Fandom--Avatar: the Last Airbender
Characters--(AS OF FIRST CHAPTER) Aang, Zuko, Mai, Sokka, Toph, Suki, Katara, anonymous Water Tribe villagers
Rating/Warnings--PG/PG-13. MAJOR CHARACTER DEATH. If diseases/viruses being passed from person creeps you out, then that's going to be an issue, as well. That's as much as I can warn for as of the first chapter, since I'm not entirely cemented in what I want to do with this.
Summary--Revenge has the strangest way of manifesting itself.
A/N--Gift!fic for Nikkel in honor of New Years and being generally awesome in dealing with my whacked betaing schedule.
Also, this is in an AU setting post-war. So...it's more AUish rather than total AU...but whatever.
EDIT (6/25/09): Small edits to wording of Aang's speech at the end to reflect what way the story's going to be going. Also, chances are the name of the story's going to be changed. Depends on how I feel about it after a few more chapters.
The day was cold and gray. Clouds were slowly starting to gather, blotting out the sunlight with their dense grayness. A wind started up; it whipped snow up around the moderate-sized village, causing most to pull their thick blue coats and robes around themselves tighter. There were six, though, that didn’t try to pull their clothes taut, instead moving a bit closer to the large ceremonial fire that all the people were standing around.
As the sun quickly started to disappear, one of the six people stepped forward even farther from the others, ending up a mere few feet away from the flames. He was wearing a heavy, long-sleeved coat that was lined with fur, as were most of the people gathered around him—unlike the rest, though, his was a deep blue, signifying his status as chief of the village. Slowly, with a grim look set on his face, he began to speak.
“Today we are gathered for the funeral of Katara, one of our own.” His voice was an odd mixture of barely-contained pain and forced responsibility; he spoke very stiffly and sounded as if he was reading from a script. “She was dear to most, known to all, and missed by everyone. Her passing is…very regrettable.”
The crowd (save six) fidgeted a bit at the man’s last sentence—all of them knew, more or less, what had happened to cause the death of the young woman. It was hard for them all to feel complete regret at what happened to her when her death possibly saved their lives. But none objected to their chief’s statement, for it was against the sacred laws for anyone to speak during a funeral ceremony except the chief and the deceased’s direct family.
(And they all knew that among them there were six of the most powerful people in their world that would take serious offense at any mention of incomplete regret. That was enough to keep their mouths tightly shut.)
“She was a great woman…a great sister. A great person. She gave selflessly to…to everyone, really. She didn’t ignore anyone that she could save or help, no matter how hopeless they seemed. That’s actually how my adventure—how all of our adventures,” he motioned to the five people that were closer to him than the others, “started. She ended up starting them all.
“She did a lot of things for a lot of people. Everywhere she went she’d find some way to help out. Maybe she’d do some things around camp or home, making sure that her friends and her group stayed together; maybe she’d take part in a plan to save an entire city, an entire kingdom, the entire world. She’d always put all her effort into whatever she was doing. It was…pretty admirable, when I stop to think about it.”
He stared at the blazing fire while he talked, his eyes glazing over while memories floated to his consciousness. As he spoke, the stiffness and script-like quality of his words faded and they flowed easier and easier; the change in his tone and speed seemed to have a relaxing effect on the crowd for, slowly, the tension that seemed to hang in the air began to melt and run away. A few times there was even a barely audible chuckle that ran through the people at a specific recollection of childhood innocence or a small (yet memorable) mistake.
Eventually, though, the memories stopped readily coming and soon died out altogether. He ended up returning to the same generic funeral speech that had been handed down from chief to chief, finally finishing with:
“And may her spirit be guided by the Ocean Spirits to a place of happiness.”
The group repeated the sentence solemnly before tossing the rocks they picked from the shore into the fire. Crackles, clacks and pops filled the air as the stones hit each other and fell down into the burning hot coals. Everyone stood and stared at the flames for a few moments, snow being tossed up around their faces, before the cerulean-coated man turned and nodded to one of the six that had originally stepped closer to the flame. The two traded places, switching the crowd’s center of attention from a tall, strongly built man to a slim teen that stood a good head below the chief. However, the teen was so well-known for his heroic acts that no member of the village looked upon him differently from their leader.
“I wanted to thank you all for coming today. I know that Katara would have been very thankful.” He nodded in a way that recognized all of the gathered people before continuing.
“I know that you all are very sad at her death. And I know that you all know something of what happened to cause it.” The crowd fidgeted again, but he spoke on, the obvious pain in his voice mixing with resolve for a yet unknown cause. “But there’s a lot that you all don’t know about how she died, about why she died. And I think that the reason for her death should be known by all of you. Katara would’ve wanted everybody to be told. She would’ve wanted everyone to know rather than be stuck in the dark by the people that did know.
“Katara died for the Fire Nation Capital. She died so that the stronghold of the Fire Nation could live. I don’t know if she knew that she was going to die for that. That probably sounds pretty confusing, but…well, it’ll all be explained later.
“I want to tell you all a story. It’s not really long, but it’s sad. It will show how every action has its consequences, and how those consequences can be strong enough to shake the world. It will show that even the ones who do the most good are touched by the world’s evil. It will show that all friendships can end up broken and every person can be changed, even those that seem so strong and inflexible. But most of all, this story will show how some people can and will sacrifice everything—whether they know it or not—for the greater good.”
He screwed his eyes shut, trying to keep his voice strong and steady. After a few moments, he began.
“It all starts with Ozai.”
A/N: From what I've got plotted out, actually, it's not going to be that short. But our out of universe version is going to have a lot more stuff than the story that Aang's going to tell them, since we're going to be able to see more.