First of all, thank you for taking a look at my story. If this is your first time here I would urge you to be patient with the first couple chapters--they serve to set the scene for the later chapters but do not have much in the way of direct plot. They do, however, have important background into the happenings in the past 4 years since Sozin's Comet, and hopefully they provide a little amusement as well. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!
I don't own A:TLA so please don't sue me
The Wrath of Koh
The Wrath of Koh
Click, clack, click, clack. The footsteps of the cloaked man echoed through the dark tunnel as he sidestepped with ease the puddles of dingy, cold water that pock-marked the treacherous path. He paused for a moment at the precipice of a narrow, winding staircase that led deeper and deeper into the earth, before continuing on toward his destination. His way was weakly lit by sparse patches of crystal that lined the staircase and gave off a faint glow as he descended into the gloom below. Upon reaching the bottom he strode down the hallway only to hesitate before entering the chamber at the end. The chamber, with its high ceiling and thick stone pillars, was actually an ancient cavern dotted with huge crystal formations and a small rivulet of water that snaked its way through the center. On the far side, between two especially large crystal formations was a crude stone platform, upon which sat a large pool of pure, clean water. Taking three quick steps inside, he spotted a lone figure garbed in black, staring directly into the pool, muttering to himself. Immediately the man stopped, dropping to his knees, his back parallel to the rocky ground with his arms outstretched, palms up in a gesture of fealty. As he stretched forward, the sleeves of his cloak slid up, revealing a long tattoo on his right forearm. The tattoo, a black centipede that snaked its way completely around his forearm and ended in his palm, almost glowed in the faint light. After about fifteen minutes, the figure that was leaning over the pool straightened, "It is time," he said simply, not turning around. "Yes master," answered the prone figure, slowly rising and walking out the way he came. The lone figure in the room smiled before speaking into the pool, "The plan is in motion, it won't be long now…"
Reminisces and Reunions
"Kataaaaarrrrrraaaaaa, hurry up, we're going to be late," yelled her older brother Sokka from the adjoining room.
"I'll be there in a minute Sokka, I just have to decide what clothes I want to bring. I haven't seen Aang for over a month and I want to make sure I've got everything," answered Katara.
"Katara you've packed and re-packed everything you own three times now. I'm sure you have what you need. Besides, I've been packed for over an hour now, and we still have to pick up Toph from her parents' home in Gaoling before we head over to the Royal Palace. You know what happened last year when we were late to Zuko's Peace Celebration."
"Yeah, whatever, I he can get his royal shorts in a knot like last time for all I care. Now come here and help me carry my stuff." She asked as he poked his head into her room.
Sokka sighed as she handed him three suitcases while she merely slung a small travel bag over her shoulder. "I'm just glad your boyfriend was nice enough to send Appa, because without him there is no way we would ever get to the fire nation," he quipped, trudging toward door.
Katara merely smiled as she led the way outside, "Appa, wake up sleepy," she called. Hearing a grunt from behind, she turned to see Sokka, laden with her suitcases, stagger out the door and into a snow drift. He collapsed in a heap, silently scowling at his sister.
At long last, Katara was able to coax the giant sky-bison out of his slumber and convince him to amble over to Sokka, who begrudgingly began loading the luggage into the saddle. "Ok Katara, that looks like the last of it. Now let's go before we fall any farther behind schedule."
Katara rolled her eyes, her brother and his schedule were inseparable—unless he was hungry—in which case nothing was more important than his food. She began to climb aboard Appa when she heard a familiar voice behind her call, "You weren't going to leave without saying goodbye to me, were you?"
"Dad!" Katara cried, leaping down from Appa, "I thought you were still out fishing with Bato. When did you get back?"
"Just now," he answered, "I wanted to make sure I was back to see you kids off."
Katara laughed, "We're not kids anymore dad. I'm nineteen and Sokka is twenty, and we were on our own for almost a year when we went off with Aang."
"Believe me," Hakoda chuckled, "I missed you two so much during that time. I don't want anything like that to ever happen again. Now go on, I understand you two have a schedule to keep and someone has a boyfriend waiting for them."
"Thanks dad," Katara said, pulling her father into a fond embrace, "We'll miss you."
"Yeah, me too," agreed Sokka, giving his dad a hug as well. "I'll be sure to send Hawky when we reach the palace. Now come on Katara, we're already late as it is."
Hakoda's brow furled in thought as he watched them depart, trying to remember his family before the fire nation had taken away their mother. So much had changed since that day, the war had become personal, it had no longer been simply a clash between strangers in faraway lands—it was distinctly and wholly different. It had torn his family apart, forced him to leave his young son to defend a village of women and children against trained soldiers, forced his daughter to hide her greatest talent, her water bending, and caused him to lose the woman he loved. And for that, and that alone, he hated the fire nation and the war they started.
The four years since the passing of Sozin's Comet had done little to temper Hakoda's inner fire, but with the coronation of Fire Lord Zuko, he sensed that the world could finally begin to head in the right direction with the goal of peace—a goal the Fire Lord had often spoke of and promised.
However, despite all of the turmoil and angst the war had caused, he could not help but smile when he looked upon his eldest son and his sister. In the past four years, Sokka had grown and matured so much. He was now only a few inches shorter than his father and his shoulders had broadened considerably. His body had filled out nicely and he now had enough muscle to warrant the constant looks into the mirror he so enjoyed. He had opted to forgo his trademark ponytail—or warrior's wolftail as he affectionately called it—in favor of a longer, shaggier look that covered most of his ears and was similar to his father's. He was trying to grow a goatee as well, but so far it only looked like scruff. He still shared his father's love for fighting, as he always carried his boomerang and sword with him, and, for whatever reason, a taste for stewed sea prunes, but his love for his family, especially his little sister, burned stronger than ever.
Katara hadn't grown much more than another inch or two since the end of the war, but Hakoda couldn't help the pang in his heart he sometimes got when, at a glance, she reminded him of his wife, Kya. Her dark, chocolate brown hair stretched over half way down her back as it fluttered in the wind as she climbed aboard Appa. In remembrance of her childhood years, she had kept the 'hair loopies', as Sokka so often teased, and continued to wear her blue robes over her usual water bending attire. As she finally slung her legs over and into Appa's large saddle, Hakoda could not help but notice how much she had matured. The easy grace with which she carried herself emphasized the inner strength she had always had while her lithe body reflected the years of hard training it had taken to completely master water bending. As the curves of her body stood out, silhouetted against the rising sun, Hakoda could not help but feel proud as he waved at the departing forms of his children as they disappeared over the horizon.
Toph Bei Fong waited anxiously in the garden of her parents' expansive estate in Gaoling, ears peeled for the distinctive rumble of a certain giant, flying bison. Just as the blind earthbender was beginning to lose patience she felt the vibrations and heard the footsteps of one of her parents' many servants approaching from behind her.
"Lady Toph," he began, "you know your parents don't like you roaming the garden unsupervised." At this he held up his hands in a placating gesture, even though Toph couldn't see it, before continuing, "And I realize you are perfectly capable of handling yourself, but they insisted that I either convince you to come back inside or that I stay here with you."
"Take a seat," she growled, earthbending a small platform from the ground beside her, "And while you're at it, tell me if you see my ride coming."
After sitting for a bit, Toph sighed, reflecting on her predicament. It seemed the only people who refused to see her for who she really was—the world's greatest earthbender—not the blind, helpless girl her parents thought she was, existed outside the walls of the estate. Her parents, despite her travels with the avatar, her part in the defeat of Phoenix King Ozai, refused to see her much differently than they had before she had runaway.
They had, however, made a few concessions and allowed Toph to practice her earthbending, even to the point where they let her train a few students a couple times a week. They had also expressly forbidden Toph from participating in any further Earth Rumble tournaments, a notion to which Toph had merely smiled and nodded like the perfect daughter she was supposed to be. Of course, on the night of Earth Rumble VIII, Toph donned her Blind Bandit disguise—which ironically wasn't much of a disguise after the war—and proceeded to kick the butt of anyone who dared oppose her in the ring.
This, however, had lost some of its novelty and now she was simply looking forward to spending time with her best friends without her parents hovering over her, or trying to dump her off on one of the many suitors that came, seeking a way into the Bei Fong's wealth. She'd lost track of the number of men she'd been forced to listen to droll on about how they could provide protection and comfort for "poor blind and helpless Toph."
After a couple of late nights, she'd given serious consideration to simply acceding to her parents' wishes and going off with the next man she met, but never quite had the courage. She wanted to be with someone who appreciated her for who she was and not simply her family's wealth.
At this point Toph stopped her reminiscing and sighed again, "But no one is ever going to like a blind girl like me," she mumbled, "I'll never make a man's heart beat like Aang's does when he sees Katara. I'll always be the poor, unattractive blind girl who will be nothing but a burden on whoever she marries."
"I'm sorry, did you say something Lady Toph?" asked the servant who had been previously daydreaming on the platform next to her.
"I didn't say anything, stupid," Toph said quickly, slightly embarrassed that she had spoken her thoughts aloud, "Keep watching for that bison and tell me the minute you see him."
"Of course Lady To—wait! I think I see something!" exclaimed the servant, "Yes that has to be them! I've never seen anything like it, but that has to be a sky bison. It looks like they should be here in just a couple minutes."
"Finally!" Toph exclaimed, jumping up from her own seat, head turned toward the direction she perceived her two friends and their giant sky bison to be coming from, and eagerly awaited their familiar vibrations.
After what seemed like an extremely long five minutes, Toph finally felt and heard Appa's six feet hit the ground. Almost immediately following Appa's landing were two loud thumps as Sokka and Katara leapt from Appa's back. Before Toph could say anything, she was lifted off her feet and enveloped in a crushing hug. Letting out a very un-Tophlike squeal of delight, she hugged the other person fiercely. She hadn't realized how much she had missed her friends and their companionship. Being cooped up inside her estate with only her parents and their servants to talk to had left her starving for attention and affection—even if she wouldn't admit that to anyone.
"Alright Ponytail, you can put me down now," laughed Toph, turning her head away so he couldn't see her slight blush, "I missed you too." When he didn't release her immediately, Toph pulled back and punched his arm.
"You know," Sokka replied, rubbing his bicep gingerly, "I'm not Ponytail anymore. I've grown my hair out a little, so," he teased before she could protest, "I'm not sure you can call me Ponytail anymore."
Toph snorted, "You'll always be Ponytail to me, Ponytail. Now come here Sugar Queen, I haven't seen you in a while either."
Katara had been standing back, marveling at how well her brother and Toph always seemed to get along. No matter how long they were apart, they always picked up right where they left off.
Smiling at one of Toph's many nicknames for Sokka; she gladly acceded to Toph's request and pulled the diminutive earthbender into a hug. She did notice, when Toph pulled back, that she had most definitely grown a couple inches the past year and now the top of her head reached her nose, rather than Katara's chin as it had when they had previously seen her. She also perceived, during their hug, that although Toph still wore her loose fitting blind bandit outfit, her body had taken undeniable steps toward womanhood. Her raven dark hair was up in its usual bun, and she still wore the space earth bracelet that Sokka had given her on the upper portion of her left arm. Katara also observed wryly that Sokka, with his usual, but almost always unintentional, callousness, noticed none of this.
Pulling away from Toph, she looked down at the smaller girl, exclaiming, "Toph! It's great to see you! How have you been? What have you been up to? Are you ready to go?"
The barrage of questions continued until Toph's hand shot up, covering Katara's mouth. "Whoa, slow down there Sugar Queen, one question at a time please."
However, before she could continue and answer Katara's questions, she was interrupted Sokka who exclaimed, "Katara, we need to leave now. We're already behind schedule." Turning to Toph, he asked, "Are your bags packed? Please don't tell me you brought your whole wardrobe like Katara did. I mean, you can if you want, but I'm not sure Appa can carry much more."
Laughing at her friend's slightly dysfunctional train of thought, Toph shook her head, "We can never manage to quite fit into your plans can we, oh great and powerful schedule-master?"
"No!" exclaimed Sokka, completely missing Toph's sarcasm, "I mean how hard is it to ask? If we just followed my plans, we'd never be late for anything."
"And we'd also have no time for food or bathroom breaks either," snorted Katara.
"That's not true," Sokka protested, "I told you that we would be just fine if we combined our food and bathroom breaks, but for some reason no one thought that was a good idea."
Katara rolled her eyes, "Toph, are you ready to go?" she asked.
"I've been ready to go for an hour now," she answered, frowning, "Now where did I put my luggage?"
The servant, who had been standing quietly out of the way stepped forward, bowed and said, "I believe you left them in your room. Would you like me to get them for you Lady Toph?"
Behind her, Sokka snorted, barely holding back a laugh, "Yes please," she answered the servant before turning to Sokka, "And what, pray tell, is so funny?"
"Nothing," Sokka choked, "Absolutely nothing, Laaady Toph." Sokka began to bend at the waist in an imitation of the servant's bow, but he immediately found his legs, knee deep in the earth and at eye level with a very irritated earthbender.
"And why is that so funny?" she growled.
Unperturbed, Sokka continued in his "fancy" voice, "May I get you a slice of moon peach, Madame Fancy Fingers? Or maybe some cheese and crackers?"
Toph shifted her feet, bending Sokka another foot into the ground, "Whatever you say Ponytail," she said, sticking her tongue out at Sokka in a very unladylike fashion. As she was turning to walk away from the now immobilized Sokka, Toph felt the servant approaching with her luggage.
"Here is your luggage, Lady Toph," he said, "Would you like me to put it aboard the bison?" Behind her, Sokka chuckled again.
Grinning mischievously, Toph answered, "No thank you, my escort will load my bags."
"Your escort…?" he questioned.
"Yes," she explained, grabbing Sokka's ear and pulling from the hole he was in, "Who did you think this imbecile was?"
"Well, I thought he was your frie—" but before he could finish, Toph had already turned and begun to climb Appa's shaggy leg and clamber into the saddle above.
Turning from her perch atop Appa, Toph clapped her hands twice, "Come now, mister escort, we mustn't keep the Fire Lord waiting."
"Of course, Lady Toph," Sokka growled, picking up Toph's suitcase and throwing it up to his sister, "Your wish is my command."
Katara, hoping to break the tension laughed, "Come on you two, lighten up. We need to get to the fire nation in one piece. And besides," she added for Sokka's benefit, "I'm sure there will lots of food at the party when we get there."
Argument with Toph immediately forgotten, Sokka leaned back in the saddle, dreaming about all the meat he was going to get to eat, not even stopping to notice when Toph took her usual place next to him, her arm hooked around his right.
Katara rolled her eyes, "Come on Appa, yip yip," she called, sending the giant bison into sky, leaving Gaoling far behind them.
(A/N: This is my first story that I'm posting here so I would love to know what you think. I have more written already but am still working on much of it. This is going to be a decently long, multi-chaptered fic. Hope you enjoy it! Please Read and Review!)