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|An Unexpected Surprise|
"WHAT, WHAT DO YOU MEAN!?" Said Aang furiously. "How can the Earth King be dead?"
"Sorry Aang, but I can't tell you. It doesn't say what happened. Only, that they need your help," said General Iroh.
"But we can't leave. The invasion is going SO great. We are at the verge of victory. We can't back down now!" Said Aang, disappointed on the revelation of the letter.
"Look Aang. The invasion is going fine. I've checked the numbers. The soldiers that we captured or defeated in this campaign were almost a third of the Red Revolt force. We have everything under control. The Earth Kingdom needs you more than we," said General Iroh, seeing Aang's disappointment at the face of the letter.
"No. We have to stay here. If we leave, the entire campaign could have been for nothing!" Replied Aang, furiously.
"Aang, he's right. The Earth Kingdom needs us more right now. You saw the letter. Ba-Sing-Se fell. If we don't help the entire kingdom can go into Anarchy," said Katara, trying to convince Aang to go. "Please Aang. People need you."
"All right. We'll head out in a hour. Let's pack our bags and supplied. I'll call Appa," said the visibly disappointed Aang. "General. If anything goes wrong, please contact us."
The General agreed and they all said their Goodbyes. Hokai and Sokka went to gather up some food, while Katara filled up the water bottles. They knew, that there was a long way ahead of them. So they prepared. Meanwhile Aang was resting on Appa as General Iroh came bye to talk to Aang.
"What's the matter young Avatar?" Asked General Iroh.
"I just don't understand." Replied Aang. "The war is over. I MEAN the HUNDRED YEAR WAR IS OVER!... Why do they still keep on fighting. At least before it was nation against nation. Now it's brother versus brother. I just don't understand how could this have happened.
"Even if the war is over. There is still evil left on earth. But not in the form you're used to. Now it's in the form of treachery, manipulation and the thrust for money and wealth. You're not to blame for the events happening. There will always be riots in the world. Always conflicts and wars. That, you can not change," said Iroh. "I actually came here to give you this. (gives Aang a bag)
"What's in it?" Asked Aang "Tea leaves. They're for your friend Hokai, seeing how he likes his tea." General Iroh bows down before the Avatar and Aang does the same. Then General Iroh leaves.
"Aang, we've got food. We've just have got to grab some extra bags. Watch the food, so that Appa doesn't eat it," said Sokka "We'll be right back."
As the boys went to grab some more bags Katara comes and packs the water cans on Appa. "Well, I see that you're feeling better than before," said Katara. "What happened?"
"Iroh helped me. He explained everything," said Aang. "Katara, I wanted to ask you something for quite a wh.."
"Hey guys, a little help here" Said Sokka as he and Hokai tried to lift the bags on Appa.
"We're coming, hold on," said Katara as she and Aang helped the two to lift the bags on Appa. " So, what did you want to tell me back then?"
Aang instantly froze. The courage he built up to ask Katara the question before faded and he had no more courage to ask Katara about her felling for him. "Oh, nothing...I forgot."
"Okay then, I'll see you on Appa," said Katara as she started to ascend Appa.
"What's wrong with me?" Said Aang to himself.
With that said, the Gaang went on Appa and Aang gave the command. The giant bison lifted up into the air as he was as light as air and started to fly East, towards the Earth Kingdom city of Omashu, their first stop. ~~Skies over the Earth Kingdom~~ "Why are we going to Omashu? The riots are in Ba-Sing-Se!" Said a visibly worried Aang.
"Look... The letter didn't tell us anything. It just caused confusion. We have to get to a Earth Kingdom stronghold as quickly as possible to ask about the situation in Ba-Sing-Se. And Omashu is the only place that is still safe, you know, with king Bumi in charge nothing can happed to the city. Besides, we don't have enough supplies to last us all the way to Ba-Sing-Se. We definitely need to make a few pit stops," said Sokka.
"But what about th...? Said Aang, before he was interrupted by Katara, putting her finger in front of his mouth.
"Shh. Aang, you're tired. I suggest, that we take shifts on riding Appa. Sokka, you go first, then I'll go then Hokai and then you, Aang," said Katara. "Now go to sleep. It's been a long day for us. We're all just tired, that's it.
The Gaang all went to sleep, besides Sokka, who had the first shift. Minutes turned into hours as the members of the Gaang changed their shifts. When Aang's shift was over, he ordered the Appa to land by a nearby river. As the flying bison landed, the rest of the crew woke up.
"Aang, why have we stopped?" Asked a weary, still sleepy Hokai. "I'm following the advise you gave me. I realised, that I rushed ahead. Everything can't be done in a day. We need some time to relax and rest. We've been awake for the past week, since the siege started. We need some rest," said Aang, not being interrupted or questioned by anyone of the Gaang. Especially Appa agreed, as he flew for twenty four hours straight, with no minute to relax.
For the next couple of days the Gaang relaxed. They swam in the river, played games and talked by the fire. They knew, that they had to savour moments like this, as they were rear and precious.
After a few days of resting they decided to put down the tents and to continue their journey to Ba-Sing-Se. It was very close, only a few days away.
The next days lasted very long. They had nothing to do. They just changed shifts, when riding Appa. There was no excitement. There were no Fire Nation soldiers shooting at them, since the war was over. And they were glad and happy.
As they got ever closer to the great Earth Kingdom city of Omashu, they saw more and more people wearing black clothes. They didn't know what was happening. But they didn't have time to check what was the matter as time was limited. They didn't understand it. As they got to a village, very close to Omashu, they could see that all the people were wearing black. There were numerous black and Earth Kingdom flags in the air, waving proudly in the wind. They wondered. Did the people find out that the Earth King was dead, that Ba-Sing-Se fell to a mysterious power, they didn't know anything. Then they started to get worried. They rushed as fast as Appa could fly, but there were still a few hours until they would reach Omashu. The anxiety on Appa was intense. No one talked, no one did anything except for wait until they would arrive.
Finally, the Gaang reached the bridge that linked Omashu with the world. They got of Appa and walked on foot towards the great gates of Omashu, not knowing what to expect.
~~The Gates of Omashu ~~
As they walked up to the guards they could feel the tension in the air. Finally Aang said: "Excuse me, what's wrong. Why is everybody dressed in black and why is everybody in such a bad mood?"
"Dear Avatar, I regret to be the one to inform you, that your old friend, King Bumi is on his death bed. No one knows how long has he got to live." As Aang heard that he burst into tears. He couldn't believe, that one of his oldest friend is dying. Katara, Sokka and Hokai, barely able to hold back their tears, escorted Aang to the Kings bedroom, to see their old and good friend for a final time.
END OF CHAPTER EIGHT
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