Well, here we are. This is the sixth and last chapter concerning the amusing effects of cactus juice on Toph. I hope you all enjoyed reading this humorous fic as much as I enjoyed writing it. Last but not least, thanks for the reviews!
"You tell me where he is NOW!" Aang shouted in all-encompassing fury, and Toph felt another hurricane gust of wind leap out from him to smash another sandglider like it was just a porcelain vase.
"What did you do?" the appalled Sandbender chief half-moaned to his son.
"It wasn't me!" Gashiun cringingly denied.
But Toph knew far better.
"You said to put a muzzle on him!" she cried, pointing an accusing finger in his direction.
Then hell broke loose.
"You muzzled Appa?" Aang shouted in disbelieving, welling rage.
Suddenly the Earthbender felt something change about Aang in a terrible new way, felt him become gripped by something profoundly, incomprehensibly ancient and powerful and savage and grim and as uncontrollable as a wounded sabertooth moose-lion or boarcupine.
He whipped his staff around him with the speed of an arrow leaving a bow, and Toph felt/heard another glider shatter, split into two. It sounded like a great tree being blown apart by lighting.
"I'm sorry!" Gashiun desperately pleaded, cringing in the abject terror of a moo-sow about to be slain by a platypus bear. "I didn't know it belonged to the Avatar!"
Toph didn't consider herself to be a coward in any way or form. She'd won half a dozen Earthbending tournaments against experienced men three times her age. Even if, spirits forbid, she somehow, someday, ever found herself in a situation where she couldn't earthbend, she was still quite stocky and muscular. Any adversary who seized her in that scenario might get away with it, but not without paying the price for it first! And she could still use her senses of hearing and touch to get a pretty good idea of where an attack was coming from, which with luck, would allow her to evade it.
And while she respected Aang's power as the Avatar, she'd always found Twinkletoes to be more goofy then scary.
But now it was her turn to cringe for once as Aang demanded "Tell me where Appa is!" in a demonic, spine-chilling, echoing voice that seemed composed of many ancient, animal growls melded into one.
"I traded him...to some merchants," Gashiun stammered in the same abject terror the Earthbender felt. "He's probably in Ba Sing Se by now. They were going to sell him there."
Clearly he expected to die. Toph half-expected to accompany Gashiun herself as she sightlessly goggled, mouth slack with shock and horror, her insides twisting like worms. Now her entire body felt numb. Aang was actually capable of this?"
"Please!" the Sandbender screeched for mercy. "We'll escort you out of the desert. We'll help you however we can!" he gasped, a panicked attempt at appeasement as a gaping Toph felt herself start to be violently lashed by swarms of sand grains, a tornado born of Aang's supervolcanic rage.
Suddenly she heard Sokka demand from just behind her, "Just get out of here! Run!" grasping her left forearm and tugging her behind him as she promptly obeyed.
She was in the astonishing position of having to actually run for her life from Aang, and she shouted over the roar of the wind to Sokka, "Am I hallucinating this too? Tell me I am!"
"No," Sokka shouted back in terror, "you aren't! And believe me, if you value your life at all, you never, never want to be around Aang when he gets like this!"
Then they could only cower against each other like a pair of rainbow pheasants hiding from a hunter's arrows as the hurricane of sand, charged with static electricity, overtook them, forcing them to shield their faces. And Toph was not ashamed to have Sokka there to hide behind.
Toph picked some earwax out of her right ear, flicked it into the wind, and then calmly relaxed against Katara's right side as the Sand Sailor sped toward the western edge of the Si Wong Desert.
Aang was standing at the front of the glider, lashing the sail with his airbending as the Sandbender chief, Ganzorig, occasionally directed him to make a slight turn or let them know how far they'd traveled.
After the astonishing events at the base of the mesa had run their course, Ganzorig and another sandbender, with much trepidation and earnest apologies, had brought them to the tribe's camp on the remaining glider.
The tribe's women and children had been very surprised to see strangers arrive. They were even more surprised and more than a little edgy to learn that not only was a still-fuming Aang the Avatar himself, but that their tribe had done something that had really, really gotten him upset.
Aang had assured the camp's women and any men who'd been at camp the whole time that he felt a lot better now, and besides, it wasn't them he was angry with. Still, the other members of the tribe could hardly have been hastier when it came to finding each one of them a comfortable place to rest in one of their tents and providing them with all the precious water and milk from their gecko-goats they desired.
Toph had been more than happy to accept the fluids and then have a meal of peppered roast gecko-goat before dozing in the cool shade the wool tent provided. Sheltered from the heat of the desert day, her wiry body, drained and numb from the aftereffects of the cactus juice, from the shock and horror at experiencing Aang going into the Avatar state for the first time, chronic dehydration, and just plain weariness, was able to regain its strength.
When she'd awoken, the other Sandbenders who'd been left behind at the mesa had been picked up and brought back, and were staying as far away from Aang as they could. It made her chuckle inside to sense how much food, water, and other supplies they'd helped load up for them on the glider that would take them out of here.
The chief's daughter, Sarangerel, had chosen to go with them, her father explaining that she wanted to have the honor of helping see the Avatar on his way. Toph was pretty sure though that Sarangerel was also there as a precaution, to give Aang pause if his rage began to spiral out of control again at any time.
Ganzorig had told them his name meant "courage of steel." Yet if anyone deserved that name it was Katara, Toph thought, turning towards the Waterbender in amazement for the fifteenth time.
She'd actually grabbed on to Aang's arm while he was a literal cyclone of fury and destruction, the most powerful being on the globe, and clasped him to her, comforting him! She easily could've been hurt or killed.
From the other side of the glider, she heard Sokka ask Sarangerel, "Can I have a sip of water? This wind really dries out your mouth!"
"Here you are," the Sandbender maiden replied as she gave Sokka the gecko-goat skin pouch.
Toph heard Sokka swallow twice, sigh happily, then give the canteen back before saying, "I guess if there's any moral to take home from this adventure, it's not to drink water from just anywhere, no matter how thirsty you are or how good it looks."
"Tell me about it Snoozles," the Earthbender dryly grumbled. "And don't blindly do what other people are doing...especially people like you," she pointedly added.
"Hey, how was I supposed to know it was a mind-altering substance?" Sokka protested.
"Well it still wasn't very bright," his sister snorted. "Anyhow, I hope both of you learned a lesson from that."
"I don't know if Snoozles is capable of learning his lesson about anything-"
"-But I definitely did."
"I just hope I didn't make myself look like too much of an idiot," Toph sighed in embarrassment as she went on, putting her head in her hands. "Tell it to me straight Sweetness, how bad was I?"
She heard Katara try to force back chuckles and smirks before saying, "Well, I wouldn't say you were an idiot while you were on the cactus juice, but you did do a lot of weird things."
"I remember although I was walking on sand, and a part of me knew I was always on sand, I felt like my feel were on all sorts of different surfaces," Toph laughed, shaking her head wryly. "Sometimes it felt like I was walking on marble, sometimes on burlap, sometimes on paper scrolls, and sometimes on feathers! It was crazy but kind of cool at the same time," she chuckled.
Katara laughed as well. "You also sang a lot of very weird songs that made no sense at all. I've never heard anything like them."
"Seriously?" Toph asked in amazement. "What were they like?"
"Well," Katara replied, shrugging her shoulders, "they just made no sense. The lyrics were weird, the tunes were crazy, even some of the words were unrecognizable...it's like you heard them from another world Toph."
"Well that's sure creepy."
After thinking for a moment, Katara then added, "There was one song you sang last night though, just before you fell asleep after we stopped, that was actually very pretty."
"How did it go?" Toph grinned wryly.
"I think it was, 'We are stardust, we are golden.' Do you remember it at all?"
"Huh, that is quite pretty Sugar Queen," Toph agreed as she prodded her memory. It was hard to separate and distinguish exactly what had gone on during that confused time.
And then, flashing into her mind like the sensation of touching gold, she found the memory!
"Yeah, now I remember!" she declared in excitement. "And I only sang a bit of the whole song. You're right, it was weird!"
"Could you sing it now?" Sokka asked.
"No way Snoozles," Toph snapped, crossing her arms and flicking them apart. "I'm not going to sing for anybody. Especially not some crazy song I heard in a cactus juice-induced hallucination!"
"Oh, we've heard plenty of those in our camps," Sarangerel dismissively assured her. "And if what Katara said is correct, yours actually sounds far better than most!"
"I'm NOT going to embarrass myself by singing," Toph grunted, feeling her cheeks heat up.
"Oh, don't say that about yourself Toph," Katara gently admonished. "I bet you have a beautiful singing voice."
"Yeah, and don't be embarrassed about doing it at all," Sokka added. "Why, I've heard that General Iroh himself is an excellent singer. Heck, so are many other members of the Fire Nation."
"Okay, I'll sing the crazy song," Toph sighed in defeat. "Just don't make fun of me."
"We would never make fun of you Toph," Katara sincerely assured her.
"Alright, here goes. I came upon a child of God/ He was walking along the road/ And I asked him, 'Tell where are you going?'/ This he told me/ Said, 'I¹m going down to Yasgur's Farm/ Gonna join in a rock and roll band/ Got to get back to the land and set my soul free.'
We are stardust, we are golden, We are billion year old carbon,
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden..."
The song Toph sings at the end is "Woodstock," by Joni Mitchell. Other songs mentioned referenced in this fanfic are "We Are All Made Of Stars," by Moby, "Dragula," by Rob Zombie, "Happy Happy Joy Joy," from Ren and Stimpy, and both "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds," and "I Am The Walrus," are of course, by that immortal quartet, The Beatles!
Please practice the two Rs!