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|"You are a victim of this war Zuko, no different than the soldiers your father expends to conquer the Earth Kingdom, or the monks and nomads that were slaughtered by your forefather Sozin's army."|
|— Aang, after being informed on the origins of Zuko's exile.|
The Journey Begins is the second episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender Revised.
|The Journey Begins|
January 7th, 2011
Behind the Scenes
In all honesty, these first two episodes are just meant to serve as the launchpad for the series. After this episode is when the major thematic development begins. The episodes will usually be a mix of the central themes of the series and singular themes intended for that episode alone. I think I've pulled off establishment of Ains and Zotu's personalities well here, and the beginning is a good addition to my Kyasin development from the first episode. There's a clear difference in storybuilding style in the first and second episodes, which I had intended. The first was focused on description and events while the second was focused on dialogue and characters, until the end, which was I admit a bit lacking, but after the work I put into the dialogue between Zotu and Ain, I wanted to have the episode end more easily.
Editing Plans: Hold No Grudges may receive revision, low priority
Theme song for the episode: The Unknown Soldier by the Doors
Significance of theme song: This song would relate really well to soldiers in the Fire Nation military, considering what is shown of how Ozai thinks of them in this piece.
Hold No Grudges - Ain
Ain had been on the ship for not five minutes, but he was already sick of its cold iron interior...it reminded him of a prison, which, he supposed, it was for him. He longed to gaze at the majestic sky and wondrous ocean, to marvel at nature's pure, simplistic, and serene beauty. As he was guided past the quarters of the ship's captain, he turned his head and looked at the one with the horribly-burned face that had threatened Kyasin, and said, "I sincerely hope that you're aware...that I do not hold any grudge against you." He ordered his crewmen to leave Ain in his quarters, alone with his captor. The Fire Nation captain stared at Ain intently, carrying rage that could only belong to a man who had endured pain far beyond what was deserved by anyone behind his pupils.
He asked, "How could you, or anyone else in your position possibly not hold animosity towards me?"
Ain quietly thought for a few moments, carefully and deliberately deciding what words to use. This had always been his way, since his upbringing in the Southern temple. "The monks that follow the philosophy of the Avatar taught me that no man or woman inherently makes the morally wrong choices. Corruption is a trait that is imprinted upon someone by outside forces, be it their environmental surroundings, their upbringing, or other significant factors, not naturally part of the human soul. One should be held accountable for his or her choices, but not for their state of mind and essence. The monks also taught me how to read the histories of those I speak to, and through that, the nature of their souls. They believed in taking in and providing proper guidance to those that had lost their way, hence the often-used other name of the Avatar temples, the Temples of Lost Souls."
"I can see behind your furious and sorrowful eyes, captain. You were raised to be a person of compassion, grace, and kindness, brimming with youth and enthusiasm. You cannot be much older than twenty, so that youth should still be shining within your heart, but all I see is anguish, bitterness, and torment. Please, unburden your soul upon me. What are the troubles that are weighing down your heart, that plagues your life?"
Unburden Your Soul - Zotu
Frustrated, Zotu buried his head in his hands. He wanted the Avatar as his prisoner, not his therapist. But what the Avatar had asked had struck a chord in the kind and youthful soul buried beneath harsh resentment and burning fury. "I am royalty, the banished and disowned FirePrince Zotu, and my father is the current FireLord, Aizo." He hesitated momentarily, before forcing himself to continue. "Do you still believe that I could choose another path? That I could reject my family's dynasty of cruelty and tyranny?" Ain sat in meditation for a few moments, choosing his next words with precision and empathy.
"The terms royalty and dynasty mean nothing to me, as they should to you Zotu, and to everyone. The decisions of your forefathers do not have to determine your choices. The FireLord cannot manipulate your path of fate unless you allow him to. You are a free man, with the same free will that we all are granted. You alone make the volition that determines which paths on the road of your destiny will be taken, and which repercussions will have to be endured. Tell me, Zotu. What crime could the heir to the throne commit for his banishment to be justified?"
This took Zotu aback; nobody outside of the royal family knew of his "crime." Why should he care for betraying royal secrets now? He took a deep breath, and pulled the entire incident from his sea of memory. It replayed within his mind like a recording as he told the monk of the path he had unfortunately gone down. "My father took me to a meeting with his war strategists, so that I could understand battle tactics. He was proposing the use of a dozen battalions of infantry as bait to draw the Earth Kingdom military forces away from the city we were targeting, while our tanks overtook the settlement." Zotu's voice became heavy with seething hatred and savage malice.
"My father holds no value for the beating heart of a common soldier. He only values his cold iron war machines...our tanks, our warships, our airships... Each time one of those is destroyed, it is like a knife wound in his gut, with the blade still being twisted around inside. But not when a man or a woman gives their life for our nation and its needless invasion... He does not care one...little....bit about the common soldier."
"By the nature of my own soul, I challenged this blatant waste of the lives of our people's dedicated warriors. As punishment for my insolence, my father burnt half of my face off and cast me aside. I was charged with treason for questioning his strategy...while I was still recovering in the hospital. My inheritance of the throne was revoked, and I was denounced as a traitor by my own friends...a damned traitor!" Those last few words pulsated with ferocity... Tears began to gather in his eyes as Zotu smashed the window behind him and released a stream of flame to relieve his wrath. The stream of intensely hot flames skimmed the water's surface, leaving a trail of steam in its wake.
Seek True Redemption - Zotu
"A tragic sin has been committed against you, Zotu. For expressing compassion for human life amidst a barbaric, 'strategic' and sacrificial proposal, you were mutilated, exiled, and disowned, all by your own father. He owes a great debt for the crimes he has committed against you, and the world. And now that I am aware of your past, I can predict the future path that your father laid down for you. You have taken me prisoner so that I can be offered as a token of your dedication and plea for forgiveness toward your father. He likely has you convinced that you're on the path to salvation by earning his amnesty, but it should be he striving for your mercy and global absolution for his war crimes."
"This path of redemption he has offered you is only redemption in his eyes, not yours. You should be seeking atonement for terrorizing and intimidating your crew, and the people of the Water Tribes. Your redemption should be for your own satisfaction, not his. You are a victim of this war, Zotu, not any different than the soldiers that your father expends to conquer the Earth Kingdom, or the monks and nomads that were slaughtered by your forefather Sinzo's army."
Zotu stared at the cast-iron walls surrounding him, suffocating him like a compact cell, tears of rage still dripping down his face. He had never considered free will as a factor in his destiny. His father wanted him to believe that it was his duty as a member of the royal family to not avert the path of his forefathers. Drifting out of his cloud of thoughts came one that he was sure was not his own, it stating that he should ignore the monk's words at all costs and just lock him away now, that the monk was tempting him away from his proper destiny. How had this thought come into his mind? Where had it come from, and who had planted it there? Had his mind been altered in other ways? Was this the work of his father? Could Aizo possibly be cruel enough to physically manipulate his own son's thoughts?
When he needed comfort, Zotu always summoned memories of his mother and her teachings, each word of which had clung to dearly with love and adoration. All that could be recollected was her face, nothing more. . Who had done this to him? After great mental strain and effort, he pulled out a string of statements she had made to him from the deepest recesses of his psyche. He realized that the words of the monk echoed those of his own mother's. As a child, she had told him that if he ever felt the need to atone for a regrettable action, he would have to follow the path of redemption.
Zotu combed over his mind for other alien thoughts, and concluded that these planted thoughts could've subconsciously pushed him toward the aggressive, unkind, and bitter nature that engulfed him these days. He would begin his ascension toward a far more compassionate nature, and his journey to unveil all of his concealed thoughts today. He thanked the monk for his words of advice, and respectfully asked his crewmen to take the Avatar to his quarters. This discussion with the monk, and these revelations within his own mind had put a whole new perspective on Zotu's life.
Direct Control- Ain
The Fire Nation soldiers escorted Ain into his cell. From his viewpoint though Zotu's window, he had determined that dawn was approaching. He longed to observe the morning sunlight, inhale fresh oxygen, and rest as the world's creatures woke up all around. Nature was truly a glorious bounty of beauty. He thought of the two comrades that he had made that day, the tribals. He recognized that they were earnest to leave their small island and join the resistance against the Fire Nation. The woman, Kyasin, had seemed weary of being a guardian and leader to her people, desperately wishing for a route out, so that she could pursue her own interests. He had chosen to follow the path the Avatar had bestowed upon him for their sakes as much as the world's.
He just wanted to peacefully mediate at the Southern temple, solitary but content...even if it was hollow and haunted with the ghosts of the past. He was truly a peace-mongering monk at heart...why couldn't the Avatar abandon him and possess some chest pounding, bravado-spewing war hero? For that matter, what was stopping it from giving him aid in this mission? Ain was pulled into the semi-conscious state that he'd been in before. Within his mind, vast black clouds of smoke surrounded and smothered him, as white cracks of lightning occasionally cut through the smoke to strike near him, missing by inches. He heard the same voice as before, the voice that seemed to come from every direction and bellowed louder than the fiercest thunderstorm imaginable.
"It is humanity's duty to keep themselves at peace, not mine! You are my ambassador to the physical world, an instrument of my will used to give forth my guiding hand to the people. When I selected you as a vessel, a piece of my essence became bounded to your soul, restricting my ability to manipulate the physical world to a minimum. You are the gateway between the earth and Spirit Worlds until you perish, be it from blade or illness or age."
"Very well...but I believe that there is a peaceful solution to the war, rather than fighting the FireLord and his army. If I give myself to be taken as a trophy, perhaps I can convince the FireLord to stop the invasion and occupation."
"I find the depths of your naivete and lack of foresight disturbing. Ain, you must begin your journey, you must do battle with the Fire Nation and its leader and bring the world to an era of peace, but you cannot do that if you're imprisoned here."
"I will not harm the innocent crew-members of this ship for my escape."
"Then I am forced to assume direct control." After Ain fell into full unconsciousness, a searing glow began to radiate from his eyes and tattoos, singing the iron walls of his cell. An immensely powerful pulse of energy was released, shredding the warship apart and throwing the ship's crew into the sea. His limp body hovered in mid-air above the wreckage, and was carried by the Avatar's power over the crashing waves until he was floating over the shoreline. He tumbled though the air to the soft snow-ridden beach, and the searing glow faded away, receding into his essence once more.
Ain arose heavily dazed, not remembering the events of the Avatar taking over whatsoever. Recognizing that he was back on the island of the tribals, Ain set his sights on being prepared to leave when the siblings awoke. He lifted himself into a strong gale, and began speeding northward. He'd need an old friend to carry him on this hero's journey.
Guardians of the People-Team Avatar
(I understand that this section needs major improvement as well. Unlike the first section however, this cannot be skipped over. Expect this section to be revised and improved soon enough.)
Appa careened from the skies downward, until his hefty body smashed into the ground like an extraterrestrial rock. A cloud of noxious dust hung around Ain for several seconds, before clearing. He peered below the overbearing cliff edge to see Sakodi and Kyasin in preparation for launching a small boat. The two came upon the realization that he had returned to the island. Sakodi yelled, "Pardon me for asking this, Ain, but could you please explain why I bothered to conceive an intricate plot to free you from the Fire Nation ship when you could apparently return at any time? Also, what the hell is that yawning pile of fur behind you?"
Ain considered this for a few moments, and responded, "My sincerest apologies. I simply could not interrupt your well-deserved slumber to merely inform you that I had returned. This, Sakodi, is a sky bison. The nomads and monks used them as mounts, in my time. His name is Appa, he was mine when I was growing up."
"How could he have possibly survived?"
"There was a lot of barren and partly-eaten plants where I found him... I guess the Fire Nation just didn't bother to kill a few bison. Come on you two, I promise that it's not a bad ride once you get used to it. We need to get going."
Sakodi and Kyasin hesitated for a few moments, then sighed and began to climb back up the cliffside to get to Ain and his bison. Before he got on, a small child walked up to Sakodi and wished him good luck, giving him a boomerang as a gift. "Thanks, Sun," he responded. Once the child was out of earshot, Sakodi climbed onto Appa, turned to Kyasin and asked, "What am I going to do with this thing? And how in hell does this two-ton fluffball fly?"
Ain called out a "Yip yip!" and suddenly Appa was soaring through the air at a breakneck speed. Sakodi, barely holding onto the beast's fur successfully, asked, "Could we slow down a little?" Ain dismissively replied, "Yeah...but why would we want to?" He turned to Sakodi and grinned.
. . .
The trio had been flying for countless hours, and the sun was descending as they reached the late afternoon. The trio was doubtful that they'd reach the mainland by the time it would be too dark to fly. Finally, a village on a peninsula branching off from the mainland was sighted over the horizon. Unfortunately...the village was up in flames, and there was a Fire Nation warship docked in the harbor. Sakodi sighed deeply and said, "Of course the first village we find is being attacked...we couldn't possibly not have to fight anyone on our first day..." He checked the map, and determined that it was a Fire Nation occupied village called Rhao Han. The group reached a unanimous consensus that the village had to be given aid, even if its civilians were Fire Nation.
A massive fireball was launched from the warship, and struck Appa's flank, sending him into a downward spiral. Ain handed Kyasin and Sakodi the reins, gave a thumbs up, and leapt off of Appa's back, gliding in a wind current until he landed on the roof of a house. Kyasin and Sakodi glanced at each other, as if to ask what had they gotten themselves into, and then jumped from Appa to separate rooftops as he began his final decent before crashing into an open field. From the top of a hut on the town's shoreline that Kyasin was on, she gathered a large amount of ocean water to douse the burning buildings, and barked orders to her brother and Ain. "Sakodi, we need you to help the town guards fend off the Fire Nation soldiers, and Ain, you help the villagers evacuate.
Ain jumped down into the streets, and pushed open the door of the house he'd been on. Inside was a woman around his age, whose face bore the mark of severe concern. Ain gently walked toward her and asked, "Who are you, and why are these soldiers attacking their own people?"
The waif paused before responding, "My name is Miza; I moved down here when my boyfriend Lee was assigned to a ship down here. The soldiers are trying to kill him. .because he took the day off to be with me. Dereliction of duty is a capital offense in our land."
"And so is expressing a different opinion than the FireLord, apparently... What isn't a capital offense in the Fire Nation?"
"Well, we don't criminalize... You know there's more important things to do than discuss Fire Nation laws. We need to get the rest of the villagers out of town, for safety."
"Very well, come with me..." The two walked through the streets, peering into each household and calling for any residents before moving on. They had gathered a considerably large group of townspeople within twenty minutes, and escorted them into the grasslands surrounding the town. Ain asked Miza if she had any bending ability, which she said yes to, and he asked if she'd stay to protect the villagers. She agreed to this, and Ain began to head toward the town center, to help Sakodi or Kyasin.
Kyasin cast large orbs of water over each inflamed building, quenching out the fires in order to keep anyone stuck in their homes safe. She ran from rooftop to rooftop, continuously doing this until she came across Fire Nation soldiers, who were attempting to beat down a secured door. They were asking for Lee to come out, if he was there. While she had no idea whom Lee was, she assumed he was the reason they were attacking the village. Wherever he was, he'd need protection. After finally being able to freeze water a little when she was training the other night, Kyasin could use her ability, despite a desperate need for proper training. She cocooned the soldiers in ice and hung them from their feet off of the street-lantern posts.
Sakodi slammed the broad side of his club (he wondered which side wasn't broad...) into a Fire Nation soldier's stomach, winding him. He then struck him at the knees, bringing the soldier to the ground. He sparingly used the self-made grenades that he'd crafted for the escape attempt to incapacitate or kill the rest of the soldiers. He dashed through the streets, searching for the town center, which he had been told by a surprisingly knowledgeable cabbage merchant that it was where the captain of these soldiers was. When Sakodi reached the town's radius, he witnessed what was a rare spectacle for those who were not Fire Nation, a firebender duel, between a young boy, probably a villager, and the captain.
The boy was merely defending himself, as he tried to explain that he'd be willing to be taken in if the village and his life were spared. The captain said that he could not take any risks, and eventually the boy's luck ran out, as a large fireball from the captain's fist struck him, burning his bare flesh until he was unconscious from the pain. Sakodi was ready to ambush the captain and save the boy, but Ain leapt in front of him and held him back. He pointed towards the sea, where a second FN ship was dropping its anchor. Ain told him that it was the flagship of Zotu, the firebender that had taken him from the island last night.
Zotu stormed out of the belly of his warship towards Kai, one of the high officers that served under him. Enraged at the atrocity that had been incurred on the village because of his own foolish hotheadedness, Zotu said, "Damn it Kai, I called off the attack for a reason! That kid was just trying to enjoy a day with the girl he cared for, he didn't deserve punishment for that!"
Kai was slow to respond, savoring the taste of hearing his superior being displeased at his actions. He turned to Zotu with a despicable grin on his face. "I was being thorough...I thought perhaps your mistake was in calling off the attack, after all, dereliction of duty is a major offense. Besides, Zotu, I believe it's time for someone new to take your position. I am 15 years your elder, you know. Someone with more experience should be the one to lead this squadron."
"Your mutinous questions disturb me, but not as much as your lack of regret for taking the life of one of our own soldiers, one who was barely 18 even. Innocent blood has been spilt, and you must pay the price for that." Zotu fired a stream of blazing fire toward Kai, who avoided the blast with the dexterity and grace of a spring-spined feline. Zotu viciously fired blast after blast and fireball after fireball, but Kai averted them all with leaps, bounds, hinge-steps, dodges, and ducks. Zotu restrained the power of each blast enough so that it fizzled out before striking any wooden buildings after each misfire. Kai spun in the air and shot three fireballs in rapid succession, which Zotu stood his ground against. He made a deep inhale as the fireballs hurtled towards him, and they simply evaporated. His cheeks began to bulge and turn red...before he went into a low stance, joined his hands together, and spat a massive fireball (made from the three that were fired at him) straight at Kai.
Kai cartwheeled out of the fireball's path, but intentionally allowed his foot to be caught in the flame, so that he could fire back a fireball at Zotu with a roundhouse kick. Zotu simply blew some air, which extinguished the small flame. Kai began to close the gap between himself and Zotu, releasing jets of flame from his palms to keep his opponent at bay. Zotu stole and redirected the flames into a wheel-shape, part of a form known as the Wheel of Ixion. He sent the firewheel toward Kai, who did a spinning-jump to get out of the way, but the wheel, which turned into smoke once it struck him, singed the left side of his back. Kai fell to the ground in agony, reaching for an emergency stimulation-shot from his belt. Zotu stepped on and broke his hand, then took the shot for himself, plunging it into his elbow to cleanse the burn on his arm from a few months ago.
Zotu began to build a chi-focus within his body, before expelling a jet of flames from his fist, spreading the concentrated blaze over Kai's body, as he screamed for mercy. Kai pleaded to have his life spared, that he should just be imprisoned for attacking his superior, rather than killed. Zotu simply stated that someone had to pay for Lee's death. He picked up a jug of water, and poured it over Kai's body, putting out the flames. From the sheathe on his hip, the prince drew his katana, and plunged the blade into Kai's midsection, ending his agony forevermore. He turned to the townsfolk that surrounded him, and made a sincere apology. "It was my mistake that led to the passing of Lee and the harm or death brought upon any of the villagers during this raid. I will forever regret his death. May he be given a respectful funeral by his fellow civilians of Rhao Han."
Zotu ordered his soldiers to take Kai's body for an honorary burial at sea, as was the Fire Nation tradition for soldiers killed in action. He turned to the young monk who had provided guidance away from the path he was trapped on. "Monk. . What is your name?"
The wise young man hesitated, but then responded, "My name is Ain."
Zotu hung his head in respect for the monk, before continuing. "Then I apologize to you, Ain, on the behalf of my ancestor, he that order his soldiers to exterminate your people and mentors." Zotu delivered a rigid bow, which Ain respectfully returned. Zotu strode back into his ship, ordering the soldiers under Kai to gather those that were still within the town.
Ain asked the villagers about Appa's recovery, and was told that they'd be too busy with rebuilding the village, not to mention lacking the medical equipment to help Appa. The village leader responded, "You'll have to take your bison on our ferry to that island in the distance." Ain turned and indeed saw an island a few miles from the peninsula. "The inhabitants of Kyoshi will be able to provide the necessary treatment to your bison, but be wary...they're an aggressive people, and they've been especially distrusting of outsiders since most of the land around them is now occupied by the Fire Nation. The group agreed to board the ferry in the morning, bound for Kyoshi Island. Miza tapped Ain on the shoulder and asked if she could join them on their journey. "After all, the only connection I had to this village is over there...burnt to death...and I certainly do not support the war after this. If I have to choose between vicious soldiers and vicious liberators, I'll side with the ones that at least pretend to have my best interests at heart."
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|Fanon: The Undesirable Destiny - Fanon:The Journey Begins - Fanon: Hell Hath No Fury - Fanon:Revolution 1 - Fanon:The Mad Genius - Fanon:The Runaway - Fanon:The Winter Solstice|