[LF] I spy... [K 6.2]

edited May 2013 in In-Game
Moments ago, you flew behind a sand dune and landed with Hong, knowing you're so close to those three skiffs now that they might be able to spot you. The heat of the day is on you, your whole body feels damp with sweat. Your arms are screaming now, take the condition Tired until you are able to fully rest.

Hong scrambled up the dune ahead of you, and now she is u there, unrolling a thin blanket for you to lie upon while she lies upon the hot sand herself on her belly. You reach the top and lay down to see the three skiffs.

This high up, like in the air, there is a constant irritation of blowing sand, just enough to catch in your eyes every minute or so. At first, the skiffs are hard to make out. Then you shield your eyes from the sun and sand and focus on them. They are headed closer towards you, so that helps, too.

Hong asks quietly, although it is doubtful anyone could possibly hear you, "Do we plan to attack them, Keela Zhu?" Her tone is polite, but there's a hint of excitement in it. Anticipation. Like you, she enjoys a good fight.

Finally, you make out some details. If not for your upbringing, you might not have made out that banner flying at the aft of the last skiff, but the colors of gold and red make it unmistakable. You can barely make out the outline of a dragon. They are flying a Fire Nation flag.
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  • I am so sick of sand. I try to shield my eyes from it, but you can never really get away from sand. Not when it's everywhere.

    I see the Fire Nation flag, and I'm relieved. Really, I am! I'd rather it be Fire Nation than Suli. This must be Ji or Rui then. My stomach flips a little, but I try to ignore it. They're my friends.

    Really? A little voice whispers in my head. That's how you treat your friends?

    I scowl. Ok. So I've been a bad friend. But I'm sure if I talked to them, they'd understand. They'd let me be. Right?

    "No. Well. No. I'm not sure." I answer Hong uncertainly. I exhale, frustrated. "Let them get closer. I want to see if I recognize anyone."
  • Hong nods, edging closer and peering down. You're on a low dune, maybe fifty feet above them. The wind whistles by as the skiffs grow closer. Each skiff is puny compared to the Lucky Dragon

    They look like this:
    image

    Each skiff has a sand bender and a couple passengers. The one slightly behind the two in front, you see a man with dark hair standing tall, his red kimono flapping in the wind as he peers across the desert. It is none other than Ji Fang. You know in your heart, in the pit of your stomach, he is looking for you.
  • My heart's somewhere up in my throat now. My mouth feels dry in a way that has nothing to do with the sand. Ji.

    I can't help the flood of emotion, memories of that last night. It's like fire in my blood.

    I swallow hard. No. I just need to go talk to him. I just need to explain, and he'll stop chasing me. It's Ji. Ji's not going to haul me back to the Fire Nation like a prisoner. This is just all a misunderstanding. Because I kissed him. Because I did more than kiss him. But that was just a misunderstanding. I just need to clear things up, that's all.

    "Come on." I whisper hoarsely to Hong, then I get into a crouch. When that last skiff, the one with Ji, is below us, I'll jump, attempting to land on the deck behind him.
  • Even though you can fly, I'm thinking this is a difficulty of three, to land on a moving target, without being spotted, right by Ji Fang.

    Let's see some dice.
  • I'm a Fire Bender with Noble Blood who can use Bending-Do to Burn Heat Blasts to Fly

    #DiceRoller( 7d6 )
  • Despite your injuries and fatigue, you use the natural heat of the desert to reinforce your heat blast. The sand by your feet is turned to a light sheet of glass as you bound into the air. Hong sprints down the sand dune towards the skiff as you fly overhead.

    The transition from thrust to fall is a tricky thing, but you angle your aching arms just right, slowing your descent as you land lightly on Ji Fang's skiff, inches behind him.

    His cat-like reflexes kick into gear as he feels the heat pressure and turns, arms flying like a windmill, sliding it into a graceful turn. His spear is not drawn, it is standing still by his side, stuck in a harness. He pulls back a fist to strike, drawing the heat off you in a quick preparation for a bending strike.
  • Ok. Maybe I should have rested a little more before attempting this venture. Too late now. I bring my arms up fast, palms facing him, trying to throw up a heat shield to block him. I'm too tired to do anything else, and it's more instinctual than anything else.

    "Ji! It's me!" I gasp.
  • He's committed to his strike, acting too fast to take it back. You'll have to defend yourself or take a blast in the face. Like Zuko.

    Difficulty in this tight range, weak as you are, that's a difficulty of 4 to pull it off with finesse and still be standing on the skidd.
  • I'm a Fire Bender with Noble Blood who can use Bending-Do to create Heat Blasts that Burn in Defense.

    Using 1 dice from the pool.

    #DiceRoller( 8d6 )
  • edited May 2013
    You both fight for the flames, Ji Fang for an attack, yours for defense. While Ji-Ji is no slouch, you are a master. He loses the slight advantage he had by beginning his attack as you literally suck the fire from his fingertips and blaze forth a small sun shield. It throws him back into a sand bender and to the deck. The other bender has seen you and he flings a hand at your face, sending thousands of grains of sand forward like a knife, right at you.

    You try to slide the shield over, to scald the sand in the air, but you realize that you over-committed to Ji Fang, to wholly focused on one opponent. Zarro would be ashamed. The sand slices across your side, a hundred tiny cuts like piranha.

    That's when you hear Hong shout out a strike and a small wall of water bowls over the sand bender. He barely stays on the skiff, which, by the way, is skittering a bit since the bender driving it was also hit by splashes of your fire and his rags are currently on fire.

    Hong is about to leap onto the skiff, which doesn't have much room left, this will be tight fighting with three elements, four benders.

    This could be trouble.
  • I let out a hiss of pain as the sand slices into my skin. I almost lose my balance, but I catch myself. My fire shield disappears as my right hand goes to my injured left side. I hold my left hand up, palm flat, trying to make eye contact with Ji.

    "Stop!" I shout it this time, using my noble voice, my commanding voice. It's strange how quickly it comes back to me. "I'm not here to fight you!"
  • The sand bender hesitates as Ji Fang is struggling to get back up, using his spear to get balance. Hong comes flying into the sand bender's head with a kick and he drops quickly. She quickly swirls water around her head like some magical lasso while the bender driving the ship still tries to right it.

    "Keela?!?" you hear Ji Fang call out as he finally stands, his spear ready for battle. "Stop!" he commands as he rushes to kneel by your side.

    You hear the other two skiffs turning wildly in the sand, trying to get back to Ji Fang.
  • red
    edited May 2013
    Ji is suddenly at my side, and my stomach flips all the way over. I'm suddenly hyper aware of my wild, shorn hair. My dirty face. My sailor's clothes. My rough, callused hands. What is wrong with me?

    I meet his eyes, and twist my lips into a nervous grimace of a smile. "Hey Ji-Ji." I say lightly, but I'm still gasping for breath. Zarro would be so ashamed of me. I'm ashamed of me. This is pathetic. Of course, flying is totally new to me. I had no idea it was so taxing.

    I glance down at my injured side. The sand shredded my cotton shirt there, and I'm showing a rather indecent amount of skin. I'm bleeding a bit too. Stings like mad, but I don't think it's too serious. Kind of hard to tell.
  • Ji Fang's eyes are fixed on your wound, he looks to Hong, "Water-bender... HONG TSE DAU?!? What are...? It doesn't. Heal her!" Hong drops to her knees immediately, eyes cast down at the deck. She knee walks quickly to your side as Ji Fang stands, holding you up. The skiff is still moving quickly, he's forgotten the other skiffs entirely, only focused on you. His eyes are filled with emotion.

    As Hong works upon your wounds, you feel cold water splash across your side, dancing across your skin like tiny wriggling fish. It smarts at first, but then settles into a cooler temperature, like when you first step into a spring on a hot day. (go ahead and remove injured condition, but you're still tired). Hong quickly finishing healing your wound and drops prostrate between you two.

    Ji Fang is talking to you as this is going on, "I found Suli at Kashang Oasis, she told me what she was doing, Keela Zhu. I defeated her and sent her back to Ba Sing Se, she will never trouble you again. I know why you ran, I am so sorry for your trouble. But you are alive! Alive!" His right hand is on your shoulder, but his left cups you cheek, gently rubbing the grime on your face with his thumb as he looks at down at you with his sparkling blue eyes.

    "Rui said we'd never find you, but I knew! I knew in my heart the spirits of the dragons would bring us together again!" He's talking in a rush, like a dam broke inside him and he's been thinking all these thoughts longer than he can stand. Finally, it dawns upon him that you attacked. Or that he attacked you, "Are you alright?" His eyes search your face for some clue.
  • He's babbling again. It would make me smile, but I'm too busy trying (and failing) to not think about his hand on my face, his thumb stroking my cheek. I glance at Hong, prostrate on the ground, and I don't like it, but I'll have to deal with that later.

    He knew in his heart? That doesn't...I...well...strangely I kind of knew I'd see him again too.

    "I'm fine." I answer quickly. "I'm sorry I snuck up on you like that. I wasn't sure if it was you." I look down to my healed side, more using it as an excuse to look away from his piercing gaze. Hong did good work. Now my shirt is just torn. I use the moment to collect myself a little bit, and then I look back up at him. "You...defeated Suli?" I repeat, raising an eyebrow. "Are you...isn't that...going to cause trouble?" The last thing I need is my stupid escape causing more friction between nations. And I can't help wondering why he thinks I ran.
  • edited May 2013
    "Wasn't sure?" he says with surprise as he studies your face like a long lost precious heirloom, "I was flying a banner. I like to think I'm rather distinctive." Its a half-hearted joke. "Yes, I defeated Suli. It wasn't easy, quite an interesting battle. Of course, I grew up fighting Rui and you, so really, she wasn't so bad. And trouble? She pursued a pardoned noble of the Fire Nation. I sent her home in shame. Her uncle owes us both for allowing her the chance to hide away after what she's done." He pulls you into a warm hug, vigorously rubbing your back with his fingertips. The skiff finally slows to a stop,

    When he pulls you back, he is smiling warmly, "You're dressed like a... you went into hiding? What a wonderful story you can tell everyone back home. I saw the fountain from your battle, simply amazing. I had no idea Hong was your opponent, but now she is your vassal, I see. What an adventure!"> His hands are on your shoulders now, he's looking down at you with such affection, excitement. You think he's about to lean down and kiss you.
  • red
    edited May 2013
    My heart does a stupid flutter thing when he pulls me into his arms. My arms hug him back without my permission. All this information he's giving me is whirling around in my head. He fought Suli for me? Pardoned? Wonderful story? Back home?? I'm trying to think straight, but he...he smells really good. He pulls back and he's looking at me and he's...

    I take an abrupt step backwards away from him, trying to reclaim my wits. I can not let him kiss me. If he kisses me, I think I might...I might do something really stupid....again.

    "Pardoned?" I start with that, searching his face in disbelief. "What...when did that happen?"
  • edited May 2013
    A brilliant smile flashes and he says, "Yes, Keela Zhu. Pardoned. Really, it was a matter of paperwork, and well, maybe a little pressure from me. But it is done. Your family's debt to Jun Da is settled as well. You are free." He slowly begins to scan your face, drops his hands to take your hands in his, "Have you been working as a sailor? I see the calluses of many days of work. Rui will be thrilled when you tell us what you have been doing. I feel so blessed to see you."

    His smile falters a moment, and ignoring the servants and workers around him, as a noble does, he confides in you, "Keela Zhu, please forgive me for that night. I have barely slept since that happened. It tore my heart to know that I was so forceful that I drove you away. My heart overuled my senses. I am sorry."

    Hong has not yet moved. The sand bender she knocked off the skiff has finally caught up with you, they've left you to your conversation, you actually hear their sailor's talk, chatting about the look of the sands, remaining removed from you.
  • I feel like there's sand in my brain. His hands feel like silk on my rough ones.

    "My family's debt is settled?" I repeat dumbly, feeling like an iguana parrot, but then he confides in me and I can't help but be very aware of the other people around us. "Ji..." I say softly. I glance at Hong and sigh. "Ji, can we please talk...somewhere privately?"
  • Ji Fang nods, then says loudly, "We wish for some privacy. Keela Zhu and I will be taking a short walk. Do not leave." He looks at the sand benders and they shrug. Hong remains prostrate, unmoving.

    With the smile, he releases your hands to reach into a small wooden crate by the pilot's seat. From there he pulls out a fine silk parisol woven with a golden dragon. He opens it over your head and blessed shade falls over you, your skin feels a bit cooler instantly. He also has a canteen, which he hands you as he drops down the few feet off the skiff to the sand. He offers to help you down. It looks like he plans on just walking away with you for a bit to talk, calmly walking under the shade of his parisol.
  • "Hong, please be at ease. We'll be back shortly." I say, slightly annoyed that I'm being forced back into being a noble.

    I almost laugh when Ji pulls out the parasol. A parasol here? As though I'm wearing a silken kimono and we're strolling through a garden! But the shade feels so nice. So I just smile instead. I do jump down myself though. I don't need help.

    I walk next to him, shoulder to shoulder, in the shade. I suppose if he offers his arm, I'll take it. That's mostly habit. I mean, that's the proper way to walk with someone under a parasol. Ugh.

    Once we get out of earshot, I stop, turning to face him. Standing feels nice. I'm so tired.

    "Ji." I say quietly. It's hard to hold his eyes. "There's nothing to forgive. I don't blame you. I...well...." I feel my cheeks heat up. "It wasn't against my will. You were not forceful. I...I..." I drop my gaze. "Please do not feel bad." I say to his chest.
  • edited May 2013
    Ji Fang offers his arm. Of course he offers his arm, it is what you do. He is tall enough to angle more shade to you. His left shoulder is slightly exposed to the sun as you both walk. He doesn't flinch away from you as you talk, giving you his full attention, sadness touching the corners of his eyes. "Keela Zhu," he says in that delightful way he intones your name as if it were a precious jewel, "I cannot help but feel a little sad. I have had days to reflect upon that night. And all the nights before it. I was a fool. I took too long to come to you. I had to have every detail perfect, to set things in motion just so. In that time, of course you lost faith in me. You found someone else." He pauses, there was a catch in his voice at that, you heard it.

    He slides reflexively into the court pose and continues, "Then when I could have helped you, as your best friend, I took advantage of you and you felt you had to leave. To remain faithful to your lover. Or to keep our friendship true. Perhaps both. Then Suli came after you and in the cover of night, you had to leave Ba Sing Se as a criminal. I am a horrible friend. I cannot help but feel bad."
  • "That's not true!" I protest immediately. My throat feels tight. "If anyone is a horrible friend, it's me." I think about the look on Rui's face when she saw me and Ji. I think about Ji's face when I told him I loved someone else.

    I don't know what to do. Do I tell Ji the truth? Who would that benefit? Myself?

    "I'm not going back home, Ji." The truth suddenly spills out of my mouth like I can't hold it any longer. I could say more. I could say a hundred things, but I bite my lip and study his expression instead.
  • Ji Fang is about to object to you being a worse friend when you drop the bomb about not going home. He closes his mouth, and there is a sadness in his eyes, "Oh."

    He walks with you in silence for a few steps. You see him looking a the bright horizon, it is afternoon now, one of the hottest times of the day. The light perfumes he wears smell quite nice, like lilacs. "Are you traveling with your love? Where are you going? I can help you."
  • I feel awful. Worse than awful.

    "How did you settle my family's debt?" I ask quietly instead of answering his questions.
  • edited May 2013
    Ji Fang notices that you ignored his questions, but doesn't push. He knows the answer is that you're traveling with your lover. He answers your question very gently, "First, I spoke briefly with Haidong. Hrm, I can be open with you, so I will. He was a fool. He was not the head of the household. I insisted on speaking with the head of the household. Then Hua Tsin, who I found to be an odious woman, tried to stall me, then berate me. But I persisted. Finally, a young woman named Ah Ru, do you know her? She snuck me in to see the old man. It was." He pauses, looks to you, then collects himself. "He told me you and your family is free from their debt to him. I paid nothing. Your father owed no more as far as Jun Da was concerned. He only asked that I deliver this message to you."

    Ji Fang stops walking, faces you, clears his throat and enunciates clearly,
    "Keela Zhu.
    You were a better daughter than I was a father. I was too lost in my mourning to care for you and you became a strong woman without me. I am proud of you, more than my own family. I wish you well, firey flower.
    "
  • My eyes well up, and I abruptly turn away. I face the desert and struggle to keep my composure. I know I will probably never see Jun Da again, and I'm suddenly just...just...I'm just so tired. And overwhelmed. And confused. And...

    "I know Ah Ru." I say, and my voice sounds off. I swallow and suddenly I'm talking, the words bitter and sour in my mouth. "They were awful, Ji. I hated them. They would parade me around like I was their hostage. And I was. They took everything from me. I'd already lost my father and Ionesca and Rui and...and you. But they found more things to take. Not Jun Da..." My voice wobbles. "It was alright before Jun Da got sick. That's when his family came. Hua Tsin hated me. She was so evil. She took away my bending training. She forbade Zarro from teaching me. And then..."

    I turn to face him, and I'm not wearing that noble's mask. Maybe I've forgotten how. Desperate emotion is all over my face, and the words just come out. I can't keep lying to him. I can't. I'm sorry, Rui.

    "...I didn't write those letters to you, Ji-Ji. I haven't seen a single letter from you in a year. I wrote letter after letter and never heard a word. I didn't know...not until recently that they were never even sent. She took that too! And I had no idea...I didn't know you...felt the way you did. I thought you'd all forgotten about me. I had no idea you were planning on coming to get me. I didn't...I didn't lose faith in you. I didn't know! If...if things had been different...if I'd known...I never would have..."

    I bite my lip. Now I'm babbling. Never would have what? Fallen in love with Dash? But I did fall in love with Dash. I do love Dash. I just...I just wish Ji hadn't kissed me like that.
  • Ji Fang seems taken aback when you whirl on him, your face showing such emotion. He was looking at you then, his own face showing compassion, concern, worry. The revelation about the letters shocks him, without a doubt. He searches your eyes, but doesn't question your word is true. He's just confused.

    He swallows once, licks his lips. Then he is the one looking off into the sandy horizon. Then realization strikes and he mouths a single word, utters it with shock and a twinge of hurt, "Rui."
  • Hearing Rui's name is like a slap in the face. I press my fingertips into my closed eyelids. "She was trying to help me." I mumble wearily, but I don't blame him if he's angry. I certainly was. I almost say more, but I stop. I can't bring myself to tell him that Rui is in love with him.
  • He takes in a long, calming breath, bt you see him twitching the fingers of his right hand, one of his tells of stress, irritation, even anger. He closes his eyes and lets the breath out slowly, then drops into his court pose when his eyes open, bringing up a polite smile, "Yes. Of course she was. Rui is a wonderful friend. She very correctly understood it would take pressure and motivation for me to act boldly. She is the greater friend. She risked much to help you."

    He pauses. It actually turns out to be a rather long pause. His mask drops and he looks at you, then away, "I feel like an utter fool for the way I've acted. I was so... so assumptive. I took advantage of you! I'm so sorry. And now, I have all these... feelings for you. Unrequited feelings, I now know. And I need to be your friend, you are so dear to me. And your father, he gave me permission to. He won't know how to take. I. I've made a horrible mess of your life, Keela!"
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