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It had been a year since the end of the Hundred Year War. Team Avatar was still on their job for the peacemakers of the world. It was their job. But during the year, a lot had happened.
For a good start, Aang and Katara had become a set of lovebirds. They had bonded very well and seemingly inseparable (at least to the public). They had been going so well together that it would be no surprise if they would get married by New Year's!
The rest of the team were going through changes too. Since becoming Fire Lord, Zuko had turned much of the Fire Nation for the better. Much of the nation had forgotten the war at that point and those that didn't forgave the other nations. Furthermore, they forgave Zuko for going against them during the war time, so there's a bonus.
Toph too had been going through a lot. Since she had discovered the great art of metalbending, she had opened her own school to pass it down to other earthbenders.
Sokka had been doing some serious training with his master and was becoming a pretty great swordsman. He did manage to get a new sword too, which was good since he could never find his space sword after it fell off the airship, but it could never truly replace his former beauty.
During their year, they came across four new characters at a point during the winter... four young dogs. In dog years, they were about the same age as the team mainly was - teenagers. They each were a different breed of dog. One had shaggy yellow fur, one was white with a lot of scars, one was a bright blue, and the last one was a hybridized dog and tiger. They took them in and at first things were normal... until they found out of their ability of speech. But they took it in stride and got used to it fairly quickly. After all they had dealt with far weirder things in the past.
The day started off like any other in the Fire Nation. Zuko was making his usual rounds around the castle. The sun was shining up high in the summer sky and Zuko decided to go for a walk. Being a king, you had nothing better to do besides hang out with your queen. But Mai had left on a vacation, leaving Zuko with nothing to do. Things were peaceful for him until a servant raced to him.
"Fire Lord Zuko! This came for you. It's a message from the South Pole," he said, handing him the message.
"Thank you," Zuko replied. The servant went away as Zuko opened the letter.
It is with great importance that you and the Avatar's team go to the farthest south. You're needed for a very urgent mission. Please hurry. Another message was sent to the Avatar's team so all you need to do is meet up with them at the location.
Zuko knew he had to go. But it will be tomorrow when Mai will come back. He thought of a messenger hawk or something of that nature, but last time he did Mai was very angry with him. But on the other hand he had to get to the South Pole as soon as possible. He went to his bedroom and wrote out a letter saying he'll be gone before she came back and sent out a hawk. That was one problem solved, but he knew it wouldn't turn out well. But what other choice is there?
Team Avatar got the message too sometime later.
"Okay guys. We are called in to the south pole so we better start packing," Aang announced. The others agreed but Sokka then got a bit worried over Toph as they were packing.
"Here Toph. You should wear these," Sokka said, setting down a pair of winter boots.
"No way dude. You know I can't see so well with shoes on," Toph protested.
"I know, but this way you won't get frostbite on your feet, and the numbness won't let you see ever!" Toph then changed her mind right away and put on the boots. They fit nice but like she said, she couldn't see so well in them. She had to truly stomp just to get a slight vibration. "Sokka, these aren't working."
"Don't worry Toph. I'll help you get around," Sokka insisted. He did like he said and help guide her outside where Appa was waiting. It took a bit but Toph and Sokka managed to get on and from there they started flying.
Luckily for them, Appa had gotten a lot more stamina for flying, and so getting from point A (Ba Sing Se) to point B (Fire Nation) to point C (South Pole) seemed fairly easy. It took about a good two days of flying, but they managed to get there. The village they had to stop at (probably the only village around), was happy to see their old friends again. They were also happy to see the new friends too. Though much of the group were happy too, Toph was not enjoying herself at all! She had never been at the South Pole before, and the bitter cold, dry air, and snow slightly falling on her head and shoulders really bit. The dog, Nobutora, as he is now known, looked over at her shivering.
"You okay, Toph-chan? You don't look so good," Nobutora asked.
"Don't l-l-look g-g-g-good?! I'm f-f-f-freezing!" Toph said through shaky teeth.
"Well that's the south pole for you. Told you to bundle up," Sokka said after hearing her.
"Oh man...it m-m-m-must be b-b-b-below zero!"
"Fahrenheit or Celsius?"
"WHO CARES?!" Nobutora and Sokka looked at each other and Sokka gave her a Water Tribe coat and wrapped it around her.
"No problem." It was after that they both listened to the conversation. Aang had just finished explaining the details to the villagers.
"So a distress message?" one of them asked.
"Yea...so what's the problem?" Aang asked. The villagers just looked at one another. The surprise is that they weren't the ones who sent the message!
"Are you sure nothing was strange that you might have to call us?" Katara asked.
"Hmm...well there was some strange activity going on south of here. Odd animals were being seen and strange conversation too...maybe you can check that out?"
"Oh sure. Come on guys, let's head south," Aang announced.
"You mean we're not there yet?!" Toph gasped, still shivering despite the coat.
"Almost. Just a little further and we'll be there," Aang assured her. Toph thought at a point that he was crazy for getting used to the South Pole, but she didn't have much a choice anymore so she got onto Appa again and they all started flying south.
It began to get dark by the time they managed to reach their location. Toph wasn't really focused on the mission for being so cold as Sokka and Zuko tried to help. Finally Appa landed on the ice. The whole area glistened under the early night moon. But what was odd was the ice here was thin, thin enough to see the small icefish swimming just underneath the ice layer.
"Is this the place? I've never seen it before," Aang asked himself, looking around.
But as they were distracted, three figures appeared, away from them. All of them stood erect and unafraid. Toph was on Appa at that moment, not wanting to take another step onto the frozen earth, and so she couldn't sense anything as each figure started sneaking over. They all looked around as Toph sat there shivering. Then, it happened. The figures suddenly exploded at everyone, with two going for the whole crowd as the fastest figure jumped straight at Toph, knocking her off Appa easily! Before anyone could do anything, they all were thrown into the thin area of the ice, crashing through!... They disappeared... leaving Appa alone.
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