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I do not own anything from TKoNLG! All rights go to Patrick Ness and Candlewick Press!
Our power may go out soon, but Gifts will be out ASAP... I'm hoping this weekend, but maybe not.
Things are explained. Things are changed.
Mind over Matter
"Five days? I've been asleep for five days!?"
"Actually, we've been gone too, so it's probably more like seven or eight." Aang said, trying to be helpful. I groaned and elbowed him.
"That's so weird... It feels like I've only been gone for a coupla hours."
"Well... Katara healed your back, so that's good."
"Someone special. Hopefully you'll meet her soon." Todd nodded and then he looked at me.
"You okay with this?"
"What do you mean?"
"You know... This. Being here." He spread out his arms, as if to encompass everything that had gone bad. I sat down next to Todd.
"I guess. This place is at least as weird as New World, and you know how much that matters in picking a new home planet." He laughed, but stopped.
"So does that mean we're gonna stay here?" Todd asked quietly.
"Not necessarily," A voice rang out over our heads. We turned around and saw Sen hanging upside down, grinning at us. "We have some answers for you, but-"
"Sen, get down. Your head's going to explode." Kekka scolded. Sen rolled her eyes and dropped to the ground. She sat alongside her sister, motioned for us to sit down, and then she raised her right hand.
"Sorry about this." They said together. Six white threads snaked out of Sen's fingertips. I watched as they slowly coiled through the air and separated. Two of them hovered right before my nose and I instinctively leaned back.
"Don't resist, or you could lose your mind," Kekka warned.
"And that's supposed to make us feel better!?" Aang said, his voice unusually high. I nodded in agreement, not taking my eyes off the two pale tendrils in front of my face.
"Just calm down; this won't hurt a bit..." Sen said. She closed her hand into a fist and the threads shot forward and attached themselves to our temples. Immediately, my body stiffened and the last thing I saw before my eyes closed was Sen waving at me and saying-
"See you on the other side."
As my eyes close, a weird blankness seems to settle over my mind. I detach from my body and I float up into a sky filled with shades of grey. I'm just hovering there, not wanting to move, just stay here in all this calmness for eternity-
Then a cold hand grabs my upper arm and drags me upward at an impossible speed-
I struggle against the hand, but it's too strong-
And then I enter into a field of clarity so bright and beautiful that I change my mind-
I want to stay here forever.
I look down at my transparent, silvery body and then into a field of shining white light that stretches for miles all around me. A flash of black explodes next to me and a woman's scream breaks into the plain along with another silvery grey figure.
WHAT DID WE DO TO DESERVE THIS!? Pictures exploded from her mind and flew towards mine-
But then she quiets as a dark figure comes down from the sky and carries her off until they're just specks on the horizon. As I watch them go, I want to walk farther to see what I can see. After walking for a while, I see one red figure and two other grey figures. I walk faster and they turn toward me. Relief rolls off them.
We thought we lost you.
Eh, I found him floating around below. I started and turned toward the noise. Where it came from there was just the faintest outline of a person.
So where exactly is this place? Viola's voice asks.
This is about as close to being dead as you'll ever get...
... Until you die, that is. I thought of the woman being carried away and the white and red figures nodded solemnly towards me as if they could hear my thoughts.
It's safer to talk in here because no one can hear us. Some of the stuff we're about to tell you...
... Can't leave here. It would cause mass panic...
... If anyone else were to hear about this. You can tell your friends...
... But make them swear they won't tell anyone else. We said nothing and they continued.
As you know, something weird is going on. We pulled you two from your world and brought all three of you here in order to explain what we did and why we did it. Aang, you have to know this in order to fulfill your duties as the Avatar. And Viola, we have a proposition for you.
Todd sounded gruff as he asked another obvious question. What about me?
They hesitated for moment, but then spoke again. We have something to tell you too, but it's not good news. There was a moment of silence and then several other screams sounded off in the distance.
What's going on? Why are so many people here? I asked.
That's exactly what we need to tell you about. I could almost hear Kekka's grimace in her voice. There's a new organization growing in the Spirit World and now it has roots in your world. Those people are the lucky ones.
How can you say that Kekka? Sen said, clearly as shocked as the rest of us.
Those people won't have to live in a world filled with darkness! They won't have the terror at knowing what's coming for them and their families! Her voice grew smaller at the end of her statement. It was quiet again, but then Todd, Viola, and I started bombarding them with questions until Sen raised her hands for silence.
One at a time.
Who is it? The question was so huge that we were almost tripping over ourselves to ask it first.
It's a spirit that we know as the Storyteller. He chose evil, as many spirits do, but he's actually not stupid. The Storyteller knows what to do with his power and he corrupted many ignorant and angry spirits awhile back. We tried to stop him, but The Storyteller and his followers were too strong. So we simply sealed them away in their own corner of the Spirit World and there was peace.
But there was a... leak, if you will, and they were able to manipulate a wealthy human named Ren. He started the Host, an organization that worships the Storyteller. They are so influenced by the Storyteller and evil that they can bend what controls them. All throughout your war, they were growing and taking in initiates. Now they are strong enough to attack villages and take them over. One of their first tasks: to kill you, Aang. With the Avatar gone, they will be able to wreak untold destruction on anywhere in the world. And if the Storyteller grows more powerful, powerful enough to send agents across to New World, then you're all doomed. There was silence for a really long time as we digested this, but then Viola broke it.
How come you didn't do anything sooner? Why are we here now?
Because we just found out about this a couple months ago. The leak was small and the Host have been keeping a very low profile. They've mostly been stealing kids off the streets of the Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom, where no one will miss them-
That's just sick...
You are here now because there was an opening in the barriers between these worlds and your world. See, most of the time, the one between your world and this world is too thick. As Sen spoke, black lines began to appear in the air and slowly shaped into three lines with symbols in between. But the Storyteller's meddling has weakened the walls. The third line grew as thin as the line separating the Spirit World and the Physical World. It was hard to pull you through, but if not for this and uh, other factors, it could have been impossible.
So what can we do? Todd spoke up for the first time.
What you need to do is find the Host's headquarters and kill the Reader. Simple as that.
And where is it? Viola asked.
Yeah... We don't know.
Figures. But okay, so we find the headquarters, kill this Reader, and then what? Won't the Storyteller just find a different person to control? And what about me and Todd? Where the hell are we gonna go? The white figure bristled.
Obviously, we'll be working on the Storyteller while you're back in the physical world.
And us? There was a moment's hesitation and then the red figure turned towards me.
Aang, would you mind if we sent you back to the Physical world? We need to talk to Viola and Todd alone. I shook my head, then the two sisters flicked their fingers at me and I felt myself dissolving and flying upwards into nothingness.
On the second minute, Viola muttered something and her hand twitched.
On the sixth minute, Todd's heartbeat stuttered and slowed down even more.
On the fourteenth minute, the room grew cold.
On the twentieth minute, Aang shot up into a sitting position, breathing heavily.
"When you said wait, I thought it would be for a little longer." Mai said. I walked over to Aang.
"Thank the spirits you're okay," I whispered as I hugged him. He smiled up at me, then shook his head as his eyes went out of focus. He leaned over and groaned, clutching his stomach. I reached for his shoulder and he waved me off. A wash of red appeared in the air and then a girl stepped from what seemed like thin air, her eyes closed. She fell to the floor with a thud and winced. Her eyes opened and she blinked rapidly, then giggled.
"You two look weird. You'd better close your mouths or you might eat a bug." She smiled and looked at Aang. A shadow passed over her face and in a flash she was standing right next to us. I gasped and she put a finger up to her lips.
"Right now, you two are the only ones who can see me, so you might want to be quiet, or they'll think you're crazy." She motioned at Zuko and Mai, who were staring at Aang and me with raised eyebrows. The girl put her hand under Aang's chin and raised his head up.
"I'm really sorry Aang. I needed an anchor, and right now, Viola is... indisposed. I swear, it will be all over as soon as I leave." Aang nodded, his eyes as dull as old coins. The girl turned to me. "And you're Katara right?"
"You look like the responsible sort. In a few minutes, all hell is going to break loose. Get Todd away from Viola's body, and stay a good distance away. You don't want to be caught up in this." The girl waggled her fingers and disappeared with a ping. Aang sat up, blinking.
"What was that?" Mai asked. "You two just started staring at a cloud of dust and talking to thin air."
"A spirit – that was a spirit, right?" Aang nodded, and I continued. "She said to get away from Viola. That something was going to happen." I looked back over at her and Todd. They were still sleeping peacefully, their breaths deep and even. But even as I watched, a deep frown creased Viola's pale face and her hands clenched into fists-
And slowly, she started glowing-
"What's happening?" Toph asked.
"Get Todd away from her!" A stream of water wrapped around Todd's wrist and pulled him towards us. A blinding halo of light exploded out from Viola's body-
I squeezed my eyes shut and backed away, dragging Aang and Todd with me-
I heard several loud, sickening cracks that sounded suspiciously like bones breaking-
I opened my eyes, blinking away spots-
I stared at Viola-
"Holy crap! She looks like she's eighty!" Aang shouted over a shrill whining that grew louder-
Light seemed to be leaking from her skin as wrinkles smoothed, hair darkened and grew, and bones mended-
The droning stopped as Viola returned to her original age-
But her face continued shifting, her eyes slanting, her nose elongating and flattening, her hair curling-
Until she doesn't look like herself at all-
Aang moaned again and the girl in red appeared. She took one look at Viola and started cursing in languages I didn't understand, disappeared, then reappeared a minute later with a girl in white who looked exactly like her, right down to the frowns they were both wearing. I did a double take when I realized that Viola looked like a mirror image of them now. Aang fell to the floor and started shaking and barfing his guts out..
I stood up and started yelling. "Hey! Could you stop doing that!? You're hurting him!" I blinked and the girl in white was standing in front of me, looking down at me. She looked like she was around my age, maybe a few years older. I stood my ground and stared right back at her. Her face softened a little, but her voice was harsh as she hissed at me.
"This is so much bigger than you, human. We realize what we're doing, and once we leave your boyfriend will be back to normal. So quit whining-"
"Kekka, stop," A pale hand clasped the girl in white's shoulder and she blinked. "Let's just deliver the message and go."
"Fine." Kekka looked at all of us, and then said, "She chose this. We warned her of the consequences, and Viola accepted them. Be witness to this." The two girls disappeared with a ping. Viola and Aang sat up, groaning.
"God... it feels like someone's been banging on my skull with a hammer." She blinked and gazed at us with one red eye and one grey eye.
"Why're you all staring at me like that?"
Nothing really to report here.
- First chapter with subtitles.
- Most things will be explained in the next chapter. But there are hints everywhere. See if you can guess what will happen...
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|Avatar: Choices Chapters|
|Book One: White Bones|
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