Hey guys! Two chapters in a month, Im on a freaking roll! Oh and BTW for those reading my Metriod, its also been updated!
The quiet hung in the air like a delicate crystal goblet, ready to shatter at the slightest touch. Hundreds of faces locked onto the small group near the double-doors, the scents of roasting meat and honey permeating the air, wafting gently into the rafters high above the silent sea of faces.
Almost instantly afterwards however, the glass broke apart, whispers traveling from ear to ear like silk glided across silk. Eyes locked onto the small group that stood before the doors, Katara's hands resting on Aang's thin shoulders. Shini stepped in front of them both, his large frame blocking the elders from seeing the duo. "Lets take this outside." He quietly commanded. "There is no reason to ruin the mood with this kind of talk."
A simple nod was all the acceptance they gave before turning on their heels and departing, Shini following after.
"Katara." Aang whimpered out. "What are they talking about? Who's this Yu guy?" He stared up at her warm blue eyes, questions the storm-grey orbs.
"I don't know," she replied, her arm gently falling around his shoulders. "But whatever comes, we'll be right here." Seeing the confusion on his face, she steered him out into the quickly spreading night air. They followed the four older men into the former prison, passing by dozens of Fire soldiers, each of whom gazed at Aang with a mix of loathing and fear in their eyes.
Noticing the angry glares, he didn't bother to look at them, instead focusing entirely on the three older men that had interrupted what was supposed to be a playful night. All but one was short and hunched over, the burdens of a long, hard life wearing down their bones.
At last they emerged into the prisons library, a resting place for the intellectual soldiers, and a point of good favor with the inmates themselves. Aang took a seat on the cushions, Shini and Katara on his right and left side respectively. The two shorter elders sat, futilely trying to straighten out the many wrinkles in their ragged clothing. The much taller one had vanished into the shelves for a long few minutes, at last returning with a single thin scroll in hand.
A number of cracks came from his knees as he bent them between the two other elders, directly across from Aang. "This Avatar, is the answer you need." He laid on the table the thin scroll and slowly pushed it towards him, the soft scrape of vellum on wood filling the dead air between the two groups.
"What is it?" Aang quietly asked, his eye locked on the scroll. It looks like child's primer. What could this have to do with me? Unrolling the scroll, he quickly began to read, Katara and Shini leaning over his shoulder, Katara's warm breath sending shivers rushing up and down his spine.
His eyes devoured the lines, and when he was finished, he dropped it with a loud clatter. "What is this supposed to be, a joke? Its nothing but a rhyme that was old when I was little! What does this have to do with this Yu guy and me?"
Katara took up the scroll again, re-reading out loud the ancient rhyme.
Bones of Stone,
Breath of Wind,
Mind of Water,
Spirit of Fire,
Chains of Mother,
Unbroken shall remain.
Mothers Heart torn away,
Fallen First shall break his chains.
"What does it mean?" Shini asked after Katara had finished, already wondering why such an old, and rather poor, poem had such meaning to an Avatar.
The taller elder had been staring at Aang the entire time, his expression radiating impatience as he waited for some obscure action to occur.
"...What?" Aang asked, leaning away from the disturbing look.
The elder sighed and almost collapsed into his chair, a massive amount of tension wafting off his body. His hands cradled his face, a long sigh escaping as he rested his elbows on the table top. Putting them down he once more zeroed in on Aang, his eyes lighter, the hard lines of his face eased away. "Avatar, I am sorry for being so...cold, but it was necessary in order to guage your current mental state."
"We had to make sure you weren't going to go bonkers on us."
"Now, as I was saying." He took a moment to get more comfortable on the pillow before continuing. "We are here to speak of Shung Yu. You do not know him, as he is not something that many other cultures can recall from the first years of our worlds creation."
Waving to the area behind them, the elder began a tale, a tale that had its roots ingrained in the very fabric of the world.
"In ages past, far beyond this century of war, there was a time when humans did not exist on the earth. All manner of other beast did hower, from the blind Bagger-moles that slowly carved out mile upon mile of tunnels beneath the crust, to Dragons soaring from their eries. It was a peaceful place, for a time. However, as you well, know, the Spirit realm and ours are close, and sometimes, something cross's over."
He leaned back, getting more comfortable as he abused limbs protested the prolonged stillness. "And in the ancient days, the boundaries that protect us now, were not then in place. Evil spirits leaked between the borders, bringing with them everything from War, Lust, Hate, and Greed. You have met one such spirit, Koh, the Face-Stealer, or the embodiment of Greed."
Aang reared back in shock, eyes wide as he realized that he had faced down a demon as old as the world itself, and nearly lost. Katara's questioning eyes locked onto his shaken frame, but tore them away once again to rest on the old man. "Can we please-"
"You are impatience child." He admonished, a hand raised to quiet her. "This must all be said, if you are to understand the reason's behind who and what Yu is."
Crossing her arms and huffing at being shut down so quickly, Katara settled down at Shini's quick look. "Im sorry, I just don't like where this could be going."
"Understandable, but it must be told. Now, as I was saying. Koh and the other Spirits entered our world, and began corrupting all those nearby. You all know that the original bending beasts, the Fish, the Dragons, the Bison, and the Baggers, are all intelligent creatures, with thoughts and persona's all their own. The Spirits knew this, and began to change them, altering their very bodies to suit what they called the 'Great Purge."
"I will spare you the details, but let us say that it began a war that makes all the atrocities, all the deaths, every life lost in this war, seem as dust in the wind. It carved out almost every canyon, every mountain, every lake that you see now." The magnitude of what he was saying was not lost to the three, all leaning forward, enraptured by the images that his words conjured forth.
"Skipping a lot of the legend, the evil spirits were eventually defeated. How they were defeated is subject to much debate, but one thing has remained constant. Shung Yu, the very first Avatar."
A tired sigh escaped him, his old age finally getting to him in the late hour. "I am sorry, it is late and I am an old man. None-the-less, let us continue. Now, as you know, the Avatar is the physical embodiment of the spirit of the world, that which we call the Mother. Each time a new Avatar is born, he or she is born to the next cycle of the seasons, though no one will agree to which came first."
"In any case it matters little. Shung Yu, and the Avatar itself, was created by the Mother and all her children, imbuing the Avatar with all four of the elements. He was the first human to walk this planet, and for a time, he protected the races with great kindness and power."
"However, as the old adage speaks so truly, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Yu was the first example of this, and it is a lesson you would do well to remember Avatar. You see, for all his power, for all his knowledge, Yu was at the very core of his being, a human. And like all people, was subject to the vices of temptation."
"The legend states that one day Shung was training, when a voice entered his mind, leading him out into an empty field far from the eyes of his wards. It was then that the sky darkened, the winds stood silent, and the very air itself vanished. He fell to his knees, grabbing his throat, gasping for air when three figures appeared before him, shrouded in the night, stinking of death and decay, their red eyes containing a horrible mockery of life and love in their depraved stares."
"One by one they tempted him, one with the power and riches beyond his wildest dreams. Another with life immortal and legend undying. He turned them both away, his desires transcending the glories and honors heaped upon men these days. However, the last one came, a demon of a thousand faces and wily in mind. He saw the quick spiteful sneers that Shung gave to the others promises, and decided that a different route was needed."
"Thus, he gave to Shung something that he had never seen before, nor even known could exist."
"He brought forth a single human woman."
"It is said that Yu fell in love with her upon first sight, his mind entranced by her beauty. He reached out for her from his knees, so close that he could smell her, so close he almost touched her. But as his fingertips grazed the fabric of her dress, Koh, the cunning demon, snatched her away. Shung cried out in horror, his desire taken from his gaze, only to rise up in hatred to the three demons."
"But as I have said, Koh was a crafty, vile beast, and knew exactly how to ensnare the hearts of all creatures. And so he proposed to Shung a simple deal, a single favor in return for the woman."
"Shung agreed in a moment, all too willing to render a favor in return for the enchantress he had seen. For that promise, Koh smiled, and the woman was returned. He spoke again, telling Yu that he would collect in five days. After that, all three vanished, leaving behind only the woman." He geld up a hand again at Aang, stopping his question. "Before you ask, the woman's name and face has been lost to the sands of time, and for our sake it should always remain that way. Any creation of one of the elder demons is not something to remember."
He continued on, the now far shorter candles wax dripping down in long knotted strings. The light they cast now lit only a tiny fraction of the small library, a faint light shining through the only window next to the door, the thin sliver of the moon barely making itself known.
"Five days after the deal was done, Koh called on him to fulfill his promise. Koh outlined a plan, a plan that would shake the very foundations of the world, and rend apart everything that they knew."
"They planned to attack the Heavens directly, with the Avatar at their side."
"Shocked by his own nativity, Shung cried out in defiance, only to see his loves horrified eyes widen as she vanished again. Enraged by the sight, Shung struck at Koh with all his might. However, Koh is a demon, and beyond a mortals power, even an Avatars. Yu's attacks passed through Koh's form with all the effect of wind on stone."
"With that Koh played his card, and glided in closer, until he whispered in Yu's ear the rest of his deal. He would return the woman, but only if he helped them."
"Shung agreed after a long moment, his eyes hard and cold in the face of his conflicting desires. But his need for the woman, the desire for touch and affection, the overwhelming basic human instinct for contact, far outweighed the duty put before him."
"Two days later, they struck."
"The legend says that the battle for our world caused further reaching consequences then anyone could have imagined, opening portals to the other world, or even beyond that one. Words cannot describe the devastation wrought by that single deed, cannot tell of just what kind of power that they unleashed on one another. They were evenly matched, but when Yu entered the fray, the three good deities were forced back to their final corners. In that space, they brought forth their greatest powers, and fought and fought for hours."
"But no matter their power, with the Avatar on their side, the Demons could not fail. But then something stirred, something that they had not taken into account. The ancient force that underlay every single blade of grass, every drop of water, every breath of air, every tounge of flame."
"The battle had awoken The Mother, and she rose into the battle with the finality of the end. She tore apart the Demons, and stripped them of almost all their power, and captured Shung in an instant. With the Heavens victory, Yu suffered a fate worse then death. After the battle was done and all were captured, Yu was brought before the gods and the Mother, who knew why he had done the deeds, but could not let him go, not after his actions."
"For his punishment, he was shown as they brought forth other Humans, instilling them with the very emotions that he so craved. As a worse punishment, he was stripped of his powers, only to see them instilled into the second Avatar, his mortal body destroyed and his spirit imprisoned forever into the power that you call the Avatar State."
The stillness and silence that had been unbroken for almost the entire tale was broken, Aang's gasp and Katara's choked sob at the tale were the only things that came out before the two shorter elders shushed them. An admonishing glare at both of the other elders from the tallest quieted them. "It is not done yet, there is still more yet to come."
"As the ages grew, and the other Avatar spirits came into the line, Shung was forced further and further away from the current holder, the binds keeping him from influencing the newest incarnation. That poem is what actually contains him. Bones of stone mean your ability at Earth-bending, Breath of Wind, Air, etc etc. Your lack of Fire-mastery could have something to do with the broken binding, but something tells me that you are lacking, or lost, something else along your journey."
"So...what should I do?" He asked, a cloud of fear filling his eyes. "What could happen if he gets free? Why does all this matter?"
All of them glanced guiltily at Katara, placing the burden of telling what happened squarely on her shoulder. "It's important Avatar, because something did happen along your travels, something more then just lack of control. Something directly regarding the State itself. This is why we are worried, for Shung has been contained, alone, for almost three-thousand years."
"He has gone completely insane."
"And what's more-"
"That's enough!" Her chocolate hands slammed down into the tabletop with a surprising strength as she stood up and leaned forward, glaring at all three. "That's enough for now. He's just a boy! This is too much for him to take in all at once, so let him have some time to figure it all out! Come on Aang, we're leaving." Grabbing his hand, she dragged him out despite his weak protests.
Once outside, Katara let go, much to his dismay. However, her mind was ablaze with anger, blood rushing in her veins as her hear tried to leap from her chest. Those, those, those idiots! She screamed in her mind, trying to keep her anger from leaping out at Aang, who was currently backing slowly away as though she was about to turn around and attack him.
He may be the Avatar, but he's also a child! Telling him all of that could hurt him more then help! Plus...She stopped stomping away, shoulders slumping as the knowledge that she had to tell him what he had done made itself known again. Can he really take it, after learning all of that?
A gentle hand on her wrist stopped her, slowly turning to see Aang standing there with wide eyes. Oh, Tu and La She whispered in her mind. How can I be so selfish? He's the one this is affecting the most, and I cant be helping! Tiredly smiling at him, her hand grasping his, she led him back to their rooms. I'll tell him tomorrow, after everything tonight, he needs a good, long rest.
She made for her room and closed the door behind her, hearing the light click of Aangs own door closing after hers. Sliding under the thin blankets, her last thought before sleep claimed her was simply: I hope he takes it better then Toph did those wounds...
Zuko quashed the urge to scowl, rage forcing acid into his tone as he regarded his sister. "What did you just say?" He seethed out, his royal armor, the same armor that once fit him like a glove, now feeling foreign and heavy. Heavy with black and trimmed in gold, it was still great protection, but at the moment, he would have given it all up to wear the rags of a peasant again, so long as Uncle was by his side.
"You set up an execution date and didn't tell me!?" Smoke seeped out from his teeth, a sure sign that he was approaching his boiling point. "I deserve to know when you plan on killing our Uncle, don't you think?"
Azula, sitting calmly at the table, took her time chewing and swallowing the roast Boar-bear on her plate. "Perhaps," She replied, dabbing her cheek with a satin napkin. "Or you might have done something foolish and made all that hard work for nothing. Which do you think is more likely?" Smiling at her older brother, she continued. "After all, two weeks is plenty of time for things to happen. You never know who might come out of the woodwork for an event like this."
Comprehension dawned in his eyes. "Your trying to see if the Avatar is still alive, arnt you?"
"Why?" She asked, whirling on him with a vicious gleam. "Do you think he is still alive?"
"No, why?" He asked, taken aback by her sudden interest. "You killed him yourself, remember." Even when off balance, he went on the attack, trying to regain his verbal footing. "So why would you be so worried?"
"So you know for sure that there was nothing that could save him? Nothing at all?"
For a long moment Zuko was silent, his entire body rigid from stopping himself from attacking Azula right then and there. He stared right back at her, matching her devilish gaze with his own. "No." He said at last, his slightly grating voice grinding out. "There's no way he could have lived."
Of course, the picture of a vial held by a slender, tanned hand formed in his minds eye. Halved by a blue and white wave and topped by a crescent moon, it had carried the hope of a restored face, a sense of what he could have been.
But he had thrown it away, all for a chance at what he had thought he had wanted. Thinking the conversation at an end, he spun on his heel and walked as quickly as dignity allowed for the door. Of course Azula couldn't let him have the last word. "Oh, by the way Zu-zu, Mai asked me to give you a message. She said she's going out tonight and would like to know if you'd accompany her. After all, she's so easily scared."
Gritting his teeth to refrain from a disastrous insult, Zuko merely nodded in affirmation, thankful for the now long hair that helped hide his features. "If you see her, tell her Im sorry, but I have something I have other plans tonight." He left then, dignity be damned.
Stars glittered in the velvet sky, constellations visible between the massive tanks that covered the factory space. In between them, a hooded figure dashed like a ghost, no sound escaping into the still night air.
The other however, was a hulking mountain of muscle and steel, his right arm and leg a wonder of modern technology, gears and wires, tubes and pipes all working together in order to mimic life. A tattoo showed itself in the center of his bald forehead, the black goatee and eternal scowl making him appear far older then his twenty-nine years.
Both stopped once the other appeared, calculating eyes seizing the other up in an instant.
"They say your one of the best." Zuko rasped out, his golden eyes swirling with a barely bridled anger. "I want to hire you for a very special job. The Avatar is alive, and I want you to find him, and kill him."
Sorry for the short chapter, but its 12:30 pm here, so off to bed I go!