|More from AvatarRokusGhost||Comedy/Satire||G (all ages)||None||None|
| || And this is Katara, my flying sister.
This article is considered humorous and should not be treated too seriously.
|The Consultant 2|
|Total word count||
October 22, 2016
The Consultant 2 is a one-shot fanon by. It is the sequel to his prior one-shot . It is not related to his other fanons or and takes a lot more of a light-hearted tone.
After several transcended moments of soaring through the air, the rounded boulder, hastily sharpened by its earthbending crafter in the process, slammed hard against the grassy ground and dug nearly a foot into the earth. This brand new crater was made in precisely in the same spot where the lone waterbender from the Southern Water Tribe had stood less than a second earlier. Even after her evasive maneuver in the nick of time, though, the last waterbender of her region's tradition was not yet safe from harm's way. While the first boulder had indeed been planted to the ground, its maker kicked the grassy surface hard with her bare foot and a younger brother to the first boulder arose, just as large as its predecessor.
The waterbender wasted no time in the fraction of the moment that she had to spare in preparing her own assault on her blind adversary. Bending was surely no sport to be undertook by those faint of heart or faint of reaction time, at least at the level that these two prodigies among prodigies of minor years were at. Reaching her right forearm loosely outward, she drew a steady and sturdy stream of water from a calm brook. Cool and refreshing from its source, the budding master in the art of waterbending would change that element's nature around to make it hard and piercing, as she sent the stream toward its target. Even with hardly any sleep from the night before, her aim remained precise, and the blind earthbender was knocked off her feet. But it was not before she had sent her own boulder flew back at the waterbender. Unable to dodge in time again, the waterbender harnessed all of her element she had left and promptly froze it, so the rock met the protective ice barrier instead of her.
Before either of the two ruthless fighters could even think about their next attack move, their companion, also the last of his kind, slammed his glider staff forward and broke up the battle with dual gusts of air in each direction. "Stop it!" the rough diplomat of an airbender roared at his two instructors-turned-suitors, ending one of the most bizarre courses of events in a day that had thus far been filled with such. The one hundred and twelve year-old monk in a child's body panted deeply, his chest heaving with every breath, before speaking up again. "Katara...Toph, what is the matter with you two? We're supposed to be a team."
"I wouldn't have had any problem if Toph hadn't started it," said the fourteen year-old southern waterbender, approaching from around the sharded remains of her ice barrier. "I guess the trouble she caused us earlier wasn't enough for her."
"Well, Katara and I were fighting over you, Aang," Toph said, dusting off her garments. "But we would probably fight about something sooner or later."
"Why does it seem we're just the way we were this morning?" Avatar Aang wondered aloud.
Toph bit her lip. The usually-proud blind earthbender was now getting embarrassed that she had been fighting so hard for her airbending companion, and was now trying to conceal it by moving on as if it hadn't happened. "Well, if it weren't for Appa's shedding, we'd be more well-rested."
Katara hung her head. "I guess that it has been a long day for all of us. First we rode all night, then we fought those girls from Omashu, and then we fought amongst ourselves, and our lack of sleep is eating us from the inside out," she recalled in reflection. "Finally, that weird and mysterious stranger shows up and gives us this bizarre advice that couldn't possibly be expected to work in the real world," Katara went on. "We should have stopped listening to him earlier. No, I take that back. We should have never listened to him to begin with! If we hadn't, we wouldn't have lost Momo, and my poor brother would be..."
Aang solemnly wrapped his arm around Katara's shoulder as she began crying once again. "You're right, Katara," he said. "Things sure did get out of hand pretty fast, and as bad as they were, they would be much better now if we had never met the Consultant to begin with. I just wish there was something we could do."
"Hmph!" Toph grunted, crossing her arms together. Her blind eyes could not see them, but her bare feet told everything going on around her through her connection to the Earth. "On second thought, I don't think that I will settle for the next best thing. No offense, Twinkle Toes."
"What are you talking about, Toph?" asked Katara.
"Let's get Sokka back."
"Toph," said Aang. "Sokka is dead. Don't you remember?"
"Yes, and I also remember something about a revival potion. We should find the Consultant again."
"Are you crazy?" asked Aang.
"Obviously," said Katara, her arms crossed. "I'd love nothing more than a chance to bring my brother back to life, but a so-called revival potion is just preposterous."
"Come on, guys," said Toph. "Aang, Katara, we still outnumber him three to one if worst comes to worst. Plus, the Consultant doesn't fight anyone else on his own. He only asks other people to."
"Well..." Katara muttered, somewhat unsure. "Okay, I think that he went this way." She beckoned for the others to follow her.
Aang, however, did not seem as easily convinced. "Toph, that ratio is one down since last time." He let out a deep sigh. "Now I have a bad feeling that it might get even worse."
The trio inadvertently fell back to following one of the dreaded Consultant's old tips of advice that he had given them. They spoke to everyone that they met on the way to the next village – travelling merchants, refugees, travelling musicians, priests and priestesses from the local temples and a platoon of Earth Kingdom soldiers on the march to meet the Fire Nation in battle. Most of them hadn't the faintest idea what remained of Team Avatar was talking about when they mentioned the Consultant. Almost everyone scratched their head at how the Consultant had told them to senselessly hunt animals. They got a harsh scolding from an elderly lady when they told her about how the Consultant persuaded them to loot the chests in various people's homes. Even the travelling musicians found the whole story rather absurd when they said what the Consultant had told them to do before and what him and his suggestions were like. But a captain in the Earth Kingdom military recalled being asked by some of the local elders in the next village nearby them to come and investigate a crazed lunatic who rambled about things that didn't make sense on his way through the area. When the band further described the Consultant to him, he confirmed that he believed that they were speaking of the same person.
"He was still there when I last saw him," the captain told the three benders. "For sure he was one of the oddest fellows that I ever set eyes on, but he showed no conclusive signs that he was a harm to himself or others. So my men and I just left him be."
The three remaining members of Team Avatar had a little string of good fortune after hearing the news from the platoon captain. Since the town elders had had their fair share of his antics and ramblings on their hands, it did not take much more asking around than they had already done in order to locate the Consultant.
Their former tutor in the unheard of and unreliable was indeed in town still. It was at a local tavern that they found him. There was a lack of a crowd inside the establishment, and the one they sought was the lone patron in the bar area, awkwardly facing its tender. He appeared slightly haggard, and to be in somewhat of a wrecked mood at the moment.
Reluctantly, Aang cleared his throat and took a step forward. "Ummm....Consultant?"
When the one that the Avatar addressed spun about and saw who had spoken his face lit up. "My old friends!"
Katara frowned at him. "I'm not sure I would call us that, Consultant."
"Well, it's been a while, hasn't it?" the Consultant continued as though uninterrupted. "A few years, in fact. I have been up to quite a lot in that span of time. For a while, I was off in another land with another group of heroes not so unlike yourself. Or at least, that's what I thought at the time. Like on a couple of other occasions, this band turned out rather...disappointing. Yes, I had made a mistake and joined with the wrong Guild. You see, they had a running routine where they would trick other bands fighting for the side of good into an ambush, where they would then PK them and steal all of their items and Achievements. Disgraceful! I couldn't help them out in good conscience any longer, but when I confronted them on their unethical behavior, get this...they turned on me! My ex-comrades left me for dead and robbed me clean.
"Naturally, I had gotten myself into a pretty huge pickle. On top of that, I was also in debt. One of my former so-called friends told me that the only way to regain my gold was to kill one of the chickens in town. Granted, I wasn't sure that I could trust him any longer, but I had nothing else to go on. So I went to that pen of chickens to fulfill that. But no matter how many times I sliced at those chickens, they would not die! They never even took any damage, from what I could tell. At first I thought it was because we were in a town, but taking them outside the boundaries didn't work. Neither did blowing them up with my bombs. Eventually, the locals ran me out of town. The 'Crazed Chicken-Chaser' they called me! Can you believe it?
"After that, I decided that that particular platform might not be for me and ventured to try another one out for a while. This one had a lot of modern-looking scenery, almost futuristic-looking in fact. There I faced off with these two conjoined twin monarchs that were on hallucinogenic drugs and were plotting to push those same hallucinogenic drugs on everyone else to create a really chaotic world. With all that time I spent doing that, I missed out on half the conventions I wanted to go to while traveling the world. And of course, one of my best friends and I got into our old debate along the way. You see, when we're playing around or adventuring and something goes wrong, I always have a personal inkling to suspect bad Design is at work. He always says that its poor sportsmanship to blame the Designer, and that's really just a cover for not having talent. On the other hand, I tell him that-"
"Consultant!" Toph snapped at him irritably, her arms crossed. "No one asked you what you've been up to since we last saw each other."
Meanwhile, Katara blinked, perplexed at what the Consultant had said. "Did you say a few years?" she questioned him. "No, it was earlier today that we last saw you."
"Ah, maybe for you it was. I, on the other hand, have been to many places since then on various platforms throughout time and space. But don't worry. You guys live in one of my favorites, if not my very favorite one."
"Is that supposed to flatter us?" asked the Avatar.
"Maybe," replied the Consultant, who was all of a sudden no longer appearing as though he was happy to see them. "Maybe not. You know, you three all have extremely bad manners toward people who only want to help you. As a matter of fact, it's probably no wonder that she was about to leave your little group before I arrived on the scene."
"What's going on?" Toph asked when no one else said anything.
"He's pointing at you, Toph," Aang told the blind earthbender.
"Were you really thinking of leaving us this morning?" Katara asked her, surprised for a second time.
"Well...I was thinking about it," Toph admitted. "You guys were really getting on my case. Sokka was being much more understanding."
"How did you know that, Consultant?" asked Aang.
"As I already told you when we first met, I know many things," the Consultant reiterated impatiently. "But you probably don't want to know them, do you? I did my very best to help all of you out in your Quest and what do I get in return? One little flight, and not exactly first class, either. So ungracious of you."
In a rage, Katara began to reach for her water pouch. "Consultant, my brother is dead because of you!"
Aang turned about and held up his glider stick. "Whoa, calm down, Katara," he began. "We're here to tell the Consultant-"
"Momo's missing, too," added Toph.
"Your brother would still be alive," the Consultant said, unfazed for the time being. "If only you had just followed me advice."
"We did follow your advice," Katara told the Consultant through her clenched teeth. "All four of us went to the inn and slept in that little tiny bed in the middle of the day, and-"
"No, not that," the Consultant cut in, waving this away. "Frankly, however, I'm not sure why that didn't work. It must be bad Design. I'm talking about getting a revival potion. That would have brought your brother back in an instant. As I recall, it was also the last piece of knowledge that I gave you before my unceremoniously forced departure."
Avatar Aang clutched his staff so hard he nearly got a splinter, trying to choose his next words carefully. "It's the revival potion about which we came to ask you this time," he said. "Actually it was kind of Toph's idea to come find you again and ask about that," he clarified. "Katara and I are still skeptical."
To their surprise, the Consultant laughed. "I guess that I forgot how early on in your travels you are," he told the trio. "But I can definitely assure you that revival potions do in fact exist. And they work, too."
"See Katara," Toph said through a wide toothed grin. "There's hope."
"I don't know," Katara said uneasily. If there was any potential truth to it, though, she found it harder to turn the chance down.
"We're here now," said Aang. "I suppose we should give this a go, even if it is farfetched."
"None of his other advice worked," said Katara. "Not one little thing. Why would this? I want to have hope here, but what if he makes things worse?"
"That's what I was thinking before," said Aang. "But we did come all this way, and we can try to be careful about what we do."
"I am willing to help you again," said the Consultant. "The catch is that you'll have to do as I say. On everything."
"Let's get one thing straight first, Consultant," Aang said, frowning. "I am not doing any killing. So don't ask me to go hunting again."
The Consultant gave him an exasperated grimace. "For crying out loud. You guys are some of the most disobedient heroes I have ever had to work with."
Katara narrowed her eyes. "Disobedient, huh?"
For now, however, the Consultant was not done addressing the Avatar. "If you're so hell-bent against killing, what are you going to do when you fight the Fire Lord at the end?"
"Ummm..." Aang uttered with uncertainty. "I don't really know. I won't kill anyone, though. Not even him."
The Consultant curled his lip smugly. "You know that since Fire Lord Ozai is the final boss of your adventure, you have to defeat and end him in order to beat your mission, right? Avatar Aang, you have been training for over an entire season so far to master the remaining elements for the express purpose of fighting the Fire Lord eventually. This is a war. Fighting most often means killing. Are you seriously telling me that now is the first time that you've ever thought this through?"
"Well..." Aang began, lowering his voice as he trailed off.
The Consultant laughed hysterically, nearly bringing himself to tears. "Man, imagine if it was only days before the comet came that you thought of this, that would be whack!"
"Hah!" laughed Toph. "Yeah, it would."
Katara shot Aang a quick look, but then had second thoughts of her own. "The Consultant actually makes...a pretty good point."
"That's two good points I think you mean," the Consultant corrected her.
"Consultant, the point about the revival potion instead of the inn doesn't count," said Aang.
"No matter," Toph chimed in. "He finally said something that makes some sense, so maybe we should give him another shot. Let's follow along with him a little longer. Seriously, what's the worst that could happen?"
"I have a feeling that it can still get worse," Aang countered. "Maybe it could get worse than we could possibly imagine. I really don't like this line of thought, or where I think this is going." Aang then noticed Katara again. She had lost her brother earlier that day, and he had lost a treasured friend. "Well, maybe we can try playing along for a little bit and see if we can get Sokka back. But let's be on our guard." Katara and Toph both nodded in agreement. "Alright Consultant, you're rehired," said Aang. "But you're on probation."
"Excellent," the Consultant said, grinning. "Glad to be back aboard."
"Your last mistake cost our friend Sokka his life," said Aang. "You need to fix it by reviving him."
"Gee, that's a lot to ask for right off the bat," said the Consultant. "But follow me outside and let's get down to business, then!"
While Katara and Toph followed after him right away, Aang held back for a bit before exiting the tavern himself. "A lot of strange thing have happened ever since we met this strange person," he muttered under his breath. "I wonder if they'll get stranger still..."
"Let's see, where are we?" the Consultant asked rhetorically to himself. "Right now, it looks like we're still in the middle of Earth Kingdom territory, so there should not be any very powerful enemies nearby."
"Except for Azula," Katara interrupted.
"Oh, yes that's right," said the Consultant. "Thanks for reminding me, Katara. She is quite the formidable boss indeed, and still in the area. We may encounter her again in the wild, since the AI here is remarkable. I guess that I can't blame the Designers for everything. Then again, maybe the AI is a little too strong, particularly when it comes to questioning my authority." The Consultant paused for a moment to glare at the trio in front of him. "Moving on, I should probably get a feel for where your abilities are. Have you acquired any skills since we last met, unique or otherwise?"
"Ummm...no," said Aang. "That was earlier today, remember?"
"Oh, right," said the Consultant. "If only I could observe like an Observer. Anyway, you three remaining members of the team have nearly-full HP and MP, so you're in great shape to go Questing. Since we're in a town, though, it can't help to see if we can buy some potions, and any other weapons or Items you may need. You never know what kinds of new Events or unpredictable Status Effects you'll run into when going somewhere you've never been before. Did any of the NPCs give you clues as to what Dungeons or Quests lurk nearby?"
"Sorry," Toph said sarcastically. "But none of us have any clue what you're talking about."
"Oh yeah," said the Consultant. "I forgot just how lost you all were without my knowledge. It would be easier for you if only you could look at a Screen?"
"What's that?" asked Katara.
"Never mind," said the Consultant. "Just stick to the need-to-know stuff. Now that I'm around, you don't have to worry about anything. All you have to do is simply do as I say and I can guarantee you'll be successful."
"Enough of the sales pitch," said Katara, now visibly more annoyed. "Just tell us how to get a revival potion for my brother."
"My, you're impatient to get on with it, aren't you?" the Consultant said, narrowing his eyes. "Finding a revival potion is easy enough, though with the right ingredients you can try making one, too. For now, I have separate tasks for all three of you."
"Okay," said Aang. "What are they?"
"Young Avatar, do you remember those little things by the water you found to cure your friends Sokka and Katara from that exceptionally rare status sickness?"
"Ummm...you mean frozen frogs?"
"Yes, those," the Consultant confirmed. "Go back to that place and get some."
"But that's a long way away now," Aang complained.
"Well tough," said the Consultant. "Backtracking can be a pain, but sometimes it's what you have to do, especially if you want to be the best of the best, or get some rare and valuable item."
"Wait," said Aang, his eyes lighting up. "The trip shouldn't be half as long if I go on Appa! He should be well rested now."
"Actually, no Appa," said the Consultant. "You'll have to do it on foot, on your own."
"But why, Consultant?" asked Aang.
The Consultant, however, ignored him this time. "Toph, I hear that there is a dueling dojo nearby. You must go there and face the Arena of One Hundred Trials. As soon as you finish off your most formidable opponent there, the victory medal will be yours. Grab that and come back here. Shouldn't be too much different from tournaments you've fought in in the past."
Toph nodded curtly. "Got it."
"Last but not least is you, Katara," said the Consultant. "You're going to be going to face Azula and her posse once more. I hope you're up to the challenge."
"Great," said Katara, smiling. "I can get Momo back. That was the other thing that we all needed to do after you got us into this mess."
"Whatever," the Consultant said, waving this statement away. "You don't even need to fight them all on your own, and since you'll be by yourself, I wouldn't expect you to. There's the one who throws the stilettos. Mai is her name. Grab one of her weapons and hurry back. In fact, I would just wait until she throws one, then dodge it, pick it up and run like the wind."
"Wait a second," said Katara. "I'm not going to just leave Momo behind after we failed to get him back last time."
"No," the Consultant said firmly. "That's not only a waste of time, but an unnecessary risk. If you fall, your Achievement will be worthless."
"Listen here, Consultant," Katara said, now more irritable. "You need to remember that you're just giving Aang, Toph and I advice. It's up to us to decide whether we follow it or not."
"Ugh!" groaned the Consultant. "Fine, whatever."
Once he had stocked up with, as Toph put it, enough health potions to piss his pants, Aang set off as fast as his feet could carry him with airbending-enhanced speed. Even going like this with the air currents around him manipulated to carry him forward, it would still take a fair amount of time for him to reach the swamp area where he had met the crazy herbalist and her cat, Miyuki. Once or twice on the way, he tripped so hard on a tree root that he sprained himself. It was at this moment that the Avatar resigned himself to trying one of the vials of mysterious liquid that the Consultant had given him with a clumsy health symbol scribbled on the front. The taste was vulgar to the world's last remaining Air Nomad, and he privately told himself that he preferred Katara's water healing to it.
After what had happened on his last visit there, the Avatar was sure to keep his eyes as well as the rest of his senses peeled for any sign of the Yuyan Archers lurking about and ready to shoot arrows his way. Fortunately, it appeared as though they had long left the area behind. However, the Avatar remained uneasy in case anyone or anything else lurked about in the vicinity. This part of the continent was still a war zone, after all. There was also a different problem that became apparent once he was by the stream that he sought out. Ever since the last time he was here, the seasons had changed and now there were less frogs around in their frozen form. Since he had taken so much time in simply arriving at this destination, Aang felt that Toph and Katara must have already completed their tasks if they had not already.
It seemed to take forever for the Avatar to scrape up three still-frozen frogs to bring back to the Consultant. At this moment in particular it was really fortunate that he was an airbender, or else he would have never made it back in time.
"Now, what's this all about?" asked the sensei.
"The Arena of One Hundred Trials," answered Toph.
"The Arena of One Hundred Trials," she said again.
"Can't say that I've ever heard of that."
"The Consultant left me a paper of instructions to give to you," Toph said, handing said paper to the man. "Since I can't read, I'm afraid you'll have to look at it yourself."
"This is insane," the sensei commented in the middle of scanning the page. "What's all this in service of?"
"He said that once I defeat one hundred of your fighters in single combat I can win a medal from you," Toph explained further. "And that medal is an ingredient to make a revival potion for another one of our friends who recently expired."
"Revival potion?" the man said, raising an eyebrow. He surveyed the twelve year-old blind girl up and down. "You're welcome to give it a shot if you think that you're up to it, but I should let you know that you would win the same medal just for facing the Badgermole."
"The Badgermole?" Toph was reminded of some of her earliest earthbending teachers.
"That's his nickname," the man clarified. "He's our top fighter."
"I see," said Toph. "While that would be quicker and probably make a lot more sense, the Consultant said that I have to do it a certain way in order for it to work."
"Okay, then," the man said, shrugging. "Be my guest. But you'll have to fight some of them twice."
As Toph had already fought her way around Earth Rumble VI with ease, she had little trouble battling the earthbenders at this local dojo. If anything, the challenge for her was the boredom and the repetitiveness that came with the first fifty sets of adversaries that she went up against. Not only did she fight the same benders multiple times, but the sensei had them all go in in groups at once to gang up on their visitor. Having run out of ideas, he asked all of the fighters save for the top one to attack at once in Toph's ninety-ninth battle. Most of them cowered in a corner, having fought her at least twice before. At long last, the former Blind Bandit finally faced up against the Badgermole, and she found herself disappointed, for she sensed he was no bigger or more formidable than the Boulder. Apparently he had not learned the lesson that his comrades had that this blind girl was more than she seemed, and so he charged at her, skidding his feet on a sharp earthen trench. However, he was not even within ten feet of her when Toph slammed his face with a rounded rock she had bent from the surface beneath their feet and rendered him unconscious. With that, the Blind Bandit took her prize from the bewildered sensei and left.
With the top of her head just above the bush that she crouched behind Katara peered her eyes across the campsite on the edge of the cliff where Azula and her friends were stationed. The fearsome firebending princess herself was preoccupied with checking the engine of the same mechanical vehicle that she had been chasing them all night with. Meanwhile, Mai was boredly fiddling with a notebook in her arms and Ty Lee was watching over Momo.
"For the last time, did either of you see which way the Avatar went?" a frustrated Azula called out from behind the transportation vehicle.
"No," said Ty Lee. "Well, we did see them all rush off into the woods with their injured friend in their arms, but after that they could've gone anywhere."
"Yeah," said Mai. "Pretty much what she said."
Katara knew that she had to act soon, as there was no telling when she might get another moment like this where they were within sight and all reasonably distracted. Momo and Mai were about equal in distance from her but in different directions. Of course she would like to revive her brother more than anything, but Katara was now long past trusting the Consultant on his word about anything. Even so, Toph had convinced Aang that it might be worth pursuing, and Katara had never known herself to be the first one to give up hope on anything. Momo stopped running about and glanced in her direction, which she took to mean that he knew that she was there. If that was the case, she pretty much had to go after him.
With nothing else for it, Katara leapt out from behind the bush where she had stationed herself and drew a water whip from her pouch. Being distracted at first by Momo's bizarre change in behavior, Ty Lee did not react right away and Mai found half of Katara's water whip coming her way as she hurled a stiletto after Katara, who by then was rushing back into the trees with Momo on her shoulder.
"Aha!" Katara exclaimed, yanking a stiletto off a tree trunk it was pinned to. "This is just what I needed; thanks again."
"Ummm...what?" Mai wondered aloud, bewildered.
"What is going on?" Azula asked. She had emerged from behind the machine and now rounded on Mai and Ty Lee.
"The Avatar's waterbender girlfriend stopped by and picked up their pet," replied Mai.
Azula was outraged. "What?! Why didn't you go after her? You know our orders."
"Yeah," said Ty Lee. "The orders state that it's the Avatar we're after."
By the time that Aang returned from his frog-finding mission, he found that Katara and Toph had just reached the village as well. "Alright, Consultant, it looks like we all found what you told us to look for," said the Avatar, with Momo rushing to his shoulder upon seeing him once again. "It's time for – wait, what happened to your eye?"
"Oh, that," the Consultant said, rubbing the bruised portion of his face that Aang had been referring to. "I walked into a signpost by mistake."
"Don't you know how to look where you're going?" asked Katara, holding out the pointed stiletto in front of her for the Consultant to see.
"Of course I do!" the Consultant retorted defensively. "I may not be an Observer, but I know how to observe. The thing was, you three were gone on your respective missions for quite a while. I didn't have much to do as I was waiting, so I began scouting out the area for Lures. I was just closing in on my target when I hit my head."
"Whatever," said Aang. "As you can see now, we all did just as you asked, even if it was very difficult and time-consuming."
"Excellent," said the Consultant, grinning. "You've got quite some Achievement, then."
"It's time that you delivered for us now," said Katara. "Where's the revival potion?"
The Consultant blinked. "Come again?"
"You said that if we got you these ingredients, you could make a revival potion," said Aang. "For our fallen friend Sokka."
"Oh, that," the Consultant said, slapping his forehead. "These aren't 'ingredients' for that. The revival potion is another matter entirely."
Katara's eyes were bulging and her chest was heaving. "What?!"
"Yes, I'm afraid that this all had nothing to do with obtaining a revival potion whatsoever," the Consultant reiterated. "The frogs, the medal, the stilettos...I never said those were ingredients to a revival potion. If you all thought so, then you just got confused about that and made the assumption on your own."
"Urgh," groaned Aang. "Then why did you ask us to go get them??"
"I already told you," said the Consultant. "Achievement."
"Look, Consultant," Toph said, losing her own patience now. "We only came back to ask you for help with getting the revival potion that you told us about before. None of this other stuff. We don't need 'Achievement', whatever that is."
The Consultant rolled his own eyes now. "Oh please," he shot back. "Like you guys are always on task, day-in and day-out. Have you forgotten all about that random, irrelevant-to-your-mission side quest you undertook in the Great Divide? At the end of the day, that was worth so little Achievement for all your effort in there. My quests at least yielded more points for your buck. Or the amount of time you spent on them, whatever."
"Excuse me," said an approaching woman from within the village. "Forgive me for disturbing you, but are you the Avatar?"
"Yes," said Aang, facing the new arrival with the same urgency that she had in her tone of voice.
"No," the Consultant cut in promptly before she could speak again. "I'm quite sorry, Ma'am, but the Avatar is very busy today and has no time for-"
Aang glared at him. "Let me handle this. I'm sorry, you were saying?"
"Our cat got chased up a tree and my son tried following him up," explained the woman. "Now they're both trapped up there and can't get down. I know that you're an airbender. Can't you do something?"
"We have enough Achievement Points for today," the Consultant stated impatiently.
"We have to help," said Aang. "You can count on me, Miss."
"I don't believe this." The Consultant threw his hands in the air. "First you complain about my detours and then wasting time on some minor NPC side quest is the very next thing that you do? You have got to be kidding me."
"She actually needed help," Katara told him as Aang ran toward the tree in question at airbending-enhanced speed. "Your tasks didn't help anyone accomplish anything."
"Whatever," said the Consultant. He frowned as soon as Aang came back from his second detour mission of the day. "Well then, what did you get for that?"
"Nothing," said Avatar Aang. "Just gratitude."
"Nothing, eh?" said the Consultant.
"I said gratitude."
"That's great," the Consultant said sarcastically. "Does that help you gain any levels? Will that gratitude get you a higher ranking to show off to your friends? How about we go to the store and try to spend that gratitude you got? Wake up, Avatar Aang. Gratitude is useless. What a stingy, stingy woman. I knew that Event contained no real reward from the moment I saw it. What a waste of time! Normally I would complain to the Designers, but in this case I'll bet that would be even more wasting of time. You see, that's exactly the kind of thing that-"
By now, Aang was almost at breaking point again. "Look Consultant, are you going to help us out or not?"
"Fine," said the Consultant. "I guess that it's my job to help all you difficult people. You're very lucky."
"Maybe Sokka was the lucky one," said Toph. Since she was blind, she could not notice Katara grimacing in her direction.
The Consultant ignored her. "So...I take it that it's still the revival potion that you want?"
"For the last time, yes," said Katara. She had lost just as much patience as Aang had now.
"Very well," he conceded. "Back during the days when the world as we know it was first coming to be, one would find the most powerful and most ancient spirits wandering about the physical realm in broad daylight. They were all there: Providence, the Avatar Spirit, the Spirit of Aether, Raava, Vaatu, Cthulu, Shinigami, Origami, Koh the Stealer of Faces, Doh the Feeler of Maces and, of course, the spirits of the four elements – water, earth, fire and air."
"That's a lot of spirits," said Katara.
"Yes," the Consultant continued. "It was the spirits of water, earth, fire and air who shaped most of what we see with our own eyes. The new world was brought essence, law and order by them. During mankind's early ages, a king residing in what is now the Earth Kingdom grew ambitious. He sought great power for himself, and he tried to acquire this power by draining it from the four elemental spirits in order to use it as an energy source."
"That's horrible," interrupted Aang. "Why would anyone want to do such a thing?"
"He did not care about the means in which he accomplished his goal," the Consultant went on. "Eventually, though, a ragtag gang of rogue heroes managed to thwart his plan and remove him from power. Unfortunately, that was not the end of him. Ages later, when he was long thought to be dead, he returned, more powerful and terrifying than ever. This time, he was defeated by another band of heroes, and they sealed all the power that was left of the evil king's in an inanimate object to protect it – a sacred and powerful book. My sources tell me that this book should be near the top of the mountain to the east of us." The Consultant pointed toward the giant elevation he referred to. "If anything can help you out with Sokka, it can. The location should be about eleven miles from the top of the mountain."
"Great," Toph said while rolling her eyes. "That bit at the end was actually all that we needed."
"I'm helping you people for free," the Consultant told her, annoyed. "The least that you could do is not be difficult about it."
"Don't forget that this is all your fault," said Aang.
"I thought that was in the past now," said the Consultant.
"Why would that be in the past now?" asked Katara.
The three remaining members of Team Avatar flew with the Consultant on Appa up to the mountain that was their new destination now. When the Consultant pointed out the part of the tundra where what they sought lay, they touched back down to the ground and dismounted together.
"Where is this thing?" Katara wondered aloud. "All that I see is a couple of houses and a small flower garden."
"This appears to be an Earth Kingdom outpost," said Aang. By the way it looked, it had been abandoned for some time. The garden was slowly decaying, and both buildings – the straw hut and the old wood shed – were drastically in the need of some refurbishing.
"It's somewhere around here, according to my sources," the Consultant told them. "If you want it, you'll have to find it yourselves."
Toph frowned. "You don't know where it is, do you?"
"Of course I do," the Consultant said too quickly to sound convincing. "But as I said when we first met, I'm not here to do all your work for you. You'll have to figure out where and what exactly it is all on your own."
Katara moved to search the small hut, but it appeared to be locked, and so she tried the wood shed nearby. "Ummm...I found a small book," she announced as she emerged from inside. "But there's nothing in it."
"Ah maybe that's the point," the Consultant said, grabbing the book from her hands. "If there's nothing written in there now, perhaps you're supposed to fill it in yourself." He took out a pen and proceeded to scribble in it. "Hmmm...something appears to be wrong. I can't write anything in it."
"Let me try," Aang offered. "Oh, that's why it wasn't working, Consultant. Your pen is out of ink. Luckily, I think that Sokka had an extra one in his bag. I'll try using that one."
"Ironic that this might be what saves him now," Toph remarked as Aang hopped back on Appa and rummaged around his deceased friend's travel sac.
"Toph, this is serious," Katara snapped at her. "Will you please stop trying to make light of the situation?"
Undaunted, the blind earthbender rounded on her. "Look here, Sugar Queen. I've had enough of your-"
"Guys, stop it!" yelled Aang. "Going back to fighting again isn't going to solve anything. Now I found a pen Consultant. What does this do?"
The Consultant seemed deep in thought and unable to hear properly. "Hm? Oh, it's for fixing things."
Aang still did not understand. "Fixing things?"
"Well, you know what they say," the Consultant told him. "When things aren't going well, and you can't have what you want the normal way...cheat."
"No actually," Aang said to the Consultant. "I've never heard that saying from anyone before, except for just now from you. Even if I had, it doesn't sound like my style."
The Consultant shook his head in resignation. "Still being difficult, eh? Well, I'm sure that you've heard that desperate times call for desperate measures. Look, I'm going to give you a simple word and you just write it down in the book. That's all you have to do, 'kay?"
"Fine," Aang said with reluctance. "What is it?"
The Consultant told the Avatar the word.
"I don't see how that was supposed to help anything," Aang said after writing down the word in the book.
"Maybe you're right," the Consultant said, more troubled than the Avatar had seen him yet in the long and weird day that he had known the fellow. "Maybe this is all wrong. Something seems off. Ever since I started working with your Guild things haven't been going like they're supposed to. Sheesh, what kind of game is this?"
"This is not a game, Consultant," said the Avatar. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Was all that Achievement we got before even worth it?" the Consultant wondered aloud. "I don't see any real reward for it, and instead of following the way I know things are supposed to be, everyone has been just looking at me like I'm crazy or something. Maybe I really am losing my mind."
"That's the most sensible thing you've said all day." Suddenly, Aang found that he had reached the last straw and was ready to give up on the Consultant for good. "Sorry for humoring you for so long just to have it end like this, but I can see now that we should never have come back." He turned to Katara and Toph. "Come on guys. Let's-" The Avatar cut himself off mid-sentence. "What?"
Neither Katara nor Toph looked like themselves. Katara's eyes were still, her pupils frozen in place and shrunken. Hers stood out more with their sapphire coloring, but at second glance Toph's were indeed just as possessed-looking. "No, Aang," she said, almost automatically, like the words were being taken out of her mouth for her through some unseen force. "You go on. Toph and I are carrying on by ourselves now."
Aang raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"
"We got tired of waiting for you to make up your mind," Toph said, holding Katara's outstretched hand with her own. "So instead of holding out for you, we're going to be a couple with each other."
"You guys can't be serious," Aang said, shocked.
"Sorry Aang," said Katara, giggling. "But it's not you, it's me. Right now, I just need to be with someone a little more mature for their age. And to me, that's Toph."
"He doesn't seem to be taking this very well," Toph added, now giggling as well. "Then again, he's over a hundred years old and I don't think he's had his first kiss yet. No wonder he kept beating around the bush with us."
"I don't understand this new change," said Aang. "In fact, guys, this seems to come out of nowhere. When did-"
But the Avatar's line of thought was interrupted once again by the Consultant. "Yes...yes!!! Finally, something more logical."
"More logical?" asked Aang. "I don't understand. How is that the case here?"
"It's that word that I had you write," the Consultant said as he ripped the pen and notebook from Aang's arms. "K-A-T-O-P-H. I'm going to try out another one now," he added, writing another word down in the book. "S-T-A-C-H-E."
"What's going on?" Aang asked, noticing the handlebar-shaped strands of jet black hair that had appeared on his upper lip.
"Just a test," said the Consultant. "I'll undo that code now: U-N-S-T-A-C-H-E." With that, the mustache on the twelve year-old airbender vanished as swiftly as it had appeared. "Now, then, Avatar. I think it's high time you started taking what I have to say a little more seriously from now on."
"I don't get it," said Aang. "Nothing you said ever worked like you said it would before...why now?"
"I already told you that, Avatar. Poor Design."
"This doesn't change the big picture," said Aang. He was losing his own breath from the shock of Katara and Toph's new behavior coupled with the sudden revelation that all the nonsensical powers that the Consultant rambled about were actually real. "I still need you to get us that revival potion. But first, undo the cheat you did on my friends."
"I'm sorry," said the Consultant. "You'll have to get both of those on your own. I don't have the undo cheat for that one." He saw the Avatar pointing his glider staff his way. "But I know where you can get them."
"Where?" asked Aang.
"In there," the Consultant said, pointing to the other straw hut that had not been searched by any of them yet. "It's okay. It won't be locked. You can open it."
"They're in that house?"
"In a manner of speaking. Once you go inside, simply shut the door. Then when you open it again, you'll find both the undo cheat and the revival potion waiting for you."
"That sounds a little farfetched," said Aang.
"Would you like me to show you a few more cheats to make you believe me?"
"No," Aang said quickly. "Fine, I'll play along." He stepped into the hut with the Consultant waiting for him just outside. "The code and the potion had better be there when I open the door again."
"Yes, they'll be yours alright," the Consultant said with both his lips curling. "After one quick Boss."
"One quick what?" inquired Aang. But by the time the Avatar had finished speaking, the Consultant had already slammed the door in his face. "Great."
Aang waited a few more seconds before reacting any further. Once he opened the door, he not only found completely different things, but a completely different place before him. The sky was the magenta of some perpetual twilight and there was no ground in front of the doorstep before him, as though the house was suspended in mid air. It made no sense. None at all. None whatsoever. The mountain, the other house and the flower patch were all gone. Also having vanished were the Consultant, Katara, Toph, Appa and Momo. All of this could only mean that the Consultant really did know things the others did not, and that he had chosen this place for his sick grand finale.
Once Aang descended to the small patch of land below surrounded by a moat of cool water, he saw some object in the visible distance approaching him. It turned out to be a dragon, like Fang when Aang saw Roku's dragon during spirit meditation for the first time. But although the shape was like that of the animal guide of his past life, the coloring was different. This approaching dragon was a darkish shade of blue. Also, there was a long scar running down its side, a battle wound, which the young Air Nomad Avatar had never ever seen on any creature like this before. Likewise, Aang could not catch a good glimpse of the rider, but he knew from the start that it was not his past life.
When the dragon had at last reached the encircled area that Aang had touched down upon, it breathed flames from its throat and nostrils that the airbender dodged frantically. He knew that he had to combat it somehow, so he hastily twisted his arms around and bent water up from the pool which surrounded the all-too-small island, shooting it at the dragon, freezing some shards and hurling them in spiked hurls at his adversary. Undeterred, the dragon continued to roast the landscape. Aang had no choice but to concentrate some of his water on the land beneath his feet so he did not end up without a safe place to plant his feet. He had decided to employ mainly the use of waterbending against this flying creature for convenience.
However, as soon as he had put out all the fire around him and warded off the dragon, the very ground beneath Aang's feet began to shake. What caused this sudden earth quake he did not know. Then he realized that it was not an earth quake, but earthbending, So, the rider that leapt off the dragon now was in fact an earthbender, not a bender of fire or any other element. Aang had not been expecting this at all. He saw that his adversary – a woman – was garbed in Earth Kingdom military armor. Although he had never been to Ba Sing Se himself, he recognized the clothing as that of the Terra Team from that province, having seen it when he visited his friend Bumi growing up and the ambassador of the Earth King had been accompanied by a delegation whilst visiting the court of Omashu. But Aang had never seen a female member of the Terra Team, let alone one who rode a dragon.
At this point, Aang could not allow himself to be surprised by anything. When the Terra Team woman landed, she sent a shockwave of sorts along the earth beneath her feat, knocking him off balance. She proceeded to send rocks toward his face, which he dodged hastily with his swift speed. Meanwhile, Avatar Aang drew water whip after water whip from the moat surrounding the arena to hurl at his adversary. He twirled his arms about and attempted to gather enough water from his surroundings to his sides for him to try out the octopus move he had heard of from Katara. However, his efforts were thwarted by an avalanche of shattered rock pebbles bent by the agile opponent. After the defensive maneuver was foiled, Aang felt the ground beneath his feet begin to soften, like he was about to be submerged.
When he found that he could not keep up with all the earthen attacks sent his way, especially if the ground was sucking him down, Aang jumped up and flew around on his glider. Then he proceeded to swing his feet to manipulate the atmospheric currents into miniature air swipes. Despite the formidability of his opponent, she was clearly not used to battling an airbender, and after evading several flying rocks with ease, Aang simultaneously bent a gigantic horde of water from below like he had once done in the Northern Water Tribe and knocked the woman off balance before touching down again.
Aang saw that the dragon-flying Earth Kingdom soldier was now sitting with her legs hanging over the moat that he had bent water out of earlier. She appeared more passive now, and the Avatar took it upon himself to slowly approach her. "Excuse me?" he asked as he approached her. "I attacked you earlier because you were attacking me." When she didn't respond right away, he continued, slightly more timid. "Now that we're done fighting, though, I was just wondering...are you hurt?"
"Nope, just a flesh wound," the woman with the conical hat replied, shaking her head. She then turned to look up at him. "You're the Avatar, aren't you? I never believed in you, to be honest. For all my life you've been gone from the world, but when you bent multiple elements just now, that pretty much confirmed it."
"Oh yeah," Aang said, his face turning red. "Sorry about that." Scratching the back of his neck, he sat down overlooking the water beside his earlier adversary. "You see, I only just got out of the iceberg a few months ago when my new friends discovered it. Now there are a hundred years worth of people that I let down by not being there to protect the balance for them. Since I got out, though, I've been trying to make up in any way I can."
The woman merely shrugged. "That's often the best that any of us can do."
"You don't seem all that bad now," Aang said, smiling. "So why did you attack me before?"
The Terra Team earthbender who rode dragons took a few moments before responding. "I suppose that I was compelled to," she finally answered. "The thing is that I don't really belong here, now, with you. And most definitely not like this."
Aang took another look around at the landscape where the Consultant's door had led him to, and saw the water beyond their battleground seemed to fade like fog in the distance. "What is this place?" he wondered aloud.
"I don't fully understand the nature of it, either," Aang's new friend replied. "But I think that it's just what it looks like: an arena for us to fight in."
"But why?" asked Aang, no less hungry for answers. "Who would want you and I to fight each other?"
The Terra Team earthbender shrugged again. "I agree that it doesn't seem very rational," she said. "This is only the latest such development, though. Everything has been getting out of hand lately, from what I've seen."
Aang's heart gave a short leap. "That's what I've been experiencing, too!" he exclaimed. "It got worse as things went on. Now I thought I was the only one that still saw events unfolding that way. I'm so glad that I found someone else that realizes it."
"It's no cause for celebration, young Avatar," she cautioned him harshly. "If it's gotten worse as time goes on, then I'll bet that it will only continue to get even worse going forward."
"I wasn't planning on coming to this place until now," said Aang. "The only reason I arrived on this path was because of the Consultant."
"The Consultant!" The woman's eyes flared up and she clenched all the fingers of both her hands into two tight fists. "That troublemaker," she said. "Everything always spins out of control whenever he's involved somehow. And he told me after this fight I could see my prince again..."
"You know of the Consultant, too?" Aang asked the earthbender, surprised.
"Unfortunately," she said through pursed lips. "Let's just say that I am familiar with who he is and his cruel handiwork. He once told me that I could find my love if I only fought long enough."
"I see," said Aang. "My friends and I ran into him this morning in the woods. He offered to help us, but everything only got more and more out of hand after we met the Consultant. None of his advice made much sense, even to begin with, but we entertained it for a while. Then one of us died and two more of us are no longer themselves."
"So why did you stick with him for so long?"
"It's kind of a long story," said Aang.
"Well, okay." The Avatar told the earthbending woman everything that had taken place since the Consultant approached him.
"The Consultant has indeed led you astray," she commented as soon as he finished. "You ought never to have gone along with his program to begin with. What has happened to your earthbending teacher and your waterbending teacher does indeed sound like an indicator that things are more out of hand than before," she added. "As for falling in love with a war going on that you're in the middle of, that can be a dangerous thing. Unless you really are sure about this girl who became your companion, then I wouldn't recommend it."
"I am," Aang told her without hesitating.
"Good for you," said the Terra Team member. "I'm afraid that I have some bad news for you, Avatar. You see, there is no code down here to make your friends right again."
"What?!" Aang's eyes widened in shock.
"And there is no revival potion to bring back your other friend, either."
"The Consultant," Aang muttered through gritted teeth. "He lied to me. I'm gonna... I'm gonna really make him pay." If Aang had been from any nation besides the Air Nomads, then he would have said, "kill him."
"Believe me, I can sympathize," the woman said, remaining calm. "Ordinarily I would also be right there with you. In this case, however, it's no use. Our efforts would be in vain. So we're better off just staying here and savoring the time we have for ourselves." Rising to her feet, she turned away from the water and walked along the outer edge of the arena. "Well, what is left of the two of us, anyway."
"No," said Aang, jogging with airbending-enhanced speed to catch up alongside her. "Both of us can make this right again, together. If I fly out of this place on my glider and you come back through the entrance on your dragon, then we can confront the Consultant together. We can easily set him straight." Aang let out a mild bit of a laugh. "Heh, after seeing your bending and flying, I highly doubt that the Consultant alone would be a match for both of us."
The woman did not share Aang's enthusiasm, and she stared back at him solemnly. "Young Avatar, I'm afraid that you still don't understand what you're up against."
"What do you mean?"
"It's not the Consultant you have to worry about," she explained. "It's the Designers."
"I don't believe it," said Aang. The Consultant had said that he blamed the Designers pretty much whenever something was going wrong. "You mean he was actually right about that, too?"
"While he was giving us all these strange suggestions, the Consultant would ramble about a lot of stuff where none of us knew what he was talking about," said Aang. "He would talk of Quests, Achievements, a Screen, Observers, Guilds and Designers." Although he had not known this woman warrior of the Earth Kingdom for long, Aang already found her more reliable to talk to than the Consultant had ever been. And now that she was speaking of the same things the Consultant did, he felt he had to listen to what she had to say.
"Yes, he talks a lot about matters unseen," said the woman. "They are things we cannot really touch. Unfortunately, neither of us has been in control of this situation since the beginning, Avatar. We've never been, but the Consultant is not really in control, either. He just likes to pretend that he is. At the end of the day, he's not any more in control than you or I. It's the Designers and Observers."
"Who are they?" Aang asked, now hanging on her every word. "Where are they?"
Suddenly, the Terra Team woman broke eye contact with the Avatar and stared about! "There is an Observer looking at us right now," she said. "Watching everything we do...listening to everything we say."
The shocked Avatar took his fighting stance and held his glider staff out in front of him as he looked into what looked like empty space that she was staring at. He then turned his head and looked in each direction around the arena. "I can't see them," he whispered to the earthbender.
"Don't bother too much with it," she told him. "You can't reach where they are."
"Why not?" said Aang. "Are they not in the physical world? I know you said you never believed in it before, so I can see why you might not now. But I'm the Avatar, so that means that I'm the bridge between the two worlds."
"No, it's not that," the earthbending woman said, waving this objection away. "They come from somewhere else altogether. A land far, far past the Spirit World. A land of articles, contests, newsletters and chat parties."
Aang scratched the smooth, arrowed top of his bald head. "Well, if that's the case, then how is it that they can see us?"
"By using a Screen."
"There's another one of the Consultant's weird words again," said Aang. "What is this Screen he speaks of, exactly?"
"It's an interdimensional portal that the Observers make use of to view virtual realms, environments where everyone takes on a certain role to play, or even something constructed via the written word."
"Wait a second," Aang whispered in the softest voice that he could manage and still have it audible enough. "Is it the Observers or the Designers that are to blame for everything around us getting out of hand." The Avatar continued to look around the area himself, as if he was waiting for something to jump out at him at a moment's notice.
"Many Observers are Designers in their own right," the woman of the Terra Team explained. "And it's no good for you to lower your voice. The Observers can hear your very thoughts if the Designer in these parts wills it."
The Avatar thought that this was all very confusing, albeit frightening at the same time. It was a feeling he loathed greatly. "I still don't fully understand."
"Each Designer have their own little world of sorts that resemble each other for the most part," said the Terra Team earthbender. "They have certain individuals whom they torture with great troubles. Playing with their lives further, the Designers place great trials in the person's path and watch them scramble to overcome them. Every so often most Designers visit each other's worlds as Observers and witness that Designer's handiwork in a boundless cycle of exchanging."
Now that the Avatar had a better understanding, he did not feel any better about it. "Why would they do such a thing?"
"For enjoyment," the earthbender said through a cynical, humorless laugh. "They find it fun," she added. "And no remorse, none whatsoever. In fact, they celebrate it."
"This is so horrible," said Aang, bewildered.
"See? As I told you earlier, you've not been the least in control of what happens to you at any point. You might actually have been better off not knowing the truth," she told him, having resigned herself much earlier. "Some Designers, though, are more gentle than others. They have a respect for the natural order, and make an effort to keep everything synced with reality, such as with characters being in-character and behaving as they should. Then, if they're going to play their little games with us, at least it's nice and balanced. Other Designers are more ruthless and have no regard at all for the way things ought to be. They do as they please. A world can get out of hand really fast when such Design is employed. Look at what happened to your friends. Then, you'll find something that resembles the mess that we're stuck in right now, or the greater mess that may still be to come. Once you start down that path, everything will eventually spin out of control, towards oblivion."
Avatar Aang struggled to process all this dark revelation at once. "How do you know all of this?"
At this question, the woman paused uncomfortably before giving her answer. "Because I met my Designer once."
"You did?!" asked Aang. "How?"
"It was at a meet and greet party on Valentine's Day," the woman said, sighing deeply. "When I arrived, I was in a bit of a daze and was a little unclear as to how exactly I had got there. Naturally, I had no idea who he was when he approached and introduced himself to me. To begin with, he seemed nice enough, even if his fascination with me was a little off. So I humored him and we chatted for a long while. He wound up showing me this little game that one plays with candy, as though that's supposed to make up for what it is he has in store for me. Spirits know what that is. Character lives matter, dang it!"
"Of course they do," said the Avatar. "All lives matter."
"Not to them. And there's no use trying to wrestle any sort of control from the Designers, so don't bother."
Aang shook his head in disbelief. "This cannot be true."
"I'm afraid that it is true, Avatar. I'm also afraid that it's going to be even worse for you than it is for me because you're an established character and I am merely a custom character."
"I won't give in," Aang said, determined. "There must be something that I can do about all of this. Perhaps it's wishful thinking on my part, and I realize that's possible, but I don't want to give up yet. It's not like me somehow. To simply give up in the face of a new problem."
The woman earthbender thought to herself for a moment. "Well, there is something that might work."
"Really?" asked Aang. "What?"
"Look, I don't want to get your hopes up over this," she clarified. "It might not, and my mood tells me that it probably won't, but it's the only possibility that I can think of. Perhaps it's already too late to even think about it."
"I understand," Aang replied quickly, seizing ahold of the woman's Terra Team robes. "Just tell me what it is! Please."
"Well, alright," she agreed. "I may not have the cheat code that you came looking for, but I have another word that you can try giving to the Consultant. Once I give it to you, you'll have to find him again and tell it to him."
"Okay," said Aang. "Tell me what it is."
"Alright," said the earthbender. "Here it is." She told him the word.
"Great," said Aang. "Thank you. I am most grateful."
"You're welcome," she responded. "Now go. I'm not sure how much longer it will work. You must hurry, young Avatar!"
Aang seized both ends of his glider and switched it open. Then he manipulated the currents of the air around him to push himself up to the doorway where he had come in what now seemed quite a long time ago, even if it was only recently. Once he crossed over to the other side of the gateway, he found himself back inside of the tiny hut, nearly crashing into one of the wooden walls of the small dwelling.
The Avatar emerged from the house, but did not find the Consultant waiting outside where he had last seen him. And so, Aang ran through the adjacent field, scouting around for his former mentor. He did not find him right away, but he did see both of his remaining companions a short distance away.
"What shall we do now, my love?" Toph asked Katara.
"Let's go on a vacation, just the two of us," suggested Katara. "Anywhere you want."
"Really?" said Toph, scratching her chin in thought. "Okay, I've always wanted to see what the Spirit World is like."
"Aren't you blind?"
"I mean feel it," said Toph. "With my feet...if you're able to do that there. I don't really know."
"Let's go, then," said Katara. "It looks like there's a portal in the distance," she added, looking at an ethereal pillar in the distance which stretched up into the heavens.
"Umm...where did that come from, exactly?"
"Who cares? Let's just go toward it." With that, Katara and Toph skipped away, hand-in-hand, toward their new destination.
Finally, Aang ran into the Consultant where the mountain began to descend. "Ah, Avatar," the Consultant greeted, smiling with all his teeth. "It looks like you finished that little venture. I was just going to tell you that you have another-"
"Never mind that, Consultant," Aang cut him off. "I have something to say to you. Reset."
The Consultant blinked. "What was that?"
"Reset," Aang repeated with greater urgency now that things seemed to be spinning out of control even faster than they had been before.
"Aw, do we have to?" the Consultant groaned. "Look, I know that not everything has gone perfect this time around, but it can still get better."
Aang was undaunted. "No, Consultant. It has to end here."
"Consultant," Aang cut him off again, not allowing him to finish. "Reset, now!"
The Consultant let out a sigh of reluctance. "So be it, then." And with that, everything dissolved around them.
Afterwards, all was dark, blank and empty.
Reopening last save file.
The exhausted adolescents found their senses jogged into action once more as tree branches broke apart left and right and the sound of their descent roared, deafening in their ears with the wind it carried. When the giant sky bison finally crash landed at last, the Avatar and his friends once again found themselves on dry ground, having gone an entire night of traveling without sleeping so much as a week.
"Okay, we've put a lot of distance between us and them," Sokka, alive, well, and unbroken, declared to the rest of the group. "The plan right now is to follow Appa's lead and get some sleep."
The Water Tribe warrior's younger companions carried their own sleeping bags and prepared to follow suit. His sister, however, opted to at least provide some closing commentary on the situation before entertaining any thoughts of turning in during the wee morning. "Of course we could've gotten some sleep earlier, if Toph didn't have such issues," said Katara.
The blind earthbending master was not going to let that sit. "What?!"
The young Avatar Aang, recalling the mediation skills he honed during his experiences at the Great Divide, attempted to diffuse the situation. "All right, all right, everyone's exhausted. Let's just get some rest."
Despite the severe lack of sleep, Toph was not going to sit idly by. "No, I want to hear what Katara has to say. You think I have issues?"
"I'm just saying," Katara went on. "Maybe if you helped out earlier, we could've set up our camp faster and gotten some sleep, and maybe we wouldn't be in this situation."
"You're blaming me for this?" Toph barked back in disbelief.
"No," said Aang, frantically and in vain continuing his calming efforts. "No, she's not blaming you."
"No, I'm blaming her," said Katara.
"I never asked you for diddly-doo-dah," said Toph, pointing to herself. "I carry my own weight. Besides, if there's anyone to blame, it's Sheddy over here." She pointed toward Appa now.
"What?" asked Avatar-in-training Aang. "You're blaming Appa?"
"Yeah, you know how they keep finding us? He's leaving a trail everywhere we go!"
"How dare you blame Appa," said Aang. "He saved your life three times today! If there's anyone to blame it's you! You're always talking about how you carry your own weight, but you're not. He is! Appa's carrying your weight. He never had a problem fiying when it was just the three of us."
Toph slammed her foot into the earth and tossed her sack to herself, which she caught in midair. "I'm out of here."
Sokka ran in front of her. "Wait!" He was subsequently pushed aside with a simple wift of her earthbending.
"What did I do?" Aang sulked. "I can't believe I yelled at my earthbending teacher. Now she's gone."
"I know," said Katara. "We're all just trying to get used to each other. And I was so mean to her."
"Yeah, you two were pretty much jerks," agreed Sokka.
"Thanks Sokka," Katara said sarcastically.
"We need to find Toph and apologize," said Katara.
On the bank of the same river as the Avatar and his friends had landed nearby was someone else. Everything about him from the mat of red hair on his head to the scraggly red goatee hanging from his chin was out of place here, and he was sitting in a hastily-setup beach chair close to the water. In his right fist he grasped a small tumbler glass of scotch on the rocks.
"Four adolescents, with ordinary problems, coupled with the very not-so-ordinary problem of having to save the world, emotions have run high. But sometimes two wrongs do make a right, and sometimes it's better to focus on those that one has control over, rather than what one doesn't. In these cases, ignorance can be bliss. Now, they all have something that few ever have the luxury of. That is, getting the gift of ignorance restored to them once again. Well, it's probably best to leave things there for now, but I'll see you all again next time, in the Avatar Zone. Cheers."
- Special thanks to , whom I had a conversation with that started on his review of some of my previous one-shots. For the longest time I had no plans to write a continuation of , but in the end writing this was a lot of fun.
- This one-shot was released a good five and a half years after its direct predecessor. That's about half the time that Avatar Wiki has been around O_O
- Inspirations include various video games, and also the Sword Art Online anime series.
- The chickens that the Consultant chased and gained his nickname from were like the ones in Legend of Zelda in that they never die even after being struck many times. mentioned them in her comment on the original Consultant story.
- When the Consultant talks about what he has been doing since last time and mentions the monarchs with the narcotics, it is loosely inspired by Hundun's backstory.
- The Arena of 100 Trials is a reference to the Pit of 100 Trials from the Paper Mario series. It takes place during the time of the Siege of Ba Sing Se before Aang had reawaken.
- The backstory the Consultant tells on the cheat book is loosely based on Kuvira's plan to steal energy from spiritual objects, plus the backstories of Final Fantasy VII and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The list of spirits has a very mushed feel, and is the author subtlely poking fun at one of his own quirks.
- Going into an ordinary-looking house, then coming back out and being in a different dimension resembles a point near the end of Quest 64.
- The Terra Team girl is from my series .
- The "meet-and-greet" she mentions was featured in the Valentine's Day issue of the White Lotus Sentinel, during which she plays Candy Crush for the first time.
- Aang's line of not giving up because it's not like him is a direct pull from Rankin-Bass's animated adaptation of The Return of the King.
For the collective works of the author, go here.