Chapter One: Intro
(Please rate/comment if 당신 can, I really want to improve this and adjust it to what the people want. After all, this isn't just for my consolation)
Zuko rolled over in his sleep. He saw his mother, mouth slightly curved into a smile that held a hint of sorrow. She turned away into the darkness, and the 우주 that she had just occupied was now filled with flame. It burned away at the darkness to reveal his father with filthy long hair and an expression that was hard to read; covered in anger and disgust. Now his own voice rang out, echoing back to him off unseen walls: “Where is she?” Eventually the echoes faded out and all that remained was the choking darkness.
Aang blinked awake. For a moment he was confused as he surveyed the 불, 화재 Nation flags hanging motionless on the walls around him. Then everything came rushing back to Aang at once, making his head throb…
It had only been a bit 더 많이 than a week since the war ended, and so much had changed since he first awoke at the South Pole… though all in good ways. Memories flooded him, but he pushed them away. Straying in the past was something he’d only do when he wasn’t busy.
But now… but now he was an advisor and best friend to 불, 화재 Lord Zuko. That meant devoting most of his time to rebuilding the cities destroyed 또는 affected badly 의해 the war… he was glad when he had a chance just to sit down and eat with everyone. Today he would set off to visit the Southern Water Tribe with Katara and Sokka to 가입하기 their new grandfather and help rebuild their home.
Aang continued to lie still, staring at the ceiling. Then he sat up in bed, gazing into the 우주 straight ahead, until a sharp aroma filled him. That made Aang suddenly wake up, and he looked to where the 출처 was.
There was a steaming cup of 차 sitting on the simple wood 표, 테이블 다음 to him. It had the mark of the White Lotus, Iroh’s 차 shop, (or Uncle, as he insisted on Aang calling him and the others, too). Most didn’t know, but there was a secret door in the back of his 샵 that Aang had seen some of the members of the White Lotus slip into.
He smiled. Zuko’s uncle really looked out for him, even though he was busy with his 차 shop; the most popular, both in the 불, 화재 Nation and Earth Kingdom.
Aang eagerly slurped up the contents of his cup (he still had the manners of a bus boy, even around other people) and changed into his new robe. Being a close friend of 불, 화재 lord Zuko had its perks… and it had already helped that he was the 아바타 and had practically saved the world.
Aang quickly smoothed down the front of his 옷, 가운 (but actually wiped his hands clean) and remembered that his new clothes been personally tailored for him and had a hint of the Air Nomad’s style, while still displayed the 색깔 and fiery look of the 불, 화재 Nation. Sokka had tried to help with the designs for it, but they got mistaken for a very ugly dress. Still, the tailor made a separate one (grudgingly…at least until Sokka took out several gold pieces) and Sokka is still currently to get Katara to wear the thing.
Yawning, Aang headed for the door. As he reached for the knob, the door burst open, revealing Katara, who was panting heavily. She held out a roll of paper decorated with two glittering 불, 화재 Nation emblems on the sides. “Zuko,” she began as Aang unrolled it, “Zuko’s gone.”
Katara watched his eyes 옮기기 quickly back and forth as he read, glittering in the dull light. “He went to find his mother!” Aang started forward, but Katara held out her hand to stop him as he exclaimed, “We have to find him!” Aang almost moved her arm, but instead looked at her questioningly. “We can’t panic. Let’s tell the others first before we leave.”
The seriousness in her voice did not help to calm him. Aang’s eyes turned downcast, and he said “What… what if Zuko finds out his mother…” Katara bit her lip. “Died? Was killed?... I think 당신 can imagine.” Her words trailed off. “Who knows how angry and upset Zuko could be?” “You’re right. That’s why we need to find him as soon as possible, to… stop him from doing anything drastic.” Aang said, frowning. “But how will we do that? He could be anywhere!” Katara gazed thoughtfully for a 초 at the scroll.
“I’ll go to the source,” She murmured, then left the room, her slender hand closing the door behind her, slowly, even though she was in a rush. Katara had considered reassuring him, but the awkwardness between them had somehow increased after their kiss.
The news of Zuko’s disappearance still hung in the air like smoke remaining from a fire, the echoes of a burn after rainfall.
Katara shut the door, eyes flaming with determination. She had never faced the former 불, 화재 lord directly, and wanted to see what he was really like, what had made him rot to the core. She sighed, breaking her courage, then ran through the dark hallway.
Zuko had not told Katara what he had experienced after Ursa left, but she could guess. Whatever emotional pain he had felt would be tripled if her life had been ended; even if it had happened long before his search.
Light shone at the end of the hall, broken 의해 blurred silhouettes. Katara rushed to one, which had focused an instant before into Toph’s well-built figure. Toph grabbed her before she 로스트 balance and asked urgently, “What is it?” “Zuko’s missing!” she gasped in reply, tugging free from Toph.
Katara explained quickly, as she didn’t have time to waste 의해 talking. When she finished, ending with the statement, “Me and Aang are going to deal with this”, Toph objected immediately.
“You always get to go on adventures while I stay behind!” It was true; while Aang went with Zuko to find a new 출처 of the 불, 화재 within him, Sokka and Zuko went to save Sokka’s father and Suki, and Katara went with Zuko to find the man who killed her mother, Toph had been left with whoever else couldn’t go.
“I know, but trust me, you’d have to do a lot of emotional backup.” Katara could tell that was the wrong thing to say – even if it was true Toph wasn’t the most sensitive person. Toph turned away, slightly offended, but didn’t want to show it. “Oh.” She said, disappointed, too, then without a goodbye, stomped off to her room.
There he was. Frowning unpleasantly, slumped in the corner of the cell, was Ozai. He didn’t even look her way as she emerged from the dimly lit corridor. He averted her eyes as he asked, “What do 당신 want?”
Katara was surprised with how evil-sounding his voice was. “Where is she?” Anger edged her serious voice. The former 불, 화재 lord finally showed some reaction, as his eyes narrowed suspiciously. This proved her idea that Zuko had come here also asking the same question.
“I don’t know.” This was the answer she both dreaded and suspected. “You have to know,” she pried, regretting not talking to Zuko about his mother’s disappearance. “I won’t tell you.” He spat, though the little water the prison supplied to him ruined the effect. It splattered barely a foot from him. Ozai glared at it, as though to make it shrivel up and disappear.
Katara then realized the little pride he had left he made up for in being resistant to others. Her jaw clenched up in anger and she turned away to hide her frustration so that he would not get cocky. “Fine,” she muttered, half to herself, then turned to leave.
“Wait!” growled Ozai. Katara stopped and turned her head slightly towards him. “She was sent to an island… banished…” Then his face contorted with disgust: “It brings shame to help 당신 – but I want her to feel sorry for me, feel regret for what she did.” Katara laughed sarcastically at him, then walked away.
Zuko boarded the ship with little 초 thoughts. His mom was waiting for him, and there was no turning back. This was the perfect time to leave because he was now 불, 화재 lord and old enough to do this on his own.
On his own…again. Just like old times, he thought as he dropped a few gold coins into the captains’ hand. Zuko left the man to stare greedily at the money as he hefted his bag into the arms of a member of the crew. Zuko didn’t even know if he cared that no one was with him, 또는 if they cared that he had disappeared.
He knew that, as he journeyed around the coast of the Earth Kingdom, he did not want a crowd. He felt this was HIS business, and not everybody needed to be involved. Would he just sink into depression alone, with no one there to help him if he found out his mother had died, 또는 worse: killed?
당신 would think that he had learned that “being on your own isn’t always the right path…” With all of this in mind, he left his room with just a note… as he had done with Mai.
Aang grumbled as they got ready for departure the following morning. He used to easily get up in the morning, but that time had gone. Since the end of spring, he had grown nearly two inches; not nearly making up for the century he missed in the iceberg.
And soon he was going to be thirteen… in two days, actually. Not the best way to spend a birthday. He ground his teeth angrily at Zuko for causing this much controversy.
Aang crammed the rest of his stuff into a case and took one last sweeping look across the room. Then something caught his eye.
A note was attached to the 찻잔 that was still on the 표, 테이블 from yesterday. He went over to it, wondering why people couldn’t just come right up and say what they want to say face to face. Aang pulled it loose from the slightly 차 coated rim and read the first words:
Aang’s eyebrows rose in surprise and wondered if he should be 읽기 this. Whoever Iroh had asked to deliver it must’ve mistaken his room for Zuko’s. But… Aang reasoned, it could help him find out where Zuko went.
(Author’s Note: This is a rough translation to Chinese, the language in the 아바타 world [I think]. SPOILER (read if 당신 like to know what is going on while the characters don’t): The beginning sentence letters in the English translation stand for the place Zuko needs to go
請，我知道您有計劃去找到您的母親。 當然，它是仅時間問題，直到您會離開。 真正地，我不認為這是正確的方式做它。 火國家的人民需要您。 并且所有的人是依靠幫助的您重建難民的生活。 有時當時有多數道理的事不，當您真正地看他們時。 幫助保護世界而不是摒棄它為您自己的自私原因。
Please, I know 당신 have plans of going to find your mother. Of course, it was only a matter of time until 당신 would leave. Really, I don’t think this is the right way to do it. The people of the 불, 화재 Nation need you. And everyone else is depending on 당신 to help rebuild the lives of the refugees. Sometimes things that make the most sense at the time don’t when 당신 really look at them. Help protect the world instead of abandoning it for your own selfish reasons.
Aang reread the note. The former general hadn’t made sense at all; the note was totally out of character. Then why…? There was a knock on the door. Aang went over the it, stuffing the piece of handmade, rough paper into his 옷, 가운 and opened it to let in the visitor – Katara.
“Uh…” he started (now that they weren’t in as much of a hurry, he felt unsure of what to both say and do). How did Katara feel about him anyway? It had seemed obvious outside Uncle’s shop, but now he didn’t know. “Let’s go,” Katara said, neither commanding nor suggestive. “ ‘K,” Aang replied, and they left, Iroh’s letter forgotten, for now.
Azula thrashed in her chains, sobbing and cackling at the same time. The mental health facility tried the best they could to change her… but it wasn’t enough. She was broken. No one could help her get back what might have been reason again. The guards, who had been chosen to be a mix of the three remaining nations, laughed at the sight of her, about how low she had sunk.
“So powerful – and clever… as well as evil. It’s so weird she just fell apart like that,” one commented. An older man, who was not a guard, but a retired 불, 화재 Nation general, sighed. “I somehow… cannot believe this. And about a week later Zuko disappeared… it seems the family is falling apart. If it was ever a family.”
Azula grinned behind her hair, which was slowly looking 더 많이 and 더 많이 like King Bumi’s. As she suspected, through the thin layer of sanity left in her, Zuko had gone on a 검색 with the 아바타 and his 프렌즈 on his tail. The 불, 화재 Nation was vulnerable… hers for the taking. Even if they did not figure out the note, they would fall into her trap. Then the path to the 왕좌, 왕위 would be clear. She laughed, which the men mistook for her lunacy; they still believed she had fully turned over to the mad house.
Aang yawned. The sun was setting, spilling its 색깔 over the horizon. How beautiful it was. He looked over at Katara, who had a look of determination on her face. Did she really care about this so much? Was he missing something about what was between her and Zuko? Finally, she glanced his way. She looked at him, smiled faintly, and asked, “Aang?” “Yes?” Now, he guessed, was the time where everything would fall into place, and... “Zuko needs us. In a different way, the world needs us. We can help him – and everybody else.”
Aang frowned, disappointed. He would have to make the move. But then he remembered: “Katara, I found a note in my room, and it’s signed 의해 Uncle… Iroh, I mean.” He pulled it out from his 옷, 가운 and handed it to her. Her cool, calming eyes moved back and forth, 읽기 the letter, contrasting nicely with the multicolored sky. Then she read it again, brow furrowed in thought. Katara looked at Aang, about to say something, but he stopped her. “I know. I don’t get it either.” Katara shook her head. “No, that’s not it.” She scooted closer to him and pointed at the red lettering, making it quiver 의해 her power. “It’s written in blood.”
Zuko was 로스트 in the lights, dancing, and 음악 of the festival. Everyone was rejoicing – especially in the Earth Kingdom – that the war was over. He wondered what followers of his father and the expansion of their nation thought. Zuko struggled to find a way to keep potential rebellions from rising among his other duties as 불, 화재 Lord.
Some of the partiers were now joined 의해 performers: 칼, 나이프 throwers, 불, 화재 benders, and others. He had no choice to 십자가, 크로스 through it – and besides, he needed supplies. He shouldered his way through the crowd to a stand with various fruits and meats on display. He handed a coin to the man who sold the food, then pointed at a headless, raw bird hanging towards the back of the shop.
Zuko was suddenly shoved 앞으로 (by a fat swamp dweller who was distracted in some weird bug kabob). He was so close to the 표, 테이블 that his breath was knocked out of him. The merchant, who was just turning around to hand Zuko his meat, socked him (accidentally) in his head as Zuko was bent down and leaning over the table. He slipped to the ground, unconscious.
When Zuko awoke a while later, the blurry image of a boy was closing in on him, causing him to jump back in surprise. Before the image had cleared, Zuko began, “Who are-?” Then he recognized him. It was Lee. (AUTHORS NOTE: Y’know, the boy that Zuko bonded with in “Zuko Alone”)
(The note from earlier had been set aside, as neither could figure out why blood had been written for instead of ink, Iroh would have had plenty of it, among other things that would be unusual to have a lot of, for example, pai sho boards).
Aang hated to cover his arrow. He had done so for what seemed like forever. But everything seemed 더 많이 drawn out to Aang, since he had been really alive for only eleven, twelve percent of his life. His 애로우 marked him. And now that the war was over, he had to hide not because of the 불, 화재 Nation of being in fear in fear of getting attacked, but to prevent them from being delayed.
The team was beginning to realize that it was 더 많이 than just Aang that was continuously recognized in public. Katara would also have to take measures to blend in. Her hair, he noticed (of course he did), was let down and tied back into a tail. She was wearing her new “commoner” clothes – ones that were simple, green and gold, tighter at the 상단, 맨 위로 then flowed loosely from the waist down, similar to her other outfits.
Aang and Katara flew on Appa for most of their time travelling around the Earth Kingdom. They stopped occasionally for supplies, but Aang tended to get distracted 의해 the parties (celebrating the end of the war), so their visits were limited.
He looked down at the landscape, then saw a village glowing with lights and celebration. “Katara, can we land for a while?” Aang begged, bored from the long ours of flight. Katara, who was mostly in charge, answered, “I guess, since tomorrow is your birthday.” Then she added, “Just meet me and Appa back when it gets darker.” Aang didn’t hear the last bit, and even if he had, he wouldn’t have cared. Plus, he already was gliding towards the outskirts of the town with a smile on his face.
Katara smiled too, warmed 의해 his happiness and pure fun. He could be childish sometimes, but his wisdom of many lives’ experience balanced that out. Her 심장 still thudded at the thought of them together – though in what way she did not know.
Katara pulled Aapa down 다음 to a pond in a clearing of the slowly thinning forest. Over the four days, she had not washed, so she went to the side of the pond, cupped her hands, and splashed her face with the clear water. The whole area seemed to glow, and she could feel a presence in the forest that was inhuman.
She noticed that alongside the river there were a few strange 꽃 growing. She went over to a small and beautiful white one and gently picked it. Immediately, the 꽃 started to die and a scream began to echo within the trees. The lake water turned black and everything in the clearing wilted, bringing a heavy mist over the brown grass. The air turned bitter, and a wind began to suck air out of area.
Katara’s breath caught with fright, and prickles crawled up her spine. She fell to the ground, forced 의해 a mysterious being, the life being drawn out of her. The flower, lying crushed on the ground slowly, as if feeding on Katara’s energy, began to regain its health.
As the world spun around Katara, she tried to think of what to do. She slowly raised her hand in attempt to summon the dark water. Grudgingly, it came to her. Katara cried out in surprise as it touched her hand – the water was as cold as her homes’… something she had not touched in a while.
Suddenly, the water around her hand glowed and became warm. Her senses cleared slightly, and she stood up. Katara staggered over to the pond and immersed her hands. The water recovered as soon as her fingers felt it in response to her enormous power. The wilted plants lifted their petals, and claimed their original color. She took her hands out of the now pure water and pressed them onto the ground, spreading the dampness through the Earth. Air rushed back all at once, and everything was as it had been. Except for the flower, which Katara picked up and put in her hair. Running to Appa, she seemed to glow, the 꽃 the brightest light.
Aang took out an empty canteen and set it in front of him. Then, taking in an abnormally large breath, he announced, “EARTH BENDING! WATCH THE SHOW!” Little kids tugged on their parents’ robes, pointing eagerly at Aang, met with exasperated responses from their parents. Most of them had their arms full of various things their children had found interesting and had cried until they had it.
Aang pulled up a 큰 덩어리, 한 조각 of rock from the ground and applied what Toph taught him. He waited and listened for a kid to come passing by. Then, a girl, about six years old, came into view with her mom and dad. They were holding hands, smiling and laughing, followed 의해 other groups of children and their guardians.
Aang did not know exactly what it was like to have parents. The only person that came close to filling that experience had been Monk Gyatzo. He had never thought about finding his parents, 또는 why the traditions of his nation had restricted him from knowing who they were. A thought stuck him. He could –
The first girl brushed past him. Jumping back into reality, Aang shot the rock into the air, then twisted it into different shapes. The kids stopped, “ooh”ing and “ahh”ing at the sight. He then took some stone and turned it into an instrument, a mock tsungi horn, and began to play it. Uncle Iroh had taught him how to play (It was Iroh’s 가장 좋아하는 instrument, and the one he used to play on “music night”… when he didn’t sing).
Aang heard a satisfying “clang” in his canteen. A few people were starting to gather around him. Time to impress the crowd even more. Aang wasn’t as good as Toph as far as metal-bending went, but he could manage. He picked up the bottle and pulled the opening far apart, then transformed it into a 별, 스타 shape. The crowd clapped, followed 의해 the noise of 더 많이 coins.
In that instant, he felt someone grab his ear. “Ow!...Katara?” He noticed she seemed to radiate 더 많이 than usual, and that she had put a 꽃 in her hair. “What are 당신 doing?” she hissed, frustrated that he had gotten carried away. The crowd dispersed, looking behind their backs as if they were not sure that the display was over.
“I’m going to go wander around. Meet me back at Aapa – I moved him behind those trees,” she pointed “as soon as the sun has dipped below the forest.” Aang nodded, then showed her the money he collected. “Funds… to help us on the trip.”
“Thank you, Aang!” He dumped the contents into her empty palms. After counting up the money, she said, “Here, I’ll take the silver pieces, and 당신 can have the rest.” She smiled sweetly at him, turned around, and went over to the market part of the town. Aang’s spirits were lifted slightly, but he still thought they were too distant with each other.
Katara distracted herself from her own thoughts 의해 looking for a present for Aang. She was considering an Air Nomad artifact when a yell 스플릿, 분할 the sky. Quickly, she grabbed it, tossed some money at the merchant and ran towards the sound. A 불, 화재 had everyone at bay, filling the area where Aang and Katara had been with flame. Oh no… A chill stopped her in her tracks. Aang!
Zuko was past most of his regret and shame. After saving Lee and his town, he had revealed that he was the 불, 화재 Nation prince, causing the town to look down on him with no thankfulness whatsoever. So what was he to think when the wide–grinned Earth Kingdom boy was staring at him as if there was no harm done?
Lee was the first to speak. “Guess what?” Zuko didn’t know how to respond, which was okay, because the boy answered for him. “My brother, Sen Su, escaped from prison! And it’s over!” Oh. The long since ended war was what he was excited about. But did he know – “And now you’re the 불, 화재 Lord!” Okay, so he had found out. Hopefully he had gotten the true facts about – “I heard you’re going out with that water tribe girl, too, after she defeated your sister!” “She is not my girlfriend!” Lee rolled his eyes to this, which annoyed Zuko.
He was tired of having to explain that to everybody. How did they even get that idea, anyway? Lee brought the subject back to the war. “Anyway, my family and I moved here and…” He drifted off into cheerful chatter. Zuko tuned this out; still angry at what the boy had done to him.
Aang felt air on his face, and as he gained consciousness realized that he had not felt that for several hours. He quickly blinked his eyes open, then closed them just as fast. He pretended to be asleep, not wanting to alert the guards. From what he had seen, there were four men sanding outside his makeshift cell. The 우주 seemed to be made of metal and only a small hole big enough for a roll of 빵 to squeeze through gave an image of the outside.
Realizing this, Aang opened his eyes and stretched. He had to think of a plan to escape. Katara might not be able to save him, and anyway, he shouldn’t have to depend on her. Aang studied the room. He guessed that the guards would be checking him every 시간 또는 so, and that they would not give him an opportunity to break out.
Little did Aang know… a concealed window, tinted to match the wall, led to two men in 불, 화재 Nation uniform who were watching and listening to his every move…