"Chapter 3: Explanations"
A/N: Alight folks; let's get something out of the way right now. I'll address the elephant in the room right her, yes, I am that good looking. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's continue with the story huh?
Toph struggled slightly to follow the man using only her eyes but luckily her earth-sense still functioned perfectly as she dodged and weaved through the emptying streets. After roughly six minutes of persuing the man at a respectable distance she realized that he had led her to a dead end.
"Toph Bei Fong, it took you a long time to get here, luckily my master foresaw your delay! Did you come for the pencil sharpener I wonder?" The man asked stroking his long gray beard thoughtfully "Unfortunately I sold it earlier so I could get together enough money to buy some cabbages. Unfortunately the poor cart was destroyed by spontaneous combustion almost JUST as you arrived… The poor man manning the cart seemed rather… accepting of it when he saw you're group."
"Who are you?" Toph asked not heeding the man's odd tale.
"Well that was a bit rude... I just told you the most interesting story EVER! And you blow it off like its some kid's story." The man sounded offended at the mere thought that he wasn't being taken seriously although the fact that he pouted when he said this off-set the offended tone he took.
"Just tell me who you are, and why you gave me sight!" Toph demanded of the man. She advanced slowly on him stopping several feet away effectively halving their distance.
The old man sighed "If you must call me by a name… Lee will work. I've always been fond of Lee as a name. The fire nation got that right. IN FACT, you could call me Lee Ro Yu. I don't know it's catchy to me." Lee Ro Yu explained sounding excited with the name he had picked.
"I don't want the name that you think sounds catchy. I want your real name!" Toph demanded understandably cautious of the man. She was ready to react at a moment's notice if the man tried to pull any tricks.
"To be honest the one who called me here hasn't given me a name. In fact… when he brought me here, it destroyed most of my memories of before…" Lee Ro Yu said wistfully as though considering his past life.
"What do you mean?"
"I am a… Well not a spirit per se, but that is the closest word to it that you human's have."
Toph was shocked and surprised, being friends with the avatar she was no stranger to the workings of spirits but she never felt as though she would meet a spirit interested in her directly "What do you want with me?" Toph asked not betraying her shock.
Looking over the man she couldn't honestly say that he looked like a spirit. With his long thin gray hair, light green eyes and simple light purple robe he looked, for all intents and purposes, like an average old man. However now that she truly tried to sense him she realized that he wasn't all there. He had all the parts of a human for sure, but just something about those parts seemed off. It was almost as if they were only half-there.
"Well to be honest, and don't be offended please, I don't care at all what happens to you. Sorry, but you're just not… interesting compared to your bald monk friend. His spiritual power is just so much more tempting." Lee Ro Yu mentioned "But back to your original question, I gave you sight because my master demanded it of me. He said you would be much more useful to him like this."
"Useful…?" Toph asked genuinely confused. A million thoughts raced through her mind. She had no idea what this man could possibly mean.
"Unfortunately I've said too much I'm afraid. So I'll take my leave now. I have several other things to attend to before the day's end so I'll bid you farewell." The man made a move to get around Toph but she erected an earth barrier behind her.
"I want answers." She growled menacingly, she didn't know the extent of the spirit's power but she felt that she might be able to bluff some information out of the spirit.
"And I want a pretty pink pony." Lee Ro Yu held a dreamy look on his face considering the possibilities "But life's full of disappointment. Ah, look at that, I'm going to be late. Once again I must bid you farewell." The decrepit looking spirit approached the wall slowly as Toph braced herself for any trickery.
'Will he phase through it? Will he destroy it with some sort of spiritual blast?' These thoughts and more sped through Toph's mind until…
"Please lower the wall." His voice rang out from the tense silence that had descended upon the duo.
"W-what?" Toph asked surprised at the simplicity of the statement, having expected everything but this.
"You will get your answers in due time. My master does not wish for you to remain ignorant. But you must earn the knowledge."
"I won't let you leave." Toph stated with finality.
"Very well." Lee Ro Yu reached out and tapped Toph on the head. The wall crumbled "Thank you for seeing things my way. Sorry about the loss of feeling, you'll get it back in about twenty minutes."
Toph didn't understand what he was talking about at first. She felt everything her head, arms, legs and feet all responded normally. It was then that she noticed that she no longer sensed the presence of Lee Ro Yu though he was standing not four feet away "What did you do?"
"Giving's not all I can do. I can take as well. Once again, you'll get your precious earth-bending back in about twenty minutes." Lee Ro Yu said with a small grin.
Toph was so shocked that she fell into silence even as the spirit disappeared around a corner. She stood there for several minutes 'I can't sense anything' repeating in her mind the entire time.
"Snap out of it Toph! You can do this! You're the greatest earth-bender in the world!" She said as she tried a simple maneuver of lifting a rock out of the ground. However, instead of a sizeable rock tearing itself out of the ground, it remained perfectly static in the dirt. Panic started welling up in her chest again but she forced it back down.
'I'll just go and find Katara, and she'll be able to fix this quickly.' She thought positively as she stepped out of the alley and into a street.
It was then that Toph noticed her true problem 'I can't identify any of these buildings on sight." She thought with a dull panic in her chest rising again though she tried to remain calm despite the situation.
"Alright, I can do this, walk in the park after all… Or was I near the market district." Toph remembered a few things from mere memory so she started to head in the general direction she had came from she knew that this path did not contain the thieving spirit but this was likely a good thing because she wanted her earth-sense back as soon as possible. She thought she may be able to consult the group for information they might have on the spirit.
'How could I be so careless? And just what did he mean when he was talking about his master? I need to ask Aang about this at the very least.' Toph pondered to herself as she noticed that she was already beginning to get her earth-sense back though right now it was merely a twenty cinemeter radius 'It's a start.'
"Hey guys… it's getting late. Shouldn't Toph be back by now?" Sokka asked curiously "I'm noticing a severe lack of insults being hurled in my direction." He added smiling at his joke.
"She said she'd catch up. No need to worry, she'll show up eventually." Aang said off-handedly. It wasn't that he didn't care but he just wasn't particularly worried. "Toph can take care of herself."
"Yeah, but she's new to the whole seeing thing. She might get lost." Sokka mentioned slightly worried "I understand she can take care of herself but what if she loses her earth-seeing-stuff?"
"Sokka… Just how could she lose that?" Katara inquired her voice betraying her doubt at Sokka's idea.
The young water tribe warrior paused for a moment. His expression scrunched into a ponderous form as though he was thinking extremely hard about it "A spirit could have done it." He said finally reaching an acceptable conclusion.
"It certainly wouldn't be the weirdest thing to ever happen to one of us." Aang admitted strolling towards a window to watch the sun set.
"Yeah, but what would a spirit want with Toph and why would he take away her feeling?" Katara asked honestly curious towards the young girl's location at this point.
"Uh…" Sokka said not able to come up with a reason when someone opened the door…
"Hey guys! I gotta tell ya something!" Toph shouted as she began to tell the others about her encounter with Lee Ro Yu. Near the end Aang looked out the window.
"This could mean trouble." Aang said in a low tone.
"What do we do?" Katara asked glancing at the earth-bender who was visibly shaken by this encounter.
"There's only one thing to do. We need to find this spirit, and see what it wants." Aang said turning back to the rest of the group. "It's my duty as the avatar to deal with this issue."
"Don't be so glum Aang! It's finally a new adventure!" Sokka said smiling broadly trying to lighten the mood.
"He's right twinkle-toes! The only thing we're up against is a spirit who can steal our bending! What does he have to worry about?" Toph said in a half-joking tone.
"Regardless, we'll look for him tomorrow. For now, let's get some sleep."
A/N: I actually got this one up in time. HOORAY! Happy Easter everyone, hope you enjoyed this one. Have fun hunting eggs or praying or whatever you do on this holiday. As for me, I'll spend it with family! Have fun folks!
If I messed up on anything PLEASE do not hesitate to inform me so I can fix it.