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|A Lingering Flame|
Avatar: Centennial Embers
Book 1: Earth
Avatar Kuruk 1
A Lingering Flame is the fourth chapter of Avatar: Centennial Embers.
Team Avatar finds themselves facing an entire crew of Fire Nation Soldiers.
Northern Earth Kingdom City
As Aang looked around at the Fire Nation flags hung all over the town, a look of worry drew across his face. After a nervous glance at the soldiers to make sure they were incapacitated, he ceased his airbending and returned to the ground.
"What's going on here?" he asked as he walked back to the rest of the group.
"I'm not sure," Sokka answered, still looking concerned.
Then Toph spoke up. "Will someone please tell me why everyone got quiet all of the sudden?" she asked.
"Can't you see the-" Aang began, before realizing she couldn't. "Oh, right." He was about to continue, when a young man of about 30 came running up from one of the buildings nearby. He looked as if he was very nervous, but at the same time trying to contain lots of excitement.
"Excuse me," he said to the group. "I saw what was happening from outside my window. I can't believe this." He looked to Aang and asked, "You're the Avatar, aren't you?"
"That's me," Aang answered. "Why is the Fire Nation in your town? What's going on?"
"Come with me. Everyone. I'll fill you in back at my house. Please hurry, we need your help." The man said no more and walked back in the direction of the building from where he came.
Aang glanced back at the soldiers one more time. They were struggling now to get free, but weren't making progress, so Aang followed, with the others close behind him.
When they got into the house, they saw it was very simple. They walked into a small room with a table and some chairs. There were some cabinets up against one wall, and a small living area in the back. To the right there was a doorway that appeared to lead to a bedroom. The house seemed comfortable enough, but not luxurious at all.
The man that brought them there sat down at the table, and invited them to do the same. "Please sit," he said kindly. The group did as they were asked.
"What do you need our help with?" Aang asked. "And why are there Fire Nation soldiers here?"
"First, let me introduce myself. My name is Chin. Two years ago, my village was invaded by the Fire Nation. They burned down half the town, and threatened to burn the rest if we didn't surrender. One of the generals stayed here, while the soldiers come and go. They've used our money and property as their own resources for the war. We've barely been able to keep enough for ourselves."
At this point Aang interrupted. "But the war is over now," he said. "Haven't they been leaving you alone?"
"No, they haven't. As a matter of fact, things have gotten worse. When news arrived that the war had ended, we were all relieved, at first. But the General didn't give up the city. He made it clear that he was in charge, and anyone that questioned his authority...would be killed." Chin's voice became very grim, and he paused for a moment before continuing. Thankfully, no one's been hurt since then, but things are still very bad here. Every few days, the soldiers leave in that airship and come back with more weapons and supplies. They steal from us still, even though they don't need funds for the war."
Katara stood up. "We have to let Zuko know what's going on. He'll make sure these soldiers are punished."
"No," Aang said, also standing up. "If we go tell Zuko, who knows how long it will be before this town is freed? I'm putting a stop to this right now." No sooner did he finish talking, than a bright flash of orange light appeared outside the window, along with the sound of crumbling rock. At this, everyone ran outside to find that the three guards had freed themselves and were running for the airship.
Aang wasted no time chasing them down, and just as they were reaching the town's exit, he launched a large boulder at them, but this time, they were ready. One soldier shot a burst of flame at the ground, propelling himself into the air to dodge Aang's attack, while the other two shot fire at the group, and took off running. Seeing the incoming wave of flame, Aang quickly created a shield of air to protect himself and his friends, bringing up lots of dirt in the process, and sending the entire group into a coughing fit. Blinded by the dust, the team was immobilized as the soldiers boarded the airship. When the dust finally cleared, the airship had just gotten off the ground, and was quickly gaining altitude.
"They're going to get away," Suki said, sounding defeated. By this time, many of the citizens had come to see what was going on, and they all had somber looks on their faces.
At first, everyone agreed. However, at the thought of letting the town suffer for an indefinite amount of time, Aang regained his composure.
"Not if I have anything to say about it," he said with confidence. His face became determined and intense. Using his staff as a propeller, he hovered into the air. Those on the ground below could see his tattoos beginning to glow. Wind started swirling around him and all about the town, as the ship was turning away. Using the power of the Avatar State, Aang whipped his staff, sending a slice of air at the ship so sharp, it cut directly through the metal frame, splitting the ship in two. He then dropped to the ground hard, bringing his staff down in front of him and sending off a second blast of air, clipping the ship's tail end and sending it spiraling into the other half.
The ship began to smoke. It's fall accelerated as the hot air escaped, and it eventually crashed hard into the nearby forest. The impact violently shook the ground like an earthquake, damaging the town's buildings even more, and causing half of the wall to crumble to the ground. When the shaking stopped, everything became quiet, and it seemed the soldiers had been defeated.
"Ha!" Sokka shouted in triumph, jumping with his fist in the air. "Take that Fire Nation! Nobody messes with Team Avatar!"
Suki just stared at him. "Sokka, Aang did all the work," she finally said.
"Still, we just won that fight in two minutes. Now everything's all right again." As soon as he said that, however, smoke began to rise up from the forest, followed by an explosion of fire shooting up into the sky and engulfing the nearby trees.
"The forest is going to catch fire," Aang shouted in realization. "Quick, everyone, run and get water! Katara, come with me. We can bend the water from the river to put out the fire." The citizens rushed back to their houses, led by Sokka and Suki, while Toph stayed and tried to smother the flames with earthbending.
"The universe just loves proving Sokka wrong," she said quietly to herself with a chuckle.
When the ship crashed, the crew and soldiers poured out.
"Is everyone all right?" the captain of the ship asked his crew.
"Yes, Captain Chan," one soldier answered. "But what should we do now? Our ship is destroyed. The entire forest is about to go up in flames."
The Captain thought for a moment. He looked around at his crew and thought what to do. He had just recently been promoted, and didn't want to risk his job by reporting that the only result of this mission was a broken airship. He knew how expensive they were, and that the general would not be happy to see his broken. If only he could retain control over the town. "Hmm... you say the forest is about to catch fire?" he asked after a minute.
"Well, let's just make sure," he said, with a slight smile.
Northern Earth Kingdom City
The town was busy attempting to put out the fire, but their work seemed to not be helping at all.
"This isn't working," Aang called out, who was busy using waterbending to make it rain on the fire. "The fire just keeps spreading. Every time we put one part out it just comes back."
Sokka then noticed something. He stopped fighting the fire for a minute. "Wait a minute," he said. "Everyone, stop. Aang's right. The fire keeps coming back. But look at this place. These trees and the ground are soaked. There's no way the fire should keep spreading.
A flame then leaped out at Katara, who dodged it just in time. "Then explain this," she said. But before she could get an answer, the fire spread to encompass the entire edge of the forest near the town.
"We have to get everyone out, now," Aang said. "At least there's no way the soldiers made it out of that."
"No, wait," said Sokka. "Look!" The enormous wall of fire had just split, and out came dozens of Firebenders, who immediately began attacking the town.
Katara sprung into action. "Help me hold them off," she cried out.
Sokka, who was in hand-to-hand combat with one soldier, finally realized what happened and voiced his conclusion. "They did this. They've been bending the fire to spread it and burn down the entire forest."
Aang thought about this and realized Sokka was right. He began to feel very confused. Besides the fact that these people were being so cruel, he couldn't understand why they were still in the Earth Kingdom. The war was supposed to be over, but new problems just kept appearing. Finally, he became overwhelmed with thoughts, and decided to take action.
Aang ran up to one soldier, punched the ground to bring up a rock, and kicked it at his foe's head. Another Firebender ran up behind him, but Aang blew him down with a swing of his arm. Two quick jabs with his staff sent another flying. He shot precise jets of fire at three more, knocking them out too. This went on for what seemed like ages. Aang was becoming winded, and as he looked around at the seemingly endless devastation, he realized he couldn't keep this up.
Aang calmed his self down, and centered his energy to focus. He took a deep breath, and slowly began to move his arms up. He drew up the flow of the river outside the town and brought gallons of water into the air. He slowly maneuvered it over the village, and the sent it crashing down. Immediately, the village was flooded with water, but Aang kept control over it the whole time. He ripped the current over the soldiers, pulling them back into the riverbed along with the tide, while carefully keeping his friends and allies safe. The move took immense concentration, but Aang remained focused the entire time.
When the soldiers first felt the rush of the water against their bodies, they tried as hard as they could to keep their footing. But the strength of the current was too powerful, and they all soon found themselves being dragged away with the tide.
Aang brought the remaining water in the town up into one big bubble, and splashed it across the town, putting out the fires before the whole forest burned to the ground.
When this was all done, everyone looked around. The town had been destroyed. What little remained of the outer wall now only protected a few measly frames of what were once houses. Debris and ash were scattered everywhere. It wasn't a pleasant sight.
Upon seeing this, Aang dropped to the gorund and put his head in his hands, holding back tears from his eyes.
"This isn't supposed to happen now," he said. Everything's supposed to be better." He sounded deeply hurt.
"Everything is alright now, Aang. The soldiers are gone. We'll find Kuei soon, and then go and tell Zuko what happened." Aang knew she was right, but he still felt bad for all of the people who's homes and lives were destroyed by the Fire Nation. He finally, however, was able to calm himself down and get back up.
Katara then noticed that Sokka was looking off in the direction of the crash, scratching his head. "What are you thinking about, Sokka?" she asked.
"The Fire Nation... they must still have some soldiers in the Earth Kingdom."
"Where have you been?" Toph asked sarcastically.
"No, I mean, they had an airship, right? They must have been coming from somewhere. They couldn't have come from the Fire Nation archipelago. Zuko would have know. They must have another base somewhere else."
"That's impossible," said Aang. "I saw Zuko give the order himself. All soldiers were told to return the Fire Nation."
"I know," Sokka continued, "but for some reason, not all of them did. I don't know why, but I know there must be more of them."
"So what do we do?" Aang asked.
"There isn't much we can do, unless we know more. I say we just keep heading to June's tavern. If we find anything on the way, we'll check it out. Otherwise, we'll get the military's help once they don't have to keep guarding Ba Sing Se."
The team's discussion was interrupted by Chin, who had just come up to them. "I have to thank you for freeing my town," he said.
"You don't have to thank us," Aang said. "I feel bad though. You're village has been destroyed."
"Our town was already destroyed. The Fire Nation destroyed our town when they took it away from us, even if the buildings were still standing. Thank you, again."
After making sure the citizens would be alright, the team said their goodbyes. Then, they got on Appa, and set off again in search of June.
- A small gag was made in this chapter relating to Sokka's comment about the universe in one of the main series episodes.
- Chapters 3 and 4 were planned to be one chapter, but were split as to not be too long.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|Avatar: Centennial Embers Chapters|
|Book 1: Earth|
|Unrest - Escalating Danger - An Unsettling Detour - A Lingering Flame - Young Gangs and Old Games - Embers Unearthed - Reunion|