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Chapter 8-Setting SailEdit

The Next EveningEdit

Dread-Eye strode out onto the balcony of the room he and Chit-Sang had been moved to in wake of their agreement to assist in the reunification of the Empire, "So that's our ship." Chit Sang nodded, a platter with their breakfast in one hand and his own drink in the other, "The Churaian's Albatross. It's as famous as the brothers themselves." Dread-Eye looked up at him, "So these guys really are sailors. Is there anything they can't do?" Chit-Sang thought for several minutes, trying to remember ever hearing of them not being able to do something, until Dread-Eye patted him on the shoulder, "Don't worry. I'll just assume they're one of the most capable crews in the world." Chit-Sang nodded, "Yeah, that's about right."

Down At The DockEdit

It really was something to watch the brothers work, Sokka thought. Despite their immense size, they clambered about the rigging of The Albatross as nimbly as monkeys, readying the ship to sail as though they had been born knowing how and singing in unison the whole time, their raucous voices scaring the pengulls that tended to lounge about the docks into startled flight.

Yohoyoho, back to the sea we go!

Yohoyoho, back to the sea with friends in tow!

Yoho, the mizzenmast,

Yoho, the cannon blast,

Heave ho wherever we go,

Churaians is what we'll be!

Yoho, the mizzenmast,

Yoho, the cannon blast,

Yoho to sea at last!

We'll finally do as we were asked,

And reunite the world!

Yoho to sea we go,

Yoho with friends in tow!

The sea and sky will split

Before our mighty ship!

The Albatross! The Albatross!

Our hope is never lost!

Yoho to sea we go!

Yoho! Yoho! One! More! Time!

They all pumped their fists in the air at "one more time!" and launched into it again, singing it repeatedly as they readied the ship to make way. Even having known them for years, Sokka was still amazed that they could crew a ship like the Albatross all by themselves. The Albatross was a full blown battleship, easily large enough to carry a small army and fit them comfortably. It was jet black and had sails which were gray after so long, but had obviously once borne the crest of the Empire, a bloody skull with purple eyes and a green aura, symbolizing the gifts of the four sects, and the sects themselves.

Aang was standing next to the post Sokka was perched on, he smiled, "Well this certainly is a ship worthy of an emperor!" "And all we've got is you," Sokka said with a sigh. Aang shot a glare at him and Sokka waved a piece of seal jerky at him, "Don't get all huffy with me, even Appa agrees that you shouldn't take the fate of the Empire so lightly! Isn't that right buddy?" He tossed the piece of seal jerky into the air and the massive chimera jumped and caught it before nodding at Aang with a smile as he chewed. Aang frowned at the massive beast, "Traitor."

Appa's tail popped like a whip and Aang jumped nearly ten feet in the air. He landed, his breath coming heavy with surprise and anger, he pointed a finger at Appa, "Don't do that!" Suddenly his finger turned around of its own accord and shoved its way into his nose. It stuck there and as hard as Aang struggled to pull it back out, he found he couldn't. Katara said from behind him, "Be nice to Appa!"

Aang turned around very quickly, not wanting to turn his back on her, "Oh! Ah, good morning Katara. You look very nice this morning. I mean, you always look nice, but you look particularly nice this morning." Katara grinned crookedly at him, "Flatter me all you want, you're still not getting any until you reunite the Empire." "Aw," Aang said glumly, his face falling slightly beneath the bandages wrapped around his head under his hood.

"And I don't mean sitting back while Sokka and I and the Churaian brothers and Dread-Eye do all the work," she continued, "You reunite the Empire. And if you sit around on your butt and do nothing, while the rest of us are working our butts off trying to save our entire way of life, I'll..." She leaned in very close to Aang and whispered something into his ear.

Sokka tried to hear what she was saying but Aang's hood was muffling the whisper to the point of inaudibility. Whatever it was though, it made a very interesting series of expressions flash across Aang's face; shock, disbelief, indignation, and then annoyance as Katara leaned back, her threat finished as she tucked her loosely braided hair behind her ear with a self satisfied smile. "You wouldn't!" Aang protested. Katara glared at him, "Try me," she replied with a dangerous light in her eye.

As she walked away Sokka looked at him, "What did she say?" Aang shook his head, watching her go, "Trust me Sokka, you don't want to know." Sokka raised an eyebrow, "Okay then. Just keep in mind though, she's never made a threat she wasn't willing to back up." Aang looked up at him in shock and then turned back and looked at Katara again, making Sokka wonder again just exactly what Katara had threatened him with.

Meanwhile in Ba Seng SeEdit

The death-bringer known as Kuro carefully examined the courtyard from the top of the tower, noting the orange glow that overlaid the whole thing and noting the tiny orange figures patrolling the perimeter of the wall. He pulled a throwing blade from his sash and aimed for each of the guards one after the other, carefully noting how the aura around his blade changed with each target, after finding a target which made the aura green, he launched the blade through the air. The guard fell without a sound and a small patch of the orange courtyard turned yellow.

Kuro drew a second blade and once again scoped his targets, this time finding none that were green, he drew a second blade and scoped the targets in pairs. Finally the blades turned green and he threw them together. The guards dropped and a narrow trail across the courtyard opened up. Kuro dropped into the courtyard and slithered along the path, crawling low to the ground and moving slowly so as not to attract any attention, his extra sense flaring orange when he moved wrong an drew a guard's attention and prompting him to hold extremely still until it faded back to green.

He slipped through a grate in the wall of the warehouse and slithered down the ventilation shaft. He smiled as he reached the fan that moved air down the ventilation shaft and removed his cargo from his pouch, a pouch of gun powder. He smiled and tipped it over, allowing the gun powder to spill out and be sucked into the fan, flying down the ventilation shaft. Kuro quickly slid backward out of the ventilation shaft and into the courtyard as his sense showed the shaft rapidly turning from green to yellow to orange, and as he slid clear of the shaft, bright red. He turned and ran across the courtyard, throwing blades and cutting down the two guards that were left to see him.

He ran up the wall and was over it and gone as the gunpowder he had released through the ventilation system made contact with a flame and the warehouse exploded in a blast that was audible from the edge of the city, the fuel that had been stored in the warehouse adding extra fury to the flames which roared easily several hundred feet into the air.

Back at the City of The Southern VampiriEdit

It was nearly midnight by the time the Churaians were ready to set sail. The Vampiri all watched from the docks as the ship sailed away into the distance, Chit-Sang at the wheel as Sokka, Katara and the Churaians waved goodbye enthusiastically. Dread-Eye walked up to Aang, who was sitting sullen on the ship's figurehead with his scythe across his lap, "Where to Emperor Aang?" Aang smiled over his shoulder, "Chart a course for Howling Mountain Isle, Captain, the Southern Sanctuary of the Spirit Callers."

Next Time: The Southern SanctuaryEdit