Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar: the Last Airbender.
The Legend of Sokka
It starts, as all legends do, as a story. A simple tale told in a tavern by a group of Fire Nation sailors taking advantage of one of their few days at port to sit around a table with alcohol flowing freely and partake in that most ancient of traditions.
Bitching about the boss.
Now, for the most part, the sailors respected their leader, the banished Prince Zuko. Consumed by his goal of capturing the Avatar as he was, his men could certainly understand that drive and, for the most part, he treated them well. Granted, if it weren't for Iroh's influence, they likely would have mutinied within a week, but, for the most part, they were content under Zuko's lead.
Still, enjoying a few brews while they recalled their most recent mission (and the first lead in their hunt- they'd actually captured the Avatar! Sure, he'd escaped... but now they knew for sure that he was really out there!), and a particular tale came to mind. One of Zuko's humiliation.
It started out straightforwardly enough, Zuko had ordered them to land at a pitiful village somewhere in the Southern Arctic. Calling it small would have been generous and, populated solely by women and young children, not a single sailor considered it a threat.
And then, there was the boy. A lanky teen of the Southern Water Tribe, bedecked in the tribal war paint of his people, charged, a club brought to bear and a roar on his lips.
The sailors hadn't even bothered to intervene when they saw him making a straight path for the Prince. Zuko took care of him with a single kick, knocking him into a snowbank and, as far as they had been concerned, that had been the end of that.
But then... he'd returned. The war paint a little smudged from his impact with the snow and his pride wounded, perhaps, but he'd charged again with vigor. And, again, Zuko bested him.
The young Tribesman tried once more, this time with a spear and encouragement given by one of the younger children that stood behind him, determined, despite his clear inability, to protect his home from the invaders.
The sailors had to admit, however begrudgingly, that the kid had been brave. Stupid, but brave.
In the third assault, Zuko had taken the spear and broken it into pieces, before choosing to end it with a blast of fire. And, once more, as far as the sailors were concerned, it was over.
Only it wasn't... the kid managed to dodge the fireball (not an overly difficult maneuver, perhaps, but still far more than they had expected of him), using the momentum of his movement to hurl a small blade towards his enemy, only to miss by a wide margin. Zuko didn't even strain himself to dodge it.
Zuko and the sailors had stood over the teen, who was still crouched down in the snow, confident in their victory, before, again, something completely unexpected occurred.
Somehow (the sailors still argued, and would for many years, whether it was through spirit magic, hard earned skill, or dumb ass luck) the blade returned, clocking the Prince in the back of the skull.
After that? Well, after that the young Tribesman didn't play much of a role. He was really just there in the background when the true star of the tale, the Avatar, showed up and began to play his own part.
But still, it was a good story. One that the sailors would proudly tell to all who could hear. And, when they found that their audiences would sometimes ask about what had happened to that young Tribesman after the Avatar had made his deal with the Prince, well, they had told the truth.
The kid had been there, along with some Waterbender. Somehow he'd tamed some kind of flying monster (probably the Avatar's pet) and made it to the ship, where he'd helped the young Airbender escape the Fire Nation's hold.
And, for a while, that was that. The story of the battle between the Tribesman and the Prince was funny enough to be told over and over, but with the Avatar's presence (especially once it was confirmed that, yes, the Avatar had returned and that this may very well be the truth) it spread throughout the Earth Kingdom like wildfire.
The focus of the tale was told with the spotlight very much on the Avatar, but, as the Avatar travelled, and stories about him grew and followed in his wake, telling of his deeds and, by extension, the deeds of his companions. A young Waterbender and a young Water Tribesman. The same Water Tribesman with the magic blade that always returned so deftly to his hand who had, however briefly, made a fool of the Banished Prince.
For the most part, the Tribesman played little part in these stories. The focus was generally placed on the Avatar himself or the young Waterbender who, as some would say in quiet whispers, were lovers.
It wasn't until months into their journey, when the trio reached the Northern Water Tribe that had been their destination, that the Tribesman returned to the spotlight. This time as the star of a tragic romance.
'Sokka and Yue: the Warrior and the Moon'... a story of young love and heartache that could rival even Oma and Shu. A Warrior from the South, a Friend and Companion to the Avatar travels clear across the globe, dedicated the entire time to his duty to defend his younger sister and the Avatar to his dying breath, only, once his mission was complete, once the Avatar and his sister were safe in the North, undergoing the training they required... he fell in love.
So romantic, some would say. He saw the Princess's smiling face, graced with the beauty of the Moon itself, and was instantly entranced.
Young love. A truly beautiful thing. Some people, who knew friends of people who claimed to have been there in the North at the time, said that the two were clearly smitten at the banquet that welcomed the Avatar to the city. Deeply in love already.
But it was not meant to be. Yue was promised to another man and Sokka, though heartbroken, respected her decision, even though they both wished dearly she had chosen differently. But she could not buck against the traditions of her people.
But then, the Fire Nation came. An armada of ships waiting outside the city walls, already on the attack to bring the icy defenses down.
And, whilst the Avatar and the men of the North fought bravely, one Tribesman from the South was chosen for a different assignment. He was the only one, they say, that the Chief dared trust with his daughter's life.
And Sokka, despite the ache in his heart that appeared whenever he saw her face, still loved her deeply. He promised to protect her with his life.
As the battle waged on, the need for Sokka to do so did not arrive.
Alas... Zhao, the architect of the Fire Nation's assault, made it so. By killing Tui's mortal form, the Spirit of the Moon was no more, thus robbing the Waterbenders of their power and leaving the North defenseless. All seemed hopeless...
But for Yue, all would have been lost. Touched as a child by the healing powers of the Moon, she and she alone had the power to restored balance to the world. The gift of Life bestowed upon her by Tui was returned. Tui may have gone... but Yue ascended to the heavens to take her place, returning the Waterbenders the power to bend their native element and turning the tides on the war in perhaps the most literal fashion.
But to do so, Yue was forced to give up all that she loved in the mortal realm. Her family... her tribe... her love...
They say that he tried to stop her, knowing that, if she were successful, they could never be together. For a moment, she was tempted to remain, to damn her tribe and the world so that the two of them could be together. But both knew what had to be done. He did not stop her, and she would not let him, however much they both wanted to.
They say that, for the rest of his life, Sokka would look up at the night sky and see the Moon shining brightly... they say that Yue, nestled amongst the stars would look back at him... and they would weep for their love and the sacrifice they made for the world.
The story, when properly told, was a thing of beauty and wonder. It spread throughout the world, seemingly overnight. And as it spread through towns and villages, it picked up bits and pieces of others.
The Warrior Sokka of the South was revealed to possess a keen scientific mind when the tale past into the Northern Earth Kingdom, where it was told that it had been the Avatar's companion who had designed a way for man to master the skies through the hot air balloons.
The Inventor Sokka was revealed to be a man of compassion and honor when it came to the center of the Earth Kingdom and the story of how a young Tribesman saved a small town from an insane terrorist by risking life and limb to escape the terrorist's clutches and warn them of their oncoming doom, only succeeding because one old man recognized him as someone who had showed him mercy when others had been cruel.
The Compassionate Sokka became a man of spirituality on par with the Avatar himself when it was revealed that he had spent a night and a day in the Spirit World.
The Spiritual Sokka became a Charmer when it was told how the Tribesman had seduced his way into a sect of female warriors to learn their secret battle techniques and mastered them within a day.
And so on, the story of Sokka grew as it passed from town to town, only to grow greater and greater as the Avatar and his companions went on in their travels.
A group of minstrels soon began to speak of the Bard Sokka, whose voice was so sweet and his skill so great that he could tame wild Badgermoles with the power of his song.
From the former citizens of Omashu came the Mastermind Sokka, who's ingenious plan to stage a citywide plague freed the citizens from the Fire Nation's control.
Rumors emerged, largely disbelieved, but told for the value of the story, that the Adventurer Sokka had gone on a quest through the Si Wong desert to find the long lost Spirit Library of Wan Shi Tong, battling the spirit that dwelled within it in order to emerge with knowledge that had been so carefully hidden for centuries.
All these different aspects of the tale mixed together as the story grew more and more popular, particularly with the Avatar on the rise as he rallied the Earth Kingdom with the prospect of ending the Hundred Year War.
But then... tragedy. The Avatar was dead. Ba Sing Se had fallen. The only good news was that the Avatar's companions had supposedly escaped with the Earth King, but that little ray of hope carried the hearts of the people now subjugated by the Fire Nation.
For a while, the stories were quiet. With the Avatar dead, nobody wanted to be reminded of him or his companions and their futile quest, particularly not when the advancing armies of the Fire Nation drew ever closer to total domination of the Earth Kingdom.
To them, it seemed, all was lost. It was only a matter of time before the War was won and the world united under the banner of Fire Lord Ozai.
And then came the day. A day when, for eight measly minutes, the skies darkened. Known forevermore as the Day of Black Sun. The day that everything changed and hope was born anew.
It started with Omashu. The Mad King Bumi had, in just eight minutes, taken his city back. Ejecting the Fire Nation with extreme prejudice and almost ludicrous ease. That got people talking.
And then, they heard, something else had gone on that day. The Fire Nation capitol had been invaded.
People could hardly believe that. In all the hundred years of war, the Earth Kingdom had barely been able to hold onto its own lands, let alone consider the possibility of retaliation.
But it had been done. A ragtag group of Water Tribesmen and Earth Kingdom soldiers all met under one banner and, with the Avatar alive and well at their side, they marched on the Capitol.
And leading the charge, they say, was that one young Tribesman. The one who had planned the assault. The one who had dreamed up a revolutionary form of underwater transportation to get the landing party safely to the shores. The one who was said to have stolen the knowledge of the Eclipse from Wan Shi Tong himself.
Now masterfully wielding an otherworldly sword that was as black as the deepest depths of the ocean and could cut through solid steel, said to be a gift from his lost love Yue, Sokka led the invasion of the Fire Nation's Capitol on the Day of Black Sun atop the Avatar's own Sky Bison.
And the entire time, Fire Lord Ozai cowered in an underground cave, chased from his throne room by the plans of a young Water Tribesman and his ragtag alliance, and the reemergence of the Avatar.
Though they failed that day, hope was returned to the world. And the stories continued.
They said that Sokka infiltrated the Boiling Rock, the most secure prison on the face of the Earth, said to contain the most powerful of the Fire Nation's enemies. Traitors and prisoners of war abounded.
And Sokka infiltrated the famed stronghold and escaped, even with the Fire Princess Azula herself there to stop him.
They say that he went there looking for his father, Chief Hakoda of the Southern Water Tribe, who had been captured on the Day of Black Sun. They say that, whilst he was there, he also freed the Commander of the Kyoshi Warriors, the warrior sect he had once trained with and convinced the imprisoned Prince Zuko to fight against the father who had banished him.
It was a fantastic tale, and the people were encouraged. The idea of victory seemed almost possible for the first time in almost a century.
And then came Sozin's Comet, and whilst all would agree that it was the Avatar who had defeated the Phoenix King Ozai and Zuko who bested the Fire Princess Azula, placing Zuko himself on the throne and bringing the Hundred Year War to an official end. The fact remained that it was Sokka, not the Prince or the Avatar, who had saved the Earth Kingdom from total destruction.
Phoenix King Ozai, for all his power, was but one man. And, though the Avatar did the world a great service in defeating him, his armies, untouchable in the skies and with the power of the Comet flowing through their veins, were left to raze the Earth Kingdom. But for three individuals.
Suki, the Commander of the captured Kyoshi Warriors. Toph, without a doubt the Greatest Earthbender to ever live. And Sokka, the young Water Tribesmen.
These three individuals, left to their own devices and with Sokka's genius to guide them, brought down an armada of war balloons, filled to the brim with enemy Firebenders, each empowered tenfold by Sozin's Comet.
The Avatar was already a legend by rite of being the Avatar. Bringing the world to balance merely solidified the fact.
Fire Lord Zuko's legend began when he officially announced the end of the Hundred Year War.
But the Legend of Sokka outstripped them both, for he had done the impossible, over and over again, and yet he was not bound by destiny, as was the Avatar, nor by a royal heritage and duty, as was Zuko. He, a young Tribesman from the South, had travelled the world, earned the love of the Moon, mastered the skies, found and stolen from the Lost Spirit Library and saved the Earth Kingdom from certain destruction.
And that's not even getting into Wang Fire.