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 The Game

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Satoshi
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PostSubject: The Game   Sat Aug 18, 2012 11:18 pm

"YARG!" Takeo roared, sending a fireball at his brother. Makoto leaped out of the way as the flames sped past him, sending a bolt of lightning back at Takeo who side-stepped it effortlessly. There was a round of applause by the officers and officials gathered around and at the head of the hall, Governor Nagakura himself sat, appreciating the sparring match between his two oldest sons.

"Hmph!" Takeo, the elder of the two snorted, brushing his jacket off with the lazy back of his hand. "That all you got?"

"Why don't you come at me again and see?" Makoto answered, his mouth twisting into an evil sort of grin.

Over on the edge of the ring, Satoshi sat watching his brothers fight. They were good. Much better than he was, but they both had more than three years on him. He sighed as he sat there, studying their movements.

"Your brothers are quite skilled." said a voice from behind. He looked around. Ambassador Sen, the Phoenix King's envoy from Omashu stood there. Satoshi didn't like him. He was the sort of fork-tongued serpent who would sacrifice anything and anyone for a bit more power...

"They are." Satoshi nodded.

"Though I'm curious..." Sen said. "What of your talents? I've been here for months and I've never seen you participate once."

Satoshi just stared at him for a moment. He didn't like the slithering way Ambassador Sen talked. He just sounded like he was up to something. It was a wonder he wasn't caught in his schemes more often. Even his 'S's rolled in that serpentine way...

"I'm not very good." Satoshi said. "My father doesn't let me compete because he thinks I'd embarrass him. And he's right."

"Oh, that won't do, now, will it?" Sen said, shaking his head. "Why don't we see what you're made of and I might be able to help you catch up."

"How could you?" Satoshi said, half laughing as he looked back around at his brothers, now back to their fight. "What do you know about firebending?"

"A great deal more than you might think, my young friend." Sen said with a chilling, soft chuckle. "I may not look it, but I'm a skilled firebender. It's helped me over the years. With my help, it could help you too. Phoenix King Ozai values good firebenders. You could make a name for yourself in the Imperial City."
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PostSubject: Re: The Game   Sun Aug 19, 2012 12:41 am





"Aigoooo! Up! Up! Up! Get up you good for nothing canyon-crawlers! Agni has long since risen in the sky!

A chorus of groans erupted in the enclosed sleeping quarters with bouts of protest. A short and stocky figure, with hair the color of silver and pale blue eyes stood resolute in the entrance. Tanned lips were set in a deep frown, magnified by the sixty years worth of age lines that engraved her face like a badge of honor. A gnarled hand was wrapped firmly around a wooden ladle, repeatedly banging it against a thick skillet.
"Up! Up! Up! The longer you mope about the sooner the Nagakura family will be itching to burn your hides!"
That got everyone moving.

Aiokka turned over in her sleeping mat and snuggled in deeper. Short drafts danced over her as other servants milled about and she shivered; though the servants were so."graciously" provided with skins to sleep with, it was of penguin hide. A material which didn't make for a suitable blanket at all.
She gripped one end and pulled it up over her shoulders, only to hiss sharply when the cold stung her bare feet.

"Aio........" A gentle voice penetrated her dreamlike state and a pair of hands patted the side of her face. Aiokka blinked into twinkling green eyes and a lopsided smile.

She merely glared at him and turned over.

"Aio! Come on get up.....Pakwa's over there caterwaulin' and I don't feel like hearing her giving us the what for again.”
Silence roamed them before she replied,"Go away Renshu."

Renshu bit his lip and looked over his shoulder, Granny Pakwa was making her rounds and hitting every lazy worker with her trusted paddle. Grumbling under his breath, the fifteen year old yanked Aiokka from her mat and forced her to stand. She growled and was about to retaliate when the head servant halted before them.

"Good morning Renshu, Aiokka. I see the two of you are well rested."
The youths squirmed under Pakwa's scrutinizing gaze and offered hurried nods.

Renshu laughed nervously,"You know the saying Pakwa-una. Early to bed, early to rise!" He yelped when her hand connected with the back of his head. Pakwa flexed her fingers and turned her attention to Aiokka,.who was busy sniggering.

"Aiokka. That is enough of you. You, Renshu, Kenna, Xiaofan, Tarnok, Lien and Hiroshi are to deliver towels and refreshments to the upper training hall immediately. Do not linger unless requested. When you lot are done you will report to the kitchens. Understood?"


Aiokka averted the elderly woman's gaze,"Yes Pakwa-una."

"Aiokka. Do exactly as you are told."
Greyish eyes snapped over to firms in a mixture of shock and incredulity. Nevertheless her tone carried a dangerous undetcurrent the little servant knew all too well. Self-consciously she rubbed her shoulder where a scar should have been;Aiokka nodded dejectedly.

Wordlessly the group of youths departed for the functional washrooms, bypassing their pathetic meals in favor of getting to work on time.

OoOoOoO


"I heard that Master Makoto's been seeing a water tribe girl in secret!"
"Oh yea? Man there's no way she'd let hit that. Our women have too much dignity for that, right Aio-Aio?"
"........Personally I could care less about who he dates."
"I know right?? That guy is as ugly as SIN!"

Xiaofan burst into laughter and doubled over, followed by Aiokka and everyone else as they neared the doors to the training hall. Aiokka nearly tripped her own feet and almost crashed into Renshu who eyed them disapprovingly.


"Would you guys shutup before they hear us??"
Aiokka steadied her tray,"S'matter Renshu are you scared?"
"No,"He replied before grabbing the brass door handles, "But I like myself the way I am, and I REALLY dont want to come back roasting like barbecue.""


With that Renshu wrenched open the doors and fell into a kowtow, Aiokka and the others fanning out around him and following suit. They gave the customary.Fire Nation bow and remained their while Renshu stood. He clasped his hands together anf kept his eyes to the floor.


"Greetings. We humbly arrive to serve Master Nagakura and his guests this morning. We hope that you partake of these refreshments and find your delight in them, for they are the finest of the Fire Nation." Renshu made a discreet hand motion and the rest of the group fluttered forward. Aiokka swallowed a scowl as she nearef the governor and forced her countenance to remain impassive. Uncovering the silver tray, she placed it before him and dipped her head.





"For you Lord Nagakura."

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PostSubject: Re: The Game   Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:40 am

"As I said; I'm not very good." Satoshi said in answer to Sen. It was common knowledge amongst those who paid attention that Ozai had very little interest in talented firebenders. He had more than enough to be getting on with. Sen had other motivations. It wasn't a coincidence that he was sent here and now he was trying to recruit from the Nagakura family. If Satoshi had to guess, he'd have put his money on the Ambassador's task being to bring a member of the Nagakura house back to serve as a political hostage, the better to keep the Nagakura house from rebelling over the recent trade disputes between the Southern Waters and the Prefecture of Gaoling.

"Oh, now!" Sen said, chuckling again. It was the sort of shallow laugh that was given at the punchline of an enemy's insulting joke. "You shouldn't sell yourself short! Come. Let us see what your father thinks."

Sen walked past Satoshi and toward Governor Nagakura at the head of the training hall. Satoshi stood, speaking out to stop the ambassador, but it was too late.

"Governor Nagakura!" Sen said. "I compliment you on the fine breeding and skills of your two sons, the lords Takeo and Makoto." he bowed his head toward the two of them in the ring. They had stopped fighting when he spoke up and were watching him. They returned the gesture. "I am sure they will serve the House of Nagakura with distinction!"

"Your words honor my house, Ambassador." Satoshi's father said, nodding.

"As they should." Sen nodded. "But there are three sons here present. If it pleases you, my Lord, I want to see what Lord Satoshi is capable of. Perhaps Lord Makoto would care to spar with his younger brother? It would greatly entertain my curiosity, for one."

Satoshi stood there behind Sen, looking between the man and his father, feeling a hollow sort of emptiness in the pit of his stomach. His father hated seeing him demonstrate his firebending. He wasn't nearly as skilled as Takeo or Makoto and he always ended up embarrassing his father. If he fought, it would surely lead to his father becoming angry with him. In that way, he knew his father wanted to say no. But at the same time, he wasn't about to deny the Phoenix King's envoy anything. If he wanted to see a fight between Satoshi and Makoto, then Satoshi was sure that his father would make it happen... much to the s chagrin of all...

"..." His father's gaze swept over to him. In those fierce yellow eyes, he saw his father's mind at work, those gears that were all too familiar to him. "Agni Kai."

Satoshi sighed...
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PostSubject: Re: The Game   Sun Aug 19, 2012 2:26 am





Aiokka placed her burden on the small table and fell into line with the other servants. Her ears twitched upon catching their tense exchange and her eyes glinted curiously. She had no knowledge of what an Agni Kai was really, though during the late hours the servants often exchanged stories. Though Aiokka had nevet seen one personally, she burned with the desire to see one firsthand. The little tribe girl doubted it had anything to do with flaming dragons and platypus bears however.

Seriously, where would you even find one out here?

But if a king is rumored to scorch half of his own son's face off...then this is definitely dangerous and Firebenders truly are as screwed up as they look to be.'

A soft tug on her sleeve snapped Aiokka out of her snarky brooding. Kenna's motherly gaze had fallen on her and had been trying to gain her attention for the past minute. Completely embarrassed, Aiokka trailed after the slightly older waterbender as they made a swift exit. Once the doors were secured, Hiroshi shoved his hands in his sleeves and yawned.

"I'll bet each of you your bowl of dumplings tonight that Master Satoshi is going to get his butt WHIPPED." He tilted his chin up a smirked slightly, bumping fists with Lien, Renshu, Tarnok and Xiaofan.

Kenna walked ahead at a brisk pace and frowned,"Hiro you are insufferable. And you Tarnok, Renshu you're no better!"

Renshu gaped openly, "What! All I did was...but he.....and then....!"

"Save it Ren. You can appease your girlfriend later." Aiokka snickered as they both turned at least three shades of red. She stared at the door for a moment before being tugged along by Lien.

"Hey," She piped,"Can we....are ee allowed entry in the training hall?" She watched her companions' faces twist in confusion before looking around sheepishly.

"If we're summoned then yea. But just for no reason then uh yea NO."


Aiokka gazed at them blankly,"Why not?"

Kenna's eyes widened,"Aio, we arent allowed. And that is not a place you'd want to be......if any of them catch you in there you're-"

Xiaofan made a slicing motion against his neck,"Done for."
Aiokka harrumphed and placed her hands on her hips,"That buzzard swine and his hoglets could care less about what we. They dont even know where we are half the time!"

"Aiokka, why are you so worked up about it anyway? You dont firebend, you cant bend period so just forget it." Aiokka clenched her fist and resisted the urge to punch Renshu in the face. Who was he to tell her? That jerkyhead didnt know a thing!

"You know what? You're right. Come on guys, those lion-seals back there have lunch in an hour....we need to get to the kitchens and meet them in the dining hall. Last one there is rotten jerky!"
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PostSubject: Re: The Game   Sun Aug 19, 2012 3:04 am

Five minutes and Satoshi was up on the platform of a training ring with his brother Makoto.

No shirts... he thought with a sigh, the cold air even in the enclosed and well heated training hall biting at his now bare torso. This was one of the reasons he didn't care for Agni Kais, at least not formal ones. The no shirts policy had a good portion of his relatively scrawny body exposed and placed in direct comparison to that of his seventeen year old brother, who'd spent most of his life training with Takeo. While he wasn't exactly skin and bones, he also looked like a toothpick next to his brother. The two of them standing there was like some twisted before and after illustration...

"Fight!" his father's voice roared suddenly. Not a fraction of an instant later, a blast of fire shot past his head. It soared across open air directly for his father. The man slapped it lazily aside with the back of one hand as though clearing a wisp of smoke, the fire dissipating instantly. Ambassador Sen stood next to Governor Nagakura. Satoshi could hear the man's wicked chuckle even over the roaring of the continued relentless attacks of his brother.

He had to move quickly to avoid being burned. Fortunately, moving quickly was something he was good at. His father might have given him credit for that, at least, if it weren't for quick feet in battle being just another way in the popular Fire Nation mind to say someone was a good runner, a coward. No son of Nagakura Hisashi was going to be a weakling! So much for that claim. He'd heard it from his father's own mouth before.

"You just gunna run?!" Makoto smacked, cutting off Satoshi's path with a powerful blast of fire from one of his feet. Toshi skidded to a halt...

"Why fight?" he panted, standing there. He threw out his arms slightly as he spoke. "We both know how this ends." he gave a wry snort. "You win and I keep on going being the focal point of shame in this family."

A good bit of whispering swept through the hall at this declaration. The Nagakura Family was a powerful, influential, and socially respectable house. One of its members voicing the discord within its walls was tantamount to betraying the family... especially in public. All eyes, including Makoto's shifted and found Hisashi in his seat.

"Do not dishonor this family, boy!" he commanded of Satoshi. "Fight or burn! I don't care which."

Satoshi locked eyes with his father for several long moments before breaking the lock with a snort, looking back around at Makoto. He reached out with one hand and snapped his fingers. A spark igniting a tiny wisp of flame stared at his fingers and then vanished. He let his arm fall to his side.

"You wanted to see my skill." he said, looking up at Ambassador Sen. "Now you've seen all of it. I am defeat-- AGH!"

Satoshi was suddenly thrown backward off the platform by a powerful blast of fire. He hit the ground hard and found himself looking up at the icy ceiling, blinking the blur of hit to his head from his eyes. He sat up, groaning, clasping his shoulder. He looked up to see Makoto standing on the edge of the ring, his arms folded as he looked down upon Satoshi with a malevolent grin, snorting with laughter.

"I can't believe I'm even related to you." Makoto said, shaking his head. "Pathetic. There's always a runt in every litter..."

Satoshi was just about to answer that when his gaze landed squarely on the tiniest of details -- the tip of a Water Tribe boot sticking out from behind a pillar. His eyes covertly traveled up and found the peeking face of the person to which the booted foot belonged...


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PostSubject: Re: The Game   Sun Aug 19, 2012 3:57 am





Aiokka slipped from under the tapestry and tip-toed up to the closest pillar. Ducking behind it, Aiokka blinked as a large fireball sailed over the large arena. "So I'm just in time!" She whispered under thedeafening roar of crackling flames. Her round eyes studied there forms with rapt attention. She'd never witnessed actual firebending combat aside from the guards at Huo Jian Yu; even still, Aiokka had a feeling that the youngest dueler wasn't really executing his moves right.


He tended to dart around the platform like a frantic turkeyhawk. In watching the display she didn't know whether to feel bad for him or giggle at his foolishness. Before Aiokka could even decide, a deafening cry tore her out of her thoughts and she. The kid went from flouncing around to falling flat on his back, elder brother looming over him. Despite herself Aiokka snarled somewhat; while she didnt care for the Nagakuras that much......that cheap shot was just downright mean. Scowling, Aiokka glanced down at Satoshi and almost hit the roof.

Master Satoshi was staring directly at her.
"Spirits!" Aiokka pivoted and dove behind the tapestry, breaking into a run down the short icy and skidding out into the hallway. Her eyes were the size and she panted heavily, nearly screaming when a hand itself over her mouth and pulled her around a corner.

"Uh huh you little bug," Neeta grunted while dragging her along ,"Knew I would find you here lazing about. We have ten minutes until lunch and here you are meandering about doing Tui knows what! Pakwa oughta have you whipped again!"
She locked both of her hands on Aiokka's one wrist and the two of them struggled down the hallway. Aiokka contorted every which way out of her iron grip, but to no avail. PThey entered the kitchens the same time the designated servants were filing out.

"Here's the girl Pakwa."Said Neeta, practically throwing the girl at the elderly woman. Pakwa dismissed Neeta with an idle wave and picked up a silver covered tray. Wordlessly she thrust it into her and pointed toward the eastern tapestry in the kitchens.

"Get going child before you fall behind. If the young master wishes to recline to his room and eat then you will follow him. Stay there until he finishes and perform your duties accordingly, understood?"

Aiokka looked into Pakwa's eyes and nodded,"Yes Pakwa-una."

Then, the woman's face broke into a genuine smile and she pushed her along.

OoOoOoO

"Aiokka humbly subjects herself in service to the son of her lord." She bowed in front of Satoshi and averted his eyes. Her fingrrs remained tight around the crimson while the intensr heat. The heat radiating from the food was so hot it was killing her.

"For the enjoyment of young master Satoshi, of course."

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PostSubject: Re: The Game   Sun Aug 19, 2012 4:20 am

The girl vanished the moment she saw him looking. Without missing a blink, his eyes traveled back up to Makoto. By now, he'd been joined by their father.

"You are pathetic." Hisashi said, looking down at his youngest son, snorting derisively. "Not even a single strike worth note. You didn't even land a punch! Were it real, you'd be dead and I would not weep for you, your weakness!"

Satoshi just pursed his lips and averted his eyes from his father. The man was just so needlessly cruel. He was fourteen! How was he supposed to fight a fully realized firebender? And when his father refused to train him, no less. It was unfair. But then, Satoshi gave up on fair a long time ago. He wasn't going to be his father's son and while it hurt his pride, just as it would any young man, he'd never gotten anything out of pretending to be part of the family. He was of the house in name only...

"Get out of here!" Hisashi said, turning with a wave of his hand, a look on his face like he'd just smelled dung. Satoshi would have cursed him for being ignorant to how cruel he was being if it weren't for the fact that he knew it was intentional...

~~~~~
Satoshi sat, staring into the fire from his lonely seat before it, his mind abuzz. He couldn't help but feel the start of tears welling in his eyes as he sat there. He didn't know where he belonged. He knew he didn't belong here. It was no way to live, being shunned daily by the very people who were supposed to care for you. The only thing that kept them from flowing was a promise he'd made to himself long ago. Though his eyes itched, eager to let the tears burst forth, he just stared into the flames dancing in the hearth...

There was a gentle knock at the door.

"Enter."

A servant girl entered. She moved around him and stood there, bowing, not daring to look at him. She offered him the tray of scalding food as she stood there. He looked at her.

"You're... the girl from the training hall." he said slowly, remaining seated. His face was completely neutral other than the glassiness in his eyes, the only visible sign of the furious fluid tears he was trapping within.


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PostSubject: Re: The Game   Sun Aug 19, 2012 6:12 pm



Aiokka slid away from him and fluttered across the icy floors, keeping her eyes on everything in the room except for the boy. She opted to refrain from replying, seeing it was more of a statement than a question. The little tribe servant snorted inwardly at his remark and looked elsewhere, 'Don't know what game he's playin' at....but I'm not falling for those stupid rhetorical questions again.' Her round eyes narrowed in distaste and glued themselves to the floor. Though Aiokka didn't like to waste her wishes on pointless things, she fervently prayed to the spirits that "young Master Satoshi" here wasn't a slow eater.

The room was deftly quiet, it was so devoid of sound the silence all but drove Aiokka up a wall. Fidgeting in her ram-rod stance by the concealed tapestry exit, she ached for Xiaofan's obnoxious jokes and Kenna's shrill laughter. Actually she wouldn't have minded serving that buzzard swine his slop instead, at least he talked!

When she was sure Satoshi wasnt paying her any mind she closed her eyes and drifted away. Aiokka could no longer see icy walls that were splattered with Fire Nation propaganda, nor did she see any insignia's of that treacherous Phoenix Empire. This time.....this time she was flying....or was she falling? Aiokka scrunched her eyebrows together absentmindedly and shifted in her posture. Everywhere she looked there were balconies, winding tunnels and look-out terraces. In her dreams and meditation sessions she would encounter this same vision along with various others, half of the time Aiokka never went by her own name! However this moment, as soared over a mountain top with pale hands that bore arrow tattoos, she smiled somewhat.....and a pair of dark-skinned siblings mirrored her gesture, calling her by the name she most recognized......

'Aang.....!'


The telltale clinking of chopsticks against China snapped her out of her psychedelic trip and she jumped slightly. The flames of the fire flickered briefly and crackled. Aiokka, praying that he wasn't that discerning, skittered over to the table end that was farthest from him. She grabbed the near empty teapot gently and retreated to the steaming kettle, refilling it and setting it in place. Soon after she retreated to her post neat the tapestry and waited ever so patiently for his beck and call.


"Spirits this is so boring," Aiokka grumbled under the loud, crackling fire,"I'd rather lick boots than just stand here."

She clasped her hands together and glared at a pair of boots sitting idly by the concealed servant's exit. Her mind gave a sharp quack and she blinked.


He remembered her standing there by the pillar!

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PostSubject: Re: The Game   Sun Aug 19, 2012 7:46 pm

Satoshi finished his rice and put the bowl down, placing the chopsticks across the top of the bowl. He slumped back into his seat with a sigh. The rest of the food went untouched. He didn't have much of an appetite right then.

"Spirits this is so boring! I'd rather lick boots than just stand here."

Satoshi's ears perked up at the faint sound of the words the girl hidden in the servant's hall. With another sigh, his eyes fixed still on the flames dancing in the fireplace, he spoke.

"You there." he said. "Come here."


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PostSubject: Re: The Game   Sun Aug 19, 2012 8:06 pm




The curled hairs on the back of her neck went pin straight and her heart jumped into her throat. Spirits! He'd caught the spark?!

Aiokka scowled and trudged forward, schooling her expression until it became impassive. Her face may have been stony, but in her gut she was practically on fire. 'I am beyond dead; way to go you idiot now he knows you can bend!' She paused by the end of the table and knelt without thinking, all the while praying she was summoned for something else entirely. 'Tui....La....Avatars out there listening? Take pity on me! If you get me out of this I wont badmouth any of these jerks for a week! Nomad's.....no Tribe's honor!' Aiokka's head was bowed so low it almost touched the chilled floor, her long curly ponytail snagging tiny ice flecks as it made cintact.

Her eyebrows were knit so taut that her forehead ached. Nevertheless, Aiokka finished her silent plea and waited for whatever was to come next.

"Yes Master Satoshi?"

Oh she was so dead.
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PostSubject: Re: The Game   Sun Aug 19, 2012 8:26 pm

"Stand up." Satoshi said with a sigh. He had never been comfortable with the use of slaves. Tribesmen weren't meant to bend at the knee for Fire Nation nobles. Of course, arguing against it publicly was tantamount to calling one's self a traitor. Ozai and the other lords of the Fire Nation and the Empire didn't take kindly to those who opposed the status quo. Once she was on her feet, he spoke again.

"What is your name?" he asked her, leaning back. "You hungry?"

He could tell she didn't like him... or maybe it was just that he felt she didn't like him. Of course, why would she? He was the son of the Imperial official oppressing her people. Of course she hated him. Still... He was curious about her. He couldn't deny to himself that he wondered why she'd stuck around in the training hall when all the other servants had been dismissed. If she'd been caught... Well, his father wasn't a forgiving man. What could have been worth the risk?


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PostSubject: Re: The Game   Sun Aug 19, 2012 8:54 pm


She pursed her lips together and stared at the floor in confusion. He was telling her to stand now?


'Do not press your fortune Aiokka. Rise'
Aiokka,to her credit, did not flinch. The thought was distant and the tone was gruff, a man's voice who's name often slipped her memory. She obeyed readily and rose languidly, feeling the commanding presence of a tribal man with wolf skins waning. Once her form was erect Aiokka nearly breathed a sigh of relief yet caught her slip-up; the gruff voice of the tribal man was gone.

Realizing that the tension was one-sided,.Aiokka turned her attention on Satoshi and watched him blankly. His body language was casually while his eyes were.......was he even there? She twitched her finger and averted his eyes, regardless of tone a command was a command even if it bore a question mark.

"Aiokka." She replied, mechanically. She would have offered something rificulous like "Turtleduck Salad" had she not remembered her promise just seconds ago. Now in regards to his final question, Aiokka vouldn't help but glance at him. Her eyes slid from Satoshi to the tray on the ornate table and she raised a cautious eyebrow.

You lot are never to eat from the table of your lords. Should they offer, you still declinr. For it id bad form to partake from the mouth of a king.....so to speak.

"No." Aiokka supplied, and her stomach yowled in protest. She turned her attention to the floor and sniffed. Tui she starving...and the food...the way it looked and smelled was not helping!

Well....they did have dumplings waiting for them tonight...

Yea....Aiokka was not looking forward to that.
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PostSubject: Re: The Game   Sun Aug 19, 2012 9:06 pm

Satoshi sighed. All these rules! They made being nice next to impossible. He knew why she said no to the food. He knew why she didn't dare to even show a desire for it. The servant masters weren't kind, even to their own people. He knew why they were that way. Any other way and they'd be punished. It was a no win situation for them. If they say yes, they're punished. If they say no, they're punished. No man should have to live that way. He knew it far better then the servants thought he did. Of that much, he was certain.

"Of course you are." he said finally. He placed a few fingers against the side of the tray and pushed it down along the length of the table. It didn't go far, but it was far enough to let her sit down without being right next to him. He didn't want to force her to sit too close. There was no way that wasn't going to be uncomfortable.

"Here." he insisted. "Take it. I realize it's not Water Tribe food... but I promise it tastes better than licking boots..."

He put an emphasis on these last two words. He figured they'd illicit a fearful response, but he didn't really care what she thought. If he'd been in her position, he'd have felt the same way. Who needed to be waiting on a bunch of pompous lords? Moreover, it was nice, the idea of sharing a meal with someone, even if he wasn't eating... It had been a long time.


Last edited by Satoshi on Mon Aug 20, 2012 2:31 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: The Game   Sun Aug 19, 2012 9:36 pm

would



Aiokka's head snappef and she narrowed her eyes. When he moved to push the tray toward her she followed hid movements sharply. What was wrong with it? Was it horrible? Did it taste funny? Was it poisonous? Aiokka remained standing for a while before even daring to move an inch. To say she was confused would have been an understatement. She'd been strictly forbidden to "eat from a king" and here was a so-called "prince" offering a bowl of Chajangkuksoo as if it were a pai-sho tile. ' What's his angle? There's no way he'd just offer to be friendly. He knows I'll get in trouble if I even so much as wish for it. The spirits doed he think he's fooling?'

Aiokka grimaced when her stomach started touching her back. She had to admit that the noodles themselves looked and smelled divine. And there were bok chow with green onions in a spicey broth!? She squared her shoulders and stalked toward the tray warily. Gingerly she selected the bowl of spicey noodles and dipped her head quickly in thanks. Aiokka fumbked with the bowl when mentioned her previous snarky comment; her cheeks reddened slightly and she turned away from him with a tiny pout.


"Thank you....Master Satoshi." She said, her tone laced with a bit of confusion. Aiokka perched herself on the floor by the fire and soaked in its rolling heat. She thanked the spirits and whatever Avatars that listened for this pardon, and upon sipping said kuksoo after giving it the death glare......


She was just about ready to hit the roof in praise tribal dancing.

"Spirits!"Aiokka murmured, literally blown away,"This is delicious!"
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PostSubject: Re: The Game   Sun Aug 19, 2012 10:08 pm

"The chefs know their business." Satoshi said. He had watched her take the food like a skiddish animal and retreat to the fire. It wasn't entirely surprising. The tales of his brothers' cruelty and dirty tricks were no doubt all these people ever heard about. Makoto in particular liked to lure the servants into wrongdoing just so he could punish them.

Satoshi was sure of only one thing -- he had never and would never do anything of the sort. And he was happy that someone was going to eat the food. He didn't like wasting a good meal when there were people starving just outside the palace walls. If it had been sent back to the kitchens, it would have been thrown away. Even the animals wouldn't have gotten it. He watched her eat. He couldn't remember ever seeing anyone eat like that. True hunger was something he'd never really known. He had to credit his father for that, at the very least. Then again... it was a small act of kindness compared to the vast numbers of starving people for whom he was responsible. The Southern Water Tribe had never seen such dark days as under the rule of Nagakura Hisashi...

"Tell me something." he said finally, the question nagging at him so much that he had to voice it just to maintain his sanity. "Why were you spying in the training hall?"
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PostSubject: Re: The Game   Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:26 pm




Round, childish eyes stared into the near empty bowl of noodles lazily. How ironic was it that she found herself seated by a fire with a traditional afternoon meal? Aiokka couldn't remember a time where she'd ever eaten this well. The rations here were a stark step-up to the garbage she and her family lived on at Huo Jian Yu, and that was beyond pitiful. Unlike here, the "kill" as she called it were mostly half-rotten and everything else was stale. As a precaution Aiokka and her grandfather avoided meat altogrther,, because no one could discern if it was cooked or something the guards just killed and threw in there.


It took Pakwa and the other lead servants a number of Weeks to reintroduce Aiokka to eating meat, and even now she ran from it like the plague. She vaguely could recall eating seal jerky when she barely reached her father's knee, and the longing for returnig with them in the land of rolling tundras. Aioka snorted bitterly and set the bowl down in distaste; her mood souring at the memories.

'So tell me something..why were you spying at the training hall?'
Aiokka gave him a quick glance and stared at the fire,"Was curious. Never seen firebending before"
She blinked slowly and closed her eyes, hoping he'd settle for that and drop the subject. At one time in her life she would have been vehemently opposed to withokding truth,however this was now. She could'nt tell him the real reason she snuck into the room...nor about her routine spying on their training sessions either.

"If you are finished Master Satoshi,"said Aiokka evenly,"I will take this down for you. I will retrieve fresg linen and furs for you around the 10th hour. I thank you for your.....hospitality."
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PostSubject: Re: The Game   Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:43 pm

Satoshi was surprised when the tone changed so abruptly.

"Y-... You're going?" he said before he could stop himself. It was surprising, but he found he enjoyed the company. He didn't want her to leave yet... It was sad when he thought about it -- they'd shared two sentences and half a meal and he'd enjoyed it more than anything he could remember since his mother was taken from him...

A sudden sound in the corridor outside caught his ear, the familiar sound of his father's boots striking the ice, the tempo of his steps. It was a sound he knew all too well.

"Quick!" he hissed at Aiokka, grabbing her hand and pulling her over to the hidden servants passage. He pulled the curtain aside, only to see the shadows of people moving at the far end.

Of course! he thought with frustration. He just had to post the guards on the servants' passage! He must be furious.

He turned and looked back around. The room was spacious and luxuriously furnished. He pulled her over to the tapestry that hung on the other side of the room. It covered a small space which originally housed a weapon rack. It was just large enough for her to hide and remain out of sight and his father wasn't likely to think much of it. He pulled the red hangings aside and guided her into the space beyond.

"Whatever you do, don't make a sound." he said in a low and urgent voice, looking over his shoulder at the door. "My father will have expected you to be gone by now. He'll be angry if you're still here. Not a sound."

He let the tapestry be and it hid her alcove perfectly. He then turned and rushed back to the table, taking his seat and composing himself. He was a master by now of hiding his emotions from his father. The old man didn't think about things in terms of feelings and secrets. He had spies for that...

The door burst open. His father walked in and fixed him with a venomous glare. He stood there for a moment without a word, looking at Satoshi sitting there, looking up at him. The tray of food was back in front of him and he had a bowl in his hand, chopsticks in the other. He was wearing a flawless look of innocent confusion.

"Something wrong, father?" Satoshi asked finally. For some strange reason, his father's gaze had begun to drift throughout the room, as though he sensed someone else there. Of course, he did sense someone else there. Satoshi was hoping he'd put the feeling out of his mind once he was asked the question... It worked.

"You've made me a laughing stock with the Phoenix King's envoy." Hisashi said, standing there, a massive figure of a man. He and Takeo were huge men compared to most Fire Nation citizens. Six feet tall and change, strong enough to tear a man's arm off. They were like rabid beasts. In battle, they were wizards. Everywhere else... they were dumb as posts.

"It wasn't my intention." Satoshi said, placing down his bowl and chopsticks and dabbing his mouth with his napkin before placing that too on the tray. "You know I'm no fighter. I just didn't want to be beaten up by Makoto again."

"How my blood forged you, I'll never know." Hisashi said dangerously. "But if you don't start putting a little effort into maintaining the honor of this house, there will be hell to pay for you, boy!"

"Maintaining?" Satoshi said slowly, furrowing his brow as he looked away in mocked thoughtfulness. He looked back up at his father a moment later. "Don't you mean creating? Last time I checked, there wasn't much honor to be had around here. Our enemies have already been beaten into submission. I'm sure the Phoenix King can find better things to do all day than demand we play along with his sleazy courtiers..."

His father swelled with indignation at this, a look of cold fury coming over his features. He moved toward Satoshi with a heavy stride and when he was right up next to the table, he drew back one hand and slapped Satoshi hard enough to throw him from his seat.

"First you embarrass me," he said, looking down at Satoshi with a furious fire in his eyes. "And now you insult our lord and our house! You ingrate! I should have you flayed for this!"

Satoshi shook his head, blinking the tears of pain from his eyes. His cheek burned where his father had struck him. He pushed himself up until he was on his feet. His legs were unsteady, wobbling beneath him. Even in a slap, his father hit like a sledge hammer. Once he was on his feet, he averted his eyes from his father, looking at a spot on the ground some few inches from his father's feet. He used his sleeve to wipe the tiny trickle of blood from the corner of his mouth as he stood there.

"I'm sorry, father." he said in a quiet voice.

"Hmph!" Hisashi turned on his heel, grumbling under his breath. He was almost to the door when he spotted something -- the bowl next to the hearth. Satoshi had been watching him go, but when he stopped, his eyes followed his father's gaze and found the bowl sitting there.

"What's this?" his father said, stooping to pick up the bowl. He examined the half-eaten noodles and looked over at Satoshi for an answer. "Why are these noodles down here next to the fireplace?"

Satoshi's mind had started working on an answer to this the moment he saw the bowl, but there were no answers he had come up with already that would satisfy his father. If he told him one of the servants was eating it, every servant in the palace would be caned for it. But he wasn't likely to believe that Satoshi liked to eat his noodles in particular in front of the fire...

"Well?!" Hisashi pressed, brandishing the bowl at him.

"T-There's a rat." Satoshi said finally, barely managing to suppress an 'uh' or an 'er', both of which would have tipped his hand on this lie. He managed to make his panicked tone change quickly to one of simple, frightful concern. "H-He comes out at night. I-I was trying to lure him out tonight so... so I could catch him and... and dispose of him."

He knew how furious his father was in that moment, but he still saw the corner of his father's mouth twitch at this explanation. It was a lie and it managed to be the most Nagakura-esque thing Satoshi had ever even suggested he would do. It wasn't like Hisashi was going to start treating him like one of his boys all of a sudden, but at least it seemed to satisfy both his curiosity and his ego. A moment later, he dropped the bowl on the ground unceremoniously and turned, walking from the room. From the way he was turning his head, Satoshi could tell he was giving the room one last look around for any sign of anything out of the ordinary. None too soon, the door shut behind him and his footsteps died away.

With a look down the servants' passage to make sure the guards had left, he looked back around toward the place where Aiokka was hiding and signaled the all-clear.

"You can come out now." he said. "They're gone..."
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PostSubject: Re: The Game   Thu Aug 23, 2012 9:46 pm

Aiokka twisted in Satoshi's grip and snarled at him. "What the ice chips are you doing??"She demanded darkly. Her boots scraped and slid across the compact ice,tripping over nothing and everything all at once. Aiokka, who'd abandoned all formalities at this point, moved to yank her wrist out of his reach. The moment she pulled back her ponytail slapped her in the face and she was being jammed,rather uncomfortably,into a tight space.

Once Aiokka's arms were packed into awkward angles at her sides, she glared at him venemously. 'Is this some kind of sick game?' Was what she wanted to ask; Satoshi's admonitio stopped her. When the door to his Chambers flew open, she understood why.

The unmistakable komodo-rhino footfalls were enough to drive any fearless warrior for the mountains. Nervousness knitted into knots and she grit her teeth adamantly in the deafening silence. Aiokka's jaws were pressed together so roughly that the chatter was unnerving. 'If I'm caught in here I'm done for. Lord Nagakura would flog me so bad none of my past lives would be able to recognize me. Dont know about him......but I'm screwed beyond redemption!'

"You've made me a laughingstock with the Phoenix King's envoy."
"I't wasnt my intention father...."
"How my blood forged you I'll never know.....if you don't start maintaining.....there'll be hell to pay for boy!"


What occurred next Aiokka could only determine basef on Satoshi's vehement retort. She was unsure but her gut gave strong inklings of what his father's response.would be. Unfortunately Aiokka steeled herself with dreaded anticipation and closed her eyes.

SLAP!
CRASH!!

The thunderous yelling intensfied the flames in the chamber tenfold. Aiokka blinked irritably at the random water dripping from the ceiling and flexed her fingers. The immediate response was to refreeze the room, but her ruse barred the urge from her. Meanwhile her mind was steadily trying to process what in the world had happened. This was a revelation, as far as she was concerned a governor's son never had a hand against him. 'This doesn't prove anything. Except that our gracious governor id a merciless jerk.'
When Governor Nagakura discovered the bowl her posture stiffened. 'Please be a good liar. PLEASE be a good liar!'

He responded by waltzing his komodo-rhino steps right out the door.

Aiokka peeled the curtain back and poked her head out cautiously; her eyes fell on the door for aa while before finally stepping out. The only thing she could do was stare at him. His face was red and shecould only imagine the way he felt. However on that same line of thinking she mentally kicked herself and lookedaway from him. 'They're all the same,' was her dangerous mantra,'Every last one of them.'

Still, within that brief eye contact opened the floodgates of reflection. The slaves, her broken ffamily, and even herself. Yet none of that trumped the most prevalent image.....a glimpse of the suffering of thousands of others from beyond the grave.

She suddenly became nauseous,'No human should ever be put that sort of pain,' she thought sourly, though the voice was not quite her own,'Or any at all.'

That punched her in the gut. "Yes Master Satoshi, of course." Aiokka paced around Satoshi, gathered the dishes and left, but not without uttering a rightly confused thank you.
OooOlOooO



"So a little sparrowkeet told me that Master Satoshi lost the duel, again"
"Told you the kid was a chump, listen better next time and you'll stop goin' hungry. Fork over the dumplings Xiao-Xiao."
"Thats NOT my name!"
"I dont even know why he puts himself up for embarrassment. Kid is the worst firebender,ever. Like that banished princess....Zuka I think."

-snort- "Its Zuko man; the guy that helped that avatar kid who died. Or was he an old man? Anyway makes me glad Im from the EK.. In old eaeth rumble the most you had was a broken neck. In an Angry Kai I think its death?"

Tarnok scoffed,"No. The most these spark-throwers get are pats on the bat and a few seconds of shame tops."
A random snort from behind made the group of boys turn around. Aiokka raised a quizzical eyebrow and cocked herhead to the side. "What? Can I help you?"

Xiaofan's lips twitched, "Nothing. Just thought you had something to share."

Aiokka rolled her eyes,"I doubt its anything like that, the punishment is probably worse."
"Oh yea?" He countered,"You an all-seeing Avatar or something? Last I checked you're just a slave, a nobody" He sniggered. Aiokka pursed her lips and glared.
"Dont act a hogmonkey you fire nation farmboy. Im telling you, its worse than you think."

Tarnok popped a dimpling in his mouth and shrugged,"Like we care? Whatever the case that spoiled brat probably deserves it."

Aiokka drop hrr chopsticks and jumped to her feet. The dumplings clatteref to the floor and she stalked towards the servants' entrance, heading for the crisp night outside. She pushed past a bewildered Kenna and ignored Neeta's bitey remarks....only replying brusquely,


"I'm getting some air."
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PostSubject: Re: The Game   Fri Aug 24, 2012 5:35 am

Satoshi sat by the light of a candle at his desk. It was deep into the night. He stared down at the black ink on the parchment intently. In the candle light, the writing was shockingly clear against the light paper beneath --

[Only admins are allowed to see this image]V
E
N
G
E
A
N
C
E
He stared at the words, drawing heavy breaths as he did so. He could still remember her calling his name. He could remember the smell of her perfume... But her face was fading from his memory. Every day, he found he remembered it less and less and he hated himself for it. He cursed himself. Every night, he sat at that table and wrote those symbols and stared at them as though the act alone could revenge him upon his father for taking her from him... It wasn't fair.

He looked away from it. Now Sen was here trying to take one of the sons of the Nagakura house back to New Ozai to be the Phoenix King's hostage against his own governor. If Satoshi ever doubted these nobles were untrustworthy, he need only examine the fact that they don't even trust one another to disprove the thought.

And who was going to go? Of course it would be Satoshi. His father wasn't going to sacrifice his precious Takeo or heartless, vicious Makoto to be a puppet in his political game with the Phoenix King. Of course he was going to send Satoshi, the one who embarrassed him. The one who spent his time with books and pens and inkwells. He wasn't going to send off the ones who could bring glory to the house in battle! Oh, no. But Satoshi didn't even know why he was upset. It wasn't like he had anything to stick around here for... And even as a hostage, he was a hostage learning in the finest academy in the world. Surely, that was something? Surely going there would offer him a means to achieve his revenge...

And then it struck him as it always did. He hated the idea of being his father's puppet... of being Ozai's puppet. That was why it upset him. It wasn't about being taken away from this place, being stripped of his life. It wasn't even about being removed from his family. He hated the idea because it was what his father would want, what Ozai would want. Why was he constantly a subject to these tyrants?!

He slammed a fist onto his desk, clipping the ink pot. It fell over and a wave of black ink spread across the desktop. For some reason, he just sat there as it flowed over the edges and dripped all over, let his hand be drenched in it. He watched it soak across the words he'd written and found he had no response for watching them disappear...

After awhile, he stood. He had his hands at the collar of his clothes, ready to strip them off and dress in fresh garments, but something stopped him. He reached down and lifted the stained fabric of his jacket tail and looked at it. The pattern the dripping ink had blotted into the red silk was messy, undisciplined. It was the perfect mark for a man who dreamed of revenge but didn't have the skills to achieve it.

In the end, he left the clothes on and left his room. He meant to pace the halls a bit, as he often did at night. His mind was always so busy, he couldn't sleep unless he wore himself out to the point of collapse. In truth, he was always tired long before he did his nightly rounds. The boredom of his self-assigned patrol just reminded his mind of how tired his body was.

And so, he paced. And he paced some more. All he could think about was the million things running through his head. He couldn't pick out any one of them to focus on. It was like trying to hear a particular person in a room of thousands of chattering people. He was just starting to loose hope for getting sleep that night when something occurred to him...

"Aiokka..." he said quietly to himself.

"Sir?" said a nearby guard, looking around at him with a confused expression.

"Nothing." Satoshi head, shaking his head slightly. "Forget I mentioned anything."

"As you command, Master Satoshi." the guard said, nodding. Toshi looked at him for a moment before moving on, shaking his head.

~~~~~
It took Satoshi awhile to find his way to the servants' quarters. They were deep in the palace, well removed from the lords, generals, and officials that called the place home. He descended the final set of stairs and found his way barred by a pair of guards.

"Halt!" one of them said as they crossed pikes before the doors. He stepped into the light of the torch on the wall.

"Master Satoshi!" said the other in surprise. Their arms relaxed slightly, more out of fear of his authority than belief that he wasn't a threat, but they didn't unbar his way.

"I want to get some food from the kitchens." Satoshi said, looking between them.

"Uh... Well..." the first began, looking at the second.

"We can have a servant bring up anything you might desire, Sir." said the second. Apparently, he was the brains of the operation. "You needn't trouble yourself with coming all the way down here. A young lord like yourself isn't supposed to have to fetch his own meals..."

"He isn't supposed to have to explain himself to guards, either." Satoshi said simply. "But here we are."

That caught them off guard. They exchanged a look of concern. It was clear they were used to the way the Nagakura family hadn't any appearance of incompetence. He might as well play that for what it was worth....

"Listen." he said, looking straight ahead and crossing his arms in his baggy sleeves. "I think we can forget this little problem if you just stand aside. After all, it's not as though I'm trying to break into the vault. I just want a bun or two and didn't mind walking down here for it. Is that against the rules?"

"Uh... no, but..." said the first slowly.

"But the servants aren't exactly... friendly toward the nobility, Sir." continued the second. "If they hurt you... your father..."

He cast the second a dangerous glance, a look empowered by the way he'd been looking between them the last minute or two. It gave him the appearance of upset and he could see in their eyes that they really wanted to let him through. He could see them trying to work through the 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' paradox they were stuck in. Finally, it appeared as though they decided letting him have his wish was safer than refusing him and they pulled back their weapons, clearing his path. The second turned and unlocked the iron door, opening it and allowing him to step through.

"Would you like us to accompany you?" the guard asked in that sort of voice that clearly said he hoped he would say no. He was getting his wish too...

"No." Satoshi said. "I can find my own way. Thank you."

The guard nodded and returned to his post, closing the door with the look of a man who'd just signed his own death warrant on his face. As soon as the door was closed, Satoshi abandoned the pretext. He looked around for any trace of Aiokka. He noticed more than one long glance his direction from those servants who had been awoken by the opening door. But he could see no sign of Aiokka there...
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PostSubject: Re: The Game   Sat Aug 25, 2012 6:25 pm



Aiokka couldn't have been running for long, at least it didn't feel like it. She managed to give great distance from the palace; then used an ice surf to drive further toward the horizon. Aiokka hadn't gotten too far, the compound was a dot in the distance that only a waterbender would be able to distinguish. With each thrust came a much needed rush of adrenaline, along with sprays from cheeky ice crystals. Soon enough Aiokka came to a stop and extended her fingers, holding them rigid for a while before they began twitching. Aiokka quickly fell into a sweeping atance and punched downward, creating a fissure and forcefully splitting the ice apart. Hurriedly she dropped to her knees and dug through the hole uncovering a pole like weapon of some sort. It was just half a foot taller than her, sturdy with a crescent moon at the crown of the executioner club staff. Nestled within the crscent was an orb filled with water, swishing with every subtle movement. Aiokka examined the club staff carefully before bending away the ice-encasing. Without warning she pivoted on her heels and thrust the staff upwards. Its silvery-blue colors glinted under the stars and revealed tribal characters reading "Saruk" along its body. A column of snow erected and whirled as she twirled; when Aiokka aimed the staff downward the snow followed, turned to ice and ripped straight through the ground.

"Noe THIS," She chirped, rotating snow around her in an increasingly violent fashion,"Is more like it."

OooOooO



"You know Im starting to wonder if Im going insane." Aiokka propped her chin upon her knees and yawned. Tiredly she cast her eyes over the tundra and yawned. She was perched atop a small mound amidst her desolated "trainibg area". Snow mounds and other....indecipherable structures were strewn about like childrens toys. Shards of ice stuck out of the ground everywhere and she ached in every place imaginable. Southern winds blew around and she huddled her club-staff closer, shrinking dramatically under the greatness of the world.

"For once, I dont know what to do. I should be breaking my bavk at the prison but because you had a plan for me Im here....I think? Grimp-Grump sent me here in his stead for a reason...but am I supposef to just sit here??" Aiokka hunched her shoulders and gripped her grandfathet's staff tightly. She truly felt like the confused, misguided girl that she was. A girl whose destiny was forced on her all too soon; a destiny that should've been rectified by that old firebending Avatar before her previous incarnation.

She was responded to with a gust of wind to the face. "Maa, well how do you expect me to know? All I see is a wild fire, glowing eyes and then me and someone else fleeing across this ice desert. Mind telling me what that means?" Another gust of wind stirred the snow around and blew it toward the far off compound, before exploding in a crystalline shower. Meanwhile Aiokka only stared, growing more confused and irritated with it all.

"Thanks for your help."She deadpanned and hopped down from the mound. Aiokka encased the staff in water and froze it before beginning the painstaking task of burying it. Turning, she set about evening out her training grounds and headed back for the compound. As far as she was concerned, she was supposed to kill the Governor and all of his sons. Though....that really did not seem.right for some reason. Was that really how she was supposed to escape?

"However Im supposed to do it I'll figure it out. And I neef to hurry....but the pieces just don't fit." Aiokka bent away evidence of her late night sessions from her clothing as she neared the back entrance of the compound. Her mind traveled back to her stint with Satoshi earlierand she frowned. That kid was smart, and if she wasn't careful her cover would be blown before she could fix all of this mess. Aiokka slipped inside the servants' quarters and dropped her parka on a snoring Renshu.

"Forget it for now, maybe when I sleep I'll-" Aiokka froze midstep and snapped her eyes toward the kitchen entrance. A lone figure stood against the darkness, its golden eyes glinting against the icy floors. Aiokka narrowed her eyes and blinked. She could make out the details of clothing, but the face was shrouded in deep shadow. Who the spirits would be in the kitchens this late at night?

"Is there a reason why you're in here?" She drawled evenly, never breaking eye contact, "The kitchens are closed until morning. So whatever you need, you'll have to wait."
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PostSubject: Re: The Game   Sun Aug 26, 2012 3:23 am

"What do you mean she's not here?" Satoshi said sharply, narrowing his eyes. The boy named Tarnok squirmed under his gaze, not daring to place a hand on him despite the fact that Satoshi had him by the collar. "Where did she go?!"

"S-She goes out!" Tarnok said, his eyes darting back and forth.

"Where?" Satoshi pressed.

"I don't know!" Tarnok said. "She leaves. She comes back. We don't know where she goes!"

There was quite the little audience for this show. Most all of the servants were awake and watching in the darkness as Satoshi questioned Tarnok, but none of them dared to say a word. It had started out with his asking a simple question and had escalated physically when Tarnok had refused to tell him. Satoshi, realizing she wasn't there, had had no patience for their band together, admit nothing tactics. He didn't feel at all bad about using his station to intimidate answers out of them. He needed to know where she was. If she was breaking curfew... if she was outside the city, it... He wouldn't be able to protect her.

"Why does she go out?" Satoshi asked, his every question sounding successively more urgent.

"We don't know!" Tarnok said, apparently desperate to get the point across that he was completely ignorant to what her actions were about. "She disappears all the time and we don't have a clue what she's up to! I'm sorry!"

Breathing heavily, Satoshi let him go and straightened up. He looked down at Tarnok with disbelief. How could they consider themselves her friend? They don't know a thing about her! For the life of him, Satoshi couldn't figure out why he was so upset. He'd known her for a few fleeting moments spread across the better part of an afternoon, but he found the possibility that she was in trouble, that she was getting herself into trouble, that is, as terrifying as if it had been himself. He looked around desperately for any face that looked as though it was hiding anything, any face that looked shady enough to belong to a stubborn hold-out, but there was nothing. It appeared that she was as much a mystery to them as she was to him...

~~~~~
Aside from the guarded iron door, there was only one other way in or out of the servants quarters, a small exit leading out into a courtyard where large dumpsters were used to store trash until the incinerators were available to deal with it. He didn't know how she was getting out of the courtyard. Aside from a chute that led down to a conveyor which in turn led to the incineration plant, the courtyard was completely closed in. Then again... the ground was ice. The thought had occurred to him that she was bending her way out, but he hoped the only law she was breaking on these stints was a curfew violation. If she was caught out and about after hours, it would be lashes. If she was caught bending, it would be her head.

In any case, he knew she hadn't snuck out past the guards so the only other option was the back door. So he waited. He waited in the shadows of the kitchen doorway for her. The servants in the next room were busy conversing about him for awhile, but it quieted down fast enough. It wasn't exactly like they could file a complaint with anyone. It was about an hour before the lone figure of Aiokka appeared, bathed in moonlight coming through a narrow window near the ceiling which fell in a shaft across the ground just outside the door of the kitchen. When she spoke, he stepped out of the shadows into the light...

"Have you lost your mind?" he said...
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Aiokka
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PostSubject: Re: The Game   Tue Aug 28, 2012 5:13 pm







She quirked an eyebrow, "Well good twilight to you too." Aiokka sighed wearily and let her shoulders slump. She was tired, more drained than usual after her less than fruitful soul-searching chat with her past life. Her muscles were sore and, what was worse was that even her bones ached.....not to mention her forehead was throbbing. Aiokka shifted weight to her other foot and leaned against a random wall casually. Sure, her stomach wanted to jump like a rabbiroo into her throat at the moment but couldn't afford leaving crumbs so soon.

At least not yet.

Aiokka narrowed her eyes,"While I'm familiar with your family's verbal berating, I think it's kind of rude to go around randomly questioning a person's sanity." She shrugged nonchalantly and regarded him lazily.
"Of course, who am I to snark you? I'm just a slave, what do I know?"

Aiokka closed her eyes briefly and grimaced against the pounding in her head. During her trek back to the compound it was dull, now it was becoming rather annoying. 'Are you trying tell me something? Should I just kill him now?' In response she was given a sharp pang in the base of her brain.

"Mmf,"She grumbled, gritting her teeth,"I guess not." The young waterbender pinched the bridge of her nose and squeezed. She did not have time for this; as far as Aiokka was concerned she had chopped up visions to detangle, and after that escaping was top priority. The last thing she needed was some pompous, sniveling brat throwing barrels her way. As much as she wanted to drive her fist into his jaw at this point, Aiokka knew she couldn't. 'As long as I'm here I need to act like a worthless slave. Ashes this is killing me.' Her eyes flickered around their surroundings and she blinked to regain focus. Her line of vision was a little blurry, but absent of black spots. 'So far so good.'

Aiokka gestured toward the metalware ovens and crossed her arms. If she could deter him from asking her the inevitable, mission accomplished. Get him to leave altogether? Even better! Despite not being sleepy, her eyelids were quite heavy and she was desperate to moves things along. Not only that, but the child was sore and that combination was bad in itself. Aiokka knew, as well as Kenna and the others, that she was severely dangerous when deprived of rest. Neeta even had a taste of it firsthand.


"If you'd like,"She drawled hoarsely,"I could sneak you a few fruit pies. All we have out og the safe-freezers for the night. Just don't tell anyone I gave em to you."


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PostSubject: Re: The Game   Tue Aug 28, 2012 8:05 pm

"I don't want any food." Satoshi hissed. "I want you to think about what you're doing. You know it's forbidden! If they caught you, if my father found out... There's no way you'd survive. Even if the law said you were just supposed to get lashes, he'd have you lashed to death!"

He stepped closer to her, looking sidelong into the servant's quarters as he did so. When he returned his gaze to her, his eyes were filled with a furious determination and purpose.

"Don't you get it yet?" he continued in a low whisper. "My father enjoys killing people. He's a bloodthirsty maniac. If he even heard a rumor that one of the servants was out and about at night, he'd have every last one of them tortured until they gave you up and then he'd just conveniently neglect to stop the whip-master from turning your back into something roughly resembling a raw steak! You think these people are going to protect you after a few days in my father's dungeon? Is whatever you're doing out there really worth that risk?!"
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PostSubject: Re: The Game   Tue Aug 28, 2012 8:51 pm



Aiokka had gotten up close and personal at this point. Her chin was tilted upward and her lips were drawn tightly, eyes flashing with a tenacity that burned like newly sparked campfire. Her arms were crossed over her chest and her sharp nails threatened to bear through her thick mittens. His finnicky temper was grating on her nerves, if only a little. Something like a scurrying pentapus that stuck itself in a place where it didnt belong.

Aiokka's steely eyes examined him intensely before she threw him a burning question. "Why do you care?" Her chin remained pointed and her nails were steadily biting into the thick of her long-sleeved tunic. Her thick, wavy bang fell over one side of her face and she struggled against a violent tendency. Aiokka openly scowled at him and waited for a reply. However what came next nearly threw her off balance.

The waterbender snapped her jaw tightly and glared at him harshly. Although....it held a somber glint with something else boiling underneath. She free away from him and averted her eyes briefly begore replying with a solid,
"YES.”
Aiokka readjusted her arms and closed her eyes. Her skin didnt feel as if it eere on fire anymore and her headache was beginning to subside. Closing her eyes, she counted to ten before opening them to look at him again, gazr still stony....but instead of smoldering it was as hard as a mountain.

"Do you think I care what Lord Nagakura thinks? Do you think I care if they offer Mr up to save their oen butts? I don't. Unlike you, dear master, I dont live for people to serve me. I was born to sit at the feey of others. My loyalty lies with my people, your MAJESTY, not my own cowardice and fear." By the time Aiokka had reached the end her voice had become strongly shy of a quiver. Her expression was contorted into a deep frown and her lips twitched. When she glowered at him, her tone was still low, but steadfast as a rock.

"Lie in comfort and people will die. I have lived and seen suffering enough to transcend a thousand lifetimes, have YOU?"

By now, almost half of the quarters began to stir over the hushed commotion. Aiokka could distinctly hear Kenna quiting down the younger slaves, as well as Renshu's evident confusion as to why a cold parka was thrown on him. The waterbender had one ear turned toward them but never looked away from Satoshi.

"So now I ask you again, ]why do you care?"

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PostSubject: Re: The Game   Wed Aug 29, 2012 4:58 pm

Satoshi listened to her words and felt an almighty rage welling up inside him. It wasn't a rage at her. It was the truth in the words that tore at him. He looked away as she spoke, his fists clenching, though in the darkness they weren't very noticeable. Finally, when it became too much to bear in silence any longer, his head snapped toward her, a furious fire burning in his eyes as he spoke--

"BECAUSE I HATE THEM!"

Satoshi had no idea how he had been able to keep that furious admission a whisper, but he had. Nevertheless, it had only been quiet enough to keep from working its way out to the guards' ears. He had never, NEVER admitted this to anyone else before. It had been his secret. It was what made his hand shake with fury as he wrote those two symbols he wrote every night. It was what made his gaze sharp and furious as he sat in the training hall, watching his brothers fight and his father watch, full of pride as they did. He hated them. Every fiber of his being was hell-bent against them. He wanted to kill the lot of them. He wanted them to die horribly for their evil. The only reason he hadn't killed himself with the agony of it all was because he still held out hope that he'd get his opportunity to make them pay.

He found he was breathing heavily as the moment abated. His left fist had clenched so hard that his fingers had cut into his palm and blood was slowly dripping off his knuckles. His teeth hurt from grinding them. All the fury of seven long years had overflowed his carefully constructed emotional dams and into those four words... As he realized just how much control he'd lost in that moment, he forced his hands to relax and he steadied his breathing. He blinked quickly, looking around. In the darkness, he could see many eyes flashing his direction from the next room, the moonlight reflecting off them.

He looked back around at her for a moment, his jaw set. He couldn't bring himself to utter another word. He turned and walked away toward the iron door back into the palace, absentmindedly guiding himself around the slight corner into the servant's sleeping area with his left hand against the wall. Though he didn't notice it, it left a streak of blood on the ice. Despite the fact that the draining light of the moon should have washed all color from it, the blood shown bright red.

The eyes of all the servants followed him as he made for the door, but he took no notice. He just knocked on the door and was let out. His balled hand hesitated in front of the door as he tried to knock, but he forced himself to do so. Back through the palace and into his room once more. The moment the door closed, the full weight of what had just happened crashed in on him like a wave. He felt like the wind had been knocked out of him. He collapsed against the wall next to the door and slid down to the ground, cradling his head in his hands, his fingers running into and grasping at his hair.

The tip of one of his fingers touched the cold metal of ring binding his topknot. With a sudden burst, he tore the pin binding the knot out and pulled off the ring, throwing it across the room with all the might he could muster. It clinked off the ice wall in the darkness and undoubtedly rolled away for some distance. It was the only thing his father had ever given him and he couldn't stand to wear it just then. His hair fell in a sheet around his head, stretching down past his shoulders. When the morning came, he'd have to wear it again. He'd have to pretend to be a loyal son. But for now, he could be free of it. He sank his face back into his hands and sat there for what felt like forever...
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