unlight creeps over the mountain horizon, as daylight approaches. Fow Bang Chow strokes his fu man chu, ruffled by the cool winter breeze. Whisps of smoke quickly dissipate under Fow’s wide-brimmed farmer hat. Distant calls signal the approach of the messenger hawk en route to the discreet location; an inn nestled a few miles north of Gaoling City. The inn serves as the last resting post for those wanting to venture north through the Senhai Mountain pass into the Si Wong Dessert. A sealed scroll with the lotus insignia neatly lands on the deck of the Inn, Fow launching the scroll into his hand with a small catapult of earth and opens it with a flourish.
“The balance of this world is dwindling Fow. You have the support of the Lotus Alliance in your guild-venture and we honor your sacrifice. We entrust to you a division of specialists that is worthy of a commander of the lotus alliance and guardian of the Avatar. Please note that the fortress you desire, Vigil’s Keep, requires “renovations” that will be described to you by your investor.”
Fow pauses at this last sentence, his brow ruffles as he takes a large draw from his pipe. He knew fully of the town’s desertion. Everyone in the region knows not to venture too close to the ruined village. Even with Fow’s recently obtained knowledge of the Spirit Realm, he knows that there will not be easy tasks ahead of him. He continues to read, already heading inside the inn to gather his supplies.
“While you may choose to travel north along the coast, we believe it wiser to avoid bandit confrontation, as that area is currently under siege by Ba Sing Se troops constantly trying to gain back territory in the desert. This is why traveling north-east through the Senhai Mountains may be the better option. However be warned for the pass proves to be a cold place, in more ways than one. Spirits be with you.”
Fow gathers his remaining items in his satchel, taking a moment to pause on Valorun. Drawing the blade only a few inches past its hilt, the last of the mighty earthbender’s fears wash away. Reflecting on the mirror-like sheen, Fow notices his tattoos of Valor in the dim candlelight. “How the hell did we end up here?” Fow looks over to find his faithful companion Con’ry rooting through the relative fortune of Patola silver ready for delivery. “Alright boy, let’s get this show on the road.” Fow’s pet badger-mole obediently hops in his custom-made section of the pack, taking a silver piece to play with. “I’ll be taking that.” Fow tries to reclaim the silver only to have Con’ry nip his finger and dash into his nest.
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