Chapter 1: Painful Memories
A pillar of fire lit up the evening sky. The echo of a loud roar flowed across Ember Island. Katara, Sokka, and Sukki watched, in amazement, the skill and power of the young Avatar. Zuko smiled at Aang’s performance. Aang closed his mouth and the island grew dark and silent again. He took a deep breath then opened his eyes to facehis teacher. “Now that’s what I call fire bending.” Zuko clapped his hands. Aang bowed to his tutor then turned and faced his audience. Sukki clapped with Zuko and smiled. Sokka sat wide eyed and mouth wide open. Sukki elbowed him hard in the ribs and he snapped back to life. Aang chuckled and looked at Katara. When they made eye contact he winked and walked toward the shade of a palm tree. Katara’scheeks grew hot and turned a cherry red.
When Aang reached the trunk of the tree he air bended himself up to the top and grabbed a coconut. He gently landed on his feat and sat down. Aang sent a sharp slip of air through the coconut which cut it in half. Aang put one half of the coconut down and took a sip of the sweet liquid. He suddenly dropped the coconut spilling it all over the grass. Hegrasped his head and rubbed his temples. His mind was showing him pictures and sights he couldn’t bare to see. Aang winced and pushed his fingers hard into his head as if he were trying to reach in and pull the pain out.
Katara came over to Aang and looked at him, her bright blue eyes filled with concern. “Are you alright?”
Aang looked down at his feet “No Katara. I’m not alright. My mind isfilled with pictures of death and failure. The failure like when I left my people behind and ran away when they needed me the most.” Aang remembered Monk Keyotso and his eyes filled with tears. Aang tried to hold back sobs but he couldn’t. Katara sat behind Aang and wrapped her arms around his neck. She grabbed his head and rested in on her shoulder. Seeing Aang cry was always hard for Katara butthis was different. She could feel all the sorrow and guilt flowing through Aang’s body. “Aang, if Monk Keyotso and your people were still alive they would be just as proud of you as they are now.” Wrong thing to say. When Katara mentioned the other air benders more guilt flowed into Aang and he let out a loud wail.
“What on earth!?” Sokka and the others turned around and ran toward Aang andKatara. “What happened?” Katara said nothing. She didn’t need to. When she looked up at the three, her eyes told the tale. Sokka saw Aang crying and he and Sukki knelt on each side of him and hugged him. Zuko was even concerned. He put his hand on Aang’s shoulder. Aang continued to cry but his sobs lightened up. The comfort of all of his friends around him calmed him down.
“I…” Aang started.“We know Aang” Katara said, still gripping him tightly.
“Listen Aang” Sokka started “You are only a twelve, well nearly thirteen year-old boy. Yet you carry this heavy burden on your shoulders. And let me tell you that you fight and are as brave as a full grown man. You’re ready to end this war. You’re strong enough to defeat the Fire Lord and restore peace to the world. We all know you can doit”
Aang sniffed and wiped his eyes “Thank you Sokka.”
“I’m sure you remember the first time I met you. When my mind was clouded and I was foolish enough to believe that you were young and un-skilled. I thought capturing you was going to be as easy as picking up a pebble. But boy was wrong!” Zuko smiled “You turned out to be harder to catch then anything in the entire world. I learned that youwere strong, keen minded, and very stubborn.” Everyone laughed including Aang. The young air bender stood up and wrapped his arms around everyone he could reach. “I want you all to know that although I have to carry this burden, I am glad I am the one to do it and no one else has to do it. Also if I hadn’t been frozen in that block off ice, I wouldn’t have met Katara and Sokka, and without...