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20th October 2013
Water, Earth, Fire, Air.
For 100 years, the four nations were at war on the day Sozin's comet arrived, and the Fire Nation first attacked. Only the Avatar, master of all four elements could stop them, but he vanished.
About three years ago, my brother and I discovered the new Avatar, an airbender named Aang. And after finding some allies and mastering all four elements, Aang defeated Fire Lord Ozai and put an end to the war. Our friend and ally, Zuko, was then crowned the new Fire Lord and together, we all set about rebuilding the world.
But while we are all at peace now, there is still tension between the nations and further secret activity that Aang may not be able to stop. Many believe that the Avatar cannot possibly heal the world after 100 years of war, but I believe Aang can.
I passed straight through the portal, and watched as my home closed behind me. I turned and took a good look around; the place that I ended up in was pleasantly quiet, for the moment at least. It was clearly a market, the stands and the stools made that clear the moment I turned my head. But the thing that was confusing me was that everything was neatly set up, ready to be sold, yet no one was there at all. No buyer, no seller, not even a bystander to wonder round aimlessly passed the stalls.
"Where is everyone?" I exclaimed out loud.
I let my voice disappear. I felt completely alone, the irony being that I was always alone, stuck in the timeless dimension with no company. Well that wasn't completely true, I always had Shi to talk to if I needed any information or if was in the mood for a chat, he never said much, being an ancient spirit and all, but he was a wise voice, hiss, groan, whatever, when I needed it. But now I was in a place that was purposely thriving with life, and there was nothing in it but stationary objects and no one was around even to acknowledge this.
I took steps forward and entered through the streets. I passed the stools of products and produce, looking for any signs of life, even if it was a cricketfly, I wasn't picky. I passed a large poster, carelessly stuck upon a bare wall down an alley, bearing the Fire Nation Insignia: a large red circle with a three primed black flame rounded evenly in the centre. The poster was an encouragement for migration to the former Fire Nation colonies in the Earth Kingdom. The poster bore a large black image of a map of the Earth Kingdom with the colonies stripped and a large picture of Avatar Aang, Earth King Kuei and Fire Lord Zuko all shaking hands together.
I took a step back, then took a short tumble after tripping over a wagon filled to the brim with cabbages. Clumsily I took the wagon with me as I fell, knocking the vegetables tumbling down a slope back through the market. I saw a man wearing green, white and yellow, the colours of the Earth Kingdom, run straight passed me, ignoring my existence to chase down his produce as it rolled further down.
"Noooo! My Cabbages! Even Away From The Earth Kingdom They Are Not Safe!"
Guilty as I was, I wasn't prepared to stick around to see him return. The least I did for him was bend time around what cabbages were left, as well as the wagon, reversing the effect that I inevitably caused. The wagon was set back on its wheels and the cabbages were set back to their original settings. Which just left me to leave the scene in good time.
Flying was still an exhilarating experience. It was so much fun to soar through the skies. I couldn't help but scream my lungs out with excitement. Circling round and around the mountains of the Southern Air Temple. Momo followed my flight movements as he always did, though he would make several detours to catch insects. I would chuckle often seeing him stuff himself. As soon as he rejoined I told him "Cummon Momo, let's get back to Appa and the others."
"Mmyah" he replied.
We flew further down towards the temple grounds where Appa was waiting, eating mountain upon mountain of hay that was delivered to him almost every minute of the day by the Air Acolytes who had started settling into the old Air Nomad Temples; only a small number resided here, while most were starting to settle on a small island near the former Fire Nation colonies. Me, Zuko and Kuei were going to make a fifth nation from them, a separate one where any culture could live in harmony with another as Fire Colonials did with the Earth Kingdom subjects in Yu Dao.
I landed and ran straight to Appa. Momo took the short cut and landed on Appa's head.
"Hey there buddy, they feeding you well?"
Appa opened his mouth and slavered me with his enormous tongue. I laughed as his tongue lifted me off my feet. I started patting his large head as he closed his eyes and nudged head up and down me. One of the Air Acolyte girls walked back up to Appa, holding her entire armful of hay. She placed it near the rest of the pile, which immediately drew Appa's attention back to eating.
"Welcome back Avatar Aang, Did you enjoy your flight?"
"It never gets old, maneuvering through the clouds is tricky, but that's what makes it fun." I span my glider around until it folded back into a staff. "Thanks for feeding him, we've got a long journey today, don't we guys?"
"I'll take that as a yes." I airbended onto Appa and grabbed the reins.
"What will you do now, Avatar?"
"First I'll pick up Katara and Sokka from the South, then we get Toph from her Metalbending school, and we'll all go to the Eastern Air Temple."
"What of the Fire Lord? Won't he be coming?"
"I thought I'd leave Zuko to his duties. I feel he's had enough travelling for a while. Besides, he has a nation to watch over now."
"Well, safe trip to you all."
"Thanks. Alright boy, time to head south. Yip-yip" and we took off.
"Sokka! Get up, Aang's coming any minute!"
And just like that, another night of sleep ruined. Katara knew just to wake me when my dreams were getting to the best part. I chose not to move a muscle, hoping that she would eventually leave me alone. Then I could get back to some quality dream time with Suki.
-*SPLASH*- "Arrrrgh!" And I was just dosed in water by my crazy waterbending sister who thinks its alright to disturb a man's sleepy time, again.
"Oh good you're awake."
"Why is it I can never get a snooze in the morning when you think that spraying me in icy cold water is the only thing you can think of doing besides letting me sleep?"
"Because, lazy bones, Aang is coming! The least you could do is be a bit more excited about this."
"And I am, just let me sleep. I at least want to be fresh and prime before you and your boyfriend gross me out again."
"Oh yeah. I'm gross. I don't kiss my pillow and say 'Oh Suki' when I sleep."
"MMMyhhh, less pestering, more sleeping." I continued to try and wave her off. Literally, I waved my hand in a manner to get her to go.
"Sokka!" I felt my sleeping bag being pulled from underneath me. "Good, you're out of bed," she said before walking straight out.
"I miss the old days sometimes. I wish Aang were here." I replied before trying to bury my face in the floor.
I continued running in the direction of the screaming, rushing through the streets before coming to the front door of a house. Without hesitation I burst through the door, sending it plummeting forward to the ground.
"Arrrrgh! This tea is too hot." There was a family sitting round a table, drinking tea. Not the emergency I expected. They turned to realise I was standing on top of their door, complete with a confused expression on my face.
I felt my cheeks go red. "Sorry! Wrong door." I answered as I stepped slowly backwards, reversing the damage I did to the door as I exited. Had I decided to look round before I went through the door, I wouldn't have bumped into a Fire Nation sentry patrol.
"Hey Kid! Watch yourself."
Had I not panicked and remembered the era, I wouldn't have done what I did next: I kind of . . . sort of . . . um, ripped a hole underneath the closest guard and let him fall through another rip that opened up on a rooftop. The other guards just stared at me for a while, before I made my choice of attack: Run!
I had no direction, I just followed the streets as they came. I would just follow down the same road until I thought I had a good place to turn to. With the adrenaline from running, I easily lost track of where I was going, I remember only one left, two rights, then a second left, but I swear I keep on running past that cabbage merchant at least eight times.
I finally hit the wall, no literally, a wall. A dead end. A rat in a cage. Lucky for me I lost the guards, I could hear them panting and weazily shouting out for me to stop, but at least I thought I was safe. Until the girls in green jumped me.
I had relatively little time to react: five dropped right in front of me, cutting off my escape. I was prepared to warp out of the situation, had I not been struck with several quick jabs in both my arms and legs. I had no idea why, but I just lost all feeling in my limbs and subsequently fell face first into the street.
I hit my head so hard I found it difficult to see properly, all the images became fuzzy and unclear. In what felt like the distance, even though it was close, I heard only two sentences before speaking:
"Is it just me or is he cute?"
"Take him to the palace, the Fire Lord will decide what to do with him."
I ran straight outside to the sound of people cheering. A long bison groan greeted the sounds as Aang, Momo and Appa closed in for landing.
"Sokka! Come on, he's here."
"Katara!" I heard him moan "Ahhhh, I haven't even had breakfast yet." Just plain old Sokka, food was his priority over anything important. But Aang was coming and I didn't care for his opinion. All I wanted to do right now as hug my boyfriend and never let him go again.
Appa landed and was instantly crowded around by all the younglings that had at one time or another used his tail like a slide. Aang descended from him and had a difficult time maneuvering around through his southern fan base.
Momo came flying off of Aang's back and glided towards Sokka. Momo nested himself on Sokka's head before flying off again just as a herd of children stampeded over Sokka. He cried out in pain to the sound of trampling children chasing after a lemur bat.
"Katara!" He shouted.
"Aang!" I replied.
"Owwww, my face!" Sokka complained.
Just as I wanted to do for so long, I ran straight up to my boyfriend and hugged like I never wanted him to go again.
"I missed you sweetie."
"I missed you too sweetie."
We both opened away from hugging and closed in to kiss each other . . .then Sokka's voice completely ruined the moment as it always did:
"Urghhh. Please, just don't, at least wait till I'm asleep before you do all that mushy business."
"Sokka," Gran-Gran came up from behind with Master Paku and placed her hand on his shoulder "Be nice to your sister, let her be."
"Listen to your Grandmother, Sokka," Paku added.
"Paku," Gran-Gran said smiling.
He chuckled slightly "Yes Dear," as they leaned in to kiss each other.
"Oh man not you two as well," he complained. Aang and I took the opportunity to do the same, in spite of his protests.
Momo then returned and landed back on his head, then flew off from the returning stampede, leaving Sokka crushed and on the floor.
"Urrhhhhh. Worst Day Ever!" he groaned.
I sat in the throne room alone. The fires in front of the hall were flickering brightly and blazing. Then the door opened and a guard walked into room. "What is it?" I asked.
He took a bow on one knee. "I'm sorry to bother you, Fire Lord Zuko, but one of our sentries has captured criminal on the market streets."
"As if that's new. Anything else?"
"Um well," he said before looking at a piece of paper. "Um, fifteen years old, slim, dark haired, hazel eyes, believed to be from the former colonies . . . and . . . ohh."
"What is it? Well spit it out!"
"Um, Fire Lord, he's a bender . . . "
"Is that it?"
"Well, he bends, but the guards couldn't identify it."
I got up from the throne. I walked out of the fire and towards the guard. "What do you mean 'couldn't identify it'?"
"Well, sir. It wasn't anything we've seen. It could have been air . . ."
"How can that be, the Avatar is the last airbender alive. Now you're telling me there's another one."
"Zuko!" I turned at the sound of Uncle Iroh's voice. He was visiting for the holidays, the ones that he invented as acting Fire Lord, National Tea Appreciation Day had evolved into a weekly thing. It seems silly, but people really enjoyed it, Uncle Iroh sure knew how to make a holiday last and appreciated. He turned to me with concern. "Calm down please nephew. How about some calming Jasmine Tea?"
I couldn't help but let my frustration die down. "No thanks Uncle, I'm good now."
Uncle turned to the guard. "Please continue with your description of this interesting vigilante."
"Um, very well General Iroh, um, we think he's an airbender, but his movements, his bending, they were . . ."
"Did they blow you away, use any form of wind?" Uncle continued.
"Well, no. Apparently he ripped a whole in the ground . . . "
"An Earthbender?" I interrupted.
"Well, no. The earth didn't move. It was like a puddle, but it wasn't water. The guard started by falling through it literally, and then he reappeared on top of a house several yards behind his original position."
"Well, we don't have any confirmed sightings except from the guards and one cabbage merchant saw this event occur, but . . . "
"Maybe it would be wise to bring in the defendant in to see if he can shed light on the subject." Uncle answered.
"Yes, bring in the accused, guards."
"Very well, Fire Lord Zuko." The guard left the room, leaving me and Uncle Iroh alone.
"What do you think of this predicament, Zuko?"
"I'm unsure Uncle. I, I don't know how to react."
"I'm sure you do, you're just unsure if your reaction is expected of the Fire Lord."
"I don't know if it is wise to let in this unknown bender into the palace Uncle. What would the court think of this? What would . . ." I stopped myself. I knew where this would be going, and from the look of his face, Uncle did also.
"You can't judge someone before you get to know them. It would be like saying you don't know whether to eat a bowl of noodles that may smell rotten at first, but until you take that first bite, you cannot judge whether or not it is delightful or rotten. As Fire Lord, you must make the difficult choice to trust in your instincts and decide whether or not the accused is innocent or guilty by meeting him in person and deciding based on what you can taste from the situation."
We stuck around for a while, but we needed to pick up Toph by tomorrow so we packed up quickly and all boarded. I enjoyed having Katara and Sokka back, it was like old times again. Except it was so much different now; I was now really comfortable around Katara, but somehow Sokka lost his funny when he started paying more attention to me and her.
"Ladies and Gentleman, we will be flying non stop for the Beifong Metalbending Academy, keep your hands and feet inside the bison at all times. The exits are located here and basically everywhere. Enjoy your flight." I announced.
Katara immediately locked her arms around me as we took off into the sky, and we both leaned in for another kiss.
And Sokka happened again: "Can you guys stop for five minutes, there is another person here."
"If you don't like it, why did you still come along?" Katara asked crossly.
"I have my reasons, and my brotherly duty to make sure you don't do anything too oogy."
"Then I think you should have been more worried about your grandsonly duties then." That reaction on Sokka's face was priceless. I couldn't help but snicker slightly.
"I'm just glad that we'll get away from that old people love,*laaah* just as long as you two stop it right now."
"Come on Sokka, you do it all the time when you're with girls." I pointed out.
"That's not the point, It just doesn't settle with my instinct that I have to watch my best friend and my little sister smooching all the time. It was bad enough that you started calling each other sweetie all the time."
Katara finally had enough. "Oh, grow up Sokka, seriously, all you do is complain about us, I for one am sick and tired of hearing you moan when I didn't bother you once about Suki."
"Uhhh." Sokka was in serious trouble, Katara was now on a roll.
"And another thing: You once said it yourself, your instincts are sometimes wrong, so why don't you believe in your own words rather than something that makes you feel sick inside all the time."
"Okay, okay, sheesh. Calm down." He waited for a while then turned to Momo and said, "Girls, huh."
I could hear Momo let out a small 'Myah' like he usually did, and I imagined him turning his head to one side as to say 'Sorry, I can't believe that you'd think I'd understand what you're telling me'.
Appa continued flying us north, as I looked behind at the setting sun. I knew, that as the sun would rise again, we would see Toph again.
I was left in the care of two female guards, both dressed from head to toe in green with white face and red eyeline. One was wearing a large gold headpiece, almost like a helmet, but had crossed bars overlapping the front of it. The other one was more like a headband or a flat tiara.
The one to my right in the helmet headpiece was definitely older than me. She was undeniably the leader the way she stood like a leader should, tall, proud and sure of your actions and orders. The way she talked was commanding, but showed a hint of responsibility and serious caring to her fellow warriors. Something was admirable about it. Though she would let her emotions get the better of her when she thought no one was looking; her face said it all, it dropped slightly like she missed someplace, or someone in particular.
The other in the headband/tiara was around my age; she looked physically older, but her actions depicted her as much more a free spirit, "big person" talk for acted much younger than she was. She couldn't keep herself still for all those hours of standing around. She would show just how flexible she was by simply bending backwards till her hands touched the ground and then hoisted her legs into the air and place herself back into guarding position. She was also generally happy, it slightly creeped me out, but it was pleasant as well to be generally happy all the time, the naivety of youth.
I began to feel my arms again, which I tested by moving my fingers slightly. Slow movements, so neither of them would notice. I just needed the right moment, I needed a distraction of some sort; I've had time to think things through for what seemed like eternities, I knew how I was going to escape:
"Which one of you said I was cute?"
Both of them turned to look at me, I kept my head looking straight ahead, but I let my eyes look either side.
"Oh that was me, and you are, very," said the one in the headband.
"Aww shucks, thank you for that it really made my day."
"Oh you're wel . . ."
"Ty Lee!" said the one in the helmet. "We are guards, not visitors. We swore to help out our friend in these troubling times, and one of them is helping with his secruity. We are here to do our work, which doesn't include socialising with the criminals."
"Oh, sorry Suki. Don't worry, it won't happen again. Kyoshi Warriors Honour."
Something ticked in my head, it all then started pouring out of me like a history scroll. "Kyoshi Warriors, named after the Kyoshi Island, which itself is named after Avatar Kyoshi, who wore a similar styled gear you two are wearing."
"And you can shut up and all." Suki warned me, but I was on a roll.
"Current Leader: Suki, nonbender, like all Kyoshi Warriors, uses fans, a shield and a katana. Ally to Avatar Aang, officially a member of Team Avatar, a term invented by . . . "
"Will you just stop talking for two minutes, Mr . . . uh . . . knows a lot about everything."
Ok, I lost complete track of what I was doing; "Sorry, was that suppose to be a joke? Wasn't very good, and I've heard some bad jokes in my day."
"How is that possible, you're younger than both of us."
"I'm a lot older than you think."
"You said you were fifteen."
"I was fifteen, and I haven't aged since."
"I'd rather not say, actually."
"Tell. Me. Now!"
"Certainly not with that tone."
I pushed too many buttons at that point. She kicked me over very easily. I probably could have moved, but I was still having difficult moving my arms, so the landing wasn't any softer.
"Since when?" she repeated, grabbing me up again.
"Since I became a bender."
She suddenly just dropped me, like something clicked inside her head. "Wait, you're saying you weren't a bender."
"I was, I am and I will be." I finally got back into what I was planning before, just before I was loosing track of what I was doing. I should really have chosen better words, I just ticked her off again, lucky there was an interruption before she could kick me over again.
A guard walked in from the main hall. "Uh, the Fire Lord wishes to see the prisoner in person. Immediately."
Ty Lee and Suki then grabbed me by the arms and promptly dragged me to the Throne Room of Fire Lord Zuko.
Class over for the day. Another successful day beating those new lily livers into submission. Those new wires that we started using are fun to use in whipping, hanging them upside down, tying them in knots. Nothing was more amusing . . . rewarding, than seeing them squirm attempting to take on the greatest Earthbender and Metalbender in the world.
"No point coming quiet. I know you anywhere twinkle toes." I waited for a smart remark, but he just stood there. I slammed my foot against the ground. He was alone; no Katara, no Sokka, no Appa, no Momo either. Something was up, it felt like it was Aang, he was light on his feet, but somewhat slightly heavier, like he had gotten bigger also.
I twisted round and outstretched my arm, hurling a piece of the floor in the stranger's direction. I knew it missed, I felt the rock shatter against the walls of my school. The problem now was that he was no longer on the ground. I couldn't feel his feet touching the surface, but he was still in the room, somewhere.
"The Blind Bandit," I heard and threw a rock to my left. His voice was deeper than Aang's, not adult deep, but teen deep, but also settled and not in between breaking. "The Runaway," I threw to my right. "When I heard that the Avatar was taught Earthbending by a blind girl . . ." I threw back to my left. " . . . I laughed at the thought of seeing just how . . . 'talented' you were." I raised the ground beneath, as well as the whole floor of the hall, breaking through the roof, attempting to get him on the same level, literally. Luckily I felt his feet touch the ground as I first raised the floor. I quickly trapped him in between two rocks. We were now high above the ground, but still on solid earth.
"Ha, you call it talent. I call it 'owning your sorry ass.'"
"He he he, for a blind girl, you know exactly where to look."
"I would say the same, but I caught you like a fly in a web. Just as you were starting to bug me."
He then just remained silent. Not a word, not a breath, not even a heart beat. Then he vanished. He got loose. I turned around aimlessly, I could feel a warm, unsettling wind brush my ears. I felt so helpless. He could be anywhere and I had no clue where he was. He had to be an Airbender, no one else other than Aang was that light on his feet.
I then felt the wind pick up behind me, growing stronger. It became so strong that I tried planting my feet into the ground to stay standing. Then I felt my feet being ripped from the earth and lifted off the ground. I lost my seismic sense, I was blind. Well, yes I was already blind, but now I was unable to see with Earthbending anymore. I didn't even know where the earth was.
The weightlessness was making me feel sick. Then I could hear him blow closer, till I could feel his breath directly in front of my face. "I have a message," he said, grabbing the bottom of my chin and clawing into my neck.
All could do was grip his wrists and choke on what air I had left. I would have said something clever like 'Why, can't you send the message to yourself, or are just scared of being rejected', but I was pretty much gasping for air at this moment.
"Make sure your friend, the Avatar gets it when he comes knocking. Tell him . . . " I continued to struggle, trying to break myself loose from his grip, but he just held me tighter and violently pulled me in closer. "Tell him, The Airs are ever changing, and the time has come for them to change again, there can only be one airbender in this world, and it will not include him."
I last felt him swing me around and felt my weight catch up with me, hurtling from the sky, and into the side of my own school, before the hall collapsed around me.
- The Kyoshi Warriors are still in the Fire Nation as of "The Promise Part 1".
- National Tea Appreciation Day is made an official holiday after being introduced by Iroh while reigning as acting Firelord when Zuko left to find his mother in "The Search Part 1.
- Toph's Metalbending Academy reappears after first appearing in "The Promise Part 1".
- The Cabage Merchant reappears for the first time since "The Tales of Ba Sing Se".
- This is the second time Toph has ever been beaten in combat, after losing to Aang during an Earth Rumble VI match in "The Blind Bandit".
- Coincidently, she loses both times to an airbender.
- The Air Acolytes of the Southern Air Temple are first seen, and would later reappear in "The Southern Lights".
For the collective works of the author, go here.