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15 days ago
Current announcing intent to murder is pretty juicy, tbh
5 likes
2 mos ago
I’m a professional ice cream woman. Stfu
2 likes
2 mos ago
A lot of people like ice cream, milk, and seltzer. It’s called an ice cream soda and it’s disgusting.
3 mos ago
@LadyAnnaLee As someone who’s familiar with the Scholomance series, it isn’t popular but, if you can explain the concept and make it accessible, a check could do well. People love dark magic schools.
3 likes
3 mos ago
@SteelLegion I’m actually a regular at the gym, but I shouldn’t have to say that to earn respect AND that’s insanely rude to say to someone else when they complain about being called names.
10 likes

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Most Recent Posts

@Nightknight It makes it pretty hard to read, man. Consider editing to make the formatting more readable?
Hrm, I only expressed interest in the form of a thumbs up in the interest check, so that might count me out? If it turns out there is space (heh) though, whether now or later, lmk!


I think that counts! Can’t hurt to try.




&




Dark blue waves lapped against the sandy shore at a steady pace. Alisa could count the waves like a metronome. There was a mathematical pattern to them if you listened and watched closely enough, not quite linear, but a pattern nonetheless. The bright, half-full moon shone against the ocean, scattered constellations of stars reflecting off its glass surface. It was peaceful here, behind the mountain. There were no city lights to be seen, no evidence of Happy Harbor or even the team. Just the rush of waves and sand beneath her bare feet. This was a new body- a fact that startled Alisa- but she didn’t particularly care about getting sand stuck in it. It didn’t feel like hers quite yet.

Alisa was seated on a blanket many yards away from where the lapping waves began to recede. Some things, like her fear of water, never disappeared. Her knees were brought to her chin, her arms wrapped around her legs as she started thoughtfully at the ocean. Had it changed in the past two months? I don’t think so, she thought. But she rarely came out here. How would she even know?

Warm sand crunched beneath Kassandra's bare feet as she slowly walked the beach toward the water. It was an exceptionally muggy night; air conditioning wasn't nearly enough for the young Atlantean. While she had doubled her water intake and worn as little clothing as she could get away with, she was still warm. Nothing for it but a good evening swim.

A sliver of moonlight bounced off of something that didn't belong, and she tensed immediately. Her orange eyes flicked to the left, as her hand moved reflexively for the knife tied to her skirt. "...wait." She squinted, peering closer. "Alisa?" While she was still getting used to Alisa's body being shaped differently, Daphne wouldn't have reflected the moon like that. She relaxed and trudged over.

"Hey. It's a surprise to see you here. Especially with the tide coming in soon."

Alisa turned around, briefly startled, but relaxed upon hearing Kassy’s voice. Truth be told, she had heard her coming… but hadn’t expected the other girl to see her. She stood, hurriedly. “Um. Hey.” Her voice wavered. Everything had been so awkward lately. “I didn’t think it was gonna rise until later, and not to all the way up here. I’m bad with the tide.”

“... You probably come out here all the time, huh?”

Kassy looked concerned as Alisa rose hastily. She remembered that her teammate was still getting acclimated to being different. She could relate; it had taken a while to learn to walk properly once she'd started living at the Atlantis palace. "The tide will be here when the moon is about… there." She reached out and pointed to a spot further out toward the water. "But you can relax. You are far enough from it. I just thought you were very afraid of getting wet." She could sense the other girl's nervousness.

"...is it okay if I sit with you, Alisa?"

Alisa seemed to relax a bit, keeping her wide-eyed look but no longer looking as if she was about to turn tail and dash away. She smiled lightly. “... Sure.” She sat again and patted the space on the blanket next to her. It wasn’t a very large blanket- she had taken it from her bed. In retrospect, that was a bad idea, but she never used the bed, so why not?

“I am,” she admitted. “I think I’m meant to be waterproof, but I’ve never tested it out, so I’m not eager to try beyond the trip to Atlantis. Even with my old body, my mom kept child locks on the pool and the bathroom, and with this new one…” She shrugged. “I’m not entirely sure what they did. Could be worse or better. I don’t know. You can’t really sense being waterproof.

“… Well. Maybe you can.”

"Honestly, I wouldn't know. We could always try a finger or two and go from there, if you want." She settled down on Alisa's blanket, leaving her sandy feet off of it. Her gaze looked toward the watery horizon. "...are you feeling well, my friend?"

“I’m fine,” Alisa said. She stared out at the water with Kassy. “The new body is just… well, weird. I guess. I don’t know. Everything feels wrong.” She ran her fingers through the sand, feeling the individual grains drop from her fingers. “Are you? I keep forgetting it’s been two months for you. What’s been going on?”

"I am…" The word 'okay' stalled on Kassy's tongue. One of the many things she had been working on in her sessions with Black Canary was being honest. It wasn't that she didn't trust the team, per se. It was that, compared to the majority of her life so far, hiding herself as much as possible had always been safer. The problem was that on the outside, it just made her into a liar. "I am taking it one day at a time. It's difficult, especially with everyone knowing what I am. It makes me feel naked. I… I hate it, if you want the truth." While she spoke, her fingers toyed with the silver bracelet around her arm. Even after 2 months, it remained.

It took Alisa a moment to realize what Kassy was referring to. A frown tugged at her lips. Even after three months, she was still distraught over that? She had always thought everyone’s reaction to that was overblown, but it hurt her heart that she was still so upset. “About the mind control thing?” she asked, probing gently. “I can’t believe they’re still upset about that. I’m sorry. I think I know how it feels- not to have magic that people don’t like, but to be something that people don’t like. That they’re scared of because they don’t understand.”

"Of course they're- oh, wait. You were down when I…" She exhaled deeply, running a hand through her white curls. "The team understands quite well. I told them everything, Alisa. And I'll tell you too. My power is incredibly dangerous. What happened in Atlantis could have happened at any time. It wasn't so much that I have mind control, I think. The problem is that I have mind control and I am very good at it." Her orange eyes stared out at the ocean. A cloud passed over; though whether that was in the sky or in her heart was unclear. "I manipulated Ja and didn't think twice. I hurt Viktor, and… and at the time, I meant it to hurt. That green-eyed woman with Kobra, that poisonous bitch? We are the same. That's why the team is angry."

“... Oh.” Alisa was quiet for a moment, processing what Kassy had said. She hadn’t realized the extent of the other girl’s abilities, and while seeing her be essentially arrested had been alarming, she had thought it was mostly because of prejudice. It had been, in her mind, deeply unfair. “I’m not angry. Tell me. Did you kidnap, drug, and force fifteen vulnerable teenage boys to fight trained superheroes for you?”

"Well, of course, you're not angry. You're actually completely immune." She snorted mildly, before answering the question. "No, I did not do those things. But I could." Kassy shut her eyes, taking a very deep breath. It was clear she was wrestling with something. After a few moments, it appeared she had won. She opened her eyes and looked back at Alisa with calm consideration. "I apologize. I asked about you and wound up making it about myself."

“I don’t mind talking about you, Kassy. You’re interesting.” Truth be told, Alisa did not want to talk about herself, but if Kassy insisted… she could probably turn it back on her. “Have I ever told you that I’ve been arrested? Like, about how I got here in the first place?”

"You, arrested?" Kassy raised her brows. "Were you driving again?" A faint giggle slipped from her lips. "No, I'm kidding. I didn't know that. Tell me!"

Alisa flicked her eyes to Kassy’s, a smile flitting across her lips. “No. I wish. My mom didn’t let me out of the house, let alone go driving. This was before. I… ran away, and got picked up by the police. There was a metal detector, and… you know.” She gestured to her body and tapped on her forearm. There was a hollow ringing noise. “They found the off button, and I woke up seven months later in a closet with a sheet over my head. I was dusty. My limbs were stiff. I don’t know what happened in those seven months or what they did with me, but they woke me up and offered me a place here or… well, something else, and now I’m here. So.” There was a long, awkward silence. “Sorry. That was depressing. I’ve been feeling very reflective lately. Thought it might help, to know that everyone else isn’t perfect either.”

Kassy's smile faded slowly as Alisa told her story. She looked quite horrified by the end. "Alisa… I'm so sorry. I was arrested too, when I reached Atlantis, but at least I didn't lose time. That's…" She shifted, as if to hug the cyborg. Then she stopped. "Erm. May I hug you? If you're not up to it right now, that's okay."

Alisa blinked, looking a bit flustered. “Sure! I’m not very good at it, though. My only practice is Viktor.”

Kassy's mouth opened, a sharp comment springing to her lips. She snapped her teeth and swallowed it just in time. "...then I will help." She slowly wrapped Alisa up in a careful hug. Her skin was not as cool as usual due to the summer heat, but it would still be a relief.

Alisa stayed quiet for a moment, wrapping her arms around Kassy in turn. “... Your skin is very smooth, Kassy. Do you not have arm hair? I thought most people did.”

A soft chuckle escaped Kassy as she gave her friend a careful, gentle squeeze. "Arm hair is kind of a human thing. Most Atlanteans lack the excess hair that humans grow in many places. Like, Viktor has little hairs on his hands - it is so strange! I asked him once, if he needed to shave those like he did his face. He got… very confused."

Alisa cackled, staying in the hug. “It’s so gross! And he has so much of it. Have you seen his legs?! Or his chest?! It’s awful. I tease him about it sometimes. I’m glad I just have a wig, you know? Easier to manage.”

The Atlantean burst out laughing at the subject of boys being weirdly hairy. "Ja does too! His chest is so fuzzy-looking it's almost as if he has fur! Even Daphne sprouts them on her legs. Though, she got very red when I asked her about it. I felt bad afterward."

Alisa withdrew from the hug, still giggling. “Maybe he does have fur…” That sparked another laugh. But, after, she let their conversation lapse into silence, yet again staring out at the lapping waves and the moon reflected against them. This time, her smile was more content.

Kassy relaxed as well, closing her eyes and basking in the sea air. She was quiet for a while, finding the silence comfortable. They sat for some time like that. Then, without warning, the Atlantean spoke again. "I probably know the answer to this, but I will ask anyway."

"...have you ever been in love, Alisa?"

The question made Alisa turn to Kassy, looking at her curiously. She thought she knew what she was asking. “... Love? Like, romantic love?”

"Mhm." Kassy’s eyes were still shut. She sounded calm - maybe too calm.

“I…” The question had caught Alisa off guard. Sure, she had thought about it- but had she ever felt it? Could she? “I’m not sure I’m capable of that,” she admitted. Kassy had hit on a sore subject. “I’m not like you and everybody else, Kassy. I’m… I don’t think I can… I mean, maybe. I’m not sure I’m built for that, and it’s not like I can ask anyone if I was. And isn’t the purpose of love… well, something I actually can’t do?” She sighed. “I’ve always thought it could be nice, having a boyfriend and all that, but I don’t think it’s… ugh. I couldn’t be what someone else wants me to be, so what’s the point? I’m not warm and human and squishy, and I can’t be what they want me to be.” She looked sullenly to the side for a moment. “You’re the first people besides my mom and her friends that I’ve met, anyways. How would I know?”

There was silence from Kassy, for a moment longer than was comfortable. "Alisa, my friend." Then there was a cool softness around Alisa's hand as Kassy reached out and held it tight. "Look at me." There was a gentleness in her voice, but her orange eyes were fierce. "I will tell you what my cousin told me before he left. The purpose of love is to love. And the one who loves you, will love you for what you are, not a notion of what you're supposed to be."

The fire drained out of her gaze as she squeezed Alisa’s hand and let go. "Granted, he was freshly engaged at the time, he's always been good-looking and surrounded by admirers, and for some reason he thought I was the best baby cuz in seven seas. So. Your Leagues Likely Differ or something."

“But…” Alisa hesitated on her next words, unsure if she wanted to say them. How could someone ever love something that can’t love them back? Instead, she smiled wanly. “Thanks, Kassy. You’re sweet.” There was no need to be any further amount of depressing.

“Are you in love with Ja?”

Kassy chuckled softly, shaking her head. "Have I gotten so obvious? Yes, I am very in love with Ja. Unfortunately, I can't seem to shut it off. Even knowing that he's in love with someone else, and even though she's currently absent, I still don't have a chance."

“Wait, Ja’s in love with someone else?!”

"Um. Yes? Haven't you seen him around Daphne? He's smitten. I mean, it's hard to blame him. I can't compare."

Alisa stared at Kassy, incredulous. Then, she burst into laughter, tucking her face into her knees as she giggled. “That’s maybe the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard you say!”

Kassy stared back, confused, and then startled when Alisa began to laugh. "W-what's funny? I don't understand."

“They’re friends, dummy. Ja’s… he’s like a big puppy. Half the time, anyways. I think that’s just how he treats his friends. He’s attached to her because she’s his friend, but… he doesn’t look at her like he looks at you.”

“Also, she’s a tree. You can definitely compete with a tree.”

"She's still Daphne underneath the leaves, that doesn't ma- waaaaait back up." Kassy's brain stopped so hard it was almost audible. "Ja doesn't look at me the way he looks at Daphne at all."

“Yeah, he looks at you like you’re a delicious slice of cake. And he loves cake.”

"You're ly…" The accusation drifted away before she could make it. Alisa wasn't that type of person. She was much like Viktor; very truthful, but much gentler about it. "I'm sure there's some other explanation that makes more sense."

Alisa stopped laughing, but a twitch of her lips confirmed she was finding it difficult to hold back. Kassy was so oblivious! “Do you have another explanation for why he stares at your butt during training? Or why he learned how to make salmon just so? Or why I saw him looking up the best seafood restaurants in Happy Harbor?”

"He likes to EAT, Alisa! The food is obviously for him! And…" Her face was going deep red, hopefully unseen in the dark. "The first thing is a mistake. He's very respectful."

“You don’t stare at someone’s butt for sixty one seconds instead of your combat instructor as a mistake, Kassy.”

Kassy shook her head vigorously. "Alisa, please! D-don't get my hopes up needlessly."

Alisa smiled and rested a hand on Kassy’s shoulder. “I’m not. Promise. Plus, I’m a computer. I’m very objective.”

"You can see and still be wrong though." She was obviously flustered.

“Sure, but I’m very observant. And I have a perfect memory, so just trust me. I can replay the entire thing in my head like a YouTube video. I’m sure.”

"I'm talking about interpretation, not observation… Nevermind." She reached up and patted Alisa's hand fondly. "It's good to have you back, no matter what."
Interested, have been rootin' for an excuse to put together a robot character. If there's no space and/or I don't have a sheet up in time then no worries, though


haha no space
You know I’m in.
@Aiyanna I wouldn’t say that at all. There are plenty of active games in group and quality ones get posted all the time. Keep an eye out. I’m in some amazing groups right now, there’s really no shortage of them. If you wanted to make or join an RP, there would absolutely be people there to play.

Catherine


~8AM | MT ARAPILES | CAMP GROUND



The thing about being old is that one gets to see many different places at many different times. As a self-described dicentenarian, Catherine had seen Australia evolve from its conception to the present. Even if the mountain she sat on was lovely, she was unimpressed. Even their winter was too warm, and, in her opinion, there was an awful lack of culture in this country. It bothered her on some level, but, at the same time, she didn’t care.

Mt. Arapiles, though, was lovely- excepting the wisp currently squatting atop it. That was the problem they had been sent to solve. Catherine listened to Sigrun quietly with a faint grimace, standing amongst the others in the grass. She had been annoyed when she had been made to apply the silly pink star to her habit but had complied despite herself. Sometimes, we must do things we don’t want to. It was as true a mantra as any prayer, and it had always soothed her. It was the definition of her life and her death, pretty much.

She met Vera’s eyes with a smile, nodding at her and Amelia’s suggestions. She had heard people murmuring about the ghost, of course, but it wasn’t as though she was inconspicuous and could ask more. People noticed a nun in their midst. Already, people had come up to her asking if she was going to perform an exorcism and, if so, could they please watch? She just told them she was and made up some Latin words. It worked and it was funny, and those were really the only things she cared about.

She shook her head at Vera’s offering, and then smiled at her suggestion. Catherine quite liked the younger woman. She was amusing and made good conversation- something she felt people lacked nowadays. “You pray to Lenin,” she said, wryly, “and I’ll pray to Jesus. We can double up.”

Just then, the Australian boy entered. “Yes, the… little ghoulie.” A smile quirked at her lips. An odd term. She glanced towards the mountain, casting grey eyes upward. “It might be a good idea to start at Punks’ Rock,” she said. “That sighting’s more recent, isn’t it?”




_______________________________........
Tu Zin · In collaboration with @ExitTu Zin · In collaboration with @Exit
____________________________________________________________________________.
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The rest of their journey passed with little incident. Though, after a full 48 hours of dread and panic, Chu found that she couldn’t let go of her paranoia. Always looking over her shoulder, she couldn’t shake the feeling that the next disaster was just ahead of them. At Vasra’s insistence, however, she spent most of the next two days seated in the truck, trying to get as much physical rest as possible. She tried not to look at the trunk too hard. The last few days had taken their toll on her body, and, although she would never admit it, Chu knew she needed to recover.

Every night, she probably badgered Feyi with the most questions. Where exactly was Tu Zin? What was it like? How many benders were there? She couldn’t believe the place even existed, let alone thrived as Feyi described it. It sounded like a fairy tale, a trap. She kept her thoughts to herself, but privately doubted what Feyi was telling them. It was too good to be true.




Chu found herself staring out the window of her tiny room in the inn that morning, wondering if she was hallucinating. It certainly didn’t seem so, but she had to check one more time. The town was lackluster, but she was mostly clean of blood and dirt for the first time in days, warm, and, most importantly, safe. She didn’t know how to feel about it. Kanna had been right after all. The thought made her queasy, so she pushed it away and tried to see what she could out the window.

The glass was flecked with grime and dust. Chu tried opening it, jimmying the lock with her bandaged hands, but found she couldn’t. Age had stuck the window in place. She sighed in frustration, but she’d leave it well alone. It would be better to explore than be stuck in this room, anyways.

She left the tavern (such a funny word- there were no taverns in Ba Sing Se, just bars and hotels), and emerged onto the street. She shielded her eyes almost immediately, hissing from the bright glare of the sun. She coughed. At least the awful air quality was familiar. Chu began a stroll down the street, but she couldn’t help herself from looking over her shoulder every few moments, paranoid of what might be following her. But there was nothing. No one. She walked among people going about their day, attracting stares and whispers, yes, but no danger. In her life, reverent stares were normal, but she couldn’t shake what they meant now. They didn’t recognize her for being Chu Hua, the legendary sports star- they recognized her for being their newest firebender. It was an ugly feeling, but… gratifying, maybe.

Chu came to a small market and slowed. Something smelled delicious. Her mouth watered, and she turned, looking for the source of the meaty smell. Her eyes settled on a small, ramshackle food cart, and she found her sneakers moving across the dusty ground of the crowded market towards it of their own free will. She stopped before the stall, appraising what the old woman tending it was cooking. Some kind of meat. It smelled good, and she was hungry…

The older woman (really, she couldn’t’ve been older than 60), raised her head. “Gonna buy something?” She said this with the strangest accent Chu had ever heard.

Chu blinked, short-circuiting for a moment. “Um, yeah,” she said. “Hold up.” She dug in her pockets for a moment, pulling out a few crinkled yuan. 10, 20, 30… she presented it to the shopkeeper. “What’ll this get me?”

The woman looked at the money, surprised, and then looked back up at Chu. A certain look dawned on her face. “You’re one of the arrivals from last night!” she exclaimed. “No, no, I can’t take this. Keep your money, it’s free.”

“I- I really can’t-” Chu protested, but the woman was already shoving meat skewers at her, and she was holding them awkwardly now, and she couldn’t give them back. “Thank you very much, miss,” she finally managed to say, blushing.

After devouring the mystery meat in a short amount of time, Chu wandered down yet another strange path, away from what she thought of as the center of town. This place was incredible. People lived here, this far out from Ba Sing Se. There were children playing, couples laughing… a young couple that she passed on the street in particular made her sad. If only An was here. She stuffed her hands into her pockets as she thought it, digging her fingernails into her palms. They could’ve made a life here, maybe. All these people had.

While trapped in her melancholy thoughts, Chu came to a small clearing among the buildings. Again, she slowed to a stop, staring at the makeshift field before her. There were children, playing, laughing… holding sticks. Dumbfounded, Chu Hua watched as the little kids played some form of a stickball game, organized into little makeshift teams and throwing around the ball between them. Sure, they had the rules almost entirely backwards, but it was something familiar in such an unfamiliar place, and she stopped to watch, mouth open as she stared. She leaned against the nearest building, watching their game with pleasure in her gaze. Her eyes sparkled.

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Not unlike the game in the city, players were split into two teams of similar size and used ‘sticks’, although these were very obviously made of whatever they could find that resembled the same shape. Surprisingly, despite the difference in design, players here could still balance and serve the ball. The major difference between this variation of the sport and that of the city was the inclusion of obstacles on the field. There was junk between the two goals including a dilapidated car and a rusted fridge that the kids would often climb over or even through and would also use as a surface to ricochet the ball off of. There was a very strong element of parkour involved it seemed and some very surprisingly accurate banked shots.

”A-... are you one of the people from the city?” Came a voice next to Chu. Standing next to her was a boy that looked to be in his early teen years. He was a little scrawny. A little dirty. But you couldn’t tell just by looking at his bright green eyes. There was a bit of life behind them that refused to be snuffed by the dirt in the air. His short matted hair was pushed to one side and sliced at the air whenever he moved his head to speak.

In his hand was a stick that was slightly bent at one end. There was no flat surface.

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Chu turned to the boy, smiling slightly. “Yeah. That easy to tell?” Her eyes flicked over him, trying to gauge what the kid wanted. He didn’t look like he was gonna ask her for anything. “Nice game you got going here. I’m Chu.” She didn’t ask his name, instead letting hers hang in the air.

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He smiled back. ”I’m Twig! I thought I recognized you from Yesterday. I uh… ran up to the car you were in and saw inside… and got in trouble…” He laughed sheepishly and rubbed the back of his head. ”Anyways… is it… uh… is it true you can Bend?”

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The question made Chu instinctively jolt, a look of terror crossing her face before she realized that it was safe to be a bender here. More than safe. They practically worshiped them here. She wouldn’t die for it, or even go to prison. She was safe. She looked at the kid- Twig- and nodded. “Yeah. Wanna see?”

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Twig’s eyes brightened. ”YEAH!”

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Chu’s lips quirked upward, almost out of amusement. “Alright, get ready… and maybe step back?”

Tentatively, she held out both of her hands, and then… woosh. A small flame surged up in between them. This was getting easier, she thought. She tossed the crackling flame upwards into the air, making a small, careful arc above her head before bringing it back down into her hands. Her smile grew until it filled her entire face. This was what had been missing her entire life. Bending was fucking awesome.

“Cool, huh?”

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That same light in the boys eyes seemed to grow as he watched in awe at the display. The warmer light danced on the dust covering his face, illuminating the shape of his cheeks and nose and the smile spread across his lips. He remained silent during the entire demonstration and only spoke up after Chu was done.

”Gu- GUYS!” He suddenly yelled out, waving at the other kids on the field and getting their attention. While most of them stopped, one was a little slower than the rest and smacked another kid in the back of the head as they turned around to look. He got a shove in reply.

”SHE’S A FIREBENDER!”

”WHAT?”

”Hey! Isn’t that the lady you saw in the car?”

Whatever game had been happening was immediately forgotten as all of the players abandoned their positions and began crowding around Chu. Their impatient questions and curious comments drowned each other out until the noise became a sea of small voices from the kids clearly enamored with the woman.

”She’s so cool looking!”

”She bends fire?! I wanna see!”

”Do you have a boyfriend?”

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Chu first looked startled at all the small children crowding around her, and then laughed, still holding the flickering flame in her palms. At calls from the little children, she drew her hands apart, letting the flame grow and then shrink back together as she brought her hands back together. Several children reached forward to touch it, at which she clicked her tongue. Finally, she clasped her hands, letting the fire die out. “Happy?” she teased.

At that last question, she paused. The happy look melted off her face. The kid probably meant no harm, but… “No, I have a fiancee,” she explained. She held out her hand, pointing at the gold engagement band. “It’s like… a girlfriend who’s gonna be your wife soon.”

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One of the girls stared wide eyed at the gold ring, the light of the sun glinting off the dusty metal and dancing in the brown of her eyes. She was speechless. The curious boy next to her was not. He placed one end of the stick in his hand into the ground and leaned on it with both hands.

”You ain’t afraid someone’s gunna cut yuh finger offa that?”

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Chu raised a brow, then laughed. “I’m not afraid of anything, kid. I’d just firebend at them until they gave my finger back, yknow?"

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The boy shut up, his eyes widening too, this time in fear.

Twig, who was standing next to him, spoke next, seemingly emboldened now by the mention of Chu being ‘fearless’. He moved a little closer, pushing the other boy to the side. ”What about ghosts? Are you afraid of those?”

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“Don’t believe in ‘em,” she replied evenly. “Why? Are you haunted?”

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The girl responded first, shaking her head. ”No, there are… there are ghosts stealing people...” Twig nodded and the other boy continued to eye the gold on Chu’s finger. Twig stepped in front of him, breaking his line of sight with the trinket and pointed in the direction of the main gate.

”Outside. Are you guys here to help? I know Benders are powerful but we only have one!”

”Nu UH. We have three!” Came the boy’s voice from behind Twig.

Twig turned to the boy. ”Feyi’s sister is just a kid, you idiot. And Tikaani… well… he never came back…”

”What?”

”I think he’s gone, Desh.” Twig turned to Chu. ”There’s a man who usually brings Benders from the city. He’s in charge of it I think. Was he with you?”

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Chu frowned. So many people had died, and she had never learned their names. No Tikaani had come back with them. “Who you saw is who made it, kiddo,” she told them. “I’m sorry.”

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”So we’re down to two and one of them can’t fight.”

Desh peered around Twig and stared up at Chu. ”Can you fight?”

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Chu Hua looked down at the kids, bemused, fighting the urge to laugh. Ghosts weren’t real. Spirits had been real once, maybe, but ghosts? Nah. Instead, she kept a serious look on her face, crouching down to their eye level. Stealing people... now that was serious. Maybe the RSF had made it this far after all. Her face didn’t betray the fear she felt at that notion. “Hell yeah, I can fight,” she said, not admitting that she really couldn’t. Playing stickball and doing martial arts were wildly different. “Stealing people, huh? Tell me more about that, and maybe I can help.”

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Twig stepped to the side, shooing another one of the kids away from him with a wave of his hand and creating some space. He then took his stick, pushed the end into the ground and began drawing something in the dirt. A long circle became a head with two shallow holes for eyes and out of the top of its head, Twig drew two long lines that resembled a shape not unlike horns.

”Ghost.” The girl said when Twig was done. Twig nodded at the drawing, satisfied with his work.

”Some people are afraid to leave. But some of the adults say it’s not ghosts. It’s just dangerous to travel.”

”Maybe ghosts are afraid of fire…?” Desh surmised.

canaryrose   

Creepy. Chu stared at the drawing for a moment, furrowing her brows. It didn’t look like anything from the city. But these were kids. Unreliable sources. She looked up at Twig and the girl again. “Well,” she said, standing up. “I’ll keep an eye out for horn dude here and let you know. Promise.” She ruffled the kid’s hair affectionately. “I’m gonna get going. Thanks, kid.”

With that, she turned and walked off, leaving the kids to play their game. Ghosts… now that was something.

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