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|Chapter Five: One's Worst Enemy|
The look in Katara's eyes was seen on her face two more times. It was that determined look, it showed no fear. It was like she saw someone right in front of her, someone she really hated, and she was ready to face him to a duel till death. Sokka knew when his sister would have that look in her eye. Aang thought he had seen it too. And then he remembered. Full moon... An old woman drawing power from it... The first Bloodbender ever existed... No way...he thought. He and Sokka had realized the same thing. Toph was disturbed by something else. Again focusing on her chi, she told the others:
"Okay we will go to Hama or whoever else you like, but you might wanna stop Song or Joo Dee or however we call her from stealing Appa!" At the last two words, everyone turned to see. Song was running to Appa. Aang Airbended himself forward and started running as fast as the wind he caught up with Song easily. She was climbing on Appa.
"Stop!" shouted Sokka "You don't want to make me use this!" he added holding up his new space sword.
"You stop now!" yelled Aang, grabbing her from her shirt.
"You... don't... understand..." she whispered. Her eyes closed slowly, to open again. And again. And again. She was trying to speak. "You... must... get away... now... they are coming... for me..." Aang looked at her in astonishment. It sounded like Song was trying to protect them.
"The Dai Li? They are coming?" he asked her.
"Yes... And they are not... alone," she tried to answer. She then, with much effort, managed to reach into Appa's saddle, find a little rock and throw it away. "Go... Now..." she said and closed her eyes again. That was her last move.
"Song? Song? Wake up!" Aang shouted. Everyone else came running to where Aang stood. They looked at Song.
"She is not dead." said the Guru. "For now." He added. "And she is right. You must leave. Now. But Suki will come with me. Come, Suki." The Team stood still. They didn't know what to do. It was abvious they were asked to leave, but they couldn't leave Pathik and Suki and Song alone. But Pathik wouldn't wait. He and Iroh pushed them on Appa. Then Pathik hold Song with one arm and with the other he started making some complicated moves in front of him. Iroh did the same too, holding Suki's arm. After some moments, Pathik, Iroh, Suki and Song had disappeared in a rain of purple sparkles. The Team looked in amazement as Appa flied higher and higher and the purple sparkles were less and less and then the purple sparkles disappeared and the Temple was nothing more than a little point at the ground, with Dai Li agents rushing in.
"So where are we going?" asked Sokka.
"Well, I was thinking... we could go to Hama." said Katara. Sokka had expected this answer, he had guessed his sisters thoughts. But he hoped she would have changed her mind by now.
"Are you crazy? But why am I even asking?" he said ironically.
"Sokka, you do not understand like always. Visiting Hama will be..." started Katara but Sokka interrupted.
"Silly, dangerous and a complete waste of time!" They looked angrily at each other. "And anyway, Aang's the leader, he decides where to go! And he disagrees with the idea of going to Hama. Don't you, Aang? Aang?" asked Sokka again after getting no reply.
"Huh? Ah... yeah." he said, realizing he was supposed to answer. "I was thinking... We should visit Hama." He ignored the fact Sokka was looking at him like he was insane. He had thought of it, and he knew Katara was right. Hama, the first Bloodbender, evil and wanting to take revenge. It matched with the person who would help the Dai Li. "Appa, yip-yip!" he yelled to his bison, satisfied from the loving look Katara gave him.
They were flying over the Fire Nation village. The journey was peaceful, but everyone was nervous and tired. They were about to do a hazardous thing. Toph was very angry and ready to yell at the first person who'd talk to her. She was tired of flying. As she used to say, she would easily take them to their destination using Earthbending in no time, being able to see as well.
"Okay, we are here!" said Aang.
"I say we land in the forest, so they will not notice us." suggested Sokka.
"Do whatever you want but do it fast. I am bored of not seeing anything!" said Toph who was relieved they were finally there but angry because Sokka suggested they flied more. Katara was ready to shout at her for not being happy Appa could carry her and was just grumbling about not being able to see, but she decided not to. They had to stay together at these difficult times. No one answered Toph and they landed in the woods.
"Okay, buddy, you gotta stay here." Said Aang, petting Appa. "Oh, don't worry, I will come back soon!" he added. Then he turned to his friends. "Coming?" he asked.
"Okay, let's get moving" said Sokka, and started walking slowly to the village.
"Land sweet land!" said Toph jumping to reach Sokka. Aang started, too.
"Wait!" said Katara. She grabbed Aang from the arm and then started running after Sokka and Toph. "We need a plan. We can't just rush into the village and tell them we are looking for an evil crazy old lady!"
"Yes we can." Said Sokka and continued walking. Toph followed. Katara looked at Aang, who returned the look apologetically and continued walking after Sokka. Katara walked with him angrily. They reached the village quickly. They saw a friendly-looking young man and stopped him to talk to him.
"Hey there!" said Sokka loudly.
"Well, hello," said the man.
"Well, you remember a crazy old lady who kidnapped people whenever there was a full moon?" he asked. It was clear the young man felt uncomfortable.
"What? I do not know anything! I am new here!" he said and left, so quickly he was almost running.
"Oh, come on!" said Sokka.
"I am talking next time, Sokka!" said Toph, walking after an old man.
"Well, hello there, young fella!" she said opening her hands in a friendly greeting. "You seem a very clever man, good-looking guy!" she added hugging him around the shoulders. The old man looked very surprised, but pleased. "Do you happen to know anything about an old crazy woman who kidnapped people at full moon?" she asked, still holding him with her arm so he couldn't get away.
"Well, I am not sure but..." he started twisting and trying to escape Toph's 'friendly' hug so he could leave running.
"Oh, someone as clever as you are must remember everything about her!" Toph continued, still having that friendly tone.
"Hem... There was such a woman, but she is long gone now." Aang was not able to keep quiet.
"Where is she now?" he said loudly. That made the old man jump up and start pushing Toph's hand away. Toph looked at Aang with a very angry look and Earthbended the piece of land he was standing on, making him fly ten feet in the air and land away from them.
"So, you were saying?" asked Toph still holding the old man tight.
"Eeh, she... she is at the mountains... in a cave... I... I am not sure... look, I got to go..." said the old man and with a final twist he managed to pull Toph's hand away from his shoulder and leave running.
"This is how it is done." said Toph with the joy of triumph in her voice. She Earthbended Aang towards them and looked around. All the anger Katara felt for Toph and the rest of her friends 'cause they had decided to move on without a plan was gone. They knew where Hama was.
"Well, now we know she is in that cave she kept the villagers a long time ago. Let's go find her, get that information and kill her!" suggested Sokka.
"You do the killing Sokka." Said Aang. "Not that I will allow you to but anyway."
"Will we ever start, Twinkle Toes?" asked Toph and they all started walking.
After about an hour walking, they reached the dark, wet cave where the villagers were once kept by the Puppetmaster. Aang Firebended creating a fire ball so they would be able to see as they walked deeper and deeper in the cave. They came across a big room with no light. It smelled awful and they could hear rats running here and there. There were chains hanging from almost every part of the wall. Katara held Aang's arm. The four friends walked across the room in order to examine it, when they heard a sigh from one corner of the room. They jumped up and Aang grabbed Katara's hand with his free palm. Sokka and Toph were by them. Aang knew it was one of the first times he could see Toph trembling. Sokka's teeth were clapping, as they got closer and closer to the corner the sigh cam from. Aang raised the fireball in order to light the corner. There she was. The once great Bloodbender. Hama was skinny, so skinny her eyeballs looked like they were about to pop out, giving her a permanent look of surprise. Her lips were thin and her nose had been broken but now was back in place. Her white hair, once clean and combed to perfection, was falling around her tired face, tangled and so filthy it was almost brown. Her hands were the ones keeping her from not falling to the ground, since they were tied with the chains hanging from the wall. Her clothes, a blue Watertribe dress, were hanging from her body, since it did not fit her correctly any more. In addition, it was burned at the left side and had been torn at the lowest part, making it seem more like a skirt than an actual dress. It was as dirty as her hair was. Katara almost wanted to untie her, get her out of the cave and feed her, before giving her some new clothes and bathing her. Then she remembered she almost killed Aang and Sokka, and the pity she felt disappeared as suddenly as it had appeared.
"I... have... changed..." Hama spelled out.
"Yes you have, you are so frightening the villagers do not even want to talk about you!" yelled Katara, looking at her worst enemy who suddenly looked vulnerable.
"It was not... me." Hama said. "If you untie me... I can explain..."
"She isn't lying." Said Toph.
"Untie her." Aang ordered. Using the Water Whip, Katara broke the chains and Hama was free. Free to act. With a glimpse at her face, Aang thought: What did I do?
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|A Stranger at the Western Air Temple • The Start of the Journey • Iroh's Story, Part One • Iroh's Story, Part Two • One's Worst Enemy • The First Bloodbender • Agathy • Always There • Hama's Secret • The Proposal • The Feelers • The Training • The Cave Under • A Talk with Roku • Aang and Shuo • The Statue|