The Avatar Saga, Season 1: Azula's Redemption Aug 3, 2010 21:41:44 GMT -5
Post by flamehead on Aug 3, 2010 21:41:44 GMT -5
The Avatar Saga—Azula’s Redemption
Chapter 1: Of Schoolboys and Sunflowers
Disclaimer: I don’t own Avatar, nor any characters affiliated with the show. I do own the White Phoenix, however. Please don’t use this story as your own, nor post it other places without my approval. Reviews welcome, critiques scrutinized, and flames absorbed and redirected with twice the power. Please, enjoy!
O, great Muses, I humbly beseech thee.As a mere suppliant I appear.
Beautiful of speech,
As an unworthy mortal, thy powers
Thy skills I require,
and with the Shining One’s
blessings, I will steal them
for a time.
Here begins Episode 1
Ευερυ στορυ μυστ ἁυε α βεγιννινγ. Τἱς στορυ ις νο εξκεπτιον...
Ευερυ στορυ μυστ ἁυε α βεγιννινγ. Τἱς στορυ ις νο εξκεπτιον...
“Oh man, oh man, I’m late. Sifu Honna is gonna roast me.” Kuzane raced up the steps to his school, his heart pounding. The boy had been late twice this week already, and while the Avatar’s victory over the Fire Lord five years ago had relaxed the atmosphere in the Fire Nation, children were still expected to appear to school on time. He raced through the halls, his soft leather shoes thumping against the polished wood of the school floor. He knew he was going to need an explanation for his teacher, and quickly crafted a tale that sounded more valid than “I overslept.”
Turning a corner, he crashed headlong into the music class on their way to the school courtyard to practice. Stammering apologies and extracting himself from a Tsungi horn and its player, Kuzane narrowly avoided the music teacher and sped down the hallway. He smiled as he ran, remembering when music was one of the most boring subjects at school; until the Avatar came, that is. He cut through the cafeteria kitchen, pinching breakfast as he went, amid shouts and swinging ladles from the cooks.
“One of these days, Kuzane!” the head chef yelled, red in the face. “One of these days, you’re going to be just a step too slow!”
Kuzane laughed as he slid on the polished wood between the chef’s legs. He popped up behind him, a fire cake in each hand. “And one of these days you’re finally going to lose that belly of yours.”
The chef paused. “You really think so?”
Kuzane’s face split into a smile, and he crammed one of the fire cakes into his mouth. “Sure, as soon as you manage to catch me, big guy.”
The chef’s yells mingled with the thuds of his feet against the wood floor.
Chest heaving, Kuzane finally cracked the door of his classroom open, hoping to sneak in during the morning recitation of the Fire Nation oath and escape his teacher’s notice.
“Kuzane, so glad you could join us. And only one hour late today. I’m thrilled you managed to spare us the time.” Sifu Honna’s raspy voice made Kuzane flinch. His grizzled teacher had rearranged the entire room to face the door, so everyone in the class could see Kuzane’s late arrival. Honna had probably did this to teach him a lesson, but for “Kuzane the performer” as his friends called him, he saw this as an opportunity to turn the tables on his teacher.
“Deepest apologies, Sifu Honna,” Kuzane said, bowing low. “I really was going to be on time today, but on my way to school I was attacked by, um, a pack of tigerdillos.”
“Yeah, I know, it was crazy,” Kuzane smiled, picking up steam. “They got me just outside the market square. I tried to use the bending Sifu Wass is teaching us, but they just kept coming. I got one, then another,” Kuzane jumped up onto a student’s desk, recreating the adventure. “But for every one I torched, two more appeared.”
Sure that his audience had eyes only for him, Kuzane ran over the desks, hopping from row to row, bounding and flipping over his classmates. “One of them hit me just as I was jumping from the coal factory roof to the Fire Flakes stand. I hit the ground with an oomf!” Kuzane tumbled to the ground, right in front of his teacher’s desk. The class was cheering, and Honna had just the beginnings of a smile in his eyes, despite his best attempts at severity. “I thought I was gonna die. But then—”
“Going to die,” Honna corrected. “And then what?”
“And then,” Kuzane puffed himself up, deciding his audience was ready for the grand finale, “the White Phoenix saved me.”
The class erupted in laughter. Almost imperceptibly Kuzane deflated, looking at his classmates in confusion. He turned to Honna, whose smile had grown. Just as Kuzane was about to question why the class was laughing rather than silenced in awe, his teacher spoke.
“Did he now? I find that most interesting, as the current events I read to the class before your late arrival included a message from the Fire Lord. About how the Senken Seven have once again assembled at the Capital which, if you had been here for the geography test yesterday, would know is on the mainland of our nation, far removed from us.” Kuzane looked at the ground, the picture of a shamed and apologetic student. To the other students in the room, it was an obvious act. Kuzane never apologized for anything, and probably didn’t expect to get away with such a huge story anyway.
“Now please, pupil Kuzane, recite for the class the date of the formation, function, as well as the names and titles of everyone in the Senken.”
“The Senken Seven, formally founded after the defeat of Ozai the Disgraced, are seven of the strongest and most influential people alive after the war, excepting of course the Order of the White Lotus. They represent all the peoples of the world, and work to maintain balance between world powers.” Kuzane kept his head bowed as he recited.
“As for the members… well, there’s of course Avatar Aang of the Southern Air Temple, the Last Airbender, and co-head of the Council of Seven. Toph Bei Fong of Gaoling, Earth Master and representative of the Earth Kingdom. Katara of the Southern Water Tribe, Waterbending Master and representative of the Water Tribes, both North and South. Sword Master Sokka of the Southern Water Tribe and Captain Suki of Kyoshi Island, Warrior Couple and representatives of the Konketsu Island colonies. Zuko, Firebending Master and our Fire Lord, and the other Co-Head of the Council. And finally, there is Matthias Musagetes, the White Phoenix, Advisor to Lord, King, Chief, and Avatar alike.”
“Well there you go, you do seem to listen in class once in a while,” Honna said, “now, why don’t you follow that wonderful display of acrobatic and oratory skill by taking your seat and getting out your report on the White Phoenix.”
Kuzane paled. He thought the report wasn’t going to be due until tomorrow. He thought quickly, making his way not to his seat, but back to the center of the semicircle the desks formed around the front door.
“Actually, Sifu, I was hoping I could orally give my report… You see, I sprained my wrist helping my poor blind mother in the shop and—”
“Oh, save it Kuzane. I knew you weren’t going to have your report done.” Honna cut him off, hoping to circumvent another lengthy story from the inventive youngster. “I tell you what—if I let you tell part of the Phoenix’s story, will you promise to be on time for the rest of the month? No matter how many wrist sprains or Tigerdillos try to keep you from getting here before noon?”
“Yes sir, I promise.”
“Then go ahead. But just a part, mind you. I know all about you out-talking the Deputy Magistrate after your incident with those badgerfrogs.”
Laughter filled the room at the elderly teacher’s remark, and he marveled at how far the country had come since Lord Zuko’s coronation. There were still hiccups to be sure, but the nation was slowly and surely leaving the ridged single-mindedness he secretly hated teaching during the last Fire Lord’s rule.
Kuzane eagerly approached the front of the room, feeling immediately at home. The little liar was a born entertainer, and had dreams one day of joining the Ember Island Players, the Fire Lord’s personal theater troupe. He saw any chance to tell a story as a chance to be the center of attention, and loved every minute of it. He reached the center of the semicircle, his stage. He looked over his fellow students, his audience. He even snuck a glance over at Sifu Honna, his critic. Then Kuzane, son of Kuzen and grandson of Kuzo, the Avatar’s childhood friend; took a deep breath, readied himself, and began to speak.
“The White Phoenix, Matthias Musagetes, first appeared five and a half years ago to help the Avatar bring balance to the world. Not much is known about his life before that, aside from what he has told the royal scribes and messengers. He doesn’t use bending, yet many have seen him perform feats only someone at the rank of Master is capable of. He claims no homeland and no ties to any of the nations so he is, along with the Avatar, seen as a completely neutral mediator. He’s known all throughout the world as a hero, and is one of the most courageous people alive.”
“Come here, you coward!” Toph Bei Fong shouted after the retreating figure. Squaring her stance, she sent a fist-sized rock hurtling at the man’s back. “I swear, Bird-Boy—I’ve never seen a bigger baby in my life!”
The rock sped closer and closer, until just a few inches separated it from the figure’s head. Toph’s breath caught, sensing that he still hadn’t had moved. But at the last moment something at his feet seemed to catch his eye and he ducked to examine it, the rock sailing harmlessly over his head. Toph let out her breath in a relived sigh. Of course he wouldn’t get hit. As long as she’s known him, he’d never taken a hit unless it was to defend someone else.
“Bandit, you’ve never seen anything period.” The figure turned round and began to walk to the blind earthbender. “And just because I don’t want to attend the policy maker’s banquet doesn’t make me a coward. If anything it proves I don’t want to die a slow, boring death.”
“Are they really that bad?”
“One-on-one, I’m sure they’re great guys. But together it’s nothing but trade agreements and border re-distribution. I don’t know how Aang and Zuko stand it.”
“Well Sparky’s grown up around politics. And Twinkle Toes is the Avatar, so it’s his duty to be bored to tears for the betterment of the world—whether he likes it or not.” Toph walked towards the figure, meeting him at the middle of the garden she had found him napping in. The years had been good to her, each passing season maturing her into the picture of natural beauty. She never wore makeup, and still kept her hair in much the same style she did during the war—long bangs reaching past her milky eyes. But five years changes a cute young girl into a much more womanly young adult. “What’s that?” she asked, her steps showing her that her friend had something in his hand.
“Just a flower that caught my eye. Here, you should stick it in your hair. Now the delegates can tell you’re a girl.”
Toph took the flower with a grin, recognizing the jab for what it was—the same kind of banter that kept them going during some of the worst fights of her life. “Whatever, you know I can sense them all staring at my chest during these things. They never seem to remember that just because I’m blind doesn’t mean I can’t tell where they’re looking.”
The young man bent over to help place the flower behind her ear, his hands radiating the internal heat he always had. Toph almost leaned her head into those hands, but kept her feet firmly planted. “Well you can’t blame them, it’s not their fault you insist on wearing dude’s clothes that aren’t cut for women. Seriously, it was fine when you were twelve and flat, but now with those boulders of yours—”
“All right, that’s officially more than you need to say, pal.” Toph pushed him away playfully. “And Sunshine’s gonna kill you for taking this, by the way. This is her private garden.”
“Don’t worry about it, I’ve got Mai covered. I brought a bunch of snow lilies from the north with me, so she can’t complain if I pinch one sunflower.”
“Well it’s your butt on the line, Mat. Don’t blame me when she sticks it full of needles.”
They both laughed, the image of a stone-faced Mai coming at him with her trade-mark stilettos too much. The young man put his arm over Toph’s shoulder and led her out of the garden and towards the banquet hall. “Come on—let’s get this over with so we can all finally start our vacation.”
Toph allowed him to steer her, but not without bending the hole in the ground away. She didn’t feel like getting on the lady of the house’s bad side so early into their holiday. “Lead the way, oh mighty and powerful Phoenix.”
Their laughter floated away in the late spring air.
Well there you go! hope you all enjoyed it. Please leave me comments and such. And chapter 2 will be up next week! And because lot's of people ask this--No, Matthias is not a Gary Stu self-insert personal wank-fest. Yes, he is not originally from (nor is he a permanent resident of) The Avatar World. No, I didn't draw this artwork, my good friend Taikaze on DA did. Just trust me on this guys, all will be explained with time.