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|Prologue, Part 1|
Co-writer who has not yet made an account
October 31, 2009
Prologue, Part 1 is the first installment of
The Western Air Temple
"...will be as grand and magnificent as it was before! I must admit, this plan of yours to rebuild the Western Air Temple has surprised me to no end with its ingenuity. Why, I recall the day I received word of this project. I was..."
The man barely registered the words which poured from the mouth of his talkative companion - words to which he was supposed to be giving his utmost attention. However, her voice reached only the back corner of his awareness. Right now, he had more important things to focus on.
"...had to ask him first, of course. But how glad I am that he approved! To think that I, a lowly Earth Kingdom peasant, am the overseer of a construction plan devised by none other than the Master of the Four Elements himself! Oh, how I have longed for such a breakthrough in this insufferable career..."
He should not have left home. Of that, he was certain. He should not have risked traveling to the temple when his family needed him so much back in the Fire Nation. But how could he have allowed his own project to commence without his presence?
Whether or not he had made the right decision, he wished with all his heart that she had told him not to go. Had she asked him to stay with her, he would have consented without a second thought.
Katara,' he thought longingly. I'll never forgive myself if I miss it... At least I can count on Sokka and Zuko to be there for her.'
"You know, it's always been a bit untraditional for women like me to work in jobs such as construction, but I was determined to show the world that men are not superior - no offense meant, of course. See, my struggle began many years before I even knew of your presence among my people. I was still a young girl, and..."
Really, Katara was such a strong, determined woman. She always took control of situations such as this. Why, then, had she not done so this time? Why had she let him go without a word of protest? Suddenly hurt, Aang wondered if she had even wanted him there.
'Maybe I should have given her more space last time,' he fretted. Maybe I hovered too much. What if that's why she didn't chew me out for leaving!? Oh, what did I do wrong now...?
"...right, Avatar Aang? Avatar Aang?"
Aang snapped out of his anxious thoughts, meeting his companion's fiercely lit expression. Clearly, she was waiting for something important. An answer, maybe? What was he supposed to say?
"Well?" she pressed impatiently.
"Um..." Aang bit his lower lip. "Yes. Yes, of course."
The woman eyed him suspiciously, making him wonder what on earth he had just agreed to. After a moment of silent observation, she closed her eyes and let out a sigh.
"Avatar Aang, go home."
Her change in disposition was so sudden that Aang immediately regretted having ignored her oration. It was the command, however, that had truly surprised him. What was she trying to say?
"I'm sorry?" he said uncertainly.
"Your wife," the woman explained. "Go to her. I can see that your heart is not here right now."
"You can?" Aang felt a faint flush touch his face. Was he so easy to read? "How do you know?"
The woman smiled, her eyes almost patronizing.
"Well... It was a bit of a hint when you said that you would happily juggle pineapples while doing pushups with a pink turtle-seal on your back."
Aang blushed a deep shade of scarlet. A pang of guilt sent waves of sickness through his stomach.
"I'm so embarrassed," he admitted. "Usually, I'm not so out of it. It's just that I have to be away from home so much. You know, keeping the balance of the universe intact and all... But I've never stayed away during such an important time before now. I never imagined that I would have to leave her like -"
"As I said," the woman interrupted, "go home."
Aang's mouth snapped shut. Gray eyes warm with relief, he gave her a nod to express his gratitude for her understanding. Then, drawing in a deep breath, he secured himself onto his glider and took off in the direction of the Fire Nation shore.
Half an hour later
Shoot! How could I not have noticed that tree!? I mean, it's been right there for who knows how long...
Aang glared down at the massive rip in his glider, nearly seething with frustration. He had managed to travel all the way down to the shore of the ocean that he would cross to reach his home, but a cruel twist of fate had led him straight through the sharp branches of a palm tree beside the blue waters. How was he supposed to get back to the Fire Nation in time?
"This is all your fault," he snapped at the tree. "Stupid tree, making me talk to you like some crazy lunatic. If I miss my child's birth, I'm going to come back here and cut you down. Heck, I'll cut down all the trees on this beach! How would you like that?"
Deep down, however, Aang knew that blaming the tree would not solve his problem. He was going to have to focus if he wanted to be there for Katara.
What if I'm already too late? he worried. Oh...I've really got to get going!
"Well..." he mused aloud. "How am I going to get this done...? Alright, how to cross an ocean... Uh...waterbending! Yeah, yeah, that's it!"
Aang closed his eyes in concentration, raising his hands in a simple, fluid motion. A wave lapping up on the edge of the shoreline suddenly froze, becoming a layer of ice thick enough for him to stand upon. Allowing himself a victorious smile, Aang stepped onto the patch of ice and began to propel himself across the open water.
The Fire Nation Shore
Aang had never been so happy to reach dry land in his entire life.
Throughout the entirety of his voyage, his mind had been focused on only one thing. Had he missed it? Was she still waiting for him? Was she angry that he had been gone for so long? He hoped not. There would be hell to pay if she was.
His thoughts were cut off as a sudden shiver ran down his spine. Aang nearly spun around in a complete circle, his eyes wide.
'What was that just now? Whoa, that was really weird. I feel like...someone's watching me or something. Well... Nah, I'm just being paranoid. It's been kind of eerie around here ever since Mai died. Now, I'd better head back to - ,'
Aang's thoughts broke off as he let out a ghastly, choking cry. His knees quivered as he struggled to remain standing, then gave out beneath him. He collapsed face first to the ground, revealing a small projectile embedded in the back of his neck. His breathing slowed, then ceased completely.
The Avatar was dead.
Special thanks to the co-writer who had not yet made an account for writing Prologue, Part 1. (Darn it, make an account already!)
For the collective works of the author, go here.