"I'm so sorry..." The Dark War is over, but one casualty still remains.
AN: The source of this fic: I was chatting with TEAF (The Elite Avatar Fans) (self-proclaimed) about the issue of Bloodbending, a questionable style of Waterbending, referred to on some sites as a Puppet Master Technique. Basically, this is a culmination of what we theorized on the matter.
The young man followed his guide, carefully picking his way along the slick underground path. He shivered, and wondered again why this chamber had to be so cold. They turned a corner, and suddenly he found out.
In the center of the cavern was a pillar of ice, as wide around as a dragon. It was smooth and even, and absolutely clear, and he could see with perfect accuracy the shadowy figure suspended within it.
"Monk Shiori!" the young man cried. "There's-"
"There is no need to worry, young Avatar," his guide tried to soothe him. "She is meant to be there." Confusion dazzled the boy's face.
"What? But...that girl-"
"A criminal of the Dark War. She was dealt the consequences of her actions."
"I don't understand. What happened? What did she do?"
"She was a Puppet Master-a user of the forbidden technique of Waterbending."
"She used her abilities to bend the liquid within human bodies. Enemy soldiers, it was said. They had killed her brother and one of her companions during an ambush, and in a rage, she used the forbidden technique to control them. Their bodies were used as human shields while she and her remaining companion escaped."
"But...I know her..." the young man said helplessly.
"Yes...she was a teacher of one of the past Avatars. The irony of the matter is that Avatar Aang was only able to survive the ambush and end the war because of her transgression."
"But...she saved him, didn't she? Her brother died, and she was trying to save the Avatar, right? Avatar Aang ended the War, and he couldn't have if he was dead, and-"
"She broke the most ancient of laws, young Avatar," his guide said severely. "Even the Avatar is not exempt from justice. At the end of the Dark War, she was arrested, tried, and imprisoned."
Frigid realization washed over the young man.
"You don't mean...she's still alive?" there was a brutal horror in his voice now.
"There could be no risk that she would be reincarnated and repeat her crimes. Now she stands as a reminder to us all that there are consequences to our actions."
"That is all," the old monk said coldly. His face softened a moment later: "But come. We have other things that we must see." He began to walk ahead, knowing that his charge would follow. But the Avatar lingered for a moment longer, staring mournfully into the young woman's face. She looked so calm, so resigned...so sad. Had she known of her eternal fate? Had she understood?
"Did I fight for you?" he asked her still figure, locked within her eternal slumber. "Did I try to save you from this?" He reached forward and touched the icy pillar. It was worse than cold. It seemed to pierce his skin, burn it with cold from the inside out. A cruelly hot tear ran down his face. "It wasn't enough, was it? No matter what, I still couldn't save you." He bowed his head, no longer willing to look her in the eyes.
"I'm so sorry, Katara."