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Avatar: Born Again From Earth: Book 1: Earth, Ch 1: The shifting of ground beneath running feet

by EnviousWorm

EnviousWorm Thirteen years after the passing of Avatar Korra, the White Lotus are still on the hunt in the Earth Kingdom for the next Avatar. For 115 years, Korra worked to stabilize, strengthen and expand the United Republic of Nations - along with President Raiko and his successors thereafter. The world is in a modern age of peace and cohabitation of benders and non-benders. But the White Lotus fear a boiling point will reach, as Republic Officials and what remains of the Greater Nations continue arguing border-lines, and Republic City itself is rocked by propaganda pamphlets written and distributed by the "Followers of Amon".

At odds with the once mighty bending nations on the outside and strained by non-bending unrest internally, the United Republic needs an Avatar, and is running out of patience with the White Lotus. While the search is desperately dragged out, the Council and President Fael-o work out alternative options.
Iroh City. Once the capital of the Fire Nation, Iroh CIty stands as a testament to the expansion and power of the United Republic of Nations. A bastion of theater and the arts, with a renown for the world's greatest teamakers and home to the old Dragon Masters, the great Iroh City has grown faster than any other in the world during the lifetime of Avatar Korra.

Walking down its streets, draped in the blue and white outlined robes of the White Lotus, are the agents Hanei and Woui. They have been given one week to find the new Avatar, lest their ceremonial role be undertaken by the Republic Police.

"It has been three years, Hanei," the stocky and tired Woui complained, as he had been complaining, "if we couldn't find the Avatar in the Earth Kingdom or Republic City, why would we find them here?"

"I've a hunch," the quiet Hanei replied.

"Oh good, a hunch. I'd prefer you had some lunch."

The eastern side of Iroh City housed an open-air market district and the Little Omashu neighborhood. Earthbenders seemed to find peace in the old Fire Nation lands, which might have had something to do with being occupied by the Imperial Fire Navy for almost a century.

"Actually," Hanlei admitted, "I wouldn't have picked up on this if not for you."

"Oh?" Woui inquired with a grin.

"We stopped for tea in Little Omashu. What was the shop? The Onyx Ring?"

"Yes," Woui confirmed, curious.

"And you complained to that server girl - the owner's daughter?"

"My tea was luke warm. I would have drank it, I told her, but, who wants fresh tea to be luke warm?"

"And it came back to you quick and hot, right?"

"Scalding."

"Do you remember when we were leaving? Her, earthbending behind the shop?"

"Quite disciplined for a young lass." Woui thought it over for a moment and stopped, "That's your hunch? That she heated up my tea with firebending?"

"What else do we have?"

Woui thought this over for a moment as they stared into each others' eyes, as if communicating further by telepathy. Then the older man shrugged and suggested that Hanlei lead the way.
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The Republic Council. Temporarily disbanded during the first democratic elections, the Council was reinstated during the fifth round of elections at the behest of President Vici at the end of her final term. Their chambers are elegant, with a blending of artstyles dedicated to each of the four tribes, connected at the center of the roof and floor to signify their important balance.

Storming into the council chambers and to his seat came a furious Adlet Polaer, elected representative of New Omashu City. At the horseshoe shaped table's edge, Adlet slammed down a thin slice of neatly folded paper, and then his open palm.

"This is an outrage!" He shouted, "Do these people remember what Amon did to this city? Are they so callous?"

"We've been over a decade without a known Avatar. Benders are weak," replied the Republic President, Zidwu, sat at the center of the table, elbows pressed against the hard ivory, hands folded together.

"And what you propose we do?" Snarled Adlet, "Sit for another decade while those White Lotus oafs drain away funds walking the world doing nothing?"

"I propose you take your seat, Councilor Polaer."

Still fuming, Adlet sat down, crumpling the Followers of Amon pamphlet in his right fist. They spoke of the coming celebrations for Republic Day - the city's founding anniversary just over a month away - all while ignoring the problem they'd been presented. Nobody brought up the White Lotus for some time, and President Zidwu hardly seemed to be paying attention. There was a certain exchange between Ba Sing Se representative Calio and Iroh City representative Zulao, about rising prices on cabbage exports and the effort to maintain pollution from the city's Power Plant, that Adlet stood, sending his seat flying behind him.

"You've words for the Council, Councilor?" the President asked, almost sneering.

"Why do none of you care?" His anger had turned to begging, quick, "Have any of you even read this propaganda?"

"Of course we've read it," scoffed Zulao, to the agreement of his fellow councilors, "and these people are just nutjobs. Don't let them get to you. They haven't the resources or infrastructure to do more than print a couple of books."

"Fine. Fine. Get back to your chatter then, councilors. I'll see you at the next meeting." He left, abruptly, wondering if they would laugh at his insistence the moment he had left their stylized room. Adlet's aide, Meo, stood patiently beside the door as he strode through fuming the exhaust of displeasure.

"Councilor, councilor, is everything alright?" Meo asked in his typical low hum.

Twisting back and grabbing the aide by his collar, Adlet leaned in so close that their noses were touched and growled, "Find me the White Lotus agents tasked with finding the Avatar. I have need of them."

Nodding, horrified, Meo zipped off as quick as an airbender when Adlet released his grip.
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The Onyx RIng Tea Shop. Opened thirteen years ago by Iroh City immigrants Wa-li and Me'fa. Their daughter, Shimi, was born in Bumi City (fka Omashu) one week before they moved. She doesn't attend school, serves tea in the shop and is only seen outside behind the shop, practicing earthbending. But why do her parents keep her so far removed?

Stance and composure steady as the earth, a passion like an internal spark, feet that could dance on clouds and movement that mimicked crashing waves of the ocean. Even Woui had to admit that this girl was a spirit that could influence a nation. But she only moved the earth with her hands, and spoke few words. Her parents watched closely, almost hovering over the innocent Shimi.

"What do we do?" Hanlei asked in a whisper, observing the girl as she raised dense shields of clay, created and hurled spears of hardened earth at targets, dancing around and over them as she did.

"Get the parents to trust us." Woui said. Loud enough for all to hear.

"Huh?" Hanlei recoiled, almost fearful.

Woui stepped forward several feet, close enough to cause Shimi to pause her practice and for all three to divide him their full attention.

"Please; Wa-li, Me'fa, it is clear your daughter has an incredible potential, no matter the dimension of it heights," Woui was one of the oldest White Lotus agents still living, but he was no slouch. "but if you do not give a tree the space to grow, it might resent those who kept it from reaching its full height."

His welcoming wrinkles of age were off-set by the bluntness of his effervescent wisdom. Once one of the world's preeminent firebending masters, and former Cultivator of the Fire Nation Academy, Woui might have been Avatar in another life. But in this one, his fellow Lotus agents joked that he hadn't had to bend in years because he always got distracted talking his way out of conflicts.

The nervous parents clutched each other tighter and looked at their daughter, whose gaze in return was one of a flower desperate to blossom. Shimi wanted nothing more than to see what she could do. They called the two men over.

"We didn't want to keep it a secret," the mother, Me'fa, rushed her words.

"We weren't sure for so long that..." Wa-li tried to back her up, but trailed off weakly. He didn't know what to say either. Woui placed a reassuring hand on both of their shoulders, smiling.

"It's okay. This is a serious matter with grave consequences, and fear is a natural response," Woui said, "but look in your daughter's eyes and tell me she should be kept from her own self for too long."

Shimi's parents hung their heads.

"No," Shimi called out from behind them, causing them all to turn their attention to her, "they were just protecting me. I'm their only child. Don't be too upset with them."

"We're not, child," Hanlei smiled, "we're simply opening their eyes.
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(this first chapter is still unfinished, but I'm running out of time and steam to get it up, so let's see if I can find the time and steam to finish it!)