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|"...For I Have Sinned"|
June 23, 2010
"...For I Have Sinned" is the 11th chapter of the fanon drama series, and the sixth chapter of the New Politics chronicles. It is the second and final part of a two-parter, consisting of this chapter and it's predecessor, " ". It was written and edited by series creator, . In the chapter, Aang and Zuko need to get out of the unstable, fire-erupted temple alive with an unconscious Earth King. Meanwhile, Lee abandons Slythrin and finds himself in the midst of a massive revelation.
"...For I Have Sinned" was meant to be released a week or two after "Forgive Me, Lord..." but procrastination and writer's block delayed that. The chapter was meant to be incredibly revealing, and explained most of the thus far unanswered questions in the series' plotline. Flash found it difficult to do these reveals that was not obviously exposition. The chapter explores themes such as insanity, spirituality, and destruction—the word "insane" is said by several characters at different moments during the chapter.
The chapter was released on Avatar Wiki on June 23, 2010. It received incredibly positive responses from reviewers, with the general consensus being that the plot twists were excellent and that the chapter in general was worth the two-month wait.
Fire is an unstable element—it is made only to destroy, not build; kill, not give life; burn, not heal. It consumes what it touches, desecrates it into nothingness. And when it surrounds you, it is as if it destroys whatever remnants of sanity you have, making you fear for your life, making you hesitant into bursting into action in fear of your own downfall. Your own destruction.
Your own death.
So as an unholy, festering element of pure destruction, of pure desecration, is unleashed onto the grounds of sanctity, and purity, a place where one goes to find enlightenment and is free from the pain the world gives, it is quite clear that something terrible is to occur. And it will.
And it has.
The very grounding of the Temple was tumbling—the fire lined the walls, burnt the wood, and the roof was caving down rather quickly. Aang, Zuko, and the Earth King were scrambling to scurry past the debris and get the hell out of there. Aang had used Earthbending to protect them when the roofs began falling down, and Zuko was bending the fire from the floor so the three could cross it. Kuei was cutting through the smoke, trying to clear his path to follow Zuko and Aang as they attempted to leave the Temple, but the smoke cut off his vision—he tripped on a stone that fell on the ground, shattering his ankle.
Zuko and Aang stopped, turned, and saw the Earth King on the ground, gripping his ankle and gritting his teeth in pain. Zuko ran over, and Aang stood for a few moments, his jaw open, before shouting, "Well, dammit!"
"I've got him," Zuko said, propping the Earth King on his back. "Let's keep going."
They continued down the hall. The exit should be just two lefts away, but with the smoke, it was hard to tell.
"Hey, where'd the Council go?" Aang asked suddenly.
"They probably planned this in the first place! I should've known we were getting set up!"
Meanwhile, outside the temple...
Upon seeing the smoke, Katara and Sokka raced to the temple to see what had happened. Sokka was still dazed, so Katara had to drag him by his wrist to make him follow her. When they arrived at the temple, smoke arising from the roof, fire lining nearly every inch of its once gorgeous walls, several officials had arrived—medics, guards, soldiers—and were standing outside, conversing loudly, feverishly, yet somehow worriedly as well.
"What happened?" Katara asked, running up to a guard who had just finished a loud argument with a medic.
"Someone dropped an explosive—whole building lit up."
"There's people inside there, aren't you gonna do something?!" Katara shouted, aghast that they were not even addressing the subject.
"We can't—the doors have been melded together by the fire, and the wood supporting it's been cracked. It's impossible to open the doors."
"But some of you are Earthbenders—can't you use that?"
"The temple's 100% unstable. If we tried using Earthbending, the whole thing will collapse, giving an even lighter chance of everyone in their's survival. We just have to weigh it out—the Avatar and the Fire Lord are in there; I'm positive they'll be able to get both themselves and the others out alive."
"They better," Sokka said suddenly, dry and dehydrated-like. He, Katara, and the solider turned to stare thoughtfully as the flames consumed the temple further.
A few miles from the remains of Gaipan
"Blowing up a Goddamn temple, yeah, that's definitely gonna root out the radicals!" Lee sarcastically shouted to Slythrin, who was sporting a calm, disturbingly pleased demeanor with a smile slitting his face. "Seriously, the hell was that supposed to work?"
"Clearly you misconceived what I informed you, Lee," Slythrin said, in a voice reminiscent of a laugh. "When I said that the radicals' corruption was most evident at the Ba Sing Se Holy Temple, I meant that their belief systems had corrupted the individuals residing inside of it. If I really wanted to blow up a place of worship, I'd have given up my very faith system, wouldn't I?" He snickered a bit.
"Alright, now you're just spoon-feeding me purple prose crap!" Lee said—enough was enough; he wanted straightforward answers from this man he had been traveling with for nearly a month now, whom he knew almost not a thing about. "Who the hell were the 'corrupted individuals residing' then, huh?"
Slythrin snickering grew into a slightly louder chuckle, as he remarked, "Politics are not my manor of practice, Lee, but, Lee, these individuals of which I have spoken of, Lee, are a group of political figures known as the Council of Five, Lee, whom the Earth King has enlisted as trusted advisors of sort, Lee, but have since been corrupted and manipulated by the radical, insurgent bastards that we fight concurrently, Lee." And concurrently he shook the cart violently, upsetting the ostrich horse, who in turn began to shake angrily.
"Gah, stop saying my freaking name!!" Lee exclaimed clutching his ears in exasperation, in frustration, in bordering insanity. "And quit shaking the damn cart!"
"Oh, is that bothering you, Lee? Lee, is it bothering you, Lee?" Slythrin said, shaking the cart even more feverishly and violently, steering it in sharp turns back and forth that titled the cart. And his chuckle expanded, too, and he began laughing, laughing more clearly and uproariously. "Whee!" he said, sounding completely insane, laughing louder, snorting, chortling, and shaking the cart now so violently that the wood was snipping at the ostrich horse and the cart was tilting so close to the ground it was about to fall off completely.
"Slythrin, stop it, stop it, stop it!!!" Lee pulling tugging at his hair, shaking, gritting his teeth—his mind was a million places, and he was trying to keep sane. He grasped for his anger—just any emotion to keep his mind unshattered—and began shouting louder for Slythrin to stop his laughing, his shaking, his insanity, but Slythrin laughed even louder, breaking into honest hysterics, shaking the cart harder and harder. Their voices clashed—the screaming versus the laughter—until the whole world seemed to disappear, and be nothing but that. But then reality struck—literally.
The cart toppled to its side on the ground, sliding, spinning, and then hit a tree, flipping it once more. The wood was shattered, and the ostrich horse was dead, his blood staining the shattered wood that had been driven into him. Lee—cut and bleeding, covered with dirt—tore at the wood until he rolled out and onto the dirt, quickly picking himself up and slowly walking away backwards, shaking and staring at Slythrin.
Slythrin was laughing hysterically, as if he had just heard the funniest joke in the world. His face, cut and bleeding, was as red as a tomato and his expression was of pure happiness and content. He looked up at Lee with his eyes, stained with blood, his eyelids rimmed with dirt, and laughed even more, shouting—through hysterics—"Lee, sorry, Lee—guess I lost, Lee, my concentration, Lee!"
"You sick bastard..." Lee muttered, panting violently, whipping some blood from the rim of his nose. He sauntered backwards slowly, but turned and picked up speed, running in the direction of the village.
And Slythrin hooted the whole time.
Back inside the temple
Aang was trying to get down the hall, but he couldn't even see his own hand in front of his face. He was fumbling around and found himself tripping on a fallen, flaming piece of wood from the roof. On the ground, he shouted, "Gah, I can't see anything with all this freaking smoke!"
"Hey, Aang, remember that thing you can do called Airbending?" Zuko said sarcastically.
"I knew that," Aang got up, built up air, and released it, clearing most if not all the smoke from the area around them. Now that they could see, they saw that they were near the entrance of the temple. But at the same time, they noticed that the preying monks they saw coming into the temple were buried under wood—all but one, who was trying but failing to lift the wood off of his brethren.
The man—named Loud—saw them in the corner of his eye and turned around to look at them. His old face look heavily releaved. "Oh, thank The Lord, you are here!"
"Don't worry, we'll get them out—just get yourself out first," Aang said, running over to the monks buried under the wood. As he crouched down, he nodded to Zuko, reaffirming that the Fire Lord should get the door—which was barricaded by fallen wood, with a torn floor, and fire rimming around the edges—for Loud. Zuko nodded in return; he gently got the unconscious Earth King off his back and placed him on the ground next to Aang. Zuko proceeded to run over to the door, asked Loud to step aside, and launched a Fireball at the entrance area, turning the wood to ash and cutting an opening in the door. Loud went through it, and Zuko went back to Aang.
Aang had gotten most of the wood off from the monks. Looking down at the monks, their faces covered in blood and soot, he saw that they were still breathing, albeit barely. He pulled on up from the rubble and gently put him on the ground. As he pulled out another one, who was still conscious and coughing loudly, and put him down behind him, he suddenly stopped, frozen.
What he saw was disturbing—one of the monks must have been caught directly by the explosion. His face was mutilated—burned from the fire, cut from the wood, bruised from the impact—and there was no way he was alive. Blood was practically oozing from his face, and it was almost completely unidentifiable. Aang found his breaths being scarcer and slower, his heart skipping a beat.
"Aang...Aang, come on, get them out already!" Zuko shouted, steadying Aang and his heart.
After a bit, Aang got all the (living) monks out of the pile of wood. He and Zuko were able to put them—and the Earth King—on their backs so that they could carry them out of the temple, as there were only around 5 of them. Finally, they exited the temple and happily breathed in the fresh, non-smokey air.
Immediately, medics ran up to take the monks and the Earth King, while guards ran up to make sure that Aang and Zuko were okay. Katara ran up to them as they exited off the steps from the temple, and hugged them both. She kissed Aang, tears forming in her eyes. "Don't scare me like that," she said, hugging him once more. Aang closed his eyes, enjoying his moment of peace. He prayed it would last forever.
Gaipan had been devastated by the flood that had occurred almost a year before from the actions of the Freedom Fighters—the water had turned the once dirt floor to complete mud that seemed to be permanently founded as the ground. So when Lee stumbled into the town, finally getting away from Slythrin, whom he finally accepted as a complete psychopath, and trying to find a way back to Ba Sing Se, he found himself not walking, but sloshing through miles and miles of high mud.
As he sloshed, he looked at his surroundings—tattered buildings, a fallen over tree, a caved in roof. It was like looking at a ghost town, but different. As if it had not been fully abandoned, as if something was still wading around, as if a presence just refused to leave...
He shook the thought and focused merely on getting through the disgusting miles of mud. He appeared to be only a block away from what appeared to be a desecrated exit barrier, so he set his eyes for the goal and sloshed more quickly.
There was that feeling again. Something felt as if it was lurking over him—or, to put it in better words, under him. Some sort of sensation like there was a whole another life going on around and under his feet. Something festering. And waiting. Lurking.
He shook the feeling again, trying to distract himself with the thought of getting out of the mud. Of feeling soft ground under his feet once more...
Under his feet. Dammit, what was that feeling? What could be bringing it on him?
Something caught his eye, so he stopped for a moment. He stared at the wall on a building he had just walked by—it was a drawing; no, a set of drawings, all of the same thing. Dogs. Running dogs. At first it looked like it was drawn in mud, but then he looked more closely and could see it was clearly written in nothing other than blood.
"The hell...?" Lee said, his mouth open as if he was deep in thought, meditating over the drawing.
The next thing he saw was the mud. His whole body had fallen into it quickly—pulled down. He had been pulled down by...something. He didn't know what, but then he saw a hand on his ankle. It had risen from the mud. And then he saw a face, a mud soaked face, appear in front of him so suddenly he screamed. He lying flat as well, but then he pulled himself up and grabbed Lee by the collar—standing up fully, he pushed Lee to ground, still clenching his collar. Then another man—the same who had been holding Lee's ankle—rose from the mud too. Both of them were dressed in raggedy hoods that were donned over their rusty, red metal plates that were tied to their chests with wilted rope. All of which was completely drenched in mud.
The man who was clenching his collar then let go, but still was keeping Lee on the ground by driving his knees into Lee's ribs—which caused him considerable pain—and pulled out a rag that he used to cover Lee's eyes, and then another to cover his mouth.
The next thing Lee could remember after being dragged through the mud without care or consideration was being inside a place he had no idea the identity of, but could tell that it was awfully cool and very dirty. He was on his knees and held by the shoulders by the two men.
"Take that crap off of him—come on, hurry up..." he heard a voice say in front of him. The next moment the rags were taken off of his eyes and mouth, and he could see again.
He looked at his surroundings—he seemed to be in some sort of underground building, made entirely of metal and wood. It looked like a hollowed out sewer system, which would explain the draft and the dampness of the ground, that had been partially rebuilt with newer metal and wood. Boxes and other luggage were stacked on the sides of walls, and people were bustling around at all angles, going into different hallways. They were all dressed in either the red quesi-armor of the men who had taken him here or rather tattered versions of the clothing worn traditionally in their country, which varied from the Earth Kingdom to...the Fire Nation.
And in front of him, the man who had ordered to men to take off the rags from his face, was a man—looking to be roughly about Lee's age, 20-24—with a mangle, small beard, a bandanna over his messy black hair, and donned in a sleeveless, dirty brown shirt and a hood matching those of the two men, though it was pulled down.
"Hello, Lee," he said, sporting a shockingly bright, white smile; his voice was soothing, sort of, and he seemed to be incredibly charismatic, "my name is Waku. Welcome home."
"Home?" Lee said, confused. "Listen, dude, I don't know what you're talking about, but I seriously want to know what the hell is going on—where am I? And why the hell am I wherever I am?"
"I knew you would chalk-full of question," Waku said, "I made sure Slythrin kept you in the dark so I could have the joy of explaining all this to you personally." And in the following moments where he was explaining to Lee, he truly did seem joyful.
Lee picked himself up, and the two of them proceeded to walk while Waku began his series of explanations.
"We are Chow—The Dogs," Waku said. "We're loyal, we're strong, and we can be quit the douches when we need to"—he chortled a bit—"Ever Dog was once a stray, abandoned by his or her people one way or another. It's these individuals who get to start a new life, a better one, as a dog. They're taken in, and trained to be an animal, to fight, to strategize, to follow orders. The perfect soldier. Others were leftovers from this criminal organization known as the Wind Killers or something—Fire Lord Ozai started them, and they act as a perfect feeding ground for desperate but skilled people that soon become one of the pack. They are all branded, like you, with the Mark of the Dog—'I am not special.' It's a message we all need to learn. We're just slime that the Spirits have put on this planet for the sole purpose of enacting their predestined material. And nothing else."
"But...what do you do?"
"We're an army—a small, but at the same time, massive nation. We're here to deal out what the Great Spirits have destined, have demanded, but what other people refuse to hear, refuse to interpret. We execute the Spirits' plans of violence, and anarchy, and destruction. All acts that they have branded as necessary, but the foolish have disregarded as unholy. We're the smart ones, you see. But now I'm sure you're wondering—what about Slythrin? Slythrin is a Dog—a damn good one, too. He was sent out for you: the Spirits have told of your role in their plans for destruction, and so Slythrin went out to teach you how to give in to your aggression, and thirst for murder, which you needed to learn were really holy and necessary. He trained you to become a Dog so you can act out the Spirits' plans for you."
"And then there's Methius, and Malu," he continued. "Necessary deaths, I assure you. We needed them dead—we needed their death's to scream out to the world that anybody can die, sort of as an omen. And...it would leave its mark on you; further your descent into a perfect, loyal, murdering Dog. Everything will work out, Lee, I assure you—for in the coming months, the final blow of the Spirits' demands that take place will be executed, with the ever-so-loyal help from us. When it is enacted, the world will be cleansed, and the Spirits have assured us that everything will end with peace. But before that must come violence, and anarchy, and destruction—which we deal out. We must start the war. The War to End All Wars."
Lee stopped where he was walking, his jaw dropped—the revelation was insane. So much insanity.
Back in front of the temple
Aang and Zuko had each been bandaged and their wounds had been cleaned by the medics. Zuko was explaining to a guard about the explosion when Aang stopped him, directing his attention in front of them—the Council was walking towards them, relatively unharmed.
"Well, if it isn't you guys," Zuko said angrily.
"Your Majesties," How said, and all five of them bowed, "We deeply apologize for disappearing after the explosion, but we had been thrown back through a hole in the sanctuary right before said hole was completely blocked by wood. We needed to run off quickly so we could alert the proper people who could come and help you. So once again, we apologize, but our disappearance was for your, the Earth King, and the monk's safety."
"That's not all you have to apologize for," Aang said bitterly.
"I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about, but urgency calls for me to humbly interrupt you. You see, with the Earth King now indisposed, we are now in his position of power, so for now meetings with you will take place with u—"
"Wait, what do you mean, the Earth King's indisposed?" Zuko said, looking aghast.
"Well, it appears Earth King Kuei has had mental refractions from an injury in the explosion. Lie was the first to realize this—he went through very productive medical training during the war—and we're afraid the Earth King is going to be in mental recovery for at least two months."
"This is insane!" Zuko shouted, and was prepared to run off to the Earth King to stop this, but then the medic grabbed him by his shoulder to restrain him.
"Please, Fire Lord Zuko, don't strain yourself," How said. "Please rest assure—everything is going to be alright."
Zuko and Aang looked at each other, horrified.
Back in the Dog's headquarters
"Now, for the next series of events, we will be utilizing the final stages of the plan to enact the New War," Waku said, putting his hand on Lee's shoulder, as if to reassure him. "These stages are for the most part political—we've found ways to convince the Council of Five to follow through with a law we've devised that will act as the perfect starting point for the war. Everything will go down smoothly, and you will be on the side of the holy."
"Holy?" Lee began. "Holy?!" He pulled his shoulder away from Waku's grasp. "Bullcrap! You aren't holy, or cleansers, you're not even an army! You're terrorists! And psychopaths! All of this you've so-called 'foreseen' is your deranged, violent minds trying to spread mindless anarchy. It's..it's insane!! And you're—all of you are—insane! Ah!"
Waku punched Lee in the stomach, and pushed him to the ground. His charming, peaceful demeanor changed in that moment to stiff, and annoyed, and angry.
"May thou be sanctioned by the law and the people, but sanctioned for redemption," Haku said in a frustrating, echoing voice. "That is you know, and that's all you need to know. Don't try to rebel—it's what we're misconceived of doing. All those 'Rebels' you've been 'fighting' are us, training you at the same time as we enact this plan. Don't fight destiny. Swim with it. And be sanctioned for it."
Lee lied there on the ground, sifting in this new knowledge. "Insane..."
Insanity and destruction
A central theme explored in "...For I Have Sinned" is concepts of insanity, anarchy, and destruction. The opening is built entirely on the idea of a holy temple of worship being burnt down by fire, which is referred to as "an unholy, festering element of pure destruction...[and] desecration". The concept of insanity is perhaps most epitomized by Slythrin's insane, unprovoked fit of complete, unbridled laughter and uncontrolled hysterics. The scene portrays Slythrin as completely insane, finally showing Lee that is an unstable psychopath. The concept of insanity is taken to another level of thematic drive when several characters begin actually stating that things going on are insane; the last word in the chapter is, in fact, Lee muttering "Insane..."
Waku explains to Lee that the purpose of The Dogs is to help along the predestined plans that the Great Spirits have devised, which involves spreading anarchy and violence, which Waku admits is something most people denounce as sins that the Spirits frown upon. The Dogs themselves act as a core demonstration of "...For I Have Sinned"'s themes of destruction and insanity through their violent, terrorist actions which they believe are in the name of the Great Spirits. Meanwhile, after he and Aang get out of the burning temple, Zuko laments the insanity of the Council asserting Kuei's position as leader of the Earth Kingdom. On a more subtle reference to the insanity themes, How says that Kuei has developed mental infractions from the explosion, implying that he is, on a level, insane.
"...For I Have Sinned" continues a trend in the two-parter's devotion to spiritual themes, exploring this Avatar: The Last Airbender version of religion. The temple, a symbol for religious devotion in the Avatar world, is shown being burned down—this symbolizes a sudden defamation of faith. The entire reasoning behind The Dogs' terrorists actions is their devotion to their spiritual beliefs, which they claim are telling them to spread anarchy and jump-start The War to End All Wars. The majority of Waku's dialogue in the chapter is based around belief systems and religious support.
"...For I Have Sinned" is the second and last part of the first Better World two-parter, the first being "" When Flash came up with the title transition, he had no idea what the chapters would be about, nor that they would be a two-part serial mini-arc. This concept would not be devised until the New Politics Chronicle was underway in development. So while "Forgive Me, Lord..." focused on forgiveness for sins, "...For I Have Sinned" focused on actually committing sin.
Better World creator, and writer and editor of the chapter,, chose to use "...For I Have Sinned" as the "big reveal" chapter of the Chronicle, revealing the majority of unanswered plot threads that were set up in the Chronicle prior to the chapter. These revelations are: the Dogs are a psycho-religious group of radicals who perform terrorists act in the name of the Great Spirits, Slythrin is a member of the Dogs who was sent in cognito to train Lee to become a Dog, the Dogs killed Methius and Malu as a way to give Lee a reason to travel with Slythrin and to make a mark on the people of Ba Sing Se, the assassins who tried to kill Aang in " " are members of the Dogs, and the Council's NL Law is going to be used to jump-start The War to End All Wars. While writing these revelations, Flash found it difficult as he didn't want it to seem too blatant and overt exposition.
Previously in Better World the "I am not special" brand—which, in this chapter, Waku refers to as the "Mark of the Dog"—is introduced; the words which make the brand was inspired by the 1999 film Fight Club. In this movie, the anti-hero Tyler Durden (played by Brad Pitt) gives an unmotivational speech that denounces members of Fight Club as "decaying organisms" and "not the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world," declaring, "You are not special." In this chapter, the inspiration is further invoked with Waku saying that everyone is just "slime that the Spirits have put on this planet for the sole purpose of enacting their predestined material", similar to Durden's belief. Flash originally intended for Waku to say almost verbatim what Tyler did, but decided to make it more subtle.
Flash originally intended to release the chapter about a week after the release of "Forgive Me, Lord..." but he found writing it was more difficult then he expected. Via writer's block and procrastination, he did not finish the chapter until June 23, almost two months from the previous chapter's release. Flash hopes to eventually stop the delays which have been plaguing the story since the beginning of the second chronicle soon.
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|Better World chapters|
| The New World Chronicles
|Bad Start - Hunted - Settling Scores - Eruption - Aftermath|
The New Politics Chronicles
|Bitter Empire - Spare the Innocent - Be Thou a Cain - The Will of All Mankind - Forgive Me, Lord... - ...For I Have Sinned - Bathe With the Dogs - Into Here I Am - John the Revelator - Brothers in Arms|