|More from Vanja1995||Adventure/Drama||PG||Positive||None|
|Over the Edge|
"Katara Standing on a Cliff"
Avatar Wiki, LastAirbenderFans Online
This entry explores Aang and Katara's relationship several years after the war as they tour the Northern Earth Kingdom.
Katara was at the edge of the cliff now. She would have to face them. Aang ... where are you‽
Their journey had taken many unexpected turns that spring. It had started out – for Aang and Katara – as a tour of the Northern Earth Kingdom to celebrate 5 years of being together. At its end they would reach Ba Sing Se to join the festivities of the rest of Team Avatar, who were celebrating five war-free years. Going the rate they were, they would miss those celebrations.
It had started in the early weeks of their journey. Aang had been trying to hide his arrow as not to get noticed, but in one town in the mountains, he removed his hat to pay proper respects to the Air Nomad Avatar who had made his home there millennia ago. The events that ensued would create the fork in their journey.
"That isn't advisable," came a voice from nowhere. Both Aang and Katara jumped, wheeling around to see that a hunched figure under a faded robe had appeared. "This village is controlled by bandits... The Avatar is not favored in their eyes." Confused but confident, the couple heeded the man's words. "Quickly, we haven't much time before they know you're here, follow me." The old man went on as they slid past several back streets, coming to their apparent destination after a minute or so. Attempting to move several large crates, and ultimately having to accept some help from Aang, the old man revealed a secret door, the three shuffling through its narrow passage. Inside was an almost immediate drop, followed by a succession of thin, steep stairs. At the bottom, the old man suddenly stopped, the other two bumping into his back. They had come to another door, far under the ground. A small slit slid to the side revealing a pair of droopy, weathered eyes.
"Password?" came a muffled voice from behind the door.
"Stand aside, Donk, you know who I am," the old man said, obviously having gone through this trial many times in the past. Donk let them in.
"So, where are we?" Aang asked stepping into a large hall supported by four pillars on each side. Several old people shuffled through.
"Wait," Katara started, "this isn't...?"
"The northern headquarters of the Order of the White Lotus," the old man finished her sentence, "is that what you were going to say?" he added with a grin. "Now, come." With a sweep of his robe, he led them straight down the hall. They noticed several side exits as they passed through.
"How big is this place?" Aang whispered to Katara, while she stared at the beautifully painted ceiling in awe. They came to the end of the atrium, meeting tremendous navy blue curtains.
"Behind those curtains is the Grand Lotus of the north." The old man began retreating. "When you are ready to see him, you may enter."
Aang shrugged his shoulders at Katara. "Let's go." Katara took a deep breath and slid between the two heavy sheets of fabric. Aang followed suit. Behind the curtains was a large, round room. There was a large, round pit in the marble floor at the center, filled with pillows and blankets.
They soon discovered that in the midst of those pillows and blankets was one very old and sick Grand Lotus. As they crouched near him, he spoke in a broken, wheezy voice.
"Ahh, Avatar. I am glad I get to meet you before I cross from this world into the next," he coughed.
"It is a great honor to be in your presence," Aang replied, bowing. Katara mimicked his motions.
"Enough pleasantries. Listen carefully; there is a clan of bandits roaming these mountains. They are slowly taking control of all the villages and towns in these mountains. On top of that, we have reason to believe that they are hiding something very important from the world. A great... treasure, perhaps. You might be the only one who can recover it, Aang."
"Wh- what is it?" the Avatar asked.
The Grand Lotus took in a slow, gravelly breath and then uttered, "Sky Bison."
Katara had cursed this man time and time again for involving him in this catastrophe of a journey. Sky Bison. To think she had believed his story that a flock of Sky Bison lived somewhere in the northern mountains. What was worse, after this enlightenment, Aang had become desperate, believing the story, trying to search them out. He dragged her into the cold, unforgiving mountains. In her own mind, Katara was amazed at all the villages they came across, which were once Airbender settlements, now run by the bandits. But of course, with the current situation burdening their trip, she couldn't show this emotion to Aang, only the cold, annoyed mask that she kept on her face at all times.
This was supposed to be about them! How could Aang have forgotten that so easily. "Well, he has been sad for Appa all these years... and this might be his only chance," Katara had muttered to herself once during the trek, but quickly dismissed the sympathy. She still wanted to be more important. During the years when they traveled the world after they had just first discovered Aang, she rarely thought of him in a romantic way, most of the time, always focusing on the war (and in reality, getting revenge against the Fire Nation). Was this how it was now, just reversed?
After travelling the villages (spurring rebellions and running the bandits out of many) and gathering more information, the two discovered where the bandits' main camp was. It was on the northern shores of the continent, where high, flat cliffs had been carved into the land by the unceasing ocean. On the side of these cliffs were several makeshift huts and buildings, connected by ladders and bridges, all on the wall of the cliff.
Katara, praying it would all soon end, had gone along with Aang's plan to infiltrate the main building and get the information he needed. They hid, crouched, at the edge of the cliff, waiting for a bandit to come over the edge. As they waited, Katara tried to bring up her inner qualms about the quest to Aang, but he silenced her, forbidding anything that might jeopardize his obscured plans. The silence was unbearable, she knew she shouldn't be hurt, and told herself to understand Aang's state of mind. She couldn't possibly be angry at him in this situation.
All these thoughts came out as a stream of tears, and Aang immediately noticed.
"Hey, what's wrong?" he said innocently. It was no surprise that he had no idea what was going on.
"N-nothing," Katara stuttered into her sleeve. Suddenly Aang's eyes widened, his peaceful, all-loving look that Katara hadn't seen since his mad frenzy through the mountains to find the Bison reappearing.
He asked further prodding questions, putting his arms around her and his forehead up against hers.
Katara swallowed deeply. Now she could fully see he had been blinded with the hope that there were Sky Bisons here, and the rage that they were trapped. It was the time for her to take Aang's own advice from so many years ago. She had to forgive him.
Pulling him into a hug, and squeezing her eyes tight together once more to expel all the remaining tears she looked back at him and said, "I'm just ... afraid. And nervous and excited," she added on. This felt right: not being mad at him. She smiled, and he kissed her head.
Of course she wasn't done with him, he would have some explaining to do when they were finished the mission. She smirked. "I'm ready."
Just then, two bandits came from over the edge.
Dressed fully in bandit attire (their faces covered but for the eyes), Katara and Aang easily entered the main building, which was also the largest. The bandits, not having much education, or any knowledge of the world past the mountains, easily gave the location of the Bison to Aang. The two were just leaving, when Katara's arm was grabbed by a sharp-knuckled hand.
"Come on," its owner said, "we just got news that two outsiders jumped some sentries. We gotta go look for 'em."
As she passed by Aang, she whispered "Go." While Aang took their initial route out of the room, Katara followed the others directly up and out. While one train of bright torch lights moved up the cliff, another figure, dark and unnoticeable in the night, split off towards the Bison's hiding place. Katara knew exactly where they had tied up the two bandits; only time held the answer to how long it would take them to find it.
The group was surprisingly thorough, looking through every crevice and cave at the cliff's edge. However, it seemed there was enough time for Aang to release the Bison, because the bandits weren't searching anywhere near the right place.
After they had scoured the cliff's edge for almost a quarter-mile, Katara having kept to herself, the leader's voice boomed out from somewhere in front of her. "THERE'S NOTHING HERE! MOVE TOWARDS THE FOREST!" Everyone blindly followed, including one traitor who would have to do everything she could to make sure they didn't come across two tied, gagged and mostly naked bandits.
The foothills of the mountains weren't far from the cliff, and the group quickly came to the small, marshy forests at their base. Immediately, all sorts of logs, rocks and bushes were being flipped over, every tree trunk hit heavily, every hiding place searched. Katara herself couldn't find them, not remembering how similar the logs looked and how the soft, wet soil felt beneath her feet in the dark. All she knew was that they were tied up behind a large, fallen tree, up to their necks in mud.
It wasn't long before Katara's head jerked up, hearing, "I HEAR SOMETHIN' OVER THERE!" Everyone went quiet for a second, and surely enough, muffled cries were heard coming from not far away. The whole group scrambled over the soggy terrain to that log Katara knew. Some averted their eyes, some just stared, as the pair were pulled out of the mud.
The sun was now rising, and the entire group of men and women were standing in a line at the cliff, the spray from the ocean on their backs. Their leader was facing them, with the newly clothed, shivering bandits.
"Which one was it?" the leader asked.
"They have their masks on, sir," one replied.
After a moment of thought, the bandits were instructed to remove their masks. Katara tried to do this with the least amount of hesitation, but it was difficult.
"Now, tell me, who're the imposters?"
"It was... a girl an' a guy ... the girl had dark skin, long hair, the guy was bald."
On the leader's command everyone not fitting those descriptions left the line. There were several women with ranging skin tones that could be considered dark in the line, but no bald men. They deduced he must be hiding, but they could still uncover the girl.
The leader called the group of girls in. Everyone quickly looked around the circle, a nervous energy swirling within it. They all mumbled and gawked, shaking their heads left and right. It became apparent where the girl who wasn't a bandit was.
No longer in the circle.
Katara swung her arms over her head, condensing the heavily water-laced seaside air into a stream of water with the motion. She blasted it at the group, concealing many in ice. Pulling more water out of the air, she brought it down under her feet, forming ice under them while sliding away from the bandits.
They were fast, blocking her from getting away. She had no choice but to turn around, and flee towards the cliff. Being swiftly cornered as she neared the edge, she took a glance behind her. More bandits were coming up the scaffolding on the cliff; she was truly surrounded. She would have to face them now. Aang, where are you?
As they came closer, Katara's sun-filled view from the edge of the cliff was suddenly eclipsed by a familiar shape. Then another, and another. What started as one normal sight became dozens of Flying Bison soaring through the air in her general direction. Everyone looked up; cries of anguish, confusion and awe went up through the crowd.
The distraction was stopped by the leader's pointing hand. "GRAB HER!" he yelled. They rushed forward, clutching her arms, she felt the bandits from the cliff reach the edge and grab her ankles, trying to pull her over the edge. Flailing her limbs as hard as she could, she released one hand, just in time for the lead Flying Bison in the flock to come near. On its head was Aang, pulling the beast into a roll, and clasping Katara's outreached hand. She was pulled off the edge of the cliff, but the Avatar's vice grip on her wrist never wavered. Along with her, Katara pulled several bandits over the edge, all falling from her limbs into the long drop below. The group all gasped, there were cries of "The Avatar!" throughout them.
The rest of the Flying Bison swept over, several attacking the bandits in the motion - having been pushed to it by long years of imprisonment, and then flew towards the sea.
The sun and cliffs behind them, Aang embraced Katara, one hand on the back of her head.
"Thank you!" she said wiping her eyes fiercely. "I thought... I don't know, but this is amazing!" The great steeds of the Air Nomads were back, never having really left the face of the Earth.
"I don't know how this happened," Aang said, trying to look at the flock of Flying Bison following them towards Ba Sing Se, but his vision was clouded by the happy tears on the cusp of his eyes. Katara knew, however, that this was just the beginning to the joy the Flying Bison's return would bring him. She knew the reality that Appa wasn't alone anymore hadn't yet set in with the most important person in the world – in her world. He would realize this when Appa was united with his kind.
They stood on the foreign Bison's back. The sunrise bathed its family, who were flying carefree through the sky behind them. This new day would start the journey back to Ba Sing Se, where Appa once again became part of the Sky Bison species. It would mark the start to the eventual rebalancing of the world. The day the Sky Bison flew over the cliff.
- This story currently doesn't conflict with canon, as The Legend of Korra news has told us that Aang does find new bison.
For the collective works of the author, go here.