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|The Everlasting Palace|
January 28, 2011
Sokka returns to the mortal world and leads the search for Ursa. Meanwhile, Aang and Katara journey to the Everlasting Palace, where they find that their situation is more dire than they could have imagined...
Book 2 Chapter 6: The Everlasting Palace
A group of people came into focus as Sokka opened his eyes. As he came to, he felt Suki's comforting embrace and he held her tight.
"I just knew you'd come back, Sokka," she said, wiping tears from her cheeks. She held him at arm's length and then embraced him a second time.
After everyone had thoroughly expressed to Sokka how happy they were that he had returned, their collective gaze slowly turned to the bodies of Katara and Azula, both of which still had the white light of the Avatar State glowing in their eyes.
"It's okay," Sokka assured them. "We ran into Aang. Katara decided to stay behind with him and...do something." He found it hard to keep his gaze on his friends. "But Aang told us the way that we can beat Azula. He said that we have to find Zuko's mom because she knows something that could change the world."
All eyes turned this time to Zuko, whose face took on an expression somewhere between fear and disdain. "It's impossible," Zuko confessed. "I've spent a year devoting all of the resources in the Fire Nation to finding her, and we haven't been able to. What makes you think we can find her now before it's too late to stop Azula?"
"Because," Sokka grinned, "this time we know where to look." In response to their shocked faces he continued, "Where's Appa? We need to take a little trip to my favorite tea shop in Ba Sing Se."
"Uncle..." Zuko breathed.
"Katara, I don't want you to get your hopes up too high. You know there's a chance your mom might not be there," Aang reminded her.
Katara was unfazed. "Oh my gosh, I'm a little nervous. How's my hair? Oh, what if I don't live up to her expectations?"
Aang said nothing, wanting to do nothing more to fuel Katara's intense desire to see her mother. It would break her heart if she found out that her mother weren't at the Eternal Palace.
His thoughts became pensive as he contemplated how his own situation mirrored Katara's. What if he himself did not live up to the expectations of the monks? What if they blamed him for the Great War, and criticized him for dying? How was his hair? Oh, wait. He didn't have any hair.
"There it is," Aang said pointing a ways ahead where a humble building with a thatched roof was slowly coming into view. "The Eternal Palace. Where the purest of heart go after death to be free forever...."
The two of them expedited their pace in anticipation of what was to come. They reached the small rectangular shaped building and both got cold feet. What if the people they were looking for weren't here in the first place? Finally, it was Katara who gathered up the courage to open the door. She turned a small brass knob and the door opened inward, revealing the largest room they had ever seen; much larger than would have been physically possible from the outside. But this is the Spirit World, Aang mused, so this must not be so out of the ordinary.
But what he saw next definitely was...
"Come on, Appa, faster!" Zuko yelled at the bison, reins in hand.
"Zuko, calm down." Toph placed a firm hand on his shoulder.
He breathed in and expelled a plume of dark smoke as he breathed back out. "I'm sorry, I'm just a little nervous. I haven't seen my mother in a very, very long time..."
Aang was the first to enter the room. He carefully stepped over the broken planks of wood that covered the floor, anger bubbling inside of him just below the surface as he surveyed the irrevocable damage to the sacred palace. This was just so...wrong.
"Who did this to you?" Katara asked an old man as she helped him to his feet. Wordlessly, the man lifted a frail arm and pointed behind Katara. Aang turned around and dropped his staff in surprise. Standing before them with her evil grin stretched larger than ever was Azula...
And the plot thickens...don't worry. We start getting some serious answers very, very soon.
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