Book 4 Chapter 9 – Waking Nightmare, Part II

Tłumaczenie kolejnego rozdziału Księgi Czwartej autorstwa niezastąpionej WładczyniW&A! Ogromnie ci dziękuję za świetną robotę i nie mogę się doczekać kolejnych rozdziałów! Polska wersja znajduje się tutaj.

***

There was really quiet in the full to bursting Council Chamber. Genrals and strategists where only whispering, none of them dared to rase his voice. They were frightened. They where frightened – the thought, that era of love and peace will never end. What an irony – it lasted less than two years…
The Fire Lord got up of his throne. Cautiously he put his hands on table to not wobble. His hands were shaking and he couldn’t do anything with it.
“Avatar’s team… Conditions od our meeting here aren’t the best…”
“Saying the least” snorted Toph.
Zuko pretendet he didn’t hear it.
“As I said, the leader of rabels is the former Omashu governor…”
“But it’s Mai’s father!” – accidently shouted Suki. She was still on cruthces. Becaouse of her broken leg, she wasn’t able to fight.
People gathered in the chamber murmured with astonishment. Zuko suddenly felt even worse.
“Yes. It’s Mai who told me about the invasion.”
“She warned you?! Why didn’t you tell us?” puffed Aang, standing up. Since Katara’s birthday he was minding on Zuko and only waited, when something will go wrong. But now it wasn’t any private issue. “If we knew anything earlier, we could do something about it! Maybe prevent it!”
“I found it out last night” silenced him the Fire Lord. “Before I was able to think about any strategy, it was too late. Ozai was freed. I couldn’t wait any longer.”
It was difficult for him to acknowledge his own infirmity. He wanted to be known as a strong and unbroken ruler, but it never happened.
“I send a message to the White Lotus. They should be here in two days.”
This time everyone was quiet.
“We have to split up responsibilities. Toph will go to the subburbs and Katara will supervise the city center. Sokka will take Appa and control the whole area, and Aang – you should guard the entrance to the palace.”
“And what about me?” asked Suki.
“You’ll go with Sokka… But I would prefer seeing you here, in the palace. Because of your leg.”
“Oh, I feel great! I could move without these stupid cruthes!” miffed Suki, but when she saw Zuko’s face she changed her voice. “Nevermind. I delaged conduct to Ty Lee.”
Fire Lord nodded.
“Perfect. Let the Kyoshi warriors encircle the palace. The Southern Water Tribe’s warriors may help Toph and Katara.”
“Do you have any other orders, lord Zuko?” asked Aang with spitfullness.
Fire Lord ignored his voice.
“No. You can go now.”
“I have a question” said Katara suddenly.
I was difficult for Zuko to look at her. By all this time he was avoiding her glance to not lose concentration. He had to be cold and calmed.
“Yes, Katara?”
“Does anybody know what happened to Mai?”
He didn’t expect such question. He was affraid of the answer.
“I didn’t see her since she told me about her father’s plans” he replied quietly.
The girl from the Southern Water Tribe nodded slowly. No one said out loud what they were thinking about. Mai was killed. Or imprisoned.
Members of Team Avatar began to leave the Council Chamber. Katara was the last one. This reminded the Fire Lord of a different issue. A thing that was burning him from inside. He knew, that he couldn’t start the war without solving it.
He catched Katara’s arm cofidenitally, hoping that no one saw it.
“Today at twilight. On the coast near magnaks’ forest. I have to know” he whispered to her ear.
She narrowed her eyes and left the chamber.
Unfortunately, the secret message was heard but one more person. A big-eared one.

Zuko was hiding on a tree and scrutinizing governor’s residence. There was a lot of the traitor guards, who were listening to Ozai. He knew, or maybe tried to believe, that Mai is inside. And still alive.
He came here to free her, but when he saw all those guards… He lost the rest of his courage. There were dozens of well-trained fire benders. He had no chances.
Suddenly he felt warm tears on his cheeks and lips. They were bitter. He knew that his decision was reasonable and proper. If he went there and fought the guards, he would die for sure. Ozai would take the Fire Nation with no one stopping him. Zuko just couldn’t save Mai…
Though all these rational arguments he still knew one thing about himself. It was a thought dominating his mind. Coward.
“You can handle it, Mai” he whispered, trying to forget about his doubts. “You never needed anyone’s help. You even didn’t need me…”
Suddenly he saw, that this was the real reason of their break up. Katara was incredibly strong, but with her he always felt needed. Water and Fire complemented each other. They were giving each other things they couldn’t reach alone. And Mai already got everything and didn’t care about anything. It wasn’t Mai who was his missing part.
Hej glanced at the sky. Sokka and Suki were flying round and round the city. Sun was slowly downing.

He wasn’t sure if she will come, but despite that he was waiting. Water was washing his feet and ancles. He couldn’t stop it like Katara did that day.
Suddenly he felt her hand on his arm. He already knew. He closed his eyes for a while. He earlier prepared what to say… In a moment he opened eyes to confront with the brutal reality. A reality so different than his heart. He slowly turned around.
“I understand you, Katara” he started. “I know this. It would be a too big sacrifice for you. I can’t..”
When he saw her face, he stopped. Those blue eyes were penetrating him so persistently. Maybe it was only his imagination, but he saw tears in her eyes. She smiled slowly.
She hugged him. He felt her hair on his cheek. Her lips on his lips.

Aang goggled. He just couldn’t believe. He followed Katara all the time. He had to know the truth; though he didn’t expect it to be such painful. He felt so worthless. Hiding behind a stone, he had no idea how long he will be able to stay there. He felt excruciating pain somewhere in his chest. It was awful, so awful.
He also felt force. It was an old and forgotten feeling. Enormous amounts of force, like two years ago, when he had to defeat Ozai. He wasn’t doing it since a very long time. There was only pain and anger now. Being alone. He had enough time to hear Katara:
“I love you, Zuko. I love you for such a long time! I can no longer fight this feeling. I just can’t…!”
It was too much for him. The Avatar State came by itself.
“Aang” shouted Katara. Until now she didn’t see him. She was terrified. Zuko too. Aang noticed it. But he didn’t care.
“Aang, I beg you!” Whose voice was it? The Avatar didn’t hear anything. He was drowning into depths of his mind, seeking for the true power of the elements. Pain was pulsing inside him, maybe instead of blood.
Everything happened in a split second. But there was still enough time for Zuko to understand what Aang was up to. It was the end. His end. A sphere of pure energy will hit him and he will die.
Zuko knew it. He was ready.
But… It didn’t came. He opened his eyes. He didn’t even rememebr when he closed them. He couldn’t hear anything. He saw only one thing – Katara. She covered him and saved him from the hit.
The time got faster again. Zuko felt every little cell of his body. He jumped to Katara as fast as he could. She was laying without any move. Like she suddenly took a nap. She was dead.
Zuko was amuck. He stood up. He was feeling the fire within. He turned around to face the Avatar.
Aang’s arrows and eyes weren’t glowing anymore. There was fear in his wide opened eyes. He couldn’t believe it. He didn’t want to accept it. He just couldn’t.
Zuko shouted wildly. Or maybe it wasn’t a shout – it was a groan full of despair. He was throwing fire all around him, trying to reach Aang. He couldn’t concentrate, but he had to kill the Avatar. It was the only way to bring him relief.
Aang found breathing diffcult. He shook his head. He couldn’t believe it. He heard some voices from far away. He should have listened to them, but they belonged to a different world. Zuko was still insanly throwing fire all around; Aang was terrified. He wanted to run away. Somewhere far, far away… He ran towards the sea. When he was at the edge of the water, he jumped high into air. He landed deep under the water. Salt fluid was forcing its way into his lungs. He knew that feeling. He bended a sphere of ice around him, like that one time. He had to disappear for another hundred years, but even then he will be guilty. He hoped, that this time no one will find him. He wanted to stay in the iceberg forever.

“Aang, no! Don’t do this!” shouted Sokka, when he saw the Avatar running towards the water. Unfortunately, it was too late. Aang disappeard in the depths of the sea.
Suddenly he felt madness – it was sneaking towards him, very slowly, but unstoppably. He wanted to kill Zuko. Without thinking he ran in the direction of the insane firebender.
When he saw a bright light on the coast, he immediately turned Appa that way. But the things he saw when he arrived where much worse the he could ever think.
“You” he shouted at Zuko. “It’s all your fault!”
He jumped towards the Fire Lord, punching and kickim him.
“My sister is dead! SHE IS DEAD! Aang disappeared! It’s the end! You… I never trusted you! And you know what? I was right!”
Zuko didn’t react on Sokka’s strokes. He was ignoring the reality. But despite that, Sokka stopped.
It was Suki. Though she was still moving on crutches, she was able to jump off Appa’s back and reach boys to stop them.
“Stop!” she shouted.
Sokka ceased moving.
“You saw exactly what I did, Sokka! It was Katara who kissed him, not him. She loves him. Loved…”
She started to cry. She leaned over Katara and grabbed her hand.
“Here! Here!” she shouted suddenly. “Zuko, Sokka! She’s alive! She breathing hardly, but I can feel her pulse!”
The both leaned over her immediately.
“Katara…”
They were both hugging her, even that they knew it won’t help. Her brother and her beloved one, both feeling the same pain.
Suki was the first one to do anything.
“We have to help her. It won’t be easy, but we have to try! Do you have any ideas?”
“Water from the Spirit Oasis” whispered Zuko, suprised, that the answer was so easy. “From the Northern Water tribe. If it won’t help her…”
“It will. For sure” croacked Sokka. He had to convince at least himself.
“I’ll fly there on Appa. It will be also a good chance to ask the Tribe for help. They have to know what’s happening.”
Sokka and Suki nodded. The Fire Lord tried to be reasonable. He had to save at least those rests of his sanity.
They looked up in the sky. There was a lot of flames lighting the dark sky. The palace was burning and the flames were everywhere.
“They conquered the palace” whispered Suki fearfully.
Zuko closed his eyes. He had no idea what to do. He felt lonely.
Sokka stood up.
“Fly, Zuko. We have no time to waste. I’ll find my father and Toph. Together we will take care of the citizens and we’ll wait for your uncle and the others. Give the message to the chief of the Northern Water Tribe. And… save Katara. I beg you! Do your best!”
They looked deep into their eyes.
“I’ll do” replied Zuko.
They laid Katara on Appa’s saddle.
In a moment Zuko was already flying. He was looking at the flames. They were so far away. Everything was burning. The forest, houses, palace. Their hope.
I left my nation. I’m no one, he thought.
It wasn’t a nice thought, so he pushed it away. He looked at unconcious Katara.
He had no time.

Book 4 Chapter 8 – Waking Nightmare, Part I

Po długiej przerwie możemy podziwiać kolejne tłumaczenie autorstwa WładczyniW&A. Tym razem jest to anglojęzyczna wersja rozdziału Koszmar na jawie, Część I. Zapraszam! A kolejny rozdział Legendy Senny ukaże się już w ten piątek!

***

The way back was full of embarrassing silence. Katara didn’t say anything. She was thinking, and she didn’t know what to think about this whole situation. Now she had two ways to go. The way of Avatar’s partner, partner of the most powerful bender ever, the way she thought she will go without any demur. No she discovered a new way, much more difficult. Way of the Fire Lord’s wife… It’s a kind of nonsense. She was a waterbender. A waterbender can’t be a member of Fire Nation’s Royal Family! What would say her tribe? What would say her father and brother? And what the Avatar? She looked on Zuko. His hair were flowing on the wind, when he was leading up Appa. He was also quiet. He gave her time.
They landed near palace.
- Better I’ll go home alone. – said Katara. – I don’t want to irritate my father without any
reason.
Zuko pot hands on Katara’s shoulders.
- I’m really glad – he said. – I do care about you. When you’ll know…
- I have to go – girl interrupted him. She wasn’t strong enough to listen to it again. It wasn’t harsh. The thing was, she liked it, and this was terrifying. She should not do it. She will have to say no…
The Fire Lord kissed her forehead.
… but not yet.

When Katara disappeared in the darkness, Zuko followed the gate.
- So the rumours are true.
He turn around immediately and looked for the owner of this voice.
Mai surfaced from the dark.
- You saw… everything? – he asked.
- Enough to know what’s going on – she said with bored voice.
Zuko felt stupid. Mai was his previous girlfriend. And, by the way, the last person, who should know about all this mess.
Mai spotted, that he lost countenance.
- Oh, I don’t care, Zuko – she grumbled. – Not anymore. I have only a few time and some important news to tell.
- So why didn’t you go to the palace? You could wait there for me.
- My visit must stay a secret – she whispered. She was looking very nervous… It was the first time her face showed any emotions. – It’s about my father. He’s still loyal to your father and will do everything, to see Ozai as the Fire Lord again…
- What?! – shouted Zuko.
Mai silenced him instantly.
- Don’t interrupt me! My father organised a conference today. There were also over a dozen former generals from Ozai’s army. He was telling awful things. That your regin is a mistake, that you made the Fire Nation drawn… That you left me for a peasant form the Water Tribe, and I am the one who should be the Fire Lady…
Zuko’s eyes popped out. He never thought about it in that way. Untill now. Suddenly he realised, what a mess did he make.
- He was telling, that he was in Ozai’s prison and your father promised him, that if he will return to power, my brother will be the Heir to the Fire Lord.
- It must have happened the night when one of the guards was murdered – remarked Zuko. He had a terrible headache. – I was so stupid. I ignored the death of the guards. My thoughts… I was concentrated on so many different issues…
- And now my father plans to free Ozai – continued Mai. – I don’t know anything more, I have no idea, when it will happen, but for sure soon. You have to prevent it, Zuko. You can’t allow for your father’s tyranny return…
Mai became white as a ghost. She was scared. Zuko was scared also, but tried not to show it. Fire Lord shouldn’t fear of anything.
- Mai… Why did you warned me? After all those things I did to you? You should rather
support my father.
She deep into his eyes.
- It’s a mistake I already made once – she stated. – I chose the wrong side. I won’t do this ever again. Fire Nation is now the most important thing. I can’t use it for my own reasons. Furthermore, I don’t have a grudge against you. I hope you will find happiness with Katara. It probably won’t be easy. The Avatar knows?
- No, he doesn’t… But maybe he presumes it a bit… Oh, I don’t know – responded Zuko. He couldn’t believe, that Mai changed the topic so quickly. A new war was coming, and she was asking about his connections with Katara? But… Actually, those two issues were very close to each other. If he didn’t break up with Mai, her father won’t try to get a revenge, because anyway Mai would join the royal family… Finally Zuko put two and two together. He realised all the consequences of choosing Katara. But even then he couldn’t even think about changing his decision. He was sure about Katara and his love towards her.
- Thank you, Mai – he said. – You showed great courage by coming here tonight.
- Oh, just finish with that pathos – she replied. She was trying to use that well-known bored voice as always, but she just couldn’t. She put on her hood and vanished in the shadows.

The headache was getting stronger. Servants, as always, were trying to help him in
every possible way, but Zuko sent them away. He had to be alone.
At first he wanted to send a message to the Team Avatar and convene a conference. He already was tying a piece of parchment to the messenger hawk’s leg, when he abandoned that idea. It was the middle of the night. Perhaps everyone was sleeping, especially Katara must have been exhausted after their journey… Instead of that he sent a message to the Order of White Lotus. He knew, that most of it’s members is far away, but he couldn’t wait for his beloved uncle Iroh. They haven’t met for such a long time! He had to talk with him, he had to hear his opinion. He need uncle Iroh’s advices and bending abilities in confrontation with Ozai…
Zuko wiped his eyes. He also was tired, he even went to bed, but nothing in the whole universe would make him fall asleep. He had only strange visions, waking nightmares with his father, mother, Katara and furious Avatar… He couldn’t endure this anymore. He took a hooded robe and quietly went to the secret
chamber in the basement of the palace with historical parchments, notes made by the previous Fire Lords.

Mai sneaked stealthily into her house. She had a good day today. Since now no one spotted her and all the lights at home were turned off. Everyone was fast asleep…
Suddenly everything around her began to lamp. Servants lightened candles in the antechamber. Mai’s dad was standing right in front of her.
- Finally you’re home, honey – he greeted. Mai noticed, that he wasn’t smiling even a
bit. – What were you doing out so late?
She maked her common bored face.
- I visited Ty Lee – she replied with listless voice and tried to pass by her pass by her father. Two guards stopped her and held her arms.
- Since when Ty Lee lives in the royal palace? – asked the governor.
- Leave me alone! – growled Mai, trying to kick her attackers. She glared at her father,
but he didn’t care about it.
- Put her in the room with my wife and Tom Tom and don’t let them out till Ozai will be
the Fire Lord – he ordered, don’t even looking at his doughter.
- Why?! – Mai wanted to shout, but she couldn’t take a breath, she couldn’t say a word.

Zuko took the diary, which Iroh gave him long time ago. It was wrote by his greatgrandfather, Sozin. The one, who decided to destroy the balance between the four nations, the one, who caused the estermination of Air Nomads… The one, who was Avatar Roku’s best friend and betreyed him. Zuko closed his eyes, putting away the scroll. His great-grandfather cottoned with the Avatar, exactly like himself now. Together they could do… anything, they were the most powerfull benders. But Roku didn’t agree…
The Fire Lord daydreamed for a while. He imagined him and Aang, conquering shoulder to shoulder all the nations… Lieges from all over the world where bowing in front of them, Katara put her worm hand on his shoulder…
He woke up instantly. Drops of sweat were running down his face. He was all wet. Was that true? Did he really want that? Did he really want to be a tyrant ruling all the nations? He reminded words of his uncle. Evil and good are always at war inside you, Zuko. It is your nature, your legacy.
His paternal great-grandfather was Sozin. The maternal one was Avatar Roku.
How could this happen? What a weird quirk of fate was that? Did his mother married his father, because she wanted to end the quarrel between those two families, to reconcile Roku and Sozinn somewhere in the Spirit World? If Katara marry him, that would be another symbol. Even bigger one. But Aang would hate him because of that. Another war would star… Suddenly he gasped, that he already has a war in his hands. Second fight with his father…
That thought was driving him mad. Last time the Avatar faced Ozai, while he was fighting with Azula. If now Aang will leave him… It will be the end…
He stood up and run towards the entry at breakneck speed. He had no idea, how long he was sitting in the chamber. He thought that it was only few minutes, but when he got out, he saw that the sun is already rising. The courtyard was incredibly full of mayhem.
He wanted to return to his room as fast as possible, but one of the guards stopped him.
- My Lord! We were looking for you everywhere!
His face was even more pale than Mai’s, when she was talking with Zuko few hours ago.
- What happend? – asked Zuko, but he already knew the answer.
- Ozai, my lord… Army of firebenders, who fought in last war, and some other generals chosen by you… They entered the prison and released him. We had no chance… Eighty our people died and the enemy’s army’s taking the city…
The guard bowed in front of him, nearly cleaning his shoes with tears.
- I beg you, my lord! Please stop this invasion, we won’t survive it…
Zuko nearly fainted. He was seeing spots before his eyes. He left the crying guard on the floor and started to circuit the courtyard.
He thought that he had more time. He even didn’t make a good plan yet! He was happy, that Mai warned him, but none of them knew, that the war was about to start that night! And he failed across-the-board, he even didn’t send a message to the Team Avatar! He only went to a secret chamber and had some strange daydreams about ruling the world with Avatar, just like his great-grandfather…
He knew about the ravages. A new war began.
He caught a guard.
- Everybody on the walls! We have to protect the palace! Send half of the forces to the city, everyone will be safe here in the palace!
- Yes, sir! – the guard bowed and ran as fast as he could to execute the command.
Zuko found some more guards and ordered them to find members of Team Avatar and escort them to the Council Chamber. He had to make a plan. He had to show, that he is able to protect his nation. That he is a good Fire Lord.

Book 4 Chapter 7 – Ursa

Rozdział przetłumaczony przez Władczynię W&A, w którym możecie dowiedzieć się, co tak naprawdę stało się z matką Zuko – Ursą :)

~Painted Lady

The young Avatar was feeling horrible. He was the master of all four elements, he won with Lord Ozai and he was the most powerfull bender all over the world. But even Avatar’s power couldn’t make him feel better after he got drunk last night.

-Blasted bear from Omashu…- he was repeating every time he went to the toilet. He haven’t got any power and mood to do anything. He wished to spend a hole day in his bed. Happily he was at home! He hasn’t remember anything that was happening last night, but Toph told him, that in the morning after the Festival of Lights Sokka and Appa came to the Omashu and took them. Aang was reportedly doing a lot of interesting things that evening, for example dancing on the table, karaoke competition and a duel with Toph. ‚How can you still stand straight?!’ he asked Toph when she came this morning. ‚Well, earthbenders have strong heads’, she answered.

He flipped. Earthbenders? So why not the Avatar?!

Aang couldn’t analyse this important and irritating issue, because someone knocked to his room.

- Come – he said.

After few seconds to his room entered Katara.

He didn’t want to go out his bed. He ostentatiously turned on the other side, showing back to his girlfrend. If he could still call her like that.

- Aang, how do you feel? – she asked. – We worried about you yesterday. You and Toph were completly drunk! I was affraid that I won’t have enough forces to take you to the palace…
Happily, Zuko was with me…

- He was with you since the begining of the festival – growled Aang.

Katara pretended that she didn’t here anything.

- Why have you done it?

He turned around and looked into her eyes.

- You really don’t know?

The girl was keeping quiet.

- ‚I’ll go for a while and dance with Zuko.’ – cited Aang faking Katara’s voice.- You were dancing with him too long…

- Oh, and you of course hold it against me! – Katara became outraged. – It’s so childish.
Yes, I was dancing with him, so what? It was my choice.

Aang clenched his teeth. He was feeling like he will explode in few moments. He had a merciless headache. He wanted to cry.

- I thought that you will return in few moments! – he shouted. – I was waitng by one dance. Second. After the third one I decided to drink something. By the tenth dance it was alcohol… I thought that you’ll remind about me. But no! A slower song. Zero awkwardness!
You sticked to him like… like a…

- Leech? – helped Katara. She was upset. – You’re like a leech, Aang! Since we’ve met you were thinking all the time that I will be with you! And know you want to go with me on the Pole! Don’t you think that it’s too much?!

-Too much for me is that you’ve danced all night with Zuko and with me only once!

-I’m leaving – stated Katara standing up. – If you will need something, I am with Zuko.

Avatar stood up violently.

-Wait! Don’t go to him! I didn’t end yet!

Katara shut the door in front of Aang’s face.

Katara went to the Fire Nation palace and asked where she could find the Fire Lord. She heard somehow glances and whispers of the servants, talking about the arrival of Fire Lord’s lover.

Zuko was in the palace garden. He was sittng near a lake and feeding tourtle ducks, throwing them small pieces of bread. When he saw her, he smiled. It was a sad smile.

The girl forgot about her anger immediately.

-Zuko? Something has happened?

-I was thinking about my mother – he said, throwing more bread.

-You still don’t know, what happened to her?

Zuko hanged his head.

-My father still doesn’t want to say anything. But I’m trying so long! Maybe he will say something, if I start to torture him…

A small fire appeared on his hand. Katara damped it down and catched Fire Lord’s hand.

-No, Zuko – she said. – If you do it, you will be the same monster as him.

The boy sighed with resignation.

-Every time I ask him about it, he is quiet or says only ‚The Painted Lady’ and loughs. When I repeat this words to Azula, she looks into my eyes and says that she meets her every day…

-What? What did you say? – Katara stopped him. She squeezed his hand.- The Painted Lady?

Zuko looked at her.

-Yes… Do you… know, what it means?

-I’m not sure… But yes. Perhaps I know, what happened to your mother, when she was banished.

The Fire Lord dried up.

-Is… Is she…

-Unfortunetly, I’m sure she’s dead – admited Katara with sadness. – But we can explain, what happened to her. With a bit of good luck, she will tell you about it herself. If I’m right, of course…

She stood up.

-There’s no time. We’ll take Appa. I think that he had enough rest after yesterday. We’ll meet on a place.

Zuko felt something, something, as he thought, he lost long time ago. Hope.

The small village was built on the water, near an old, ruined Fire Nation’s factory.

-It’s my work – admited immodestly Katara, pointing on the ruins. – I realesed the water blocked by the dyke, and I flooded the factory. I had to do it, because pollutions from the factory were adulterating the river and lots of people were ill. I haven’t got enough time to heal everyone… We met this place once, me, Sokka, Toph and Aang.

-And what’s the commitment with my mother? – asked Zuko.

The girl smiled.

-You’ll see.

They landed near the village and they pitched there a camp.

-You’ll wait for us here, don’t you? – said Katara to Appa, slaping him. She put her hood on her head.

-Why we are hiding? – Zuko couldn’t understand it. – You saved this village. You’re their hero.

-I thought so also, on the beginnig. But locals were angry. Angry, because I was acting someone…

They came to the village. A big monument was the first thing they saw.

-…the Painted Lady.

-This is the Painted Lady? – Fire Lord became astonished. He screwed his eyes up, looking on the memorial.

-The Painted Lady is the guard of this village – explained Katara. – When I came to this village, locals weren’t doing anything to help themselves. They were so ill! They believed, that the Painted Lady will come and rescue them from their illness and from the Fire Nation’s soldiers. And the Painted Lade came. She was visiting this village every night, healing them.

-But it was you – ended Zuko.

-Yes. But then evrything came out. Locals were angry and I had to leave this place. Anyway, they understood their mistakes and their live became better.

-Do you think… It could be my mother? That my mother was the Painted Lady?

-With a bit of good luck we will know it this evening- said Katara mysteriously. – Let’s go to the camp.

Zuko and Katara were sitting near the campfire and waiting for a twilight.

-All the time we were talking about my mother and I forgot to ask you, why you came to the palace – said the Fire Lord. He looked at Katara quizzically.

-Oh, it’s nothing – the girl became ashamed. – I got a little argue with Aang.

-You’ve got an argue?

She hanged her head.

-He was angry, because i spent the Festival of Lights not with him – she owned up.

-Oh… Yes…

Zuko felt hot, when he thought about that night. The best one in his live. He remembered how he was holding Katara in his arms, how they were dancing together and how big fun for him it was. He remembered that they were sitting together and looking on the lanters swimming on the water, and fireflies were lighting girl’s redden face…

Perhaps, she was also thinking about it.

-Aang was angry, but I don’t regret that night. I had a lot of fun with you, like never before. I didn’t know, that you can be like that.

-Like what? – asked Zuko.

-So… carefree. And joyous. – she smiled to him. Her cheaks were redden. – Now, if you mind, I’ll go to the cave for a while. The twilight’s near.

When she returned after a while, Zuko nearly didn’t recognize her. She painted red lines on her face and arms. She put on a straw hat and covered her face with a kind of veil. She put on also a violet dress.

-Hey! You just like…

-The Painted Lady – confirmed Katara. – I thought that if I dress up as her, her appear will be more possible. Last time I saw her near the river, the night we leaved this place.
She thanked me after all I’ve done for this village.

-So it’s not a normal legend – said Zuko. Katara heared hope in his voice.

She took him to the place were she met the Painted Lady last time. She kneeled down. Zuko kneeled next to her.

-What should we do? – he whispered.

-I don’t know – admited Katara. – I don’t know, how to call spirits. Last time she wanted to come…

The girl sighed with resignation.

-We should ask Aang to go with us. He is the one who travels between our and spirits’ world…

-No. – Zuko stopped her. He looked into Katara’s eyes. – We’ll do it without him.

He was determined.

-It’s my only chance to know, what happened to my mother. – he wispered.

Katara shacked her head. She felt a new power.

-Come, the Painted Lady, come, friends of the powerfull Avatar call you. – she said.

-Come, the Painted Lady… – repeated Zuko.

They were improvising, they didn’t have the Avatar’s power. But they felt something else.
A force, common aim, hope. There were a lot of diffrents between them, the Fire Lord and a girl from the Southern Water Tribe. But there were also a lot of affinities.

Suddenly they saw circles on the water. Zuko and Katara put their heads up. They saw a bright woman. Her legs were touching the water. She was slowly coming to them.

It took their breaths away.

-The Painted Lady. – whispered Katara.

The woman’s spirit came to them. The bright person first smiled to Katara and then she turned to Zuko. The boy thought that spirits can’t cry, but this, what he saw on woman’s face, he could call only tears.

The Painted Lady touched his forehead with her finger. When she did it, the Fire Lord saw pictures in his head.

-Azula, why you are scaring your brother? Who has to kill him? Who told you this stupid thing?

-It isn’t stupid, mum. – said the young girl. She smiled angrily. – I heared daddy talking with grandpa. If you don’t believe me, ask him, mum.

Ursa became worried.

-Go to your bed, Azula. – she ordered. – And stay there.

-Goodnight, mum. – said the girl and went to her room. She still had that bad smile, doesn’t matching to child’s face.

Ozai’s wife went to the king’s chamber.There was Azulon, the old Fire Lord, the one, who gave name to her doughter.

-Who disturbs me?! – the Lord Azulon became angry.

-It’s me, Ursa. – said the woman. Azulon heared nervousness in her voice. – I heared strange things. Say… Is this true? Do you really… Want to kill my son?

-I mustn’t do that if your husbend behaved like a man. – said the old man with pride. –
My son Iroh cries after the death of his only son Lu Ten, and Ozai comes to me and wants to make him the knew Fire Lord! He doesn’t know, how big is the pain after the death of a son, so I have to kill Zuko.

Ursa started to cry.

-Ozai agreed for this victim – continued Azulon. – It won’t be any waste. Zuko would be a bad Fire Lord and powerless firebender. His sister is a better, talented child. She will be the great Fire Lady. Zuko is needless, Ursa.

The women kneeled down, crying loudly.

-Please, Lord Azulon! – she sobbed. – Save my son! Kill me, but leave him alone!

-My decision is definitve – said invariably the Fire Lord.

The women clenched her fists. She stood up.

-Azulon, the Fire Lord, I call you on Agni Kai.

Azulon peeled his eyes.

-You’re mad, Ursa.

-I won’t let you kill my son! I won’t let anyone hurt him!

Azulon went from his throne. He threw flames into Ursa, but she escaped from them and sent fireballs into her enemy. The duel was started. Azulon was a great bender, but he was also old. Ursa wasn’t so powerfull, but feelings to her son made her stronger.

Suddenly the Fire Lord sent a lightning to her. Ursa decided to use technique learned from Iroh.

The lightning came through her hands and stomach, leaving her heart alone. Azulon got scared. He knew, that he’ll die in a moment.

Ursa couldn’t kill him. She wasn’t a murderer. She sent the lightning up.

-Stupid! You won’t have another chance! – shouted Ozai, jumping suddenly from a dark corner of the chamber. He catched the lightning and sent it into Azulon’s heart.

-No! – shouted Ursa. But it was too late. Azulon was dead.

-You’re a monster, Ozai! – she shouted. – You wanted to kill your son and know you killed Azulon!

-Maybe I’m a monster – said Ozai. – But I’m the Fire Lord know. I banish you. You called my father on Agni Kai.

Ursa made steps back. She couldn’t believe her ears.

-After the sunrise you must be far away from here – said her husbend.

Ursa tried to stop her tears.

-I’ll only say goodbye to Zuko – she pleased. – I beg you, Ozai. Don’t hurt him. Take care about our chidren.

She went to Zuko’s room.

-Mum?

She hugged him.

-Evrything, what I’ve done, was to protect you – she said. – Never forget, who you are.

-Mum? Mum! – he went on the hall, but Ursa was far away.

The women packed the most needed things and escaped from the palace. She was traveling a lot and she saw a lot. She saw, what the Fire Nation is doing with it’s people. Opression. Pain. Friction. Inequity. War.

Once she came to a small village built on water. Locals were very poor and opressed like no other people from the Fire Nation. She stayed there, but no longer as Ursa – now she was called the Painted Lady. She was using all her forces to help that village. But one day Ozai’s secret agent found her and killed her. Then she was coming only as a spirit. People from this village never dicovered, that she is the banished Fire Lord’s wife.

Ursa took her finger from Zuko’s forehead. Katara was looking at him. He was dissolving in tears.

-I was always thinkig about you – said the Painted Lady. – I love you. And I also have to say something. Thank you. Thank you for everything, Katara. For showing him a better way. Take care about yourselves – she said on the end and disappeared.

Zuko stopped crying. He still was seeing flashbacks of his mother’s history.

Suddenly he felt someone’s worm body near him. He put up his head. Katara was hugging him. He saw sadness into her blue eyes.

-Thank you, Katara… Without you I could never find a truth about my mother…- He whispered.

He felt, that he has to do it know, that he won’t have another chance. It was that moment.

-I love you – he said quietly. He was saying it first time.

He kissed her.

Katara was suprised. So many things happened… She made one step back. She didn’t knew, what she should say.

-You don’t have to kiss me, Zuko. We aren’t now in the Cave of Two Lovers….

-I understand you – said Zuko. – I’m sorry. I… I don’t want to force you. You also have to be sure of it. I know it will change so many things in your live. Some people can hate you. But when you will know… Tell me. I’ll be waiting for you.

He didn’t say it, but Katara knew what he is talking about. Sokka. Her father. Her tribe, her future placed far away, on the Southern Water Tribe.
Aang…

-Let’s go home.- she said.