This is my first fanfiction, so tell me if it sucks, okay? Here goes nothing.
THE UNKNOWN ELEMENTS The Spirit in Azula
Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Once Avatar Aang had defeated Firelord Ozai and restored balance to the world, he had thought it was all over. Everything was new, and everyone was happy. Zuko had taken position as the new Firelord, and had started rebuilding Ba Sing Se, where the Avatar and his friends were living peacefully. It was finally done. The war was over. Not quite. Aang faces many challenges. Many of which he thought he would never have to face again, and others that he could never even imagine. A new war is emerging, a war that is unlike any other. He will have to face a danger that will be nearly impossible to defeat. Is there any hope left, or is this the end?
CHAPTER ONE: The Return to Kiyoshi
Aang sliced through the sky on his glider, flying over the phenomenal city of Ba Sing Se. He could see the clusters of people scurrying through the streets in any way they desired, the walls within the town finally removed for good. In the darkness of the night, he could see little lights and lanterns floating throughout the roads, like tiny little fireflies. Aang loved it in the sky. It was so tranquil. Stars littered the black blanket that surrounded the world, and the moon shone down on him, full and fat. Aang tilted the glider over to a high roof, a place where he could be completely alone. He couldn’t fly forever. He lightly stepped onto the wide shingles, and flipped his glider closed. Sitting down, he once again took in the sight that lay before him. Fingering his staff, Aang drifted off into his thoughts. He had saved the world. Finally. Everybody was free. He and his friends were safe. To tell the truth, he thought he couldn’t do it. After the Ba Sing Se invasion, led by Azula, he had doubts. But he did it. No one else had to die. Aang sighed, and lay on his back to look up at the stars. The world wasn’t the only one who was lucky. He was, too. He was free.
Katara, Toph, Sokka and Suki were all sitting in the living room of their giant house. Katara was skimming through her waterbending scrolls, curled up in a chair, and Toph was playing with her meteor bracelet on the loveseat across from Katara. Suki was reading a book called The History of Avatar Kiyoshi, which she had read a hundred times before, beside Sokka on the couch. Momo was asleep in Katara’s lap. Sokka silently stretched his arm over Suki’s shoulders, trying to sneakily flirt with her without anyone knowing. Suki eyed him, and raised one eyebrow. “You’re not doing a very good job of hiding it, Sokka.” Sokka snorted, obviously embarrassed. “What? I’m not hiding anything. Why would you think that?” “You’re lying, nimwit. I’m not stupid,” Toph said, forming her bracelet into the shape of a diamond. “I am not lying!” Katara looked up from her scrolls, and smirked at Sokka. “Yes, you are. Your voice is cracking, your tense, and not looking anybody straight in the face. And there’s no point in denying Toph’s feelings of vibrations. Her feet are more advanced than our eyes are.” Toph grinned, putting her meteor bracelet back on her arm. “And don’t forget it,” she said smugly, crossing her arms. Suki sighed, and closed her book. “I miss the Kiyoshi Warriors.” She set the novel aside. Sokka squeezed her shoulder. “I bet they’re okay. They’re tough. They can handle it.” Suki pushed his arm off of her shoulder in irritation. “They are my friends, Sokka! Not just fellow students! I was with them for twelve years before I met you!” She dropped her face into her hands. “And I grew up on Kiyoshi. Don’t expect me not to be homesick.” Sokka took her hands from her face. “Hey. It’ll be okay.” Suki just looked away. Katara rolled up her scroll and put it in its box. “I bet we could go and visit for a while. I mean, it’s not like Ba Sing Se would crumble without us here. Zuko’s tough. He could handle it for a few days.” She shrugged her shoulders. “I mean, he is the Firelord, after all. Besides, he’s got Mae’s help.” Suki’s face lit up at the thought. “Yeah!” She stood up excitedly. “That would be great!” “But we would have to fly on Appa, and you never know Aang. He might want to go, and he might not let us go. I mean, he is unpredictable,” Toph pointed out, leaning back on the arm of the couch. “Toph, be reasonable. Suki will be able to go. Don’t bash her hopes,” Katara scolded, putting her hands on her hips. “Optimist!” Sokka sang, putting his hands behind his head. Katara threw a glare at him. If looks could kill, he would be slaughtered. Momo looked up at Katara with an annoyed look, and crawled up to her shoulder to tug on her hair as punishment for waking him up. She patted his head apologetically. “Sorry, Momo.” Suki started to walk around the room in anxiousness. “I’ll ask him. Beg him, even. I’m desperate to see my friends again.” She stopped her pacing. “Where is Aang, anyways?” Sokka threw his feet up on the comfy cushions of the couch. “He went out for a midnight fly. He’ll be back in a minute.” There was a loud thump that came from the balcony. Everyone averted their eyes in that direction in surprise. Except for Toph, that is. She snickered. “Speak of the devil.” Toph jabbed her thumb towards the sound. “He’s on the balcony.” Everyone shot up from their seats and hurried toward where Toph pointed, who of which was slowly tagging behind. Sure enough, Aang was on the balcony, flipping his glider closed. He looked shocked and scared that all of his friends were coming up to him at once. “What’s going on? Is something wrong? Did Momo go to the bathroom in the kitchen again?” Momo chattered in disapproval. Suki grabbed him by the shoulders. “Aang, please, please, please, please, please let me go on Appa to visit Kiyoshi Island.” She shook his shoulders. “Pleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleeeeeeeze?” He just stood, unable to say anything for a minute. “Um…” He plastered on a halfhearted smile. “Okay?” He suggested. Suki gripped Aang in a death hug. “Thank you so much!” “Not so fast.” Aang gently pulled her off of him. “We still need Zuko’s approval.”
“Of course,” Zuko said, taking a sip of some of Iroh’s tea. “Are you sure?” Aang asked, concerned. “You’ll be okay without me a couple of days?” Iroh scoffed, filling Zuko’s empty cup. “Even if he was having trouble, Zuko would make it through. You know how he is.” Zuko and Mae were sitting in the dining room, all having a cup of Iroh’s famous brew. Iroh visits the palace a lot, so it was no surprise that he was there. Mae nodded. “Yeah. Zuko’s going to be fine.” She smirked. “Iroh would give him advice if he needed anything.” Iroh chuckled. Aang looked nervously at Zuko. “You’re sure?” “Oh, Aang, quit being so negative. It’s not as if we have anybody who would attack us in the next week,” Zuko slurped from his cup. Aang snorted. “You’re saying I'm negative?” Zuko sighed. “It’ll be okay, Aang. You don’t need to work all of the time, anyway.” “I don’t know. I mean, I could stay, and let the others go, but then I would be lonely. But if it meant keeping the kingdom safe, then I would do it. But what if someone attacked them, and I wasn’t there to help? I would never forgive myself. I really don’t know what to do. What should-“ “Just go, Aang!” Mae cried, irritated. Aang put his hands up in surrender. “Okay, okay. I’ll go.” He shook his head. “Sheesh.”
Katara silently tucked the blankets and sleeping bags into Appa’s saddle. Suki was sitting beside her and Toph, chattering away, while Sakka had gone to get the baskets of food. Aang was up front with Momo, unusually quiet. Suki squealed. “I know I’m not this hyper, but I’m just too excited. I bet Tai Lee is doing really good! From the last letter I got from her, she was learning her wrist lock. I wonder if any of them quit. No, of course not, they wouldn’t-“ “Look. I know you’re psyched, but could you please calm down? Seriously, you’re talking ninety miles an hour. Jeez,” Toph said, picking her nose. Suki blushed. “Sorry.” Suddenly, a big weaved basket sailed through the air and hit Toph on the head, causing her to fall sideways. “Hey! Sokka, was that you?” Toph growled as she sat up, clenching her fists. Sokka emerged from behind Appa. “You better believe it. You just yelled at my girlfriend!” “Oh, shut your mouth. I do that to everybody.” Katara began to pick up food that was scattered from the basket. “C’mon, guys. Calm down.” She grabbed a mango and tossed it in the basket. “You’re not helping us get anywhere.” And with that, Aang said, “Yip yip,” and Appa lifted off of the ground and into the sky. Katara set the food basket back upright, and looked worriedly toward Aang. His head was down, and instead of paying attention to the endless blue sky around them, like he usually does, took sudden interest in the reins, which he wrung through his hands. Katara crawled up front with him, concerned. She put a hand on his shoulder. “Are you doing okay?” Aang sighed, and looked at his shoes. “I’m just nervous about leaving Zuko. He says he’ll do fine, but I’m not so sure.” Katara’s hand drifted from his arm. She averted her eyes to the ground below. “I don’t really know what to tell you, Aang.” She turned and smiled at him. “But if there is one thing I would tell you, it’s that Zuko never gives up. Do you remember when he kidnapped you at the North Pole?” Aang took a sideways glance at her, and nodded. “Yeah?” “Well, he himself had dragged you through a snowstorm. If a guy has enough guts to lug another guy out into a blizzard with almost no chance of escaping, then he can handle pretty much anything.” She patted his back comfortingly. “Zuko will be fine.” Momo chattered, switching from Aang’s right shoulder to his left. “Thanks, Katara,” Aang smiled. Katara moved back to the saddle, where Sokka and Toph were debating whether or not you should throw up standing on your head or underwater, and Suki was looking like she was about to blow chunks herself.
“There’s Kiyoshi!” Suki cried, pointing to a crooked island. Aang landed Appa right on the beach, were bunches of people were waiting the arrival of the Avatar. When they all slid off of the bison, everyone was patting their backs, congratulating them, talking nonstop. “You guys pretty much took out a whole army. Just five people!” “Katara! Did you really win to Azula?” “Toph, it was so cool the way you, Sokka and Suki took out that whole airship fleet!” “Wow, Aang! You defeated him. So awesome!” “Did you, like, use your Avatar powers?” “Of course he did, stupid!” Suki went off to see the Kiyoshi warriors, while the rest of the crew unpacked and stayed in one of the town’s finest houses. “Finally!” Toph collapsed on one of the couches. “Peace and quiet. All of those vibrations from the people were driving me crazy.” Katara grimaced, and hugged her arms closer to her body. “Yeah. I’m not that fond of crowds.” Sokka looked out the window. “Well, we better get used to it.” He pointed down at the ground. “Look.” When they all looked out the window, a bunch of people, particularly kids and teenagers, were crowded outside, calling their names. Aang wrinkled his nose. “Ugh. I am not going through that again.” Toph nodded. “Was it a ‘been there, done that,’ kinda deal?” “Yeah, pretty much.” Katara sighed. “Well, I’m going to go take a bath and get a nap, because I’m exhausted.” She took a towel from her stash of blankets and walked out of the room. Toph snatched a cookie out of the bowl on the side table and stuffed it in her mouth. “Sho fhat hahhened wen hue wher heer lasht?” Sokka looked at her funny. “Sorry, I didn’t catch that last part,” he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. Toph swallowed hard. “I said, what happened when you were here last?” Aang sat down in a chair. “Well, I kinda let all of the attention about being Avatar go to my head. But the girls were annoying, anyways.” He grinned sheepishly, rubbing the back of his head with one hand. Sokka scratched his arm. “And he tried to ride the big, bad Unagi and ended up getting thrown off.” Toph smirked. “Sounds like Aang to me.” Then she eyed Sokka. “What did you do?” Aang threw back his head and laughed. “He tried to get trained by the Kiyoshi Warriors, and ended up having to wear makeup and the fighting dress. Everyone thought he was a girl.” Toph chuckled. “Now that sounds like Sokka.” Sokka blushed furiously, which made them crack up even harder. Suddenly, a piercing scream cut them off. Then ran in Katara, dressed sloppily, hair soaking wet from being in the bath. Her eyes were wide and scared. Oh, no, Aang thought. His stomach dropped to his shoes. “Oh, jeez. What happened?” Sokka asked, slumping over in irritation. Katara pointed a shaking finger out to the hall. “Some… boys snuck into… the bathroom… when… I was… dressing.” “What?!” Aang cried, jumping out of his chair. He was furious. How dare someone look in on her! That was just…. just plain wrong. And it really ticked him off. His eyes narrowed in anger, and it felt like a boulder had suddenly decided to settle down on his chest. Toph busted a gut. “Katara… you… boys…” she said, out of breath from laughing so hard. Sokka looked furious, too, but he did a better job of keeping his cool. “What did you do?” Katara took a deep breath, and said, “I just… ran…” She was holding her abdomen in fright, trying her best to calm down. Toph’s face was red. “Boys… scream… hilarious…” Aang was speechless. He balled his hands into fists, and gripped the until his knuckles were white. Sokka went to Katara’s side, and put a comforting arm around her. “Let’s go check to see if they are still in the bathroom, and then we’ll go to Suki and see if she can put an end to this.” Katara stopped shivering, and lowered her gaze. “Okay,” she said, and they walked out of the room. Aang was in blinding rage. He kicked the wall in frustration. “Ugh!” Toph’s laughing had finally subsided, and she could breathe again. “Chill, Twinkle Toes.” She threw her arm over the back of the couch. “I thought the Avatar had to keep a cool head.” “I know, I know, but… still!” He sat back down and buried his face in his hands. “Those guys snuck in to look at her… while she was dressing.” He couldn’t believe it. He just couldn’t. How low could someone go to sneak in on a girl? Much less Katara. “Those boys are perverts.” Toph shrugged, and started to pick her nose. “Besides, Suki will make it stop. You know how she is.” Aang started to calm down a little. “Yeah. I guess so.” “And besides, after Katara gets over her shock, I’m sure she’ll be just as furious as you are.” Aang shot a glare at her. “I doubt it.” “It’ll be okay. Katara’s a big girl. She can handle it.” Aang looked down at the floor, not convinced.
As it turns out, talking to Suki didn’t solve much. The gang went through a long stressful day of avoiding crowds of crazed fans. They took longer routes, snuck through the woods. Katara even had to whip up a fog cover once. And they were exhausted. They all collapsed on their pallets. They had beds, but they all preferred to sleep in the same room, because that’s what they were used to. Suki was staying with the other warriors. Sokka yawned. “Okay. Tomorrow, I’m staying inside. Anybody else?” Everyone murmured in agreement. Katara rolled over to her side. “Next time I take a bath here, I’m shoving a chair under the bathroom door handle.” Toph nodded. “That would probably be a good idea.” Katara sighed. “I think it’s nice that they heat up warm water for you to take a bath in. I started to go to the river, but a woman brought a pot full of hot water.” She readjusted her arm, putting it behind her head. “That was really nice.” “But, still. It seems like people around here don’t know the meaning of the word ‘privacy.’ I mean, come on,” Sokka said, pulling a blanket over him. Aang narrowed his eyes. “Yeah. Today I went to go check on Appa and Momo in the shed, and there were people there, going through our stuff we left on the saddle. I all but cussed them out.” Katara turned onto her back. “We’ve had a long day. Let’s get some sleep.”
The darkness was upon them. That night, they would enslave these people. All of Kiyoshi Island. The Sounds slithered quietly through the streets, mere shadows on a dark night. Not even the moon spirit could help these peasants now. They silently crept their way into houses, and pushed themselves into the victim’s souls, as if the body was a vacuum. The Essence helped them with that, so they could take over their minds and bodies. Endless people were possessed. Children, elderly, and everything in between. One particular Sound had an important mission. She melted into a swirling black cloud, and made her way to the Kiyoshi Warrior’s bedchambers. She floated quietly to a sleeping girl. She had short brown hair, and her slumbering face looked peaceful and angelic. It disgusted the Sound. “So this is the one called Suki,” she whispered, her voice raspy. “I personally thought she would be more menacing-looking than this.” She sighed. “But, a mission is a mission, after all.” She willed herself to be attached to Suki’s soul, mind, and body. The felt a tug in her gut, and all of the smoke that curled through the air was stuck onto Suki. Suddenly, Suki awoke, and sat up in bed. She smiled evilly. Her eyes, instead of her usual deep brown, were pure violet. “It’s time to play,” she cackled.
Something forced Katara to wake. It was urging her to get out of bed quickly. She rubbed her eyes, and looked out the window. The quarter moon shone through the window, setting light to the whole room. Something was happening. She knew it. Dread filled her heart, and she kept hearing faint whispers. Warnings. Signs that they were in great danger. Katara crawled over to Aang, who was silently sleeping away. She shook his shoulder. “Aang. Aang, wake up.” He yawned, and looked sleepily up at her. “What is it?” She looked around cautiously. “There’s something going on. Something really bad.” He sat upright, and stretched. “What do you mean?” Katara’s eyebrows furrowed, “I feel like something will happen to this place. It’s like at the swamp. I can’t think of anything else.” “Should we get the others up?” “Yeah.” Katara looked seriously at him. “But don’t go outside by yourself. I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Aang nodded, and shoved back the covers. While Aang pulled on his shirt and boots, Katara forced Toph and Sokka out of bed. She thought of the last war, and how chaotic that had been. She hoped it wasn’t to that extent. Sokka frowned irritably. “I really hope there’s a good reason for this.” Aang, who was over by the window, turned to them with a serious face. “There is.” He pointed solemnly out the window. “Look.” Katara and Sokka rushed over, Toph tagging behind. “What’s going on?” Toph asked, leaning against the windowpane. “Oh, no,” Katara muttered in disbelief, shock taking over her entire body. There were dozens of people out in the streets, walking as if they were in a daze. The irises of their eyes glowed violet, so bright you could see the light from two stories above. They were all very pale, and that was very strange, since most of the residents of Kiyoshi were dark-skinned. They were all headed toward the entrance to the village. To Katara, they looked… evil. “All of those people. They’re possessed. They’re all walking in the same direction. It’s… scary.” Sokka groaned, and buried his face in his hands. “I knew it was too good to be true.” Aang grabbed his glider from its place in the corner. “Even though we don’t know what’s going on, we can still try to help.” Katara nodded in agreement. “Definitely.” She grabbed her water pouch from beside her pallet, and pointedly glanced at Sokka’s bare chest. “Sokka, get a shirt on. I’m sure our enemies, whoever they are, will not want the pleasure of seeing you half naked.” Sokka reluctantly pulled a shirt over his head, muttering something about showing off his muscles. After they were all dressed, they ran out of the house and into the street. There was not a sane person in sight. They all had glowing violet eyes, chalky skin, and all of their lips murmured whispers of anger, agony, sheer terror. Katara was paralyzed for a minute. What happened to all of these people? She couldn’t think. She couldn’t speak. The sight of everyone in a daze made tears fill her eyes. But no one seemed to attack them. They just went about their business. “Hey, there’s Suki!” Sokka yelped, pointing toward a girl with short brown hair, with their back toward them. They all ran toward her, worried. Sokka reached for her shoulder. “Suki, what’s going on? What’s happening? What are you…?” Sokka looked hurt. “Why aren’t you looking at me?” Her head slowly turned. They all gasped. Her eyes glowed violet. Sokka’s hand retreated. “Suki… no, Suki…” Suki whipped out her fans, and struck Sokka in the side. He cried in agony, and fell to the ground. Toph and Aang went to his aid. But not Katara. So much fear and anger welled up inside of her. Suki, one of her best friends, was possessed. Suki had just attacked her brother. All Katara could do was clench her fists until her knuckles were white, narrow her eyes, and let the tears fall. Something was taking over the people she loved. Suki began to walk away from them, triumphant. She gathered up enough strength to run to Suki and grab her by the shoulders, shaking her. “Suki! This isn’t you! You need to snap out of it! You’re possessed! Please, Suki!” Tears drenched her face. “Please…” Suki glared evilly at her. “To you, I am Suki. But what am I really?” This surprised Katara. It wasn’t Suki’s voice. Suki’s was calming and sweet, the kind of voice that sounds like chimes and bells, the kind of voice you wish you had. But this one was raspy, cold. As if just hearing one word tells you that she wants you dead. It was sharp, and it seemed to make you unable to move in fear. Katara blinked rapidly in disbelief. “Who are you?” she whispered. “Suki” placed a palm on Katara’s trembling arm, which was still on her shoulder. She gently began to lace her fingers around Katara’s wrist. “I am…” She carefully lifted the Water Tribe girl’s hand off of her collarbone. “Hotaru.” Suddenly, she jerked her hand upward, and a deafening crack echoed in Katara’s ears. Her whole wrist and hand exploded with white-hot pain. She fell to her knees, cradling her limp arm. Hotaru cackled, and flitted off, clearly pleased by what she had just done. Twenty yards away, Toph heard Katara’s cry over the murmur of the possessed crowds. “Katara’s hurt!” She exclaimed, eyes wide with fear. Sokka sat up in a hurry, miraculously feeling better. “Where is she?” Toph pointed to her right. “She’s over there!” They all quickly set off in the direction she motioned to, weaving through dazed pedestrians. They found Katara on her knees, holding her wrist close to her chest. Her face was streaked with tears, and her eyes were red and puffy. Aang leaned down beside her. “What happened?” “Suki… is possessed. By …someone named… Hotaru.” Katara hung her head. “She hurt my wrist. I don’t really know if it’s sprained or broken.” Aang gingerly touched her hand with one finger. She cried out in agony, and pulled her hand away from him in a knee-jerk reaction. Aang nodded. “Yeah. It’s broken.” He helped Katara to her feet. “I know it’s wrong to run, but I think we don’t have a choice. We have to find out what’s going on here, and we don’t even know what or who is taking over everybody.” Sokka nodded in agreement. “You’re right. Let’s pack up quickly and go get Appa.”
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< As they flew back over Kiyoshi Island, the saddle was not filled with excited chatter, as usual. Sokka was quiet, mourning over Suki. Katara was silently weeping. Momo wasn’t chittering like he usually does. Toph was too exhausted to complain about flying, and Aang was up front, hiding his falling teardrops. No, he wasn’t crying. He was tired of crying. He was so relieved that the war was over, and all those days of pain and tears were behind them. And now, they’re back. Katara willed water to come from her canteen, and onto her hurt wrist. The water surrounded her hand, and glowed. It felt much better, but it was still broken. So she wrapped it up in a bandage, wincing at the slightest touch. Aang wiped his tears away, and turned to the others. “I can’t believe this is happening.” “This stinks!” Toph snarled. “Right when I think that everything is going to be perfect, and no one else will die, it starts all over again! Why can’t evil people just quit trying to destroy the world?! It’s irritating!” Katara put a comforting hand on Toph’s shoulder. “I know. I feel the same way.” Sokka looked up at the quarter moon. “I’m tired,” he said, and rubbed his eyes. Aang nodded. “Me, too. Let’s stop and make camp. We’ll head toward Ba Sing Se at dawn.” And so they did. They landed Appa in a clearing, and set up the pallets and a fire. The rest of the crew were soon asleep, exhausted from the excitement of that night. Aang lay awake, looking up at the moon. What kind of person would take over somebody, make them evil, not giving them a choice? It sent chills down his spine. He was too tired to think about it for long. Soon, his eyes had drifted closed, leaving him to his nightmares.
Last edited by TakeToTheSkies11 on Sat Aug 20, 2011 6:09 am, edited 6 times in total.
TakeToTheSkies11 wrote:Yeah, I knew it wouldn't be very good. Sorry, guys.
just because nobody replies doesn't mean it's bad. You shouldn't just give up like that, I thought it was pretty good. Take a look at most of the stories. Many have been going on for months, and have very few replies other than the author posting more of the story. Besides, not many people come on here that much. If you were to just give up, you'd never make any progress. Keep up the work.
TakeToTheSkies11 wrote:Yeah, I knew it wouldn't be very good. Sorry, guys.
wolf is right. Not a lot of fanfics get replies, especially not in a day. Most of the commentary goes on in the chat anyways. My Avatar: The Last Firebender fic, as well as my Zombie IRP fic have not gotten any replies, but I know people have read them, as they've told me comments about them in the chat.
so ye. do not lose hope. just poke around the chat and people might comment. Sometimes, people see commenting in fanfics as posting a bunch of things that get in the way of reading the actual story. Just a few of the general theories anyways. ~Tera~
Rule 1: I am always right. Rule 2: If I am ever wrong, refer to Rule 1.
Aang was in the spirit world. Except… everything was… different. There was no movement. Everything was bare. No huge wolves, no creepy monkeys, no ghost-like figures that usually lurked around were occupying any amount of space. No motion at all. “Hello?” Aang called out. “Is anybody here?” He trudged through the murky, swamp-like ground, stepping over tree roots and unknown plants. Looking around, not even the water was rippling. Only the slosh of his boots were making the little waves that extended through the tree trunks and plant stems. “Hello?” Aang tripped over a ragged rock. “Hei Bei?” “It’s nice to see you, Aang.” Aang turned around quickly, and a tall, bearded figure appeared in front of him. “Roku?” Roku nodded, and a small smile touched his lips. “I have some things to explain.” “What kind of things? Roku, what’s going on?” Roku put a comforting hand on Aang’s shoulder, and said, “I trust that you remember Souzin?” Aang swallowed. “How could I forget?” Roku stroked his beard. “I’ll just get straight to the point; Souzin is angry at you.” Aang was completely and utterly confused. “Okay, but who wouldn’t be? I mean, I would feel the same way. And besides, he’s long gone.” Roku shook his head in disappointment. “No, you do not get what I am saying. I am here, correct?” “Yes, but we are in the Spirit World.” “There is my point. I am a spirit. I do not have a body, and yet I am before you, and you can see me. This is not just for the Avatar. This is for all people who are dead. Their spirit lingers.” Aang scratched his head. “So, you are saying that Souzin’s spirit is mad at me?” “More or less.” Aang wrung his hands in confusion and anticipation. “So what? What does that have to do with anything that is going on?” Roku faced him with both of his hands on Aang’s shoulders, with a very serious look in his eye and his mouth quirked to the side. “Aang, Souzin’s spirit is furious with you, and so would be the thousands of Fire Nation inhabitants that were living during his time. They are all dead. So they are all spirits.” “So bunches of spirits are angry at me?” Roku nodded. “And they have found a portal that could lead all of the spirits into the physical world.” “What is it?” Roku smiled. “Think. What happened when you were fighting Firelord Ozai? Who did your friends defeat?” Aang thought about it. Well, Suki, Sokka, and Toph took out the airship fleet, and Katara and Zuko had defeated Azula, who had turned insane… “Well, I don’t think spirits would want to do anything with wrecked airships,” Aang started off, looking at Roku. “And Firelord Ozai is in prison…” Roku nodded along with him. “Go on. It will come to you.” Well, Katara had finally taken over Azula. She was in a prison now, as well… Aang’s eyes widened when he realized. “It’s Azula.” Roku patted his back. “Correct. When a human being goes insane, it leaves their soul open and vulnerable to any type of spirit. Particularly spirits called the Sounds.” Aang blinked. “What are Sounds?” “Sounds are spirits as a person have had an evil past. Someone who had led a blood-filled, vicious life. And they stay evil when they become spirits and enter the Spirit Realm.” “And what happens when they go through the portal into the physical world?” Roku glanced solemnly at him, and then averted his eyes to a tree trunk. “Once they escape, they have the power to possess.” “You mean, physical beings?” “Yes.” Aang realized then. He discovered what happened to all of those innocent people on Kyoshi Island. “The Sounds took over them.” Roku nodded slowly. “And Souzin will soon escape, as well.” Aang was shocked. Wow. The Spirit World was more complicated than he thought, if that was even possible. Aang turned to Roku hurriedly. “Who will Souzin take over?” “Think again, Aang. Who is the most powerful Fire Nation being who is not on your side?” Aang groaned. “Azula again.” “Correct.” Aang fell to his knees in disbelief, sending splashes onto the once-calm water. “So I have to fight Azula.” Roku shook his head. “No.” He leaned down beside him. “You have to fight Souzin. On the winter solstice, when the spirit world and the physical world are the closest. That is when the fine line between physical and spiritual is the thinnest, and is when Souzin will be able to pass through Azula and take over her, and try to destroy you and the world for good, Fire Nation included.” Aang buried his head in his hands. “Great.” “But there is a bright side.” Aang looked up, as if on alert. “What? What is it?” “There is one person who will be able to help you.” Aang grinned in excitement, nearly jumping up and down on his knees in anticipation. “Who is it?” Roku looked away. “I am not for sure yet.” Aang glanced down in disappointment. “Oh.” Roku’s face brightened a bit. “I will tell you this. The four elements will temporarily damage the spirits. But only temporarily. When you defeat them, they return to the spirit world, and it takes them a total of a week to return back to the portal. If the elements are strong enough, maybe even for a month.” “How will I know the difference between a spirit and a human?” “Spirits usually have a radiation of fear around them. This is what they call the Essence. The Essence’s purpose is to paralyze the victim when they are in a state of unawareness. That is when they are vulnerable.” Aang nodded. “Like when they’re sleeping.” “Exactly.” Aang looked at his hands. “So that’s why it happened at night. Because that’s when most people are asleep.” “Yes. But it only works if the Sounds are in their spirit form. Once they are in the victim’s body, they can no longer penetrate the Essence.” “How would I take a Sound out of a victim’s body?” Aang stood up, now dripping with mud and water. “What about all those people on Kyoshi?” His voice lowered to a cautious whisper. “What about Suki?” Roku shook his head sadly. “That’s the thing, Aang. You can’t destroy the spirit without killing the victim first.” No. Not this. Aang would have to take someone’s life… again. And he wouldn’t think he could use energy bending to help him, either. Not even a giant lion turtle. Roku looked at Aang as if he understood. “If you defeat Souzin, then all of the spirits and Sounds will be sent back to the Spirit Realm. So you can get your friend back.” Aang took a deep breath. Inhale, exhale. “So how do I win against Souzin?” Roku looked crestfallen. “I do not know, Aang.” Aang gritted his teeth. “Dammit.” Roku put a comforting hand on Aang’s quivering shoulder. “But the person who could help you? They would know how.” Aang’s eyes widened in surprise. “How do I find… he… she… it?” Roku smiled. “Go back to the Western Air Temple. Explore a bit further. Then you will know.” Roku squeezed Aang’s shoulder in affection. “But that person is very powerful. Be cautious, and don’t give up hope.” And with one last grin, Roku vanished. The whole spirit world disintegrated.
She peeked around the thick brush, bow and arrow drawn. Who were these people? Why were they on her tribe’s land? Well, what used to be their land. There were four. Three were sleeping peacefully, but one other was stirring and mumbling as if having some kind of horrid dream. She peered closer. He was a small boy, of about twelve or thirteen. He was gripping the blankets, murmuring to himself. His eyebrows were furrowed, and he kept tossing and turning wildly, breathing heavily. She couldn’t describe it, but she felt some sort of connection to him. No, not love. She was too old. But it seemed as if he was the answer to all of her problems… Suddenly, she heard a gasp. A black-haired girl was wide awake, patting the ground rapidly. “Someone’s here!” the girl yelled. Then everybody’s eyes flashed open. Uh, oh.
“Someone’s here!” Toph cried, brushing her callused hands against the ground. Katara sat up quickly, shoving her impossibly curly hair out of her face. “Where?” Toph pointed toward the woods. “It’s escaping!” Aang tossed his blanket aside, and leaped to his feet, hitting the ground running. The others chased after him. He ran has hard as he could. His breath was ragged, his heart pounding. He could hear a faint breathing, drawing nearer and nearer, and the patter of feet against the forest floor. All of a sudden, Aang heard a whine. An arrow had pierced a tree where he was a second before. This set him off track, and he tumbled over a tree root. But just as quickly he was up again, sprinting toward the sound of heavy breaths. Then he was at a clearing. In the moonlight, he could make out a tall, pale girl with black raven hair, an arrow ready in her bow. “Who are you?!” Aang cried. “And why were you spying on us?!” The girl narrowed her glinting golden eyes. Even in the dark, he could see them flashing. “Who am I? This is my tribe’s land! You are trespassers!” Suddenly, he heard thee pairs of ragged breaths behind him. “Jeez, Aang,” Sokka said, gasping for air, his hands on his knees. “Don’t run so fast.” The girl raised her bow at them. “Don’t move, or I’ll shoot.” Toph laughed. “Wow. You’re really stupid.” The girl lowered her bow a bit. “Excuse me?” “I mean, you’re threatening to shoot a master earthbender, a master waterbender, and a guy with a boomerang.” Toph smirked, and crossed her arms proudly. “You’re outnumbered.” Sokka waved his weapon in the air. “I’m the guy with the boomerang! Don’t get us mixed up.” The girl jabbed her arrow point at Aang. “And him?” “Oh, yeah. He’s the Avatar.” The girls eyes widened, but she didn’t lower her bow. Then a snarl took over her face once again. “You think I’m supposed to be scared?” Katara unscrewed her water pouch, and a rivulet of water swirled out and came to rest in front of her. “Listen. We don’t want to hurt you. We just want to know why you were spying on us.” The girl threw her bow down on the ground. “You want to know? Fine! This is my tribe’s land! Avatar or not, everyone else besides my people are forbidden. This land is sacred!” Katara summoned the water to form a tentacle-like coating around one hand, and took a cautious step forward. “We didn’t know.” The girl stormed up to her, and stopped inches from Katara’s face. “Well, now you know! So guess what, Miss Priss? You and your friends can kiss my butt and get your STUCK UP ATTITUDES OFF OF MY LAND!!” Katara’s lips parted in shock, and the water that was encased around her hand fell to the ground. “But… but, we just…” Aang marched over, and slid in between them, facing the girl. His eyes were narrowed, his fists clenched. He jabbed a finger at her. “You have no right to treat Katara that way! She was nothing but nice to you!” The girl towered over him; he couldn’t help but feel small. If there was one thing he could say, this girl was tall, and she had muscles. The girl put her hands on her hips, and leaned further over him, her shadow overlapping his body. “What are you and your little gang thinking of doing, pipsqueak?” Aang cocked one eyebrow. “Katara has taken out Princess Azula of the Fire Nation, lead a bunch of earthbending prisoners out of Fire Nation captivity almost singlehandedly, and has defeated an evil bloodbending witch named Hama. Toph, the girl in green, used to be known as the Blind Bandit, and used to be the champion of an earthbending tournament called Earth Rumble Six against a bunch of earthbending masters, and has invented metal bending, even though she was born blind. Sokka, the guy with the ponytail, is not a bender, but an excellent warrior, and is experienced with the sword and boomerang. He has also lead a rampage on a bunch of massive Fire Nation airships, about thirty, and destroyed them all with only two companions, one of them Toph. He is also very good at planning, strategy, and is excellent at maneuvering.” Toph pounded her fist in the air. “Woo! Go Aang!” The girl’s eyes just narrowed even further at Aang. “What about you?” Sokka smirked. “You really want to know? He has destroyed a whole fleet of Fire Nation Navy ships, singlehandedly, in a matter of minutes, been to the spirit world and back… what four, five times? He has stopped a volcano from destroying a village, saved a town from a bunch of men on rhinos, kicked a Fire Nation Admiral’s butt…” He took a huge breath. “Led the whole city of Omashu to safety, guided two rival tribes through the biggest canyon in the Earth Kingdom, stopped a giant drill from going through the walls of Ba Sing Se, disappeared for two days to learn energybending from a giant lion turtle, defeated the Firelord, saved the world, all in one year.” Toph grinned. “And much more.” Katara, who had regained her senses, spoke up. “Guys, don’t you think that this boasting has gone a bit too far?” She shrugged. “I mean, if she’s heard the stories, then she’ll know. She doesn’t have to hear it over again.” The girl shook her head. “Actually, I have never heard anything about that.” Aang stared at her in shock. How could she not know about the past war? It was huge! Ozai had almost enslaved the planet! Her golden eyes averted down to her shoes. “We are… secret. My tribe. We have no connection to the outside world, so we can never be bothered, invaded, whatever. But the disadvantage is that we don’t know anything of what’s going on out there, whether an old man is handing out free candy or the world is going to end.” She brushed a black lock behind her ear. “I mean, we know about the Avatar, and the four nations. It’s just that we don’t know what’s going on in the four nations. I hate that.” Aang studied her. She looked about seventeen, and was dressed very strangely, not like he had ever seen before. Clad in black and white, with knee-high boots, gloves, and a quiver slung over her shoulder, she looked tough and menacing. She had a long, wide scar descending from her shoulder halfway down her forearm, and her hair was tied up in a ponytail. Her eyes were yellowish gold, and was the most shocking part of her face, compared to the pale skin, jet-black hair, and clothing. “What’s your name?” “Akuri.” “Bring me to your tribe,” Aang commanded. He wasn’t usually like this, but something told him he needed to be stern with her. Akuri folded her arms, and pressed them close. “I can’t.” Aang softened a bit. “Why not?” “I really wish I could explain it properly…” she said quietly. Katara took her hand, and smiled. “Come on. You can tell us at camp. It’s cold out here, anyway.” Aang nodded, and gestured a friendly wave toward the woods. Akuri bit her lip, picked her bow up off of the ground, and reluctantly followed.
Katara had started the fire, and folded a blanket of her for Akuri to sit on. Sokka was a little uncomfortable about Katara’s hospitality. Sometimes she just took it too far. Then he looked at Akuri. She was really pretty, but just the sight of her reminded him of Suki. His Suki. Taken over by something or someone named Hotaru. There was a pang in his chest. Suki. Akuri looked at the fire, shadows flickering across her high cheekbones and full lips. Her golden eyes seemed to reflect the flames, and it looked like a pool of lava in her irises. Again, Sokka was reminded of Suki. Akuri twisted her ponytail through her fingers. “Okay. So, it’s kinda a long story.” Sokka could see Aang smile from across the fire pit. “We have time for a long story.” Akuri looked away from the group, toward the woods. “It happened five nights ago.”
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< (author’s note; It was much more descriptive in this passage than the way she actually told it to Aang and his friends. Just saying. (:)
I was late up one night, reading by candlelight, like I usually do. My fingers brushed across the parchment, following the script. “And all was well,” I read, smiling secretly. I loved to read. It was my favorite thing to do. Listen to other people’s fantasies, adventures that they had imagined. I wished with all of my heart that that would happen to me. So I could be a hero, and save the world, or something. I closed the scroll, and blew out my candle. I laid my head down on my pillow, and stared out my window at the full moon. I was half asleep, when I heard thumping outside. Granddad was usually still out at this hour, sitting around some stupid bonfire, getting drunk with his junky friends. Sometimes he even passes out over there, leaving me to find him the next day. I slipped out of bed and wiggled my toes into my boots, tugging a blanket over my shoulders. Taking my quiver from its usual place beside my cot, I crept out of my small tent and into the chilly night. And there was little Miyu, a beautiful little girl that I loved like a sister. Her shining black curls glinted in the moonlight, and she was sitting on the ground, facing toward the woods, back to me. “Miyu? Miyu, you scared me.” I put my bow back in its quiver. “You little bugger. You should be asleep. It’s very late.” She didn’t move a muscle. She just continued staring into nothingness. “Miyu?” I touched her shoulder gently. “Miyu, did you hear me? It’s time to go to bed.” She slowly turned her head to look at me. I was really confused. “Miyu, what-“ And then I fell backward onto my butt in shock. Her eyes. They… glowed. A purplish color. A sickening purple. Not her usual mischievous green eyes. And she looked… dazed. Like something possessed her. Then another person emerged from one of the dozens of tents at our campsite. Then another. Then another. They all had the same glowing eyes, and they all began to walk in the same direction, mumbling, whispering. I screamed. I didn’t know what else to do. I ran away, away as far as I could. I had no idea where I was going, but it was familiar, so I knew it must be my tribe’s land. I ran and ran until my muscles could take it no more, my lungs were aching and sucking in as much oxygen as they could handle, and my side hurt so much I felt like I would upchuck the stew I had for dinner. Then I collapsed on the ground and cried, my blanket still around my shoulders. I sobbed into the cotton continuously, until my body and mind were just too tired to do anything but sleep. And I realized then that I should be careful what I wish for, because it just came true.
After hearing Akuri’s story, Aang stood up from his pallet, and kicked the ground. “Stupid spirits!” Akuri looked at him in surprise. “Wh-what? What do you mean?” Sokka shook his head in disbelief. “Yeah, Aang. What do you mean?” Aang turned toward them, and slumped. “Roku came to visit me before Toph woke us up.” Katara turned her attention toward him. “Really? Why?” Aang plopped back down on his blankets, and trailed his finger through the dirt. “Souzin is mad at me.” The whole group looked taken aback. Aang suddenly wished he hadn’t spoken. He wished he didn’t have to. Toph sat up from her lazy position, and tucked her knees under her. “What do you mean? That’s impossible. Souzin’s long gone.” Katara nodded. “Yeah. If he’s dead then how can he be mad at you?” Akuri spoke up. “Wait. Who’s Souzin?” Sokka just flicked his hand at her. “Just some guy who started this hundred year war and killed thousands. Continue, Aang.” Akuri looked irritated. “Well, it isn’t exactly Souzin himself. It’s Souzin’s spirit. And millions of other fire nation soldiers and inhabitants that were loyal to him. They’re angry at me, too.” Toph settled back into her lazy position. “This should be interesting.” Aang averted his eyes from the rest of the group. He didn’t want to explain. All he wanted was to be happy. And his wish was fulfilled, but not for long. He took a deep breath. “All of those spirits found a portal that could lead them to the physical world. And that portal, of all people, is Azula.” Katara rolled her eyes. “Of course,” she muttered, “But how is she the portal?” “When a person goes insane, their souls are opened, and any spirit can go through the person’s body and into the physical world. Especially these spirits called the Sounds.” Sokka shuddered. “That sounds creepy.” Then he laughed at himself, and brushed away an imaginary tear. “Oh, classic.” Katara sighed in irritation, but asked, “What are Sounds?” Aang licked his lips. “They’re spirits who, in their lifetime, were, like evil, or bad, or something along that nature. Then their evilness is transcended into their spirit life when they die.” Toph blew a strand of hair away from her face. “So what are so special about these Sound thingies?” Aang looked down, and then glanced at Sokka. A picture of Suki flashed through his mind. “They have the power to possess people when they are sleeping.” Sokka’s eyes widened in disbelief. “Suki,” he muttered, blinking several times. Aang felt like he was about to cry. “And the only way to destroy a spirit that has possessed someone is to kill the person first.” Sokka’s eyes filled up with tears. “No.” Aang’s chest was hurting, as if someone had suddenly decided to drop a boulder on his heart. He was all choked up, and his head was in his hands. Akuri looked confused, but Katara was rubbing her temples, looking frustrated , Sokka let tears slide against his cheeks, but forced them back down. Toph was silent, an unusual thing for her. Aang looked up. “More bad news.” The Gaang glanced back up at him, ready for almost nothing. “Souzin will be coming through the portal to take over someone’s body.” Katara removed the hands from her temples. “Who?” “I’ll give you three guesses.” “Azula,” Sokka snarled. “Yes. And he will, like, use Azula’s powers to take over the world, including the fire nation.” Toph shifted onto her back. “So you’re gonna have to fight her.” Aang shook his head. “No. I’ll fight Souzin.” Aang looked at his hands, which were wringing a blanket in nervousness. “Something tells me that his time, she… or, he… will be much harder to beat. I think instead of just relying on her power, Azula… or, Souzin… will be much smarter, more agile and able to predict the next move you’re going to make.” A small smile of hope touched his lips. “But the good thing is, that if we defeat Souzin, then all of the spirits will be sent back to the spirit world and held there for eternity. Not even a portal could let them out.” Sokka leaned back on his hands. “So when is the deadline?” Aang was expecting this. “On the winter solstice.” Toph snorted. “I’m not surprised.” Aang bit his lip. “Roku said we need to go back to the Southern Air Temple, and scour through it. He says I’ll find out something about someone who could help me defeat him.” “But how will we prevent being taken over by spirits?” Katara shoved a reckless curl behind her ear. “I mean, we need sleep.” Aang shook his head. “Something tells me Souzin would want me for himself. So I would think as long as Sounds do not take over me, they wouldn’t take over you guys.” Katara still looked worried. “Okay.” Toph settled herself onto her side. “So we need to go to the Western Air Temple.” Aang nodded. “Yeah.” Akuri, who had been silent the whole time, finally spoke up. “I’m going with you guys.” Aang turned toward her, feeling a bit awkward. “I don’t know…” Akuri suddenly looked furious. She jumped up in rage, and towered over him. “You don’t know?! How can you say that?! Those Sound idiots just took over my tribe! My family! And you really expect me to sit back and wait for the oh-so-powerful Avatar to do all the work?! NO!! Either you decide to take me with you, or I am going to force you!!” Aang looked at all of the other’s for help. Toph shrugged. “Let her come. Then we can really prove how well we kick butt.” Sokka’s eyes flickered back and forth between Akuri and Aang. Then he gave in. “Sorry, Aang, but we need all the help we can get.” Then Aang’s eyes averted to Katara. “What about you?” Katara hesitated. She twisted a curl in between her fingers rapidly, and swallowed hard. “Aang, I… I think… I think we should let her come. If the Sounds took over my tribe like that, then I would want the same.” Aang’s eyes fell to the ground in disappointment. It wasn’t that he didn’t want her to come, but… to tell the truth, he was kinda scared of her. She had this aura of intimidation that radiated off of her, like she could handle anything, take anything, stand anything. It made him feel small. Akuri plopped back down on her blanket, triumphant. “Well, I guess that settles it.” Aang’s jaw tightened. He knew keeping this girl under control was going to be hard, and he wasn’t looking forward to it.
Okay. So, my series is going to be like the original. There will be chapters when Aang saves towns, escorts people across treacherous lands, stuff like that. And this is going to be one of those chapters. And, another thing: I’m not a big romance fan, so I’m just going along with what the original story was like. In fact, I didn’t really care, but half of Aang’s conflicts was his feelings for Katara, so whatever. For future reference, there will be Kataang. Sorry, Zutarians.
The Unknown Elements The Spirit in Azula
CHAPTER THREE: The Flood
They were flying over the Earth Kingdom, silent; all except for Momo’s excited chattering from Toph’s shoulder. Aang felt overwhelmed. He didn’t want another war to start. Why did this have to happen? Right when he thought everything was going to be alright, suddenly Souzin decides he’s going to try to destroy the world. Again. Stupid Fire Nation. Katara looked at Akuri, and broke the silence. “What’s you’re tribe like?” Akuri bit her lip, and shrugged. “Might as well tell you.” She flipped her ponytail over her shoulder. “My tribe, like I said, is secret. But we have different beliefs than everyone else. Yes, we believe in the Spirit World, and the moon spirit, and ocean spirit, and the spirit of the forest, or whatever. But we also believe that everything gets its energy and life from two main things; light and darkness. Without darkness, the moon spirit cannot have its power. Without light, the forest cannot live.” She looked around at the others. “You see where I’m getting at?” Aang and the group nodded. Aang was fascinated. It seemed so true. If he thought about it, everything was powered by light and dark. It all made sense. She smiled. “And because of that, we are called the Neutral Believers. Few people have found our settlement…” Akuri looked down at her shoes. “…before the Sounds came.” To change the subject, Aang blurted, “Is that why you wear black and white?” Akuri looked confused. “Huh?” Aang blushed, and suddenly realized that was a stupid question. “Y’know, because of light and dark?” Akuri smiled. “Oh. Yeah, I guess so. I never really thought of it that way. It has just always been the tribe’s colors.” Katara tucked her knees under her, and put her hands on her lap. “So, do you have any benders in your tribe?” Akuri nodded. “Occasionally. Mostly earthbenders. We do have a waterbender or a firebender here or there every once in a while.” She blinked several times. “My boyfriend was a firebender.” She touched the necklace around her neck, a long black ribbon with a shining yellow piece of amber in the shape of a sun. “His name was Shinya.” Her lips thinned. “I miss him a lot.” “Can I ask what happened?” Katara said hesitantly. Akuri swallowed hard. “A year ago, a bunch of earthbender warriors found our settlement. They didn’t know who we were at first, but then they came across our little group of firebenders. They were practicing techniques, you know, flaming whips and balls of fire. When they saw them practicing, they captured them, and took them in as prisoners.” She looked out into the vast sky. “Including Shinya.” Her jaw tightened. “We didn’t know why at the time. It was always a mystery to us. But after I heard your stories, I realized that they must have mistaken them for enemy firebenders.” She clutched the amber sun in her hand. “Shinya and I were engaged.” Aang felt a pang of sympathy. Akuri was going to get married, and her dream was bashed by some stupid earthbending soldiers who jumped to conclusions. Katara patted her hand. “I am very sorry.” Katara’s fingers brushed her own necklace. “Sokka and I lost our mother in a fire nation raid.” Akuri smiled at her in understanding. Toph sat up quickly, causing Momo to chatter in disapproval. “Okay, enough of the sob-story mumbo jumbo. You guys are making me depressed.” Sokka nodded in agreement, who was up front, steering. “Seriously. Let’s talk about something else.” He gripped his growling stomach. “Anything to eat back there? Meat in particular?” Toph waved her hand in the air excitedly. “Ooh! Ooh, me too!” Aang shuddered. Meat. Yick.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< Hotaru pressed her back against the prison wall, staying as quiet as she possibly could. Brows furrowed, she motioned to her other companions, who had also possessed Kyoshi Warriors. They nodded, and Hotaru made her way out with the others, strolling confidently. Guards were standing officially in their green Earth Kingdom uniforms in front of one particular prison cell. They glanced over at the “Kyoshi Warriors,” and bowed in their presence. “Miss Suki,” said a bearded guard. “What is your business here, ma’am?” She whipped out the real Suki’s fans. “Ma’am? What are you- augh!” Then both guards were on the ground, writhing in pain. Hotaru jabbed her finger at two of her companions. “Guard the door. The rest of you, come with me.” They nodded, and took their positions beside the entrance. The rest followed Hotaru into the prison cell. Behind the bars sat a small girl of about ten or eleven. Her light brown hair was ragged and dirty, and hid her face. Her scarred hands and ankles were bound in chains, and she was staring at the ground in front of her measly corner, unmoving. Hotaru spat on the ground in disgust. “Huh. The little brave kiddie is finally at the end of her rope.” The girl said nothing. Hotaru sped forward and laced her fingers around the bars of her cell. “Child, this is no time to be silent. You know what I’ve come for. You know why I’m here.” She grasped the metal poles tighter. “Little orphan.” The girl’s head spun towards Hotaru quickly, and the sudden motion startled the group. But not Hotaru. She remained perfectly still. The girl snarled. “I will not, never in my life tell you were he is. I’m not a squealer. I do not tattletale. Especially on my own brother!” Her red-rimmed eyes gleamed with anger. “How dare you contradict me?! I am not a weak person. If I was, I would not be alive right now, considering what they have done to me.” A small smile tugged at Hotaru’s lips. “Your brave brother holds the secret to our victory.” She shook the bars. “The spirit world and the physical world will finally be equal! No more separation!” The girl smirked. “You think everything would be balanced if you cause chaos in the beginning.” She shook her head. “It is in fact the exact opposite. Chaos only leads to more chaos, Hotaru. Your wise leader should know that.” Strong hate and rage built up inside Hotaru. Who does this girl think she is? She was a lesser being than her! A minor! A child! And yet she thought Hotaru would let her speak that way to her superior?! “You do not know anything about my leader, peasant!” Hotaru snapped. “You know nothing!” The girl looked at her seriously. “No. I know everything. I know everything there is to know about his life, the Avatar’s life, and her life.” “And my life?” Hotaru growled. “And death?” “Naturally.” “Aargh!” Hotaru cried, and tore her hands away from the bars of the cage. “You are nothing! You sift and live and reek in your own dirt and filth like swine! Because you are worth nothing!” The girl shook her head. “No.” She smiled. “I am worth everything.” “How?!” Hotaru spat. “How are you worth everything?!” “Because I’m the only one who knows where my brother is. And he is the only one who knows where she is, the one person that will be able to give the Avatar the power to defeat your great Souzin.” Hotaru stomped away from her cell, and slung open the door. “You disgust me, you pathetic child.” She gripped the doorknob harder. “We’ll meet again, Yuna.” Hotaru then swept out of the entryway, leaving the girl to weep in peace. Yuna brushed away her tears. “Until then, Hotaru.”
Sokka poked the fire with his stick. “Just like old times, huh?” Aang stroked Momo’s head, who was happily snoozing in his lap. “Yeah.” He leaned back on his hands. “The good old days.” They were on a high hill, overlooking the whole area, where they could see a little village down beside a beach, twinkling with faint lights. They had set up camp farther back, but decided to put the fire pit nearest to the edge of the hill, and enjoy the view. “Hey, Aang?” Katara asked from across the fire pit. “Yeah?” He asked, petting Momo’s ears. “So, are we going to Zuko’s first, or the Western Air Temple?” Aang scratched his head. “I’m… not entirely sure. Zuko would be helpful, and it would be good to warn him, but we need to get to the temple as soon as possible.” “And plus, Zuko has a nation to rule. He can’t just abandon it. I mean, even I’m not that heartless,” Toph mentioned, picking her nose. Sokka scoffed. “You’re not heartless? You’re the one who first rejected Aang when he said he needed you as a teacher to save the world. You said, in exact quote, ‘Not my problem.’” Toph ignored him. “So we’re going to the Western Air Temple,” Akuri said, twisting her black ponytail around her palm. Sokka shuddered, remembering the incident that destroyed half of the buildings. “I’m seriously glad Combustion Man isn’t around anymore.” He puffed out his chest. “Remember how I hit him with my boomerang? That was some kinda awesome.” He picked up the boomerang from his side, and stroked it as if petting Momo. “Good boomerang.” Akuri cocked an eyebrow. “What…?” Then her face straightened out, and she shook her head. “Never mind. I’m not even going to ask.” Toph flicked a booger. “Good idea.” Katara passed out what was left of the food in the basket around to the others. “We have barely any supplies left.” She fingered her pear, turning it round and round in her hands. Sokka pointed out behind him, over the hills and toward the tiny town below. “Let’s go to that village. I bet we can mooch free food off of the merchants because of Aang.” Katara rolled her eyes. “Sokka…” “What? He saved the world. The least they can do is give him supplies. I mean, seriously. It’s not like their whole career is going to end just because-” Toph narrowed her eyes. “Sokka, shut up.” “Excuse me? You are my minor, and as your elder-” “Sokka, shut up.” Sokka sighed. “Ugh. Okay.”
Zuko shrugged off his Fire Lord robe, and threw it on the bed. “Stupid generals. Can’t get along worth spit.” Mai took the robe off of the bed, and began to fold it. “Trouble with the head honchos again?” “You better believe it.” Zuko flopped on the bed, and buried his face in his hands. “They’re all driving me crazy. ‘The trade route should go this way!’ ‘No, it shouldn’t!’ “Yes, it should!’ ‘We need to start help rebuilding the Northern Water Tribe.’ ‘No, the Southern!’ ‘We should keep on rebuilding Ba Sing Se!’” He imitated. “I’m like, ‘Shut up, please!’” Zuko sighed. “This is when I’m missing Aang the most. He always seemed to work things out.” He slammed his palms down on his knees in frustration. “How does he freaking do it?!” Mai placed the folded robe into a woven basket on the floor. “Zuko, Aang has been dealing with that stuff all through the past year, solving problems and making peace. He’s, like, immune to it.” Zuko tore out his Fire Nation “updo,” as Mai liked to call it. His spiky bangs fell into his face, and he ran his hands through the brown tendrils. “Why can’t I do it?” Mai shrugged. “Like I said, he’s immune.” Nevertheless, Zuko continued to throw his pity-party, mumbling something about the admirals being buttholes. Mai sighed, and sat down beside him. She put a hand beneath his chin, and kissed him. “Stop worrying. Everything will be okay.” Zuko calmed down a little. “I guess you’re right.” Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. “You may come in,” Zuko answered to the sound. A servant walked in with a scroll clenched in his hand. He hurried up to the Fire Lord, and bowed to his ruler. “You’re Highness. A letter for your eyes only.” Zuko took the scroll in great haste, and shooed the servant out the door. He greedily opened the parchment, his fingers trembling. “What does it say?” Mai asked, putting a hand on his shoulder. Zuko was silent for a moment, reading over the words once, twice, three times. He could hardly believe it. His heart thumped beneath his chest, threatening to burst. His mouth became parched, a dry piece of cotton where his tongue should be. His palms sweat so much it wet the paper, making it soggy around the edges. “It says…” he managed, “that there is a possible chance… that my mother…” Mai’s eyes widened in impatience. “What? Your mother what?!” Zuko looked at her, his amber eyes filled with hope. “…is alive.”
Katara piled different varieties of food into her basket. Okay, so, I’ve got cucumbers, mangos, coconuts, two bags of rice, eggplants, leechie nuts- BOOM. A huge roar of thunder made Katara jump, spilling half of the contents of her basket onto the ground. She looked up at the sky. The clouds were almost black, and lightning was making fake daylight echo across the town. Not far away, she could see the angry waves of a nearby lake tossing and turning, a dull greenish gray. Stupid storm, she thought to herself, and began to pick up the fallen food. “Some storm, huh?” She looked up, and the merchant of the stand was leaning against a wooden rail. “Uh… yeah.” Katara heaved her big basket onto her hip. “I haven’t had good experiences with storms.” A memory flashed through her mind; Sokka and that old man, on a boat, being bashed by the mini typhoons and battered by the stinging rain and roaring winds, their faces filled with fright and desperation. Not one of her more happy memories. “Well, good luck, because this one looks like it’ll be a big one. “ He shuddered. “A real big one.” Katara groaned. “I’ve heard that song before.” She held out a couple silver pieces. “Thank you for all of your help.” He took the money gratefully, and nodded. “No problem,” he said, and began to pack away his things, obviously getting ready for the storm. Katara looked up at the sky worriedly. Another flash of lightning criss-crossed against the tumbling blanket of clouds, beautifully dangerous. It suddenly began to drizzle, and she bended the water over her to prevent her from getting wet, and started to run down the street, toward where she thought was the way back to camp. She turned another corner. And another. And another. Katara looked around. Nothing seemed familiar. The rain kept beating down on her, and she gave up trying to bend it above her head. She ran through the roads, splashing through puddles and mud, soaking the bottom of her boots. Katara began to run in a random direction, down an alley, to a dead end, back again, down another street. The rain soaked through her clothes and drenching her hair, and her vision became blurry. She clutched the basket to her chest, as if that would give her some sort of comfort. She looked around her. All of the roads looked the same, all of the people, the trees, the stands and merchants. They all seemed to blend together around her, making her mind fill with jumbled thoughts and emotions. Unseen droplets ran down her cheeks, and she tasted the faintest flavor of salt from her tears. Katara was completely and utterly lost.
Aang suddenly felt raindrops on his head, shoulders, arms. He looked up, and there were gray storm clouds rolling through the sky, preventing the sun from shining through, making it almost like night time. Apparently, Sokka noticed too. “Everyone, into the woods!” He yelled, and began to pull on Appa’s reins. Aang ran over to help. Toph and Akuri hurriedly grabbed their things; blankets, bags, weapons. Once they all had ran into the forest, they were all soaking wet, but the canopy above prevented most of the falling droplets. Akuri rubbed her bare arms, sitting on the bare ground. “Phew, it’s cold.” Sokka awkwardly stood up, and began to dig through the bags for their spark rocks. “I’ll… uh… try to make a fire.” And so they gathered what dry wood they could find, and jumbled it up into what looked like a suitable mess to start a fire. Sokka brushed the rocks together next to the wood, and one spark illuminated from the two stones. “Ugh.” He slammed the rocks together. Barely any cinders. “Come on!” Sokka raged, hacking the two stones together over and over furiously. “Stupid rocks!” This was something Katara usually did, if Zuko wasn’t around. She would smile, and with one stroke she would create a big bundle of flaming warmth. Suddenly, great concern washed through Aang. “Where’s Katara? Don’t you think she should be back yet?” Toph snorted. “Oh, for crying out loud, Aang. Katara will be back. You don’t have to get all excited and worried over her. She’s a tough cookie.” Aang felt heat rise up to his cheeks. “I don’t get excited!” “Yes you do. Every time someone mentions her name, your heart speeds up.” Toph blew her bangs out of her face. “It couldn’t be more obvious.” Akuri leaned forward. “Wait. You like Katara, Aang?” Sokka looked up from his feeble attempt to start a fire. “Correction. He loves Katara. And yes, he does. Since forever. You don’t even need earthbending powers to realize it.” Akuri smiled mischievously, and clasped her hands together in mock admiration. “Aww, so cute!” Aang’s blush quickly spread to his neck. “Will you guys stop, please?” To change the subject, he stood up and brushed off his shirt. “I really think we should go look for her.” Sokka threw the rocks back in the bag, and stood up as well. “Aang’s right. Katara’s not usually out this long.” Toph groaned, and mumbled, “We always have to go looking for Miss Goody-Two-Shoes,” but got up anyway. Akuri nodded, and slung her quiver over her shoulder. Aang gave her a questioning look, and she shrugged and said, “You can never be too careful.” Aang was no fan of violence, but he silently agreed. You can never know what bad guy could go after you next.
“Katara?” Aang called. “Katara?” He sloshed through the streets, glider clenched in his hand, water and mud soaking though his boots and rain drenching his clothes. He was tired, cold, and frustrated. But if it meant finding Katara, then it was worth it. (Author’s note: I know, sappy. But, like I said, I’m going along with whatever the original plot was like, and it seemed like Aang thought about Katara this way, so, yeah. Deal with it.) The Gaang had decided to split up to look for her, and meet back at the village entrance in an hour. If they didn’t find her, then they would go to the local ruler, governor, or whatever. “Katara?” He yelled. “Where are you?” “Aang?” That voice was familiar. Too familiar. He whipped around toward the direction of the noise. “Katara?” Her face broke out into a grin. “Aang!” She ran over, set down her basket, and threw her arms around his shoulders, squeezing him tightly. Aang could feel heat rise up to his cheeks. Aang could hear Katara sigh with relief. “Oh, wow, Aang. I had gotten lost after I talked to that merchant.” She finally let go of him, and shook her head at herself. “Stupid me.” He studied her. Her eyes were red and puffy, she was soaked to the skin, her hair was drenched and mud caked the bottom of her boots. Aang smirked. “Jeez, you look terrible.” She laughed, bells and chimes echoing though his ears. “Aang, usually when people run through muddy streets in a rainstorm for hours on end, they’ll end up looking like this.” She waved a hand over her clothes and hair. “It could be worse.” “I never said it was a bad thing.” He could see Katara blush faintly. On the outside, he was determined to keep his cool. But on the inside, he was cheering for joy. He knew he had scored a point with her. But what bothered him was that they weren’t technically a couple yet. They had discussed it before, but decided that after things calmed down, they would try. But he wasn’t sure even Toph knew about what happened on the balcony at Ba Sing Se. He guesses that either she did know and managed to keep it a secret, was too distracted, or didn’t care. He was pretty sure it wasn’t the first one. She could never keep secrets. Now, after that visit from Roku, he wasn’t sure if it was going to happen soon or not. Katara picked up her basket with one hand, and grabbed his palm with another. “Come on, Aang. The sooner we get out of this storm, the better.” He followed her in a daze, partly because they were holding hands and partly because he was exhausted. But as they ran on, he couldn’t help but notice that the water on the ground was starting to get higher and higher. Soon, it was up the middle of their shins, sloshing and bruising their already tired muscles. Katara noticed, too, and looked worriedly down at the now knee-deep water. Once they arrived at the entrance of the village at the top of a hill, they found Sokka, Toph, and Akuri waiting for them. Sokka looked relieved. “Oh, good, you found her.” He grinned triumphantly. “Now let’s get back-“ Suddenly, a woman’s scream pulsed through their ears. They looked behind them, and sure enough, there was a woman, waving her hands around frantically. “Help! Someone! Please! My daughter just got washed away!” She clawed at her face. “Please, help!” They glanced at each other for a split second, and then nodded. Aang leapt up and whipped open his glider and Katara had formed an ice surfboard. Toph earthbended a roll of rock and let it slide beneath her, which left Sokka and Akuri to trudge through the water on their own. “Great,” Akuri muttered. “They get to be in the action while I stand back and wait in the rain.” She groaned. “Fabulous.” “Hey, imagine being all alone having to deal with this,” Sokka exclaimed, lifting his index finger. “It isn’t my first time.” Meanwhile, Aang sailed not far above the town, rain beating on his back and his glider, making it harder to control. Then he heard a little wail. Katara yelled up to him, “I see her!” and rounded a corner on her block of ice. He followed her, determined. Sure enough, there was a small girl, hanging on to a wooden pole from a washed-out fruit stand. “Somebody please help!” she cried. As fast as she could, Katara swept by her and scooped her up out of the bruising current, holding the girl in her arms. “Here, give her to me!” Aang yelled over the roaring wind. Katara lifted the girl up above her head, and with one swift motion, Aang swooped in and snatched her flailing figure, and holding her tight. She sobbed into his chest, gripping his side as hard as she could. Toph, however, was rumbling though the waves. She was searching for signs of trouble, any kind of- Suddenly, she heard a scream. “Help me!” A boy cried. She could feel water coursing above the ground, and a small figure being swept by the battering waves. Where she estimated he was, she jutted a rock wall in front of him to prevent him being swept away. She could feel him bang against the stone and held there by the current. He struggled and yelped, thrashing through the water. She barged in and grabbed him around the waist, still roaring on her earth mechanism. She tossed him over her shoulder, and circled back to where Sokka and Akuri were waiting to help.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< The rain had finally let up, and the only thing that was left were the rolling storm clouds, and of course, the flood. Aang set down the bawling child, and watched her run to her mother. The mother bowed to him, her eyes filled with tears. “Thank you, kind Avatar.” Wow. News spreads fast, he thought, but bowed back in respect. Toph arrived, jumping off of her earth mobile, a small boy slung over her shoulder. She set him down, and he ran off toward his father, who thanked her over and over again. Katara arrived later, too, with a woman clinging to her side. Aang ran his hands over his head. “This can’t keep going on forever.” Sokka nodded in agreement. “Yeah. I wish all of this water would, like, disappear into the ground or something.” All of a sudden, an idea popped up into his mind. “Guys! Come here! I have a plan!” He yelled, and all of the Gaang left the constant round of people thanking them and returned to Sokka. They all huddled in a group, heads in a circle, all impatiently waiting on Sokka’s thoughts. Sokka grinned goofily. “Okay. Here’s the deal,” He murmured, and whispered the plan.
Katara watched as a huge flame of fire shot up into the sky. That was her que. She bended all of the water she could off of the shore and further down the sandy floor, pushing it farther into the lake’s middle. She put all of her concentration and focus into this simple move, making sure she had everything right. Now it was Toph’s turn.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< Toph stood at the village entrance, waiting for Aang’s signal. Two shots of flame roared into the sky. She lifted her hands. Suddenly, the whole village rumbled. She started at the beach. The holes filled up with wet sand that was once covered in lake water. Then she made the huge crack spread farther, until it completely surrounded the village. She held it there, and beads of sweat formed on her brow, and she groaned in exhaustion. “Come on, Twinkle Toes, move your butt,” she managed, wiping the perspiration off of her face with a free shoulder.
Aang was at the high hill where their campsite was located, waiting for the right time. When he saw the deep terrace around the town, he knew it was time to make his move. With a simple motion of his hands, he willed all of the water to flow out of the village and into the deep ditches, emptying the hazardous floods and making people cheer. He continued until the last trace of water he could see was emptied into the cracks in the earth. Then the cracks and holes fitted themselves together again, and he could see the small lake return back to its regular shape. He felt triumphant. Once again, the Avatar and his friends had prevailed. Back down at the entrance to the village, Sokka and Akuri watched with the other townspeople as all of the water dripped into the crevice like an angry waterfall. They shouted as loud as they could for him, their voices echoing across the hills, and the clouds above them finally starting the swim across the sky and past the village. Sokka smiled to himself. Of course his plan had worked.
Sokka flopped down on his now-dry pallet. “I’m exhausted.” Katara rubbed her sore arms, her muscles aching. “You’re exhausted? You didn’t have to bend a whole lake today.” Toph nodded, cramming her face with leechie nuts. “Or create a huge freaking ditch that went around an entire town.” “Or urge a whole flood to force itself down into a trevace,” Aang pointed out, laying on his back, hands behind his head. “Or save a bunch of people who couldn’t swim.” “And carry them all the way back to safety.” “Or-” “Okay, okay!” Sokka said, irritated. “I get the idea.” Akuri hugged her knees close to her chest, and leaned in toward the glowing fire (created expertly by Katara.) “So you guys do this all the time?” Toph stuffed another nut into her mouth. “Yep. Better get used to it.” Akuri snorted. “Great. So every day I’m going to be as tired as I am now.” Toph chewed her nut and swallowed. “Yep.” She began to pick her nose. Akuri glared it her. “Is that all you say?” She cocked an eyebrow. “Yep?” Toph continued to pick her nose. “No, Miss High-and-Mighty. I am exceptionally good at snarky comebacks. Don’t pick a fight with me.” She flicked a booger at some random person, which happened to be Sokka. He scooted away from the bogey that had landed a few inches from his pallet. Akuri smirked. “Oh, Missus Pick-and-Flick? You’re good at fighting?” Toph grinned at her general direction, her blue eyes glazed, as usual. “Yep. And quit acting like you know all that. You’re not good at acting snooty. Almost as bad as Sokka is at flirting.” Sokka sat up quickly, eyes narrowed. “Hey!” Akuri fell silent, unable to come up with anything else. Toph could feel Akuri’s heart beat in anger, and her deep breathing. She could tell she was furious, but wasn’t going to snap back at her. Toph smiled in self-satisfaction. Once again, she had kicked someone’s pathetic little butt with her wittiness, and that pathetic little butt wasn’t going to beat her. As if anyone ever could.
Zuko hurried along the palace hall, determined to find something that could get another clue. If someone had seen her traveling along the Earth Kingdom’s borders, then he could definitely find something of her now. He burst into the room he had declared forbidden. It was left exactly the way it was, no changes. His parent’s bedroom. Ozai said not to bother with his mother’s things after her banishment in cruel retribution, and to leave it exactly the way it was. His mother’s side of the room was fairly neat, though it had a few things strewn about. Her fire nation robe was on her vanity. Her perfume was out on her dresser, unopened. The closet doors, however, were spread wide, and he could see all of the silk dresses and fine satins inside. But Zuko could waste no time. He pulled open a drawer, and began to shovel through it. Nothing but scarves and gloves. He tore open another drawer on her dresser. Old papers, notes, probably just lists of things. He stuffed them in his large pockets anyway. Then he spotted something. Old, worn leather. A red ribbon. His mother’s journal. Zuko could remember her writing in it while he played, the brush flowing smoothly across the pages. Now the paper was beginning to yellow from the dirt and dust. He clenched the book in his hand, and set off toward his own bedroom. On the way back, he began to leaf through the pages furiously. Zuko stopped on a particular journal entry. August 11, 1764. The day he turned eight.
August 11, 1764. Dear Diary, This is my son’s birthday. Zuko. I never refer to him as Prince Zuko. He’s just my Zuko. He is turning eight years old. I can hardly believe it. Eight years ago, he was a warm little bundle of joy, and now he’s already interested in girls, particularly this one little pale, black haired girl named Mai. Oh, they grow up so fast. I asked Ozai what we should get for his birthday. All he did was grumble, “What birthday?” And go along with his business. Sometimes I wonder why I even married that man. Of course I’ve thought of leaving him. But that meant leaving the children, and I could never stand to do that. So I’ve just sucked it up and dealt with him, the heartless fool. Anyways, the present I bought for Zuko is a long red cloak, threaded in gold and the Fire Nation Symbol plastered on the back. I truly think he will like it. I can see him now, strolling through the halls in that wretched thing, pretending to be the Firelord himself. Oh, how I love Zuko. But I am beginning to grow nervous. Will Iroh return from the war? I truly hope so. Honestly, I do not want my husband to become Firelord. He’s much too… merciless. But I must think about Zuko. Oh, how precious he is to me. I would die for him. I really and truly would. Truly.