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The Many Failures of Avatar Aang is the first chapter of book two, and the eleventh chapter overall, ofwritten by . It introduces the plotlines and characters arcs of book 2, as well as introducing a (somewhat) new character.
|The Many Failures of Avatar Aang|
The Fire Nation
At the very edge of the Fire Nation, on the side of a cliff lay a small house that hung over the coastline. It was a small shack made of dark stone with a sturdy tile roof. Inside, a woman wept and a man did his best to comfort her.
The woman attempted to dry her eyes. "Three years to the day, Ruo," she said to the man. "Three years since he went missing."
"I know. I miss him too, Qi," said Ruo, trying to comfort the crying woman.
"Then why haven't you been looking for him?" said Qi angrily, through the tears that covered her face.
Ruo was hurt. "I know he was your husband and you miss him, but he was my brother as well. I spent a year looking for him. I'm sorry to say this, but you just have to accept the fact that he's dead."
"No!" cried Qi. "They never found a body! He just disappeared one day! I mean he left his food on the table, Ruo! Kan's alive, I know it."
"I'm sorry, Qi, but he's dead. Just like Zhao," Ruo said, looking sadly at the portrait on his mantelpiece. Three brothers in their youth stared back at him from the lifeless piece of art. There was Ruo with his short-cropped hair in the middle, Kan on the left with his long dirty blonde hair and Zhao on the right with his ugly sideburns stretching down his cheek.
Qi felt bad and hung her head. "Sorry, Ruo. It must be hard. Losing your brothers."
Ruo turned around and smiled at her. "I'll always be here for you, Qi, for as long as you need me. It's the least I can do for my brother."
Qi nodded. "Thank you," she said smiling through the tears.
Then, suddenly, the door flew open and in flew a thick pillar of black smoke. It knocked the books and plates in Ruo's house off their shelves and they crashed to the floor. The pillar of smoke swirled towards the fireplace and then formed a solid black shadow, roughly human shape, but lacking the features of a human being.
Qi screamed manically and she cowered beneath the window.
But, the shadow walked slowly toward Ruo, a black mist following it along the ground. Ruo wasn't a fighter like his brothers were and he slowly backed away from the shadow, completely terrified.
"Please, whatever you are, don't hurt me. Please! Please!" begged Ruo, slowly backing up. But then, he hit the wall of his small house and the shadow kept coming closer. Ruo screamed in complete terror, "Please! Don't hurt me! Please! PLEASE!"
The shadow gave a strange laugh, which echoed in the tiny space, then his form fell apart and the black smoke shot towards Ruo at blinding speed, laughing as it went. The smoke flowed into Ruo's mouth, up his nostrils, even into his tear ducts.
Within moments, all the smoke had gone, leaving only Ruo behind. He smiled as he flexed his hands. He walked over to a mirror in the room and stared at his own reflection. "How long must I be stuck in these second rate forms?" he complained to no one in particular.
"Ruo?" asked Qi, standing up. "Are you alright?" He ignored her, so she asked again. "What happened? What was that thing?"
"Oh, will you shut up, woman?" cried a voice from Ruo's lips, but it wasn't him. It had a whole new malice in it that didn't exist moments before.
Qi was confused and came closer. "What's wrong? Ruo, answer me!" she yelled exasperated.
The man turned around quickly and grabbed Qi by the neck. She tried to scream again, but his hands were like iron around her throat and no sound came out of her terrified lips. He drew his face closer; a cruel smile lined it from cheek to cheek.
"My name," he whispered to her, "is Zhao."
Qi's eyes went wide as she whimpered and struggled against Zhao's grip, but he blasted flame out of the hand that held her tightly. Blood splattered across the small hut and what was left of Qi's body slumped to the ground, lifeless and aflame.
Zhao walked out of the hut in his new body as the flames began to spread and consume the rest of the house, smiling as he went.
The Southern Water Tribe
"Warriors, to me! Shields up! Spears at the ready!" cried Hakoda from the gates of the Southern Water Tribe. His armor would have gleamed in the sunlight if it weren't covered in a light coating of soot that steadily fell from the sky.
Within moments, Hakoda was flanked by his best warriors. All of them raised their spears, so all of them pointed threateningly at the shadow in the distance that was coming quickly towards them.
Hakoda flexed his arm and felt his spear's weight. So what if Pakku and his other waterbenders were out of action? The Cult still had to come through him and they weren't going to do it with one lone warrior, firebender or not. One solid throw from him and this miniature invasion would before even Kanna complained about it. He readied his spear...
Then, he heard a familiar voice break through the howling of the arctic winds. "Stand down!" he yelled to his warriors and they are lowered their weapons obediently.
Katara, mounted on the back of shivering eel hound, was waving frantically and yelling at her father. Within moments, she arrived at the gate, where her father took off his wolf helmet to greet her.
"Katara!" he said, as she dismounted and hugged him tightly. "What are you doing here? It isn't safe."
"Nowhere is safe anymore, Dad," Katara said, struggling to be heard over the wind. "Aang's away, I don't know when he's getting back; this is the safest place for me now."
"Okay, let's get inside. Bato, you've got the wall."
Bato nodded, and then ordered the men to create a perimeter around the tribe once again.
"How long has the snow been black?" asked Katara, worried.
"Days," answered Hakoda. "They're close by, but without the benders to defend the tribe I can't risk sending out any patrols to look."
"So, we're waited on the edge of a war we can't escape."
"Bingo," said Hakoda as they entered the chieftain's tent, inside a few of the wiser members of the tribe and the most experienced warriors were gathered to talk strategy. "Welcome to the war council, Katara. Grab a blanket; you're in for some very long nights."
Over the Open Ocean
Hundreds of miles away, somewhere above the seemingly endless ocean, the massive skyship trundled through the air. Suki was at the helm and Sokka leaned over a nearby table, consulting various maps and charts with various devices.
The deck of the ship was lined with dozens of frozen cultists, who had been left there after the battle at the North Pole, where the Avatar had frozen them. Some of the ice blocks had been thawed or hacked through, then pushed over the side into the ocean, but there were still dozens left as Wuoyan struck one near the base of the ice again and again with his knife. Sweat was forming across his brow as he continued at his tiring work.
"Why is 'e makin' me do this?" Wuoyan yelled in frustration, pausing for a minute.
"Maybe because you kept staring at his wife," said Liang matter-of-factly who was sitting on a bench nearby reading a book about spirits that Arnook had given him.
Wuoyan wasn't amused. "Well, that's not my fault. 'E should 'ave married someone less attractive," he sighed. "'E could 'ave at least leant me 'is fancy cut-through-anything sword."
Liang closed his book, but was careful to keep his space. "Yeah, where did he get that thing anyway?"
"'E said something abou' 'is blind friend findin' it after the airship battle," said Wuoyan, as he resumed his work.
Liang nodded in interest, then returned to his book.
"'Old on, why ain't you 'elpin' me?"
"Sokka asked me to read this book on the moon spirit back to front. He was completely adamant about it."
Wuoyan huffed. "Sounds borin'," he said as he made one last cut and the massive block of ice crashed to the deck with the frozen cultist within. "Will ya at least 'elp me push 'im over the side?"
Liang looked at him. "Why would I want to do that? That's your job."
"Yeah, but ya owe me two."
Liang looked him, but Wuoyan had a large grin on his face as he stared back. They held each other's gaze for a second, but then Liang slammed down his book and came to help his friend.
Wuoyan laughed. "Alrigh', I push, ya pull." Both pulled on thick gloves they'd picked up at the North Pole and began to shove the ice closer to the side. It was a slow job, but eventually they got the massive chunk of ice right up to the railing that separated the deck from the open sky.
Both boys were sweating and exhausted. "Ah'm gonna just shove it over!" he shouted to Liang. "Yer're just shoving up to geddit over the railing! okay, 'ere we go!"
"This doesn't sound like a great idea," said Liang.
"Don't be a wuss! It'll work fine!" Wuoyan yelled back. "Push!"
The two boys grunted and shoved the ice, but Liang wasn't strong enough to get it over the railing, so when Wuoyan shoved it forward, the small white-haired boy ended up trapped precariously between the ice and the railing.
"Wu! I'm stuck! Stop!" screamed Liang, but Wuoyan was grunting too hard with effort and didn't hear him. A second later, Liang was hanging over the edge of the ship and was being dragged over by the large chunk of ice.
Liang looked down over the edge and urgently yelled as he saw the endless chasm that led down towards the ocean. "Wu!" Liang screamed.
Wuoyan finally heard him, saw his friend's dangerous situation and started trying to pull the ice back up, but with little avail. "'Old on, kid!"
Liang shut his eyes tightly, sure that he was about to plunge over the edge. He prayed to whatever spirits he could think of that they'd help him get him out of where he was right now. He felt leave the deck of the skyship, any second now he'd feel the wind speed past his face as he fell...
Liang snapped his eyes open. The chunk of ice began to shake and he felt drops of water drip on to his face and clothes. Liang breathed a sigh of relief. "You're melting the ice... Good thinking, Wu."
Wuoyan yelled back. "What? Ah'm not doin' anythin'!"
The chunk of ice instantly turned to water and the stream of liquid carried Wuoyan across the deck. He crash-landed on the deck and the water splashed on top of him, soaking through his clothes and making him sopping wet.
Liang breathed easier as he shuffled away from the edge. Wuoyan yelled as he shook the water out of his clothes and hair. "Ya alrigh', kid?"
"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. Thanks for melting the ice."
"Ah didn't melt the ice, kid. Tha' was you."
"No, that's not possible. I can't bend anymore; the moon's gone," Liang said, very confused, but as he swept his hand over the water that lay motionless on the deck, it rippled madly. Another sweep of his hand and the water rose up and began to float in the air in front of Liang.
Sokka ran out onto the deck. "Will you stop yelling? I'm trying to..." but his sentence stopped short as he saw Liang bend the water through the air in delicate swirls. After a moment of shock, he smiled. "You really are Yue's heir."
"What?" asked Liang, letting the water drop back to the deck.
"You have a part of the old moon spirit within you, Liang," said Sokka, with a sense of pride in his voice. "Other waterbenders need to draw on the strength of the moon to be able to bend, but you don't need to. You have that strength within yourself."
"You knew all this?" asked Liang.
"It was a theory. I figured making Wu work with all the ice out here would make prove it."
"Hey! That ain't fair!" interrupted Wuoyan. "And stop callin' me Wu!"
Sokka continued. "The moon died once before, Liang, but Yue saved it, and now you will, I just don't know how yet. The Spirit Oasis only worked last time because it was a connecting place between Tui and Yue..."
"Wait," said Liang, remembering the parts in the book he just read and how Yue sacrificed herself to become the moon. "You want me... to die?"
Sokka bowed his head and didn't speak. Liang's face sunk as the water around him rippled as the thought of dying swam around in his head.
He felt Wuoyan's hand on his shoulder, gripping it hard. Liang smiled slightly, he knew in Wuoyan's head that was a whole lot of affection. "Never believe what ya read in a book, mate. There'll be another way and we'll find it. Don't ya worry yer little head abou' it."
His friend's words echoed in Liang's head. He wasn't entirely sure whether he believed them or not.
The Spirit Oasis
Zuko waited quietly just outside the Spirit Oasis, leaning on Appa's massive side. He could see the faint blue light coming from within it, which came from Aang's glowing tattoos as he meditated deeply and his spirit wandered around the Spirit World. The two simply stood and waited, eagerly expecting their friend's return.
The Ruined Spirit World
Aang made sure that even the tiniest trace of emotion didn't escape his face. Koh was inches away from him, the putrid odor of death invaded his nostrils as the centipede body slunk even closer.
"You know, it's rude not to respond, Avatar," said Koh's monstrous voice through the stolen lips of an old man.
"Are you responsible for this, Koh?" asked Aang, indicating the destroyed state of the Spirit World that surrounded him.
"What?" sneered Koh. "No hello? No how's the family? You know, Avatars are supposed to be polite."
"Answer me," said Aang, his face neutral.
The face Aang was talking to shifted into a stern military type. "Fine. No, it wasn't me. As unforgettable as I am, I'm not powerful enough to do this to the entire Spirit World."
Aang fought back a frown.
"Of course," said Koh, as he began to circle around Aang like a shark eyeing his prey. "I could blame you for all this. You're the Avatar that neglected his duties to our world..."
"What do you mean?"
"Did you think you were finished, Avatar?" Koh laughed as his face became that of a baboon. "Just because you defeated Ozai doesn't mean your duties to the worlds ended. You needed to restore balance! And you've failed!"
"But, I have restored balance. I created the Air Nomads again."
Koh laughed again. "There's more than type of balance! You may have somewhat restored the balance between your four pathetic elements, but you've forgotten the greater balance between our world and yours! The spiritual and the physical!"
Aang wanted to scream as Koh's vicious laughter echoed through the giant trees, but he fought it back. He couldn't show emotion in front of Koh, not if he wanted to keep his face.
"You thought you were so clever," Koh growled, his face changing again into an angry monster. "Rediscovering energybending, so you didn't have to kill anyone. You should have just killed Ozai, Avatar, it would have saved us all... But now it's awake and it's going to kill us all... Maybe I should scare you into action like I did Kuruk? Maybe I should steal your loved one's face?" Koh screamed at Aang, spit flying out of his mouth as it transformed into the beautiful face of Kuruk's wife, Ummi...
Ummi's face looked so much like Katara. Aang could feel his fear and anger rise up inside of him, but he didn't break and no emotion reached his face. "Is that what you did? Kidnap Diyi to force me into action?"
Koh's fury subsided, frustrated in Aang's refusal to show his emotions. "I haven't tasted a child's face in eons, Avatar. I did not take your precious little airbender. I know who did though. You were betrayed..." Koh taunted.
"Where is she?"
"The pieces are moving, Avatar. The elemental spirits are gathering their champions for one final stand against what you awoke in the dark. He has taught his new servant how to parade around your world in stolen flesh... Now, that servant has brought your world to the brink of war and unleashed the insane princess to push it the rest of the way," Koh said as he began to slink away into the shadows of the ruined Spirit World. "He thinks I'll bow down to him, but not anymore... I won't be consumed like the rest of you..."
"Wait!" said Aang. "What are you scared of? Who's coming?"
Koh had all but disappeared. Only two gleaming eyes were visible in the shadows. "The Great Maw is awake, Avatar..." his monstrous voice whispered before disappearing into the dark.
Aang closed his eyes tightly and let a tear roll down his cheek. Was it all really his fault? How he could fix all of this? This wasn't how it was supposed to be...
He heard rustling behind him. He jumped up, ready to defend himself, but found he was looking at a young human girl with pale skin and unkempt black hair, she must have been around the same age as Katara when Aang had first met her. Her clothes looked like she'd made them with various animal skins – the thought of all those animals getting hurt made Aang a little sick. He recognized her figure as the shadow he'd seen earlier, before his conversation with Koh. "Who are you?" he asked.
"Ssh!" whispered the girl harshly. She pointed to a deer – the only living animal in miles – that pranced nearby and drew a circular hoop made of sharp metal. Before Aang could shout in protest, the girl threw the silver ring into the deer's neck and it fell down instantly.
"Alright!" she cried happily. "Dinner!" She ran up and started hacking out big chunks of meat from the deer with the hoop and putting it bags of makeshift bags. "I'd offer some to you, but I don't think you're all here," she said after she'd finished loading two bags, indicating Aang's ghostly form.
Aang was a little disgusted at the whole meat thing. "Yeah, I'm just visiting," he choked out. "And I wouldn't anyway. It's disgusting."
"Oh, that's right, the Avatar doth not partake," she mocked.
"It's not an Avatar thing; it's an Air Nomad thing," Aang defended. "It's wrong to hurt another living creature."
"If you say so, but personally I think there's nothing quite like a rare venison steak," the girl quipped at him.
"Just who are you anyway?" said Aang, more than a little annoyed at the girl.
"Really? You still haven't figured it out?"
"No! Why won't tell me who you are?"
"Hmm... I thought it was obvious," the girl taunted through a mischievous smile. "I'm Diyi."
The chapter was heavily delayed due to MightyBrit going on holiday in the latter part of the summer and then returning to a heavy work load as the summer ended. Eventually, he promised himself he'd get it out before the Fanon Awards in September; something he managed only because the awards were slightly delayed. The first part of this chapter involving Zhao was released a while ago in a blog post as a preview as MightyBrit had written it ages ago, when Child of Destiny was first starting, so he'd remember where the character of Zhao was heading.
This chapter mirrors the very first chapter of the story in that it establishes the situations that will plague the main characters for the rest of the book. Katara must deal with the loss of her powers and her return to the Southern Water Tribe; the Sokka Squad will be looking for a way to restore the moon spirit, but Liang must accept the fact that he has to die before that can happen; and Aang learns of his mistakes that led to the current disasters. Koh foreshadows a lot of the events of Book 2, including the return of the insane princess - Azula. He also briefly mentions the Great Maw, something only subtly foreshadowed to in Book 1.
Diyi's return was meant to be a surprise and her jokes about it being obvious alludes to MightyBrit's worries that the plot twist was predictable. Her sudden aging and maturity as well as her aggressive personality will all be explained in the next chapter, which is mostly about her, entitled Vacuum.
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For the collective works of the author, go here.
|Child of Destiny Chapters|
Book 1: Fear
The First Airbender - Stolen - Sharks and Sea Serpents - Asylum Seeker - The Swordmaster of Kyoshi Island - Cold Snap - Due North - Better to Have Loved and Lost - Wrath of the Blackened Blade - Water's Fall
Book 2: Anger