The Boy in the Underground Cave
Chapter information

Avatar: The Last Earthbender


Book One: Fire



Written by


Release date

June 22, 2016

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The Avatar Returned

"The Boy in the Underground Cave" is the first episode of Book One: Fire of Avatar: The Last Earthbender and the first of the overall series.


While hunting, siblings Katara and Sokka discover Aang, a young boy hidden underground. After finding him and his badgermole named Appa, they learn his identity as an earthbender, long thought extinct, and bring him back to their village on the coast of Lu Ten Bay. After witnessing the beam of light that shot through the sky after the two broke through the ice, Zuko, banished general troop of the Northern Water Tribe tasked with finding the long lost Avatar to restore his honor, becomes intent on capturing him. While playing, Aang and Katara mistakenly trigger a booby trap in an ancient Water Tribe ship, revealing Aang's whereabouts to the nearby Zuko.


Hundreds of years ago, Fire Lord Lu Ten forged an alliance between the Fire Nation and the much larger Earth Kingdom. As a result of this alliance, the Fire Nation established trading posts on the coast of the Earth Kingdom, and the bay where they settled was named Lu Ten Bay in his honor. For many years, trade continued between the Earth Kingdom and the Fire Nation. The cities grew, and both nations prospered.

During this time, the Avatar, master of all four elements, helped keep the peace between them and the other nations.

Then, one hundred years ago, everything changed when the Water Tribes attacked. Only the Avatar could stand against the tyrannical forces of the Water Tribes. But when the world needed him most, he vanished. The Earth King retreated to within the walls of the capital of Ba Sing Se, and all trade between the Earth Kingdom and the other nations ceased. Deprived of their main source of income and harassed by periodic Water Tribe raids aimed at capturing any earthbenders and firebenders on the coast, the cities began to fail. Even so, the men of Lu Ten Bay sailed off to help the Fire Nation fight, leaving behind the women and children. Many of them never returned.

In one such settlement, a small village on the southern end of the bay, Sokka and his younger sister Katara, her village's last firebender, are the oldest of the children. With their mother killed in a Water Tribe raid and their father missing, they are on their own. 

And the War is about to find them, affecting their lives in ways they could never have expected...


Two siblings, Katara and Sokka, are out hinting in a woods outside at night. While Sokka prepares to spear a small creature and complaining there isn't enough light to see it, Katara attempts and succeeds to create light by Firebending the flame in her hand, holding it while having no balance to keep the fire under her control. Sokka, oblivious to his sister's success and ignoring her pleas to look at her skill, readies his spear to strike, but the firebender's flame gets out of control, overgrows her and causes her to lose, resulting in her falling over her brother. Startled, the mammal manage to escape, gone from them. Angry, he scolds Katara, complaining that he always ends up "getting coaled" or something happen whenever she plays with "magic fire". She corrects him, pointing out that it is firebending and not magic, though before she could delve deeper into the specifics of the art, Sokka interrupts her and concludes that if he had "weird powers" he would keep his "weirdness" to himself. The siblings start to bicker, though their verbal exchanges are cut short when they hear a hostile roar out of nowhere in the woods, leaving the siblings distressed and confused, leaving them to look around. Saber tooth moose lion approaches them from the bushes, revealing itself and looking hostile at the siblings, urging Sokka for them to run from the breast as they slowly starting to back away. As they run, Katara frantically shouts to "go left", though they both ends up running the other direction, until Sokka stops almost falling into a slope if he hadn't kept his balance within reaction. Katara runs into Sokka while having hear head behind her back, not noticing Sokka in front of her, and once more she knocks him and both of them start to roll down the slop.

After gathering their bearings, Katara blames her brother for failing to "go left" as she had instructed, though Sokka counters by pointing out that Katara should have firebent the predator from then if she did not like his decision. When he concludes that it could be "[left] to a girl to screw things up", Katara loses her temper and yells at her brother that he is sexist, immature, and "nut-brained". While she continues to rage about all the things that she does for him as part of her chores, she involuntarily firebends, increasing the size of the fire behind the huge fire pit, and eventually causing an explosion there to break lose and leaving a hole into the ground. As Sokka grabs of her and both fall down to ground covering their heads to prevent from being scorched, a bright column of light shoot high into sky, while turning their heads up in amazement while lying on their belly. Katara attempts to go down the hole slowly, trying not fall, while Sokka prompts her to not "go there, we don't know what thing could be in there", than going with her behind her back. Seeing a boy lying down with his back against, Katara runs to the boy, despite Sokka's order to stay back as they do not know who they are dealing with, but the paranoid sibling runs to him as well. Sokka pokes the boy in the head with the blunt side of his spear, still skeptical, but an annoyed Katara shoos him away. The mysterious boy drowsily opens his eyes to see Katara staring down at him, her own eyes a deep blue. He quickly recovers from his dazed condition, abruptly and cheerfully asking Katara if she wants to go penguin sledding with him, to which she confusedly agrees.

Prince Zuko, a Northern Water Tribe teenager who has been hunting the Avatar for two years, sees the bright light from his ship. His uncle, Iroh, who has accompanied the young prince on his journey, dismisses the event as completely natural. Zuko orders his crew to head toward the light, insisting that the light was emitted by the Avatar.

The boy on his feet ask them who and where they are from, which gives off the opportunity to introduce themselves as they do. Suspicious Sokka prompted by Aang him to become defensive with his spear. When the boy, himself surprised by Sokka's aggressiveness, inquires as to what is happening, Sokka angrily demands to know how Aang caused the beam in the sky to appear, only to hear the boy stay silent, not knowing what he is talking about, as he scratches his head in confusion while looking at the hole, as he nudges the point of Sokka's spear from behind

Hearing a growling noise from within the crater of the hollowed iceberg, the siblings are frightening by the noise, which catches the attention of the boy to point out that there's nothing to be afraid and that's his just his badgermole pet, as well assisting to come with him so see his animal. As they follow, the boy stops next to the wall in the cave, where he slides down the piece of earth into the ground telekinetically with his movement, leaving an entrance to the room. Sokka in disbelieve asks him if he saw what he just did, prompting Aang to confirm it. Katara, astonished by how Aang moved the rock with no physical contact, muses that he must be an earthbender, which Aang confirms once more. All of the kids continue to walk forward through the entrance, walking pass by another room that leads into an open gap, siblings hearing louder noises by the animal from that room, they get frighten again. Slowly sticking their heads from the tunnel edge, they see the animal as huge, brown fur creature, sleeping. Sokka forgetting what that thing is, gives the same question but the boy just smiles with no response to the question. He then asks to the siblings himself if they live nearby, which triggers Sokka to tell Katara not to answer, as he is convinced that the mystery boy is a Water Tribe spy, a notion that Katara rejects sarcastically.

Sokka, convinced that he is going crazy, decides aloud to go home and leave behind the nonsensical world he has stumbled upon; he takes all of three steps before realizing, unfortunately, that he has lost the middle of the frost. Aang, seeing the problem, offers them a ride back to their Home on his badgermole; Katara happily agrees, while Sokka refuses at first, agreeing after a few seconds only when he realizes he has no other choice. The group gets on Appa's saddle and ride it while it burrows the path through the ground.

On the deck of the ship, Zuko stands looking out over the water alone. Iroh briefly tries to convince him to sleep, telling him that he will, like his ancestors, fail to capture the Avatar even if they do find him. The prince refuses to accept it, believing that he will succeed because he seeks to regain his honor through the endeavor, a trait none of his ancestors shared with him.

After some time on the water, a curious Katara asks Aang if he knows the fate of the Avatar, as she knows that the Avatar was supposed to be an Earthbender. Aang awkwardly states that he knew people that knew the Avatar, but did not know the actual Avatar himself. A disappointed Katara drops the subject, leaving Aang looking guilty.

Falling asleep on Appa's back, Aang has a dream, in which he recalls his last moments before being encased in the ice. In it, he tries to dodge falling rocks caused by an avalanche near (somewhere). He remembers getting his leg stuck in a crack gap on the ground, struggling vainly to escape and eventually almost getting crushed by the huge rock. As Aang closed is eyes expecting to be fatality crushed. As the boulder was away from him a few inches, Falling asleep on Appa's back, Aang has a dream, in which he recalls his last moments before being encased in the ice. In it, he tries to dodge falling rocks caused by an avalanche near (somewhere). He remembers getting his leg stuck in a crack gap on the ground, struggling vainly to escape and eventually almost getting crushed by the huge rock. As Aang closed his eyes expecting to be fatality crushed, his eyes began to glow and he caused the ground below him to sink in abruptly with him, closing the ground above him where the rocks smashed into, still sinking down the ground until reaching the cave, until lands into a cave filled with water. He then proceed to create a bubble around himself, which he froze solid. As the ice thickened, Aang is abruptly jolted awake by Katara, finding himself in a hunt in a camp. Katara is eager to introduce him to the rest of the people and Aang dresses quickly with Katara watching. She notices with surprise the arrow markings running along his body and gasps. She does not say anything, however, and as soon as Aang is completely dressed, she pulls him along and introduces him to the entire population, which is composed of a small number of women and children. Sokka watches from a short distance away.

Aang bows to the villagers respectfully, accidentally eliciting a response of fear from them, and they hurriedly take a few steps away from the earthbender, to the unhappy surprise of Aang and Katara. Aang asks Katara, in a hushed voice, why they are looking at him this way and wonders if his face, unnoticed by him, has something on it. As he checks himself if something disgusting are on his cloths, an elderly woman steps forward and addresses him, explaining that, owing to the 10-year absence of earthbenders from the world, they believed them 1o be extinct. The use of this specific word does not escape Aang, who repeats the word in disbelief before Katara introduces the woman as her grandmother; she herself insists on being called "Gran-Gran."

(A Paragraph in this area is still under construction...)

Aang is thrilled to learn that Katara is a firebender, though Katara is only able to tell him that she is only "sort of" a firebender before her grandmother calls her away, telling Katara she has chores to do. Out of earshot of Aang, Katara ecstatically tells Gran-Gran that she believes that she has found a bender who can teach her waterbending. Gran-Gran seems skeptical of Aang's potential and warns Katara not to place too much stock in a person she has only just met. Katara brushes the request aside, replying, as she strikes up a meditative pose, that she believes Aang is "filled with much wisdom." At that very moment, they happen to glance over at Aang, who is showing the village toddlers, to their deep amusement, his ability to stick his tongue to his staff.

Meanwhile, on the Northern Water Tribeship, Prince Zuko practices his waterbending techniques with Iroh as instructor by sparring against two soldiers. After a quick waterbending exchange between them, Iroh stands up with a sigh and stops the fight, somewhat impatiently correcting a mistake implying that he isn't "pushing and pulling the water properly". Becoming impatient, Zuko wheels on his uncle, demanding to be taught the next, more advanced, set of moves, though Iroh merely brushes his demand off, stating that Zuko must first master the most simple and basic moves. Flying into a rage at Iroh's words, Zuko attacks one of the soldiers with a blast of fire, knocking him off his feet, before once again rounding on Iroh. He repeats his demand, reasoning that the Avatar had hundred years to master the elements and could thus not be beaten with basic firebending. Mulling his nephew's words over for a few seconds, Iroh concedes, though only on the condition that he be allowed to finish eating his meal of roast duck, which he placidly proceeds to do in front of a dismayed Zuko.

Sokka gives the six young boys of the tribe a stern lecture on their military practices, emphasizing that they are the "soldiers" of the nation, but is interrupted by one of them when he innocently raises his hand and says that he needs to pee. After a brief attempt at getting his point across, Sokka unhappily asks how many of them need to do the same and all the boys raise their hands. As the kids leave, Sokka facepalms and Katara walks up, looking for Aang. Aang himself is leaving the outhouse as she talks to Sokka and, as the boys arrive at the outhouse, Aang enthusiastically declares, a funny joke while the boys laugh, Sokka becomes angry and demands that Aang leave, as they are in the middle of a lesson for "warriors only." To his further distress, he, hearing more laughing children, discovers some of the boys and Aang playing on Appa; they are taking turns sliding down the badgermoles tail and off the end, which has been propped up so that it points into the air. In addition, they have taken his spear and are using it to measure the distance they have flown. Rushing over and demanding that they stop, Sokka berates them and rails on Aang once more, accusing him of distracting his "soldiers" with fun and games, things which have been pushed aside in light of the ongoing war. To both Sokka's and Katara's shock, Aang slides down from Appa's head and, somewhat curiously, reveals that he has no knowledge of any such war. Sokka, utterly disbelieving, asks Aang if he is kidding and Aang opens his mouth to reply, but his attentions are abruptly stolen by the sudden appearance of an elephant koi fish leaping from the water behind the siblings. He creates an earth wave beneat his wave and sets off surfing it towards the animal enthusiastically, leaving Sokka question where he is off to dumbfounded, to ask the same question of Katara; they exchange looks of uncertainty and slight confusion.

Some time later, Katara tracks Aang to an shore, seeing him from the back as he watches koi fish swimming around leaping. The airbender hesitantly ask her If she knew how to catch one with a smile on his face. Katara approaches and agrees to teach him how to attract one, on the condition that Aang teach her firebending. While he likes the idea, Aang points out reluctantly that he knows nothing about firebending, being an earthbender, and he asks if there are any other firebenders from whom she could learn. Katara responds despondently that she is the only firebender in the whole Lu Ten Bay; Aang is struck by the injustice of the situation and suggests the Sun Warrior City as an option, certain that the other area should have firebenders to teach Katara. Excited by the thought of finding a firebending master for Katara, he offers to fly her to the city himself. Katara, however, expresses uncertainty at the thought of leaving her tribe and Aang suggests that she consider the matter later, teaching him to catch penguins in the meantime. She gives Aang a pensive speech about the method of calling elephant koi fish being "an ancient and secret art" before simply pulling a silversquid from her sleeve and tossing it not far away from her into water, luring all of those fishes to gather around in that spot.

Aang and Katara go surfing them afterward; racing through across the surface of the sea, they eventually stop at an island which is nearby an old abandoned shipwreck, which has the bottom of it submerged into sand. Aang asks what it is and Katara tells him it is a Water Navy ship, the source of a dark episode in the nation's history. Aang makes as though he would investigate the ship, but Katara, afraid, expresses her reluctance to do so. When Aang tells her that being a bender involves letting go of fear, she joins him and they walk toward the ship, making their way inside. As they explore the ship, Katara explains that the ship is as old as her grandmother and that is was a part of the Fire Nation's first assaults on the tribe. As they investigate a room full of spears, Aang stops her, saying that he has friends all over the world, the Fire Nation included, and that he never saw any war at all. Katara asks him how long he was in the iceberg and Aang, unsure of his own words, guesses that it could have been a few days. Katara, astounded, tells him that it must be around a hundred years. When Aang objects to the suggestion, Katara clarifies that, since he has no knowledge at all of the war with the Fire Nation that has been raging for nearly a hundred years, it only makes sense that he must have been trapped in the iceberg for that time. Horrified, Aang collapses to the metal floor and Katara tries to comfort him, telling him there might be a bright side to his situation. Aang, perking up upon hearing this, says in a somewhat happier tone that he got to meet Katara. He takes her hand and they walk back to the hallway. As Aang investigates another room, he accidentally triggers a tripwire. The booby trap imprisons them in the room by obstructing the doorway with metal bars and fires a single flare high into the sky above the ship. Noticing a hole in the ceiling, Aang takes off his backpack and pours down all of the stone from it, and uses earthbending to create a platform to pick up Katara and moving her with the platform through the opening to exit. He then bends the stone beneath him to launch through the hole as well, afterwards bending them back to his backpack.

From the deck of his ship, Prince Zuko, having seen the flare, watches through a spyglass as two small figures jump down the side of the ship. Realizing he has found the last earthbender, he yells to a soldier standing behind him to wake his uncle and tell him that he has found the Avatar. Looking through the spyglass again, he tracks the two figures and scouting ahead in the direction they are running toward, he comments that the bender is "quite fast for his old age" and then his eye lands upon the tiny village in the distance. As he lowers the spyglass, squinting into the distance, Zuko adds quietly that he has also found the Avatar's hiding place.

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