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|The Fortuneteller (Part 2)|
19-The Fortuneteller (Part 2)
Having just rented a room for later, Katara becomes obsessed with the expectation of finding her mystery man for her life. After
harassing approaching Aunt Wu for more information, Wu's predictions only serve to fuel her curiosity further. However, this becomes shattered when she becomes caught up trying to open the eyes of Makapu's citizens that their lives are in danger. After Aang successfully defends these citizens' homes; Katara inadvertently discovers an unexpected twist she had never dreamt of.
Room twelve was quite cozy, fancy rosewood cabinets and furniture decorating the room. Katara and her brother each lay on their respective beds while Aang wandered through the room. “Kismet Corner…” Her finger ran across the embossed words on a pamphlet provided by the Inn. “Looks like we found lunch, it’s a food market just around the corner.”
“More fruits. Yay.” Sokka responded bitterly, wriggling his toes to the open air as he dangled his legs over the edge of his bed. Really? That again? “I really don’t like this place.”
“Hey, something’s going on outside guys.” Katara rolled her head back from her pillow. Aang had crossed over to gaze out the window, tapping on the wooden blinds toward whatever he saw.
“What, another fortune shenanigan?” Sokka sat up, kicking his legs off the spiraling poles at the beds corners as he landed on his feet.
“I don’t know. Let’s go check it out!” Katara smiled at Aang’s enthusiasm, sharing in his eagerness to discover what event was taking place. This place is so much fun! If only Sokka would lighten up.
The town square, an open stony street with a single pagoda at its center, stood crowded with the majority of Makapu’s citizens. She kept her pace beside Aang, ascending the steps to join the event, Sokka in tow behind her.
Intermingling with the citizens, Katara found it strange that everyone gazed aimlessly to the clouds. “What’s with the sky?” She questioned Qu as she found him among the curious festivity.
She joined him gazing upwards in attempt to find the answer herself. “We’re waiting for Aunt Wu to come and read the clouds; to predict the fate of the whole village.”
There are hidden meanings in the clouds?! Katara smiled ecstatically, intent on waiting for Aunt Wu’s reading even though this wasn’t her village. “That cloud kinda looks like a fluffy bunny!” She clasped her hands in front of her chest in giddy excitement as Aang jabbed a finger toward the sky.
The prior calm man suddenly changed his tone, twisting his attention directly for Aang. “You better hope that’s not a bunny.” Huh? Why not? She wide-eyed Qu as he waved his finger at the small boy beside her. “The fluffy bunny cloud forecasts doom and destruction.”
“Do you even hear yourself?!” Sokka spat out defiantly, stuffing his face between them.
A woman spun back, her flowing dark brown hair contrasting her light teal dress. “The cloud reading will tell us if Mount Makapu will remain dormant for another year, or if it will erupt!”
Qu returned his attention to Sokka, replying seemingly to him. “We used to have a tradition once a year of going up the mountain to check the volcano ourselves. But! Ever since Aunt Wu moved to the village twenty years ago, we have a tradition – of not doing that.” I can see why. She’s amazing!
“I can’t believe you would trust your lives to that crazy old woman’s superstition!”
Oh please stop argu- She froze, turning as she spotted movement. Aunt Wu in her golden gown and her doorman in full black were approaching the town square. “Ssh!” She gripped her brother’s shoulder and yanked. “She’s coming!”
The crowd split in two, opening a path for Wu to make her way to the pagoda at the center. Just behind her, the dark-robed man’s eyes met Katara’s. Supplying a simple nod, he switched his gaze to lock upon the young Air Nomad beside her as he passed.
The crowd roared and cheered. This is the first time I’m ever going to see a cloud reading! I can’t wait! Reaching the platform, Wu turned as the man beside her passed her a book. “Aah!” Meng’s scream nearly broke the mood. What was that about?
“Hey Katara! Don’t’cha think that cloud looks like a flower?” Oh come on, not now!
“Shh!” She snapped back at him before twisting her attention back to Wu. The older lady stretched her arms high toward the sunny blue skies, exhaling softly before bringing her booklet before her.
“Bending arrow cloud…good crops this year; nice big harvest.” Waiting only long enough for a select few villagers to utter their excitement, she continued. “Wavy moon shape cloud…let’s see. Gonna be a great year for twins…!”
“Yes!” Two young boys shouted in chorus just to her left, slapping each other's hands together gladly. All this from a cloud? Really!? How does she do it?
“And a cumulus cloud with a twisty nub coming off the end of it…” Wu uttered, pausing momentarily as Katara’s suspense only heightened. She then threw her arms triumphantly overhead in sudden proclamation. “The village will not be destroyed by the volcano this year!”
An uproar of shouts, whoops and hollers nearly deafened her, though this only served to invigorate Katara. Everyone here knows she’s the real thing! I hardly had enough time with her! …she’s got to know more about my future husband!
Aunt Wu had taken her leave of the crowd, and as usual fashion the man at her side kept a step behind her. Now’s my chance for a second reading! She bolted, leaving Aang and her brother behind to fend off the ecstatic villagers.
The doorman was not outside Aunt Wu’s abode. Oh I hope she’s here! Katara slid open the double doors to help herself inside of the, lavender scented foyer. Wasting no time she leapt out of her shoes and crossed the wooden floor.
Rap-rap-rap. Katara’s finger slipped away from the thin door, gripping her hands behind her back with rising anxiety. Oh please, oh please! It slid open, revealing Aunt Wu’s warm expression. She pounced on Wu with her words quicker than a snow leopard stalking its prey. “Hi Aunt Wu! Sorry to bother you.”
“Any time.” She graciously replied, slipping her hands into her sleeves.
Katara boasted a giddy smile, unable to contain herself. “About this man I’m supposed to marry; is he gonna be handsome!?” Her words flew out quickly, clasping her hands tightly before her chin pleading for answers. “Oh I hope he’s tall!”
“Aah. You want another reading.” She smiled adoringly to the ecstatic child before her.
“Yes please!!” Aunt Wu stepped aside, sliding the thin wooden shutter back as Katara followed her into the room.
Once in, Katara froze temporarily as she noticed they weren’t alone. The white-haired man stood in the corner with his arms behind his back, stoically watching her. “Please don’t mind my confidant; we were having a discussion before you arrived.”
“Veyu Seithal.” He bowed only his head forward, his loose white hair all she could see for a moment.
“Come, child.” She stretched her hand out for the pillow beside her, imploring Katara to take a seat. Well…it’s kind of awkward for him to be here…
“He has heard many a reading; he can keep a secret.” Wu winked at her in jest, leading Katara to blush slightly as she anticipated the answers to her questions. I guess it doesn’t hurt… “Now, there are other methods available to predict one’s future. I was just reminding Veyu how I had predicted your arrival, twenty years ago.”
“You can really see that far into the future? How did you know we would need that umbrella? When will I meet this man I’m going to marry?!” Her hands fell to her lap, an ever broadening smile overcoming her.
Wu laughed softly, waving her hand in gesture for Katara to slow down. “One question at a time. Reading the future; it is not always clear when, but rather, what. There are several options. I can read your palms, study bone fractures, read hints that exist all around us in nature, use tarot cards, or by focusing my energies with a crystal ball. The crystal had given me the vision of you coming.”
“That’s amazing! Show me what else it can see!”
“Certainly dear.” She pulled out a pink crystal ball, latching it cautiously upon a pedestal before her. “I almost didn’t know whether to believe it, being my first vision. Yet here you are; a Water Tribe girl with an Air Nomad in your group.” See Sokka? She did know! I wish he had heard this himself!
So…do I touch it? Katara stretched her hand for the pink sphere. She gasped in surprise and jerked away as Veyu seized her outstretched arm. Ah! “Please see that you do not touch Wu’s artifacts without permission.”
“You’re quite alright dear.” Aunt Wu addressed before Katara could even apologize. Wu’s hand gently took Veyu’s place, relieving him to cross quietly back to his corner. “Let me see now.” With one hand at the top of the crystal ball, and one on Katara’s arm, she closed her eyes and began to hum softly.
What is she doing? She leaned forward and held still, anxiously awaiting the outcome. “Hmm…” Wu’s eyes slipped open, providing a shake of her head. “No, I’m sorry. It is not responding to you. Perhaps you would like a more in-depth palm reading?”
It hadn’t taken long for Wu to find her romance line and rediscover this powerful bender that she would marry. “Oh my, I must say I should be envious myself. He is quite handsome.”
Come on! Tell me already! “Go on, go on! What does he look like!?”
Wu kept Katara’s hand contained, despite her movements of wild enthusiasm. “He is tall and has dark hair.”
Katara interrupted. “When will I meet him? He’s got to be a waterbender from the North Pole, right? Oh I can’t wait!”
Wu ran her fingertips along Katara’s palm in quiet. Oh faster, faster! “I’m not sure.” Wha? But, oh please! Her eyes begged Wu for continuation. The old woman sighed in exasperation and closed her eyes again to return to seeking the answer. “I’m sorry but I didn’t see anything.” She added after another moment had passed.
“Oh shoot!” She huffed, but she couldn’t stop just because of one failed reading. “Okay forget where I will meet him. Tell me where he is now!”
“You want me to perform a divination to locate someone?” Her voice carried doubt, but Katara held hope. Come on Aunt Wu, there’s nobody like you! If you can’t find the answer nobody can!
Five minutes of silence had passed as Aunt Wu had turned to her powders and incense at her desk. Katara nervously rapped her fingers on her knees, bouncing them incessantly. “I sense…” Katara’s mouth fell open at Wu’s slow words. “I smell the sting of intense heat; I see stone and feel sweat. I am not certain what I hear, it is very loud…rumbling, explosions? It is constant.”
Aunt Wu had paused, falling to silence once again. “So he could be fighting the Fire Nation this very minute!” Katara clasped her hands together in joy. He’s a brave hero!
The old fortuneteller returned to Katara’s side, reclaiming her hand to turn her palm up toward her. “My divination may be now, or may be later. It is difficult to tell destiny to only answer in a certain way. But I am confident what I saw may be at the least this day or the next.”
“Go on, tell me more! What’s my future like with him?”
Aunt Wu frowned. “Isn’t it enough to know you marry this man?”
“Yes, I know, but when? How long do we live? Do we have children? Where do we live?”
Wu sighed heavily, dropping her eyes to Katara’s palm as she slipped her finger across its running lines hastily. “Oh my!” She suddenly exclaimed. Katara’s mouth fell open in shock. What?! “This is awful, just horrible! Oh; dear child! I’m not sure I should tell you this, it’s too much.”
“What? What is it?” Her heart raced, whatever Wu was saying sounded dreadfully important.
“I have found your death; and it a most tragic, horrifying experience!” Katara’s eyes shot wide open, her hand falling limp in Aunt Wu’s grasp. As her mouth dropped, she shot her gaze to Veyu in the corner. Is this a joke? Help…? Veyu caught her gaze, obviously disinterested as he simply gave her a shrug.
“Oh look; I made a mistake.” Wu half-heartedly retorted, slapping her free hand to her cheek. “The path continues right – here.” She slipped her forefinger across Katara’s palm.
“So…” She released a breath, shaking herself free of the sudden anxiety. “That doesn’t happen?”
“No dear. Here’s what does: you marry this man and I see a delightful girl that looks just like her wonderful mother. Beautiful brown hair and blue eyes.” I have a little girl?! Her mouth parted with joy as she nearly questioned for more, but Aunt Wu hadn’t finished speaking, disallowing Katara’s interruption.
“And look, a little boy to look just like his daddy. Both can even bend; and oh my, there’s even more! They have their own children, making you a grandmother.” Katara’s eyes were wide with delight, hardly able to keep up with the many questions floating in her mind as Wu sped through her prediction. “And then you’ll have your third great grand-child before quietly passing away in your sleep.” She finally stopped, withdrawing her hand to lift her gaze to the stunned girl. “Is that enough information for you?”
“Wow.” She grasped her hand, holding it proudly before her as she admired it once again. It really says all that? “Thanks Aunt Wu!”
She rose to her feet and took a brief two steps away. “Oh wait! One more thing.” With a quick turn, she glanced down to the intelligent woman on her pillow. “How warmly should I dress tomorrow?”
Wu tapped her fingers to her forehead. “You want me to do a reading for that?”
Well, yeah. She nodded while providing Wu an enormous grin. Just do what you did again and tell me what you feel! She nearly chuckled to herself. I don’t want to be the one sweating if I meet him tomorrow!
Wu stood with a heavy sigh, walking past Katara into the foyer. What’s she going to do? At the main entrance, she slid open the door and stuck her head out, before turning back to her client. “You will find yourself chilly and should dress appropriately-” She continued, slipping behind Katara as she began to shove her for the open door. Wha-hey!
“And you’ll be fine as long as you’ve got a scarf. Bye-bye now.”
Alright I know you’re busy…but tomorrow’s not complete yet! She spun on her heel to face the doorway, waving her hands emphatically. “Okay-okay but; one more thing!”
As Katara finished by raising her forefinger in gesture, Aunt Wu cringed and pressed her fingers to her forehead. “Alright, what is it…”
“Should I eat a mango…or a papaya for breakfast tomorrow?”
“Papaya!” The door slammed shut instantly. Wow. I guess today’s session is over…
She turned back dejectedly. Shoot. Why’d I have to ask that? “Aww. I hate papaya…” She whined, kicking up dust off the street below.
“Oh. Hey Katara. I didn’t see you there.” Aang whimsically stated as she began to simply walk off.
“That’s okay! I’m busy with my own stuff!” He shouted after her. Um…good for you?
I may as well buy that papaya now…then just go have lunch at the inn. She considered, approaching a produce stand in Kismet Corner. “Ugh…papaya please.” She dryly requested, slipping coins to the shopkeeper’s counter.
Taking hold of the green fruit, she turned to head to Outlook Inn but halted when she noticed Aang beside her. “So…papaya…” He dryly added as he eyed her behind barely open eyelids.
What…is your problem? “Uh huh…would you like some?”“You know me…I don’t really care what I eat.” As he finished, he idly seized a fruit off the counter and braced his back against the corner of the food stand. Uh…what?
She nearly sighed, drooping at his attitude. Okay…fine then, be that way. “Okay then…see ya later.” She turned to head for lunch right away.
Before even reaching three steps away, Aang loudly coughed and spat something to the ground. Glancing halfway behind her she quirked a brow. Jeez what is with you?
This Inn is great… She set the papaya on a nearby desk, greedily helping herself to a basket of fruits the Inn had provided for their lunch. Biting into her lunch, she reminisced her fortunes. Tall, dark hair…
She cringed as her mind recalled standing beside Jet. Gah…thank the spirits he’s not a bender…he may have been handsome but he was a monster. I can’t believe I actually fell for him…
Knock-knock. Katara spun her head back for the door, lifting a brow. They have keys…they’d let themselves in. Curiously, she slid away from the table and approached the door. Pulling back the wooden door; a white-haired man’s soft gray eyes met hers. “Veyu?”
His eyes passed over her to scan the room, before returning to her. “The Avatar is not in your company?”
“Um; I think he’s out shopping still, or lunch. I don’t know where Aang or Sokka are. Is there something you wanted?”
“Yes.” He placed his palms together, bowing only his head momentarily. “I am here to inform you that your stay is being covered. Please, stay the night on us.”
“Oh; thank you!” She added quickly seeing as Veyu wasted no time taking his leave of her.
Having received another fruit basket from Qu; Katara entered the stables to find Appa. “Hey boy! I brought you something.” She turned the basket upside down, spilling its contents to the ground.
She rubbed Appa’s soft fur while he licked up the fruit greedily. I wonder if Aunt Wu can tell me what he’ll be like. Burying her head against Appa’s fur, she sighed softly into the bison’s neck. Will he be romantic? I hope he’s passionate. And brave! She has to know…
Knock-knock. She hadn’t even waited for Appa to finish his food, standing outside of Wu’s doorway once again. When the door slid back, Wu’s assistant lifted her face to Katara’s before frowning dejectedly. “Oh, hello…”
That sounded so sad! What’s wrong… Katara tilted her head slightly to look at the forlorn pink-robed girl. “Is everything alright Meng?”
Meng’s gaze drifted down, dropping her hand from the door to slip both into her sleeves. “Yeah, sure… you’re here to ask about your love life again, aren’t you?”
“Well, yes actually.”
“Hey um, do you know where Aang is?” She idly questioned, glancing back stare at Katara, who lifted her brow in confusion. That was sudden…
“No, I don’t. I’m sorry Meng.”
“He’s looking for flowers at Mount Makapu.” Meng let out a heavy sigh, but kept her gaze mostly toward Katara.
Huh? But, then, why would you ask me? That makes no sense… “I thought you didn’t know?”
“No, I knew where he was…” She added sarcastically as she turned her head away.
Why…oh. Oh no, poor Meng…he must have rejected her. “Did something happen?” She asked as sweetly as she could, trying to support the hurting girl.
“Well, anyway, Aunt Wu said you would come by again.” Her tone shifted to matter-of-fact as she slipped back into the role of Aunt Wu’s assistant. “She told me she was not to be disturbed the rest of the day.”
No way! “What?!” She threw her index finger to the air in gesture. “But I really wanted to ask this one other thing…!”
“Heh.” She shyly met Katara’s eyes and twiddled her fingers together. “Sorry, but she isn’t going to be seeing you.” Quickly her small hands clasped the door and slid it shut, followed by the sound of latching the lock in place.
That didn’t just happen! Katara beat on the door twice, before banging her head into it once in frustration. Shoot!
Standing outside the door, she waited and waited. Just let me in, just a minute, please! But time passed with no luck for entrance.
Aang and her brother nonchalantly approached her side. Aang meekly waved his hand as he greeted her quietly. “Hi Katara…”
“Can you believe she won’t let me in?” She questioned now that she had someone to talk to, finally. She threw her hands out emphatically before propping them off her hips. “And after all the business I’ve given her?!”
Aang interrupted her rant as she scowled at the doorway. “But she doesn’t even charge…”
Well, yeah… “I know…but, still!” Twisting to face him, Sokka distracted the conversation.
“Well- we have other things to worry about!” Oh here we go. “Aunt Wu was wrong about the volcano.” His hand flew up, pointing toward the tall mountain.
Ugh, would you please lay off this? I’ve been very tolerant of you… She stepped toward him, jabbing a finger in his direction. “Sokka, you tried to convince me she was wrong before. It’s gonna take an awful lot to change my mi-” Boom! The ground shook as the volcano’s blast echoed in the distance. “Oh no…” She dropped her argument, as well as her hands, and turned to the billowing smoke rising from the volcano.
“See?! Why do you never listen to me?! It’s going to explode!” Sokka spat out loudly, waving his hand wildly toward the ‘time bomb’.
“Yeah, okay, you were right.” She softly admitted, glancing back to him slowly.
“Thank you! Gah, that feels SO good to finally-”
“We have to warn the villagers!” She stated quickly, interrupting her brother, ignoring him to turn to more necessary topics.
“But that’s what I was-”
“Let’s go, hurry! There’s no time!” Aang shouted as he bolted past Sokka to join Katara in their new mission.
“Hey!” Sokka retorted, charging to catch up with them.
Bolting up the steps and into the large, open space of the town square, Sokka didn’t waste time raising his voice to address the crowd. “Everyone! That volcano is gonna blow any second! Aunt Wu was wrong!” You just love to say that, don’t you…?
“Yeah-yeah we know you don’t believe in Aunt Wu, Mister Science and Reason-Lover.” A woman teased with a broad smile.
Okay; I can see where you’re coming from… Katara calmly walked past her brother to take over the warning, swaying her arms out in explanation as she continued. “If you won’t listen to him maybe you’ll listen to me. I want to believe Aunt Wu and her predictions as much as you do! But my brother and Aang both saw the lava with their own eyes!”
Qu stepped forward from the crowd, quietly responding in turn. “Well, I heard Aunt Wu’s prediction with my own ears.” Katara raised her eyebrows. Are you serious? How can you not see what’s happening?
“Please listen to us!” Aang shouted suddenly from the rooftop by her left. How’d you…oh, right. “You’re all in danger! And we have to get out of here. You can’t rely on Aunt Wu’s prediction; you have to take fate into your own hands!”
BOOM! Katara staggered as a following volcano blast shook the ground. “Look!” Sokka bellowed with a jabbing hand. “Can your fortune telling explain that?!”
“Tch.” A nearby man joshed beside Sokka. “Can your science explain why it rains?”
“YES! Yes it can!” Sokka shouted vehemently, thrusting himself in the man’s face. That apparently ended it. The crowd simply walked away, dismissing the danger.
I can’t believe this…these fortunes…are all a hoax and these villagers are blind to it. They’re going to die… She turned to her brother. “They just won’t listen to reason.”
Aang piped up beside Katara, surprising her since she didn’t know he had landed right by her side. “But they will listen to Aunt Wu!”
“I know, that’s the problem!” Yeah… She turned to her brother, unsure how to handle this matter.
“Well, it’s about to become the solution.” Huh? She twisted back to Aang, gazing at him curiously. “We’re taking fate in our own hands! First, I need to borrow Aunt Wu’s cloud reading book.”
“And do what, pretend you’re Aunt Wu? They won’t buy it.” Sokka retorted with a dismissive wave of his arms.
“Even better, Aunt Wu will tell them the volcano is going to destroy the village.” Aang added with a devilish smirk, quirking one eyebrow up mischievously. Wow. Wow, seriously. What are you scheming… “You two just watch the door to her house or keep her distracted so I can get her book, after that…Sokka, lead her to town square and have her look at the clouds. You’ll see why.”
“I hope you know what you’re doing…we don’t have time for this.” Sokka responded dryly.
Katara rapped on Wu’s front door and waited for a minute, but nobody came. “Guess she’s not in.” Sokka shrugged, turning his back to the door to take some steps away.
“So what now?” She questioned with uncertainty, holding her palms forward. “If she comes back while Aang is inside…”
“She won’t get by us. Just do your normal fortune telling nonsense and keep her out here.”
She actually blushed lightly with Sokka’s back to her. I am not about to ask about my love life in front of you…you’d just make fun of me. “I’ll try…”
Sure enough, after some minutes of patient waiting Aunt Wu’s figure appeared through the distant golden archway that served as the village’s entrance, with Veyu at her side. “Oh shoot, shoot! Sokka!” She whispered in a frantic hush.
“Stay calm! You know what to do!” With his back to her he hastily waved his hand low, issuing her to stop panicking. No I don’t know what to do! Agh! Fortunes…what am I going to ask? No! I will not ask about my future husband, not in front of him! No! …help…
Aunt Wu apparently sighted Katara, stopping dead in her tracks with Veyu freezing at her side. Hm? In a moment, Wu spun to her left and bolted, leaping mid-air out of sight into an alleyway beside her. Veyu quizzically turned in her direction, standing in place. Then, with a simple shrug, he trailed slowly after her.
What was that about… “Wow.” Sokka stated with astonishment, glancing over his shoulder to his sister. “I think she likes you.” He added, contorting his face into a smile.
Her expression dropped to a solid frown, staring blankly in reply. “What’s your problem?”
“Nothing. I had no idea that old lady could move that fast.” He laughed sarcastically, throwing his hands up behind his head as he stared down the path. “Well that sure solved that problem.”
Katara glanced off to the side dejectedly, gazing at a pair of turkey-ducks wandering the street corner. I don’t get it…why would she do that? Her dejection faded to sadness as she guessed she was on Wu’s nerves, lowering her eyes more fully for her feet.
“Got it!” Aang snapped her attention back as he airbent himself safely to the ground. “Sokka, remember, get Aunt Wu to look at the clouds in a few minutes. Come on Katara, let’s go get Appa!” He ran past her as she quickly sped to keep up.
Drawing closer to Appa, she made her way for the bison’s saddle as he bellowed a greeting at his excited master. “Aang? What exactly are you planning?”
“You’ll see. Here, take this and find the symbol that means the village will be destroyed!” He tossed Wu’s cloud book back for her, quickly leaping up to Appa’s head and snatching his reigns. “Yip-yip!”
Soaring through a thick cloud bank, Appa loosed a pleasant bellow in the whipping wind. Feels good to get out, doesn’t it? Her eyes skimmed the pages of the open book she held firmly in her hands, guarding against the wind.
“Clouds are made of water and air, so between the two of us, we ought to be able to bend them into any shape we want!” Clever!
“I found it!” She exclaimed, turning the page and pointing for him to see. “The symbol for volcanic doom.” That sure is scary...it looks like a skull!
“Whoa!” Having turned back to her, Aang’s eyes widened at the book. “That’s…that could never happen!” Aang spun back and airbent himself swiftly over the saddle, landing beside Katara to snatch the book in his hands and look more closely. “Clouds don’t do that! Dark circles for eyes?”
That is kind of strange… “Maybe they can…it’s just so rare it really can mean volcanic doom?” Though she attempted to defend Wu’s practice, her tone carried her doubt.
“I don’t know, but hey…at least we get to practice bending together again!” He snapped the book closed, smiling up to Katara. “Let’s get started!”
Before long, Katara had learned the feeling of bending the moisture in the clouds. Aang’s help beside her made it all the easier to stream the clouds similar to how she streamed the water, leaving cloud trails after Appa as he sailed along the skies.
Having stolen away some of the volcano’s smoke, they trailed it behind Appa and left it sitting amidst the clouds. Perfect for the eyes…and nose.
Appa popped out the top of their handiwork, hovering above the clouds and out of sight. “Okay, we’ve gathered the clouds…now we need to shape it. You ready?” Aang questioned as he stepped for the front of the saddle, turning back to her.You know it! She grinned broadly, letting her bending be his answer. She swung her arms wide, just ahead of his face. Continuing her motion, she spun in a full circle before halting to face Aang with unbendable enthusiasm. Following her circle, molecules within the clouds raced in a quick swirl around Appa.
Aang broadened his grin, only now taking his eyes off her to perform a similar overhead circular motion. The two of them had worked together to peel back the edges of the large cloud, hiding the remainder above.
“Okay; I think that’s good enough. We even made the mouth.” Aang calmly stated, lowering his arms slowly ahead of his stomach.
“That was so much fun!” Throwing her clenched fists ahead of her, she nearly danced a two-step before settling in front of Aang. “I never imagined in all my life I would be bending clouds! Wow!” Aang remained perfectly still, smiling at her unerringly. “What? I enjoyed it…”
“We should probably get back now; I hope Sokka got Wu to see this and warn the villagers…come on, boy.” He called to Appa, turning to leap atop his head and bring him in a long descent away from their cloud in hopes of not being caught.
Leaving Appa in the stables of the Inn, she ran with Aang quickly to join the gathering at town square. Her brother had taken the pagoda for himself, pointing and shouting commandingly toward the villagers. Oh boy, I hope he hasn’t sunk this.
Slipping through the crowd, both her and Aang took position beside her brother at the corners of the pagoda. I don’t know; they seem to be listening. She grabbed her arms, standing back to let him continue. “Yes, Aunt Wu just predicted the village is going to be destroyed by the volcano, so of course I agree with you that you need to evacuate. But that doesn’t mean you should just give up without a fight!”
Aang piped in quickly in return to this, however. “We can still save the village if we act fast! Sokka has a plan.”
He does? That’s awful bold…we just got here. She dropped one arm to her side, continuing to cling it idly as she turned to her brother who apparently did have a plan. “Lava is gonna flow downhill to this spot. If we can dig a deep enough trench we can channel all the lava away from the village to the river!”
“If any of you are earthbenders, come with me!” Aang exclaimed. This might work…
“I’m an earthbender!” A boy piped up, before his twin brother chimed in that he wasn’t. Yeah this just might work! There are benders here…
“Everybody else, grab a shovel!” Sokka shouted, hefting one above his head. A sudden volcano blast shook the earth softly, teetering Katara forward to maintain her balance. Whoa! Do we really have time for this? “Come on, we’ve gotta hurry!”
Okay, okay. Let’s do this! She descended the few steps to the plaza, before chasing after her brother who had ran past her. Aang led earthbenders away to her left, it was now or never.
Having been shoveling the dirt behind Sokka for what felt like an hour, her arms ached and she had broken into a heavy sweat. The earth had shaken to several rumbles from the volcano, but nothing major yet.
Good job, Sokka… She thought to herself, panting lightly from the heat. I think this may just work. Letting out a huff she stopped, leaning on her shovel to regain composure. She had only long enough to wipe the sweat off her forehead when the volcano let loose a mighty explosion. Oh no. Jerking back from her shovel, she caught sight of lava oozing down the volcano’s side.
“Dig faster, dig faster!” Sokka shouted, before she found herself caught beneath a torrent of dirt and rocks.
“Ow; hey!” Her hand didn’t help stop the rain Sokka sent at her, but it at least kept her face protected. “Watch it would you?!”
“Get out of the way and keep shoveling!” Ugh! She contemplated tossing dirt back at him but decided against it. Now wasn’t the time to bicker so instead she did as he asked and stepped aside.
Minutes later, she heard numerous gasps as citizens ran past her and scrambled up the edges of the trench. Uh oh… She spun around, expecting to see lava crawling toward her. Phew. Just rocks and dirt. But lava was reaching the base of the mountain now, so it was time to pull out.
The streets were empty. “Aang?” Sokka called out in question. Katara followed behind him as they searched for where the young Avatar had gotten off to. There! She spotted Aang standing by his lonesome at the front of the village, facing the distant lava seeping from the volcano. She tugged on Sokka’s sleeve to get his attention, before heading after Aang.
“We’re ready.” Aang said as Katara approached; Sokka at his other side.
“All the villagers are safe; they’ve left Makapu for now. We should leave too; we’ve done all we can…”
“No.” Aang’s word rang of finality and confidence in reply to Sokka, straightening himself as he drew a deep breath. “I’m going to stay to see if this helps save their home.”
“Aang, maybe we should leave…” Katara begged. “I don’t want to be here if this doesn’t work…”
“This will work. It has to.” He added firmly as the three simply stood in silence, gazing at the lava slide engulfing the woodlands in a fiery inferno. Oh no, I don’t like this! Her heart raced as it seeped through the village’s graveyard, melting headstones as well as a main archway in a sudden blaze of heat.
Ashes pelted her eyes and stuck to her hair. …here we go! The lake of flowing lava poured into their hastily fashioned trench. Her nostrils burned with each breath as her eyes dried out from the intense heat. She nearly panicked when the trench began filling up with the ceaseless waterfall of molten lava. “It’s too much! It’s gonna overflow!”
That wasn’t the worst of it. A tremor struck, knocking a shout out of her as she nearly fell into the trench. Rebalancing herself she looked to the source of this violence. The volcano had begun a series of fierce eruptions, sending lava and debris high into the sky. That’s it, I’m out of here! At least we tried!
She wasn’t alone. Her brother took off in a sprint for the village as boulders crashed into the lake of lava behind them. Mount Makapu had begun revealing its true fury. Reaching the village’s streets, she spun back just in time to watch an immense boulder sail into the lava-filled trench.
Aang! What are you doing?! She stared in horror as the impact sent a wave of lava tens of feet into the air, preparing to crash down and make short work of her friend. Then the unthinkable happened.
With a building cry of determination, Aang raced the rising lava, kicking into the sky with a fierce airbent blast. Her jaw dropped, watching Aang go toe-to-toe, so to say, with the wave of lava. Unable to even think, a shiver raced through her for if the lava would take him away forever.
A mighty gale raced around the young Airbender, swirling his arms around his body to force the wind under his control. Her hair flew back, throwing her hands up to guard against a flurry of ashes from the rising wind.
Aang plummeted, landing at the base of the looming wave of death to instantly slam his gathered attack into his superheated adversary. Lava spattered the landscape for feet around him, leaving Katara to jerk a step away as the red globules struck the streets, though none landed by her. Aang! Be careful, just come with us!
Returning her gaze to him, he had bent back with his arms above his head. Dust and ash spiraled around him as he charged a mighty windstorm empowered only by his breath. Just as she spotted this, he thrust his body forward and exhaled so loudly it overpowered the crackling menace the lava had provided.
The blast of wind struck the standing wave, racing along its deathly reach and countering its intense heat, rapidly cooling it to solidify the lava into obsidian. He…He just… Her pulse slowed, calming as she stood beside her brother to stare at the spiked, black wall Aang had created shrouded with mist. That was amazing. Her mouth hung open at the extent of power he had displayed.
“Man, sometimes I forget what a powerful bender that kid is.” Sokka whimsically added.Powerful bender… Her eyebrows fell as her heart once again sped. Aunt Wu said…no way. “Wait, what did you just say?” She hastily questioned, jerking an astonished gaze to her brother.
“Nothing.” He quickly returned, straightening to gaze at the young boy who stood quietly by the effects of his bending. “Just that Aang is one powerful bender.”
Aang… Returning her attention to Aang, she gazed in deep thought toward his back. “I suppose he is…”
The glow of lava loomed beyond this new wall, effectively enabling the trench to perform as intended. Aang slowly turned back as Katara dodged his eyes when he cast his gaze upon her. Me, with him? I–I don’t know…
“I think that handled it.” Aang suddenly broke in as he approached. “We should go check on the villagers and make sure everything’s alright.”
“Right. We should... check on the villagers.” She found herself dumbly repeating before squinting at the humility from how silly that sounded. To avoid this; she quickly turned away and headed out of town, trailed by a quiet Aang and Sokka.
Having reunited with Makapu’s citizens a safe distance away in the nearby forest, Aang and Sokka began addressing them of the success of their defense. Katara however sat this one out.
He’s just a kid… She mulled in her head, crossing her eyebrows in tight thought. Seating herself upon a nearby boulder; she reactively clutched her elbows and fixated her eyes upon the dirt trail. A memory flashed in her mind of her words to Aang. ‘I haven’t done this since I was a kid!’ She sighed, shutting her eyes as she remembered him reminding her ‘You still are a kid!’
“But not like that…” She uttered aloud by mistake before stopping herself. I was responsible, I had duties and I seen to them. I didn’t have time to goof around anymore…
The crowd in the distance all began to roar and cheer wildly, throwing their hands in the air. A few shouted their pleasure for their homes being safe, while Wu stood with an air of pride beside Aang with her hand on his shoulder. Even Sokka stood a step off with his arms crossed and a smirk on his face. Katara’s blue eyes settled on Aang, softening as she stared at the hero of Makapu in quiet wonder.
Returning with the crowd nearly an hour later, the sun was drifting away slowly as evening pressed on. Sokka stepped beside Katara, leaving Aang to travel with Aunt Wu to carry on whatever discussion he was having. “I spoke with Qu; he offered to let us stay the night for free but eh, I turned him down. We still have to pack up our things we left at camp earlier, in case you forgot.” He teased with a hint of sarcasm.
“Oh, okay.” Katara idly responded, barely giving him attention as she ascended the steps to join Aang and the crowd at the center of the plaza, just in front of the pagoda.
Sokka raised a brow as he thrust his arms ahead of him. “That’s it? That’s all? No ‘I’d rather sleep on a bed and smell pretty flowers’?”
She hardly was fazed by this, simply turning to smile at him as she shook her head once. “Nope, sounds good. Let’s just get away from here and move on.”
“Wow.” He cockily replied, rubbing at his chin. “That was unusually easy. Did Wu predict we had to be somewhere…?”
“Stop teasing me.” She added, turning away as she gave him a soft shove. “I’m just tired and after all this excitement…well, we really need to keep moving.”
“By the way…” Noticing the crowd had fallen silent; Katara turned her attention to Aang as he began speaking to Wu. “We kind of borrowed your book.” Oh gosh. Yeah…yeah…um, that. She was just as guilty, suddenly feeling very small.
“So you messed with the clouds, did you?!” Wu snapped, snatching her book out of Aang’s hands. I’m sorry! She folded her hands ahead of her, tipping her guilty gaze to her feet as her brother pointed to her. Rather than continue railing, however, Wu loosed a series of hearty laughs. “Very clevah!”
Hm… She lifted her eyes sheepishly, allowing a soft smile to feel relief. Her brother leapt the three nearby steps to the pagoda, spinning back to the crowd. “No offense but I hope this has taught everyone a lesson about not relying too much on fortune telling!”
Qu wasted no time replying to Sokka’s rant. “But Aunt Wu predicted the village wouldn’t be destroyed…and it wasn’t!” He stated cheerfully, lifting his finger in the air. “She was right, after all.” He finished, closing his eyes with a triumphant smile to return his hand into his sleeves.
Sokka sprinted from the pagoda, shoving his face in front of the man with a horrific scowl. No Sokka! Calm down! She bolted after him, closing in before he could do anything drastic. “I hate you…” He murmured between clenched teeth.
Laying her hands upon his shoulders she slipped her head beside his, gently addressing him with a playful smile. “It’s okay, Sokka. Everything’s gonna be alright.” Giving him a soft push, she led him away from the crowd toward Appa at the front of the plaza. Oh what would I do without you? She withheld a chuckle, eyeing her brother with a sudden humor for his antics.
“I am so glad you agreed to leave…” Sokka groaned quietly back to her.
“I know.” She squeezed his shoulders and released as they began to ascend Appa’s tail. Making her way to Appa’s head, she dropped to take a seat, stretching her legs out to take the reins in her hand. Aang stood beside Aunt Wu, smiling toward Katara. “Goodbye everyone! It was so nice to meet you!”
Aang leapt at full-speed into the air, floating down into Appa’s saddle behind her. She noticed Meng, ahead of the crowd, following Aang with her eyes. Poor girl. She lifted the reins, addressing the little girl kindly. “Take care Meng.”
“Take care!” The pink-robed girl held out her farewell as she waved. Katara pulled the reins aside, turning Appa around before issuing the command to take flight.
After a brief stop to gather their belongings left behind at their campsite, they soared through the skies as night threatened to creep upon them. Aang and Sokka hadn’t stopped chattering like two hogmonkeys about…well, anything. She tuned it out, having other things on her mind.
Aunt Wu couldn’t have meant Aang…Aang is shorter than me. Not to mention bald! She couldn’t have… “Y’know what Sokka? You were right.” Aang piped up, for some reason catching Katara’s attention.
“Glad you could tell.” Sokka wittily shot back. She didn’t turn around, but presumed he likely had propped his elbow off the saddle’s edge and provided that usual smug grin as ever. You’re so predictable.
“No, I mean it.” Aang persisted. “People shouldn’t get wrapped up in believing they can really know their own future.” Yeah…I guess. It was exciting to her, but now, it just left her confused. Still, she leaned back, straining over the wind to listen to each word said.
“I know!” Sokka loudly exclaimed in wholehearted agreement.
“Wu told me something before we left; she said just as Katara and I reshaped those clouds…people can reshape their own destiny.” Hm… She half-turned her head, gazing back over her shoulder toward Aang as he conversed with Sokka.
“Whoa-whoa-whoa!” Sokka iterated swiftly in disbelief. “Are we even talking about the same Wu here?”
Turning away from the airbender, she tuned out the rest of their conversation. Reshape your own destiny… She tugged at Appa’s reins, wrapping her fingers around them as she sighed. I…I…I don’t know. She slightly frowned, creasing her brow as she contemplated this.
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The Boy in the Iceberg