Avatar fic: The Next Legend
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is there anymore?
im likin it
There's a lot more to it, actually, but since it seemed no one cared about it I felt why bother.
Here's the next chapter:
Book 1: Earth
Chapter 1: The Man Called Ezeru
Aunt Meng's diner...
Chef Tin Li shouted over the hiss of the fire, "What time is it, Meng?"
Meng, a portly middle aged woman with a large gap in her teeth, looked at the clock as she counted the change to a customer. "Three minutes to one thirty. You don‘t get off for another hour and a half. And I know you've got a watch, now get on those salmon cuts!"
Tin Li shook his head. "No, not that, Ezeru's coming, you'd better get Miko ready."
Miko, one of Meng's many, many nieces, looked up from rinsing out a pitcher in the sink. "Who's Ezeru?"
"A regular customer, comes in at the same time everyday. He can be...a little intimidating the first time you see him."
Tin Li chuckled, checking his pocket watch. "Oh you'll see. In five, four, three, two, one."
Miko was looking at the front door, so she jumped when the side door, just a few feet away from her, swung open and Ezeru stepped in, leaning under the overhang. His gasa, outfit, and right arm all familiar to Meng and Tin Le.
Miko froze. She was a very short girl of sixteen. Ezeru towered over her by more than a foot. She held the pitcher tightly, protectively in front of her chest, eyes wide and mouth slightly agape.
Tin Li laughed at Miko's reaction. "Hiya, Ezeru. How's work?"
"Fine." Ezeru spoke very softly.
"The usual?" Meng asked, paying out to the final customer in line as Ezeru walked over too the counter. She asked already knowing the answer.
"The usual, coming up." Tin Li said as he flipped his spatcula in his hand.
Meng looked at Miko and saw she still hadn't moved. "Those dishes won't clean themselves, girl. Miko? Hey!" Miko blinked, finally taking her eyes off Ezeru, who never seemed to notice her. "Snap out of it."
"Oh, right, sorry." She feverishly tried to dry the pitcher, but she was too rattled to properly hold anything.
It wasn't fear that had her in a near stupor.
Meng had stepped over, looking at her face. "Blushing, huh?" she whispered.
Miko batted her eyes. "What? No, I'm not."
"Then, why are your cheeks so red?" Aware she was further embarrassing Miko, she added, "It's those green eyes isn't it?"
Miko paused, stole a glance at Ezeru, who still hadn't moved, waiting patiently for his plate. She tilted her head slightly to the side, a gesture of defeat and acknowledgement. "They're...they‘re...amazing."
"Hot plate! Hot plate!" Tin Li was reaching the plate through the kitchen window. With a wink, Meng left Miko to her dishes and handed took the plate from Tin Li. Ezeru had already laid out exact change on the counter top and took his plate.
After nine minutes, Ezeru was finished and had left. Without saying a word to anyone else.
"So, he comes at the exact same time, orders the exact same thing, every single day?" Miko asked after she cleaned off his plate, which was nearly spotless.
"He even sits at the same table, same seat. If ol‘ Tinny Linny back there made him the exact same amount, he‘d finish it in the same amount of time. You can set your clock to Ezeru. Never met someone more dedicated to a routine, no one is forcing him to keep, in my life."
"It's almost inhuman," the chef chimed in.
"How old is he?" Miko asked.
Meng started to answer but realized she didn't have one. "You know, I don't have a clue."
Museum of the Avatar...
"You're pullin' my leg," said the former Fire Nation resident Yuan Po, chipping away the final details on Avatar Aang's right arm. "A demon? Come on."
The Water Tribe born, Toruk shook his head as he leaned against the scaffold railing. He finished early for the day. "I'm serious. They say it's an evil spirit running around butchering people."
"And who are ‘they' exactly? Senile, old farts that barely see their own cataracts?"
Toruk chuckled. "No, not every one who has seen it, them, or whatever is old. They say that someone fairly young has seen it. Claims he saw the demon flying off into the night," Toruk waved his hands to demonstrate.
Yuan Po laughed. "Now I know you're joking. Now not only is this demon killing people without a trace, but it's ‘flying off into the night'? Too cliché to be real. It's just some kid with an overactive imagination, that's who it was right? Probably heard the stories, and wanted to impress his friends. Spread some false rumors to get attention. Sounds a lot like my son."
Toruk shrugged. "Hard to say. It's all rumors anyway. It is kind of scary, you know? No one is reporting anything specific on the killings. No way of figuring out exactly why who is dying, well, is dying. Could be random, but it's a little unnerving that so much is being held quiet. Is that how they treat big news like this around here?"
Yuan Po took a few more chips at the knuckles, then wiped the sweat from his brow. "I've lived here only a few months, I know you were here just about a week. The murders were happening long before I got here, and I didn't find out about the murders until I got here. I don't know if that's just how the Earth Kingdom does it or not. Maybe you should ask the big man, he‘s lived here all his life, but you know you won‘t get much out of him." Almost on cue, heavy footsteps shook the scaffolding, which creaked under the weight. They both knew who was coming.
He was carrying two large sacks of earth over his shoulder on opposite ends of a metal pole. Each had to weigh 50 pounds, but he carried them almost effortlessly, with one arm. He was there for the stones each sculptor chipped off of the statue. The pulley system was broken and no one bothered fixing it. "After all," the foreman had said, "why fix it when you can just let Ezeru do the heavy lifting? He don't seem to mind."
"How you doin', Ezeru?" Toruk said.
"I gotta question for you," Toruk said, giving Yuan Po a "Watch this" look.
Ezeru shifted his eyes, toward Toruk, but his head never turned. Talking to Ezeru could be difficult, you had to follow his eyes, but they were hard to see under the shadow his gasa cast over his face. Unless you were standing on a certain side, then it was a little easier. Toruk happened to be standing on the right side this time.
"You've heard of those mysterious killings, right?"
"Know any reason why the newspapers never say much about them?"
"No. No." Toruk said the same thing when Ezeru spoke. Both men busted out laughing. Ezeru knelt, balancing the pole on his shoulder, picked up the bag of excess stone, and started walking away without saying another word to either man.
Toruk called out, "Oh, hey, don't be like that. I was only teasing!"
"Don't bother the big man; let him work. You're finished for the day, anyway, Toruk, better sign out, or the boss man will throw you off this thing. It says that in the charter."
They both laughed again.
Tall, quiet, and scary.
Those were usually the three words used to describe Ezeru, the lattermost being based on assumptions tied to the first two descriptions. And because of that, people treat him the way they do most things they're afraid of: Avoiding him entirely, alienating him with jokes and crude comments, or, the least taken choice, trying to understand him. None of this mattered to Ezeru though, and if they did, he never told anyone. Anyone but two people.
He stood at least six foot five, perhaps more. He was clearly physically strong. His arms were very long and thickly muscled. His upper body seemed to form an inverted triangle. Slender at the waist, but growing wider as it gets to his shoulders, which were broad. His head was often seen bent, looking down. Most people were far shorter than him so he didn't need hold his head up often. It's also byproduct of him ducking to avoid banging his head on anything hanging too low for him. The gasa he always wore did little to help in that respect.
The gasa looked like an Earth Kingdom army issued gasa. It has the same color and similar design, but it differed in two ways: it lacked the point at the top and it has roughly a quarter of it missing from the front right side. It was custom made to be that way. If it was damaged in some way, then purposely redecorated to have the missing section integrated into it's design is only known to Ezeru and two other people. Nearly everyone who sees him thinks he was once in the army, yet they figure he isn't seem old enough to have fought in the war. Nonetheless, people say he had to have been in some kind of fight at some point in his life. An assumption reinforced more so by his heavily bandaged right arm.
From the tips of his fingers all the way up to his shoulder, his arm was wrapped. When he walked, or did anything, his right hand was hooked onto the top of his pant. Giving him the appearance of walking with one hand in his pocket, which he actually didn't have. Since it was summer, he wore a sleeveless button down beige tunic with green trim over green pants and sandals. He jet black hair a queue that reached the middle of his back. Unlike traditional queue's, Ezeru didn't shave the front half of his head, allowing it to grow, even allowing short tufts of hair to form bangs occasionally. A choice he was adamant on, for reasons (again) he never told anyone about.
Ezeru was just stepping off the scaffolding when he heard the first crack and heard the shout, "It's breaking loose!". A second, far louder, crack came. Ezeru looked up just as Aang's ear fell off and crashed into the top of the scaffolding and broke through to the next level. The entire scaffolding started shaking, swaying away from the statue! Everyone started shouting and screaming.
"Oh man! It's coming down! Somebody get help!" The statue was nearly 100 feet tall. Anyone on it when it falls will be...
Ezeru dropped rocks and jumped over the side. It was a 30 foot drop! The ground rose up as he landed, absorbing the impact. He scanned the scaffold. There, there, there, and there....
He reached down and literally ripped up a stone block as large as him out of the ground out of the ground. He stepped back, jumped straight up, then drove his fist into the top, piledriving it back into the floor. Four square pillars, rose out of the ground at an incline, each one to a separate level of the of the scaffolding. "Slide down!" Ezeru shouted to the seven men still on it, Yuan Po and Toruk were among them. The entire scaffolding finally gave way just as the last man slid down. Ezeru shielded himself from the debris and backed away. It kicked up a lot of dust and made it hard to see.
Yuan Po shouted, "Look out! The ear‘s coming down!"
The heavy stone ear tumbled off the collapsing wooden structure, right above Ezeru! He had time to get out of the way, but he didn't.
When the ear hit, everyone looked away, assuming Ezeru was crushed.
He wasn't. For the first time since he had been working on the museum construction, he moved his right arm.
It was stretched up over his head, holding the ear which was as large as he was. With what seemed like no effort at all, and even less semblance of Earthbending, he set the ear on the ground. His bandaged right arm returned to it's default position of hooked behind his onto his pants.
All eyes were on Ezeru.
Toruk and Yuan Po looked at each other. Toruk asked the question everyone had to be asking themselves, "Ezeru. Why didn't you just get out of the way?"
"Then, you would have had to carve another ear. Was I supposed to let it hit the floor and break?"
The long walk home was a familiar one, for reasons beyond the obvious. He was going to have to go job hunting. Again.
Once inside, his presence surprised his wheelchair bound mother, the very reason he had a job, and his elderly aunt. His aunt, was busy at the sink washing out the pots and pans she just used, she turned when he walked into the kitchen with a puzzled look on her face. "What's going on? You're home early from work? The last time that happened you were..."
His mother and aunt knew him better than anyone, they could read his face, his eyes. "Oh goodness, what happened?" his mother asked.
Ezeru shrugged. "I saved some people from a giant, falling ear."
"What? You save lives, so they fire you? That's ridiculous."
"There was a construction charter that said-" Ezeru began.
His mother waved that off. "We'll discuss it later, today is a special occasion." She wheeled backwards so he could see the table. They had baked a cake.
His mother said as she wheeled over to hug him, he knelt on one knee so she wouldn't have to hug his waist. "Happy 16th birthday, son!"
"Thank you, mother."
Chapter 2: The Investigation
Very good work, I must say. Looking forward for more.
im liking it
I'd say this is my weakest chapter grammatically speaking. I'd edit it, but I wouldn't be able to stop myself from making a host of other edits to the story for logic sake and such and as I've already written 6 chapters beyond this, it would screw with continuity, so...yeah.
Chapter 2: The Investigation
Ba Sing Se, Upper Ring...
When the war ended, there was a question that needed to be answered: What to do with the Dai Li? They betrayed their leader and their nation, and directly assisted in Ba Sing Se's capture. Treason, a crime punishable by death, but Avatar Aang stepped in and spoke on their behalf. No, Avatar Kyoshi stepped in. For the second time, Avatar Aang channeled Kyoshi.
It was she who created the Dai Li, it was felt that she should be the one to decide how they'd be punished. She decided that the Dai Li would in fact be expanded, rather than disbanded entirely, however the Dai Li members who defected to the Fire Nation, and then subsequently banished by mentally unstable Azula, were branded as traitors and forced to either return to the Earth Kingdom and face trail along with former leader, Long Feng, or remain in the Fire Nation as fugitives from the Earth Kingdom. None of the rouge Dai Li agents were ever heard from again.
As for the new Dai Li's function, they would be spread far outside of Ba Sing Se and into all of the seven Earth Kingdom cities, still under construction at the time.
They would still be consist of some of the most well trained Earthbenders in the world, but no longer would they be a "cultural authority." They'd become special law enforcement agents. It wasn't any surprise the public at large resisted this decision, but it was decided that the Dai Li organization, though rebuilt with a wholesale still had a purpose in the Earth Kingdom and with the baby boom, the more people to keep the peace the better. And with time, wounds healed. The Dai Li became security and the agents themselves seemed untouchable, so it came as quite a shock when a Dai Li agent was found slumped against the side of a house, dead of no apparent injury or illness. Only a single trickle of blood came from his mouth.
The area was quickly sealed off. It was just past ten o'clock. The body was discovered by a woman walking her pet poodle monkey.
One officer, just arriving to the scene, asked another, "What's the body's name?"
The mustached, already present, officer blinked twice at how tall he was and at the almost impersonal manner he spoke, using a word like, "body" and not "victim" or at the very least "man." He held up a laminated card. "His ID says he's Laozheng. He was 36. Lived just a few blocks down the street. Must have been heading home after a late night."
The second officer was wearing his uniform's hood over his face. It was the middle of summer, it was very unusual to see someone wearing the winter uniform over his face. He also had both hands in his pockets. "I see. I also see that you have his ID, which means you disturbed his body, correct?"
"Uh, well, yeah, I did. It's standard procedure. We would've have already called for the mortician wagon if not for the-"
"The special order prohibiting disturbing the body in anyway until the special investigator arrives, correct?" The first officer looked like a child with his hand caught in the cookie jar, but he happened to be caught by a very tall person whose voice seemed far too soft for his body. "Please follow orders next time, lieutenant. There was a purpose for them. It interferes with my analysis if the body has been touched more than necessary." He turned slightly to everyone else, who had all stopped and watched this unknown officer reprimand their superior officer.
The lieutenant's expression hardened. "Okay, well, so then who are you?"
"Isn't it obvious, lieutenant? I'm the person you've been waiting for."
"He's the special investigator," said a female voice from behind him. The lieutenant turned, shocked. He thought for sure no one was standing there just a second ago. She was wearing a similar uniform to all the officers, but she clearly wasn't any simple policeman. She held hers arms behind her back. The lieutenant thought of only one thing: Dai Li. The lieutenant didn't know of many female Dai Li agents.
"We would've arrived sooner, but we were on the other side of the city when the call came," the former Dai Li agent said.
The special investigator walked up to the lieutenant. "I'm done here. Thank you for your patience, lieutenant. Let's go, Hanori."
The lieutenant was incredulous. "Wait, you make us wait nearly an hour, and you show up, spend five seconds looking at the body then leave?!?"
The investigator turned, head slightly tilted to one side. "I've concluded my investigation, lieutenant, did someone say it would take a while? If they did, I'm afraid they lied to you." There was a chuckle in his voice.
He takes a step towards the investigator, he's tall but the lieutenant isn't afraid of someone that skinny. "Look, you pompous-" Hanori slides in front of him, placing a stone encased hand on the lieutenant's chest. She shakes her head slowly.
"It's okay, Hanori." To the lieutenant he says, "I apologize for my hastiness, but I discovered something that troubles me, I really wish to get back and check something in my notes." Hanori didn't move an inch.
"And that something is?"
The investigator, still not revealing his face, paused a bit. "Well, have you noticed that he is a Dai Li?"
The lieutenant's face was turning red with anger. "What? You think I'm an idiot?!?"
"Not at all, I'm just trying to call something to your attention. He's a Dai Li agent, and Dai Li are trained a specific way thanks to a special tactic. Hanori in fact has it on pressed against your chest."
It took a second, but it clicked. "The gloves?"
"Yes, they're still on and around his hands." Sure enough, they were.
"What does that mean?"
"Dai Li are trained to meet any threat with their gloves. If he was attacked and was aware of it, he would surely be missing some parts of the glove. But, all the pieces are present and accounted for. That means that the killing stroke was made before Mr. Laozheng was aware of the killer's threat, or perhaps even of the killer entirely."
"What makes you so sure he was killed? There isn't a scratch on him. He could've had a heart attack."
"No heart attack I've ever seen causes bleeding. Unless of course, the heart was ruptured."
"People have been known the bite their lips or tongues. Heart attacks can be traumatizing."
The investigator seemed to ponder that. "Hm...that's something I wasn't aware of. I'll be sure to research it, but I'm more than certain that wasn't the case, at least not entirely. There's a small puncture wound in his chest. See for yourself, it's okay to touch the body now."
Hanori stepped away and the lieutenant walked over to the body and crouched. He parted Laozheng's coat. A small hole right in the middle of his chest. It was a small wound, almost as if done by a pen.
"Well, I'll be damned." He looked to his left. "Send out a message, put all forces on alert. This just became a murder." He turned back to the But, how could he have been stabbed?"
The investigator shook his head. "He wasn't stabbed. Some sort of throwing weapon was used, like a dart or kunai. Whatever did this destroyed the heart almost instantly."
"Kunai? Dart? The wound is perfectly round. What kind of weapon could it have been? A needle?" With a grunt the lieutenant stood to his feet. "Well, that's all that had you troubled?"
"No, it's something else all together."
"What do you mean?"
The investigator shook his head. "All the other slayings were...more personal, done with more suffering involved. This time the one attack killed him instantly. No," he paused. "It's not the first time. It's just like..." His voice trailed off.
"Other slayings? Wait, you aren't saying that..."
He was walking down the alley. "Yes, I believe the murderer is one in the same. The Demon Killer has returned to Ba Sing Se. I wouldn't even bother with a manhunt. I'd say time of death was at least around midnight, he's long gone by now. It's time I left, lieutenant. Take care."
Hanori and the investigator disappeared around the corner. The lieutenant grabbed the back of his neck. "I see why all dead bodies are to be held until he gets there. He's hunting this Demon Killer. Alright, let's get this poor guy down to the morgue. Someone will have to break the news that to his family. And I'm glad it won't be me."
Several blocks away...
The investigator, safely out of eyesight from everyone else, stopped and leaned against a nearby street lamp.
"Are you okay, Olan?" Hanori asked, being his personal assistant the last four years, Hanori was genuinely concerned for Olan's well being. Olan was grateful, she was a strong Earthbender and in the event he came face to face with the mass murder, she could prove invaluable, as well as she had become a good friend of his. One of the only ones he has.
"Just fine. I'm just sweating buckets. Help me out of this," he said has he pulled off his uniform. "And these stilts are hurting my feet." His glasses had fogged up and his dark brown hair was matted, and clumpy.
Olan didn't like the act he had to put on, but it was a necessary step. No one would accept that the lead investigator on such a case could be a just turned sixteen year old boy, barely five-five, wearing thin black rimmed glasses. But, whether the world knew it or not, Olan was the most qualified person for the job. A Ba Sing Se University graduate by 12 years old with a degree in criminology, he had spent the last four years tracking down this Demon Killer. Though Olan didn't approve of that name, he felt it accurately described the terrible efficiency the killer, or killers, displayed.
Today makes eighty-five known slayings, and the third this month alone. The murder frequency has increased steadily. As if the killer is gaining some confidence, and that's the only change. It's been so long, and no breaks. He's no closer now than he was those years ago, when the killer first struck. And took the life of the most important person in Olan's life. And Olan still had no answers...
When inside the steam driven carriage, he throw down his stilts.
Hanori turned in his driver's seat. "What is it?"
"They say I'm a genius, but each time that monster kills someone I feel more like an idiot. Eighty-five deaths and still no connection. Doctors, farmers, teachers, low life thugs, the newest victim being a Dai Li agent, and I can't find the common link."
"Doesn't that mean these are random murders, Olan?" He asked as he started the carriage and pulled off the curb.
"No, eighty-four of the victims all had seedy pasts, things their loved ones didn't know about, smuggling, trafficking cactus powder, maybe even having a hand in those bombings. They were involved in something, and that seems to be the reason for their deaths. I'm still working on finding out exactly what, they were doing, but it'll take time. But, knowing that there's still no connection."
"What connection? To who?"
Olan slumped in his seat and pressed the side of his head to the side glass window. "You know as well as I do, Hanori. There was nothing seedy at all about my mother. She only wanted what was best for me, and for me to live my own life. She has...she had nothing in common with the scum that have been dying, but the Demon Killer took her life all the same. And what makes it worse is I know no ‘evil spirit' is killing these people. It's a person or persons. But, people make mistakes, they aren't perfect. Why isn't this killer making mistake? Why are the clues so ambiguous? Or maybe I'm just not smart enough to make sense of the clues that do exist." Olan sighed, watch the buildings go by, seeing the city just coming to life early in the mourning, oblivious to the death in their city. Death that shouldn't be occurring, that Olan was supposed to be preventing.
"I have to stop this thing, Hanori. I have to."
"And you will, Olan. What do you say about searching for that other thing? Who knows, you may get lucky."
Olan smiled. "I'll need luck too. Finding one of those little critters, might be harder than catching 10 Demon Killers." Stopping the murders was Olan's passion, his drive. Bug collecting, however, was his hobby. And just the thing that would brighten his mood.
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