By Danielle Franklin
x o x o x
The ritual seemed to take forever. The same chantments repeated over and over without fail. The old priest continued to shout the same old chants in his rapsy voice. The stench of his breath reached Katara's nose. How she whished she could leave this place. Leave this 'ceremony of rites'. Yet, she was bound to the old alter in which she sat in front of by Water Tribe law.
Katara let out a silent sigh. 'When will this old man get the picture, Lady Moon obviously sees no 'sacred handmaid' in me'
She thought sourly as she twisted a loose copper lock around her index finger. Suddenly all the candles on the alter burst forth with flame, frightening Katara out of her wits.
"Lady Moon has sent her Spirtual Guide! Your Eminence, be ready to recieve her!"
All the lighted candles that stood on the low ebony tables that surrounded them went out with a chilling sweep of wind. The
sickly sweet smoke from the burning myrhh incense gathered into a quickly forming vortex. Slowly, but surely the smoke faded,
revealing a kneeling woman. The woman, dressed in hues of green and ocean turqoise. Her breast bindings an elegant emerald green, glass beads and copper coins sewn into each fold. Her skirt, a long number, reaching to her ankles, slit to her hips. Gold bangles hung from her wrists, her hair swept into an elegant style. She was a sight to behold.
"Lady Katara of the Southern Water Tribe?" The woman asked she as raised her head, her voice rich and velvety. Katara nerviously looked at the woman before her. "Yes?" She asked as she looked the woman in the eye. "I am Tatsuko, Lady Moon's messenger and Spirit Guide. I am here to help and train you on your journey of becoming her hand maid." Tatsuko said as she stood.
Katara looked at her feet, she wore the most exquiset pair of sandles she had ever seen. "So, you are like my mentor?" Katara asked as she too stood. "In a matter of speaking, Yes." Tatsuko said as she rubbed her hands togther. Her finger tips started glowing with some soft of mystical light as she pressed them to Katara's forehead. "We will now journey to the Palace of Lady Moon." Tatsuko said in her silky voice as they both disappered into a white light.
x o x o x
When Katara woke, she found herself laying upon a giant swatch of powder blue silk, next to a pool of water. She studied her surroundings.
Everything had a mystical blue glow about it. Colomns rose high above her, surrounding her. As she stood, she trembled and fell against one of the colomns for support. Feeling the cold white marble on her cheek, she felt soothed. Katara breathed in deeply, inhaling the scent of lavender.
When she had gained a little more of her strength back, she called out: "Hello? Is anybody here?"
Her words echoed throughout the open marble palace. There where no walls, only colomns of like which she used to support herself. Katara's words continued to echo throughout the silent palace. When her words had faded, she heard haunting giggles. Laughter than surrounded her as many women appeared out of a shimmer of light.
None of the women spoke, only offered her fruits and wine, or offered her long billowing lenghts of silks in which she could wrap herself in. Some
presented her with priceless jewels. "Excuse me?" She asked. No answer. "Can I-" The women, thier skin tinged blue, still surrounded her.
"Where am I-" She was cut off as the women dispersed.
"Welcome, Katara, my friend." Said a fimilar female voice. Katara looked over her shoulder to see the face of her lost friend, Princess Yue. "Yue!" Katara cried as she lept from her place near the colomn over to Yue. Katara hugged Yue tightly. "Katara, how long it's been." Yue said as she looked at Katara. "My, you have turned into such a beautiful woman." Yue complimented as she stepped back. "But you are not here so we can share trivial gossip such. You are here to recieve my blessings, to become my Sacred Handmaid."
Katara said nothing, only looked at Yue. "Tatsuko?" Yue called out into the open air. Upon her command, Tatsuko suddenly appeared at her side. Katara stumbled back with fright. "Does every one here do that?" She asked exasperatedly as she regained her composure. "Yes, you get used to it after a while." Yue said with laughter. "Now, Katara. Have you met Tatsuko?" Yue asked as she placed a hand on Tatsuko's shoulder. "Just briefly. She's the one who brought me here." Katara stated as she looked Tatsuko over enviously. "She's very beautiful, isn't she?" Yue asked. "Indeed." Katara said with venom. "You know, she does have a thing for, Powerful men..." One of the before speechless serving women added to Yue's remark.
"What?" Katara asked as her eyes shot to the woman who had uttered the words. "Aina, this is not the time." Yue said sharply as she linked Katara's arm with her own. "Please save the chatty gossip for latter." She also added to her words. "Now, where were we?" She asked herself.
"Ah, yes. My, little sacred handmaid." Yue said as she led Katara to a deserted part of the palace. "Tatsuko, Katara. Katara, Tatsuko. Now, please have a seat." She told them in a commanding voice, with the flick of her wrist, many silken pillows appeared before them.
"Katara, you are aware the I can no longer decend earth?" Yue asked as she politly sipped a cup of tea, which she had conjured out of thin air.
"Yes." Katara said as she studied Yue's manor.
"You are also ware that when the time of war comes, our souls shall merge as one being?" She added.
"Yes." Katara said abesent mindedly.
"And that you shall be reborn as my guardian, along with Tatsuko."
"Yes. I mean-! What!" Katara asked, mortified.
"I said, you and Tatsuko are to take on new forms. You are going to be reborn as my Guardian; Sacred Handmaids." Yue said as she set her cup down.
"Be reborn? Why!" Katara asked, on the verge of tears.
"You act as if this where a fate worse than death. As my father once said, 'We are souls with bodies, not bodies with souls.'" Yue proclaimed as she ran a hand over her silvery hair.
"At your current state, a mortal state, you can barely protect the Avatar. Much less an entire civilization. After you are reborn, you will have 30 fold your current strenght and bending ability. That puts you with status of the Avatar. Only, you can master one element, one amazing talent." She explained.
"But- But- what about Aang! And Miho?" Katara asked as tears spilled over her cheeks. "What will they do? What will I do? Will I reconize them? Will I remeber them?" She asked as she completly broke down.
"Katara, you may look different, sound different. But in your heart of hearts, you are KATARA." Yue said as she placed her hands on Katara's shoulders.
"What you are doing, giving up your mortal life; you are giving your life for the sake of others. For the well being of your child, and lover; as well as the well being of your people. A nation that needs you." She encouraged.
"What would your mother have done?" Yue asked as she hugged her friend. "Look what I did for Sokka, for my people. I too gave my mortal life, to help those I love."
"My- my mother would have choosen a new life-" Katara stuttered as she wiped her tears.
Yue looked at Katara and smilied. "Have you made a decision?" She asked gently.
"Lady, I choose- sob to be your cry handmaid..." Katara mumbled as she buried her head into the silken mound of pillows.
"Well, then, shall we commence with the ceremony?" Yue asked Katara softly.
Katara nodded, wiping the tears from her cheeks.
"Katara, please come stand here." Yue said as she pointed to a colomn.
"Tatsuko, stand there." She also added as Tatsuko took her place.
Yue began to mumbled an untranslateable Water Tribe prayer, neither Katara nor Tatsuko could make out the words. As Yue commenced with the lamnent, a symbol began to appear on both Katara and Tatsuko's stomachs. Suddenly the palace around them disapeared, faded. All around them the stars of the heavens shone brightly, illuminating Katara and Tatsuko's tan skin.
Katara's hair suddenly fell from it's elaborate style, fell all around her floating form. Her clothing faded, leaving her completly nude. Tatsuko was in the same state of undress, her elegant garb gone. The only thing that remained on their forms where one gold bangle each.
"I summon you, spirit of the ocean! Spirits of Fire, Earth, and Air! From the four kingdoms, four corners of the earth, lend your holy powers! Let your energy flow into thier beings, let them be reborn!" Yue called in her powerful voice.
Katara looked to the heavens, the brightest star shining right above her. Tears leaked from her tragic ocean blue eyes, giving her a sorrowful look. "I love you, Aang..miho..." She mumbled as she was engulfed by blue, green, orange, and red flames, all merging when the took her form.
x o x o x
The sun had already risen, painting a beautiful spectrum of colors along the horizon. The ocean lapped at the rocky shore, beating aganist the rocks that lined the coast, spray from the ocean rising high into the air...
He walked along the beach, taking the ocean air into his lungs. "I wonder what Katara is doing..." He mused, remeber his wife. 'I miss her so much...' He sadly thought to himself. As he turned to head home, he spotted something on the shoreline not some 100 feet away. From this distance it looked like two human forms.
He picked up the speed of his walk, turning into a fast paced jog, it then evolved into a panicked run as he ran to the forms. When he finally came upon the forms, his breath was taken away.
Two females lie in the sand, thier arms entwined. Dressed in elegant clothing, soaked through by the sea water. Aang croached down, slowly turning one of the females over. When his eyes took in the features of her face, he felt as if he had his heart ripped out of his chest. "Katara." He breathed, gently pulling the wet hair from her cheek. "But who is the other one?"
x o x o x