[LF] One Way, or The Other [K 7.2]

edited June 2013 in In-Game
It's late morning when Ji Fang comes to see you in your room. When did Hong come out for you in the desert? Are you completely sun burned, or just a little worse for wear? What have you told Ji Fang about your mood?

Ji Fang comes in after knocking to let you know he's arrived. Are you still asleep in bed, or just lying there?

Regardless, Ji Fang comes in. A sullen Rui slips in behind him, looking like she's been told to be here more than she wants to see you. Ji Fang says gently, "Keela Zhu, the skiffs are ready to embark for home. Captain Yun said the Lucky Dragon will be leaving shortly. If you want to say goodbye to your Ba Sing Se friends, now is your chance. We should all leave soon to avoid the Crimson Dawn."

Comments

  • Hong came and found me a couple hours after Dash...after he left. I was still just sitting in the sand where he left me. I couldn't bring myself to leave. I kept hoping that he'd come back. So by the time Hong found me, I was pretty sunburned and dehydrated. Hong was slightly frantic, but she healed me and brought me back to the Inn. I haven't said a word to Ji. I haven't seen him since I kissed him in that servant's room. I haven't been in my room very long. Hong only just left. So I'm not asleep. I'm just laying there.

    I sit up slowly when Ji and Rui come in. I still feel a little lightheaded and sick from the sun, but that pales in comparison to how I feel about Dash. I look silently at Ji, wondering if Hong told him anything or if he thinks I've just been in my room this whole time. Say goodbye? Stay away from me, Keela Zhu.

    I swallow hard. The thought of saying goodbye makes me feel like I might shatter, but leaving without saying anything feels just as awful. I think about their reactions to Mew Mew, and I can only imagine how much they must all hate me now. Like Rui hates me. I've lost everyone. Everyone but Ji Fang, my betrothed.

    "I will go say goodbye." I say, and for once my court pose is flawless. I suppose in the face of all this pain, it's easier to feel nothing at all. I stand up and walk towards the door. No. I won't run away again. I am not a coward. I will go say goodbye. I will face them like the daughter of the Fire Nation that I am. I broke Dash's heart, and their hate is a just punishment.
  • Ji Fang notices something is different, but he says nothing about your sudden court pose, you're not sure if he catches the redness to your complexion. He walks quietly alongside you as you exit your room. Hong and Rui fall in step behind you. Rui looks pale, but you know she's too stubborn to stay down.

    The guards are nowhere to be seen in the halls, the inn has emptied out. You hear some commotion outside, men giving orders, the sounds of feet scuffling, general noise that reminds you of the docks back in Ba Sing Se. Back when this was an exciting trip. On the Dragon. With the Clay Street Bunch.

    Once you come out into the oppressive heat, Ji Fang says lightly, "Captain Yun said that your friends decided to continue traveling with him. I paid the rest of their passage, I thought you'd want that for them. They're going to finish the circuit, which means in a few months, they will be back in Ba Sing Se. Safe and sound. Perhaps we can visit them."
  • They're going back? What about Min? Will she go to school? What if she does more accidental bending? What will Boot do without Mew Mew? Will Canlid be ok? What if he gets himself into trouble he can't run away from?

    Will Dash join the army?

    Will he be with Tiss?

    "That would be nice." I say numbly in proper court pose, but I feel like I'm suffocating.
  • The Dragon isn't far. You see Hornet and Dash working on the rigging while Ju Shin-Ta barks at them. Captain Yun will be at the helm and Sheng-Li is nowhere to be seen, probably belowdecks or maybe even resting in Yun's cabin. Mew Mew is probably with him. Boot, he's nowhere around.

    As you come closer, Canlid and Min, who are on deck, come over to the edge and call down to you. Canlid first, "Dare! Dare! Dash said you weren't coming! Are you coming? Why aren't we going to the Fire Nation? I want to see volcanoes!"

    Min elbows him and calls down, "We love you, Keela."

    Dash finds some reason to move to the other side a sail where you can't see him. Hanae and Ren are doing forms in preparation for a day of bending. The ship really is about to take sail, out of your life.

    Do you actually go on board? You know they wouldn't stop you.
  • I turn to Ji Fang, but my eyes slide to Hong and Rui. "I would like some privacy to say goodbye, please." I say, but it comes out shaky. My court pose is cracked now. I was ready to feel their hatred, but Dash must not have told them. And seeing them like this...I don't know how I'm going to say goodbye.

    I don't wait for a response. I start up the gangplank, assuming they'll comply. I'm wearing what I realize now must be some of Rui's spare clothes. A simple red and black kimono, Fire Nation colors. Hong helped me dress when she brought me back from the desert. My eyes keep trying to find Dash on the other side of that sail, but I go straight to Min and Canlid, wrapping my arms tightly around both of them together.

    "I love you both too." I choke out. My eyes are burning, but I'm blinking furiously. Don't cry. Don't. "So much. Don't ever forget that, ok? Min, try to go back to school. You can be a great bender, I know it! Canlid, be careful ok? Remember to look. Look before you leap. And listen to Dash, both of you. He. He knows best."
  • Min squeezes tight, while Canlid sort of squirms at first, but then relaxes and hugs back. Min pushes her face to your ear, "Dash said you want us to go on, that it was too dangerous with everyone hunting you. And I told him we would stay with you, Keela!"

    Canlid overhears, because he's right there, and adds, "Yeah! I can fight. And you've got crazy lightning powers! And Mud can throw mud and stuff, too! Dare, let us come with you, please!"

    Min draws back so she isn't yelling in your ear and says, "Canlid, she can't fight those desert raiders and keep track of us! The Dragon would just slow her down. We've already had this discussion! Just shut up and hug her. It could be forever before we see her again." She pulls your face gently over to look at her and with tear-filled eyes, she asks, "You will come visit us, right?"

    Hornet has hopped down from rigging and is hovering nearby.
  • I want to promise that of course I will visit, but I can't lie to them. I swallow hard, looking down at Min's tear-filled eyes. "If...if I can, Min. I don't know. I'm not sure what's...what's going to happen. But I will try, ok? I promise I'll try. And know that I'll want to. More than anything."

    I look away, over at Hornet, mostly in an attempt to keep the remaining shreds of my composure. Then I squeeze Min and Canlid one more time and kiss the tops of their heads before untangling myself to walk over towards her.
  • Hornet steps in, "Hey kids, give her some space. She needs to say goodbye to everyone, alright?" Min moves back, Canlid follows her. Hornet puts an arm around you, starts guiding you towards the captain's cabin, "It's been a pleasure, Keela Zhu. You're definitely my favorite noble." She claps you on the back a little hard, smiling wide, daring you to complain.

    She adds, "Mew Mew is in there with Sheng-Li. You want to see her, right?"
  • "Yeah. Well. Thanks." I sort of mumble, still trying to get control of myself again. I take a shaky breath, letting her lead me towards the cabin.

    "I mean, really, Hornet. Thanks. For everything." I add more genuinely, but I keep trying to sneak glances of Dash as we go, my thoughts a jumbled mess.
  • Hornet chuckles, "Ah, I don't have many friends, so it's not like I have to be nice very often." She grins, the moves ahead to open Yun's door and wait for you to enter.

    Inside is Mew Mew, sitting on a little wooden chair, holding Sheng-Li's hand. He's propped up, looking pale, but awake. Mew Mew's eyes open wide, like she is shaking off sleep when she sees you. She rises up quick, takes a step to you, then pauses. Her happiness flips to a sullen expression, "Keela... you broke his heart. I mean. I can't judge you, I know. But still. You did."
  • My eyes well up, but I don't flinch.

    "I know." I say, half court pose and half misery. "I will never forgive myself." I glance at Sheng Li, and take Mew Mew's arm, pulling her to the side, and my court pose evaporates.

    "He told me to stay away from him." I say low and choked. "So please, Mew Mew. Please tell him that I love him. That I will always love him. And that I'm sorry. I wish I could take it back. I wish..." I press my trembling lips together and swallow hard. "I'm engaged to Ji Fang." I confess even lower. "And I can't...I'm trapped. Especially now....now that I...the Crimson Dawn..."

    My future is suddenly crystal clear, and it hurts. I will marry Ji Fang. Rui will hate me for the rest of my life. Dash will hate me for the rest of my life. So will Boot, Mew Mew, Canlid, and Min. I am losing all of them.
  • Mew Mew cocks her head when you declare that Dash won't see you. She's honestly a little surprised at your demeanor. "Keela... when have you ever let Dash tell you what to do? And. And you know you could come with us, right? We could lose them at Serpent's Pass." She pauses, reading your face. "It's just... Boot's already gone. I hoped you'd stay with us. It's all falling apart." She swallows once, then sneaks a glance back at Sheng-Li.
  • "You don't understand..." I say desperately, but I want...I want so badly to do it. To just go with them. To leave Ji Fang and Rui and my father behind...again. But Ji would follow. I know he would. Especially now that I told him we could go ahead with our engagement. And the Crimson Dawn....

    And what will my father do when he finds out that they attacked me? And that I bent lightning?

    I just want to be with Dash. That's all I want. But I'm terrified to seek him out. I don't think I could bear his anger and hurt.

    And then I'm crying. She's right. Everything is falling apart. I'm falling apart.
  • Mew Mew pulls you into a hug, reaching a hand up to pull your face to her shoulder, letting you cry on her kimono. She pats your back gently and just lets you vent. She can be strong like this when you need her. When the tears subside a bit, Mew Mew says in a reassuring tone, "No, Keela, I don't understand. I may never. But if you say you have to go, then I trust that you do."

    She takes your by your shoulders and eases you back to look at your face, "We are going to talk to Dash now. Dry up, you may not see him again for a while... I guess."
  • I nod, flushed. Swiping at my face with the sleeves of Rui's kimono. I'm almost embarrassed, but the pain overshadows the fact that Sheng Li and Hornet just saw me break down. I don't care what they think right now. This is the most awful thing I've ever had to do.

    I'm going to beg Dash to stay. I can't take it. I can't say goodbye to him.
  • When you compose yourself, Mew Mew takes you by the arm gently and opens the door to let you out onto the deck. There, standing only ten feet away, is Dash. He's looking right at you, and the anger you imagined would be on his face, the indignant fury, the accusations in his eyes for the betrayal, all of that, isn't there. Instead, he looks a little tired and even more sad. His eyes have tiny bags under them, his shoulders aren't drooping, but they have an angle that show his pain.

    "Keela Zhu," he says with all the passion he's used before, now tinged with the emotion of the last day. "I don't want you to go."
  • When I see Dash, it's like I've been hit by my own lightning. I've never seen him look so hurt, and it cuts through me. I actually suck in a breath, ready to beg, ready to plead, but then I realize he's speaking.

    Then I realize what he's just said.

    I gape at him, my own face flushed and tear streaked and exhausted. He doesn't...he doesn't want me to go?

    There is a moment, the smallest of moments, where I think about things like my duty and my father and Ji Fang and—

    I throw my arms around Dash, all emotion and fire and fierce determination. "Then I won't." I whisper roughly. "Dash, I won't go."
  • Dash returns the hug as fiercely, kissing the top of your head and pressing his body against you, touching every inch of you that he can manage. The moment is thrilling and wonderful, just the two of you. Just the two of you together. You fit together.

    "Hey! Cap!" You hear Hornet call from above the pair of you, from her perch on the sails. "Raiders to the east!"

    Captain Yun starts bellowing orders, "Stations! All hands! Hanae, spin up the sand fast, we need to get moving. Now! Dash! Keela! I need you two to cut it short and help pull anchor!"

    What do you do?
  • It is wonderful. I can't even describe it, how...overjoyed I am.

    But then Hornet yells her warning. And suddenly everything is chaos. Raiders?

    I grab Dash's hand and start running for the anchor, trying to peer into the horizon. It can't be...not them again. Not the Crimson Dawn. Right? They wouldn't be back so soon. Right?

    There is a fearful pit of dread in my stomach, and I swear I can smell burning flesh again.
  • You and Dash work together, pulling hand over hand on the stout iron chain of the anchor. Your body is working too frantically to adjust, but your head registers that a couple times you brush hands, but overall, you both work in unison. It's thrilling.

    Above you, you head the thwip-thwip-thwip of Hornet from the crow's nest, trying to break some of their lines. Yun is at the helm screaming for the sand-benders to get the ship moving, "They're getting CLOSER!"

    You hear sounds of battle all around, screams of the hurt and afraid, the rings of steel on steel, horses thundering, all a cacophony. The anchor is almost up. It sounds like the inn is being attacked, which means Boot might be fighting for his life. You hear Ji Fang's clear and strident voice barking commands.

    Finally, you bring up the anchor and the ship starts moving faster. It was already plodding along as you brought up the anchor, but now it is unfettered and moving briskly.

    But it wasn't fast enough. Somehow, these Crimson Dawn, they ride like devils. There are four climbing up onto the deck right now. Dash draws his knife and starts to move forward while Hornet tries to pick them off.

    What are you doing, Keela?
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