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Battlefield – Afternoon
Sokka looked around at all the carnage on the battlefield. He watched as Katara and several other women tended to the wounded. His father and the warriors from the Southern Water Tribe were rounding up the now powerless Airbenders.
Sokka collapsed onto his back and just allowed himself to relax. It's finally over, he thought. No more fighting or violence. The Fire Nation had finally been defeated for good – and apparently Aang had been able to somehow bring down Guandao.
Katara sauntered over to where Sokka was laying. He looked up at her, a big grin forming across his face.
"So Aang finally did it, huh?"
Katara smiled. "I guess he did."
"You don't think he … uh … finished it?" Sokka traced his index finger across his neck as if it were a knife.
"No," Katara said adamantly. "Aang wouldn't have finished Guandao off. He probably found some other way to beat him."
Her eyes suddenly widened. "Oh my gosh!"
Sokka bolted up, his eyes wide alert. "What?!"
"We have to get to Aang! He must be hurt after that battle. Thank goodness I still have my spirit water!"
Sokka allowed himself to collapse unto his back again, a look of relief on his face. "Don't scare me like that," he said. "You had me thinking Guandao popped out at us or something!"
Katara scrambled to her feet and rushed over to Appa, who was wearing his battle armor. "We have to get to Aang," she said. She glanced over at Sokka who was now yawning lazily. "Are you coming," she asked impatiently.
"Huh? What?" Sokka looked a little bewildered and then realization spread across his face. "Okay, okay, I'm coming."
Lake Laogai – Afternoon/Evening
Aang lay on his back, breathing heavily. He hadn't realized how worn out his body really was. It was a mess – covered in blood, bruises, air slices – not to mention he had received a lightning strike directly into his stomach.
Aang watched sadly as Zuko cradled his sister's body, gently crying over it. Aang could sympathize with him – he was no stranger to loss. If he could have, he would have walked over to Zuko and given him a big hug right about now. Of course, he wasn't in any position to do so, what with his wounds and all.
"At least she found peace in the end," Zuko whimpered. "At least we were able to be reconciled."
A voice a few feet away caught them all of guard. "You all seem to have forgotten about me!"
Aang and Zuko glanced over to see Guandao standing there. Aang couldn't quite put his finger on it, but somehow, Guandao seemed less … intimidating. He looked less like a brutal killing machine and more like a tired, weak old man.
Zuko stood up. His one arm had been broken during his battle earlier with the monk, and it now dangled uselessly at his side. He, however, raised his other arm, preparing to strike.
"Don't Zuko," he heard Aang say. "It would be pointless. He has no power left now."
Guandao's face hardened. "That may be true, Aang, but you're helpless now! You have no strength left. And as for the Fire Lord … he can't do much with only one arm." The monk reached inside his orange robes and withdrew a small dagger. "It would be a simple matter for me to do away with both of you right now!"
Aang's eyes widened. Guandao was right! Damn! After all that fighting, after all the lives sacrificed, after finally destroying Apollyon, they were gonna die right now like this! Oh, why did the world have to be so cruel sometimes?
However, the blow never came.
Aang instead heard a bellow from Appa and saw a jet of water strike Guandao squarely in the chest and send him flying into the wall of the cliff overlooking the lake. The water froze instantaneously, trapping the monk. Aang looked over and saw Katara standing there, her eyes full of fire.
Sokka, Toph, Suki, Mai, Ty Lee, Loi and Iroh climbed off of Appa's back. Sokka whistled as he surveyed the signs of battle and the injuries of his friends. "I don't want to be the guy that cleans this mess up!"
"Don't worry," Toph smirked. "Nobody depends on you to clean anything, except your plate!"
"Hey," Sokka whined. Behind him, Suki and Ty Lee were giggling.
Loi noticed Azula lying on the ground. He ran over to her and flung himself over her. "Azula! Azula!"
"It's too late," Zuko lamented. "She's gone."
Loi's eyes filled with tears. "No."
"You were right about her. There was good in her after all."
Katara rushed over to Aang and began to survey his injuries. "Oh Aang," she said. "How do you always end up getting yourself damaged like this?" She began applying some spirit water on Aang. The young Avatar slowly got to his feet.
"Try not to move too fast," she said. "You've still got some injuries that only time will cure."
Zuko watched the spirit water. He then glanced over at Azula's body and his eyes widened as an idea rushed through his mind.
"Katara," he shouted. "You're spirit water can heal any wound, right?"
"So … what about Azula?"
The Waterbender bit her lip. "Well … that's the thing. I don't know if it can fix … death."
"Oh." Zuko's eyes were downcast.
"She's not dead," Toph said suddenly. Everyone whirled around to look at her. "I can sense her bodily vibrations through my feet. She's still alive … only just." She looked over at Katara. "You may be able to help her … but she doesn't have much time left. She's hanging on by a thread!"
Zuko's eyes looked overjoyed. "Please Katara," he whispered.
Katara nodded. "I'll do my best." She kneeled down next to Azula's body and began pouring some spirit water on her.
"Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait." Sokka was exasperated. "Since when did we care about helping Azula – the one who's always trying to kill us?"
Zuko shot him a glare. "Since she helped Aang take down Guandao!"
"Oh." He stared down at the ground, embarrassed.
"Don't you feel like a jerk," Toph mocked.
Katara spread the spirit water across Azula's body, her tongue poking out between her teeth. This felt so weird – their archenemy, who had tried to kill them so many times over; and now here was Katara, helping her out. Ironic.
"Is it … is it working," Zuko asked.
"I don't know," Katara replied. "This really isn't as simple as it looks."
"What," Sokka questioned. "All you do is rub water on her – no big deal, really."
Katara shot him a look. "If it's so easy, then why don't you try?"
"Okay, okay." He raised his hands in self defense. "Just keep going."
The water finally disappeared into Azula's body, and everyone held their breaths and waited.
"Nothing's happening," Zuko sighed.
"No wait," Loi shouted. He pointed. "Look!"
Azula's stomach began to rise and fall and one of her eyes began to twitch. Slowly, the Fire Princess opened them and she began to climb to her feet. Zuko and Loi rushed over and both helped her up. She looked around and noticed everyone staring expectantly at her.
"What the heck do you all think you're staring at," she snapped.
"You're alive," Zuko said joyously. "You're alive!"
"Well obviously! Wow, you're a real genius, aren't you Zuzu?!"
Aang and Katara exchanged knowing glances. Some things never change.
Zuko embraced his sister with his one good arm. Azula instantly clammed up. "Okay, okay." She patted his back awkwardly. "Now let go before you're the one who needs spirit healing!"
Zuko smiled. Before, he probably wouldn't have tolerated his sister's condescending, sarcastic attitude, but now, he was just happy that she was alive.
And a year ago, they had been mortal enemies. Funny how life turns out, isn't it?
The Battlefield – Afternoon
The gang spent the rest of the day helping in the cleanup process. Bodies were carried away; broken and splintered weapons were piled up and burned. There was a heady mixture of both joy and also sadness. So much had been accomplished here – but the price was so very deep.
Zuko eagerly took part in the cleanup process. He had to do something to keep his mind occupied – to keep his mind off of the intense loss he had suffered that day. Sure, he had regained his sister. But … in the process, he had lost his mother.
Zuko hadn't really thought about his mother's death until now. At that point, his mind had been so preoccupied during the heat of the battle with Guandao and then worrying about his wounded sister that he hadn't had time to think about her.
But now … the pain came back at him full force.
Mai was the first one who came to him. "How are you holding up," she asked.
"As best as I can I guess."
Mai didn't say a word as she pulled Zuko into her arms.
"When you're ready to talk, I'll be here to listen," she reassured.
Zuko smiled. Just being in her arms calmed him somewhat.
The road to healing would be a long and arduous process – for them all.
Aang was also busying himself with helping to clean up the remnants of this latest war. Katara and he worked side by side, when, suddenly, Katara's eyes brightened at once.
"Aang! I've just had the most wild idea!"
"What is it?"
"Why don't we get married here! Now!"
"Well, not quite now, but within the next few days. We'll have to send someone back home to pick up Gran Gran of course."
Aang scratched his chin. "I don't know…"
"Come on! Everyone we know is here! We might as well!"
The Avatar chuckled. "You're that eager to be stuck with me for the rest of your life, huh?"
She nodded gleefully. "You bet!"
The two leaned forward to kiss, when they were interrupted by several figures dressed in all black.
Aang quickly shifted into a combat ready position. "The Sun Tzu!"
To his bewilderment, the Sun Tzu warriors kneeled down before him. "We are yours to command, master."
"Well, yes," the lead Sun Tzu replied. "By defeating our former master, you take his place. You are the leader of the Sun Tzu now, Avatar Aang."
Aang scratched his head. "I don't know." After everything the Sun Tzu put them through, Aang didn't feel too comfortable being their leader now.
"Think of it this way, Aang," Katara replied. "You can use them for good now!"
"That's true. They are masters of stealth – I bet I could put them to use as informants for me!"
"Whatever you wish of us master." The Sun Tzu bowed lower.
"Alright," Aang exclaimed. "I want you guys to meet me every month at the Southern Water Tribe with whatever information you have."
"As you wish." The Sun Tzu backed away from Aang, and vanished into the shadows.
"Uuuhh, it's really creepy how those guys do that!"
Ba Sing Se Palace – Courtroom – Afternoon – A Few Days Later
"We hereby find the defendants – guilty!"
Ever since the defeat of Long Feng and the Dai Li, who imprisoned and executed people without fair trial, the Earth King had always made sure that trials were done by due process of law by a jury.
The courtroom was large, and jam packed with huge crowds of people, eager to see the results of the trial. Sitting on a huge podium, was the Earth King. Next to him was Aang.
Standing in the middle of the room were Monk Guandao and General Rozar, hands chained, both of whom seemed worse for wear. Their clothes were ragged and torn and Guandao had bags under his eyes as though he hadn't been sleeping. The two didn't seem to want to have anything to do with the other as they tried to distance themselves from each other.
The Earth King leaned forward. "This court has made its decision. I hereby sentence you to –"
"Your Highness, can I say something please?"
The Earth King seemed a little put off, until he realized that the one who interrupted him was the Avatar. He nodded encouragingly.
Aang slipped off the podium and looked Guandao square in the eyes. The corners of Guandao's lips were curling into a sneer.
"I've been thinking long and hard about what I wanted to say to you," Aang told him. "At first, I couldn't find the right words. Everything you've done…
"It was you who manipulated Fire Lord Sozin into starting the war. It was you who wiped out the Air Nomads – our people – and relentlessly hunted me down. The blood of the millions who died during the war is on your hands. Entire populations wiped out. Many areas of land are left uninhabitable.
"You manipulated me and my friends into finding the reliquaries, so that you could unleash all the powers of Apollyon on the world. You deceived the world into believing that you were me. You senselessly and mercilessly tortured and murdered any dissenters in your kingdom.
"I lay the entire suffering of the world in the past one hundred years on your shoulders. No punishment is too severe for you.
"And yet … I stand by what I said to you during our duel."
Aang looked deep into the haunted eyes of Monk Guandao.
"I forgive you."
Murmurings erupted throughout the courtroom, as everyone inside wondered how this would affect the judgment.
Aang turned back to the Earth King. "Your Highness, I don't suggest execution for this Monk."
"But he's done so much, Aang!"
He nodded. "I know. But … we have to show him the mercy that he never showed anyone else! Maybe … just maybe, he might see the light."
Guandao rolled his eyes.
"Then what do you suggest, Aang?"
Aang smiled. "I suggest that he be sent to Shark Fin Island – be placed under the care of Cabbage Man and Tau. General Rozar too! They can help with that island's harvest!"
Cabbage Man stood up from one of the back rows. "Don't worry, Aang. I'll keep a good eye on them!" He glared daggers at Guandao. "And if you touch any of my cabbages, so help me …!" Tau placed a hand on his shoulder and grinned apologetically at the courtroom.
"We'll see to it," he said.
Aang nodded to them. "Thanks guys!"
Aang then turned back to Guandao, who seemed rather horrified at the idea of being bossed around by the likes of Tau and the Cabbage Man. "You were a good person once," Aang said. "Until you lost yourself. That good man is still in there, somewhere – buried deep beneath all the rage and hate. I hope your time on Shark Fin Island will allow him to resurface, so that you may become the man you once were." He smiled at Zuko, who blushed and returned it with fervor.
Guandao looked down at the floor. Aang wasn't sure, but he thought he saw Guandao's eyes sadden for a moment.
The Earth King stood up. "Very well. That is your sentence – life on Shark Fin Island!" He banged a gavel and Bosco roared for emphasis.
Aang watched as two Earth Kingdom soldiers led Guandao and Rozar away. As they walked out of the courtroom, Guandao turned slowly and looked at the young Avatar.
The door closed behind them, and Guandao was gone from Aang's life forever.
Ba Sing Se Courtyard – The Next Day – Afternoon
"What can I say about Ursa? Mother of two, devoted wife. In many ways she was stronger than even I, the Dragon of the West!"
A whole crowd had come to witness the funeral service of Ursa. Iroh was currently standing up, giving the eulogy of his sister-in-law. Aang stood solemnly at Iroh's side. Zuko and Mai sat in the front row. It took everything he had to not break down into tears here. He was a proud man, and he would not let anyone else see him cry.
He looked over at his other side. Azula sat there, head bowed. Her eyes were puffy and red and Zuko knew that she had been up crying all night. He reached over and gently patted her shoulder. Azula jumped a little, startled, and looked over at her brother. The two siblings looked into each others eyes, and Zuko smiled faintly. Even though they didn't say anything, they knew how glad the other was to have each other.
A brother and sister had been reunited … but at the cost of their mother.
Azula had regained her soul … but at the cost of her mother.
Zuko remembered all the times he spent with Ursa when he was little.
He remembered going to the beach at Ember Island with her, Azula and his father.
He remembered feeding the turtle ducks with her.
How she would kiss his booboos.
How she would be there for him whenever Azula tormented him.
Zuko looked over at his sister again and he felt a sudden sympathy for her. Brainwashed by their twisted father to become a merciless killing machine, Azula had never spent as much time with their mother as he had. She had relatively few good memories with her. And, she had believed Ursa thought her a monster.
Imagine, going through life believing your own mother thought you a monster, no matter how ridiculous it may seem?
As Iroh finished his beautiful eulogy, people lined up to place roses on the casket. Zuko and Azula were last, and the two siblings lovingly placed their roses on top of the wood.
Azula turned and grabbed hold of Zuko, sobbing into his shirt. Zuko hugged his sister back, and this time, he wouldn't hold back the tears.
Ba Sing Se Throne Room – A Few Days Later – Evening
Rows upon rows of chairs had been set up in the throne room of the Earth King – Aang and Katara had decided to hold the wedding here. "It's about time," Sokka had mumbled.
Colorful flowers adorned the walls of the extravagant room, and lit candles gave it a quiet, yet romantic mood. Dozens of assortments of characters had come to witness the wedding. Earth, Water and Fire Nations were all represented. Almost everyone that Aang and Katara had encountered throughout their journeys together was here, chattering excitedly.
At the end, on an altar set up by the throne, stood Aang, wearing beautiful Air monk robes and a cap. Sokka stood next to him, his best man, wearing dashing Water Tribe clothes. On the other side stood Toph, Katara's maid of honor, who tried to put on a happy face despite being forced to wear girly clothing.
As people continued to file in, Sokka nudged Aang. "Hey, I just want to say, congratulations, Aang. You're my best friend, and I couldn't have picked a better guy for Katara."
Aang beamed. "Thank you, Sokka."
"Oh, and a word of warning – if you ever do anything to hurt my sister … well, let's just say I can make accidents happen!" He surveyed his fingernails. "Kapeesh?"
Aang laughed. "No worries. There's no chance of that ever happening!"
The whole crowds' voices died down as Katara entered the room, wearing her mother's betrothal necklace, and a beautiful white gown. Hakoda walked her down the aisle, preparing to give her away. "Go get him, Katara," Gran Gran shouted from her seat. "Remember – we Water Tribe women may be lamb-monkeys in the kitchen, but we're tiger-seals in the bedroom!" She nudged Pakku, who was beginning to nod off into sleep. "Right honey?!"
"Yes dear," he grumbled sleepily.
The marriage commenced quickly without incident as a Water Tribe Holy Man recited it and Aang and Katara exchanged rings. Then, they shared their first kiss as husband and wife, eliciting many cheers from the audience.
The Cabbage Man dabbed away at his eyes with the sleeve of Tau's shirt. "I told myself I wasn't gonna cry," he sniffed.
Aang and Katara ran down the aisle as they were pelted with rice. As they left, Katara tossed her bouquet and there was a violent scramble of girls to get it. "It's mine, it's mine," Ty Lee shouted.
"In your dreams," Suki replied.
When the commotion subsided, a dumbfounded Toph was standing there, wondering how in the world the bouquet ended up in her hands.
"Hey Toph," Sokka pointed out. "I guess that means you're next in line to get married!"
"Yea, as if," she replied. She turned away to hide the blush creeping up her face. She already had someone in mind. She saw – or rather felt – Teo looking at her from across the room. She blushed even more.
Suki threw her arms around Sokka. "I guess we're gonna have to plan our wedding soon, huh Sokka?"
"I … yea well … I mean," he stuttered. He wasn't sure if he was quite ready to be married yet.
"Oh just shut up and kiss me!" The Kyoshi warrior grabbed the Water Tribe boy by the collar and pulled him into a long kiss.
Zuko looked over at Mai, who slightly blushed herself. "You know, we're gonna have to get married someday too," he said.
"Yea, what's your point," Mai asked emotionlessly.
"Well, we should begin thinking about it now, shouldn't we? I mean, it is kind of important, me being the Fire Lord and –" He was interrupted by her kiss.
"You talk too much."
Azula was lingering around, watching everyone kissing. Frankly, the whole affair was making her nauseous – or was it the fact that she didn't have anyone to kiss herself?
Suddenly, someone covered her eyes, twirled her around, and planted one right on her lips.
"Okay," she said. "Whoever that is, you have exactly three seconds to take your hands off of me before I take them off of you!"
The hands disappeared from her eyes and she saw –
She looked to the ground, embarrassed, blushing and absentmindedly twirling her hair around her finger. "I'm sorry … I just … I didn't realize …" Before she knew what she was doing, she grabbed him and pulled him into a long tongue kiss.
As Aang and Katara mingled with their guests, the couple suddenly found a dark shadow creep over them. Katara looked up to see a tall man with a shaved head, an eye tattooed on his forehead and a robotic arm.
"It's the Combustion Man! How did he survive?!"
The Combustion Man stared down at them, a murderous look on his face. Aang and Katara stepped back into a combat stance.
Suddenly, an odd thing happened. The Combustion Man's face melted into a pleasant smile and he held up a small, white flower. He handed it to Katara, who had a shocked look on her face, as did Aang.
Katara was at a loss for words. "T-thank you."
The Combustion Man nodded and then his face returned to his murderous stare as he stalked away.
Earth Kingdom Port – Afternoon – A Week Later
"And so … I guess this is where we say goodbye." There was a melancholy tension in the air as the group of friends prepared to go their separate ways. They would, of course, plan to meet back up with each other whenever they could back in Ba Sing Se. But saying goodbye, after everything they'd all been through, just seemed so sad.
Zuko, Mai, Azula and Loi were returning to the Fire Nation. Zuko had to return to his position as the Fire Lord and rebuild the Fire Nation.
Of course, Toph and Iroh would stay in their homes in Ba Sing Se.
Sokka, Suki and Ty Lee would return to Kyoshi Island.
And of course, that would leave Aang and Katara to go back to the Southern Water Tribe, to begin their life together.
Everyone had a downcast look on their faces.
"Don't everyone look so sad," Katara said. "We promise to meet up very soon."
"And besides," Aang said. "This stinken war is finally over!"
Toph was the first one to speak. "We know that. It's just … so hard saying goodbye after everything we've been through together."
Sokka placed his hands on Toph's shoulders. "It's not goodbye, Toph. Never goodbye!"
Sokka suddenly found her arms around his neck. "Oh Sokka…"
Zuko was the next to approach Aang. The two former enemies looked at each other, before quickly embracing. "I have so much to thank you for, Aang. If it hadn't been for you, I probably would never have found the good path. You've done so much."
Aang looked around as everyone there shook their heads in agreement.
Azula stepped forward. "You did so much for all of us – even for me!"
Iroh nodded. "Your actions did not just affect this small group of people, Aang. You affected the whole world. It is a much better place – just because of you!"
Aang raised his hands. "Look, I don't deserve this kind of praise, you guys."
"But you do," Sokka said. "All of us, in one way or other, were lost before we met you. Katara and I were just simple Water Tribe whose top priority was finding the next meal.
"Toph was trapped at home with her parents who wouldn't let her follow her dreams.
"Zuko and Azula were bad guys before you intervened.
"We have so much to thank you for. The world has so much to thank you for."
Aang nodded, taking all this in humbly.
If he had this much impact on his friends, imagine the world?
The group of friends embraced one last time, before setting off on their own paths to pick up where their lives had left off.
They weren't saying goodbye.
This wasn't the end for any of them.
Life's adventures had just gotten underway for them.
Their story was really just beginning.
The Southern Water Tribe – Three Months Later – Afternoon
Aang was practicing some Airbending drills outside when he was approached by Chief Hakoda, who was flanked with two Sun Tzu.
"Aang, there may be a … disturbance that we need you to look into for us."
"What is it?"
"It appears that there have been several attacks on key targets throughout the Earth Kingdom and the Fire Nation. Apparently it's some terrorist organization, led by a man who calls himself The Shadow."
Aang sighed. Life as the Avatar sucked sometimes – whenever it seems as if life can be lived peacefully, some new goon comes around determined to conquer the world.
"I guess I'll have to look into it. I'll leave first thing in the morning."
The Next Day
Aang rounded up Katara and their luggage, and prepared for their trip to the Fire Nation to meet with Zuko.
Just like old times, Aang thought.
He and Katara climbed up on Appa's back, Momo on Aang's shoulder.
Appa flew off into the rising sun as a new day prepared to bring with it new adventures.
Long ago, the Four Nations used to live together in harmony. Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked.
Only the Avatar, master of all four elements, could stop them.
But when the world needed him most, he vanished.
A hundred years have passed, and my brother and I have discovered the new Avatar, a young Airbender named Aang. But although his Airbending skills are great, he still has a lot to learn before he's ready to save anyone.
But I believe Aang can save the world…
So the story's finally over. I have a great feeling of satisfaction now that it's done, but also of bitter sweetness. I had a lot of fun writing this story, and I hope you all enjoyed it and found it a decent conclusion to the Avatar series.
About the story:
When I first started it, I wondered how to tackle a Book 4: Air. Watching the show, I would often wonder what would happen if Aang wasn't the last Airbender. That's really how it started and what I had to go on. The main idea was what if there was another Airbender? What if he was bad? How would Aang react to that? I felt that the final battle should be one between two Airbenders.
A major theme I wanted to incorporate was one of redemption – a very prominent theme in the t.v. show. Zuko was able to be redeemed. I wanted this story to be about Azula's redemption.
I also wanted to bring the Ursa story ark into conclusion. The show left her fate ambiguous and I thought it would be interesting to make her a member of the Order of the White Lotus. I also connected it to Azula's character ark, feeling that it would be powerful drama to have Ursa sacrifice herself for Azula, thus proving that she didn't think her daughter a monster.
So, really that's my story. I hope you all enjoyed it and that you all continue contributing to the Avatar story. Just like many other epic sagas out there, there's still a lot more story to tell.
What's next for me? Well, you haven't seen the last of me. I definitely have a few ideas left in me and it's all a matter of drafting them out before I finally submit them.
Good writing and God Bless!