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Omashu's liberation
The White Tiger Part 2 - Winds of Change
Chapter information
Series

The Kyoshi Chronicles

Book

Book 1: Earth

Written by

Kyoshidude

Word count

5066

Chronology
Last chapter

Chapter 15: The White Tiger Part 1 - Into Earth

Next chapter

Book 2: Fire Chapter 1: Earth to Fire

Previously on The Kyoshi Chronicles

Kyoshi discovered she was the Avatar and left for Ba Sing Se. Upon arrival to the capitol she realised the Earth State's true intentions of world dominance.

Along her journey as a fugitive she learnt earthbending from Master Feng and sandbending in the Si Wong Desert. It was here that she entered the Avatar State for the second time, almost dying from a lightning attack from Astrid. But it was Bako who pulled her away just in time.

Upon meeting with her father and his battalion, Garuku was quickly kidnapped and taken to Omashu. On the journey to Omashu Kyoshi had strange dreams; one including her in a royal courtyard being taken by surprise, and another of someone collapsed alone on a cliff.

The group successfully entered Omashu but upon surfacing from the sewers the battalion's second-in-command, Chang, was killed. Bako and Momzen left to the palace to find Garuku while Kyoshi confronted Nero and General Baishu. A strange figure interrupted her fight and joined her side.

Who is this mysterious ally and will the Avatar triumph in Omashu, or will her strange dreams become reality?

Chapter 16: The White Tiger Part 2 - Winds of Change

Momzen ducked his shoulder into the armpit of a guard and then hoisted the man over his own body as Bako led the run ahead. The swordfighter kicked down another as Momzen licked the sweat from his upper lip. His heart was going at a relentless pace, eyes on alert, forearms throbbing. They had gone down a fair few flights of stairs, surely they were close.

At the end of the illuminated hallway a man sat twirling some keys casually. Bako and Momzen, aware of the oncoming horde behind them ran, gliding like hungry, haunted ghosts, over to the guard. Bako took a sword to the man's neck and held him against the crystal wall by his collar, Momzen facing the inevitable arrival of an army with hands ablaze.

"Where. Is. Garuku?" Bako enunciated slowly, staring into the guard's shaking eyes. Bako could feel warm tears building up in his, he needed to act fast.

He repeated louder, "Where is he!"

"In there," the guard replied instantly, feeling the sword inch deeper into his throat. Bako ran his eyes along the wall. It was all crystal; no door, no hinges, and no handle. The keys were just a decoy. He lifted the guard off the wall then slammed him to it again, the man coughing from the blow.

"Open it!" Bako dropped the man to the floor and kept both thin swords pointed at him. He didn't want to kill the man, but if he had to he would. No funny business. Momzen's eyes flitted about. In his peripherals he could see Bako threatening the man. He hated what battle made of Bako, or even what it made of him. He could smell the blood and spit of other men on him, he felt he was drenched in it; and for that his flaming hands trembled on their own ominous accord.

The guard got up stiffly and gently pulled his palms to his chest rolling them above his head, fingers falling, then tore down the wall as his arms were lowered.

"Come on," Bako muttered to Momzen, who nodded and followed. With the guard still at the mercy of his swords Bako again gave his orders. A giant spire of glowing, green crystal was reduced, revealing Garuku exhausted on the floor. Momzen scurried over to him as Bako grabbed the guard from behind.

"Garuku, are you okay? Are... are you alive?" the firebender said, taking the man into his arms before being worked up into a panic. "Oh my god. Oh my god, Bako, he's dead! He's dead! Oooh no! It's over! No! How are we ever gonna tell this to-"

"-Momzen," came Garuku's weak voice, stopping the boy from fretting even further. "I'm fine. Just a little weak." The two shared a smile before Momzen took the man under his shoulders.

"We've got company," he mumbled as the sound of advancing enemies grew louder and louder like nearing thunder. Each of them could feel their excited hearts thud inside their lungs as their breaths searched and scratched the air for some strength.

"Kyoshi. Is she alright?" Garuku looked up into Bako's eyes. The boy stood still, tightening his grip on the guard. In all honesty he had no idea. Last he saw of her she was rocketing up the mail system with Astrid hotly on her tail. His lips quavered, answers and words quivering on his tongue.

"I, I don't know," he managed. "I think so."

He hoped so.

(*)

Things seemed to go in slow motion. Shards of stone and debris, dust and gravel, went by slowly. Her eyes remained transfixed on Nero, the hot chi in her abdomen heavy. As she proceeded through the cartwheel, still at a lowered speed, the world was upturned. Crashes and tears echoed as mops of her hair fell over her face. She could feel the wind snail over her legs, toes clenched as a slab succumbed to her bending. A sharp fragment, kicked up from the battle, sliced through her cheek. It took its time; blood coming out in droplets, falling in weird ways as her cartwheel continued through to change the gravity.

Suddenly Kyoshi returned. Dust bellowed into her eyes and the breaking and ripping of earth roared through the palace hall. As her legs were planted onto the ground the slab that was raised from behind her plummeted quickly towards Nero. The Grand Secretariat raised his hands to block and the slab exploded on his wrists. He skidded back then fell up the steps.

Beside her the airbender girl, draped in a beige gown lined with orange, head and hands tattooed with blue arrows, nimbly hopscotched backwards on her tiptoes. She puffed out gusts of air to propel her body in ways that aided her evasion as General Baishu launched pillars of earth from under her feet. Kyoshi did not know her story or why she came to help; only that her name was Eya. Her eyes were almond-shaped and the same colour as a calm night, grey with streaks of black. Her head was shaved to the apex with a long mass of black hair dropping down her back like an onyx waterfall. She circled her arms, bands of air pushing herself away from Baishu's attacks and knocking him down the hall too.

Nero and Kyoshi launched their own stony assaults at each other; each raising a defensive wall or block then firing it as an attack. Kyoshi's lungs burned, a hot bonfire smoking out plumes of powerful determination. She could taste the grit in her mouth chiselling away at her bared teeth. With clenched fingers and a throbbing wrist she tore a boulder from the ground and whipped it in front of her body. It crashed before her, colliding with Nero's projectile. The Avatar sucked in some air and swooped her hands to her chest. The cloud of debris that swarmed around her contorted inwards, Kyoshi keeping close connection to the tiny earthen grains. Nero came towards her, his usual collected smile twisted into an angry axis, a wave of stone roaring beside him. Kyoshi relaxed her core, letting the warmth spread through her body, and then snatched Nero up in the plume of debris. The sandbending techniques she had learnt were serving her well it seemed for as much as Nero struggled Kyoshi kept him in her vice.

"Avatar Kyoshi!" Eya warned, blowing a gale at Kyoshi to knock her away from Baishu's attack. Kyoshi, feeling the chi unwind from her fingertips, rolled along the floor and arrived on her knees. Nero was free from the sand and held out his hands in a ball shape. Closing his tensed hands the sand condensed into a ball of rock and Nero pulled an arm away before punching it back out. The compressed rock hurtled towards Kyoshi. The Avatar spun on one hand, allowing a foot to take the lead and bring up a lashing of marble from the floor. Before she could hurl it at Nero's attack the ball was blasted away by Eya's gust, Kyoshi's wave cracking through the hall and knocking both enemies over.

Eya, having avoided another of Baishu's attacks landed on the torn open floor; craterous and broken one would think they were out in the desert and not in a palace throne room. The airbender took Kyoshi's hand, her satin skin soft and pale, and lifted her up.

"Thanks," said Kyoshi, chest heaving, sweat stinging her eyes. If it wasn't for Eya she would've been in a much more dire position. Eya, silver eyes calm, nodded before quickly looking over to their recovering enemies.

"I'll take Nero," she instructed confidently. "You take the White Tiger." Kyoshi nodded back and then the two made their separate ways; Eya towards Nero, blasting him further down the hall, and Kyoshi out to the courtyard.
The sun beamed onto Kyoshi as she leant against a badgermole statue. Regaining her breath Kyoshi studied the courtyard, a small pond with a feature and lilies, wooden archways entangled with purple-flowering ivy; Kyoshi was sure she had seen it all before. She stood up, the dream returning to her as she went through each motion and thought.

Dust billowed by on the mighty wind, her eyes squinting to keep themselves protected – yes, that happened in a dream and she was doing it now too. She kept her palm taught, clasping the air with her fingers to hold the chi in, and she could taste blood on her lips. That too was somehow familiar. Kyoshi blinked. Don't fight it she thought; if she continued things would come. Her eyes were focused hard, each noise, each shadow a message. She was a falcon to a mouse – a predator, hungry. She had been in fights before but the emotions she was feeling now were new and surreal; they almost made her body uncontrollable. All senses were on high alert. Keeping her concentration together, a pain she had never before felt, Kyoshi could hear the battle from below. The crashes of weaponry booming in the distance, it was something she envisioned. Somehow those revelations made her feel stronger, each one more exhilarating than the last.

Suddenly Kyoshi heard a crack and a vibrating, slicing sound rang from behind her. As she swivelled her vision was stabbed by the bright sun and the only reaction she could muster was a scream. How could she be taken by surprise like this?

(*)

Earth roared open from the floor. Fire crackled through the air. Noise shook them; pounded their very souls, the connection to what made them human, to what made them feel. Feel anything. Any emotion was broken as Garuku and Momzen charged through the wave of guards, Bako behind them with a hold still on the guard. The crystal walls towered beside them, crumbling from the myriad of earthbending attacks.

But they had to push through. Momzen clapped out a mass of flame, the beast engulfing the enemies, allowing them to create a pathway. Bako kicked down encroaching soldiers, Garuku blasted their attacks away with pillars of crystal, or used metalbending to throw entire men off their footings. Sweat dribbled down their faces, lungs burning underneath their chests. They had their eyes locked on the staircase, and peripherals focused on attacking enemies. There was no room for error now. Any second lost would be their death.

They continued on, up to the first step. Garuku turned around to face the army. He could see their frightened faces. They were soldiers like him, and were just doing their duty. The one thing that made him different was he had an opinion. And nothing could sway him from it. He muttered a soft, almost inaudible apology before clenching his hands and yanking them into his stomach. With almost no time between his motion and the attack, the ceiling came crashing down into the room, Garuku pushing Bako and Momzen up the staircase to safety.

"What do we do with him?" asked Bako once the rubble had settled and they were sure they had some time. He gestured at the trembling guard in his hold. Garuku looked solemnly at the man, something behind his green eyes shattered; a game face.

 The three made it to the ground floor, Garuku's clothing spattered in fresh blood, and headed to the palace door. Suddenly a burst of fire cascaded from behind a decorated marble pillar and a nimble figure cartwheeled through the flames.
Rolling back Bako hissed, "Astrid."

Sure enough Astrid appeared as the flames dissipated, a devilish smile marred across her pointed chin.

"Some friends too," she coughed confidently, opening her hand as if to introduce them. From around one pillar came her accomplice Mitinari, pale as ever and manically giggling to himself, and from another emerged Naote, her deadly fingers at the ready, pink lips biting down on each other. Bako and Momzen shot a glance to one another. Both knew Garuku had to go and command his battalion, with Chang dead there was nobody to lead them. It was crucial. Quickly Momzen summoned a large sheet of fire, and Bako, swords already unsheathed, jumped through the distraction, knees tucked to his chest. He jabbed his weapons out with incredible speed, but Mitinari lurched his stomach inwards and skidded back, seemingly with ease. Naote dived in towards the swordfighter but Bako ducked down then rolled his shoulder back to avoid Mitinari's water whip. Two against one – he took a quick, filling breath – he could handle this.

"Go!" Momzen shouted as he circled the sheet into a ball and rolled it at Astrid. The girl ran behind a pillar, embers wafting around the defence. Momzen flitted his eyes backwards a second. Good; Garuku made a dash for it. Suddenly a spire of orange rocketed to him. Like Astrid he too swivelled behind a pillar as the attack surged mightily past him. He could hear Bako fighting Mitinari and Naote somewhere further down the room. It was a large room; it usually held balls and dances. But these two boys were locked in a different kind of dance. A fatal one.

 Bako slashed a sword through a tentacle of water, the attack losing its power and splashing onto the floor, then bent over. Naote came over his back, having wanted to hit the back of his head, and then rolled into Mitinari. Bako scraped his lip with his teeth, flinching when he bit into the cut and watched them continue into a pillar. His opponents got up, and he led them to the room's centre. The dance floor was open, so there would be nowhere for them to hide, him included. Mitinari crouched down mid-run, as if practiced, and Naote jumped onto his shoulders. As the dumpy boy stood straight again Naote was pushed into the air. She proceeded into a forward roll and lunged out from it into Bako's chest. With a simple, sharp prod of her index finger Bako was knocked backwards, chest muscles beginning to spasm. He tumbled along the cold, marble dance floor, drabs of sunlight pouring in through the pillars in odd angles.

He could see the two of them coming closer, and could hear Momzen and Astrid's fiery assaults thunder like battling lions. His swords were a few metres from him and he had to get up. His chest started numbing and soon he began losing his breath. Tensing what little control he had left of his torso, and sucking in the dry air through his nostrils Bako hoisted himself from the ground and faced his enemies sitting upright. He stared at them and smiled. If he still had control of his arms and legs he was not going to outmatched.

 

Eya's hair smacked her own face as she spun horizontally in the air. Landing at the other end of the hall she gazed into Nero's eyes. They were so full of fury, filled with anger, and riddled with enjoyment. Not noticing the prism of stone Nero elongated from the wall her side was battered from the attack and she fell through the air and into a wall. Another boulder came from her relentless opponent. She slapped her hands towards the ground, letting the air around her slip under her back and lift her to her feet. She then held out her palms, joined together at the wrists, and blasted a torrent of wind at the boulder. The rock curved around and slammed a few feet next to her. A frown blackened her radiant face. She could not afford to fail. She had promised Avatar Kuruk she would not. And after everything she had been through demise was not going to be an option. She was an airbender; but she had to be a warrior.

 

Momzen could hear Astrid's feverish panting. He could feel his singed skin sting, could taste the burnt air. He could even smell his own fear. This girl, the bounty hunter from Ba Sing Se, was a menace. She was a nightmare, alive and haunted. The girl's hardboiled determination and steadfast conviction was terrifying. They had been tailing each other around the dancehall pillars that circled the rim of the room, blasting and dodging plumes of enraged fire.

Suddenly Astrid appeared from behind a pillar. She swung a leg and kicked it out. Ablaze and engorged a fiery phoenix stampeded through the pillars. Momzen turned around and made for it down the room. The air around him grew hotter and hotter and his frightened screams ripped open his tender throat. He shifted his body and slammed it onto a pillar. As the fire rushed past, crisping the unprotected parts of his sleeve, the marble heated up to an almost unbearable level. He could feel himself burning. He had to take the offensive. He gulped down the scorching air then swung a punch. Astrid's lasting blast opened from his punch and continued to open like a leaf tearing in two from its tip. Suddenly the force of his attack, the chi flowing into Astrid's fire, blew the girl off her feet.
Taking no chance to let her into the offensive Momzen ran toward her with a flaming fist. From the floor she glared at him. It was not over for her yet, not even close.

 

Garuku leapt off Jin Jin, raising a spire of earth from the floor mid-air. He screamed out as loud as he could, and his revering men replied with an even louder cry. They had been reunited; a skin-tingling force that blasted a surge of strength into them. Though outnumbered greatly, they could now fight with a bolstering conviction not even an army could destroy.

Gisgo chewed on the end of his reed, saddling up another arrow in his bow. The camaraderie he was seeing was humbling. He wasn't too used to seeing people work together, and for some reason it made him smile. Suddenly he crouched down to avoid an overhead stone and fired his arrow into a Dai Li agent. Tori and Jin Jin worked together to take down as many men as possible and Garuku, soaking up the sunlight he had missed so dearly, tore up the earth with his muscular arms to damage the flanks of the Earth State army as best as possible. Kyoshi was somewhere, and he had to find her. 

(*)

A lashing of metal wobbled quickly through the air, its metallic screeches chilling Kyoshi's bones. Baishu's furious face burned on her eyelids. She should have been more cautious.

She tightened her abdominal then lurched her left shoulder downwards, arching her back to slide away. With only a second to gather herself the metal bent again to slice towards her. She hopped backwards, the metal turning to follow her like a voracious silver snake, and then stopped. The sheet sliced open her arm; deep and fleshy a mass of blood oozed out. It trickled down the length of her arm to her fingertips and spattered onto the sandstone pavement in crimson drabs.

"You want to go now?" Baishu teased, curling his hands before him to churn a mass of earthy debris. "You want to die? Because I can slice you up right now!" He launched the gravelly attack to Kyoshi, a decoy; for immediately afterwards another lashing of metal came stabbing towards her. This time Kyoshi was focused.

Groaning loudly she cart-wheeled backwards, taking with her a spire of rock. Swinging a fist she fired the wedge along the length of the courtyard. She could feel the fear looming near her, a creeping, poisonous vine. She could not let it overcome her. She had to maintain focus. She could do this. Again a lashing of metal whipped from the ground. The Avatar quickly raised a defence – it exploded soon after – then ran behind the fountain ornament. Sweat trickled down her temple and stung her skin. She took a boulder from the floor and launched blindly to Baishu's direction, shutting her eyes tight as debris rocketed every which way. Suddenly a thunderous noise shattered the air and the ornament exploded. Fragments dug into her back as Kyoshi tumbled across the sandstone.

"Ah!" she yelled; half from shock and half from frustration. The battalion, her friends, her father; they were all counting on her. Kyoshi's eyes clenched and suddenly a terrifying numbness possessed her. What was happening? Had she been hit?

(*)

Eya crisscrossed her arms, strong gusts knocking back Nero's solid attacks. She was quick and his earthbending lumbering and slow. But somehow she could never get a direct hit on him. With her legs burning Eya made a run for it. Maybe she could get behind the man and take him by surprise. Encircling him Nero noticed, his cunning eyes not missing a second, and he swiftly raised a slab of marble from the palace floor. The attack crunched up beneath the girl and she was hauled into the air and out onto the roof.

Blood trickled from the side of Eya's head as she frailly got to her feet. An ominous rumbling came from the city below. She raised her sore head and looked out at the cityscape; cries of men, stains of blood. A cloud of dust was coming for them.

"Get back down here!" Nero yelled furiously. He was consumed with bloodlust and wanted nothing more than to crush the intruding girl under the weight of his superior bending. Eya glared down at him.

"Foolish man," she muttered; giant silver eyes glistening in the intense sunlight, stare unwavering. "You have let darkness rule your soul. If you go any further it will eat you up." For a moment, a thousandth of a second only, Eya could see the affect; a shudder, a memory. But then he fired a boulder at the roof and it tumbled down on top of him, Eya prancing away to the encroaching dust cloud.

"Agni Kai!" Momzen screamed, parting yet another one of Astrid's fiery waves. "Agni Kai, now!" His orange eyes, usually jovial, were filled with anger and resentment and his fists and torso were placed in a battle stance taught to him by his father.  A tear teetered in one corner but he silenced those emotions and let the hatred flow instead. Astrid stepped out from behind a pillar.

"Now this is interesting," she smiled, an eyebrow raised.

"Why?" Momzen yelled.

"Because I haven't been in an Agni-"

"-Why are you doing this? "the firebender added sharply. "For money?"

Astrid rolled her eyes and chuckled. "No. If I were in it for money I'd have retired years ago."

"Then why?" Momzen spat, a tear splashing out onto the hot marble. Astrid frowned.

"Because," she replied. "The Earth State is the superior State. It's ideals are beneficial to the forwarding of the world and the lesser States put a burden on their progress. That is my one truth, and I'll always stand by it. They're just...Better."

"You're a firebender!" Momzen cried, his once confident voice breaking with emotion. Sadness surfaced from his stomach; his patriotism, his pride – memories – slashing up his throat. "How can you join them, when they've taken away so much from you?" He clenched his fists, feeling that a surge of uncontrollable fire could burst from them any minute. Astrid frowned, her brow casting a terrifying shadow across her face.

"Look at you," she said, watching the tears stream down Momzen's hidden face. "Letting your emotions ruin you, destroy you. A pathetic mess of an empty human. You really are a Fire State boy." Suddenly Momzen screamed out, high-pitched and furious, a scornful fire ablaze beside him. He charged at Astrid who, still smiling cruelly, sidestepped away casually. The boy launched his ruby mass at the girl then jumped up. He could hear Bako calling his name, and the boy's footsteps getting louder, but an electrifying force scratched his muscles and his focus was pinned on Astrid. Suddenly a bolt of lightning shot from his outstretched hand and with it came something too painful to tell.

Momzen tumbled across the floor, closing his eyes to avoid watching the lightning. Hairs on the back of his neck were raised and the horrible, bright green light flashed under his eyelids. A hand clasped his shoulder and he jolted.

"Momzen, we have to go! Now!" said Bako, desperation on his quick breaths.

"Wh, what?" the firebender mumbled dazedly.

"Come on!" Bako lifted his friend from the floor and they ran to the door. The room, that Momzen now realised was being torn open by earthbending, exploded open; revealing Garuku and his battalion. They were all on a large platform that protruded from the city wall.

"Get on!" Garuku ordered, almost angrily. "We're leaving!" The two scrambled on, Jin Jin nuzzling her safe friends, and the platform continued over the palace facade, a large cloud of dust in its wake. Upon coming to the courtyard the entire battalion froze.

Kyoshi was surrounded by a vortex of stone and debris, angry eyes glowing. Baishu, his fat chest out, screamed up at the chaos like a sailor to a stormy wave.

"Kyoshi!" Garuku screamed out. "Kyoshi we have to go!" Tears brimmed before his green eyes as he looked around the area for some sort of solution. Bako knew he had to do something, to go down there and take her hand; like how he did in the Si Wong. But something was stopping him. Terror. Like nails they had pinned his feet into the stone and he could no longer move them. And he felt terrible.

"Kyoshi!" Garuku shouted again, raising a boulder, questioning whether or not to hit his own daughter. Suddenly a blur flew through the air and knocked the Avatar straight out of the sky and onto the platform.

It was Eya. And as she rolled across the rock she quickly shouted, "Go!" and the battalion started up again. They directed the platform over the gorge and continued into the scrub to safety, the world rushing past their eyes, heart beating double-time. Momzen looked back at the fading Omashu. That place was hell. He was sure of it. He looked down at the unconscious Kyoshi, tears streaming down his face and Bako's too, Tori nestling into the girl's armpit. They hoped with every fibre of their being, every ounce of energy left, that she would be alright. Countless times they had relied on luck, and some day it would all run out.

(*)

"Are you okay?" Bako asked, rushing to a waking Kyoshi's aid.

"I'm fine," Kyoshi replied, shoving off his encroaching hands. Not long after they had left Omashu the group continued west to a secluded beach, Kyoshi unconscious for the entire two days. Salty wind swept over the grassy dunes like sheets on a line and at the shore Garuku was discussing something with his battalion and Gisgo, Eya further down the beach scratching at the sand. Kyoshi had never seen the beach. And though the navy waters were inviting, and the continuous horizon breathtaking, something was different inside her. She felt almost mature. Orange afternoon sun sank over the edge of the world, painting the water in streaks, and Kyoshi walked over to the group.

Garuku turned around and looked at her. Suddenly icy tears trickled out from Kyoshi's tired, green eyes and she ran over to her father and embraced him. She had no idea how she came to the beach, her last memory was facing Baishu, but her father was alright. They were both alive and could be a family again.

"I thought I'd never see you again," she gurgled into his chest.

"I know," he spluttered softly back. "I know."

"Chang," she said through sobs, not knowing if Garuku knew.

"He was a good man. His son would be proud."

Once the two regained composure Gisgo stepped in awkwardly.

"We, we should go," he said to Bako and Momzen. The two nodded.

"What? What's happening?" asked Kyoshi, wiping her eyes of the last of her tears.

"You're the Avatar, Kyoshi," Garuku replied. "As the Avatar you have to master all four elements. The Fire State is just north of here, Gisgo and your friends will take you there safely. I trust them." Kyoshi shook her head.

"No. You can come too. You're my father you have to!" she pleaded.

"I think this is something you have to face without me," smiled her father. "You're a strong girl now. And you've got good friends." Again Kyoshi shook her head. She couldn't be apart from him again.

"You have nowhere else anyway."

"My men have lives here. And as their leader I have to make sure they get those lives back one way or another." Garuku's voice was deep and manly, warming to the heart. Some part of what he was saying Kyoshi knew was true.

"But I need you. If it wasn't for you I'd still be in Omashu." Garuku looked over at Eya. Her long black hair shimmered in the twilight. Her concentration was fixed on some deep thought, her expression neutral.

"It was her, actually. You have her to thank. We all do."

"She'll be coming with us too," Bako added. "If we can't protect you, then the more people on our side the better." Kyoshi looked up at her father, heart twinging with some conflicted feelings. He nodded assuredly at her and she nervously nodded back. They hugged one last time, as if it were their last, savouring the warmth, familial feeling they shared.

"I know you can do it," he whispered into her ear.

"I love you," she replied, trying to hold back more tears.

"I love you too." With one last smile Garuku turned away and led his battalion down the beach and over the craggy head while Kyoshi and her group prepared for the trip north. As the final glimpse of golden sunlight sank over the choppy waters Kyoshi stared out to the sea. Tori flapped onto her shoulder and Jin Jin came from behind and nuzzled against her. Bako and Momzen came over on either side of her and held her hands. Both boys squeezed equally as tight, not ever wanting to let go of their dear friend, while Kyoshi's scathed lips curved up slightly. She could say it in her head, over and over, and it wouldn't now sound so profound.

I'm the Avatar she thought to herself. It sounded true, almost right. And she was. She was the Avatar, and she could do it.

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