Previously on The Avatar Rhythm

Cleaving lightning
Apocalyptic Rhythm: Part 4
Chapter information

The Avatar Rhythm


Book 4-The Earth Saga



Written by


Release date

December 21, 2012

Last chapter

Apocalyptic Rhythm: Part 3


This is Chapter 50 of The Avatar Rhythm Series.

The long Summer Solstice sun was beginning to set over the Earth Kingdom. In the Town of Ethos, long benches were being carried to the plaza in front of the town hall, where a hanging platform had been set up. Markale's execution began in twenty minutes. Hoards of people, some from miles and miles away, were gathering to see the event, an event they had longed to see for quite a while.
Takumi and Asaki watched the bustle from the roof of Kotone's house, with a perfect view of the town hall.
"I know this isn't going to end well," Takumi said quietly. It had been hours since he had visited Markale in his jail cell.
"It's going to be fine. I do feel bad for the commissioner, but to tell you the truth, I don't mind him dying either. He has brought unbelievable terror to this world."
He sighed. "I can't argue with that."
The town hall bells began to ring, their deep toll echoing throughout the village streets. The sound of marching footsteps joined in, and everyone turned their heads and watched a parade of police officers and town officials march down the main street, with Markale in handcuffs in the lead. They walked towards the town hall, where they made their way through the crowds and took their positions around the plaza. Two police officers guided Markale up the steps to the hanging platform, where they attached the noose to his neck, tightening the rope afterwards. The execution was set up and ready. The only thing left now was legal complications to get over with.
A man stepped up and walked to a podium at one end of the plaza, raising his hand for silence. Once the excited crowds quieted down, he spoke loud and clear to the audience around him.
"Good evening, travelers from near and far," he announced. "I am Police Chief Hagime of the Town of Ethos. I welcome you here today for a public viewing of the execution of Markale of the Earth Kingdom, former commissioner of The Procession." The crowds cheered and he held his hand up for silence once more. "This man has done a variety of evils to our nation, and this week, he was finally punished for his horrible crimes of cruelty and murder. No more will fear, death, and sadness be brought with the collection of taxes in this town, or in this nation at all."
As he continued talking, Takumi and Asaki looked at each other.
"Markale isn't even trying to resist," Asaki stated, watching the scene in disbelief. "It's like he's given up already."
"He has given up already. We took away all the hope left inside him."
"Still though, he's just standing there contently with a noose around his neck like its nothing. He hasn't made a single emotion this whole time. It's just like he doesn't care. For anything."
Takumi nodded in agreement. "He doesn't anymore."
In the middle of all this, a rapping started at the front door of the house.
"Now who could that be?" Takumi asked.
"I'll get it." Asaki stood up and climbed back down into the house through a trapdoor, walking downstairs and through the living room. She opened the front door, and her mouth dropped open.
There, stood Shirou, looking horrible. His face was pale and his features looked faded. There with eight bloody scabs around circling his face, his clothes were torn, and he had a look on his face between weariness and shock. "Asaki..." he whispered in a rough voice.
She hugged him tightly. "What happened to you?"
"I saw death," he said.
"I saw death right in front of me."
Asaki looked at him with confused sympathy. "What do you mean?"
It was then that Takumi came into the doorway. "Shirou!" he exclaimed, and then stopped when he saw his friends state. "Shirou?"
"I saw something... dark."
"I don't understand," Asaki said.
"Neither do I." With that, Shirou's knees buckled and he collapsed onto her, unconscious.

Three hours before, Omashu was a giant city that stood as a monument to the Earth Kingdom's financial, architectural and military success. But that great city was no more. Instead was a pit - a pit filled with the gray, ashy remains of a prosperous city and stronghold. Giant stones littered the ground. Corpses were scattered all over the place. Fire smoldered from deep within the rubble. It had been about three hours since Isamu had destroyed Omashu. But the battle was not over.
The Chancellor, who had lied beneath a pile of bricks out cold in the center of the wasteland for a while now, suddenly opened his eyes. He blinked rapidly, and tried to stand up. He couldn't. It all came back. The city falling down. One thought appeared in his mind - Where is Shinji? He frantically dug himself out of the rubble, blasting up a large stone above him into pieces so he could crawl out into the open air. Even he was aghast at the sight of Omashu, or rather, what was left of Omashu. The whole place was a field of death. Snapping out of it, The Chancellor trudged through the ashen remains of the city, his limbs sore, searching the area for a body. If Shinji was here, he'd be close. There - an arm poking through the dust. He grabbed it and pulled, dragging out the body of a women dressed in royal clothes - dead. He threw the corpse away, and began pacing back and forth when he glimpsed something shiny in the rubble. He brushed away brick, dust and ash around the gleaming object until it became apparent that he came across a corner of the Omashu throne. That was where they had been when the city fell. It was his best lead. The Chancellor dragged the golden chair out from the debris, and there, preserved underneath, curled up in a ball, was Shinji.
He chuckled a cold chuckle and pulled the body out, pushing the boy's chest to his ear.
A single faint beat.
He was still alive!
The Chancellor smiled, and raised his hand. He was weak, but managed to produce a single purple spark in his hand.
This was it.
He took a deep breath and brought his hand down upon Shinji's neck, the spark of energy wrapping its way around his face and shooting spasms of pain throughout his body. The Chancellor stared at the boy who he had hunted down for the past ten years, in his grip and writhing with pain. Then all at once, he stopped moving.
Was he... dead?
He stared down at the body in his hand. It wasn't moving. He pulled Shinji's chest to his ear once again.
The whole area was left in chilling silence.
A solemn tone of death hung in the air.
Was it really this easy?
This quick?
The Chancellor cast the corpse of Shinji to the ground, laughing out maniacally for the world to hear. "I am immortal!" he called out to the storming heavens above him. "I am a god! No power in this world can match! Bow down to me, you foolish mortals! Bow down to me!"
After a long silence, a small shaky voice appeared from behind. "I will never look up to a monster like you," the voice quivered. The Chancellor turned around and stared in anger at an old man who had survived the destruction of the city, kneeling in the rubble.
"How can you be so cruel?" the man asked. "How heartless can you get to be so intent on killing that boy, around all this death and destruction that you brought to Omashu? How can still care about his life when you've just ended so many thousands of others? No one will bow down to the likes of you just because you are powerful."
Before the man could speak another word, The Chancellor snapped out a bolt of energy that struck and instantly killed him. "Anyone else dare to speak out against me?" he called out. "It's not wise to talk back to a spirit."
The wasteland remained silent.

Shirou's eyes fluttered open to the sight of Asaki stroking his hair.
"You're awake," she whispered.
He blinked a few times. "What's happening?" he asked, sitting up in the couch that he found himself in.
"You fainted on us. Don't worry, you've only been out for around five minutes. Here, have some water." She handed him a cup that he sipped out of a few times.
"Can you see my face?" Shirou asked, fear in his voice.
"Yes, why?"
"I've slain Koh. The spirit is dead. But I'm afraid that I lost something inside as payment."
"You look fine on the outside," Asaki said. "More importantly, if you killed Koh, does that mean..."
"Shinji's curse should be gone."
"I can't believe it."
"It's true. Koh is dead so therefore, his curses are as well."
She smiled and lightly hugged him. "I'm so proud of you."
"I don't know how I managed it."
They paused, looking at each other.
"So what's going on?" he asked.
"Well, for a start," Asaki said. "Markale is about to be executed."
"Right now the judge is calling out his crimes. He's going to be hung afterwards."
Shirou stood up from the couch. "I need to see this."
"Are you sure you can-" Asaki started to say, but Shirou was already climbing up the ladder to the roof of the house to watch. She quickly got up and followed him.
Takumi was already on the top of the house when they came up. "Nice nap?" he joked.
Shirou made a quick chuckle and sat down beside him, staring in disbelief at the giant event in front of them. Hundreds of people gathered in front of the little town hall, all watching Markale standing on a wooden platform in the center of it all with a noose around his neck. They listened in on the current announcements being made.
"Not only was he collecting these taxes in an illegal way," a judge called out from a podium, "But he also used a good portion of the money that he collected for his own uses, taking away from government incomes and in turn, making a substantial blow in the national economy. His murders across the kingdom also had an affect in many towns. Just this past week while in The Town of Ethos, he has assaulted five innocent people, one being the King of Omashu and another a police officer that he severely injured. He also did substantial damage to the police station and a house on West Street. For these crimes, whether they be on a local, national, or global level, Markale of the Earth Kingdom will be sentenced to death. By law, he has up to five minutes to announce any last words before being hung.
Takumi looked at them. "Be prepared for something unexpected."
Everyone stared intently at Markale.
"Good evening," the commissioner loudly called out in his crazed voice. "I know you all have come a while to see me, so I wish you could leave satisfied. However, you will not be, for I, uh, have some disappointing news. The evil in me that you have all loved to hate and longed to see die tonight has never existed. The violence I spread, it's not my fault, I never wanted to kill."
Booing crowds raged in the audience.
"What is he saying?" Asaki asked.
Markale continued. "My past is not a happy one, lets just say that. You see, the evil that I have now came from something, someone else. That source of evil is named The Chancellor. I am skipping ahead though, sorry me, lets go back to the beginning. It starts back in the family estate in the northern mountains, I was fifteen at the time. My family had created a business they called The Procession, they helped the Earth King out with the taxes. I had an older brother, Gephel. He wasn't very involved with the business, but I loved to watch my father work with the counting machines and helped him with paperwork. It was one day, a little more than ten years ago, we had a knock on our door. It was The Chancellor, a energybender."
The trio on the roof looked at each other.
"He said he needed money and humans to create a new task force, they'd be hunting a very wanted man down, but we refused. The Chancellor didn't care. He saw strength in my older brother, Gephel, and used energybending to transform him into a mindless bandit of his, a Quadrination Bandit, right in front of my own very eyes I saw my loving brother change into a new, senseless killing machine. My parents tried to stop him, so The Chancellor killed them without a second thought, I was the only one left. But he didn't kill me. I was the successor to The Procession. He saw hope in me. He told me that if I didn't want to end up like my brother, I'd run The Procession and send send him one thousand gold coins from my profits each solstice. And I did so, out of fear, and I started to do whatever it took, expand over multiple nations, turn to violence, I sent this evil man my dues twice a year for a long time. But inside, there was still a burning feeling to take him down and avenge my brother, who is now dead. This past winter solstice, though, something unexpected happened. We had recently had an attack at our Western Headquarters, and it resulted in the loss of eleven hundred coins. I couldn't pay my The Chancellor, so I told him that instead of one thousand this winter and this summer, we'd skip a winter payment and I'd give him five thousand this summer. We agreed, and for these six months, I started killing anyone who wouldn't pay their taxes so I could get five thousand gold coins. Unfortunately, we didn't make it. I still didn't have enough.
"One minute left!" a town official called out.
"I still had another option," Markale continued, talking faster and faster. "The Procession had always been trained as an army, so in case we ever needed to rebel, it was possible. The time had come. I heard that my brother had died. I decided to take the situation into my own hands. It was time to take down The Chancellor, to challenge his power. I wouldn't pay him at all this solstice. I trained my tax collectors, got them armor and weapons, began a march southwards to find the energybender who ruined my life and finally complete my life mission, to kill him. I was sick and tired of having to do everything so I could please that villain. I failed though. The Chancellor found me on the first night of our march, attacked me, and when he realized I had nothing to pay him, transformed everyone in The Procession into bandits just like he did to my brother, leaving him with an army and me with nothing. It only got worse. I came here in search of money. I got arrested and sentenced to death. A week before the dream I had of finally avenging my family and becoming a free man was so close, and now, it is gone forever."
"Ten seconds!"
Sweat beaded down Markale's face, and he began to smile a shaky, deranged smile. "I thought that everything I had ever dreamed of was gone until just now, when I got a newfound hope in the world. I used to think that I needed to kill The Chancellor, but now I know I can trust someone else. Shirou!" he called out, and over dozens of yards, they made eye contact. "Shirou, you must kill him for me, do it for me and my brother and my parents, kill The Chancellor!"
Shirou, atop the roof, stared in sorrow at the commissioner and tried to say something, but the floor beneath Markale was already pulled away and he fell, instantly choked by the noose around his neck. There, the commissioner of The Procession hung, dead for the world to see. And even though he had been killed, he had died smiling - his truth, final wishes and beliefs were out. After that, he only wanted to die, and Markale always got what he wanted.
Takumi and Asaki sat on either side of Shirou, and stared at him in silence.
"I have to leave for Omashu," he said quietly.
Takumi shook his head. "You don't have to go just because Markale wanted you to."
"Yes I do."
"You just killed Koh, you're in no shape to go back into battle."
"What's the fastest animal in the town?"
"No, you aren't going."
Shirou turned to Asaki. "Yes, I am! I'm not just doing this for Markale, the world needs me! Just because Shinji's curse is gone doesn't mean he is saved. I'm doing this for everyone!"
She stared in understanding comfort. "Alright. But I'm going to help you."
"What?" Takumi asked.
Asaki stood up, taking Shirou's hand. "Lets go."
They ran down into the house, and started getting prepared. Coats, bandages, water, packs, it all had to be ready.
"Are you sure you're in shape to do this?" Asaki asked.
"That doesn't matter. I need to do this. And I need to do it alone." He walked around. "Where's my sword?"
"Here," she said, handing him his weapon.
"How do you think I should travel there?" Shirou asked
"There are ostrich horses in the town barn."
"An ostrich horse is too slow."
Asaki thought for a second. "I saw a man come into the city with an eel hound."
"What, you want me to steal it?" Shirou asked.
"You still can if you get out of here quick!"
He grabbed his coat, put on his sword and threw a backpack on. He walked towards the door.
"You're sure you want to do this?"
"No one there knows that Koh is dead. My part in this battle isn't over yet." He walked towards the door, and opened it, ready to leave.
"Wait," Asaki said.
He turned around.
"Good luck," she said, holding the door for him.
They looked at each other, eyes full of emotion.
"Asaki," he whispered. "I just want you to know..." he paused, looking around, his cheeks turning red. "I've never said it like this before, but, well... I love you."
She stared at him. Memories flashed in her mind of the Polar Revolution days, and she thought back to the day when she talked to Shirou's sister, and promised that she'd find him, when she was filled with new hope after making him her goal. His words from just this morning before leaving for the Spirit World flashed in her mind. You have to follow your heart, you need to believe in who you truly love. She looked into his eyes and they both moved forward, their lips touching for a short, heartfelt kiss. "I love you too."
And with that, Shirou walked out the door, ready to put his final mark on the fate of this day.

Hours past.
As the sun slowly set, darkness began to fall across the Earth Kingdom.
Sinister wind swept across the horizon.
Evil had triumphed.
In the rubble where Omashu once stood, Kotone stared out in miserable disbelief. She lay protected under the corner of a building that had fallen in the destruction of the city, covered in dust and ash. Her whole body was bruised, bloody gashes dotting her frail skin. She stood up, aching everywhere. The sight around her was terrible. The balance was broken. Everything was out of place.
Kotone stepped out into the open gray field of ruins. It was a desolate, lifeless wasteland.
Suddenly, a flash of purple from somewhere in the area broke into the darkness, and cold laughter echoed through the air.
She knew that voice, and creeped closer, afraid of what might happen.
There - The Chancellor's deathly figure gliding across the wreckage. He had survived. She ducked behind a pile of rocks.
"All you fools who haven't already died, bow down to your spirit elder!" the enerybender cackled in the darkness. "I am immortal and fear nothing!"
Immortal? Kotone shook her head in disbelief. It can't be.
"I dare anyone to try and rebel against me," The Chancellor called out.
She wanted to stand up and fight, but thought better of it. If what he said was true, there was no way to win. The truth was horrible.
"Fellow spirits, hear my cry!" he yelled, sending a streak of purple lightning into the sky. "Hear my roar of power!"
Kotone couldn't take it any more. This arrogant evil couldn't make her hide in fear. She stood up. "You don't scare us," she whispered.
The Chancellor turned and faced her. "What did you say?"
"You don't scare me or anyone here. We aren't going to let you, a cruel man who just brought death to thousands of innocent people, bully us like this."
"You think I brought all this death?" he hissed. "You think the destruction of Omashu was my doing?"
"Who else would have done this?" she asked.
"It was King Isamu. He destroyed this city in hopes to kill me because there was no option left."
"But he failed. Shinji and I both survived, and now the cursed one is dead. The glorious king of this city killed all of his people for nothing. Welcome to the nightmare." He punched forward, knocking Kotone to the ground. She fell in a pile of ash, in too much pain to move.
When dark silence had once again fallen across the wasteland, a new, strong voice suddenly cut into the darkness. "You're wrong, Chancellor!" it called out.
Everyone alive in the near vicinity turned, and their mouths dropped open in a mix of surprise and complete disbelief. There, standing on a hill of rubble was Shirou, proudly looking down upon the wasteland.
"You're wrong!" he shouted again.
The Chancellor turned to face him. "I thought I killed you already. No matter. Even if you should be dead, I am still right, powerful and superior to all, so I'd suggest you stop talking back to me."
"Not anymore you aren't," Shirou said, walking forward. "Isamu didn't fail when he brought down this city. You see, you may have still survived, but he bought us time. And in that time that our king gave us, I've slain Koh and his curse."
"What?" he asked in horror.
"Koh tried to steal my face, but I was too strong. I killed the great spirit, along with his bounty on Shinji, all while you were asleep in this rubble. You lose!"
"Nonsense," he spat. "No one can escape Koh's grip."
"You are still mortal," Shirou asserted, not a hint of fear in his voice. "Just like the humans that surround you."
The Chancellor, legitimately afraid, made a small slice through the skin on his arm with a fingernail, and everyone watched blood begin to ooze out. He stared in terror.
Shirou pulled out his sword and got into a fighting position.
"What are you going to do, fight me?" The Chancellor asked. "Maybe I am still mortal, but when it comes to brute strength you are still greatly outmatched."
He held his sword, hands quivering. He could end this right now. All that he needed was the will to come down with an attack.
But he couldn't.
Shirou cast his sword to the ground, the clanging of metal against stone echoing throughout the dusk air.
"Huh?" The Chancellor scoffed, taken off guard.
"What's the point of killing you?" Shirou asked. "I don't believe in violence."
"This is why you are a fool. If you do not believe in violence when at the brink of death, what else can you believe in?"
"I believe in The Avatar Rhythm."
And then, Shirou began to hum. He dropped his backpack to the ground along with the knife in his belt, and started humming the tune that he had heard on the koto many a time before.
"What are you doing?" The Chancellor asked. "You idiot, what good will a song do you here? Prepare to die!"
And then, somebody else out in the rubble joined in with Shirou, humming along with him.
The Chancellor looked around in disbelief. "What is this?"
Lying from in a pile of ash, Kotone beamed. She too, began to hum The Avatar Rhythm with them, and other voices began to join in from around the wasteland.
"What are you doing?"
Survivors from all around the area began to stand up and hum with them, a chorus of the same, simple tune wafting in the air. It was mostly citizens at first, but Omashu soldiers began to join in too. Even Procession members were humming. Even Kyong, half dead in the rubble was humming along with them.
And the Chancellor turned around, staring at crowds and crowds of people, enemies and friends alike, all singing the same song together in the midst of all this death and destruction. He hadn't taken away their hope, it was still there. He finally knew what it meant. What life was truly about. He saw the world clearly for the first time. He looked at the hundreds of people he had injured, the city that he had brought to the ground, at Shinji, who he had killed.
Joyous humming surrounding him in all directions, he spoke out one, simple line with eyes unclouded by compassion.
"I want to die."
For it wasn't hate that killed The Chancellor.
But love.
And The Chancellor fell to the ground.

The Summer Solstice was months ago.
Forgotten in a wild nightmare.
Shirou sat in a black tunic in a Fire Nation field, in the outskirts of the country. He was a in a small, quiet cemetery, dotted with pretty trees in full bloom.
In front of him was a short, gray tombstone, inscribed with the following words. Shinji of the Fire Nation. 300 - 324 AG. He sold his soul for his family and his life for the world. The monument was nothing elaborate. Just a thin board of rock stuck into the ground. Not a curve or design more.
He sat and stared, doing all he could to keep memories of his friend out of his mind.
But there were too many.
Shinji was a good man. He didn't deserve what he got.
"Hey," a voice said from behind.
Shirou looked over. It was Hotaru. "Hey," he quietly replied, looking back at the grave.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"Just sitting."
She walked over to him.
"It's sad," he said. "I can't stop thinking about him."
"I know you didn't want it to end like this."
"It's over though, isn't it? Shinji did all he could. We have to put that phase of our life behind us and start anew."
"What are you planning on doing?" Hotaru asked.
He shrugged. "Asaki and I are going back to the North Pole. After that, we haven't figured much more out."
They looked out in silence.
"Hey, I have something to show you," Hotaru said.
Shirou looked up and saw her pulling a narrow object out from her coat and holding it out for him. It was the Fifth Scroll of Kaito, dented and burnt in places. "They found it in Omashu's wreckage," she said. "I thought you might want it."
He took the scroll and turned it around in his hands.
Shirou turned to her. "I want you to burn it for me."
"What?" she asked. "Don't you want to see what it says inside?"
"This scroll turned an honorable man like Kaito into a complete monster. I don't want that to happen to me."
"But you're different."
"No I'm not," he said. "My grandfather was more noble than I could ever hope to be. Yet he still was corrupted. Please, burn the scroll."
"Are you sure?" Hotaru asked.
"Do it before I take a peek inside. Please."
She nodded, took the scroll in one hand and made a flame in the other. She took a deep breath, then brought the flame to the thick scroll until it lit. Once burning strongly, she placed it on the ground in front of Shinji's grave, and they watched it smolder in silence.
Shirou suddenly broke down, tears beginning to drip down his face.
"What's wrong?" Hotaru asked comfortingly.
"It's just that," he whispered, his voice cracking. "It's just the last time I ever talked with Shinji, he just sounded so desperate just to be able to live without constant fear. He wanted me to save him so badly. And I promised," he choked. "I promised on everything I loved that I'd help him. But I didn't."
Hotaru put a hand on his back, patting it lovingly. "It wasn't your fault."
"I know it wasn't. It's just that I've turned my back and double crossed him so many times before, and every time I've always said that I owe him one, or that I'll make up for it, but I never have. And now, I know I'll never be able to."
He stared at Shinji's grave, and put a hand on the stone as tears began to carelessly flow down his cheeks.

The End of The Avatar Rhythm.


There you have it, folks. I'm still trying to get my head around the fact that it's over. I've had it going for over one and a half years now. It's just kind of weird.

So how did you like the finale? I really, really wanted to get it done by the 21st, so I sort of rushed over the past two weeks. I don't know if my brain meltdowns on those past-midnight writing sessions came through on the final product or not, you can tell me. I like the way it all turned out. The last few chapters definitely were heavily influenced by some other works, most noticeably Miyazaki's Castle in the Sky, one of my favorite films of all time. Isamu destroying Omashu at the end of Part 3 was very much based off the ending of this movie where Sheeta and Pazu use the Spell of Destruction to destroy Laputa. The biggest inspiration for the final battle against The Chancellor was, believe it or not, was The Grinch that Stole Christmas. Watch the ending - you'll be able to pick up some major similarities. Markale's death had some underlying tones from The Outsiders, my favorite book of all time, when Dally is shot and killed and Ponyboy thinks "I knew he would be dead, because Dally Winston wanted to be dead and he always got what he wanted." That was basically the only thing I took, when I wrote "After that, he only wanted to die, and Markale always got what he wanted." The dark hallway that Shirou appears in when Koh tries to steal his face in Part 3 represented the space between life and death, and it was very much influenced by The Gate from Fullmetal Alchemist, an awesome anime show. You'll know what I mean if you've seen it. There were a few other minor hints from other works, but I've covered the major ones.

I think I'll make a large post-Rhythm blog sometime in the next week covering all the inspirations for Rhythm, insights on the creation of the story, some exclusive content and basically just a goodbye to all my fans. So be on the lookout for that.

When should you be expecting BlackMonkey to strike again in the fanonverse? Probably not 'till summertime. I'll be taking kind of a break from the wiki for a while. Once school gets out in June, I think I'll be starting a shorter story called Divinity Emulator. We'll just have to wait and see how things play out. For now, all I can say is thanks for reading my story and joining me on my journey.

BlackMonkey, signing out.

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