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|The Girl of the Water|
Days passed already, and the waterbender Katara was only sometime away from her destination. She was literally famished! Although she had lived in Nature's ice box for most of her life, she'd never really needed to hunt for herself, and even if she did go hunting, it would be of no use in a world like this. As far as she knew, there were no such thing as ice caps here - just open plains left to grow by Mother Nature.
"Mother Nature. Please help me," Katara said, looking up to the rising sun. But she knew that like all mothers, Mother Nature had a tough, harsh side to her, no matter how sweet she was...and now Katara was the next to feel it. She wouldn't last much longer without any food, the remainder of which she'd stupidly eaten already or given to some animals she'd passed by. This was the only case in which she realized that being generous can get you into a whole lot of trouble.
"Wonder how wild animals deal with starvation?" Katara thought, as she gripped her empty, aching stomach. How ironic. She was used to living off limited portions, and yet hunger drove her nuts now. She went without food pretty well back at home and through Altonia...but why was it so difficult now? That question stayed in her mind as she tried looking for some water... Of course, she couldn't see anything at first...but then she remembered something: what Hama had once told her during their dark training.
"That's right! I can get water out of thin air... Let's see."
Katara went through all the movements as if she were gathering water, as if she could actually see it before her eyes. She was surprised, though, she got a ball-sized orb of water just out of thin air. Plenty of water. She quickly gulped it down her dry throat and gave a sigh or relief.
"That's better. That can hold off for a while before I-" before she could finish, she heard the sharp call of a small falcon flying overhead. It was a special falcon called an osprey, but of course she'd never seen one before. The osprey flew ahead of Katara and suddenly dove out of sight...showing up seconds later with a fish in its talons!
Amazed, she quickly raced towards the location from which the bird had snatched the fish... She got more than she bargained for.
Standing bluntly as she overlooked the edge of a ruin, she could see a huge lake ahead of her. There were viewable ruins above the water, but the lake was very clear indeed. Truly, she was amazed, but hunger still occupied her mind. She looked over the side and saw something odd indeed: three glowing, sparking lights from the lake. Ignoring the sight, however, she quickly found a route down.
Next thing she knew, she was standing before the lake itself. The cool waters were literally right at her feet. It was very pleasant, since it had been days since she last felt water on her skin. Lifting her arms, she drew a large ball of water from the lake and let it disperse over her head, allowing herself to soak in the refreshing downpour.
"Aaaahhhh...much better," Katara sighed, feeling the cool water slide down her body. When she glanced back in the water again, however...there it was.
Right next to her, the huge head of the sea serpent she was told to find was just underwater. Its blue eyes stared up to her as it slowly swam past, its three dorsal fins nearly hitting her.
"Hydrus...it's Hydrus!" Katara exclaimed. She saw the large tail fin and quickly jumped for it. Hydrus dove deeper into the water immediately, trying to shake Katara off. Katara did let go, but at some point she propelled herself underwater to the front of the eel's head, then blasted the creature to the surface with a thrust of her palm. She made her way to the surface as well, but Hydrus suddenly rammed her hard as soon as she emerged, causing her body to skip across the lake 4 times before hitting a dry ruin protruding from the water. She looked at it as Hydrus swam at her...then...
Hydrus stopped inches from Katara and slowed back down, swimming to a large statue that was being raised from the waters of...Relic Lake! Hydrus swam around it as it stopped growing and looked down at Katara.
"Who are you?" it asked. Katara never knew colossi spoke, but then again this was her first colossi encounter, so she thought she might as well answer.
"Ka-Ka-Katara, sir...and who are you?" Katara asked, scared.
"I am Illuminus. And YOU are the one who went ahead and attacked Hydrus! I will not stand by and watch you do so!" Illuminus bellowed. Katara tried to get out of the way, but Illuminus already slammed a fist inches away from her, launching her into the water from the sheer force. The hit nearly knocked her out cold, but she came to moments after landing in the water. Katara saw Hydrus coming at her as she tried to swim. The female eel quickly turned around and whacked her with her tail, sending her flying into a small cave that stood at the side of the lake.
After skidding inside, Katara was quiet. She is starving. Wounded. And no chance of escape... Now what? Her eyes were closed as she laid there lifeless...and she couldn't hear anything...except...
"Katara. Don't give up."
In her hazy state of mind, she opened her eyes and saw her mother standing there.
"Mom? ...Is that you?"
"Yes, dear. You can't quit now. Your friends need you more than you know... The world is greatly threatened now, my child. Your friends are on their mission, and shall complete it...and you shall complete yours," her mother said, stroking her daughter's brown hair.
"Mother...you're right... I won't give up! I will complete my goal and save our home from destruction...I promise."
Katara woke up from her experience, amazed after seeing her mother, and she was filled with new motivation. She looked back outside, where Hydrus was now peering into the cave.
"Okay, Hydrus. Let's dance," Katara said. She drew some water from Relic Lake and blasted at it Hydrus, sending the eel flying into Illuminus! Katara now stood atop a tall, self-made ice pillar.
"MY MISSION IS TO SAVE THE UNIVERSES FROM A HORRID FATE! AND I WILL NOT BE STOPPED BY YOU TWO! NOW HAND OVER YOUR CHAKRA ORBS!" Katara demanded. It was the first time she had to demand anything so strongly, and she was taking advantage of the moment.
"WHY WOULD WE HAND OVER OUR ORBS TO A GIRL LIKE YOU?!" Illuminus shouted in anger.
"HAND IT OVER, OR YOU'LL BE DEFEATED!"
"IT IS YOU WHO'LL BE DEFEATED! HAVE AT YOU!" Illuminus and Hydrus went for her but suddenly Katara jumped into the water, causing huge waves to form. Hydrus and even Illuminus were knocked back. Now Katara had the upper hand. She dove right into the water as Hydrus was just about to swim, but Katara isn't giving them the chance.
"Hydrus! Crush that wannabe fighter! ...Hydrus?" Illuminus then noticed that Hydrus was having trouble swimming against a suddenly strong current; Katara was single-handedly creating a whirlpool! And now Hydrus was caught up in it, spinning around in the powerful current. Illuminus saw Katara in the "eye of the whirlpool" and tried to punch her. Katara had already planned this and jumped into the whirlpool, leaving Illuminus with a fist full of ice shards! ...Now for the finishing move.
Katara saw Hydrus charging to her and she made an ice ramp, causing the giant eel to be launched out of the water, his three dorsal fins jabbing Illuminus's chest and head. The hit also cracked Hydrus's spine, killing her as well. Katara shot herself back up to the entrance where she'd first arrived.
"Th...there...I'm done...I did it. I defeated Hydrus...and Illuminus...I did it, mother," Katara said, out of breath and energy. She turned to walk away, but with her energy all but gone, she only could take a few steps before she collapsed. It was not only from exhaustion, however, but from the impact of two objects on her back. At first she felt too weak too move...but out of nowhere, she literally jumped to her feet, no longer hungry, and no longer tired.
The first thing she did was make an ice mirror, since she felt very different...and she looked very different. Her face was of pure white with red stripes above her eyes and two sets on her cheeks. She also saw a red ring around her neck and red zebra stripes down her arms. Her clothes also changed. She was now wearing a large straw hat, lined down with some sort of white silk, going down the rim to her shoulders...the look resembled a spirit she knew from way back then... The Painted Lady.
"Wha...how?" Katara wasn't sure what happened, until...
"Did I miss anything?"
"Marage! When did'chu get here?"
"I've been here for awhile now... Now, what you're in currently is your ultimate form. It's a state for each one of you to enter."
"Ultimate form? ...But I look like-"
"I know. The Painted Lady, right? It's not guaranteed for all of you, but sometimes a form can be based off another form they've been. In your case, I guess, it's the Painted Lady from your own world."
"Heh. Interesting response."
"Well, it's just new to me. Is that all, or do I have to-"
"You're good, Katara. Your intentions were to fight Hydrus AND Illuminus. But obviously it seems you've, as you would say, "killed two birds with one stone." Marage chuckled his melodic tune as Katara went along with him.
"Can you do me one favor, though?" Katara asked.
"Sure, what is it?"
"Can you help me back to the shrine? And maybe give me a bite to eat? I'm famished!" Katara said.
"Oh, sure thing. You should change back first, though. Just think of your former self and you'll be back to normal fast," Marage insisted.
Katara did just that and was back to normal. She and Marage walked off on their way... The whole time, the watcher saw the whole thing.
"Katara did it. She reached her god form... I sure hope the others do so just as easily... I pray for the safety of the worlds..and the defeat of Raviente."
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