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|A New Technique|
February 5th, 2013
The mid afternoon sunlight filtered into the small garden in which Aang was currently meditating. Following his encounter with Roku he had decided to remain quite silent, telling the monks he needed to meditate first before convening with them.
The biggest problem right now was that the Nomads had a traitor walking amongst them. Who could it be? Did I walk by him today? Dozens of questions race through Aang's mind as he tried to figure out who it could be. And when he wasn't thinking of that, the whole comet issue reared its ugly head. Even though he was the Avatar, he wasn't even fully trained and he had barely started to learn Waterbending, how could he stop a flaming chuck of space rock? Was it even possible to bend something from space? During his meditation Gyatso had slipped into the garden quietly and waited for Aang to open his eyes.
"Aang," Gyatso called to him quietly. "I have good news. The monks and I have discussed this since we learned of your arrival at the Southern Tribe. We agree that I, as your guardian, should accompany you on your travels."
Aang beamed at the thought of this. First they wanted to separate him and Gyatso and now they wanted them to travel together, he couldn't be happier.
"That's great Gyatso! But before we go, Avatar Roku wants me to deliver a message to the Council of Elders."
Aang soon stood before them and recalled everything Avatar Roku spoke of and when he got to the part of the traitor, several of the monks cried out in disbelief.
"Peace brothers!" called High Elder Monk Pasang.
"I told you he would get lost in the world!" hollered an ancient Airbender named Tashi. "He only went on that pilgrimage to gain more power! He must be brought back and immediately detained before he does any more harm!"
"As harsh as it sounds, Tashi may be right. He has been running rampant across the Nations and it came back to haunt us now."
Aang piped up, "Um, excuse me? But who are we talking about?"
Pasang replied, "You remember Afiko? He was always rather hotheaded and had an uncharacteristic lust for power. It was one discipline we couldn't get through to him."
"He did seem rather distant whenever I was near him..."
"Well that may be because he was extremely jealous of your Avatar status, he is only seventeen and was hoping the power would be bestowed upon him. Young Avatar, if you come across Afiko in your travels, do not cross him. While you are knowledgeable, he will show no mercy, although Gyatso may cause him to steer clear of you. We will deal with this traitor."
"What about the comet?" another monk said.
"We have foreseen this for quite some time. War has been brewing on the horizon, the winds reek of it. The death of Avatar Roku was quite mysterious indeed and with the Fire Nation being so secretive as of late, it was no surprise. It is time we begin preparing to defend our home."
"Battle?!" Aang blurted.
"It leaves a sour taste on my tongue too but we cannot stand idly by and watch our culture be destroyed. Our race used to be one of powerful warriors and warmongers but an Avatar saw their actions would soon throw the Balance off. After a short but bloody skirmish, the Air Warriors disbanded, genders separated and the Air Nomads were born," Tashi answered.
"But how will that help us now??"
"Even though their culture disappeared does not mean their possession have. They built many defenses into each Temple and left a few weapons as well."
"Isn't Airbending enough of a weapon?"
"These weapons merely enhance our bending Aang. We would never attempt to alter our Airbending in such a way."
"There has to be another way. All life is sacred, you taught me that yourselves!"
"Aang this is being done in self defense, surely you would not stand idly by as someone attacked you. We will not strike unless they do."
Aang could see this was going to be the best answer he was going to get, but he needed to find a way to avoid war at all costs. The Balance of the World was already on the edge of being thrown horribly off...he felt like he was already failing this Avatar thing as it was.
"We should be going now. Aang and I have a long trip to the North Pole."
Appa had his saddlebags loaded with several grains, fruits and some heavier clothing for the cold weather of the North. Gyatso had also grabbed a map of the world. If Appa flew full speed and there were very little detours, they would reach the North Pole quickly.
Goodbyes were quick as the two departed. Their course would take them over parts of the Fire Nation and over a large portion of the Earth Kingdom. Aang was pleased to hear that they would make a stop in Omashu, he could visit his friend Bumi while he was there. Maybe if he could get away from Gyatso long enough, he could ride the delivery system like he had a few months ago.
The trip was getting boring, nothing below them but endless ocean with the occasional island in the distance. Aang even thought he saw an island moving on its own but thought nothing more of it. Soon a small grouping of islands appeared on the horizon.
"We will soon fly over the remains of Roku Island. The only structure remaining is the Temple the Avatar himself built. One day you shall visit this temple upon learning Firebending."
Sure enough they flew over a crescent shaped island, it was mostly hardened magma but a lone building stood tall, it looked like quite the spiritual place. A couple of men called Fire Sages stood on a balcony and offered a friendly wave as the two passed.
"See, the Fire Nation can't be all bad," Aang said.
"The Fire Sages may be in the Fire Nation but their loyalty is to the Avatar first. I can only hope they do not succumb to the delusions Fire Lord Sozin has before you are done with your training."
"Is that possible?"
"Sozin is quite a persuasive man. I have only met him once and felt quite uneasy around him the whole time."
Aang had forgotten Gyatso had traveled the world on a few occasions, for him to be uneasy around anyone was a new feeling to Aang.
"Come young one. We can get some practice in while Appa flies smoothly. Even though you are a Master, there are certain things you have yet to learn."
Gyatso sighed and became very serious, "Aang we have taught you as all others have been taught. You learned avoidance and defense but there is a technique only the most powerful and disciplined are allowed to learn. After convincing the Council that it may be necessary they have granted that I teach you some rather...lethal techniques."
"Lethal?! As in kill?!" gasped a horrified Aang.
"Yes. It is your choice if you want to use these techniques but you must still learn them."
Aang nodded but was still mortified, he was no fool and knew Airbending had the potential to be lethal, he just never thought he would be one to learn the techniques.
"Let us start with the Air Dart. It is a small concentrated projectile of air that travels at high velocity and picks up speed while it travels towards its target. It is designed to pass through several targets before losing its form and dispersing. If it hits the right place, the person will not survive. So, Aang, if you would please draw some water out of those clouds and freeze them into a few small sized ice shards."
Aang did as Gyatso asked. Next Gyatso showed him the technique. It was the usual Airbending stance but before Air was actual bent, Gyatso stood. Now he was in more of a Firebending stance, it was odd to see an Airbender in such a hostile, offensive position. Gyatso shot a hand forward, his first two fingers extended, a small dart just like he had said formed and spun into and oval shape. It continued to spin until it looked almost solid. Gyatso took quick aim and fired it at one of the shards. Upon contact the shard shattered instantly and the Dart dispersed.
"I want you to practice the stance before you start forming the Air Dart. After a while I will show you how you can direct the Dart wherever you want it to go rather than just a straight path. While this technique can be deadly, it can also be easily stopped or avoiding, it is all about timing. And of course what I showed you was a very slow demonstration; most of us Elders can rapidly fire the Darts in mere seconds. So Aang if you would begin.."
For nearly an hour Aang repeatedly performed the stance until he was able to get into "firing" position in just a couple seconds. Once he did this, Gyatso allowed him to finally begin attempting the technique. The first attempts were pretty bad, Aang missed his target by quite a lot, the second time he couldn't control the spinning part and it nearly blew him off of Appa. It was nearly nightfall before Aang finally hit his target, thought it was still wasn't dead center.
"Good work Aang. But it is getting dark and Appa seems to be getting a bit tired. Kyoshi Island is near, we should probably rest there for the night."
Kyoshi Island was another place Aang once visited; he had learned how to ride giant fish called Elephant Koi.
"It would seem they are celebrating something," Gyatso noted as he looked over Appa's saddle. Aang also looked over the side of Appa and saw the small island brightly illuminated. Something didn't seem right about the light...it was giving off too much heat to be just tea lights or fireworks.
"I don't think it's a celebration..."
As Appa flew closer, Aang was right...Kyoshi Island was on fire.
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