in a boat that rock would just be at the bottom, holding her precious water up. When she threw out the statement about bugs, now she was just being a petty, little girl. Tantrums had no place in The Rising and--

He stopped when Tenten shouted. Granted, he had not done anything in response, but that sudden, raised voice put a cork on him. Preventive and whatnot. He would stop for now, but if Makki got lippy again, it would only keep pushing the idea that The Rising didn't need to deal with someone that unchecked with their emotions towards other team members. See if I make you a tent again, brat.

"I'm ready." Rubbing his hands together came a shiver when Yoshino touched him. His eyes immediately went to the hand, up her arm to her pretty face. Don't move. Let her hand linger. She was right, after all. "I guess it wasn't that terrible. I couldn't even tell, but the stew was not bad." A smirk and grateful nod followed as he looked out in the same direction as their leader. "Shall we go find some water then?"

Laughing it off, Karan walked towards a random direction they had not explored yet.
 
Makki, after seeing everyone's reaction to her tantrum -though she'd never admit to anyone else that's what she'd just thrown- tried to calm herself. She'd just be traveling with them for a little longer then she'd be rid of them both. Makki couldn't get close to anyone ever again, that much she knew. Every time she had... they ended up dead because of her. As she tried to calm herself, she thought about what her friends would have said. They would have called her even more childish than they were, and she was supposed to be the adult. She was the one who was supposed to be level headed one, the one who was calm and made decisions and helped people feel better.

But here she was yelling and stomping and complaining about things that weren't fair to say. Instead of going off on him, she could have said something about not being able to do what he asked. Calm. Collected. Lately her anger was out of control, like she was an explosive on a timer. Makki took a breath and flipped the hair out of her face. She looked confident despite her nerves and unease at meeting the head of The Rising in her state, "I'm ready to go home, finally. It's been two years since I've been home in Omashu. Besides... the bugs are probably better for you than the regular food. I know I haven't been hungry since I found Tenten."

She followed behind Karen, eager to get away from the group and be ready to serve the Rising to the best of her ability. The sooner she was alone, the better, because then she couldn't hurt anyone anymore. She instead preoccupied herself by trying to guess Karan's status, wondering where he'd come from and why he'd joined the Rising. Clearly he didn't like the Phoenix nation, and he was an Earthbender, but much else wasn't as easy to see. He just looked so straightforward, not like anyone she'd steal from. Now Yoshino, on the other hand, looked like a Phoenix Nation supporter. He moved like a soldier and acted like she knew what she doing.

It made Makki wonder if she wasn't the only one slowly turned from the Phoenix Nation through the death of loved ones. If anything, it meant that they were just better at keeping their emotions in check. "Listen, it wasn't fair of me to take it out on you guys that I wanted to go home so badly. But... don't expect amazing feats of bending from me either. Finding water is something the bugs can do. Not me."
 
The group was more settled after a short time. That was relieving. Tenten didn't have too many complaints about the people she'd been traveling with, really. Definitely more tolerable than her daughter, who was a far bigger brat than Makki, honestly. The young waterbender was venturing in unknown wilderness, with people she barely knew. Crankiness wasn't always going to be preventable.

Yoshino mentioned bugs and animals being good finders for water, at which Tenten made a grunt of agreement. "In fact, my little friend here could probably be of some use." The swamp woman reached into her hair and pulled out the half-asleep frog squirrel that was comfortable against her neck. She watched as the little critter shook sleepiness from her head, then croaked with confusion when she realized she was being dangled upside-down by the toe, staring into the face of a grinning Tenten. "We're lookin' for water, Lee." At the least, her animal friend could communicate with the wildlife and get them in the right direction.

Tenten watched the yellow eyed mammal make an acrobatic escape from her grasp, to land safely on the ground so she could hop into a nearby bush. Not much later did she come scurrying out, croaking once more as a swarm of insects fanned out in different directions. Finding that these tiny friends wouldn't be of much use, Lee jumped to the other side of her human friend to see what else could discover.

She left the animal to her water searching so she could give attention to Makki, who graced them with an apology. Tenten expressed warmth through a smile that reflected forgiveness and understanding. Surely, it frustrated the girl too that her leader could adapt to the uncomfortable conditions of nature better than most. Having experienced the luxury of civil homes a few times, she could see why that would be sorely missed when spending so much time outside. She had a spiritual connection with nature, too, that she didn't discuss very much with others. She herself was still trying to understand it better. "Would be awful nice though, wouldn't it?" she commented, thinking of how convenient it would be to be able to sense water!

"Oh, speaking of which." Tenten leaned in one direction with a hand cupping her ear. Lee was alerting them with ribbets that formed a rhythm; water had been found. The clever frog squirrel followed her instincts, discovering a sparkly stream where other little creatures could be found having a drink. "Thissa-way!" Showing a grin of teeth, she pointed them in the right direction so they could replenish their supply. Though eager to get her fill, she was proceeding with caution. The face of danger could be lurking anywhere. With luck, perhaps they could follow the stream right out of this jungle.
 
Sitting back he relaxed as everyone talked to each other Suzzio just listened. There was a strong will to fight among some and there was also words of new clothes.

After Krane and Zarina got done Suzzio spoke up. Suzzio as usual had stayed silent until he felt he had something to contribute with, but as Krane said all firebenders like to fight he felt slightly shafted and it could be heard in his voice. "If anything that isn't true. Its not the bending that has made most firebenders fighting machines, its the way they teach. Like look at you. You are airbender and mostly all the do is throw a few gusts of wind and for sure they will never kill anyone, but then along comes you. The airbender that has been trained by the firebenders and you happen to be the opposite of everyone else in your style of bending" Suzzio took a break from speaking and looked Krane right in the eyes. "Its the training, not the bending."

Turning his gaze to Zarina he spoke up again, but this time in a softer tone. "I have lived in the Phonix kingdom and I will tell you that your metaphor about sheep is strangely right, but also misses target. You see there are people refusing to be happy with what they are given and the speak up about it, only to have their voices burned away in a sea of fire. A sea of fire the army has no problems delivering and I swear it something I will have no problems delivering to them once I get the chance. "


After his rant he started to think about the clothes shopping and to be frank he was excited, but he also had a sinking feeling that Krane would pretty much pick out what they would wear. However Suzzio hadn't gotten any new clothes since he left the air-nomads, so anything was a gift he would welcome with open arms. "However, now that we are done with this... rant or discussion, lets get those clothes Krane spoke off"
 
Pulling her hand away from Karan, she watched him for a moment begin to walk in one direction, and Yoshino slightly tilted her head to the left, wondering if he even knew where he was going. She then heard Makki's short and rather brief apology. Looking at the young water bender, She sent her a small smile "Don't worry about it too much. I don't know about Karan and Tenten and don't want to speak for them, but I would very much like to see Omashu again soon." She told Makki in a short reply before turning to Tenten.

It appeared as if the frog friend of Tenten had found a water source, and it was clear their group leader was eager to reach it with her small call to everyone else. Turning to Karan, she gave him a whistle and marked to him to come with them, before beginning to walk behind Tenten. She knew that their group leader trusted her little friend, but at the same time, they were in unknown territory..

As they walked, Yoshino looked at the back of Tenten's head and had a few thoughts running through her head. She kept listening to the sounds around her, hoping to be able to hear any indication of trouble that may be headed their way, but soon her attention was slightly lost as she begin to wonder if perhaps Tenten knew anything regarding her grandfather's whereabouts. All she knew so far was that he was being kept somewhere, and she knew that Tenten's daughter was also in prison, but she didn't know where.

She then slowed her pace a bit, wanting to walk alongside Karan and to allow Makki to pass her. Once Karan was beside her, she looked at him for a moment and gave him a gentle smile "Ready for anything, big guy?" She asked in a somewhat jokingly tone. In her mind, however, she was anything but in a joking mood. Now that her grandfather came to her mind, it was hard for her to get him out of there. But it at least felt good for her to know that she was in good company, as at least two people in her group would understand her, even if its just a bit.
 
For the most part, Karan decided to ignore Makki. Granted, he accepts that she felts bad and won't hold it against her. However, he was more interested in seeing if she would actually change her behavior. An apology is just words unless the person makes a real effort not to end up in a situation like that, emotionally, again. But it was in the past, and the young man wanted to be not so lost anymore. The thought was answered from a whistle and beckon from pretty Yoshino. It was pretty ridiculous luck that he ended up in a group with all rather attractive women, but Yoshino...something was drawing him towards a her and didn't quite know why other than the look on the surface. Superficial, yes but isn't that how anyone ever goes over to anyone else and ask to buy some sake.

That being said, Karan made a little jog and smile towards the rest of the group. The found the good stuff, and thank goodness because who know wher the hell he was wondering off to. Slowing up, with them in reach, he ended up walking not to her. It seems she intentionally matched paces with him, and it made him smile. He just hoped to Omashu that his face was still red enough from the sun to hide any subtle blush.

"I am always ready, Yoshino." He said, almost under his breath.

He could feel the air getting less saturated. Water was very close. His blue eyes was torn between looking forward and at her...earth bendyness.
 
It seemed that Zarina wasn't planning on sitting down and lo and behold, Krane decided to stand as well. "Oh dear..." Tanvi said lightly. Her tone, oddly enough was a mix of caution and lack of concern. It was a tone that showed she already knew what Krane could accomplish, and yet she was still weary of it. That, and she wasn't sure how short a fuse Zarina had before she would light the place on fire. While they went back and forth, Tanvi pushed a plate of food at the end of the table for Fei to eat. She didn't need them all of a sudden breaking the table. If her ferret was at the end, she could be farther away from the possible danger and make a quicker escape. And as she predicted, he challenged her and made the excuse of having to know their skills. Sure, he had to know, but Tanvi suspected that he wanted a spar in the heat of the particular moment. Her palm went to her forehead and she sighed. "Not at the table...People have to eat here you know." When she realized Krane was talking to the entire group instead of Zarina, she looked up. Tanvi understood the reason they kept quiet about everything and she had no questions otherwise. It was all the matter of letting things play out. Play out, and not get out of hand. Tanvi could almost feel the added spark to the fire when Zarina accepted the challenge.

Tanvi tensed for a few moments, ready to move out of the way with ease. However, Krane put his foot down with the final statement and Tanvi mentally sighed and slumped back into her chair. Things settled down and Tanvi nodded towards Zarina's apology. Fei noticed the offer and inched closer, pausing to make sure Zarina wouldn't have another outburst. Once that was confirmed, Fei moved over and took the offering happily and then stuck around just in case she offered more. After a bit more conversation between the group, Tanvi cleared her throat.

"Well, with that, lunch time is over, and to get a new set of gear it is." Tanvi was the next to stand, glancing between their new leader and the resident hothead, checking for any signs of any other growing flames brewing in either of them. But, when Krane put his foot down, he put it down. And the conversation was over. Even Suzzio mentioned getting the clothes now. Lunch was over. With a nod, she decided to lead the group to the same little market she had first went to in order to get a new set of gear. The same two familiar old women were there, along with an extra set of hands helping around. She didn't think to give them all the rundown of what would be best to wear, and when she did realize it, Krane already had it under control. Of course he did, it was his job. While everyone sorted and sifted through attire that would fit them best, Tanvi sat outside and waited, watching Fei run about. There was no need for Tanvi to get in the others' way while they searched through the market. However, one of the women noticed her and promptly grabbed a sewing kit.

"C'mere dear. Let me check your clothes. These are travel clothing. I'll make sure you haven't accidentally ripped them in one of your escapades." Tanvi knew she didn't do much to damage her clothes, but she decided to let the woman check them out anyway. It didn't hurt anything to check after all.
 
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