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|By Agent Slash||Genre||Rating||Reviews||Updates|
|More from Agent Slash||Action/Adventure, Drama||PG-PG13||Positive||N/A|
|A Knife To the Heart|
It was morning in Republic City. The sun was shining, casting a warm, friendly glow on the metropolis. Isolated from the rest of the city, Aang and Katara slept in their bed on Air Temple Island. Katara lay peacefully and motionless, sleeping a dreamless sleep. Her husband, on the other hand, was not having such a restful slumber. The Avatar tossed and turned in his bed, beads of sweat were dripping down his forehead as his nightmare intensified.
He saw an enormous, shadowy purple wave engulf half of the city and a colossal, bright white wave engulf the other half. As soon as the two collided, there was a massive explosion. Aang could do no more than watch the explosion destroy the city. All of the people he cared about he saw crumble to dust. Sokka, Toph, Zuko, Suki, Ai, Appa, Momo, Bo, Ling and Rong were no more than skeletons in a matter of seconds. Then he was on Air Temple Island. He stood before the entrance to his home with an ominous presence filling the air. Out of nowhere, Bai Lung appeared holding Katara in his fist. With a voice that boomed across the world he spoke. "Although the conqueror has fallen, a warrior of light will arise and destroy every weakling in his path! I am that warrior! I cannot be stopped!" His fist glowed a bright yellow and Katara was incinerated within seconds.
Then, Aang was transported to what appeared to be Yinying Valley where he saw a little girl with a black robe and red, beady bloodshot eyes. "The darkness will take you," she said quietly in a tone that made Aang shiver. "You won't have to worry about going into the light, because the darkness will consume you first." She then removed her hood and her face was that of Jun. Then it morphed into Hong Wu's face. Then Azula's, then Mongke's, then Zhao's, then Long Feng's. Finally, it switched back to it's original face and spoke in a deep, raspy voice. "Give in to it!"
Aang shot out of bed screaming. He sat up in bed, panting very heavily. The beads of sweat were still rolling down his head. The airbender was trying to collect his thoughts. "It was just a dream," he said, shakily. "It was just a dream."
The sound had caused Katara to wake up as well. "Aang, was it another nightmare?" she asked, concern filling both her voice and her face.
"Yes," Aang said, still shaken up. "They keep getting worse and worse." Katara brought his face closer to hers and looked him in the eye. "Katara," Aang said. "I have a feeling something terrible is going to happen."
"Like what?" asked Katara.
"I don't know," Aang said, now somewhat calmer. "I just... I just wish that Suki had never found out about that prophecy."
Katara embraced her husband in a warm hug. "You must have so much pressure on you, Aang," Katara said. "I can tell. I can tell you're unsure of yourself. You're unsure of whether or not you can figure out what all of this means. You're unsure of what you can do to stop the Light Clan. But I know you can do it. You'll figure it out. You always do. Not to mention you'll have me and everyone else standing right there beside you."
"Thank you, Katara," Aang said, now much calmer. "Ever since I met you, you've comforted me with your warmth."
The two hugged each other tighter, lying themselves down in each other's arms. "Now let's try to get a little more sleep," said Katara. The couple lay back down and drifted off back into slumber.
Zuko was stumbled out of his room. His mind was in a state of shock and horror as he faced the guards that stood outside his quarters. "Fire Lord Zuko, is something wrong?" one of them asked.
"Someone has been in here," Zuko said, trying not to sound frightened.
"Who, sir?" asked the other guard.
"Does it matter?!" Zuko shouted. He started off down the hallway, leaving his room and the guards behind him.
"Where do you think he's going?" one guard asked.
"Beats me," the other replied.
Zuko's mind was racing with questions. How did Mai get into the palace? Why did she want to kill him? Why did she even bother making her presence known by leaving a warning? The Fire Lord had to contact Aang. He had to do something. Then a new thought gripped Zuko's mind. How unfair was it that just after he had gotten over his ex-girlfriend, he finds she left a threatening note in his bedchamber? Zuko stopped and bashed his fist against the wall. This was simply too difficult for him to deal with. He felt as if his head would explode from the frustration.
Then a door opened slowly. Zuko looked up and saw Rong enter the hallway. "Zuko, what's wrong?" she asked.
Zuko regained his composure and looked at Rong. "We have to contact Aang," Zuko said.
"Why?" Rong asked.
"Because there's someone trying to kill me," Zuko replied.
"Do you know who?" Rong asked.
Zuko hesitated before speaking. "That's not important right now," he said. "I need to go visit my uncle." And with that, the Fire Lord walked off down the hallway. Rong followed him and the two headed outside.
It was midday in Republic City. People bustled about on their daily commutes. Ostrich horses pulled carriages down the roads, men and women lined the sidewalks, people stopped to read the Republic City Gazette, and everyone went on as if no major incident had occurred the previous day. Some people were delayed however, due to construction. Specifically, the Metalbending Police Force was rebuilding it's headquarters. As the men and women moved every which way trying to lend a hand, Toph stood at the front of the site with two other officers. "Chief Toph!" shouted an officer. Toph turned to acknowledge the man.
"What is it, Officer Chang?" she asked.
"What do you think of the schematics?" Chang asked.
Toph shook her head in annoyance. "Well, I would tell you if I could see them!" she yelled.
"Oh, right, sorry, ma'am," Chang said, angry with himself for making such an idiotic mistake. "Still, I trust you'll like the new design."
"Wait just a second, Chang," Toph said.
Chang turned to see her again. "Yes, ma'am?"
"I do have one request," said Toph. "Put in a statue of me somewhere."
"Where?" asked Chang.
"Anywhere," Toph replied.
"Chief!" someone called out.
"What is it, Penga?" asked Toph.
"It's your friend, Avatar Aang," Penga said. "He says he needs you right away."
"Tell Twinkle Toes I'm busy," Toph said.
"He says it's urgent," said another voice Toph recognized.
"Alright, The Dark One," Toph said. "But it better be really important." The police chief walked away from her subordinates to see Aang.
"Alright, back to work, Moochie," said Penga.
"I hate heavy lifting," said The Dark One.
Toph walked over to where she could feel her friend. "So what do you need me for, Aang?"
"It's Zuko. We have to see him," Aang replied.
Zuko and Rong walked through the streets of Ba Sing Se with Feng in tow. Zuko noticed how much of the city had changed since he had lived there all those years ago. He took joy in the fact that nobody had to hide anything and that everyone knew the truth. It seemed that in this place, there was always something happening. From conspiracies to coups to liberations to the battle that bought his friend worldwide fame, the city of Ba Sing Se was always eventful.
"We're here," said Rong, interrupting Zuko's train of thought. The two of them had finally reached their destination: The Jasmine Dragon. The two of them walked in and scanned the room for Iroh. After a moment or so, Zuko saw him brewing tea in the back. "I'll give you guys some privacy," Rong said. She and Feng walked around to the side of the shop.
Zuko walked over to his uncle, who was still brewing tea. "I'll have one cup of ginseng tea, please," Zuko said, humorously.
The Dragon of the West turned around to address him and saw that it was his nephew speaking to him. "Zuko!" he said happily. He embraced his nephew in a hug. "It's good to see you!"
"It's good to see you too, uncle," Zuko said, returning the hug.
The two let go of each other and Iroh spoke. "So what brings you here?" Iroh inquired.
"I need to talk to you about something," said Zuko. "How long before the shop opens?"
"We've got a good hour or so before it opens. Tell me what's on your mind," said Iroh. The two started walking towards the back of the shop.
"Well, you know I've been upset about Mai for a while now," said Zuko. "I've been so upset about the fact that she left me and is now gone forever, but last night I finally got over it. I decided I wasn't going to let it dictate my life, but then I saw something in my room. A threatening letter on the wall that said 'you will die, my dear Fire Lord,' There was a knife lodged into the wall right next to it. It was the exact kind she used."
"So you think Mai is trying to assassinate you?" Iroh concluded.
"Yes," Zuko said.
"You're probably right," Iroh said.
"I called my friends here to help, but what can they do? What can any of us do?" Zuko wondered. "Why is this happening? Maybe if I had just gone to you for help when I was having trouble sleeping, I wouldn't be in this mess."
"Zuko, we can't change the past. No matter how often we may wish it, the past will always stay the same. You must listen to your heart and do what you believe is right when the time comes to face Mai. You can either convince her to take you back or you will have to end it right there. But consider this, Zuko: do not let all of the people you love dearest in your life slip away from you. In times of great stress and turmoil, only the ones you love can help you face your problems. If they all slip away, whether it is by your doing or not, you are left with nothing but yourself."
The two looked out at the city, watching the sunrise. "Thank you, uncle," Zuko said.
"Anything for my nephew," said Iroh.
"I promise I won't let anyone else I love slip away from me again."
"So, how long you figure before your friends arrive?" asked Iroh.
"Probably about an hour or so," Zuko replied.
"Well, then perhaps you and your eavesdropping friend would like to play a game of Pai Sho?" Iroh asked.
Rong peered her head around the corner and smiled guiltily. "Hi, guys," she said. "I'm really sorry."
"It's alright," said Zuko.
"A game of Pai Sho sounds nice," she said.
"It won't be much of a game against uncle," Zuko said.
"We'll see," Rong said, confidently.
Fifty minutes later and Rong was throwing her hands up in exasperation. "I lost again!" she shouted in defeat.
"Don't worry," Iroh said. "People usually start having a chance after the fourteenth time."
"Who wins fourteen Pai Sho games in fifty minutes?!" Rong asked, baffled at the old man's skill.
"I told you," Zuko said.
The three friends all took sips of their tea just as they heard a thunderous roar from above. "Appa," said Rong. The trio walked outside and watched the great beast land. All of Team Avatar, with the exception of Ling, dismounted the sky bison.
"Zuko, what's wrong?" asked Aang.
"Mai tried to assassinate me," said Zuko.
"Wait, Mai? Mai as in your ex-girlfriend, Mai?" asked Sokka.
"Yes," Zuko replied. "I need at least one of you to help me hunt her down."
"I'm up for it," said Toph.
"Are you sure, Toph?" asked Suki. "Don't you have to help rebuild your headquarters?"
"Meh, I'm sure the others will do it just fine. Besides, I still haven't gotten my field trip," Toph responded with a grin.
"Alright, then I can hitch a ride with you guys back to Republic City," said Rong.
"Alright, let's do this," said Toph.
"Rong, do you mind if I borrow Feng?" Zuko asked.
"No, not at all," said Rong.
"Well, this was a waste of time," said Bo.
"I know right," said Sokka.
Katara looked at the two with annoyance written all over her face.
"What?" Sokka asked, defensively. "I'm just saying we didn't all have to come out here."
"I know, right?" Bo said.
Once everyone was on top of Appa, Aang said the words. "Yip, yip." And with that, Appa lifted off of the ground and soared away.
"This isn't over, Iroh!" Rong shouted. "I'll beat you one day!"
"I doubt it, but I'm glad you still believe in yourself!" Iroh called back.
"So, how exactly are we going to find her?" asked Toph.
"Trust me, I know how. Mai may be crafty, but she made a mistake," said Zuko.
"What's that?" asked Toph.
"She left us a smell sample."
- For those of you who haven't read yet and are interested, the two-part sequel to Avatar: The Assassin's Legend, , has been published.
For the collective works of the author, go here.