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|Chapter 2: The Lost Scrolls|
5th of July 2013
Katara stared out the windowsill at the Autumn morning - her silky hair reflecting the sunlight above her - watching the occasional cabbage cart roll past with the merchant's same old rant on how he had lost some precious cabbages. In the distance she could see the populated market bustling with lots and lots of shoppers running around wanting to get the best food freshly obtained the night before. Omashu always looked this way in the day. Katara liked the city and so did Aang; this view and Bumi were the main reasons they now lived here despite the rest of the world thinking it was to cleanup the city after the war but that was done pretty much as soon as Bumi had regained control.
She usually enjoyed looking out the window and would usually watch Aang going on his morning fly in the air to which Aang said he did as it let's him "feel free" and heighten his spirits. But today was different.
She had found out the night before what had happened; a man had come giving them the message on a scroll. She was pondering on what had happened to Martin. He had been missing for two days although was finally found yesterday evening. She had learned that he was walking home and was attacked by some thugs, or something of the kind, was chi blocked and left in the middle of night in an alleyway not far from his apartment. He was found by his wife, Lorraine, when she went looking for him as he was late coming home. Aang had stormed off in a violent rage, quite violent, off to Bumi's palace to find out why the thugs had done that to him as soon as he'd heard. She had only just finished cleaning up the remains of their plant pots.
Apparently, the message said Martin was a non-bender. This puzzled Katara as she knew he could earthbend. She had been puzzling with this for ten minutes since Aang left. Katara couldn't take it any more. She threw herself away from the view, thrust her water skin to her thigh and went straight to the door and burst out into the corridor and went downstairs and proceeded outside to the - rather small and frequently dirty - stables where Appa and Momo where staying.
"Alright you guys we're going on a little trip. Let's fly to the palace." She released Appa from the cramp stables which barely fitted the humongous sky bison but was more than adequate for the minute and flexible flying lemur Momo. Appa stretched his paws and roared(though it sounded more like a yawn) whilst Momo leaped on to Katara's shoulder where she quickly brushed him off.
"Momo stay on the ground." she said with a very assertive look on her face. Although Momo didn't speak English (or any human language for that matter) he sadly headed her rude command and stayed on the hard,cold ground. The trio quickly headed outside. Katara and Momo climbed onto Appa's back.
"Appa yip yip!" Appa took flight after hearing Katara say the usual phrase.
They glided in the air feeling the wind on their faces when taking to the peaceful skies once more. The looked quite surreal from above. It felt like it wasn't rising at all, almost as if nothing moved but the gentle wind brushing their faces. They soon reached the palace. They landed with ease near a water fountain. Appa walked over to the fountain to get a drink which caused some people to run off screaming after being scared off by the large bison (why people ran off Appa, nor Katara even understood). Katara slid off of Appa down his tail. Momo didn't get down but stared at the door as though there was something daunting about it ;besides it being gigantic. Appa too didn't feel right. Their animal instincts were telling them something was wrong.
"Okay you two, wait here and don't move." Katara then made her way towards the entrance. She held a stern look on her face (something that made you forget about the real Katara) and prepared herself to give king Bumi a mouthful. Just as she got there an explosion blasted the doors backwards flinging several guards out of the palace. She was knocked back in the process banging her head the steps as she fell backwards. She could hear screaming and shouting though it went quiet as it was over powered by a ringing in her ears. She pressed her hands to her ears wanting it to stop. She screamed in pain. She opened her eyes to a world of horror and chaos. She lay there dazed but couldn't understand what had just happened.
Katara slowly stood up trying to recover from her dazed state. The world span so fast it made her ache in pain. she closed her eyes causing her to drop down to the floor again. she wouldn't dare open her eyes, she wanted it to stop, to leave her be but it wouldn't. She was going to be sick until a glimmer of light penetrated her eyes enclosed and dark world. She opened her eyes. She tried to shut them again but could not -the light had grasped her attention. She looked at it raising a smile as she did. She was so intrigued by this light that she hadn't realise the ringing in her ear had ceased to be. When the world finally stopped spinning she realised the speck of orange was actually fire. Her eyes widened while her smile faded away. She remembered Aang. She raced inside as a tear flew from her eyes.
The Palace (20 minutes earlier)
Aang stormed inside his orange and blue strips of robes floated slightly off his body from his staff calling up small gusts of air as he swung it about with a look of indescribable rage covering his face, his temples pumping in vents of anger on the sides of his forehead which settled slightly as he approached Bumi.
Bumi was still a fragile old man still perhaps a true earthbending master but not what he used to be. He had began to wither as ageing does to a man. Bumi was of course 114 years old but he still looked quite young compared to that. His white her had grown considerably. Apparently he didn't want it cut but wanted it to remain untouched like the rest of him at present. However his mad demeanour hadn't faltered. He still did his cackling laugh as he greeted Aang.
"Ah Aang what do I owe the pleasure of seeing the great Avatar who defeated the "Loser Lord". Haha." Bumi chuckled.
Aang's face remained stern. "Bumi this isn't a friendly visit. I want to know who took Martin's bending away" He said sternly.
Bumi's face went from its usual smiling self to a more serious face "Ah my old friend that I can't answer but I promise you my men are looking for the criminals right now."
"But no one can take someone's bending away." Aang said perplexed by the idea.
"Well you did defeat the "The Loser Lord" with Energybending hahaha." Bumi had lightened up again much to Aang's annoyance. Aang regretted telling him what he and his friends had dubbed Ozai when they had beat him two years ago; Bumi never stopped seizing the chance to call him that even interrupting people. Regardless Aang moved on.
"Bumi I may have took Ozai's-"
"The Loser Lord." Bumi interrupted again. Aang didn't try anymore and just moved on.
"Okay "The Loser Lords" bending away, however there's only one of me I counted. Another thing is that I was taught by the last ever lion turtle which is hidden away in the ocean at Wulong forest so where could they have learnt how to energybend?"
"I don't know Aang but once we capture the culprit we will find out...in fact I think we just have."
At that moment Bumi's wrinkled face turned towards the door. The Earthbending Captain and a small squad of King Bumi's personal army came in with a man fighting unsuccessfully to escape two guards grasp. There were roughly about ten of them dressed in green earthbending uniforms. The one at the front must of been the captain. He had a special insignia on his hat. He was slightly taller than the rest of his men and he had a beard that covered the lower part of his face under his bottom lip which had a cut stamped on their like a bruise making it stand out like a pimple. However he also had various small scars along with a lengthy scar going down the lower right side of his face. He had a deep brown beard that stretched from his face to his neck. He seemed to have a muscular build despite his face showing signs of an old warrior hidden beneath the scars.
The captain moved away from the group and approached Bumi, whispered something in his ear, then moved to the side. Two of the guards were holding (now restraining) a tanned man with black hair, a crooked nose with blood dripping down from it onto his bleeding lip as well. Judging by his features he seemed to be young, no older than 20, but his eye's were what grasped Aang's attention most of all. They were purple eye's that flashed as he looked up.
"This is him sir," the captain announced.
"Is it now? So he's the one who committed the crime?" Bumi now, once again, looking quite serious.
"Yes," said the captain bluntly.
"Well are you?" Shouted one of the guards in the man's slightly scarred ear, wanting him to admit it.
"Yes it is me," the man croaked finally kneeling on the floor still.
At that moment the man, more boy, beamed at Bumi. Aang realised who this man was.
"You're the one who took Martin's bending away!" Aang yelled in a fit of rage and malice.
This made a few of the guards shudder at the sound of Aang's deeper more lion like voice. The criminal however didn't flinch. He merely glanced at Aang for no more than a second then returned his gaze to Bumi.
"I'm afraid sir you will have to answer for your crimes by punishment in prison. Although first things first. Tell me how you removed Martin's bending."
"I didn't." The young culprit said bluntly.
"Oh don't lie we know it was knew. You meet the description he gave us!"
"But I did not" replied the culprit still in denial.
The guard to his left sighed. "Are you going to play this game all day?" The guard uttered childishly bending down and whispering in the man's ear his fists on his chin.
"I have no need, you see us are everywhere" said the man with a slight smirk creeping around his mouth.
Aang perplexed by this and so asked "Who's we?"
The culprit carried on "We are in your streets, your markets, even your own homes."
"Who's we!!!" Bumi demanded with a much more stern face and even raised his voice in a frightening manner that made all the guards flinch in fear (something Aang had rarely seen him do in this manner).
"We are everyone. We are your wife" the man said smiling. "Your husband, your children, your friends, a stall owner" he continued now frustrating Aang and Bumi alike.
The man carried on "A stranger, a healer, a bender, a non-bender, a farmer and ohhh I don't know a...royal guard."
At the moment Aang heard this, his eyes widened. At the same time, the captain stomped the floor as did all but two of the guards all conjured boulders and fired them all at Aang and Bumi. Aang quickly swung his staff from right to left, creating a gust towards the boulders heading for Bumi, barely redirecting them. The guards rolled and dodged the boulders, which blasted the walls around the place, ruining the delightful patterns of gold and green that once covered the walls.
"What are you doing?" yelled one of the guards who hadn't fired.
The other guard who hadn't fired, turned to him. "We are leading a revolution!!!"
No sooner had the guard finished the sentence he charged at the guard and punched him clean in the jaw with an earth fist, collapsing to the ground with a thud. He was out cold. The guard then turned to the criminal still restrained by the earth shackles from the floor. He instantly earthbent them open freeing the criminal.
"Ah...that's better." The culprit exclaimed feeling his wrists almost calmly. The strangely calm culprit jumped up to the wall like a hog monkey then leapt across the room, to Aang's surprise, away from them to the door.
At that moment, all nine remaining guards brought forth more boulders and launched them at Aang and Bumi again. This time, Bumi interjected by bringing up a wall formed from the ground beneath them which then crumbled and shattered as the boulders struck it. Aang jumped forward into the air, feeling th sweat forming on his warm face, kicking a strong air gust into one guard, landed into a roll, finishing with a blast of fire into a second man. The two victims of Aang's assault were blasted back into the floor but were sturdy shown through quick recovery.
Aang darted forward unleashing a harsh whip of air towards the soldiers with his staff, incoming them all back apart from the captain: having remained where he stood after slyly having rooted himself into the ground. Bumi threw off his royal robes leaving just in a battle attire of shorts, sandals and cuffs; showcasing his toned yet aged body. He began to bring up three boulders at a time and launching them at lightning speed in rapid succession at the soldiers pushing them back with success. He then knocked the captain bsck by pushing up a small column from the man's feet, ruining the clever rooted earth trick.
Bumi and Aang both knew they we're out numbered though out matched. The only problem was they couldn't keep track with all of their attackers. Aang continuously jumped from side to back to front to avoid the barrage of boulders coming their way, occasionally stealing the chance to blast a gust of air at their opponents. After many unhelpful gusts of air Aang switched to fire, turning the gusts of air into blasts of fire, further increasing the heat of the battle, dodging and rolling while launching fire at the guards; finally inflicting damage. All were now struggling to keep up their barrage, leaving them open to Bumi's slow yet effective heavy boulder attacks. One by one each was knocked back another foot with every strike as there attacks crumbled in ashes then struck with a heavy rock. They had the edge for now. Aang couldn't help but think as he attacked with intense bursts of fire why the guards would do this.
The opposition switched their focus to Bumi. Aang refused for them to land a hit on Bumi; jumping upwards to blast a blaze of fire from his feet, landing with a bang as he forced his fists to meet the earth, erupting the room into utter panic as the guards were launched back by such an effective wave of force. Aang finally had them all on their knees. He stood up again waiting to see them move only to here a cry of pain. Bumi took a blast of fire to hits ribs making him roll in agony backwards. He fell down and began to gasp for breath. The culprit had avoided Aang's assault by climbing onto the roof and had struck Bumi, the man was just dangling from a chandelier, further showcasing himself as a hog monkey, his fist pointed at Bumi now motioning towards Aang.
The criminal attacked, a burst of fire coming from his fist. Aang lurched arms first to Bumi, avoiding - but not stopping - the attack. He grabbed Bumi and jumped behind the throne chair. Bumi was unconscious, but breathing, his age ruining his endurance. The culprit dropped from his branch of glass down to the rigged floor, walking slyly towards the floor, not even rushing to attack. The captain was slowly returning to his feet. They were closing in and Bumi was completely vulnerable.
Aang moved out from cover to confront them. The captain ran forward, jumped into the floor with a thump. The floor around him was lifted flipped over and launched forward as the guard dropped back to the floor. The culprit turned to see the sight heading into him, barely avoiding bring struck as he met the chandelier again. Knowing he had no choice, Aang awakened a fury of power locked away from deep within, forcing out the strongest gust of air possible with his staff with a downward motion of his arm that crashed into the oncoming boulder, sending it back to the back with the abrupt force of the Avatar State. The wave of air spread out through the room striking everything it took.
After hearing the explosion of noise, Aang left the state of pure power as quick as he entered it, to be welcomed with a view of destruction as the now had a big ircular hole in, the blast of air had spread through the room, having quite untidily threw the remained guards into the wall. Aang looked up to see the chandelier was no longer dangling but instead had crashed into the floor in front of him. Aang took a deep and much needed breath. With Bumi safe, Aang felt like he had won despite the room in need of repair.
King Bumi looked up at his despaired throne room, which was now in complete disarray. He didn't mind too much, mumbling to himself that it needed redecorating. He attempted with a groan to get up from where his throne once lived, but was now some ten feet behind him, then fell, dazed from the battle: bruises forming on his arms already,it was then his eyes caught the crook suddenly firing a flame towards Aang.
"A firebender..." groaned Bumi.
Bumi tried to warn Aang on the attack but couldn't make his voice string together a syllable of his words, the blast his thr young Avatar's back, sending the boy face first into a tumble across the room. Thankfully Aang managed to return to his feet. Bumi saw a mix of flashes of red, earth and felt light gusts of air brush his checks with small chucks of rubble with embers mixed in the air before the culprit tumbled towards Bumi: his clothes battered but somehow unscathed. He saw Aang leap into the air towards the pair. The culprit began to quickly motion his arms in a strangely familiar motion. It was only when a blue crackling energy simmered into being did Bumi recognise it.
Bumi looked on in utter astonishment "Impossible."
With that the culprit focused the lightning into the floor beneath his own and the newly arrived Aang with a violent wave of air in tow. The energy crackled out into an explosion leaving only dust in its wake and a defeating bang.
The result of the collision of bending caused an explosion so fierce that the remainder of the doors were blasted right out of place, the windows smashed leaving shattered glass everywhere. The guards were blown right against the walls knocked out; some even flew right out the cluttered doors. Bumi too had been struck in the head from the rubble of the boulder being blasted round the room and was out cold. Aang attack was ineffective.
Aang was left on the floor with a shard of glass in his right shoulder now dripping blood that flashed scarlet. Aang was covered in bruises and had several cuts that, although he couldn't see, he could feel. His robes were torn at his thigh, stomach and legs. Aang gripped the glass in his shoulder and, taking a deep breath, yanked it out - screaming as the sharp pain left his body as he did. The blood came gushing out. His arm soon turned red: at the sheer sigh of it he started to lose consciousness. Aang looked up to see the criminal still standing. He too had a shard of glass wedged in his arm causing blood to leak out and his black robes torn all over which now seemed to have been painted red at certain parts which seemed to grow and grow, but nevertheless he was standing.
"Who are you?" Aang managed to mumbled.
"My name is Shao and I'm an Energybender. I trained and spent years learning from scrolls that my father's father's father had found. They hold the secrets of this ancient art to bend the energy within ones self. Now they're hidden and you'll never find them. Now I will demonstrate it on you!!!"
With that he began to approach Aang. Aang tried to get up to flee but couldn't muster the strength to do so. It caused too much strain on his bruised and damaged body. With that Aang couldn't hold on and soon slipped away and all went black.
Katara raced inside and saw all the rubble and guards on the floor. Her eyes searched the room "..there!!"
"Aang are you alright?" He was bleeding.
Katara raced to where Aang was seeking to help him but was halted by a burst of fire. A man in black clothes stood in her path.
The man formed a flame in his hand. "He's mine."
Katara stared at him in anger replying "No he isn't."
Katara took water out of her water skin and whipped the man. He returned with a blast of fire. Katara dodge the light blasts of fire and returned with another whip of water, only to be hit herself as the third blaze of fire easily broke through. Katara realised her opponent had the edge. He had all the fire in the world while she only had what was in her water skin.
However, Katara remembered the fountain. She quickly forced him to come outside by jumping back to the door making it looked like he was winning and forcing her to flee. The man attacked again, eager to keep attacking her, Katara allowing him to do so.
"Such a weak little girl" the firebender mocked "So weak without her precious water" only when the man had reached the entrance did he realise his mistake.
Katara, once close enough, drew water from the fountain and launched it at him, raised him into the air with it, froze the water, then melted it. He crashed on the floor hard knocked out cold.
She ran back inside picked up Aang by the shoulder. "Aang? Aang! Are you okay?" she worriedly questioned, noticing in horror the blood that covered his right arm.
"Yes, I will be fine" Aang returned, barely awake.
Before Katara could say more, Aang pushed her off him and launched a weak gust of air at an earthbender, who had attempted feebly to attack. Aang dropped down again, although he had stopped one the others were also regaining their senses. Aang weakly made a circular motion with his untainted arm, to toss him his glider near the throne with a spiral of air, Katara picked him up as fast as she could and carried him down to where Appa and Momo where. The firebender was still frozen, Aang seemed to acknowledge him but only slightly. She then climbed Appa's tail, tripping slightly at Aang's weakness. She carried on and prepared to pull him up.
"No I can do it" Aang interjected, pushing air beneath himself to get on. He breathed heavily, exhausted and weak. "I will be fine" was all he kept muttering as Katara prepared to fly away.
Aang forced himself to sit up, trying to pay attention to his surroundings as his blurred eyes filled the scene with nothing but lines of colours. The look on Appa's face showed deep concern for his owner and friend. "He'll be all right just go, yip y-"
Before Katara could finish the sentence, a boulder struck the side of the saddle breaking a chunk of it in the process. It was one of the earthbending guards but his clothing, although ripped and torn, seemed different from the usual guards she had seen.
"You're not getting away." The man stated, vengefulness and determination filling his deep, gruff voice.
Suddenly the soldier stomped the floor about to fire another boulder. Katara tried to knock him away with the last of her water, only for Aang to intervene with a flash of fire at the guard. The special guard crashed to the floor. He attempted to get up but quickly dropped. Aang rapidly locked the mans legs with earth but soon felt weak.
Katara didn't waste anytime. "Yip yip." Aang dropped again as she did so, the saddle turning to red around him.
Appa took off and they ascended into the air. They flew majestically up and up as high as they could go, heading out of Omashu. Aang realised they were leaving and with pitiful fury barely muttered "No...Bumi. BUMI!" Aang fell back, the world fading again as Katara watched in guilt as she watched the city's own soldiers began to round up civilians from their houses save for a small few, rebelling with fellow men who refused to accept such treachery.
Shao desperately got up. He instantly charged towards where Appa was flying away. He proceeded to jump from one building to another trying to get as high as he could. He reached the viewpoint. The thought hit him like a stab to the chest. He wasn't going to reach them. He lashed out in a fury of anger, hopelessly sending a blast of short lived fire as the Avatar fled, with chaos rising behind him.
"We will find the Avatar!!!".
Aang woke up groaning and moaning lifting up as he did. It took awhile for him to notice that Katara was healing his bruises and the cut on his shoulder with waterbending. "You'll be all right just rest". Aang obeyed and lay back down. He rested for a while or at least it felt like a while he couldn't really tell. It was only after he puzzled on this did he realise he was on Appa.
"Wait on Appa??!!!"
Aang strung up and stared out into the distance. There was no sign of Omashu.
"Why are we not in Omashu?" Aang asked Katara urgently.
Katara was struck in astonishment that Aang had woken up. "You were injured and you were being attacked we had to get away." She grabbed his hand trying to get him to sit down.
Aang removed his arm from her grip. "But Bumi is still there we have to help him!!!" Aang slightly raised his voice.
Katara tried to get him to relax. "We will Aang but it isn't safe right now." She attempted to get Aang to sit down again but he simply brushed her off.
"Well I'm going back." Aang announced moving himself from her side to his glider.
Aang searched the saddle and found his glider and sprung it open ready to fly back although he suddenly groaned and dropped back down.
"You're still hurt Aang. I need to heal you and then you need to rest. We'll go back once your healed up. Plus, the place is in chaos, whatever has happened the entire army their has turned on the city. We are useless on our own" Katara said gently.
"I'm the Avatar though. It is my duty to stop what is happening there!" Aang groaned wanting to help his friend knowing he couldn't with his injuries.
"I know and you will, but it is just to risky right now, you are hurt" Katara pleaded again.
"Well are you sure Bumi will be okay until then?" Aang asked wanted to know if Bumi would be safe. Tears swelled up in his eyes.
Katara realised Aang was going to cry. "Oh yes. I sent a message to General Fong at his fortress they'll be there soon." She answered very quickly not wanting Aang to breakdown.
"How did you do that?"
"He isn't a messenger hawk" Aang countered looking unimpressed.
Aang relaxed but still looked concerned. Aang turned around. He pressed his hands against his eyes wiping the tears out of his eyes trying to not let Katara see."So where do we stay for now?"
"You'll see that soon too. Now rest," said Katara almost demanding him.
With that Aang lay down and closed his eyes letting the air around him flow through his body leaving him feeling tranquil that he barely felt Katara tending to his wounds. It was at this he drifted calmly to sleep.
To be continued...
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