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10th February 2014
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.
North and South,
East and West.
There was an applause to congratulate my song. There had been no entertainment for a good long day and the people had grown restless watching the waves crash against the boat and any passing rock in the water.
I did the only thing I could think of and that was to pull my flute out and play something to tied me over through the journey. I started just playing by myself, but then people got interested and I continued playing. Next thing I knew the whole crew wanted to hear my tunes.
Of course I used my wooden flute. I couldn't not use it, the dagger is more decorative, and my old one puts more soul into each note.
"Well then" I said, "any request?"
At that moment I was drowned in a sea of songs that people wanted to hear. There were many great requests, though most of them were Water Tribe songs, which was fair enough considering that the majority of the travelers and passengers were Water Tribe, with the odd Earth Kingdom.
I heard a lot of requests that I didn't know the tune to. But there was one song I did know:
As the nightly blizzard howls
And the snow hides the ice,
Watch me as I face the sunshine.
Watch the sun,
creeping in the clouds
Never shedding any of its light.
I shall rise,
Out of this weather
And I'll find the sky beneath all the stars.
Walk on this path alone and don't fret
For the end of this tunnel, there's light.
Watch the moon,
gazing down on us
And the ocean beats in all our hearts.
I shall rise,
Out of this weather
And I'll find the sky beneath all the stars.
I left on this night,
To find a gift to bring home to you.
I left, I didn't know
I would never see you with me again.
I shall rise,
Out of this weather
And I'll find the sky beneath all the stars.
I won't fall,
From the attrition
And pull myself through till we are all free.
We shall rise,
From amidst the storm
To the land I will call my own home.
You'll be there,
Waiting there for me
We will see another on this night.
On this night.
At the end of the song there was another short applause. I took and bow and walked off for a break.
I sat down near Suki. Zuko had gone over the side with his meal. Maybe some bad experience with food on a boat was coming back up, literally. I picked up a drink of water and took a sip. Suki finished her bowl and turned to me. "That sounded familiar" she pointed out.
I put my cup down. "It should. That was the same song I played against the Wind Walker."
"That doesn't sound exactly right though."
I knew what she was talking about. "Different flute, equals a different sound."
"That wasn't what I meant." Okay, I didn't know what she was talking about. "The song doesn't sound like a song to make a spirit physically attackable. It's more like a
"No, the song doesn't matter. The sound of the tune and the emotion you put into the song is what physically pulls the spirit into our world."
I picked up my cup again and nodded. "Yes" I replied before taking another sip.
"So, sadness. That's the emotion that triggers the song."
"That is correct."
"Do think about your parents?" My eyes widened at the sound. "I'm sorry" she continued seconds after noticing the change in my expression. I just meant that; when you play that song, losing someone you love is the source of the emotion that it triggers."
"Yeah" I replied. "Something like that." Something like that. But it wasn't that. The song was more to me then they could know. It was my song, our song.
I took a sigh as Zuko sat down in between us both, throwing aside his cup and taking my cup and gulping it all down in one.
I rolled my eyes away from him and looked over at Zonshuk, as he was looking at the sky and sighing heavily. Something was obviously bothering him. I nudged Zuko and pointed over to him, and Zuko then nudged Suki and pointed also.
We all just stared at him for a while, he never noticed or pulled his attention away from his thoughts. Suki was the only one of us to actually ask him. She got up and walked over to his side. "Are you alright?"
Zonshuk looked at her and replied "It's the full moon today, the first full moon of the late autumn."
"So what does that matter?" I asked.
He turned his head at me. "It means I am late. Spirits, if my boat wasn't wrecked on the shore of the Earth Kingdom, I would be at the council right now."
"Couldn't they, I don't know, hold it off for a while?"
He shook his head disappointingly "No, the crowning ceremony takes place in the Winter Solstice. And the election must take place during the full moon before, when Tui and La are at their strongest to connect with us. The moon will stay full for 5 days, but only on the third will it be completely full, but it always occurs on the first day to proceed onto the third.
Even if I arrive before the third moon, I will still be too late to be a candidate. I'm out the running. Only four remain in the count."
My eyes were droopy. I didn't sleep all night. The nightmares were still scarring my dreams. Each night was louder and louder, and I could hear even more sounds. More screams, more in depth with more feeling in each breath.
Every night on the spot. I could hear them, and I refused to watch. I blacked the images, but the sounds would still haunt me despite my attempts to cover my ears.
There was also a new sound I heard; It wasn't destruction or fear, but it wasn't even a sound made my any person or any building I had heard before. It was nothing I had ever heard before.
As dawn broke, my eyes were still itching from no sleep. Everyone was stirring as the sun burnt against their eyes, and scorched mine. Sokka sat up, but he was no better than I was.
"How are you?" He asked, all rasped and croaky from dream screaming.
"Not good" I replied "you?"
"I have had better." He collapsed backwards and sighed. "A lot better."
Katara sat up, she was a little tired, letting out a small yawn that I actually liked hearing, it was cute, and I was tired . . . *!* but it was mostly cute.
"Morning, sweetie," she said, rubbing her eyes open.
"*yawn* Morning," I replied.
"Are we there yet?"
I looked down at the water, it was still there. I nearly dropped off, and dropped off. But I forced myself awake and darted right up. I looked straight ahead and there was the massive white walls of the Northern Water Tribe. It looked like it had never been broken two years ago. Then again, it was made entirely of ice.
Top got up and started rubbing her arms. She didn't pack for the cold, seeing as she used the tarp as a blanket the whole night. "Couldn't we have picked a more warmer climate to meet up, Twinkle Toes?"
"You should have brought a coat."
"You didn't. I don't need eyes to know you're not wearing a coat."
"I have long sleeves."
We came in to land on the wall and We all got off. Well, when I say that; I fell off, Sokka slopped over the side, and Toph and Katara actually jumped off.
Toph walked over to me. "Oh, one more thing." She reached out and grabbed a handful of snow and shoved it into my back. I leapt up in such shivers that I started running in circles all over the place, jumping and trying to shake off the ice.
"Greetings be with you all." I stopped as the ice melted away, and a voice called out to us. I heard Sokka fall from Appa. I was fully awake now (thank you Toph), and we were greeted by a light armoured Water Tribeman,. he was a young adult, no older than maybe 25 at most, and he was growing a small goatee around the bottom of his chin. "I am Prince Palagaq, welcome Avatar Aang and companions to the Northern water Tribe."
I raised an eyebrow, as I was sure everyone else was doing behind me. "A prince?"
I heard Sokka screaming and jumping around, as Toph brushed her hands together and patted her feet. "That is correct" Palagaq answered. "I am the nephew of Chief Arnook, and the commander of the Northern Naval forces. I am sorry that we weren't there to help you defeat the Fire Navy at the siege those years ago.
We were caught in our own battle in the northern waters of Ba Sing Se. Just as the Southern Navy was in the Great Lakes. I believe it was you're father, Chief Hakoda who was leading those men."
Katara's ears pricked up, while Sokka had drowned his listening his shaking off the ice in his back. "You knew our father?"
Palagaq nodded. "Hakoda is brave man, especially when his home country was torn for so many years while our wall remained intact. We are giving whatever we can to the South, its the least we can do to repay our southern brothers for what they endured on our behalf."
"You're aid is most appreciated."
"As is you're hospitality" Sokka added after clambering toward us still a little phased out from all the sleepless nights before. "Do you know where a guy who has been sitting on a bison can get some hospitality grub?"
Katara nudged her brother straight off. "Sokka!"
"Straight in with the hunger" Toph said, still rubbing her feet warmer. "Always good to know you're nearby, Sokka."
"Always? . . . Ahhh! We did not bring you along, so that YOU could HIT ME this entire trip."
"That's right, I was here to continue Aang's bending, and to go to some old buildings. Hitting you is the bonus. Can I seriously get some heat please, my feet are going to drop off." I breathed in and firebent straight near her feet. She jumped slightly, but then replied "Thanks."
"That's what friends do" I replied.
I looked back round as Palagaq was probably trying to deduce why Toph wasn't wearing shoes in the first place. "Right. Okay, well if you are willing to wait till tonight, then you enjoy the feast during the succession ceremony."
I raised my eyebrow again. "Succession? . . . Is Arnook . . . ?"
"Oh, no. He is still in good health. No this is merely choosing the next Tribal Prince."
"Since when?" Toph asked, earthbending herself a seat, before remembering it was all ice and sitting straight up. "Doesn't the Chief have any children?"
We all stared at her blankly. Sokka walked over and told her "Eh, Toph. He did. Princess Yue."
She didn't change her expression. "Who?"
"I have no idea who that is."
"Really?" I was just as confused as the rest of us probably where.
"No, you guys have only just mentioned her today. Is she missing." We definitely haven't told, her.
Palagaq was standing around, completely excluded from the conversation. He ended up *aheming* and directing us down the from the wall. "As out honoured guests, we hope that you will join us for the succession ceremony tonight."
The sun began to set on another day on the boat. The days were longer in both senses now it was becoming dreary.
The long day in the water was not doing so well with the meals Zuko was getting. He was always at the side of the ship. I found it rather strange seeing as he spent three years on a boat looking for Aang. Though maybe three weeks on a piece of driftwood might have unsettled his stomach for the open waters.
Ithar continued to play more songs for the people on board, but his throat was growing very coarse. He was basically the only entertainer on this ship, next to the guy with two sticks and the man with the obsession with cabbages. He kept his distance from Ithar for some reason.
Ithar took another sip, before playing another requests;
Don't fall in love with the traveling girl,
She'll leave you broke, and broken hearted.
She'll light up your soul and entire world,
And then you'll be deep, deeply departed.
You once fell in love with the traveling girl,
She picked up pieces, and pieced them back . . .
I looked out at the horizon; The sun was close to vanishing and the night was creeping in. The Moon was becoming more visible by the seconds. The day was over and the night was born.
It was full and beaming bright, it reminded me of that night. The Serpent's pass two years before, on the way to Ba Sing Se. I remember walking over to him as he was sitting staring up to it, his focus fixed completely on the sight of it. "It's a beautiful moon" I said approaching him.
He turned to look at me, as I came to sit by his side. "Yeah, it really is."
He'd been really protective ever since I joined the trip, like moving my bed from the edge of the cliff and 'protecting' me from what he thought was a spider on my quilt. "Look, I know you're just trying to help, but I can take care of myself."
He sighed "I know you can."
"Then why are you acting so overprotective?"
He looked back up to the moon, staring while explaining himself to me. "It's so hard to lose someone you care about. Something happened at the North Pole and I couldn't protect someone. I don't want anything like that to ever happen again. "
"I lost someone I care about. He didn't die, he just went away. I only had a few days to get to know him, but he was smart and brave and funny... "
Sokka stood up immediately and started acting all jealous, having none the foggiest about who I was talking about. "Who is this guy? Is he taller than me?
I tried to drop in a few hints for him, but he never caught on. "No, he's about your height."
"Is he better-looking?"
I stood up with my arms at my side, jokingly telling him "It is you, stupid!"
"Oh!" He looked back at me as our eyes locked to each other. We stared at each other for a long minute, before I thought there was the moment. We leaned in and prepared to kiss, but Sokka pulled back at the last moment. He looked down sadly and told me "I can't."
I had no idea what was going on, but I felt really guilty for trying. "I'm sorry."
He turned away, still holding to my hand. "No, you shouldn't be" he replied, letting go of my hand and walking away.
Back on this boat, looking at the moon. Sokka never told me why he couldn't that night. The next morning we shared a long kiss together, but we never kiss in front of the moon. It was been the one place that Sokka has never felt comfortable with me. I always wondered what happened to that person that he lost. He never once told me what happened.
I looked over at Zonshuk, as he was still staring out to sky as well. I felt bad for him, missing out on his chance. It wasn't every day that you had the chance to become the heir of an entire country, and he was missing out of his one opportunity. His attention was heavily distracted by what was only once in a lifetime.
Ithar was really rasping now. Anymore songs would kill his voice. Though I wondered if maybe peace was the best thing to soothe the night.
. . . So, Don't fall in love with the traveling girl,
*cough* She'll leave you broke, with a broh-ken heart.
And all left in your memory of that world,
*cough* Is that single shine, the shining sea *cough*cough* staaaarrrrr.
I think he would appreciate the break from his music career for a while. Though I doubted that he would return by popular demand.
"We thank you all, our fellow countrymen, for arriving here in time for the ceremony." Chief Arnook announced to the crowd. It was late under the full moon, the second in the cycle, and their succession election was to begin. We got our seats from the last we came to the North. Toph sat where Yue sat, it felt slightly sad remembering she wasn't here anymore, but at least someone was occupying that seat, an empty seat would have been worse.
"And" he continued, raising his hands to silence the audience "we also like to welcome back to our tribe, the Avatar, and his friends." Yep, thanking Aang first just for showing up. Always like that whether we go, unless he has to tell people who he is. Those were the days. At least we were even mentioned.
There was a small round of applause, it wasn't exactly new or relieving to have the Avatar in there presence again, especially with the war over. Aang did a small wave that seemed a little awkward, maybe because he actually expected a bigger deal to have been made.
Arnook announced to the crowd "As you all know, two years ago, my daughter, your princess, Yue, when our lives were endangered from the final assault in the war, gave her life to revive the moon spirit, Tui, to restore the balance of our worlds and revive our waterbending to eventually help put an end to the war.
With my daughter now watching over us for five consecutive days at her brightest, the issue of who will succeed me when it is my time to rejoin our ancestors will come. Upon the recent death of my younger brother, Commander Aldartog, the role would have been designated to his son, and my nephew, Palagaq.
Though it is with much regret, my nephew has declined the offer to be the next chief. While I can respect his decision to not accept such a high role when presented to him to be with his beloved Malina. This leaves us in a difficult position, and a vacancy must be filled. And that is why we have now been called toady to decide your new Tribal Prince, and future Chief."
There was a short applause that was respectful and much quieter than the other before. Toph was still laid back in her seat rubbing her feet, despite the fact we offered to get her shoes, soft warm ones as well.
"Toph" I said quietly "Stop it."
"I can't feel a thing, my feet are going to fall off and it's colder in here then it was outside. How do you two live like this?"
Katara leaned right over at both of us. "Will you guys shut it. I'm trying to listen." Katara swiped over her mouth to indicate that we should keep them shut. As if I would listen to her, when would I . . . I'm not going to answer that. She'll probably throw waterbent snow at me again.
I shut up and tried to catch in on what Arnook was talking about: ". . . with Zonshuk still on patrol in the southern waters, and Kapik having recently taken to injury the previous night and is therefore unfit to take part, here are your three candidates." He then raised his hand to his right as three people walked forward. They were all arranged around the middle of the
"Sangok!" I recognized him. He was one of Paku's pupils. I saw him spar with Katara every so often, and he would get his butt kicked every time. He was shaky and skinny, and he seemed to lack the confidence to be in charge, much like how he had been when ever he was forced into a demonstration of his abilities.
"Shen!" I knew him much better. He was one of the boys who signed up with me under Hahn's command to infiltrate the ship. His eyes piercing and his chin pointed. He looked like a warrior, but never a leader. He lacked the muscle, but was no where as skinny as Sangok. I caught sight of those eyes as they locked on around me and even through me.
"Qaniit!" Out of all of them. I never knew him before hand. He appeared a much better commander. But something about him said that he wasn't the type that would make people choose him over someone else. His blank expression and seeming lack of interest made him a repellent, compared to both Shen and Sangok, who were more than ready to be selected.
"Now that you have taken a look, there will be a short competition that will eliminate one of these future heirs from the election, and the remaining two will be your choices. Good luck to you all, and let us enjoy this feast."
Later that night, I dreamt of the past, the last memory that would be altered. My last nightmare;
This place was what I saw. The siege was on and we were losing. Aang submerged himself into the oasis and he and the ocean spirit merged into a large spirit monster to fight back Fire Nation Navy. We all gathered around the oasis as Zuko's uncle Iroh places the dead koi fish back in the water.
"It's too late, it's dead." Katara pointed out.
I didn't notice at the time, but Iroh looked upon Yue and he noticed her white hair. "You have been touched by the Moon Spirit. Some of its life is in you."
Yue looked up at him, then looked down upon the dead moon spirit. "Yes, you're right." She stood up It gave me life, maybe I can give it back."
"No!" I protested, reaching my hand out to stop her, holding onto her tightly. "You don't have to do that."
Yue lowered her head. "It's my duty, Sokka."
"I won't let you! Your father told me to protect you."
"I have to do this." Yue's hand slips out of mine, but then something ticked in my head. I remembered that I stood by and did nothing as she gave up what life she had in her to the moon spirit. But this wasn't a memory, it was always going to change. And I suddenly ticked and I reached back out for her hand this time.
"No!" This time, it was different;
She's gone, she's gone.
There was echoes of what was to happened. But what I saw wasn't the future as dictated by this change. I saw not Yue, nor any of my memories related to her. But I saw Suki, and I saw every moment we shared together. From Kyoshi Island to the Serpent's Pass, from the Boiling Rock to Wulong Forest, from Yu Dao to Capital City.
She's gone, she's gone.
I saw those memories fade away, slowly one by one. Every hug, every kiss, was gone and into dust.
She's gone, she's gone.
I saw them all disappear, but I saw my hand still holding to Yue's, as my future with Suki was being erased. I stared out and then I just let go.
I awoke. But I did not scream. Not this time. I heard a noise rustling outside. Aang and Katara were still asleep, holding onto each other as they slept in their coats as I did. Toph buried herself in the piles of rugs and blankets provided while keeping her palms and feet heavily wrapped up. She obviously felt nothing.
I propped my head out of the hut as a figure walked straight past. I followed on, keeping a god distance in the empty streets not to be noticed. I peered into the darkness, as he stepped in there were only shapes that I could barely see. I stayed around a corner as there was speaking;
"What, who?" That voice belonged to Sangok, still little was confident about his tone. "Shen? Are you here?"
Shen spoke, there was heavy breathing as he spoke undertone, deeper and coarser. "I can't let you stand in my way Sangok."
"Shen do not do this." There was general fear now in his voice.
"Forgive me, but what is mine must be secured."
"Wait, I d-don' . . ." I heard water suddenly swish and slash and it ripped through the air. I heard something hit the floor after several minutes of swishing and the water hit the ground shortly after.
"I know you won't. But risks are something I can't afford. Someone important taught me that."
I stepped back nervously, and I hit a piece of ice that shattered all over the floor. Without really thinking I ran back to my hut. Shen's voice followed me as he yelled out. "Who's there? WHO'S THERE?"
Aww, man. I suspected fowl play. But I didn't expect this. I knew it was him. That one, Shen. I knew in my gut it had to be him, what happened to the others, Shen must have done something to them as well. But he saw me. I'm not next, that was obvious, Qaniit was. But if he gets picked, what does that mean for me?
I still feel sick. This whole journey has been a nightmare; I haven't slept well at all and keeping lunch down has been a battle. If I could burn my guts I would.
"You ready for training?" I didn't have to look around to know it was Ithar. Playing for so long made his voice croaky, indistinguishable.
I looked around, still not feeling too right. Training was the least of concerns, and I didn't think it even a possibility. "Training? You don't have any swords, it hardly seems . . ."
"No, I meant firebending."
My cheeks inflated, but nothing came up. "You know that's ridiculous right?"
"Why?" he asked. "You need a distraction. Having nothing to do is only making it worse. I don't see why not."
"Because you can't bend, and even when you could, it's not even fire."
Ithar rolled his eyes. "I'm not going try bending. I just thought that you could do with some new tricks."
I was not convinced by his words one bit. "And how would that be possible?"
"Well, my dad did teach me the whole range of fire and earthbending forms, even the stuff that wasn't traditionally military based."
"I don't need lessons."
"I'm not a teacher, I'd be terrible at it, to be quite honest. I am just trying to give us something else to do. I do not think my throat can take another song for a while. *hack* 'Girls from Ba Sing Se' really took it out of me the fourth time I played it."
I was still reluctant, and was still feeling under the weather to be thinking about practicing, even if Ithar knew some new moves. "No, I'll just continue to throw myself over the side. *Hwah* Erhh, It's like something is trying to kill me from the inside."
Ithar crosses his arms and leaned against the side. "I know that feeling."
I looked up at him. "Being sick?"
"No. Yes, but no I was talking about someone trying to kill you from the inside."
"I don't suppose that, this is something you want to talk about?"
He shook his head, it wasn't a depressing shake like usual, more like a 'I couldn't really care less'. "Not now. Not really."
"Well, I guess that something new might not hurt. Better then doing nothing."
Ithar smiled as I stood up. "Great. Right so try this move out then . . ."
"Sangok was found in a broken condition, believed to be caused by and accident in his own hut." Chief Arnook announced the following morning, when we had all settled into the meeting hall again. "So unfortunately, he will not be able to participate further in the election in his condition. This means that it is now down to Shen and Qaniit. But" there was a lot of emphasis on the 'but' part, "Before we continue further, we must ask if there is any reason why this election cannot take place?"
At that moment, my brother stood up swiftly that it caught my eye. I immediately grabbed him before he could open his mouth. "Sokka! What are you doing?"
"I have to tell" he explained, there fierce determination in his eyes. He had something on his mind and he wasn't resting over it.
Aang overheard and leaned in. "Tell what?"
"Shen is a cheater, and everyone deserves to know."
"Sokka, this isn't your place."
"I agree with Twinkle Toes," Toph added. "Besides, you're not really that can prove you're telling the truth. As much as I would like to see you fighting this Shen guy, he is immediately the favorite as he lives round these parts, and you are only visiting."
But Sokka did not back down and stood up regardless. "I will not let him become chief on the account of foul play."
He stood straight up just as Chief Arnook was about to declare it over. "Very . . ."
The whole room turned to face Sokka and all were in shocked as heard in loud unisons of gasps. There was large amounts of talking amongst the crowds before Chief Arnook raised his hand to silence them. As they quieted them, he spoke to Sokka. "You may speak."
Sokka pointed his finger right at Shen. "I accuse Shen of eliminating his competition."
There was another round of gasps. Shen looked him in utter distaste. "This is a ridiculous claim. You are here to slander me."
"Last night, at approximately 1 in the morning, you went into Sangok's hut and you mercilessly and knowingly attacked him."
"Lies!" He shouted. "You are a liar, like the rest of the southern scum that think about taking resources from our glorious north."
"Silence!" shouted Arnook before both boys could get into an fight.
Shen looked round. "Chief Arnook, you seriously cannot believe him?" Pointing directly at Sokka, but refusing to look at him. "Do you not remember his rashness to leap into action with little provocation?" He took to a stage performance, declaring what was ion his mind in front of the entire crowd. "Do you not all remember the promise he made to our Chief that he would protect our princess, and he failed. Now he stands here and accuses me of such things that are beneath our civilized culture, when they are more in tone his primitive ways."
Things were now heating up between the two of them. Before long Sokka started maneuvering his way in between the crowd, while Shen started accusing him of being in league with the Fire Nation, and that they were planning a coup of the North like they failed to do two years ago.
"I learnt something from my time in the Fire Nation; Yes they are ruthless, and cruel, and easy to anger. But I have learnt that a great deal of them are also strong and honour bound people. When they have an argument that they want to settle, they have a duel of fire, and the loser loses all honour and is thereby unworthy." He made his way to the centre and pulled his club from his waist, raising it in Shen's direction, as Qanitt started walking back. "Shen, I challenge you to Agni Kai!"
There was more gasps, and it was now also coming from me and Aang, and even Toph was surprised at what we all heard. Shen on the other hand laughed out loud. "Oh, you amuse me, savage. I may no little of their so called honour, but I know for a fact that an Agni Kai requires two firebenders."
"Then how about this. Your waterbending, against my weapons. No fire, and in front of everyone here. Just you and me. The winner decides the future of this election."
Shen smiled and openly declared. "I accept."
"Sokka, what do you think you're doing?" I yelled from the table.
He pulled his boomerang and held his arm behind him in my direction as his eyes were still focused on Shen. "I got this. He's not getting away with this."
Both of the started circling each other
"Admit it! You did it. You sabotaged the other competitors."
"Are you hear to talk, or are you hear to see if I can even break a sweat?"
Shen pulled up some more snow that formed into a pair of ice gloves and he started swing at Sokka, who defended himself with his club. Keeping his boomerang behind his back. Shen unleashed an whip that caught his leg and knocked him down. Sokka rolled out of the way as Shen unleashed a volley of icicles in his direction.
Shen threw another water jet at Sokka, narrowly hitting him in the belly and forcing him back. "It's your fault I am doing this."
Sokka cut the jet in half with his club. "How is it my fault? You're a psychopath who want to get rid of his competition for no reason but himself."
Shen froze Sokka's footing to make him slip. "My brother Sokka. You killed him."
"I haven't killed anyone."
Shen smashed Sokka's face with a volley of water. "You killed my brother when you left him at Chow's hand."
Sokka spat out the water and lunged at Shen. "Chow? Zhao, you mean Zhao. How is it-. No way."
Sokka put the pieces together, and I only realized when I saw that expression I his face. "That's right, Sokka. My brother Hahn went toppling in the waters outside the walls and he never came back. Because you brought the Fire Nation here. You gave us everything to get us in that ship and he perished because of it."
Sokka had had enough and threw his boomerang, just as he got knocked down by a volley of water. The boomerang missed and span straight past his head. Shen stood over him as he kicked his club away. Then, boomerang came back, whacking Shen over the head and knocking him out.
Sokka stood up and rolled over his opponent to his back. "I win."
Arnook stood up, declaring the Angi Kai over. "It is settled. The duel is over. Sokka of the Southern Tribe is the victor, and his truth is now our truth." He signaled for his guards to pick up Shen, who was still unconscious. "Shen, for lying and creating a deceitful path in a grab for power. You are to be imprisoned until judgment can be passed on the day after the five day cycle of the full moon.
And, as such, as Shen has been disqualified. Election is no longer an option, and your new tribal prince is hereby, Qaniit!"
There was a round of applause as a clueless Qaniit was drowned in a sea of cheers and celebrations. But then a messenger came running into the hall, and right up to Arnook's chair. "Sir, the next boat has just arrived in the port."
"And you thought it was appropriate to interrupt the ceremony why?"
"We have a special visitor on board. He is here to see the Avatar."
Arnook looked around at his messenger. "Who could be so prestigious to come all this way to see . . ."
"The Firelord sir" he interrupted. "Firelord Zuko as reached our shores."
We all travelled straight down the docks, where the boats were offloading. The wall was raised up and passengers were coming off. Several Water Tribe and a few Earth Kingdom citizens departed off the boat, then Sokka went jumping straight into the crowd. "Suki!"
"Sokka, I . . . Woah!"
"I have had the worst month. And now you'll make it better."
"Um, happy to see you too." She looked around as Toph walked by without anything on her feet as usual. "Toph, why are you not wearing shoes?"
Toph tapped the ground and looked in her direction. "Take a guess."
"I would rather not."
"Exactly." Toph then sat down and rubbed her feet again. They were really pink and it must have been causing a lot of pain walking on them when they were so cold. "hrrrrrrrrrr.
I spotted Zuko as he disembarked from the ship. I hadn't seen him in a while, and I half expected him in his Firelord robes. He looked round and spotted us. "Aang, I mean Avatar."
I smiled. "Zuko, I mean Firelord." He smiled back and we had a good short laugh before a brief hug for old time sake. "How ya been?"
His smile dropped into an uneasy queasiness. "Rough. Been travelling over sea for at least three days. And I have had to catch a few wagon rides when we weren't walking."
"How long have you been travelling?"
His eyes looked upwards as he thought for a moment. "A month, maybe more."
"Couldn't you have taken a balloon?" Sokka interrupted from over Suki's shoulder. "I mean you are the Firelord after all."
Zuko stared at him with screwed eyelids. "Yeah, that never occurred to me when I wanted to chase after a flying bison.
Sokka winced back, as he and Suki finally let go of each other. Suki asked, "Speaking of bison, where is Appa? And Momo?"
"Appa's in the stables, and I think Momo's with him" I answered.
"No!" cried a familiar voice of despair. We all stared round as someone we had run into before was rushing around and unloading his cart. "My cabbages! There is no safe haven for these delicate green beauties of vegetation, anywhere!"
A boy roughly between mine and Katara's age, with black hair and a Fire Nation chest plate, came stumbling after holding armfuls of cabbages and attempted to put them back on the cart. "Look I said I was sorry."
The merchant didn't accept his "All you young people today. you're parents tell you to eat your greens and you take out all your rage on poor defenseless cabbages. What did they ever do you except . . ." He looked up and saw all of us looking right at him. "Gah! Cabbage killers everywhere I go." He stormed off as fast as he could go, and disappeared through the streets.
The boy started walking up to us, rubbing his arms like they were going numb. "I really wish that Bumi gave me a coat now."
"Join the club" Toph replied, as the rest of us just stared at him.
"Um, Zuko" Katara asked. "Who is that?"
He looked around and stuck his arm out. "This is Ithar. He's been travelling with us."
Katara stared heavily at Ithar, twisting her head slightly to one side. "Ithar?"
"He's a voidbender" Suki added.
At that moment. I froze on the spot, as did Katara, Sokka and Toph. I gulped as the words just continued to echo in my mind; "Void?" I thought it was extinct. Tzenno said that Han was the last. "Bender?"
He, I mean Ithar, stared straight at all of us, looking back between the expressions from Suki and Zuko, and back to the rest of us with are open jaws. I snapped out of it. "So, why did you come all the way?"
He took a deep breath. "I think that it would be best if I told you, in private."
Both eyebrows rose on my forehead. "Say what now?"
"Why?" Katara added.
"Don't worry" Suki assured us. "You can trust him. He has saved our lives on several occasions. Believe me, you can trust him."
I was still unsure. After all the things that Tzenno had to say about voidbenders, I was skeptic in trusting him. I needed reassurance. "Katara?"
She took a minute to think, looking at him and back to me before coming to a conclusion. "You go Aang. It'll be fine." She smiled nervously to give me a bit of confidence, and I smiled nervously back to reassure her.
I looked back at Ithar and gave him the nod as we started walking off along the canals. I took the first step, while the tension was still very unnerving.
"So, Ithar. Y . . . You came all this way for me, I think that's what they were telling me."
He looked at me and nodded. "That's right. I don't know what will happen, but I know you're the target."
I looked at him. "Who is trying to get me?" I waited, but he continued walking without answering the question. "You can be truthful."
He the stopped dead in his tracks just as I was keeping up with him. He sighed heavily and looked straight back at me with his head slightly down, or sometimes thrown straight up looking over my head. "I know who it is, but I think you know also."
"I don't" I exclaimed, turning my head looking out towards the water. "There are a lot of people who have tried to kill me recently; Combustion Man . . ."
I looked up back at him with a blank expression. "Eh . . . Northern Waterbenders . . ."
"Sammmme." Ithar looked at me blankly as well.
"And . . . Long Feng?"
His expression dropped. "No. But we did run into a group of Earthbenders though."
My eyebrows ran out of room on my forehead. "Same here! Long Feng was the leader!" "So you are a voidbender."
I stared at him again, scratching my head. "Um, was?"
He raised both his arms to his sides, slapping against his sides. "I lost it."
"Lost it? You mean taken? How . . ."
He started rubbing his neck nervously. "I was bloodbent."
The sound of his answer was enough to shock me. I had felt bloodbending and it was not a fun experience, it was terrifying not feeling control of you're own body. "Bloodbent!"
My jaws was literally touching the ice at this moment. "How is that possible? I thought only energybending could take people's bending."
"It's not taken as such" he replied, still rubbing his neck, and occasionally his forehead, on his sound and thought chakras. "It came back when I got chi blocked, but it was temporary. I don't even know how that happened. But I can't anymore. The moment, she put her bony fingers on my forehead and my neck, and that sudden surge rushed through my body, I collapsed and that was it. I lost seventy years of my life, and my ability to bend, my gift from the lion turtle. Gone. Poof."
I approached him. For those moments I forgot about my fears of void, and I was seeing a generally sad boy standing in front of me. Having endured the experience of being unable to control his limbs and having the feeling of being stripped of his bending. I put my hand on his shoulder as he lowered both his arms. "We'll talk later. I think that you should go see a few healers in the tribe. There are the best here, and if it's not truly gone, then maybe they could do something for you."
That night, after explaining to me about having his modification of an Agni Kai with three, maybe four waterbenders all coming at him at once (as if). He stared having a walk around the city at night, with all the torches hanging against the walls, and the lights bouncing off the waters.
I hung on to his arm while leaning on his shoulder. "How have you been strong guy?"
"Better now that you're here."
I stared at him as we shared a brief kiss. But he still pulled out quite quick and rested his head on mine. "Can I ask you something?" I asked.
"Anything. Does it include something about a tall, strong and handsome guy you know?"
I laughed briefly. "No. But it does include you." I laughed some more while he snickered a little bit. "What happened to your friend?""
He stopped walking. "Friend?"
I lifted my head from his shoulder. "Last time we talked under the full moon, you told me you lost someone that you couldn't protect. I just wondered, if you could tell me the whole story." He stared up at the moon, and sighed deeply. "Sokka?"
He took my hand and started leading me. "Come with me."
"Where are we going?"
"The most sacred part of the Tribe." We carried on walking until Sokka directed me to a small round door in the middle of a wall.
I raised an eyebrow at the small door. "You serious?"
He reached out and opened it. Smiling as he looked back at me. "Yes, in there."
I didn't think much of it, but I was surprised. It was a beautiful sight, with all the greenery and warm waters rushing around it. I took off my coat in the midst of the heat. "Wow it's so warm in here."
"Where did you get that coat by the way?"
"It was a present from a king."
"He has coats?"
"Why are we here Sokka?"
He took my hand again. "Come with me." He led me to the middle of the oasis and to the pool that lied in the centre. He pointed into the water, where two coloured fish were swimming in a complete circle around each other. "Do see this?"
"The fish? Yes I see them."
He knelt down and took me down with him. "These are not just Koi Fish, their names are Tui and La."
"Push and Pull" I said, translating the names of the black and white fish.
"Those are the names of the Moon and Ocean spirits. They are apparently move in an eternal dance, pushing and pulling the tides. The power of every waterbender comes from them-" He stopped as I leaned in to kiss him. He pulled back immediately, with me just staring at him. "This was not expected."
"I thought you were leading into it." I pulled back and looked down. I felt like I should have been ashamed of what I did, despite the fact he wasn't angry with me. "Sokka, I'm sorry if . . ."
"No" he told me, picking up both my hands and lifting me up to his eye height. "No, don't be sorry."
"Why does it freak you out when we kiss under the full moon?"
Sokka closed his eyes and breathed in deeply before giving me the answer I had been asking for two years. "When we came to the north pole the first time. I became friends with . . . with a girl called Yue . . . No, I was friends with Princess Yue. And when she was born, her dad placed her in this pool to save her life. The moon spirit gave up some of its life to save hers. But when the Fire Nation attacked, Zhao got to the lake and killed the moon spirit, the white koi fish. The moon went read and then vanished all together. The only way to save the moon, was for Yue to give the life back. I promised her father before the siege that I would protect her, and I failed."
"Sokka . . ."
"I have thought about that night, every night. And recently, I have had wonders on whether I wanted to change what happened that night. If I wanted to stop her, to fulfill that promise."
My head dropped. "Oh." I had expected that, it was the end to the conversation. That maybe this was the end of us. I felt like a cold blade was trusted into me, but I held back the pain.
"But." He continued, much to my surprise. Staring straight into my eyes. "I realize that, in every scenario, and last night especially I had to let it happen. If I didn't stop it, the Fire Nation would have subdued the Northern Tribe, waterbending would have no longer existed." "And, . . . I would never have, thought that, I could have been anywhere else tonight, under the moonlight, with you." We stared into each other's eyes, for a long minute, before I knew that it was the right comment, and he had orchestrated it. We then had that kiss. The long awaited kiss, and it was under the sight of Yue, the first time, that it was under the full moon.
"Katara, you're the best healer I know" Aang told me, as we walked towards the hit where Ithar would be waiting. He went to every healer in the tribe, but none of them could so anything to fix what had happened. I don't know what he think I could do for him, I really didn't. "I think you could be his last hope."
"Aang, if none of the other could do anything for him, then I don't see what I could do any different?"
"You're the best around, Katara."
"How can I be the best?" I asked.
He stopped in his tracks and took my right hand and placed it on his back, the same place as his scar was, separating his arrow from the rest of his tattoos. "You brought me back from the dead. I owe you my life." He looked up and smiled at me as he took my hand from his back.
I smiled back at him, blushing slightly. "Okay then." We walked on, but I still doubted that I could do anything for him.
We entered the hut just as Yugoda was exiting. Ithar was sitting on a stool near a pool of spirit water, and a towel was hung over his bare shoulder. His Fire Nation breastplate was left leaning to the side of the pool and his head was hung downwards.
Yugoda approached me just before she left, closely to my ear she told me softly "I have done all I can for him. It isn't good, nothing like I have ever felt before. Good luck my dear."
"Thank you." I replied, as she walked out.
Aang walked over and approached Ithar. "Any luck?" he asked him.
Ithar raised his head and looked up. "*sigh* No. None of them. I saw them all, I bathed in spirit water. My chi is more than blocked, it's twisted."
Aang patted him hard on the back, nearly knocking him forward, then he pulled his hand back nervously. "Don't worry, Katara is the best you'll ever see."
Ithar looked to Aang, and then he took a short look up at me, before lowering his head again. "Thank you."
I still looked at him. I could still swear that he . . . "Katara?" The sound of Aang's voice brought my focus back.
"Sorry. I'll get on it." I took a handful of water and placed it over his back. The water started glowing as I felt around his body. I stared focusing on his neck, when I came across something abnormal in his chi paths. "My. This does not look at all good."
"I can hear you by the way" he replied.
"Well it's not good. It's all . . ."
I agreed. It was. "Yes, twisted. The blood is wrapped around the chi paths. Clotted itself and it seems to be cutting off a vital part of your connection to your brain. Like a stroke of some form." I took a deep sigh. "There is nothing I can do. I'm sorry."
Then my brother just happened to walk into the room, with Suki by his side. "Hey guys. What are you doing?"
"Katara is trying to unblock Ithar's chi paths" Aang explained, with lack of enthusiasm. "But she can't."
"There is nothing I can physically try" I explained. "I don't know what to do with bloodbending."
"Why don't you fight fire with fire."
I stopped and stared at him. "Excuse me."
"It's simple; it's blocked by bloodbending. So you just bloodbend him better and . . ."
I cut him straight off. "No! I will not use bloodbending." I felt a jolt run through Ithar's muscles. He freaked at the sound of hearing that I could . . . No. I will not. I don't. It's inhumane and it's not me.
Sokka continued to try and convince me otherwise, but I wasn't buying into it. "Why not, it's a full moon. You could . . ."
"I Said No Sokka! I will not bloodbend, it's a cruel and unjustified form of bending, and I will never use it again!"
Ithar stood up, as the water dropped from his back. "She doesn't have to, there is something else you could do."
"I already told you that I could do nothing else."
He cut me straight off, putting his tunic back on after mopping up the water with his towel. "I wasn't referring to you, I was talking about the Avatar."
Aang's eyes widened. "Me?"
"Yes, you, and your energybending."
"Energybending? I don't see how."
"You used it in the final days of the war to take Firelord Ozai's bending. It's a skill all of it's own, so just as easily as you could take it away, perhaps you could give it back."
"That's not actually a bad idea" Sokka insisted, with his free hand to his chin.
Aang was not buying into it either. "What are you talking about Sokka? I can't give bending. I don't know how, the lion turtle only told me how to take it. I don't even know if it's even possible."
"I have to agree with Sokka, Aang" I said. Aang looked at me with such disbelief. I was as shocked as he was that I was agreeing with my brother on this occasion. "It seems possible."
"Are you kidding? There's no way I can . . . Katara, what do think about this?"
"I think you should try Aang. I don't see anything else being possible."
Aang was still reluctant to trying. "Katara . . ."
"He came all this way to help, he deserves a chance."
Aang took a good look around the room. All eyes were on him now. He took a while to think, but the came to his own conclusion. "Alright then. I'll do it." He walked up to Ithar, as he put himself to his knees so that Aang could reach his neck and forehead. "Hold still."
Aang took a deep breath as we all held onto ours. There was a long pause, before Aang's eyes flashed a brilliant white, then drained into a brief period of gold. I couldn't help but think back to the white and gold that I saw when I was watching Tulia. Aang then let go, as he started to lose his balance and fell straight forward.
Ithar caught Aang as he fell into his arms. He stood up as Aang regained consciousness. "I got you Aang."
I got you. That voice, those words. It was the same. It was him. Tulia, he saved her. I got you. That's what he said. It was Ithar, he jumped through and saved her. What did Ni say again? We see something that is not yours, a memory, distant flicker, from a time before'. I didn't know where to follow up from there.
Aang opened his eyes and regained his balance. "Thanks. Ithar, how do you feel?"
Ithar stood straight up, and was as uneasy as he was earlier. "I bit dizzy. Light headed. I'm good, I'm good. Okay, I'm going to see if . . . ." he started shaking side to side, grabbing hold of the stool to keep himself up.
". . . I'm still good. Here we go." He rubbed his hands and waved his hands in front of his eyes. He stared at them and repeated it again. And again. And again. And again. And again. He stopped and stared. "It did nothinggggg." At that moment, his last words slurred and he collapsed forward while his eyes rolled into his head. Crashing straight into the ground.
Aang rushed forward. "Ithar?"
"Ithar!" I cried out.
"He's out cold!"
- Aang would use energybending to restore bending later in "Endgame".
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