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Avatar: Born Again From Earth: B1,C1: ground beneath running feet (cont'd)

by EnviousWorm

EnviousWorm Hanlei and Woui - running out of time - have convinced Shimi's parents to trust them, and they set about attempting to instruct the young girl in waterbending and firebending. On their way are the Republic Police - a deadly force of trained chi-blockers, metalbenders and lightning benders - on orders to apprehend the agents of the White Lotus at all cost.
"Just breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth," Woui counseled, his hands, larger than Shimi's shoulders, encompassed her small frame as he attempted to transfer some of his assuring confidence.

Shimi turned to look at the smiling old man and asked, "How much longer do you want me to practice breathing for?"

"Fire is born from the soul and controlled with the breath of life." he responded, ever patient, "The earth was there when you were born and you will be given back to it when you die. It is a cycle that feeds both of you your power, but it is one cycle. The firebender must learn to forge a repeating cycle of power within their self. Where do you think that Soto got his idea for the combusting engine from?"

"This is...hard," Shimi meant well, but she was eleven. Hanlei sighed, but Woui shot his younger companion a reprimanding glare.

"Yes, child," he responded, standing, "and I will ask you control your breathing and think on what I said. Hanlei here will attempt to show you waterbending."

"What?" Though skilled in his art, the thirty year old Hanlei had never trained a student who hadn't departed, sour and dejected. He was beyond reticent, "Woui you know I-"

"Would that one of us were an airbender," the firebender lamented, "as I think she could master such in a month. Her mind and her soul are not aligned to the delicate, explosive nature of the flames. Your waterbending might come more natural."

That defeated Hanlei's original theory, as he'd believed her heating Woui's tea was a sign of her innate firebending. He began to doubt just about everything, but couldn't argue with his elder, who passed by a curtain to a back room where Shimi's parents were.

Wa-li and Me'fa looked to each other, nervously, not quite understanding their daughter's trouble. As ever, Woui remained calm and explained and explained the situation until their brains finally could wrap their heads around it.

"It's just-" the mother, Me'fa, was a frail woman. Nervous, with a sickly energy hanging off her. Wa-li wasn't strong, but in comparison carried the strong shoulders of maintaining the familial weight.

"It's just we've seen her firebend...we think," Wa-li said.

Woui smiled, just a little, "You think?"

"Well, if a customer complains about warm tea, she gets angry and...it warms up faster than it should. I've seen her stir seeping tea leaves in a pot of boiling water by the motion of her hand. She's nearly dropped a steaming pot of tea, caught the whole thing on the steam and adjusted it back in her grip." Wa-li said this as if he'd spent the better part of a decade dodging accusations and spies.

Nodding, the old master looked back to the room he'd come from, where Hanle must now be struggling with his internal feelings about teaching and the hefty responsibility of being master to the Avatar. "Hanlei was the one who suspected young Shimi of being it. He's young, but he has an intuition. And when I saw the way she moved, well, though she lacks the extra bending...your daughter is a spitting image of Avatar Kyoshi."

Shocked, the two looked back and forth at each other, processing this information. Me'fa asked, "How can you be certain?"

"From the stories I heard and the interactions I was blessed to share with Avatar Korra, I know that Shimi carries the undying loyalty and sense of duty that so drove Kyoshi, Though she may not to grow quite so tall, her spirit and the strength of her will are a mountain no man can overcome."

"You've hardly spoken to her-" Wa-li wanted to protest.

"Woui!" Hanlei broke through the curtain separating rooms, ecstatic, "she moved water! I saw it! It wasn't much but I saw it!"

Nodding, Woui closed his eyes, and in the time it too him to breath in, he heard the sound of metal boots stomping into formation nearby. His eyes shot open and he silenced the excited waterbender, as well as the parents.

A knock came. Rapid and formal. Shimi ran into the back room, to her father and Woui shushing her, and without further words moving out to meet whatever came their way.

The door swung open. Half a dozen Republic Police filed in on the left, then the right, followed closely behind by a man bearing the seal of New Omashu City and its councilor. Introducing himself as Kalai Ardwell, the man offered to buy a pot of tea and was obliged by Shimi's shivering parents.

"It's a pleasure to meet the agents of the White Lotus tasked with finding the new Avatar," he smiled, taking the pot of jasmine tea as it was served and pouring cups for Hanlei and Woui before himself, "I'm, sorry to hear the search has not proven fruitful."

"Well, actually," Woui replied, sipping his tea, "we believe the search has come to an end."

"Where?" Ardwell swooped his head around, "Here? I don't see a child."

"And you won't, unfortunately."

"Excuse me?"

"The potential Avatar will be brought to Avatar Island and tested further, conclusively. And then we will oversee that Avatar's training until they are so ready to assume their duties."

Kalai paused, drinking his tea. For several seconds, only the sounds of their sipping and the breathing of the RP could be heard. Then, shifting somewhat in his seat, the aide said, "Councilor Polaer would appreciate if you stopped off to his office in Republic City, before settling on the island. Are you aware of the emergence of a group calling themselves Followers of Amon?"

The agents shot each other a look and shook their heads. Kalai continued:

"I would so appreciate your cooperation, gentlemen. I am not under orders to let you reach Avatar Island without consulting Councilor Polaer."

"Or what?" Hanlei asserted, standing up. Cautious, Woui held out a hand to slow him down.

"Or you are to be apprehended and held in Republic City, and the Avatar Search be continued by myself personally."

Fuming, the waterbender convulsed, wanting to bend the fuming tea and whip it into the stuck-up political aide's pretty brown eyes. Again, Woui stopped him.

"If I tell you we are to consider it, will you leave us be until we near Republic City?" Woui asked. Smiling, Kalai nodded, "Then we will consider it."

"Master Woui-"

"Hush child. We've no choice," Woui sighed, turning to Kalai and bowing, "It was a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Ardwell. Do tell the councilor he will know of our decision soon. Thank you for the tea."

Standing, Kalai bowed back, and without words left in front of the RP, who filed out in half-dozens again, slowly and behind the aide.

From the back, Wa-li and Me'fa rushed, pushing Shimi, holding two bags each larger than herself. They rushed goodbyes and kisses and wishes of love and hope. Woui smiled, wished them luck in turn, and they left as quick as they could.
(I'm sorry this is splitting up into Book 1 Chapter 1 Part (__ of ___) but I'm going for a tv style and splitting the posts into 3 arcs makes the posts less bulky and daunting, I hope! Stay tuned for the conclusion to the first episode of my ATLA/LOK sequel series!)