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Battle for the North Part 1: The Commander
Chapter information
Series

Avatar: Beyond the Void

Book

1: Wood

Chapter

15

Written by

AdamantiumBladez

Editor(s)

AdamantiumBladez

Release date

2nd March 2014

Chronology
Last chapter

Shen

Next chapter

Battle for the North Part 2: The Two Airbenders

Katara

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.

 ???

Long Feng returned after no word. I sent him to stop the Avatar from reaching the North Pole and he obviously failed. I stared into the night, to the north, where I knew they were resting.

The weeks had drawn on long enough. And finally my earthbending general had returned, on his knees. I didn't need ears to know that he was breathing nervously; exhausted and most likely scared of what I was capable of. "Report!" I yelled without facing him.

He fell to his knees, losing almost all sense of dignity he once tried so heavily to keep up. "Sir, we were, *ahem* unable to stop them."

As I expected. "Fine."

I heard him get up from his hands. "Pardon, my lord?"

I turned around. "Excuse me?" I demanded.

He slipped back and fell to his butt. He quickly got straight to his feet, brushing off the dust from his robes. He kept his head and his back low before giving an answer. "I said nothing, my lord." There was hesitation in his voice, I knew he was lying even before he said anything.

"Are you accusing my hearing as, insufficient, Long Feng?"

He shook his head, watching his breathing, slowing it down a substantial amount. "Never would I say such slanderous thoughts of you my lord."

"Then could you explain how I heard you tell me Pardon my lord, when what you have told me was I said nothing. Could there be a problem with my hearing, or are you lying to my face?"

"I-I . . . I."

"Are you speechless? Am I hearing the great secretariat of Ba Sing Se without words? Or am I contributing to my hearing disability?"

He stood there . . ., no, he was still bowing over, and he still hesitated, but then he gave me a politician's answer. Oh, how he loved to still speak like he had any real power. "Your hearing is the most wide in the land. It is not matched by any others."

I smiled "Very good." He smiled back, till I leaned in with a finger to his throat "Then answer your question."

I pulled it away and turned away again. there was only so much groveling that I could take. "I wondered, w-why you were not upset at the news of my, there . . .

"Yours, lets not forget who was in charge of the operation."

"O-of course, my lord. My failure. W . . . W-why?"

"Failure?"

He still showed hesitation in his answers. "Um, I remember you asking me to keep the Avatar from reaching the North. Am I wrong, was my hearing unlike yours and, insufficient?"

"And you did your job" I replied. I took in the moment with a long deep breath in through the nose. I wanted to remember this moment. "*sniiiiif* Ahhh. I love that feeling when it all comes together."

His tone was now absolutely confused. "My lord?"

I turned back around to meet his blank expression. "As if I expected you to beat the Avatar. I remember our 'little discussion' on the topic. Very well." He still standing speechless. He remembered. "All I needed was the right information to be spilled, by a face that would be hard to disagree with." I extended out my hand in his direction as I started pacing around the edges of the cliff. "Yours."

I continued pacing, sometimes just over the edge and letting the wind support my steps. "They heard what you told them. And they thought the wrong boy was part of our inner circle. A coup in the North. *smack* Too premature for him. He left too late with his men. As if he thought he could make it that early to be on time to do it the legal way."

Long Feng was at much more ease now, but he kept his breathing at a minimum. Smart man. "You are as always wise and correct, my lord." Oh I hate that smile, when he thinks he's in the clear. Luckily I don't hope to see it any time soon.

I continued on: "Though I think that Shen would have made a better commander; I liked what he was doing. eliminating the competition. Spunk, that's what I saw when he left himself with the least popular candidate. Smart is all I can say. Not Genius, geniuses don't get caught, and that's where he is now. Admirable, but not clever."

I stopped and took a breath. I waved Long Feng off as he took to a bow before walking away. He then stopped and looked back. "Do you wish to depart now, my lord? Your new general is waiting for you. The meeting has been arranged and all that is needed is you're presence."

I shook my head, placing my hand on my chin. "No. It's too premature for that. I'll deal with him soon." I raised an eyebrow. I wasn't confused, but the complete opposite; I had an idea. "But, destiny is writing everyday, but it is already prematurely been spoken. And with every moment, come potential. And this will be put into our advantage." I turned to him swiftly "Long Feng!" I commanded.

He came back and took another bow. "My lord. I am your humble servant. Command me as you will."

I stared at him analytically. "You have a, 'way' with words." I reached my hand out as if to receive something "I need a letter."

He looked up confusingly. "A letter?"

"Oh, good, so I am hearing right then. Yes! A letter, that I wish to send."

He stepped back, and controlled his breathing again. At least the smile was gone. He took another bow, again, and replied "As you wish."

"But . . ., this letter must be perfect. If we are to further our plans, then this must be perfect."

"Perfect?"

I raised my hand to silence him. He skipped a breath at the fast motion. He was lucky that I wasn't planning on choking him, yet. "Not just perfect. precise. I need this letter to be sent under a false persona. A different name, and I need it to be precise. I need it to look authentic."

"Very well my lord." He stood to leave, but then stopped. "Uh. Under who's guise did you have in mind? my lord."

I stopped and looked directly at his eyes, and this time, I was smiling. "Firelord Zuko."

Katara

The Autumn months were at an end. Winter would come at last, and it was a time of celebration in the north. With Qaniit as the new heir, preparations were being made for the Solstice in advance for the official declaration of his inheritance. Everyone was celebrating, except us. We weren't celebrating, our concern was Ithar.

I continued sitting in that same tent. Ithar was laying so peacefully on the table. We didn't like the idea, but he wasn't bothered, he didn't stir a bit. Not one bit. Ever since Aang tried to restore his bending, Ithar's entire body just seemed to shut down; He stopped eating and drinking, he stopped moving. He wasn't even opening his eyes, he just continued sleeping, stirlessly. He appeared to be dead, but was still breathing, still alive, but not with us. Not all the healing in the world would fix whatever happened. Ithar was stuck in sleep.

Every day I tried what I could. Not all for Ithar, for Aang's sake. Aang was beating himself up over this, he continuously pressed that it was his fault for his state. No matter how many of us we talked to him, Aang wasn't buying any of it. No matter whether it came from me, or Sokka, Toph or Suki, or Zuko. Aang was kicking himself over that night and what happened.

As I continued work around Ithar's brain and forehead areas, Aang pulled back the flaps and walked into the tent. He sat down opposite at Ithar's right while I was sitting on his left. He looked over Ithar in his sleepless state. He looked back at me, with hopeless eyes. "How is he?"

I pulled the water from Ithar's head and put it back into the bowl "Well he's still in a coma, and he hasn't woken in weeks. Three week without any food or drink. He hasn't even stirred and I don't know what more to do."

Aang sighed. All hope was drained over the weeks. He had often hoped for something, but that was gone, and so was whatever he wished was going happen. he stood back up and took back his staff. He was preparing for a flight to clear his head. He walked over to the entrance before peering back and telling me under his breath "It's my fault."

I dried my hands and stood up before he could leave. "Aang" was all I could say after grabbing hold of his shoulder.

He brushed my hand off without looking back or even raising his head from the floor. "It is though; I did this."

"It isn't" I insisted "Nothing inside is his chi paths is even twisted anymore. You didn't want to do this in the first place. You said that you didn't even know that it would work. You can't blame yourself for that."

He monotone remained depressed, but he did at least look at me in the eyes. I could see them tearing up, and it was making me tear up seeing him like this. "But I didn't even stop myself Katara. I gave in, and look what happened." He struck out his arm over Ithar, his focus now fixed on him. "*BLINK*". I noticed him blink harshly, then slap himself on the forehead. "Monkey Feathers!" he exclaimed.

"What?" I asked.

"He told me something was coming. Someone was coming for me, but that was it! And I didn't even ask him. And now I can't. *BLINK* Erhhh!"

That blinking was getting uncontrollable. I was really concerned. "Aang are you alright?"

"*Blink* Yes, why?" Aang looked at me without recollection of what just happened.

"You're blinking very harshly." I Are you sure you're okay?"

"Yeah, just . . . *BLINK*" He started to lose balance and grabbed his head with his right hand. ". . . I think I'm just tired. I could barely sleep last night."

"Is it those dreams again? The genocide?"

"No. Not such dreams. Not since we got here. I kept seeing these lights. *BLINK* Weird lights."

"Lights? Torches?"

"No. Just lights. *BLINK* Like I was next to the stars, and they were really close, and twinkling. White and gold lights."

Wait . . . "Did you say white and gold?"

He rubbed his eyes then looked back at me. "That's what I said. Anything you want to say?"

"Do you remember Tulia?"

"The girl you keep seeing. What's happened now?"

"I saw Ithar."

He raised an eyebrow, I expected that. "Ithar? That Ithar?"

"Yes. He was there."

"That's impossible. Ithar is fifteen. Tulia was from maybe eighty years ago. That couldn't be him."

"I know what I saw Aang."

He looked back up at me, and took my hand while lowering his staff. "I believe you. As impossible as it sounds." He smiled at me "You're always right."

I smiled back. "I know. I'll talk to Zuko later. I doubt I could talk to Suki with Sokka all over her now."

Aang pulled a grin. "Family huh."

He laughed a little, while he chuckled after. "Yeah."

Aang blinked again, before he let out a yawn. "I going to try and get some sleep. I'll see you when I wake up, or most likely at lunch."

"See you sweetie." We exchanged a short kiss, before I took his staff from his hands. He gave me a smile, and a wink, before he departed from the tent. Leaving me alone with my patient.

Aang

I wasn't tired, but I was feeling sore around the eyes. I wasn't completely telling Katara the truth. And this wasn't a one night thing, this had been going on since Ithar went into his coma.

I stumbled over towards my room, well technically me and Katara shared a room, but she had been preoccupied for a few weeks now caring for Ithar. I still feel it is my responsibility though; Katara couldn't do a thing and she is the best healer around. I energybent him, and he went down. I didn't help, I only made it worse.

I was really not feeling well, I would wave my hand over my face and I would be seeing spots. *BLINK* There it is again. I think I really needed that lie down.

I reached our room and laid on my bed. I nearly stumbled, and I really wished I kept my staff to keep my steady. I couldn't think of what would have happened if I actually tried flying. I imagined it would be like Momo on cactus juice again.

I took a deep breath. "Okay, let's try this."

I was at the temple. As always. It was the same setting. My friends would be playing in the courtyard and Gyatso comes to them asking if they saw me.

I could hear Ni's words echoing in my head;

For your selfish needs you left your nest
When it was they who knew what's best

Then all went dark again, the sky blood red, and the crackle of flames. They all turned to the sight of comet. I watched as the sight of the rock terrified all who watched its flight. It always haunts me, like my fall into the water in the storm. "What's this?"

"The Comet!" Gyatso cried. It was horrible to listen what came next. But now I was watching it.

"Fire Nation!"

Your kind was dead and sent to ash
One survived to create the backlash

"Fire!"

"Run!"

"Fly!"

His grudge was your creation
You are to blame for this situation

"Ahhhhhhhhh!"

"Help!"

"Mummy!"

"FIRE!"

But you do not have to go that far
Give up, give in young Avatar

I continued watching as they all panicked, dodging the flames. I could still hear screams of incineration, but I kept focusing on Gyatso. "Children Run! To the Eastern Temple. Grab the bison! Lobsang, get them as far from here as possible!"

Monk Lobsang directed "Gyatso, we're overrun everywhere! The Temples are not safe. The east is attacked, they are all attacked. This is not a matter of retreating. We need to hide. Hide and survive."

"They're coming! They climbing the mountain."

I watched my guardian stare in shock, then he looked out over the edge. Not below, but out across the stained sky. Clouds were not rolling, they were broken and disorientated like the nomads, and black smoke hovered over and clouded the view. He turned back to Monk Lobsang, and tried calmingly to explain "Take them and go. I will do what I can."

He turned and sat down. Crossing his legs as Lobsang stared over him. "Gyatso . . ."

My friend closed his eyes and breathed in deeply. "I failed as a guardian, I was responsible for Aang, and I failed him. All I can hope is that he is safe." My eyes were closed, but I felt a tear roll off my cheek and across my nose. "I made a vow to protect this temple and what it stands for. I intend to keep one promise before the time comes. Be safe to you brother."

"May our next meeting be in enlightenment. Farewell brother." Lobsang took a short bow, with his arms locked underneath his sleeves.

For your selfish needs you left your nest
When it was they who knew what's best

My view shifted around the temple. There were more cries and my people were now fleeing. a large group of them flew off on their gliders and into a large cloud of smoke. "Catapult!" was all I heard. And what I saw from that smoke was pieces of wood, snapped and in pieces falling down, down, down.

"To Safety! Hurry!" I turned around as Lobsang was directing some of my friends away to the bison stables. They were all under fire. *BLINK* Even in my memories, it's there. I watched on as they tried to take my friends to safety. I saw a flaming rock break through the smoke on a collision with them. Lobsang saw it and rushed them all to cover.

But one of my friends didn't move. His name was still forgotten to me. I was pretty sure his name had been lost from our wall. He saw the rock coming at him, but he couldn't move. He was just stuck their staring at his impending doom. *BLINK*

Light appeared as a ripple that ripped through the air. As the flaming rock continued hurtling towards him, a figure stepped out in white and leapt over to him. "Look Out!" he shouted, slicing through the air again, just as the . . . *BLINK*

The whole scene erupted into a gold light and suddenly the temple was gone. My friend looked around in sheer confusion. I couldn't blame him. This place was dark, and there were cliffs, but no temple rested on it.

"What? Where?"

"You're safe now." My friend looked up at the boy in white. He turned around and I couldn't believe it. Katara was right; it was Ithar. He looked so much . . . not younger. He looked the exact same age. Very odd looking at something from one hundred years ago and Ithar didn't change a bit.

I took a closer look around; the place looked endless. Clouds rippled over and around the mountain tops.

"What on this earth is this place?"

"This is the Timeless Zone. And I brought you here."

My friend looked up at him. "And who are you?"

Ithar turned around and offered him his hand. "Ithar. My name is Ithar. Before we go any further with this. I tell you something; This is not a guarantee that you will live. If you go back to that time, you will have to face the rest of the day. But that means that as long as you don't go back there, you can spend eternity living. But this is you're choice, I can't make that decision for you."

My friend hesitated, he looked at his hand. "Can I ask, why save me? You could have left me there to die, you could have saved anyone. But why me?"

"I got some . . . words of guarantee that said that this was something to do. I . . . you know what, I'll tell you sometime later." My friend looked at Ithar, then smiled and took his hand without haste, getting up to his feet.

As he stood up the image faded into full white. The . . . um, Timeless Zone, I think he called it, disappeared and what emerged was the cliffs overlooking the Northern Tribe. For here I could see all the waters rushing down from the sides and into the city. hundreds of canals ran through the streets and encompassed the buildings of ice below.

I turned to my right as an icy winds brushed over my head and round my cheeks. A blizzard started forming in a single area, snow and ice built up into a large humanoid shape. The wind died down as the frozen water took shape. Out of the snow stepped a man in his thirties in thick Water Tribe coats and a wolf skin hood.

"Kuruk?"

He stepped out of his thawing point and walked up towards me with his hands tucked together. "Hello Aang."

I wasn't going to question him being here. Since Yangchen was at the Eastern Air Temple, considering Kuruk was born in the Northern Water Tribe, it made sense. "Kuruk, I don't know why this has anything to do with this journey. I started this journey with nightmares of my life before the war. Then Tzenno tells me about another element, but he never did explain why this was all happening. Do you have any words that can help?"

He took a deep sigh as he looked down. "My time as the Avatar was short lived, in the irony that my successor would live for almost nine live as long as I did. But it was a peaceful time and I learned a great deal in equilibrium; You will always find what you are looking for when you least expect it."

"I appreciate you words. But I don't need a lecture I need answers. Tzenno couldn't tell me everything. And I don't know who else could. Void is dangerous and I need to know what this has to do with . . . all this."

"You have the person who can give you the answers. But I fear something in you is growing."

"It's my fault that I knocked him out. He had answers and now I can't."

"No, I sense that it is not putting him in the coma that is frustrating you, but what will happen if he woke up with his bending."

I stepped back stunned. "What? No, that's not it." Then I continued thinking. I thought about Ithar and void. But when I put them together, I didn't see them together. I've never seen them together, all I saw was a shadowy helmed image of Han. I could still feel the attacked slicing though me, like I was Tzenno in his last battle. The draining feeling that convinced you to give in and exhausts your meaning for living.

Kuruk reached his hand out onto my shoulder. "You cannot simply judge a person by how another like him as acted. I believe your friend Zuko would be the best example to use in a situation such as this. Or perhaps what would be even better would be how the people of Chin Village reacted towards you.

Think of Ni when you think about people; Ni has two faces, one face is the face that tells you what could happen, and the other tells what will happen. The face of ideals is the mask people wear in public; putting on a brave face in dark times, being the person they want people to see them as. And the face of truth is there face beneath the mask; what they really are like underneath, what they hide from other people.

But even their real face isn't them. Their true face comes from the two becoming one, much like how Ni is truly one face that is split between the two conflicting each other.

With every element, there are two sides; Air is needed to breath, but too much can choke you. Water is needed to hydrate, but too much can drown you. Earth is needed to house, but too much can bury you. And Fire is needed to warm, but can burn you.

Every element has a purpose, every element has meaning. But too much of anything, will always lead to consequences."

"You are right. But void? I only know the worst of it. I want to help. I've tried to help. But I don't know if I can, and if I did, will it be good? If I gave Ozai or Combustion Man their firebending back, things would be worse. Ithar seems a nice enough guy, but power changes people.

Kuruk . . . I still don't know. I still don't know." I didn't know what more I could say to him. That was how I felt, and nothing was going to change.

Kuruk shook his head. "I never knew of the fifth element. It was before mine or Yangchen's time. The need never arose when such questions needed to be raised. I never learnt from Tzenno the information you require."

Zuko

叔叔,

我们在北方部落的最后。我很抱歉,我从来没有回来给你,但事情已经发生了最近;

我们赶上了,并与阿昂和其他人见面。每个人都从最近的继承人选边,并最终族人指挥官,看翳特 被选中。爱乏 是在昏迷后 安昂 试图恢复他的弯曲。它已经几个星期,他没有吃过或搅拌。

我不知道该怎么做。我打算留下来,只要 爱乏 是在他昏迷了,我有一种不好的感觉的东西的事情发生。我知道你想回到你的店,但我要求你留下一小会儿时间。如果没有通过冬末改变,那么我会尽快回来。

蘇科

Uncle,

We are in the Northern Tribe at last. I'm sorry that I never got back to you, but things have been happening recently;

We caught up and met up with Aang and the others. Everyone was on edge from the recent heir elections, and eventually a tribesman commander, Qaniit was selected. Ithar is in a coma after Aang attempted to restore his bending. It's been weeks, and he hasn't eaten or stirred.

I have no idea what to do. I am planning to stay so long as Ithar is in his coma, and I have a bad feeling that something is going to happen. I know you want to get back to your shop, but I am asking you to stay a little while longer. If nothing changes by late winter, then I will return as soon as possible.

Zuko.

I finished my letter to Uncle. I had been meaning to get it done for a while, but preoccupations just kept piling on. In addition the Northern Water Tribe hasn't completely forgiven the Fire Nation for the hundred years of war and the millions who died worldwide because of it. Hostility wasn't open, just a few cruel whispers passing me in the walkways of the canals.

I stayed in my room most days, and any journey outside was to see everyone. I rolled the note up and was about to put it in the cylinder, but then I stopped and rolled it back out. I had been preoccupied for a long time and I had been left without any updates.

I pulled out my quill and wrote:

附言. 如何在搜索的最新报道得怎么样?你可以给我他们是否可能?

P.S. How are the latest reports on the search coming along? Could you send me them if possible?

"Hey there." GAH! I jumped to the sound of Toph's voice. I had no idea she had been there the whole time. She was warmly wrapped up that her voice was slightly muffled. The only thing that was still exposed was her feet.

Her stance was shaky, or she might have just been absolutely freezing. Either way, the cold was not agreeing with her.

I turned around and tucked my letter hastily into the cylinder. "How long were you there for?"

She shrugged her shoulders, I think. It was hard to tell under all though layers, but her head seemed to go a little shorter down before she answered. "A while."

"How long a while?"

She rolled her eyes. "Does everything have to be questioned?" I didn't answer her, I just kept staring. She sighed and pulled down the coat in front of her mouth. "Fine, I was bored and I have no where else to go."

I tucked the cylinder into my bag. "Where did you go today?"

"I was sick of the fire spot. My feet are so cold I can't even feel them anymore. I don't even know where I am any more."

I closed my bag and slung it over my shoulder. "You're in my room."

Her eyes widened as she started loooookii . . ., uh? Turning her head around and feeling all the stuff in my room after pulling her gloves off. "Wait, that means I'm up two flights of stairs. How is that possible?"

I picked up my Dao swords, I just had a feeling I might need them in the streets. I looked over to my bead and pulled my blanket from my mattress. It wasn't even neatly set up anyways. "Here's my quilt, wrap them up."

I threw her the quilt, which landed on her head and completely covered her head to toes. I think those were her toes, but they were really purple they almost looked as blue as the ice on the floor. She grabbed the quilt over her face and pulled the whole thing straight off. "Couldn't I get some special delivery firebending over here."

She pointed down at her feet. I was hesitant to try it though. "Last time I firebent near you, I burnt your feet" I pointed out to her as he began to clamber around for a place to sit. The cold was affecting her earthbending really badly; last week she tried to pull some gravel so she could feel the earth, but it ended up hailing for the rest of the day from that attempt.

She eventually found my bed and took no time in lifting her feet off of the ground. "I have been walking around for the past hour and somehow I walked up two flights of stairs without any knowing where I was. I would rather have them burnt then frozen, at least they will cool down when I go back outside."

"Alright." I was hesitant, but I was willing to give it a try; I rubbed my palms together and breathed warmly into them. Then, carefully, I flicked my index fingers directing onto her soles. *pwoof*pwoof* "Better?"

There was much relief expressed by Toph, her feet were no longer in the purples and blues and returning to a more natural pink. I was relieved myself, I was glad that nothing went bad or anything was repeated like the last time. "Ahhh. Much better. A little too hot though." There was a silent *tssss* as she threw herself off of the bedside and onto the icy floor. There was also slight confusion as Toph's feet hit the ground and I presume that Toph's 'vision' returned to her. "Wow, this place is smaller then I thought it was."

I raised an eyebrow. "It's the entire top floor."

"Exactly, my room's bigger, and I'm sharing a room on the ground floor with Suki and Sokka."

"Right. Well I have a letter I am going to post." I readied to leave my room, but then I stopped and sighed before turning my head. "Th- . . . um, do you by chance?"

She flicked her hand. "Nah, I'll pass. I'll probably visit the dungeons next."

I raised an eyebrow. "Why?"

She shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know. I just like knowing it's there. Plus there are people who are freezing everywhere, and not just their feet. t will feel nice to know I'm better off."

I smiled a little as I turned to exit my room, and down the flight of stair.

Toph

I found my way to the dungeons several minutes after talking with Zuko. The stairs were no problem, in fact I managed to just jump from the window with a relatively soft landing. Deep in the ice there was still earth to be bent.

The dungeons were just like everything else on this floating piece of frozen water; just ice; the walls, floor, ceiling and bars were all made of completely solid ice. The cold was building back in my feet, but I found a new method to keep them relatively warmer: Zuko's quilt (What? He already offered it.)

I carried on walking down, but I found very little in any of the cells, until of course I reached one housing a familiar foe. Shen was lying against the side of the cell. I walked straight to the center of the jail bars and waved him. I presumed that from his lack of movement that he didn't notice me.

"So" I started "how about this cold?" He didn't answer, nor did he even move. I slammed my foot and I knew he was listening, his blood pressure was rising, so he was obviously annoyed. Finally some fun around here. "Fine no need to talk. I can talk all day." O waited before I continued on. ". . . Been anywhere lately? Oh yeah, you've been stuck down here since you woke up weeks ago." Still nothing. He wasn't even bursting. "You know, I miss Sokka." Shen's blood was boiling, but instead of reacting, he turned over away from me.

I gave up and tuned my back to the cell. *Sigh* I slumped to my butt, then leaped up remembering how cold it was, before I tried to sit back down again. I wrapped my feet back into the quilt.

"Toph?" I pressed my foot against the floor again. The voice was obviously Suki's, but I needed to know. "What are you doing down here?"

"Having fun, sharing stories . . . oh who am I kidding; I, am so, bored. Waiting here on this giant ice cube of a city is a nightmare. There's a reason you build cities on land. So you have dirt under your feet instead of hundreds of feet of frozen water."

"Have you tried maybe talking to anyone to pass them time?"

I positioned my head in her direction. "I'm talking to you right now. What's your point?"

She continued walking and sat next to me. "I meant someone else."

I thought for a moment, but not very long. "Appa appreciates the company when Momo isn't around."

"Anyone who is not part of our team."

I snickered a bit. "Team Avatar?"

I think she smiled at that point, there was a general contraction in her cheek muscles, but it was very weak. "Only if you are Sokka. *Sigh* He seriously thinks it will catch on."

I smiled back. "Tell me about it."

"Okay who else have you talked to."

I pointed my thumb towards Shen, who was still laying away from the bars. "Him. He's not much of a talker, but he's a good listener. Anyways, I want to know when Twinkle Toes is going to move us off this frozen prison."

Suki's eyebrow probably rose from my answer. I didn't really know as I wrapped my feet back up. "Frozen prison? You could leave here anytime you want you know."

"I was talking about this tribe."

"And what's so wrong with this tribe then?" We both heard it. Shen rolled over facing towards us, but I was still looking towards Suki. She on the other hand looked In his direction. His blood was boiling to steaming point, but his tone was suppressing it. "Spit it out, if you're insulting my home I really want to hear it."

"Oh good" I replied "I was thinking that you were going deaf."

He shuffled closer to the bars, I could hear his chains rattling as he got closer to the bars. "Spit, it, out."

I slumped back down, leaning against the bars. The cold didn't really bother me at this point. "This is a city with rules. It's like Ba Sing Se. Except Ba Sing Se had earth under my feet, and stuff to do. Plus it was a lot bigger."

"Well if you're bored then maybe you could help me."

"Doing what? I have done everything I could think of . . . two weeks ago."

"Well, since we're here we might as well try and find those guys that attacked us. We know they are from this tribe and we have their names . . ."

"Names?" Shen asked. "What names?"

"As if you already don't know. These are all your guys."

"Guys? W-What?"

"You probably have an entire group of patrolies lurking around the world" I accused him.

"I have no idea what you are saying."

"You are lying" Suki accused. I heard her fans being unsheathed and folded out. I actually didn't know they were on her.

But I slammed my foot down. nothing was wrong, nothing was raised, except his heart rate the moment the fans came out. "He . . . isn't?"

"What?"

"He's telling the truth" I confirmed. "He has no clue relating to what we are saying."

Shen continued dragging himself till he grabbed hold of the bars of his cage. "Look I don't like you as much as you really don't like me. I may have been a cheater, but I am not a traitor. If anyone wants to harm my tribe then I want to know."

"How can we trust you?" Suki asked, almost sarcastically.

"I can tell when he's lying" I confirmed. "He's being sincere at the moment, but I can tell a fib when I hear one."

"I don't have a command of my own. I have never left these walls except just for small operations around the coastline. But I know everyone in this tribe, anyone who has lived here in the last ten years, I know them. Give me names, descriptions, anything."

Suki sighed and sheathed back her fans. "I have names. Um. Eh . . . Koda, . . . Atka, Ta- . . . Taktuq, . . . um. That all I really recall."

I could sense a slight contraction, as he reacted to those names being called one at a time. "Where did you get those names?" he asked.

"Sokka joined a group to infiltrate Admiral Zhao's ship two years ago. He was dismissed, but he remembered seeing a few of them amongst the waterbenders that rammed a Fire Nation transport vessel about a month ago."

There was a flush of blood though his body at that moment. "Huh? That's odd."

"Why, what is?" Suki asked.

"They used to be under my brother's command. But I do know where those guys are now . . ."

"Where?" I demanded.

"Those are the same men that were transferred over. To Zonshuk's legion."

Zuko

I never got to have a good look around the city when I was last here. Then again, nothing had changed much since I last walked through theses streets; There was still pieces of projectiles left in certain places and bridges were still under repairs.

I raised this question when I met the repairers. They told me that the ice had to be layered and frozen over a manner of several times in order to strengthen it to support people using the crossings. The original layers had all but melted during the siege, and progress was slower then it could have been with most of the benders travelling south to repair all the settlements that were or was there.

I walked over one bridge that I particularly remembered; In the middle of the siege, nearing the end stages, I fought with Admiral Zhao in our last Agni Kai. Though I won and I spared his life before, Zhao's act against the Moon Spirit had angered the Ocean Spirit, which led to his eventual doom.

I continued walking, and started to notice the streets were losing its population. But what was stranger was that two people seemed to follow behind me. They kept their distance, but I knew they were there. I ignored them and continued to walk on pretending not to notice.

I walked around a corner and soon there were two people blocking my path. I continued walking towards them, but they made no attempt to move away. The turned and faced me with crossed arms, completely cutting me off from my route.

I stepped to go around the right, but they moved right. I stepped back sternly and took a step left, which they followed as well. I looked around as two cut off my path from behind. I walked around and tried to cut down an alley between the buildings, but three stood in my way.

The four others followed behind me as I was now stuck between the seven of them. I looked up at the middle of the three in front of me. I couldn't see much of his face, except for two piercing eyes staring straight at me.

I walked up to him and spoke right up close to his face. "Let me pass." There was no answer, not one of them spoke to me, or even made a sound. I raised an eyebrow, looking right down at all of them, keeping my vision loose to encompass them all. "Do you know who I am?

"We remember ashmaker." They lowered their crossed arms and drew their weapons; three held clubs while three wielded spears. The last one kept his arms crossed and stepped back as the other six closed in on me.

Without hesitation I drew my dao swords, keeping them locked into a single blade. I turned my body side ways so that I could properly watch them all advance. "I'm starting to think this isn't just a meeting." I unhooked them into separate swords, and sheathed the blades together, igniting both of them in preparation for the in coming attack.

"You thought right."

I swung my swords round at the spears were lowered and clubs were raised. Each step was counted by a single rotation. The flames grew larger and the heat was now running up my arms. "Seven against one. Seems fair."

The flame reached my hands as I took a stance in preparation for their first assault.

Katara

I couldn't stop thinking about it; This girl I had been seeing, and this boy that was lying in front of me, they knew each other. Tulia . . . and Ithar. I still didn't understand how possible it was. I didn't understand what void was, I had never heard any tales about it. Void was so new, but from what I saw, and what I heard, it seemed just as old as any element.

I decided to put it aside, but I was telling myself that for the last weeks, and it comes back in my thoughts with all this time doing relatively nothing productive. I walked over back to the bowl, but I accidentally hit the stool with his trousers hung over it. They were charred and filthy, and in serious need for a clean, like his shirt. It couldn't be any worse than Sokka's washing though. Seriously, it couldn't be that bad.

As the trousers fell to the floor, several items fell from his pockets; I picked up the wooden flute, even though I found it odd how his sheathed blade also resembled a flute. There was also a white lotus pai sho piece, which I remembered hearing about from Zuko and Suki. Actually come to think of it, the blade is also a flute. Seems strange why he keeps two of them.

As I picked up the items that laid on the floor, a shining object caught my "Huh?" I reached out to the silvery piece lying on the floor. It was round, or at least it used to, but now the metal was less rounded, and the sides were melted into almost a puddle.

"Where . . .?" I looked down and pulled my mother necklace from my neck. My necklace blue and had the waterbending symbol imprinted on it. But Ithar's had symbol I didn't recognize; it was a circle, but instead of a wave inside, it had six curves imprinted into it, that looked as if they were moving clockwise.

"That's strange . . ."

"Katara!" I turned around as Toph and Suki ran straight into the tent, breathing and panting like they had been running a marathon. "*pant*pant* Where's Aang?"

"Asleep in his tent, wh-?"

"*pant* And Zuko? *pant*" Suki continued.

"Um, I think he was posting his letter, wil-?"

"*pant*pant* Sokka?"

"Um, okay first: Why are you both panting?"

"Katara there is no time." Toph interrupted. "We are in serious trouble. Tell us where Sokka is now."

I had no answer. "I don't know. I think he something about . . . training with Zonshuk or something-." They both looked at each other in absolute unison of horror. "What?"

"We'll explain later. Just come with us!" Before there was any chance to argue, Toph grabbed my arm and dragged me out from the tent.

Zuko

We were at a stand off; They had their water everywhere, and my blades were fueled with fire. Each one of their slow advancements incised me to act first, but attacking one side would leave me vulnerable to attacks from behind.

A man from the left made the first move. Ice thrown straight towards me, which I ducked with relative ease. I threw fire in one direction to counter a second volley, but I felt the water behind strike me. I jumped for the group but found myself overwhelmed with volley upon volley.

I swung into a group as the blades continued to burn. Then water caught my swords and the flames died. I raised my fists and tried to firebend, but the water just kept striking against my hands, and over and over did they die.

Soaking and now freezing, my flames were unable to give light, as I continued to try and fight on. I really had nothing left to give, the exhaustion would kill me before hypothermia. I thought if only there was a way to produce cold flames . . . or cold blooded flames, like lighting.

Lightning. That was only chance. I still hadn't tried generating it since I failed all those times. Uncle said that I had internal issues that were preventing me from achieving it. But I fixed them I had no internal struggle, did I.

I wasted no more time thinking; I extended my index and middle fingers on both hands. I took a deep breath, but then water pinned my right wrist against the wall, as the water then froze in an instant, trapping my arm against the wall.

I reached towards it with my other hand. Quickly pressing them together and breathing slowly, pulled them slowly away. The sight of blue sparks crackled between my fingertips. Despite being called the cold blooded fire, this felt warmer then anything I took in from my father, . . . or my sister. After almost dying, the thrill and the fear of redirecting it, producing it felt no different.

Another jet of water struck at my left, pushing it away and pinning it over to my far left. I struck my fingers out, the charge was still active and inches from my chest. Any closer would send the current into my heart and I would be dead.

as they drew in closer, I was out of options, that was it. I stared into the life spark that was inches in front. The hesitation continued to build inside of me. I had nothing left to work with, so I breathed and exhaled slow as the world seemed to almost stop.

I flicked both set of fingers out quickly, and the charge ignited, while all other sounds were drowned in thunder.

Sokka

"So what are you doing?" I asked Zonshuk, as all his men geared up. There were several different choices of weapons placed across the room, and all the men were putting their armour into place. Zonshuk was half done while I continued talking with him.

"Well" he explained to me. "We have to go training. we have an assault course specifically designed for the harshest of conflicts." He tightened his boots as he finished with "It's not compulsory."

I was as anxious to get in on it as I had been to get some real training in anything I ever thought of doing. "Do you think that I could get in on that?

he stopped and stared at me confusingly. "Seriously, I would rather not do it. It is the hardest thing you will ever face, even worse then any real conflict. well that's a lie, fighting benders is worse then the course."

"Cummon, I have my own weapons and I have armour, sort of, that I left . . . in the Southern Tribe." it wasn't much of a case, but I was putting it forward and it was my answer. It was like a take it or leave it . . . Oh spirit's, I really should have said something better. I mumbled half the time, why did I do it? Stupid! *Sigh*

However . . . I was lucky enough to find out that despite what was clearly a terrible answer, Zonshuk caved in on me. "Well, okay then. Just don't . . ."

"Sokka!" Our attention turned as Katara's voice broke through the room. She ran straight through with Suki and Toph running alongside her. "Watch out, there's a . . ." They all stopped and stared

"What? I asked.

"Zonshuk's men attacked us!" Toph told me, pointing at Zonshuk as all his men stopped what they were doing to stare at them.

Zonshuk threw down his shin guard. "What are you on abo-." He couldn't finish his sentence as water struck him in the back, and the puddle he landed in froze as he collided with it. I turned as a volley struck me in the head and I fell as well. I hit my head, and it was really painful. I struggled getting up, but I ended up getting trod on several times, knocking me back on the floor as the sounds of steel clashing and water crashing against each other.

I finally got up and picked up a club, only to swing knock the first guy in contact. I raised my club again, but I found myself surrounded. Waterbenders holding water primed ice spears floating in every direction. I looked around as I found myself completely unable to escape.

I did the only thing I could; I pulled a large smile as I dropped my club. "Hehe, um, I think I'm in the wrong room. I'll just-" *Bonk* A piece of the ceiling bumped my head and that was it. Black was my sight and I went face down.

I awoke, in pain by the way, that knock really hurt, but I also found myself unable to move. I looked down with my eyes and I was in a cocoon of ice, and pinned against the floor. I saw Zonshuk's men, now draped with black capes, standing over us, but I couldn't move my head good enough to look around, though Toph was frozen standing up, and Katara was pinned to the wall than the floor.

"Hey!" I protested, but they took no notice as one by one we were all taken out. The water encased us, with Katara's and Zonshuk's receiving several layers of ice to keep them down.

"Stand down!" Zonshuk yelled, but his men took no notice as Toph's ice prison was raised from the ground, leaving her suspended several inches from the floor. "I said STAND DOWN!

"They will not listen to you" came a voice, muffled, but deep and cold as the howling blizzard.

"Who?"

"Greetings" came a voice from the door way. There stood a man with a silver and navy helm, with his features and everything beneath hidden amongst artificial shadows. he draped himself in Water Tribe armour and black robes over the top. "Sorry Zonshuk, but as you can see, these men work for me. I hope you come to understand that."

"Who are you?" I demanded. Trying to struggle, but boomerang was well and truly stuck to my back.

as the ice crept further up are legs, all he could do was laugh at us, before giving us any answer. "Amongst the men, I am known as the Commander. But, you may call me Chief"

Aang

"I still can't do it Kuruk" I continued telling him. I was now on my knees and looking against the floor.

"I'm sorry that I can not be of any help to you" he apologized with a deep sigh. "My time as the Avatar was a quiet one. I spent my days proving that I was the best. But when the time finally came, I wasn't ready. I had no experience saving the world, or anyone in it. My greatest failure was by not doing what was right. It cost me the woman I loved." He reached out and put his hand on my shoulder as I looked up at him. "Aang. I can only suggest that you do your duty; do what you think is best for the world, and leave all your personal fears behind. Do not let your own conflicts cloud what you know is right. Sometimes the greatest mask is the one we tell ourselves to wear, but not always the one that we want people to see."

The image faded as I awoke. I leant straight up and immediately wrapped myself in my quilt. For some strange reason my room was a lot colder then usual. I got myself to me feet and found the door wide open. It was only when I closed it that I knew why it was colder:

"Freeze Avatar, we have you surrounded." I turned to the sight of several spears poking and prodding into my stomach. There was at least six of them in my room, and I wasn't at all impressed by their attempts. I admit I was shocked, but having taken on whole armies it hardly seemed a challenge.

"*BLINK* Please, go in peace. Leave now and no harm has to come."

They snickered and laughed in my face. "We have orders and we cannot turn our backs on them."

"STOP!" I yelled as I was about to go, as Sokka would put it, glowing up and blowing up, but then I felt a chill rapidly hit my spine. "Hey, what?" I looked around as ice formed quickly around my legs and around my waist. I looked up as the six dropped their spears and they all picked up water from the floor. My eyes widened as my last words were consumed in newly formed ice. "No!"

I was stuck. Trapped. A prison in a block of ice. this time, I wasn't in it from my choosing. Layers were added regularly and at every moment as all I could do was watch in disbelief.

I heard a voice from behind, but I was unable to turn my head around to see who it was. But I remember it being deep, and it had a slight echo like it was inside a cave, a small enclosed cave around his mouth. "Forgive my rudeness Avatar, but you see I can't have anyone stopping what has already began. The North belongs to me, and I will make sure that it will stay that way . . . at any cost."

 ???

"My lord" Long Feng interrupted my meditation. It was getting to the good part, where I was watching the whole coup in spirit form. I enjoyed watching the Avatar freeze like an icicle. Long Feng better have good reason to interrupt such tranquility. "We intercepted a letter sent by the Firelord." Good, at least I wasn't disturbed for no good reason. He continued by presenting me with the letter as I stood up and turned to face him. "I have also written down a copy letter as you requested."

I looked down at the letter he gave to me, and gave it back. "Open the letter."

He smiled, which I still hate seeing, but I would nevertheless let it go until it was the right time. He bowed so gracefully in front of me as he took it back. "Of course." He stomped the ground and picked a light, sharp piece of stone, and used it to lightly remove the seal before opening the letter.

He started reading as his eyebrows moved up and down on a few occasions. I was not waiting for a summary, I wanted to know what it said. "Well?"

He inflated his lower lip. "It is merely a piece of dribble-, Oh!" He exclaimed, looking in closer you will enjoy this; It appears that the voidbender . . . is in a coma."

My eyebrows rose high upon my forehead. But I kept a deep tone. "What?"

Long Feng continued to smile as he read on. "The Avatar attempted to restore his bending, but it instead knocked him into a sleep like state for the past month as it seems."

"Hmm."

He rolled up the letter and placed it back into the roll. "I will send the let-"

"No" I interrupted. "Rewrite it."

That wiped the smile from his face. He looked at his own letter then back at me. "M-my lord?"

I snatched the letter from him and held it to his face. "We have the letter, now write exactly what is already in it. But remember to add our improvement to it."

Looking back at his letter and the one in my hand, he started hesitating. "Are you, are you sure?"

I took the letter he wrote and ripped it into 32 individual pieces, before blowing it and casting it into the open air. "Oh, you're absolutely correct." I turned back around and started walking away from the cliff side. "My improvement" I reminded him. I flicked him away with my hand. "Make haste. I need to look in on our, oops, my new general. Everything is going accordingly. But after this, I have one unfinished business to take care of."

Katara

We were trapped when I woke back up. I saw them, but only two remained behind, and both of them were keeping Zonshuk under thin ice. That was the biggest clue that he wasn't in any way involved. I wished I could have said that I didn't believe what Suki and Toph had told me, but I did.

"Let me down and I'll smash both your heads in!" Toph yelled as she struggled. She was stuck elevated off the floor in full ice, with no connection to the ground what so ever.

"Shut up will ya! It's bad enough we're babysitting you, but don't make it worse then it already is."

They turned there heads as Toph continued yelling hate comments against them. I looked down at my hands that were frozen solid. I looked back up when their attentions were still turned and I seized the opportunity; I breathed deep and heavily, I felt the heat rushing into my arm. The water started cracking and melting. I stopped as it cracked and looked up. *Phew* I continued on. The water was now seeping through the cracks. water started rising and a puddle started forming, rushing onto the floor and around Toph. Toph couldn't know it was there and still shouted against them.

My plan worked until the water reached Sokka's head; he started shaking and making irritable noises. I attempted to *Shhh* him, but it was no use as he then let out a yelp that attracted their attention. They turned around and noticed the puddle forming. My hand wasn't almost free when They launched water back into me. My hand was refrozen and the layers of ice were piled on the keep my back.

"Nice try girly, but you're getting away." One of them said, layering ice over me like I was building they were repairing. There was no way I could get out now without my hands.

"Hyah!" *Pwoof* They stopped at the sound of fire and they both rushed outside. I didn't see what happened next. light flashed in brilliant vermillion for a brief moment and two bodies hit the floor. The door slammed as he jumped straight through.

"Zuko!" I called out.

"Zuko?" Toph asked "Where."

"In front of you" he replied. "Hang on!" He took a concentrated stance, and utilizing his dancing dragon movements, struck at the fire that encased Toph, the moved onto to Sokka, Suki, me and lastly on Zonshuk.

I looked up at him as I noticed his clothes were slightly ripped up and charred. "How did you escape?"

I held onto his chest with his right hand. "I blew them away, literally."

"Where's Aang?"

He shook his head and he looked though the door. Probably looking out for "I don't know, but we need to get out of here." He pushed away and pulled us all in. "Katara and I can grab Appa, the rest of you should retreat and get anyone out of here."

Toph wasn't happy about not doing anything but run. I am not running." She slammed her foot and a pillar rose next to her, narrowly avoiding Sokka. "I can bend. I can fight!"

"We can't fight" Zuko protested. "We have to retreat."

"We can't retreat!" The sound of retreating set Sokka off, drawing his boomerang made himself clear he wanted to fight. "We can and we will still fight!"

Zuko grabbed Sokka by the collar and showed him the outside. I couldn't see, and to be honest I didn't want to imagine what "Look outside Sokka! This tribe has lost the battle. they caught them by surprise and there is no way to regain the city today! You go out there and fight, and they will capture you! If we leave, then we will fight another day, but not this one! This is a no go, do you understand, Sokka?!"

I'd never seen Zuko so filled with anger before, there were several occasions I could compare it to, but none were a match up with this one. Sokka didn't need to answer. he nodded reluctantly and he started running out. Suki and Toph were hesitant after Zuko's outburst, but they followed on . Zuko's eyes met mine and there was fire in them. But I was adamant. "No! We need to get to Aang. He could be in serious trouble. Zuko."

He stepped towards me. "Don't worry, he's a strong kid. He can take of himself. But our priority is getting ourselves out, and everyone else." The fire cooled down, and he pulled out his dao swords and ran straight out. I reluctantly nodded as we left in preparation for our second greatest retreat.

Aang

Being completely encased in ice left me with my thought, but my thoughts were all focused on escaping. I took a deep breath and I unleashed a firestorm on my captors. The heat built up inside me and the ice shattered from the extreme rise in temperature. Shards struck their armour as I leapt and waterbent them into statues. I knew it wouldn't last, but I ran straight for the throne room.

People started running as I yelled to them to head for safety. There was a large hole in the wall and several unconscious waterbenders, but I was determined to reach Chief Arnook. I reached the doors, knocking back the two guards holding the doors with earthbending, the smacking them together with airbending. I somersaulted over their bodies and slammed straight through the door.

"Stand down and no one has to get hurt!" I looked around and found Chief Arnook to one side of the room with a whale tooth blade to his throat, as well as the rest of the councilmen all held in there place by several men draped in Water Tribe armour and black robes.

"Please . . ." I looked up and saw the Commander casually lying across the throne like he owned it. Laying his head back with his helm caught against the back of the seat. He sat straight up with his legs crossed and his left arm supporting his head. ". . . enlighten us, on how you intend to do such a thing." He swung himself with his legs over the right side of the throne. "As you can see, I hold the throne, I hold the army, I hold the prisoners!" He swung back over and slammed his feet onto the ground and stood up, raising his arms outwards as he turned around in full circle once. "I hold every possible card."

I stepped forward, ready to firebend at him, but his hand signal indicated to me to stop. Pointing at Chief Arnook, I knew he wasn't bluffing. "Who are you, under that helm, that you think you have any right to be doing this?"

"Oh." he replied, pacing down the stairs. "What gives me the right? Blood. and sweat. I lived in this tribe, I fought for this tribe, I! . . ." His voice rose at that moment, before dying back down. ". . . Nearly died for this tribe. But, I hold everything, and you will know who's face has suffered to reach here!" At that moment, he threw his helm across the floors, slamming against the stairs and rattling on the icy floor.

My jaw dropped and my eyes grew very wide. The sleek black hair and the cold piercing eyes. The same look that was angrily attacking Sokka a month before. *Blink*"Hahn?" Gasps echoed through the throne room.

"Yes Avatar. I survived." He turned his head, revealing a large scar cutting down most of his left face. It wasn't so disfiguring, nor was it large and red like Zuko's, it was more like his face had been scrapped and cut into. "And I have the marks to prove it."

"Hahn?" Arnook said in awe. His shock turned to anger in almost a second. "You Traitor!"

His eyes jetted straight towards him as he threw his club straight at him. It hit him square in head, knocking him over. One of his men then passed him their club as replacement. "No, you were the traitor. Everyone is the traitor here, especially you Avatar." He pointed at me with his club in hand. His eyes piercing straight through me. "You consorting with Ashmakers."

"Is this what this is about? *Blink*" I asked.

"No, no I realized something, for the past two years I realized that the old fools of this tribe were sick of war and were too willing to find the escape button. But what thy forgot was the millions who died under their war machines, their cold blooded flames, and their empty hearts. They have no sense of honour or compassion, only pride and hate. This tribe has been run by fools for too long." He sat himself back down into the throne, crossing his legs and relaxing his club arm over the side. "Now I will set things right."

I shook my head in disagreement, and a large teeth filled angry expression grew on my face. My tattoos lit up as I told him "I will not LET YOU DOOooo-*Blink*-oooo"*Blink* Then I lost control; The blinking became worse as every voice in my head became painful. My eye's burn as I gripped violently to my skull. All I saw in the Avatar State was the blinding light again. I lost focus and I was out of it, down upon my knees.

The doors slammed and I saw a jet of water threw it self over my head. The water was deflected, but several men charged through, a battle commenced in the halls. Waterbenders and more waterbenders clashed as the two sides fought for control of the palace. The guards were subdued, but then Hahn called in for back up. Floods of new men attacked the chamber.

I struggled to my feet, until a hand grabbed my arm. I reached to punch, but the hand belonged to Palagaq. I looked around as people started fleeing the room. Palagaq picked me to my feet and put his hand on my shoulder as he looked upon the hordes arriving. "Aang get out of here. I'll cover you."

"No Palagaq *Blink*" I insisted, but I nearly lost balance had he not caught me. "Come with us."

"I can hold them back. Get my uncle out of here" he ordered me. I couldn't argue as men continued to storm the room. I started walking *Blink* away when Palagaq called back "Aang . . ." I turned my head as he threw another guy down with water. "Find my wife, please. make sure she's safe, for me."

I nodded as I looked around at the sights of people falling and being struck all around me. I hated leaving like this. But for once I felt weak and powerless again, as I *Blink* pulled myself away from battle, and into retreat.

Sokka

Humiliated and defeated, we walked away in shame. Hundreds of us walking in a straight line up away from the tribe. Smoke was clearing as we moved further up the cliffs. No one stopped us, and those who tried were easily knocked over. I held Suki under my arm and we comforted each other on the climb. Toph stomped her way forward from behind us, till we managed to reach the cliffs over looking the tribe, as the blizzard we walked into continued to howl and harass us. But I felt that we deserved it.

Stones broke across our faces and battered us to the point of freezing. I stood against the edges of the cliff, watching as the tribe continued to be consumed in the storm that was brewing. Snow and ice blanketed the city until eventually, it just vanished. The smoke stopped rising and the sounds stopped speaking. It was all as if it never was there, but I knew it was there. And we would return to reclaim it.

As Katara and Zuko flew over on Appa, he roared, but it was quieter then usual, and when we took a look at the large cuts across two of his six legs, we knew why. Momo flew after and he curled up on my shoulder in between mine and Suki's heads, feeding his way into my coat and snuggling away from the cold. "We lost the battle" I said." We can't lose the war."

"What war? This isn't war, this is treason." Arnook complained, as councilmen tried comforting him. But it didn't work, it wouldn't have worked for me either.

I took a deep sigh as I looked out on the tribe. "So what's the plan?" Toph said enthusiastically. Throwing her punched like she was ready to fight. And to be perfectly honest, so was I. It always cheered me up to see her so pumped for battles. Not always, sometimes it was just annoying that she wasn't thinking things through, but this time I wanted to be as siked as she was and get back into battle.

"Well all we need to do is wait till Aang gets here and then all this will be over-" I stopped speaking at the sight of a bald headed boy walking towards us with a heavily pregnant woman.

"Aang?" Katara called out as he walked from the storm and into colour with his head hung low. He twirled his hand, but then remembered that he didn't bring his staff.

"What happened down there Twinkle Toes?" Toph asked.

Aang faced away from us and sighed angrily under breath. "Nothing." He slumped down into the snow.

My eyebrows rose. "What?" I yelled.

Aang turned around and stood straight back up in full fury. "Nothing! I couldn't do anything. This *Blink* insane blinking has been a thorn in my whole month. I have barely had decent sleep before I had, and it has made it worse. I can't even go Avatar state without it interfering. I hate this!"

"Calm down!" I yelled at him, as I reached for his shoulder, but I was met with a swing that would have taken my head off. It ripped through the ground and flew off until it disappeared into dust.

My eyes widened at the sight of what I thought was fire. But as it came slicing round near my face, I looked as it lit up all in gold, like stardust. "What on earth?"

"What not on earth" Toph said. "That felt really weird. What happened?"

"That is the strangest looking fire I ever saw."

"That's not fire" Aang exclaimed. "That was definitely not fire. This is bad."

"Aang?" I asked.

"He's right. That's not fire. I haven't seen it in months, but I'll never forget that golden light."

"What is that?" I shouted, edging back in panic at the sight of the unfamiliar attack.

"Void" Zuko said aloud. I stopped moving back as Aang looked upon his hands. "Aang just voidbent."

"Voidbent!" Katara repeated.

" . . . Like the Phoenix King." Suki added. Aang's face dropped into deep shock and horror at this revelation. He looked as if he was about to drop to his knees and bury his face in his palms.

"You didn't just take Ithar's bending" Zuko pointed out, "you stripped his bending from him, and now you have it."

"Wait" Suki interrupted, looking around in deep confusion. "Where is . . . ? Ithar!"

We all stopped and looked around as well. But it was too late before we realized what we had forgotten. "There" Toph pointed, back into the city below the cliffs. ". . . Stuck sleeping in the middle of an occupied tribe."

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