aiting till the fall of night, the group watches the POW camp for a few hours. Memorizing the movements of the complacent patrols, they make their way from cover to cover and quietly dispatch two of the guards, making their way to the side of the wooden walls while Higen stays in the woods to cover their retreat. Aumanil and Tsing Tao make their way around the back, preparing to neutralize the guards in the watchtower while the others dig under the wall with the aid of Fow Bang Chows earthbending. Coming up within the walls reveals a pile of burning bodies, and the sounds of what can only be General Zimmer as he is whipped with lashes of fire by a Imperial “Interrogator”.
The buildings are held up on stilts roughly a foot off the ground, and crouching under the nearest one the group can see Zimmer chained to a tall wooden post, being lashed by the firebenders flames. Zimmer is bleeding down his back and from his mouth, but manages to give a hearty laugh through the pain, “HAHAHA come on son you can do better than that! Your mom whipped me harder last night!!!” The soldier lashes out in furry and Zimmer almost falls unconscious from the pain. The firebender has two soldiers unchain him and throw him back in the wooden hut that serves as his cell, next to 2 others that hold 5 other Lotus troops. Many more than that had been captured, but judging by the burning bodies, these are the only ones left. Tsing Toa, who is waiting with Aumanil on the other side of the fort, can’t help but chuckle at the Generals jabs. Just as they are about to make their move, the doors of the fort open and they immediately recognize Nicci, the dangerous firebender also known as Death’s Mistress. She is accompanied by a man in black robes with a satchel over his shoulder, as well as 2 royal firebender guards. The party listens in as they walk by. The man in the hood is revealed as Veradin, and it seems Nicci works for him for fear of her sisters wellbeing. It also becomes apparent that while the are within the Imperial Order, their masters lie elsewhere and someone is pulling the empires strings. Brother Narev himself apparently started the doctrine of the Order as a rouse to get create the Empire, have it conquer those who would stand against it, and then be replaced by the true masterminds. Veradin also mentions an important book he has with him, as well as his interest in the Avatar, whether he can be turned, and if the release of the Wolfbats will be a help or a hindrance too their cause. Before long Nicci retires back to the camp, leaving Veradin in the main building, as he intends to question the General about the party of heroes working with the Avatar.
Aumanil and Tsing Toa sneak up the watch tower, and quickly dispatch the guards while using waterbending to freeze the alarm bell. Kio and Talin quickly make their way to the generals hut while Fang Po Po runs into the barracks and proceeds to batter down the troops with his airbendering, throwing them around the room and using ferocious winds to slam them into walls and bunks. Fow Bang Chow coaxes a charge out of the picketed Komodo Rhinos and has them break open the wall of the building where Veradin is. Veradin, his bald head showing, appears to be covered in tattoos. He smirks, standing within some kind of symbol drawn in blood on the floor, a large book that appears very old placed on the table a few feet away. He places his hand in the center of the symbol and his tattoos glow a dark red color. Two large flaming Rage Spirits appear in from the floor and begin a fiery assault on Fow, making it obvious that Veradin practices the ancient art of Blood Rituals, thought destroyed since the time of the Exalted Emporium. Veradin is a Saarebas Kio runs the general out of the camp towards Higen who is running to meet them. Aumanil and Tsing Toa join the fight with Veradin, only to be confronted with one of the Rage Demons. Fow launches metal chains at Veradin which clasp to his wrists, surprising him, and Fow pulls him into close quarters. The Rage Demon gets between them and grabs the chains, melting them. Talin storms in before long, only to be faced with Veradins torrent of condensed air, showing his skills as a powerful Airbender. Fow Bang Chow is slammed into the wall with a stream of air, knocking over the table and throwing the book against the wall. Tsing Toa rolls past the other demon, only to have his cape catch on fire as it skirts the angry spirit, luckily the roll puts it out before it causes any real damage. The airbender get close to Talin before he can launch more arrows, using his speed and agility to stay behind him after spraying dust in his eyes. By now Po Po has dispatched the guards and throws a scythe of air at Veradin. The Airbender sees the attack and deflects it with his own air just in time, but it gives Talin the opening to lash out with his Greatsword. Veradin takes a slash to the arm and jumps high into the air, landing atop the wooden post used the chain the prisoners for whipping. Veradins’ tattoos glow, as well as his ring, and the image of a spirit glows around him. Talin launches three arrows after dropping his sword, only to have two of them deflected by the spirits tounges. The third one finds its mark though, just as a flamethrower from the returning Kio blasts him and the post, setting it aflame. Verdin Jumps to the ground and, seeing the rage demons fall two Aumanil and Fow and Tsing Toa going after the book, he sends out a quick blast of air to slam them into the wall, but he is facing too many opponents and takes an air blast from Po Po. He jumps into the building but Fow has taken the book and dug away. Obviously surprised and furious, the Airbender makes a mistake and is hit in the chest by a kick from Tsing Toa. He lands next to the Fort wall after flying out the Rhino made opening and slams the martial artist with a unforgiving air scythe, cutting his chest. Kio and Aumanil are in hot pursuit as he jumps over the wall. He turns around just as Aumanil and Kio land behind him and throws a huge shuriken, slashing Aumanils leg before he runs at unnatural speed towards the Imperial Camp. He had obviously been expecting reinforcements but the riders who came check the source of the disturbance are taken out by Talins expert arrow shots. The group quickly leaves with the few men who werent killed in the fight and make their way to the pick up point in the mountains, Imperial Troops hot on their trail. Just as the enemy is closing in they meet up with Higen and see a Sky Bison and Scylla the Dragon land in the field, picking them up and taking off just in time, Po Po repelling the two or three lucky arrow shots with a wave of air. That was close….