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|Behold the North Pole|
February 8th, 2013
Aang slowly opened his eyes, his head pounding from the strain he had experienced.
"Slowly young one," Gyatso said as Aang sat up.
"Where are we?"
"We have reached Omashu. The pirates fled shortly after you defeated them. The people of Kyoshi watched over you while I searched the island for them but I was unsuccessful in my efforts. In the morning we loaded you on Appa and flew here immediately."
Sure enough Aang could see the sharp incline of the city of Omashu through a small window next to his bed. Their great delivery system as busy as ever, carts and packages flying all over the city by way of Earthbending.
"We cannot stay long Aang, the North Pole waits. Meet me back here a midday and we will continue on, we should reach the Northern Tribe in two days since Appa is fully rested."
"Great! I can go visit Bumi!"
"Yes, visit your friend."
Aang leapt up and ran out of the room. If he knew Bumi, he would be in the large room filled with many gadgets and rock candy, Bumi was very fond of rock candy. Aang had tried to eat the stuff once but very nearly broke his jaw on the first bite; it must be an Earthbender treat. Aang arrived at the room where Bumi spent most of his time scheming of new ways to have fun. Before he could knock the stone door flew open and cackle issued from inside.
"Come in Aang! I felt the pitter patter of your feet from quite a distance."
A huge smile broke out on Aang's face, Bumi was also very talented. It was no doubt that he would be a legendary Earthbender one day and achieve great things.
"To what do I owe this visit?"
Aang explained what he was doing in Omashu. Bumi looked at him and shrugged. "Sounds boring, playing with Firebender pirates. They always want to ruin fun and scorch things."
"So Bumi, what are you working on?"
"Nothing special, trying to create a new type of rock candy that will dance on your tongue."
"Fizzle! Pop! Anyway you want to describe it!"
"I think I can help with that Bumi. Bend that piece into any shape." Bumi did as Aang said while the Airbender blew a gentle gust of air at the candy. Aang had Bumi continuously morphed the candy until several small air bubbled where trapped inside.
"Now try it."
The Earthbender took a crunching bite, chewed for a bit and a huge smile broke out on his face.
"So that's what I was missing! Airbending!"
For the next couple of hours the two made massive amounts of the new candy. Bumi was ecstatic about the whole thing but Aang noticed it was nearing midday.
"Bumi, I have to be going soon to continue my Avatar training. What say we take a ride on the delivery system?"
"Excellent. I can deliver some of this new rock candy on our way."
A while later Aang realized Bumi wasn't making a delivery to anywhere specific, he was just tossing the candy over the side of the cart they had jumped on. Some things Aang would never understand about his friend. What he did understand though is they both loved flying up and down the curves of the chutes that went all over Omashu. They could easily control the speed with a combination of Earth and Air. It was funny how elemental opposites worked so well with each other. Unfortunately their ride had to end.
"Farewell Aang. We will see each other again."
"You know it Bumi!"
Bumi snorted and walked away chewing on more candy while Aang went to meet Gyatso. He found the Elder meditating in the same spot he left him.
"Have fun with your friend Aang?" Gyatso said softly without opening his eyes. Aang nodded and began packing their few things. Appa was nearby and the two Airbenders climbed into his saddle.
"I believe it is time for another lesson Aang," Gyatso said once they were in the air, Omashu quickly growing smaller behind them.
"Is it another...lethal technique..?"
"It can be. This one is more about technique and self defense."
Aang nodded, "I'm ready."
"I am going to show you how those Firebenders were able to defeat me. This will be a major skill for you as the Avatar. With this technique you could incapacitate any enemies without so much as bending even a drop of water. It is called chi-blocking.."
Aang remembered seeing a couple of the men quickly jab Gyatso in his arm, effectively disabling the Airbending Master.
"How does that work?"
"They struck my pressure points throughout my arm. One quick, well placed jab is all it takes to prevent me from bending since the chi flowing through my arm would be blocked. If they jab hard enough my arm is temporarily paralyzed. This can only be lethal if you strike hard enough at the base of the neck, which I do not recommend."
"How are we going to train for this?"
"We will have to spar with each other. First I shall jab you just enough to show the effects and then how to counter someone from chi-blocking."
"If there is a counter move then why didn't you counter it?"
"They caught me off guard; I was more concerned with your well being."
The training began and was pretty brutal for Aang. Gyatso leapt at him so quickly Aang didn't realize his arm had gone numb until Gyatso sat cross-legged in front of him again.
"Now hit me with your most powerful Air Blast."
Aang went to do as told but his arm would not respond.
"The paralysis should wear off in about 5 minutes. Now come, I will show you all of the major pressure points targeted in chi blocking."
They flew for the rest of the day, discussing all of the advantages and disadvantage of chi blocking. It took Aang several hours but he was finally able to disable one of Gyatso's arms. Unfortunately Aang was also covered in several small bruises and his arms were slightly tingling from Gyatso countering his every move.
"Well done Aang. We will practice every other day until you can effectively bring me down as though I was going to take your life."
"I don't want to harm you Gyatso."
"Do not fear Aang, I have taken much more punishment in my life time."
Aang could only imagine what kind of adventures Gyatso had gone on in his past, most of them making him the living legend he now was. There was a considerable drop in temperature the further North they traveled, it was dropping even faster now that the sun was lowering. It wasn't long before the Earth Kingdom itself disappeared and they flew once again over open ocean with icebergs dotting the horizon. Aang was going to suggest making camp for the night but Gyatso spoke up first.
"I believe we have reached our destination Aang, quite a bit ahead of schedule. The winds have been kind to your Bison."
"Gyatso...did you ever have a Bison?"
"I did...but my dear Lallaa came down with an illness we could not cure in enough time. She rests peacefully now. But her tales are for another time, behold the Northern Water Tribe."
In the fading sunlight the Tribe glowed a brilliant array of colors. Appa flew slightly faster, eager for a big mound of hay and long earned nap. A loud gong sounded the closer they got, Aang waved to the men posted in a watchtower. A small crowd was gathering in the city square.
The Chief stood at the front and immediately walked up to them, "Welcome Avatar Aang and Elder Monk Gyatso to the Northern Water Tribe!"
Aang opened his mouth to respond but suddenly without warning the Chief with a vicious display of water bending. Barely avoiding a razor sharp icicle, Aang retaliated with a powerful Air Blast but the Chief was very nimble. He slid towards him on an ice ramp, lashing Water Whips at Aang, who was struggling to find his footing in the slippery town square. Thinking quickly Aang sunk his feet into the snow and it created some traction. As the Chief circled him Aang shattered the ramp, sending the man flying headfirst into a snow bank. Laughing he stood up clapping.
"Is that how you greet all guests?" Aang asked the overjoyed man.
Another bellow of laughter, "No, but you are a special guest. I had to test you to see if the message from Luya was true and it was. I see great potential in you but you have much to learn. We will get to that later, for now please join me for dinner."
The two Airbenders boarded a small ship that took them all the way up to the Palace near the back of the city. Appa flew off toward the stables in search of his own dinner. The entire feast was exotic Water Tribes dishes that Aang hadn't even seen in the Southern Tribe. Some of it he passed on due to his vegetarian diet but the rest was fabulous.
Swallowing a large mouthful Aang asked, "So who is going to train me to Master Waterbending?"
"You will find out in the morning. I do have instructions though. Tonight you are to meditate in the Spirit Oasis. Your teacher will come for you there at daybreak."
It sounded simple enough. Aang had to meditate for days in order to earn his tattoos. Something was very intriguing about the Spirit Oasis but also something quite foreboding. Something nagged at the back of Aang's mind, like a warning not to go to the Oasis. He finished his meal, bowed in respect to everyone and had one of the warriors lead him to the Oasis.
After walking through an elaborate archway there was an immediate increase in temperature, allowing Aang to shed his outer layer of clothing. In the center was a small pond in which two fish appeared to happily be circling one another. A small half circle of land jutted out into the pond, Aang chose this spot to meditate. He started by watching the two fish circle endlessly, they seemed to watch him but never stopped their perfect dance. Aang started to feel a little drowsy, the moonlight seemed more intense and he could hear the roar of the ocean clear as day. His tattoos flickered for a moment and then shone bright white. When Aang opened his eyes he was in a strange swampy place. Nearby a monkey was meditating.
"Um, hi? Where am I?"
The primate cocked an eye open and blew a raspberry at him. Aang frowned, knowing he wouldn't get any help. Looking around he shouted, "HELLOOOO" causing the monkey to fall off the stump and holler at him in angry.
Aang ignored him and saw the water near his feet ripple. An image formed that soon turned out to be Roku. The sight of someone familiar made the Avatar smile widely.
"Hello Aang. Time for another lesson."
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