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General Art The Little Waterbender [PG] Adventure

ChargewithSword

Zelda Dungeon's Critic
Joined
Jan 13, 2009
Location
I don't want to say.
Impossible Dreams

The chaos of the other night parted away to reveal the calm of day. There was not a cloud in the sky, leaving the sun to bask the ocean with its warm touch.

It was on this day that Katara had finally managed to return Zuko to the shore of the human world. She traveled great distances and through the power of the oceans for the sake of one human, but why?

Was it pity, or remorse? She didn't rightly know.

Zuko had shown up in her life as lost child. He wanted to find his place in a world that could not contain his ambitions and dreams. This was, possibly, the true reason that she rescued him; it would have been such a shame for his life to end on such a note.

She had brought him to a beach near his kingdom. Katara had seen the city before, but only from a distance. The grand palace was hanging on an overlook where a volcano had once stood, until an earthquake forced the largest portion of the volcano to sink underwater.

Katara had taken him close enough to the palace, but not so close that she would be seen. She was very shy of how the human world would react to her, despite her fondness of it. She thought of leaving Zuko on the beach but, for some reason, she felt compelled to stay.

As she watched him sleep, she couldn't help but stroke his hair playfully. He was so stern and fierce when he was awake, but in his slumber his face was soft... and so beautiful. He would sometimes mutter the words "mother" and "uncle" in his dreams, but was mostly silent. Katara couldn't help but wonder at his devotion to his family.

"They must truly be wonderful people." Katara smiled at Zuko's muttering, but then something caught her eye.

Zuko was starting to shuffle more than usual, and his breathing sped up. "...Mother... mother! Please don't go! Don't leave me!"

He fidgeted and squirmed restlessly in his slumber. His mutters were beginning to resemble squeals and cries. His face began to tighten, as in some sort of pain.

Katara kept her calm though. She placed one of her hands to his heads and hushed him with small whispers.

"Don't worry, it'll be alright. I'm here for you."

Within less than a few seconds, Zuko calmed down. His breathing slowed, and his face softened. Then something happened that caught Katara off guard. A smile stretched across Zuko's face.

"...Thank you... mother..." His face returned to normal shortly after, but Katara was left blushing.

Being called mother was very odd, but at the same time, reassuring. It was like being given a responsibility, but at the same time, it wasn't a bad one. Katara even felt a little flattered that he thought of her like that.

Katara's heart quickly began to race as she watched Zuko lay down on the beach, eyes shut and muttering. She felt a sort of attraction to him, yet she couldn't tell what it was. Katara could tell one thing though; Zuko was the key to it all. Through him she could see it all. The human world was hers to behold, and she only needed to be with him.

A melody slowly began to rise in her throat as the thoughts raced through her head, calling on her to sing with all her heart...


What would I give to live where you are?
What would I pay to stay here beside you?
What would I do to see you smiling at me?

Now there's a dream,
Now there's a goal,
Now there's a need I'll never control.
I won't get free,
Till I can be,
Part of your world.

As Katara's song began to finish, she leaned her head closer to Zuko and pursed her lips. Slowly, she inched nearer and nearer until finally... she stopped.

Katara's was startled out of her trance by the sounds of splashing and grunts. She looked behind her to see that it was her friends! They had all washed ashore after the storm and were now huddled together in a large pile, with Sokka on the bottom.

"G-get off me you clods!" He stuck out his arms from the bottom of the pile and pushed his way out.

As he did this, Katara noticed a detail that had slipped her mind. Sokka had a tail, Suki had a tail, Toph had a tail, and she had a tail. Katara was a mermaid, and Zuko was a human.

It had never struck her more than it did now. Katara, and Zuko were two different people, from different cultures, and with two different destinies. Neither one could interact with the other, and she had finally come to realize that.

The reality stung sharp and true and left Katara disheartened. Her dreams, and her hopes seemed like such follies now.

She ignored everything else that was happening around her. She didn't even notice when Sokka managed to free himself from the pile up. He was looking at her with bulging eyes and an open jaw.

He began to mutter gibberish, but then started to squeal in a child-like manner. "I am not seeing this, I am not seeing this!"

What Sokka was seeing was reality though. His sister had indeed saved a human from drowning. She had made contact with the world that mother had forbidden them all from ever travelling, shattering the promise she had made before. Katara could care less about that though; all she cared about now were her broken dreams.

Though Katara was focused on Zuko, she had failed to see that he was starting to wake up. The sound of Katara's beautiful voice had stirred him from his rest. As he slowly opened his eyes, he saw Katara's figure above him, now pitch black because of the sun behind her.

Katara's voice was enchanting and mysterious. At the same time, it was warm and comforting. The more he let it sink into his head, the more it reminded him of... her.

Before Zuko could talk to his mysterious savior a voice called to him in the distance. "Zuko!"

Katara and her friends caught sight of the figure behind the voice and jumped back into the water. Zuko didn't even have a chance to get a glimpse at her before he was suddenly raised up by his uncle.
Iroh had a great smile peeled across his face as he lifted his nephew from the sands. He had been so worried since last night and had search parties sent everywhere. The relief Iroh felt when he found Zuko to be lying on this beach was immeasurable. However, Iroh did not see his nephew's rescuer.

Iroh gave his nephew a great hug as tears ran down his face like waterfalls. "Zuko! I'm so glad that you're alright! I've been so worried!"

When Iroh let Zuko go, he began to stagger on the beach as if in a trance. "A girl... she saved me. She had the most beautiful voice. It was warm and beautiful, like mom's."

Iroh chuckled as he caught Zuko from a near faint. "Dear nephew, I think you may have swallowed a bit too much sea water. A little bit of rest and you shall be feeling right as rain."

Zuko was then led away from the shore. Every chance he got, he would steal a glance and look back to the point where he heard that dazzling voice. Little did he know that his mystery maiden was not too far off. Katara was hiding behind a rock in the distance, watching him walk away.

While Katara gazed to the shore, her friends were discussing the current situation.

"Now what?" Lan scratched the back of his head as he watched Katara.

"We've got to keep this secret, that's what." Toph crossed her arm and rested on the water surface in deep thought.

Suddenly, Sokka burst into the conversation. He was hyperventilating like mad, and his eyes were bloodshot. "Yes! Yes! Yes! Secret we must keep! Sokka is suspect! Get caught, and Sokka dead!"

As the three of them chatted, Suki swam towards a sulking Katara and laid a hand on her shoulder. "Katara, are you alright?"

Katara's mouth was dry and her eyes moist with a substance she never felt before: tears. "...I'll never see him again, will I Suki?"

Suki lowered her head and frowned. After a long moment of silence she slowly nodded her head in silent reply. Her eyes watered as well when she saw Katara slowly turn her head to the shore.

As the tears streamed down Katara's face she felt another melody rise from the back of her throat, slowly evolving into another song...

What would I give if I could live out of these waters?
What would I pay to spend a day warm on the sand?

I'd give my life,
I'd sell my soul,
'Cause I can feel I'll never be whole.
But I can see,
I'll never be,
Part of your world...

Her voice rang out like bells in the afternoon. As her friends listened, they could not help but shed tears. They had long known of Katara's ideals being a little far-fetched, but dared not to share their disbelief else they get this reaction. Even Sokka, as hard hearted as he was, could not help but feel a little guilty for his sister.

Her voice was so lovely, that the very winds carried it across the distances to the ears of many on the sea. It is even said to this day, that if one were to journey far to sea, that they would hear the voice of a young woman, singing her tale of woe...

However, it wasn't only the ears of sailors that Katara's song caught on to. It attracted the attention of four mysterious figures, hiding in the water. They had been trailing Katara since last night and were very interested in this new development.

A mermaid falling in love with a human prince was not an everyday occurrence, and the four of them knew that their master would be very interested.

Mai and Ty Lee were quick to capture Katara's image in their golden eyes as she watched the shore with her friends, unaware of the sinister powers gazing at her from afar.

**​

Two beading eyes revealed themselves from the darkness, peering down at the crystal ball before them. There, on the shining globe, all that had transpired since Katara rescued Zuko was now a spectacle for the dark figure behind the eyes.

A bellowing chuckle emerged from the darkness as all became clear. The child of Kya was in love with a human prince, and the law of the kingdom strictly forbid such interaction. Should her mother discover this foul play, then things would get interesting.

"The girl is headstrong, and a dreamer at that. It would be such a shame for her wish to go un-granted."

The eyes then averted their gaze from the crystal ball and peered into the darkness afar. "What do you think my dears? Should we make her a part of our world?"

The voice was responded to with chilling cries of pain.

"I thought you'd all agree with me." The smooth voice snickered as the echoing cries grew louder and louder, until becoming near deafening...

---
I bet many of you thought it would just be a straight Little Mermaid copy. This chapter made me tear a bit when I wrote it, so I hold this one very high.
So yes... stay tuned for next week's chapter.
 

ChargewithSword

Zelda Dungeon's Critic
Joined
Jan 13, 2009
Location
I don't want to say.
Down Home​

After the incident with Zuko, life went on as normal under the sea. Time did not stop and the passing of the storm was only a minor hindrance to the grand festival that followed. Then, like most things, it was eventually forgotten; as is the flow of time.

Something was missing from that night though. Katara had not been seen until morning struck and the festival was already ending. When her mother asked where she had been she gave no reply and went to her room.

Katara's friends had explained that she had gone through a rough experience and needed some time alone to cope with reality. They would say nothing afterwards.

The following days showed no improvement. Katara wouldn't go out as often, instead she'd be locked in her quarters committing to her studies, or practicing her singing with Sokka. What was more was that she seemed to have a complete personality change overnight. She was very critical to everyone, including her friends, for being, what she called: "foolish dreamers."

Kya was especially affected by this change of state. This should have been a dream come true for her, but for some reason, this made her miserable. Although Katara wasn't the perfect child before, Kya still found her enjoyable company. Now, Katara seemed nothing more than a shell of her former self, and Kya could definitely sense something was wrong.

The problem though, was that Katara refused to speak to Kya. Whenever Kya approached her, Katara would simply swim away with a growl. This left Kya at wits end; she didn't know whether Katara was angry at her or something else. One thing was certain though, Katara was being robbed of every fiber of joy in her body, and Kya was desperate to find out why.

Kya sat in her throne room, looking to the ceiling with tired eyes. She had not been able to sleep well recently. This situation had her pondering night and day, but still she had no leads.

Match stayed by her side throughout the ordeal and did his best to offer support. Despite his reserved nature, he was very sensitive to the emotions of those close to him. He worked as hard as Kya to find a solution, but he had very little success.

Kya groaned hoarsely and slumped further into her throne. "I've never seen Katara behave like this before. What could have set her off so?"

Match frowned sadly, but tried to keep her spirits up. "Well, your majesty, isn't this what you wanted? Katara's been much better behaved lately."

"I thought I wanted this too, but this coldness, this depression, it's sickening. Even now I'd prefer the former Katara to this empty shell."

"Well then, your majesty, what would you prefer?"

"At this point, I'm not very sure. When I think of it though, I want the Katara who used to call me "mommy"."

"When she was a toddler? Why?"

"It's not that I don't want her to grow up. It's that I always felt a connection between me and that Katara that we just don't have now. You may label it selfish, but that's just how I feel."

Kya was never the best when describing her own feelings. She could never even converse with her own parents when she was younger. Kya wanted the best for her daughter, but she was so limited in how she could give it to her. Everything she tried never had the results she wanted, and only succeeded in driving her further away.

Was this it? Was this the end? Had Kya finally lost Katara to the point of no return? The mixed feelings built up in her, ready to burst. Kya's sensibilities and royal demeanor dissipated to reveal the confused and frightened girl within. All lessons she had been taught failed to overcome this task, and she was left helpless. The tears welled up, but only dispersed in the water, leaving Kya's gasps as the only sign she was crying.

Then Kya felt a warm hand touch her shoulder. She looked up to see it was Match smiling at her. His smile was so comforting.

"It will be alright your majesty, I'm sure of it. It may be too late for me, but there is still a chance for you."

Kya's frown slowly transitioned to a small smile as she listened to his words. "…Thank you Match."

She then sat upright on her throne and regained her composure. There was still time left, but Kya had to work fast. She thought to herself if there was anything left she hadn't exhausted. Then she remembered Sokka and Lan. They had been reluctant to tell Kya about Katara's situation at first. It was almost as if they were hiding something from her. Perhaps if she inquired them hard enough they would slip some sliver of information.

Kya shot up from her throne; her determination was rekindled. "Match! Have a messenger send for Lan and Sokka!"

Match only bowed his head with a smile. "As you wish your majesty, it shall be done."

A messenger had been hastily disposed. Now Kya had to wait. The clock was ticking and Katara's fate rested in her hands. She only hoped that it wasn't too late.

ooo​

On the outskirts of the merfolk kingdom, Suki and Toph were out an about.

They were searching for human objects for Katara in hopes that would cheer her up. It was their normal solution whenever Katara was in a rut of sorts.

The search party was limited to only them. Katara refused to go anywhere, so they couldn't ask her. Lan and Sokka were both forced to be by her side, so they couldn't come either. This made the search somewhat cumbersome for Suki and Toph.

They barely talked to one another, except for when Katara was around. When they did talk, it was either an argument over Toph's ego, or Suki's attitude to said ego. This made it difficult for them to work together, but they managed.

The both of them took to exploring a small ravine to see what they could find. Though the gap was narrow, the sea floor wasn't too deep for it to be pitch black. Human vessels were said to often venture by the place and dump their garbage, so it seemed the perfect spot to search. Unbeknownst to Toph and Suki though, was that the ravine they were in was also near the area where Zuko's ship crashed and sank.

Toph laid herself backwards in the water while Suki examined the cliff face. She would regularly affix her gaze on Toph and then back to the cliff, but Toph paid no heed.

After a long while, Suki fully turned towards Toph, a great scowl peeled across her face. "How can you just float there, like that? Katara's depressed and you're relaxing!"

Toph only yawned. "I don't know if you noticed, but finding things isn't my game." She turned her head to Suki and pointed to her white eyes.

"You could still try to help! Katara needs us!"

"…And me looking for this stuff is supposed to help? I'm here to get it out if it's stuck or too heavy, not to actually find it. That's your job."

Suki pressed her palms to her face and growled in irritation. "Can't you think of someone other than yourself for once?"

"How this conversation trailed to that, I'll never know." Toph turned away again and began to pick her nose.

Suki's face slowly began to flare a bright red as she watched Toph flick boogers. Her inner rage and jealously built up inside her, like a rumbling geyser ready to blow, until she could no longer hold it in.

Suki grabbed her by the shoulder and jerked Toph in front of her, a sharp scowl setting on her face. "Listen here you! I don't know how Katara has put up with your ego for so long, but I am sick of it! You keep talking and talking about how great you are, and always steal attention at every turn! Katara praises you every day, and what have you got to show for it, nothing but crap!"

Toph kept a calm face as Suki's rant continued. Then, she pulled her arm free from Suki. "If I recall, I'm the one who does everything important on our adventures. I'm the one who opens new paths. I'm the one who defeats most of the baddies we fight. What do you do; just float around while I do the work!" Her eyes began to squint with annoyance.

"At least I don't shower everyone with my accomplishments like some stupid floozy who has nothing better to do!"

"Maybe you would if you actually got anything done!"

"Well, maybe I would if you actually gave me a chance to do some of the helping, instead of just sidelining me, and stealing Katara's attention!"

Those last words had Toph silenced. She raised an eyebrow up in confusion before she transitioned to a straight face. She then folded her arms and turned her head away from Suki. "…So that's it."

Suki snapped out of her anger and scratched the back of her neck with a flustered frown, as if she didn't realize what she had said. "W-what's it?"

Toph turned her head once more and pointed a finger at Suki. "You're jealous of me, aren't you?"

Suki's face shot red again, but out of embarrassment. "M-me? Jealous of you? N-no. That's impossible."

"So that's why you always have such a problem with my ego. You think that I've stolen Katara from you."

Suki didn't reply that time. She lowered her head and twiddled her fingers in nervous confusion without saying a word. All that could be heard was the muffled swishing of the water passing by.

Toph sighed and shook her head. "That's stupid of you."

Suki's head suddenly shot up in annoyance. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"It means what it means. You've been with Katara longer than me so you should know better. She's not the kind of person to pick favorites Suki."

Suki lowered her head again with a sigh and muttered softly. "… I know… it's just that, you don't know what it's like. I used to be Katara's big sister. I was the one with the responsibility, but ever since you and Lan came, I just feel like I've been put to the side."

Toph rolled her eyes in an exaggerated manner. "Oh brother; and you're supposed to be older than me. Suki let me tell you something, just because I show off doesn't mean that I get the most attention, it just means that I'm louder than you whenever I get something done."

Suki wanted to say something. No matter how much her lip quivered however, she still couldn't get the words to leave the privacy of her mouth.

"Oh, chin up Suki. How do you think Katara will react if you look like that when you bring her the object."

Suki lifted her head in surprise and confusion, her mouth hanging down, like as if its hinges were broken. "What?"

Toph grinned widely, with a subtle chuckle behind her words. "Just to show you how much Katara won't care which of us brings the object, you'll get the credit. After all, this was your idea."

Suki wanted to say something, but was left speechless. All she could muster at that time was a faint smile.

Toph then laid back on the water and said, "So don't worry Suki; I'm sure whatever will come is gonna hit us when we least exp-"

Toph couldn't finish, as she swam backwards and hit her head on something in the shadows of the cliff.

"AGH- SEVEN TIMES TWO! I hate karma, and I hate descriptions; my aching head!"

As Toph clenched her head in pain Suki noticed something in the spot where she hit her head. There was a strange and unnatural object sticking out of it.

Upon closer inspection Suki gasped.

Toph heard this grunt and turned her focus to Suki. "Yo Suki, what's up?"

Suki was silent for that moment, but then she turned her head to Toph and grinned. "...Toph... I think this may be exactly what we need!"

ooo

In a grove far off to the distance, Katara was idling her time away. The grove sparked a magical radiance with its fine assortments of flora. There were flowers with more colors than a rainbow, bulbs with more light than the pale moon, and coral with more depth than the clear blue sky.

In the midst of all this joy, Katara stood out as a large chunk of misery. She was sitting on a rock in the middle of the grove, endlessly staring to, who knows where. Her eyes did not shine like beforehand, only sharing vague resemblance to their former radiance.

Beside Katara, were Lan and Sokka. Because of their occupations, they were obligated to stay by her side. Although they didn't like working with one another, they both realized that there was a bigger problem at hand; Katara's depression.

This distinguishing gloom was growing more noticeable as days passed. Katara wasn't eating right, and she often forgot to tend to her appearance. She slept restlessly at night and kept Sokka and Lan awake with anxiety. Now she was a disheveled mess.

If anything wasn't done soon, Katara could get seriously injured. Worse; if Katara's depression sank so low that'd she'd gab about the human situation, Sokka and Lan would be in a bad spot.

"We've got to do something about this!" Sokka's face was stretched with anxiety.

"Yea, if this keeps up, who knows what will happen." Lan's expression was droll and exhausted.

"I'll tell you what'll happen! My mother is going to happen! When she finds why Katara's like this she'll have both our heads!" Sokka made multiple exaggerated hand gestures to simulate the frightening imagery of torture and beheading.

Lan clamped his hand to his neck and gulped. "Yikes, don't do that Sokka. I don't take such embarrassing death that well."

"Well, if we don't do something about this soon we'll probably have our heads decorated in flowers as they hang from pikes! And you!" Sokka turned his attention to Katara, but she didn't react.

"You haven't stopped moping ever since we came back from the surface! It's not as if you can even live with that stupid prince, so why not accept that and stop with the love angst!"

Katara's body shot up and her eyes turned to Sokka. "Sokka, I am not in love with him! (Those were just small feelings...) It's not him I'm moping about! It's the human world as a whole! There are so many things about it that I can learn from just going up there, but can I experience it? No! All my life, I've wanted nothing more than to experience the joys of the world above, but now I realize how impossible it is!"

"For good reason too," Sokka exclaimed. "You were born a mermaid to be a mermaid Katara! You think that you can just sprout legs whenever you want and walk up to the surface like some human? Well excuse me princess, but down here is your home!"

Lan then swam up to her and joined the conversation. "He's right Katara! You know as much about the human world as I do, (which is very little aside from what those nuts discuss with us.) "

"And what makes you think living under the sea could be any different from the human world? "

"There's plenty of reason why this place is better than the human world! Take a seat and listen to your brother for once!" Sokka pushed Katara down onto the rock. Then he started to give his own explanation in song...

Sokka: The seaweed is always greener
In somebody else's lake
You dream about going up there
But that is a big mistake
Just look at the world around you
Right here on the ocean floor
Such wonderful things surround you
What more are you lookin' for?

Under the sea
Under the sea
Darling it's better
Down where it's wetter
Take it from me
Up on the shore they work all day
Out in the sun they slave away
While we devotin'
Full time to floatin'
Under the sea

As Sokka song started to pick up pitch, Lan couldn't help but dance to the rhythm of the catchy beat. He picked up a bunch of half shells and placed them in a row. With a rhythm in his head, he began to drum them. Sokka followed up and joined Lan.

Sokka and Lan: Down here all the fish are happy
As off through the waves they roll
The fish on the land ain't happy
Their sad 'cause they're in the bowl
But fish in the bowl are lucky
They in for a worser fate
One day when the boss get hungry
Guess who's gon' be on the plate?

Sokka: Under the sea
Under the sea
Nobody beat us
Fry us and eat us
In fricassee
We what the land folks loves to cook
Under the sea we off the hook
We got no troubles
Life is the bubbles
Under the sea
Lan: Under the sea
Since life is sweet here
We got the beat here
Naturally
Sokka: Even the sturgeon an' the ray
They get the urge 'n' start to play
Both: We got the spirit
You got to hear it
Under the sea​

They both noted that the song was working! Katara's tail was moving to the rhythm of the song. It kept moving more and more, as fish of different sorts began to join into the fun. Now even Sokka and Lan were falling under the spell of the song. They picked up the pace even further. Soon, the entire sea seemed to be aglow with light.

Soon Katara was up and about; her original gloomy face was less stressed than before. She even broke a smile every now and then. Sokka and Lan winked to one another and began another verse of their song.

Sokka: The newt play the flute
Lan: The carp play the harp
Sokka: The plaice play the bass
Both: And they soundin' sharp
Lan: The bass play the brass
Sokka: The chub play the tub
Lan: The fluke is the duke of soul
Fluke: (Yeah)
Sokka: The ray he can play
Lan: The lings on the strings
Sokka: The trout rockin' out
Lan: The blackfish she sings
Sokka: The smelt and the sprat
Lan: They know where it's at
Sokka: An' oh that blowfish blow-o-o!​

As the song was getting ever closer to its climax, as fate would have it, Toph and Suki had arrived. Both were really enamored in the song and longed to join the fun, but both of them knew that they had to find Katara. They had heard Sokka and Lan singing so they were positive that Katara had to be here.

They saw her dancing by the rock; a beaming grin was riding her face. They swam over to her and gave her a slight tap on the shoulder. Katara looked in surprise and shook her head, as if snapped out of trance.

When Katara asked what they were both doing here, they only said that they had a surprise to show her. They then pulled her away from the party with eager grins across their faces.
Neither Lan nor Sokka noticed this though. They had been absorbed by the song's catchy tune and were unable to escape. Now they were in the final verse and ready to bring out a grand finale!

Under the sea
Under the sea
When the sardine
Begin the beguine
It's music to me
What do they got? A lot of sand
We got a hot crustacean band
Each little clam here
know how to jam here
Under the sea
Each little slug here
Cuttin' a rug here
Under the sea
Each little snail here
Know how to wail here
That's why it's hotter
Under the water
Ya we in luck here
Down in the muck here
Under the sea!​

The final notes were like the boom of thunder as they were released. Lan and Sokka smiled and began to cheered in praise of themselves.

Sokka smiled and waved to the fish who participated. "Thank you! Thank you! We do shows on weekends!"

Lan bowed to everyone with satisfaction. "We appreciate your help fellas! So what did you think of that Ka-" Lan's eyes bulged when he noticed Katara was gone. He looked to the left, the right, up, down, and couldn't find a trace of her.

"Sokka... where's Katara?"

Sokka's mouth dropped when he saw Katara was missing as well. He chuckled at first, before falling into masses of gibberish. All the other fish noticed this too and left with many sighs.

Lan held a pitiful grin on his face as everyone began to clear out. "Oh come on guys, the party isn't over yet! Under the sea! Under the—man, not even the bold helps..."

Soon Lan and Sokka were left alone in the area. They turned to one another and fell to the sea floor with sighs.

"Lan..."

"Sokka...?"

"You know what Katara needs more than advice?"

"Humor me then. What?"

"Her fins nailed to the floor..."

"For once, I agree..."

They collectively sighed as they rested their heads on their hands. Before either could be silent for long though, they heard a voice call their names. They were then confronted by a merboy holding a message in his hands. He then opened it and began to read what was inside:

"You two are to attend to the queen as swift as possible! She wishes to discuss with you on Princess Katara's state." With that the boy threw the letter away and swam as fast as he could.

Sokka and Lan were left with their mouths hanging wide and in silence. They suddenly pointed their heads upwards and screamed. Their screams echoed far enough to be heard on the surface, confusing and frightening many sailors. Rumors even persist that their screams caused an avalanche somewhere.

Sokka fell into a gibbering panic and began to shake Lan violently. "What do we do? She knows, that's got to be it! We're going to have our heads cut off and served to sharks while our bodies are decorated with veggies so children can make bad puns of us! I can hear them now: "Oh look at that merman! He's a little green around the gills!""

In the middle of his rant, Sokka was accidently smacked by Lan's nose and forced to let go in pain. Lan spun in dizziness before snapping himself out of it.

"Ok, ok, let's not panic! I am sure there is a reason for this. Let's just go and see how the situation plays out, then we can panic!"

Sokka nervously nodded in agreement. They then swam over to the palace, hoping that the Queen would be in good spirits.

"What is taking them so long!" Kya's face was dark red as she fidgeted in her throne.

Kya had been waiting three hours for Lan and Sokka, but neither showed up. With Katara's state still lingering in her thoughts, this situation easily put her out of temper. The only thing that stopped her from going out to find them was that she feared what Katara would think if she was there.

Match kept to her side at all times but didn't stop her from venting her anger. He was annoyed by Sokka and Lan's lack of punctuality as well. He almost considered going out to find them himself but felt such a trip would be a waste of time.

"Forgive me your majesty, if I had known they would be this sloppy I would have sent The Kyoshi."

"No Match, it's not your fault. If anything, this adds to my growing suspicion that they're hiding something. Still, the Kyoshi would definitely aid in making this search easier. I'll inform them myself. Stay here in case they arrive."

Match bowed his head as Kya left the room. As she passed through the initial hallway to the throne room, she heard the faint sounds of voices.

With caution she ducked behind a pillar and listened to their conversation.

"Ready to go in yet?"

"No; you?"

"Me neither."

Kya recognized the voices. They were Sokka's and Lan's! She almost considered going out and unleashing her fury, but decided against it when she thought of the opportunity this presented. True; it wasn't very queen-like to eavesdrop, but it did give her the chance to find out interesting information.

Sokka's squeal was the first voice she heard. "Of all the things that has to happen to me this had to be one of them!"

"Yea, hard to believe one rescue could lead to this mess."

"What? How is it hard to believe? This is your fault in the first place you overgrown ice-cube!"

"My fault? In what way in this my fault? (Oh, and don't think I didn't catch that, jerk.) If anything, this is your fault! I went after her when she darted off like, that while you stayed behind, shivering in place."

"Yea, and that look of excitement in your eyes when you charged on after her was very concerned! You should have been there to help discourage this behavior anyways!"

"I was just trying to let her stretch her mind! How was I to know a human ship would pass by the grotto and cause Katara to be fixated on that human? Don't forget that storm!"

Kya heard enough by then. She revealed herself from her hiding place, but neither of them noticed her. They both had their backs to one another and their eyes shut. Kya then hovered over them to grab their attention.

"What human ship?"

They didn't notice that it was her though. They only looked to one another with stunned eyes.

"The one from the other night you idiot!"

They reverted to their original positions again, before their eyes bulged open. They shivered and looked to one another; not bearing to gaze at Kya.

"Sokka..."

"Lan...?"

"I have a hunch we just said something bad to the wrong person."

"You know. I have a similar hunch."

"Then pray that we're both wrong."

They gulped and slowly turned their heads to Kya. She had been crossing her arms in annoyance and her face darkened red. She then snatched them with her waterbending and dragged them to the throne room for, intense interrogation.
 

ChargewithSword

Zelda Dungeon's Critic
Joined
Jan 13, 2009
Location
I don't want to say.

Power of Suggestion

In a quiet part of the sea, Katara was being led to her grotto by Suki and Toph. They kept ahead of her and would constantly giggle. Whenever Katara asked then why they were taking her there, they would immediately shut up, as if she wasn't there.

It was fortunate that Katara had been cheered up earlier that day, because if she was still in that rotten mood she would have stopped right there and gone back in frustration. The song had raised her spirits enough to be patient with Toph and Suki, even if the wait was aggravating.

When they reached the grotto, Katara opened the door with her waterbending and was led inside by Toph and Suki. They asked her to close her eyes as they approached the grotto and Katara reluctantly did so. Her patience was starting to wear thin as the magical effects of the song were echoing out of her ears.

"Ok Katara," whispered Suki. "You can open them now!"

Katara raised her lids slowly; everything was slightly blurred, but nothing seemed out of place. Then something caught her eyes; something new to her collection. It started as a faint blob of grey, but slowly started to gain definition. Fine details revealed themselves, and shades started to edge out. That's when Katara recognized it: the statue of Zuko from the other night!

Katara's eyelids jumped open in shock, and her jaw seemed to fall with a clank. She had never expected to see the statue again, but it was right there!

Suki and Toph swam before her and cheered to the top of their lungs. "Surprise Katara!"

Katara was left almost speechless if not breathless; the words were nearly lost to her tongue. "I-I, I don't know what to say guys!"

"Well you can say, "thank you Suki", she's the one who found the thing! I just brought it here." Toph stretched her hand to Suki and smiled at the blushing mermaid.

Katara turned her head to both of them slowly before fixing her gaze upon the statue. Every feature, every detail of Zuko was carved to near perfection. Everything that was lovely about him was there, all except for one thing.

She swam up to the statue and got a closer look at its face. It was stern as stone with confidence and determination. That wasn't the Zuko, Katara had adored though.

While this Zuko looked handsome and courageous, he didn't seem like the frightened child Katara remembered. Indeed, this Zuko seemed to resemble a general leading his troops to victory, not the trapped dreamer that Katara had engraved into her mind.

Despite this disappointing factor, Katara couldn't help but feel... touched. It was almost as if something had awoken inside her, a feeling of guilt and longing combined to make an alien emotion that Katara couldn't trace.

Katara slowly turned her head to Suki and Toph, their faces still beaming with joy.

That's when it hit Katara; all this time since the passing of the storm, her friends had been by her side, while she had been sulking away into nothingness. She kept unaware of their toils and suffering, and only focused on herself and her selfish wants. Every attempt they made to make her happy, Katara would blindly snuff away; unwilling to accept the joy she felt, just because she believed that she could never be with Zuko.

Then this happened. Her best friends went to unknown leagues to find a human object to cheer her up, and brought back one of the most important ones.

Katara looked around her grotto and saw that it had changed; there were many new objects that she hadn't seen before. Katara's friends had gone for those too, all for her sake.

What seemed like an impossible dream before had started to seem more and more realistic as Katara looked around the grotto at every new object.

Katara's face slowly began to beam with joy. Her dream hadn't left her at all; it was still there all the time, but she had been so blind before that she was unable to see it. So long as her friends were there, nothing was impossible. They would be by her side at all times, and help her in any way they could.

Then Katara thought of Zuko, and those loving eyes which seemed nearer than ever before. He would always be there, in that kingdom by the sea, and nothing, fins or no fins would change that.

So even if Katara could never be with him, she knew that he would be there, and that she could still watch him grow and mature. As for Katara, she would always have her friends by her side, sharing her laughter and her pain. It was Katara's duty to them, and herself, to continue to smile and be happy, so they could be happy with her.

She turned her head to the little hole at the top of her grotto and noticed that the sky had darkened, and a pale moon was shining through the water.

Then Katara turned herself to Toph and Suki, and gave a huge smile, the biggest she let out in weeks. All emotions flushed out of her as Katara swam to her friends and hugged them. "Oh, thank you guys... this really means a lot to me..."

They were silent for a moment before simultaneously whispering, "You're welcome Katara..."

All was silent for a while; the humming waves rippled through the grotto walls like billowing wind on a hot spring day.

The silence was then broken by the sounds of Katara's laughter, followed by Toph's and Suki's.

It started in low, then it started to grow, and in a short while, the entire grotto, nay, the entire valley echoed with their bellowing laughter. Their joy seemed almost uncontrollable as they just laughed, and laughed, and laughed.

Soon the laughing stopped, and the girls fell silent again, but they stilled smiled at one another.

Katara looked to Suki and Toph and placed a hand over their shoulders. "...Guys, I really want you to know how happy this made me; thank you so much!" They both smiled as Katara continued to speak.

"I also want you guys to know tha-mother!"

And like a flash, the joy stopped, and was replaced with shock and distress!

There she was, Katara's mother, floating in the shadows of the entrance to the grotto. Her mouth was hanging wide open, and her eyes were turning to every nook and cranny. She was holding her trident so tightly, that one could see her veins press to her skin.

Beside Katara's was Match, staring at her with great intent. His head seemed locked on her every move, but still paying attention to what was around it.

The sight that caught Katara's attention though, was her brother and Lan slinking behind her mother. They kept their heads down and fiddled with their fingers, being too ashamed to even look at Katara's reaction.

Then Katara affixed her gaze on her mother, and her mother's on her.

Suki and Toph swam out of the way and watched in silence as Katara's mother crept her way out of the shadows, and towards Katara. "...How long?"

Katara didn't respond; she only bit her lip in anxiety.

Kya repeated the same question, but with a stronger voice and more words. "How long, have you kept this from me, Katara?"

Katara tried to answer, but no words could escape her mouth. She was trapped in a confusing swirl of shock, fear, and betrayal, unable to grasp any sensible words in the common language.

As Katara continued to pursue silence, her mother's face intensified. It turned from horrified shock to stone-hard stern in what seemed like a matter of seconds. Even her voice had grown with a horrible maliciousness. "You try my patience Katara! When I ask you a question, you answer! How long have you hidden this from me?"

Her voice seemed to boom with a bellowing fury, shaking the very foundations of the ocean floor.

Katara found herself unable to hold back any longer; her voice trembled and let out a frightened squeak. "Eleven years..."

Her mother's hard gaze didn't falter an inch, instead, it only hardened even further! "For that long, you've been playing me like a fool!"

"No mother, I don't think you're a fool!" Katara desperately grasped at whatever she could to keep the conflict from escalating.

"It's just that-"

Her mother didn't give her a chance to finish. "Just what? Just that you don't trust me? Just that you hate me? Just that you feel it's funny? I could go on forever! So just what?"

Katara's words slowly became inaudible to the point that it sounded like random gibberish. "..."

"Just What?"

Then Katara's words burst into a bawling shout. "It's just that you wouldn't have understood!"

Her mother's mouth seemed to twist and grind in a confused fury as she tried to grasp Katara's words. It was like watching a person wriggle in place as they tore their skin off. "W-w-wouldn't have understood? You think I wasn't a teenager before? You think I've never felt the sudden urge to disobey my parents? Just like you had the deathly nerve to go and rescue a human from drowning!"

Katara gasped and turned her head towards Lan and Sokka again. They seemed to have shrunken as they quickly averted their gazes.

Something had snapped in Katara at that point. The friends that she had started to ease towards had betrayed her trust, and left her to fend for herself. This left Katara saddened, confused, and in inner pain. Most of all though, she was very, very angry.

Katara turned to face her mother once more, only then, she had her eyes stern with anger. "He would have died, mother, but I don't expect you'd care!"

Her mother noted this defiance, but stood her ground. "Why would I? He's just another human, just like all the others! Spineless, savage, harpooning fish eaters, incapable of any feelings!"

"You should look to yourself for that, you hag! You wouldn't understand a human if one came up to you and smacked you with every bit of knowledge they had!"

"And just what makes you so knowledgeable eh? What is it about this human that makes him different from all the rest? Tell me that!"

"I love him!" Katara snapped out of her trance and clamped her hands to her mouth, but it was too late.

Her mother's eyes seemed to just bulge out of their sockets in confused distress. Even Katara's friends, whom knew the situation by heart, were astonished at this mark of bravery and bluntness.

Katara watched her mother's body part fidget one by one until her entire body was shaking uncontrollably. Whether it was out of rage or confusion, Katara dared not guess. "...Have you lost your senses completely? He's a human, and you're a mermaid!"

"Human or not, I could relate to him better than I ever could you!"

Silence came once more.

"You...you!" The words just couldn't leave though. Katara's mother was left in utter shock. Even Katara couldn't help but wince at the harshness of her own comment.

Then Katara's mother stopped her struggle. Her head lowered, and her eyes fell to darkness. All she could utter were a few saddened whispers. "... You wish to forsake me then..."

For a moment, there was silence. It was a horrible ungodly silence that creeps up on you whenever something feels wrong, yet you can never put your finger on it. You're only left pondering, and dreading whatever may come to you.

Then, Kya raised her head to reveal that her face had dulled, and her eyes were closed shut. "...So be it Katara; I hereby renounce you as my daughter. I never want to see you in my palace again."

Everyone else was left with eyes open and fallen jaws. Even Katara was taken aback by the sudden revelation, but she didn't falter. She stayed upright and firm.

"...Know this however: as a citizen, you have broken my laws, multiple times at that! Therefore, there is only one thing I can do for such an offense... execute firm punishment..." Her mother's final words hummed in a tone drier than a desert in summer.

Suddenly, the trident her mother kept close to her began to glow an eerie blue light. It emanated a chilling radiance, but sparked with a violent fury. The entire grotto was soon coated in a blue hue, and the darkness of the night parted in the wake of the light.

For the first time since the conversation started, Match moved from his position and began to plead to Kya with a trembling voice of desperation. "Wait your majesty, don't do this! I know you're angry, but this isn't the answer! You'll regret this choice forever if you let your rage overcome you! Your majesty!"

She wasn't listening though; Katara's mother was lost in another world.

Suddenly her eyes shot open to reveal that her pupils were now bright blue. And with a roar unlike any in the world, Kya swung her trident to one of the many shelves of the grotto and fired a massive blue bolt.

The bolt flashed across the room with an ear shattering crack, and burst upon impact with the human objects. Each one fell to pieces one by one, as the lighting tore into their very materials, and set off a chain reaction of short bursts.

Match backed away from Kya and let out a final scream. "You're losing control, your majesty! You've got to stop it!"

His words were quickly drowned by more bolts erupting from the trident. Shelf after shelf was slowly destroyed by the awesome power of the trident.

Katara's eyes bulged in shock, but upon the third bolt she swam to her mother and began to plead desperately. "Mother, no, please, stop! Mother please stop it!"

It seemed like nothing could reach her ears, as Katara's mother continued her rampage of utter destruction.

Then, when there was nothing else left, Katara's mother slowly affixed her gaze on the one thing she had left intact... the statue of Zuko.

She raised her trident once more and let it slowly charge up for one final bolt.

Katara clawed at her mother's arm and continued to struggle, but it was no use. Her arm was as stiff as a rock and would not budge, no matter how much Katara tried. All Katara could do was watch, and beg with weakened whispers.

"Please mother..."

A light shone on the tip of the trident, eerie and powerful.

"Don't do it..."

Her mother's arm jerked violently, and let loose the charging blast with awesome speed, and power.

Katara let loose her final scream. "Mother! No!"

The bolt came and went quickly, and the statue was no more.

When the blue aura cleared the grotto was in shambles, and all that was once beautiful was destroyed.

Katara shuddered a bit as she looked to her destroyed collection, then she collapsed on the floor, sinking her head into the comfort of her open arms.

Her mother's eyes returned to their normal state, and her expression softened. She then fainted in exhaustion, with only the cold water to catch her.

Katara did not notice her mother slowly raise her head to look at what she did. What former confidence and anger she had before melted away as she basked in her deed. Her breathes shortened and sped in an almost uncontrollable manner as she turned to face her daughter.

Then, without warning, Katara's mother swam out of the grotto with panicked eyes and shuddering gasps, leaving only Katara and her friends alone in the ever advancing darkness...

ooo

When Kya left the grotto, she stopped just outside to catch her breath and recollect herself.

Kya couldn't believe that she could have ever been that angry; it was as if she had been taken over by a new, more violent, persona. Perhaps it was Katara's defiance towards her, or the fact that she had fallen in love with a human, but something she did had awoken a deep rage. It was so deep, that Kya could barely even remember the words she said.

She pressed her hands to her face and sighed. There was nothing else she could do at that point anyways; the deed was done.

Then Kya noticed a figure laying on the wall beside her. It was Match; he had left grotto while she was in the midst of her rage, and had been waiting for her to come outside. His face was rock stiff, yet there was no anger to be seen, only a lingering disappointment.

"Well you have put your fin in it this time. I hope you are ready for whatever may come after this, but I can tell you now that it won't be pleasant." As he swam over to Kya she noted the stiffness of his body, and a tremble in the sounds of his voice. It was almost as if he was holding back tears.

His dark glasses shone with a glare unlike before. Its penetrating visor stung Kya at her heart. Yet, at the same time, Match's gaze resembled sadness and understanding.

Kya kept her posture though; she poised herself straight and held her head upwards. "Who are you to judge my actions?"

Match then turned away from her, sparing only a short glance behind. "Not a king, but a simple warrior. Not one born for greatness, but one who seeks to live his life. Most of all, I am a parent. I told you of my daughter, and what had dragged her away. Our actions now mirror one another, not in context but in principle. I had hoped you would follow a different path from me Kya, but it seems that no matter what the race, be they Giant, Merfolk, or Human, the bonds of a parent and a child are at their strongest."

"What are you getting at, Match?"

"What I am getting at is something I cannot say. I can no longer be with you Kya, or else this lesson won't reach its conclusion, be it for good or ill. You must now discover the consequences of your actions on your own. Goodbye."

The water around Match suddenly began to heat up immensely. Air bubbles began to form around him, eventually obscuring his entire body. When they cleared, Match was gone and Kya was alone. All that was left was a red heat stain on the ground, which soon faded away into the rock.

This action left Kya uneasy, and with a heavier heart than before. A lingering sense of guilt built up in her as she recalled the last words Match said.

She looked back to the cave and considered apologizing to Katara but decided against it. Now was not an opportune time. Kya could only go home and wait for Katara to return, hoping that she would be willing to listen to reason. At the very least, Kya hoped she would be willing to accept an apology.

ooo

As the discussion outside the grotto died away, the conflict inside was still occurring. Katara's head was face down to the ground, and her breath was skipping with mournful gasps.

Her friends watched over her for a few minutes with sorrowful gazes. The most disheartened ones were Sokka and Lan. Just looking at poor Katara had shattered their morale and self-confidence. They had betrayed Katara's trust, and in the end she was the only one punished for their actions.

They swam up to Katara in attempts to reconcile with her, but she passed a cold shoulder. "Get away from me."

Sokka and Lan looked to one another with guilty stares and sighed. They turned towards the entrance of the grotto and swam away with lowered heads.

Respecting Katara's wishes, Suki and Toph silently left as well. Soon, Katara was left alone.

All was quiet, except for the ripples of the waters which weaved past the objects with estranged whispers. Shadows soon began to creep in, transforming the once blue hue into a lonely grey.

Katara was now beyond broken. Her dreams of being part of the human world had been dashed by reality. When she was ready to accept that fact, she was betrayed by the friends whom, she convinced herself, would always stand by her side.

Darkness began to creep further and further inwards into the grotto, bathing Katara in a horrifying and chilling blanket of utter darkness.

Suddenly, a golden light materialized from the shadows, catching Katara's attention with its hypnotic rhythm. A second light appeared just beside it; more erratic than the first, and yet just as eerie.

Two pale lights shone brightly to her left, like a beam, illuminating her spot. To her right, the water stirred and boiled under the influence of some immense heat.

The mysterious figures in the dark made their ways out of the shadow to reveal themselves to her. One was a mermaid with raven-like hair, but her tail more resembled an eels. There was a similar looking eelmaid to her left, but she had brown hair instead of black, and it was braided into a long ponytail behind her head.

The other two were human-like, but different in certain aspects. One man was cloaked completely in black, and had no eyes in his head, only empty sockets. The other man was garbed in dirty brown robes and a hood. His face had a nose which reminded Katara of Lan's but the difference was that it was more hook-like in appearance.

The robed human constantly fiddled with his beaming eyes, turning them on Katara in a menacing manner. "It's a pitiful thing to be denied a dream." His voice was smooth, but grew progressively deeper as he spoke, like seeping poison.

Suddenly the braided eelmaid appeared from above Katara, and brought her face uncomfortably close to Katara, startling her. "Yeah, losing dreams always sucks." This eelmaid always had a mischievous smile on her face and a voice as cheery as a child's.

The cloaked man then grabbed Katara's attention by bowing to her in a subtle and stiff manner. "A dream's death is a terrible dishonor." His voice was soothing, yet regaled and controlled in tone; all background echo disappeared when he when he finished his sentences, as if by his will.

The raven haired eelmaid was the only one who kept her place, only moving to cross her arms. "Having a dream broken is a waste of time." This eelmaid's face was blank, and her mouth was just as; with a voice that was drier than surface sand.

Katara wanted to be stern and tell them to leave, but the words wouldn't leave her mouth. There was something about these four that unnerved her to the point that her voice trembled to even speak.

"W-who are you?" Those were all the words she was able to muster at that time.

The hooded man was the first to react to her words. He gave her an evil grin that seemed ready to rip out of his mouth, and his eyes gleamed with an even bright spark than before. "Representatives of one who works with dreams."

The braided eelmaid shoved him aside quickly. "And to happy ends!"

"One who makes many deals." As the raven-haired eelmaid followed, she rolled her eyes in annoyance.

The cloaked man followed after her with a solemn frown across his face. "Without stretching less than one gap."

Then they all pointed upwards to the surface with mannerisms befitting statues.

"The illustrious," said the cloaked humanoid.

"But fallen," continued the dark haired eelmaid.

"The wise," spoke the robed humanoid.

"But weird," exclaimed the braided eelmaid.

Katara was left in stupefied confusion. These people were speaking in riddles that gave no hints or leads. It was as if they were purposely messing with her to pique her interest. It worked.

"Who are you talking about?" Katara increased the confidence behind her voice slightly, so as not to seem childish.

"Azula." They all spoke quickly and simultaneously, not sparing a chance to wait.

Katara's heart began to race at the sound of that name.

Yes. Azula was a name she was not ready to forget, for it was the name of the very woman who attempted to assassinate her mother long ago. Though Katara didn't know the whole story, she knew well enough to know that Azula was a very dangerous, and powerful person, who's name still carried this lingering fear to it.

With the revelation of their master, Katara was left very uncomfortable by the people around her. They were most obviously Azula's minions, sent to collect her for some unknown purpose. It would have been wise for her to fight her way past them and to escape, yet she didn't.

Something about those four compelled her to stay. Though their demeanors and history spoke ill, their words rung smoothly in her ears. It was a hypnotic smoothness that drew her towards them and made Katara feel as if they really meant what they said.

They called Azula, "one who works with dreams," and, "one who makes many deals." Those were titles that really grabbed Katara's interest.

Did that mean that Azula would help her plight, or simply lead her into a trap? Katara was unsure which answer was truth, and she was too disoriented from the trauma earlier to think straight.

As Katara was left to thought, she heard the voice of the robed humanoid speak to her. "Pathetic isn't it?"

She looked toward him, unsure how to take that phrase. "Excuse me?"

He smiled, opened his arms and span his body around. "This place." He spoke as if he were singing to a stage.

Suddenly, the voice of the cloaked humanoid caught Katara's attention. "I would suppose this little cavern was a magnificent staple for your dreams until you were robbed of them so quickly."

Then Katara was confronted by the braided eelmaid again, only that time she was right-side-up. "Then your mom just comes in and blows the whole place up like a miniature volcano; Kaboo-boo-boom!"

"And your friends did an excellent job leading her here."

Katara looked around, and noted the truth behind their words. Her collection, once the pride and joy of her adventures, was now a rotting pile of shattered junk on the ocean floor.

Who was to blame for the destruction? Her mother! Her so-called friends! They were all to blame. Katara's sadness had transitioned to rage as she looked to her collection more and more. At the time, she built up so much rage, she had completely forgotten that Toph and Suki weren't involved in the discovery of her grotto.

After taking her time to take in her anger, Katara softened her expression, and looked up to the four strangers. "Could Azula really help me?"

The braided eelmaid was the first to respond; speaking in the same irregular riddles as before. "It depends on your definition of help!"

"It can turn either way unless both buyer and seller work in unity."

"It's a waste of time to guess," duly noted the dark haired eelmaid.

"Don't spend too much of your time thinking, as it's only a suggestion," replied the robed humanoid.

A suggestion. Yes; only a suggestion, yet there was more to that suggestion than any demand could command of her. Already Katara's mind worked around the idea that she had a chance to make her dreams come true. It was a now or never chance, and it seemed clear that it was the best solution of any.

Without hesitance, Katara rose from the floor and nodded to the four strangers. "I'll go."

Their heads turned towards one another and they nodded simultaneously. Then, they each spoke their respective titles.

"Spark!"

"Ty Lee!"

"Mai."

"Flame."

Spark was the last one to speak. "Those are our names. Now follow us."

Without any other words they all began to leave the grotto. Katara followed them without further question.

ooo​

Outside the grotto Sokka and Lan were on the receiving end of a scolding from Suki and Toph.

Toph had her hands clenched in fists, but kept them to her side so that she didn't hit the two. "How could you idiots blab? Suki and I had finally gotten Katara in a good mood and then you two came in and ruined it all!"

Sokka's face was twisted with sadness but no tears came from his eyes. "We didn't mean to hurt her; it was an accident!"

Lan's hands were pressed to his face, and his voiced cracked multiple times. "We were having an argument and we didn't even know the Queen was there!"

Toph and Suki wanted to say more, but they only sighed. They realized that there was no point beating up on the two further for what was an accident.

"Well now we've got to think of a new way to cheer Katara up." Suki crossed her arms and sighed with her eyes shut.

Toph brought her hands to her face and growled wildly. "Just forget it! If we show her another human object, she'll break out in more sobs! The only thing that could possibly cheer her up now is a... a miracle."

Suddenly, the area around the group darkened with shadow. They looked up to see a party of strange looking folk swimming overhead, blocking the incoming moonlight. They were initially going to dismiss them, but something suddenly caught their attention. There was someone in the group that seemed familiar to them.

It was Katara! She was in the middle of the formation. As she passed over, she didn't even seem to take notice of her friends below.

None of those other strangers were recognizable, so there was no reason for Katara to be with them. Then, Lan gave out a gasp and pointed to the two strangers with legs.

"Katara! Get away from them! They're servants of darkness!"

Katara didn't respond though. She only continued onwards, ignoring Lan's plea like as if he wasn't there.

They were all taken back by Katara's sudden coldness, but Sokka was the first to snap out of it and swim to his sister. "Katara? What's the matter? Where are you going?"

She only opened her eyes once to pass a glance to Sokka, but quickly turned away. "I'm going to see Azula..."

The mere mention of Azula's name left Sokka and the rest of the group stunned. Never had they believed that the situation would lead to such a conclusion. But, whether it was a choice of madness or despair, they all knew that it was a choice that would lead to an ill fate.

Sokka snapped out of his trance and grabbed Katara by the tail, attempting to reason with her. "Katara, no! You've heard the rumors! Azula is a demon; a monster!"

Lan swam up and offered his support to Sokka. "Katara, listen to him! You don't know what you're doing messing with the likes of them!"

Katara didn't reply to them however, instead she whipped her arms with as much force as she could muster. The power of her waterbending pushed both Lan and Sokka backwards and sent them hurdling into a nearby cliff.

"Keep your dirty noses out of my business! I don't want to have to do with any of you!" Katara raised her head high and turned away from her friends, following her snickering guides to wherever they were taking her.

Toph and Suki swam over to the Sokka and Lan and managed to wrench them out of the cliff. They watched as Katara slowly swam out of site, into the murky sea afar. Night was now in full swing, and the water was nearly inked in the mist of darkness.

"Lan, can you hear me? Say something!" Suki was shaking Lan violently back and forth in some hope he'd respond.

Lan weakly raised his head and put one hand to his nose. "… Does it have to be dirty now?"

Suki frowned and smacked him on the back of the head. "Well, he's alright."

"No time for shaking, wake up Sokka!" Toph raised her fists and relentlessly beat Sokka awake.

Sokka sputtered and stirred as the pain rained down upon his face. "T-T-T-oph! I-I-I'm a-wa-wa-ke! St-stop!"

Toph smacked him one last time before letting him go. "That one was for good measure."

Then she turned to the direction where Katara had disappeared, and urged the others with hand gestures. "Come on, we can't let Katara go and do something stupid! This way!"

Everyone nodded and followed Toph's lead. She led the way as they made their daring journey forwards. They were swimming towards the unknown for the sake of their friend, leaving behind all that happened before in the mist of the night.

ooo

Time hastens; feelings erupt, and a change is to be made.

Stay tuned next Friday for the final chapter in Act 1:

Breaking Water!
 

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