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|Return to the Spirit World, Part 1: The Peacemaker's Wisdom|
February 9, 2011
The White Lotus Spirit reveals a way to destroy Azula's power without having to confront her directly, and explains that the Spirit World and the mortal world are more closely connected than they appear to be...
Book 3 Chapter 5: Return to the Spirit World, Part 1: The Peacemaker's Wisdom
"The White Lotus Spirit," Zuko breathed. He quickly bowed as the bird spirit ruffled its feathers and got to its feet. It was the most beautiful bird that any of them had ever seen. In its spirit form it was as tall as a building, and its pure-white feathers accentuated the curvature of its frame and the beauty of its slender beak. The bird gazed down at the group with a glint in its eyes that almost hinted at amusement.
The spirit took a few steps forward and then descended the great marble staircase leading up to its palace. "Hello," it said in a beautiful, flawless voice. Zuko couldn't believe it. The bird's voice was so...right. He felt like he could sit and listen to it all day. Everything about the bird was so perfect, so completely contended and peaceful. There was no doubt in Zuko's mind that this was the spirit of peace, and that it would be able to help them end this chaos.
"Great and noble spirit," Suki said from one knee, "we require your help. Your world and ours are both in great jeopardy."
"Mmm..." the bird mused. "I know the danger of which you speak."
"Can you help us?" Sokka asked, also kneeling.
"I do believe that I can," the bird replied. "This threat is great, albeit not too great to be stopped. There still exists a way to restore peace to your world and this one."
"That's great!" Toph exclaimed. "What do we have to do?"
"Patience, young one," the White Lotus asserted calmly. "This crisis was caused when the one called Azula united the four Elemental Amulets, correct?" They all nodded. "So in order to stop her, those amulets must be destroyed."
"But how?" Zuko asked. "She's too powerful. We can't get close enough to her to steal the amulets back!"
"You are looking at this issue in the wrong way," the bird corrected him. "You present an aggressive form of attack. But you must seek a passive end to this conflict, for violence solves little and only causes more pain."
"But how can we get them back without fighting her?" Sokka asked. "Ask her nicely? She'd rather die than give up those amulets. And even if we did manage to steal them back, her powers wouldn't go away until they were destroyed and there's no way that we could destroy all four before she stopped us."
"Again, young mortals, you are going about this issue in the wrong way" the bird corrected them. "You are right in that she is too powerful to confront directly. You must destroy the amulets from afar, and I know a way that you can do that."
The White Lotus bird extended its wing and received the Lotus necklace from Zuko's outstretched hands. As the spirit twisted the necklace around, it said, "The mortal and Spirit Worlds are simply two halves of the same whole. Neither can exist without the other. They are bound by invisible ties so strong that no force in the known universe can break them apart. And because of this, many similarities exist between the two. Some objects in the Spirit World are duplicates of objects found on Earth, others are inverse copies, while others are distorted combinations of several mortal objects combined together.
"The Elemental Amulets have identical copies in the Spirit World. Were you able to collect these four 'anti-amulets', if you will, then you could destroy those without ever having to confront the mortal villain Azula. If you were to destroy the Spirit World counterparts of the four amulets fueling her power, then her amulets would be destroyed too, because they act as two halves of the same objects and neither can exist unless both halves are intact."
"That's brilliant!" Toph cried. "So all we have to do is find these four anti-amulets and destroy them, and that would destroy the ones that Azula has, too. Then Azula's power would disappear and both worlds would return to normal!"
But I'm afraid that it is not that simple," the Lotus bird said darkly. "The presence of this villain in the world of the Spirits has greatly upset the balance. She has harnessed her powers for the utmost evil, and she has learnt of her ability to impress her will upon the Spirits that she comes into contact with."
"What do you mean?" Suki asked. "Like...mind control?"
"Not exactly," came a voice from behind them. They all turned around to see Aang ambling up toward them. "It's much, much worse."
"Young Avatar," said the White Lotus as it bowed its head so low that its beak scraped the floor. "It is humbling to be in the presence of such a great peacekeeper."
"Thank you," said Aang, bowing back. Facing his friends, he explained, "When Azula touches a Spirit, she takes control of its will and forces it to do whatever she wishes. If it were mind control then we could help the Spirits fight it like I helped Jet fight Long Feng in Ba Sing Se." Katara winced and looked at the ground at the thought of Jet's final moments.
"But it isn't mind control," Aang concluded. "She takes over their every thought and action until they have no choice but hers."
"I don't think they understand," came a cold voice from up in the sky. Everyone simultaneously looked up to see Azula sneering down at them from several stories up in the air. "Perhaps a demonstration would help the message sink in. Destroy them all," she said to the ground. Suddenly, a gigantic crack jutted down the landscape as the land was ripped apart and a spirit emerged from underneath the surface. It was a badgermole, though Aang could tell that it was not in its right mind. Its pupils were dilated and its fur horribly matted and bloodied as if it had recently been part of a great struggle.
"No, no, no," the White Lotus spirit muttered negatively. "This is all wrong! I could not possibly have foreseen..."
"You all have been a constant nuisance and blot in all of my plans for the past two years!" Azula screamed. "It's time for you to finally submit to the inevitable truth that you cannot win this time. I am the most powerful being in the universe and beyond." She had that inhuman glint in her eyes again, and Aang could tell that the amulets were increasing her power by the minute. Did her strength have no limit?
"You should have admitted defeat when I destroyed the Southern Air Temple." She raised her face to the sky and screamed in delight.
"You WHAT!?" Aang cried. "That was my home!" Tears formed in the young Avatar's eyes and he collapsed to the ground in defeat. If Azula had truly destroyed the entire Southern Air Temple as she claimed, then what was the point of trying to fight her? They were all going to die...
Azula's next move happened so fast that nobody except the White Lotus saw it happen. She retracted her hand and with a blood-chilling scream she expelled a conflagration of blue fire that plunged through the sky down toward the defenseless mortals.
With a pained, high-pitched shriek, the White Lotus bird launched itself in front of the group and took the blow head on. It howled in pain as the blue flames overcame its body.
"NOO!!" Zuko cried. "THIS CAN'T HAPPEN!"
In another moment the bird was completely engulfed in the inferno of blue fire. Streams of pure white light burst through the ball of fire and sent pulses of energy fluttering in all directions. Then, in the blink of an eye, the world itself seemed to end...
Lots of very important story in this one. You got all that? There'll be a test? :P Oh, and what's a good chapter without a little cliffhanger to leave you guessing. Haha.
For the collective works of the author, go here.