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|Worlds Collide, Part 3: Aang's Desperate Attack|
February 23, 2011
Iroh and Ursa are revealed to have survived the collapse of the Order of the White Lotus's headquarters, and Iroh makes a remarkable discovery. Meanwhile, Katara treats Zuko's terrible wounds while Aang utilizes the Avatar State to do battle with Azula. Just when all hope seems lost, a friendly spirit comes to Aang's aid...
Book 3 Finale: Worlds Collide, Part 3: Aang's Desperate Attack
Ursa led the group of survivors away from the Royal Palace while Iroh covered them from the rear. He rubbed his bruised, scraped face with anguish. He had never imagined that the situation could become this dire. He glanced over at Ursa, who was breathing fresh air for the first time in seven years, and felt only grief at the sight of her cuts and bruises that mirrored his own.
Escaping from those tunnels had nearly cost them their lives. Iroh had roughly grabbed Ursa as the tunnels caved in and together they raced back to the entrance, but they had found it blocked by the falling debris. When Iroh had used Firebending to burn the rocks as they crashed down on top of them, he had put Ursa's life in great danger. That much fire could easily have destroyed them both...
He sighed again and felt his shoulders slouch in shame and sheer exhaustion. He, too, felt somewhat responsible for this entire affair. He should have intervened more in his niece's life. Perhaps if he had spent more time around Azula, he could have exerted a good influence on her and she wouldn't have turned out as wretched as her father had. He sighed a third time as he thought of his brother, rotting in prison for the rest of his days. What had happened to his family...?
He was shaken from his thoughts when his attention was drawn to a single flower sprouting from a crack a couple feet away. He motioned to the group to stop and then knelt down beside it, gazing at its beauty.
It was a single white lotus bud that had sprouted out of the dry, cracked earth, far from any pond or body of water where it normally would have grown.
Iroh smiled at the flower and then got to his feet, signaling to the group that it was okay to continue. It was a sign. They could win after all...
Katara reached Zuko's motionless body a moment too late to catch him from his fall. By the time her feet touched the ground she was already mending his wounds with her Waterbending. Aang caught up a moment later and looked down grimly. He turned to the sky and glared at Azula, whom he, even from this distance, could tell was wearing her usual crazed grin.
Aang felt rage boil up inside of him. She couldn't win. It couldn't end like this. He once again felt the power of the Avatar State surge within him and he harnessed its energy, channeling it throughout his body. His eyes glowed bright white as light shot down his arrow tattoos.
"This ends NOW!" He screamed in an inhuman voice. He blasted up into the air after Azula, pain and anger burning in his eyes.
"What are you going to do?" Azula taunted. "You can't touch me."
"I don't need to touch you to defeat you," Aang responded in the demonic voice of the Avatar State. He reached upwards and water droplets materialized out of this air all around him. He punched his fists together, then raised them sharply, and a chunk of the ground unearthed itself and floated upward as he molded it into several smaller rocks. He bellowed an unearthly, shrill yell and flung both fists forward.
The pebbles were sent careening through the air as the droplets of water solidified into sharp icicles and organized into formation behind them. Azula cried in surprise and dove to the left. The attack missed her entirely, but then with a nod of his head Aang sent it careening back in her direction. She let out a shriek and forced fire from both her palms, forming a circle of fire around herself that disintegrated Aang's attack.
She lowered her hands and the fire was extinguished. Giggling madly, she charged through the air at him. He dove downward, but she was quickly right behind him again.
He sped off toward mountains in the distance as the princess steadily gained on him. He swooped low underneath overpasses and zigzagged through the treetops, but Azula was always right on his tail. With a cry of shock, Aang felt Azula's cold fingers grasp his ankle. In an instant his bending left him, and he felt himself begin to lose altitude. Azula let go of him and watched with delight as he crashed to the forest floor.
He wretched around on the ground, trying to fight Azula's power, which was slowly creeping across his muscles and exerting their own control over his body. He shut his eyes and screamed in pain as he lost control of his own limbs...his will to fight...his ability to breathe.
Aang gasped for breath but no air entered his lungs. Overhead, Azula sneered as she pressed her hands together. She was suffocating him...
Just as Aang felt consciousness begin to slip away, the monstrous form of Hei Bai burst through the trees with a vicious sonic assault. Azula was struck head-on by an uprooted tree and yelled as she, too, crashed to the ground.
The trunk of the uprooted tree came down on her foot and she realized in an instant that she was trapped. She waved her hands madly and the Earth beneath her began to turn to quicksand. She sunk into the ground and reappeared a moment later beside the tree, smiling once again.
Hei Bai emitted a sonic scream that sent the Princess flying backwards. Her back made contact with the ground and she felt one of the bones in her arm snap clear through. She crashed to the ground and howled in pain while Hei Bai approached the dying Aang.
Aang opened one eye and saw through the veil of death that the spirit had come to his aid. The Spirit emitted a thread of blue light from its mouth, which expanded to cover Aang's body like a blanket. He felt its warmth envelop him and he hurriedly gasped for breath when he felt control over his body return to him.
"How did you..?" Aang began to ask, but then he realized. This forest...it was Hei Bai's spirit duty to protect nature, and it had done so by saving his life. And then Aang realized what Hei Bai had truly done.
Aang slammed his fist down on Azula's head and she crumpled to the ground in her weakened state. Aang stared at his unharmed fist with pleasure. "Thank you, Hei Bai," he said.
He looked down at Azula, who was writing in pain on the ground, clutching her broken arm. "Katara said that the water from the Spirit Oasis only works if the Spirits will it to work."
Azula opened her eyes and glowered at him as he continued.
"And the spirits have willed me to win this fight. You destroyed their home..."
"H-how can you t-touch me?" Azula spat.
"Because," Aang answered, "I'm a human."
"Impossible!" Azula cried. "I killed you!"
"Yes," Aang said. "You did. But you destroyed the Spirit World. The spirits not under your control aren't too happy. So they've given me a little advantage."
Azula screamed in grief and punched a plume of fire upwards at them, catching the entire forest ablaze. Hei Bai shrieked and clawed at the trees, trying to put out the fire. Azula rose into the air and in a last ditch effort she clawed a fistful of fire at Aang, who was caught off guard by the brutal assault. He fell to the ground as Azula sped off back to the Palace City, her final plan burning in her mind like the fire that was burning down the forest...
Just one chapter left and then a brief epilogue! Can you believe it? I feel like the first chapter came out only a month ago. Oh wait, it did. ;D Opinions on this chapter? What would you like to see in the final chapter, which will be released most likely on Friday or Saturday?
P.S. Yes, anonymous wiki user who commented around the beginning of book 3, if you're reading this, the little part about the white lotus flower being far from where it should have grown, that was for you. :P
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