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|Night of Blood|
29th Oct 2013
Water, Earth, Fire, Air.
For 100 years, the four nation 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 tension between the nations and further secret activity that Aang may not be able to stop. But I believe Aang can.
With Beifong out of action, and a little chaos spread in the area, Team Avatar will be in enough of a distraction for phase two to commence:
The Fire Nation was fighting a war against three nations, one of which it exterminated brutally with no mercy shown. All in the hunt for the Avatar who hid himself away for one hundred years before returning too late to save his own people. But before he would pay, the very nation will suffer a greater loss; death to their Fire Lord. Sozin was dead, as was Azulon, and seeing as Ozai was now a weakling, Zuko will be the target.
But how to complete this? I certainly would like to do it, but I've seen the future, and it's not my act to commit. It belongs to someone else. I have the person in mind. Someone who will take great pleasure in the act, someone who hates the Fire Nation as much I do. The Puppetmaster.
The guards at her prison were on 24/7 patrol, but knocking them out through quick suffocation saw to them. It was easy pickings to get to her cell. She was chained with her arms as far apart as possible, undoubtedly to keep her from bending the guards. If what I heard of her was true, then she was perfect for the little . . . field trip as it were.
"Beautiful moon tonight I hear."
"What do you care for beautiful sights. If you only knew how deadly a lovely view can be you would think twice before bringing it up."
"I know what you're saying, bloodbender." I had her where I wanted her "I hear you hate the Fire Nation."
She looked up, her head raised itself slowly like an old thought was finally triggered. "A lot of people hate the Fire Nation."
"Not as much as you, I heard about a witch that tried to imprison an entire village under a mountain. I presume that you planned further than that."
"They made me suffer, a waterbender without a drop of water makes us feel like such weaklings. But I found water in the most unlikely of places and I made it my life's work to make them suffer as my brothers and sisters of the Southern Water Tribe have suffered."
"Have you ever considered the possibility of taking life away instead of controlling it."
"I like the way you're thinking, care to elaborate."
"Keeping them prisoner gave them the same chance they gave you to escape. If you really want revenge, you need them to suffer and then take all their hope before ending it before they have the chance to regain it."
"What do you have in mind."
"I will release you from this prison and I will give you the means to infiltrate the Fire Lord's Palace. All I ask of you is something that you will no doubt enjoy as much as you have wanted for so long. Do we have a deal."
She took no time to pause and immediately answered. "I look forward to working with you. Name the task." I smiled as I proceeded to break her chains by freezing the air around her chains until the frost broke through the metal, snapping them and releasing her from her confines.
"I hope the Fire Lord will accept his overdue payment in blood, His . . . Blood."
I waited in the throne room for the prisoner to be brought to me. Uncle waited with me, like promised, I was happy he agreed, I didn't feel that I could do this sort of thing on my own. Uncle had always been there for me, even when I was growing up and he had his own son, my cousin Lu Ten, to take care of, he showed me more of a fatherly figure than my own did to me. And I will always thank him for that.
The doors opened and Suki and Ty Lee entered carrying the captive, no doubt a victim to the infamous chi blocking Ty Lee and now some if not most of the Kyoshi Warriors. But this kid must have put up somewhat of a challenge for this outcome to have become necessary, and from the reports about his bending ability, it must have been a reasonable reaction to the power he possessed.
The bender was placed on his knees at least 5m in front of me, he still looked so limp from all those quick jabs to his limbs, but I knew very well it would wear off eventually, so I'd better make our talk as quickly as possible before the worst could come true:
Suki and Ty Lee backed off slightly, but remained standing. Suki announced "Fire Lord Zuko, this is the prisoner."
"And he's cu . ..I mean he's here on . . . cue." I knew very well what she was about to say, but I let it slide for her sake, besides I guessed that Suki may have already had a talk about what she says out loud.
"Thank both of you. May I have your name."
He raised his head slowly and looked up, then he lowered it again at the same slow pace. "You can ask me for many things, my hobbies, my age, my . . . abilities, but no, you may not have my name."
I raised and eyebrow. This fifteen year old was telling me, the Fire Lord, that he would not give me his name. My father would have disintegrated him for his apparent insolence. No, I will not, I'm a different man to my father. I won't stoop to his level. "Would you care to tell me why?"
"My name is my identity, my identity is my life, my life is all I have. That is why I will not give it to you. Even if you are the Fire Lord. I shall not surrender my life to you."
"Yeah, we kind of forgot to mention this." Suki said while scratching the back of her head. "This kid speaks in riddles."
Great, just my luck. This kid is clever. He thinks that he's outsmarted me, I will get the information somehow. The Avatar said that violence doesn't solve anything, so I'll try talking some more to him.
"Okay, so no name, that's cool. How about if you tell me where your from?"
"Oh that's an easy one," Yes, I get some answers, or so I thought: "I'm from here and I'm from there, from everywhere and from nowhere, this world and the other world, between all and nothing at the same time. Is that the answer you wanted?"
He was really starting to push my buttons. "Look, you're my prisoner, so when I ask you for answers, you will give them to me. I am your judge in whether or not you're guilty or innocent, so I would recommend you give me what I want now."
That should have broken into him the direness of his situation. I looked down on him, still on his knees, still limp, but daring to give me the cheek so emotionlessly. I continued staring straight at him. He didn't move, not even lifting his head. He just knelt there quietly. Just . . . So . . . Quiet.
"Hey, are you even listening to me!?" He remained so quiet, not even moving. I was really getting frustrated right now. I had basically reached my limit of tolerance. This kid was clearly not going to talk straight. I reached out towards him. "I said are you listeni . . . " He reached out and intercepted my arm, then used my momentum and flipped me over his head. I landed back first on the floor. I saw him standing, standing? He shouldn't be able to stand, let alone move his arm at all. His eyes twinkled like he planned out the whole thing from the moment he let himself be dragged into my throne room.
Suki immediately jumped into action, while Ty Lee, well, jumped literally over him. He was cornered, but something told me he wasn't going to make it easy: he adjusted his arms into a vertical position in front of himself, with his right elbow touching above his left with his fingers flat out and perfectly straightened out. He then leveled them out even clockwise from where I was looking, the hands then meeting in the middle as he brushed them against each other, pulling them back over to their correct sides. I looked as a golden aura was then suddenly building around his hands, and then yanked his arms apart and everything went in his design.
I had no idea he could move so fast, but somehow, he managed to dodge everyone of Ty Lee's jabs, and even ducked as Suki collided in with her katana, narrowly missing him by originally probably a couple centimeters one second, then the next by about half a meter, as he continued dodging. I got myself to my feet, just as he had worn them both out. The gold aura was now encasing his every movement, as if a part of his body was left trapped behind, slower than the rest of his body, until his every step looked like it was taken by five identical copies of him.
I was about to run and force feed him some fire bending, but Uncle put his hand in front of my chest.
"But Uncle, he's . . ."
"I will handle this, Fire Lord." He confidently walked straight towards him, stopping just in front of him. He stared at him and he did like wise, till Uncle put a big grin on his face. "Do you want to hear a riddle."
What? A riddle is what your offering. You might as well just tell him a joke, this kid may be young, but he wouldn't think about . . .
"I'd love to hear it." he said, his aura disappearing in the process.
"A woman goes to a tea shop, and orders a hot cup of Jasmine Tea, but when she took a sip, she was horrified to find a fly in her tea. The shame in waiters she told him, and demanded that he remove it from her sight and bring a new one immediately. So he took her cup and went into the kitchen and shortly returned with a fresh cup of tea. She then got up and shouted, 'You brought me the same tea!' How did she know?"
Just like Uncle, a tea related riddle would have been his picking, it was just like Uncle Iroh. I looked at this master of riddles that was thinking of the answer, but then quickly focused his eyes back on Uncle, he was grinning like he knew the answer, that twinkle was back. "That's easy; the cup was cold when he brought it back."
His eyes widened. "What?"
"She knew it was her cup because she had put sugar in the tea, and when she tasted the new tea it was already sweet. That was how she knew."
The boy slumped his arms, he knew he was clearly beaten. He then looked back up and started clapping his hands. "Bravo, I know when I'm outmatched."
"Uncle, how did you do it?"
"When you've lived as long as I have Zuko, you learn the behaviours of many people, so you can better learn what you can do to win them over. This boy was smart and he doesn't give any straight answers, you will also notice that he also didn't once hit back, he just kept himself complicated enough to tire those two out."
"Very smart thinking, Uncle. I can't thank you enough."
"It was a pleasure to do it for you, dear Nephew."
Uncle then looked back at the boy, and the boy likewise. He placed his fist into his flat out palm and said "I have been defeated in a riddle challenge, and as your prize, I will honourably answer any question, as long as I don't foresee it as unreasonable."
There was only one question that mattered right now, I thought to myself. "Please tell me your name."
"Ithar." he said, turning around towards me. The twinkle in his eyes were gone, I knew straight off that he had played enough games with us. He was speaking sense now. He was a man of his word. "My . . . mother named me Ithar."
The night was growing longer, midnight was closing in. The moon was full, but the clouds continued to conceal it. We all agreed to take it in turns to stay up with Appa. Katara fell asleep first, and Sokka did eventually after waiting out what he thought was long enough to prevent any of what he continued calling "oogies".
Momo also fell asleep, curling up on top of Sokka after an evening of catching bugs in the sky. Appa was still awake, though I always wondered how he could keep flying overnight, even all those days and that two day long flight to the Northern Water Tribe. It was lucky for us now that we could fly anywhere we wanted since we didn't have to avoid Fire Nation armies or navies creeping around the Earth Kingdom lands.
I looked down to Appa's enormous eyes, while stroking the side of his face. "How you feeling boy?"
"I know how you feel, I'm tired too. But I'll stay up with you, it's only fair that you should have someone to talk to."
"I completely understand that. It's great to have the gang back. It wasn't the same without them, was it?"
"Yeah, I know. The Air Acolytes were nice and they are learning a lot about our old culture, but nothing beats being with good friends."
I started to feel tired though, *Yawwwn* I felt my eyes get ever more droopy. My vision began to close ever so slightly more. I could feel my head get heavier, until it felt like my head was over balancing the rest of my body and I began to sway slightly over each side. I then couldn't hold it anymore. *Yawn* I felt myself drift off.
I dreamed of a memory. It wasn't clear. All I could see was different flashes, different pieces that flashed in between.
We were working on bending air into balls.
Everyone was having trouble.
I continued trying.
I was trying to sit on it to hold it down.
"Aang, you'll never get it done."
"I will, just watch me."
I fell off a ball of air.
"Ha, I knew, you couldn't do it.
"I will do it, it can be done."
I was falling from the sky . . . No, wait. That never happened. It was happening. I opened my eyes. I was falling from the sky. I pushed myself with air and blew myself back onto Appa. I felt a little shaken, a bit scared of falling asleep, but I was fine. Just fine.
I looked back, Katara was still asleep, Sokka was snoring with Momo curled up over his eyes. I pressed on, but I was still so tired. It was another two hours before Katara woke up to take over. But I was too stubborn to sleep tonight. It was scaring me, the idea of falling without realising again.
"Aang, come on, it's my turn, you just sleep."
"I can't Katara, I just can't."
She pulled my head over and kissed it softly. I started feeling relaxed, as if I could fall asleep in her arms just there. She pulled me in for a hug, I could feel myself drifting much more calmly. She let go and we just stared into each other's eyes for a while. Smiling. "Thanks sweetie, I needed this."
"Sweetie, don't worry now. I'll take over watch, you just sleep."
"Okay Katara" I replied as I curled up on Appa's head and drifted into sleep.
I dreamed of my last days at the air temple hundred years ago. Back when all my friends were still alive, all the monks and nuns, the airbenders and the other sky bison. I dreamed of one day in particular; We were learning to bend air into a concentrated sphere. There were at least twelve of us practicing the technique, but none of us were getting it right. I was the best in the class, but I remember it being difficult, even for me at that experience level.
I remember attempting to tame the forceful winds. Everyone else had given up, but I continued to struggle on. I ended up trying to sit on it, but ultimately it rebounded me off of it.
"Aang, you'll never get it done." One of the other students was standing over me. He was identical to everyone, as everyone was with our shaven heads and identical clothing, but his figure was substantially taller, even if we were the same age.
"I will, just watch me!" I replied. I was so confident that I could do it. But I fell off the ball again. Time after time I tried but I just kept falling off.
"Ha, I knew you couldn't do it.
"I will do it, it can be done."
It took a while, but after maybe what felt like around half an hour I was sure that there was going to be no "smoochie smoochie" between Aang and Katara, so I was able to lay back peacefully and finally get some shut eye. At least, that was what I intended, until the nightmares started creeping about in my brain.
It started out as a dream of the Day of Sozin's Comet. The Battle of Wulong Forest was our finest hour. Aang finally defeated Ozai and Suki, Toph and I took out the War Balloon Ships. Aang had just arrived to fight Ozai and we were watching from the balloon. Suki turned towards me "Shouldn't we be helping him?"
I just stood there silent. No, that wasn't what happened. I said something. I answered, so why wasn't I saying a thing? But I tell them that Aang had his own mission and that we had to get rid of the airships. But no words, not a syllable. It was like I suddenly went mute.
I heard Toph from behind me sarcastically speaking to me. "So what now, Captain Boomerang? I can't see out of this floating hunk of metal."
I turned around, but now she was gone, and so was Suki. I wasn't even in the airship anymore. I was on the pillars, with huge flaming eyes glaring at me from in front of me. Phoenix King Ozai was standing in front of the comet as it passed behind him.
"You're weak, just like the rest of your people! They don't deserve to exist in this world... in my world! Prepare to join them. Prepare to die! "
I finally could talk again. "Where's Aang? and Toph? a-and Suki?" I looked around, and to my horror, I found Aang's body just lying in the crevice below the pillars, black and blue and red all over in burn marks. He was in the Avatar State, but the light was fading out, his tattoos went from bright white, to his usual light shaded blue, and his eyes went into an only black. I watched on as his mouth breathed for the last time and a golden stream of breath exited and then puffed away into nothing. It was gone, the Avatar Spirit was dead, Aang was dead, and the cycle was broken.
I looked back to Ozai, who was laughing manically. I looked at his feet, and there were Toph and Suki, both were unconscious and not moving. I tried moving towards them, but found my feet were firmly planted onto the ground. I just watched as Ozai kicked them over the edge, and their bodies plummeted to the canyon below.
"After generations have failed to rid the world of the Avatar, I did. I shall be known as Ozai the Avatar Slayer. New generations of firebenders will be born in my new world. A world where only the strong survive and those lucky to be born will wish they never were. Sages will worship me for thousands of years. Mothers will name their children after me. Those same children will learn of my victory. And then, when the world is kissing my feet, the Earth Kingdom and the Water Tribes will likewise face the same treatment my grandfather bestowed upon the Air Nomads. I will not simply rule a Kingdom, and so my own created title will have no longer be fitting to the power I possess. I shall crown myself, as . . . the Dragon Emperor!"
He laughed again manically, then I found myself falling off the edge as he unleashed his fire breath upon me. I felt stiff and now unable to move. I could do nothing but fall and watch the night sky. I could hear the moon screaming at me. "Sokka! Sokka!"
"Sokka, get up, it's your turn."
I woke up with a start. I was sweating from my head to my toes. It was fresh, still dripping like a waterfall. My breathing was also now heavier, like I was choked while I was sleeping. Momo was clinging to my head, my sudden spring up probably shocked him as much as I was right now. I looked over to my left and there was Katara. She was now awake, while I could also see Aang curled up on Appa's head, deep asleep.
"Sokka, are you alright? You're dripping."
"I-I'm fine Katara, why'd you wake me. I was . . . having a nice dream and . . . stuff like that."
"It's your turn to stay up with Appa. I'm tired and going to sleep now." She crawled along and snuggled up close to Aang.
"Oh great." I sat up and wrapped my arms around my knees and just stared back up at the sky. The clouds were now gone and it was completely full. I looked up and sometimes I swore that I could see Yue's face. It was still as radiant and beautiful as it was when I first . . . No, I can't. I can't think like this. I'm with Suki. I can't be so . . . so conflicted like this. I felt guilty enough when I couldn't kiss her in front of the moon, and now I was feeling guilty of thinking about Yue.
Why had this become an issue again? Is it just being around Aang and Katara, who both have no such impending conflicts between two different people. They have each other, is that it? I don't know, I'm too tired to think, or even sleep for that matter.
I looked back at Momo, who was now sleeping on top of my head, tightly nested and curled to fit perfectly on top.
"At least you don't judge me, at least you don't judge."
Zuko invited me for a banquet for my arrival, as suggested by his Uncle, the former General Iroh. We dined on all that the Fire Nation had to offer, and while there were many courses, I barely had a bite. Being in a timeless zone for years, with no food at all, you don't feel hunger as much. I did however dine on some rolls, rice and a bit of duck. But what I enjoyed most was the tea; I swear that there was no better tea anywhere else.
"This is the best tea in the world. I have tasted a lot over the years, but nothing comes close to what my mouth has had the pleasure of being enticed by all the flavours." I proclaimed openly. I wasn't embarrassed, it was something I had to say.
"Your compliments are most appreciated. The secret ingredient is love." The look on Zuko's face said that he had said it before, it was like he was happy about the memory, but slightly annoyed at hearing the answer again.
"So Ithar, what's that bending you do?" Zuko said to me. "It's unlike anything else we've seen before."
"None of us knew that there was another element that could be bent." said Suki.
"It's Voidbending" I replied, while finishing my tea and shoveling down a few more rolls onto my plate.
"Is it like when you dodge people a lot, cause you were doing that a lot."
"No, it isn't avoiding if that's what you're implying. No, the Void is the fifth element. It allows the bender to use empty space and bend the energy around it to slow down time, as I showed you earlier . . ."
"You didn't though, you sped up. You were surrounded in gold aura and you went extremely fast." said Suki
"Neither of us could hit you, you were so fast." pointed out Ty Lee.
"No, when I slowed down time, your minds and senses were working at the same pace as time was. All I did was encase myself while I willed myself to slow everything around me."
"That's pretty cool."
"But also abusable." Iroh was quick to point out, his voice hinted concern for this new experience, and I couldn't blame him. "How can you be sure that a power like that cannot be used for personal gain?"
"In order to achieve this ability, it requires a clear mind and no distractions. And even if you can complete a spiritual state of thought, to reach my level of experience you'd have to learn the technique and develop your skills over a long course of training."
"That doesn't sound too hard." interrupted Ty Lee.
"It took me seventy years to complete my training."
"That's a long time."
"But wait, how can you have trained for so long, yet you still look fifteen?" Suki spoke out.
"After a few years of training, I broke through the barrier that lies between the this world and the Spirit World. A desolate place with nothing but mountain peaks and nothing below. Clouds roll by in the mist, and different periods of time flash from the vapour like lightning contained within the sky. It's forever dark and cold, but there is no timeline in the zone, so whenever you enter, you stay at the age you entered."
I looked around, they were all staring at me. I touched my cheek and realised that I let a tear lose. I wiped it away and tried to change the subject quickly. I grabbed for my flute and said "Who's up for a song then. I can play and sing at the same, no one can do that right."
"How is that even possible?"
"Just listen." I turned to Zuko. "For your hospitality and generosity this evening, this is a song dedicated to you and your uncle, about your heritage." I placed my lips to my flute, cleared my mind and allowed my thoughts to be conveyed as I played;
The Great Fire Nation,
had many complications,
In its formation.
The Lords were sages,
to rule throughout the ages,
fate turned the pages.
Strongest of sages by far,
Fire Lord etc.
Inzuoma his son,
Dynasty to last the sun,
New members to come.
Rinzao would fight,
with sparks and flames all alight,
give them dust to bite.
Yozei the cold flame,
Discovered lightning in fame,
Death, is all to blame.
Komeiz of old,
longest rule, must have been bold,
glad when death took hold.
Taizho young rule,
two years waited for dad's stool,
to kick, smartest fool.
Hokazen of war,
ambitious to gain so more,
Failing to start before . . .
Laozi wasn't bad,
His name sounds lousy, how sad,
He had a steel fad.
Lord Sozin, we dread,
See nought but millions dead.
Unstitched peaceful thread.
Azulon, grave voice,
Victories in Kingdom, rejoice,
Wisest in his choice.
Ozai the Phoenix,
Drunken with power in mix,
Our world needs to fix.
Last now is Zuko,
The Lords continue to grow,
So and so and so.
Watching time go by,
It's sad that everyone must die,
but it all must fly.
But we remember,
Every good and bad member,
Of the House of Ember.
"Wow. That was amazing." stated Ty Lee.
"I'll say." added Suki.
"Impossible." exclaimed Zuko.
"Not impossible, unbelievable." said Iroh.
"Thank you, all of you." I said, "I am grateful for everything you've done, but will be leaving tomorrow."
Everyone was a little shocked by how I just brought it up. But I had to say it, I needed to continue as quickly as possible. They just sat there in silence. It was about half a minute, before Ty Lee spoke what everyone was thinking. "But, why?"
"I have my reasons."
"Please tell us."
As much as I had wanted to, my mission was too important, I still couldn't. "I can't. It's something I have to do alone. I can't drag people into this, I'm changing things too much already."
Iroh stroked his beard, the stood up. "Suki, why don't you and Ty Lee guard the corridors and we can discuss things with Ithar for a while."
Suki looked towards Zuko, who in turn looked at his uncle, then looked back at her and nodded. "As you wish."
I turned to watch them leave. As I watched them leave, I felt an odd strain in my heart, Ty Lee looked back at me slightly disappointed, our eyes met. I managed a small smile, which in turn helped her regain hers, and she then continued walking out.
I looked back towards Iroh and Zuko as the doors slammed shut. Iroh said to me "Now, let us discuss, what is it that is so important?"
Man, I hate that guy. Hiding in the air where I couldn't see him. The chicken could fly all he wanted, but no one, no one puts holes in my school, not even my students, and gets away without getting their butts whooped.
My head, neck and back were sore, and I can hear an annoying ringing in my ears. As long as my feet were okay, I could still 'see' as it were.
"I guess I've lost my safety deposit now."
The damaged he had caused to the main hall was large. Fixable, but large. And where were those lily livers, did seriously none of them hear the commotion last night or even wonder why their training room was destroyed. Well, if they weren't getting up at the destruction of their training hall, maybe they'll get up when I break their backs in. I may seem harsh, but that was tomorrow's lesson anyway. Although I wondered if that was possible seeing as most don't have any spine to begin with.
"Knock, knock," I said walking towards the rooms, "It's the pounding fairy, and you're all on my list." I punched my fist into my palm as I closed in on their doors.
The corridors were clear, and the flames on the walls flickered continuously. I could hear both of our feet as they echoed down the halls simultaneously. I wondered if they would be okay, I could see the stress in all their faces. Ithar had displayed a lot pain and reaction, then shedding that tear and sweeping it aside was enough to say that he wasn't comfortable.
But I looked at Iroh, he was really concerned. I feel we all were concerned. But we all know what he is capable of, and if his account to what he did with that guard was true, then he could still be unpredictable. Still, he seems to have a thing for Ty Lee. That part was obvious, even if he was toying in the beginning, that feeling was mutual. I could tell that by their last eye-to-eye contact.
As we both walked down the corridor, I turned to her and said "So, Ithar's really . . . something, huh"
"I know, you just get that feeling about him, right."
"I . . . don't exactly follow you."
"I mean, he's just generally like a good person, you know."
"I actually don't know."
"Well, you can tell straight off that he's not one to fight. He never once went offensive, he's defense which he reflects in his bending,"
"I think I get it now," and I actually did. I already knew that feeling. I looked at the sky through the windows; the moon was very large this night, and exceedingly bright. It was almost like the night me and Sokka almost . . .
I then stopped dead in my track. My eyes widened, I felt my breath become tight. I felt tight everywhere for some reason. Like all my joints were stiff. I couldn't move at all, all my limbs felt as if they were twisted.
"Can you move?"
I was shaking as if I was struggling against some invisible force. I then went flying sideways on like a doll, violently hurled into the wall, as was Ty Lee. The impact was so strong, and I could do little. But I felt loose again, that force had lost its hold on me.
I looked over the other side, the force had knocked Ty Lee out cold, as she lay there painfully asleep. She was the lucky one; I was grabbed again by that same force that picked me up from my feet this time and brought me out to the middle of the hallway. I felt so dazed that I couldn't see anything but shapes and shadows, and a voice so old and frail, but it was forceful and determined. Laughing manically, quiet, but loud enough to made your skin crawl.
"What are you. Where are the other warriors?" I snapped.
"Don't mind them dearie. They've been . . . taken care of, I assure you, much like your friend over there."
My arms were then fixed straight to my sides. I felt constricted, like a Pythonaconda was entangling itself around me.
"What . . . do . . . you . . . want?" I barely mustered enough of my voice to speak out.
"I have to see the Fire Lord immediately my dear. Would you be so kind as to . . . let me in."
It clearly wasn't a question, as I suddenly felt my weight push me backwards at tremendous speed, as I went flying down the corridor and straight through the door.
I lay there next to Aang, dreaming over the possibilities of a future together. Ever since Yu Dao, I believed that it was more possible than before. If an entire village of Fire and Earth Nation people could have families together, then I saw no reason that it wouldn't work for Water and Air.
I dreamed of the events that we encountered during the Harmony Restoration Movement: the meeting, Zuko's withdrawal, our visit, the battle between the Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation forces. I remembered it all as clearly as every memory was happening again in my head.
We all turned our head to the sound of Suki crashing through the doors. She literally just broke a large hole through the doors, and even smashed them open and off their hinges. I'm ashamed to say that we all just stood there staring rather than going to help her, though in hindsight, staying further away from the door was the smartest idea we had.
Out from the shadows surrounding the hallway stepped an elderly woman, she had to be in her eighties at least, but her movements were so much stronger than a woman of her age should have been capable of. Her nails were long and pointy like talons and her eyes were dark and bloodshot red.
"I hope I'm not interrupting." Her voice was creepy, like it was a snake hissing in the back of your ears. Silent, but deceiving.
Uncle stepped forward, angrily expressing his discontent against her. "In fact you have. All this commotion with the door has made me drop my tea." I only knew too well that this was outrageous to Uncle. She didn't take kindly herself to his words, raising her arm in his direction. He was suddenly constricted, groaning in pain. His eye widened and his jaw remained locked open. His whole body began violently vibrating as if his body was fighting him.
"This does not concern you, old man." she declared, throwing him aside, slamming him into the walls to his left.
"No!" I then let her have my fury. I punched a wall of fire in her direction, to which she responded by using the water in our drinks as defense, shielding herself from my attack. She raised her arm, grabbing me in her invisible hold as she used earlier, lifting me off my feet as I struggled violently trying to resist it.
"Now it is your turn, Fire Lord." I prepared to be thrown, but instead was moved some how. I was no longer raised above my seat, but now on a balcony over looking the hall. I saw Ithar's palms glow gold as they did in our earlier small confrontation. I also saw the shocked look on the old woman's coarse face. "What?"
Ithar began circling around, with his arms raised in front of him to defend himself "I will not allow this. You are not supposed to be here."
Her tone changed, it went from shock to deep resentment "Neither are you, he never said that anyone else would be here."
I saw him raise an eyebrow, "Who . . ." She took advantage of the situation and grabbed him.
"Ithar, what are you doing? This is my fight."
"Zuko, stay back, this will be mine."
I watched from the balcony as they circled around for a while. The woman made the first move, utilising the water she grabbed earlier and throwing it at him, freezing it into icicles. While Ithar was distracted, she attempted to grab him again in her coiling hold. But Ithar was quicker now, avoiding her attempt and jumping through.
"Madam, you haven't seen anything."
"Why do you fight for this fire spawn? He's nothing but a spoiled prince pretending to be a leader, you're not even one of those Fire Nation brutes they parade through the streets, nor are you Earth or Water Tribe. Where exactly does your white and grey clothing even fit in this survival of the strong state?"
I looked over at him, his expression went from solid and emotionless, and it dropped slightly and his eyes relaxed more from there dead stare. He was distracted for a time, but regained himself. "I may not be Fire Nation, but I am defending a person who was attacked for no reason in the middle of giving a outsider the hospitality that he thought he didn't deserve or would ever receive." He then moved to initiate what I presumed was one of those portals that he mentioned. But I looked over at the witch, who's eyes were fixated on me, daggers of ice were targeting me.
She then let loose a volley of frozen knives. I prepared to defend myself with fire, but felt arms suddenly restrained and separated apart. I struggled to take control as the inevitability of the ice impacting. I saw Ithar redirect the his energy in front of me, opening the portal to defend me, as every shard flew through and vanished in the blackness of the other side. But Ithar had his guard down, and she grabbed him as she did me, only she did something far worse.
"I hope you don't mind, while I intend to kill the Fire Lord, you will be the subject to something only I and I alone can do.."
I watched on as she brought him in closer and turned him back from her. Ty Lee entered the room staggering, clutching her left arm as the witch placed her left claw into his neck and jabbed for two fingers of her right directly into his forehead. His face went pale, his voice no longer groaned and he stopped struggling. His arms and legs went loose and they dropped to then floor like a sack. I was left jaw dropped, and in awe at what she had done.
Ty Lee, getting her second wind and utilising the element of surprise, leaped straight at her, jabbing her in multiple places before she collapsed face first into the floor. Then she proceeded to help up Suki, while I climbed down from the balcony and went to help Uncle Iroh.
"Uncle, are you okay?"
"I am ok, Zuko. A lie down, a quick nap and a warming taste of tea afterwards and I will be right as rain." I smiled, we were lucky that we all survived. Some of the other warriors walked in, stumbling and aching, but all were still fine. Confused, but nothing was damaged badly. I order them to take her and bind her arms apart again, but this time with guards in front of the cell at all times. The nightmare was over with relief, but the events of the night had effectively changed the situation for all of us.
I saw Ty Lee bring Suki to her feet before rushing over to Ithar, who was left on his hands and knees. As she helped him up, his eyes were still as wide as they were when he was being controlled. He was sweating and his breath, though incredible heavy was silent, like his breath was still in shock from the pain and torment. He tried to quickly recover, attempting to stand on his own, though kept shaking in trying to support his weight.
Ty Lee caught him and helped him keep steady, he looked at me. "Where is the Avatar?"
"I know why she was let loose, where is the Avatar, he could be in serious danger. I need to find him now!"
"I don't know."
"Do you know of any locations he could be?" His voice was now deeply concerned.
"Eh, I don't . . ."
Suki interrupted, "Aang lives at the Southern Air Temple, but . . ."
"Thanks, I must go now." He immediately brought himself to his feet before we all could protest. He swung his arms around to produce a portal again, building up the movement and then released it. We all stared at . . . nothing. He produced nothing. There was no portal. No golden glow ever appeared.
"What?" he continued trying but nothing appeared, not even his finger tips began to glow either. "What is this?!" He tried and tried again, but nothing was ever produced. he stared at his hands for a while, then he wiped them on the back of his neck and on his forehead, wiping across them. "No, it couldn't have." He then violently tried bending again. But his technique was off, he was putting a lot of aggression that built up in each attempt. He knew very well that he had to be calm to produce it as he told us, but actions were so offensive that it was untrue that he was in the right frame of mind to think this through without panicking. He stopped when he exhausted himself, panting heavily in disbelief. "No, it's gone, it's all gone!"
"What is?" I asked.
He stared at us all, holding out his hands, the shock on his face was like the one he was displaying after being held against his will, I knew that it was too serious to be coincidental. "I can't open it, it's not shut. I can't do anything, I've lost my bending."
The reason for Katara and Toph's chapters being short was that I:
- Have trouble writing as female characters, which isn't much of an excuse seeing as they were longer last chapter.
- Couldn't think of how to expand on them further this chapter without distracting from the main story. a little biased, but the truth.
- Hama reappears after her first appearance in "The Puppetmaster".
- Bloodbendings ability to sever bending would later be witnessed in "The Revelation".
- Ithar loses his bending, which continues on throughout the first book.
- Aang's flashbacks to the Air Nomads occur throughout the first book.
- Sokka's alternative realities occur throughout the first book.
- The one night over journey from the South Pole to the Hu Xin Province, which originated as a bad error, is later adapted into the main storyline.
For the collective works of the author, go here.