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|What If Part 2: The Genocide|
25th May 2014
Water, Earth, Fire, Air, Void.
For 100 years, the four nations were at war and only the Avatar, master of all four elements could stop them, but he vanished. 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.
But now a new threat has arisen and a fifth element has been awoken. A voidbender named Ithar came with a warning that we were all in danger. An lost past and earlier tale have caught us up, and Aang may not be ready to face it. But I believe, Aang can save us all.
A flash awoke me, and the moment of realization, we were no longer at our camp sight anymore. The open fields in the middle of the forest were now upon the top of a misty mountain peak where no snow laid or any sound could be heard. The wind was around, but no breeze was brushing against any of us.
There was a creepy echo that lurked around, above, and also below. Like the wind was silencing and hissing every other sound that would or could be produced. It felt like a snake was slithering around, watching and waiting for the time to strike.
"What happened?" I yelled. Looking around in such disbelief. "Where are we?"
Toph slumped straight up, realizing her home made tent was no longer above or around her. "Is this the ground?" She felt around. I didn't personally see the difference in the type of soil, seeing as all rock was rock anyway, but Toph was obviously feeling a difference. "I don't feel the ground."
I looked around for Aang, but I could find him anywhere. I looked to where he would have been sleeping, but Aang's bed was missing, as was he. I saw Ithar pacing around the edges and flicking around his fingers. Several clouds of gold mist departed off his hands like a rising smoke on an erupting fire. "I told him. I told him."
"Where's Aang?" I asked.
He turned around, swiveling on his right foot and throwing his right arm behind him. "This! This is his doing. I told him no and this is what happens."
"He broke through the void. He must have focused too hard on something and lost focus."
"So where is he?"
he slapped the sides of his forehead with both hands. "He could be anywhere. If he didn't randomly shoot himself to any location, he could be revisiting a memory."
"And where are we?" Toph demanded, finally finding a decent way to walk around. She slammed her foot and flicked at the rock that came up.
Ithar stuck both his arms out and spun around in full circle. "This is the Timeless Zone. This is only temporary though, Aang activated the Avatar state, so his blast radius could be have strong enough to pull us after him."
"Where did he go? Where is Aang?" I asked again.
"I don't know."
"How can you not know?"
He stared at me with big wide eyes and an exaggerating jaw. "I'm a bender not a wizard."
"But you know how all this void stuff works."
"I've never known any other voidbenders, as if I could say where he went."
"Then where could he have gone. Where would you go?"
"Where would you go? I don't know him. I don't know where he would go."
"Well he has to be somewhere."
"Not only somewhere . . ."
"Stop with the riddles" Toph yelled, covering her ears like her head was falling apart. "It's painfully annoying, just cut the chase and finish before you start."
"Worst case scenario, he could be anywhen."
Wh-What? What did he say? "Anywhen? That's not even a word."
He rolled his eyes. He was really started building up an attitude problem. Much like my brother actually, but without a lot of the humor. Not that I'm saying any of Sokka's jokes were funny, but at least he made the effort, even when he didn't mean to. "But it's the right word. If all went wrong, the Avatar could be anywhen."
We arrived at the ports to the sound of a cheering crowd. Victory was always the highlight of the Fire Nation, well it was to be expected of a country that had won many victories for near to a hundred years, and even in defeat in the last year there was still victory. Not only were the native people of Capital City cheering, but even the trading merchants from the Earth Kingdom, Water Tribes and Fire Nation colonies were cheering the return from the north.
The streets leading up to the palace were flocked on each side and the army stood facing the middle of the road on either side. And as the company passed, the soldiers would salute, then lower their spears, slamming against the ground. The Fire Nation National anthem also played in the background, almost deafening the cries and cheers of the people.
Fire Lord, my legs march for thee.
March on my flame will be for thee in every corner of the world
Till the sun does fall from the heavens and takes our flame with it
Always victorious, our free burning state
To brave all the molten rock and toxic smoke
May the spirits forever protect our glorious Fire Lord
Always be free and always be strong, My flame burns for thee
Was in old days the steel fell to flames
Was in our age that steel came our hearts
My flame is the spirit that guides us in the dark of the night
The stars they burn bright to celebrate our nation's overlord
Always victorious, our free burning state
To brave all the molten rock and toxic smoke
May the spirits forever protect our glorious Fire Lord
Always be free and always be strong, My flame burns for thee
May the heavens never fall or lose its light and eternal fire
Always loyal to my nation and Fire Lord, my flame burns for theeMy flames burn for thee
There was a lot more lyrics, but being a long and drawn out song, you basically get the whole picture. It was a grand song, but I always felt it put too much emphasis on the Firelord too often. Then again, the Earth Kingdom National Anthem is a whole other story, not joking, apparently it's a whole story. A big origin story, maybe later though.
The parade continued up to the city in the extinct volcano. The lava still flowed beneath the city, but specialized firebenders transfer the heat away and keep it under check regularly, as they have since the first firebenders settled on the island. As it got closer to the city on top of the volcano, the normal Fire Nation Infantry started to be replaced first with the Capital City Infantry, more decorated with bigger and more stylized armours and helms, than the average black, red and brown armour, and the outskirts of the city littered with infantry captains, all still helmed so none would be recognizable, and they too were replaced with Imperial Firebenders as soon as we reached the outskirts of the inner circles of the city.
Then, in front of the palace, were the high generals, admirals, war council members, and the Kyoshi Warriors standing in two lines. I approached my Kyoshi Warriors and they turned and saluted.
"Commander" they all said in near to perfect unison. There were only a few remaining, eight was all that was left of the Kyoshi Warriors in the Fire Nation, with the rest heading home with Daneya.
They always say commander, that was always the title to the leader, as it had always been. I had never had a problem with being addressed as so. I used to take pride in the title. Growing up hearing of the brave and noble Kyoshi Warriors who guarded the history and tranquility of the island since the days of Avatar Kyoshi herself. In a tragic story, it was similar to the Dai Li of Ba Sing Se, but now everyone knows what happened to them eventually. Perhaps isolation may have had its perks to preservation of more than history, but the entire code of honour itself.
The parade stopped and Iroh arose form the behind the general in the royal family robes. Zuko stepped off his palanquin and he approached him. The crowds were too loud and the distance was further then I realized, so the speaking between them was hard to hear. But they spoke a short few words to each other and they embraced a hug before they left for the palace.
I turned back to the warriors and I raised my hand "At ease." They did as I said and their salute dropped, and both hands were at their sides. I took a brief overlook through the remaining warriors and I knew the ones who had chosen to stay. they ere all honest and they all were with a fair experience, at least a rough average of 2 to 3 years under me, enough that they had some brief training and enough that they had been here for the long run.
For nine years I trained and I knew everyone who in that time served under me as a Kyoshi Warrior, the eight standing in front of me, the eight that chose to remain behind; Akuro, Zhurong, Jingu, Itagaki, Kaihime, Tulun, Yim.
And last was Marishi, the eldest, which would have made her in de facto command here. She was no older than twelve though which was coincidental as I too became commander of the Kyoshi Warriors. It's sad that Kyoshi Warrior training was a five-year traditional conscription, and that most who served the five years would leave it behind them. There was no need for a standing army, especially when we were not part of the war, and most wanted to continue living the peaceful life and not worry about fighting in any shape or form.
"Anything to report?" I asked. "Please bring it to me."
Marishi shook her head. "There isn't." Her eyes then widened as she looked around. "What happened to Ty Lee?"
I took a sigh. I have given bad news before, and it wasn't the biggest news I had ever given out. "She got injured, but she's with the rest of the warriors heading back to Kyoshi Island. We will be joining them soon.
I rose both my hands, before this escalated into a troop-wise, if we could even be considered a troop " . . . I'll explain later after the speech."
I wish that that was how the conversation then ended, any older recruit would have been too disciplined to have started with all the gossip, and all the stuff that was completely off topic. "Is your boyfriend here?" Oh boy. This was happening now. I didn't know these recruits as well as any other girl that I have trained, in fact I barely gave them any personal training. These girls had learnt more about patrolling and keeping the piece like a city watch than being guardians and keeping in with traditions.
However, they had spent at least a year on Kyoshi Island, and the rest was here in the Fire Nation, more specifically Capital City. The obviously big difference being that being stealthy is big difference when all the shrubbery on the island covers your green and gold uniforms, with the black substituting shadows in the plants. The white faces were not for hiding, no, the white is too much of a stand out. It's just for scare factor mostly, and about preserving our identities in combat.
Anyways, that one comment then started spreading like wildfire, especially since a few of them were, let's say, familiar with Sokka already. "Sokka's here?"
"Suki's big, strong Water Tribe boy."
"Does he still have his boomerang?"
"Is he going to show us some things." They all giggled amongst themselves. He left a big impact the first time he arrived on Kyoshi Island.
"Girls. Play nice." Speaking of the devil, my boyfriend was done with touring the food district of the Capital City markets. He once told me of his first experience with fire flakes, though Katara told it a lot more accurately. I never doubted Sokka would tell the truth, but he sugar coated it to the point that he might as well have made it up. But anyways, that experience was not today; today that he was chewing through them like those layers of spice were breadcrumbs.
I grabbed his arm and pulled him into the moose lion's den. "Sokka, you remember the girls right?"
He was thrown in so stunned that he still had a mouthful of flakes. Eyes focused on him and a bag half empty. He must have felt really isolated, and those smiles that locked in on him were not helping. He swallowed and he said the only thing he could think of. "Eh, Hi again." Oh yeah. They were gonna eat him up alive.
"It will all be okay Aang." Gyatso assured me. "I will fight this decision till the end. I will not have you separated from me."
I clambered backwards and fell back into my bed. My mentor, my friend. He wasn't really here. He was dead. He died a hundred years ago. Everyone who I saw and have seen out that window is dead. The whole temple was deserted of Air Nomads. "This isn't real."
Gyatso looked at me in complete confusion. "Pardon Aang?"
I turned in a hurry that I almost made a strong wind that shook the object lying between me and Gyatso. "I said that it isn't real!"
Gyatso looked at me in surprise and grabbed me trying to calm me down. "This is real and it will go into effect. But I am trying to reassure you that I will make sure they don't."
I shook my heads and shook him off. "No, because your dead. Everyone here is dead. Your are all dead. The Fire Nation comes up those cliffs and you all die."
"Aang. The Fire Nation will not becoming up the cliffs. I have told you that the only way to reach the temples is by Sky Bison, and I know for a fact that Sky Bison and Fire Nation do not co-exist. Even the Dragons cannot reach here, no matter how high they can fly."
That was what I said to Katara and Sokka when I brought them here, the first time. I told them to only way to get here was by Sky Bison. But now saying that, I am cursed with the image of several images of firebenders shooting themselves up the mountain, as a blazing comet made the sky bleed in all shades of red. "They can fly by themselves."
Gyatso laughed a little, but he didn't find it as amusing as most jokes. Maybe it was the knowledge that the Fire Nation wasn't something to laugh at. "Aang, Firebenders cannot fly."
"The comet!" I yelled. "Sozin's Comet! Their firebending will be at maximum height of power! They can propel themselves up these mountains without Bison or Dragons. They will come and they will kill everyone."
"Aang, it is impossible. And what are you talking about? Firelord Sozin doesn't have a comet in his name. And a comet cannot allow firebenders to fly. You were just dreaming."
"Gyatso, this isn't a dream. I ran away and I fell into the water. I was frozen for a hundred years. I met my friends. I learnt the elements. I defeated Firelord Ozai. I ended the war. I-."
"Aang, please . . ."
"No. It's the truth." The look in his old worn eyes were of complete disbelief. I didn't know what else to do. There was no way he would ever believe me unless . . . "Watch." I stood firmly, pushing both my legs into the ground, keeping them fixed and solid.
I held up my hands and scraped my right foot across the floor. Then, with my left heel I kicked the floor and . . ., ?, I kicked the floor and- . . . ? I flicked my right hands sideways and . . . Nothing?
"Aang . . ."
"I can do this" I interrupted. I took up a different stance; I stood sideways on and held my arms out to either side. I then pulled my right arm in front of me and punched the air to- Again? I pulled my arm and- . . . come on! I punched! I Punched! I PUNCHED!
"Aang . . ."
"I can do this!" At this point I was frustrated. I looked to my bowl of water on the table and I flicked. And I Flicked! AND I FLICKED! I FLICKED!! I FLICKED!!! I FLICKED!!!-
"Aang . . !"
"I Can D-!"
"Aang!" Gyatso grabbed me and held me in a locked hug. I cried. He was really there. I could feel him, the warmth and the pulse under his robes. His breath blowing against my shoulder, and the tickle of his mustache. But I couldn't bend. I could airbend. I didn't try, but I still had my arrow and I just knew it somehow. But I couldn't bend earth, fire or water. Was I really back a hundred years ago. It felt so real. "It is still light" he told me, pulling away and looking directly at me. "Why don't you play with your friends and clear your head. I will make sure that this is all straightened out."
I walked out
"Hey . . . Aang. Look, we all feel bad about . . . about. . ."
"Well" another said, but I lost track of his words. "We're all sorry about excluding you from our game." I couldn't stop myself from staring at him. I knew his face now. His name escaped me all those months. And his name scratched from our cave. I just could get over it anymore. twelve years old him was standing in front of me, and sixteen year old him was standing in front of me in the Northern Water Tribe. They looked similar excluding the age, but not the eyes.
"Yeah, that's not what friends do" some other kids said.
I kept my eyes fixed on Daika though. Ignoring Palden, and Norbu, and Lobsang. Daika was the one I kept fixated on. "So we . . ." he stopped when he noticed it. His eyes were so young, not like the blood shot and beady ones that stared right into my soul in the icy city. "Um, what are you looking at?"
He nodded and tilted his head. "Aang, are you alright?" I didn't stop staring. He snapped his fingers in front of my face and I blinked. "Aang? Is everything alright? Are you in there?"
"Yeah, Aang, you're looking at him weird" Lobsang commented.
I lost concentration. I had been staring at Daika for so long, and he definitely looked the same, but his eyes were so different that I couldn't see the person he would become in there. And that wasn't fair on him. "I'm sorry."
He shrugged his shoulders and smiled. "Well, all is okay."
"We've actually been thinking about what we said" Palden continued.
"And" Nibu added "we feel that you can still play with us-" he stopped in the middle of his sentence. The sky went dark at midday and we all turned as a very odd sound of flames crackling was heard from below the mountains. The voices started melting together. I didn't know who was speaking anymore as a crowd built up and the peoples lips stopped moving.
"Why is the sky red?"
"What's going on?"
The sight of a bleeding sky, and a roaring fire was ripping through the clouds. The heat was intense and the sweat evaporated from my forehead. My arrow rumbled as the haunting memory scratched through the back of my eyes, and was a reality. The black flame on a red field burnt in my mind. balls of light started growing below the clouds,. and before I knew it, catapulted flaming rock came hurtling from below and struck the courtyard.
We jumped to the sides and some were badly hurt. But soon the storm followed and the sound of metal thunder clambering up the cliffs was in tune. A red star in the sky cut over the temple. "Sozin's comet!" I yelled. "The Fire Nation is here!"
I have a bit mouth sometimes, I admit it. I also regret it sometime. It gets me into all sorts of situations that I try to avoid. It was playful enough, but it was still hammering against a bad memory. Or just a memory I didn't particularly want to revisit.
The crowds started building up in the courtyard, waiting for Zuko to give his speech. The Kyoshi Warriors stood out in the front rows, both as to keep the crowds from advancing forward and because they knew the speech would be directed towards them
The sages walked first and they came in a group of five. All draped in red and dark crimson, with their usual big pointy hats. I know they're traditional and everything, but they looked really ridiculous. Then Zuko finally arrived, no longer dressed like he had been for the last three months in travelling clothes, but now draped in long red, black and gold robes and very large gold and black shoulders over his red and umber tunic.
I learnt the origin of the black and gold from the story of the first guy who wanted to be the Phoenix King. well, he was the Phoenix King, his name said so. But, what always confused me was the adding it alongside the red and brown colours. I am going out on a limb and just presuming that its a victory decoration. You know, like when you win a trophy or something. I think that's pretty logical, until I can actually ask I'm why. I can be satisfied with my answer.
Zuko stood upon the top of the stairs, raising his hand to signify silence before he made his speech.
"Thank you all for being here. As you are aware of the events of the past few months and of what has been concurrent these couple of years. Had it not been for the quick and effective arrival of the courageous men of the Fire Nation navy, there is little doubt that the Northern Water Tribe would have been liberated on that day. Thank you to those who are here today and to those still patrolling the Northern Seas." There was whole echo of applauses in the crowd, whistles as well. The patriotism of the Fire Nation was impeccable. Not like how it was seen in the Earth Kingdom; the states all respected being under a monarch, but kept themselves to themselves.
Zuko continued. "But most of all; I thank all the brave and honorable Kyoshi Warriors for being here for all this time. The Fire Nation, and especially my uncle and I, could not have asked for better friends in all this time. Through the stress and strain of the post war period, none have been equal to offering their help then the brave women of Avatar Kyoshi.
I thank them for their service and loyalty. I couldn't ask for anymore then they have given me." There was shorter applause, no where near as grand as the one the navy received, though the crowd wasn't as with the foreign army as they were to their own. "And that is why I have made the allowance earlier past two months before for the Kyoshi Warriors who were home sick or no longer wished to remain here that they could return home." I expected gasps, but there was really little to be heard. A few of the warriors did, but it was barely audible.
"Well, now I am here to thank those who chose to stay. But I am also making it effective immediately that the remaining Kyoshi Warriors to be dismissed from duty and to be granted safe passage home to Kyoshi Island.
Again, I thank them for all they have done, and would wish them luck in any future endeavors they may encounter."
He turned to depart as there was a short applause and the crowd began to disband. I looked around as short whispers and voices followed, till all the sounds went down the slopes and throughout the city streets.
I turned to Suki, as she signaled her warriors to the ships down the slope and in the harbour. She turned to me with a . . . un-expressional face. Still showing mixed feelings with the decision. "Well. That's that then. Going home now."
All I could do was try to make her smile. I offered her my left arm, creating an open area between the inside of my elbow to my side. "Need an arm to take you home."
She smiled and hooked her right arm through then locked it with her left. "Lead the way, strong guy."
"Where exactly are we?" This was not earth. It felt like earth, but it wasn't earth. I lived in it, I always wore a healthy coat of it. This was not it.
"I already said this is the Timeless Zone" Ithar replied crossly.
I rolled my eyes. I am well aware on how to do it now, it's actually starting to feel natural. My life is surrounded in irony. "No. I meant where in the Timeless Zone?"
"Um, on top of the peaks of mountains."
I slammed my foot. Mountains? "Are you sure about that?"
"I have lived here for eighty years your time. I'm sure."
I slammed my foot again. Nope, I was right. "I doesn't feel like mountains. Too small."
"Too small?" he said, as he walked over to the edge. "The bottom is not in sight, how can it be too small?" His voice echoed as he yelled down to it.
"No bottom in sight? No bottom at all. There's nothing here except this large piece of rock we're standing on." This was an island, not a mountain. Or a better description would be a floating rock. earth still continued several millions miles under, this wasn't even ten meters deep.
The blood cooled off from around his head. "Really?" There was a short ripple as Ithar thrusted his arms, down his body connected and then sliced through the air. he then stepped in, but his foot never came back down. Another ripple opened "Huh. Total extinguish. I have been here for so many years and I only now learn about this."
That wasn't what we both focused on. "Total extinguish?" snickered Katara, trying to hold back her laughing. Unlike me who let it all out. "Is that Fire Nation slang?"
"Sounds like a goofy thing Twinkle Toes would say."
He was embarrassed, his cheeks were filling. "Yes. It means I guess I was wrong. What? I was from the colonies in the earlier quarter of the war."
"We can sit here and discuss slang later" Katara told us. More like ordered us. "We still need to find Aang."
"Okay," Ithar replied as he started performing his, whatever bending forms he does. I cannot describe what happens, but I know when the ground changed. I could feel ten meters extending down into infinity and the grass now reaching between my toes. This was earth. Not the rocky substitute that Ithar claimed was a mountain. "Well he's not here."
"Really? You don't say."
"Okay, what is wrong with you?"
"Me? What is wrong with you, Mr I-Like-To-Sit-Alone-In-The-Middle-Of-A-Wood-And-Not-About-The-Rest-Of-Us."
"Is this about me not teaching the Avatar voidbending."
"No, it's about you being a jerk to him."
I took a step, and then I felt something. It was faint, but, it wasn't earth exactly. I had never felt something like this. It was odd. "Katara," I said, but I was too late to intervene.
"I've not been a jerk. He's been pestering me when I told him that it's not possible."
"You're just saying that, and you know it's not true."
"I have never told you anything that wasn't so. You don't know what consequences could affect the outcome of all this. What I said is true and I will not do it."
"It is not true, you're just too stubborn to change your mind."
"I'm too stubborn? I have watched you on several occasions and you are stubborn. In fact you're so stubborn that you turned down two people who in fact were a bigger help then you could ask for."
"Ithar" I said, but the two continued their heated argument. I felt deeper and it felt like glass. Which was odd. I had never felt one so deep in the earth, and there was nothing but earth surrounding it.
"You were spying on us?"
"When you live in a world that is surrounded in events that are happening. They're really hard to miss. Like the time that boy from the forest helped you in Ba Sing Se. I'll admit he was under hypnosis, but still he was willing to help you and you just straight out attacked him."
"That does not count! He was going to blow up a dam that would have killed hundreds of civilians if my brother hadn't warned them."
"How about Zuko? Hmm? Sure, he chased you down for years. Then in Ba Sing Se, he betrayed you. Black and white, just like that. But when he was willing and he went down on his knees you exploded at him."
"I have good reasons for not trusting people, like people who claim to help but don't do squat for anyone else but themselves."
"Believe me, I've seen plenty of examples of people you trust not helping around. If helping around the camp is all it takes to gain your trust, then I'm surprised you wonder why you make enemies so easily with that temper of yours."
Katara moved for her pouch. And Ithar reached for his dagger. Both of them were ready for a stand off, but both continued to attack each other with their mouths rather than their fists. "I may have a temper, but as if I've ever acted so self righteous. can you even put together how long you threw your life away and what you can do when you could have stopped a lot of things from happening. You know what I think, you don't care about anyone. You just like to feel all powerful and you want to feel needed and for everyone to feel sorry for you."
Ithar made up and down closed fist movements near his cheeks. "Oh, boo hoo. My mother died. I hate the Fire Nation now. I lost both my parents. At least you knew who to hate. I didn't. I still don't know. Shao Hui was destroyed and I was alone. I had no brother, no grandmother. No Avatar to come in and save me-"
"GUYS!" I slammed my foot and I raised a wall between those two before that could bump heads. I raised myself onto the platform between them and I walked till I was standing directly in line with them both. "Will you two old people just shut your traps and listen for a minute! This can't be our camp." I slammed the wall down and parted away the earth to make a crater to where I landed.
Ithar looked in confusion. "What?"
"I'm not as old as him" Katara complained.
Ithar rolled his eyes as he walked towards the hole I started moving apart. "I look a lot younger then you do."
"Yeah and you act-"
"Both of you cut it out now!" I yelled, parting away more earth. "There's something different about the ground. We need to look at it."
Fire continued to rain down. The buildings started crumbling like the pastry of freshly baked fruit tarts. The beautiful image I preserved for all those years was now becoming the ruins I came home two a couple of days as I recalled. The irony of binary, being that I left in a storm of water, and now looking at its destruction in a rain of fire.
People ran in panic in every direction. It was like every image I had come to punish myself for. Those horrid dreams that plagued me were now all around me and no chance of me waking up would change it, even with both eyes shut and both ears cuffed. I would still be staring into the glowing eyes of the flames, and hearing the last breaths of my people, the ones that didn't get away.
There was nothing that I could have described that didn't already happen now. I had explained it over and over again, and it would come out the same way; I heard Gyatso calling and trying to get everyone away. Bison and gliders started flying like crazy from the sight. This was my nightmare come to life, but now I was there. My friends ran in lines as the monks directed everyone away. I felt invisible again, like I had been in a dream. No one was looking for me. No one was.
Daika stopped in his tracks. Again, it was like before, with the flaming projectile . Again, the gold light saved him. Ithar saved him. What happened between those two must have destroyed the both of them. Both used to show that the could enjoy life. But when they met again in the North, one was depressed and angry at living, the other was wolf bat crazy and he wanted the whole world to come crashing down before him. They were not the same people I saw in my dreams. Too aged and too bitter to be children of their respective ages.
There was a gold flash. Another? But Daika had already left. There was now a dark aura emerging in a spiral. Glowing gold eyes pierced through and a coarse voice ran through it like a dagger. I couldn't hear it, but my ears were sore from what it produced. hair was flowing long and gray like a unicorn's mane. I heard a sad tune playing, but it was happy, and angry. I thought about the tune, it was familiar, but it wasn't as well.
The beast in the dark curled up into a ball, and out from the dark, a hand that glowed golden sparked right out and reached to me. The tune fell silent, and the world around me no longer mattered. It wasn't my world anymore, but a collection of flashing images.
I looked back at the hand, as it came in closer, signaling me to grab on. Then a head popped out as the shoulder came through. There was no fooling me with the dark hair and hazel coloured eyes. The sparks of gold was his biggest giveaway. "Ithar?"
After several minutes of Toph just pushing aside the dirt, and about a few thousand leagues down, there we reached something that was not "Ni's mirror"
I fell back. I, I didn't have a good experience the last time I looked into one of these spirit forsaking pieces of glass. "Oh no."
"I don't know exactly why a spirit would have a mirror, but I'm guessing that this is bad."
Katara nodded, slowly and with such a dreary view on the subject. I didn't need seismic sense to tell how she was feeling, but I knew that she had seen "It is bad."
I shook my head. They were both wrong. "It's worse than bad."
"Cut the tone and I'll say."
"Here's an ide-." She stopped herself. She would have blown me away in a whole manner of words and insults in my direction. Being a sibling, she had been preparing for this moment all her life. I had no siblings, no biological siblings. I used to, but they're gone now, both died. She could have restarted the whole argument again, but she didn't. She rose above it and she was the bigger person coming out. As much as she infuriated me, I respected it. "Okay, how is it worse?"
I pointed to the glass, pointing out the colour variation in the mirror. "It's tinted white. That's why it's worse."
"What does that have to do with a mirror?" Toph asked.
"Ni's mirrors are magical;" I explained "they show you the truth, or an idea as if it was the truth."
"I don't get the riddles thing with that."
"It shows you what will happen and what could happen" Katara simplified.
"Oh. Well that's useless for me then" Toph replied. She made some weird gesture when she said that, like she was holding back a sneeze I don't even know what to look at in a regular mirror."
I pointed out the odd colouring correlation and how it was spreading in several splotches, like someone was dropping stones on the mirror from beneath. "The white tint signifies death. And worse still" pointing out all light that was breaching from behind, "someone activated it. And my best guess is Aang."
Katara pressed her hands against the mirror, trying to see if she could pass through. There was so much desperation in her eyes that she probably would have tried to punch it if there wasn't the fear of breaking it. "How do we get him out?"
I reached into my pocket, closing my eyes in the process. Thinking. My necklace was there, like it should have been. Rubbing the melted metal, how damaged the design was now to when it wasn't. I could have had it changed. I could have fixed it . . . again. But I needed this reminder, this was what all this was about, and changing it would be betraying, the memory I have fought to keep. "We can't-"
"What?" Katara shouted.
I opened my eyes again, looking straight ahead and clutching tightly to my necklace for a brief half a minute before releasing it. "But I can though." I stood up and positioned my hands into a diamond, adjoining my index fingers and thumbs. "I'll be back."
I twisted my hands to my left hip and then pushed them out in one falling motion, pressing it against the glass. The smallest amount of void was enough to let me pass through the glass and into whatever nightmare Aang was in.
I couldn't see very well, there was too much smoke and mist everywhere to see a proper picture. The floor below me was cracking and fires rose from all around, revealing old parts of the Southern Temple.
It was just like how it was; the first time I saw this place. The first time I came here. The first time I, . . . I met him, I met Daika here. It brings tears to my eyes how much has changed and how unchanged this event is. Seeing twelve year old scared Air Nomad grow up in exile as an embittered teen with a red scar and a scarred mind years later, and a darker side inside of himself.
I continued walking, just straight ahead, hoping to find the edge to at least navigate around the area, in the middle of an invasion. I avoided the flaming rocks that littered themselves across the floor, and the smoke was brushed ways from my face. My vision was still impaired in all the darkness that loomed over the temple.
I stopped at a pile of smoke that lay in my path. I flickered like a flame, and sparkled and sparked as pieces of ash exploded from the tiniest of little pieces around the edges. There was, some weird form of shape in the smoke; it looked like a large canid face, with long waving hair, and a horn.
It looked really weird. But then, it got weirder; The figure started moving and the smoke followed it. It stood in the same spot but seemed to pivot or sway where it was planted. And then, the strangest and deepest of voices followed towards me, but the sound didn't even feel like the being in the smoke was saying it. The sound came from all around, booming and echoing as it reached my ears.
And devour all foolish,
Enough to hunt alone
"Who are you?" I shouted out at the figure as it stood up in the dark. His eyes were closed and he was very hard to make out his general shape. It didn't turn its head and the mouth was still not opening.
Unlike wolves hunting,
In packs, like the AmarokToledu hunts alone.
I shook my head; This was some obvious illusion brought from the ash and smoke. That was all it was. Some strange reaction must have occurred from having two people in a single mirror
That was all it was.
That is all it was.
. . .
. . .
. . .
. . .
. . . *sigh* It didn't matter know. It was gone. But I still needed to find an Aang.
It didn't take long. But I broke through the smoke. And there he was. There on the floor, curled up against the edge of the balcony on his knees, was Aang. "Aang. Take my hand." He looked up and turned almost immediately. He wasn't scared, but he was scarred. "Aang" I said. He turned his head around, his eyes were really teary and the terror in his face was like it had been breaking his soul.
He stared and all I could think about was trying to help him. But he looked beyond help. I looked at my hand, I took a breath, and calmly said, "Aang . . ." He turned his head up. ". . . I got you."
We stared at each other for a long minute, the fear slowly draining from his eyes. He looked at my hand, and back at me as I nodded. He reached out closer to my hand, ready to accept it. He hesitated, before reaching out and grabbing my hand. I pulled him and we were out.
"How was it uncle?" I asked him as soon as we were alone in the halls of the palace. With everyone still outside and many of the guards were still in the streets.
He looked at me in surprise. "No 'How you've been?' or 'Are feeling okay?'. You haven't even commented on my weight, I lost four more pounds just this week."
I looked over him in confusion. He didn't look any slimmer. "Uncle, you put on two stone after recapturing Ba Sing Se, and that was two years ago."
"I'm old and tired. You can't expect me to want to keep up physical appearances, Besides, the ladies don't seem to mind a little chubbiness around the waist."
I quickly needed to move on before that image is implanted into my head. "Uncle. I have to discuss something with you. Urgently."
He nodded. "Of course."
We started walking through the halls, the gallery of the Firelords was our first stop. The most recent was mine; The image was more than I could have ever expected with the my hands holding the traditional flames, but also with lightning entering one hand and out the other as a representation of my lightning redirection ability.
The sun lied directly behind my head, like in every portrait, but this sun was eclipsed slightly, and above that was Sozin's comet, in the same image as the one above my great grandfather's portrait, except mine was rippled with half orange flames, and half blue flames.
Behind me was a paper lantern, like all my predecessors had, but there was an imprint of an Air Nomad arrow, and surrounding the bottom of the image was Ran and Shaw, the blue and red dragon of the Sun Warrior ruins. Though me and Aang promised we would keep their existence a secret, the dragons themselves keep themselves protected and the law about hunting dragons was abolished and made illegal in all nations as part of the agreement between myself, Earth King Kuei and Water Chief Arnook.
At the very bottom is the forms of the 'Dancing Dragon' in silhouette form, encircling at my feet, and ending directly in front of me with locked fists. I looked back at my face. While most Firelords looked evenly faced, half my left face showed up in that scar, which was unique, but I wondered how people would see it as a good thing or bad.
I looked back at my uncle, who was paying little attention to the portraits, except for the gaze and smile he saw against mine, and a long and quite sad stare at Firelord Azulon's portrait. My grandfather, his father. Uncle had a better relationship with Firelord Azulon, and up until the night that my father asked for his inheritance, so did I. He wasn't a cruel man, a little bitter in his retirement from the battlefields where he made his name;
Crown Prince Azulon the Conqueror, Azulon Invictus, Azulon Dàhóng lóng shài yī, The Great Red Dragon Clothed in the Sun, Azulon Lǐngzhǔ děngyú lùdì hǎi, Lord and Equal over the Land and Sea, Azulon . . . Lóng yóuxíng, March of the Dragon.
His victories against the armies of the Earth Kingdom and the Water Tribes, but he remained with an undefeated record, never losing any battle he was dictating. The assault against the Northern Water Tribe, was not his, but he made sure that he was at the direct helm if there was to be a major battle in the water, to make sure it never happened again. His battles were always decisive; he could be outnumbered 10-1, and still make his one count to the point the enemy would be the ones at the loss.
Despite all that he accomplished, and despite the . . . well, everything that everyone has said about him. One memory still blisters my opinion of him. I don't know if what was said was true, or if the events that followed hurt even more. But I can still picture it in my mind:
"Dad's going to kill you. Really, he is."
Ha-ha, Azula. Nice try.
"Fine, don't believe me. But I heard everything. Grandfather said Dad's punishment should fit his crime. "You must know the pain of losing a first-born son. By sacrificing your own!""
"I'm only telling you for your own good. I know! Maybe you could find a nice Earth Kingdom family to adopt you!"
Stop it! You're lying! Dad would never do that to me!
Oh, how wrong I was. Dad said he willingly would have done it. He would have killed me shortly after the eclipse if Uncle hadn't have taught me how to redirect lightning. *sniff*, but that could wait. I mourn over memories later. I still needed to finish this conversation.
"Uncle" I told him bluntly. "Someone intercepted my letter."
He rose an eyebrow. "Are you sure?"
"Absolutely. I don't know what reason, but someone wrote in my letter to ask for the Fire Nation fleet stationed in this port to be moved out in aid of the North."
He pulled out his lower lip and shook his head slightly. "And it helped didn't it?"
"That isn't the point" I said, cutting the air with my right hand. "The coup didn't happen until after my letter was sent. So there was no way I could have written it."
"This is most strange" he replied, slowly stroking his beard, which he decided that he would start slightly growing out a bit more. Either that or he had forgotten to trim it down earlier today. "I do not think that this was at all an accident. But neither do I think that it was preplanned."
I looked at him in confusion. "What are saying?"
"Such a hasty and timed move sound like it had to be improvised on the spot. If it had been planned, you would have written it so that they wouldn't raise any sort of suspicion. But now you know, I fear that there might be consequences that followed you home."
I had to ask him, before I forgot, or before I ran out of time. Either way, I asked him: "Uncle. Did you know Ithar from before the day he arrived?"
He stopped dead, but I was now a few steps ahead of him. I looked around as he rose an eyebrow at me. "What makes you say that?"
"King Bumi of Omashu happened to mention something like that when we visited."
"Then the answer was already known."
"But why not tell me before hand?"
He inhaled, closing his eyes, then exhaling before giving his answer. "I have known Ithar for near enough ten years now. And even the day I first met him, I knew that he was always out of place. For someone who looked so young, his mind was too full to have experienced so much in so short a life. The things he knew and the way he talked were not what was expected of him. But more interestingly was his unique ability.
When I next returned to the Fire Nation, I started reading up more on history, and I found a lot of very interesting things in some of the old archives. Something in particular was that these particular arrivals were always occurring."
"What do you mean? Are you talking about void?"
"Indeed nephew, though a lot has been put away in order to make sure no one would ever remember it. The deeper I looked into every piece of history I could grab my hands on, the more I realized how deep this goes into our own history."
"I don't understand uncle?"
he put his hand on my shoulder. He only did this when he was being serious, and he wanted me to remember carefully. "Believe me when I say this: What ever you seek to find, it will never be as you could ever expect."
"What happened? Where?"
"Aang" Katara leapt straight into my arms and started squeezing me till I was choking for air. She pulled away after a long minute and her face was completely washed "It's okay. You just . . . had a bit of an accident."
"Well if you can call it an accident." Toph pondered to herself, slyly tapping her feet across it, hoping the next step wouldn't pull her through. "I mean I don't suppose that this mirror was accidentally left here."
"Thanks guys. It felt so real in there. It was scary."
"Life in war is scary. Especially when you feel ill equipped to carry on."
"Maybe, that's what the lesson of it all was: maybe it was trying to teach me to
Ithar shook his head and turned away, taking long brought out steps like he wasn't trying to walk too far away, but felt his legs needed to do something. "Ni's mirrors don't work like that. You went in because you still wonder every day whether or not you should have stayed home rather then run. And now you know. "
"Maybe. But either way, It taught me how much you must have felt; running away from your people, your family. And seeing everything still burning. I'm sorry I couldn't understand you earlier. I realize that it must have been harder for you; I ran away before I could see any of it happen, and when I awoke, I was surrounded by friends. But not you. You didn't have anyone"
"What would you do with it, Aang? I am asking you again."
"I won't abuse it. I won't use it for revenge. Ithar, I'm sorry for everything I missed out on. I'm sorry I was never there to help anyone for a hundred years of bloodshed and hate. I'm sorry you were alone when no one was there for you. But I'm better then most people, I have to be. I am the example that I set for others to follow. I live by a code that I was raised by, and every doubt that I have ever had I have overcame."
He nodded, looking down at the ground. Then his eyes turned to me and he smiled. He offered me a hand up, which I looked at, then at him and I smiled, taking his hand as he pulled me back to my feet. "Get some rest" he said to me, turning around and walking over to and open space. He breathed, and he put his hands together, before splitting them to his left hand side and pushing forth a force of golden sparks that light up then collapsed on itself. "You'll need to be focused for tomorrow."
My eyes lit up at that moment. I could see some genuine show of disbelief from . "Tomorrow? So, you're gonna teach me-?"
"No. I won't teach you voidbending." "But I will teach you to keep a clear head. To prevent anymore . . . interruptions."
"What's that suppose to mean?"
He stopped and turned his head around, smiling a huge grin on his face. "I don't fancy taking a trip down memory lane again."
The ships returned to their port, like how the polar dog always returns to his master. Everything was going to plan, especially with only three ships now stationed in the ports of Capital City. Though luck was not needed. Luck is for the hopeless, and the ignorant to squabble over until they realize they were outplayed. Luck has nothing to do with winning. Winning doesn't matter. Losing doesn't matter. Nothing matters, when life is written before we even have life.
The funniest things in life are when destiny rewrites itself, when a tale of old just happens to happen once more. No matter how much chaos may spew across the continents and the islands that circle them, equilibrium always returns. That time was not yet, but it will be soon. Very Soon.
When the last light of the previous year fell under the sky, my time will come. My equilibrium will push back the chaos and it will be done my way. I had my army, navy and airforce all prepping for the first stage. Their numbers remain small. Smaller since my first Water Tribe general, the Commander betrayed my orders and took his division of my army to fight a fools war. He won the first round, but he wasn't allowed to survive the second round, and half of my armies waterbenders were captured. The fool also had the nerve to wear my new colours, and now certain, objectives must hastened, including this makeshift opportunity I orchestrated.
For behind me, I hear two footsteps. I didn't need to look behind to know that it was my earthbending general, the Minister, and my Fire Nation general, the Governor. I ordered that no one else approach me, despite the fact I trust the warriors word over their generals, that excluding my new replacement waterbending general, the Commissioner. The broken boy was probably as clever and even more so then the two standing behind me combined, but he lacked the politicians language, he couldn't conceal a lie, and he wouldn't bother unless he himself believed it true.
As I said, politicians language, I despise it. The tongue of yes-men and liars who are the wolf bats in koala sheep hide. They say what I want, but they never tell me what I need to hear, and what I need is idiots who will tell me what is true without sugar coating any of it in pretty words and applauses.
They both bowed as I took a peer over my shoulder, turning my head away as they both rose. "Our numbers are stationed and ready, my lord" Long Feng informed me.
"Good" I answered. "And what are the plans with dealing with the Firelord?"
Wrong question, Governor. "Yes, it's a common word you use when you have been planning for something important and you want to take everything into a count, so a catastrophe doesn't occur. I wouldn't have thought it would have been something to . . . 'choke' . . . on."
"N-Not to worry, my lord" Long Feng intervened. "Unlike some people, I have already procured the plans in dealing with the Firelord and any other threats. It's detail to the last point is guaranteed to make sure the city is yours."
At least he knows how I operate. I despised him the least, at least he knew how to make measures work. "Excellent. At least someone here has enough brains around here."
I stopped and turned my head counter clockwise. Long Feng moved slightly to his right as Tongzhi looked around near nervously, but not enough. "Did I just hear that?"
The idiot was too confident. He dared to treat me like I was some child who shouldn't be heard. "Yes you did, do you know who you spe-." I swung around at his drawing breath, and he was mine to choke.
"Yes. I do."
"*Heck*Heck*Heck*" His face went into full colour really quickly, so I grabbed it tighter and made him hold it deep in his throat. As if I would let Fire Nation trash like him talk to me like that.
"I am speaking to someone who has man power. Nothing more. No firepower, no weapons skills. Not even a reputable political career. I am promising you what you want, and all I want is your men."
"*Heck*Heck*Heck*" A tear rolled in the corner of his eye. I was breaking him, and he knew it well now.
I pulled him in closer, staring right in his face as his face grew further into the darker shades of purple. "I don't need you, you need me. I need your men, and I am sure that I could easily find one of your men to replace you with ease. So the next time you speak out like that again. The last thing you will hear, might be the sound of a loose piece of rock falling right on top of you, having been 'displaced' by the wind." I dropped him and great gasps of air followed. The colour was returning slowly, but I didn't need to address him any more. "Long Feng."
He jumped slightly, having paid too much attention to the choking man who was beside him. "My lord."
"Tell Shen to get acquainted with his men. We leave immediately."
- The Fire Nation National Anthem was sung by Fire Nation Man in "The Blind Bandit".
- The Air Nomad Genocide was witnessed by Aang first in ".
- Ni's Mirrors were last seen in " ".
- Ty Lee was injured and left with the Kyoshi Warriors returning home in " ".
- The "Fire Nation National Anthem Extended" is based on the Russian National Anthem in regards to the tune.
For the collective works of the author, go here.