Before we get started on the conclusion of this little adventure I just want to say "thank you so much!" for the reception this little Kataang romp has received with so many reviews and views. I am frankly humbled greatly.
Chapter 6 - Home Again
It was a very long flight – they were nearly two days into the flight before they saw the Earth Kingdom on the horizon. Fortunately the skies and seas were calm, so whenever they and Appa needed to sleep they could just rest on the waters.
They discovered that they were a few hundred miles south of Kuei's Summer Palace and quickly headed north. When they arrived, there was great relief. Kuei himself was there, and he embraced them both.
"I was so worried. When word reached me that you didn't arrive, my staff panicked that you had been injured or lost in the storm. I led the rescue myself.
We searched everywhere a few days, but had to give up. My dear friends, I am so relieved, for all of us. What actually happened?"
They looked at each other, and Katara said with a smirk, "Aang is so much better at me about explaining things, aren't you?"
"Of course, Katara," and shot her an annoyed look. He would have to think fast to protect the People of the Sea.
"Well, Kuei, we got blown out to sea by the big storm, but managed to find an abandoned boat that we stayed on until we got close to land. Appa just floated along with us or flew overhead looking for land. The boat was much more damaged than we thought and it eventually sunk, so we flew the final few miles here. And so here we are! Safe and sound!" Aang explained confidently. Katara rolled her eyes and bit her lip.
Kuei took in every word, but then observed, "Well. That doesn't seem so bad. You guys look like you weathered the storm pretty well."
"Well are you both ready to have a nice, cushy, pampered time here at the palace? You've been lost over a week."
Aang and Katara smiled and hugged, as they said together, "You bet."
"Well then, get freshened up by my servants, get a clean set of comfortable clothes, and come have dinner with Hanqiao and me. Then you can have some private time in a nice comfortable guest room."
"That will be very nice, Kuei. We'll be ready."
While getting ready for the evening, Katara mused, "Aang the Avatar. You are a terrific liar! Where did you learn that skill? And should I be worried you'd ever lie to me?" as she wrapped her arms around his neck.
"Katara, I wasn't lying. I was improving the story. Just like I did at the Great Divide."
"Hmm. I remember that. Whatever you say, Aang," she kissed him on the nose and they continued to get ready.
It was a great night with Kuei, Hanqiao, and the courtesans and staff. At the end of the evening, satisfied with a wonderful meal, great conversation, musicians, and savory tea, Aang and Katara turned in for the night. They knew they needed the comfort of each other's love, so they undressed each other quickly.
Soon all that was left were the thin fiber rope belts they still wore from the People of the Sea. Aang started to take Katara's off, but she stopped him and smiled, "No Aang, please leave it. I want to remember. Besides, I feel naked without it."
They laughed. He caressed her face, and she leaned into that familiar touch, closed her eyes and smiled.
Love between them was rarely as tender as it was that night – a fitting end of their unexpected week of adventure with the lost race of original water benders – the People of the Sea.