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|The Spirits' Advice, Part 2: He Who Knows Ten Thousand and One Things|
January 31, 2011
Appa touches down on Whale Tail Island while Aang and Katara visit Wan Shi Tong on their search for a way to return to the mortal world...
Book 2 Chapter 10: The Spirits' Advice, Part 2: He Who Knows Ten Thousand And One Things
"Aang, slow down!" Katara stumbled through ankle deep mud as she fought to keep up with him. "Do you even know where you're going?"
"That monkey said that it's right over here!" Aang said, turning around and bowing to a furry sloth-monkey hanging lazily from a large stubby tree branch.
The two of them finally reached the edge of the dense forest and were delighted to see thin beams of light breaking through the trees. Katara leapt from the mud and burst out into the open air, closely followed by Aang. In front of them was a great archway, beyond which was the largest building that either of them had ever seen. It had massive towers stretching toward the sky, and spread out in all directions toward the horizon.
"Whoa," said Katara. She gaped open mouthed at the impressive architecture and the sheer magnitude of the building. "What is this place?"
"This," said Aang, "is Wan Shi Tong's library."
After a full night of nonstop flying, Iroh pointed at a speck on the edge of the broad, multicolored dawn horizon. The object grew steadily larger until they could all tell that it was indeed Whale Tail Island. And true to its name the island jutted out of the otherwise unobstructed blue ocean in the distinctive shape of a whale's tail.
"Looks like the tail of a lion-whale," Suki said.
"Really? I think it looks more like the tail of a beaver-whale," Sokka concluded.
"I don't think it looks like a tail at all!" Toph cheered. Suki and Sokka both raised their fists in protest until they realized that Toph couldn't see at all. They sat back down on Appa, angry that Toph had tricked them with this same ruse yet again.
When they touched down, Toph was the first one to land on the solid ground. "Hey," she said slyly. "It does look like a whale tail."
"After he buried the library in the Shi Wong desert," Aang explained to Katara, "he realized that rather than bury his library so that no one could use it, he would simply bring it back here, to the Spirit World, so that the spirits could still use it to study and learn. It was the ten thousand and first thing that he learned." Aang smiled, but Katara was too entranced with the building to notice. They passed through the giant archway into the front courtyard and then clambered hurriedly up a large staircase to the largest arched doorway that either of them had ever seen. Last time they had been to this library, they had had to climb in through the window of the tallest spire. Now, with the entire library uncovered, they could only barely glimpse that spire at the very highest point of the building.
As soon as they entered the library, the doors slammed shut behind them and a burst of wind rushed past them, the giant owl that caused it settling in front of them and demanding to know their business in the library. Aang explained that he was the Avatar and Katara was simply accompanying him, and that they needed to use the library to research the relationship between the Spirit World and the mortal world. He hoped if he could find out more about it, he might be able to figure out how he could undo his death and return to Earth.
"What a foolish idea," spat Wan Shi Tong. The spirit ruffled its feathers and continued, "Death is irreversible. No once-living spirit can return to life after it has gone."
"But what about the moon and ocean spirits?" Aang pleaded. "They gave up their immortal spirit forms and now they live with the living!"
"For an Avatar, you're not very bright."
Every time the owl's beak moved Aang got more and more angry, though he forced himself to bite his tongue.
"The moon and ocean spirits were never living beings," the owl explained. "A spirit may not return to life unless it never had life to begin with. As for the moon spirit," Aang thought he spotted a glint of disgust in the owl's eye but it was masked in an instant, "Tui cheated the odds by giving life to that Water Tribe girl. When a spirit dies in the mortal world it should not be granted a second chance at life. But those were...special circumstances."
"But how can I get back to Earth?" Aang cried. "You don't understand. If I don't find a way back, then not only the Earth will be affected. It will throw everything out of balance. Including the Spirit World."
"You humans always were the cause of all of our problems, weren't you?" the owl croaked. "This is why I moved my library here. So that no more pesky humans would run their corruptive fingers along the spines of my books. If you'll excuse me, that is a rule I intend to enforce." Wan Shi Tong's neck began to extend as if the owl was threatening to peck its giant beak at Katara.
"Okay, okay!" Aang exclaimed, stepping in front of Katara and sticking his arms out in her defense. "Just one last question. Maybe I can't get back, but Katara still has her life. How do I get her back to the mortal world?"
"Simple," said Wan Shi Tong. "You've done it before..." With that the owl beckoned them out and slammed the library's doors in their faces. By the time they had reached the bottom of the staircase Aang realized the answer.
"Of course! I can send you back the same way that I sent Sokka!"
"Aang, wait!" Katara ran and embraced him. She squeezed him tight and he hugged her firmly back.
"This won't be forever, Katara," he said. "I promise. I'll find a way back." With that, Aang opened his mouth and emitted a thin thread of blue light that spread itself around Katara. In a flash she was gone, floundering once again through nothingness on her way back her mortal body. Aang turned away and began to walk. There had to be a way back, there just had to be. And when he found out what it was, he would return here and tell Wan Shi Tong personally. And that would be the ten thousand and second piece of knowledge that the great mystical owl could add to its collection.
And that concludes Book 2! Stay tuned for some epic battles, heart-wrenching drama, and more Spirit World shenanigans in Book 3!! (Trust me, it's the best book by far.)
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