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|Return of the Combustion Man|
20th January 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.
A month ago, we left Toph's metalbending school heading for a trip as a team. Now we were back and this time we had to cut the vacation short. It would only be a small stop, but it was necessary.
We landed outside of the academy, in its very grounds. The walls were fixed, but there wasn't a student in sight. Toph jumped off first, as she always did. "Full circle. What do ya know."
The rest of us got off and Appa took a nap as he rolled over to his side. I started stroking him under the chin while I answered Toph. "Sorry, but I didn't expect that we would be going in this direction. I wanted to go to the Southern Temple next after the Eastern."
"Please no" Sokka complained. "I don't want to play airball again. I hate the idea of getting pummeled again."
Toph's interest finally picked up. I think it was the word 'pummeled' that she listened too. "Any game you hate sounds like fun. I'm listening?"
"Trust me, you don't . . . why am I saying this to you?"
"How do you play?"
Sokka was unenthusiastic by what she said. His jaw dropped and he fell backwards. "Well; you stand on these three metre high poles . . ."
". . . you get the ball and you have to bounce it off of the poles to the other side . . . "
". . . and the only way to score, is to knock your opponent into the goal."
"Do they have a league or a team I could join?"
"Well considering no one has played it in a hundred years" Katara answered. "I wouldn't count on it."
"A hundred year?" Sokka sprang back up. "Try two years ago. I got bruises on my bruises for a week."
Toph was now set on airball. "My kind of game. Well, I will be introducing it in my return lesson." She cracked her knuckles "That should whip them into shape."
"Did you not hear me?" Sokka turned to us with his arms extended in Toph's direction. "Did she not hear me?" He then closed in and looked into her ears, whispering. "Is she now deaf as well?"
Toph extended her arms out into Sokka's face and pushed him over and started walking off. "Whatever, I wonder if those Lilylivers are still practicing, or if their taking time for their yellow bellies to dry off? Either way, it will be double time through the steel cage."
Sokka got back up again. "The steel cage? What on earth is that."
Toph pushed apart the ground in front of her and opened a tunnel underground. "Follow me and I'll show you." She leapt in and Sokka stood turning away from the hole, adamant not to go in. "This will be fun." But unfortunate for him, the earth beneath his feet thought otherwise, as it slowly started dragging him into the tunnel. Sokka realized, but didn't bother to put up a fight. "Aww I hate tunnels."
"Just don't scream like a girl like last time" Toph's voice echoed.
"For the last time, I do not scre- Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" His voice continued for several seconds before there was a faint *thud* at the bottom.
Me and Katara exchanged looks before she answered. "Family huh."
I looked down. She knew the feeling, but I didn't. "I actually don't."
She looked at me confused. "Sorry? Wait. You didn't have a family?"
I threw my arms apart. "Well I must have, I saw my mum once, when Roku was showing me his life, and I saw her when I was born. But that was the only time. I didn't even know who my father was, or if he was even there."
"You mean you're whole life, you didn't have a mother or a father you're whole life."
"Monk Gyatso was the only father I really knew. He wasn't really, but I treated him as such, and he treated me like a son. But no, I didn't have them. I never had them."
"But I don't understand?"
"When an Air Nomad is born, he is immediately taken in by the monks. From that age, we learn all the principles of being an Air Nomad, how to meditate, to airbend, and all that stuff. Then at 16, the same age when your suppose to be told you're the Avatar, your parents reveal themselves."
"And this was common?"
"As was the tradition."
"Did you ever . . .?" She stopped herself, I could guess by her expression she was going to ask Did you ever see your parents when they told you that you were the Avatar? The answer was an obvious no, and she realized it. "Oh, I'm so sorry."
"Don't be. I didn't know who they were anyways. I barely have any faces to go with their none existent names." Its sad, but ultimately it was true.
Katara came in for a hug. I really needed it. "Aang . . ."
I didn't want to talk about it anymore. I let go. "Cummon, let's go . . . shopping for, stuff." It wasn't really convincing, but it was the excuse I chose.
We left the Cun Duchi the following morning. Having purchased a ride on a passing convoy to the northern villages. That was a day ago, and we were still on the road. Again, sitting in the back of a wagon.
The road was silent, and so were we. It was strange how we never had anything to talk about. I was sure that there would have been a lot of questions about being the Flute Warrior. But nothing came for a long time. Until . . .
"Do you know what the wind walker was?" Zuko asked.
I was waiting for that to come up at some point. "Yes."
There was a brief awkward silence, like he was expecting more. "Will you tell us?"
"It's going to cost you that second favor." That was not the words I wanted to say, I can really say that I was enjoying their company, except for the travelling, and the death experiences, and spirit monsters, and angry waterbenders, and angrier earthbenders. Other than that, it has actually been, what's the word: fun. I really didn't want to cause a friction, but it was necessary, that couldn't change.
"Favor?" Suki questioned. "I thought we were passed this now."
"Look I'm sorry, but this is really classified information that I'm giving away. What I know is something a lot of you would never ever have heard of at any point in your lives."
"Fine. Take the favor and tell us everything."
"Everything? Okay then. This dates back to your ancestor Zuko, the first ancestor. Avatar Tzenno, almost 600 years ago."
"500 years, on the day of the Great Comet, later renamed Sozin's Comet, arrived that began to Fire Nation's invasion of the world, sorry. It was the Fire Nation itself was invaded."
"Invaded? I'm surprised you never heard of this. Though to tell you the truth I know the bare minimum to it. But basically the Fire Nation was attacked by a clan of nonbenders known as the Black Phoenix Army."
"Like all armies, they had a leader. He was . . . *ahem* a voidbender."
"A voidbender, like you?"
"Seriously? A voidbender that invaded the Fire Nation. Why?"
"Well, he basically already finished conquering the Earth Kingdom and both Water Tribes."
"I wish I was joking, but this all happened."
"He conquered the Earth Kingdom and the Water Tribes!"
"That is correct. Their next target was the Fire Nation. But the firebenders were not going to be so easily subdued. So they began their industrial Revolution to counter the Black Phoenix.
With help from refugees from the Earth Kingdom and Water Tribes, they managed to create machines to amplify and concentrate their firebending. These machines were known as turrets, simply bombardment cannons on a set of movable wheels that they could move around and deploy where ever they liked.
However, there would be no way of stopping the heavily disciplined, campaign hardened army of nonbenders. They had been fighting for years and they knew how to avoid bending attacks. Those turrets held them in the bay for a while, but when they landed, they were turned over.
While this was happening, on a near by island, Avatar Tzenno went to confront the enemy general, the voidbender known as Han Haung."
Zuko stopped me. "Wait, did you just say: Han Huang?"
I nodded, with much regret. I knew what he was thinking. "Han Huang, that was the name he chose, it was the name that made him the scourge of the world. The Phoenix King."
I smashed into the wall and my 'training facilities' was open for business. Sokka cam tumbling after. From the feel of things, he slipped and did several somersaults down the tunnel and the sound of his groaning said he really hurt himself. I gotta add this to my training schedule.
I took a deep breath in. Man I love the smell of dirt all around me. Sokka got up and started scratching his head. "This place is . . ."
"Amazing, I know right! This was a cave system filled with junk metal and the metal from all those broken tanks we took from outside of Yu Dao. And I made this out of it. Amazing."
"Scary, I was going to say scary." Scary? This place has everything you could ever want; Steel cages, firing range, deadly spike pit.
"That's the idea." I listened out, but all there was, was an echo. I heard no one working, no one talking, no one even moving. "Where are those Lilylivers?" I stomped my foot, and I felt Sokka behind me, down the cavern and down into the main floor. There were the spikes and the cages. And inside the cages . . . I jumped down to the cavern floor. "HEY, I KNOW YOU'RE ALL HERE. UP TO IT YOU SNAIL SLOTHS."
There was movement. They were all on the floor behind the rocks, laying flat down on the ground. "Sifu?" one said.
"SIFU!" another shouted.
"Don't tell me your stuck in the . . . Wait." I pressed my hand against the cage. It felt like "Wood? Since when did we install wooden cages down here."
"Sifu Toph, beware, he's here!"
I raised an eyebrow. "He? He who-"
"Hawky?" I felt Sokka's footsteps walk towards a small cage, still on top of the ledge. The cage shuddered slightly. "Hawky what are you doing here?"
Sokka started walking to wards the cage, but I felt something else crept out from the side of the cave. He had two legs, but both were metal- "Sokka! Don't!" I shouted. Sokka stopped and there was a long *sniff*. I stomped my foot and Sokka catapulted from the hanging and over the side as the sound of an explosion smash through the rock.
I heard Hawky squack and he hit the opening in the roof of the cave. But I was more concentrated on the chunk of metal jumping down for a better angle. Sokka came landing on the top of the wooden cages, hitting them so hard he smashed right through. He jumped straight up yelling "Combustion Man!"
I reached for my bracelet and morphed the shape into a key and picked the lock. There was a long *sniff* and I turned quickly. "Duck Sokka!" I raised a large wall and pushed it to intercept the blast. They collided and the blast shattered my wall into pieces.
I flicked my hands and I knocked Combustion Man's footing as he fell down the side of the cave and smacked to the floor. I walked up and grabbed right at his metallic head. "Now watch as a real master does this." I punched the metal, nothing went off. I stared confusingly. I punched it again, and again, and again. There was no impurities. I paused, I had no idea what to do now.
"Toph?" Sokka yelled. "Toph!" I felt Combustion Man stirring. I pulled the earth over him and ran back for cover.
"Okay then" I said as I turned to my students. "Earthbending counter maneuver: Tigerdillo defense form!"
My students all reached out and pulled together what metal they could grab. The long sniff was back, but this time, we had a shield. The blast landed into the metal, but it was holding, at least for now.
"Why didn't work Sifu?"
"Platinum. Darn that stuff is too pure."
Sokka reached round and clambered behind a rock near me. "What does that have to do with anything? It's metal, you should . . ."
I grabbed him by the collar "I'm an earthbender. I bend earth and the earth impurities in metal. Now when you find the ability to bend pure metal, like Combustion Man's limbs, then I won't have to consider using you as combustion fodder."
I threw him back as the combustion continued to fire on into our wall. Sokka pondered then reached for his back. "Wait, what if . . ."
"Boomerang will not help this time. His forehead is plated in metal." I reached over and flicked his forehead. "PING!"
Sokka rubbed his forehead with the hand he pulled away from his back. "Then what?"
I could sense the defensive wall beginning to crumble. The force of his bending was growing stronger. If he broke through he cave us all in. "If I can get him outside, we'll be fine." I stood up and stomped the ground. I could feel him standing absolutely firmly planted into the ground. I swung my hand up. "Here we go." Flicked it to the side and I heard the sound of stone pillars bashing against metal.
"Han Huang?" I exclaimed. "The Phoenix King?"
"That's the same title . . ." Zuko stopped himself. I could understand, it was the same, and that was the point. "My father . . . he must have known."
"I think he did in full knowledge" Ithar confirmed.
"I knew Ozai was evil, pure evil" I said aloud. "But to go as far as this."
"It's fear" Ithar replied. "A name you choose for yourself is a reflection of who you are and who you want to be. I was the Flute Warrior for example. The flute gave me the name, but when people think of me, they think of what I did and how I did it. I was the hero, the protector, the savior. That is what made me me.
Han Huang wanted to be a conqueror and a leader, so he took a name that made gave him what he wanted. That is the same fear Ozai wanted, to make the hearts of the Earth Kingdom cringed in terror before he wiped their existence from the face of the earth."
"That's awful" I replied.
"That's my father for you" Zuko said. He deeply sighed and shook his head. "Evil to the core."
Ither turned his head "Unlike your father, Han wasn't evil. He was bad, but he wasn't evil."
"Was he . . . like you, a nonbender?" I asked.
Ithar clicked the corner of his mouth. "Yes, he got it from the same lion turtle gave me the gift of voidbending. But unlike me, he chose to use it for revenge. Or so I was told."
"For what revenge? Against who?" Zuko asked.
"I don't know."
Zuko crossed his eyebrows. "Right, so you've been time hopping all over the eras, yet not once did you think oh, why don't I find out what revenge that the bad voidbending conqueror was after."
Ithar stared at him bluntly. "Oh, I'm sorry, am I not good at time hopping seeing as you're such a big expert on the subject. Tell you what, seeing as your obviously much more experienced with this sort of thing . . ."
I cut in before this could escalate. "Okay stop with the sarcasm boys. Please. Let's finish this story before we end up at each others throats. Okay?"
Both slung themselves back down to their corners. "Fine" Zuko answered first.
"Fine" Ithar added.
"Good" I said. I looked over at Ithar, indicating for him to continue on.
He looked up and then continued. "Um, Tzenno went to fight Han, the Phoenix King. It was close, but Tzenno had the advantage of the Avatar state. But even after all that, Tzenno died.
"Died? He didn't win?"
"Oh no, he won, but . . . but Han's bending was used in pure offence."
"We get that, but what was with the brief pause? Your making it seem as if you have little thought for it.
"My style is defensive. I fight to defend or counter, I don't use it to attack. If void is used to attack someone, it takes a piece of their energy with every strike. You grow tired, weary and frail. Like pieces of your life are being drained. When Tzenno won, he had lost so much that it cost him his life.
But even before that happened, the Fire Nation was still fighting the Black Phoenix army. They had help from the dragons, but it still wasn't enough. Not until the Air Nomads arrived."
"That, um, that doesn't sound right."
"No, the Air Nomads did arrive and they did fight. They knew that if the Fire Nation was to fall, the Air Temples were next. But their style of bending, didn't allow them enough offence to keep them at bay, which led them to discover their own unique technique."
I raised an eyebrow, and so did Zuko. "Wait. Did you say another style of bending?" he asked.
"Not as such. Not like lightning or metalbending. It's more like healing for water, seismic sense for earth. The Air Nomads always strived for spiritual enlightenment, to let their spirits be free. And that was what they got. They got themselves there very own Wind Walkers.
Spirits of Air Nomads that leave the body and wander the earth in a translucent form. But to create a more offensive style, some chose to create beast forms for their spirits. The Wind Walker you saw was one of them, a dark and twisted form, what used to be a Sky Bison form is now a nightmare of creation. That was how the Air Nomads defeated the Black Phoenix armies and ended the War of the Phoenix, 500 years before Sozin's Comet, when the Fire Nation would declare war and exterminate the Nomads, starting the hundred years war."
"So you're telling me, telling us, that that thing was the dark spirit form of an airbender."
He nodded "That is what I am saying."
"Do you know who it is" I asked.
"I won't lie, but I really do think I do. If it is true, then we are in for a long struggle this coming months."
"So you never met you're parents" I expressed as we walked past the stalls. He said he wanted to go shopping, but not once did he even look up the stalls. "That's sad."
"Could we please talk about something else?"
"What do you think."
"These memories; Mine, Sokka's, yours. What do they all mean?"
"Can I tell you something strange?"
"Anything at all. Strange things happen to me everyday."
"Recently, when I see Tulia's memories, she looks in my direction, and I have a strange feeling that she can actually see me."
Aang's expression changed to curiosity, rather than his obvious face of this has happened before"Okay that's strange, a whole new kind of strange."
"What about you, what new memories have been flooding to you?"
"*phwah* It's always the same now. It seems like it reached the end. It keeps repeating itself. I can never let myself watch it. I black out the image, but I still hear the screams, people crying for help. And I was never there."
"Aang . . ."
We jolted round at the sound of my brothers voice screaming at the top of his lungs. "Sokka?" I said.
"Combustion Man! Everyone take cover."
"Where?" Aang asked. I was asking the same thing as we both battle readied ourselves. Aang held his staff out at on side and I grabbed hold of my pouch and opened the cork.
Then there was a long *sniff* and there on the roofs tops, he was: Encased completely in metal. Placing both hands over his forehead, the power of his firebending jetted out and stated ripping through the streets.
The wagon came to a hault at the crossroads. We boarded off and waved the driver off. It was a rental, and he really needed it. He took off the right while we all consulted our next route. I pointed out on the road "Alright a left here . . ."
"A left?" Ithar interrupted. "We're going straight ahead."
I looked at him. "Why would we go straight?"
He rolled his eyes. "Because straight equals north and north is where we want to go."
I looked over at Suki as she shook her head. There was no point in arguing with him. "Okay then. Straight."
We started walking along the path. If what Ithar was saying proved was correct, then hopefully we should be reaching the port within the last light of the day. In the mean time, Ithar still had the rest of the story to entertain us. "You never did finish telling us who the Wind Walker was." I asked.
"Is?" I asked.
"Yes, is." he corrected. "He is still alive, not dead."
He stopped and threw his head back. "Just a no good backstabber." He put his hands by either side of his hips.
"Who is he?" Suki asked.
He shook his head. "Not the same person I used to know."
He started walking ahead, but I grabbed his shoulder before he could walk away from this. I turned him around. "No riddles. A name is what we are looking for. What is his name?"
He sighed deeply. "The Wind Walker" he replied. "That was the name he chose. That is who he is. His old name doesn't exist anymore. He made that choice." He shook my arm off "Look, let's just get to the North Pole before he does. The Avatar is in real danger if he ends up in conflict with him."
I looked over at the team. I knew that we were all thinking the same. We all have come a long way. We have had hard times, and I must say that Ithar has been annoying, he's a mid teen and an old man merged into one. But I must admit that, though not at first, he has been helpful, and we wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him. "Okay" I declared. "North Pole here we come."
The blast was stronger than the last time. He wasn't just combusting now, it was more like Sozin Comet level of fire blasts. Like a meteor was ripping its way across the ground.
The villagers ran in panic as the explosion cost a few of them their livestock, and their houses, and all their blocks, and basically an entire street.
Aang did his Avatar thing and tried countering with his own fire power. But Combustion Man was still stronger than anything Aang could do. The flames collided, but the concentrated beam was so much stronger. Aang was thrown back as the explosion dug a crater into the middle of the market.
I threw boomerang out to catch his attention. But my trusted weapon wasn't good enough. It swung round and did exactly what Toph said would happen; *ping*. It wasn't all bad though, Combustion Man turned his head at me as I caught boomerang on his return trip.
But that was also bad. He was looking and me and taking a deep breath in. I took a dive and just avoided a normal combustion . . . "Hey!" I yelled. "I don't get a super charge or nothing!"
"Don't provoke the half metal man, Captain Boomerang." Toph said, sliding in and raising a sandstorm to pull me away before he could attack again.
"He's all metal now."
"No he's not. His forehead, both arms and legs and part of his torso is, but he's still flesh everywhere else."
We ran to Aang and Katara just as the sandstorm subsided. Aang and Katar were huddled behind what remained of a wall, out of Combustion Man's view. He couldn't see any of us, but we knew he would eventually start ripping apart the whole of the town just to get to us.
"What do we do know?" I asked.
"You can't" Aang declared. He stood straight up, still out of view. " . . . I'll stop him."
"Wait, Aang" Katara protested as she pulled him back down. "Don't."
Aang took my sisters hands off of him and (oogies, not watching, but I could hear it. And they did it in front of me.) When they stopped Aang rose again. "I can't keep running. I HAVE TO END IT!" Aang shut his eyes and his tattoo started glowing that creepy bright white colour, and his eyes opened wide and glowing as well. His expression was almost changed in that instant; from a concerned and slightly scared stare, now it was emotionless, but terrifying and hollow like it wasn't Aang anymore.
He stood up and just walked straight out into the open. we all saw as he started ascending with airbending and met at height with Combustion Man, who was standing on top of a building. The only building he hadn't destroyed entirely in his proximity.
Aang continued ascending, then made a dive straight at him. Combustion Man attempted to counter with his blast, but Avatar State Aang was much quicker. He made several rolls and avoided it, before swinging his arm forward and slamming a fist full of fire directly into his chest. The building collapsed under the force and the dust rolled over.
As the dust cleared. Aang was standing, and so was Combustion Man. Combustion Man shifted back and attempted to fire again, but Aang slammed his foot and knocked his balance backwards. Sending the beam hundreds of miles into the air. Aang then made a leap at him and made another fiery blast straight at his face this time. The heat caught the entire ground around the metal man.
Aang landed several inched in front of Combustion Man. he stared down at him, and in his hundreds of voices declared "COMBUSTION MAN! YOU HAVE HUNTED ME AND MY FRIENDS FOR THE LAST TIME! YOU WILLINGLY CHOOSE TO CHASE US IN FULL KNOWLEDGE THAT PEACE HAS BEEN RESTORED AND THE WAR HAS ENDED! YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO WHAT YOU ARE DOING, AND IN THE NAME OF PEACE YOU WILL BE ELIMINATED!"
"IT ENDS NOW! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooooooo!" And just like that, Aang pulled himself out of his invincible form. His eyes and tattoos stopped glowing and he was just Aang again. just like that. "No" he explained. "I will not take a life. All life is sacred." His eyes then opened wide open and focused purely at his defeated foe. "But I will not let you hurt anyone else anymore." He turned to us. we knew what he intended to do. "Toph!"
"Got it Twinkle Toes." Toph walked up to Combustion Man, fixed him into a pyramid of solid rock slabs to keep him fixed into place. Then, she grabbed a hand full of rocks and punched them into the metal plating while it was still overheating. She dug them in deep, then pulled back and used earthbending to pull the metal off of his forehead using the rocks.
Toph stepped to one side as Combustion Man attempted to combust, but was stopped when Aang placed his thumb over his tattoo eye and positioned his head upwards. Aang them grabbed his throat with his two fingers and took a deep breath. There was a quick *Flash*, and the rocks sank back into the ground. Aang let go and the man of metal fell down into the torn roads.
"It's done" Aang proclaimed.
Seriously? I thought. "Wait, that's it? I was expecting more of a . . . *WHHhhhooooaaAAAHHH!*Zhyow!*Zhyow!* Lights flashing everywhere! But all we got was: *zip*."
"Just be glad he's no longer able to bend anymore. No more combusting for him."
But it wasn't over. I stared out as a purple aura started looming through the ruins. "Um, maybe you should rephrase that. Like how about glow it up and blow it up?"
Aang looked at me like I was blind (sorry Toph). "Sokka, I took his bending away, and he's passed out. He's harmless now."
"I wasn't talking about sparky sparky boom man" I really wasn't. "I was referring to glowy glowy spirit man, right over there!"
The rest of Team Avatar turned around and they all saw it. It appeared to be a large purple spirit, vaguely humanoid, come walking down the road towards us. With glowing eyes and a large red arrow implanted on his head.
"It's him. He's back!" Toph yelled.
we all looked at her. "Toph, what are you talking about?" I asked. "That's a spirit."
"He may be lighter on his feet, but it's him."
"The Airbender?" Sokka asked.
"That red arrow" Katara remembered. "It was him!"
The talks were saved best for later, we all just got ready for another fight. I held to his staff, Katara with her pouch, Toph had her feet, and Sokka had boomerang.
The airbender came walking slowly towards us. Moving and staring at us like some weird looking version of Momo. Or like some of those creepy expressionless paintings of the Firelords they had in the Fire Nation. *Hhhhrhrhhrh* Just thinking about the comparison makes me shiver. Azulon's was the worst.
The spirit just kept walking, not even at a normal, pace, one of those creepy approaches that looked almost like it was gliding. But then it just stopped before it was in firing range. The spirit looked down to our feet, at Combustion Man, then looked back up again without saying anything.
"Who are you?" I asked. "I'm the Avatar, my name is Aang."
The spirit opened it's mouth, but didn't answer. Instaed it's mouth just expanded until it started breathing in. It's breath then became a vacuum as the dust and rubble was being sucked up into its mouth, growing stronger and stronger until even we started to get pulled in.
I pressed my fists together and created a dome to keep up from flying away into the spirits jaws. Dust kept rolling over and soon there was a big cloud over and around our dome.
Then all at once, the dome burst as the dust cleared. the vacuum disappeared, but so did the spirit.
"Wait!" I yelled running forward to where the spirit once stood. I looked around in all directions, especially up. But it was gone. "Where is he . . ."
"He's gone" Katara said.
"And so is Combustion Man" Sokka added. I looked round, and he was right. His body was not there anymore. Just a print in the road where his metal limbs hit the ground, and a path of destruction behind him.
"Toph?" I asked.
Toph pressed her whole palm into the ground, but she came up clean. "No where."
I looked up at the sky. It was beginning to set, and the town was in pieces. But it survived, we survived. But that red arrow was now imprinted in my mind. What was that? Who was that? I did not know.
"The one they called the Combustion Man has fallen. My Lord." My earthbending general informed me.
Like I already didn't know that. "Minor causality" I told him coldly. "Nothing more."
I wasn't looking, but I presumed he stood there awkwardly, before taking his usual demeaning bow. "I will leave you then."
"Wait!" He stopped dead in his tracks. "Do I not have two commanders in my army?
"I wouldn't consider the child to be . . ."
"Just . . . answer . . . the question."
He swallowed his pride and answered with the respect I expected. "*ahem* You do."
"And don't I have a waterbending unit in my army, along side the earthbenders that follow you?"
He started hesitating his answers now, he knew what was coming. "That is correct."
"Then perhaps you could tell me why I seem to have no Water Tribe general, no waterbending army, and I have no idea where they have gone." I turned round in break neck speed, and could have easily broken his neck as I breath bent him. He clawed for his neck and I started dangling him above the ground. "Why Are They Gone?"
I dropped my grip on him, and he landed on his knees, gasping. "Home? His north? Now why should I believe that?"
He was still gasping, but he got to his feet. "The Northern Tribe is heirless."
"That is no consideration of mine. I do not care who sits on the winter throne, only that I will one day topple it, soon."
"The boy believes that he will take it and is planning to coup the tribe with his army."
"With my army you mean."
"Yes, of course. He is taking, your army north as we speak."
"Curse to him. He will be dealt with, but not now; I have plans of expanding this army, introducing new allies, and a new general to take his place. I will be gone, and you will do this for me."
"Of course, I am your most humble servant." Oh such groveling, what could I expect.
"You will take your earthbenders, you will find the Avatar's next destination, and you will stop them."
He took a bow. "I will, but why now?"
Did he just question me? "Excuse me?"
He got down lower, no doubt the fear of breathbending had sunk in. "I only mean that, your previous tasks was for us to cause a bit of chaos and to slow them down. I merely ask, my lord, why do you want my benders to stop him now when they have hardly been any good at slowing them before."
I thought on this for a moment. As much of a slime he was, he was correct. "Yes, you are right . . ."
He thought of himself out of the clear and interrupted me. "You honour me . . ."
"Don't interrupt!" I shouted as he stopped himself and stood back staright. "You will go with them."
He looked at me with a blank expression. "Sorry?"
"Yes, you said it yourself; you're men were not able to do any good without your direction, so this time you will go with them. Make sure you properly slow them down."
"S-Slow them? You said to sto-"
"Are you questioning my orders?"
"No, no I, eh. But my lord, he knows my face. It will jeopardies the mission."
"It will not. Only an idiot will. If you were stupid enough to show your face, then that is what I will expect to hear. Do I make myself clear?"
He wasted no time after a brief hesitation. "Of course. It will be done." Just as I wanted to hear. He started to walk, rather quickly, back to the main camp, while I looked at the stars above the sky.
Yes. Everything will fall into place very soon. Oh Aang, soon it will come. Very soon.
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