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Eyes of the Storm

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Quila was woken up early by her mother, disrupting her pleasant dreams. The young water tribe girl sat up in bed. "I'm awake, Mom."

"Good. You have to head in to the market today. Breakfast is on the table when you're ready." Her mother stood up and closed the wooden sliding door behind her. Quila got up and looked at her tired reflection in the mirror and grimaced. She pulled her long, wavy dark brown hair into a ponytail, leaving some long stands in front of her face and put on her usual pale blue sleeveless tunic, white sash, tan pants and brown foux fur lined boots. She stepped out of her small house to find her mother loading her pottery into the cart. "I can take it from here, Mom."

"Well that seems likely since I've already finished without you." She said pointedly, raising an eyebrow at her daughter. Quila smiled bashfully and rubbed the back of her neck. "Sorry, Mom. I'll take this stuff to the market for the day." Her mother nodded and stepped inside the house as Quila made her way to the lower ring market. It was already busy when she got there, and the sun was rising over the wall. She pulled the cart up next to a young boy about her age and began setting up. "There you are. Late, as per usual." The boy greeted her with a teasing smirk. He had olive toned skin, deep green eyes, and short brown hair. He wore a green top with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, a pale green scarf and thin sash around his waist, tan pants, and dark brown boots. "Sorry, Gopan! I slept in late again." She replied to her best friend, and he smiled at her. "That sounds about right."

"I don't need any sass from you this morning, mister." She finished setting up her stand, and shot him a glance. "Well someone needs to keep you in line."

"And who said it has to be you?"

"Me."

"Watch yourself, Gopan."

"Or what?"

"Or this!" She flicked her finger and some water from a nearby puddle splashed him in the face. She laughed at his irritated expression as water dripped from his hair and face. "Ha. Ha. Very clever, waterbender."

"Yes, that's why I'm laughing." She snickered as Gopan took a towel from his cart and wiped his face and hair. "Oooh, look at this one, nephew." An older voice turned Quila's attention to two men in front of her stand. She smiled and leaned against the old wood, smiling at them. "Hello there! I haven't seen either of you around before. You both new to Ba Sing Se?" She asked them. The old one was a bit heavier and had long gray hair and beard, and wore a bright smile. The other one was about her age and had short dark hair and a large burn scar covering the left side of his face. "We just arrived here." The older one replied. "Welcome! Feel free to inspect the pottery, it's all made by my mother."

"Your mother is an excellent craftswoman." He complimented and she smiled. "I'll let her know you think so." The older man inspected a tall brown pot that Quila had decorated with tiger lilies, her favorite flower. "Do you like that one? It's ten silver pieces." Quila said, and for a moment, she let her eyes drag to the younger boy. He was fairly handsome, despite the scar on his face. A firebender must have done that to him some time, and she couldn't help but wonder why. She suddenly realized she was staring, and the boy noticed too and turned his head so he was hiding his mark. Before she could apologize, the older man spoke up. "I'll take it!" He placed the coins on the wood, and Quila turned back to him and smiled. "And keep the flowers too. They can help brighten your new home." The man smiled and bowed slightly to her with a smile, and she reciprocated. "Thank you very much, young lady." He turned and left with his nephew following him. "It's not often you see someone so chipper around here." Quila observed as he watched them go. "Give it time. The lower ring will lower their spirits." Gopan replied tiredly and turned his attention back to his customers.

The day turned to evening and the market was starting to thin. Gopan and Quila began packing their things. "We're still on for tonight, right?" He asked as he finished. "Yeah. I'll meet you in the usual place." She nodded and he left the market to go back to his father at home. On her way back, she passed a wall with wanted posters hung all over it. Among the menacing faces were two on a larger sheet of paper. One was male, and the other female. The male had lighter skin, messy dark hair, and wore all black with a picture of a bow and arrow in the corner. The female had darker skin with her dark hair down in two blue ties over her shoulders, and was described to be a waterbender. They were the notorious 'Black Bandits' of Ba Sing Se. They crept into the middle ring in the blanket of night, sneaked into someone's home, and stole several valuables. No one had ever gotten good looks at them, and they always evaded the police, and were considered very dangerous. And the longer that went on, the better, at least for Quila and Gopan, them secretly being the infamous duo.

She arrived back home to see her mother was there waiting for her. "Hello, sweety! How was the market!"

"Good. I met a very nice man today. He and his nephew were new to Ba Sing Se, and he bought one of your pots. He seemed to really like it."

"Well hopefully he'll be a return customer. Dinner is just about ready."

"Great!"

After dinner, and her mother had fallen fast asleep, Quila changed into a black sleeveless top, black pants, and boots, with a blue belt. She fastened her bending canteen on that had a blue yin yang design on it. She pulled her elbow-length black gloves over her arms, her ring and pinkie fingers sticking through holes on each hand, and fastened on her black bandana over her face as a final touch. Careful not to make a sound, she slipped out of her bedroom window and onto the street below. Silently, she made her way to a crumbling, abandoned home near the edge of the wall, and slipped in through a window. A moment later, another figure entered the same way. It was Gopan, wearing a similar outfit. It was a short sleeved black top with a pale green sash around his waist, black pants, black boots, and black pieces of armor on his forearms and calves with a gold design, and was wearing the same black bandana around his face. He had an arrow sheath on his back that was filled with ammo, and a black bow clutched in his hand. "Are you ready?" He whispered, and she nodded.

They made their way to the back of the old house and Gopan lifted up a trap door to reveal a tunnel they had dug out years before. Gopan jumped in first, and Quila followed, shutting the door again behind her. They walked along for a minute before the tunnel sloped upward and Gopan moved the trap door in front of them, and crawled out. He made sure Quila got out before closing the door again. They were now in the middle ring, and had surfaced behind some large shrubbery. The trap door they used was disguised as a large bush so no one would notice.

Gopan led them to a house along the edge of the ring. Its lights were out, and it looked vacant. "This family is on vacation, so the house should be empty." Gopan whispered to her, and she nodded. "I'll take the right side, you take the far side." She replied and he nodded. "Be careful."

"You too." They stalked up to the house and Quila checked the window before breaking the lock with her water and slipped inside. Once there, she quickly grabbed everything of value that she could carry in the bag. After a few short minutes, she nodded to Gopan, letting him know she had enough, and they left the house again, leaving it as though they had never been there at all.

She left the loot in the tunnel of the home and they both went their separate ways back home, to return and retrieve what they'd stolen the next morning.