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Chapter Six: Pure of Heart
"It's not good." Katara said. She had been in Jason's room trying to heal him for hours since they had brought him to the Palace. The Chief had forced Katara to go so that he could see what had happened.
"You were there for hours Katara." Sokka said.
"I was just trying to help him the best I could, so he kickes me out, sheesh." Katara complained.
"We know you did Katara." Aang said, "But the Chief might know something we don't. Let him take care of Jason for a while, you deserve a rest."
"Everyone deserves a rest now." Zuko said, "Tomorrow will bring answers, for everyone. It's getting late, we should hit the hay. It has been a long day."
"I agree with Zuko, now is time to rest." Iroh said, and with that everyone headed to bed.
Late that night, everyone in the city had gone to bed, exhausted of rebuilding. Though they did not blame the child much for the destruction, they were annoyed with him, but they knew he had no intention of ever doing this.
So they went to bed, unaware that one of the houses they hadn't fixed yet had an occupant. No one saw the rubble of the one small house move, just slightly. As the night wore on, the rubble moved more and more, and finally, a leg kicked kicked away some of the stone, revealing a hole. A man climbed out, cradling one arm in another, limping all the while.
"Damn you Dai Lu." the man whispered, "Why did you have to be so cruel? Huh, I hate to say this, but you deserved your death."
The man had not seen, but had heard. He had heard Dai Lu and the child fight. He had heard Dai Lu scream as the child ripped him apart, he had even heard the rip. He had even heard the child fight, only to end it with a scream, but by that time, the man had passed out.
"I have to get out of here." the man said, and he limped away.
Almost at the same time, the candle in Jason's room was about the go out. The Chief finally rose from the bedside, and stretched out.
"This is not good. Tomorrow we must act, or else..." the Chief muttered, but he didn't continue, the thought was too grave. He looked one last time at Jason before leavung the room. He had been so distracted by his thoughts, the Chief had forgotten to blow out the candle. But under the candlelight did the shadow move. It slid around the room, then climbed up to the candle. It passed over the candle, which started to sputter. The shadow just made it out of the room as the candle sputtered and died, plundging room into the dark. And the darkness hid the fact that Jason's shadow had disappeared.
The next day, everyone gathered in the kitchen for some breakfast. There wasn't much talk around the table. Sokka tried to break the silence with a joke.
"Hey guys, what do you call a piece of bread in the Fire Nation?"
"What?" Aang said, eager for a joke
"Burnt toast!" Sokka said. No one laughed, except Suki.
"Haha, good one Sokka!" Suki said, but no one else joined in.
After breakfast, everyone went into the war room to wait for the Chief and what he figured had happened to Jason.
"Hey Ty Lee." Aang said, "Can I ask you something?"
"How did you know how to stop Jason?" Aang asked.
"Oh." Ty Lee said, "Well, when Jason went out of control, it reminded me of what Katara used to say about you when you couldn't control the Avatar State. When Zuko told us what happened, I realized that you fighting him was useless. We had to calm him down, well, calmly."
"I still can't believe it. I feel sorry for the kid. I even feel bad for when I got angry at him." Sokka said.
"Why did you get angry?" Katara asked.
"Um," Sokka mumbled ashamedly, "I thought he was trying to steal Suki from me..."
"What??" Suki gasped, "Jason's nice and all, but your the guy for me!" she said and hugged Sokka.
"Thanks." Sokka said.
"Unfortunatly, we have more urgent news concerning your friend." the Chief said, startling everyone.
"Don't do that!" Sokka complained.
"Sorry, but this is about your friend, and you're not going to like what I have to tell you."the Chief said. Everyone instantly quieted down.
"So what's the problem?" Mai asked.
"Jason's soul is out of balance."
"His what is what?" Toph asked.
"Let me explain. When you Shadowbend, your using the shadow from within you as well as shadow around you to bend. Darkness and light in the soul is a delicate balance. If one is not present, or too much of one is, the soul will start to collapse on itself."
"Like a tower?" Sokka said.
"Yes, basically. The fighting wasn't what caused him to have an imbalance. It was-"
"The nova." Aang said, "It was the nova, wasn't it?"
"Yes. When he did that, almost all his shadow disappeared. That's why he is weak now. If we don't do something soon,he will....pass on." the Chief said gravely.
"What?!" Everyone cried.
"Yes, but we have to do something soon!" the Chief said.
"Maybe we can use water from the Spirit Oasis." Sokka said.
"I used it all for Aang remember? Also, there's not enough time to get it at the North Pole." Katara said.
"Then there's no way then?" Ty Lee asked sadly
"There has to be a way!" Aang said.
"Yeah maybe we can...ow! Hey! Okay, who's the funny one that thought burning my feet would be funny?" Toph cried, jumping out of her seat.
"Hey, don't look at me, I haven't bended anything since the battle." Aang said
"I didn't either, or else the table would be burning."Zuko said.
"But then...AHHH! What is that?" Katara cried and poited to the end of the table. A dark..mass was gliding on the floor, as if confused.
"Okay, we got to get rid of that!" Sokka said, and he tried to hit it with his club-sword, but the Chief stopped him in mid-swing.
"What?" Sokka asked.
"Don't attack it! I think I know what it is-" the Chief started to say, but then a servant ran in.
"Firelord Zuko! Y-your friend, his condition-n..."
"What, what is it?" Zuko asked urgently.
"His shad-dow, it's-s gone! I was going to give him some water when I saw it. At-t first I thought it was a trick of the light, but when I moved out of the way, he looked...transp-parent."
"Thank you for telling me. Now go rest, you need some." Zuko said,and let the servant leave.
"How is that possible?" Ty Lee asked, "It's not like it could walk away!"
"Your right, it didn't walk away. It glided." the Chief said.
"Wait, are you saying...." Aang didn't finish.
"Yes, this thing here, is Jason's shadow."
"Damn this stupid leg!" Keidan said, cursing under his breath. He had gotten out of the city, but not far away, and the sun was coming up. "If they find me, I'm screwed!"
"Who is?" a voice said from the underbrush,and Keidan spun around, only to find a child.
"Where's your parents kid?"
"They're still asleep in the tent." the boy answered, "Where are your parents?"
Keidan was perplexed by the question. "A long way from here."
"I should guess, coming from a grown-up." the boy answered.
"You should go back to your tent kid, it's not safe to hunt alone."
"I'm ten, so I can fight whatever these woods can throw at me, and my name's not 'kid' by the way, it's Layu. Anyway, why are you screwed?"
"Don't worry about me. I'll be fine."
"Oh yeah, cursing under your breath is a sign of calmness, I forgot." Layu said mockingly.
"Back off. I've just had a bad day."
"Doesn't mean anything. There's no such thing as a bad day."
"What's no such thing?"
"My mom said that it's only a bad day if you think of it that way, And I agree with her."
"So lets say I tried to attack someone, almost got killed, and crawled away with nothing. Now do you believe in bad days?"
"No, because your still alive. As long as you have life and hope, you can do anything. Why do you think everyone hangs on to hope for no other reason then that?" Layu answered, "Though I doubt what you did was very fair either."
That made Keidan think, and it still makes him think to this very day.
"That...thing is Jason's shadow?" Mai asked.
"Yes, but more accuratly it is a part of Jason's spirit." the Chief said.
"That's impossible. How can you split your soul?" Aang said.
"Its not splitting, rather stretching the spirit, I don't know all the facts about how this is possible though. But I have heard of it, just never seen it for real."
"Well, whatever it is, it burned my feet!" Toph said.
"It's a spirit, or at least part of one. Everyone experiences it diferently, whether through sight or touch." Aang said, "I've had enough experience."
Aang walked closer to the shadow, which stayed in place as Aang got closer.
"Try to talk with it." the Chief said.
"What? How do I do that?"
"Touch it. It might do something, you are the bridge between the two worlds aren't you?"
"I guess." Aang said, and slowly put his hand on the shadow.
The darkness creeped up his hand, and in a second Aang pulled his hand from the shadow and took a few steps back.
"It-t talked!" Aang said, eyeing the shadow nervously, "It said 'help me' I think."
"Try to ask why. Maybe it can figure out how to save Jason. It is his shadow." the Chief said.
"Okay" Aang said, and putting his hand in the shadow again, and muttered "Why?"
Aang stayed in place longer than before, his eyes widening. Finally he pulled his hand away.
"It said it's trying to find someone that it can harmonize thier shadow with."
"What does that mean?" Sokka asked.
"I don't know." Aang said, and putting his hand back on the shadow mumbled "What do you mean?"
Aang was there for a while, once saying 'wow', but other than that he was silent. Finally he rose.
"Man, this is not good." Aang said, "The Chief was right about what was wrong about Jason. But there's hope!"
"What is it then?" Toph asked.
"The shadow said that a person needs to share thier shadow with him."
"Wouldn't that be bad for us?" Mai said.
"Ya, that's why the shadow is looking for a specific person, apparently some of 'Jason's' shadow was trapped inside whoever it is. The shadow said that once the person tries to restore the shadow, Jason's shadow will negate the damage somehow, so that the person shall be safe."
"But how can the shadow tell who it is?" Zuko asked.
"Through physical contact, that's why it touched Toph's feet, but she wasn't the one." Aang said.
"Thank god. I don't trust that...thing. How can we trust it? A shadow ain't supposed to be able to talk in the first place!" Toph said.
"If it's a possible way to heal Jason, we have to try." Suki said.
"Okay, so how do we help it?" Sokka asked.
"Okay, everyone has to take off thier shoes." Aang said.
"Why do we have to do that?" Mai asked.
"Well, unless you want it on your face, it has to touch your feet, as they always touch your shadow."
"Okay." everyone said quickly, and they all took off their shoes. The shadow flittered toward them, and slid toward Katara.
"Sheesh that's cold!" Katara said, but the shadow only flitted around her feet for a second before moving on. Again and again it flitted around everyone's feet. Finally, it returned to Aang.
"I think it found who it was." Aang said, putting his hand into the shadow. After a minute, he raised his hand out of the shadow, a surprised look on his face.
"It's you." he said, facing Ty Lee, "It's you."
Keidan and Lyu sat far away from the small group of tents, eating the last of their fire flakes from their bowls.
"I'm glad your parents let me eat with you." Keidan said to the child, who was still finishing his fire flakes, "And I'm happy you didn't tell them who I really was."
Lyu gulped down the last of his fire flakes before saying "It's okay. You're a good guy for a wannabe killer. As for my parents, they believe every word I say, ever since that guy before my real dad came back always beat me and my mom didn't listen to me untill she saw it for herself."
"Wow, pretty rough for a young one like yourself." Keidan said.
"Well, I had to be strong, it was a way of survival. Didn't you have to go through that at least once?" Lyu asked.
"I guess." Keidan said, and he got up, "But it's time for us to part ways for today."
"Why? Can't you stay for a little longer?"
"I wish Lyu, but I need to go. But be assured, your advice will go a long way." Keidan said.
"But why do you have to go?" Lyu asked.
"That, my friend, I can not tell you, but I must do it alone."
Lyu sighed "Fine. See you some time Keidan." Lyu said before trekking back to the camp. Keidan walked away as well, and as he walked he answered Lyu's question in his head.
"Because I have to find my purpose."
"Wait, me? But why?" Ty Lee asked.
"I think I can explain Ty Lee," the Chief said, "You were in the nova with him that made him lose all his shadow, or at least almost all of it. Some might have been blasted in you."
"That does make sense." Toph agreed.
"Ty Lee, you must be the one to restore Jason's shadow, and Aang must be your guide." the Chief commanded.
"Wait, what? Why?" Aang asked
"Because you are more knowledgable on the subject than me. You're the Avatar, if anything, your past lives can help you." the Chief replied.
Aang knew he was right, but he was afraid. What if somethinf happened to him or worse Ty Lee? Could he really successfully lead her through someone's mind and soul? Even if it could save Jason, how could he do it? Before he answered, Katara put her arms around him.
"I know you can do it Aang. Besides, if anything happens i'll go in there to find you." she said, and it gave Aang confidence, and made him love Katara that much more.
"I'll do it." Aang said.
A few minutes later, the Chief, Aang, Ty Lee, Sokka, Suki, and Katara found themselves in Jason's room. The others had refrained to coming on the notion that they didn't want to see him.
"Remember, once you give the shadow, we have to get out as fast as we can." Aang said to Ty Lee.
"Because once Jason's mind and soul are back to normal, I do not know how it will react to our presence. Usually if we helped it it wouldn't matter, but it's in a statis right now. Once it awakes, it might think we are the enemy."
"What ever you say Aang. Just get us out of there alive." Ty Lee said.
Aang nodded, and motioned for Ty Lee to put her hand onto Jason's chest, where his heart would be. Aang put his hand on top of hers, and closed his eyes. Aang's hand started to glow, and his shoulders slacked. Ty Lee had a similar change to her, her shoulders loosened as well and she closed her eyes, as if she was asleep.
"Did they do it?" Sokka asked.
"Yup. Now it's up to them." the Chief said.
"I hope Aang will be alright." Katara said.
"Same for Ty Lee." Suki said sadly
"Don't worry, they'll be alright." Sokka reassured them.
To Ty Lee and Aang, the room disappeared to them, and they found themselves on, well, nothing. They thought they were going to fall, but they just stood there.
"I guess the floor's is invisible." Ty Lee commented, seeing that she wasn't falling anywhere.
"Wonder how we get to where we need to go?" Aang asked. Suddenly, a small light appeared before them.
"I guess that's our guide?" Ty Lee asked.
"Are you the same thing as the shadow?" Aang asked the light. The light bobbed up and down and floated gently away from them, stairs appearing under it.
"Well, that's good. Let's follow it." Aang said, and he and Ty Lee followed the small ball of light. As they went down the seemingly infinite stairway, bright holes in the space next to the stairs showed images of things Aang and Ty Lee never seen before. A little boy and his parents were entering a machine of some kind with wings, a big smile on all of their faces. Next was the trio again only with a baby in the mother's arms, smiling in a bed with rails on its sides. Another, though only Ty Lee noticed it, was a young Jason crying, as unseeable people seemed to laugh at him from every direction. Ty Lee tried to toch one, but Aang pulled her hand back.
"No, don't touch that!" he warned.
"What, why can't I?" Ty Lee asked.
"I think these are his memories. We don't want him to have ammesia do we?" Aang asked.
"I guess not." Ty Lee agreed, as she watched another memory of Jason trying to waterbend. It seemed like forever between then and now.
Finally, they reached the end of the staircase. The light bobbed in front of a door, and passed through it. Aang looked at Ty Lee, who nodded, and he opened the door for them to enter.
The first thing they noticed was that it was very bright, so bright that they had to shield their eyes until they got used to the harsh brightness. Finally, they uncovered their eyes, only to see that they were near a cliffside. Also close to them was a small camp. But most surprising of all was who was attending to the fire.
A knight clad in golden armor poked at the sticks with a poker, trying to make the fire grow to no avail. He did this for some time until he noticed the two and rose to his feet.
"So you are the bearer." the knight said to Ty Lee, "But I did not expect you here." he told Aang.
"I came here as a guide." Aang explained, and the knight nodded.
"Good. That would make this quite easier." the knight said.
"So who are you?" Ty Lee asked.
"Jason's consious, but you can call me Thoth" he replied.
"Is that even possible?" Ty Lee asked. Aang thought this would anger Thoth, but he only nodded.
"I'm Jason's little voice that tells him right from wrong, personified." Thoth said, "I was also the shadow."
"Wait, you were the shadow?" Aang asked, "Why?"
"I had to. Your consious and Jason's consious, me, have the same job as every other consious created. We seek to keep the soul as pure as possible. When someone does something wrong, it sullies the soul. That's why we whisper right and wrong in your head. Jason's soul is about to collapse, so I had to go to extreme measures to heal Jason. I used his shadow as something that I could ride so to comunicate with you." Thoth said.
Aang, come look at this!" Ty Lee cried from the edge of the cliff.
"What?" Aang said, walking over to the cliffside. He looked over, and what he saw made him speechless. It was a forrest, with a lake and even a mountain, but everything appeared...dead. Worse, the whole landscape was drained of any color. It was a wasteland of black and white.
"Horrible, isn't it?" Thoth said.
"Yea..." Ty Lee said, astounded.
"And only you can help this place." Thoth said th Ty Lee.
"But how, I don't even know how to get the shadow!" Ty Lee said.
"Then what's in your hand?" Aang asked.
"What?" Ty Lee said, and looked in the palm of her right hand. A small sphere of dark energy had appeared in her hand, and no matter how hard she shook it, it would not get off.
"That is the shadow you must take to the obelisk." Thoth said, pointing across the landscape. Aang and Ty Lee looked to where he was pointing, and saw a wooden tower in the middle of the wasteland.
"How do we get there?" Ty Lee said.
"I shall lead you." Thoth answered.
"Well, lead the way good knight." Aang said.
The forrest was much creepier once they were inside it. The skeletal trees leered at them from all sides. It was cold, and soon Ty Lee and Aang found themselves shivering.
"Cold, isn't it?" Thoth asked.
"Aren't y-you?" Aang asked back.
"I'm part of a spirit. I can't really 'feel' as you can. Though I wish I could." Thoth replied. Finally they reached the obelisk.
"So what do I do?" Ty Lee said.
"Put the shadow into the hollow of the wood. The shadow will do the rest." Thoth replied.
Ty Lee nodded, and put her hand on top of the hole, making the shadow center in the hollow. But when Ty Lee tried to take her hand off, she found she couldn't.
"Calm." Thoth said, seeing Ty Lee's panic, "Stay there and watch."
Ty Lee stopped pulling, though she had a worried look in her eye. But then, the sphere started to spin rapidly, shadow flinging off it like a top. As each piece of shadow hit the obelisk, color began to show on the obelisk. Though slow at first, eventually, color blazed through the obelisk. But it didn't stop there. Once the obelisk was full of color, it overflowed into the ground, to the trees, even to the mountain and lake. Soon, the once dead wood was now full of color and warmth. Finally, Ty Lee's hand was unstuck from the tower's hollow, and Ty Lee looked at her hand.
"The sphere, it's gone!" Ty Lee said.
"Yes, you restored Jason's soul to what it should be. I'm in both of your debts." Thoth said.
"Aww, it was nothing." Ty Lee said flattered.
"We must part now. Here, touch this and you should go back to your homes." Thoth said, holding out a clear crystal.
"Okay, goodbye!" Ty Lee said.
"Thank you for your guidance." Aang said.
Then they both touched the crystal, and vanished.
Thoth looked at the empty space where the two just stood, then looked around him, then to the beautiful blue sky. He said only one thing.
"May you have many blessings."
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|Book One: Air|
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