The council building was exactly halfway up the steep slope of the city, in a plaza filled with colourful Market stalls and lined with stores full of really cool stuff like fire proof jars and flying newt eggs. I wished I had six more eyes to see everything in every shop window, feeling very much like we were in the Diagon Alley of the city.
The council building itself stood out quite a lot from the stalls; it was large and official looking with a domed glass roof lined with platinum trim and security guards stood outside the door, dressed in the official black guarding uniforms. They let us pass when we approached (well, when Grandpa approached- I was too busy looking at an air bending pendant and Dad had to come and drag me away) and everyone made their way inside, through the silver doors and off to meet the people who ran this floating city.
"Wow, this is amazing" Nikita breathed, holding onto James as he was having trouble keeping his feet on the floor, Gravity seemingly forgetting him now he could air bend. The floor was like a chessboard made from marble, black and gold, there were rows of seats facing a grand-looking table, occupied by four adults, two men and two women, each dressed in a different element's traditional clothes. Morning sunlight spilled in from the glass roof, halo-ing everyone in light and bouncing off the floor to make the whole place bright. Mira shielded her eyes as we walked toward the table, grumbling about 'its too light for this time in the morning'.
"Ah, our guests have arrived! I hope the sellers outside didn't bother you too much on your way" The water bending woman greeted kindly. She looked like the youngest person there, or the one with the least frown lines anyway. We all bowed respectfully.
"They weren't so bad, though some of us couldn't resist the temptation" Grandpa replied, giving me an amused glance. Al laughed quietly and I elbowed him. The middle-aged man in the air bending clothes looked to me, eyebrows raised.
"Is this your granddaughter? Have you finally brought her to us?" He asked. Grandpa laid a hand on my shoulder and Dad's jaw tensed.
"Yes, this is Vida; I have also brought my two elder granddaughters too; Nikita, the fire bender, and Emma-
"The Avatar, we meet you at last- we've been waiting for sixteen years for you to be found" The fire bender said, his gold eyes alight with awe. All four council members had sat up in their seats, and Emma grimaced at them. Her parents stood at either shoulder, looking both proud and protective at the hungry looks in the councillors' eyes.
"I trust she's been informed of what she'll be doing at the welcoming" The earth bending woman assumed, and everyone nodded.
"And that she and her cousins will be assessed on their bending abilities" The air bender added.
"Saw that one coming a mile off" Nikita muttered, and we giggled. Mira winked whilst Nikita's Mum hushed us.
"Now as for the new air benders, we would like to invite them to the air bending temple for the next few days to help them control the basics- new air benders can be very chaotic when out of control, we don't want them wreaking havoc on our city. There's also the matter of Vida's mastership to consider, she'll need to be granted the tattoos before the welcoming-"
"Hang on" Dad said, cutting off the air bender sharply "We agreed she wouldn't be given her tattoos until she'd finished school"
I nodded, but the air bender smiled in a way that filled my stomach with unease. Something tells me he didn't care about what was arranged; now I was here those agreements were void.
"Real talent simply cannot be ignored, surely you understand that, don't you Jack?" He said. Dad pretty much growled, and Mum glared at the Air bender.
"That’s enough Mylo, stop bringing up the past- I won't have you using my granddaughter to spite Jack"
No one argued with him, But Mylo retained that sly smile.
"Of course not, but from what I have heard Vida is a perfect candidate for a mastership, and pretty much ready to receive her tattoos- your precious Jack has nothing to do with Vida's talent. Obviously she didn't get it from him"
Dad looked ready to vault over the table and punch the council member, Mum and my Aunts were flabbergasted and the rest of us were pretty much in a state of confusion. Em, Nikita and I exchanged curious glances, and I frowned.
"What's that supposed to mean?" I asked. Mylo sighed.
"Why don't you ask your parents?" He replied. My parents didn't look like they were going to answer, stood stony-faced and clenched fists.
"I said no more, Mylo. If this business carries on you will not like the consequences, now if you have nothing more to tell us, then we will be off to our accommodation" Grandpa said coldly.
"Actually, there is something that we need from the Avatar" The earth bending woman said, and Em looked up.
"What is it?" She asked.
"There has been a tip-off to a potential threat to the city and to you on the day of the welcoming; someone wants to tear our relationship with the spirits down. We need you to stay on guard and help us take them down when we find them"
"Them?" I inquired "You know who it is then?"
The earth bender sighed.
"They call themselves the black lotus; a triad of benders who want the world for bending, like how it was all those years ago. We have doubled the security around the city, added extra around public buildings and the air temple- they believe that air benders are the reason we're in this mess. I advise all you air benders to be careful, it is rumoured they may be in the city"
The news sent a chill through the group- why hadn't the council told us this before we came, before brought with us three inexperienced teenagers who were now in danger because they had air bending? My family looked as if they were wondering the same thing.
"We are sorry you weren't informed" The fire bender said "We are keeping it under wraps as the Welcoming needs to happen, and if word gets out about the city being under threat, people would stay away. We needed you to be here, we needed the Avatar to be here, so we didn't tell you" The fire bender explained. Grandpa squared his shoulders.
"Where are we staying? I would like to settle my family in" He said, a sharp edge to his voice. I knew that tone, and I hoped the council heard the danger levels too. You don't mess with my Grandpa when he uses that voice.
"You are in the peak district of the city; I'll have my daughter take you; she'll meet you outside" He replied.
"Thank you. Come on everyone" Grandpa called, steering me away from the council. I looked back to find Mylo watching me, something in his eyes that I really didn't like.
"Can I ask?" I asked quietly, looking to my grandpa. He sighed heavily.
"I wouldn't, Child" He replied. Al fell in step next to me, and took my hand, smiling reassuringly.
"Don't worry Vida, every family has secrets; its probably something really stupid" He said, and I nodded.
I couldn't help but not believe him though, wondering what happened between my dad and the councillor to make them so cold to each other, and why my mother had walked ahead of us all as we left. Why was it that this visit was raising more Questions than it should be answering?
We waited outside the Council building, watching as the sun began to rise and bring out the early morning commuters, hurrying to get to work. There were no cars in the city; instead there were small tram like things that trundled up and down the roads, like little metal buses run by metal benders. All you had to do was climb in and make sure you knew which way you were heading, and you'd be where you needed to be in no time.
"Uh, hello? Avatar group? Team Avatar? Is that you?" A voice asked, and we looked around to find a girl our age stood watching us nervously. She was quite pretty, with very light blonde hair that fell down her shoulders in waves and big blue eyes that were scanning the group curiously. She was pale, quite short, and even though her eyes, hair and skin were completely different to the Fire bender's, I knew she was the councillor's daughter.
"That's us!" Hugo cried "Team Avatar at your service!"
Emma rolled her eyes and smiled apologetically, shoving Hugo to the back of the group with a huff. Al and I giggled.
"Oh! Nice to meet you guys! I'm Eve, Councillor Rico's daughter. I'll be taking you to the Peak district, okay?" She introduced.
"Nice to meet you Eve, that would be nice" Grandpa smiled. Eve's eyes widened.
"You're Commander Roy! We learned about you in classes!" She trilled.
"You learned about Grandpa in school? Hey, why didn't I learn about you in school?" I asked.
"You got him in person" Mum smiled. Eve beamed.
"You guys are so famous, I mean you have Commander Roy, and the Avatar, and powerful Benders- I'm starstruck just looking at you all"
"Yeah well, not all of us are famous here" James smirked, looking to Nikita "You know how it feels to be me back home now don't you babe?"
Nikita clicked her tongue.
"How about we go to the Peak District now? I bet Lumen and Fluffy are sick of carrying our luggage around" Dad suggested. Eve nodded and spun on her heel, leading the way to the opposite side of the plaza.
"The Peak District is the best part of the city for the views, you'll all love it there" She reported. Al fell into step with Emma, Hugo and I, who were discussing the City's transport system, and laced our hands together, swinging them between us.
"Yeah, but why not have cars and that? Wouldn't that be easier for everyone?" Hugo asked.
"Its just better to do it this way, The weight of all those cars wouldn't be good for the lion turtle, and there's no more room for manufacturing cars" Eve replied.
"So is it like those little trolleys from the olden days? That's what I'm picturing" Al piped up. Eve turned and smiled.
"It is very much like that, though in the more denser part of the city we had to adapt new ways to travel; fire benders have begun offering hot air balloon rides, earth benders travel by bending the roads, there are lots of options available" She explained.
"What's down at the bottom? I saw vines" James called from the back of the group.
"Oh, that's Republic City's spirit Vine district. Spirit Vines have grown around the houses and many spirits make homes in there for when they visit our world. It’s a very sacred part of the City"
"Sounds perfect for Spirit masters" Mira mused "What do you think Buddy? Should we check it out?"
"A Spirit master? Wow, we don't have many of those. You guys get full access to the Spirit Vine district; go and check it out" Eve suggested.
"Well, hopefully I'll see you guys soon- have fun with your trip!" Mira called, and with a quick salute she was gone. I waved after her, curious about the spirit vines. Could I have spirit master potential? I could summon my Spirit animal, but I don't know whether that counted. Maybe I could find out by going into the vine district. I paused for a moment, looking down the long steep street where Mira and Buddy were headed, a jungle of vines growing down at the bottom.
"Here's our road, lets hop on a cart" Eve announced, exiting the plaza onto a sleepy street. A few people were stood with a bender in a green uniform, and suddenly the earth beneath them began to churn and they were all carried off down the street on a wave of dirt, down toward the bottom of the city. Al and the others watched in awe and I waved at the group, who cheerily waved back.
"There's one" Nikita called, spotting a small green trolley waiting further up the street. A young man leant on the open doorframe, helping people on and off the trolley with a handsome smile.
"You're new on this route" Eve said when she approached "I've never seen you before"
"Just helping out Ma'am, I don't work on the trolleys" The guy, probably just older than I was, admitted.
"Well you can help my friends and I too, we're heading up to Peak" she told him. He looked just like a typical Earth bender; dark skin and hair, green eyes, strong jaw and broad shoulders. His bending clothes were a little snug on him, but I doubted it would raise many complaints, especially when he helped everyone onto the trolley, strong arms flexing slightly. Once we were all on board the trolley began moving, and we sat in seats near the door, watching the city zoom by.
"So, where to in the Peak?" The Earth Bender asked.
"Zhu Li hotel" Grandpa replied. The boy whistled.
"Classy, I'll never be well off enough to step foot in there. Lucky kids" He said, turning to eye us with a smile. I shrugged.
"Yeah, Luck favours the...lucky"
"How intelligent of you Vida" Al chuckled. I scowled whilst everyone snickered.
"Shut it you" I grumbled.
"Vida, a pretty name. Sounds like an Air bender name" The boy mused, and I nodded.
"That's because it is. Most of us here are air benders" I told him. The boy hid his surprise quickly and smiled.
"Wow, that is something. I must be a great guesser to get your Bending by your name"
"I could guess your name by your bending" I told him. He raised an eyebrow.
"Oh? Go on then, try"
"What- how did you get that?"
I just smirked, and refused to admit the tag he'd written his name on was poking out of the back of his collar. Let him believe I was a psychic, I did always have a knack for guessing things in Divination. Must be the whole air bender spirit world thing I had going on.
Gosh I've missed this story a lot! I've finished my first year in college, been really busy, and I feel like its been neglected :( I have everything planned out, just finding time to sit and actually write the thing is the problem- Thanks for being so patient with me. I hope you like it!