Aug 15, 2020 2:54 PM
slayer karen lands on the avatarverse and runs into zuko!serg
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"It's not wise to stand out, these days," she says. "Why don't you come inside and have something to eat? I can spare you one meal without asking anything in return."

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"That would be very kind of you, thank you." She kind of feels like she should be bowing, but she doesn't actually know if they do that here.

She considers setting Wishbone down outside, but isn't actually confident that she'll remember to bring food out for him later, so... he can just stay with her, that's sort of rude but she's pretty sure she needs to make sure her whole party eats.

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So the old woman leads her into the house. It's a very small house; there seems to be at least a separate bedroom, but the kitchen and dining area and sitting area and front room are all the same room. She gets out a chipped brown earthenware bowl and heaps it full of tasty-looking noodles from a simmering pot, then offers it to Karen accompanied by a pair of chopsticks.

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"Thank you very much," she says brightly. She bows her head very briefly and silently thanks God, too, mostly out of habit. 

Luckily she used to use chopsticks whenever she visited her grandparents as a kid, so she's able to avoid looking like a complete and total dumbass while she eats. 

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The old woman smiles.

While Karen eats, she putters around tidying the room, straightening things out, tending to the pot of noodles. As Karen nears the end of the bowl, the old woman finally sits down across from her at the table.

"You seem like a nice young lady," she says. "But there are those who would be suspicious of someone who dresses so strangely. For my peace of mind, would you accept a few sets of clothing? I can't give them away, but there are a few repairs I need to do around the house that could use a second pair of hands. If you help me with those, I'll consider it a fair trade."

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"Sure. I don't know anything about repairing things, but I do have hands."

This is honestly kind of a lot to be given out of the blue, but she's pretty sure some people are just nice people.

(And some people are secretly serial killers. More than baseline, where she comes from. Could go either way.)

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"I'm sure we'll manage. Perhaps you'll even learn something."

So once Karen finishes her noodles, the old woman leads her around the house and directs her in accomplishing various tasks. This window shutter needs to be re-hung, like so; these gardening tools have come a little loose and their handles need re-tightening, like so; this cabinet hinge is squeaky and needs to be oiled by someone capable of standing steadily on a chair to reach it; this old broken chair needs to be taken apart so the pieces can be reused or traded away or used as firewood; this high shelf should be taken off the wall, since the old woman can't reach it anymore...

There's a full afternoon of accumulated work, most of it small and inconsequential by itself, but all of it the sort of thing that's good to get done when you have a chance. At the end of it, the old woman presents her with three sets of clothes in her approximate size: one simple dress, two pants-and-tunic outfits, appropriate undergarments for each, and a pair of old wooden sandals.

"They used to belong to my daughter, before she was arrested by the Fire Nation," she says. "Better to see that they go to someone who has need of them than to let them sit on a shelf for another ten years or sell them to a passing trader, I think. And we don't get many traders passing through here anyway. You can have her old hunting bag, too, to carry your strange things in."

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"Thank you very much. I'll do my best to take good care of them. Can I borrow your room to change?"

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"Yes, of course."

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She'll just do that, then, and hopefully come out looking something more like a normal person. She loads the rest of the clothes up in her bag.

There's obviously no extra room in the house, and she doesn't have the means to pay for a roof over her head tonight, so she should probably be moving on. 

"Thanks for everything! Um - do you know which way I should be going if I want to get to a bigger town where I can maybe find a job and stuff?"

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"The nearest larger town is to the north," she says, "but I'm not sure how much luck you'll have finding a job there. Things have been... difficult lately." She sighs. "I'd advise you to go where the invading army isn't, but I'm not sure there's anywhere like that left, except for the great walled cities. And you won't make it from here to Omashu on one bowl of noodles. The capital's even farther."

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"Well. I'll manage somehow. What I really need is a bow, but if there aren't any around I guess I'll figure something else out."

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"I hope so," she says. "Good luck."

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"Mhm!"

And she heads off north. 

"Hey Glimmer?" she asks, when she's well out of earshot of anyone in the village. "You know anything about the Fire Nation?"

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Well, I know they're the elemental nation of fire, says the spirit, helpfully. They come from a chain of volcanic islands to the west. It's really pretty there.

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"I see. Are they the people invading?"

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I guess so? I don't really understand what invading is.

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"Invading's when you take an army and use it to take over a bunch of land that wasn't yours before."

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Oh. That doesn't sound very nice!

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"It's usually not."

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I guess sometimes people do things that aren't nice.

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"Kind of a known trait of people, honestly."

She sleeps in a tree and tells Wishbone to keep watch. Worst that can happen is that she falls. She'll figure out food in the morning. Right now she just needs to - sleep, and not lose her head, and make sure she's not running on empty. 

She really hopes Alex is looking for her. He's definitely looking for her. He's probably kicking Father Michael's furniture again while they research portal spells right now. Or something.

In the morning she moves on, keeping her eyes out for animals to kill or berries to collect.

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There's a berry bush over there. The berries are small and hard and bright red, and offer no guarantees about whether or not they're toxic to humans.

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She picks a bunch of them and stores them in her bag, then walks for a few more hours and waits to see if her hands swell up or anything. If they don't, she can go through the rest of the poison-testing process - lick one berry and wait several hours, eat one berry and wait several hours, and only then eat the rest of the berries.

She keeps her eyes out for anything else edible in the mean time.

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Nothing, nothing, more no—

Something behind her makes a truly indescribable noise.

Moments later, a creature emerges from a thick stand of trees, behind her and to the left. It's bigger than it has any right to be, and looks like if it got hit by a truck the truck would be the one to regret the encounter. It swings its head around to peer at Karen, gronking suspiciously.

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