eanwhile, as Aumanil is preparing to initiate the ritual, Angela, Fow Bang Chow, and Fang Po Po are making their way up the temple to the prison where Talin is being held. Angela, being the one who saved Talin, is very interested in what has happened to him, as any wrongs he has committed are partially her responsibility being the one who saved his life. Fow and Po-Po also want to pay their respects to their fallen comrades along the way, Kio and Tsing Tao, as the loss of their friends has not quite hit home yet. At 1pm they are expected to go before a tribune and testify as to what happened when their friends died in regards to Talin’s orders and actions. Along the way, they pass through a myriad of vendors and merchants looking to sell their goods to the army. Fow, eyes peeled as he moves through the crowd, notices someone who looks familiar. A man with a somewhat un-natural looking beard and wearing a nobles kimono is acting as a respectable merchant, but upon closer inspection the Earthbender confirms with Po Po that this is a disguise, and the mane is really the fraud who sold them the fake Chi Enhancing Tea before the battle! The Earthbender, being enraged about the rouse ever since, points at the man who makes eye contact with him and roars in accusation “YOU!!!”
The man, seeing one of his former victims, immediately drops his fake wares and sprints to the nearby alley. Fow sprints after him with the other two following behind. As the man makes his way into the alley, the battle hardened Earthbender plants his feet and raises his arms, bring forth a thick wall of stone between the buildings of the alleyway, blocking off the rouges retreat. The man panics, trying to climb up the wall, but it is far too tall and his antics give Fow time to catch up, grabbing the man by the throat and throwing him up against the wall, demanding his gold back as he throws the bag of worthless tea at the mans face. Resigning, the man reaches into his kimono as Fow lets him go. Pretending to grab his coin purse, he instead reveals a tanglefoot bag which he throws at the earthbender, entangling his limb and stopping him from bending. The thief take the opportunity to run, but Po-Po hits him in the chest with a harmless blast of air, sending him sprawling to the ground. Fow rips the goo like substance off of him and puts his foot on the mans chest. The thief, fully given up, produces a coin purse which Fow takes and finds it to hold 500 gold worth of stolen items such as gems, jewels, and other items. Continuing on their way, Angela finds their behavior unacceptable, and far below what is to be expected of ones who have earned the name of Hero. She moves ahead of them and makes her distaste more than apparent.
Moving on to the holding cells, Angela heads in and awakens Talin who’s memory is fuzzy, but his suspicion of Aumanil remains and he is quite sure the Waterbender actually grew a pair and poisoned him. But why? when he learned Merrisa had escaped he assumes Aumanil let her go, a small price to pay for the deaths of Nicci and Cecilia. If she shows her face again, it will surely be the last time. Fow and Po Po pay their respects to their fallen comrades, an especially emotional experience for Fow Bang Chow, as he and Tsing Toa had been extremely close, ever since their epic battle the day they met at the World Youth Combat Tournament. Seeing that Nicci has been replaced with ashes, it seems that someone did wish her body to be present in the temple any longer and jumped the gun on her funeral, which none of them were complaining about. Before long, they would head up to the top of the temple for the trial.
Meanwhile, Nicci has just been brought back from the Spirit World by the hand of Aumanil, and he doesn’t know what to expect as the deadly Firebender realizes what has happened, still bound in the same ropes that held Merrisa who was sacrificed to bring back Nicci from the fade. Aumanil produces the locket that he found on her. After they begin talking, he cautiously severs her bonds, allowing her to stand and take the necklace. It seems he was right, Nicci had been forced to work for Veradin who saw her potential as a firebender on threat of her sisters life. Not only that, but now with Veradin believing her dead, Nicci could seize the opportunity to rescue her sister Kallie. Nicci proceeds to tell Aumanil that the Imperial Order is just a pawn, and the Brothers of Order, who founded the empire, are merely using the Emperor for their own purposes. Those purposes lie with the schemes of the Exalted Emporium. The Emporium was destroyed 200 years ago, as a tyrannical empire that enslaved all non-benders and heavily dabbled in Blood Rituals. Apparently they were not completely destroyed, and they remain strong somewhere outside the known world of The Four Lands. The leader of the Emporium, Lord Endril, is the real power behind the growing evil. They seek to use the Order as the arm in which to crush those who would stand against them, then take power from the Order and reclaim their rule of the world. After a few emotional words, and showing regret for his friends deaths, Nicci tells Aumanil she will contact him when she saves her sister, and tells him of a plot that night to assassinate the Avatar by sneaking into the rear of the library with the aid of Earthbending. After telling him the details, she leaps out the window and disappears into the fog.
Aumanil takes care to erase all evidence of what has transpired, then heads up to the trial which is set to soon be underway. Aumanil rushed into the council room just before the guards bring in Talin and Rongo, taking a seat beside Po-Po and Fow Bang Chow, across from Angela who has been invited to watch. The rest of the huge table is surrounded by various officers and Air Nomads, the highest ranking of which is Captain Meriffet who will be presiding. Calling Rongo up to the stand, the Captain asks him of his joining the Empire, and learns of the course in which he defected to join the Alliance. The Captain, admiring his tale, grants him permission to join the alliance and tells him to stay for Talin’s trial, as his placement will be decided after. Rongo takes a seat next to Angela as Talin steps to the stand. Talin’s retelling of events are asked of, and he gladly tells is side of the story. Each of the others who were there are asked their side. After a long retelling, Captain Meriffet asks Talin back up to the stand. He reaches the decision that, his decision to attack rather than retreat while tactically unsound, cannot be contested in the heat of battle. However, his actions against an unconscious and immobilized enemy, and attacking an ally to kill her, was unacceptable. As punishment, Talin would be stripped of command and placed under the command of Fow Bang Chow who would be the new team leader. Talin’s behavior would be closely monitored under the command of Fow and regularly reported on. Not only that, but Angela would travel with the group as well and monitor Talin’s mental health. Rongo would also be placed under the Earthbenders command, to replace the position that Kio filled. The team was re-assembled. At the end of the trial, Fow, Po Po, and Aumanil were named Champions of the White Lotus Alliance and each given gem rings bearing the lotus symbol. Fow’s ring was emerald, Po-Po’s clear crystal, and Aumanil’s Saphire.
Their fates decided, the group all headed back down to the library to get some much needed rest. When Aumanil gets back, he has the group get together in the library including Avatar Jaraiya to talk about the enemies plan on his life, which he pretends he deciphered from the letter. The letter, in actuality, was simply a correspondence between Veradin and his superiors about Nicci, but it also included a ritual in which one can draw tattoos along their chakra points, similar to those of air nomads, and instead of having to draw blood to preform a ritual, the tattoos glow and life force is drained form the caster in the form of spiritual energy. The result is the same, but it is simply a method of convenience. This could be very helpful for when Fow or Aumanil need to use the spirits in their items. Relaying the enemies plans, the group decides they will set an ambush in the library for the enemy strike team while the avatar is in the sanctuary.
As Jaraiya makes his way into the sanctuary, the group hides in and around the huge stone scroll racks, preparing for whoever might attack. Before long, one of the two remaining traitors from Asloth uses Earthbending to dig up from beneath the floor. Aumanil is only a few yards away and, using some of the water they brought into the library to bend, assaults the man with shards of deadly ice. The earthbender brings up earth to block a few, but takes most of the surprising assault. He charges through the barrage and, slamming his fist into the wall, brings down a huge section, just as Rongo and Talin reach him, plunging their swords into his side and back. As soon as the wall collapses, a huge Earth bridge shoots over from the nearby land roughly 50ft away and a group of large beasts charge over at the command of Adar the Bronze Beserker and Bullseye. The first two beasts, Komodo Rhinos, are bearing riders in heavy samurai armor wielding lances, and charging straight across the bridge. Po Po tries to blow them off the bride with a torrent of wind, but the beasts are too strong to be swayed from their route. Talin and Rongo stand their ground, only to be overrun by the fearsome Komodo cavalry. Each of the warriors takes a blow from the Knights lances, knocking them out of the way, while Fow Bang Chow unleashes 3 blasts of stone from the floor into one of them, denting his armor and nearly knocking him off his mount. As the riders charge into the room, they are followed by four reptilian beasts, who have horns that seem to crackle with lightning. The carnivorous creatures waste no time in rush through the room to try and circle their enemies. Aumanil attempts to impede their progress by creating ice and spikes beneath their feet, but besides a few cuts and scrapes they are largely unhampered. The beasts, known as Stormlizards, are known for being able to connect a stream of electricity between one another by using their horns as a conduit. Angela, putting spiritual energy into a ball of water, sends it flying at Talin, mending him with her healing energy. Po-Po jumps back, preferring to stay out of the melee. The airbender jumps away just in time for Rongo to slam his fist into the ground, sending out a blast of flames all around him that knocks one knight off his mount. As the stormlizards charge into the room they are followed by Adar and Bullseye riding a terror bird, along with Adar’s hell hound, who can breath a small gout of flame using a natural form of firebending. A terribly ferocious fight ensues with the elemental beasts. Rongo, taking the fight into melee, uses a deadly combination of his sword and a whip made of explosive flames to assault the enemies in the doorway. Talin, more than redeeming himself for prior grievances, lands blow after blow on the enemies, nearly every one hitting a vital spot. Meanwhile, Bullseye stears his mount around the room, pegging the group with expertly placed arrows all the while. Adar, leaping of the giant bird, runs into combat with his saphire hammer Volund against Fow and his emerald Greatsword Valorun. The two mighty earthbenders clash, stone and earthen shards flying all about. Po-Po, seeing Talin taking the brunt of the archer masterful shots, creates a wall of wing between them, allowing Talin to close the distance. Aumanil targets the archers mount and, felling the creature with a massive shard of ice, causes Bullseye to roll off to the ground. The last arrow he fired at Talin seems to have been covered with some form of poison though, and Talin is suddenly dazed. Angela, seeing the effects runs over and begins to flush the poison from his body with her healing waters. Rongo, allowing the others to fight the two elite warriors, takes on the last few storm lizards himself, showing impressive skill and ferocity. After slaying the last of them, Rongo runs to assist Fow in his fight. Adar, seeing the numbers begin to turn, quickly feints Fow and brings up an encasing wall of earth around his body, immobilizing him. Rondo, suddenly facing the powerful bender alone, is pushed into the defensive. Bullseye, re-engaged as Talin regains composure, is also put on the defensive as Talin lashes out in combo with Aumanils ranged attacks. Before long, Talin gets a lucky slash as the archer attempts to skirt by and plants his blade into the mans chest, ending his life. The rest of the group moves in to fight Adar. Fow, struggling against the rock, suddenly breaks through it in a flash of green light, as the spirit within his sword comes to his aid. Fow, illuminated in green light, engages in full. Adar, seeing the battle turn against him, quickly digs below the stone. Fow, seeing his retreat, uses his earthbending to feel his location through vibrations in the ground and, with a stomp, brings a column of earth up to the ceiling with Adar on top of it. The column rams him into the roof, killing him and sending his hammer sprawling across the stone floor. Just as Adar falls, the group sees a whole regiment of firebenders arrive across the bridge. Just as the Imperial troops prepare to charge, the doors of the sanctuary open, fog billowing out. Standing in the doorway is Avatar Jaraiya, eyes glowing white as the memories and skills of all the past avatars flow through him. The Avatar State. After talking to Avatar Zeng Ku, it seems his previous life activated the Avatar State in Jaraiya. The most powerful ability that an Avatar can invoke is the Avatar State. This allows an Avatar to channel immense cosmic energies and knowledge of all previous Avatars, enabling them to perform epic bending feats. Avatars may unconsciously enter such a state in response to perception of mortal danger, utilizing the state as a defense mechanism, or emotional distress. During this state, an Avatar has access to bending techniques they themselves may have yet to learn but has no conscious control and likely causes great collateral damage. Avatars with mastery of the Avatar State have full conscious control over the state, and can enter and exit it at will. While in the Avatar State, the Avatar’s eyes glow, as do any body markings following Chi paths, such as Air Nomad tattoos, although if the body has received an injury deeper than the tattoo, then that spot will not glow in the state. It is not known if re-tattooing the area once the injury has healed would enable it to glow again. The glow is the combination of all the past lives, focusing their energy through the body. When one speeks in the Avatar State, their voice resembles a combination of several different voices at once, his and all the past Avatars, whose voices seem to reverberate.