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|The Spirit of War|
Spirits, sing me the story of the first bending war. When Hephaestus of Fire; Aeolus of Air; Poseidon of Water; and Gaia of Earth involved the mortals in their fatal strife. A strife which cost the lives of many great men.
What has caused this immortal strife? Mischievous Ham Ghao poured and drank generous libations of wine. He sacrificed a pig and having wrapped the bones in the fat, he devoted them to 'the greatest of elemental spirits'. Greedy Ham Ghao devoured the remaining flesh.
Swift Aeolus claimed it for himself "I am the greatest of elemental spirits. I can bring fortune or ruin to any sailor."
Poseidon, son of Chronus leapt forward "I am the greatest of elemental spirits. For I bring fortune or ruin to any sailor."
Hephaestus, the crippled craftsman argued "No, I, son of Zeus am the greatest of elemental spirits. I create the thunderbolts of Zeus which ruin great ships and I fashion the bronze and coins of gold that makes them rich."
Gaia, daughter of Chaos stood to her feet "As mother of all things, spirit and titan, I am the greatest. For without me, you would be nothing."
Athena of the flashing eyes entered the room. Athena, spirit of wisdom spoke to deaf ears "You must not fight. All elements are in unity as one."
Two more spirits rode in on a great chariot. Eris of strife and Ares of war. Together they encouraged violence and war. "Choose well your favourite mortals and let them solve your strife!"
A battle broke out between great mortals. Aang, favourite of Aeolus; Zuko, favourite of Hephaestus; Katara, favourite of Poseidon; and Toph, favourite of Gaia.
The four favourites stood poised to strike. Nimble Aang of the kind heart circled his foes. "Please. We don't need to fight. We should live in peace as we always have!"
Tranquil Katara agreed "We have received great gifts for use as tools. It would be sacrilege to use them as weapons."
Zuko with the great scar shouted "This is willed by the Spirits. What honour is there in refusing your spirit's command? I shall smite you all for the honour of my spirit and father, Hephaestus."
Rock-like Toph, favourite of Gaia cackled "I'll bring you all down in the name of my mistress, Gaia."
"No, please" free-spirited Aang begged in vain.
Zuko threw a great fireball at the nimble airbender "Enough!"
Calm Katara struck down the inferno with her water whip. Patient Toph bowled Katara over with a boulder. Peaceful Katara burned with rage. She charged Toph, looking much like a great tsunami. Precise Toph slammed the ground with her foot and cracked the earth beneath Katara's feet, tripping her up.
Then, from Athena's great chariot emerged quick-witted Sokka. "Peace! Great Kings and Queens! Favourites of the spirits. Peace! Wherefore do you fight? Can you not tell? This is the work of Ham Ghao, favourite of Eris - spirit of Strife!"
Sokka's words calmed the men and women in the fray.
Athena of the flashing eyes addressed the elemental spirits "Oh elemental spirits, can you not see your champions refuse to fight? This feud is pointless and the sacrifice rots. Can't you see this is the work of Eris?"
And the elemental spirits were moved by her words. Taking their turns, they each apologised for their wrongdoings and celebrated their new-found peace with bowls of wine.
But spiteful Eris had another plan. Descending from Olympus, she contacted her favourite mortal - Azula of the blue flame. "Azula, master of lightning and maker of the blue flame, daughter of Ozai. I call upon thee to kill thy brother, Zuko, favourite of Hephaestus."
And Azula of the amber eyes was quick to obey. She visited her brother's palace, as was usual. She poured the crown prince a bowl of wine and served him a dish of barley-meal, cheese and honey. As he tasted his food, the cruel slice of a bronze dagger ended his life and sent his soul to Hades.
Hephaestus flew into a rage. "You, Gaia, you arranged for Toph to slit my follower's throat. I know for Toph's knife was found lodged in my man's body."
Gaia responded in fury and the two exchanged bitter words. "Fine then!" Hephaestus exclaimed "I shall instruct my loyal Azula to march against your lands and burn them to the ground." And so off went Hephaestus to enlist the help of Ares.
Sympathetic Poseidon and Aeolus promised "Should he send ships to your land, we shall wreck them, but it is not ours to defend you on land."
And so Gaia, moved by their compassion thanked them but knowing herself to be outnumbered, she called upon Athena for help.
"There is little I can do, Gaia, mother of spirits and titans, but instruct my noble Sokka of Ithaca to stand by your armies." And wide-eyed Athena disappeared into the distance.
Three great armies stood in the mountainous planes. Two stood by Gaia, the other by Hephaestus. The armies clashed. Bronze and flesh littered the fields.
Clever Sokka calmed the armies "Cease fighting. Let this war end in sanity. Let those with stake in the war solve their disputes. Ares, son of Zeus; Athena, son of Zeus; Azula, daughter of Ozai; Gaia, mother of spirits; hide not behind armies, rather, fight."
But Gaia pleaded with Sokka "I am not fit to fight. I am but a woman of no strength or power."
Compassionate Sokka was moved "Then I shall fight for you."
The selected champions refused to fight, cowardly Ares remained in his chariot and Athena had no foe.
Wicked Azula challenged Sokka "Then we shall settle it together."
Strong Sokka in gleaming bronze armour readied his spear. Agile Azula of fierce amber eyes threw two balls of fire. Quick Sokka blocked them with his shield. Agile Azula cartwheeled towards him and unleashed her great fire.
Sokka threw his spear at the girl. Azula flipped and escaped the blast. She charged a great bolt of lighting and attacked Sokka.
But Athena, favouring Sokka, dispersed the bolt. Sokka drew his great sword and Azula charged, throwing flame after flame, striking his boars' tusk helmet. But sturdy Sokka was unphased. He plunged his great sword through the belly of Azula.
Blood flowed from her wound like a libation of wine. The armies stood in shock. Warlike Ares in his great chariot charged Sokka. But Athena once more intervened and tangled the war spirit's horses.
In a great leap, Ares unsheathed his gleaming bronze sword and lopped off noble Sokka's head. Teary eyed Athena ran forth and plunged her spear in the immortal's chest. Ares attempted to resist but Athena removed his head.
Athena buried his still-living head and set about capturing crafty Eris. Eris escaped in her brother's chariot.
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