A/N: Hi. I know there are a billion versions of season three out there. Some poorly written and some masterful (Wren Sharpbeak's is faboo) But this is not one of them. This is just a story I've been playing around with. Yes, it has a plot and yes, it has an ending. It takes place directly after the season 2 finale but I hold no illusions that it's like anything the writers have planned for season 3. Therefore, let's just call it a story.
I have no claim to Avatar. But if I did….
Please read and review. All constructive criticisms welcomed.
Tagline: In a palace in Ba Sing Se, one man awaits his death, one boy – his torture, and another – his destiny.
The deep thrumming of their synced steps rumbled the earth, passed through stone and pebble to a blind girl's bare, dirt-encrusted feet. The vibrations traveled up through flesh and bone, alerting her to their presence and shaking an already trembling soul. Misted eyes widened in fear as she counted their numbers and felt immoveable earth tossed aside by their power.
"They've found us," she breathed.
The old general poured himself a cup of tea, grinning, his hand only slightly shaking and his bearing that of a man sitting on a lush, red cushion in the Fire Nation royal palace instead of on a threadbare carpet layers below the ground. He brought the chipped china to his lips, inhaled the scent, frowned at the distinct lack of jasmine, and hesitantly tasted the mysterious brew. The frown deepened. It was the first and only sign of his discomfort despite being encased in a metal cell with only the silent guards for company.
He set the cup down gently and let out a world weary sigh.
"Is there a chance an old man could get a more fragrant cup of tea?" he called to the room at large.
Silence was his answer.
The scarred prince stood next to his sister's side, stoically, in spite of the inner war being fought just beneath his deceptively calm surface. He heard his sister barking orders to track down the rest of the Avatar's known acquaintances, watched as the Dai Li bent to her will like so many fragile blades of grass succumbing to a fierce wind, and felt the electricity in the air at her mere presence, but it barely registered. His mind was dwelling on the choice he had made less than a day ago, deep in the caves.
He was no stranger to regret. No stranger to shame. And guilt was an old friend. Yet the intensity of his current emotions seared through him like the flames he wielded, branding him with an undeniable loss of self he found truly disconcerting.
Shoulders slumping, he stepped off the raised platform.
"I'm tired," he offered before stealing off to his quarters to face his burden alone.
He knew that they would be found eventually. He just hadn't guessed that it would be just minutes after Appa's feet had touched ground; just minutes after his friend's eyes had finally opened; just minutes after the recounting of the tale of the events that occurred beneath Ba Sing Se. It made his decision that much easier, knowing that they wouldn't be safe anywhere in the Earth Kingdom.
His heart beat faster attempting to pound its way out of his chest and he bit his lip hard to keep his features from giving anything away. He ordered the group back onto the flying bison, and once he was sure they were safe, and the giant beast had taken off from the ground, he turned to his family.
"I know what I have to do," he said simply.
Grabbing one last item from a saddlebag and slipping it into his pocket, the brave water tribe warrior jumped.
Boomerang in one hand, tribal machete in the other, he would face down their attackers, and give his family their chance to escape. He would be the sacrifice.
Keep writing? Dear God, stop writing? Please remember to let me know. Thanks.