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|The New Ozai Society|
4th July 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.
As soon as the bison came to a halt, and Appa let out a relief from flying, I knew that the trip had ended. Joy. I really wished that it hadn't. If only I wasn't such a brilliant earthbending mater, then . . . maybe Twinkle Toes would have needed me around for a bit longer.
I dropped from the saddle and the lemur riding on my shoulders for a fifth of the journey jumped back on. I saw no point in turning fully around seeing as I couldn't make eye contact. Especially when they were already leaving, Appa wasn't even on the ground anymore.
"So long Toph" Katara yelled out. They cannot see me cr- No. I wasn't. I don't care. It's just like any other day. I'm just saying bye. That's it, no strings attached.
"See you guys" I replied, waving my hand, effortlessly. I took a step, the turned around immediately. They were still there, Appa's tail was lightly brushing the ground. "And Aang, if you dare embarrasses yourself as an earthbender, I will come back and pound you into the ground so help me." Ahhhh. I'm gonna miss these moments.
Appa was no longer on the floor, but Aang was smiling. I've known him long enough for me to know that "Good bye Sifu Toph."
I smiled, but I kept my back to them. I raised my right hand, and gave him a thumbs up. Don't get the point of it, but I keep my reputation in tact. "Gook Luck, Twinkle Toes."
I heard some hard thudding, and Ithar yelped out. I sighed and lowered my shoulders. Fairy Dust probably forgot about the blindness. *sigh* Never mind then. When I next see him, I'll hit him myself. And that was the end. It was the end of it all. I was . . . I was alone. That was it for the trip. I had nothing left to look forward to; no adventures, no bad guys to squash, just . . . this?
I wasn't too far from the school? I could feel it in my feet. I could literally point to where it was from where I was standing, but something was definitely not right. What if- The Lily Livers. I had hundreds of them camped out all over the yard the last I checked. So I have a new question: Where are all the metalbenders. Where Are My Students?
I walked into the school. My foot steps echoed over every stone, and the all the halls and walls were coming back to me. I knew where everything was. I had walked through this building a hundred times over. So the only real question I had was:
"Where are they?"
There was no one around. This was just getting insulting. I slammed the ground, and no one was here. Those lily livers better not be slacking off in Yu Dao or who knows what relaxing nearby town. I extended my arms out in both sides and pulled together what metal there was, and believe me, I had a lot to work with;
Discs, weapons, armour, spoons, nails, I had the lot. One finger at a time, I clenched my fists together, and all that metal slowly collapsed in on itself. I learnt this trick waking up Sokka in the mornings, and everyone else when I felt like it. But I was making sure that this time that it wasn't for laughs. In absolute seriousness, I was making a point here, and I was taking back control, once I found the victims. I'm not even going to correct myself, they will soon be.
I knew where to looks first; Yu Dao. Seriously, what else is there to do round here than to go to the city. The village has a lot less things to do, and that will definitely be my second stop once I have pulverized the lily livers for leaving the school without my permission.
I'm not going to bore any of you with how I was walking to the city, or what I was feeling while I was walking to Yu Dao. I'm just going leave with what happened until I got through the gates; I walked with two giant metal plates floating behind me, the guards weren't too happy to see it, but they knew me well enough not to protest or even try to challenge me, slightly disappointing I must say, I could have used a warm up session right about now.
I came face to face with the first of my students; Shu, Zhi, and Pinjin. I memorized all their names, and I recognized their shapes, weights and anything else necessary. Heck, I was training these students for almost a year now, as if I wouldn't know who they were. But as if that was going to excuse them from what was coming to them;
I slammed the cymbals together in one movement, clashing both metal discs together. Boy were their ears ringing. They groaned and fell to the ground. There was collateral damage to other people listening, but I was too focused on my victims, students, oh . . . Who Cares! "That Was A Warning! Where The Heck Were You Lot! And Where Are The Rest Of Them!"
"It's not what you think:" Zhi tried to explain, still covering his ears. "The villages all up the East side of the Earth Kingdom and the colonies were all experiencing various attacks and criminal recruitment."
"I Know All This, But That Has Nothing To Do With What You Are All Doing Here In Town Without Permission! I'll Give You All One Minute to Give Me An Answer, Before I Slam These Two Syllables Through All Of Your Faces!"
Then the four other students in the city arrived; Qi, Gu, Yong, and Qi the younger, I know what your thinking, but I'm serious that we have two Qi's. They other one is at least two years younger than the first one I mentioned, so I just call him the younger. He said he prefers Qiqi, but I said no.
"Well" Shu tried to explain, "we finished our training . . ." I spread out the syllables again, and he started panicking. I could feel like his facial muscles were stretching to make his eyes wider. "AAAnd, then some of the townsmen asked us to help them when their town was attacked, so they asked us if, they could have some security, and we agreed . . ."
"Without Asking Me!"
"You were gone and we weren't doing anything so we thought-"
"You thought nothing. We are a school, not mercenaries, or bodyguards!" I threw aside the syllables. The clashed to the ground, making another horrid ringing as they rolled until they were flat on their sides. "You will move your asses back to the school before I metalbend you back to it with clothe pegs hooked in your pants!"
I pointed back to the school. I would have no protests. They dragged their ankles in the dirt,a nd I was starting to make my way with them. that was until . . . "Please . . ." I stopped at the sound of a gasping throatal plea. I hit my foot into the ground. And what I saw was an old man standing, behind me, slight off to my right hand side. He was focusing more of his weight upon a crutch and his structure was very bony.
He pushed into the ground, as he almost struggled to move his stiff joints closer towards me. Every step was shaky and I was uncertain if he would ever keep himself standing. "Our homes are in danger. The Fire Nation were conquerors for a hundred years, but they had a sense of honour. These new brutes, are not so noble; they pillage, they destroy, and they are anarchists. they take what they can carry and they take whoever they manipulate into joining their hordes.
Firebenders, earthbenders, waterbenders, we don't stand a chance. If they come back, we need your specialists students. They are the only ones who can save us. They are the only ones who can save the colonies."
I looked at the old man, well I can't really say that, but I could really feel him; so shaky, so weak, so . . . scared. I could feel everyone in the streets staring at us, they too were all scared. But this is not my problem. This was an illegal move that they shouldn't have done. As if I would reduce my students status to nothing more than hired weapons.
I turned back, and I told him. "They are my students. They are not warriors." And with that, I walked my way out of the city, with my students following close behind. Seven down, I thought to myself, a few many more to go, where ever they are.
Late in the afternoon, I seriously could not handle another bite. I know, it's strange to hear me say that. My tongue is swollen from all those fire flakes. Don't say anything to me, I knew my limits . . . but they tasted so good. And I beat my record, I ate through eight and a quarter bags of fire flakes. That's more than anyone else from the Water Tribes.
. . . The record? You don't want to-, fine, the record is twenty nine and three quarters, or four fifths, I'm not entirely sure. But firebenders are cheaters. They bend fire, and some can breath it, so it's really unfair. They don't even feel the heat, as much.
Wow, I think all that feasting is starting to go to my head. I decided to go straight to bed. I need my beauty sleep. And I get my own room on the ship. Pretty sweet, I know. But I couldn't really pay much attention to it, I just collapsed into bed. I couldn't lay on my back anymore, thanks to Ithar for the most part.
It wasn't so much like it was on purpose, but I cannot tolerate being target practice for benders. When that blast recoiled into my back, it really hasn't left me. It still hurts. Now bear in mind that the fact of the matter is . . . that was nearly TWO freaking MONTHS ago!
When I sleep, I start feeling almost a burning sensation. and then there was the fuzzy images in my head again. If it wasn't enough that I had horrid flashbacks that turned out back, now I was getting gold sparkles in my view and . . . other forms of dreams;
Then, it was all just black, and there were flicking lights, but they were not originating lights, like stars or flames, but mere reflection, like mirrors. That same voice called out to me. Ni's voice, the tempting voice, soft and sweet like fruit, maybe a peach in fact. But I knew that there was always a catch. Ni was split between the nice ideas and the harsh truth, and there was never a guarantee that what the kind words would tell us, it might never be truthful.
Three lives, you strive to save
The same words, I heard for the last month. It wasn't always like this. It started with a single word, like it was only progressive. I now had a whole sentence. And now, I was getting something more . . . an image.
"Are you alright?" The image cleared and Ithar appeared, but he looked, younger in a way. He was still in the body of a fifteen year old boy despite being an old man, but I got the feeling that it suited him a bit more than it did now.
A girl was sitting there, curled up and crying. The room appeared white and like an endless room. But there were also lights that followed across the floor at very slow speeds. I wasn't sure if the image was still building up or not, but the ground was definitely not as even as it appeared. "I'm fine Ithar."
"You're not, Tulia." Hold Up! Tulia? That was the girl he saved, the same one that Katara was seeing all that time through the hassle we faced in the autumn. He knelt down to her side. "Please, if there is anything . . ."
"But you can't, you said it yourself; you can't go back, I can't go back. I appreciate you saved my life. But I sometimes *sniff* just wish that, maybe you shouldn't have."
"Bu-." Ithar stopped himself, he knew that he couldn't do anything in words. Then he stopped and looked up like he had an idea. "I'm sorry that I can't do anymore to, make this any better for you. I just-. Would you like to hear something I've been working on?"
She sniffed and dried her eyes slightly. "Please."
Ithar placed his flute to his lips, and he started blowing into it, as the song began. In typical Ithar fashion, the words were haiku.
"If the winds arise
look to the star, call on her;
tossed upon the waves
to the star, call her.
the frail vessel of your soul,
call upon her now."
Ithar dropped his flute, and he turned back to Tulia. "Do you like it?" I actually liked it. It was nice poetry. Not that I am agreeing with watching someone else's memories
She had stopped sobbing and wiped her eyes during the performance. But now it looked like she was tearing up "It's beautiful."
He smirked as he put his flute down. "It's not finished yet, and I still want to add more lyrics to it."
She smiled at him, putting her hand on his shoulder. "Well you write it. And I'll listen when it's done."
Ithar looked up and smiled back, he stood up and tucked his flute into his pocket. "Well, we have eternity, so how about something else that will cheer you up."
She looked up at him confused. "What?"
"Life happens" he started rubbing his hands, as sparks started building up between them. "So let's make to most with what we have."
Tulia looked at him surprised. "Where are we going?"
Ithar smiled as he took her hand and he cut into the void. "It's a surprise, but I know that you will like what's on the other side."
Then, everything went back into white, but then it looked more like it was fading into an orange-red, like a fiery afternoon sky. Then I really woke up, and I had a headache to follow as proof.
I awoke, and the ship was rocking violently, and my floor was the most comfortable place on the ship now. I should know, seeing as I was constantly laying flat on my face over and over. The water outside was bubbling, and through the small window by my bed, I saw a port under attack.
As much as Ithar would have preferred to have started teching me on the ground, we had places to go and we couldn't afford to stop while there is little time to actually spare at this point. Our mission now was to got to Ba Sing Se and inform the Earth King Kuei of the events that are going to unfold. With Zuko and Arnooki already informed, it was my duty to be the one to break it to him.
Ithar was very much on the edge. His fear of heights was starting to make him very nauseous, especially now that he had to keep his eyes open. I don't know of the speed we were flying at was helping or not, but we kept it up. "So, now you're my teacher. Should we begin our first lesson now" I said, trying to keep him occupied with something else.
"You know that I have . . . I have never really been a teacher, and I don't think that I would be . . ."
"Get on with it, Fairy Dust." Ithar looked up, his eyes were piercing at Katara. He didn't like the name Toph had given him, and now it seemed that it was growing into a part of him. But it got him to stop being so edgy while flying, and his attention was now distracted from being scared.
"Alright then. I guess that . . . I should really start with the basic philosophy of voidbending then;"
"Voidbending is unlike the other bending arts, it doesn't rely on emotion as a fuel source to bend. Voidbending requires a clear head, and a lack of emotional response to every action."
What? Did I hear that right? "Lack of emotions?"
He nodded. "Yes, that is it. No emotions, emotions blind your hand and your judgment. You need to acknowledge that you know what you are doing is because it is right, not because you want to do it."
"I seriously doubt that is applicable."
"No you're completely right. If you charge it full of emotions, nothing bad will happen. How did last night go?" he sarcastically replied.
I squinted my eyes. "That wasn't-"
He then cut me off completely. "Your problem wasn't that you were trying. The problem is the most obvious one; Your Avatar state."
. . . "What?" Seriously, what?
"It's not enough to just clear your mind, you have to be completely focused on one thing, and you can't do that if you have several hundred voices all speaking in your head."
"It felt more like thousands really."
"Nothing" he said quickly, before hastily moving on with the subject. "Anyways, the important lack of emotion is known as wuji."
He nodded again. "Yeah. Let me show you;" He rubbed his hands together, and soon there was a tiny little spark erupting from his hands and he moved it to his finger tip. "You have the four elements, water . . ." I half expected him to draw the waterbending, or even the Water Tribe symbols in the void, but he stopped when he left it as an empty circle. He took his finger out again and he split the circle in half, creating what appeared to be two teardrops in the circle now. "Earth . . ." He then pressed into it and a dot was left marked in the middle of the larger area of one of the teardrops. "Fire . . ." and then he repeated the process, and the void vanished. "And air."
I looked at what was left,. and I recognized what he had now created; Yin and Yang. "And all of these together are what is known as taiji;" he continued. "Water and earth are greater because you utilize them from the environment, while fire and air are lesser because you channel them from within." That seemed almost incorrect seeing as air is everywhere, so it should theoretically be greater, but I suppose that earth and water share more in common because they need to be a part of the environment to use them. I think that made sense.
"And water and air are yin because they are defensive, while earth and fire are yang and offensive."
Katara was still watching from Appa's head, leaning against the rim of the saddle as she watched my 'lessons' go on. "Oh."
"Together" Ithar continued, "they are taiji." He dropped his hand and looked straight at me. "Now I want you to picture the world in your mind."
"Um, okay." I closed my eyes. I thought about my map, as it was the best representation of the world that I could think of. I could see the four nations, and a new grey area that me, Zuko and Kuei were discussing over, but most of its lines were blurring back and forth between the green of the Earth Kingdom.
"Now tell me what do you see?"
I answered the first thing that came into my head. ". . . uh, I see the lands-"
I stopped, but I kept my eyes shut. "No?"
"What do you see?" he asked again. I don't know what he wanted to me to look at. He said to look at the world and now I was telling him.
"I see the sea-"
Ah, come on already. I'm right. "What? I see red, blue, green, yellow, water, earth, fire, air, letters . . ."
He shook his head as I started to stress out, and kept a calm tone, but it wasn't too hard to distinguish the anguish wrapped inside them. "No, no, no."
"I'm not wrong. That is what I see" I protested.
"No, you are not" he repeated. "I told you to picture the world, but you have so far told me that you see the sea and land. That is not what you see, that is not what you are suppose to see."
"Then what did you want me to see. You said to picture the world, I have, and I see land, sea, and . . ."
He slapped his face with both his hands, digging his fingers into his face as he pulled it downwards like a skin tight mask. "No. Look;" He rubbed his hands and pointed back to the image that was now distilling. His finger glowed and the image glowed brighter the moment he made contact. "Taiji is about see four different pieces in a common place," he said, before clenching his fist and pushing through the middle of the image with two curled fingers. The lines in the middle flew off and sparkled before vanishing into the air. Now all that was left was the circle again. "Wuji is about the lack of separation. There is no evil and good, no anger and passiveness, there is only the lack of it. I told you to picture the world, so what do you think I want you to see?"
He suddenly made it sound so obvious. "The world. The world?"
He threw his head back, sighing in relief. "Yes. Finally. That is all I wanted to say. You see the world, there is no separation in anything, there is only one thing. That is what I wanted you to focus on. If you get distracted like this again, then you will lose control of voidbending again, because you are taking one whole element and you are splitting it up and that causes it to break if you already have it charged."
I didn't quite understand that last thing he said. "Charged? What's that mean?"
His face dropped speechless for a few seconds. ". . . uh, okay. Think about the elements, they all have a source, water, earth and air are found, and fire is made by chi." He was getting technical now, he hands were now doing most of the expression for him now with all their movements so independent to how he was speaking. "Well, void is everywhere, but you have to 'put that spark into it', so to speak. Now, you don't infuse it with chi like with firebending so that it can be combusted, you control it by combining the negative and positive energies together."
"That's why you kept your hands locked together."
He nodded and he was keeping the ball rolling at this point. "Exactly, one hand attracts the positive energies, and the other the negative. It's like working with lightning, but in reverse; instead of splitting it apart before rejoining it, you're joining it before working with it separately."
I was actually starting to get really excited. I started thinking, that maybe he was actually going to teach me something that I wanted to learn, until he came back and cut me off before I could even ask the question. "-Buuut. I will again, only teach you to keep it under check. Now comes the part that you're familiar with; meditating."
Meditating. "Great." I said positively. Great. I thought, not so positively.
I was already on the deck when the Fire Nation was attacked.
I was with my girls, shortly before all broke lose in the war for the harbor. Having just arrived back from enjoying the rest of the port as a final night in the Fire Nation Capital, a night time invasion was the last thing anyone would have expected. Sokka came running out of his cabin, hitting his head on the door frame as he struggled to remain stead on the shaking vessel.
"What's happen-" he tried to say before the boat started rocking violently again, and a projectile landed 5 meters from the side of the ship. "Never mind. Where are-" he was cut off again, before he could answer as a Fire Nation heavy metal ship was struck in the hull by several spires of ice sprouting from the water. "Never mind." He collected his thoughts again, and thought about it really hard before he tried to answer again. "Who-" this time he didn't even wait for something to happen, the answer was an obvious one and even he knew that at this point. "You know what, I'll just stop asking questions."
"Good idea." I replied, and I had good reason to. "We need to get off this ship. We're sitting ducks out on the water."
"Where's the captain? The crew?"
"Out on the town, or at least what is going be what's left of it." Another projectile landed, but this time it landed a hole in the ship. The right side started taking in heavy water after tipping slightly upwards from the shock of the impact, and now was slowly sinking into the harbor.
This would have been a better time for all of us to not have started removing our makeup for the evening. Now looking at our reflections, I could see that I was down to less than half of the white, and what remained of the red upper eyelids. I looked weird since we were still in full gear, weapons and uniforms and all. "Girl's: Marishi, Zhurong, Itagaki, Kaihime and Yim, help any civilians who need it. Akuro and Jingu, you're with me, and we're going to get to the palace at all costs."
I stopped in my tracks, there was only one person who would think about talking back like that; Marishi. "What do you mean why?"
She looked around to all the other warriors, then back at me, raising her hands to elbow height. "We're dismissed. We have no reason to he-."
"We have every reason to help" I interrupted, pulling off my head piece and tucking in on my belt. It would have been dramatic to throw it on the floor, but what purpose would that serve at a time like this? She was seriously lacking in discipline, I really should have made sure someone like Daneya was left behind in charge.
"Two years ago we were at war when they attacked out village. Now we-."
"We are friends. Kyoshi Island may be honorable and expect retribution when it has been wronged, but we help our friends, no matter what they may have does to us." I cut her completely off before we could make another smart remark. But this wasn't the time to fall apart with what little force we had. The citizens of capital city needed what help we could provide. But more importantly, Zuko and Iroh need us now. We don't abandon our friends. I looked back and drew my katana, raising it above my head in my right, wiping the last of my face paint with the rag and throwing it in the water. "Now, let's move warriors!"
"If there is anymore problems" Sokka added, reaching into his back sling. "You will be talking to Boomerang here."
. . . *slap* Seriously? On an important note, he had enough time to grab his stuff before coming outside. Admirable, actually. But there was little time to be admiring my boyfriend in a time like this. We had a mission.
Our teams split up. I didn't look back. As we reached the stairs through the burning port and markets, we met our enemies in every form possible:
A waterbender was stopping us by creating ice over the stairs. Sokka slipped and fell all the ay down, while me and the girls used the edges of the cliff to maneuver around it and knock him our with ease. I hit my katana against the ice to let Sokka up after he was done making sure all his teeth were still in place.
It wasn't long before we came across more hostility. two earthbenders and a firebender the crossed our path. The earthbenders raised two sets of walls and sent them down the stairs, using their vantage point on the high ground. This time it was Sokka who came through using
his Boomerang to swing around the walls and knock out both earthbenders, while we used to opening to charge the firebenders. He, et loose several volley's, but he was out in a matter of minutes when the battle was at close range.
I looked at how far we came when we nearly reached the top. but an explosion stopped us from continuing; half the stairway was destroyed, and the rest of the earth that collapsed fell upon the port bellow. Several more explosions join the port caught my attention, and I knew we had to split up further to get through this.
"Akuro! Jingu! Regroup with Marishi, and tell her to get on a boat back to Kyoshi Island when everyone is safe!" I ordered. They exchanged looks, but they understood the orders.
"Yes, Commander!" They turned down the hill. Now with Sokka with me at the top of the stairs, the gates to the palace were the last leg of the climb, but not before we either sneak around the enemy that lay within the streets, or be forced to engage them on sight. But we would do whatever we could do for our friends.
I had Aang meditate, and then I was just really buying time for what I could really do next with him. You have to bear in mind that I had never been a teacher before. And I was only trying. But it wasn't easy, especially when Aang was the student;
"So what am I suppose to be doing?" Aang asked.
Bit of a weird question, I already told him earlier. "Meditating. "
He sighed. "I know how to meditate. I'm an Air Nomad. And don't tell me that I have to feel the sun, I have had enough of that already."
Feel the sun? I rolled my eyes. "No, this is just to let the energies in and then let it out. Like lightning redirection . . . but not trying to kill you."
He dropped his arms and threw back his head. He'd given up, sighing as he fell backwards. Momo leapt onto his chest. "Can I not?"
He was unbelievable. Seriously? "I'm trying to help you here."
Katara then stepped in, like she always was. This was seriously getting us no where at this rate. "Okay, maybe we should just try and chill out for a while. We don't want to end up in any form of explosive rage." Explosive rage? She doesn't know the half of it. The last time I went into rage, I lost the boy I thought was my best friend, and I didn't find him for three years. "Could someone pass me the map please?"
"I can get one" I replied. I put out my index and middle fingers locked together and swiped the air, then I reached in and pulled out my map. It was a little tattered, but I had had it for a long time, and it was new from Ba Sing Se. "Here."
She took it from me, as she sat into the saddle and laid it out "Eh. This is really outdated." Okay, it was new when I visited Ba Sing Se sixty years after Sozin's Comet. "But, it's not like our map was any better."
Aang stood right back up. "At least my map wasn't half coloured in red." he then grabbed it and tried to pass it back to me, but a gust of wind then caught the map and it was gone. My eyes shot wide open. "Oh. Sorry" Aang replied.
I took a big gulp. This had happened before. ". . . Don't worry about it . . . Hang on . . ." I took a deep breath and I jumped over the edge. Kept my eyes closed, but it wasn't hard to find the map as it hit me right in my face. And as the wind pushed against my face, I cut open into the void and landed in Appa's saddle. I landed on my feet, with my map now back where it belonged, in the zone where I left it. "*pant*pant*pant* Got it."
I opened my eyes again, both Aang and Katara were wide eyed and shocked about what I just did. It took them a while to answer, but finally Katara spoke up. "How did . . ."
"*pant* I fell a few hundred feet to catch my map, and then I ripped another hole and I'm back." I squinted really hard and opened them again. "I hate every second of it, but I have had that map for a long time. And its not the first time it's happened."
Aang stuck his arm out, pointing flat palmed towards me. "That's what I want to learn. I want to bend void. I don't want to-"
"Aang. If you can't control void, then how do you expect to bend it."
"I'm not ever going to bend when you're not teaching anything."
I rubbed both my eyes. "I've just taught you how to control yourself, and I have taught you the philosophy behind it." I sighed, I needed to motivate him somehow or it would be the same conversation all the way to Ba Sing Se. "But, I can teach you something else. Soon."
His ears pricked up, and he actually started sitting up straight."Seriously?"
"Yes" I replied, "but only after you control yourself. Now go back to concentrating."
Aang's enthusiasm suddenly dropped as he protested, but still complied with what I asked of him. He locked his fists and closed his eyes, but most before a final word. "You're worse than Jeong Jeong."
I didn't know what has happening until the whole of the palace shook at the core. It suddenly felt like one whole side of the palace was being tipped one side. Uncle even dropped his cup, which meant it was serious, especially since it was in his good china cups, and he had a solid grip on them.
I heard several streams of fire combust all around us. Soldiers started running to and from the halls and the rooms as they all rushed to several designated points. But that wasn't giving me any answers to what was happening. "What's going on here? Why are the guards- Captain!"
He stopped and saluted. "Sir!"
"What's going on?"
"We're being attacked your highness" he replied with what breath he had left. "Rebels and enemies all in one place! The city is being taken. the Port has been lost. All communications have been cut off. Our reserve armies are in the North.
"The North? Wait" I knew exactly what he meant now; the improvised plan, was to lure the ships away, to weaken our own defenses, "Oh my . . . Uncle, this was the trap."
I couldn't wait for any reaction, and looking at the chip on his cup, I think that
I acted quickly. It was expected, and I was ready "Captain! Get everyone in the palace, soldier, civilian, everyone. If they attack, you hit back. Get everyone inside. Anyone who can fight, give them what they need to help. Bring the imperial benders to the main hall and move everyone behind them. Take the city guards and move them into the main halls. Anyone that comes through there will need to be slowed down and possibly stopped before they can reach the hall."
"Of course, my lord. And what of the prison?"
I raised an eyebrow. "The prison?"
"It has been overrun, and the guards are still fighting there. Do we retreat?"
Overrun! But who could they possible wan- Oh No! Not him! But there was no longer the option at this point. The palace and everyone in the city was the priority now, and I had to make the right decision based on the situation. "Call them back. Bring them back to the palace immediately."
he saluted. "It shall be done." He then ran through the doors and the guards outside shit the doors. leaving me and Uncle Iroh alone in the room. But my attention was not on the battle at hand, nor was I entirely focused on Uncle, but I had the edgy itch in the back of my head. The secret door in the back of the room. It was there in the back behind the throne. As much as I wanted to use it, I felt an obligation to stay for the guards, for the people, and for my country. But there was the opportunity now, before they undoubtedly come for us.
"Uncle, what do we do?"
Uncle stroked his beard and leant down to pick up the lose pieces of his broken china collection. "We must wait, and let destiny come for us, so that we can confront what tries to push us away. We cannot allow it to pull us from where we deserve to stand, and must push against it harder than it pushes us."
"But what if they release him?"
He put his hand on my shoulder. "He is harmless, like a polar bear dog that's lost it's teeth and claws. But I know what you mean, even powerless, he can still command such a atmosphere that it is hard to not take notice. If that happens, dear nephew, then we must try to push it back."
But it was too late to push back, the doors blasted open, and two guards came flying through. The enemy had breached the room. Out stepped several benders, all robed in black with golden phoenixes embedded on them. Daika's gang was here.
I stepped to prepare, but Uncle stopped me. He shook his head, as I took another look, and realized that we were already outnumbered two to thirty. Me and uncle were both expert firebenders, but we knew when we were outmatched here. I dropped my guard, but I kept my mind focused to the exit door in the back of the room.
Then, right-on cue, out of the smoke came the villain himself. He was so shamefully smug that he would insult the robes that he still chose to wear. The crimson scar on his head was sweating from the heat, that it looked like it was bleeding. He inhaled and sighed satisfiably. "I have never seen the inside of the palace before. I must admit, I am disappointed with the lack of riches." He walked around and pulled on one of the banners hanging from the wall. "I admire the design actually. The flames really scream Fire Nation."
Then from the smoke also emerged his generals; Long Feng, whom Aang had warned me of from their last meeting shortly before arriving in the Northern Water Tribe. then was an old face, but also a new face among th rouges that came with the freaks in black; Shen. Obviously this is who he associated himself with after breaking out of prison.
But the last face, I really wasn't expecting. I had tried to offer him a high position job after he was forced to return ownership of Omashu back to King Bumi, but he had refused it. And now he was biting me in the arse. "Tongzhi? Sir, what are you doing?"
He "I am taking back what is rightfully mine, as a reward for services I can provide."
"Enough!" Daika yelled, silencing his men before he could continue his own speeches. "Iroh, so good to see you again, you look absolutely dreadful, age has not suited you well."
Uncle could talk to, and he knew how to keep his cool under threats, I should no form first hand experience, Something I am actually ashamed of. "Daika huh? You grew up physically it seems. But I fear that you may have mentally not been able to keep up it seems."
Daika was clearly angered by the statement, but he his it so well with a squinted smile that he looked even more happier to have heard an excuse to talk back. "Charming. But let's not delay." He started brushing his fingers against his robes, looking upwards towards us as he said it. "I like to talk, but I believe that a family reunion is in order."
The dreading I had waited for was now here. My heart froze in an instant, when the flooding of memories came crashing into me. The news of the prison breach alone was scary, but now the nightmare was here. "You don't mean . . ."
"I found him in the prisons, and I thought it was rather odd, not to have someone so close to the throne being placed so far away, and I invited him along. I hope you don't mind, he's my plus one. There is no need for introduction. You have so much to catch up on."
"Yes, little prince;" A voice called out from the smoke. I didn't need it to be clear to know who it was waiting for me. The only person who would say anything like that, was Ozai, my father. "The true Firelord is home at last."
The tension was not any better than they had been all day. I buried the hatchets with Ithar days ago, but that didn't make the way he was talking anymore infuriating. He reminded me too much of how Pakku was before when he enforced the Northern culture prejudice against me. Now that I really put my finger one it, it makes a lot more sense now that I remembered that they were nearly the same age.
Being over eighty years old in a fifteen year old body should probably make you less cranky though; no aches and pains, no white hair, no wrinkles. What is there to be cranky about?
You know what, the silence is getting pretty awkward in here. Aang has been meditating for too long as well, and I think we could all use a break before we all break: "Ithar."
He turned over to me. "Yes?"
It took a little while before I could get the words out of my mouth. "Who were the original voidbenders?"
He leant back slightly, and even rose an eyebrow. "Why you ask?"
"Well, maybe it would explain better why I have to meditate like this" Aang interrupted.
Ithar turned his head in both directions, both at me, and at Aang who was opening one eye now to listen in answer. "The answer, is I don't know."
Aang, then just gave up on meditating altogether, for the umpteenth time. "You've got to be kidding me."
"No. I'm telling the truth. I haven't a clue."
He sat back up, after Momo started flying off again. He was getting sick of these conversations as much as the rest of us. "What's the point of meditating then?"
"It's about clearing your mind."
Ithar rolled his eyes, and his voice was getting louder now. "Were you deaf for the last few minutes?" He slapped his forehead. "Spirits. In order to control void, you need a focused mind. Meditating . . ."
"Clears the mind!" Aang answered. But it wasn't the answer he wanted from him. "This is no help!"
"Well it helped me!" Ithar's fist slipped as it clenched, and a small explosion detonated on his hand.
I stepped in quickly to calm the two boys down. Ithar was getting edgy and I think Aang's tattoo's were starting to glow. "Calm down both of you. We are all just getting cranky over this."
"I'm trying to help him."
"This isn't helping me. I'm an Air Nomad, I know exactly what meditating does."
"I'm sorry. But I said it before, I'm not a teacher. I can't teach."
"Maybe . . . it's because you didn't have any good teachers of your own."
"No, I had good teachers, but they weren't the right ones I guess. Because they're all dead, and I'm still here."
"What did they teach you?"
Ithar stuck his fingers out, as he counted "I learnt discipline, balance, . . . and self-restraint."
"In that order?"
Ithar made a . . . like a: 'NnnnnNNn' sort of face, like he was thinking, but his answer was leading to a no. "Not exactly." Close enough.
"Who did you learn from?" I asked.
he sighed and laid on his back, crossing his arms behind his head, just looking up at the sky. The sun was now setting, so it was really glaring a brilliant red. "I don't know what the original bending method for voidbending was" he replied. "I made a technique that worked, but . . . I don't know if it is anything like the original. I learnt firebending and earthbending strikes from my father. Tulia taught me waterbending and how to build up void so that it could be used more affectively. And whenever . . . I needed to calm down, I was taught to meditate, via airbending methods. By Daika."
That last sentence, just silenced everything. Just the name, Daika was enough to make everything seem deaf. I didn't know Daika well at all, but the reactions it was having on not only Ithar, but also on Aang, as they were both Nomads before the genocide. And seeing him act so . . . I don't think there is a single word that could describe what he was now, except with at least four different words.
I think that should be the end of the day. We had all yelled at each other, and now it was time to call it a night. "We should sleep now" I said. "We'll hit Ba Sing Se in a few days time. We'll need to be in good sense of mind when we speak to Kuei."
As I laid my head down, I remembered all the dreams I used to have, about the past. Of Tulia. But now that it was no longer happening, it sort of made me sad. I felt like I was reaching out to someone who experienced the same thing I had. And now that it was done, I felt alone in my dreams.
The day was getting late now, and the students I had were in bed. I made absolutely certain that they go to bed early, and they wake up early. We're not militants, but I can sure as heck make sure they are treated as such.
I had so much anger inside me right now. I hated how the students were now scattered all over the colonies, and not back here where I would corporal punish them for deserting the school. I was mad that the colonists would think of using my school's pupils as paid for guards, which I have already said is demeaning and a reduction in the quality of the school. But I was also angry . . . at me!
I was angry because people needed our help, but I refused it. I'm angry because I am taking out my frustration on the people who are desperate for my students to defend them. I'm frustrated, because I would rather abandon my responsibilities to this school, and run away on Appa with everyone else. And this dummy standing in front of me, full of nothing but straw covered over by a sack was going to feel my wrath:
I took a stance, and I unleashed a volley of metal discs. I used up most of the metal in the school for the two cymbals, but I made both the Qin's pick them up and carry them back here. We're out of spoons, but now I have a new exercise for them to warm upon on. As I buried in the discs. Then raised the dummy off the ground. I felt something more in the lifeless piece of fabric and dry grass.
I crushed all the discs inside of the dummy, and then, I mercilessly ripped it out in one long strip, like I was ripping out the spine of the dummy itself. All the discs were twisting and in great strength. I felt a strange new sense of movement ion the wore that I had now just created.
I held the wire in my hand now. It felt more natural than controlling it on nonexistent strings, like some puppets play weapon. I gripped it tighter, and the metal went solid straight like a rod rather than a whip . . . Hmm. A whip. I released my grip a little, and let the whip go limp again.
As I held it, I started swaying it a little. I was used to being solid, stone hard, like a rock. Like every earthbender from when time began. Solid, and yet Twinkle Toes, Sugar Queen and even Honour Bound, have all gotten to me with their more loss forms of bending, all those swishes and feet stepping frequently. And yet also, I was really feeling the movement in this wire.
I could still feel that dummy lying now spineless on the floor. I rubbed my fingers into the many twisted thin strips that made up this wire, and I could tough to even the tip of the whip I was wielding now. I stepped solidly and I swung at the dummy and grabbed the pile of
I didn't need to turn around, I already knew who was behind me. "You should be in bed."
He didn't listen, just like Zhi. "Sifu, why are we here?"
I cracked my fingers, each individually as I tied the wire around my waist like a belt. I wanted to keep it for later. "You came here out of your own freewill. I sensed potential and I asked each of you is you wanted to test your sensitivity to metal. And you all agreed, and you are my students." I turned around, to at least give the impression that he could be talking to me face to face. It wasn't all that important, but I looked more intimidating if it looked like I was staring back "To answer your question; I brought you here to be more than earthbenders, and to be part of a new form of bending."
He stepped forward, making uneasy looks around. I could feel his head moving. "That's not all you've taught us."
I metalbent a shield in the corner of the room, and I spit-toned into it. There was a slight reaction from Zhi, as the shield made a sound. "Then spit it out, don't start drooling over the thought."
"You taught us to be disciplined, and to fight like professional benders. We don't fight like individuals, we fight like a unit. You taught us that way."
"Suppose I did. There's obviously a point to which you're making."
"Please could you let us help them. What is the point of being so unique, if you cannot use it for its proper use."
It was too late for him to change my mind. I already regretted what I did and how frustrated I was for being back here again, but I was powering on with my decision. I didn't need to say anything, except "No." I didn't give him time to protest, and I ordered "bed" and I walked past him and into my own room outside of the hall, still wearing the wire around my waist.
Every step my father took was just as _ as when he was walking down them as the absolute ruler. Powerful, and terrifying. Making slow and obscurely heavy steps that would
Despite not being able to fry me on spot, even as I could as easily deflect the attack, his very presence "Yes, it is I Zuko."
I was not afraid of him. I could take him now, and I could win. But there was this burning feeling that inflamed in my left eye, my scarred eye. The same scar that marked me, by him. Just looking at him made the skin sore. "Not you."
"But indeed it is" he replied, still walking ever so slowly towards me, eventually emerging an ahead of the group of enemies at my door. "Have you been keeping my throne warm for me in your years of usurpation?" He exhaled heavily through his nose, and I thought for a moment that he would be exhaling flames when the next sentence followed. "Maybe not warm enough."
Uncle stepped in front of me. "Ozai! You are underestimating your influence here, brother . . ."
"Don't call me brother" he snapped. He was not able to firebend anymore, but there was still a hateful flame burning in his eyes. "As far as I'm concerned, I have no brother, nor do I have a son. I am the Phoenix King, and the world is mine."
Daika obviously had enough of the family reunion, as he stepped in to "You see, Firelord Zuko . . ."
"You cannot address him in something that he is not" Ozai interrupted. "Do not forget our deal you promised."
Daika squinted his eyes, showing a lot more fire in his eyes than my father ever could have. But then he let it all out like it was never there. Pulling his smile like he was forcing it on and acting noble. "Of course, my lord. I do apologize." He then turned back, and when he was out of Ozai's eye sight, he resumed his look, before relaxing when his attention came back at me. "So you see, I now hold the capital city. The port and the palace are under my control. And you will be spending the next few years residing in a prison cell. I think you are familiar with the dungeons in the cliffs."
A couple of the palace guard stating waking up, but Daika took care of them easily, with each other; He whacked them together with to large currents running sideways, till both bodies crumpled in between our paths.
Daika looked back up and he stepped over the bodies. "But I wouldn't get too comfortable there, because when we have the rest of the Fire Nation under our control, I feel that a nice cooler on the Boiling Rock would better suit you. I believe your familiar with the place."
"You seem to know a lot about all of us. Will please inform me of how you came a cross such a lot of knowledge?"
"You do not get to speak to him, old man."
"Calm yourself, Shen. I can handle this. You see General, like our dear friend, I had a lot of time to watch things happen."
"Interesting, but what is most interesting is that the last time we met, you were thirteen, and now you look about sixteen. Now, that is interesting that you would know so much despite having obviously aged. It's like you were there yourself."
"Well that's the beauty of spirit transcendence. I can be anywhere without needing to be seen. Or when I feel like making total carnage, I go full spiritual, shall I say."
"Tell me about it."
He looked at me, and whispered under his breath "And get ready." He picked up what was left of his cup, swirling the remaining ounce of tea still in it, even getting the chance to heat it slightly with the tip of his index finger. "So you must know *sip* why they called me the Dragon of the West?"
Daika snickered, but it wasn't for long. "Of course I-." His eyes widened as clasped both his hands in front of him, creating a vacuum wave. "No!"
Just as he had done three years ago inside the inner walls of Ba Sing Se, Uncle released his infamous breath of fire upon the invaders. It was so strong that neither Daika's vacuum wave or the waterbenders hose stream could stop it. "RUN ZUKO! Leave now!"
I started running, but I turned back as flashes of blue light started striking. I saw the firebenders move in, and they had learnt to generate lightning. The sheer number was making Uncle a difficult time to redirect all that without killing anyone. The ceiling started to collapse. "Uncle!"
"Run!" he yelled out, catching another douse and this time redirecting it to the ceiling between me and him. The whole ceiling collapsed, and the room disappeared, along with its sounds.
"Uncle!" I yelled, but the voice was gone, and nothing could be heard, and only flashing lights from the other side. I had no other choice now, but to turn and escape this place, with a tear rolling down my right eye. If Uncle Iroh was alive, I hope that he hangs in there.
Walking down that tunnel, the more I got closer to the outside of the palace, there was more silence than there had been. But that just made it all the more scary, even when the noise was me, I was on high alert for any intruder. And as the tunnel got darker, and I had to rely on my own flame for light, the shapes that wrapped the tunnel were also staring at me.
"Zuko!" I looked around, and two sights for sore eyes surprised me with their entrance, through the crowds of benders that they knocked through.
"Sokka? Suki?" I replied as they came running in. They were panting and sweating. "How-"
"No time" Suki answered, "we have to leave!"
Sokka looked around. "Where's Iroh?"
I hung my head. "He told me to run. We have to trust him. Now let's get out of here."
"But what about him?"
I forced on a smile, for reinsurance. "He survived jail before" I replied. "He'll be fine on his own. I hope."
We headed south. Why south? With the ships all burning in the harbor, we only had one option; the airships. The streets were emptier after most flooded the palace, and the rest were knocked out by Sokka and Suki. The Airship base on the other hand was only slightly guarded. The guards there were easy to knock out, but not in the robes I was wearing. I really wished I had time to change, it was making maneuverability difficult.
I dealt the first blow, with a set of fire balls that caught them off guard before Sokka and Suki swooped in and knocked out the first two. Sokka threw his boomerang and he tripped up another guard before stepping on him to catch it again. Suki did better, slid kicking one and butting another with her shield. I continued with some fire on fire, and even got a few knock outs of my own, will we had control of the airbase.
Sokka rushed for the controls, and he pulled on as many levers as he could reach until the airship started to take off. I hoped that it would survive longer than the balloon did in the Southern Air Temple Archipelago. The engines started rolling and the airship slowly took off. I grabbed the door and Suki held onto one side of the main control room and her other hand held tightly to Sokka's free hand. We made our escape into the skies.
As I looked down on my palace, I couldn't help but look upon all the fire and destruction that had laid waste to it. Everything was either burning or burnt. "The Capital, my city, it's gone" I said. I sighed and hung myself over the edge on my arms. "Soon, my kingdom will also fall."
"Where do we go now?" Sokka asked from the helm of the airship, pulling down on the levers.
I looked out tot he horizon, the sun was gone now, but the light was shining at the edges of the Fire Nation. I reached down for my letter. the letter I had from Uncle when I came back. Inside it had a suggestion, but it was not a certainty. I knew neither Sokka nor Suki would like what was in the letter, but it was a shot, and I needed to take it. "I know a place. But I don't think that you will like the reason for it."
- Toph is credited for inventing the metalbending specific belt, as used in "Out of the Past".
- Sokka's dream continues from Katara's dream from " ".
- Ozai's last appearance was in "The Search Part 1".
- He was stripped of his bending in "Sozin's Comet, Part 4: Avatar Aang".
- Shen joined Daika's inner circle in " ".
- Jeong Jeong temporarily became Aang's firebending teacher in "The Deserter".
- Aang's map was proven outdated in "The Library".
- The last time there was an attack on the colonies was in " ".
- Voidbending philosophy is based on the principle of Wuji (the Limitless), the absence of Yin and Yang and the opposite of Taiji (the Absolute).
- Greater and Lesser Yin and Yang is based on the Bagua Trigram symbol divisions of Taiji, except great yin (taiyin) represented the Moon, and great yang (taiyang) represented the Sun.
- Coincidently, the symbol of Earthbending uses the Bagua trigram symbol for "Earth" (☷).
- Baguazhang is also the name of the kung fu technique that inspired airbending.
- Greater and Lesser Yin and Yang is based on the Bagua Trigram symbol divisions of Taiji, except great yin (taiyin) represented the Moon, and great yang (taiyang) represented the Sun.
For the collective works of the author, go here.