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|The Two Faces of Ni|
30th December 2013
Water, Earth, Fire, Air.
For 100 years, the four nations were at war on the day 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. We all set about rebuilding the world, but there is still tensions between the nations and further secret activity that Aang may not be able to stop. But I believe Aang can.
Order was becoming weary. The trust I put in such incompetents. Still, there is a need for them I suppose. But new order needs to be established if everything is to go as planned;
"I asked you once before if your men could be trusted." I told him. He came forward alone to the edge of the cliff with me. The night was looming and his men had set their camp. "Whispers in the winds have been telling me differently."
The Water Tribesman took to one knee. Such grovel is what I expected. A boy trying to be a man is humorous. "There has been no compromises" He told me. "I can guarantee it."
"Can you now? This guy right here doesn't think so." I raised my arm and took one of his men I kept hidden beneath the cliff face into plain view. Glowing red like a strawberry, as expected. "Do you?" I asked him as he continued trying to cling on to his breath.
"*Hehlk*hehlk*hehlk*." that was all he could muster. Not surprised to be honest. That was the whole point.
I turned back to my Water Tribe friend who was grasping at the sight of one of his own being strangled by an unrecognizable force. "Does this look unorthodox to you? Hey how would you know? I admired Hama's invention; 'bloodbending'. Bending water in the blood, bending the blood in the body, 70% of the body contains water and the other 30% is other liquids. Now controlling 70% of the fluids of the body is good, but it's not quite as high as you could go. Imagine not having control as such, but having the decision to end their life in a split second. That is real power. You can't force them to do anything, but by adding this fear into them, they will do it themselves, no struggle or forcing them to, they just do it."
He started going from bright red to a light pink. His breathing was growing rasped.
"Hama used the blood, but I found a way to incorporate what I like to call 'breathbending'. How you may ask, well I take a person, who may have spilled the beans on what we are doing to our enemies. You ask them if they did. They obviously say no. Now if you know for a fact that they lying or even if you think that they might be; all you do is wait until they inhale and you control that air once they breathe it in. That control spreads to the air pumped into their lungs and likewise all over their body. Here's the best part; you control their breathing so you could easily hold it all in so he doesn't exhale, make him inhale till his lungs burst, or just vacuum it all out at once and the shock will kill him. What I am doing right now to him is letting him breath in small amounts, just to keep him alive. He may want to end this torture, but no one can make themselves die by not breathing, so you're perfectly safe, he won't kill himself when he can still breathe."
The boy was now purple and nearly choking. He couldn't take this much longer.
"I won't kill him this way. No, all life is sacred. If I do it by my hands then I have to have a good reason. I may be one who loves chaos, but I don't kill myself. But he knows now what I can do; he won't run, he won't speak out, he will listen and do what I say, or maybe he will be breathing less for longer than last time. Now you just let him down."
"Easy as that. Now don't lie to me next time you have bad news. He won't anymore. Will you?"
The boy had started losing the purple in his face and was nearly back to a peachy red. He looked up with so much fear that he took a look and set his sights back down to the ground. He shook his head and nervously stood.
I started walking away, when a thought occurred to me. "Oh yes, one last thing."
I turned around and bent the air to push the boy down the cliff. He was caught in the gust and thrown down the side in mere seconds following. That ought to show him.
"Oh that? No, I still don't kill. I didn't do it, the fall did. He fell off and it was responsible." I started walking past him, bumping shoulders with him. "Just remember that the next time you think of relying on your men to do your job. Lying gets us no where."
"Are you still sure about this?" Sokka asked me.
"Well that's reassuring."
"Look, we're nearly there" I explained, pointing down below the island sticking out from the clouds. We descended down towards the beach, where the inland was surrounded by thick forest shrubbery. Trees sticking out from any place you could have wanted to put your feet. Almost like no one could possibly live there.
We barely got off Appa's back before Toph declared "I'm staying right here."
We looked up as she stayed firmly seated on Appa's back, not even moving an inch closer to the ground. It was too strange; she hated flying and she would be the first to jump to the ground to sink her feet into any soil.
"Why Toph?" Katara asked. Why did you have to ask
"I don't like spirit mumbo-jumbo, I can't see them and they like to sneak up on people." She reclined behind the edges of the saddle as Appa laid down to rest.
"Are you . . . scaaared?" Sokka asked.
Ooh, bad choice. Toph swung straight up, slowly rotated towards Sokka. Stood up and jumped straight off Appa's back. I realized by how she was curling up that she was going to Earth Bomb him. She rolled and landed straight into the ground. But instead of creating seismic waves, a strong column thrusted itself from the ground under Sokka and catapulted him into an over hanging branch further down the beach. Toph stood up and brushed the sand from her clothes. She then looked up and yelled out "No!"
Sokka was hanging with his belly holding over the branch and his limbs on either side. He seemed to be in slight pain thanks to the landing. "Just . . . checking" he groaned in response.
"Right then" I said to everyone. "Let's go look for Ni's cave then."
"Hang on!" Sokka yelled, swinging himself lose from the branch and onto the ground. "Eh . . . umpf."
We started searching around. Our initial efforts took us a few minutes before we tried looking for someone t ask for directions. We looked for almost an hour, I even got back on Appa trying to look for any village that could point us in the right place but . . . "Have you guys seen anyone?"
"No" Katara answered.
"Nope" Sokka added.
"I don't feel any" Toph concluded.
We all slumped down onto the sands. I was tired, they were tired. Momo was tired as well. He went off to look for food, but came back with hardly a beetle to show for it.
"For a big island you would have thought someone would have put a sign saying 'Ni's Cave: This Way'" said Sokka as he went full reclined, knocking his head on something with and "ow", but I wasn't looking in his direction.
"They did." Toph said.
We all looked over and to our amazement she was right. Sokka on the other hand didn't see it. "Oh ha ha. Your blind and you've seen a sign post. Normally I would fall for it, but Sokka is not doing that again. You are not making a fool of me this time . . ."
"Sokka, Toph's right" Katara confirmed, pointing behind his head. "It's here."
It literally said what Sokka said it should. A big wooden sign with "洞穴妮這樣" written on the front. It pointed to our left down into a break between the trees.
Sokka's head dropped. "I hate being me sometimes."
We got up when a voice invited us through.
"Come in young friends, come in
Everyone will find somethin'
Don't wait come and stare
Welcome all to my lair"
It freaked me out. It was so soft and soothing. I recognized the voice but I don't remember where. "Did you guys hear that?"
"Weird." That was the general answer they all gave. Then another voice answered, but it wasn't like the first.
"Stay away all, leave here
All that is offered is fear
Don't come in, beware
Run away, take care"
It was a thundering voice. Like an authoritative person was speaking. I was familiar again, but I don't remember why.
"Okay let's go" Sokka said without hesitation. "Clearly if the spirit wants us to go away, then we should listen."
"No" I declared "I'm going in. Wish me luck."
"Aang wait!" Katara pulled my arm before I could leave. I turned around and look into her eyes; she was worried for me, I could see it. I don't know if it was the thought of me going, or maybe it somehow linking to her dad leaving for years, but I knew she didn't want me to go. I continued staring, then I pulled in closer till we were literally face to face, still staring into her eyes. I pulled in for a short kiss that she accepted, and I stared again for a shorter time. I turned away and she let go of my hand. That second when she let go started feeling like eternity, but I headed on through the pass.
I was turned away, but I could still hear their voices behind me. "You don't go in a cave that someone says to go from" Sokka's voice said in frustration. "Who does that?"
"Twinklestoes just did dummy."
"Well he shouldn't have listened."
I walked on till I couldn't hear their voices anymore. The path led to a cave, barely big enough for a person like me to duck into. I called out into it and listened as it echoed into a much larger room. "Hello? Helloooo?"
I waited, but there was no answer. I called out again, but there was still no answer.
I shrugged my shoulders. "I guess no ones home."
I jumped at the sound of the voice. It was soft again. But I could see where it was from. "Hello? Are you Ni?"
"That is indeed my name
Let's not play this little game
For a boy your age to come so far
You might as well be the Avatar" The voice pulled in closer, I could see something in faded white pulling in from the darkness to my right.
"That's right actually. I am the Avatar. My name's Aang." That voice, it was so familiar but I still couldn't put my finger on it.
"Aang it be as I've been told
To look so young yet be so old
One like you came many years by
Not just to drop in and say simply hi
He came from the temple in the south
Questions without answers pouring from his mouth
I did my best to answer as seen fit
He took them all in, every last bit
He mentioned you, he said 'Aang
The Avatar got right up and sprang
disappeared straight over night
And that was when all was not alright
Fire Nation climbed up our great peaks
Ambushed! Arised! Slaughtered! Those sneaks
Wiped our entire existence through
It was all his fault', all . . . you"
"Another like me? An Airbender? Someone's alive?"
"I say it so and say again
He came years before and then
I told him what he wanted to hear
In fact, I feel . . . he's right here"
An image in the mirrors suddenly surrounded us. I could see the spirit's face now, it was white with half a smile looking straight at me. It was sideways on and like a mask; no movements, just a still expression of a happy slit eye and empty smile.
I looked into the mirror and saw the Southern Air Temple in its prime. I was standing up front and . . . I couldn't believe it, I was showing them the Air Scooter, the move that got me my arrow.
"First you got to form the ball, then you got to get on quick."
I could see my riding around on the scooter in the court. Then one of the boys stepped forward and tried it. It was the same boy who tried to help me with the Air Sphere earlier that day. I still for the life of me cannot remember his name.
"Okay, here goes."
The boy formed it and tried getting on, but he sat on it and he just went spinning and falls off. I was hovering circles around him before I got off.
"You kind of have to balance on it like it's a top. "
"Man, that's hard" He replied.
"Where'd you learn that trick, Aang?" one of the other boys asked.
"I made it up."
The Council of Elders showed up at that moment. Coming towards us from the stairway. Gyatso was the one who asked.
"Aang, come with us. We need to speak with you."
"Please, come with us."
"Alright." I waved my friends off and walked off. I expected it to end or continue to the council, but the focus stayed on the other boys trying to do the scooter.
"So wait, I don't remember this part" I told the spirit.
"No you wouldn't would you now
Congratulations, take a bow
Now you're seeing what he saw
And you'll understand forever more."
The boy who name escapes me tried again, but falls again. Another tries and got it right, but still falls after a while.
"How did you do that?" Nameless boy asked him.
"Aang told me you have to stick a foot in and that balances you. Like a top remember."
"Oh. *huh* How did the kid who spent three years trying to make a fruit tart with a spiral of cream swirling up, manage come up with this new technique?"
"Aang just used the diagram" He replied.
"The one he drew on the floor. The one with the circle and a line through it to the middle."
Oh, aw man. The vision was fading. And I was guilty. Guilty, guilty, guilty. What had I done. I forgot his name, and I forgot to give him credit. Guilty.
Thanks to King Bumi, it was taking a while, but at least we had the provisions and transport we needed to get going to our destination. I was holding the reins at the front of the wagon. Suki was sitting in the wagon, while Ithar and Ty Lee were standing up practicing. Ty Lee was a lot more comfortable with Ithar now, but she failed to tell us why this sudden change of heart.
"Okay, so can you show me that again then?" Ithar asked.
"Fine; you duck-strike-slide-strike-strike-strike-and knock." They were practicing Chi blocking like he asked back at Kyoshi Island.
"Okay" he confirmed, pumping himself up and attempting to do it in slow movements. "So: duck, strike, slide, strike, stri- wow!" I didn't see, but Ithar hit me in the back of the head as he fell. there was a loud crack as part of the wagon broke from the landing.
Ty Lee gasped. "Sorry, force of habit."
"It's okay. I needed that" Ithar replied, getting himself back to his feet.
I turned right around. "Will you two be careful back there. We were lucky enough to get this all to ourselves and we don't need you two breaking it up before we even get halfway north."
"Relax Zuko, let the kids have their fun" Suki told me.
"We can't slow down just so they can practice. We are on a mission here. And Ithar, this was you're plan in the first place."
"I need to fight" was his only response. "I'm ninety five years old and I have been bending for seventy three of those. Now that I can't, I need to learn how to survive."
"You're fifteen and your acting as such. Anyways, you can stop now; here we are . . ." I presented with my hand the next village, but was shocked to see dust replacing smoke as if it was a battlefield. The houses and roads were chock full of rocks and blade marks everywhere.
"Heads up!" I yelled as a projectile came hurtling towards us. We all jumped for it, but the wagon was smashed to pieces. The ostrich horse that hauled us from Omashu ran off in terror. "We're in a freaking war zone!"
We all ducked as a rock barely missed our heads. "Earthbenders everywhere!" Ithar yelled.
We started making our way behind what cover we could find. Rocks came flying in pieces everywhere in every direction. We all huddled as close as we could to keep ourselves from being smashed by earthbending.
We were jumped by a warrior in green and were about to lose our heads when it said, "Commander?"
we all looked up and it was a Kyoshi Warrior holding a b lade to our necks.
"Daneya!" Suki replied, pulling her behind the rock with us.
"Commander!" she saluted.
"What went wrong here?"
"Everything! We got in and the villagers said they were hiding, they struck against us!"
"Earthbenders. We don't know where they came from or who sent them. Not even if they want anything."
"Where are the others?"
She shook her head like she didn't have an answer, but she said one anyways. "Pinned down! We've got warriors stuck in all areas around town; Kaph has three by the fish market. Shays is stuck in the town centre with nine warriors, and is being attacked in all directions. And the rest are just scattered as far as I am aware of!"
"Where are the villagers?" I asked her.
"Most are gone; they ran as soon as the conflict started. We have some of them covering their escape, mostly firebenders and earthbenders. None of them have stuck around to fight with us though."
Ithar tried poking his head to look, but retreated immediately. "Wise choice" he agreed.
"Not when we're stuck here unable to move" I replied.
"Up high!" He yelled as a rock came at us again.
"Danger! Danger down below
Away all visitors where 'er you go
Not a place for man or beast alike
Only all see the ends of the reich" That dark voice again. Wait what did it say?
"Reich? What does that even mean?" I asked.
Toph smacked my back almost like she was trying to be friendly, but came out wrong. Just like she always was; too rough. It really hurt as well. "Chillax, you know these spirit types; always trying to make things rhyme. It probably means nothing."
"This is literally the first time a spirit has even tried to rhyme, and I think he literally means what he's saying."
"Well I'll be sure to thank 'em for putting in the effort just for us." She's good, too good.
Katara wouldn't stop worrying. She was pacing nervously up and down the edge of the opening. "Aang's been gone for too long. I'm going in."
She was about to step through before I pulled her back. "No, I'll go." That's right I stepped up. The kind, loyal, trustworthy, not mention handsome, older brother I was.
"Sokka, you just told him it was a stupid idea to go in."
"Aang might be in trouble, and I'm the oldest. So there." I put my foot down on the subject.
"I'm not worried about Aang, he's the Avatar. You on the other hand . . ." She stopped herself tool quickly.
"What Katara? I on the other hand . . . what?"
"Well . . . um . . ."
I lowered my eyebrows over my eyes. "I can't bend."
"No!" She immediately answered.
"Yep." Toph had her own answer, but Katara stared at her for it. "What? That was what you were going to say. That's what I would have said."
I had enough of being a second class citizen for being the only one here who can't do magic tricks with stuff. "You don't need bending. it's just a cave." The moment I said that, the cave began to creep up into the depths of me. "A cave . . . with a potentially scary spirit that tells us to come in and leave in two different voices. Or two different spirits that one wants us to meet them and the other doesn't like company." I started nervously walking towards it. I felt around the sides and poked my head into it, followed by the rest of my body. "Heh. Nothing scary."
"Who dares to enter here alone
After hearing my warnings he has known
The Tribesman, the wolf helmed man
The who thinks up their every plan"
Eeck. I hate it when they do that. Gave me the willies. I was so nervous I started rhyming myself. "Hi. um, Sokka is my name. uh . . . comedy's . . . stuff my game." Man if that wasn't going to get me killed then I don't know what he is going to do to me.
"Sokka it be, from the south your home
Both smart and naïve, taken steps before you roam
Alas the knight, a member of the final seven
wielding thy sword that fell from heaven
Trouble I see that brews inside
Your memory and nightmares have collide
Only witness what they shall tell
If you are to ever escape the spell
Repression that seeks to again be seen
Seeing from then to now and in between
Only once you passed them all
To find revelations and answer its call"
"Okay too many words. Please, slow down. Must be the wrong place. which way is town?" Darn I did it again. But he still left me alone. I must be the luckiest person to enter this cave. the spirit drew in closer, but was still covered in the darkness of the cave. But I could see a bright white slit eye and pointed frown on what looked like a mask.
"What will happen is what I know
What you want is what you show
Should you leave now, nought will gain
Stay and you will endure inner pain
I am a spirit old as the days
I can't chose to raise or raze
That is where you must choose
Whether you will gain or lose
Look back, but not too far
Before the end, before dark star
Before the city, before the chase
To an old familiar place
But in that order you must see
All that wasn't meant to be
What has come in a stranger light
Prepare for another horrific sight."
I was prepared for the worst few vision after the other nightmares I had night ago. And I wasn't going to enjoy a single image of them.
That rock would have been the death of us had it not been a few meters closer to us. We moved as close as we could to the village, hoping behind any cover we could, from big rocks to large pieces of house debris.
Even when we were within twenty feet to the nearest street, the earthbenders were in no sight, and neither were any Kyoshi Warrior. in fact there was no sigh there was even any people in habiting this village.
There was no chance we were ever to get in closer without being spotted, and seeing as we had no idea where the enemy was. We need to regroup. But more importantly, if we were to save this village, we needed a plan;
"Right, Daneya; if you can reach the center and try to relieve the pressure off those caught there. Me and Ty lee will try and keep their attention while you do that" I told everyone, as they all just nodded their heads along. "That leaves Zuko and Ithar with helping the rest and then we can regroup by pushing them away from the villagers that are covering their retreat."
Good, we all got there. That was what I though till . . .
"Ums that's good and all" Ithar said. "But uh, would it be possible if Ty Lee and I . . . team up. I mean strictly of course that I uh, want to make sure that I am doing the um, Chi blocking movements right. If . . if that's alright with her that is?"
we all looked over to Ty Lee, she slightly blushed at the subject. "I'd . . . I would be glad to."
"Riiight." I said. "Well, me and Zuko then will distract, and Ithar and Ty Lee go help the others. Let's move out!"
We all went in our respective directions. Daneya was still confused with the situation. We began our movements by clinging closely to the walls as we moved in through the alleys. Watching our every step as we passed through the empty streets to avoid incoming hostilities.
It didn't take long till we were in cover when Daneya thought to ask "Am I missing something or is there something between those two?"
"Ithar and Ty Lee" I shrugged my shoulders. "I wish I knew sometimes." That was honestly the best I could think of. I don't know what sparked their . . . interests again. It was nice to see them talking again though.
"What do you mean?"
She looked over at Zuko. "Firelord?"
Zuko turned his head, looked out into the street before turning his head again towards her. "Complicated, that's all" he answered.
It wasn't going to satisfy her, but it was all she was getting. "Okay then."
Another turn around the corner and the center was in sight, about three blocks away. I could see the fountain and there were five figures in green visible that had to be the Kyoshi Warriors. There was dust circling there every position and new layers were constantly rising form far off.
If we were going to help them, we had to do this right and stick to the plan; Me and Zuko took to a direct assault to allow Daneya sometime to get around to the rest of the Warriors. But how we found the earthbenders was a real shock to all of us.
I was still guilty for what I saw. I was so selfish. "I didn't know. I didn't. I was just happy I got my arrow."
"You gained a mark of mastery
Though tainted by origin of bastardry
To gain recognition from other aid
Wishes for you to be rightfully paid
Lesser kindness he seeks to redeem
But nothing is ever as seen
For a lot on you is to blame
Forgetting even the mention of his name
Had he the chance, he will not fail
Even as the years begin to mark ye as frail
A dish best served icy and cold
The expectance of friends of old
Replacements shall not thwart his tale
Nor will his actions ever stale
See again the wrongs of your action
For it will become an equal reaction"
I was back in the mirrors, but I wasn't there. Gyatso came rushing out as a storm seemed to . . . oh no. The storm. That same storm I ran away into. Oh man.
"Have any of you seen Aang?" He asked as the boys started coming out.
"No why?" one replied.
"He wasn't in his room. There's a storm coming in and I fear he may have journeyed into it."
Then all went dark, the sky was now blood red. They all turned to the sight of a fiery rock hurtling through the sky. Oh man I hate that sight. "What's this?" another boy asked.
"The Comet!" Gyatso cried. Then without warning the mirror flashed. And all I heard were screams and the sound of fire consuming the temple. It was horrible to even listen to as I| tried the black out the sounds, but I just couldn't.
Then the sounds faded like an echo. But It was ringing in my head. I couldn't escape it anymore.
"For your selfish needs you left your nest
When it was they who knew what's best
Your kind was dead and sent to ash
One survived to create the backlash
His grudge was your creation
You are to blame for this situation
But you do not have to go that far
Give up, give in young Avatar.'
"Okay here we go then" I said. We hid beneath a set of stairs as the earthbenders were carelessly walking through the streets. They were five and they had chained up at least eleven warriors, making them walk through the open streets with their hands tied up behind them.
"What do we do here? It's five against two.
I looked back at her. "You took on maybe twenty earthbenders during the Attack of the Outer Wall. This is like child's play for you."
"Thank you. But I was referring to you."
I smirked slightly. "I'll be fine. We'll do fine." Man I hoped I would do good. The march was nearly out of sight, we needed to at now. But I looked at the roofs. There was nothing, but I kept thinking they were going to jump us at any moment.
I ran straight out in front of them. Waving my arms to catch their attention. "Hello there! Yes hi." They caught notice the moment I spoke and I continued stalling to give Ty Lee the opportunity to get in closer before striking. "Now isn't this a nice day for a chat? Bit nippy though . . ." As planned they started chucking rocks at me. IO was lucky enough to have been ready and took a dive back behind the building at the first sigh of earthbending.
I could peak around the corner, but I was cautious to avoid losing my head as the corner became splintered as it was violently chipped away by stones and debris. I then started looking out as the sound of quick strikes and groaning, followed by several bodies flopping to the floor. Ty Lee was really good at what she did.
I came round the corner as the bodies began rolling on the floor. Well, not really rolling, they were more like body bags at this moment. Ty Lee stood around giddily like she wanted to do a somersault to celebrate, but something stopped her. I started walking over and I was still cautious of the roofs. There was still no one there. But the feeling couldn't be shaken.
Then the corner of our eyes fixed as five earthbenders jumped from the ground down the street. One swung his hand and a rock came hurtling from the ground up and towards us.
"Look out!" Ty Lee yelled to me. I stood there frozen on the spot. I couldn't move as the rock was drawing ever closer.
She swiftly jolted at me. She didn't push me, but with her hands she struck me in the forehead and the throat. "Umph!" My neck flicked up and I went limp for that split second, falling straight to the floor unable to remain standing. As I fell, the rock slammed against her, throwing her all the way back into and through the walls of a nearby house. The wood and stone smashing on impact as she vanished in the dust. "Ty Lee!" I yelled.
The earthbenders erupted from the ground, five had now become ten. The five remained with the warriors, but the new five came in closer to us. "Got you Ashmakers" one called out to us. It was the armour they saw, not the person on the floor.
"We're not Firebenders" I yelled back. I struggled back to my feet, the pain I felt from the strikes to my head and neck tingled all through my body.
"Benders, nonbenders. All you Fire Nation scum are Ashmakers. *pwat* There is nothing your kind would do for land, gold, slaves. War is all you Ashmakers know. No, you don't even know war, only extermination, and slavery."
"I'm not Fire Nation, I'm Earth Kingdom. I'm both Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation, that much is true."
"That is worse."
"Looking like an Ashmaker was all we needed" he replied.
"Wearing the armour of an Ashmaker was betrayal enough for us as well" another spoke.
"But being a colonial is the worse crime you could have been" a third told me. "You're not just an abomination, but a blood traitor as well. Now time to eat the dirt. the dirt you're ancestors soiled with their every step and flames."
The lined up in perfect formation and I knew what was coming next. The lines stood firmly on the ground, planting their feet and raising their arms. The stomped the ground and kicked the rocks that rose from the dirt.
"Nooo!" I held my ground. Positioning me hands like she had shown me; I ducked, I struck forward but didn't hit, the made a slide and struck fingers forward into the boulder in pure panic. I closed my eyes and waited the sound of every bone in my hand to break. The pain was still tingling and it was stronger. My eyes were shut even tighter as I felt the impact reach my arm.
But what I heard was the sound of a rock smashing. I opened them and the boulder was lying The quick jab broke into the boulder and it split in half and in piles of stones in front of me. The earthbenders stood in awe and I realized why. I stared at my hand and I couldn't believe it; There is was, the glow, the gold on my hands. I was doing it again. It was small, but I was doing it."I can bend?"
"What sorcery is this?" They yelled.
I looked up and they were in confusion. The five that were holding back were now ware of the situation and abandoned their guard over the captured warriors to reach the lines. I was ready for the fight at last. "This is bending like you've never seen" I replied.
They took no time in trying to fire a second volley, but I was ready; I cut the air and opened a hole in the air. I let the rocks travel through and open up to their right sides through a wall in the side of a house. The earthbenders were skilled though, raising a wall in their defense, but this gave me time to gain ground.
I approached one and he tried to stomp me off guard with a pillar under my feet. But I was on a roll. I did as Ty lee told me and I made a slide and strike-strike-strike into his back and then delivered the knock. he fell instantly head first and limp.
"Who's next?" I said raising my hands. the tingling was wearing but I took no notice and tried to cut the air. The earthbenders flinched, but then stared as nothing happened. I looked back at my hands and there was nothing. I chopped again, but no gold formed. The tingle was gone and I was bendless again. "What? It's . . . it's gone again. Ergh!" They all saw and they took advantage.
"End of the line golden boy." They started approaching as I slowly retreated. then out of no where one of them was high kicked by Suki from out of no where.
He fell to the ground as many warriors came flying in and knocking the rest of them out all at the same time. Some tried to retreat, but were cut off by a wall of fire. Zuko walked in and held his ground.
"I don't think so." He looked over at me. "How are you holding?"
I threw my head back in relief. "Thank the spirits. Phew. Where did you guys come from?"
"We started with a full on open assault that sort of happened by accident;" he explained. "I created cover fire by . . . blasting fire, in the surrounding ground to get their attention, but that ended up burning them out of the ground so to speak. They arose and left themselves heavily exposed and while they focused on me and Suki, Daneya managed to reach the nine stuck by the fountain and we defeated them just as easily." Zuko stopped to take a look around. "Um, where is Ty Lee?"
I turned suddenly and looked at the hole. How could I have forgotten. "Ty Lee!" There was no answer. I ran straight at the hole and jumped though. She was covered in rocks and wood, and she was out. "Someone help! She needs help!" I yelled back as I began trying to clear away the rubble.
I couldn't wait any longer, Sokka was gone for too long. And Aang for twice that. The irritation was growing till it became unbearable.
"I'm going in" I decided.
"I won't stop you." Toph replied. Gee thanks for that.
I walked straight through and into the cave. No hesitation, but kept my hand holding my pouch in case there was to be a fight.
Then the voice struck me. But it was different, like it couldn't decide who was talking;
"Enter here, who can it be?
Who can it be, who indeed?
A girl, a bender of the South
What questions will spill from her mouth?
Has she come for her Aang, her love?
Or Sokka her brother, different love?
Both it seems, but cannot be
It cannot be, cannot indeed"
"Are you Ni? Show yourself, . . . -selves?"
"Is it truth I see or a simple lie?
watching as your whole life passes by
The idea that deceives your every thought
rewriting the battles you've ever fought"
I'm not afraid I told myself. I'm not afraid. "I'm not afraid and I don't care what you are. Show yourself. Come out from the dark!"
The darkness slowly pulled back as two different faces were staring at me. both were masks, one white with a happy face and a black one with a frown. The strange thing was that they were halves, and they didn't move their mouths at any word.
On the floors in front of them were Aang and Sokka. both were on their knees, but I rushed to Aang and pulled him straight up. His cheeks were soaked and his eyes were red like he had mourned for so many years. Aang was still dazed and didn't know I was there.
Sokka sounded like he woke up, but he was still asleep. "What happened? I was in a terrible dream; I entered a cave after Aang and I was shown my nightmares. Like a dream within a dream." My brother, the philosopher everybody.
I looked at the two faces as they pulled themselves together into a single, mismatched expression mask of a face. It was really freaky, even for a spirit. Their voices even merged.
"We are Ni, the spirit of belief
We see the truth and ideal, pain and relief
We tell what we know and what could be
All we show is all that's seen.
We see something that is not yours
A memory, distant flicker, from a time before
The path between daydream and nightmare
Why keep it, why do you stare?
Not yours to possess, to give it back
Only found in the heat of attack
The king of dark and golden mist
Its contents he's surely missed."
"Golden mist? Is that? . . ." I looked down at Aang, he was finally coming to and he was actually listening to what I was saying. "Aang?" I smiled.
he smiled back and replied "I don't know, but from the description, it could be void."
"The element with equal and none
From when we end to when we begun
Echoes in history and relation
Given to individuals without a nation
Head north where his nightmares ends
Head north when he waterbends
There you will reconcile with the both of them
And in time find the king's gem."
"What king? The Earth King? The king with golden mist? Who."
"Depart now all young companions
Ride north now! Ride your might stallion
The break of winter is at hand
Make haste and you will understand."
The cave started lighting up and our visions were suddenly invisible. The world disappeared and reappeared, but it wasn't the cave anymore. we were back on the beach, next to Toph.
Toph swiveled round quickly, quite startled as we were by our sudden appearance.
"Where have you guys been? If you went to smash spirits together you should have invited me. Are they still here?"
"No, we're going north." I answered, pulling Aang with me towards Appa.
Toph walked over to a still dazed Sokka and dragged him through the sand behind us. "You gonna tell me why or do I have to find out at some point later?"
"How is she?" I asked Daneya as she came from the tent. The village had no real houses left, but a tent had been in previous use and several were being used as medical facilities. I waited outside of Ty Lee's with Zuko and Suki while she was attended to by a fasciation.
"She'll survive, but she needs medical attention, serious."
"Then I guess we're stuck here for a while" Zuko summed up, patting his knees. "We'll never catch them at this rate."
Suki sighed in agreement. "Appa will have set off before we even hear word that they were even there."
"Oh that reminds me;" Daneya spoke up. We alkl turned to her as she answered. "We ran into the Avatar a couple of days ago."
"What?" Zuko said, standing up from his seat. "You've left this information till now."
"Zuko, calm down" Suki told him. "We were in a battlefield. Daneya, what happened."
"We were on our way here on the ship and they landed unexpectedly. They left chasing some Water Tribe boats up north."
My ears pricked up. "Wait did you say Water Tribe boats?"
She looked at me, then all of us with a lot of confusion. "Does that mean anything?"
"Kyoshi Island was under attack from a Northern Water Tribe fleet nearly half a month ago."
"Kyoshi Island was attacked?"
"I'm afraid so" Zuko informed her.
"But nothing to worry about, we sent them packing with their tails between their legs" Suki assured her.
They continued talking on while I decided to check on Ty Lee. I entered through the tent just as the doctor had finished bandaging her chest and laying her on a 'bed'. which was more like a wooden bench with a thick quilt layered on top to act as a mattress and a blanket on top.
The doctor got up and left, leaving me and Ty Lee alone.
I walked closer to her side. "How you feeling?" I asked her.
"I'm doing fine-. . . . eh." She tried sitting up, but the pain she had been inflicted by was doing her more harm when she moved.
I walked over and tried to lay her back down. "Slow down. You're still hurt."
"I can still get up" she protested. I can still- . . ."
I forced her to lay back down. "You can't" You can't, those words came out. It just came out, and it hurt me inside. I couldn't let it happen again. "I'm sorry, but I think . . . I think that you need to stay behind."
She looked up at me, with same eyes. "Ithar . . ."
"I know that after everything that happened . . . and I . . . just. *sigh* I'm sorry. I'm sorry and . . ." I couldn't finish my sentence, turned and hid my face. I took a nervous step towards the exit.
I turned around. "Yes?"
She put on a smile despite the pain she was in as she tried sitting up again. I walked closer to her and got on a knee. She placed her right hand behind my head. "You're still cute, especially for an 80 year old man." She pulled me over and kissed my forehead.
"Thank you." I replied, and I did the same. I stood up and exited the tent. under my breath I replied. "For everything."
- Ni's concept of Truth and Ideals reveals that it is the same spirit from the story told in " ".
- Aang's flashback is the same one from "The Storm".
- Daneya and the Kyoshi Warriors reappear from " ".
For the collective works of the author, go here.