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August 11, 2012
The wind howled and tore across the tundra, shaping the snow into grotesque and alien shapes. Thick clouds of ominous grey blocked the azure firmament above. The frozen landscape was barren and seemingly inhospitable; riddled with crevasses and tall spires of ice. However, in the distance, two blurred shapes shuffled slowly across the perilous fields.
"Katara, why do we need to get driftwood right now? This wind is freezing!"
"Because, Sokka, Gran Gran told me to. I'm not about to disobey her." Katara marched on without so much as a glance at her brother.
"hmmph," snorted Sokka.
"Besides, this should only take us a couple of minutes. Then we can go back to our tent," reassured Katara.
The two made their way to the edge of the ice shelf and began foraging for any wood that drifted ashore. Sokka moved up the ice shelf by himself away from Katara. He knew that being separated could be dangerous, especially with the current weather conditions, but he didn't want to "deal" with Katara at the moment.
"Why do we need to get wood now?" Sokka asked himself. "I mean, we still have plenty of wood at home to last until tomorrow." Clearly giving more attention to his personal issues, Sokka walked farther away from Katara, blatantly turning a blind eye to the sinister weather.
"There's nothing better to do in a freak storm than collect driftwood, whoo!" said Sokka in a sarcastic tone.
Just as he turned to make his way back to Katara, a flash illuminated the ground in front of him. He dropped his wood pile to shield his eyes from the blinding light that suddenly dominated the landscape.
"Ech! What the? Katara, this isn't funny!" But she was nowhere to be seen. A baleful mist had fallen upon the ice shelf to shroud everything from view.
As the light slowly dissipated, Sokka noticed the outline of a furry, humanoid creature that stood an imposing three feet above a fully grown man's head. As it stepped forward, he noticed that it was completely white save for a prominent red stain that surrounded its deadly maw. Accompanying it was a repugnant odor of rotting flesh. It had two brownish-black horns that protruded from the sides of its head and curved downwards around its mouth, and was heavyset, with large, burly shoulders and arms obviously built for tearing.
The creature leered at Sokka and flashed its fanged jaws accompanied by a deafening roar. The ear splitting sound gave even the wailing wind a peaceful tone in comparison. Roaring once more in aggression, the creature lowered its head and charged at its prey. Sokka's feet were two dead weights as he attempted to move but found he could not. Stricken with terror, Sokka groped wildly around his back for his boomerang, but his attempt was futile. When the creature was only a few strides away, Sokka did the only thing he could and raise his arms over his face to shield himself from an inevitable attack.
But the attack never came. At the last second, Sokka heard a loud rushing sound, followed by an equally loud cracking sound, usually from the rapid freezing of water; which could only mean one thing. Katara had bended water.
Lowering his arms from his face, Sokka's eyes narrowed to focus on an outstretched hand adorned with sharp claws, inches from his face. The body that it was attached to was firmly encased in a wall of ice, rendering it temporarily harmless.
Sokka looked over at Katara who was sporting the same shocked expression as him.
"Katara! You saved my life, with waterbending! I never thought I would say this, but sis, I'm glad you're a bender." He ran over to her and hugged her tight.
"Thanks Sokka," replied Katara. "I'm glad I got here in time." Stepping back from Sokka, she asked him, "Why did you wander off like that? And more importantly, what is that...thing?"
With a look of genuine puzzlement, Sokka said, "I have no idea, Katara. There was a sudden flash of light and then that thing just stumbled out of nowhere. I'm so confused how this all happened. I've never seen one of these creatures down here before." He gestured at the thing frozen in ice.
Katara scanned their surroundings, her eyes keen for the slightest movement.
"Sokka, this is really weird. Let's get back home as quick as we can."
"Good idea. I hope this thing doesn't have any friends around," said Sokka with an anxious gulp.
The two picked up their bundles of wood that they dropped and slowly made their way back home. The wind did not relent and the clouds above churned uneasily; a threatening sign of a blizzard. However, close as they were to the tribe, they would be in reach of a shelter and a fire within minutes. The two walked the last couple hundred feet to the outskirts of the tribe, when something odd caught their eye.
Katara pointed to the left off the trail, "Sokka, do you see that golden object right there?"
He moved his eyes to where his sister was pointing and nodded in acknowledgement, "Yeah, I do. What is it?"
"I have no idea. Let's go find out." Katara grabbed Sokka by the arm and pulled him along behind her.
The two post-holed off the trail and circled up around the mysterious object. Upon closer inspection, the two saw that it was a little round ball, golden in color, with small fragile wings that matched the body. Katara bent down to pick it up.
"Wait, Katara, it could be a Fire Nation trap!" hissed Sokka.
"Oh come on Sokka, it's so beautiful. Look at it!" said Katara.
She gently brushed off the snow that covered the sphere and held it up to her brother, but upon making contact with it, the wings came alive and started beating.
With a cry of terror, Sokka said, "Katara, get away from it! It turned on!"
But the two didn't have to get away from it. Rather, it quickly got away from them. Flying erratically like a butterfly, it zoomed around their heads before climbing high above them and disappearing into the swirling clouds.
Their looks of shock melted into looks of utter confusion; obviously from the bizarre events that transpired in the past few minutes.
Sokka was the first to speak, "Katara, what is going on today?"
"I don't know..."
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