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Katara's epiphany
Maddening Truth
Chapter information

The Vengeful Spirit



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With the threat of total destruction looming over humanity, Aang is left with no choice but to track down Shi Hun and attempt to deter him.

After receiving dire news from Aang in the cave on the beach, Katara and he ponder what course of action to take.
Katara This is a nightmare... who can we even turn to for help with something like this?
Aang I have an idea.
Aang assumes his meditation pose, and Katara moves away from him as he closes his eyes and his tattoos light up. Katara clasps her hands hopefully.
Aang Roku... help me.
Roku's spirit splits from Aang's body and appears before him in the same meditating position.
Aang A corrupt dragon named Shi Hun has his heart set on wiping humanity off the face of the planet. I tried to talk some sense into him, but he is stricken with grief over the state of his species.
Roku Aang, Shi Hun feels incomprehensible pain, a pain more intense than any you will ever feel. He is possessed by an overwhelming emptiness in his heart, and it drives him to take out his anger on mankind.
Aang I know, and I feel really sorry for him, but he's not handling this the right way!
Roku No, he's not. When one sees nothing left to do in life but end the lives of others, there is no longer a point to living.
Aang What are you saying?
Roku This dragon is a vessel of hatred, and must be put down.
Aang No, Roku, he's not. Shi Hun was furious when I judged his actions, and he told me I knew nothing of his pain, but I told him about the Air Nomad genocide, and he felt sorry for me. Shi Hun said he feels sympathy for me, like I do for him.
Roku He must not be allowed to attain his goal, Aang. Dragons are vicious and devastating when provoked, it may not be the best strategy to fight him head-on.
Aang Fight him? I don't want to fight him! I want to find a way to change his mind by helping him.
Roku A heart as desecrated as his will not be easily mended.
Aang I don't expect it to be easy.
Roku Then you have quite a task before you. Find and contact Shi Hun, do whatever you can to convince him.
Aang nods. Roku's spirit begins to fade.
Roku Just remember, Aang, a peaceful resolution to this conflict may not be possible. Do not hesitate to do what must be done otherwise.
As Roku disappears, Aang's physical body opens its eyes as his tattoos return to normal.
Katara [Happily.] You're back!
Aang eases out of his meditating position, sitting on the floor. He turns his head to face Katara.
Katara How'd it go?
Aang I know what I need to do, and I'm gonna need you and Sokka's help.
Aang and Katara hurriedly make their way to the kitchen, finding everyone still sitting at the kitchen table. Upon arrival, Aang pounds the floor with the end of his staff to get everyone's attention.
Aang Attention, everyone! We're all in great danger, we need to get out of here!
While Chang and Haoke sit surprised and worried, Sokka stands up out of his seat.
Sokka [Tensely.] What are you talking about?
Aang We found out what attacked you, Chang. It was a dragon, Shi Hun, and he intended to kill you. He intends to kill us all!
Haoke [Petrified.] What? Why would...
Chang and his wife stand and he attempts to calm her.
Chang [Holding Haoke.] These are very serious claims, Aang. Are you sure about this?
Aang Positive. I talked to the dragon himself in the Spirit World.
Sokka huddles up with Aang and Katara.
Sokka What's the plan?
Aang It wouldn't be safe to have Chang and Haoke ride out of here on Appa. Shi Hun could easily find them and shoot them down. So we have to find the dragon first and keep him on us so Appa can evacuate them.
Katara Do you have any idea where it is?
Aang Shi Hun reeks of spiritual energy. All I have to do is stay alert, and I can sniff him out.
Sokka Well, what are we going to do with Chang and his wife in the meantime? We can't just leave them sitting here while we go searching for a dragon. It could easily come back here and burn the whole place down behind our backs.
Aang You're right... okay, how about this: Appa follows behind us with Chang and Haoke aboard, that way when we find Shi Hun, they can take off to safety while we keep him busy.
Katara and Sokka exchange glances of agreement.
Sokka I guess that's our best bet. Alright, let's do this.
The three kids turn to face Chang and Haoke.
Aang [To the couple, sensitively.] Are you ready to go?
Haoke buries her face in her husband's chest fearfully while he runs his hand over her head comfortingly.
Aang [Taking a step forward and holding out a hand.] I promise, I won't let anything happen to you or your home, and this dragon will get taken care of.
Chang nods hesitantly and follows Aang and his friends out the door, guiding his unstable wife along with him. Outside, Sokka helps the couple onto Appa, then joins Aang and Katara.
Katara [Worriedly.] I hope that's a promise you can keep, Aang.
Aang sees Chang and Haoke cowering in Appa's saddle, and is disheartened.
Aang [Pointing his staff forward.] Let's go.
The Avatar leads the group off of the property, traversing the cobblestone road and crossing over the bridge. Suddenly, Aang pauses and holds up a hand to halt the others.
Katara Do you sense something?
Sokka [Drawing his boomerang.] This could be it!
Aang [Straightening his stance and repeatedly inhaling.] I... ah... AA-CHOO!
Aang's sneeze sends him flying into the air. He floats gently back to the ground and rubs his nose while Sokka sheathes his boomerang in annoyance.
Aang It was nothing, just a sneeze.
Katara [In a serious tone with a straight face.] Please don't scare us like that.
Aang [Guiltily.] Oh, I'm sorry...
Katara [Placing a hand on his shoulder.] It's okay. Let's just keep moving, alright?
Aang Yeah... follow me.
The group continues down their path toward the site of the original attack. The incinerated field and ashen trees come into their view as they draw closer to the area.
Sokka Why exactly are we coming back here?
Katara Do you have any better ideas?
Sokka As a matter of fact, my instincts are telling me that we should turn around right now and go search some place that we haven't almost died in.
Katara We've been over this before, Sokka, your-
Aang [Extending both his arms out from his sides.] Wait!
There is dead silence as everyone freezes to stop and listen. Chang and Haoke hold each other as their eyes nervously scan their surroundings. Aang turns around slowly to face his party.
Aang [Whispering anxiously.] He's here!
Sokka [Speaking at a normal volume.] What are you talking about? I don't-
Aang [Covering Sokka's mouth.] Sshh! Trust me, Sokka. Get on Appa, and wait for my signal.
Sokka nods, then runs to Appa and climbs atop the bison's head and holds the reins.
Aang Katara, you go with him in case Shi Hun tries anything.
Katara So, what? You plan on taking on a dragon alone?
Aang Hopefully I won't have to. [Aang cracks a small smile.] But if I do, a dragon should be pretty good practice for when I have to face the Fire Lord.
Katara's concerned eyes glisten as she gazes into Aang's. She shuts her eyes and lets a tear escape while her lips quiver in an attempt to hold back more tears. Unable to contain her emotions, Katara pulls Aang into her arms, much to his surprise. Several more tears escape Katara's eyes as she tightens her grip on the boy, resting her chin on his shoulder.
Katara [In a trembling voice.] Don't you dare lose. [She releases him from her arms.] Got it?
Aang [Confidently.] I won't. Now go, I'll meet up with you back at the estate.
Reluctantly, Katara mounts Appa and looks down at Aang who gives Sokka the signal.
Sokka Yip-yip!
As Appa turns around and begins flight back to the estate, Aang takes a deep breath approaches the attack site.
Aang Shi Hun! I know you're here. Please, come out. I just want to talk.
As Aang treads onward, the ground beneath him rumbles faintly.
Shi Hun I don't.
Before Aang can react, the dragon makes his destructive entry, crashing through the ground from the earth below to the surface. He lands in front of Aang, staring him down threateningly. Aang bows respectfully, unfazed.
Shi Hun I know what you want. You want me to forget what has happened, and simply watch my species die out. You're wasting your time, Avatar. And mine.
Aang I don't want you to forget, I want you to forgive. Lay your rage and hatred to rest, and live out the rest of your life peacefully.
Shi Hun Have I not made myself clear? Your crimes are unforgivable. My heart burns with the intensity of a thousand suns, yearning each day for humanity to answer for their crimes.
Aang We're in the middle of a global war. We kill each other ruthlessly every day, and when Sozin's Comet returns, the death toll will be huge if I don't stop the Fire Lord. So many families have been torn apart by this war, and everyone is suffering. I'm begging you, don't make the world an even worse place than it already is.
Shi Hun But if you do stop the Fire Lord, your kind will give itself the illusion of peace for another few years until another petty disagreement arises and you plunge yourself into centuries of war again. What does it matter if humanity dies out sooner rather than later?
Aang [Softly.] Think about all the pain you feel, Shi Hun. Remember your family, your home, and your friends, and think about how it felt to watch that all disappear before your eyes.
Shi Hun [The dragon pauses for a moment.] Agony nothing should ever have to endure.
Aang If that's what you believe, then why would you inflict the same pain upon my people?
Shi Hun is taken aback at this realization, but his denial of the truth causes the dragon to go berserk as he stands on his hind legs and wildly spews purple flames in the air.
Aang [Performing a flying leap backwards.] Whoa!
The dragon viciously sprays fire all over the burned land. Roars and wails echo throughout the land as Shi Hun stomps about in a frenzied rampage. At Chang and Haoke's estate, the group hears the noises and feels rumbling as they dismount Appa.
Katara Aang's in trouble! We have to go help!
Sokka No, it's too dangerous. If that dragon decides to ditch Aang and fly over here, well... we can't let that happen. Hey, if Aang could take down a whole Fire Navy fleet by himself, I think he can handle this.
Katara gazes off into the distance helplessly as Sokka brings Chang and his wife inside and seals the building's windows and doors.
Sokka [With his hands placed on Chang and Haoke's shoulders.] Hang in there, you two. Aang has this under control, and Katara and I are here to protect you. This will be over soon.
Chang Thank you, you are all very brave.
Haoke [In a daze.] Th-thank you...
Sokka returns to his post outside and stands guard with a sorely worried Katara. In the burned field, Aang evades Shi Hun's savage attacks.
Aang Shi Hun! Get a hold of yourself!
The rampage continues despite Aang's words to the dragon. The wicked purple blaze engulfs the land once again as the sky darkens and ashes begin to rain down from above.
Aang Alright, you made me do this!
Wielding his staff, Aang creates a destructive whirlwind of air and sends it flying at Shi Hun. He is spun around mercilessly in the midst of the storm. Aang manipulates the air to slam him into the ground, incapacitating the beast. Panting and struggling to move, Shi Hun lies drained before the Avatar.
Aang Are you ready to talk now?
Shi Hun There is nothing more to say.
With the remainder of his strength, Shi Hun inhales deeply, and breathes a beam of pure, purple fire at Aang, who quickly reacts and attempts to block the attack with a swirling motion of his staff. As the fire continues to meet Aang's defenses, his guard is broken and he is launched into a scorched tree. Upon impact, Aang is slammed against the trunk and takes a short while to recover. After returning to the battleground, Shi Hun is nowhere to be seen. No longer sensing his presence, Aang reunites Katara and Sokka at the estate. Katara is delighted as she spots Aang, and runs to him joyfully.
Katara Aang! I knew you'd make it!
Upon seeing Aang's grim expression, Katara's smile diminishes. Sokka joins the two.
Katara What's the matter?
Sokka [Dismayed.] Something's wrong, isn't it?
Aang Shi Hun... he got away. We talked, we fought, and then he knocked me into a tree and disappeared while I was out. I couldn't sense any spiritual presence anymore. He could be anywhere now.

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