[LF] The Walk to Upper Ring [Refresh 2]

edited December 2012 in In-Game
The Earth Kingdom guards ease back into a relaxed distance, giving you, Rui and Ji a chance to talk. It's late, and Lian ninching has chosen an indirect path, so you're more or less alone.

How are you waling? Are you in the middle? On Ji's side? Rui's side? They're both very excited to be walking with you after ten years. Ji Fang asks, "Are you alright, Keela?"

Comments

  • I'm walking in the middle between the two of them, but I can't muster the energy to match their excitement. To them, this is great. We're going back to the embassy. We've basically won. But as we continue down the path, I can't help thinking about how much I've lost. Dash and the rest of the gang and Hornet are waiting for me. And I honestly don't know if I'll see them again.

    I don't realize how miserable I must look until Ji asks me if I'm alright. I debate how to answer that question for a few seconds, but then I give up. "No I'm not alright." I mutter a little angrily because it's easier to be angry than sad. And if Ji hadn't made such a scene in the tea house, this might not have happened. Although truthfully, I don't know if I believe Lian Ninching's story. They seemed to know I was in the teahouse before they even came inside.
  • Ji seems a little shocked, his mood falters, he asks in a whisper, "Are you hurt? These past few days must have been awful for you. I'm sorry I couldn't find you, I looked everywhere."

    Rui cuts in, "Ji-Ji, let her talk, alright?"
  • "No, I'm not hurt!" I whisper back, frustrated. "Ji, I'm not some delicate little princess. You know that, so stop treating me like I am! I know you really want to rescue me, but I have a plan. Or I did. But now everything's ruined. People were depending on me, and now I'm going to be stuck in the embassy. And I might not ever see them again." I lose my angry edge as I talk and by the time I get to the end, my voice is cracking.
  • Ji puts up his hands, a little hurt when you snap at him, "Keela, I'm... I'm sorry. I was so worried about you. I came here with the hope of finally helping you win free of your father's obligation only to find you'd been imprisoned and then when I find that out, you're on the run and... I." Then confusion replaces the hurt and he asks, "I thought you wanted me to come save you. I don't understand. Was I just a back-up plan? Who is depending on you?" He's honestly stymied. Rui, however, is sort of sliding away, shirking a bit, looking at houses, her face turned away.
  • I feel guilty when he looks so hurt. I take a shaky breath and glance at Rui. I don't...should I tell him? He's going to be mad. More than mad really. He's going to feel foolish, and Ji hates feeling foolish. He's spent years working on becoming Trade Ambassador just so he could come rescue me. Maybe he changed, but that's not what he wanted to do with his life. He's going to be furious if he finds out that it was all a lie. What am I going to do? He might never forgive Rui for this.

    I close my eyes briefly, groaning inwardly. Rui is going to owe me big time for this. I mean BIG TIME.

    I step closer to Ji until our arms are touching so I can talk to him in a voice barely above a whisper. I don't want the guards to hear. Rui can hear, but that's good. I want her to hear. I want her to know what I'm sacrificing for her. I try my best to sound like I know what I'm talking about, but it's hard because I have no idea what "I" told him in those letters. "Ji-Ji, no. I'm sorry. I'm sorry you were so worried. I honestly didn't know you were here. Jun Da's family is horrible. They never tell me anything. And things kind of got out of hand and I had to escape, but then I got stuck in prison, and then I was on the run again." I swallow my pride with difficulty. "I did want you to come rescue me. You weren't just a back-up plan. It's just, everything fell apart and I didn't know what to do. And I have friends here. Friends who helped me, sacrificed a lot to help me. I really....care about them. They're like my family. I can't just abandon them now."
  • Ji listens intently and Rui turns to watch you. When you take the rap for her fake letters, she walks a bit closer to you, you catch a guilty smile on her face. Ji Fang says quietly, "Any friend of yours is a friend of ours, Keela. You've always made interesting friends. Like us. Are they in trouble? I have a unit here. I can bring them to the embassy, too."

    Rui chirps, "That could be a uhm, a problem, Ji-Ji. Maybe we figure that out later? I'm pretty sure we're all tired, right?" She fakes a yawn, but Ji just shakes his head, he's not really buying it, but he doesn't say anything.
  • "I don't know. I...I need to think." I say quietly.

    I really don't know what to do now. I'm not sure what Ji will think when he finds out my friends are orphans and thieves and especially the one who stole my heart. And I need to talk to Rui. I need to know exactly what she told Ji in those letters. She better not have gotten all romantic. If she told Ji that I loved him....I don't know what I'm going to do. This plan is shaping up to be just as disastrous as all my other plans. I maybe should have found out what Rui told him before I agreed to cover for her.
  • You continue on in silence through the Upper Ring gates, then on to the Fire Nation Embassy. It is a small manor. Where there is an air temple that is expansive but unused and a Water Embassy that is opulent and wondrous, the Fire Nation was given a very small parcel of land in the treaty. The manor is well appointed and maintained, it has a low profile, to be sure.

    Ji Fang takes Lian Ninching and the other guards to a room to discuss matters after he asks Rui to find you a room. Rui bows and then smiles when the two of you are alone, "C'mon, Keela, there is a steam bath here"
  • I punch her.

    In the shoulder, and not that hard, but hard enough to sting. How can she be so casual about this? As if it's no big deal? "How could you?" I whisper rage at her. "Did you even stop to think for a moment what could happen? How your actions could impact my life? What did you say in those letters? You better tell me everything if I'm going to keep this up. Did you say that I love him? Did you tell Ji that I love him? What did you say?"
  • Rui takes the punch and gives a mock "Ow" and skips a step out of your way, then brings herself into a defensive form. Not completely ready to fight, but she could block if another shot comes in. She says with a frown, "I'm sorry. I missed you. The letters stopped and I was really worried. I tried talking Ji-Ji into coming, I begged my father to send me here by myself, all fell on deaf ears. Then, I came up with the idea of writing a letter to him from you."

    Rui's form slumps with her shoulders as she admits her little crime, "At first, I just established contact, played catch-up But then I was scouring the caravans for details about Ba Sing Se so it would seem real. And then, well, it wasn't going anywhere, so I started flirting with him. AS YOU. I.. I don't really know. Or I didn't know how to do that, so I just told him how much I missed him. And how much he must have grown and how I'd heard of his rise in the family and his awards in bojustsu. You know, he eats that stuff up. He's a boy. But still, he's just studying and he didn't tell me anything. AND THEN, he started telling YOU things. I, uhm, I started stealing his letters to you. Oh Keela, it sounds really awful when II say it out loud, but it got really messed up."

    For a moment, she just stares at you, hardly believing what she's admitting, "I'm an idiot. Alright? I got jealous of you. When it wasn't even you he was writing, it was fake you-me. And then I decided, since he was just going to play favorites, that I would ask him to come save me. Save you. Then he comes to tell real me that he's going to marry you and I'm so completely stuck. Its been miserable, Keela. Pretending to like him. Reading his poetry. Giving him advice as real me to woo you-me. I really, really messed up."
  • I stare back at her, but I don't move to punch her again. When it comes to hand to hand combat, Rui could kick my butt every time. And I'm not mad enough to forget that. "Are you in love with Ji?" I finally ask, straight up. No more of this stupid guessing.
  • Rui stops for a second, you took her off guard. She has this look right then like she'd been caught, you know her too well. She opens her mouth to respond, but then doesn't. Her brows knit and her form is completely broken. Finally, Rui looks away for a second, gathering courage, then looks back at you and says, "It doesn't matter, Keela. I'm. I'm just a commoner. I don't have a drop of noble blood. I can't even bend. This is as close as we'll ever get."

    She frowns a second, then says, "I messed up. I'm sorry. I can tell him the truth. About the letters. I-I will, ok. Just not my truth. About me. It will ruin everything. He'll either hate me, or he'll try to pretend he loves me. And then he'd have to throw away everything he's worked for. I can't have that on my conscience. He's... he's too important for that."
  • And just like that my anger is gone. "In a flash" as Rui used to say. I close the distance between us and wrap my arms around her neck, pulling her into a hug. "Don't be stupid. It does matter." I say into her hair. "You're just as important as Ji. I won't tell him, but don't write yourself off, ok?"

    I pull back, my hands on her shoulders and smile at her, one of my best friends in the whole kingdom. "I'm in love with commoner, you know." I add in a low voice and my smile gets a little wobbly. I wish Dash were here. "Anyways, I forgive you. And I don't think Ji needs to know about the letters. We'll figure it out." I turn to throw an arm around her, pulling her in the direction she was about to go earlier. "C'mon. Let's go find this bath you speak of."
  • We do a little skip a head to Keela and Rui in the steam bath. Keela and Rui are in towels, hair soaking wet and steam curling thick around them.

    Rui is laying back on the tiled bench, "What's the monorail like? It looks fun.
  • I'm also laying flat on the bench staring at the ceiling. "I've only been on it a couple times." I admit. "Jun Da took me on it when I first came here as part of the tour of the city. And then I rode on it once with my guard after he found me one of the times I tried to run away. I was miserable both those times, so I wasn't really paying attention." I twist my head to look at her. "I tried to run away a lot at first. That's how I met Dash and everyone. I'm sorry I couldn't tell you about this stuff in my letters. I was afraid someone would read them, and the Clay Street Gang...they were the only happy thing I had here. I didn't want them to be taken away from me too."

    I look back up at the ceiling, silent for a bit. "I don't know what to do." I finally admit in a small voice. "I want to be with them. I want to leave on the caravan tomorrow. I want to be free to make my own decisions."
  • Rui doesn't move while she's listening. After you confess you want to run away with Dash and the others, she remarks, "This is NOT what I expected, Keela." Then she lifts up her head and looks a you, "You've been a prisoner for almost half your life. I thought we were coming here to help, but we're not helping. We... we're forcing you to trade one set of shackles for another."

    She sits up, scoots over to take your hand, "You can still go. Or try. I'll help. Really help. But... what about Ji?"
  • I sit up next to her and meet her gaze. "Really?" I whisper, but then she asks about Ji and my face falls a little. "Before we do anything, I need to talk to him. I need to tell him about Dash." I pause for a second. "Does he think I love him, Rui? Did you ever write that you...I...loved him? I need to know. What does he expect?"

    I'm terrified that I'm going to have to break Ji's heart. But really, it's not me that he loves. It's Rui. For a brief second I feel a tiny flash of jealousy, and then I'm ashamed of myself. I don't love Ji. Not like that. Right?
  • Rui drops her eyes in shame, "He... he sort of thinks you love him, yeah." You think she wants to say more, but she just sits there for a moment. Then she looks up at you, giving you her pitiful eyes, which she hopes will work.
  • I narrow my eyes. "Rui, tell me the whole thing. Come on. I have to know. I wrote it remember?"
  • Rui bites her lower lip and looks away. This isn't like her, to be this evasive. But you win out, "You're just being mean now... the answer is YES. Yes, you love him. You wrote him poetry and you talked about his eyes and. And his lips and..." She looks at you guiltily, "I got lost in the letters and I pretended I was you... I messed up, Keela. I'm sorry."
  • I let out a nervous laugh, but that fades pretty quickly and I'm left staring at my hands wondering how on earth to fix this without outing Rui.

    "You really didn't make this easy for me, did you?" I ask dryly, but I try to give her a reassuring smile. "It's ok. I'll figure it out."

    I sit there silently for a while longer, but soon I stand up, running a hand through my damp hair. I'm too antsy. I just need to do this. "Alright." I take a deep breath. "Wish me luck."

    Whether she comes back to the room with me or not, I'm going to go get dressed and then see if I can find Ji.
  • --END SCENE---

    Great job. You're refreshed!
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