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|The Waterbending Scroll Part 1|
11-The Waterbending Scroll Part 1
Aang is very worried over Avatar Roku's warning. In attempt to calm him, Katara offers her support in teaching him waterbending. She takes a temporary break when he overshadows her in just minutes of practice, ending up washing their supplies away. In town, shopping for new supplies, Katara happens across a waterbending scroll and takes it upon herself to liberate it.
Yeah; this was too huge to fit into one chapter so I had to break it up. It was rather interesting that the half-way point was a very good stopping point as well, so each chapter is evenly sized.
Her eyes slipped open. The moon's beams danced amidst a sea of blue surrounding her pupils. Blinking away the leftover sleep, seeing as she had been sleeping lightly for only a few hours, she slid her palm to the saddle and lifted her upper body. Brushing her hair out of her face, her braid, frayed as it was, swayed in the wind behind her. Great, morning hair.
There was Aang, his back to her as he sat atop Appa's head. He looked so tired, although she couldn't see his face she somehow could tell. He wasn't even going to wake me, was he? "Aang?" She softly questioned, gliding her fingers along the top of the saddle's edge as she scooted closer on her knees.
He didn't even budge. Is he even awake? "Hey, Aang!" She called out a little louder, leaning over the saddle to try and keep from waking her brother.
Aang twitched and swiftly grasped his staff as it slid off his lap. Quickly he twisted his head back to stare wide-eyed to Katara in surprise. "Were you asleep?" She questioned incredulously.
"Uh..." He delayed, nervously scratching at the back of his bald head with his right hand. "Nope, just fine. Go back to sleep."
"Uh-uh, not happening." She crawled over the saddle and slid down Appa's neck, bumping against Aang as she shoved him aside. Reaching for the reins, she jerked them from his hands and fell to sit at Appa's neck beside him.
An awkward moment passed, sitting beside each other. Aang didn't move, he simply continued to stare at her in surprise. Yeah, my hair's a mess. Stop staring... Her gaze quickly sharpened, thinking this was the reason. "You weren't going to wake me at all, were you? You intended on staying up the entire night and just sailing on."
Aang frowned unhappily and turned away from her, gazing over the dark skies before them. "I'll be alright. I just needed some time to think."
"No, you need time to sleep. Now go." She shoved him gently with her left arm, bumping him to his feet. He rose at her shove and sighed, hanging his head.
"Goodnight." Sleepily, Aang scaled Appa's neck before falling into the saddle with a thud.
She shook her head in surprise. Seriously, he's trying to do way too much. Oh, but Appa... She frowned as her eyebrows lifted against her forehead. "Appa..." Leaning over, she ran her fingers through furry head in apology. "I promise as soon as we find land you can have a nice long rest, even if we have to stay another night just for you."
He weakly groaned in response, obviously tired from being up and active for so long. "Hang on for several more hours, and then it's your turn. I'm sorry Appa."
Much later, she had switched with Sokka for his turn at the reins and had fallen back to sleep. Awakening yet again, her eyes squinted against the rays of sunlight that greeted her this time. Just ahead however, her eyes trailed a pair of brown boots that crossed from one side of the saddle to the other. Blinking away this odd occurrence, she propped up on one arm and stared at the airbender in yellow as he paced back and forth in angst.
"Another nightmare?" She weakly questioned, shaking the remnants of sleep from her voice.
"Yes but that's just a dream." He dismissed, continuing his pace. "This is bad, this is very bad."
Her forehead knotted with concern. Drawing her legs up, she sat gently upon them with her feet laid back behind her. "Aang, what is it? What's going on?"
"When the Fire Nation started the war a hundred years ago, they used the power of a comet to kill all my people! The Air Nomads..." He hesitated, stopping his pace for a moment as he bit his lip. With a stern shake of his head he broke free from his restraining thoughts and resumed pacing like a madman. "Gah!"
She blinked in confusion. Uh, most all the world already knew that Aang. "And?"
"It's coming back!" He stopped directly in front of Katara, and turned straight down to her as he nearly whispered from the mixed up worry he was expressing. "Roku warned me it'll be here by summer's end!" Katara's mouth dropped at this. This...this is terrible! Oh no... Then Aang yet again resumed his pacing, panting heavily to himself.
"Would you sit down?!" She heard her brother shout from Appa's head. "If we hit a bump, you'll go flying off." Despite being fear stricken due to the comet's return, Sokka's humor brought her back down a level. A bump in the sky? Really? "What's bugging you anyway?"
Aang pressed up against the front of the saddle, waving his arms out as he began. "It's what Avatar Roku said! I'm supposed to master all four elements before that comet arrives!"
"Well let's see. You pretty much mastered airbending and that only took you a hundred and twelve years...I'm sure you can master three more elements by next summer."
Oh Sokka, why do you always stress him out like this! Aang's following shout took her by surprise as he slammed both his palms against his bald head in worry. "I haven't even started waterbending and we're still weeks away from the North Pole!" He lowered his arms to his side and yet again resumed pacing. "What am I gonna do?!"
Maybe if you start small... Reaching out, she gripped his wrist as he passed by. "Calm down! It's gonna be okay!" She held him firmly as he began to drop to his knees before her. As he did, she grabbed his other wrist and pulled him so that he fell with his knees directly against hers, now gently holding his hands supportively. "If you want, I can try and teach you some of the stuff I know."
Letting go of his hands, she slid hers back upon her lap. "You'd do that?" Aang exclaimed in wonder. The sudden smile that crept over his face pleased her. Good, I know just how to calm you. She gave him an affirming nod.
"We'll need to find a good source of water first." She twisted away from Aang and crawled atop her knees toward the saddle's edge, dropping to her arms as she gazed down with Aang.
"Maybe we can find a puddle for you to splash in." Sokka teased. Katara bonked her forehead against the edge of the saddle in quiet frustration. Does he ever stop?
"Couldn't we just use the ocean?" Aang inquired curiously.
"Yeah...but..." She lifted her head to turn her attention on him. "For now I'd rather stay away from the ocean. You know, in case Zuko comes around so he doesn't spot us so easily."
"Oh, smart thinking, Katara." Aang smiled broadly.
"Katara!" Sokka shouted after a minute. She sat upright on her legs, turning toward the front of the saddle to see her brother's head pop into view. "Those snacks we had on the way yesterday were tasty, but they hardly made up for not eating. I'm starved! Literally! I think my inner me is eating me!"
She lifted an eyebrow and gazed at him stupidly. You're doing what now? "Fine, you find us somewhere to splash around and I'll fix us up some food that we got from Senlin." She promised, emphasizing splashing around to purposefully chide her brother.
After they had eaten, Katara kept herself seated at the front of the saddle swallowing down her last bite of homemade bread. "So, found us anywhere yet Sokka?"
"Mm!" He nodded fiercely as he swallowed his meat, his wolf tail hair style bouncing behind him. "Yeah this river here." He pointed at the river he was flying over. "Just give me a moment to find somewhere to land."
She raised an eyebrow; there was a large drop-off dead ahead, did he really know what he was doing? When they sailed past it, she heard the roar of water fill the air behind her as Sokka brought Appa down. Aang leapt off, followed quickly by Katara, glad for finally being on un-moving solid ground again.Once Sokka had leapt to the ground as well, the three gathered together as Appa soared to splash into the water. Un...Unbelievable... Her mouth dropped as her eyes filled with sheer excitement. Sokka had found an immense waterfall with a plentiful basin of water at its bottom. "Nice puddle..." Sokka stated idly.
Clearly he just stumbled across this by chance. "Thank you so-so much! Wow..." Her mind began to mull over her waterbending possibilities, what was she going to show Aang first? I can stream the water, lift water bubbles, push and pull is pretty basic, freeze water, I've tried to do a wave a few times but I can't even grasp that so I doubt I can show him how. Oh this is so exciting! I get to teach him! A master, the Avatar... She chuckled at her growing pride.
But then her smile faded and her eyes bugged out. Aang leapt in front of her and jerked his clothes off, down to his brown briefs. Uh, what does he think he's doing... "Yeah! Don't start without me boy!" He shouted to Appa who was already rolling in the water, and off he began to sprint.
No. You aren't going to go back to goofing off again now. Her eyebrow lifted as she stared after Aang dubiously. "Remember the reason we're here..." She stated calmly, chiding this thought back into him.
He froze and turned his head back. "Oh right; time to practice waterbending." He returned with a smile before bending over and beginning to pull up the clothes he had just removed. She smiled confidently. Good.
"Great. So, what am I supposed to do?" Sokka shrugged in boredom. You could just watch me at work if you like. She held her smile, beaming as this was her opportunity to play, her way.
"You could..." Aang leaned over and picked up a branch, extending it for Sokka. "Clean the gunk out of Appa's toes." Katara widened her eyes as she stared directly at the branch. Or that; I guess.
Sokka scowled and crossed his arms. "So, while you guys are playing in the water, I'm supposed to be hard at work picking mud out of a giant bison's feet?"
"Mud and bugs." Aang stated joyously; obviously incapable of smiling any further than he already was. Oh ew, hah, perfect job for him.
Silence. Sokka's eyes lifted to the sky as he sighed quietly to himself. "Okay!" He nonchalantly replied, snapping the branch acceptingly from Aang's hands as he made his way to Appa.
Appa groaned pleasantly, bobbing his nose beneath the water as he blew bubbles idly. Katara smiled as she turned back to Aang. "Good thinking. Appa needs to be spoiled a little since he worked so hard for us yesterday."
"Exactly!" Aang pulled his shirt over his head, popping his head through the top. "Thanks for thinking of him too; he really worked his arrow off for us. So..." He straightened his vest and then gave her his full attention. "What will you show me first?"
"First, let's find a good place to practice. Somewhere we can both be surrounded with water." She began to patrol the edge of the water, glancing ahead of her and to the other side for a suitable location.
"Well, we could just go in the water; then we really would be surrounded by it!" He stated positively, falling in behind his new teacher.
"Not yet. I don't think that would be a good way to teach you how to properly perform the moves. It would be harder since you would need to perform the moves within the water." She dismissed his ingenious plan with a wave of her hand.
"Whatever works." He replied.
"There!" She pointed across the water to the other side, a small jut of dry land stretched over the water near to the waterfall. It was perfect!
"Hold on!" Huh? He leapt forward and threw his arms around her, kicking into the air with a mighty airbending blast.
"W-wait!" Aah, not again! As the ground receded from her, she fell back into his arms as they crossed the channel of water quickly. Just as fast as they had flown into the sky, they began to fall, whipping her hair braid up in front of her face.
A moment later, she found herself slipping to the ground on her feet, panting from the sudden surprise. Standing up, she smoothed out her clothes and stared cruelly down to him yet spoke calmly. "I thought I told you to warn me next time you would do that."
"Well, I kind of did." He rubbed the back of his head sheepishly.
She squinted one eye; settling the other on him firmly. "Well, we're here now. So let's begin your training." She smoothed back her hair, tossing her braid behind her.
Aang plastered a smile on his face expectantly, dropping to a seated position before her. "Ready!"
She smiled whole-heartedly. Time to play! She shifted her legs apart, bending one knee toward the water as she prepared a waterbending form. "This is a pretty basic move, but it still took me months to perfect." She began to demonstrate, rocking her body toward her bent knee as she gently guided her hands back and forward with her lean. "So don't be frustrated if you don't get it right away."
Her eager student stared at her with wide eyes. Aang appeared to be soaking up her every word, smiling excitedly at her instruction. Oh this is going to be fun! She turned her attention for the water to perform a live demonstration. "Just push, and pull the water like this!" As she bent forward and back, a small tide of water flowed along with her body up onto the shore and back again. "The key is getting the wrist movement right."
Aang leapt up, turning to the water a step away from her. "Like this?" He attempted the same form, rocking back and forth but with no effect.
She remained engrossed in her own bending; feeling the tension of her chi pulling at the muscles within her arm. Each push was a rush; each pull tingled against her senses down to her fingertips. She loved this, this was what defined her. Finally, she turned to see how her pupil was doing. He was performing the form nearly correct, just a little more and... "That's almost right. If you keep practicing, I'm sure eventually..."
Water willingly glided back against his push, then forward as he pulled back. "Hey I'm bending it already!"
She stopped her bending, standing upright as she eyed him in disbelief. "Wow, I can't believe you got that so quickly." She turned away, narrowing her eyes as her heart fell. "It took me two months to learn that move..." As she said this she turned a flabbergasted gaze back to Aang.
Aang shrugged it off, apologetically holding his hands out to her. "Well, you had to figure it out all on your own." He shyly tossed his eyes about before settling back on her with an awkward smile, pressing his arms back to his side. "I'm lucky enough to have a great teacher."
Her twisted sorrow faded instantly. Aw... A smile overcame her at Aang's compliment, joyously responding. "Thanks."
"So what's next?" Aang didn't skip a beat, enthusiastic with draining all the knowledge he could from his waterbending teacher.
Okay. Let's step you up, since you learn pretty quickly. "This is a more difficult move. I call it, streaming the water." Here goes. She turned to the water, bending her back leg as she glided her arms upward, bringing a dripping ball of water steadily into the air.
Straightening her posture, she waved her arms back, pulling the water in a small stream just in front of her. She kept her eyes focused on the water, swinging her arms forward to cause the stream to wrap lazily around the front of her body. "It's harder than it looks, so don't be disappointed if–"
She froze, her arms remaining utterly still. She had turned back just in time to see a perfectly smooth stream of water flit effortlessly into Aang's control. No way. Aang was engrossed in his art, a smile plastered across his face.
Next thing she knew, he was twirling the water around him like a madman, wrapping it over his head and nearly behind his back he was having so much fun. ...you're killing me. She scowled, letting her poised fingers fall limp, releasing her chi so her water stream simply plopped into the water lifelessly.
After she did this, Aang spun a circle, swinging his arms down so that his stream of water zipped into the water below like a fleeing snake. Okay, stay positive, Katara... "Nice work." She stated thoughtfully, before staring dubiously to her pupil and tainting her voice with discontent. "Though the over-the-head flare was unnecessary."
He ducked his head for his yellow collar, keeping only his eyes turned toward her in mild surprise. "Sorry." But instantly he pulled out of this, tossing a single arm up and thrusting it back passionately. "Well don't stop now, keep 'em comin'!"
Okay you think you're ready for this? Fine, I'll pull a tough one for you. She turned away from him, keeping her back toward him. "I kind of know this one other move." No way you're going to get this. She turned her eyes skyward in doubt; even she didn't have this yet. "But it's pretty hard. I haven't even totally figured it out yet."
She turned back for the water, grinning confidently. You can do this. Just keep your stance and posture... "The idea is to create a big, powerful wave." She kept her legs steady, separated apart from one another. Sweeping her arms low from behind, she lifted her arms above her head, sternly staring down the water as she poised her fingers outright.
Come on, come on! She watched the water bubble rise, but she didn't want a bubble. She flexed her fingers gently, attempting to pull the rest of the water up with it. After a moment of straining her chi on this she felt her fingers grow very warm, the feel of the water slipped slowly away from her. Oh shoot, not in front of Aang! Pop. "Ergh!" She dropped her arms in frustration and buckled over as the rising bubble burst back into the water.
"So, like this?" She heard Aang question. You're kidding me. Don't tell me he... Sure enough, up swooped his arms with next to no effort, and a wall of water simply leapt upright before him as if alive. Why... Her eyes drifted from him to the immense water, ignoring her brother as he desperately cried out Aang's name. Her eyes danced with sorrow for a moment; crushed to have been one-upped by Aang in just three minutes of training.
As the water wave crashed down forcefully upon her brother he was thrust off of Appa and beneath the river's surface below. And such power... Her sorrow faded to scorn, leading to a sharp scowl as she felt rather cross toward her pupil.
"Looks like I got the hang of that move!" She didn't turn to see his cheerful expression. "What else ya got?"
Pfft. She turned her head away, coarsely snapping back at him. "That's enough practicing for today."
"Yeah I'll say!" Her brother shouted from the water. "You just practiced our supplies down the river!" Oh shoot!
"Uuhh... sorry. I'm sure we can find somewhere to replace all this stuff."
She didn't turn to Aang, still irked that his few minutes of practice topped her years of discipline. "Let's see what we can find." I hope I didn't lose too much...I can't exactly get more Water Tribe stuff around here. She leapt into the water and waded down for Appa, not even chancing Aang leaping her into the air again.
After sifting about various items, they were able to recover a few changes of clothing and cleaning supplies, but they were fresh out of food. Why do we keep running out of food? She sighed spitefully, before spotting something washed up among a pile of rocks. She gasped and grinned, it hadn't been lost!
She waded forward; splashing as she quickly reached out and lifted the petite bottle. Popping off its lid, the wondrous fragrance wafted out. "It's here! I thought it was lost for sure." She exclaimed to herself, joyously replacing the lid.
"What's that?" Aang asked, leaping into the water.
"My seaweed lotion from home, I was afraid I'd lost it." She slipped it back into her clothing, tucking it safely away.
"Oh." Aang smiled sheepishly as she turned to him. "So that's why you smell so good."
"Ugh!" Sokka plopped beneath the water's surface again. Katara's smile faded as she rolled her eyes, turning away from him. No, I see what you're doing. You aren't getting off that easy.
"I found something better than some stupid hand lotion." Sokka blurted out, having come back above the water. He lifted up a small bag, withdrawing a small handful of copper pieces. "Earth Kingdom money!"
"Oh hey, nice. Yeah King Bumi gave me that after riding the mail carts." Aang added.
Wait, what? "Excuse me?" Katara turned to Aang and crossed her arms. "And just when were you going to tell us you had that?"
Aang rubbed the back of his head, grinning feverishly at her. "Uuh, now? We can go shopping at least!"
He drives me crazy sometimes. She rolled her eyes yet again as she shook her head. Sokka climbed out of the water onto the shore, acting on Aang's advice. "I think I saw a village this way; not too far off. We can probably walk there and back before nightfall."
After hours of walking, they came across a small port filled with traffic of day to day trading. Thankfully they were completely dry, as Katara had practiced pulling water from all of their clothing. Despite her previous aggravation at Aang's Waterbending prowess, she had found some pleasure in successfully removing all the water from their outfits.
Uhh... Striding a close step beside her brother, she stared worriedly at a crowd of what looked like thugs. Some had scars, some had sword hilts or other weapons clearly visible, but worst of all many were turning and eyeing her and her brother, some even grunting or groaning in acknowledgement of their presence. I don't think I like this place...
"Who's brave enough to take a look in this bag?!" A merchant held a brown bag upright, bellowing above a crowd. You're kidding me... She stared perplexedly at it. It can't be that bad, can it? She heard Aang draw a breath in utter excitement at the hustle and bustle around him, and stared back in surprise. You actually like this place? How?
"Aaaaaaaah!" A man had looked into the bag, and fell backwards into the crowd with a loud thud. Several gasps of fright filled the air, though so did several sharp jeers and coarse laughter. Katara simply stared in wide-eyed wonder as the trio passed by, pretending to be ignorantly oblivious to the crowd they had just saw.
A half hour later, she had grown bored and restless. "I don't like this town. The people here are awful...and kind of scary."
"Give it a chance." Aang smiled to her as he turned away from a counter with various odds and ends on it such as whistles, knives, and bits of cloth and leather. "There's a lot of neat stuff going on here."
"Yeah well; I'm with Katara." Sokka shrugged thoughtlessly as the trio stopped. "Let's just finish buying food here then we can head out."
"I don't know..." Katara glanced to the shopkeeper; his back was pressed to the wall as he tugged repetitively at his pointed mustache. Her forehead knotted at his sight; his eyes were right on her. "I'm gonna step outside...you just finish shopping for us Sokka."
"What? Fine, fine." Sokka whimsically waved his hand at her, dismissing her as she hurried out the entrance of the small shop.
A minute later, Aang emerged with the usual smile plastered across his face. "Hey Katara."
She was leaning back into an open window with green curtains, one leg propped up against the wall beneath her as her palms rest gently on the windowsill. "Hey."
She had hesitated, leading Aang to tilt his head curiously. "What's up?" Quickly he traced around her side, leaping up to rest squarely on the windowsill beside her. He balanced his staff, pressing it against the ground below as Momo spiraled up it and perched on his shoulder.
"That guy in there." Her eyes broke from Aang, momentarily pulling up to grab at her arms nervously. "He just gave me the creeps that's all."
"Oh." Aang bobbed his head forward, turning for the street. "He did look kinda funny. Never saw a mustache like that before, either. I wonder why he braided it..."
Katara grinned slightly, stifling a chuckle. "Yeah. That was creepy." She sighed, her smile fading as she solemnly stared down to the stone street below. A small stream of water ran right down the middle of it, this is where her eyes drifted to. Water. "I didn't like how he was looking at me. That's why I left."
"He's probably just not seen anyone from the Water Tribe for a long time. He looked at me strangely too!" Aang exclaimed without a care in the world. "He'd probably double-take if he knew you and I were waterbenders." At this, he paused. A large smile crept up his cheeks as her attention turned to him. "So are we going to continue training tonight?"
Yeah, waterbending. She stared solemnly at him in reply, before turning away to stare back at the water in the street. Water always brought her comfort; its calm, gentle flow. But now water was breaking her heart. Why does he have to be so...born with talent...and I struggle just to do the basics. Her forehead creased in deep thought, not replying.
"Okay..." Aang swiveled his head to stare at the ground, falling still.
"Yeah, sure." She idly stated. "We can continue tonight." And one-up me again... She frowned slightly at the thought.
They sat in silence for just another minute, before her brother traipsed calmly out the door holding a small bag slung over his shoulder. "We've got exactly three copper pieces left from the money King Bumi gave us, let's spend it wisely."
Three...where are we going to get money for more food... Aang leapt to the street, sheepishly eyeing her brother as he slid his hands behind his back. "Uuh, make that two copper pieces Sokka." Pulling his hands out, he revealed a small white whistle in the shape of a bison with horns at the front. "I couldn't say no to this whistle."
Katara cracked her mouth open, holding her teeth together in shock. A whistle? We had three copper pieces and you spent one on a whistle? Pushing off from the counter, she stepped just away from it, but froze and dropped her head back. She covered her ears as he drew in a heavy airbending breath and blew firmly into the whistle. Is he trying to deafen us?! Wait...nothing? There was no sound.
She noticed her brother having the same reaction, standing up and eyeing Aang stupefied. "It doesn't even work!" He exclaimed, propping the back of his hands against his elbows. Momo squawked disapprovingly at Aang from his shoulder. "See, even Momo thinks it's a piece of junk."
Katara frowned dishearteningly. He's obviously impulsive. Stepping beside him, she reached her hand out. "No offense Aang, but I'll hold the money from now on." Aang submissively bent his head downward, reaching into his pants to pull out two copper pieces. Good. She smiled pleasantly as he turned the coins over to her.
"Well, two copper pieces." Sokka hummed. "May as well save onto them until our next stop, maybe we could buy a few slices of bread."
Katara tucked the copper pieces into her clothing, shaking her head unhappily at Sokka's suggestion. "Let's just hope we find some more before then."
"Yeah, I forgot money just lies in the streets for anyone to pickup." Sokka jeered, walking past the two as he headed for the piers.
"You never know, we could always look." Aang chimed in, falling in behind Sokka. Katara sighed, staring at the ground in wonder as she trailed aimlessly behind Sokka, a step ahead of Aang. Where are you out here dad? We could really use some help.
Having reached the end of the alleyway, Sokka turned left and began following the edge of the dock. Guess we're heading back to Appa. She kept her mind distracted on her father, however. He was somewhere out here, she knew that much, defending the Earth Kingdom. He didn't have a clue that she was traveling, or had met the Avatar. Does he even care? She shook her head in refusal at her thoughts. Of course he does, stop this Katara...
"Oh, you there!" Some strange high-pitched man shouted from a nearby ship. Oh great another loony. She turned her head and watched him as he full-on charged the three. Uh... he stopped just in front of them, leaving her heart pounding at his awkward behavior. She turned her head forward to Sokka, ignoring the man. Maybe he'll just go away. Gosh I don't like this place.
With exaggerated hand motions, he addressed them as if they had stopped walking. "I can see from your clothing that you're world-traveling types. Perhaps I can interest you in some exotic curious?"
Uh, no. "Sure!" What... She stopped firmly, turning to see Aang walking back to the creepy salesman. "What are curios?" Aang continued, leaving her to stare curiously at the back of his head's arrow stripe. I'm not giving him these two copper pieces.
The man seemed dumbfounded by Aang's question, staring at the young boy perplexedly. Not very good at what he does either. "I'm not entirely sure...but we got 'em!" At this he lurched forward with an immense, toothy grin and grasped Aang by his shoulders. Pulling him back, the man turned away from the two siblings and toted Aang toward his large wooden ship.
She raised her eyebrows, standing with her brother in dumbfounded silence. Gotta admit he's good at not missing a beat. "That guy is good..." Sokka mused aloud. So true. At this the two siblings headed for the boat, following the gangplank up to the deck.
Clunk, clunk, clunk, her soft leather shoes sounded on the wooden boards. For only a moment, being aboard a ship reminded her of her father and their Water Tribe vessels, but this one was much bigger and had cabin space.
Her brother stopped to observe a small cache of weapons. These didn't interest her at all; she stepped around her brother and headed for Aang to see if he had found anything interesting. What is all this stuff...
She curiously eyed a golden, human-sized statue that looked like a person could fit inside of it. Ornate candelabras, fine tapestries, hand-crafted ornaments and décor, her head spun at the wondrous items here. Where did this even come from?
Aang leaned toward a wooden rack, observing small bottles of varying shapes. She turned to him to glance at these bottles, but her eyes drifted to a strange artifact just beside them. A small, dark stone statue sat staring at her from its quiet nook in the shelf. It seemed like a monkey, but had the teeth of a gorilla, and was small enough that it could rest atop her hand though it would fill it entirely. Most interesting were all the red rubies and gems adorning it, glistening with vibrant red hues.
She cocked her head to one side, lifting a brow as she widened her deep blue eyes and fell into a trance staring into its eyes of ruby. Never in all my life...what is that and where did it come from? Wow...
She didn't realize Aang had passed down the room, observing the farther end of items as she was so entranced with this odd statue. A deep, menacing voice filled the room, breaking her attention immediately. "I've never seen such a fine specimen of lemur." A tall man stepped out from a shadowed doorway, an immense green bird with amber spikes coming from its head rested on the man's shoulders. Atop his head rested an immense, elongated wide-rimmed maroon hat. "That beast would fetch me a hefty sum if you'd be...interested in bartering."
Beast?! Her eyes widened at how little this man treated Momo as his bird and Momo squalled at one another in disdain. Aang pulled Momo close against his chest, responding defensively. "Momo's not for sale..."
You tell him Aang. She shook her head; no way would this horrible man get his hands on Momo. Satisfied there was no trouble, returning to observing the wares of this ship, she ignored a small discourse between the man and Aang.
Refusing to be entranced with the statue again, she stepped past it willingly. A small wooden scroll rack caught her attention upon a wooden counter. Merely passing over it once with her eyes, something stopped her dead in her tracks. A scroll in the center of this rack had a beautiful light blue Water Tribe insignia implanted on its side, separating itself from all other scrolls in their collection.
She didn't know what to think. Her eyes widened in surprise; her slender fingers unknowingly reaching forward and sliding the parchment out. Unrolling the scroll, rows of intricately designed drawings of stances decorated the page, complete with carefully placed blue water for where the water being manipulated should be during the form.
This...This is...This...! Her eyes alighted with excitement as she gasped in surprise. "Look at this, Aang! It's a waterbending scroll!" She was astonished. Feeling Aang's presence beside her, she pulled her head back and continued. "Check out these crazy moves!"
"Where did you get a waterbending scroll?" Aang questioned the man as he hastily thumped to their sides.
Bam! His hand slammed to the table, pulling the scroll away from Katara. In mild shock she staggered away from him, letting him step between her and Aang. "Let's just say I got it up north..." He mildly began, rolling the scroll shut once again. "At a most reasonable price, free..."Finishing his gloat, he shoved it back into the rack on the counter. You didn't... Katara's eyes followed the scroll as it settled into its hole once again. You took that from a real waterbender... you dirty little... "Waait a minute..." She heard her brother begin. "Sea-loving traders; with suspiciously acquired merchandise, and pet reptile birds?" Sokka leapt straight into the face of the man who had conned them in, shouting in his face. "You guys are pirates!"
The man grinned accordingly, wrapping his arm around Sokka to pull him up close. "We prefer to consider ourselves as...High risk traders."
THIEF! Katara scowled sharply. You can't keep this scroll, that isn't right! She reached into her clothing and withdrew the sole two copper pieces she had, jingling the two against each other doubtfully. "So... how much for the uh..." She paused, emphasizing her next word. "Traded scroll?" She cast a rather venomous gaze upon the man; not even hiding that she was angered they had wronged a waterbender.
"I've already got a buyer, a noble in the Earth Kingdom." He dismissed her, before slumping forward to lower in their faces and challenge her. "Unless of course; you kids have two hundred gold pieces on you right now."
Of course. She attempted to come up with an idea; there was no way she would let them keep a token of her people, especially when she wanted it. Aang obviously knew she wanted that scroll badly, turning to her and whispering softly. "I know how to deal with these guys Katara." Oh no. She stared at him doubtfully. Leaning forward, she awaited some far-fetched idea, but instead he raised his palm out to her and smiled. "Pirates love to haggle."
Sometimes I question your intelligence. She hid her thought, staring past Aang at the scroll that simply beckoned her presence. I have a better idea, because I know he is going to shoot you down. She reached up and dropped the two copper pieces into his hand nonchalantly. "Watch, and learn."
Seriously? He really thinks...oh whatever. As he slyly approached the table with the man behind it, she turned away for the desk with the scroll. Aang threw on a playful pirate accent as he addressed the captain. "What say ye to the price of...one copper piece?!"
Wow. She lifted an eyebrow, her back to Aang. Just wow. He really does think that...wow. Sure enough, one of the loudest laughs she'd heard in awhile erupted and echoed through the room. Now! She snatched the scroll while the man was distracted, and whipped it into her outfit. "The price is two hundred gold pieces. I don't haggle on items this rare."
"Okay..." She quickly headed back to Aang, hoping he wouldn't make any more of a scene. "Two copper pieces!" Okay, okay stop!
"It's not as amusing the second time, boy!" The man hunched forward and spat out at him.
She had to get out of this situation before they found out what she did. Aang knew the last shopkeeper had eyed her and she didn't like it, maybe she could play the same story. Nervously she gripped Aang's shoulder as she set this plan in motion. "Aang, can we get out of here? I feel like we're getting weird looks..."
Aang obviously caved to her wish immediately, turning and snatching his staff back in his hand. "Aye, we be castin' off now!"
The three quickly gathered and headed for the deck. Crossing the gangplank for the dock below, Aang questioned her curiously. "What was that all about Katara?"
"Yeah, I was just starting to browse through their boomerang collection!" Sokka interjected.
Keep going, keep going. She crossed her arms, gripping her upper arms firmly. "I'll just feel a lot better once we get away from here." I can't believe I actually did this. She felt a strong pressure on her arm, and realized it was only due to her squeezing herself even tighter.
"Hey, you! Get back here!" A high pitched shout rose from the deck of the ship. They found out...
"Well well..." Aang began merrily as the three turned back to the approaching pirates. Oh no! Katara's eyes widened in horror, spreading her arms away from her as her heart beat madly. She drew a curious gaze from her brother as she cautiously back stepped behind him, beginning to slightly tremble. What are they going to do to us...
She got her answer. Pirates swung down from ropes, ran down the gangplank, and leapt over the side of the ship to the ground as they brandished spears, daggers, and swords. Oh gosh! What have I done...guys...no... Her thoughts became muddled, gazing in terror at their attackers.
She lost count of the pirates, there had to be at least seven, each with a different type of weapon. I...I...I'll never forgive myself if they get hurt! She knew these men weren't going to be appeased and quickly decided to run. "I...don't think these pirates are here to trade with us!"
That was all it took. The three turned and bolted into the village, Momo leaping for the air as the gang of pirates gave chase. "Get back here!"
Her brother and Aang were faster, running past her as they turned to whip down another alley. I've got to do something! Following after Aang, she spotted a water basin on the counter of a shop. That'll do! She twisted back as she rounded the corner, taking just enough time to swing her arms back to thrust the water into the street.
The pirates didn't slow down. As the water landed she quickly froze the water with a clenched fist, before darting after Aang and Sokka, who had both left her behind. No please, please don't leave me! A pirate succumbed to her little ice trick, creating a loud crash as he slammed through another shop.
Thankfully around the following corner, Aang and Sokka had turned and were heading back to see if she was alright. She smiled broadly at this and fell in behind her brother, making a run down the alley. A cabbage merchant rolled his cart mindlessly into the middle of the street, stopping it square in their way as they charged on.
What's he think he's doing?! She narrowly squeezed by the cart, bumping against it as the continued following Sokka. Crash! Glancing over her shoulder, she saw that Aang and used his airbending to slam the cart back into their chasers. HAH! Rock on Aang! "My cabbages!" The guy began, but she disappeared around the corner before hearing his further complaints.
I think we lost them! But then, a group of three pirates skidded into the path in front of them. Two held a spear, and the one man who they first met was dual wielding two daggers. He laughed in jest, obviously daring them to run. Sokka whined aloud in horror, bolting back past his sister.
I'm so lost! Aang wound down another alley, followed by his sibling friends. "I hope that lemur of yours has nine lives!" A pirate jeered as they ran into the alley behind them.
Oh ... no. No, no no! She stopped with her brother and Aang at a dead end, nowhere to go. Spinning back to face the pirates, the three readied their weapons and approached. "Now, who gets to taste the steel of my blade, first?"
I'm so, so sorry! Her neck strained mightily against the rapid pulses of her heartbeats that actually began to hurt her. "No thanks." Aang coolly quipped, as if he felt no terror at all, despite the horror in Katara's thoughts.
He readied his staff, and full-spun a circle between Katara and her brother. His staff swung just by her head; before he brought it in a low arch with a shout, finishing a solid swing. "Hwah!" A blast of air ripped through the small alley, tearing the stone and dirt straight out of the ground and launching a full cloud of debris toward the pirates.
Wow. She sidestepped as the dust settled, astounded at this blow. Obviously the pirates were shocked at Aang's powerful move as well, shouting in terror as they fell for cover. "Grab on tight!" Aang shouted as he ran for the pirates.
What!? Pairing with her brother, the two bolted after Aang as his staff snapped open to a kite. You can't be serious! "Aang! I thought we were running away from the pirates!" He was heading straight for them!
She leapt into the air with her brother as Aang took flight. Both siblings each grasped one of Aang's legs, holding for dear life as he struggled to get into the air. Not good, NOT GOOD! They weren't gaining height, and the pirates were already on their feet and readying their weapons. Aang's leading us right to them!
Just as they reached them, Katara and her brother swung their legs out and kicked the men square in their faces. During the hasty moment Katara's leg batted off a spear, thankfully just the shaft. Still, this didn't stop a solid cry of panic at the risk as they finally soared into the sky, rising high above the ocean below. Just hold on...don't let go...don't fall...
Props to Ianbernard for helping make this wonderful chapter template with images! (he created the images)
The Boy in the Iceberg
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