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Pathik recalls the time period in which he had sunk into despair. When he finds out that Afiko divulged the location of the Air Temples to the Fire Nation, he becomes stricken with grief. The Air Nomads, and the Avatar, only a young child, had been killed. He is forced to leave his home when the Fire Nation attacks it too.
"You shouldn't stay here anymore, alien. You don't belong with us. Leave."
I ran out of the room, not sure where I was running. The rain mixed with tears as I dashed across the courtyard, past the statue of the friend I had caused to grieve. Gyatso would forgive me, but all this time he wouldn't really forget what I had done. Eventually, he would want me to leave the temple along with the rest of the High Monks. He would not object to anything they said, and he would let them force me out of the temple.
"You should leave, stranger," I heard Tashi say in my mind.
I bolted upright in my bed in the back room of the Herbalist Institute. I was having the same nightmare again. It was a normal occurrence.
I got out of the bed, fixed the sheets, and washed my face in the basin. As I lifted a towel to dry my face, I heard "Oooh"s and "Aaah"s coming from the town. I quickly got dressed and hurried through the Institute. I passed, who was supposed to be tending to the aloe plants. Instead, he was sleeping in a chair next to the mixing table.
As I walked through the door, I looked down on the people of Taku, three hundred and sixty-five steps away. Every building had a few people looking out of their doors and windows at the sky. I looked at it as well, and what I saw sent a shiver across my body.
It was a comet. It was streaking across the sky, slowly. Everyone else thought it was a beautiful display, and if there wasn't a chance of it being a sign of the end of peace, I might have thought so too. Nobody else felt the death. I knew that the Fire Nation had used its power to destroy the Air Temples... The Western Temple first, then the...the Southern Temple...the Northern, then the Eastern. An entire race, and the Avatar, destroyed.
"Wow!" a child said from below. "This is so cool!"
§ § §
"So, do you have any news about Aang?" I asked out of habit the following day.
"The Air Nomads didn't come this time for some reason,"continued. "I guess they didn't need any herbs."
A sense of dread filled my body. I stopped picking the leaves off the plum blossom.
"Pathik? Are you okay?" Mori asked.
"Yes, yes, I am fine."
I couldn't tell them what had happened. I didn't need to burden them with that information. So I lied to them.
"I, uh, I just remembered that I have to teach Hebi about the many characteristics of, um, flower petals.
"Oh, that's probably not going to turn out well," Tamaki said.
I smiled nervously. "No, probably not."
Mori walked over to the window of the Institute.
"Hey, look, the Fire Nation's here to trade," he said.
I froze. "Oh, are they?" My voice shook slightly. "Well, it's been a while, hasn't it?"
"Are you okay, Pathik?" Tamaki asked. "You seem awfully nervous."
"Yes, yes, I'm fine," I said as I walked over to the window. There were Fire Nation ships coming in to Taku's harbor. This was horrible. I knew what was going to happen. The Fire Nation was going to destroy Taku, one of the world's main trading centers, before anyone even knew it what was happening.
The citizens of Taku rushed to the docks to greet them. They didn't know they would be attacked by the soldiers.
"Hey! HEY!!!" I screamed. "Don't go near them!!!!! RUN!!!!!!!"
They couldn't hear me. They were too far away.
"What are you doing, Pathik?" Mori asked me. "They're just here to trade; it'll be good for us, and for them, I mean they do it all the time, what's the problem this time?"
I ignored him, and just stared at the ships. There was nothing I could do. The firebenders leaped off the ship, not even bothering to turn the prow into a ramp. A tear ran down my cheek as fire erupted from their palms, and they punched fireballs at the citizens, my friends. I saw the flames streak across their faces, scarring them. I heard their screams.
A small joke involuntarily flittered across my mind: I'm going to need more aloe.
"What's happening, Pathik?!" Tamaki asked, breathing hard, too scared to talk in his usual continuous sentences. "Why are they doing this?"
Even though he was so far away, he made eye contact with me. He had a slight grin on his face. He began to walk purposefully toward the Institute, a few soldiers following him.
How was Afiko still alive? Was he commanding this fleet? Why didn't they kill him along with the other monks?
The answer struck me suddenly. It knocked the breath out of me like a physical blow. Afiko had betrayed the Air Nomads, and given the Fire Nation the information they needed to find the Air Temples. He was the last of his race, and he had caused it to be that way. He was the Last Airbender.
I slammed the doors to the Institute shut and barred them. I stood there, staring at the doors, waiting for the soldiers to reach the top of the steps.
"What do we do, Pathik?" Tamaki asked with anguish.
"We will have to fight them," I answered. I realized that they were the only ones who could do much good. For I am not a bender...
I heard a groan from behind me. Hebi walked out of his room in the back of the Institute. He rubbed his sleepy eyes.
"What are they doing here?" he asked snottily.
I nearly laughed at how oblivious he was to the enormity of the situation. That small amount of humor disappeared quickly when I heard pounding on the doors. Afiko was here.
Without any time to prepare, the doors flung open. A burst of flame flew into the room, increasing the temperature by a few degrees around the entire Institute. Afiko first stepped into the room, air swirling around his fists in a drill-like pattern. It was the move he had invented to earn his tattoos. Four soldiers stepped in after him. He glared at me angrily.
"You didn't expect this, did you?" he asked with an evil smile. "No, you thought the Avatar would keep the peace, and stop the strong from destroying the weak, and getting the power they deserved. You thought the Avatar would get all the glory. Well you were wrong. I will get all the glory!"
Mori, Tamaki, and Hebi were frozen in fear. I forced my mouth to move, although I knew we stood no chance against the soldiers and the airbender.
"No. You will be forgotten in history. No one will remember you; you were just the lowlife who wanted power, and thought he could get it by betraying his people and leaving them to die. The Fire Nation will realize you are treacherous, and they will kill you before you get the chance to betray them."
The soldiers shared looks. They understood what I was saying, and they realized the danger. They would report back to Fire Lord Sozin.
"What? Why would I betray my means of power, my allies, my weapons?"
The soldiers glanced at each other again through their helmets.
"Why would you think twice about that, if you were heartless enough to fight your own people?" I asked.
Afiko roared in anger. "How dare you question me! I wasn't heartless; I was wise enough to join the winning side!" He blew a strong gust out of his mouth toward Hebi. My apprentice was pushed toward and through the wall if the Institute, and toward the swamp houses of the city far, far below. I couldn't believe it. I had seen someone die, and I couldn't process the information.
Afiko laughed, regaining his composure. "Why would I think twice about killing a young boy, if I was smart enough to fight the airbenders?" He laughed again at my shock and rage in my eyes. "Oh, I think you might want to know: I personally killed Gyatso."
I screamed. I lunged at his throat, not thinking about the idiocy of what I was doing. He calmly raised his arm, striking me in the chest with his drill. I staggered backward, the breath knocked out of me. Afiko chuckled again.
The soldier beside him suddenly grunted and fell backward, out the door. He fell off the side of the steep steps to meet the same fate as Hebi. I looked over at Tamaki, to see that he was circling stones above his open hand. He had snapped out of his frozen state, and he was fighting back.
Afiko raised an eyebrow as a second soldier was struck in the helmet with the stones. He blew toward Tamaki, as he did to Hebi, but a wall rose up from the ground, stopping the gust. Tamaki stomped the ground, causing a small boulder to spring up from the ground. He kicked it toward Afiko, who nimbly ducked out of the way. He raised his hand, as if in a signal. The remaining two soldiers punched fireballs at the Tamaki. The earthbender raised another wall, but Afiko ran around it with the speed of the wind. By the time Tamaki realized what was happening, it was too late. He was punched in the face with the rock-hard drill.
I had seen Afiko testing his move on piles of hay. The hay was always completely obliterated. There was no way Tamaki had survived.
I looked over at Mori. We had both been watching the short battle in shock. But now, hot tears ran down his face. He had lost his best friend, his brother. Before I could stop him, he summoned a large rock from the floor of the Institute, shattered it in the air, and flung the sharp pieces at Afiko. The boy earthbender didn't stand a chance. Afiko easily redirected the pieces back at Mori. They dug into the boy, killing him. His body fell to the floor next to Tamaki's. Both of them were bleeding heavily.
Afiko laughed again. "Now you see that I have more power than the Avatar did. My soldiers killed him. He didn't stand a chance."
The two soldiers shared nervous glances, as if they hadn't yet told Afiko bad news. I didn't know what that meant, but I didn't care. I had never felt such rage in my life. It consumed all my thoughts. I prepared to charge at Afiko, in hopes that I could at least injure him before he or his soldiers killed me. I needed to do something to him. If I did, that would be the end of my life, but I needed to do something to that...that monster.
Suddenly, a calm sense overtook me. I felt as if I couldn't do that, for I would die. I could not die now, because my purpose in life was not yet fulfilled. My duty was not carried out.
But I had not come to this realization by myself. Some unknown presence had helped me. I felt something with me, a guiding hand, making sure I do what I am meant to do. A spirit? Maybe. Gyatso, perhaps? Who knows?
"Maybe the Avatar was killed, but he will return, in a new body," I reminded him calmly.
"Even so, something will stop you. I am sure of it."
He growled, and blew a strong wind at me. I dug my feet into the ground and withstood the blast. I felt my earth chakra grow heavy, and let the energy flow there, weighing me down. I was not moving.
Afiko stopped and stared at me with surprise. "For not being a bender, your abilities are...surprising. But they are insignificant compared to the Fire Nation's."
I snapped off a branch of the plant behind me. It was a bacui berry bush. I flung the branch at the soldiers and Afiko. On impact the berries detached themselves from the branch, bouncing everywhere. Taking advantage of their surprise, I dove toward them, rolled through the three of them, and jumped up, already running down the steps. I heard the soldiers starting to run after me, but then they stopped. Afiko must have halted them. He had no reason to attack me, I was no threat. I heard the treacherous airbender laugh at me from the top of the steps.
As I reached the bottom, I realized what I had to do. I didn't think about it, I just did it, as if I was being guided by a spirit once more. The presence was telling me to leave Taku. I ran out of the city, ducking and dodging as firebenders attacked me. My movements were being guided. I was not hurt at all.
I left the city in tears. The presence left me, and I was alone. I continued running toward the swamp. I did not know what I would do there, I just needed to get away. I had left Mori and Tamaki in the burning city. I had run away, to save myself. The reason of the spirit was gone, and I did not agree with what I had thought before. I should have stayed with my people and...be killed? Yes. I couldn't let it happen to them as I ran selfishly away. I couldn't believe what I had done. I was ashamed.
- The identity of the spirit that helped Pathik will not be revealed in the remaining two chapters of Pathik's Story.
|Gyatso • Aang • Genocide • Wandering • Vision|
|Pakku • Departure • Ends|
|The Slide • Earthbending • The Order|
|Creation of the Elements|
|To be created|
|Team Avatar's Story|
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