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Giving Up (Avatar: The Last Airbender)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Fulcon, Oct 7, 2019.

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  1. Kalem_Lee

    Kalem_Lee I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Zuko used Brotherly Love and Concern.

    ITS SUPER EFFECTIVE!
     
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  2. Akuma-Heika

    Akuma-Heika The Devil Exists Within

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    The girlish thoughts I was referring to was how she was considering using an official deployment for capturing the Avatar as a chance to go look for a boyfriend. Second half of that was her falling for Aang on said mission. Something I think possible with her path to redemption/change she is going on. That would cause problems, even if just internally for her (and likely be hilarious, at least, to me :p)

    Not much of a fan of Sokka. I don't hate him, but he is possibly my least favorite character in both series and definitely is for the good guys in Avatar, thus my dislike of SokkaAzula.

    The AzulaKatara thing was just a random thing, because while I have seen a lot of Zutara, I cannot remember ever seeing an AzulaKatara fic. One probably exists, but I just haven't seen them. It wasn't meant to be serious, more of a "lol" moment.
     
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  3. Threadmarks: Returns
    Fulcon

    Fulcon Wim Hoff Method Initiate

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    The following is a fanbased work of fiction. Avatar the Last Airbender is the property of Viacom, Nickelodeon, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Koniezko. Please support the official release.

    ---

    Zuko was leaning against the railing, watching the waves of the sea as they gently rocked the ship. They were approaching the blockade, so Zuko would need to be hidden away soon, in the coffin built into one of the halls inside the ship.

    But that was far from the Prince’s mind.

    His mind stayed on the conversation with his Mother. The very fact that his mother had poisoned his Grandfather to protect him had thrown the prince for a loop. She was Mother! Mother was incapable of such harsh acts as murder.

    Zuko shook his head.

    Azula probably got his letter right after he left. Before his meeting with mother, Zuko would’ve said that Azula would’ve laughed at the letter or simply thrown it away as foolishness. But now?

    He wasn’t sure.

    If he were being realistic, she probably did both of those things still, simply because that’s how she responded to sentimentality. But there was a hope that maybe, just maybe, he got through to her; He did want to try getting to know his sister without the competition for the throne getting in the way.

    That wasn’t really what was bothering him.

    But he didn’t know what it was, though.

    Zuko stopped as he heard a rumble above him. He looked straight up and saw, following the same path that the ship had tread but in the opposite direction, was the underside of a giant flying beaver.

    No.

    Not a beaver.

    A Flying Bison.

    Zuko blinked at the sight of the Avatar’s mount.

    He tried to fight it.

    Zuko really tried.

    He took deep breaths. Tried to force his lips to remain in that impassive expression he had perfected over the past year.

    But he failed.

    Zuko, Prince of the Fire Nation, started to laugh. It was a hard, braying sound that seemed to echo across the waves, robbing him of his treasured breath, forcing him to clutch at his stomach and bend over to remain on his feet.

    He had searched for a year and found nothing. After giving up, the Avatar was just flying over his head.

    It was like the Universe was taunting him.

    Zuko managed to contain himself after ten minutes of breathless laughter and looked to the side, seeing ships of the blockade having been diverted to chase after the Avatar, so he went inside to find his designated hiding place.

    ---

    Aang found himself looking downward and saw a small, Fire Nation cargo ship.

    He felt like there was something really, really important down on that ship.

    But he shook his head and pressed onward; speaking to Roku was much more important.

    ---

    The sanctuary of the Fire Temple was exquisitely decorated.

    Crimson carpets, which ironically felt like stepping on water, covered the floor and hung from the walls in magnificent tapestries. Directly ahead of him was the statue of Avatar Roku and Winter Solstice was nearly upon them.

    A beam of sunlight was crossing the threshold gradually reaching for the forehead of Avatar Roku. When it finally did so, Aang would be taken to the Spirit world.

    Any second now.

    Hurry up! Aang demanded with a hard clack of his staff on the uncarpeted ground. His friends were counting on him!

    That was the worst part.

    The fire sages had turned on Aang, save one. But as Aang had dove into the Sanctum, Sokka and Katara had gotten captured. He didn’t know if they were being taken away and if he’d have to go save them the second he was done or if they were being kept right outside the door as hostages.

    “Come on,” Aang begged the stream of light. “Just a little further...”

    ---

    Zhao was starting to feel a little better.

    It had not taken him long at all to track the Bison down, and he was able to follow it past the Blockade and from there, guess his destination as the Fire Temple. He was right, as usual. The Avatar would naturally be drawn to places of spiritual enlightenment on the Solstice and given that his past life was Fire Nation, it stood to reason.

    But these series of deductions were robbed of their earlier satisfaction when they had gotten duped into allowing the Avatar into the Sanctuary. At least Zhao had his friends to ensure that the Avatar stayed in the Temple to try to free them.

    Actually, Zhao had a short order of business to take care of.

    He walked toward the tribals, clearly siblings. One girl, one boy. They took notice of his approach and adopted brave, defiant expressions on their faces.

    “What do you want?” The Boy snapped out.

    “I’d show a little more respect if I were you,” Zhao coldly chided with a raised eyebrow. “I could have the sages kill you right now if you prove to be more trouble than you’re worth.”

    “If you do, you’ll have to deal with an angry avatar,” The boy rebutted.

    “I’m sure we’d have to deal with an angry avatar anyway if we want to catch him,” Zhao pointed out airily. “Perhaps we should just skip to that part and get it over with, hm?”

    The boy’s bravado evaporated. “Whoa, whoa, hold on there. Can we talk about this?”

    “Sokka, shut up,” The girl hissed with more than a little fear in her eyes.

    “Can we talk about this?” Zhao mused openly. “It might be best if we started with introductions. I’m Commander Zhao. And you?”

    “Sokka of the Water Tribe,” He said, his bravery returning, if only briefly.

    “Of the Southern Water Tribe,” Zhao corrected with a small frown.

    “Y-yeah,” Sokka flinched slightly at the correction. Interesting!

    “And I’m Katara,” The girl replied, narrowing her eyes in a glare at the Commander. “Now what do you want?”

    “I really just want to know how the Avatar was found,” Zhao said with a dismissive wave. “Was it you who found him?”

    “We’re not telling you anything,” Katara snapped.

    “Is that so?” Zhao asked. He shrugged and turned to the Lieutenant who had taken a position at his flank. “Kill them.”

    Both of the tribal savages froze, and looked at the Lieutenant with wide eyes as Zhao turned away. Any second now…

    The sages gasped in alarm and the Lieutenant stopped at the sound. Zhao’s head whipped toward the door of the Sanctuary opened and out stepped...an elderly man in Fire Nation robes.

    Avatar Roku.

    Commander Zhao felt his blood run cold with dread as he joined the defense.

    ---

    “That was close!” Sokka shouted, tightly gripping Appa’s saddle as the flying bison ascended in nearly a straight line, away from the fire temple and firebenders trying to burn him alive. “That Zhao guy tried to have us killed!”

    When Appa breached the clouds, he leveled out, allowing his passengers to relax their death grips on the saddle.

    “I’m sorry guys,” Aang replied with a frown. “I didn’t mean for that to happen.”

    “It’s okay, Aang,” Katara reassured him with a grateful smile. “You saved us before anything could happen. We’re not hurt.”

    “Good,” Aang said with an uneasy smile. “That’s good. I’m glad you’re not hurt.”

    After a moment, Aang turned to to side, away from them in a gesture Sokka immediately recognized as a signal to give him space. Katara, of course, got the opposite impression and moved in to give Aang a hug from the back.

    He moved in to try to pull her away, but Aang wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her closer.

    None of them spoke another word for the rest of the flight.

    ---

    “Uncle?” Zuko whispered as he crawled into the base through the secret entrance. “Uncle, are you here?”

    The entrance led directly into Zuko’s office and while the table and map were lit by candlelight, it was obvious that Zuko was alone.

    He let out a breath. His pack seemed to slip from his shoulders of its own accord, bearing a letter from his Mother to Uncle sitting on the top. With a sharp inhale, the candle’s got brighter, allowing him to see where he could hang his cloak without tripping over it later.

    “Zuko?”

    The door to the office opened and Iroh stepped inside, holding a candle in one hand.

    “Uncle,” Zuko said in a tired voice, though still smiling as they moved to embrace.

    “I am glad to see you return safely,” Iroh said with a happy smile of his own. In his other hand, he had held the letter he had received. “What was your choice?”

    Zuko’s eyes took on a strange glimmer. “I have my mother back.”

    “I’m so happy for you,” Iroh replied, his smile getting wider. “How was she?”

    “She’s fine,” Zuko answered. “She and I talked about everything. About Father...you should’ve seen how mad she was after we brought her memories back and she saw the scar.”

    “I imagine her rage would send dragons into hiding,” Iroh said with amusement.

    “And a few other things, too,” Zuko shook his head with a soft chuckle. “It was amazing.”

    ---

    What did that animal do to your face?

    ---

    “Sozin’s Comet?” Sokka repeated with a frown. “I guess it makes sense.”

    Appa had landed back in the Earth Kingdom and the trio had set camp. The fire was roaring, vegetables and meat stew were cooking in separate pots, so the smell of food was thick in the air and making their mouths water.

    “That’s what they used too,” Aang began before finding himself swallowing a mouthful of air. “Too...you know.”

    “Yeah, I gotcha,” Sokka nodded quickly. “So we have until the comet arrives to get to the North Pole and find you a Waterbending master, then two more masters for Earth and Fire so you can master them too and...”

    “Sokka,” Katara cut him off with a glare.

    “What?” Sokka asked with a glare of his own. “I’m just listing off everything we need to get done in six months.”

    “But we can worry about that later!” Katara barked. “We just got done escaping from the Fire Nation, can’t we have a bit of a break?”

    “Guys!” Aang shouted, cutting them both off. “We can’t waste time and energy fighting among ourselves while the fate of the entire planet is resting on our shoulders!”

    Both of them felt the rush of air through their clothes that snapped them back to their senses.

    “Right.” Sokka quickly nodded. “Sorry. I was just...uh...”

    “Let’s eat,” Katara quickly changed the subject, moving to take their meals off of the fire. “It sure smells good, doesn’t it?”

    Aang sighed and hung his head. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.”

    “It’s okay,” Katara replied. “We’re all just a little tense right now. What we need is to just relax, eat dinner and then get some sleep.”

    “We can talk about stuff tomorrow,” Sokka replied. “Katara’s right, we’re in no shape to stress about this right now.”

    “Thank you, Sokka,” Katara beamed at the surprising compliment.

    “Yeah, well, I mean,” Sokka began, forcing Katara to wonder how her brother was going to ruin her mood. “You are a woman, so you’re better at this emotion and sensitivity stuff.”

    Katara’s eyebrow twitched. “Just like how you’re better at being boneheaded and stuffing your foot in your mouth.”

    “See, exactly!” Sokka nodded in agreement. He turned to Aang. “See, Katara gets it. I mean, she’s got to put ‘being tough’ and ‘verbally witty’ as negatively as possible because normally when you’re honest about this sort of thing, women just want to hit you.”

    This woman’s about too.”

    Guys...”

    ---

    Iroh,

    If you’re reading this, then Zuko got back to the Pier safely and thank the spirits for that.

    I hope you’re doing well and that the past few years have treated you well. I haven’t seen you since you left to siege Ba Sing Se and I haven’t heard from you since...well. I think you remember. I am very sorry for your loss.

    After seeing what that beast did to his face, I can only be grateful that you have taken my son under your wing. He has grown into a strong and happy young man, one blooming even in the face of incredible adversity even thriving in his unspeakable exile.

    But in spite of all the good things that I have said, Iroh, I am worried for him.

    Zuko, for all his grace and even cheer, has become something almost unrecognizable. Perhaps it is the beasts fault, but my son used to care for his nation. Care for his people. That care and devotion is gone, replaced by something else.

    My son is now flippant. He is now flighty, though that might have been his limited time-frame speaking, but I don’t think so.

    “They made their bed with dragons. It’s not my fault if they get eaten.”

    Those were his exact words.

    Iroh, I know you’re as concerned as I am about this. So I ask you to try to steer him back on the right path. This aimless wanderer that he has become is not who he is. It will not bring him lasting happiness or fulfillment. A Fire Nation man needs wood in the ground, not just air and want. You know this.

    Before I left, I told Zuko to never forget who he is. But he has changed. He has changed a great deal.

    Whether it was because the animal succeeded in burning it out of him or if it was instead snuffed out by something else, Zuko really wouldn’t say. Just that being exiled was the best thing that had ever happened to him.

    So I ask you, Iroh, to bring Zuko out of this. He needs ground to stand on. Whether that ground is in the Fire Nation nobility or somewhere else entirely, it does not matter. He needs to put roots down somewhere, or on something.

    Also, I had something brief to say about my daughter.

    My daughter is the animal’s favorite for good reason. She is cold and she is dangerous. A firebending prodigy who sought for power and glory above all else.

    Part of it was definitely my fault.

    In my years away, I had no memory of Zuko or Azula. Having it restored and then comparing my experience with Azula with my second daughter Kiyi, I saw where I went wrong.

    Azula wanted me to love her. She wanted me to appreciate and adore her firebending the way the animal did. She wanted me to congratulate her on her achievements. She wanted me to tell her how smart she was. She needed a love that I did not even recognize as love but that the other parent had in spades and used it to wrap her around his depraved finger.

    As her mother, I have failed her spectacularly.

    Given how she had always acted cold and antagonistic to you, I can imagine that you might have given up on her. But allow me to say that Azula never forgave you for not avenging Lu Ten’s death. It is not because they were especially close, but that in her eyes, you had a duty, were too weak to fulfill that duty. She thinks a father needs to act like her own, in order to be a good father. If Zuko were to die, for instance, she would expect Ozai to go on a rampage and see to the deaths of Zuko’s killers.

    I do not expect this to suddenly get you to love her, but at the very least, I hope this helps you understand her and put her actions into context.

    So, Iroh, as a favor. From one parent to another.

    Please help my children.

    Bring Zuko back to solid ground.

    Show Azula what love really is.

    Before something terrible happens.

    ~Ursa

    ---

    “Uncle?” Zuko inquired over a steaming cup of jasmine.

    Iroh had entered the office with his letter in hand. “Zuko. I’m glad to see your awake.”

    “I slept really well,” Zuko said with a small smile, before looking down at the map with a melancholy expression. “It was good.”

    “What is wrong?” Iroh asked.

    “Nothing,” Zuko lied. “Can I ask what the letter said?”

    Iroh shook his head. “No. At least, not until you tell me what’s wrong.”

    Zuko sighed. “Alright, I’m just thinking. About...you know.”

    Iroh sat down and took a cup of tea that Zuko had graciously poured ahead of time. He simply sipped and waited.

    “I just,” Zuko started, unable to finish his sentence, shaking his head as he looked at a scroll on the wall, the one that had positions and rosters of the fire nation blockade. “I found Mother.”

    “You did,” Iroh replied.

    “But it wasn’t this epic quest like I thought it was going to be,” Zuko shook his head. “It was just ‘talk to this person. Then talk to this person. Go here. Talk to the spirit. Find Mother.’ And I was done.”

    “An uneventful journey is usually the best,” Iroh pointed out.

    “I know,” Zuko replied with a frown. “But nothing’s changed. Yes, I know where Mother is. Yes, we talked and it was amazing. But...she’s still not a part of my life. We’re still separated by my own exile and a fleet of warships.”

    Iroh hummed and nodded.

    “And even if I wasn’t exiled, I still wouldn’t want to live over there,” Zuko continued with a disappointed sigh. “I still don’t want anything to do with the Fire Nation.”

    “Really?” Iroh asked in surprise. “Not every single Fire Nation man or woman was at your Agni Kai, Prince Zuko.”

    “I know!” Zuko snapped, looking like the old Zuko for the first time in over a year. It faded just as quickly. “I know. The people at the head of this war. They made their bed with dragons...”

    “You’ve said that,” Iroh interrupted the vicious metaphor with a glare.

    “I did. And I meant it. But the people of Hira’a?” Zuko shook his head. “They had no part of it. They’re just a small town so far on the fringe it’s almost a different nation altogether. But Father makes decisions that directly affect them. If the Fire Nation wins or loses the war, they will be affected.”

    Iroh slowly started to nod. “You have started to see the vastness of the role of the Fire Lord.”

    “I have, and it scares me,” Zuko replied. “I don’t want to be the one directly responsible for their lives being destroyed if I make a bad decision.”

    “Well, you do not need to ascend the throne,” Iroh replied. “With you in exile, Azula is in line and she very much wants that power. As frightening as that thought is, Prince Zuko, it is an option.”

    Zuko fell silent, and thus, so did Iroh. They sipped at their tea, until Zuko finally broke the silence.

    “I sent her a letter.”

    “You did?”

    Zuko nodded. “Just asking, if we ever met again, if we could start over. Without the baggage.”

    Iroh frowned, the weight of his own letter feeling like a boulder in his hand. “Do you think she’ll want too?”

    “No.” Zuko shook his head. “Honestly, I think she’ll laugh at it. But I felt like I had to try.”

    “Perhaps she might surprise you,” Iroh replied.

    “Maybe,” Zuko said. “But right now, I’m just trying to answer one question.”

    “Which is?”

    “What now?”

    ---

    Author’s Note: I wasn’t sure I’d get this chapter out this week, but here you go. I hope you all enjoyed it. Not much else to say about it, though.

    Shout out to our newest Super Patron, Russel Beatrous, whose support is helping to make this possible.

    Shout out also too Melden V, Anders Kronquist, Ray Tony Song, Volkogluk, Aaron Bjornson, iolande, Martin Auguado, Julio, Hackerham, Tim Collins-Squire, Maben00, Ventari, PbookR, Seij, ChristobalAlvarez, Apperatus, EPiCJB19, Seeking Raven and Handwran. Thank you guys so much!

    Until the next time!

    ~Fulcon
     
  4. codeRR

    codeRR Heroic spirit unkown

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    oh ho I'm the first comment after the update? Score.

    As for itself, I'm very interested and glad to see that they are going to start working on bringing his head down from the clouds. It's not exactly where they want him to be but it's better than the current method of mind he has. Honestly, you also make Azula just sound more reasonable or at least her warped view that Ozai has imposed.

    Once again Aang and Zuko "see" each other. The spirits are likely just bashing their heads on the wall at this point.

    and the great question at the end of all journies has come to the front; What do we do now? A daunting question
     
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  5. Fulcon

    Fulcon Wim Hoff Method Initiate

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    Indeed!

    I made Azula sound reasonable. :D

    Also yes, they're going to try to bring Zuko's head out of the clouds.

    Yes they are.

    And destiny is gettin' real tired of their tip-toeing.

    Very daunting.
     
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