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Pathik reflects on the time he spent as a hermit living in the Northern Mountains of the Earth Kingdom, near the Northern Air Temple. After a short while, he realizes he doesn't belong there, alone and sad. He travels to Ba Sing Se, to begin a new life. After he lives there for many years, the Dragon of the West attacks the walled city.
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I watched as my hands picked the tasteless berries from the small bush. I didn’t think about what I was doing, I just did it. I wasn’t thinking anything. Only an occasional, echo of a thought would swirl through my mind from time to time, but I let it drift away. I finished picking the berries and continued walking along the mountain path. I stopped at the next bush and took as many berries as I could. This was my life. It had been my life. It would be my life. An empty shell walking along, stopping occasionally, then continuing on. A part of me, a very small part, was still…alive. It was telling me to release those thoughts and continue with my life. But I could not. I felt as if there was something blocking those thoughts, something in the way. I ignored this part of me.
I would wake up in the morning in the cave which I had made my home, drink some water collected in my barrel, and walk outside to collect food, such as the berries. I would eat this food, then go down to the snowmelt river and collect some water. I would walk back to my cave, pour the water in my barrel for the next day, and go to sleep.
This was my life. It had been my life. It would always be my life.
This continued for many years. My conscious self was blocked by some kind of…gunk. I could not entirely control my actions. Yet I felt no need to escape. I could not think about what had happened. What I had done.
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I watched as my hands held the bucket in the river as the sun sunk closer the horizon, hiding behind the Air Temple on the neighboring mountain as if it were ashamed to show itself. When the bucket was full, I stood up and my legs began to walk toward my cave.
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I watched as my hands carried the basket to my cave. I tried to taste the berries as I put them in my mouth. But I tasted nothing.
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I watched as the people walked up the sides of the mountain toward the Northern Air Temple. I looked at them with little interest. Then, I suddenly felt the same presence I had nearly a century ago. What are they doing that for? I thought. Are they Fire Nation soldiers? Attacking the Air Temple? No, why would they do that? They have no reason to do that, the Nomads are all killed.
It was then that I realized two things. One: These people must have been refugees from the war, fleeing from the Fire Nation, looking for a home. Two: I had just thought. I had somehow, without even noticing myself, escaped the gunk. Perhaps the unknown presence had helped me.
I had to get out of this pit of a life I was leading. At that moment, aided by the presence, I decided to travel to Ba Sing Se.
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“Welcome to Ping’s Place, I will be your waiter tonight! How may I help you?” I asked a couple as I neared their table.
“I’ll have some green tea, please,” the woman said.
“Of course,” I answered, writing it down on a small pad. “And for you?” I asked the man.
“Yes, I’d like Lychee, thank you.”
“Alright, your beverages should be here in just a few moments.”
“Swamped?” I asked her as I passed.
She gave me a look as if to say What does it look like?
Usami was my best friend here. She was already working at Ping’s Place when I arrived in the capital. She taught me everything I knew, and I learned off of that. I eventually surpassed her in good, fast…I don’t know, waiterness? But we were still the best of friends; I told her stories about living with the Air Nomads, and she told me about her cousins in a small village called Gaipan.
I walked into the kitchen and called out to the brewer, “Lychee and Green!”
Dao, the brewer, grunted in response as he took a teapot off the stove and poured another into a cup at the same time. Dao was a burly man, not someone you would expect to be working as a brewer. But he did, and he did a great job.
After arriving in Ba Sing Se, I worked as a waiter in the lower ring. After a man named Ping stopped by and saw me working, he asked if I would work in his restaurant. I quickly agreed, and I was granted an apartment in the middle ring. Me, a one hundred and thirty-nine year-old man! I enjoyed my new job, I loved the people there, and I wished it would never end.
I remembered the gunk that had stopped me from thinking when I was living in the mountains. I could still feel it there, like some kind of sticky, disgusting seaweed. I hoped I would figure out what it was, and find someone who could teach me how to clear it away.
I didn’t want to think about the Battle of Taku. I didn’t want to remember what had happened to Mori, Tamaki, and Hebi. I couldn’t accept that that had happened, so I blocked it from my mind. I told Usami that I had straight to the mountains after living in the Air Temple.
Usami rushed back into the hectic kitchen and took the cup Dao had poured tea into. She rushed back outside with the cup. I wasn’t rushed. I was completely in control, knew what I was doing, and I loved it. I walked out of the kitchen to my next table.
“Welcome to Ping’s Place, I will be your waiter tonight!”
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“You should leave, stranger.”
I woke up panting. I was having the nightmare again. But it wasn’t the dream that had woke me up. I was grateful that I heard a loud banging noise. Once I realized what it was, however, I was definitely not grateful. It was the city-wide alarm! Ba Sing Se was under attack!
I ran as fast as I could toward the inner wall, against the panicking crowd. Everyone else was heading toward the palace, which was protected by countless guards. The alarm wouldn’t have sounded if the second wall wasn’t broken, so somehow, whoever was attacking had managed to do so. They had found a way to break through the outer wall, then charge all the way to the inner. It was miraculous, for them.
The Dai Li ran across the rooftops, rushing to meet the attackers. I did as well, though I used the streets. I wasn’t sure why I followed them. I couldn’t do anything. I wasn’t a bender, and I didn’t know how to fight. But I felt the presence again. That mysterious, reappearing spirit that made my decisions for me. I thought it must be telling me to do what’s right.
The crowd started the thin, and it became easier for me to run through.
“Pathik!” a voice yelled. “What are you doing, we need to get the palace!”
I looked in the direction of the voice. It was Usami, moving with everyone else.
“I…I know, I just feel as if…as if I need to do this,” I said unconvincingly. I couldn’t tell her about the presence, she would think I was crazy, but I needed to do what the spirit wanted me to.
Usami raised an eyebrow.
“I know it sounds strange but…”
“Pathik, all citizens need to get inside the palace.”
I sighed. “Alright.”
We followed the crowd. I walked a little faster, and she did too, keeping pace. I ran into the center of the crowd, ducked down, and ran to the left.
“Pathik? Pathik, where did you go?” I heard her cry. It pained me to leave her, but I felt the spirit’s hand leading me toward the outer wall.
I ran away from the pack of civilians and in the direction the agents had. They were too far away by now. They were much too fast for an old man. After getting sufficiently far enough away from the crowd and Usami, I slowed down and panted. After a few seconds, a sword slid around me, in front of my neck. Apparently, someone had made their way past the Dai Li without them noticing, and I was about to pay the price.
“Which way to the Palace?” he demanded. I didn’t speak. “Which way to the Palace?” he repeated. I took a deep breath.
“Directly behind you,” I told him. “It is at the center of the city.”
“Thank you,” he replied, and let me go. He ran back toward the wall. I chased after him.
“Agents! Agents!” I yelled in the direction the Dai Li had gone. “There’s an intruder here!”
The man’s eyes widened. He glared at me while he crouched into a defensive stance. I knew he stood no chance against the countless Dai Li agents. He would be taken prisoner easily.
Two agents appeared from the ground itself. The man punched a fireball at one and swung his sword at the other. A rock wall and a stone gauntlet blocked these attacks effortlessly. After a few more blows, the man was in a desperate situation.
Suddenly, without warning, two more agents leapt toward the man from the rooftops. They made a pulling motion toward the ground, opening a wide chasm. The man jumped to the side, but was attacked by the original two agents. They pushed him coldly. As he fell, the chasm snapped shut.
I stood there in shock. They had killed the man, crushed him. If I hadn’t alerted them of his presence, would he have made it back to his camp? If he had made it past the Dai Li once, he could probably have done it again. The man was killed…because of me. I was a killer.
The chasm opened once again, and the agents retrieved the man’s crushed body. I looked away. The Dai Li didn’t seem to notice me as they inspected his uniform.
“This man was definitely high-ranking,” one of the agents said to the other three. “Just look at his armor. It’s trimmed with gold.”
“Does he have a name on him?” another agent asked.
I heard a boot being removed from a crushed foot.
“Yes, there’s a name on the boot. It says…it’s a little hard to read…Lu Ten.”
I couldn’t think anything but I have killed someone. I have killed someone. I have killed someone. The spirit was wrong. I shouldn’t have come here. I have killed someone. I have…killed someone…have…killed…
I felt my consciousness slip away as the words rang insistently in my head.
I have killed someone…
I fell to the ground. I heard the agents run away toward the battle. They had forgotten about me in the excitement of it all.
I sensed the beginning of a dream as my eyes closed. I hoped it wasn’t the nightmare.
I have killed someone…
- This chapter explains Lu Ten's death.
- expected this to be the longest chapter of Pathik's Story, though it wound up being the shortest. However, it spans by far the most amount of time, 94 years.
|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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