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13 October 2018 — As the leaves fade to crisp reds and yellows in Fall of 172 AG, the RCPD is no closer to finding the party responsible for the death of the Reformist activist. Is the RCPD taking sides? It seems only a matter of time before the city is in open turmoil … Read More.

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Republic City Census

There are 003 Firebenders, 003 Earthbenders, 004 Waterbenders, 002 Airbenders, 002 Nonbenders, and 003 Plot NPCs living in Republic City.
Of these citizens, there are 006 Reformists and 008 Traditionalists.

Be the Leaf

Despite having been associated with the Air Nomads for years and learning their ways, Zhou Ying hadn't been an actual Airbender for even a full one. Although she was taught the basics, there was still so much more for the girl to learn. At this point, she wasn't entirely sure how far she wanted to go in her pursuit of mastering airbending techniques. She admitted that she had always been jealous of her Earthbender sister and secretly harbored a wish to be like her at times, but now that she actually did have bending abilities, she had no clue exactly what she wanted to do with them.

Feeling the energy around her, Ying breathed in and out before attempting another air blast. She did all the moves just as depicted in the scrolls, but come time for the actual blast of air to manifest, it came out significantly weaker than Ying had hoped. The training dummy she had blown at had hardly moved. She groaned and promptly sat down, a look of defeat on her face. "What am I doing wrong?" she asked out loud, but not to anyone in particular.
While summer wasn't Ren's favourite season — it could get much too hot on occasion — it was usually the nicest season to take her calligraphy work out-of-doors. In spring, you always ran the risk of sudden showers, appearing out of nowhere in a clear blue sky. In the fall, it was always much too windy, causing her papers to flap about which always, always resulted in ugly ink blots on the page. And of course, it always snowed during winter which meant that being outside lead to very numb, uncontrollable fingers.

Humming a little tune to herself, the tall woman made her way across the Air Temple grounds. The Sun Temple district was home to many different temples, though the Air Temple was by far the largest and most known. The most popular temple in the district, however, was the temple of Hei Bai; it was the protector of the local forest, appearing in the legends as either a docile panda or as a terrifying, strangely-limbed beast, depending on the tale.

Ren turned a corner to head to a nearby pavilion just in time to see a young woman, not much younger than herself if she had to guess, doing her utmost to blast away a wooden training dummy at the end of the courtyard. The dummy, unfortunately, barely wiggled.

"You c-can't force it," she answered, her voice soft and deep. She tilted her head, her messy braid swaying over her shoulder, and offered a shy smile. "Sheer str-strength and stubbornness won't increase the p-power of your strike. Remember, you're the c-conduit, not the s-- not the source."

Ren bowed, her braid swinging with the motion. "W-welcome to the temple," she said in her soft way. "I'm Ren. S-sorry to interrupt."
(OOC: Ohhh thank you, never used a tracker like that before)

Shifting her legs in another position, Ying prepared to get back up and have another go at it. Just as she was about to, she heard a quiet yet deep voice stutter a reply to her question that Ying actually didn't expect to be answered. Zhou Ying turned to face whoever spoke and saw a lanky figure who was noticeably taller than Ying. Long grayish hair was weaved into a single braid. Once Ying was facing the woman, she began to offer her some advice. Strength and stubbornness would be of no help — quite an obvious statement considering the nature of airbending, but one that Zhou Ying found herself too often forgetting.

"I am the conduit, not the source," Ying replayed in her mind. That too, was again something that she had heard before, but needed to be more aware of. Stuttering again, the girl with glasses bowed and welcomed Ying to the temple. She introduced herself as Ren and apologized for interrupting. Standing up, Ying replied, "Oh no, it's fine." The novice airbender bowed in return. "I'm Zhou Ying, but I'm actually glad you interrupted. Sometimes I forget even the basics." Her carefree spirit did sometimes trickle into her mind, causing bits and pieces of information to slip through the gaps, even the ones that she thought she had a strong hold on. Sometimes it couldn't be helped, but with more practice and dedication, she was sure that it would come easier and feel more natural.

"But actually, I've been at the temples for a while. I've only sort of recently became an airbender though."
(OOC: No worries! I'll send you a PM from my OOC account to explain further ^-^)

Ren nodded in understanding. "That's not uncommon for p-people here," she said. "M-me, I was drawn to the Air Nomads and this temple about tw-twelve years ago." She smiled again, her large wire-frame glasses sliding slightly down the bridge of her nose. "My bending didn't m-manifest until two — two years ago, th-though."

She set down her calligraphy supplies carefully then motioned for Ying to move a little closer. When she spoke again, it was with the tone of someone who had slipped into their comfort zone: calm and stutter-free.

"Air is the element of freedom," she murmured, still smiling. "It flows wherever it can, whether through open pathways or through the smallest cracks in the thickest walls. If air cannot go through, it goes over, under, or around. As such, we must be flexible when harnessing our powers. Rigidly following a scroll, or a lesson — there is no freedom in this. Feel the air around you. Feel your chi, coursing through you."

As she spoke, she stepped forward slowly with her right foot and began to turn, toeing her left foot in a semi-circle. Her hands pushed down, as if against an invisible object. "Always follow the path of least resistance. If this move is difficult, approach it from another angle. There is always another answer."

Instead of simply pushing her hands out as depicted in the scroll, similar to how someone might push a person from behind, Ren finished turning in a circle, brought her hands up close to her body, then pushed her arms out while keeping them connected at the wrist. Her hands were palm-out, sort of cupped and intersecting where her wrists met. A gust of air wooshed past her with the motion, rattling the wooden dummy so loudly it echoed in the courtyard.

With an embarrassed grin, she turned back to Ying. "That may not work for you," she said shyly. "But for me, it seemed silly to try and push air. I mean, air is nothing. What are we pushing? So instead, I sort of imagined that my arms were pointing the air where to go, and my hands gathered the air in one place. The turn makes me feel like I'm making the wind myself." She laughed softly, turning bright red. "I guess I am, in a way. But the point is air is all around us and can't be forced to do anything. Even if you were to harness its power, you could only guide it on where to go."

Ren scratched the back of her head, feeling immensely awkward. She had gotten carried away again, and her nervousness came rushing back. "Does — does that make s-sense?"
Once Ying explained that she had actually been with the Air Nomads for a while, Ren nodded her head, and proceeded to say that she too, had lived with them for a while — 12 years, in fact. Although that was much longer than Ying's mere 4 years, Ren had only been an Airbender for 2, which actually wasn't too much longer than how long Zhou Ying had been one. Well, at the time it was, considering she was still very much a beginner, especially when compared to others, but in the grand scheme of things, a year or two difference could mean next to nothing.

Ren set down the calligraphy she was working on and gestured for Ying to come closer, so she did. As she came closer to Ren, she fully expected her to continue on with her stuttering, so the novice airbender was actually quite surprised when Ren spoke with clear confidence about the nature of airbending. Like many teachers and monks have said, air was, indeed, the element of freedom. It was only to be accompanied by flexibility, not hard rigidness that Zhou Ying was mistakenly emulating by following the instructions on the scroll. While it had obviously worked for some airbenders, it was not cut-and-dried. In fact, Ren demonstrated that point beautifully by performing her own set of movements that were not depicted in the scroll Ying was attempting to copy. The gust of wind she created was exponentially more powerful than the meager one Ying kept producing.

After Ren's display, she quickly reverted back to her shy self. Her face growing red, Ren rubbed the back of her head and asked if what she said made any sense to her. Ying giggled and replied, "Yeah, it actually did. I guess I just thought there was only one way to do it." Zhou Ying had always been one to follow the rules word for word and step by step, so while the freedom and spirituality of airbending was something that came easy to Ying, the variability of it was something that she still needed to work on. So, she tried to do what Ren had told her. Ying imagined the chi flowing throughout her body, and letting it be the vessel that channeled the air, rather than outright producing it. She stood facing right. With her front leg stationary, she moved the one in the back in a semi-circle, while doing peddling motions with her hands, starting close to her chest and extending outwards, ending with her arms out straight and side-by-side. This time, the gust of wind she produced was actually much stronger than the one she kept originally producing while following the scrolls. Albeit not nearly as strong as Ren's, it was a good start. Still, Ying couldn't help but beam with excitement. "It actually worked! Thank you!" she exclaimed, turning to Ren. Maybe she was overreacting a bit, but it was still an accomplishment for her. "How long did it take you to do that?"
Ren clapped in delight as Ying produced a much more powerful gust of wind. The young woman turned to her in triumph, her face aglow with excitement and accomplishment. 

"Good job!" she replied, a wide smile on her face. "That's the way. The scrolls are a guideline, but you need to be flexible." The stutter disappeared again, her nervousness banished with her new acquaintance's success.

When Ying asked how long it took her to learn, Ren scrunched up her nose and absently pushed her glasses back up. "Gosh, I'm not sure. I'm not very advanced, really. It took me a few months, maybe? But that's really the only thing I do particularly well. No air scooters or gliding for me, not yet anyway."

She gestured to her supplies. "I'm actually a scribe, and I transcribe the teachings of the original Air Nomads to paper. I'm not really sure why they don't use print, since it's more efficient, but it might just be nice to have some hand-made calligraphy to give it that authentic feel."

Picking up her supplies, she gave Ying a curious look. "What duties have you been assigned to? I don't think I've seen you around the library, at least."
Ren seemed almost equally as happy as Ying was once she successfully did an air blast, and much to Ying's surprise, seemed to stop stuttering. When she inquired about how long it took Ren to do one, she said that she actually wasn't too advanced, and that the move she demonstrated, which took her a few months to do, was really the only one she could do well. She unfortunately, could not glide or create an air scooter yet, which was something that Zhou Ying really wanted to do.

Ren made a gesture towards her calligraphy supplies, and said that she was a scribe for the Air Nomads. Picking up her supplies, Ren asked Ying what her job was around the Air Temples, and commented that she hadn't seen her around the library. "Yeah, I actually spend most of my time outside," she replied. Ying had always loved the outdoors. The shining sun, the fresh air, the curious animals — she loved it all. "I help out with the farms and gardens mostly." She would also help out with the animals some, but that was more so in the colder months when there wasn't much food to grow.

"I could never be a scribe," she said with slight laughter. "My script is terrible... but anyway, you said you've been at the temple for twelve years? You were pretty young then, huh?"
"Wow!" Ren was impressed. Her affinity with animals was not as great as it could be — her fault entirely, not the animals'. Air bison in particular she still wasn't used to. They were gentle giants, but the emphasis for her was really the word giant. Even a calf could come up to her shoulder, which was no easy feat considering that Ren was taller than most people she met. "That is such an important job." Ren bowed. "Thank you for your hard work."

In response to Ying's question, she shook her head, her braid flying from side to side. "Not officially. My parents have a close friend who is an airbender and I was drawn to the Air Nomad teachings when I was a teenager and going through a bit of a rough time personally. I visited here frequently to study and learn about Air Nomad culture, but didn't join the temple as part of the fold until my airbending manifested two years ago." Ren looked over at the temple proper, a small smile on her face. "It feels like I've been part of the family longer though, somehow."

She turned to Ying, still smiling. "Do you feel it, too? The sense of belonging?"
Ying was taken back a little at Ren's response to her duties of helping grow food. "Oh um... it's nothing really. Plenty of people do that." This time, it was Ying whose face took on a flushed hue of pink. She actually rarely got like this. While she may be an extrovert, she didn't necessarily like to be the center of attention, as it was actually new territory for her. At home, her twin sister got all the attention. Living in the shadow of an Earthbender when you were a non-bender was not easy, but it was the norm in her family.

When Ying asked her question, she quickly found out that she had falsely assumed that Ren lived with the Air Nomads for so long. While she didn't actually live at the temples when she was younger, she was drawn to their teachings as a teenager, but didn't join ranks with the Air Nomads until her airbending manifested much later. Following that explanation, Ren asked if Ying too, felt a sense of belonging. She smiled and nodded her head. "I do. I never really felt like I shared the same views as many others until I met someone from the temples. Is that what drew you here too?"
Ying demurely declined her compliment, stating that a lot of people helped out with the agriculture of the temple. Ren nodded and dropped the subject; eventually Ying would understand her thanks, once she spent more time living with the other airbenders. Their produce was an integral part of day to day life. Everyone at the temple was — or would eventually be — vegetarian, due to the Air Nomads' tenant of respecting all living creatures. Since the temple was its own infrastructure — no one had a need to earn money or get a job outside the temple — the cultivation of food was one of, if not the most, important tasks.

The next question from her new acquaintance gave Ren pause. While she did not fear Ying's reaction, her history was not something she felt comfortable disclosing to just anyone. It was a deeply personal thing and Ren wasn't sure she could share her inner struggles with Ying just yet.

Ren dipped her head slightly. "In a manner of speaking," she replied. "Air Nomad teachings brought me peace when my inner self was in turmoil, even if I was not truly aware of the effect." Turning to Ying, she smiled a little apologetically. "Forgive me, I don't mean to be cryptic. Perhaps I can tell you the full story at a later time, once we get to know each other a little better."

Shifting her supplies to balance on her hip, she gestured to a small pavillion a little closer to the main temple. "Do you wish to accompany me?" she asked. "I have a few lectures I need to transcribe, but I would be grateful for the company."