|By Mark Ebson||Genre||Rating||Reviews||Updates|
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New Beginnings is the first chapter of the War.. It shows what has happened to the main characters immediately after
It was over. It was all over. That was all the Avatar could think of the next day after he had defeated the Fire Lord. A Great War of one hundred years, coming to an end during the same event that had started it.
Of course, this war was not truly over. The world was scarred after a hundred years of deadly combat – more scarred than it ever had been in all known history. And it was this young boy's duty to heal the scars. Aang didn't even know if they would be fully healed in his lifetime, however long that would last. Some ran deep past the skin and would take a while to disappear. Others were permanent, and would last forever.
Aang even had his own scars. He had his two literal ones, one on his back and the other on his foot. But they did not cause such agonizing pain as the scar created by the loss of his entire race at the beginning of the War. This was one of the scars that would always be there, causing pain whenever someone were to touch it.
And as for Katara...well, Aang couldn't even find words to express how happy he was. They had shared a kiss yesterday in Ba Sing Se, one Aang had been waiting for a long time. He knew it was love at first sight for those two. She didn't, and it drove him crazy. But now they both knew, and he was immensely satisfied with that.
Meanwhile, now-Fire Lord Zuko was overwhelmed with the challenges he was to face. Yes, it was great that he found love as well with Mai. Yes, he was pleased when his father was defeated and the Great War ended. But Zuko wasn't quite the optimist, and currently he was focusing on what could become another war. A civil war, one that would divide the Fire Nation. Just because the War was over didn't meant that people stopped believing in its cause. People were still power hungry, and the power hungry people were dangerous. Zuko could trust no one. He knew that at any moment a guard could turn on him. They could kill him, and that would be the end of that.
Iroh tried to cheer him up. He tried everything – tea, advice, he even offered a game of Pai Sho – but Zuko could not, would not be comforted by anything. Except the advice. Advice was the only thing that could do anything to comfort Zuko, but still it was not much. With every passing moment he was becoming more and more distant from everybody. Zuko knew that the fate of an entire nation was his responsibility – if he failed to keep peace, to keep order, it would be on his head. It was too much of a burden for the 17-year-old, and it was breaking him down.
Zuko consistently offered to transfer the title of Fire Lord to his uncle, and remain as the Crown Prince. But Iroh always refused, saying that the world needed a ruler like him. Zuko would dispute this, saying that his uncle was much more experience in the ways of the world, was much wiser, and would be a much better ruler than he could possibly dream of. But Iroh said that he could not take the throne. He insisted that Zuko could, and would get through this, even if it required help. Zuko had doubted this, but at the same time knew that doubting his uncle was never a wise decision. But now Zuko truly believed that his uncle was mistaken.
After the war, Aang, Sokka, and Katara revisited the Southern Water Tribe. Since their initial departure, it has been largely rebuilt and was in much better shape than they had even hoped. Of course, it wasn't even half as majestic as the Northern Water Tribe, but it was a start, and they weren't even close to the end yet.
Sokka and Katara even came close to staying in the once-desolate area. After seeing their grandmother and father, as well as their new grandfather, leaving was nearly impossible. But they felt that leaving Aang alone would be cruel, and they compromised. They would visit once every two months, no exceptions.
As for Toph, she did not go back to visit her parents. She maintained that she could remain independent, and that she didn't need them. Toph wanted to keep her image of independence up; she did not want people to think that she needed anyone else. And to anyone that suggested that she go and at least visit their parents, God help them. Toph's reaction was unpredictable; it could range from a simple "no" to a chunk of solid rock flying at your head depending on the mood she was in.
Despite the constant negative reaction, Katara, being her motherly self, persisted in asking. And every time she did her relationship with Toph became more and more strained. Toph was stubborn and Katara knew that, but Katara was stubborn too, and she was more determined to win this than she has ever been.
After the war, Zuko decided to take a field trip of his own. It wasn't going to be a fun one, and he knew that. But it was one he felt he had to take.
It was to a medical center on an island nearby the Fire Nation Capital. In this building his sister, Azula, was finally contained. She was watched around the clock, with no chance of escaping. His defeat of her was what finally caused her to break, and he knew it. In a way, he felt sorry for her. She was a victim of her own desire to be perfect, to be powerful, to be in control. And she was a victim of her own belief that her mother favoured her son Zuko over her. Now she was locked up in chains, never to be seen by the outside world again.
Appa landed just outside the facility. Zuko entered and was directed to his sister's room. On the way he tried his hardest not to look at the center's inhabitants, knowing that these people were probably staying for life. It pained Zuko to know these people were going nowhere, including his sister.
At the end of the hallway they reached Azula's room. Zuko could see that her title of Princess did nothing matter. She had no special privileges here, nothing was different for her because she was royalty. Her "room", as they referred to it, was more of a cell. She rested on a bed, which was the only item in this metal box. There was only one knob to the door on the outside, and she had no way out. The only opening was a small rectangular spot located exactly at the eye level of Zuko. Even if you were to reach through, the knob was located so low on the door that it would be impossible for the tallest of people to turn it.
"Azula." That was all Zuko could think to say. After what was happening to her, he had no words left.
"What are you doing here?" she snapped. She stood up and ran forwards as far as she could, but her hands were chained behind her back to bed. The bed was bolted down to the floor.
"I'm just coming for a visit," he replied. "I see you're not doing too well."
"You're not going to be doing too well once I'm finished with you!" Azula shouted. "Why don't you come in here so I can finish you off!"
"You can't do that, and you know it. I beat you."
"No, you didn't! Can't you remember what happened so recently? You left the battle with lightning running through your veins, my lightning, if it weren't for that Water Tribe peasant you would have been dead, and it would have been because of me! Me, Azula, rightful Heir to the throne!"
Zuko waited a moment, taking in what had just been shouted at him. Then he spoke. "I'm not the one that's locked up." Zuko then proceeded to turn around, and walked back down the hallway, leaving his sister in her miserable solitude.
Azula did not react well to this. She screamed, a burst of hot blue flame leaving her mouth along with the noise. "I'll get out of here! I'll leave if I have to drag this entire building with me! Then I'll find you, and kill you! One day you're not going to wake up, Zuko! And neither is your mother!"
Zuko stopped. He could feel the rage pulsing through him, and he wanted so much to turn around and shoot flame back at her. But he was not going to. He was going to control himself. He was going to understand the mental state that she was in, and he was going to walk away. But not after he said something.
"She's your mother, too." Then he continued his calm exit as he had before.
Azula laughed at this. She had no mother. She just had a woman that was forced to be with her at all times. She was not loved. It just wasn't possible to her.
"She'll be nobody's mother once I'm through with her."
This time Zuko didn't even stop. The anger, the rage, the infuriating desire to lash back had finally taken over his mind and body. He turned around and shot fireball after fireball at her door, hoping that one would make contact and that the world would never have to deal with this horrible, manipulative creature again. He ran towards the door, despite the warnings of the main caretaker who was rushing to try and stop him. But he was fast, faster than the woman, and he burst in to find that Azula was unharmed. He planned on changing that.
Again Zuko sent fire at her, but in one swift move she easily dodged it and used her chains to swing her entire body around and kick him. Her feet made contact with his body, and he fell forwards towards the metal wall. He had a massive headache at this point and shot another burst of flame in her general direction, unable to focus. But it missed by a wide margin despite the short distance between the two, and she tripped him so that his entire body was on the ground. Zuko sent another blast one final time, knowing that he had probably missed. He then felt the impact of a foot again at his skull, kicking his head to the metal wall over and over. His vision became blurry, and he saw the figures of what he assumed to be guards rush in before he lost consciousness.
Zuko heard voices. They were of his friends, talking worriedly to each other. He thought that maybe he was dying and this would be the last that he heard before he took his final breath. But he opened his eyes, and saw everyone watching down upon him, eyes widening and gasping and celebrating when they saw that he had regained consciousness. Zuko lifted his head, but he heard Katara from the side tell him to stay still. He could feel her healing him.
"Where am I?" he asked. Zuko could see the sky above him, and there was nothing that he could recognize.
Katara again spoke. "You're still at the mental facility, just outside. There was no time to bring you anywhere else. They knew you weren't in good shape. They gave you some medicine and sent a messenger hawk over to the Royal Palace, thinking that you weren't going to make it. Then we found a leftover war balloon near the palace and got your uncle to get it going."
Zuko immediately sprang up again with excitement. "My uncle's here?" He saw him standing behind Katara, tears streaming down his face. But he didn't get to see for long, because Katara immediately pushed his head back down. "I said not to move. You can say hello after I'm done."
Eventually Katara finished, saying that he would make a full recovery. Iroh immediately pulled Zuko to his feet and hugged him. "You can't even imagine how worried I was," he said between gasps for air. "That crazy b*** h is going down."
Zuko was wide-eyed with surprise. "Uncle. I've never heard you so...brash before."
"Anyone who tries to hurt my nephew has to go through me," he replied lovingly.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|New Beginnings • What Happened to Ursa • Reunion • Omashu Attacked • Ozai's Followers • Descent, Part 1 • Descent, Part 2|
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