Polar climate in tundra
Opposite Poles
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Gate of the Face Stealer

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Release date

24 July, 2015

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World of Spirits and Bending

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Burdens to Carry

When the Celestial Wizard awoke she was lying inside some kind of hut. Rubbing her head slowly, she pushed herself up into a sitting position, her arms slipping a little and feeling like lead. Lucy examined the blankets that had been draped over her, feeling the soft animal fur and warmth which her body heat had left. She must have been in this bed for a while. There was another one next to her and Lucy could see someone had been lying in it, perhaps Wendy was also here. There was a small fire pit to her right, and a chimney leading to the roof. The most incredible thing however, was that this hut was made of ice. An igloo. Although she had never been to this world, Lucy suspected that she was in a Waterbender village.

Groaning a little as she tried to sit up further, Lucy also noticed that she was wearing different clothes. Her black leather boots had been replaced with brown fur-lined ones, and dark blue leggings ran all the way up to her thighs. A woolly jacket also with fur covered a light blue tunic, and Lucy could also feel a towel of some kind wrapped around her hair. Her hair now dry, Lucy pulled the towel off her head letting her golden locks fall to her shoulders.

"Oh, you're awake now."

Lucy spun around to see another figure standing in the doorway, dressed in similar looking clothes to her. This girl however had brown hair, tied in an elaborate but beautiful design with loops hanging from her fringe and connecting to a ponytail at the back. She wore a warm smile across her cheeks, and bright blue eyes filled with compassion. Making her way over to Lucy, the girl introduced herself, "My name is Katara. I'm a healer, so when my brother and I found you in the middle of the snow storm we brought you to our home." She stood in front of the blonde-haired wizard, hand on hip, "That was quite a silly thing to be travelling out in the tundra dressed like you were."

Lucy stammered a little, still feeling the grogginess from sleep and aching from her body, "Thank you. We're so grateful that you came to help us. My name's Lucy," the blonde-haired girl held out a hand, and it was only when Katara grasped it she realised just how cold her own skin was. "And the decision to be dressed as I was out in the snow wasn't mine. You see, me and Wendy aren't from here. We came from... A different world."

Katara slowly nodded her head, "I have heard that from your friend Wendy; she's in the main room with my brother, Sokka, who first found you. I... I think I know what has happened to you both, so when you're feeling up to it come out and grab some warm stew and we'll talk about it, okay?"

Lucy didn't know how to respond at first, but quickly nodded and smiled politely. She watched their hostess leave the room, the animal skin doors flapping after she left. What did Katara mean by saying she 'thinks she knows what has happened to them'? Although her head was foggy she could still recall all of her memories properly. Before deciding to leave the room Lucy took a moment to rest, her body weary and still groggy from sleep and her fainting. It had been a miracle that Katara and Sokka had found them, and Lucy was sure that if they had been left out in the storm for much longer Wendy and herself would have perished.

Pushing herself into a sitting position, Lucy managed to stand up from the bed. Although she was a little dizzy, probably because of her limbs feeling sore and ice cold, she managed to make her way towards the exit.

"Wait, let me get this straight, so you're basically an airbender but... Different?" Lucy could hear a male's voice form the other room as she exited.

Wendy nodded her head, and Lucy could see that she had also changed into some warmer Water Tribe clothing, "I suppose. I use Sky Dragon Slayer Magic, which uses the power of the air. Almost like airbending I suppose." She laughed politely, "I'd love to see an airbender city sometime and see what their magic is like. Are there many airbenders around?"

Katara exchanged a raised eyebrow look with the guy next to her, though afterwards noticed Lucy standing in the doorway, "Lucy - is that how you say your name? - Anyway, have some sea-prune stew." She then proceeded to ladle the warm broth into a bowl and hand it to the blonde-haired girl as she sat down at their table.

"Thanks, for everything," Lucy smiled a thankful grin, taking in the delicious smells in front of her. "So, what are sea-prunes?"

The healer laughed before answering, "Well, if I told you, you probably wouldn't eat it. Most people find them a little gross, though when you live somewhere like the Southern Water Tribe then you eat whatever you can find." Katara grinned once she noticed Lucy's apprehensive expression, "Though give it a go, even though Wendy could hardly go near them let alone try them," Katara grinned.

"I'm so sorry," Wendy bowed her head. Her fear of sour foods often got the better of her.

Her stomach growling and taste buds anticipating, Lucy took a spoonful of the stew, making sure that her mouthful contained a prune. The prune itself was rather bitter, a sharp taste which made her eyes water slightly, though the sweet and salty liquid it was bathed in helped counter it slightly. All in all, Lucy found it a fairly tasty meal, and made her thoughts known when she took more and more spoonfuls. "It's actually not too bad. Thank you so much for your generosity."

"Well it's not like we would have left you out there," Katara joked, though a more serious look appeared on her face. "But I suppose we should explain our theory of what we think has happened to you."

Lucy finished her next mouthful before turning to Wendy, both of them sharing quizzical glances. "Theory?"

Again Katara exchanged a look with her brother, Sokka was his name, though it was him who answered first, "Look, we have seen something a little like this before. We think you both have been brainwashed."

"What?" Lucy blurted out, her eyes wide with shock at the suggestion.

"As my brother said, we've seen it before. A friend of ours was once taken by a group known as the Dai Li, and... Let's just say they messed with his mind so he no longer remembered what had happened to him. It's possible something like this has happened to you." Katara's eyes were full of concern, and her hand gently rested on Lucy's.

"I know it's a lot to take in," Sokka glanced back to the pair in front of him, "Though the good news is my sister here can help you."

Katara nodded, "Yeah, I'm a waterbender and a healer. I've done it before too, when our friend needed his memories back." As she commented a look of sadness appeared in her eyes, as if a terrible memory had just come back to her. But soon after, she turned her attention back to their guests to await their answer.

The blonde-haired girl was too perplexed to give an answer straight away. "Why... Why do you think that our minds have been tampered with? I know where I'm from! I'm from Earthland! I'm a Celestial Wizard! It... It can't all just have been something that was fabricated by a group of people."

Placing a hand on his chin, Sokka replied, "It is much more a complex brainwashing than anything we've seen, though I wouldn't put it past those evil earthbenders to do something like this. You see," he leaned forward as he spoke, "You may not remember this, due to the brainwashing, but there was recently a war between the Fire Nation and the other nations which ended. But there have been rumours that the Dai Li, a group who once served the Earth King until they betrayed him to aid the Fire Nation, are still active, even though they were disbanded soon after the war. It's nearly been six months since the war finally ended, so I suppose that it would be normal to see some of their ex-members still wearing their uniform, but since you two brainwashed travellers have shown up it adds validity to these rumours."

"But... What have we said that makes you think we're brainwashed?" Wendy questioned, her voice anxious about their theories.

"Where do I start? You use airbending-magic or something, are from some mysterious world filled with 'magic', and seem to not be able to recall details of the Hundred Year War which only just ended. A war which everyone knows about. The brainwashing theory doesn't however explain why you both have such weird-coloured hair."

"What are you talking about?! My hair isn't 'weird-coloured'?! It's perfectly normal to have blonde-hair!"

"But despite that," Sokka continued, "All the evidence seems to point to that being the case."

"Look, I know you're both worried, and probably think that we're the ones who are crazy. But trust me, we can help," Katara tried to ease the tension in the air, her blue eyes glancing into Wendy's and Lucy's.

Lucy however decided to reach into her pockets, though became distressed when she couldn't find what she was looking for, "My Gate Keys! I... I can prove that we're telling the truth! Where are they?"

"You mean all those keys on a metal loop? They're in the other room, don't worry they're all there," Katara reassured.

Sokka folded his arms, "You must have a pretty big home with many doors for all those keys."

The blonde-haired girl shook her head, "They're not for doors, but for gates."

"So... You have a home with many fences and gates?" Sokka inquired, eyebrow raised.

"No, they open gates for spirits," Lucy shook her head irritably. "I'm a Celestial Wizard, so I can summon spirits by opening a gate for them using a Gate Key and my magic."

"Oh, I get it. Can't believe I never thought of that. Gates for spirits, of course!" Sokka replied sarcastically.

Lucy rolled her eyes, "I'm telling you the truth. That's how this whole thing started anyway; we had just finished a job request for our guild, and then I was given a Gate Key which summoned Koh, and then we used his key to get here so we could solve a murder case since the suspect somehow made it here in your world."

"Wait, did you just mention Koh?" Katara's head perked up at the mention of the spirit's name.

Sokka turned to his sister, "You know who they're on about?"

"Don't you remember Sokka? Aang told us he talked to that spirit when the Northern Water Tribe was under attack. He's an old spirit, but he's also known as the 'Face-Stealer', and can steal anyone's face when they show emotion."

"If only the key had that warning with it; if I knew it was as simple as not showing emotion we wouldn't have had all the dramas we did." Lucy remarked.

"This is bad if Koh is involved," Katara mused. "Perhaps we should wait for Aang; he is the Avatar, and plus he and Appa should be here once the storm clears."

Wendy spoke up again, "Who is the Avatar? Can he help us get to Ba Sing Se?"

Katara nodded, "With his flying bison Appa he sure could, though we should stay here until we can figure out what has happened to you both. Oh, and the Avatar is the one who brings balance to the world. He can bend all four elements, though he also acts as a bridge between man and spirits."

"Right," Lucy pondered, "I suppose being a Celestial Wizard I am sort of a bridge between wizards and spirits; I can open portals for spirits to enter from their own world," the blonde-haired girl concluded, hoping to try and get the pair to understand that even though they used magic they weren't that different after all.

Unfortunately, Lucy's attempt to explain herself only elicited even more sarcasm from Sokka, "Great. We have a 'magical' airbender here and now a 'magical' second Avatar, both of them with strange hair and completely crazy from brainwashing!" As he emphasized the word 'magic' Sokka made sure to wave his hands about.

Lucy growled in reply, "I told you, my hair is not strange! I take pride in my appearance you jerk!"

The healer raised both her arms up to stop the arguing, "Enough, this isn't helping. How about I try and see what I can do for restoring you memories." While the others around the table grew silent, Katara waved her arms out to her sides, and to Lucy and Wendy's astonishment a trail of water flowed from an animal skin at the healer's hips.

"Woah... Is that Waterbending? And you didn't even need to cast a spell to do that," Lucy marvelled.

Sokka smirked, "And she shouldn't have to; magic isn't real."

His remark caused Katara to scowl at him, "Well, it wasn't so long ago that you told me my waterbending was 'magic'." She concluded with a cheeky grin. Of course, Katara didn't believe in the claims that these two travellers were making that 'magic' was some kind of power that they could use, but she knew that playing along would make things go smoother for the time being. Coating her hands in water, Katara made her way over to where Wendy sat, "I promise it won't hurt, though it may feel a little funny. I'm just going to place my hands over your head and see if I can guide your energy to heal your mind."

It was clear Wendy was feeling anxious about the gesture, but she quickly nodded her head and closed her eyes. She could feel Katara's water-coated hands slide gently over the sides of her head, the cool water almost bringing a relaxing feeling. A gentle swirling sound, almost like some mysterious power could be heard, and Wendy could feel some kind of connection to it.

"Now, I want you to focus on your memories of this world, Wendy," Katara's voice was clear but comforting.

Wendy scrunched up her face, "But we haven't been here for very long at all."

"It doesn't matter, just try as best as you can."

"Oh...Okay," Her head nodded slightly as she heard Katara's words. Wendy cast her mind back to earlier today when she had first arrived in this world. It had been strange, and rather frightening, the situation her and Lucy had been in. The storm they trudged through had beat down against them, and Wendy knew they had been lucky to have been found by this brother and sister, even if it was hard convincing them of where they had come from. She only hoped her friends were in better situations.

Katara narrowed her eyes, "Can... Can you see anything strange? Like... Maybe a lake of some kind? Or perhaps a glowing lantern?"

"Is that what your friend saw?" Wendy asked.

"Yeah, it was," Katara replied solemnly. With a downcast face she continued to hold her hands over Wendy's temples, the glowing water swirling over her hands. After a few more moments, the healer pulled her hands away and streamed the water back into the skin by her belt.

Wendy opened her eyes, "I... I don't think I saw what you thought I would."

Katara shook her head, "I know, I too didn't feel like your chi was blocked in any way, nor that there was anything wrong with your memories."

"So then you believe us now? Since there is nothing wrong with our memories?" Lucy inquired.

Sokka spoke up next, "Just because Katara didn't need to heal you, it doesn't prove anything."

The blonde-haired girl sighed angrily, "Then what will?"

"I don't know, maybe you could actually use 'magic'? Maybe summon a spirit like you said you could?"

"We need to find our friends Happy and Carla for that; they're carrying special pills which will allow us to use magic in this world," Wendy informed the others, without realising how ridiculous she sounded to them.

A laugh left the swordsman's lips before he replied, "Oh, great, 'Happy the Flying Cat' with his magical pills!" He waved his hands about to mock the statement even further.

"Wait, you know who they are?" Wendy inquired.

"You mentioned them when we first found you, remember?" Sokka grunted after he answered, folding his arms.

"And there's always the chance that Koh had something to do with this," Katara suggested. "You mentioned you had a run-in with him before you came here."

Lucy stammered for a moment, surprised by the pair's suggestion, "I... I made a contract with Koh." The brother and sister exchanged worried glances. "It's what I do, as a Celestial Wizard. It isn't bad or anything."

"Making a contract with a spirit who steals faces sounds pretty bad to me," Sokka added, half-jokingly.

"Whatever the case is, we'll have to wait for Aang anyway. You wanted to go to Ba Sing Se right? His flying bison Appa will get us there within a week and a bit. And the issue with your memories is perhaps something he can figure out since he is the Avatar, and may be able to contact other spirits to help him," Katara suggested. She quickly turned to their front door, "Though he's still on his way and this storm will keep him from reaching here for the time being."

Lucy smiled politely, "That will suit us fine, and thank you for everything. I know you don't believe us about everything we've said, but you have still shown us kindness and saved us from that storm." She smirked, "And if we have this free time to spare perhaps I can teach Sokka about Celestial Spirit Magic. You never know; maybe you can use it one day," She chuckled afterwards, though the only response she got from Sokka was him slapping a palm to his face.

A young girl groaned as she woke up, though she didn't have the strength to open her eyes just yet. The fresh and organic smells of the grass she lay on and the other plant life were the first things to grab her attention, and she could also feel the radiant and warm sun against her back. She knew it must be day time, perhaps in some warm field somewhere.

Though when the young girl's deep blue eyes opened, her sight told a different story; instead of being in a warm field somewhere, she was actually on a grassy island in the middle of a lake, a lake surrounded by huge walls of ice. The sight was beautiful and stunning, though rather unique in that the island and warm temperature seemed out of place. An identical archway which she had seen with Koh stood above her form on the island, and she could only assume that she had made it to the Northern Water Tribe.

Searing pain stabbed into Lisanna's thigh as she tried to stand, and she let out a rather large yelp. Her adrenaline had started to wear off, and now the agony and throbbing of her wound would surely kick in even more than before. Tears wet the edges of her eyes as she half-crawled towards the path along the side of the oasis, trying to stand on her feet but collapsing every time.

Fortunately, and unfortunately, she had been discovered by others who made their way through a small opening in the wall. Lisanna had wanted to somehow slip into the crowd in this city, not wanting to draw attention to herself, but in her state such a thing was not possible. The edges of her vision went black as she began to lose consciousness, and she reached an arm out as she saw the figures approaching.

The last thing Lisanna could remember hearing, was a rather strange statement from the man on the left; "It has to be her! Look at her blue eyes, her hair as white as snow! The Spirits have returned our Yue to us!"

In her moments before blacking out completely, Lisanna knew that she had her work cut out for her.

Note from Author

I cringe when I look at how long it's been since I published another chapter... :L How life can get busy. But hopefully with a bit more free time now I'll actually be able to finish this fanon and all the others, plus catch up on reading too. XD

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