While Katara, Aang, and Sokka have been dealing with the fire nation and inner demons, Toph has been having her own adventure with none other than Princess Azula.
An Avatar: The Last Airbender Fanfiction
Chapter 4: Blind Loyalty
27 March 2007
A/N: Wow... it's been quite a while since I've added to my little Avatar fanfiction. Lots of things have happened since the last time I wrote, the most notable being that I moved to South Korea to teach English. I hadn't watched Avatar in ages, but I finally caught up with the current episodes last night. I figured it was time to continue the story. I have to add in Azula and stuff now... and since I started writing before the end of the first season, you have to assume that this is an alternate story, seeing as there is no mention (and probably won't be any mention) of the whole Ba Sing Se deal.
Anyway, this chapter is about Toph... and a bit about Ty Lee... enjoy!
Toph felt the giant bison lift into the air. The ground shook as Appa's tail hit it, and the air swirled as her friends disappeared from her... view.
"See ya later, Twinkletoes!" she called out, merrily waving in the wrong direction. She stood still for a while, determining where the city was. Once inside the walls, it would be easy enough to find an escort.
She was going home. She needed to find her family and smooth things over. She was tired of being chased by Master Yu and Xin Fu. She could handle them, but they were a constant annoyance, getting in the way at the worst times.
"I end up saving them most of the time," she laughed as she started toward the city where she had spent all her life.
She knew the city gate was guarded long before the guards could have seen her. They were shaking, and Toph could sense their fear, even at her distance.
Something was wrong. The vibrations from the city weren't right... and there was something nagging her to turn back. She slapped her face and walked on. An earthbender confronts things head-on, weren't those her words?
"Stop there, girl! No one may enter these gates." Yep, the guards were scared, all right. Their voices gave it away to anyone who cared to hear. What was going on?!
"Do you know who you're talking to? I'm Toph Bei Fun, you know, of the Bei Fun family? My parents will be angry if you don't let their only child in to see them!"
"Bei Fun, did you say? I never heard of them. Now, on your way."
The earth rumbled and the guards looked to where Toph had been standing.
"Hey! Where'd she go?"
The other guard spoke up, "Maybe we should find her and take her in. I mean, I know Princess Azula wanted to keep everyone out of the city... but maybe this is who she's looking for."
"No way, man... Did you see what she did to the last guys who didn't follow orders exactly? I don't think so."
"Yeah, I guess so. That princess is... something. Besides, she's looking for a blind girl... and that girl couldn't have been blind... I mean, she's alone! What little blind girl could make it out here alone?"
"You're right. Besides, it's damn hot in this country."
Toph didn't see the smoke rising from the city, nor did she see the Fire Nation banners fluttering in the lazy breeze. She didn't even see the Fire Nation armor that the guards were wearing, even though the sun glinting off it shone straight into her eyes before she left. She was ignorant to the fact that her home had been infiltrated by the Fire Nation.
"What in the world is going on? How could city guards not know my family?" Toph kicked the dirt in frustration. The nagging at the back of her head became worse. Something was terribly wrong here. "I have to find out what it is... I have to get in there. Well, it's nothing a little earth bending can't solve. I can't sit around talking to myself all day!"
Toph made her way to the city wall and felt for any imperfections. It would be easier to enter quietly if she could just find a weak spot.
"Alright!" she said triumphantly, as she opened her own personal door into the city. "Toph one, stupid guards, zero!"
The first thing she noticed was that the city was just too quiet. The vibrations she felt were not that of a bustling city full of people; it felt more like a ghost town. Still, she could feel some movement, and she decided to move toward it.
"Maybe the governor is sick or something. That could be it..."
The nagging feeling continued to grow, despite Toph's best efforts to reason it away. The smell of smoke was giving her a headache and starting to sting her eyes. She closed them against the acrid fumes. She didn't need them, anyway.
"My god, Azula. Why are we here? This place is so... mind-numbing." Mai rose from a couch in their new quarters and drifted listlessly to another couch before plopping down with a deep sigh.
"Patience, Mai. We'll be out of here as soon as we find out where that blind little earthbender went. Someone has been tracking her, and I plan to find out what they know, no matter what."
"Oh, Mai... this place isn't so bad! The fighters at that arena were tons of fun!"
"Yeah, until you took them out with your crazy pressure point acrobatics, fluff head! I wanted to make them run around some more..."
"Quiet, ladies. This isn't about entertainment! This is about those two oafs that have been after her. If we find her... we find the Avatar."
"Oh, right... you're so smart, Azula."
"Thank you, Ty Lee, but I know that. And I think my plans are about to pay off. We have a visitor."
Outside, there was a huge crash, and a cloud of dust and rubble filled the room. Azula smiled cruelly.
By the time Toph made it to her old home, she knew that the situation was worse than she could have imagined. The going had been slow; there was hardly any motion in the ground, so it was hard for her to see her surroundings. She had to rely on her memory, and she stumbled on the piles of debris that seemed to be everywhere. When she pushed the gates open, her knees were bleeding from scrapes, and her mood was not improved for it.
"Has the whole world gone crazy?!" She punched a rock across her family's courtyard in anger, destroying the western pagoda. "That should get mom and dad's attention!"
When her breathing slowed, however, she knew that no one would be coming. The grounds were completely and utterly empty. She couldn't see inside her home, but intuition told her that it was deserted as well. Suddenly, the smoke seemed to grow stronger, she coughed as it invaded her lungs.
"Smoke! Why didn't I notice it earlier?! What's wrong with me?"
"You're blind." A voice laughed above her.
Someone struck Toph lightly several times from behind and she fell, barely able to breath. She lost consciousness as a familiar, cold voice laughed and laughed.
"Ugh. So filthy. She's supposed to be a noble?" Mai said as she toed the little girl delicately.
"So, ah, Azula? Where's the Avatar?" Ty Lee said as she looked around quickly.
"He won't be far behind. What are you looking for, Ty Lee?"
"Well, um... you know... that guy." Ty Lee said as she blushed, "He's so funny and cute..." She giggled into her hand.
"Ty Lee, you're so... ugh!" Mai said, exasperated.
"Don't worry. When we get the Avatar, you can have your trained Water Tribe monkey. Now get this girl inside."
"Well, that was a filthy trick." Toph thought as she regained consciousness. "I guess that was the infamous trinity of estrogen-y evil. Well, might as well get out of..."
Toph's eyes opened wide and her mouth dropped in shock. She couldn't... see. It wasn't that there were no vibrations... she couldn't feel anything except the faint breeze that brushed her cheeks and pushed her hair back from her frightened eyes. Panic set in and Toph began to scream and thrash around.
"I can't see, you bastards! I can't see! What have you done to me? You wait till I get to you... you wait! What have you DONE?!"
Tears streaked her dirty face. When no one answered her, Toph took several shaky breaths.
'It's ok,' she thought, 'I'll be fine... I just have to figure out what they did, and fix it. If I can still move, I can find a way out of here. Then I can find them, and...'
And what? Whatever they had done to her, they did it to keep her from attacking. If she can't feel them, she can't attack them... which Toph knew they had already figured out.
For the first time in her life, Toph felt truly blind. She fell to her knees and began to cry in earnest.
"Aw, Azula... did we have to do that to her? Look at her down there. I mean, she can't see anymore! How terrible!"
"Ty Lee, your big heart will kill us all one day. I'm not taking any chances this time. Pride goeth before a fall, and all that."
"Yeah, but Azula..."
"No more from you!" Azula turned on the grey-eyed girl with a quiet fury, "The best earthbenders can bend anything that contains even a hint of earth in it! Do you know anything in the world that doesn't have earth in it?! Do you?"
"That's right. Frankly, your 'compassion' worries me. I need to know I can trust my team. Don't let me think I can't trust you, Ty Lee... ever."
"Of course, Azula... I-I'm with you, always."
"Then act like it. Feed the prisoner." Azula turned and left her two companions alone.
"Ty... that was not the smartest thing you've ever done. You should lay low for a while. You know how she gets..." Mai said with a hint of concern marring her usual monotone.
"Ha, ha... sure thing, Mai. Don't worry... I'll bring the girl dinner. I'll see you later!"
Ty Lee skipped out of the room with a cheer that Mai didn't quite believe.
"I hope you don't mess this up, Ty. Azula... is very... focused on her goal." Mai whispered to the girl's back.
"Dinner's ready, little blind girl!" a voice floated down to Toph.
"My name is Toph. It's better than being called 'little blind girl'... even though I really am now, thanks to you."
"Yeah, sorry about that..."
"Sorry?! Sorry, she says! You take away my only way of getting around, you make me an invalid, and all you can say is sorry?! That's low, that's just twisted!"
"Well, I... I couldn't say no to Azula. She's pretty powerful, especially when she's steamed. Hey, what are you doing?"
Toph had drawn closer to the sound of the girl's voice. Feeling the vibrations in the earth wasn't the only way for her to get around, it seemed. Ty Lee stood still while the little girl felt in front of her. Groping blindly, Toph found Ty Lee's arm. She followed the acrobat's arm up to her shoulder, then to her neck, and then her face. Ty Lee knew what was coming, but she couldn't move. When it came, the slap stung and brought tears to her eyes.
The little earthbender grabbed the dinner tray from Ty Lee's hands and sat down to eat, not fearing or caring that there may be poison in it.
"I deserved that."
"You're damned right you did!" Toph felt a little better. The food helped some, but the slap helped more. Even better, she had discovered that they hadn't deprived her of her sense of sound or smell.
"Ty Lee. My name is Ty Lee. I promise I'll come back and talk to you later. I can't imagine how lonely it is here for you."
And with a swish of air, the girl was gone. Toph finished her dinner silently and in the dark. She may have felt a little less miserable if she had only known that the room in which she was imprisoned was her old bedroom. She was surrounded by her most intimate treasures and comforts, and she didn't even know it.