Hi all, it's been a long time. Firstly, thanks to all the people who have + fav'd and taken the time to comment on my work. ^^
This story still gets regular readers, and I'm glad so many people continue to enjoy it.
Unfortunately, other commitments have meant that I will no longer be continuing this story ark. But you might be happy to note that, as promised, this submission will contain a short 'teaser'/synopsis of the episodes I had planned to take us to the end of book 4 'Air'.
I'm sorry that it can't be the full story format… but as a conciliation, you get to see how I prepare my stories (if you were ever interested in the first place ^^). What you see below is step two, where I write a short synopsis to plan out the episodes. It's balanced for story content and length. Note that humor has not generally been planned at this stage, I normally have a couple of moments in mind and let that gags work spontaneously as the scene unfolds, so to speak… I don't like planning humor as it can seem forced on occasion. :-)
Also a reminder that this is 'rough' and not a polished work, some bits are quite detailed and others are very basically described, depending on the importance I place on the scene, and what you need to 'visualize' the scene.
This is for all the people who were hanging to see how it would end… I hope you get something out of it ^^
So without further hesitation, here it Episode 12 - 20
Episode 12 Exotic dangers.
Our heroes Mai, Zuko, Aang, Katara, Sokka, Suki and Toph are taking a well earned break on a small Earth-Kingdome tropical island. The group is staying in a picturesque small costal village surrounded by lush tropical forests next to a stunning white sandy coast. The group enjoys some time together swimming and playing different sport, though Toph gets slightly frustrated that the pairs spend so much time cuddling. Toph takes great pleasure in sabotaging these 'moments' when she can (particularly poor Sokka and Suki).
The others get their revenge somewhat when one of the local boys (a highly skilled non-bender) becomes slightly smitten with Toph after seeing her unusual eyes (thanks to Sokka buying her a hairclip after complaining that he can't see her expressions when he talks to her).
Toph can 'feel' the attraction of the boy through her earthbending, which makes her blush and become clumsy and momentarily uncharacteristically shy on several occasions as they meet throughout the episode (becoming easily flustered). The boy is not a rebel but a kind, very confident and helpful youth who is well liked by all in the villagers.
All is not rosy for long, however, as a blatantly sexist local innkeeper helps to spark a bit of hostility between the pairs during lunch. Sokka and Zuko manage to put their foot right in it while responding to the innkeeper's old fashioned mentality. (Aang only digs the hole further due to a misunderstanding about the value of upholding traditions). Toph is unaffected by the bickering in the background as she is distracted for the moment as the boy from before delivers some supplies to the kitchen as a 'favor' to the chef. The boy is obviously also uncharacteristically clumsy as he tries to strike up a conversation, and is teased with good humor by the chef. Thankfully for the two embarrassed youths, the boy is called away. Toph deliberately lifts her feet from the ground, 'blinding her' from the feelings of those around her as she turns crimson.
That night, Momo encounters a mischievous looking spirit shadow in the early hours. He is chased by it, manages to spread havoc throughout the small village and waking everyone up.
Aang saves the Lamour and the spirit flees.
It turns out that the small animal-shape-shifting mischief spirit has been tormenting the village for a while. There used to be a ritual where the young male earth-benders of the village would test themselves against the spirit by chasing it in a race through the jungle to the top of a mountain until someone caught it (something that kept the spirit happy and at bay if the ritual was done once a year). However with so many young men 'gone' in the war there has been no-one to catch it for a while so the board spirit has been playing destructive jokes which are becoming more and more troublesome.
This is the perfect opportunity for the still slightly peeved girls (minus Toph) to show up the boy's, and Katara suggests that the pairs split into two groups, girls vs boys, in a contest to see who can catch the spirit first.
The next day, it turns out that the boy who likes Toph has been training to do the race against the spirit (despite being a non-bender) and accompanies the two groups to the starting point of the 'race' near the coast. He shows them the complex ritual needed to summon the spirit to the 'start' of the race.
Toph decides to 'watch' from the starting point, not believing that either will catch the spirit the first time.
What follows is some exciting chase scenes as the girls and the boys use all their bending and non bending skills to chase down the spirit. However the two groups spend as much time sabotaging each other as trying to catch the spirit, and the chase usually ends with some or all for the two chasing groups being comically catapulted back to the ocean near the starting point. (The spirit's favored booby-trap is a rope tied to a highly sprung palm tree.)
During three different attempts by the two groups to catch the spirit (heard somewhat in the background) Toph and the boy talk and bond a bit. It turns out that the boy has been training to do the race despite not being a bender. He says that the village elders don't allowing non-benders into the race due to the perceived danger. Toph encourages him, saying that she was also always told not to do things because others felt it was too dangerous for her. (Note: Toph has not gone soft, she gets flustered and aggressive on occasion to counter her shyness.)
After the third failed attempt by the two groups, Toph and the boy decide to head out the third time after the two groups have gone. Toph and the boy race through the thick and marshy tropical forest. Toph has trouble navigating and earth bending through the thick marshy jungle, but doesn't let on. The boy travels through the trees and is even faster then Toph.
The other two groups are at it again, hindering each other. Toph and the boy have made good time and are in a position to intercept the fleeing spirit. The spirit can sense how Toph sees and hinders her vision, making it necessary for the boy to save Toph in some sticky situations. The two use their own trick to surprise the spirit using bending and non-bending combined in a clever ambush, catching the spirit.
That night the locals are holding a celebration for Toph and her friend.
Katara, Sokka, Zuko, Aang, Suki and Mai are all sulking about being beaten. However, it is shown in the background how the newly appeared wife of the sexist innkeeper actually has the control of that relationship, and that often female benders completed the race (the sexist innkeeper is putt in his place ^^). Some wise words from Aang quickly diffuse the situation among the smoldering couples, so that the three pairs are soon laughing about the misunderstanding. Soon all are dancing together happily.
Meanwhile, Toph and the boy take a walk on the moonlit beach alone, taking a seat to enjoy the sound of waves lapping against the shore and the feel of the soft warm sand in the warm night. It turns out that Toph and the others are leaving in the morning and both are saddened. They exchange a few kind (slightly awkward) words and Toph gets her first kiss much to her own surprise. She returns the kiss for a few sweet seconds but then shoves the boy to the ground. With a shrewd smile the boy apologizes, saying it was her own fault for encouraging him to take risks. Toph simply smiles back and offers him a hand, saying they should return to the party and that the boy should be careful not to bit off more then he can chew. The boy accepts the hand up with a smile and good humor. The two continue to hold hands for a few moments as they walk back.
The last scene is Sokka sneaking up behind Suki who is standing on an outside railing of their ship enjoying the view. The two cuddle but freeze when Toph comes innocently wondering around the corner, running into the two. Sokka becomes over fearful and plays over innocent. Toph simply smiles and tells them its ok, saying what a lovely day it is before walking on, whistling to herself. Sokka looks dumbfounded, but Suki has a knowing smile on her face.
(Note: Toph and Aang are just a smidge taller compared to the others in this episode.)
Episode 13 Return to the northern air temple.
The group has split up and Aang, Toph, Katara, Sokka and Suki make their way to the northern air temple to meet up with the Airnomad students that Aang sent ahead.
The group is met by the mechanic, Teo, Perl and the young master herdsman. (Sky-bison from the rescued last herd fly around happily in the background.)
The Airnomad students have settled into the 'Airnomad' part of the Temple. The mechanic specifically moved some of the former refugees to give the Airnomads more room, and quiet.
Aang starts to train the students while his friends help rebuild part of the temple to its former glory, Teo enthusiastically takes part in the lessons as best he can.
Over in the Firenation capital, some time has passed and Iroh, Mai and Zuko are bogged down in politics and endless meetings (The Shoggo clan has had a major setback but is still active).
Ursa is there as well after helping resettle her fellow captives for the last few months, and wants to see Azula, but Zuko is against it. Mai tells Ursa that Ty-Lee will soon be there and that they will go together. (Mai and Ursa assist Zuko where they can).
Back over with Aang, training is going well, though Teo is having no luck… and this despite Aang seeing in his aura that he has the right spirit. Aang also reveals to Toph, Katara, Sokka and Suki that he is worried about his teaching abilities and returning the Airnomad culture to what it once was. Sokka dismisses him, saying that he is a master. Aang retorts that he barely finished being a student, and there is a lot more to teaching the way's of his people then what he learnt to become a master (he gives the example of not even knowing that half the Airnomads were from non-airbending parents). Aang also complains about the influence of the refugees (noticeable in the background). Katara sooths him by saying that the world continues to change, and so would his culture have, had it still been around during the last 100 years. The important thing is to always improve on what you have, and not to aim for some perceived perfect 'stagnant' point in the past.
(This is emphasized when Sokka points out that Toph has had a growth spurt and is now noticeably taller then Aang), as well as Aang's voice showing the first signs of cracking throughout the episode.
Aang accepts the arguments after a while, but still states his desire to find a copy of the sacred documents of his people, as mentioned in the episode "the cliff herder". The others can't help but agree, considering the amount of important information Aang was never taught.
Back over in the Firenation, Ursa, Ty-Lee and Mai visit Azula. The meeting is tense and awkward. Despite not having approval from the Firelord, Mai gains access for the three, but the guards refuse to unchain Azula from her restraints as she is too dangerous, and they fear Zuko's reaction if anything were to go wrong.
Azula's emotions swing wildly, with nasty accusations that they all abandoned her. Ursa is caring but stern which doesn't quite have the desired effect as Azula is too angry. Ty-Lee's attempts to grovel come to naught. Mai outright verbally attacks Azula and accuses her of brining these circumstances onto herself. Azula and Mai exchange some sharp words and with the help of Ursa, Azula is 'tricked' into admitting to herself that she had an option to do things differently.
Azula is furious at her conflicting emotions caused by the obvious concern of her friends and mother and tries to physically attack the three. This causes the scared guards to urge the visitors to leave. Ursa defies the guards and moves closer to Azula, effectively giving her daughter the chance to strike her with weak fire bending. Azula prepares to strike but can't follow through, collapsing again and sobbing uncontrollably. Ursa is able to tenderly touch Azula's face, saying they will come back before she is hastily removed by the scared guards.
Back over with Aang, he continues to teach the group.
At the end of the day's lesson he consoles Teo at still not being able to air-bend.
Aang has a quiet word with the Mechanic about his son, saying he doesn't know why he can't bend yet. Aang thinks that 'light footed' air-bending is very heavily dependent on the rigorous techniques which unfortunately require a lot of legwork, something that may be hindering the wheelchair bound Teo. Aang states his desire to find the sacred texts if only to hopefully find some new techniques to help Teo.
As if on queue, a Firenation messenger arrives with a report for Aang from Zuko. It gives detailed information regarding the recent history of Toll-Pi (where the deceased Master cliff herder said the daughter of the last Airbending master-of-ceremonies was meant to have been). Of particular interest to Aang is the reports of a vengeful 'Airspirit' that has continually plagued the former occupational forces over the last few years… and still does so to this day, despite the end of the war. Aang thinks he has a lead.
The last scene is with Mai and Zuko. Zuko is unpleased that Mai went behind his back, but Mai is able to convince Zuko that it was necessary. Zuko again states his belief that Azula is not to be trusted. Mai says he has been jaded by his experience. Zuko is gruff, but a few soothing words from Mai swings him. Zuko admits that the political situation is very tense because of all the high level family members mixed up with the defeated and dismantled Black-fire army. He just doesn't want another distraction to worry about. Mai soothes him and the two enjoy a moment away from the troubles of their lives.
Episode 14 The enemy within.
Aang, Katara, Toph, Sokka and Suki are preparing to head off on Appa to go visit Toll-Pi to gather information about the lost air bender's daughter (who should be about 80 years old now, if she is even still alive). Some time has passed since the last episode (it is mid to late summer). Aang is taller again and so is Toph. Aang's voice has cracked and he and Toph look more mature. Sokka and Katara have also continued to grow a bit, but not as noticeably as Aang and Toph.
Teo sees them off and Aang has to consol him about still not being able to airbend. Aang advises him to perhaps spend more time with the young master herdsman, as being with the sky-bison might inspire him.
The students are given set lessons to do until Aang's return. They are currently practicing their air glider flying (which can be seen in the background)
Over in the Firenation, Ursa is sitting with Azula in a small isolated compound with very high walls. Azula obviously has no chance of escape. Azula is unchained and visibly still a mess, but a lot better then the first meeting. Ursa talks to her about their family history. Azula is simply quiet and listens. (It is clear Ursa, Mai and Ty-Lee have visited in turns regularly). At the end, Azula remains quiet and flinches only a bit at Ursa's physical contact as she says goodbye. A single tear roles down Azula's face after her mother has left, but otherwise her expression is still dark and tense.
In another part of the prison, Ozai gets a visit from a guard bringing him food, Ozai seems to recognize the guard but doesn't let on. Ozai finds a note hidden in the food. And smiles after reading it… suddenly Ursa appears, it is her first visit. Ozai is his normal cool self. There is little love-loss between the two. It is obvious that there was never much love there. Ursa warns him not to contact Azula. Ozai jokes that he should take her seriously, as Ursa follows through on her threats, and that without his fire bending he would be unlikely to survive a direct attack. Ursa comments that you don't need to be able to element bend to be dangerous, at which point Ozai says that he would have to agree, smiling devilishly… Ursa leaves him without a further word.
Zuko is in a meeting with members of high ranking noble families, the Shoggo clan is also present. There are some harsh words exchanged between different nobleman and Iroh regarding some former Black-Fire army members. Zuko stands firm on the processes that are in place and adjourns the meeting. Many of the nobles are obviously angered at not getting special treatment. The Shoggo clan smiles at the development.
In a side chamber; Iroh, Zuko and Mai stop to talk. Zuko is frustrated, knowing that the Shoggo clan is not yet defeated, and that the ruling noble families are still split in their loyalties. Zuko is worried that the Shoggo clan is still planning something. Mai confirms that her sources indicate that the nobles are polarizing regarding their loyalties, but that hostility will die out with time. Iroh agrees, saying that the Shoggo clan has limited time to organize anything… all agree that they are not sure what that is, but should gather as much information as possible.
Aang and the others are in Toll-Pi. Aang is convinced that the mystery Airspirit is the key to finding the missing Airbender's daughter and decides to gather information on everything surrounding 'him'.
Unbeknown to the group they are being watched by a shadowy figure, obviously fascinated by Aang's Airnomad clothes. All we can see is the shadowy outline of a young man, just enough to make out his expression, but not revealing his facial details.
Toll-Pi is still under Firenation administration for the time being and there is a mix of Firenation and Earthkingdome citizens. Aang soon finds out that the 'Airspirit' has a history of attacking Firenation patrols and soldiers. Aang visits the local military headquarters in town which seems to irritate the shadowy follower, particularly after Aang shows respect to the Firenation officers.
Aang decides to head into the mountains where the attacks most often happen (an area no longer patrolled).
On the way back to Appa, some fire nation children ask Aang (recognizing him) for a fire show (as one betted the other that the Avatar would beat the local firebending showman). A small crowd gathers and Aang happily obliges, putting on a great show.
Seeing this, the shadow figure becomes more upset and appears to come to a decision.
Back with Ozai in his cell, he has completed a note of his own. The guard from before takes the message with the tray when he returns… also quietly calling Ozai the 'Phoenix King'. Ozai smiles.
In Azula's cell, Azula is unchained and is looking out the small bared window. A small 'cute' package from Ty-Lee is nearby, with some fresh flowers. Azule is twirling a single flower between her fingers… her grimace breaks slightly into a smile… but only for a moment.
Aang and the others are traveling on Appa. They descend to an abandoned outpost. Once on the ground the Airspirit appears, swooping low over the group in a less then friendly manner. (Aang has to save Toph from decapitation as she can't spot the flying target). The Airspirit uses a glider similar to Aangs, but the glider looks elaborate and the pilot is costumed and looks the part of a spirit. The unknown pilot carries an ornamental sword and leaves a misty smoke trail, which also partially obscures him as he flies, adding to the spirit image.
Aang shouts out to the spirit, saying that he is the Avatar and a fellow airbender. The Airspirit attacks the group, this time with his sword out, going for the kill. Katara and Suki defend Toph and the bewildered Aang, while Sokka tries to counterattack, without much success.
Aang is totally confused. Aang shrugs off Katara and takes to the air on his own glider, trying to get close to the airborne attacker. The Airspirit attacks and the two have a one sided dogfight. Aang simply tries to evade while shouting to the other pilot. Eventually Aang is forced to crash near the group and Katara and Suki save him. Katara hits the Airspirit's glider with some ice shards, causing the Airspirit to retreat.
Aang is visibly shaken, Sokka suggests they head back to town and try for another lead to find the missing daughter of the Airnomad master of ceremonies. Aang reluctantly agrees.
End of episode.
Episode 15 Lost friends & foes.
Iroh and Zuko are walking alone around the abandoned Sun-warrior temples (a large airship can be seen far in the background). The two can't find anyone and decide to wait.
It is night and the two are sitting around a small fire on top of a temple discussing the problems of the Firenation and also Azula and Ozai. Both agree that the two are still dangerous. Out of the dark, the Sunwarrior chief and a few of his men appear to informally join the two, as if they had been expected. Zuko and Iroh ask for permission to introduce some old Sunwarrior traditions back into the Firenation (in an attempt to steer the aggressive culture of the Firenation back to its more passive roots). The chief reluctantly agrees, but worries that the increased interest would encourage people to snoop around here. Zuko agrees that the dragons are not easy to keep hidden, and states his sorrow that there are only two left. The chief smiles shrewdly, saying there are a critical small number of others also left (protected by the Sunwarriors). He also says that many eggs (the orb Zuko thought was a gold item (that seemed alive)) can be hatched at any time (they have the ability to remain dormant for a long long…. long time) but that the time was still not right. Zuko has the idea of turning the island into a conservation area that is off limits, as dragons have been found there (which will become protected on punishment of death). The Sunwarriors agree, and asks that Zuko makes sure that he tries to keep as many people off the island as possible, and that the decision to show themselves again to the world (if they chose too) remains the choice of the Sunwarriors. Zuko and Iroh agree.
Meanwhile, Azula is walking with a few very nervous looking guards along an open-roof walkway with high walls.
Azula looks even better then before and more stable, just tired and broken. The guards tell her that she is lucky that Mai has pushed so hard to allow her some time in the garden area. But the guards warn her that Yu-Yang archers are patrolling the walls and have orders to take 'any' measure necessary if she were to try anything.
Azula looks up at the blue sky high above and a small smile crosses her lips. There is some issue and the guards have to leave her for a moment alone in the long corridor. Azula is suddenly shocked to here the voice of her father coming from a low bared window near the ground.
Azula immediately has a relapse and looks scared and emotionally unstable. She acknowledges her father and pulls herself together as best she can to keep her voice stable, though she looks terrible. Ozai informs her that a plan is afoot and that she should be prepared to act fast and ruthlessly when the signal comes. He says she should 'act' as he knows she is capable of. Azula looks even more scared but acknowledges her agreement automatically. Ozai doesn't see her expression so assumes she is with him 100%. He compliments her and says that their revenge will soon be at hand. Azula looks torn but follows her father loyally, almost as an automatic reaction.
The guards return and Azula looks much worse then before (obviously mentally torn), simply following the guards like a zombie.
Meanwhile, over with Aang, he and his group are back in Toll-Pi. They try to gather information from older residence regarding what went on during the time that the last Airbeinding siblings and the Firnation husband of the master of ceremonies were on the run from the Firenation authorities, almost 90 years ago.
For the Earthkingdome citizens it is a great tail of romance and sacrifice, unfortunately with an unhappy ending. (Flashback involved).
Aang also asks an older Firenation citizen who is a bit embarrassed to have to admit that the Firenation version the story is of the successful hunting down of one of the Firenations best known traitors who was bewitched by the last Airnomad witch. Both stories indicate that the Firenation / Airnomad pair died childless.
The group musses about how history changes depending on the observer, and how you should always be careful about information you are 'told', even if it is from people you know.
Aang is a little lost but then uses his training regarding auras and personality traits (which he learnt from the guru) to try and pinpoint someone who's aura would have been likely to have risked taking in the Airnomad orphan. Aang also asks about people who would have had Airnomad personality traits and were in the right age group. A kind old Firenation man who used to be a soldier has a good memory for people and slowly an image emerges of a strange but sweet old woman and a young girl all those years ago…
Meanwhile, Ursa is once again visiting Azula, who is once again nervous and more unstable. Ursa is a little surprised when Azula opens up to her a bit after some tender words… Ursa sees a bit of Azula's good side but when pressed… Azula shuts down, unwilling even remotely to betray her father (seemingly out of fear as well as other reasons.) The only thing that Ursa can get from her is that she suddenly really wants to get out of this prison, (to anywhere else, she doesn't care where) something she has never directly stated before. Ursa looks concerned.
Aang and the others gather more information about the history of the old woman and the young girl. He is told that they used to live close to the village and would often leave for some unknown destination for some time.
The young girl grew up and never married, but apparently had a child of her own, a daughter. The old woman died and the girl she brought up moved further away from town with her daughter. They moved into the mountains in the direction where Aang was recently attacked by the Airspirit, only a few valleys over. After a bit more digging around the group finds out that the suspected 'granddaughter of the last master of ceremonies' is also rumored to have had children to an earthbending father, twins, a boy and a girl who should be in their late teens by now. Aang has directions, and believes he has the right lead. The group of youths makes to head out. Aang is so confident that he sends a message back to the northern airtemple, requesting that the young master-herdsman flies over with another sky-bison to help transport the family and scrolls when they find them.
Ursa is talking to Mai regarding Azula. The two express their concern for Azula and complain that Zuko is too inflexible on the matter. Mai plays devils-advocate and the two are not too angry at Zuko in the end, but still disappointed about Azula. The conversation moves on to Zuko's and Iroh's travels away to an unknown destination. Mai says that Zuko was being evasive but that they have just returned and are talking in another room in the palace at the moment, possibly about where they where. Ursa suddenly states that she knows about a way to hear what they are saying from a secret room only she knows about. Ursa states that sometimes it is necessary to even spy on loved ones, if it is for their own good. Mai is a little shocked but smiles cunningly, liking the idea.
The two women arrive just in time to overhear Iroh and Zuko talking about their experience with the 'masters' (Particularly regarding the influence it had on them gaining a new philosophy on life, and how neither thought that they were worthy at the time to receive the incites that the 'masters' gave)… Mai and Ursa are a little shocked, neither having been told… but after listening in for a while, Ursa suddenly seems to have come to a decision. (She never hears that the masters are dragons, only that they can look into your soul and if they deem you worthy, they give you incite, if not, they kill you.
End of episode.
Episode 16 The last Masters.
The episode starts in a small Firenation village in the middle of the night. Some shadowy figures are placing barrels near an official looking building, after they run off the barrels explode, demolish a part of the structure.
The scene changes to a busy harbor during the day, again an explosion at a barracks occurs, this time followed by general panic and shouting. A few more scenes of a terror campaign (including kidnapping) indicate not all is well in the Firenation.
The scene changes to Mai and Ty-Lee catching up. Ty-Lee has taken some time out from the Kyoshi warriors to assist in the Firenation. The two friend's embrace and Mai is noticeably more affectionate then usual (at least for her). Ty-Lee asks about the latest news. Mai explains that there have been numerous attacks (bombings) and kidnappings which are destabilizing the Firenation.
The two are interrupted by Ursa who abruptly enters the room, obviously angry at Zuko. Ty-Lee is a little taken aback, but Ursa quickly calms, greeting her. Mai asks what is wrong. Ursa says that she suspects that someone has been getting to Azula (she suspects Ozai) and is causing her to regress.
(Ursa has a flashback to her last meeting with her daughter… Azula is looking worse again and suddenly interrupts her mother to ask if she was ever proud of her. Ursa thinks about this and recalls a scene where a young Azula is secretly practicing firebending. Azula is playing with the flames making nice artistic swirls and forms, obviously just enjoying the show. Ursa walks in on her accidentally and Azula tries to hide what she did. Ursa, however, praises her for once, saying that she really is a talented firebender and it's nice to see her using it for something so artistic, and encourages her to do more. The young Azula is proud as punch, and promptly continues, (this causes the Azula in the 'present' to smile)… however, Azula then remembers how she continued with more gusto, only 'this time' to be interrupted by her father, who doesn't praise her, but scolds her for wasting her time on such showmanship, saying she should focus on combat training. The cause the 'present' Azula to frown and shudders a bit… Ursa assures her that she was only ever disappointed with Azula when she followed her father's path, unfortunately that side showed itself more and more in Azulas desire to be the best, but that didn't mean that Ursa loved Azula any less then Zuko. End flashback from Ursa).
Back with Mai and Ty-Lee, Ursa continues, saying that she recently asked Zuko to transfer Azula away. Zuko refused, saying he can't spare the guards given the current terror campaign and refusing Ursa assurances that Azula is not such a big danger anymore.
Mai has sympathy for Zuko's decision, explaining that he is only looking out for the interests of the Firenation people, and his loyalty to them still sits higher then to his sister… which Mai says Ursa can't blame him for, given the history of the two siblings. Ursa is a little annoyed until Mai indicates that she can also see Ursa's point of view, but at the end of the day its Zuko's that counts. Mai says that she will have a talk with Zuko.
Aang and the gang make their way to the people Aang suspects of being of Airnomad descendants. Their family is in a remote valley close to where the Airspirit attacks are most frequent. The gang is weary, and it's obvious they are being watched by someone who can airbend… though the viewer can't see who it is.
Katara asks what approach Aang will use to convince the descendents to come forward, as she suspects them to be reluctant, just like the nomads of the high plains. Aang indicates he will be honest and straight forward, as obviously deception and lies has poisoned the mind of the one air bender who he had fought recently as the Airspirit.
The group arrives at a small farm in a large isolated valley. They are met by a teenage girl who is doing chores. Aang reads her aura and smiles; she is very close to full Airnomad color, if a little weak.
She seems friendly enough and asks what she can do for them (seemingly not recognizing Aang's robes as anything special). Aang comes straight out and says he is the Avatar, and has come to ask a request from the head of the house and the whole girl is taken aback, but shows the group inside.
Inside, Aang is looking at the Aura of the three people (three generations of woman) who are sitting in front of him, each has a high degree of Airnomad color present, though all very weakly, as if they were not benders. They also appear to have a little of Firenation (all three) and Earthkingdome (the youngest). Aang turns as one more figure steps into the room, this one has a skewed aura, very bright but swirling red and Airnomad yellow. Aang blinks out of his aura-vision to reveal a teenage boy.
The boy is introduced as Zaak, and he does not look happy to see Aang. Aang wastes no further time, saying that he is the Avatar. To prove this without a doubt he quickly transfers into the avatar state and generates a small wind/fire/water and earth ball in the palm of his hand.
The women seem to be impressed, but before they can say anything the boy interrupts asking what Aang wants, if he really is the Avatar, as he claims. Aang looks a little peeved.
(In preparation for what he is about to say, Aang asks Toph to put her feet on the ground, something Zaak notices)
Aang states honestly about how the old master herdsman told him of an Airbending girl who survived the extermination of the Airnomads all those years ago… and how he believes that the dissidence of that girl are the people sitting in front of him. The women all look a little shocked at the notion, the boy, however, remains impassive.
The older woman apologizes but says that they are not Airnomads, and that her parents were Earthkingdome refugee. Aang knows this routine of denial and states reassureidly that the war is over and that it is safe for them to come out of hiding. He is a little shocked when Toph confirms that the three women are not lying, the boy deliberately backs away from Toph a bit and says nothing.
Aang asks them about their history, saying that they all have Airnomad auras and that they must be the people he is searching for. The old woman kindly tells the story of being taken in as a baby by a kind old healer after her parents were killed, but never stating anything about Airnomads…
Aang and the others are totally defeated, not expecting this to happen. The boy says that they should leave, wanting to get rid of them. But to his great annoyance his mother offers for the kids to spend the night, as it is getting late. The boy protests, but Aang quickly accepts the invitation. He secretly says to Katara that he wants to ask some more questions, unsure of what is going on, but almost certain that the boy is the Airspirit he fought with.
Mai is talking to Zuko about Azula. Zuko is annoyed about the topic, dismissing his sister as a luxury he can't afford to bother about. He indicates to a desk overflowing with scrolls and maps. The Firenation is under siege, from the inside, everywhere there is sabotage and attacks, the people are becoming fearful. Zuko is sickened that he can't protect all of his people and furious that the Shoggo clan are still out-maneuvering him (having now seemingly disappeared on the eve of their official arrest), but he has a plan to trap them and needs all his energy on that.
Mai sees his distress and asks how she can help, surely there is a mission that she and Ty-Lee could undertake. Zuko is grateful, but reluctantly declines, saying that as the future queen (something that makes Mai blush!) she is a target for kidnapping, and so is Ty-Lee, and his mother… It would help him the most if she just stayed somewhere safe. Mai is angered by this, as she doesn't think she needs the protection and definitely not the restriction. A tense and stressed Zuko gets angry, but then calms saying that if she really wants to help him she will just keep herself safe… he doesn't need something else to worry about. Mai is still annoyed but sees the sincerity in the eyes, so reluctantly agrees.
Mai goes back to Ursa and Ty-Lee to tell them what happened. Ty-Lee is also angry that she came back just to 'sit around'. Ursa, however, says she has a great way for them to 'stay out of harms way' and also help Azula. Mai asks how and Ursa reminds her of what they overheard Zuko and Iroh talking about… the Sunwarriors. Mai looks intrigued. Ursa admits she feels that the chance to save Azula is slipping away, and more drastic action is necessary.
Over with Aang, the gang is having dinner with the entire family. Aang talks freely how he has found other airbenders and sky-bison. Zaak, however, continually turns the conversation to how the Firenation are still occupying the area and how the Firenation has never properly been punished for what they did 100 years ago. Aang finds himself defending the current Firenation rulers but Zaak will not be consoled, pressing the point continuously. He has a real hatred of the Firenation it seems. Soon the conversation twists again and Zaak directly attacks Aang for being a coward and a traitor to his people for not bringing about the destruction for the Firenation, the young man then promptly storms out. Aang is fuming, but is able to control himself thanks to help from Katara. Zaak's family apologies for the young man, saying he has never forgiven the Firenation for killing his Earthbending father during an uprising many years ago.
Suki apologize on behalf of the group for bringing the disruption to the household. Katara mentioning that they only hoped to find the master of ceremony manuscripts because they were so important to the survival of the Airnomad culture.
This causes the three women to flinch at the mention of 'manuscripts'… Both Toph and Aang notice the reaction, Aang smiles confidently, suddenly a smile is back on his face.
End of episode.
Episode 17 Fracture
Mai, Ty-Lee and Ursa are standing just inside of the main gates to the Firenation prison, near them is a bewildered but quiet Azula (it is morning). They are also accompanied by a very nervous looking warden, who is noticeably agitated. The make it past the last checkpoint and the warden escorts them to their waiting large airship. He warns them that their actions will have consequences, to which Ursa simply says she hopes so. Mai thanks him for his cooperation and regrets the necessary use of threats. Mai she is happy that he at least could see sense and recognized their determination, unlike the Yu Yang archers stationed outside Azula's cell, (a quick scene shows four archers either pinned against walls or incapacitated from Ty-Lee). Mai says that they need one day's heads-start before the information is passed on to Zuko. A threatening look from all three women is enough to get the warden to reluctantly agree under duress. He says that he will report Azula missing as part of his next normal report, despite the difficulty of covering up the Yu-Yang archer incident and the trouble he knows he is going to get into. This gets him three sweet smiles, something the warden shrugs off in seeming defeat, knowing he is doomed either way.
Over with Aang, he and the gang are having breakfast with the family.
Zaak enters the kitchen. It is obviously the first time he has returned since storming out the night before. He is still agitated and annoyed that they are still there.
Again he starts an argument with Aang regarding the Avatar's inability to enact sufficient revenge against the Firenation. Aang tries to stay calm but then the old woman asks the youngsters to leave for a moment so that the family can talk.
Outside, Aang and the others reveal that they think that the family is on the brink of revealing something, even if the women themselves are unsure of what it is they are meant to be revealing. The group can hear the muffled sound of heated discussion coming from inside. Katara speculates that the Airnomad descendents were probably never told what the books were, to keep the books and the descendents safe from hunting Firenation patrols and tricksters. Aang agrees, saying he is now almost certain that Zaak is the Airspirit he fought.
(They flashback to the night before, Aang recognizes some Airnomad artifacts as part of the household, though the women don't recognize them as such, simply having always believed them to be from another part of the Earthkingdome. End flashback)
Aang tells the others how they will have to be careful how they act, because even if the family still has the scrolls, guaranteeing that they hand them over is far from sure. Importantly, the woman have agreed to let them stay for a day or two, fascinated by Aang's insistence that they are descended from Airnomads the night before. He uses examples of their different cultural behavior to other Earthkingdome citizens, something the women attributed to regional differences taught to them by the old woman to honor her dead parents.
Aang says the Katara, Sokka, Suki and Toph should keep an eye on Zaak while he tries to convince the women.
Over with Zuko, he, Iroh and Master Piandao are inspecting a burnt-out building close to a smoldering barracks (obviously in a town far away from the capital).
Zuko kicks at the rubble, obviously flustered at the cowardly tactics of the traitors. They discuss the unstable situation and how there has been a spate of desertions recently from the ranks of the normal Firenation army. Iroh feels a coup attempt is coming, but admits that he doesn't know where to strike. Zuko's loyal forces are stretched thin in an attempt to prevent further attacks. The Firelord only has a small mobile strike force around him to send to any potential uprising. Zuko is unfazed, saying that he doesn't care about the circumstances of the fight, the enemy should just show itself so that he can face them and 'finish it' once and for all.
Zuko picks up a burnt dole from the ruble, indicating civilian casualties, which is obviously the root of Zuko's frustration. Iroh and Master Piandau are also obviously upset about the notion. Iroh says darkly that he has a lead… Zuko doesn't hesitate to approve action, obviously personally led by him, the three men walk away with determination written all over their faces.
Azula, Ursa, Mai and Ty-Lee are seen walking along ancient road. Ahead of them are the Sunwarrior ruins, a long way behind them is the waiting large airship. They are obviously traveling alone.
Azula asks what they are doing. Ursa says they are simply spending some time alone together to help Azula. There is someone Ursa would like Azula to meet. Azula seems to dismiss the idea, though she stays quiet. Mai, Ty-Lee and Ursa agree that they should proceed carefully and have a look around. Mai and Ty-Lee head out, obviously scouting, while Ursa prepares camp with the help of a reluctant Azula, who does start to help after a sigh to herself…
Aang has a series of 'moments' with the three women of the family, smoothly painting the picture that they really are Airnomad descendents and hinting towards documents. The women are obviously still torn, and beat-around-the-bush on the issue of documents… seemingly wanting a justification to renege on an oath they all share… They also let slip about 'forbidden knowledge' of some kind or another.
In the meantime, Katara, Toph, Sokka and Suki do some chores that need doing while keeping an eye on Zaak, humorously trying to keep him away form his family when Aang is 'working' on them.
It is night and Mai and Ty-Lee have returned to the sheltered camp, the fire is deliberately lit so as not to give away their position (something Ursa says she learnt while on the prison island. She has been telling Azula about her time there, which seemed to interest Azula quite a bit.).
Mai and Ty-Lee report on having seen some Sunwarrior people and having overheard a reference to the 'masters'. Mai was able to shadow a small group, and knows the location of the master's cave, far away from the Sunwarrior settlement. Ursa nods with determination, saying that they will head out this very night to avoid the chance of being detected before having the opportunity to meet the masters.
Over with Aang, it is dinner time again and after a whole day of subtle persuasion the women are about the crack. Zaak protests when it looks that they are about to reveal something. In the quick heated exchange that follows he seemingly admits to being the Airspirit, something that shocks Zaak's family, as it indicates he read the documents despite his oath not to.
An abrupt scene change sees Zuko, Iroh and soldiers sneaking up on a large camp. They attack, only to find the camp deserted. Zuko is furious, saying the information was a diversion. To emphasize the point there is a distant explosion from the hill where the prison is someway off. Iroh simply says "Ozai", while Zuko says "Azula" there is obviously a large attack on the prison going down to free Ozai. (Zuko doesn't know that Azula is with the other women.)
The last scene is with Ursa and Azula at the base of the stairs up to the master's caves.
Nearby, two Sunwarrior guards are incapacitated. Mai and Ty-Lee are keeping watch.
Azula asks what Ursa wants to accomplish. Ursa admits that she honestly doesn't know, but is willing to try for her daughter's sake. Azula laughs awkwardly, (not really manically but in irony)… Azula still looks tired, but seems genuinely interested as to what it could be that is so important. Ursa warns her that the masters will look into her soul, and that Azula's life, and probably Ursas life, will be on the line. Azul looks a little shocked, but then seems to succumb to some form of inevitability (also not really believing the threat).
The two woman start to walk up the stairs, the sun is just beginning to rise. From the caves comes an ominous rumble.
Episode 18 Divide and conquer.
Azula and Ursa are at the top of the stairs between the two caves… again there is a rumbling from only the one cave. Ursa tells Azula that she has to present a flame to the masters as tribute (something she overheard Zuko say). Azula is a little worried at the rumbling, which causes the earth to shake. Azula says that her soul is not good enough, and that she is unsure about her ability to produce a decent stable flame.
Ursa says that she will 'stand by her' come what may, and that she has every confidence in her daughter's ability… and soul.
With a kind hand from her mother on her shoulder, Azula takes a deep breath. She concentrates for a second then extends both hands producing a stable blue, and also a stable red flame, before bowing respectfully (seemingly on instinct producing the appropriate two colors)
Down below, one of the guards who are pinned to the wall, comes too. It is the same naysayer who was present when Zuko and Aang were there. He see's the two women up above and laughs, saying that they will surely be killed. Mai and Ty-Lee scold him, saying that Azula is quite capable of protecting herself if need be. He laughs again, saying that they obviously don't know 'what' the masters are. He shocks the two when he divulges the information a moment later.
Above, a shadow passes by. It is the blue dragon, obviously returning from a night flight.
Azula is shocked, but after a moment's hesitation, continues to produce a stable flame. Ursa is also shocked, but quickly regains her composure, also telling Azula to keep calm. The blue dragon lets out a might roar, this is soon followed by a reply from the cave. Soon the red dragon emerges slowly, staring intently at the two women and down towards the very worried Ty-Lee and Mai.
The blue dragon begins to swoop around the two women on the platform while the red one fully immerges, simply staring intently at the two while sitting on the one platform.
Ursa bows respectfully and takes a kneeling position close behind the bowing Azula.
The blue dragon begins to circle while the red one continues to stare.
Azula asks what she should do. Her mother says simply, dance. Azula is shocked, but Ursa explains how Azula has to illustrate the beauty of firebeding (she recalls Iroh's words). Ursa says that she should make the fire dance. Azula looks confused. Ursa says that she should do what she did when she was younger, she should make the fire dance, she should let go and be free, happy like she once was.
Azula nods, after a few fumbled beginnings Azula remembers back to the last time she did such a fireshow, it was before her mother left… and was the last time she remembered being happy, truly happy. Seemingly in a trance, Azula starts to swirl and move, her firebending swirls elegantly and with increased style… she subconsciously follows the movements of the blue dragon who is still circling. Azula introduces blue and red flames into the mix, also managing a bit of green, including a nice lightning blast at the end. It is quite an impressive show and even Mai, Ty-Lee and the conscious guard are all impressed. At the end, Azula faces the red dragon, who is still staring. The blue dragon roars again, which is answered by a low growl from the red one, they are obviously communicating with one another.
Azula is a little way away from her mother and has to jump out of the way as the red dragon flicks its long tail at her, causing an explosion of rock. The blue dragon roars in defiance, obviously displeased with the actions of the other dragons, the two snap at each other as the blue dragon flies close by.
The red dragon moves forward towards the fallen Azula, but stops when Ursa moves between the two.
The dragon moves his face close to Ursa and growls menacingly. Ursa stands firm, defiant. However, the blue dragon lands on the platform and growls back, seemingly backing up Ursa. The red dragon looks define then lets out a disrespectful breath of smoke over the two women, turning and heading back into its cave…
Down below with Mai, the guard says he has never seen that before… the two dragons not agreeing. He has heard of the dragons ignoring a person (not eating and also not assisting a candidate) but never fighting each other. He muses that it must mean that Azula is either capable of great evil… or great good… there is simply no middle ground.
Azula gets back up, looking with concern into the face of the blue dragon.
Ursa steps back to give the two room.
The blue dragon lets out a soothing growl, tilting its head a bit and slowly preparing to launch a small flame. Azula seems to know what it wants and launches her blue flame to deflect the dragons flame upwards (having to, otherwise she would have been fried). The two flames merge and the dragon manipulates his breath to generate a kaleidoscope of colors, not as intense or impressive as when it did it with the other dragon… but with a similar effect. Afterwards the dragon promptly disappears into its cave.
Ursa and Azula blink away their surprise.
From down below, Mai calls, saying that they should go.
The two women make to leave, and Azula thanks her mother for standing by her.
Over with Aang and the others, it is morning. The gang is on their own. Aang is boasting about how he convinced the three women to divulge that they have been the keepers of sacred (and secret) documents.
The reason why they did not say so earlier is because they did not know what the documents were. They were told by the old woman who brought up the daughter of the Airnomad mother never to read the documents as the knowledge was dangerous. They were also told to only bring the documents into the open when the Firenation was defeated/destroyed, and to bring them to the Earthknigdom king, as he would know what to do with them.
It is suddenly shown that Teo is also there, having arrived in the morning from Toll-Pi on a sky-bison after finding out where they were. Teo decided to come instead of the young master herdsman as the later had too much to do, and Teo wanted to train with the sky-bison.
Aang continues with his story to Teo, saying that the turning point for convincing the family was when Zaak seemingly admitted to being the airspirit. Zaak apparently tried to deny his slipup but not even his own family believed him anymore, disappointed that he broke his oath and obviously red the manuscripts, learning how to Airbend from the sacred texts. The evidence was mounting and all three women agreed that the documents were probably/definitely the scrolls Aang was looking for. Zaak, disgraced, was outvoted by the others and they agree to head there in the morning (which is perfectly timed, as Teo just arrived).
Back in the present, they are interrupted when the teenage girl suddenly emerges saying that her brother Zaak has gone. Sokka worries that he has gone to do something with the scrolls… The group, including Teo and Zaak's sister, immediately mount-up on the two sky-bison and head out to the hiding spot.
Over with Zuko, he and his men are engaged in a pitch battle in a small abandoned harbor complex. The fighting is intense, and the reason, Ozai, shows himself for a second before making a narrow escape on a Firenation jet-ski with a few assailants. Zuko is furious, and the remaining traitors are quickly dealt with.
Iroh consoles his nephew, saying that it has cost them a lot of men to get Ozai out, and that they will hopefully have a less strong position to do anything. Joeng Joeng also reassures Zuko, saying that they will soon have tracked down the main force. Zuko looks worried, stating that he hopes that they can deal with the rebel army before they can cause too much harm to civilians (behind Zuko, Iroh and Joeng Joeng are also looking worried). Iroh says that the one benefit of all this is that the traitors will have to show their true colors, which means that once they are defeated, all the bad elements of the old system can be removed in one swoop. Zuko nods in grim determination.
Over with Aang, the group has reached the hiding spot, a cave high in the cliffs. There are books and scrolls lying around at the caves entrance, a few being in danger of being blown away.
The group quickly jumps off to pick up the scattered parchments… Zaak's sister says that a lot of scrolls are there, but a few important big volumes are missing. Teo spots the airspirit/Zaak far in the distance with a spyglass, he is obviously carrying something. Before anyone can say anything, Teo gives chase… Aang says that the others should retrieve the document, then come after them on Appa. He displays his glider and follows Teo.
Aang finally catches up with Teo who is spying on the Airspirit Zaak.
Zaak, who has not noticed he is being followed, deposits the books in another cave. He is a little shocked to find Aang and Teo racing towards him when he emerges. Aang says that he should give up the books, saying they are important to the continuation of the Airnomads. Zaak accuses him of convoluting with the enemy, saying he should continue the fight and has no right to pollute the minds of future Airbenders with his 'false' Airbending traditions. (Zaak has obviously lost-it a bit with his hatred of the Firenation.)
Aang says it is irrelevant, he knows where the scrolls are. Zaak then threatens the two, saying that if they are dead, only he can save the Airnomads tradition. Zaak promptly attacks the two. Aang and Zaak have a fierce dogfight, with Teo trying to assist Aang.
Teo gets in a good hit with an airbeinding swish from his sky-bison but is then attacked by Zaak. Aang has to save Teo who can't airbend after being knocked off the sky-bison, despite his life depending on it. Aang sees Zaak going back for the scrolls.
Aang goes into the avatar state and intercepts. Zaak is completely consumed by hate and makes for the scrolls despite Aang's warnings, aiming to destroy the documents. Aang starts an avalanche which covers the mouth of the cave. Zaak, in his arrogance and anger, tries to fly through to get to the cave… but is washed away.
Aang returns to the others on the sky-bison with the injured Teo and the missing manuscripts. The others are just finishing loading up Appa.
The sister cries when hearing of the fate of her brother and is consoled by Suki and Katara. Zaak's sister then seems to be overcome by an air of determination stating that her brother was consumed by hate and that she and her family will now return with Aang, hoping to regain their past that they never knew they had, and follow the right way of the Airbender. Aang agrees.
Teo is obviously crushed that he couldn't Airbend, not even to save his own life… Aang suddenly states that he knows that Teo would find a way to airbend eventually, but considering that an Airbender was lost today he feels obliged to assist right now to make up for the loss to his nation.
Katara is concerned about the danger of soul bending, knowing what Aang has planned. Aang, however, is determined, and soulbends Teo, with similar pyrotechnics involved as with Ozai (and almost the similar destruction of Aangs soul).
The two collapse, Teo recovers first, quickly finding that he can now airbend, much to his delight. Aang however looks terrible. Katara asks him to never do soul bending again. Aang smiles weekly, saying he will consider it. The group make to head off, mission accomplished.
Over in the Firenation capital, it is night, and Zuko is in a rage with his mother, Mai and Ty-Lee. He has obviously found out what has been going on (Iroh is also there). The women explain about their actions and what happen, stating that they promised the two Sunwarrior guards that they would not tell anyone about them, and that they found out about the sunwarrior masters through spying. The women also try and explain what happened with the dragons, also stating what the one guard thought that it meant.
Zuko says that that is the proof that Azula is still too dangerous to be trusted.
Ursa disagrees, saying it is proof that she should be given a chance.
Iroh is interested in the circumstance but agrees with Zuko, the situation is still too dangerous now with the escape of Ozai to take the extra risk with Azula.
Ursa becomes angry at her brother in law. Zuko puts his foot down, saying that it will have to wait until after the current crisis and that is his final decision, the women are to follow his instructions.
The women look defiant but Zuko simply doesn't back down. In exasperation, he show's the immense burden and stress he is under… but doesn't change his position, saying he needs the support of everyone at the moment, he simply doesn't have the energy. Zuko describes a resent disturbing scene which causes the women to cringe, understanding a bit about the burden he is under.
The women look less defiant and Mai quickly moves over, laying her hand on his shoulder and reassuring him that when the chips are down she's by his side, something he should use more literally, instead of locking her away… Zuko seems to get what she is saying. Ty-Lee nods her agreement. Ursa seems torn. Iroh nodes and leaves the room.
Zuko, after tenderly touching Mai's hand, also leaves by the main door. He and his mother share a 'look' on the way by.
Outside, Zuko unexpectedly runs into Azula, who has been sitting patiently.
Azula is quiet and still looking a little worse for where. She can't make eye contact with her brother.
Zuko, annoyed, is about to walk on when he stops, suddenly marching up to his sitting sister. He tells her too look him in the eyes. Something she says weakly that she can't do… there is a heave pause then Zuko says that that got be a good sign… or a bad one, and that is 'precisely' the problem. Zuko pauses for a second, saying a disgruntled and dark 'sorry' under his breath, before turning and striding away. Azula watches him go, her face is confused, her eyes watery, but her mouth defiant, but in what way, it is not clear.
Ursa and Ty-Lee see Azula down to her waiting prison escort in the main compound. Azula thanks them both and asks them to thank Mai. Ursa apologizes and says all will turn out ok. Azula looks up to where she knows Zuko is working, in a brightly lit room overlooking the compound.
From above in the office, Zuko looks over from his overflowing desk out the window, hearing the guards move away. He frowns, turning back to his work. Nearby, Mai is also working on a similarly crowded desk, obviously assisting her boyfriend.
A dark shadow on the city's rooftop watches as Azula's escort drives by. It then disappears into the night.
Episode 19 The nations united
Azula's escorted carriage moves on through the night. It is traveling along an isolated road when it is suddenly attacked. From inside the carriage, Azula can hear that her guards are soon overpowered. No information comes from outside and she becomes scared, demanding to know who is there, and what is going on… all she can hears is whispers. Panicking, she blows the door off the carriage, simply running into the surrounding dark forest (not bothering to look at who the attackers are). She is chased and brought down by a rope with balls on each end, which entangles her feet. She looks fearfully up as shadows move in.
Over with Aang, it is the next day. He has returned to the northern airtemple and Teo is busy showing his airbending off to his proud father.
In the background, Perl and the other Airbending students are showing the three descendents around or inspecting the ceremonial scrolls.
Aang and the others are surprised to find a whole bunch of correspondence from Zuko and Mai waiting for them. Due to being marked top-secret, they were not forwarded or read, simply waiting for Aang's return.
Katara, Sokka, Suki, Toph and Aang are soon on their own reading the documents. They are shocked to hear that the situation has deteriorated so rapidly. Toph says that it is Zuko's own fault for not saying anything at all for so long. In any case, Zuko has requested that they come to the Firenation to assist him ASAP. Katara reads another document from Mai that suggests they bring any reinforcements they can, Mai says in her letter that Zuko won't ask for it, but would accept help from any Whitelotus members or loyal Waterbenders/Earthbenders… Mai believes there are many more people on the traitor's side in the uprising then Zuko would like to admit.
Aang says that they have to move quickly and should split up to gather forces more efficiently. Katara, Sokka and Suki head off to find Master Pakku on Appa, while Aang and Toph head out to find King Bumi on another sky-bison.
It is evening, and Zuko is on the top of a tall tower with Iroh. Mai and Ty-Lee arrive and walk to their side. Zuko is looking out over a rolling countryside. The fort they are in is in the centre of a regional capital. In the distance there is another town, there appears to be a lot of dust in the air, as if a lot of people are moving around on the horizon, possibly an army.
Mai tells the two about the details of Azula's 'escape', apparently the guards were taken out too quickly to know if Azula was actively part of the escape or not, all they do know is that the prison-carriage was violently opened from the inside.
Mai reminds him that the evidence is not conclusive. Zuko asks darkly what his mother thinks, to which Mai replies that she said to believe in Azula, being otherwise too busy running things back in the capital while Zuko faces the rebels. Iroh nods his approval, reminding Zuko that Ursa cares for the Firenation as well as Azula, she will do what she can for both.
Master Peanduo joins the group. Zuko turns to ask what news he has. Peanduo says it is as they suspected, the Shoggo clan and Ozai have called for open rebellion. The town in the distance is the relying point for the rebel army. All of the ringleaders are there… he estimates their numbers at a few thousand, and growing. Ty-Lee is shocked at the number, to which Iroh says that it has just started, they expect many more to come in the next few days, all the traitors have come out at once, they are going all-out to gather all the forces they can for a decisive strike against the capital. Ty-Lee openly worries that there are so many 'bad' people in the Firenation but then says the normal 'loyal' army is surely much larger. Iroh agrees, but says that the loyal Firenation forces have been spread out thin across the whole Firenation and colonies to keep the peace and protect the citizens from the recent spate of cowardly attacks against citizens. He says that it was a despicable way for the traitors to provide themselves with an opportunity to strike before Zuko could rally his spread-out forces.
Zuko suddenly speaks up, saying that is exactly what he plans to do with the rebels, attack before they have a chance to gain full strength, and hopefully capture all the leaders in one fowl swoop, he and Iroh suspected this move and have prepared a surprise of their own.
Mai asks if it would not be better to wait for reinforcements, for Aang. Zuko says that he has still not heard back from the Avatar, and that their time is running out to land a decisive blow before the rebel army grows even larger, and the possible increase in inevitable casualties. Mai looks worried. Zuko walks over to her, reassuring her that they will win. He and her turn to look behind the town, there is a lot of 'loyal' Firenation soldiers mulling around, including Yu-Yang archers. More soldiers are coming from different directions. Zuko and Iroh nod at each other in satisfaction. Zuko says they will soon be able to strike, and beat the Shoggo clan and his father at their own game.
Over with the Shoggo clan in the other town, General Tin-Cheo, Grand Master Pah and Lady Tessa are seated at a large table with a bunch of other nobles. Ozai and an unhappy Azula are also present.
General Tin-Cheo confirms the number of soldiers they have.
One of the nobles appears worried, and says that Zuko has similar numbers and can attack at any time. The rebels still don't have the numbers to guarantee a win. Lady Tessa smiles, saying that Zuko and Iroh have shown themselves to be worthy opponents but that the rebels still have the upper hand… there is another separate force building nearby that will tip the balance. The worried noble asks who they are, as most soldiers loyal to the 'Phoenix king' were told to rely at the town. Ozai smiles, saying that not only 'loyal' fighters will fight for the 'Phoenix king'. Lady Tessa adds that the group of nobles is willing to 'invest' in the success of their chosen leader.
Ozai calls out for other guests to join the gathering. The door opens and four very rough men walk in, one of them is the pirate Captain, two are Earthbenders and one is a very rough looking Firenation man. Some of the nobles are shocked to see Earthbenders.
One noble recognizes the four men, saying that they are all notorious mercenary leaders… Ozai laughs cruelly, saying that that was always Zuko's and Iroh's problem, their minds are prone to fighting 'fairly'. This generated a laugh from a few of the participants. Ozai says that with the surprise in the morning, Zuko's force will be crushed, leaving the way free for Ozai to retake the throne. Once back in charge of the Firenation and with the control of the nobles on his side, not even the Avatar would be capable of beating an entire nation when it can hold the whole world hostage, and so will be forced to negotiate. This generates cheers. Azula looks unsure about the whole matter, but smiles wanly when her father turns to her for a second… her smile fades quickly however as his attention is caught elsewhere… her personality has stabilized somewhat to a dark and quiet persona.
Aang and Toph talk with King Bumi, who knew something was going on and has organized a little surprise of his own, just in case it was necessary to help the Firelord as he suspected. They turn to see a room full of eager Earthbenders, including a lot of familiar faces, they all roar in enthusiasm.
Over with Katara, Sokka and Suki, Master Pakku is standing in front of a large number of waterbenders, all roaring their support. Master Pakku turns to the three, saying that he got a letter from Iroh that something was up, and had prepared for the worst…
Sokka is impressed.
Pakku is suddenly downbeat, saying that by the sound of it they will be too late, as they have no way of getting over there in time. Katara and Suki smile devilishly, saying that their 'allies' have a lot more abilities then anyone knows about. Pakku looks confused; Sokka says confidently that they have planned ahead…
The first rays of sunshine show themselves over the rolling countryside of the Firenation (a mixture of fields and forests with many stone fences and irrigation ditches crisscrossing the landscape). Zuko and Iroh are standing at the head of a large army consisting of foot soldiers and mounted worriers. Mai, Ty Lee, Jeong Jeong and Master Peanduo are also by their side. Opposite them is the rebel army, having just begun to form up into battle lines. They appear in a bit of disarray.
Iroh notes that armor is useless give the terrain. It will be an old fashioned fight, man vs man. Zuko nods in grim determination. With a hand signal he signals the advance, hoping to catch the enemy off guard.
From high above you can see that Zuko has tried to hem-in the enemy army which has its back to a large river. On Zuko's army's left flank is a high rise, which becomes very steep as it gets closer to the town, there is a forest at its top.
On Ozai's side there is a lot of activity, Zuko's quick deployment was unexpected. Ozai is however still confident, saying that if necessary the men should give ground, luring the others closer to the town and the steep rise. Grand Master Pah is less pleased, saying that they could be easily trapped if the mercenaries prove useless and Zuko wins the fight. Ozai assures him that they won't lose. General Tin-Cheo and Azula are with the mercenaries with a crack team to make sure all goes to plan. Ozai is still confident that Azula will relish the opportunity at revenge against her brother, saying she is one of 'his' children after all.
Up on the rise, Azula is standing at the forests edge, near to her is General Tin-Cheo. Behind them are a large mass of mercenaries hiding in the forest. Azula is quiet. Down below the two armies engage, the sounds of furious battle can be heard.
General Tin-Cheo walks up to Azula, sniggering that the enemy will soon be wiped out. Azula darkly states that Zuko has a lot of elite units with him, she doubts the hired rabble will be as effective as her father hopes.
General Tin-Cheo laughs menacingly. He then lowers his voice so that only Azula can hear. He says that the mercenaries don't have to win, they just have to contain Zuko's men and force them to bunch together. He and Ozai have a second surprise in store.
Behind the two there are some crashing noises, soon six large trebuchets (sling-catapults) come rolling into view through the forest. Azula remarks that they will not have that much effect against such a large force. General Tin-Cheo smiles, saying that they have special ammunition with them. Suddenly carts come into view carrying large barrels, they are covered in a tarry substance and look like large bombs. Azula guesses at blasting jelly. General Tin-Cheo confirms, whispering that they are also full of sharp blades. Azula observes coldly that this would also kill a lot of their own men. General Tin-Cheo states evilly that the fewer mercenaries there are at the end, the less they will have to pay (The mercenaries having been told that the bombs were full of gas to help subdue the opponents)… Azula confirms almost emotionlessly that it definitely sounds like a plan from her father (she can't help letting slip a bit of contempt). General Tin-Cheo laughs, mistaking her contempt for jealousy, saying that she's just upset she didn't come up with the idea. Azula glares daggers at the general causing him to falter, and then become visibly scared. He quickly makes an excuse to leave, wilting under the intense stare. (It is the old intense and powerful Azula, finally back after a long absence). After the general leaves, Azula looks back down into the battle unfolding below, Zuko is winning, Azul's expression becomes dark and brooding once more.
Down in the battlefield, Zuko and the others are in the front line, forcing the enemy back. With encouragement they lead their men and press forward, a mighty roar erupts anew from the loyal Firenation troops. Zuko leads his forces to the perimeter of the city itself.
Up on a signal tower in the city's outskirts close to the fighting, Grand Master Pah is looking worried. He stares out at the forest where the mercenaries are. Stating to a worried rebel officer that the signal has long been give, why won't the mercenaries attack?
Up on the ridge, General Tin-Cheo runs up to Azula, demanding to know what the hold up is. Azula stares fixedly at the battle below saying nothing. General Tin-Cheo turns and gives the attack orders himself, ignoring Azula and calling the artillery forward. The mercenaries charge out of the forest and down the hill like ants.
Iroh spots the force emerging from the forest and sweeping down the steep slopes. He is in the midst of combat and fights his way over to Zuko. Zuko spots the danger and recognizes the mercenaries. He yells to Jeong Jeong to continue to fight his way into the city with the engaged front line. Zuko grabs a fighting Mai and Ty-Lee and heads off with Iroh to rally his flank to face the new threat. With the other three and his rallied men he forms a new line, which then countercharges the mercenaries just as the two forces meet.
Again there is more fighting. As planned, Zuko's now outnumbered men are being pushed back and his force is being compacted against two fronts on the edge of town. Zuko looks up at the slope, easily recognizing his sister on the slope as the killer artillery is rolled into position around her.
Iroh is wounded and Zuko assists the older man as Mai and an injured Ty-Lee help to get him away from the front line.
Using the brief pause in fighting, Zuko looks back towards Azula, Iroh says that he hopes that Ursa's belief in Azula is not unfounded, as by the look of the trebuchets, they are all in a lot of danger.
Around Azula (literally left and right of her) the artillery loads up its first rounds of deadly ammunition. General Tin-Cheo prepares to fire.
High in the sky, Aang, Katara, Sokka, Suki and Toph are riding on Appa, they see the battle raging in the distance. Sokka worries they are too late, Aang tries to be optimistic, but looks concerned as he wills a very tired Appa on. Toph is impatient, noting that once they get there it will all be over soon, no army ever received reinforcement like this before. The camera pans behind and below Appa, all of the adult sky-bison are flying just behind Appa (almost 80 animals), lead by the young master herdsman and the other airbending students leading groups.
On the almost bare backs of the many sky-bison can be seen the Earthkingdome and Watertribe warrior volunteers on improvised saddles. King Bumi and Pakku are with the young master herdsman, Pakku is looking serious but King Bumi is whooping and whistling, having a grand old time.
Episode 20 Return of the Airnomads.
Azula is standing in the middle of the six large artillery pieces lined-up left and right of her. General Tin-Cheo continues the firing sequence in the background.
An injured Iroh, Zuko, Ty-Lee and Mai all look towards were Azula is, awaiting the worst. Zuko gives the order for his troops to fall back into the part of the town that they have won control over. This is an attempt to shield his men from the bombardment he expects will come at any second.
Aang and the gang are racing towards the battle, all look tense and worried.
Tin-Cheo gives the last order, ready to fire.
Azula has a flashback sequence; in her mind's eye she sees her past actions split into two distinct categories; the first (tinted blue) are the memories which she associates with her fathers influences. These including a lot of her victories and her being 'perfect', (normally accompanied by cruel or angry expressions) but also including the memory of the red dragon that attacked her, and the betrayal of Ty-Lee and Mai. Her other memories (tinted red) are full of her mother's influences (including happy times with Mai and Ty-Lee) and her fire-shows as well as the blue dragon. In these scenes she is looking less like the perfectionist, but she is smiling a lot more, and noticeably happier. End of flashback.
The scene with General Tin-Cheo giving the last order 'ready to fire' repeats, to indicate no time has passed. The fuses of the explosive projectiles are lit.
Azula suddenly snaps too and spins on the spot in an elaborate firebending form. She shoots out two intense flames which cut all six of the ropes to the trebuchets. This means that there is no way to fire the lit explosives. General Tin-Cheo is horrified, looking from the lit projectiles to the reloads positioned too close by as it turns out.
Azula swirls in another complex form, as she seemingly builds up energy. She crouches down and the camera pans back. We see Azula start to throw her arms out and there is a bright blue flame, but it is instantly engulfed by the massive explosion of the four lit projectiles and the triggered reloads. Half the hillside vaporizes.
Down below, Zuko and the others shield their eyes as the world turns white and a massive pressure wave kicks up the dust all around them, causing a thick haze.
Aang and the others recoil at the bright explosion, now rapidly approaching the battlefield. Sokka is shocked, asking Aang if there is a possibility of there being a second Avatar, to which Aang says he hopes not, if that is how they solve problems.
Aang gives the order to descent to the battlefield, calling out to the other young Airnomads who are leading their 'squadrons' to set their men down close to the battlefield, but not to risk themselves or their sky-bison. They are to pull back immediately.
Master Pakku and King Bumi yell encouragement to their men as the force descends.
Aang hands the reigns to Sokka and deploys his glider, swooping ahead of the descending air-force.
Down on the battlefield, combat has stalled somewhat as all are in shock regarding the explosion.
Ozai recovers quickest and is on a rooftop in the midst of the fighting below on the cities edge, he appears furious at the development. There is a lull in combat noise as all fighters regain their bearings. Through the haze, Ozai can see the Avatar and the reinforcements coming down.
Ozai shouts out that the Avatar caused the explosion, pointing up into the sky, and is coming to indiscriminately undertake retribution on all opponents. Their only chance is to capture Zuko… He reminds them that they still have the superior numbers, they have to win now! Ozai loosen his outer robe, revealing he has a whole series of grenades strapped to him, which he starts throwing to devastating effect, joining the combat from his perch on the rooftop.
The rebels and the mercenaries quickly attack with almost reckless abandon.
A shout comes out from Jeong Jeong and Master Peanduo to 'Protect the Firelord!'
Zuko, effectively in the middle of his now surrounded army, with the severely injured Iroh, watches and hears the shouts of his loyal men. The battle intensifies rapidly. Earthbending, firebending and normal combat raging all around.
Aang sweeps in and attacks with powerful wind blasts. The waterbenders and earthbenders are dropped-off close to the outer ring of the surrounding rebels and mercenaries. Many of the rebels breaking off to attack the newcomers. Sokka, Toph, Katara and Suki deploy and enter the fray.
The combat intensifies beyond all extremes as all seemingly fight for their lives, (neither side seeing any chance in surrendering).
Aang flies to Zuko in the middle of his formation, his staff being destroyed soon after he lands as he blocks a flying bolder. Aang knows where Ozai is and Zuko says they should 'get him' to end the madness. They reluctantly leave the injured Iroh and head into the fray on the cities outskirts.
Toph, Suki, Katara, and Sokka are fighting back to back, they take down many opponents but both Toph and Katara are struck down and seriously injured in the confused fighting.
Aang, Zuko, Mai and Ty-Lee fight through the cramped and crowded city streets, trying to get to the house where they know Ozai is atop of.
Up above, the Arinomads are circling in a tight group. Perl and Teo look down with concern. They can see Aang struggling to get past some determined defense. One of the other Airnomad students sees Katara struck down, the fighting is in the balance. Teo states that they should do something, but Perl reminds him that Aang expressly forbid them to take part.
Down below, Ty-Lee is badly injured and Mai is knocked unconscious, Zuko moves to check on Mai (he is also injured). Through the noise of combat all around them he shouts to Aang that he should use his avatar state. Aang says that there is too much chance of his own people getting injured. Zuko shouts back that it's too late, if he doesn't do it now there is a good chance they will all be killed. Aang is hit by an explosion from a grenade thrown by Ozai and thrown into the wall and knocked unconscious.
Up above, Teo sees this and says that if they don't act now, not only will they no longer have a teacher, but there is a good chance that the Firenation will return to exterminate the last of the new Airbenders. The others agree and all deploy their gliders, diving from the backs of the Sky-bison down into the fray.
Sokka and Suki are guarding the injured Katara and Toph who are stubbornly fighting on as best they can with the help of a few Waterbenders and earthbenders, there are not many upright opponents left either, with many injured or unconscious people all around.
Zuko forces his father back onto the roof with a fireblast, and rushes to Aang's side. Aang regains consciousness, he sees that there still isn't a way through to the rooftop. He prepares to go into the Avatar state but suddenly a shout from above sees Teo and the other Airbenders swoop in, with large swoops of Airbedning they blow a bath clear to the house, catching the enemy completely unprepared for the aerial attack. Aang and Zuko rush forward into the gap and Aang grabs Zuko, Airbending the two up in one massive leap.
On the rooftop, Zuko and Aang quickly dispatch Ozais personal bodyguard. Ozai throws a few grenades but to no effect. Zuko calls for him to surrender, but Ozai just laughs manically, moving towards a full box of grenades nearby. Ozai says he won't go back to prison for anyone, if he can't be the Ruler of the Firenation … then no one can. He grabs the box and charges the two, detonating the grenades on his person. Aang and Zuko launch a defensive fire/airwall and the top of the building vaporizes. All around the exploding building people are flattened by the shockwave.
Around the extensive battlefield, the exhausted fighter pull back to see what happened. There are not many left on either side still on their feet, and they take the excuse to pull back.
Sokka, Katara, Toph and Suki look up, all panting from their efforts.
Mai has come too, and she and Ty-Lee look up at the thick smoke surrounding the top of the building.
Iroh, surrounded by Jeong Jeong and Master Peanduo also looks up with concern.
On the hill nearby, the smoke cloud from the early explosion has begun to dissipate, from it emerges Azula, she looks confident and a lot like her old self, she looks down with concern at the destroyed house.
Suddenly there is a glow from the smoke and a small tornado grows to blow away the dust and debris. This expands outwards and clears the dust-filled air that has obscured all of the battle for the last few minutes.
All of the people from both sides shield their eyes. Once the wind dies down they see Aang in the avatar state floating back down to the last remaining standing part of the roof, Zuko is standing there too, both are injured but standing defiantly.
There is a lull as no one speaks.
Azula suddenly shouts out from the hill, calling out to the people of all nations. This causes all to turn.
Azula says that the battle is over, and a new era has come to the world, the time has come to bow down to the true Firelord, and the Avatar. Azula bows down.
The rebels see that their cause is lost, and the mercenaries realize they are effectively surrounded. The rebels and mercenaries lower their weapons, then they and the loyal fighters all turn to bow down to Aang and Zuko. The battle is over.
A few days later in the Firenation capital it is a beautiful sunny day. Much to the great annoyance of the gardeners, the many sky-bison are happily munching away at the royal garden shrubbery. The main compound has been opened to the people and a massive feast is underway. Absolutely everyone is there, including all the old faces such as the swamp tribe, Katara's and Sokka's father and watertribe members, the earth rumble contestants, and even the Earthinking…
All of the main characters share a few words, musing that it really is all over this time. Ursa helps a still injured Iroh. Azula is there as well, she looks more disheveled then we are used too, and much less intense. Overall she looks much more calm and subdued, she is smiling weakly in the happy company of Zuko, Mai, Ty-Lee and Katara. Nearby, Toph laments that there are no challenges left. Aang says there are always new challenges, but he is glad that the new ones will no longer be as dangerous and destructive as the old. All of the 'old rot' has been swept away, and it is time to focus on rebuilding… together.
Up above, Teo leads a flight of gliders in a flyby as a celebration, with Momo in hot pursuit.
Aang hugs Katara for a moment, then walks away from the others a bit to go and say hello to Appa who is lying down nearby. Away from the main group, and a little removed from the festivities, Aang talks to his old friend, saying that they have had a long journey since they were released from the iceberg. But now he can finally say that he is well on the way to bringing balance back to the world. Aang looks back to the main table and his closest friends.
The Airbending students land and are greeted by the others. Spontaneously, and without meaning to do so, the members of the four nations seem to divide into groups. Simultaneously, Aang blinks into 'aura vision' and sees the four nations together represented on the main table… shining brightly in their balanced four colors. The different auras then mix again as the groups mix and the colors swirl and dance in a fantastic display of color and harmony. Aang blinks back out of his aura-vision, a satisfied smile on his face. He says to Appa that there is still a lot of work to do, but that he is sure the world will continue to help him to bring back balance and harmony. Aang looks up at the blue sky, a contented smile on his face.
Many miles away on an idyllic, isolated mountainside, sitting in the picturesque and tranquil ruins of a forgotten temple, the Guru sits in meditation. Suddenly it is as if he hears a noise, he raises an eyebrow in interest, but doesn't open his eyes. A butterfly lands on his shoulder, resting in the evening sun. He finally opens his eyes and smiles at the sunset.
End of Book 4!
That is it and that is all… I'm sorry that there wasn't more focus on Katara, Sokka, Toph and Suki, but this half of book four was always going to be about closing out; the Shoggo clan/Ozai story, Azula's redemption and Aang's search to secure the return of the Airnomads. From this point in the story I think it really is a complete ending, there are no more open ends to speak of… (I hope)
I thought that the added element of Aang's and Toph's travels into puberty would be a nice touch, as it provides a great opportunity for humor (something I would have exploited in the final writing phase) and clearly shows the character's 'development' (no pun intended).
Toph's bit of romance may annoy some shippers, but I thought it would help knock her character a bit out of the tomboy rut, and there's always the unwritten future, so as far as I'm concerned, all ships are open! ^^
I honestly believe Azula's redemption ark was a fine plot devise, and I hope I showed a long enough development to make her 'turn' seem plausible… Ozai on the other hand simply had to go down in a big dramatic final. There was never any other choice as far as I could see.
The final fight seen would have been awesome. I envisage it totally blowing the budget of any animation studio… I'm almost glad I didn't write it, as it would have been huuuuge!
So there you go. I hope that for all the people interested in storytelling in general that this was still fun to read and got your imagination flowing in a good way.
Let me know what you think, I reply to most, if not all, of left signed reviews and I will always appreciated the feedback.
For those seeking more than what I have uploaded, I also have my own books out now (A new series called Refuge Cross) go check 'em out at:
Thanks again all, take it easy, and have fun…