Book 4: Air
Chapter 3: The Night Thieves
Katara reluctantly woke up. She felt so comfortable! This bed was softer than the bed in her room. She stretched. Her legs didn't go behind the bed, like they usually did.
She slowly opened her eyes. First, she saw Zuko. He was taking some clothes from his wardrobe, perhaps to cover his naked torso
-You finally woke up! I slept late because of you. Longer than usual. The servants are probably worried
Katara violently sat up in the bed. She couldn't say anything.
Where am I?! And why
She couldn't ask: 'What am I doing in your bed?'.
Zuko sat on the edge of the bed.
-Yesterday, we worked very late. You fell asleep when you were signing letters. I took you here.
Katara rubbed her forehead. She fell asleep? She remembered that she was sitting at the table, transferring drops of ink and copying the Fire Lord's signature. It was so monotonous. So soporific.
- she started, but she turned red, even thinking about what she wanted to say. Luckily, Zuko guessed what she was thinking.
-I slept in an armchair. It wasn't very comfortable, but at least you slept well
I hope so
-Father will kill me- Katara was mumbling. She took no notice of what Zuko was saying.-And not only him. He'll disinherit me. Sokka will hunt me down with his boomerang
-Don't worry. Nothing had happened- the Fire Lord laughed, hugging her with one arm.
If I may
Zuko and Katara looked with panic at a servant, who was looking at them with surprise. She'd seen everything.
-Breakfast is ready. You weren't coming, my lord, so we started to worry
-Is this your reason for coming into my bedroom without knocking?!-shouted Zuko, standing up.- Is this part of your duties?
The servant cowered.
-I'm sorry, my lord. I didn't want to
She closed the door immediately, because Zuko threw a fireball at her.
When Katara left the palace, everyone was looking at her, but she didn't blush.
She hadn't done anything wrong.
Katara entered her house with a stubborn face.
-Is this the welcome committee?- she asked, when she saw her father and Sokka waiting for her on the porch.
-Why didn't you come home last night?- shouted a nervous Hakoda.
Katara snorted. She was angry.
- You didn't say a word to me since my birthday, and now you're interested in where I went last night?! It's none of your business!
-Oh yes, it is!- Sokka joined his father. He was even more nervous than Hakoda.- You were with Zuko! Whole city is talking about it. On every street, someone asked me if I was happy that my sister
is sleeping with the Fire Lord!
-What?- shouted Katara.
-Yes! People are saying things like that!- Sokka and Hakoda were looking at her. They were thinking only about what Katara would say.
-Yes, I spent the night with Zuko- said Katara. Sokka groaned.- But nothing happened. So leave me alone!
Katara went to her room and closed the door. She couldn't believe her ears. She knew that the servant must have told everyone. She should have gagged her and shut her in a wardrobe. Or attacked her with water-whips. Or used blood bending to choke her.
Knocking interrupted her thoughts.
-What do you want now?- she growled. The door opened. Aang came inside.
Katara sighed. This is the end, she thought.
-Katara- he said.- I don't believe anything that I heard in the city. I know that you would never do such a thing. You aren't like that. And
I trust you.
She was totally astonished. She sighed in relief.
-At least you believe me!
-Okay, okay, me too!- said Sokka. They hadn't noticed when he came in.- But not everyone will think the same way. Especially after that necklace
You know how it looks
They looked at a little box on a shelf near Katara's bed.
-I don't care about what other people think- she said impudently.- They can say anything they want.
-People always say strange things about us.- Sokka agreed. -We are Team Avatar, aren't we?
They had a hug of reconciliation. Even Momo joined them.
-I'm glad you said that- said Katara with relief.- We have to visit Zuko. Some things can't wait
Sokka and Aang made strange faces.
-Don't you think that it's a bit EARLY for that kind of visit?!- asked Sokka.
-What happened?- asked Avatar.
Katara told them about everything she'd heard the previous day about Omashu.
-Bumi needs our help-announced Aang.-We can't wait. Sokka, find Suki and Toph. We're going to Omashu.
The next day, Team Avatar was ready. Their mission was a secret, so only a few knew about it. Hakoda was worried that Katara would be away from home for the night again. And that she would be spending time with the Fire Lord.
Nevertheless, they started their journey to Omashu without complications. They climbed onto Appa and they headed for Omashu. It was a long way and it started to get dark, so they stopped for the night in a glade.
-Finally we're on the move again. I can't remember when I last had any adventures, can you, Appa? It's nice to go somewhere!- laughed Sokka, patting the bison's fur. Appa roared briefly.
-Quiet down!- Zuko was flustered. He still wasn't accustomed to all that noise.- Someone could hear us!
-Who?- Aang wanted to side with Sokka.- It's only an empty glade. There's no one except
-Be quiet! I feel footsteps. Someone is coming- said Toph.
-Didn't I tell you?- said Zuko. This time everyone tried to quiet him down.
After a minute they saw a band of tough men with swords.
-Oh, look at them!- started one of the rascals, with a golden tooth ominously shining in the darkness.- Look what we've found! Some teenagers wanted to have a picnic in a glade.
-Thieves!- hissed Katara.
Aang moved forward.
-We don't have any expensive things. We don't want to hurt you.
The guy with the gold tooth laughed at him.
-Are you, a child, telling thieves that you don't want hurt us? We don't like violence, either. But we do like your bison. Give him to us. Then we'll leave you alone.
-Appa? Never!- shouted the Avatar. He still remembered when the Sand people stole Appa to sell him to a circus in the Fire Nation. He couldn't let it happen again. Not this time.
-No?- the thief laughed.- So we'll negotiate another way.
He whistled. The rest of the band came into the glade at that sign. There were about twenty rascals. They charged with their daggers at Team Avatar immediately.
Aang used airbending to push them back, but it didn't help, because after a while they returned with fury.
-It's the Avatar!- shouted one of them.
-Avatar or not, I want his bison,- growled their leader. Katara hit his head with a water-whip.
-Oh, so you have more benders?- he mocked, wiping his face.- Don't worry, we have some, too.
At his sign, seven men came from the group. They stood in a line and shot fire balls.
-Firebenders!- shouted Suki, dodging a strike.
-How did they get here?- Toph was astonished. She stamped with her foot and all the thieves were bowled over.
-A long time ago, we were generals in Lord Ozai's army- said one of them, standing up.- We were esteemed by the rest of society. After Ozai's defeat, Lord Zuko took our money, the land that we were working for our whole lives, and our honor! If this is Lord Zuko's world full of love and peace, I don't want it.
-Are you trying to say that it was better before? Only for you, murderers! For you, who made all that money from others' disasters!
It was Zuko. He was standing next to the general, breathless with anger.
-What an honor!- mocked the firebender.- You disgraced yourself, Zuko. You'll never be like your father.
-I never wanted to!- shouted the young Fire Lord. He attacked the nearest rascals with flames.
The fight began. Everyone was fighting with whatever they had. Aang, Katara, Toph and Zuko were using their elements, Sokka attacked with his sword and boomerang and Suki was using the Kyoshi Warriors' techniques. The thieves at last gave up. The leader whistled and the rascals moved back.
-You're nothing!- shouted one of the generals.- Especially you, Zuko! There are still people who believe in your father. Someday, we will win!
He ran deeper into the forest after the other thieves. After a while all that was left was the echo of his cruel laugh.
Katara went to Zuko. He was clenching his fists.
-I don't want be like my father.- he was mumbling.- I don't want to. And I'll never be!
-You don't have to worry, Zuko,- Katara said mildly, putting her hand on his arm.- You're the best Fire Lord we could ever have.
Suddenly, someone groaned.
-Suki? Is everything okay?- said Sokka, running to his love.
-I think that I broke my leg,- she said, clenching her teeth.- I can't go any further. Forgive me.
-Katara? Could you heal it?
The girl from the Water Tribe leaned over her.
-I can't heal a facture- she said sadly.- I would need to know human anatomy to do it. I was learning it in Northern Water Tribe
but I missed some lessons.
Aang bowed his head. He remembered that Katara didn't want to learn healing. She wanted to have fighting lessons with her grandpa, Pakku.
Sokka also remembered it. He stood up.
-We have to split up. I'll take Appa and turn back with Suki to my father. There has to be a doctor in a town. He'll help us.
Aang shook his head.
-Fly. Don't lose time. King Bumi needs our help. We'll go on foot.
-Thank the gods! Sorry, Appa, but I like feeling ground under my feet. I can't see anything on you,- said Toph, patting Appa's fur.
They put Suki on the saddle.
-This will help you. I can't heal your facture, but you won't feel pain,- said Katara. She was kneeling near Suki and her hands were bending the water in the Kyoshi Warrior's leg.
Sokka sat on the bison's saddle.
-Yip yip!- he shouted. At that signal, Appa flew up.- Give Bumi my kind regards! he added, disappearing into the darkness of night.
-Let's go. We don't have time for waiting.
Everyone was tired after the fight, but they listened to Aang. They wanted to leave this cursed glade.