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|Into the Fire Nation|
12 November 2011
Into the Fire Nation is chapter three of "".
Sokka arrives back in the Fire Nation with Suki, Ty Lee and Toph. The entire Gaang discusses the weather situation. Meanwhile, later that night, Aang receives a vision. Further, a young man continues to search.
Eastern Fire Nation
A young man wandered through the streets, looking for any answers. He asked as many citizens as he could, seeking the group he needed.
"Have you seen the Avatar or his friends everywhere?" He asked commoners and nobles alike, all getting shakes of the head.
The young man, who had gone so quickly from the real world to the Avatar World, just looked around with confusion and worry. "Please, don't let the Meteorologists find them. Please!"
Fire Nation skies
The Sky Bison neared its destination on another sunny yet chilly day. Not a cloud in the sky could be found, it deceived one into thinking it was a typical mid-August day in the Fire Nation. Nevertheless, the late morning that greeted them had a temperature of 3°C. The four found themselves bundled up in jackets, even the usually enduring Toph. No one, except Sokka, was used to this weather during the summer.
"I can't wait to see Katara again!" Ty Lee said excitedly. "I haven't seen her since we last went to the South Pole, and that was months ago!"
"Yeah, everyone will be waiting for us," Sokka said. "It should be quite the day."
The four could already feel themselves getting tired; they had left early in the morning despite not falling asleep until after midnight. They wanted to get to the Fire Nation early so they could get around to speaking with Zuko, as the matter remained urgent.
Fire Nation Royal Palace
Aang was hand-in-hand with Katara, and Zuko was the same with Mai, as the two couples wandered the palace front, waiting for the remainder of the Team to arrive.
"Sokka said he'd be here around noon," Katara said, addressing an anxious Aang. "Don't be so worried."
"It's not that," Aang said. "Katara, after I went to sleep last night, I had a dream. It was this dream of crazy weather, all over the world, and these people were there. They seemed to be changing it around. I couldn't keep up! It was sunny one moment, then raining the next, then warm, then cold..."
"Oh..." Katara said. "That sounds...odd."
"It's probably some Avatar thing again," Mai said with a hint of uninterest. "I don't think we would understand, Katara."
"Mai's right," Zuko nodded. "We don't know what exactly that could mean. Aang, it could have just been a nightmare, or maybe it is related to some sort of spiritual distress. Only you would know if it was the latter."
"I know," Aang replied. "That is what has me worried. After what your Uncle had said about what was going on in Ba Sing Se, it's just...unnerving."
As Aang finished this, Appa began his descent towards the ground. Sokka was bringing in the Avatar's loyal animal companion for a smooth landing. There, the three girls awaited, set to dismount Appa.
"What's up, everyone? I brought some folks you might know," Sokka said with a smile as he dismounted. The girls soon followed.
"Hi, everyone," Suki said with a smile. "It's good to be back with you all."
The team exchanged their hellos and some hugs. Aang greeted the Kyoshi Warriors' leader with a bow of respect, which Suki returned. "Good to see you again as well, Suki. I wish the circumstances were better," Aang said.
Next off was the blind Earthbender. "That's right, Toph's back! Look, Twinkle Toes and Sugar Queen, you two haven't changed a bit. I can tell you're both together," she chuckled. "Ahhh, land, it's nice to be able to see again." Toph's ability of sight was restricted on Appa, but now she could regain her seismic sense with solid ground under her.
The final girl off was the Fire Nation's only Kyoshi Warrior.
"Katara!" Ty Lee yelled out, catching sight of her best friend.
"Ty Lee!" The young Waterbender returned the sight.
The two girls ran up to each other and locked each other in an embrace. It was hard to think that two years ago, they were the bitterest of enemies. Now, they were best friends.
"How are you, Katara? It's been so long," Ty Lee said, releasing herself from the hug, but keeping her hands on Katara's arms.
"I've been good, Ty Lee. Yeah, it's been just a little too long," Katara replied, also keeping her hands on Ty Lee's arms. "I've been waiting to see you again."
The rest of the team exchanged more hellos, and some hugs, including one from Ty Lee to Mai, which Mai had accepted hesitantly. Still, the two girls were close friends, happy that they had liberated themselves from Azula.
"It's great to have everyone here again," Zuko addressed all of them. "However, as Aang just said, I wish the circumstances were better. Come inside, we have a lunch prepared for everyone. I'll explain what is ongoing."
On the dining table in front of them were various meats, vegetables, side dishes, and glasses of pure mineral water. Sokka, of course, dug right into the meats. Katara and Suki smiled and shook their heads, in an unaudible tease of the young warrior.
Aang sprang for the vegetables, as was standard of an Air Nomad. The rest of the table took various foods, however much they desired, and what exactly those were.
The first few minutes went by without conversation, as food was passed around the table. After this ended, the Fire Lord broke the silence. "So, I guess I should explain why I have invited you all here. Some of you already know, of course. Suki, Ty Lee, Toph, you girls don't."
"Well, we kind of know," Suki looked towards Zuko.
"How much do you girls know?" Zuko asked the new arrivals as of that day.
"Well, we do know that you guys had some kind of rapid cooldown," Toph said. "Also, there was apparently some blizzard in the Southern Water Tribe, based on what Boomerang Boy told me."
Zuko nodded. "Yes, those are all right."
"Wait, Toph," Ty Lee broke in. "Didn't your parents say something about it getting really warm in Ba Sing Se or something?"
"Oh, you're right," Toph kind of spoke in disappointment at her lack of remembrance. "Yeah, there was that."
"Allow me to explain in full detail what has happened here," Zuko said. "Essentially, what you said is all true. There was a cool down here, a blizzard at the South Pole, and a heat wave in Ba Sing Se. However, the impacts of these are even larger. Here, we are worried about crop loss. Because it has gotten so cold, we have become vulnerable to frosts and freezes, and those can kill our crops. I don't know what survived the night. We planned to send tarps across the Fire Nation to have people protect their crops."
Aang was the next to speak. "Also, the reconstruction efforts at the South Pole are being hampered by the blizzard. We had a lot of snow down there, and now instead of being able to build, they now have to clean up more. Katara, Sokka and myself only left because Zuko called us here."
"What about Ba Sing Se?" Suki asked. "None of us have been anywhere near there," she explained further. "The closest was Toph, and she's way south of the city."
"Well, I have some insight on that, thanks to my Uncle," Zuko explained. "He sent me a letter yesterday. Now, this is where things get weird, so listen closely."
All the members of the team ceased eating, anxious to hear what Iroh had sent to Zuko. Only Aang, Katara and Mai had advanced knowledge.
"He said that there was indeed a heat wave, but, he said he saw some kind of blue-colored spirit going across the skies of the city the day it happened. He wore a robe with the emblem of the Fire Nation on it, so my Uncle thinks something might be wrong," Zuko explained.
"Also, I saw a spirit with a blue coat going across the skies of the Southern Water Tribe during the blizzard," Aang added. "We think that this could be a spiritual issue."
"Well," Ty Lee began. "You're the Avatar, so, you would know, right?" She looked towards Aang.
"Ty Lee, I haven't heard anything from my past lives, including Roku," the young Avatar spoke. "If I do, though, I would let you guys know. Only then though, can we know if something is spiritually wrong for sure."
Suki shook her head. "If this is spiritual, what can we do about it?"
"Well," Zuko took control of the conversation again. "If Aang does hear something, it could be an issue for all of us. For now though, all I ask is that we continue to help anyone affected by the change of weather."
"Zuko's right," Sokka said. "We have been in this together for two years now. We need to continue to help the world as much as we can. I think that's a good reason to be here."
"So, what exactly do we do?" Toph questioned, feeling like her time was being wasted.
"What I need from all of you is to use your abilities to help in any way. Toph, perhaps you can construct shelters out of earth for crops, and then I place some torches in them, and that can keep them warm until this cool down is over," the Fire Lord explained himself, remaining calm and collected. "Sokka, Suki, Ty Lee, where we don't go, you can help cover crops with tarps. Aang, Katara, you two can make sure they stay properly watered. It's still summer, after all."
The entire team nodded, ready for Zuko's request.
Over the next hour, they finished up their lunch. Zuko allowed them to have today off, but the next day, it was right to work.
However, not all plans remain stable, all the time.
The Avatar stayed for another night in the upper-class guest chamber he had been allowed by the royal servants. The night fell fast, along with temperatures. Aang could even feel himself shivering, thus he pulled the blanket over him. However, it was a disturbed sleep, as if he could feel something, or someone, trying to get to him.
It was a someone.
"Aang," an older man's voice called. "Aang!"
The Avatar looked around, and in front of him, saw flames. At first he panicked, but quickly stopped. An old man, having the look of age seventy, came up to him. He had long gray hair, a mustache, and a red robe. Over it was a plate with an emblem of flames on it. He rode a red-colored dragon.
"Roku?" Aang muttered sleepily.
"Yes, Aang, I need to take you to the Spirit World right now," Roku said with a dire tone. "You need to learn why what's happening is indeed happening."
Aang quickly got out of bed and climbed atop Roku's dragon, Fang. "Well, I guess we should go then," the younger Avatar said.
Fang took off, the two Avatars in tow. They made their way towards the portal at the destroyed Fire Temple. Although the temple had been destroyed, the statue of Roku still stood. There, they made their way into the Spirit World.
For the first time since he had been knocked into a coma by Azula, Aang had returned to the Spirit World. It did not change a bit. He saw the familiar sights as he rode by on Fang, including the Hei Bai, a spirit he had met on his original world journey.
"This way," Roku said as the dragon came to a stop. They found themselves outside a large realm, looking like an upscale home. It was actually quite similar to the Fire Nation Royal Palace. Aang and Roku walked to the front. There, Aang saw the inscription on the door. He read it to himself, "Here rest the guardians of the...weather?"
"Yes, the guardians of the weather," Roku replied, giving a knock at the door.
A spirit walked outside the door. "Who comes here? Oh..." he noticed the two Avatars. "Avatar Aang, Avatar Roku, welcome to the guardians' home! Please, come in!"
"Here, Aang, is where this quest begins. You are about to learn the origins of Weatherbending," Roku told him.
"Weatherbending? Roku, I thought that only the spirits could control the weather," Aang said with a look of curiosity.
"For most of world history, that is true. For the last 2,500 years, that was true," Roku turned to him. "Now, it is not quite as true. You shall see what I mean."
The three made their way to the home's center. There, another door led to a large room. Its inscription read, "The art of controlling the weather." Roku again knocked at the door, and a spirit allowed them in after seeing who they were.
Aang looked around in astonishment and wonder, as he saw pictures of various ways people were bending. He could see scrolls of apparent moves, but none of it made sense to him. He looked back at Roku, who came up next to him.
"The people you are about to meet, Aang, are the original masters of Weatherbending," Roku explained. "What you are seeing is ancient art of these three."
The young Avatar noticed a painting of an old man, with no hair on the top of his head and a blue arrow. He donned yellow robes and had a beard. "Look, that guy is an Air Nomad," Aang said.
"That is correct, one of the original masters was an Airbender. You will get to meet him, as I said," Roku spoke while nodding.
"Hmmm, that one looks like a Firebender," Aang pointed out a picture of a man, appearing to be in his sixties, wearing a red robe.
"That man," Roku turned towards the painting, "is actually an Avatar as well. He was the first Avatar to be granted the ability to manipulate the weather."
"When did this all begin?" Aang asked his predecessor Avatar.
"Approximately three thousand years ago, Weatherbending was first unleashed to the world," Roku answered. "There is a long, complex history to this art. When we meet the original masters, you will know its entire history. This is not my place to go over it. I have orders from the masters themselves."
Aang gave an understanding nod. "So, where are these masters, Roku?"
"We are about to meet them," the older Avatar replied. "Right through here. They have been expecting us."
The Avatars walked into a room that was open but guarded. The guards let them pass right on by without so much as a word; as Roku said, they were being expected. There, three old men stood on chairs. Two of them matched the description in their pictures. The third was a man appearing to be from the Water Tribes. He wore a blue coat, had gray hair on the sides of his head but not the front of it, and had blue eyes. Indeed, this man was a Waterbender.
"Greetings, Avatar Aang, welcome to the realm of Weatherbending," the man with the red robe stood up and bowed to him. "I am Avatar Zentai. I lived in your world three thousand years ago."
The next man to get up was the Water Tribesman. "Avatar Aang," he bowed as well. "It is a pleasure to meet you. My name is Pokai, I am from the Southern Water Tribe. I also lived three thousand years before the current war. I understand my native tribe is not the same as it once was."
Aang sadly nodded. "Yeah, a lot of it was destroyed..."
"Well, at the very least, I continue to watch over it every day," Pokai responded. "From what I hear, you are actually dating a girl from my native tribe."
Aang nodded again, but this time with more of a smile, thinking of his love. "That's right, Pokai, I am."
"Good for you," Pokai smiled as well. "I hope you and her are successful, and I hope you continue the good work in reconstructing the South Pole."
Finally, the Air Nomad rose, much to the young Avatar's delight. "Greetings, my fellow Air Nomad. I am Monk Algaion, former Head Elder of the Council of Elders at the Northern Air Temple. Like my other associates, I lived around three thousand years before the War. It was devastating to see my people get wiped out. However, I see before me, someone to restore my faith...someone who makes me proud to be an Air Nomad. Congratulations, Avatar Aang, on accomplishing the hard task that came before you," Algaion bowed to him.
Aang returned the bow. "It is great to meet you...and thanks. My only regret is that I ran away just before Sozin did what he did."
Algaion brushed his beard and nodded. "I see, young Avatar. However, consider this, if you had stayed behind, you too might have been wiped out, and never would an Airbender walk the Earth again. Some things were meant to be."
"Katara told me that once," Aang responded. "At first, I was hesitant to agree, but now, I guess I see why."
"Indeed," Algaion smiled. "Once again, congratulations. However, there is a reason why Avatar Roku contacted you and brought you before us."
"Yeah, so what is this Weatherbending thing?" Aang asked the three masters curiously.
"Allow me to explain," Zentai moved up and said. "When the era of the Avatar began, as you may know, people started bending the elements themselves, as opposed to the energy within. The four elements, however, presented something unique. Alone, Air, Water, and Fire had the ability to manipulate the weather through certain techniques. These techniques could change any weather dramatically."
"Just by having a proficient understanding of one's native element," Pokai took over, "One could suddenly control a key aspect of the weather. Each of the three previously mentioned arts has its own unique method or even set of methods when it comes to the weather. For example, as a Waterbender, I can control the flow of precipitation. Rain, snow, sleet, it does not matter. I can pull moisture from the air and make it dry as a bone within seconds, or force moisture in and make it storm."
"As an Airbender," Algaion got his turn, "I can change the flow of the atmosphere, the direction and speed of the wind, I can alter the upper-air pattern. I can make a seemingly dry pattern turn into a stormy one."
"As a Firebender," the speech came back to Zentai, "My biggest art is temperature control. When merged with a Waterbender, I can alter precipitation types very fast. This is because I can make the temperature change by several degrees within seconds. A cold day can become a warm day fast, and this holds true the other way around. What you may not now, Aang, is that there are some arts of Weatherbending you have done, but are not aware of it. This is also where some of your friends come in."
"What do you mean?" Aang's eyebrows arched up, wondering what any of the rest of Team Avatar could have to do with Weatherbending.
"Your friends," Algaion said, "have shown the ability to bend the weather themselves. For example, when you and Katara bent the clouds around, that was actually a form of Weatherbending. Cloud manipulation can quickly cause a temperature change if done the right way."
"Also, the Fire Lord, and many others," Zentai explained. "They are also showing forms of Weatherbending by generating and re-directing lightning. They could alter thunderstorms by re-direction."
Aang still seemed confused. "Okay, so we're all Weatherbenders, but, why else have you called me here?"
"Young Avatar, the art of Weatherbending should not be allowed in the human world. However, it seems like it has gotten back out there, and now, people are using it for malicious purposes," Pokai answered. "It is up to you and your friends to stop them before they take over the world."
"Not again," Aang sighed and grew upset.
"Let me tell you about why this art should not exist to the human world," Algaion said. "It is a long and complex story, but eventually, it will end with what is going on in the present day. As Avatar Zentai said, it was not even known for years."
"The Spirit World controlled the weather in your world, Avatar," Pokai took over from there. "For many millennia, it was meant to be that way. However, the spirits soon decided that humans too should have the power to manipulate the very weather around them. So, they made their selection."
Avatar Zentai was the next to speak. "Three thousand years before the War, myself, Pokai and Algaion were chosen as the first masters of the weather. We were presented with the ancient Weatherbending scrolls by Wan Shi Tong, the knowledge spirit."
"Wan Shi Tong?" Aang asked. "I know him...but, it didn't end well..."
"We are aware of your encounter with the knowledge spirit and your trip to his library, Aang," Zentai said. "Anyhow, we were the first people who manipulated weather. Against the wishes of the spirits though, the word of Weatherbending got out after we passed. We were chosen as the guardians of weather, but we failed our task."
"Approximately 2,500 years before the War, Weatherbending's uses started to become malicious, things that were not meant to happen," Pokai said. "I am very ashamed to admit that the Water Tribes were the first one to misuse Weatherbending, though only the North did so."
"The Northern Water Tribe," Algaion said, "used Weatherbending in an attempt to colonize parts of the Earth Kingdom. Their Waterbenders used precipitation control and began spreading drought to the people of the northern Earth Kingdom, causing famines. By draining their food supply, the Waterbenders made these people weak, and colonized their territory."
"Only an intervention from the Avatar could stop the developing war. Thankfully, this worked," Zentai went along. "The Avatar of the time, who was an Earth Kingdom man himself, had to fight back the Water Tribes. He was successful, using Weatherbending. After this, the nations negotiated a peace treaty. It was at this time, that Pokai, Algaion and I agreed that it was time to remove this art from the world."
"As spirits, we quietly sneaked into the human world and de-enlightened everyone who knew the art, and took the ancient scrolls back. The scrolls were safely stored for the last 2,600 years in Wan Shi Tong's library," Pokai spoke. "However, just a month ago, this changed. That has led us to where we are today."
"We received word from Wan Shi Tong that the ancient Weatherbending scrolls were taken from his library last month," Zentai explained. "The group of bandits is called the Meteorologists, apparently led by an old Fire Nation general who wishes to siege a revolt against the Fire Nation, or, at least that's what it was. These people are why there are issues going on worldwide."
"I figure I should explain this part," Pokai said. "One of the Meteorologists is a Waterbender, hailing from the Northern Tribe. She has also joined him, along with another Fire Nation general. Thus, you have both Firebenders and a Waterbender involved in this group. The Firebenders have altered the temperatures, and the Waterbender is why you encountered a blizzard."
"As you would expect, Aang, their group lacks an Airbender. Therefore, you do have an advantage there," Algaion said. "Still, this is a dangerous group of people with a dangerous art at their disposal."
"Therefore," Zentai strengthened his focus on Aang. "It is up to you and your Weatherbending-capable friends to help stop this group. Not just them either; you will need your whole group of friends to stop this. The Meteorologists are a dangerous organization who will clearly stop at nothing to make sure the world is theirs."
Aang shook his head in despair. "I can't believe this...all I wanted is just for all of us to have peace."
"The challenge of maintaining peace is significant, Aang," Roku said. "But, you and your friends have done it before. I have faith in all of you to do this."
"Aang, there are some other things you must know. However, we will need more of your group to be present," Zentai said. "I ask that you bring your girlfriend, Katara, and your friend, Fire Lord Zuko to the Spirit World tomorrow. It is time for all of you to learn."
"You, Katara and Zuko are the only ones who can learn Weatherbending, as the only benders of the three elements required that are in your group," Algaion explained. "We shall enlighten all of you, then, you will need to seek your master, who you will learn more about tomorrow."
"For now, young Avatar," Pokai said, "you have our blessing and best of wishes in getting this done. We will be waiting for you and your friends here, tomorrow."
Aang bowed with a serious look on his face. "I will see to it that we get this accomplished."
"Now then, Aang," Roku said. "It is time for you to return to the mortal world."
Aang and Roku left the Spirit World a few minutes later. They returned to the Royal Palace, where Aang was sent out of the Spirit World, and placed back into his sleeping body in his guest room.
Royal Palace dining hall
The next morning, the members of the team were all gathered in the dining hall. Before breakfast was served, Aang decided it was the best time to speak with Katara and Zuko. "Everyone, except Katara and Zuko, I need you guys to leave."
The other members walked out curiously, wondering why Aang had dismissed them. Katara gave her boyfriend a curious look, with the Fire Lord clearly confused.
"Aang?" Zuko asked. "Why have you made it just us?"
"This is about what happened last night," Aang explained. "In the middle of the night, Avatar Roku came to me. I went to the Spirit World and met three important people. Your uncle was right, Zuko, and my worst fears were confirmed." The young Avatar then sighed heavily. "We have a spiritual problem. An ancient art is related to the issues being caused worldwide."
Katara became shocked. "I don't believe it...what does it mean for us?"
"Avatar Roku wants you two to join me tonight on another trip to the Spirit World. As it turns out, we are connected to this art," Aang said. "We are the three members of the group capable of it."
Without a moment's hesitation, Katara nodded. "I don't know what this is, but I'll join you, Aang."
Zuko took a second to get over his confusion and shock, but also nodded as well. "If this is what is needed, then I have no choice but to follow."
Aang looked at the two and nodded. "It is certainly a weird situation, but we need to do this. It's important. The fate of the entire world is at stake."
Well. So, now you have some idea why this is happening. In the next chapter, more will continue to be revealed, including some more about our real world transfer.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
Changing Weather - Not Your Typical Days - Regathering the Team - Into the Fire Nation - The Masters of Weather - The Meteorologists Attack - Recovery and Disasters - Searching for Instruction - Reeaki's Arrival - Training - Reverberations - A Dire Warning - Can We Hold Together? - Last Preparations - The Final Showdown, Part 1 - The Final Showdown, Part 2 - Survivors of the Conflict - Moving Forward
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