The Firebending Masters
Written By: John O'Bryan
Directed By: Giancarlo Volpe
Storyboard By: Michael Chang, Johane Matte, Juan Meza-Leon, Sang Jin Kim, Giancarlo Volpe, Tomihiro Yamaguchi
Animation By: Moi Animation
Transcribers: Avatar_Mom, Icy_Ashford
["Previously on Avatar" sequence, including clips from "The Western Air Temple".]
(The episode opens up to the sky and the camera slowly pans down to an upside down pagoda in The Western Air Temple)
Zuko: (off screen) I know you're nervous, (the camera stops and reveals Zuko and Aang standing at the balcony of one of the pagoda's) but remember... firebending in and of itself is not something to fear.
Aang: (Cut to close-up shot of Aang who sighs and looks hesitant) Ok. Not something to fear. (he still looks unsure)
Zuko: (Cut to Zuko crossing his arms) But if you don't respect it, (raises his voice, camera zooms in on his face to emphasize the point of treating fire with respect) it'll chew you up and spit you out like an angry komodo rhino!
(Cut to Aang who gives a yelp of fear)
Zuko: Now show me what you've got. Any amount of fire you can make.
(Aang exhales, takes in a nervous breath and attempts to firebend. The camera cuts to his palm which releases a small cloud of smoke which dissipates within a second. Camera moves to the left to show Aang smiling sheepishly.)
Aang: Maybe I need a little more instruction. Perhaps a demonstration?
Zuko: (Camera zooms up to show an aerial view of where they're standing) Good idea. You might want to take a couple steps back.
(He gestures Aang to move backward and Aang does so. Cut to a close-up of Zuko who takes in a breath, grunts and proceeds to firebend. Camera zooms out to show that the result is a rather small pathetic burst of flame. The music emphasizes his failure in a comical way. Aang applauds.)
Zuko: (Zuko recoils back in confusion) What was that?! That was the worst firebending I've ever seen! (moves his hand in a "What is wrong?!" gesture)
Aang: (looks to the floor) I thought it was, (looks back at Zuko) nice. (shrugs)
(Zuko grunts again and firebends in rapid succession. All his flames are small like the first. He grunts in frustration and stares at his palms)
Zuko: (angrily) Why is this happening?!
Aang: Maybe it's the altitude.
Zuko: (turns away from Aang) Yeah, could be. (looks unsure and lost)
(Camera pans around the temple and drops down to Zuko and Aang, who have found a spot lower in altitude. Aang is sitting on a broken pillar and watches Zuko firebend with the same results. Zuko grunts in frustration and unleashes another blast with no improvement. Aang yawns and lies down.)
Zuko: Just breathe, and... (pauses to firebend again.)
(Cut to Aang who sits up)
Aang: That one kind of felt hot.
Zuko: (lashes out) Don't patronize me. You know what it's supposed to look like! (throws his hand out)
Aang: Sorry Sifu Hotman.
Zuko: (raises his arms and shouts) And stop calling me that! (Aang cringes)
(Cut to Sokka walking into screen and biting on an apple. He finds a spot and sits down to observe the two.)
Sokka: Hey, jerks. Mind if I watch you two jerks do your jerk bending?
Zuko: Get out of here! (makes a "Get lost" movement with his arm)
Sokka:(looking amused) Ok, take it easy. (drops his apple core, waves his hand in dismissal) I was just kidding around. (stands up to adjust his shirt) Jerk bending, still got it. (Zuko drops his head down and moans while Aang looks on)
(Scene changes to night at the temple. Appa is seen resting near one of the fountains. Camera zooms in to Appa licking a small bale of hay. Camera moves to the right to reveal Zuko leaning on a column with his arms crossed, deep in thought. He turns his head back to the campfire where everyone is settled for dinner. He walks toward them.)
Zuko: Listen everybody; (everyone turns their head towards him) I've got some pretty bad news. I've lost my stuff. (drops his head dejectedly)
Toph: (cut to Toph who raises both arms to show she's innocent) Don't look at me. I didn't touch your stuff. (folds arms)
Zuko: I'm talking about my firebending. It's gone.
(Camera moves out to show Teo, Sokka, Haru and The Duke looking at him. The Duke attempts to sit up. Katara laughs maniacally. Camera pans to show that everyone is looking at her. Cut to Zuko who looks annoyed.)
Katara: I'm sorry. I'm just laughing at the irony. You know... how it would have been nice for us if you lost your firebending a long time ago?
Zuko: Well it's not lost. It's just weaker for some reason.
Katara: (holding up her bowl and glaring daggers at Zuko) Maybe you're just not as good as you think you are.
Zuko: I bet it's because I changed sides.
Katara: That's ridiculous. (drinks the contents in the bowl)
Aang: I don't know. Maybe it isn't. Maybe your firebending comes from
rage, and you just don't have enough anger to fuel it the way you used to.
Sokka: (Cut to Sokka who enters comically into screen) So, all we need to do is make Zuko angry... easy enough.
(He proceeds to nudge Zuko in the waist and head with the hilt of his sword several times.)
Zuko: (bellows) Ok, cut it out! (Sokka stops what he is doing and his sword falls on his head) Look... even if you're right, (rubs the bridge of his nose) I don't want to rely on hate and anger anymore. There has to be another way.
Toph: You're gonna need to learn to draw your firebending (Sokka enters the screen, rubbing his head) from a different source. I recommend
the original source. (puts food into her mouth and chews)
Sokka: How's he supposed to do that? By jumping into a volcano?
Toph: (swallows her food) No. Zuko needs to go back to whatever the original source of firebending is.
Sokka: So is it jumping into a volcano?
Toph: I don't know. For earthbending, (Camera slowly zooms in on Toph's face) the original benders were badgermoles.
(Cut to a flashback. A younger Toph in her fancy gown is seen kneeling in a dark cave.)
Toph: (voiceover) One day, when I was little, I ran away and hid in a cave.
(Cut to young Toph who is crying. The screen suddenly rumbles and a wall behind Toph explodes. She opens her eyes in shock and fear. Camera cuts to the back of Toph. The cloud of dust settles and a foot of a badgermole stomps into screen.)
Toph: That's where I met them.
(Toph cringes in fear. The badgermole's snout comes into screen and sniffs the little girl. Toph sniffs back and the badgermole licks her cheek with its giant tongue and she giggles with delight. She feels the badgermole's snout with both hands before licking it and giggles once again.)
Toph: They were blind, just like me, (The badgermole moves away from Toph and she attempts to crawl after it) so we understood each other. I was able to learn earthbending, (Cut to the top view of the badgermole which moves its paws in a sweeping motion) not just as a martial art, but as an
extension of my senses. (Camera fades in to the top view of Toph who is mimicking its actions) For them, the original earthbenders, (The badgermole senses a pile of rocks and earthbends them to the side) wasn't just about fighting. It was their way of interacting with the World.
(Toph stops crawling and stands up. She earthbends a small boulder and smiles at her success)
(Camera fades back to Toph in the temple)
Aang: (off screen) That's amazing, Toph. I learned from the monks, but the original airbenders were the Sky Bison.
(Camera slowly zooms out from the group to show a mural of 3 sky bisons overlooking the campfire.) Maybe you can give me a lesson sometime buddy.
(Cut back to Aang who leans back to address Appa. Appa growls in acknowledgement.)
Zuko: Well, this doesn't help me. The original firebenders were the dragons, and they're extinct.
Aang: What do you mean? Roku had a dragon, and there were plenty of
dragons when I was a kid.
Zuko: (defensive) Well, they aren't around anymore, ok?
Aang: Ok, ok. (moves his arm around in an appeasing gesture) I'm sorry.
Zuko: But maybe there's another way. (walks towards the fountain) The first people to learn from the dragons were the ancient Sun Warriors.
Aang: (He comes into screen and joins Zuko) Sun Warriors? Well, I know they weren't around when I was a kid.
Zuko: No, they died off thousands of years ago, but their civilization wasn't too far from where we are now. Maybe we can learn something by poking around their ruins.
Aang: It's like the monks used to tell me. Sometimes, the shadows of the past can be felt by the present.
Sokka: (off screen) So, what? (Zuko and Aang turn their head towards the voice) Maybe you'll pick up some super old Sun Warrior energy just by standing (moving his hand in a fluttering motion) where they stood 1000 years ago?
Zuko: More or less. Either I find a new way to firebend, or the Avatar has to find a new teacher. (Aang looks worried)
(Cut to commercial break)
(The show returns to Appa flying over a vast ocean. Cut to Zuko who looks bored)
Zuko: We've been riding for hours. I don't know why, but I thought this thing would be a lot faster. (He looks down and the camera zooms out to show Appa's underbelly. Appa growls.)
Aang: Appa's right, Zuko. In our group, typically we start out our missions with a more upbeat attitude.
Zuko: (in a low voice) I can't believe this. (sighs and rests his head on the boat)
Aang: Don't worry. You'll get the hang of it.
(Appa pushes his tail down to gain some speed and soars through the cloud at a faster speed. Cut to Appa nearing an island. Cut again to him nearing a bunch of ruins with a very impressive architecture similar to that of the Mayans.
Simultaneously, with looks of surprise on their faces)
Zuko and Aang: Whoa!
(Cut to Appa descending on to the ruins)
Zuko:(off screen) Even though these buildings are ancient, (The camera is facing a vast plain of grass, it slowly pans down towards the ruins. Aang and Zuko are seen walking in a small "valley") there's something eerily familiar about them. I can tell the Fire Sages' temples are somehow descended from these.
Aang:(off screen) Ok, we learned something about architecture. (The camera pans around the various structures. Cut back to the duo.) Hopefully, we'll learn something about firebending too. The past can be a great teacher.
(Aang's foot nears a black wire and he trips it. He yells in surprise. The ground in front of them drops to reveal a bed of black, deadly spikes. Aang exhales a huge gust of air from his mouth to prevent himself from falling into the trap and propels himself across it, landing rather shakingly to the other side. He struggles to control his balance, flailing his arms about. Aang pushes himself forward and regains control.)
Aang: (frightened) Zuko, I think the past is trying to kill me.
Zuko: (He kneels down and inspects the wire) I can't believe it. This booby trap must be centuries old, and it still works.
Aang: There's probably a lot more. Maybe this means we shouldn't be here.
(Zuko takes a step back and starts to run on a wall and lands in front of Aang.)
Zuko: (dusting himself) Where's that upbeat attitude you were talking about? Besides, people don't make traps unless they've got something worth protecting.
(Camera slowly pans upwards to a rather grand and elaborate structure that seems to be intact. Cut to Zuko and Aang making it to the top of the structure.)
Aang: Look. This seems promising. (Camera zooms out to reveal a carving of a person in the middle being surrounded by concentric circles of fire breathed out by 2 dragons on each side of him.) Though I'm not sure what this tells us about the original source of firebending.
Zuko: They look pretty angry to me. (Cut to a close-up of the carving)
Aang: I thought the dragons were friends with the Sun Warriors.
Zuko: Well, they had a funny way of showing it.(he looks away and takes a few steps before he's interrupted by Aang)
Aang: Zuko, something happened to the dragons in the last 100 years. Something you're not telling me.
Zuko: My great-grandfather Sozin happened.
(Cut to the boys walking across a stone bridge with dragon protrusions at the side.)
Zuko: He started the tradition of hunting dragons for glory. They were the ultimate firebenders. And if you could conquer one, your firebending talents
would become legendary, and you'd earn the honorary title "Dragon". (They reach the end of the bridge. They're 2 dragon statues at the end. One of the statues is missing a head.) The last great dragon was conquered long before I was born, (Cut to the dragon statue's eye and Zuko pats the eye of the decapitated head) by my Uncle.
Aang: But I thought your Uncle was, I don't know, good?
Zuko: He had a complicated past. Family tradition, I guess. Let's just move on.
(Camera zooms out to show the distance between the dragon statue's head and its neck. Fade out to a column with a red jewel embedded in the centre. The column is positioned in front of a structure with 2 yellow doors. Zuko and Aang walk towards the doors. Aang walks towards them, drops his staff and attempts to open them with his bare hands to no avail.)
Aang: It's locked up.
(Zuko touches his head, looks behind and steps aside to reveal the red jewel from the column beaming light on his head.)
Zuko: Wait. (He steps aside to reveal the beam of red light resting on a circle on the ground) It's a celestial calendar. Just like the Fire Sages have in their temples. I bet that Sun Stone opens the door, but only when sunlight hits it at just the right angle, on the solstice. (Camera cuts to a red stone on the door)
Aang: (exasperated) Monkey feathers! The solstice again? We can't wait here that long.
Zuko: No we can't. (unsheathes his broadsword and lays it in the path of the red beam.) But we might be able to speed time up. Let's see if we can outsmart the Sun Stone.
(He attempts to adjust his sword. The beam of light is seen moving shakily across the doors and successfully hits the Sun Stone. It glows brightly.)
Aang: Nothing's happening.
Zuko: (Cut back to Zuko who is holding his sword in place) Come on...
(The screen starts to shake and the camera cuts to the area behind the door. The rumbling stops and the door opens to reveal Aang standing in front of it.)
Aang: (picking up his staff) You know, Zuko, I don't care (Zuko sheathes his sword) what everyone else says about you, (nudges him) you're pretty smart.
(Zuko smiles. Aang walks in and squints his eyes. Camera suddenly cuts to a statue with an angry face. Cut back to Aang who gasps in surprise.)
Zuko: Relax. They're just statues.
(Camera zooms up to reveal a ring of statues in various fighting positions. Camera gives a top view of the room. The positions of one half of the ring of statues is symmetrical to the other half.)
Aang: (scratches his head and reads the description at the foot of the statue) It says this is something called The Dancing Dragon.
(He lays his staff against the statue, takes a step-back and imitates the crane-posture of the statue. A plate sinks under his feet as he does so. Aang takes a step off the plate to observe it and the plate moves back into position. He looks around at the remaining statues.)
Aang: (runs and grabs Zuko by his elbow) Zuko, get over here. I
want you to dance with me. (tries to pull Zuko along)
Zuko: (he pulls back his arm in shock) What?
Aang: Just do it. (grabs and drags him away)
(Cut to the backview of the boys, they're standing behind the statues. Zuko groans)
Aang: Let's follow the steps of the statues.
(Both of them step on the first plate and move on to the next. Cut to Zuko's boot stepping on the second plate. He looks surprised.)
Aang: Don't you see? (Camera cuts to the top-view of the room) These aren't dance moves. These statues are giving us a lesson. (both of them move in synchronization as he speaks) I think this is some kind of Sun
Warrior firebending form. (Cut to Zuko moving along the line of statues and the camera shows his feet moving from plate to plate)
Zuko: (Zuko gets into punching position and move into another position with his arms spread in a low arc above his shoulders.) This better teach us some really good firebending.
(Cut to Aang who is doing the same 2 moves. He gets into a position with his arms stretched forward. Cut to Aang bending his torso to the right with his fists out-stretch and Zuko doing a mirror image. A sound echoes in the room and a hole appears in the centre of the room and both turn to look at it. A pedestal with a golden egg-like object ascends from the hole and glints in the light.)
Aang: (raises both arms in victory) Hurray! Wait. (rubs his head)What exactly is that?
Zuko: It's some kind of mystical gem stone. (runs towards the pedestal)
Aang: Well, don't touch it! (raises his arms as a warning and Zuko stops in his tracks)
Zuko: Why not?
Aang: Remember what happened out there with those spikes (looks at the side and raises his arms) I'm just very suspicious of giant, glowing gems sitting on pedestals.
(Zuko ignores him and removes the gem stone off the pedestal. Aang's eyebrow twitches.)
Zuko: It feels almost alive.
(He tries to put back the gem stone and yells in surprise as a jet of green goo spurts out from the pedestal and pushes Zuko towards the grating in the ceiling, sticking him there.)
Aang: (looks at the door closing) Oh, no, it's another trap!
(More green goo starts to flow from the pedestal and Aang backs away cautiously. Cut to Zuko who has his back stuck to the grating and struggles to break free but he and the gemstone are held tight by the goo.)
Zuko: Ugh, I can't pull free. It's like some kind of glue. (struggles again)
(Aang jumps across the goo to grab his staff on the other side of the room. He jumps up on the statue's head and airbends a strong gust of wind toward Zuko in an attempt to free him. The force from the wind only pushes moves Zuko from his back to his front but he is still stuck. The goo is rapidly rising and Aang tries to pull his staff out of the goo to no avail. He jumps up toward the grating as the goo rapidly engulfs the room.)
Aang: (tries to budge the metal bars) I can't move. Zuko, do something!
Zuko: Me? I can't move either.
(Cut to the camera inside the room and showing that the goo is nearing both boys. Cut to the top of the grating where they groan in discomfort as a result from the pressure of the goo pushing them against the grating. The goo suddenly stops pressing against them.)
Aang: It stopped.
Zuko: At least we have air. Maybe if we stay calm we can figure a way out of this.
(Camera cuts to the top view of the grating and slowly zooms out. Fade to night at the ruins. Cut to both boys who are still in the same position few hours earlier.)
Aang: You had to pick up the glowing egg, didn't you?
Zuko: At least I made something happen. If it were up to you, we'd never
have made it pass the courtyard.
Aang: (opens his mouth widely) Help!
Zuko: Who are you yelling to? Nobody's lived here for centuries.
Aang: Well, what do you think we should do?
Zuko: Think about our place in the Universe?
(Cut to the side of the grating. Aang sighs. A foot wearing a sandal steps into screen.)
Sun Warrior Chief: Who is down there?
(Cut to the boys' point of view as they see a man in tribal gear wearing a Chieftian's hat and warpaint on his face. Cut to a close-up shot of the man. Cut to both boys who are shocked by a presence of a person in the supposedly abandoned ruins. Cut to a shot of the structure where the gem-stone room was. Cut to Zuko and Aang who are freed but still covered in goo. Anteater-like animals sit on either side of them and lick the goo off. Camera cuts to the top view of the screen. They are surrounded by concentric semi-circles of men and women wearing gear identical to the Chief's. 4 warriors can be seen holding a small flame in their hands.)
Sun Warrior Chief: For trying to take our Sun Stone, you must be severely punished!
Zuko: (Cut to Zuko who still has a small spot of goo on his chin) We didn't come here to take your Sun Stone. We came here to find the ancient origin of all firebending.
Ham Gao:(Cut back to the top view and a man beside the Chief steps forward) Yeah, right. They are obviously thieves, here to steal Sun Warrior treasures. (Cut to a close-up shot of him as he holds the Sun stone tightly in his arms.)
Aang: Please, I don't normally play this card, but... (looking confident and places a hand on his chest) I'm the Avatar.
(Cut to the Ham Gao looking towards the Chief, puzzled. Aang stands up and gives a weak smile.)
Aang: Just hear us out.
Zuko: My name is Zuko, Crown Prince of the Fire Nation. Or at least, I
used to be. I know my people have distorted the ways of firebending, (camera pans across the group of warriors) to be fueled by anger and rage. But now I want to learn the true way, (cut back to Zuko who looks remorseful) the original way. When we came here, I never imagined (camera zooms out to show the group of warriors surrounding the trespassers) the Sun Warrior civilization was secretly alive. I am truly humbled to be in your presence. (Cut back to Zuko again) Please, teach us. (he and Aang bow their heads down in respect)
Sun Warrior Chief: (cut to the Chief's face, the camera slowly zooms in) If you wish to learn the ways of the Sun, you must learn them from the masters Ran and Shao.
Aang: Ran and Shao? There are two of them?
Sun Warrior Chief: (steps in front of them) When you present yourselves to them, they will examine you. They'll read your hearts, your souls, and your ancestry. (takes a step towards Zuko and towers over him) If they deem you worthy, (cut to Zuko who looks extremely worried) they'll teach you. If they don't, (camera zooms back slowly on the Chief's face) you'll be destroyed on the spot. (The Chief steps back after finishing his lecture. Aang and Zuko look at each other
Cut to commercial break.)
(Scene opens up the next day with a shot towards the main structure.)
Sun Warrior Chief: (off screen) If you're going to see the masters, (camera zooms in on a fire at the top most dome. Cut to an overhead shot of the warriors standing in concentric semi-circles again. Zuko and Aang are right in front and the Chief appears to be standing in front of a fire source.) you must bring them a piece of the eternal flame. (camera cuts to the back of the Chief. The eternal flame is burning fiercely.) This fire is the very first one.(raises his arms in pride and turns back towards the duo) It was given to Man by the dragons. We have kept it going for thousands of years.
Zuko: (bewildered) I don't believe it.
Sun Warrior Chief: You will each take a piece of it to the masters, (camera pans around the fire source, the warriors are seated around the flame) to show your commitment to the sacred art of firebending.
Aang: (unsure) Um, Mister Sun Chief, sir? Yeah... I'm not a firebender yet. Couldn't my friend here carry my fire for me?
Sun Warrior Chief: (sternly) No. (turns back to the fire.)
(Cut to Aang who looks rather uneasy. Cut to the Chief's hand and he "pulls" the fire towards his palms.)
Sun Warrior Chief: This ritual illustrates the essence of Sun Warrior
philosophy.(turns a full circle and splits the fire equally in to two.)
You must maintain a constant heat. (cut to Aang who stares at the flame, transfixed.) The flame will go out if you make it too small. (Aang cringes) Make it too big, and you might lose control. (cut to Zuko who is staring coolly at the flame and proceeds to cradle the flame in his hands. He looks at Aang.)
(Cut to a side-view of Aang who still hasn't collected his flame.)
Aang: I'm sorry. I'm just a little nervous. (he proceeds to gather it into his hands. The fire grows slightly and he looks relieved and in awe.) It's like a little heartbeat.
Sun Warrior Chief: Fire is life, not just destruction. (cut to Aang who reassures himself with a smile). You will take your flames up there. (The Chief points to a rocky mountain nearby and the boys turn their heads toward that direction) The cave of the masters is beneath that rock. (Camera slowly zooms in on the mountain)
(Camera fades in to reveal the duo trudging through a forest. Fade in to another shot of a steep grassy incline. Fade to Zuko who has reached the top of the incline and turns back to Aang who is lagging quite a distance behind.)
Zuko: Hurry up.
Aang: I can't.(Places one hand on the rock) If I walk too fast, my
flame will go out. (looks back at his rather small flame)
Zuko: Your flame's gonna go out because it's too small. You're too timid. Give it more juice.
Aang: (climbs up and looks worriedly at Zuko) But what if I can't control it?
Zuko: You can do it. I know you can. You're a talented kid.
(Camera cuts to Aang who smiles. He pushes himself up and continues to follow Zuko. Camera zooms in slowly towards the mountain.
Fade to dusk and Zuko and Aang have just arrived at their destination. The warriors are already there and are poised in an alternating standing and sitting position. Camera zooms up to show the U-shaped rock with a bridge in the centre.)
Sun Warrior Chief: (walks towards them) Facing the judgment of the
firebending masters will be very dangerous for you. Your ancestors (cut to Zuko's face) are directly responsible for the dragons' disappearances.(Zuko looks towards the side in shame) The masters might not be so happy to see you.
Ham Gao: (places his hand on his hip, trying to intimidate Zuko) I know I wouldn't be.
Aang: (interrupts) But once they find out I'm the Avatar...
Sun Warrior Chief: Have you forgotten that you vanished allowing the Fire
Nation to wreak havoc on the world? The decline of the dragons is your burden too. (cut to Aang who also turns his head away)
(The Chief drives his staff into the ground and Sun warriors get into a "ready" position at either side of the staff. It is noted that both warriors are mirror image of each other. The Chief grabs a section from each flame and places it on the Sun Warriors' palms. They move away and the Chief removes his staff. Cut to a warrior who receives a flame and bends it around in a circle a few times before the next warrior who is standing bends a small part of the flame towards her and repeats the process.)
Aang: We could turn back now. We've already learned more about fire than we hoped. (shows Zuko that he can handle his fire and gives a weak smile)
Zuko: No, we're seeing this through to the end. We're gonna meet these masters and find out what's so great about them.
Aang: What if they judge us and attack us?
Zuko: Well, we're the Fire Prince and the Avatar. (unsheathes his broadswords slightly to emphasize his point and smiles) I think we can take these guys in a fight, whoever they are. (Cut to Aang who nods but is still uneasy.)
(Camera zooms out to reveal the warriors completing the passing of the flame.)
Zuko: (he steps forward with confidence) Bring 'em out.
Sun Warrior Chief: (opens his hand to the side) Chanters!
(Music from the ending credits of the show play and the warriors who are sitting down beat in synchronized rhythm on their drums. Cut to the warriors holding the circle of flame remaining in their positions. Zuko and Aang's footwear walk into screen. Cut to the other half of the circle and the warriors are rising and bowing alternatively. Cut to the boys who are nearing the steps. Cut to a shot of the flight of steps. The Chief and the 2 warriors step aside to let them pass.
Zuko and Aang glance at each other and both take a deep breath before ascending. Cut to the warriors who are still beating the drums. Cut to Zuko and Aang climbing the steps. Aang looks back, seemingly wanting to go back but he presses forward with a "I've got no choice" look on his face. Cut to the side of the stairs to show that they're halfway there. Cut to the Chief looking at their progress at the bottom. Cut to Zuko and Aang who are nearing the top with the setting Sun shining upon them in the background. The music stops when they reach the top. Both of them look at the caves on each side of the bridge.)
Sun Warrior: (using a megaphone-like object to amplify his voice) Those who wish to meet the masters Ran and Shao will now present their fire.
(Aang and Zuko turn towards the caves and bow down with their hands extended in front of them. Camera zooms out to show them being silhouetted by the setting Sun.)
Sun Warrior Chief: (off-screen) Sound the call.
(A warrior takes a deep breath and blows into a wind instrument. The loud sound it produces sends a flock of birds scattering in the background. The cave Aang is facing rumbles and vibrates as the rocks dislodge. He trembles in fear. Aang accidentally places his hand down, extinguishing his flame and turns towards Zuko.)
Aang: What's happening?
(He looks at Zuko's cave which remains undisturbed. Zuko turns and gives Aang a puzzled look. Aang quickly returns back into his "flame-giving" position. He realized that his flame is gone and gasps, turning back towards Zuko again.)
Aang: (whispers) Zuko, my fire went out.
Zuko: (whispers back) What do you want me to do?
Aang: Give me some of yours. (He reaches for Zuko's fire and Zuko gently pushes him back)
Zuko: No, just make your own.
Aang: I can't. (reaches for Zuko's flame)
Zuko: Get some from one of those warriors. (camera zooms out to gives a top view of what's happening. It seems like his whispers can be heard from the bottom) Hurry. Stop cheating off me! (his voice is raised and camera cuts back to the Chief who has seemed to have heard the commotion and exchanges looks with another warrior)
Aang: (irritated) Quit being stingy!
(Aang continues to reach for Zuko's flame but is unable to do so due to the
differences between their heights. Zuko raises his arms higher so the flame remains out of Aang's reach and Aang tries to grab it by sticking close to Zuko's back and flailing his arms. He uses two hands to grab the flame from under Zuko's armpits and they struggle briefly before Zuko drops his hand, extinguishing the flame. They look at each other, unsure.
Cut to the camera inside one of the caves and the screen shakes at the cave rumbles. Zoom in onto the boys who look troubled. They turn their heads towards the other cave and the camera zooms in on the black emptiness within.)
Aang and Zuko: Uh-oh.
(A pair of yellow eyes glow in the dark and suddenly, a red dragon roars and shoots out of the cave. It circles around the bridge and the duo. Cut to the boys who are overwhelmed by the powerful winds and pressure and stagger slightly. Cut to Zuko who looks shocked and follows the dragon's trail.
Cut to a blue dragon flying out of the other cave and joins its partner in circling around each other, the bridge and boys.)
Zuko: These are the masters.
Aang: (whispers) You still think we can take 'em?
Zuko: Shh. I never said that.
(Zoom out to the bottom of the bridge where the dragons are still circling in the air and generating powerful winds. Camera slowly pans down to the warriors and all of them bow down. Cut to Ham Gao and the Chief.)
Ham Gao: Oh, here it comes. (looks up at the boys) Any moment now... dinner for the masters.
Sun Warrior Chief: (turns his head towards Ham Gao and chides) Quiet, Ham Gao.
Ham Gao: What? (sulks and turns his head away) Everyone's thinking it.
(Cut to the bridge where the dragons are still flying in an elaborate formation of turns, twists and curves. Cut to Aang who is deep in thought.)
Aang: (whispers) Zuko, I think we're supposed to do The Dragon Dance with them.
Zuko: What? What about this situation that you think they want us to dance?
Aang: Well, I think they want us to do something. Let's just try it.
(They get into the first position of The Dragon Dance and proceed to the next. Cut to Aang spreading his arms out and the blue dragon behind him following the shape of his arms. Aang turns his arms to his side and the dragon turns as well. Camera zooms out to show that the dragons are performing the same movements and are symmetrical to one another.
Cut to Zuko who pushes his hand up and the red dragon behind him angles upwards as well. Zuko dips and the dragon dives down as well. Zoom out to show the boys slowly heading towards on another and the dragons complementing their movements. Finally, the camera zooms in on them as they get into their final pose. Camera zooms out to show the dragons have stopped and are flapping their wings on either side of the bridge.)
Sun Warrior Chief: Judgment time.
(Cut to the blue dragon which snarles at Zuko. Aang is visibly trembling. Zuko looks at it, mouth agape. Aang gives out a series of timid, unsure shrieks. Camera zooms out to give a side view of the bridge and the 2 dragons settle into another position with their legs being anchored at the bottom of the bridge and their arms supporting their weight at the top. Cut to the red dragon and it beings to breathe fire out of its mouth. Cut to the blue dragon which does the same. Cut to Zuko and Aang who yell in fear as they are engulfed by a rapidly rising multi-colored flame.
Cut to the camera looking up the eye of the vortex. It slowly pans down to the boys who remain in their positions, shell-shocked at the sight. Cut to the side of the bridge where the dragons have angled their mouths up, fire still being breathed out. Camera pans up to the swirling vortex of rainbow flames. Cut to the inside of the vortex and the duo stare at the scene in wonder. Cut to Aang's eyes and an orange color reflects off his pupils and he gasps in amazement.)
Zuko:(realization) I understand.
(The flame slowly dissipates and the dragons curl their bodies, spring up and circle each other one final time before they retreat to their caves. Cut to the boys who still remain on the bridge. Cut to Ham Gao who looks annoyed that nothing has happened to them. Cut to one of the warriors holding the circle of fire as he moves his arm in a circle, extinguishing the flame and ending his hands in a position demonstrated by Ms Kwan in "The Headband". Cut to the top view of the scene, Zuko and Aang can be seen as tiny figures slowly descending on the steps.)
Zuko: Their fire was beautiful. I saw so many colors, colors I've never imagined.
Aang: Like firebending harmony.
Sun Warrior Chief: Yes. They judged you, and gave you visions of the meaning of firebending.
Zuko: I can't believe there are still living dragons. My Uncle Iroh said he faced the last dragon and killed it.
Aang: So, your Uncle lied.
Sun Warrior Chief: Actually, (Cut to the Chief who is smiling) it wasn't a total lie. Iroh was the last outsider to face the masters. They deemed him worthy and passed the secret onto him as well. (Zuko's eyes widen in surprise)
Zuko: He must have lied to protect them, so no one else would hunt them.
Aang: All this time, I thought firebending was destruction. Since I hurt
Katara, I've been too afraid and hesitant. But now I know what it really is... it's energy, and life.
Zuko: Yeah. It's like the Sun, (his hand curls into a fist) but inside of you. Do you guys realize this? (extends both arms outward)
Sun Warrior Chief: Well, our civilization is called the Sun Warriors... so yeah.
Zuko: That's why my firebending was so weak before. Because for so many
years, hunting you (turns towards Aang) was my drive... it was my purpose. So when I joined you, I lost sight of my inner fire. But now, I have a new drive. I have to help you (camera zooms in towards Zuko's determined face) defeat my father and restore balance to the world.
(Zuko firebends twice with a rather large sized flame. Aang follows his example and bends. His flame is large as well. Camera cuts to Aang's face as he finally conquers his fears. Cut to both of them who walk towards each other, happy at their achievement.)
Sun Warrior Chief: Now that you have learned the secrets, and you know about our tribe's existence, (his face suddenly turns serious) we have no choice but to imprison you here forever. (cut to the boys who open their mouths in shock. Cut back to the Chief who smiles) Just kidding. (The duo's postures relax) But seriously, (looks serious) don't tell anyone!
(Camera cuts back to the upside down pagodas in the Western Air Temple)
Aang:(off-screen) With this technique the dragons showed us, Zuko and I would be unstoppable. (cut to Zuko and Aang who are demonstrating The Dragon Dance and they're firebending at each step. They get into their final pose and the group applauds.)
Sokka: Yeah, that's a great dance you two learned there.
Zuko: (defensive) It's not a dance. It's a firebending form.
Sokka: We'll just tap-dance (moves his fingers in a dancing motion) our way to victory over the Fire Lord.
Zuko: (walks towards Sokka) It's a sacred form that happens to be thousands of years old!
Katara: Oh yeah? What's your little form called?
Zuko: (embarrassed) The Dancing Dragon.
(The group laughs. Cut back to Zuko's face as he tries to still his temper and releases it as a shrug. Fade to white.)
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