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|Night of the Lang Ren|
Guys, I think we should stop and rest." Aang suggested to his friends.
"Good idea," Katara agreed. "Land in that little village down there." She said, pointing to a village ahead of them. Aang steered Appa down to the village and landed him there. Everyone hopped off and entered the village. A boy approached them as they entered.
"Hi, welcome to Naogui Village!" He said. "My name is Gaizao. May I ask who you are?" The boy said, courteously.
"I am the Avatar and these are my friends." Aang answered.
Gaizao's eyes widened. "Avatar, it is an honor to welcome you to our village," He said, humbly. "Tell me, what brings you here?" The boy wondered.
"We are just stopping to rest for the night." Katara answered Gaizao's question.
"Uh, very well, hurry inside now!" Gaizao said, worriedly after hearing their reason.
"Why, is everything okay?" Suki asked.
"Look, just stay inside and no matter what do not leave your houses!" Gaizao was panicking as the sun was beginning to set. He then bolted into his house and locked the door.
"Alright, let's get inside." Sokka motioned.
"Aang and I will share a room." Katara spoke.
"So will Suki and me." Sokka added. Momo chirped, indicating he was staying with them too.
"Then I guess Me, Ai, and Kato can all share one." Toph said. The sun had set and everyone was in their homes with their doors bolted shut except Team Avatar.
Toph sensed the vibrations instantly. She awoke and heard thunderous footsteps outside. The small house she was in was shaking and things were falling off of shelves. Toph went outside to see what was causing all of the ruckus. She did not care what it was, Toph was not afraid. She sensed it turning the corner and was speechless when she realized what it was. "Aang, you need to get out here now!" She yelled.
Aang woke up along with Katara and ran out of their tiny house. "Toph, what is it?" Aang asked. He then stared up at the giant, shaggy, wolf-like spirit towering over them on its hind legs.
"What is that thing?!" Katara shouted in disbelief.
"Maybe it is some kind of spirit?" Aang guessed.
"Who cares? Just crush it!" Toph urged her friends.
Aang ignored Toph's statement and proceeded to talk to the spirit. "Great spirit, why are you attacking this village?" The Avatar asked it. The reply he got was a monstrous roar. The rest of Naogui Village had been awakened by the roar. Sokka, Suki, Ai, Momo, and Kato peered out of their windows and saw Katara and Toph battling with the spirit.
"What is that thing?" Sokka asked no one in particular.
"It looks like some kind of spirit." Kato addressed his friend's question.
"We have to help them." Sokka said.
"No, just stay inside," Ai rebutled. "Aang can handle this himself."
"Toph! Katara! Get inside!" Kato called out.
"Not a chance!" Toph stated.
"Yeah, we are not going anywhere!" Katara agreed.
The sun was beginning to rise and the gargantuan spirit ran off into the woods behind the village. After several minutes of quiet, the residents of Naogui Village exited their homes.
"What was that?" Aang asked out loud, hoping that someone would have an answer.
"It was Lang Ren, the spirit of Naogui Village." A woman said.
"So this place is haunted?" Katara asked the woman.
Her husband replied for her. "Yes, but it was not always like this." He answered.
"When did this start?" Aang questioned the villagers.
"Four years ago," The woman said. "However, Lang Ren stopped attacking our village for quite some time until recently when it suddenly started to appear again."
"Well, we better not stay around and get attacked by it again." Sokka said, hastily heading for Appa.
"Are you kidding? What about all of these people?" Ai asked her friend in disbelief.
"Look, Ai, we need to get to Ba Sing Se. These people will just have to hope for the best." Sokka replied.
"Ai is right, Sokka. We can't just abandon these people." Katara spoke up.
"Please don't tell me you are going to start getting all 'I would rather die than leave these people' on us now." Sokka begged.
"What? When have I ever said anything like that?" Katara asked, furiously.
"Guys, come on," Aang tried to stop the siblings' bickering.
"Let the Avatar decide; he is the great bridge between mortals and spirits." The husband spoke up.
"Aang, what is your decision?" Katara asked, glaring at him as if she was forcing him to agree with her.
"I guess I could give it a try." The Air Nomad decided.
"Fine, just go on ahead!" Sokka raised his voice and stormed off into his small house.
"First I think I should take a look to see if these villagers made the spirits angry and if so, I can calm it down." Aang stated.
"Do what you gotta do, Aang." Kato said.
Aang twirled his glider open and flew off into the woods. The others watched as he flew away. "Hey, guys. I'm really sorry if our little problem is delaying your journey." Gaizao said as he approached them.
"No problem, Gaizao. We are happy to help." Ai assured him.
"Most of us, anyway." Toph remarked.
Aang had flown for quite a while and had found nothing wrong with the environment. He was currently walking through the woods. The Avatar was about to turn back when he found something. He landed and examined it better. What he saw were little strand of black hair. Where did these hair strands come from? He thought to himself. They could not have come from an animal, it was clearly human hair. Aang opened his glider and flew back to Naogui Village to tell of his discovery.
It was around five o'candle and Aang had not yet returned. "Where could he be?" Katara wondered to herself.
"Look, here he comes!" Suki announced, eagerly.
Aang spun his glider shut and landed. "What did you find?" Ai asked him.
Aang held up the hair he found in the woods. "So, you found a bunch of hair. Really helpful." Sokka said, sarcastically.
"Don't you guys get it? This is human hair." Aang explained.
"Human hair?" Toph repeated.
"Let's just wait for it to get dark. I will surprise Lang Ren and stall him until the sun comes up." Aang declared. "The rest of you need to get some sleep."
Sokka lazily walked off into his house before Aang had even finished his sentence. "Alright, goodnight." Katara said. Aang waited until the moon was finally in the air and the sun was out of sight.
Aang had been awake for hours. It was almost time for the sun to come up and Lang Ren had yet to appear. He was going to call it quits when he heard a terrifying roar and thundering footsteps. Lang Ren lurked over Aang and swung it's right arm at the Airbender. Aang flew backwards but caught himself using Airbending. He sprinted at Lang Ren using his bending and let out a large breath of air. Lang Ren was blown back by Aang's attack. The spirit quickly shook it off and ran back at Aang. The Avatar prepared to strike again but noticed Lang Ren had stopped. The spirit clutched it's head and began to howl in pain. Aang saw that the moon had been blocked by a cloud and was no longer in sight. Aang watched the spirit transform into a face he recognized. The body of Gaizao laid before him, shivering in the moonlight. "Aang, please, finish me." He said.
"Gaizao, I am not going to kill you." Aang insisted.
"I can't control myself when I am like this. Please, hurry! Before the moon comes back from behind that cloud!" Gaizao begged.
Aang concentrated for a few moments. "Avatar Roku, I need your help to heal this man." Aang plead.
Roku's spirit appeared before them but by then it was too late. The cloud had moved and Gaizao was already going through his horrible metamorphosis once again. His transformation was complete within seconds. The Were-Spirit loomed over Aang and Roku, snarling with his razor-sharp teeth. Roku extended one arm and channeled spirit energy through Gaizao's body. The great beast howled as he was turned back to his human form. "Thank you, Roku." Aang thanked the spirit.
"Any time you need me, or any other Avatar, Aang; you know where to find us." Roku vanished back into the Spirit World upon speaking these words.
The sun was rising and the rest of Team Avatar left their houses and the rest of the village followed soon afterwards. "You did it, Aang!" Katara said, happily.
"Guys, it was Gaizao." Aang informed everyone. The villagers as well as the faces of the young heroes turned to shock.
"Yes, I am sorry for all that I have done. However, I am finally cured and this town can finally leave their homes after dark!" Gaizao announced, cheerfully. Everyone else cheered as well.
"Alright, let's go." Sokka said.
"Bye, Aang. And thanks." Gaizao said before the heroes left.
"No problem, Gaizao." Aang responded.
"It had to have been him!" The voice of a woman shouted.
"Do not jump to conclusions, Kyoshi! Avatar Shui responded.
"I agree with Kyoshi. Only he would do such a thing!" Another Avatar said, raising his voice.
"I know, Wuming. This means he is now able to move beyond the Fire Nation." Roku realized.
"First Jun then Banhen now he is back?!" Kuruk yelled. "We can't let that monster achieve his goal!"
"I agree. We must warn Avatar Aang." Yangchen decided.
"I am afraid that is not possible," Roku sadly said. "His presence has prevented me from helping the Air Nomad any more than I already have. Aang and his friends are on their own."
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