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Chapter 12-Aang's StoryEdit
Ninety-Nine Years Earlier, the Night Before Aang's Coronation and the Century CometEdit
Aang sat up to his chest in the hot springs beneath the palace in Ba Seng Se, smiling smugly. Smug was his default expression, and why shouldn't it be? He was the Emperor of the entire world. He grinned as a pretty young Death-Bringer walked in, the slaves scattering out of her way. Aang smiled, "Hey Chara, what's up?" Chara was from the Eastern Sanctuary of the Spirit Callers, and despite not having the power to summon spectral energy, she was incredibly strong. She was also extremely beautiful and intelligent.
Aang had been trying to get her to consent to be his consort, or maybe even his Empress for over a year, but she always politely refused. Somehow this had only made her more attractive to Aang, and had only made him that much more determined to catch her. Now she was sauntering up to him wearing nothing but a bath robe. She smiled as she reached the edge of the pool he was in, "Everybody out. Now."
It was a measure of her rank that even the Death Bringers in the room, Aang's Four Horsemen who almost never left his side, old Grand Master Gyatso and the three Aang jokingly referred to as the Three Demons, Azulon, Bumi and Flux, pulled themselves out of their pools and headed for the door, wrapping towels around themselves as they went. In seconds the room was cleared of everyone except Aang and Chara.
Chara smiled as she walked around the edge of the pool towards him, "Hello your highness." Aang should have known right there that something was wrong, Chara always called him by name. He didn't catch it though, he was entirely too lost in her smile and beautiful green eyes. She walked around to stand right behind him and then sat down, letting her legs dangle into the pool on either side of him. Aang's heart accelerated to a thousand miles an hour as he felt her short hair brush against his cheek and her hands settling on his shoulder.
"How long has it been?" Chara asked him quietly with a smile. Aang raised an eyebrow, not sure what she was asking, "How long has what been?" "How long has it been since we last saw each other?" Aang's brow furrowed, "We had breakfast together this morning." Chara's fingers tightened slightly on his shoulders, "Oh, but I'm not Chara."
Aang's eyes widened in surprise and suddenly the water splashed from the pool and hit him right in the face, suddenly freezing into a solid block around his head. He tried to get loose, but Chara's grip was steel and she pinned his arms to the side of the pool with her legs. As Aang quit struggling and his pulse slowed, the water melted. A gray haired man with a beard stepped from behind one of the curtains, "Quickly, we must get him out before his bodyguards realize what's happening." The Not-Chara pulled Aang from the pool with one hand and turned into a man, "Let's go. You're the one that can bind him."
The other man nodded and took Aang from the shape-shifter, "Come, quickly." He dragged Aang toward the screen and began dragging him down the tunnel. The shapeshifter paused and looked at the door where the four horsemen were waiting. The shapeshifter smiled, "Go on Patty. I'm going to thin their ranks a little." Patty's eyes widened, "Are you mad?"
The shapeshifter nodded, "Furious. Now go, I'll be along in a minute. Get that tunnel ready to collapse behind me." Patty hissed in consternation, "You're insane." The shapeshifter went to stand behind the door, "If I'm not along in a minute, seal the tunnel and make sure that guy doesn't come back." Patty sighed angrily and heaved Aang down the tunnel, the earth moving beneath his feet so that he rocketed hundreds of feet down the tunnel around a corner and out of sight.
The Shapeshifter grinned and in Chara's voice called for the man who had given him the huge scar on his face, "Hey Flux? Could you come in here for a moment?" A second later, Flux stepped through the door. The Shapeshifter's hand snapped out and closed on Flux's face. Blue light radiated out from the Shapeshifter's palm and Flux made a choking noise before falling as the light faded.
The Shapeshifter smiled over the now faceless body of Flux and then became Flux. Bumi poked his head in and saw Flux standing over Flux's body with Aang and Chara nowhere to be seen, "What the hell?!" He exclaimed. The Shapeshifter snapped a punch into Bumi's face hard enough to rearrange it and knock him across the hall. Gyatso and Azulon burst into the room, smacking the wooden wall out of the way like it was paper. The Shapeshifter put a flat handed strike into their chests and smacked them across the hall to land on top of Bumi.
As they scrambled to their feet, they saw the Flux imposter dart behind a screen and then there was a sound of rocks falling. They ran to the screen and saw that there was a wall of collapsed rock behind it. They stared in horror, the Emperor had just been kidnapped right from under their noses.
Eighty-Three Years LaterEdit
Kert Masen, the mortal who had dared to merge with the mighty entity known as the Face-Stealer, lay dying. He raised a hand and clasped the hand of his best friend, "You're gonna have to be careful Patty," He said quietly, "If my next life inherits all the power I've amassed over the years, they may well think themselves the Emperor, and they'll have the power to be. You've got to be ready... to kill me... if my next life poses a threat to the world." He hissed as the pain flared in chest from where the old Bone-Monger King had crushed his ribs into his lungs, "I'm countin' on ya Patty, don't let 'em undo all our hard work."
Patty bowed his head as the last shred of life faded from his friend's body, "Goodbye my friend."
A Beinstyrke agent burst into Marrow's office, "My lord! It is imperative that you come immediately!" Marrow, Lefko and Sylvie looked at him. It was very unwise to burst in on Marrow uninvited, but he was in a good humor today, "What is it Morsom?" Morsom was too flustered to even take notice of his good luck in catching Marrow in a good mood, "Sir! The Empress has entered the city and is demanding to see you at once! There is no doubt sir, she has manifested multiple gifts."
Marrow's eyes narrowed behind his mask, "Really now?" Morsom gulped as Marrow looked at the paper in his hand, "Then how am I holding a letter from a reliable source telling me that Emperor Aang is back from the dead and currently at the Southern Sanctuary of the Spirit Callers?" Morsom really began to sweat and then Marrow nodded, "Show her in." Morsom bowed, "Yessir, thank you sir, right away sir." He turned and hurried out.
Lefko watched him go and then turned to Marrow, "This cannot be the Empress, Katrina would never lie about something like this!" Marrow smiled thinly behind his mask, "I know that Lefko." He set the paper down and raised a hand to Sylvie's arm, "My dear, would you step into a different room? This might get ugly." Sylvie nodded and quickly left the room.
Marrow straightened his papers and set them to the side as Lefko exclaimed, "You can't be taking this seriously! This woman is obviously a charlatan!" Marrow laced his fingers together, "In that case we should have no problem killing her in the event she will not cooperate." Lefko tilted his head to the side, "Cooperate?"
Marrow smiled behind his mask, "Even if she is not an Imperial, she is a skilled enough actress to fool my agents into thinking she is one, which means she can undoubtedly fool the Republic too. We can use that. And if she truly is an Imperial, then our luck truly has taken an incredible turn for the better because now, we will have two." Suddenly a red aura burned through the door and Marrow and Lefko turned in surprise, the only things dangerous enough to have a red aura for them were each other. The doors opened and a gorgeous young woman with short dark hair, the dark skin of a Vampiri and strikingly crimson eyes walked in.
She had a crown of bone spikes and the light of the Death Touch dripped from her left hand as green spectral energy radiated from her right. She wore the clothes of a Spirit Caller, but she had an unmistakably Vampiri-made fur cloak draped across her shoulders like a cape and a saber sheathed at her side. She placed a hand on her hip and surveyed the guardians of Full Moon Bay, "So you two are the infamous Lord Marrow and Grand Master Daimonas. I am Empress Omen." Marrow and Lefko suddenly high-fived each other, smiles growing behind their masks, "Welcome to Full Moon Bay your highness."
Back At The Southern SanctuaryEdit
"They had caught Appa too. We woke up inside a tree in the spirit world. I didn't know how long we'd been there, but once I woke up we were able to break out. Then we came through some kind of huge light beam and came out in a forest at the South Pole. We headed north and ran into you two," Aang gestured to Sokka and Katara.
"You see?" Aang continued, "I didn't abandon the world. I was kidnapped." They all looked at him dubiously, "Yeah because water really moves and freezes of its own accord in underground hot springs," Sokka said. "It's the truth!" Aang protested. "I don't know," Katara said to Sokka, "I kinda wanna drown him. Maybe this Chara girl did too." Aang threw up his hands in exasperation, "No! I'm telling you! It was somebody who looked just like Chara but wasn't!"
Dread-Eye raised an eyebrow, "If all that's true, then you still let yourself be kidnapped over a cute girl." Aang winced, when he put it that way it didn't sound like nearly as good an excuse. "And if you're lying," Dread-Eye continued, "Then you just come up with really pathetic excuses." Aang groaned irritably and pulled himself to his feet, "I give up, I'm gonna go back to bed. Who knows, maybe when I wake up people will like me again." "Not likely," Chit-Sang told him bluntly. Aang groaned angrily and trudged off.
Chuckles scratched his beard thoughtfully, "You know, actually now that he brings it up, I think I recall reading somewhere that Chara of the Eastern Spirit Callers disappeared the same day as Aang and his horseman Flux." Tonis frowned, "And didn't King Bumi kill a shapeshifter one time?" Mundo hmmed thoughtfully as the others looked at the three immense brothers, "Is anyone else craving a drink?" "Me," Chuckles and Tonis said in unison.