Kyu no Ken here and I must say, I'm quite shocked at the well reviews I received from the last chapter and also at the claims of some of the readers. But none the less, I'm glad that I didn't displease anyone after the long awaited chapter of the story. Now before we go into the chapter, I just want to say a few things; the chapter "The Swamp" is broken in two forms, form A where Naruto (as everyone read in the previous chapter) stumbled across the swamp land and faced his past. Form B is where team avatar come across the swamp and it goes as cannon for Aang and Sokka, but Katara is going to be a little different.
Now, back to what a reader said to me on his reviews: 1) For someone that never wrote a story, this reader sure likes to criticize. Sure I did say for you guys to tell me where I messed up, so fuck it, my writing is not that great, I admit it. 2) It is pretty obvious what pairing is going since it shows on the stats of the story and lastly, 3) Like another previous reviewer said and I quote; "the people who are telling you to change should just write their own." End quote. I could have not put it into simpler words.
Sam: I thank you my friend for the support and hope that I keep on making you proud with my future chapters.
And for my other and future flamers, I thank you for reviews. You just keep making the review count grow. ^_^
And on another note, I would to say that most of you got it correct. The girl that appeared on the last chapter was Korra from the upcoming series of Avatar: Legend of Korra. (which I saw the premiere and it was awesome in my opinion.)
One more thing; I do not own the song that I placed in this story.
One more thing; I do not own Naruto
ONE MORE THING; I do not own Avatar: Last Air Bender
Other than that, I hope you guys enjoy the chapter
Episode "The Cave of Two Lovers" will be Narutofied halfway the episode
Episode "Return to Omashu" will be Narutofied and cannon at the end
Episode "The Swamp" will be as cannon for team avatar with a slight modification.
And now . . . . . On with the show!
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Long ago the four nations lived 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.
One hundred years passed and my brother and I discovered the new Avatar,
An air-bender named Aang,
But unknown to us, the avatar of legend, a man named Naruto had reawakened.
And although Aang's air-bending skills are amazing and Naruto may be the crimson avatar, they both have a lot to learn before they're ready to save anyone.
But . . .
I believe Aang and Naruto can save the world.
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Confessions of the Heart;
Omashu Has Fallen
A week had passed after Aang, Sokka and Katara left General Fong's fortress, in hopes of catching up with their blonde friend, but after a non-stop journey, the group decided that it was alright to take a break at a nearby lake, giving Aang a chance to work on his water-bending. While Aang and Katara are practicing water-bending in the water, Sokka is practicing his wing chun forms in land while Momo and Appa are soundly sleeping. Soon, the group begins to hear music as they turned towards the direction of the melody, only to see a group of Earth Kingdom nomads coming their way, displaying the characteristics of carefree, nature-loving people. Once the Team Avatar reveals their plans to travel to Omashu, Chong, the lead nomad, speaks of a shortcut through a tunnel passing under a mountain. Although at first Sokka does not want to trust these new characters, so he 'kindly' tells them off and they get on top of Appa to go fly over the mountain, but it was unsuccessful as the kids were ambushed by a fleet of fire nation tanks that opened fire once they were spotted. The team tried to out maneuver them, but proved to be too much as they were outnumbered. An hour later, the team (covered in scorch marks while Sokka's pony tail had a small ember on the tip) decides it was best to follow the nomads to the tunnels.
Just before our heroes enter, Chong mentions that the tunnels form a labyrinth protected by a curse, causing Sokka to slap his head with his palm before he yelled at Chong for not mentioning the curse earlier. However, Chong was oblivious to Sokka's outburst as he continued to explain that only those who put their trust in love can find the way through; those who don't will be forever lost. At this piece of information, Katara couldn't help but think of her blonde haired crush while Aang stared at Katara with a goofy smile. Before they entered the cave, one of the earth nomads notices smoke from afar, causing team avatar to quickly enter the cave. Once they enter, the fleet of tanks that was pursuing the avatar stop abruptly at the entrance of the tunnel, fearing the curse the song the earth kingdom folk sang bout. The soldiers decide to destroy the entrance to the tunnel, trapping everyone inside as they believed that they would die within the mountain. Scared but undeterred, Sokka plans to create a map while traveling though the labyrinth, making the group relief, but before long, however, Sokka's technique with the map is useless due to the fact that the tunnels are changing around them as he leads across another dead end. As Sokka walks around back and forth trying to figure out what is wrong, he begins to hear footsteps approaching them, causing him to pull out his machete;
"Sokka, whats wrong?" asked Katara as she began to worry
"Shh, there's someone around that tunnel," whispered Sokka as he approached the corner with Aang following suit with his staff ready to attack the unknown being.
Both Aang and Sokka began to sweat as they approached the unknown being as they backed into the corner of the tunnel. Looking at Aang, the wolf tailed warrior nodded at his bald friend, who nodded back and both jumped while yelling loudly, causing a shadowy figure to jump out as well with his weapon drawn ready to strike. However, the two of them stared at person in front of them in shock and relief as they saw who it was;
"Naruto?" Aang and Sokka said at the same time
"Aang? Sokka?" said a familiar voice that Katara recognized all too well;
"Naruto?" she asked as she approached the three of them;
"Katara?" asked a surprised familiar blonde as he sheathed his sword in time to catch the young water-bender in his arms as she approached him to hug him, causing Aang to stand back and frown at seeing the girl he likes in the arms of another;
"I thought you were at Omashu already, what happened?" she asked as she detached herself from the blonde, noting a different attitude in him, as if an emotional weight was lifted from his shoulders as she watched as he embarrassedly scratched the back of his head while eye smiling;
"Well you see . . ." the blonde began before he was interrupted by his pupil
"Wait a minute, where's your dragon?" asked the wolf-tailed warrior as he finally noticed the giant lizard that accompanied his master;
"Shen's gone," said the blonde without hesitation, causing the three of them to look at him in shock.
"What you mean 'he's gone'?" asked Aang, believing the worst
"Turns out that Shen wasn't a dragon after all, but two spirits combined into one," explained the blonde as much as possible without revealing too much . . . yet. His friends' eyes widen in shock;
"And as to why I'm not in Omashu . . . . welllll, let's just say that I got lost on the road of life," quickly said the blonde with an eye smile while embarrassedly scratched the back of his head, causing the groups' eyebrow to twitch while developing a sweat drop at the back of their heads.
Then suddenly, Chong began to pave back and forth with his hands on head, reminding team avatar that they weren't alone;
"The tunnels . . . they're changing. It must be the curse. I knew we shouldn't have come down here," said the earth nomad, causing Naruto to look at him comically before he looked at his friends;
"Is he high on mushrooms or something," asked the blonde as he pointed at Chong, only to receive an answer in a form of shrugging shoulders from his pupil. Then suddenly, Naruto turned towards the direction he came from as he stepped in front of Katara in a protective manner;
"Naruto, what's wrong?" she asked as she got closer to him
"Shh, can you hear it," whispered the blonde only to receive confused looks from everyone;
"Hear what? I don't hear anything," proclaimed Sokka before a loud wail was heard throughout the cave, causing everyone to tense up. Momo jumped from Aang's shoulder and flew towards Appa as he hid within the luggage.
Everyone stared into the darkness for a few seconds before out of nowhere, a creature flew from the shadows as it attacked, causing everyone to duck and cover in hopes of avoiding the creature.
"It's an ugly thing with fangs and teeth!" shouted Chong
"No! It's a wolf bat!" announced Moku in fright as he saw the creature land onto the ground only to pounce back into the air as it re-launched its attack.
Sokka tried to scare the beast away as he fanned the candle flame, but the wolf-bat knocked the torch out his hand, landing on top of one of Appa's paw's as he roared in pain and ran amok as he ran into the walls of the cave, making it crumble as he created a small cave in.
Everyone, for some reason stayed in their place as they covered themselves using their hands, but Naruto saw that no one was watching him and quickly thrust his fist forward and caused a torrent of wind to push the earth nomads along with Sokka and Aang to the other side of cave. After making sure they were safe, he turned towards Katara and sprinted at her with great velocity as he scooped her up in his arms and followed the sky bison to the opposite of the cave. After gaining a good distance, Naruto turned back only to watch the pathway getting blocked by the cave in. Once they tremors of the cave-in had subdued, the blonde turned towards the sky bison with a sour look on his face;
"Nice going fur ball," said the blonde only to receive a grunt from Appa and a slap on the chest by Katara;
"Leave him alone, not his fault that Sokka dropped the torch on his foot," defended the water-girl as she mock glared at the blonde. Then she turned towards the blocked pathway, "What do we do now?"
"We keep moving forward and find the way out," replied the blonde as he gently put Katara down;
"But what if we get lost in the labyrinth?" asked Katara as she stared at the blonde, who simply smiled at her;
"Don't worry, we will," said Naruto as he soothed her worries as he lit up a candle torch and began to walk down the tunnel;
"I wonder how Aang and Sokka are doing," wondered Katara
- \ . / -
Back with Aang and Sokka, both sprawled on the ground along with the nomads. Sokka quickly sat up and saw debris. Letting out a sigh of relief, he looked at Aang as he got up to his feet;
"Thanks Aang, that was some quick thinking on your part," complimented Sokka, but he only earned a confused face from the young Avatar;
"But I didn't do anything Sokka," admitted the boy, causing the wolf-tailed warrior to be the one confused now;
"What are you talking about Aang? It had to be you, I mean; you're the only one who can air-bend," said Sokka franticly
"Do you think it was possible that Naruto was the one who air-bended us away?" asked Aang while scratching his head but only got an 'are you serious' look from Sokka;
"Aang, Naruto isn't a bender," reminded Sokka as he turned around and caught sight of the nomads and quickly made a dash for the fallen rocks, trying to dig his way out to get away far from them as much as possible.
Chong smiled and looked at Sokka,
"Yea it's now use, we are separated. But at least you have us," announced the nomad happily as he raised his instrument only to make Sokka scream loud before he went to digging, only to cause some of the rubble to fall on him, covering him completely with his twitching hands being the only thing visible.
- / . \ -
Back with Naruto and Katara, both heard the scream that Sokka had let out.
"Does that answer your question?" grinned the blonde, causing the girl to giggle
- \ . / -
Meanwhile, Zuko and Iroh are trying their best to survive on their own. Things are not so easy for the formerly pampered characters though; Zuko cannot find food while Iroh makes tea with the dangerous white jade bush in the wild after mistaking it for the legendary white dragon bush, the latter of which "makes a tea so delicious, it's heartbreaking". He then finds a plant with either bacui berries, which can cure him, or macahoni berries, which will blind him. Zuko tells him they aren't taking any more chances and throws the berries away. After thinking about whether they should go to an Earth Kingdom town, which would risk capture and a quick execution or going to a Fire Nation town, which would risk them in being captured and turned over to Azula's master and suffer a slowly and painful death. The both looked at each other with their minds made as they decided to travel to an Earth Kingdom village for medicine and food and if comes to worst, a less painful death.
After walking through the forest for a while, the two come across at a nearby town, where Zuko and Iroh meet a friendly girl named Song. When she sees that they aren't from around the area, she asks who they are. Zuko says his name is Lee and Iroh's name is Mushi; a displeased Iroh gets him back by saying Zuko was named for his father so they call him Junior, making Zuko grimace. Song invites the two to her house for dinner that evening, but the banished prince declines politely, but when Iroh hears that Song's mother was making roast duck, he takes up on her invitation.
- / . \ -
Back within the cave, Naruto and Katara been walking for almost an hour, trying not to get lost as more than they already are, however, it seemed that lady luck wasn't on their side since they came across another divided pathway. Katara looked between the two and let out an exasperated sigh;
"Which way?" she asked as she turned towards the blonde.
Naruto looked back and forth between the two pathways before he kneeled down and closed his eyes while he placed his palm onto the ground, sendin chakra pulses throughout the cave as he used his earth-bending to create in his mind a sonar map of the labyrinth. After the first waves of chakra, Naruto had already a complete layout of the mountain. He could 'see' Aang, Sokka and the earth nomads were a couple of feet across from them from the other side of the walls. He could 'see' the creatures that looked like oversized moles scurrying underneath the mountain, he could see the pathway on the right led to another dead end but the pathway on the left led to a room chamber. Opening up his eyes, the blonde stood up and pointed with the torch towards the left;
"We go that way," announced Naruto, making Katara look at him with wary and confusion
"And how do you know that?" but received a knowing smirk from him;
"Let's just say I have a gift that allows me to see things that the eye sight can't show me."
Katara just stared at him with more curious intensity, something that the blonde did notice;
"Eh . . . something on my face?" asked Naruto unsurely, but the girl just shook her head;
"No, just that I couldn't tell till now, but something seems different about you like you're more at peace," claimed the girl. Naruto closed his eyes as he let out a sigh;
"On my way here, I accidently stumbled across the ruins of my old village," began Naruto, making Katara regret her probing, but suddenly was surprised by his bright smile, "And I'm glad I did, because I was able to talk to my loved ones once more and be able to move on."
Katara didn't say anything as she followed the blonde. After wandering around the tunnels for a while Katara had been debating herself whether or not should she tell Naruto of the way she felt;
"Maybe I should tell him," debated Katara in her mind as she bit her nail, "I mean, we are alone and Aang and Sokka aren't here to interrupt us," then her eyes showed concern, "But what if his feelings aren't the same," she doubted, but shook her head comically, "Mustn't think like that, I mean, if he didn't feel the same, he wouldn't have allowed me to stay with him in his room before we went to battle at the north pole or he wouldn't have hugged like he did after the battle or every time he left us, he could've told either Sokka or Aang, but I'm the first one he seeks out."
The girl was snapped out of her thoughts by the blonde as she stared at him standing in front of a blocked entrance. Seeing this, the water-tribe girl smiled;
"Naruto! You found the exit!" she said but was suddenly stopped by the blonde as he handed her the torch, "What are you going to do?"
"Stand back," warned the blonde before he took a wide, slated with his left hand forward and his right hand cocked back for striking. Taking a deep breath, the blonde burst as he stroke with his right hand right in the center of the wall, caving in his fist slightly in as t he cracks on wall began to spread till the wall crumbled into the ground. Smiling at his handy work, he turned back towards the girl, only to see her with his mouth slightly open and eyes open wide in shock;
"What?" asked the blonde with an amused grin
"How are you able to do that? Someone who isn't an earth-bender wouldn't be able to bring down a wall of earth that thick," said Katara, but all she was that same grin;
"I told you before, there are things about me that you don't know," reminded the blonde, "And if you were to learn of those things, I don't know how you would react."
Katara was shocked by his statement;
"Is that why you're emotionally at a distance," she stated more than asked, but the blonde didn't say anything as he walked in first, to scout the room to make sure it wasn't booby trapped. However, Katara wasn't going to let it end right there as she followed Naruto right after, only to crash against his back;
"Why did you stop?" she asked him till she began to look around the room, disappointment swelling within, "This isn't the exit."
"No, it's a tomb," clarified the blonde softly as he stared at the tombs down below. Katara tugged his vest, causing the blonde to look at her only to find her pointing at the stairs that led below to the tombs. Nodding at Katara, both of them walked down the stairs, their eyes not once leaving the tombs. Once they reached the bottom, Katara walked further than Naruto to get a closer look;
"This must be the tombs of the two lovers from the legend," said Katara, earning a raised eyebrow from her companion;
"Legend? What legend?" asked the blonde. Katara looked at Naruto weird till she slapped her head, "That's right; you weren't with us when Chong told us about this passage and the legend behind it."
Naruto then noticed something on the pedestal where the tombs were resting and walked closer to inspect it better as he kneeled down. Katara looked over his shoulder to get a view of what had gotten the blonde's attention.
"If my guess is correct, these carvings tell the story of the two lovers," suggested the blonde as he traced the carvings with his fingers.
Once she got a clear view of the carvings, she began to read while the blonde quietly listened;
"They met on top of the mountain between the two villagers, but the villages were enemies, so they could not be together. But their love was strong and they found a way.
The two lovers learnt earth-bending from the badger-moles and became the first earth-earth benders. They built a labyrinth tunnel so they could meet secretly. Anyone who tried to follow them would be lost forever.
One day, however, the man didn't come. He died in the war between the two villages. Devastated, the woman unleashed a terrible display of earth-bending power. She could've destroyed them all, but instead, she declared the war over. Both villages helped her built a new city where both could live together in peace.
The woman's name was Oma and the man's name was Shu.
The great city was named OmaShu as a testament of their love," finished Katara. Naruto stood up along with Katara after listening to the story, looking back as a monument caught his sight. Katara looked at the blonde and saw him staring behind them, causing her to look back as well only to slightly gasp at the painting of the two lovers kissing one another, an engraving in the middle of the two lovers;
"Love is brightest in the dark," murmured Katara while Naruto place his hand against the wall as he closed his eyes and sent a stronger chakra pulse throughout the mountain, giving a complete layout of the labyrinth.
"Now . . . let's find the way out," thought the blonde with a grin but was stopped before he could begin as Katara spoke;
"Naruto . . . I have an idea," commented Katara shyly, with her back facing the blonde. Naruto looked at the water-bending girl with curiosity as he raised an eyebrow and detached his hand from the wall as he walked closer towards her, "It's a crazy idea."
"What is it Katara?" asked the blonde as he watched her rub her arm nervously before she shook her head;
"Never mind Naruto, forget I said anything," said Katara with disappointment in herself, but then she let out a soft gasp when she felt his hand gently being laid on her shoulder and turned to see the blonde with a small smile on his face;
"Come on Katara, you can tell me anything," assured the blonde; causing her to fidget a bit before she grew her resolve;
"You know how the curse says that we'll be trapped in here forever unless we trust in love," began Katara, making Naruto's eyes widen, having an idea as to where this was going;
"And here, it says that love is brightest in the dark," continued the girl, gesturing at the monument, which Naruto looked at also before his eyes widen even more as to what she was implying, "And it has painting of them kissing."
Looking back at her he implied;
"Are you suggesting that we kiss?"
"See, told you it was a crazy idea," said Katara as she turned away from the blonde, laughing nervously while Naruto scratched his head, not sure as to how to approach the subject;
"Oh boy, how do I approach this?" asked the blonde mentally, but only grinned in response;
"I mean can you imagine us kissing?" she asked with uncertainty, but she only received a small laugh in response. She looked at him a bit peeved, "What's funny Naruto?"
The blonde shook his head as he placed his hand in front of him;
"Nothing, just that I thought that you would have preferred to kiss Aang instead of me," admitted the blonde, making the girl to look at him with surprise;
"What made you think that?" she asked
"You are over protective of him and noticed how you fancied him when we first met," responded the blonde, but Katara shook her head;
"You're right, I may be over protective of him because I consider him family and I did fancy him at one time," she replied as she looked away from his eyes, "But as we continued with our journey, I came to realize that my feelings for Aang would be nothing but that of a sibling, he's a little brother to me."
Naruto stayed silent for a couple of seconds, carefully choosing his next words;
"If that's how you feel about Aang," began the blonde softly, "Then how do you feel towards me?"
At his question she looked up into his eyes once again, "At first . . . I just saw you as our friend, but then, I slowly began to feel captivated by you," she answered, but paused for a second while she closed her eyes and slightly turned her head to side as she tried to place her thoughts into words, "And as you continued to accompany us in this journey, this feeling of admiration I had for you continued to grow as you always came to our aid. At first I didn't know what this feeling was that I felt towards you," then slowly turned towards him with a small tinge of pink adorning her cheeks as she slowly approached him, "But after the battle at the North Pole and the conversation we had on the ship, I came to realize that my feelings for you go beyond of friendship."
"Despite of what the fortune teller told you about your mystery betrothed?" asked the blonde, curious as to what her reply would be as he watched her reach out with her hand and gently cupped his left cheek;
"Despite her words, I cannot deny of what I feel," she responded tenderly, "And also, for some reason, I can't explain it but I feel that there's something about you that's especial."
At her words, the blonde couldn't help but flinch a bit with a downcast look as he avoided her gaze;
"Katara . . . there are things about me that I want to tell you-" he was suddenly interrupted by the water-bender as she forced him to look at her and softly placed her fingers on top of his lips, giving him a small smile;
"Naruto, while you chose not to tell us about you or your past, we understood that it was for a reason," said Katara, "Just know that no matter how dark or bad the secret you keep hiding, we won't abandon you, I won't abandon you."
At her words, Naruto couldn't help but feel overjoyed, but at the same time just as guilty. Then softly he cupped her hand that was touching his cheek and softly looked at her with a small smile;
"I just pray to the spirits that on the day that you, Sokka and Aang learn of the whole truth about me, you'll remember those words," said the blonde before he took her hand and softly kissed it before he turned back towards the stairs and walked up to head out of the chamber, leaving a shock stricken Katara behind as she stared at his retreating form before she followed right after.
- \ . / -
Back with Iroh and Zuko, the two could be found inside Song's house as she and her mother prepared the table for them and their two guests. During the meal, Song tells the duo that during a raid on her village, the Fire Nation captured her father, causing Zuko to feel slightly guilty. When she asks Zuko whether his father is fighting in the War, Zuko says that he is, but does not tell her that his father is actually the Fire Lord. Feeling his emotions getting the best of him, he excused himself as he went outside while Iroh just watched in sadness.
Moments later, Zuko sits on the front porch of Song's house and a few moments later, Song comes out of the house and sits next to Zuko, noting that the Fire Nation has hurt him. When she tries to tenderly touch his scar, Zuko rebuffs her. She then shows Zuko a burn on her leg caused by fire-benders, sympathizing with him and showing him that the Fire Nation hurt her as well. Zuko seems shocked by her injury.
After the two of them ate their meal, Zuko and Iroh depart from Song's residence. While Iroh thanks the family for their excellent meal, Zuko steals the family's ostrich horse for easy traveling. Iroh tries to convince his nephew not to do it, saying that it betrays their kindness but in the end, he hops on reluctantly anyway, after Zuko kept on insisting. Unknown to the two of them, Song witnesses this event, but does not stop them, instead just closes her door, seemingly disappointed, as Zuko and Iroh leave.
- / . \ -
Back within the labyrinth, Aang and Sokka, along with the nomads, continue to find dead-ends in their quest for the exit, and are eventually confronted by a pair of enormous badgermoles, who corner the group, as one earth-bended a small fissure, causing Aang and Sokka ot get separated from the nomads. Seeing that they were in trouble, they try to escape as they both separated as well, but the wolf-tailed warrior accidentally strums a dropped guitar, producing music. The angry badgermole pauses, intrigued, and Sokka, realizing that animals become passive when hearing music, tries to play a song to hopefully pacify the beast. Aang looks at Sokka with a weird expression till he heard a soft rumble coming from the beast, both, the avatar and the nomads quickly realize what he is doing, and contribute their talents. They are successful in taming, or at least pleasing, the badgermoles, who take them to the exit of the labyrinth.
However, with Katara and Naruto, the two of them have been walking within the labyrinth for the past four hours in silence, neither one saying a word after their talk back in the tomb chamber. As they continued walking, the blonde was tempted to earth-bend themselves out, since for some unexplained reason, every time he had the right path towards the exit, somehow the mountain itself shifted and made him run into a dead end;
"What in the blue hell is going on here!" shouted a frustrated blonde within his mind a he pinched the bridge of his nose as he tried to remain calm. Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes as he kneeled down once again and used his chakra once more to create a map within his mind only to see that the path they were on led to many directions with no destination. Snapping his eyes open the blonde was about to yell in frustration till he heard Katara calling out his name;
Said blonde turned back towards the girl on to see her staring at the almost extinguished torch. Standing up to his feet, the blonde approached her with lamented eyes;
"We are going to run out of light any second now, aren't we," stated Naruto. Katara just nodded her head;
"Yes, I think so."
"If the flame does go out, I may have to use earth-bending to get out of here," thought the blonde as he looked towards the path until his eyes widen, "Unless . . ."
"Naruto, what are we going to do?" asked Katara as she stared at him.
The blonde looked back at Katara and right there, he made up his resolve as he slowly approached her and gently took her hand into his, causing her to look at him with surprise;
"Katara . . . do you trust me?" asked the blonde as he gazed into her eyes
"I trust you Naruto," Katara replied back without hesitation as she got closer to him, allowing him to wrap his arms around her waist as she wrapped her around his neck, dropping the torch while doing so.
The light that the flame illuminated the cave slowly faded away as their faces came closer and closer till . . . finally their lips met just as the flame had completely faded away.
The darkness lasted for a few seconds till suddenly, the cave was lit by glowing crystals on top of the cave. Katara's and Naruto's lips broke apart, but not from each other's arms as they both stared in amazement at the crystals;
"I guess this is how the two lovers found each other," mused the blonde with a small smile
"They just lit the crystals and followed them," seconded Katara as she followed the trail, "And look, that must be the way out!"
Nodding, Naruto scooped Katara up into his arms and looked back towards the flying bison;
"Try to keep up, alright," said the blonde, only to receive a low growl. Then he looked at Katara with a grin;
"And you, hold on tight," Katara just nodded her head and wrapped her arms tightly around Naruto's neck before said person dashed through the cave, following the illuminated path.
- \ . / -
With the crystals showing the way, it didn't take long for Naruto to reach the exit a he and Katara saw the light shinning at the end of the cave;
"Look! There's the exit!" shouted Katara with joy till they both walked out of the labyrinth.
Gently, Naruto placed Katara on the ground and looked as Appa happily let out a moan/growl as he stood on its hind legs and dropped flat on his back. Katara then looked around for any signs of her brother and Aang, but could not find neither one nearby;
"Where are Aang and Sokka?" questioned the girl before they felt a small tremor and the walls of the cave exploding. Both covered their faces using their forearms and waited for the debris to disperse. Once everything was cleared, Katara and Naruto saw two badger-moles standing in front of them and on top of them, Aang and Sokka rode on one while the nomad rode on the other;
"Aang! Sokka!" shouted Katara again happily as she ran up towards them and gave them both a hug.
"How did you guys get out?" asked Sokka as he broke apart from the hug, only for Katara to grow a faint blush as she recalled what happened between her and Naruto inside the cave;
"We just did what the legend said, "Let love show you the path."," answered the blonde as he approached them, noting the downcast frown the young Avatar had on his face, but chose not comment on it as it went unnoticed by the two siblings;
"Really? We let giant ferocious beasts lead our way," commented Sokka as he turned back waved to the retreating badger-moles. Then suddenly, a thought occurred in his mind as he turned back towards the blonde;
"Naruto, are you an air-bender?" asked Sokka, causing Katara to blink owlishly at him while Naruto raised an eyebrow at him;
"What makes you say that?" asked the blonde, thinking that he had made sure that no one had seen him blow Sokka, along with Aang and the nomads towards safety during the cave in.
"Is just that I thought that Aang was the one that air-bended us to safety, but he admitted that he wasn't the one to do so and there's no other air-benders around besides him and Katara is a water-bender, so that left you in our group," concluded Sokka as he and the blonde stared at one another, but luckily for Naruto, Katara came in;
"Sokka, that's ridiculous. We've seen Naruto fight before and not one has he used any form of bending," defended Katara, "And he told me himself that he isn't a bender anyway."
At this, Naruto couldn't help but wince as he recalled that night at the campfire when he first met the group and told Katara that he wasn't a bender.
Aang stayed silent during the whole conversation as he stared at Naruto suspiciously, but the jealousy within him was strong that he went to talk to the nomads while Naruto stared at his pupil funnily till he noticed something on his forehead;
"Sokka . . . why is your forehead all red?" asked the blonde as he quickly changed the subject only to have his answer when Sokka slapped his forehead once again when Chong told them not to freak out due to Aang being the Avatar, causing Naruto's eyebrow to twitch a bit as he leaned closer to Katara;
"I'm beginning to think that this guy is really high on some good stuff," whispered the blonde, causing Katara to giggle in her hand and both watched Chong bidding farewell to Sokka before he began to play his instrument, singing happily as he walked down the road his fellow nomads had gone.
Soon after the farewells, the group didn't take long to head towards Omashu as they walked up the mountains, telling the blonde of the amazing sights that the city had, including the delivery system, which Naruto grinned like an idiot, proclaiming that the first thing he is going to do is go sliding, causing Aang to beam at the idea, quickly forgetting about him and Katara being alone inside the labyrinth;
"Just wait Naruto, you're going to be amazed once with arrive into the city," proclaimed the wolf-tailed warrior as he was leading the group uphill while Naruto just chuckled;
"I'll take your word for it Sokka," said Naruto as he looked towards the sky to see the position of the sun, but then, he suddenly stopped when something else caught his eye, making everyone else stop as well as they stared at him confusedly;
"Why did you stop Naruto?" asked the young Avatar, but did not get an answer as Naruto suddenly ran up the hill at high speed till he reached the hill top and just stood there. The rest of the gang ran up hill as well in order to see what was going on only to meet a horrid sight;
"Oh no," murmured Sokka in shock
"This can't be," gasped Katara
"We are too late," muttered the blonde as he stared at the city of Omashu covered in smoke with the Fire Nations' flag hanging at the entrance of the city.
"I can't believe it," said Aang as he stared at the fallen city, "I know the war spread far, but Omashu always seemed . . . untouchable."
"Up until now it was," commented Sokka as he crossed his arms with a frown on his face, "And now the only stronghold the earth kingdom has left is the city of Ba Sing Se."
"There's nothing we can do now," abruptly said the blonde with a solemn look, "We have to move on and search-"
"No," rudely interrupted Aang as he sharply turned towards Naruto with a glare before he turned back once again towards the city, "I'm going in to find Bumi."
"Aang, stop!" shouted Sokka, trying to reason with the kid, "We don't even know if Bumi is . . ."
"What?" angrily retorted Aang as he turned and glared at Sokka, "If he's what."
The group turned towards the blonde with mix reactions; Aang heatedly glaring at Naruto while Sokka and Katara glaring at him for his insensitivity, but Naruto ignored them as his attention was still on Omashu. Turning towards the young Avatar, he took a sigh;
"Aang, you need to stop being naïve and accept the realities of war," calmly said Naruto as he stared into the kid's eyes. Then he turned towards the siblings with a glare, "And I know you two are thinking that I'm being heartless for saying such things, but the fact of the matter is, the quicker you accept the reality, the less pain you'll feel as you move on," then Naruto's eyes softened as he looked towards the city once again, speaking in a soft tone as he remembered the time when his mother figure told him of Jiraiya's death, "but it doesn't mean that it'll be easy to do so."
The three of them didn't say a word after that, since they could feel the amount of sadness his words carried, but Aang wouldn't budge;
"I'm sorry Naruto, but even if there's a small chance that Bumi is still alive, then that's all I need. I will not leave a friend behind," replied the young avatar with conviction as he stared fiercely into Naruto's eyes.
The blonde just passively stared into the kid's eyes till a small grin broke into his face. Closing his eyes he chuckled till he reopened them and stared at Aang once more;
"If one of my former masters were to hear to say that, he would have been proud of you," commented the blonde, "He used to say that those who broke the rules are scum, but those who abandon their comrades are lower than scum," then he grew slightly serious, "Now the question is . . . how do you plan to break in without being detected."
Aang's eyes widen as an idea popped into his mind;
"OH! I know of a shor cut!" only to receive a bop in the head; courtesy of Sokka;
"And you didn't say anything about a shortcut the first time!"
Sometime later, Appa was flying over the edge of the lower part of the mountain while Aang tried to pry the gate off of a sewer pipe, only to get it open after a few tries just to have the nasty water spill all over the ground, causing most of the group to wince at the horrendous smell. Naruto turned towards Sokka while pinching his nose;
"Would you have used this short cut last time if you knew that it was a sewer pipe?" question the blonde;
"Hell no!" retorted Sokka back as he watched Aang jump first into the sewer followed by Katara. Begrudgingly , Sokka jumped in as well while Naruto hadn't even made an effort to follow them, which it didn't go unnoticed by the rest of the group;
"Naruto, what are you doing? Let's go," urged Aang only for the blonde to shake his head;
"Stop being a baby Naruto, I mean, sure the smell is bad but you it won't kill you," antagonized Sokka only to receive a glare from said blonde;
"It's not that moron, I'm gonna infiltrate into the city to gather some intel on to who is running the city and if he hasn't been killed by the Fire Nation, find out where they are keeping Bumi," informed Naruto as he prepared to jump up the mountain;
"But how are you going to sneak in?" questioned Katara, "there could a lot of soldiers roaming around the city and if you were spotted, you wouldn't be able to take them all on."
Naruto then stared at the three of them with a serious look;
"As I stated before; where I come from, we are trained assassins that work from the shadows," reminded the blonde before his face broke into a cocky grin, "And from the looks of things, I bet these chumps couldn't find me within the city even if I was hiding in broad daylight."
With that, the blonde banished in a whirl of leafs, leaving the group on their own;
"Did you guys knew about Naruto being a trained assassin?" asked Aang as he stared at the siblings only for Sokka to shake his head;
"I knew," admitted Katara
"Really? Since when?" asked a surprised Sokka
"When we got separated at Jeong Jeong's camp, Naruto got injured and I ended up nursing him back to health. We ended up talking and he told that in his village, he was a shinobi, a trained assassin that would follow the leaders command without question, even if it meant killing."
At this piece of information, Sokka and Aang grew suspicious;
"If Naruto is a trained assassin that would kill without question, then what would stop him from killing us?" asked Sokka, causing Katara to gape at her brother in disbelief;
"What the hell Sokka! You doubt him after you practically begged him to train you!" yelled Katara
"Katara, he has a point!" defended Aang, causing the girl to turn her glare at him, "I mean, what if he is an assassin that was hired to kill us by the Fire Nation and only pretended to help us so we could lower our guard and strike us at the given moment."
Katara just stared at the two of them in anger and disbelief. Without saying a word, Katara walked ahead of the two, but before she stopped abruptly a couple of steps away from them;
"I trust Naruto for he has had many chances to kill us in the past since he has proven that we have no possible chance of stopping him, even if we tried, from killing us" began Katara as she spoke with such coldness that caused them both to flinch, "But you don't have to worry about other shinobi coming after us."
"What makes you say that Katara?" asked Aang, a little peeved that she would defend him so gallantly
"Because the Fire Nation made sure that his people were eliminated," answered Katara, causing both of them to gasp, making them feel guilty and ashamed for questioning their friend's loyalty.
The trio stayed in silence for a minute till Katara walked off ahead of them.
- \ . / -
It had taken Aang and the siblings the whole day to climb through the sewer pipe as Aang blasted the cover of the hole as he jumped out only to see that they were back at the market place of the city. Turning back towards the pipe hole, he noticed that Katara was climbing out and reached out to help her, but only received a cold glare as she hadn't forgotten the argument they had earlier as she pulled herself out of the hole;
"We are within the market district," stated Katara only for her to turn back towards the pipe hole as she heard a loud moan/groaning sound only to watch some sort of green blob monster climb out, scaring Katara and Aang as the monster approached them. Katara quickly looked around for a source of water, only to find a barrel full of it and quickly used it to attack the monster, only to wash the slob off to reveal Sokka trying to pull of some sort of pinkish looking mini octopus as he screamed hysterically only to be tackled by Aang;
"Stop making so much noise or we are going to be spotted!" whispered Aang, "It's just a purple pentopus," showing him how to detach the little critter as he softly rubbed the head softly, causing the little critter to squeal.
Seeing how Aang did it, Sokka began to take off the rest of the critters that were attached to his neck, leaving the suction cup marks all over his face and neck.
The trio looked at the source of the voice only to find a couple of Fire Nation soldiers approaching them. Quickly, Sokka and Katara stood in front of Aang who used an orange rag nearby to make a make shit hat to cover his arrow.
"What are you kids doing out past curfew?" questioned one of the soldiers
"My apologies, my dumb brother thought it was fun to sneak out of the house after curfew," said Katara as she bowed to the soldiers, "We'll return at once to our home."
The trio quickly turned to get away, but then one of the soldiers called them out;
"Wait a minute, what is the matter with him?" asked another soldier as he pointed towards Sokka, causing them to flinch as they had no valid excuse until Katara quickly came up with something;
"He has pentapox sir," informed Katara as the soldier approached Sokka with his hand extended, only for her to grab him by the wrist, causing the soldier to glare at her while the other two readied their spears, "It's highly contagious."
Catching on her lie, Sokka began to cough uncontrollably to make it believable only for the soldier to growl at them;
"Do you take me for a fool!" shouted the soldier as he tore his wrist from Katara's grip and grabbed Sokka by the scruff of his vest as the soldiers slowly approached them with their spears pointing at them.
Then suddenly, Sokka began to foam at the mouth while blood began to drip from the nose and the corner of his eyes as they turned yellow along with his skin turning pale, causing the soldier to let go of Sokka as he retreated with other two;
"Run for your lives!"
The trio just watched confusedly as the soldiers ran for dear life only to watch them disappear around the corner.
"What just happened?" asked a confused Aang
"I don't know," answered Katara just as confused
"I guess I managed to pull off my act after all," boasted Sokka only to hear chuckling up from above, causing the three of them to look, only to find Naruto standing upside down on the roof.
"No, your act completely sucked," said the blonde as he jumped off the roof and skillfully landed in front of them, "What happened was they were trapped within a gen-jutsu."
"A gen-jutsu?" question Katara, to which Naruto nodded;
"Yup, an illusion that causes the mind to see things that aren't really happening or not there at all," informed the blonde till he turned towards Aang, "And I have good news for you, Bumi is alive and held captive somewhere near within the city, but if I were to guess, I would say he is being held underneath the governor's mansion."
Aang beamed at the news;
"Then what are we waiting for, let's go bust out Bumi!" shouted the young avatar as he dashed past the blonde, but was abruptly stopped as Naruto grabbed Aang by the back of his shirt;
"Hold on! I said it was a guess, and even if he was, we are talking about a Fire Nation governor, meaning someone who has a lot of soldiers protecting him," informed the blonde, but Aang was about to retort only to keep his mouth shut when Naruto shot him one of his glares, "Look dimwit, we have the element of surprise, if we go and barge in to save your friend, then every soldier within this city will be looking out for us," clarified the blonde, but wasn't finished, "Also, while the Fire Nation occupies Omashu, they are using the people for labor in order to supply their ships and the Fire Nation will target the people as prime suspects for harboring us. Our best bet is to find the rebel faction of this city and take it from there."
The gang was surprised at the amount of information Naruto had gathered;
"Naruto, how do you know all of this?" questioned Katara who just received a grin in return;
"I'm just that awesome of a shinobi," was the reply before he grew serious, "Now let's go and find the resistance."
The three of them nodded their heads as they followed the blonde through the streets of Omashu.
- / . \ -
Meanwhile, a week had passed on Azula's ship, the Fire Nation's princess was sitting on her bed as while wearing her night gown as she watched the moon high in the sky, rubbing the bruise that was barely visible on her cheek, courtesy of her Uncle;
"Ohhh I'm going to get him back for that," thought Azula as she stopped rubbing it and contemplated her situation;
"That bastard," thinking angrily of her master as she rubbed her side.
After Iroh had escaped from their failed attempt at capturing him, Sasuke had rigorously put Azula into training for the whole week, claiming it that she was still weak for letting some washed up general such as Iroh to have managed defeating her before he left on a special mission given by her 'darling' father.
"At least he'll be gone for a while," muttered the princess as she gently laid back on her bed, resting as she stared at the ceiling, "But despite with him being gone, I still haven't figured out where to begin my search for him and with the royal procession following me, there's no doubt in my mind that he would not hesitate to attack if he were to see them once found," then her face turned into a small scowl, "And also, there's no doubt that the soldiers are more loyal to my master than they are to me, no matter how sadistic I act. And if one of them was to learn of my plan, I would be ratted out and be at Sasuke's mercy."
Turning upside down on her bed, she tightly held her pillow as she buried her face in it as old memories came into her mind but quickly shook them away she sat on her knees, the gown coming off at the shoulders, revealing a decent amount of her cleavage to give a certain perverted toad sage a good imagination for his books. Slowly, she got off her bed and walked towards her balcony, not bothering to cover up her shoulders as she leaned against the frame of her door with a small grin on her face;
"Well . . . if I am to track him along with my bubbly uncle and idiotic brother without attracting much attention to myself, then I'm going to need a little elite group of my own," said Azula as her grin widened more, "It seems that is time to visit some old friends."
- \ . / -
Back with Naruto and the gang, they were moving through the shadows as they avoided any soldier that crossed their path, reaching the monument that was being built in honor of Fire Lord Ozai. While hiding behind stack of wooden planks, the blonde poked his head out as he looked around to scout any soldiers nearby, but when he looked at the lower level of the monument, he saw a woman carrying a baby with a teenage girl that had small buns of hair on her head while two long strands of hair ran down over her shoulders being escorted by the soldiers as they took out a stroll on the night.
"Who are they?" asked Sokka as he saw them by looking over the blonde's shoulder;
"That's the governor's wife and children," answered the blonde, causing Sokka's eyes to widen;
"Then what are we waiting for! We capture them and make them tell us where Bumi is or at least hold for a trade off," suggested the wolf-tailed warrior only to receive a heated glare from his master;
"I may have killed Fire Nation soldiers Sokka, but I do not condone harming a defenseless woman or an innocent child," retorted the blonde back angrily until he felt the ground tremble and looked up to see boulders falling down the rail at high speeds towards the escorting party down below. Without hesitation, Naruto jumped in front of the falling boulders and launched a spinning kick as the boulders approached him, causing them to explode into dust, gaining the attention of the party below;
"The resistance!" shouted the woman
"Fuck me," muttered the blonde as he watched the girl that stood beside the woman quickly threw arms forward, launching a series of mini kunais at him, only to miss as the blonde jumped back.
"Defenseless woman huh!" criticized Sokka
"Not now Sokka! Run!" ordered Naruto as he jumped off the planks and ran with the group, trying to lose the pursuing soldiers.
Katara wasted no time to use her canteen water against the soldiers as they were thrown off to the lower level while the girl gave pursuit and attacked by launching her arrows, only for Katara to block them as she made a wall of ice and made a run for it. The girl still persistent in her chase as she jumped over the ice wall, following them as the group ran under an arc with still pipes holding wooden boards on the side. Aang quickly had an idea as he waited for Katara to cross over before using his air-bending to demolish the stands and hopefully stop the girl on her tracks.
Mai seeing that she could no longer give pursuit, she decided to throw one of her knifes at the most categorized threat, that being Naruto, while his back was still turned towards her but only to gasp in surprise when said blonde simply turned around and caught her stilettos between his fingers;
"He's skilled to sense and catch my knife like that," thought Mai.
Then suddenly, the four of them vanished from her sight as she saw the earth platform beneath them being pulled underneath while another platform took its place. Letting out a sigh, Mai saw no point of standing there as she returned back to her mother.
However, back with our heroes, after being transferred underground, the group found themselves surrounded by earth-bending soldiers of Omashu.
"Avatar Aang, it is great to see you again, although I wish it were under better circumstances," greeted one of the soldiers with a bushy beard as he helped the Avatar get on his feet;
"Thank you and where are we?" asked Aang as he looked around;
"We are under the city, it's an underground path built by King Bumi himself when the war first broke out," replied the same soldier as he gestured the group to follow them, "Follow me, we must return to camp."
As they were walking, Naruto walked closer to Katara, leaning forward towards her ear;
"You guys never mentioned that this Bumi was the king of the city," whispered Naruto only to cause the girl to look at him sheepishly;
"Sorry, I guess with everything that has been happening, we kind of forgot to tell you," replied the girl
It didn't take them long to reach camp, as they saw many tents laid out with some of the villagers and soldiers alike staring at them as they walked through;
"So . . . is Bumi with you? Is he leading the resistance?" asked Aang hopefully, but the soldiers' solemn look told Aang that he wasn't;
"Of course not!" growled the soldier, "The day of the invasion, we readied ourselves for battle, but we were unprepared for the foe that arrived to our footsteps."
"Why? Were you guys outnumbered?" asked Sokka with interest, but the soldier just shook his head;
"No, a single soldier from the Fire Nation managed to take siege of the city in one day, we were no match for him as dozens upon dozens of our finest soldiers fell to him and his accursed flame;" replied the soldier as he clearly remembered that day as most of his comrades were cremated alive by his flames, "King Bumi surrendered himself in exchange of not harming the people of Omashu."
Naruto began to feel uneasy in his stomach as he made his presence known to the soldier;
"Did by any chance this fire-bender wielded black flame?" asked the blonde as he stared right into the soldier, causing the same soldier with most of the soldiers nearby to narrow their eyes at the blonde while Aang, Sokka and Katara stared at him in shock;
"Yes, how did you know that?" another soldier asked the blonde suspiciously, but didn't receive an as the blonde ran his hand across his hair with a look of barely uncontrollable rage, walking towards the wall as he placed his hand on it for support.
No one said a word as they watch the blonde or dared to approach him, all except one.
Katara knew that he lost his family to this fire-bender, but he didn't tell her how in exact details. Slowly, she approached him in hopes of calming him down and just as about she was to put her hand on his shoulder, she flinched back when Naruto suddenly punched the wall . . . HARD!
The entire wall cracked as parts of the wall fell to the ground while Naruto's arm was buried up to the bicep, breathing heavily as he tried to control his anger;
"Soon Uchiha, we will face one another and I swear it, you will face judgment," were Naruto's thoughts as he pulled his arm out, taking deep breaths to calm down.
"It doesn't matter who it was that attacked us," declared the leading soldier, "Fighting the Fire Nation is the only path to freedom and freedom is worth dying for."
"There is another path to freedom," announced the young avatar, "You can leave Omashu. You're putting all of your energy to fighting the Fire Nation."
"Especially when you're severely outnumbered, if you guys go out and fight, only a massacre will happen" Naruto voiced in his opinion as well, "Listen to the Avatar and retreat so you guys can live to fight another day."
"Neither of you understand! They've taken our home and we have to fight them at any cost!" declared the soldier as he made forceful hand motions for added emphasis.
"I don't know Yoh, living to fight another day sounds pretty good right now," said the soldier next to him,
"Yea, I agree with the two of them," another soldier jumped in, causing the leader of the resistance to look at the people in camp, his mind made up;
"Fine, but there's thousands of citizens that need to leave, how are we to get them all out?" questioned Yoh
Sokka was trying to formulate a plan till an idea came into his mind. He turned towards the blonde;
"Naruto, how big of an illusion can you cast?" causing the blonde to raise an eyebrow;
"Depending how big you want it, my energy reserves are sufficient enough to cast out a massive illusion over the city, why?"
Sokka's grin got wider at the response then he looked the rest of the group;
"Sokka what are you planning?" asked Katara
"We are about to get a serious case of pentopus," announced Sokka, causing the blonde to grin at him.
- \ . / -
Azula was walking around the festival as she looked at the exotic animals they had on display, but the animals weren't the reason she was here or the person she was looking for. Just as she turned around the corner, she let out a grin as she found the person she was looking for;
"Ty Lee . . . could that possibly be you," announced Azula as she approached a girl wearing a pink get up that revealed her toned mid section with a long pig-tail and brown eyes;
"Azula!" said the girl excitedly as she got off from her finger stand and ran towards the girl to greet her with a hug.
"Don't let me interrupt . . . whatever you were doing," said Azula, watching Ty Lee do a back flip so she could position herself on her elbows with her back being arch forward so that her feet could reach her head, "But tell me, what is the daughter of a noble man doing here. Certainly our parents didn't send us to the royal fire academy for girls to end up in places like this," she finished as she saw tamers struggling with a platypus-bear only to stand up after it laid an egg.
Kneeling down, Azula neared Ty Lee;
"I have a proposition for you," declared Azula, "I'm searching for my fuddy duddy uncle."
"Oh he was so funny," said Ty with a giggle till she looked at Azula with curiosity, "But why are you searching for him? Word travels fast of his betrayal and how he barely managed to escape your master," she finished with a shudder, that man really gave her the creeps, "Are you trying to capture them as well?"
Azula shook her head;
"No, I can't go into exact detail, but I really need your help on this Ty Lee," said Azula, almost (keyword: almost) pleadingly;
Ty Lee wanted to help her friend but she really didn't want to be around her master;
"I'm sorry Azula, but I cannot help you-" but was interrupted by the princess
"Ty Lee, you do recall the time I had to go on extreme measures in order to have you help me out, don't you," reminded Azula with a sweet grin on her face, causing the acrobatic girl to blush in embarrassment for she remembered quite clearly what Azula did to her a couple of years ago;
"You wouldn't dare," growled Ty Lee as she stood up, glaring at the princess while Azula's grin only got wider;
"Try me," challenged the princess as her grin never wavered.
Ty Lee glared for a few more seconds till she finally sighed and gave in;
"Fine, I'll join you," said Ty Lee and quickly was hugged tightly by the Fire Nation princess;
"Thank you Ty Lee, you and Mai are the only ones I trust wholeheartedly," said Azula softly, feeling the circus girl return the hug;
"I'm your friend Azula, you know you can always count on me or Mai," whispered Ty Lee just as softly, but then she grew a smirk on her face, "Azula! Look! There's a rodent over-''
''RAAAT!'' Azula broke the hug as she jumped up and fired a fireball at the ground, scorching the ground, ''Did I get it?'' She asked as Ty lee burst out laughing.
"I see some things haven't changed," laughed the acrobatic girl.
"Ha ha ha," Azula laughed dryly while having . . . disturbing thoughts going through her mind, "I could kill her now, but the problem is there's no place to hide the body . . . or I could always . . ." then a dark, sweet smile appeared on her lips, "You know what Ty Lee, before we leave, I'm going to catch your show after all, I hope you don't mind."
An expression of panic spreads over Ty Lee's face as she faces away from Azula, losing her grip on her leg, but quickly recovers and grips her leg once more, a sad and worried expression on her face;
"Uh . . . yeah . . . sure . . . uh . . . of course . . ." answered the girl with uncertainty, regretting pulling the prank on her friend, "Why did I use her fear of rodents! Stupid!" (A/N)
- / . \ -
Back on Omashu, Sokka along with Aang and Katara, went back to the sewers to collect as many pentopus as possible to give the entire population a makeover. While Sokka and the soldiers were Aang and Katara were a couple of feet from the mass of people, the former looking around for any signs of their blonde haired friend;
"Katara, where's Naruto?" asked the young monk
"He's around the city, he said something about drawing seals on parts of the city to make the illusion last longer without him having to maintain it," was the girl's curtly reply, causing the young Avatar to cringe at the tone of her response;
"You are still upset with us, aren't you," stated Aang softly, but Katara simply looked at him with indifference;
"Right now that is not important, we'll discuss that after we have all the villagers out of the city," said Katara before she walked off towards her brother, causing Aang to slump his shoulders down as he heard Sokka give out instructions of making their sickness believable. Then Aang quickly remembered of his captive friend and quickly shook his head to clear it so he could focus at what he intended to do;
"She's right, there're more important tasks at hand," muttered the young monk as he turned to the opposite direction of the march;
"Aang! You're not coming with us?" asked Sokka as he approached his friend, but to stop once the monk turned at him;
"No, I'm not leaving till I find Bumi," replied Aang before he air-jumped to the nearest roof and roof-hopped across the city.
And just as Aang left, Naruto suddenly appeared in front of them via shunshin;
"We are set to begin," informed the blonde as he stared at the group, but then his eyes blinked when he noticed one person was missing, "Where's Aang?"
"He went to look for King Bumi," replied Sokka, causing the blonde to slap his hand into his forehead;
"That idiot," muttered Naruto. Then he looked at the two, "For our sakes, he better not be stupid enough to infiltrate the mansion."
"Why's that?" asked the girl
"Because the security around the mansion just doubled after last night's attempt on the governor's wife and kids," answered the blonde, causing both of them to gasp, "We need to start the evacuation now so that everyone has their focus on us, allowing Aang to move freely within the city."
Sokka nodded, "Cast the gen- whatever you call it."
"gen-jutsu dumbass," muttered the blonde as he made a single hand sign, activating the seals he placed around the city as it cast the illusion all over the city.
On the governor's mansion, on one of the balconies, the governor, his wife and their baby son, along with Mai and some guards enter the balcony as they heard the alarm being sounded while some of the soldiers kept shouting 'plague'.
"What is going on down there?" asked the governor
"Last night, some of my soldiers reported that some kids were wandering around and one of them was ill with pentopox," informed the soldier
"Pentopox? There's no such thing!" stated an irritated governor.
"I thought the same thing, but then they elaborated that one of the teens began to foam at the mouth and his eyes turned yellow as his skin turned pale while blood seeped out of the corners of his eyes and nose," further informed the soldier, causing the governor and his wife to gasp in shock.
"Oh, this is terrible," Amora, the governor's wife stated as she leaned and clinched on her husband's arm.
"What should we do?" asked the guard
"Drive them out of the city . . . . but don't touch them! We have to rid the city of this disease before it can't spread to our men!" ordered the governor.
The guard bows and leaves. Mai offers her father the bowl she is carrying as if nothing had ever happened;
"Fire flakes, Dad?"
Her father looks at her strangely, but no one noticed the baby toddling away from the group.
Meanwhile, at another part of the city, Aang air-bends himself through the city looking for Bumi, only to stop after finding another dead end;
"Where are you Bumi?" muttered Aang as he closed his eyes, then reopened them as he turned his sights towards the governor's mansion, "Something tells me that you are in there, but Naruto's right, it's too risky."
Sighing in defeat, the young avatar was about to leave so he could meet up with his friends but from the rooftop he stood on, he saw Flopsie, chained to a millstone as he stood his hind legs, Fbeing forced to push the turnstile that drives the mill. All alone performing this backbreaking task.
Aang jumps down; "Flopsie!"
Aang stands with his hands outstretched to receive a hug, but Flopsie is restrained by his chain, making unhappy noises while trying to reach Aang. Frowning, Aang jumps onto the turnstile, water-bends some water from a nearby cistern and freezes it around the chain where it is connected to the turnstile allowing Aang to break the chain with his staff. Now Flopsie lunges forward, scooping the young monk in a hug and licks him.
Aang laughed a little before he broke out of the animal's hug and climbed on top of Flopsie;
"Come on, Flopsie, we have to leave and meet up with the others, Yip Yip!" said Aang as he pointed with his staff forward but nothing happened as Flopsie just stood there, causing Aang to scratch his bald head, "Oh . . . I guess that doesn't work with you, let's go!
Hearing the command, Flopsie takes off at high speed into the streets of Omashu.
- \ . / -
While Aang was heading back towards the meeting point, Momo was flying through the air and landed right in the Governor's palace of all places. Upon entering through a window into the Governor's baby son's room, the flying lemur sees a little teddy bear bouncing up and down over the top of a set of art or dressing panels near the back of the room, which is filled with toys.
But what really catches his attention is a platter of berries on a nearby table and jumps over to it. He begins to eat the berries and spitting the seeds over the art panels. Cut to the baby who stops throwing the teddy bear around when he notices the seeds falling around him. Being the curious kid that he is, the baby crawls around the panel and underneath the table Momo is sitting on. Upon seeing tail of the lemur hanging at the edge of the table as it wagged from side to side. The child is captivated by it, he reaches up and grabs Momo's tail, pulling him to the ground in mid bite.
The lemur desperately tried to get away but all he managed to do was drag the child behind him. The child lets go and Momo runs out onto the railing of the balcony. He turns to see the child, still laughing and smiling, has followed him. He lunges for Momo's tail once again, but misses. Momo flies off, but the child falls down the tiles of the roof beneath them and lands in a box of berries traveling down one of Omashu's many chutes.
One again thinking with his stomach, Momo lands on the box of berries and begins eating again, only to have the child emerge from the berries behind him. Momo looks over in some horror at the child, who grabs his tail before he can react. The lemur jumps into the air, beating his wings frantically trying to get away. Finally, the box drops off beneath them as it drops down another chute. The lemur manages to get the airborne, but can't bear the weight for long and ended up dragging on the floor of a nearby plaza. The child lands on top of Momo, pinning him to the floor as he tried to crawl out of the child's weight.
Suddenly, a host of moaning Omashu citizens begins to pass by them. Momo gets up and runs after the citizens, trying to get away from the baby, but the baby ends up following the lemur out of the city's main gate.
- / . \ -
At the mean time, back at the circus, Azula was given special treatment as she got VIP seats;
"We're deeply honored to have the Fire Lord's daughter at our humble circus" announced the Circus Master with a bow, "Tell us if there is anything we can do to make the show more enjoyable."
"I will," Azula replied while thinking of a few things in her mind
Up above on one of the platforms we come to Ty Lee wearing colorful clothing and a golden tiara like head piece doing a head stand using one hand holding a short stick. This stick in turn is balanced on top of what looks like the frame of a small tent. Incredibly, this tent frame, in its turn, balances on a high wire.
"Incredible," praised the princess, "Do you think she'll fall?"
"Of course not, Ty Lee is our most acrobatic and aerodynamic performer after all," The man said confidently, not noticing the princess too sweet smile forming on her lips'
"Then wouldn't it make it more interesting if you removed the net?" asked Azula as she turned towards the Master
"Uh . . . the thing is . . . the performers . . ." He began saying with concerned, but at the same time with fear of not wanting to anger the Fire Lord's daughter.
"You're right, you're right. That's been done," dismissed Azula as she thought of another way of entertainment, till it hit her; "I know, Set the net on fire," ordered the princess while a thought was running through her mind, "That'll teach her to make false claims about rats."
"Of course, Princess," said the Master with a defeated tone as he stands and shoots a gout of flame at the net which promptly catches fire.
Up above, sweat pours down Ty Lee's unhappy face.
"Brilliant, just brilliant!"She looks back down at the Circus Master once more, "Oooo, what kind of dangerous animals do you have?"
"Well, our circus boasts the most exotic assortment-" began to the Circus Master, but was interrupted by Azula before he could finish;
"Release them all!" she ordered
"I knew I shouldn't have used her fear of rats to prank her,"thought a terrified Ty Lee as she watched all hell breaking loose from above. (A/N)
- \ . / -
Back at Omashu, the evacuation plan worked as most of the villagers were gathered at the mountains, camping and rejoicing at being free. Then Aang showed up as he walked with a frown on his face while Flopsie made grunts, tired of running all across the city to the mountains. Katara and Sokka saw him and quickly went to him;
"I looked everywhere except the mansion and I didn't find Bumi," said Aang depressingly, causing the girl to hug him out of comfort.
Katara may have been less upset with Aang and her brother from doubting their blonde friend, but she could not stand seeing him sad due to the possibility of Bumi being gone, she already saw that once when the young monk found out that his people were killed.
The beast made sad noises at not being able to find its master and Sokka hugs him to comfort the animal.
Then the resistance leader walks up to the group with a serious face;
"We've got a problem," announced the leader, "We just did a head count."
Katara gasped as she thought the worse;
"Oh no, did someone get left behind?"
But her answer was answered by the blonde as he approached them with the governor's baby boy in his arms;
"No we have an extra," said the blonde as he winced when the kid pulled on his hair
Meanwhile, back at the balcony of the mansion, we can see the governor's wife crying on a chair with Mai just standing beside her, reaching within her sleeve to pull a hanky chief. Her mother gratefully took it as she wiped away the tears and blew her nose;
"So . . . the plague was just a ruse and the resistance has kidnapped my son," muttered the governor as he stared out at the gates the people of Omashu had walked out of, "Everything so clever, so tricky. Just like their King Bumi."
"What you want to do sir?" asked one of the guards. The governor simply turned to him with sad eyes and didn't say a word as his attention came back to the mountains outside of Omashu.
Back on camp, Naruto, along with Aang, Sokka, Katara and the leader of the resistance sat around a bon fire they made, contemplating on what to do with their . . . . little situation. Speaking of which, the kid was baby walking as he chased after Momo, but then he fell on his behind right in front of Sokka's weapon. The baby taking a liking to the weapon grabbed it and began to play with it as he put it in his mouth. Sokka, being an ass, snatched his weapon back from the kid;
"No, bad fire nation baby," remarked Sokka as he slightly glared at the baby, causing him to wail like any child would after having their toy being taken away.
Katara simply turns to her brother passively and smacks him across the head, placing her hands on her hips while glaring at him;
"Ohh alright," whined Sokka as he begrudgingly gave the baby the weapon back. The kid just cooed as he got his 'toy' back. The cuteness of the kid made Katara squeals as she leaned forward and hugged the baby from behind;
"Ooohh you're so cute," said Katara in a motherly tone as she playfully kissed his cheek, causing the baby to giggle
However, the leader of the resistance just stared at the whole thing with a small frown;
"Sure he's cute now, but when he's older, he'll join the Fire Nation army. You won't think he's so cute then, he'll be a killer," said the leader harshly
"You may be right," muttered the blonde, causing his friends to look at him in surprise, but ignored them as he continued, "At the rate this war has been going, he will be taught to fight and kill people from other nations, because that's he'll learn from the people of today," then he looked at the leader, "The actions you, I or anyone else makes today will affect the children of tomorrow, for they are our legacy after we're gone from this world," then he softly looked at the baby that was crawling towards him, "But if we end the war and teach them about peace and companionship, then the four nations would enter a time of peace."
No one said anything after that; the only sound being made was that of the baby making grunting noises as he was getting a little cranky. Katara's motherly instincts kicked in as she stood up and picked up the cranky boy into her arms, trying to calm him down as she softly rocked him side to side, but it only made it worse as the kid looked like he was ready to wail loudly.
Naruto slowly stood up to his feet and dusted off the dirt from his pants, walked up to Katara slowly and signaled her to give him the baby. Looking at the blonde curiously, she handed him the baby and watched him as he gently placed the baby in his arms. Using his shoulder as a form of a pillow for the baby while Naruto had one arms around the baby's back while using the other for support, slowly the blonde made humming noises as he closed his eyes while barely, softly rocking the baby;
Close your eyes Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Have no fear
The monster's gone
He's on the run and your daddy's here
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Naruto began tosing, the baby suddenly wasn't moving around as much as he was entranced by the lullaby.
Before you go to sleep Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Say a little prayer
Every day in every way
It's getting better and better
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Katara couldn't help but smile softly and gaze lovingly at the sight that was before her. Right then and there, she knew that Naruto would be a good father to his children as she watched the baby's eyes growing heavy as he tried to stay awake as Naruto simply continued his rhythm with his lullaby;
Out on the ocean sailing away
I can hardly wait
To see you come of age
But I guess we'll both just have to be patient
'Cause it's a long way to go
A hard row to hoe
Yes it's a long way to go
But in the meantime
Before you cross the street
Take my hand
Life is what happens to you
While you're busy making other plans
Naruto simply looked at the child and noticed that the baby was putting his thumb into his mouth as he rested his head on his shoulder. Smiling softly he decided to finish the lullaby as he gently walked towards Katara once more;
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Before you go to sleep
Say a little prayer
Every day in every way
It's getting better and better
By now, the baby was completely asleep by the time he reached the girl, seeing her questioning expression as she stared at the baby, he nodded his head and gently handed her the baby as he squatted a little bit, due to him being a bit taller than Katara. The girl gently wrapped her arms around the baby and softly took him from Naruto's arms as the blonde sang the last words of his lullaby;
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Darling, darling, darling
Darling son . . .
Naruto took a few steps back as he saw Katara handling the baby with care, bringing a smile to his face as he saw her tending the baby with delicacy. Then suddenly, the mood was changed when they heard the wails of a messenger hawk landing on top of the hill just above them.
Naruto quickly jumped high to reach the hawk and opened the compartment to retrieve the letter. The blonde quickly scanned the letter and raised his eyebrow at its contents. Quickly, he jumped back down with the letter in hand and the hawk surprisingly on his shoulder, approaching the group;
"What does the letter say Naruto?" questioned Aang
"It's a letter from the governor himself," informed the blonde, gaining surprised looks from those around him, "He believes that we kidnapped his son and wants to make a trade."
"What kind of trade?" Sokka asked this time
"His son for King Bumi," was the blonde's reply, but the way his face contorted with a pensive stare as he stared at the letter. Katara quickly took notice;
"You think it's a trap," stated the girl as she still held on to the baby;
Naruto nodded his head as he neared to his supplies and pulled out a brush with a small container full of ink and began to write a reply;
"Yes, but we are going to make the trade none the less," informed the blonde as he stood up once again and placed the letter back on the compartment, releasing the hawk back towards the city, "But I'm the one that's going to make the trade while Aang accompanies me. You and Sokka are to stay hidden above the skies among Appa in case it does turn for the worst and need to make a quick getaway," then he looked at the leader of the resistance, "You're to remain here with the villagers, without King Bumi being among them, they are going to look at you for strength and guidance," then he placed a hand on the leader's shoulder, "Be strong for them and lead them well."
The leader nodded his head, no hint of fear or doubt in his eyes.
"Get some rest, for tomorrow we are all going to need all of our strength," ordered the blonde as everyone nodded and walked away.
Katara just watched as the blonde walked up the edge of the hill and stood there as he gazed at the moon. Turning towards Appa, the girl gently laid the child on the creature's fur, letting out a soft, happy sigh as the child snuggled deeper into the fur. Katara then walked towards the same direction as the blonde, standing beside him once she reached him. Both of them didn't say a word as they both gazed upon the moon.
"That was a beautiful song you sang," commented Katara without looking at him;
"Thanks, it was a lullaby I came up with for my son when I was told I was going to be a father," replied the blonde without looking at her as well.
Again, silence befell both of them as they continued to gaze upon the moon.
"Naruto," began Katara softly
"Hmm?" hummed the blonde
"You would not keep any secrets from us, would you?" asked Katara as she turned to face him.
Naruto turned to face her as well with an unreadable face, knowing where this conversation was heading. Letting out a sigh, the blonde turned to fully face Katara, prepared to tell her a bit of the truth, but not the whole truth just yet;
"Katara, I'm sorry but there are a few things about me that I've kept a secret from you three," admitted the blonde, causing the girl to widen her eyes in disbelief, but Naruto quickly raised a hand to stop any outbursts from her, "I kept them a secret for a reason."
"And what reason would that be?" asked Katara, her voice laced with a bit of betrayal
"To protect you three," answered the blonde, watching as the girl's eyes widen even more before they narrowed in anger, but Naruto didn't let her start as he glared at her before continuing, "Katara, you may have not known it, but just by me traveling with you three has put you guys in greater danger than before," then he pointed towards the city of Omashu, "If you think that the whole Fire Nation is a threat, then that's when you're mistaken, because there is someone out there that is more dangerous than the whole nation combined."
At this, the girl's eyes widen in shock and fear.
"The same fire-bender that conquered the city of Omashu is out there looking for me," finished the blonde as he turned to face the occupied city.
"But why would he be only looking for you? I mean, Aang is more of a threat to him since he is the avatar," argued Katara, but Naruto just looked at her with a sad expression on his face;
"Katara, at the moment I cannot reveal as to why he's focused on me, but I promise you that I will reveal everything to you, I just simply ask you to trust me as you have come to trust me in the past," said the blonde, almost pleadingly at the end.
Katara looked to the side as she felt the doubt within her, but one thing was certain, and it was that no matter what the situation, the blonde has never given a reason to not trust him. Turning towards him as she squarely looked at him the eye she spoke;
"I trust you Naruto, for you haven't given me a reason not to," then her gaze soften, "But please, don't break it."
And with that, Katara slowly turned away as she began to walk back towards Appa in hopes of getting some sleep, leaving the blonde by himself at the edge of the hill as he watched her walk away. Letting out a long, tired sigh, he turned towards the moon once again.
- / . \ -
Meanwhile, back at Omashu, Azula and Ty Lee were making their arrival as the royal court carried their carriage up the stairs, awaiting at the top of the mountain was Mai, with a bored look on her face.
"Please . . . tell me you're here to kill me," said a humorless governor's daughter as she bowed to her friend, only to look up with a smirk and both, her and Azula broke out in a fit of giggles as the two embraced each other. The two broke apart and Mai turned towards the acrobatic girl, who quickly embraced her as well;
"I thought you ran off to the circus, saying that it was your calling," questioned Mai, only to be released by her friend while smiling widely;
"Well, Azula called a little louder," responded Ty Lee
Then Azula grew serious as she approached her to friends;
"I have a mission and I need help from the both of you," began Azula, but Mai beat her to the punch as she quickly volunteered;
"Count me in! Anything to get out of this hell hole," commented Mai with distaste while Ty Lee looked at Azula with curiosity;
"Azula, what is this mission you're partaking in, you didn't say much back at the circus," questioned Ty Lee
"I promise to tell you both of what my mission is, but first I have to talk to your father Mai," commented the princess as her gaze ended at Mai's direction;
Said girl simply shrugged her shoulders in a non-caring fashion;
"Go ahead, just try not to break him too much with your act," suggested Mai, knowing full well of her "bitch" attitude mask.
Later on, Azula confronts the governor, who pleads with her and asks for forgiveness as he explained the situation with the resistance. However, Azula, using her mask, tells the governor he's making a mess of things and also corrects him that there is no more "Omashu", renaming the city in 'honor' of her father: the city of New Ozai while in her mind, she mentally gagged at said proclamation. As for the trading, Azula decides that Mai will handle the trade, that way she wouldn't have to worry about any nuisances.
After the meeting with governor, Azula and her friends retreated into her given room by the governor, quickly locking it so no uninvited guests would barge in. Mai and Ty Lee looked at the princess with puzzled looks;
"Alright Azula, what is going on? What's this so called mission of yours?" questioned Mai
Azula sighed as she gazed at her two friends with dead seriousness;
"My mission to take down Sasuke Uchiha," she replied, causing both girls to gasp, a look of shock and fear adorning their faces;
"Are you mad!" shouted Ty Lee, shivering in fright as she remembered the few times she met the man, nothing but a complete void of darkness in his aura, "We are talking about your master! A fire-bender that is more feared than your grandfather, Fire Lord Azulon ever was! How do you expect us three take down someone like that!"
"Normally I wouldn't agree with her, but Ty Lee's right, we are no match him," Mai voiced in her opinion as well, knowing full well the hatred she harbored for said person, "Azula, you're taking this vendetta against him too far."
That comment had awakened a fury within the princess;
"Too far!" snarled the princess with ferocity as she glared at Mai, "It's because of him that my family is torn apart! It's because of him that Zu-zu and I don't have our mother with us anymore!" then her gaze softened as she looked at the floor, muttering softly, "It's because of him that I had to push my brother away."
Both girls didn't say anything, knowing full well the complete story of Azula's dysfunctional family and at the center of it, her master was cause of it all. (A/N)
"Azula, do you even have a plan on how to even take down your master?" questioned Mai, only to receive a nod in response;
"Yes, we are going to go search for the crimson avatar," announced the Fire Lord's daughter, causing both of her friends to have a shocking look on their faces again, believing that she may have finally lost her senses;
"Um . . . Azula, I hate to break it to you, but the Avatar of Four Dragons is just a myth," Ty Lee announced carefully, not wanting to upset her friend, but the princess just shook her head;
"No he's real alright," informed the princess, "He was last seen at the North Pole as he battled the fleet that that fool General Zhao commanded, only to meet their defeat at his hands."
"So there are two avatars?" asked Ty Lee, gaining a nod from her friend;
"Yes and we are going to go look for him," commanded the princess with all seriousness
"Azula, what makes you so sure that the crimson avatar is capable of defeating your master?" questioned Mai, only to receive a grin from her;
"Let's just say that Sasuke has been a bit disturbed at his appearance at the North Pole and when I asked him what was so special about him, let's just say he shared with me something very interesting," informed Azula.
- ) ( Flashback ) ( -
On Azula's ship, the princess was seen practicing her lightning manipulation above deck by herself, wincing as she could still feel the bruises that her master had given her during her training sessions, his attacks had become more ferocious during said sessions just as his demeanor had been differently after he learned of the failed attempt at the North Pole, seeming to get worse and worse with each passing day. Suddenly, she heard marching footsteps coming from the stairs that led to the helms master. Coming out of the stairway as her master, Sasuke Uchiha, carrying a small traveling pack over his shoulder as he walked towards his student.
Azula firmly stood up before she bowed toward him as he neared her till he stood a couple of steps away from her;
"Azula, I'm leaving you in charge of the fleet," announced the Uchiha coldly, gaining a look of surprise from her;
"You're leaving master?" questioned the apprentice. He only nodded at her, "May I ask where you going master?"
The princess only received the famous Uchiha glare;
"That is none of your concern Azula, your only priority is to search and capture your traitorous brother and uncle," ordered the Uchiha much more coldly than usual before he began to walk towards the ramp that was stationed on port, but suddenly stopped as he looked over his shoulder with a glare, "A warning girl, if you are ever to come across a man with glowing red marking on his body, do not engage him or I would hate to tell your father about your demise by his hand."
Azula cautiously watched Sasuke;
"What's so special about this individual?"
The raven haired Uchiha fully turned towards Azula as he gazed at her with a stoned face;
"Tell me child, what you know about the Avatar of Four Dragons?" questioned the Uchiha, only for the princess to look at him strangely;
"Only what the legend says; he is the one that created the four disciplines and taught one of each to each of his disciples. Later he disappeared without a trace," answered the princess, "But he's just a myth."
Sasuke gaze hardened when she said that;
"Foolish child, the Crimson Avatar is real and he has awakened to stop this war," declared Sasuke, causing Azula to gasp in shock;
"But master, why is he such a big concern to you? I mean, the last air-bender is the avatar as well and while he does represent a threat to the Fire Nation, he doesn't seem much of a threat to someone like you," concluded the princess.
"The last air-bender is of no concern to me for he doesn't have the power or skill to defeat me," said the Uchiha, some-what arrogantly, "The crimson avatar, however, is the only person among the four nations that is able to match me in power," admitted the Sasuke as he turned away from her with closed his eyes before he reopened them again, his sharingan active as it spun, softly muttering, "But mark my words, I will not make the same mistake, he will fall by my hands and I shall reign victorious."
Unaware that Azula had actually hear him.
- ) ( End Flashback ) ( -
Mai and Ty Lee didn't say a word after Azula had told them of her master's words;
"So our main objective is to find the crimson avatar, plead our case and hope that he won't kill us for being Fire Nation citizens," summarized Mai before she shrugged her shoulders, "Why not, it's better than being here bored out of my mind."
"But where do we begin our search?" asked the acrobatic girl, "We don't even know what he looks like or where is his current location?"
"That's simple, we just look for a fire-bender that wields white-fire," said Azula dismissively with her hand, but her face told them otherwise;
"What's on your mind Azula?" asked Mai
"What Sasuke said to at the end has been bothering me for a while now," responded the princess, "'this time there will be a victor,' if I didn't know any better, I would say that Sasuke had faced the crimson avatar before and the outcome of their battle ended in a draw."
"Now you're talking crazy Azula, the crimson avatar is supposed to be very, very, very, old. There's no way that your master could have lived during the ancient times," argued Ty Lee.
The princess looked like she wanted to argue the point, but decided against it as she shook her head;
"You're right, it's probably his paranoia talking," suggested Azula, "Let's get some rest girls, for tomorrow we have to deal with the resistance."
Both girls nodded as they stood up and to their respective rooms.
- \ . / -
Next day, at the base of Lord Ozai's statue, Aang, Naruto and a kage bunshin holding Tom-Tom waited patiently for the governor's party to arrive with King Bumi in tow. Up above, Sokka and Katara rode on Appa, being the backup Naruto suggested in case things were shot to hell;
"You sure this will work?" asked Katara as she glanced the two down below before turning towards her brother;
Sokka nodded his head;
"Of course it will work," commented Sokka without bothering to look up, "This is Naruto we are talking about, if they don't want to hand over Bumi, he'll just kick their asses and we'll take the king back by force."
The girl didn't say anything as she glanced back down below.
Across from them, the party had arrived as they walked up the stairs to the platform where Aang and Naruto were at. The blonde quickly analyzed the newcomers, trying to see which of the three a major threat was as his eyes scanned them only to land on the girl on the far right. He quickly noted the way she carried herself, confident and silently;
"She seems to be more skillful out of the group, but I still would not disregard the other two," thought the blonde as he narrowed his eyes at the other girls, "Something tells me that this is going to take a bad turn for the worse."
"Aang," said the blonde as he gained the attention of the young avatar, "Be on your guard, especially with the girl on the far right, she's the most dangerous one of the three."
Aang slowly nodded his head, turning his attention back on the three girls.
Stopping a couple of feet away from them, the girl that Naruto recognized as the governor's eldest daughter raised her hand, signalizing to lower the iron coffin where Bumi was being held at, snorting/laughing all the way down like a maniac;
"Hi, everybody!" announced Bumi happily
Naruto just sweat-dropped a bit at the back of his head as he eyed the King of Omashu being set behind the girls;
"He's . . . odd," said Naruto
"Yes he is, but he's also a good friend," said Aang with a smile
"You brought my brother?" asked Mai, snapping the two out of their own conversation.
Naruto stepped forward;
"He's here, unharmed," announced Naruto as he gestured for the clone to step forward, showing Tom-tom as the baby giggled.
"We're ready to trade," followed Aang impatiently, gaining a stern look from the blonde, causing the young monk to look sheepish.
Shaking his head in disapproval, Naruto turned towards the clone and nodded his head.
Getting the message, the clone began walking towards the girls, but as soon as he was halfway, Azula jumped in front of her group and shot a massive flame ball at the clone, dispersing it as soon it was hit with. The eyes of everyone present went wide in shock while Azula held a passive face till her eyes turned towards the blonde, who just narrowed his eyes at the girl as soon as he got over his shock and noticed her glare;
"I don't know how you know that technique, but you will not fool me with the illusion layer on the that shadow clone," stated the Fire Nation princes, causing the blonde to glare dangerously at her;
After hearing Azula's words, Mai looked at Aang and Naruto with a hard eyes and instructed the king to be hoisted back again;
"Tell me girl, is your master's name by any chance Sasuke Uchiha?" asked Naruto, his eyes steeling as he saw the flinch from the three girls, "That's all I needed to know," and Naruto simply slid into a boxers stance with two kunais in habd, while Aang, began to feel uneasy as the blonde began to leak killer intent and watched the girls prepare themselves for the unavoidable brawl that was about to happen.
"How do you know that name?" demanded/hissed Azula as she took her fire-bending stance;
Naruto ignored her question and turned towards Aang;
"Go ahead and free your friend," said the blonde, his sights back on the three girls, "I'll handle them."
"But Naruto-," Aang's argument was cut short when said blonde shot him a glare that made Aang almost use his air-bending to get away, but just shakily nodded his head and jumped high in the air using his air-bending to land on one of platforms and use it as a spring board to reach Bumi.
Azula saw his intentions and from her position, she jumped into the air and twisted her body so she could launch a rising kick, launching the flame towards Aang, but the young monk managed to avoid the attack at the cost of his rag coming off, his arrow showing for everyone to see, causing Azula to gasp in surprise;
"The avatar!" exclaimed Azula as she prepares to run, but a thrown kunai stopped her on her tracks.
"You're not going anywhere," as he rushed towards her with his right hand cocked back and delivered a punch on the spot she was standing on. As soon as Azula landed beside her friends, Ty Lee raced towards the blonde to engage him in tai-jutsu as she stroke with jabbing fingers, to which the blonde blocked without problems as he parried or swatted the hits, a frown appearing on his face as he dodged another strike as he used the acrobatics' forward momentum and used her head as a spring board to land behind her, but quickly reached into his pouch and threw six kunais towards Mai, his kunais meeting Mai's throwing knifes in mid air as a loud clang was heard. Azula tried to blind attack him from the side as threw a flame cover punch, but Naruto parried the punch upward, launching her blue flames into the air and countered attack as he kicked her in the midsection, sending her back towards Ty Lee.
Naruto kept his guard up as he stood in the middle and looked between Mai on his left and Ty Lee and Azula on his right, but his sights mostly ended up on Ty Lee;
"That style she's using . . . it seems familiar," thought Naruto
- / . \ -
Up above, Sokka and Katara watched as Naruto engaged the three girls;
"He needs help, let's go," suggested Katara as she was about to instruct Appa to land, but Sokka grabbed a hold of her arm, "What are you doing? Can't you see he is outmatched?"
But she calmed down when she saw her brother's look;
"Let Naruto handle them," said Sokka without taking his eyes of the fight, "Something tells me that this fight has become a little personal for Naruto and if we go down there to help, we might end up getting in the way in the end," turning towards his sister, "Besides, Aang has already fled with Bumi, we need to find him to get the king out of here."
Katara looked back at Naruto with worry, but her brother was right. Making a decision, she grabbed Appa's reigns;
"Appa, let's go find Aang," ordered Katara as the sky bison took off, Katara looked back at the form of the blonde, "Please, becareful."
- \ . / -
Back with Naruto;
The blonde assumed his stance once more as so did the rest of the girls, but his eyes gained a surprised look when Ty Lee slid into a stance that was familiar to him.
"Juken," thought the blonde as he narrowed his eyes, "If that girl knows how to use the gentle fist without the Byakugan, then I need to finish this battle as soon as possible."
Without warning, Naruto turned towards Mai and threw several kunais at her. Mai being caught off-guard had no time to block as the kunais found their mark and pinned her on wood platform. Naruto quickly reacted as he sidestepped a fire attack and watch Azula rush at him with her elbows covered in flames. Jumping into the air, the fire princess delivered an downward elbow strike, but blocked with his forearm, however, Azula didn't stop there as did spinning elbow strike, but Naruto ducked, but his eyes widen in surprise when she Azula attacked him with a flame covered knee strike. Quickly, the blonde covered himself with both of his forearms and block the attack, but he didn't react fast enough to avoid Azula clinching both her hands behind his head and continue the strikes;
"So . . . He taught her my original fire-bending style," thought the blonde as he slightly winces when another knee met his forearm. Waiting for the right moment, Naruto sent an elbow strike of his at Azula's uncovered mid section as soon as her leg was brought down and followed with a knee strike of his own, causing the princess to stumble backwards a bit and gasp when Naruto's elbows were covered in flames as well as he attacked with a downward right elbow, followed with downward left elbow strike. Azula managed to evade both attacks by jumping backwards to gain some distance, however, she didn't counted on being hit on the stomach once again with a flaming stomp to the chest, sending her skidding on the ground.
"That hurt," muttered Azula as she winced when she touched the burning mark on her armor, her eyes not leaving her target as sweat poured down her face, "But how does he know that style."
However, Naruto was preoccupied with Azula, that he had forgotten all about Ty Lee, for she took advantage of his lack of attention and snuck to his left side and managed to land a few solid hits on his arm, rendering useless as his arm went limp on him. She was about to attack his right arm, but Naruto didn't allowed her to do so as he grabbed onto her stretched arm and pulled her towards him, nailing her with an elbow thrust right on the chest, sending skidding right next to Azula, who had managed to get on her feet shakily;
"You, girl," said Naruto as he pointed towards Lee with his usable arm, "How do know of Juken and be able to it without the Byakugan."
Ty Lee's eyes widen;
"I found a scroll that held the basics of it and trained myself to be efficient in it be memorizing the body's chakra and vital points," her eyes narrowed, "How do you know that it requires that?" demanded Ty Lee as she slowly stood up to her feet, but the blonde didn't answer as he poked the spots where Ty Lee had hit him. Her eyes widening even more when she saw him being able to use his arm once more;
"You're very skillful, I'll give you that, however," said Naruto as he slid into the advanced form of Juken, "You have yet to reach Juken's true power," then his eyes narrowed, "Both of you are within my division, Hakke Hyaku Nijūhachi Shō!"
Naruto's hands became blurs as he attacked the both with precision on each chakra point of their bodies, immobilizing them as he hit some of the nerves as well. With a final shout, Naruto ended his attack with a palm thrust to their chest, sending them flying a few feet back, landing with an audible thud.
Azula tried to stay conscious, but her vision started to become blurry as she saw her opponent approaching her and kneeling down next to her;
"I want you to deliver a message for me," began the blonde, "Tell him that I'm coming for him and when we meet, there will be hell to pay."
Azula only watched with awe and fear as Naruto's eyes slowly turned crimson till her vision had turned black.
Seeing that all three of them were unconscious, Naruto quickly vanished from the battle ground, not wanting to stick around whenever the soldiers arrived. Seeing as he didn't have any other reason to stay within the village, he evacuated the city and met up with the resistance back in the mountains. When he got here, he saw that Aang, Sokka and Katara had already arrived. Katara was the first one to notice his arrival as she rushed towards him and gave him a hug, which Naruto returned with his good arm since he was still feeling the effects of Ty Lee's attack. Noticing his wincing, the girl got worried;
"Are you alright Naruto?" she asked
"Yea, just slight pain on my arm thanks to that girl with the long pig-tail," replied the blond.
Katara instructed Naruto to follow her towards Appa and sat him down on the ground. Katara pulled out her flask of water and covered hand in a water glove before she began her water-bending treatment on Naruto's arm. Said person turned towards Aang;
"So Aang, where's Bumi?" he asked, but he saw the young monk's shoulder dropping;
"He chose to stay behind," replied Aang, "Said that I need to find an earth-bending teacher that waits and listens to the earth before attacking."
"Sounds lot like Udon," thought the blonde before he winced from the sudden throb of pain he felt in his arm. Turning towards Katara, "You found the sore spot."
Katara nodded as she went back to work.
"There's still one problem," announced Sokka as he pointed at Tom-tom, who was pulling on his wolf-tail hair.
Feeling his arm healed, Naruto stood up and walked towards Sokka and took the baby into his arms;
"Don't worry, I'll take this little guy back to his parents," said Naruto as the baby squealed in happiness at seeing Naruto. Then he turned towards Yoh, "By any chance you wouldn't know of the closest village to Omashu, would you?"
The leader nodded his head and pulled out a map, setting it on the boulder next to him;
"This is where we are," said the leader as he pointed on their location, then he slid the finger southeast towards the image of a city, "This would be the closest city to us, Gaoling."
Nodding his head, he turned towards Aang and the rest;
"This is where we part ways for now," announced Naruto, surprising the three of them, as he pointed on the map, "Gaoling city will be our meeting point."
"Why are you leaving us?" asked Sokka
"Because Sokka, I found a lead on the black fire-bender," answered the blonde, shocking them, "And I don't want you guys to be involved in the crossfire in case there's a chance that I stumble upon him."
Katara didn't know what to say; at one point she didn't want him to go, but understood that it was something that he needed to get over with, but on the other hand, she wanted to go with him, but he was right. If this fire-bender managed to seize Omashu by himself, then she would most likely get in the way. Swallowing the lump she felt on her throat, she looked at Naruto;
"You're coming back though, right?"
Naruto simply smiled at her question;
"Of course I'll come back, if I cannot find any information about him, I'll head towards Gaoling," replied Naruto
Nodding her head, Katara went up to him and gave him a hug, which Naruto return as the two stayed there for a couple of minutes before Katara detached herself from him and got on top of Appa. Naruto turned towards his pupil and nodded his head towards him while Sokka just bowed his head. Aang was the last person to stay as the two of them stared into one another;
"Take care of them Aang," said Naruto
"I will, you just make sure to come back," said Aang back evenly before he jumped on the mount and bid farewell to the citizens of Omashu as he instructed the bison to take off into the skies.
Naruto just watched the bison fly off into the distance, until the baby began cooing as he playfully slapped Naruto's cheek.
Chuckling, the blonde rocked the baby in his arms;
"Now it's time for you to go home to your mommy and daddy," said the blonde as he vanished in a cloud of smoke.
Nighttime had fallen on the city and on the balcony of the governor, he and his wife were looking towards the mountains with sadness and worry, not knowing of what could be happening to their son. Unknown to them, Naruto had skillfully landed on the balcony without much of a sound, the shadows hiding him perfectly from view. Gently, Naruto woke the sleeping baby up, causing him to lazily open his eyes till he turned to the direction of his parents. Softly cooing, Naruto placed Tom-tom on the ground and watched the baby began his baby walk towards the parents.
The blonde just watched with content smile as the parents hugged and cried for their son's safe return;
"My work here is done," whispered the blonde as he disappeared through the shadows.
- / . \ -
Meanwhile, earlier that same day with the gAang;
After they had left Naruto back with the people of Omashu, they had stumble across in a predicament, for as soon as they flew over a swamp, Aang began to feel the swamp's calling to him, but, due to the reluctance of his friends, agrees to leave. Suddenly, a tornado appears, swallowing everyone into the swamp. Aang uses airbending to make a sphere of air as a shield around Appa. Unfortunately, the tornado overwhelms the sphere and dispels it, pulling everyone into the windstorm. This separates humans and animals into two separate groups.
The human group begins looking for Momo and Appa. Aang and Katara are wary of the environment, sensing something ominous about it. Sokka uses his machete to hack through the swamp vegetation, clearing a path. He becomes annoyed at his sister and friend's warnings, stating there is nothing out of the ordinary about the place.
Aang, Katara, and Sokka make camp for the night. While they are asleep, a swamp monster attacks them, which ends in a further separation of the group. Alone in the swamp, each person experiences a vision of another person;
Aang spots a young laughing girl and a flying boar in the swamp, the girl of whom he does not recognize. He calls out to her, but she runs away with Aang giving chase after her.
Sokka envisions Yue in spirit form, who says hauntingly to him, "You didn't protect me." Sokka refuses to believe what he witnesses, clinging to the belief that there's a logical explanation.
Katara sees her mother, and momentarily believes she has returned. However, after joyfully running over to meet her, her vision is revealed to be an ordinary stump to which Katara gasps in disbelief and breaks down into tears, however, something else appeared before her;
- \ . / -
Katara was drying her tears after seeing her mother was just an illusion and was about to go on continuing her search for Aang and her brother, but she suddenly halted for as soon as she turned around to come back the same way she came from, she saw a man at the distance, standing there, but she could not tell who it was for his back was facing her and was wearing some sort of white robe with some markings that she could not understand with a matching hat. Approaching the person with caution, Katara began to see the man was fairly tall, Naruto's height most likely; (A/N: Hokage robes.)
"Who are you?" question Katara, but the person didn't acknowledge her as he just stood there. Katara got a little angry and got closer towards him, but then she stopped once he slowly turned around to address her, but his face was not visible for it was overshadowed by the hat. The only thing visible from the shadows were those crimson red eyes that reminded her of only one individual;
"The Crimson Avatar," gasped Katara
Slowly, she saw the person reach for his hat and took it off; however, as soon as he took his hat, there was a flash of light, causing Katara to cover her eyes as the light was too strong.
Once the light had died, Katara slowly uncovered her eyes and searched for the person, but she gasped in shock when the person's face was similar to Naruto's, whisker marks and everything. Even the eyes were the same blue color, they were not crimson red like before, however, what she did took notice was that the Naruto look alike, was wearing the same robe as the one before;
"What could this mean?" muttered Katara as she saw the person looking back at her with a neutral face, "Why this person does resemble Naruto when the eyes were blood red before while they are their regular blue now."
Then her eyes widen at a sudden thought;
"Could it be that this person is Naruto and somehow he is connected to the crimson avatar?" were her thoughts, but the person slowly vanished, leaving her alone once more, puzzled as to what make out of what she saw.
Suddenly, she shook her head;
"I'll think about this later and talk to Naruto the next time I see him," muttered Katara as she began her search for her other two missing members once more, "I need to find out the truth."
I've decided to cut it here, since pretty much the rest of story was going to be like cannon.
My apologies for taking long on posting this chapter, although I've been thinking of an interesting idea that had popped to mind concerning the direction of this story.
And I would like to thank Kyuubi16 for allowing me to use a piece of his work, I found it pretty funny when I first read it and asked him if I could use it.