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|"The next day, I was ready to face the world, with a new mind."|
|— I recounted in my logbook.|
March 1, 2015
After arriving in the Misty Palms Oasis, I was challenged to a Pai Showdown by the Grand Lotus himself, Xai Bau. Through the few weeks I have stayed with the Red Lotus, I have learned more about the spirits and their ways. To become a Grand Master, one had to sit the test, to face oneself, before to self-realization.
"The Red Lotus is a secret society, dedicated to bring freedom to the world," Zaheer told me.
"Isn't that the job of the White Lotus?" I asked him.
"That is what they claim they do. But after the Hundred Year War, they began to openly serve the public, becoming glorified butlers and bodyguards, detaching themselves from their true goal. Xai Bau, here, was a former Grand Lotus for the other order, but realized that the group was too corrupted, so he began this new one in secret," Zaheer explained.
Xai Bau stood there, and nodded towards me. "They now became nothing but humble servants to the Avatar. We are now fulfilling their original goal, to restore balance, and bring freedom to the world," Xai Bau told us.
"Spirits and men should live amongst each other in harmony. The idea of having the two separate worlds is as foolish as having the press of government in place," Zaheer added.
My dad was the authority of the our Tribe. It felt contradictory to agree with this philosophy, but I really think the two of them are right. In school, the other students felt lowly compared to me, but they shouldn't. We were all one and the same, people. People shouldn't really be viewed as higher or lower in society, the ideal behind that was ridiculous. Through the next few days, we learnt so much about Raava and Vaatu from Xai Bau. Now, our final test to be a true Red Lotus member: To enter the Spirit World. Thousands of years back, a White Lotus member, Liang, found a way to travel to the Spirit World; by detaching one's soul from the physical world. Only the true members of the White Lotus could do it. Iroh of the Fire Nation was the last member who had that ability. Zaheer and I were the first members of the Red Lotus to attempt this. However, Xai Bau won't be there to help us. P'Li on the other hand, got the invitation to join the Red Lotus, but can't be a true lotus yet.
"Are you ready?" Zaheer asked.
"Definitely, I will do whatever it takes to be a Grand Lotus," I told him.
"You two must meet me in the Grove of the Past. Then, the two of you will find and meet me at the grove. I will be there waiting for you," Xai Bau told us.
Quickly after he told us, he entered into the Spirit World by himself in a matter of seconds. Zaheer and I sat around the candles that burned a small bright orange flame. The ringing of bells made the area so tranquil, and spiritual. The two of us then sat around the fire and closed our eyes. I held my breath in and, before I knew it, I had entered the Spirit World.
"Wow! I can't imagine my eyes," I said. "Zaheer? Where are you?" I called out. I then tempted myself not to travel back to the physical world to find him, as one of Xai Bau echoes in my ears:
"Expect the unexpected, and accept the reality. In the Spirit World, one may not always start strong, but a mentally strong one will get there... eventually."
I then wandered around the Spirit World. I was at the spirit portals, near the Tree of Time. I met Vaatu and heard his words. He wasn't as bad as I have expected. The Spirit World had offered the luxuries of running spring waters and clean forests. The air was clear, and the water was clean. It's hard to find any of these amenities anywhere. Spirits in the Spirit World were much friendlier than the ones I have heard about from other humans.
"Hey, bear spirit, could you guide me to the Grove of Past?" I asked the bear.
"Hop on, and we'll be there in ten," the bear said nicely.
So he ran, surprisingly quickly for a bear, and we got there in ten. There, I saw Xai Bau waiting for me.
"Welcome to the Spirit World. I could feel your energy around here nearby, but Zaheer hasn't showed up yet. However, he has successfully entered the Spirit World, but is still lost as we speak," Xai Bau said.
So the two of us, sat there waiting until sun down, still no sign of Zaheer.
"Did you know that parallel to this grove in the physical world was the place where Raava and Vaatu fought for the world's fate nearly ten thousand years ago? Many animals used to live here, in the physical world, but they all left because of the havoc caused by Raava and Vaatu during their battle near the second Harmonic Convergence. This grove was then deserted, until I stumbled upon it," Xai Bau said.
"That's a great story, but this doesn't explain why you want me to meet you here? Knowing you, you wouldn't get me to meet you at some random location in the Spirit World," I told Xai Bau.
"The reason why I brought you here is because this is our secret meeting location in the Spirit World. Zaheer needs to find us here, and find whom he truly is, what his ideals are." Xai Bau told me. "This was where many Grand Lotuses would meet up, but now, they have no knowledge of this location, or knowledge on how to travel in and out of the Spirit World, since they have dispersed, and opened themselves up, becoming low," Xai Bau added.
The White Lotus used to be mentors for many great Avatars, including the famous Guru Laghima, a man Zaheer looked up to highly. Airbenders used to have the ability to transport their spirit to another location, just by meditating, now all that knowledge is lost. We travelled to see a good friend of Xai Bau, Iroh, of the Fire Nation. We travelled through a dense forest, until we reached the bottom of Hai-Riyo Peak, which was where Iroh's teashop was.
"Master," Xai Bau said, before he bowed his head in respect.
"Well, if it isn't Xai Bau. I haven't seen you in awhile. From the last I remembered, you haven't mastered the ability to enter, and roam the Spirit World, but your training has come a long way," Iroh told Xai Bau.
"It was all because of your help," Xai Bau told him.
"Now, I sense that your friend has arrived at the Grove of the Past, go and see him. Don't keep him waiting," Iroh told the former.
"I won't, master." Xai Bau ran along with me.
"Wait! Let's get the dragon bunny spirits," I suggested.
"Good ideas, Unalaq. They're the friendliest around here," Xai Bau replied.
As soon as Xai Bau called them for assistance, we got a nice tour of the Spirit World, including Wan Shi Tong's Library, and the Fog of Lost Souls. Xai Bau told me that the few people in our world, who have done the spirits harm ends up in there.
"Thank you, dragon bunny spirit," I told the dragon bunny spirit. "Zaheer, you've found the Grove of the Past. Where have you been?" I told him.
"I was searching for you. I though you were lost," Zaheer told me.
"Now that both of you are here, I would like to officially congratulate the two of you upon becoming the new Grand Lotus of the Red Lotus. We must spread our philosophy, but remain secret at the same time. I entrust the leadership of this group to the both of you. My time has come," Xai Bau told us.
He just disappeared. "Xai Bau!" I called him. The two of us then returned to the physical world.
"Xai Bau?" Zaheer said.
"It's no use. Xai Bau has left his body in the physical world, and now lives in the Spirit World. Now, it's up to us," I told Zaheer.
"What are you two talking about, what's going on?" P'Li asked the two of us.
"Our master has just found his true self, ready to depart our world. Now, Unalaq and I must bring freedom into this world. We must make sure Xai Bau's teachings live on," Zaheer told P'Li.
"You've saved my life. Now, I want to save something you fight for," P'Li told Zaheer.
"Thank you," Zaheer said.
"Now, shall we play a game of Pai Sho?" I asked P'Li.
She readily smiled, and accepted the offer.
"The first move goes to the guest," I told her, as if Xai Bau would have.
She then plays the lotus tile in the centre of her side of the board.
"I see you are beginning to learn the old ways. It's old, no one uses it, why would you?" I asked her.
"Because I will find a friend," P'Li told me.
The two of us carried on placing tile over tile, corresponding with each other to create a lotus tile.
"Welcome to the Order," I told her.
"Thank you, Unalaq. I wouldn't have made it, if it weren't for Zaheer saving me, and Aiwei over there, playing a few games with me, before teaching me while you two were in the Spirit World," she told the both of us.
"If we haven't met yet, my name is Aiwei," he told me.
"Nice to meet you. So, you are a member of the secret society?" I questioned the elder.
"Of course I am. I was one of the first members, along with Zaheer," Aiwei told me.
"Now the truth should be told. Xai Bau has passed, and now it is up to us to keep his wisdom alive. We will bring freedom to this world, in this lifetime. The Avatar is growing old, and a new incarnation will be reborn sooner or later," Zaheer declared.
"As much as I am enjoying this tea party, I would like to thank you, Zaheer, for allowing me to learn about the ways of the Red Lotus. I have also come to realize that I must learn about the world. So I have decided to travel to the Fire Nation, to live among the people there, and learn their ways. I am a sworn member to the group and always will be. To the world's freedom, I fight for," I told the group.
"How soon are you going to be leaving?" Aiwei asked.
"Tomorrow morning, and I will need a good night's rest, so I'll call it a day here," I told them before yawning gracefully.
That was one of the most life changing moves I had ever done in this lifetime. I knew I needed to learn more about people, their desires, but most importantly, I must learn about myself through this long journey ahead. This was no easy sleep, but it was surely a good one. The next day, I was ready to face the world, with a new mind.
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