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The sixteenth chapter of
September 7, 2010
The first Avatar visits Leah in a last ditch attempt to convince her not to escape.
After her miraculous revelation, her final three days flew by. Before Leah knew it, the BDA were arriving at her hotel and escorting her back to Uluru in chains. The sight of the glass walls and the smell of ready gunpowder almost brought Leah to tears, but her new ability and the possibility of a shorter stay here kept her from losing it.
Her friends welcomed her back with open arms, wondering how her "vacation" went. Leah told everyone that it was wonderful and she couldn't wait for the next one. The decision to keep her new ability a secret was to avoid unwelcome ears hearing of it.
Leah continued her waterbending training, trying to pry more details out of Rose about the other techniques she was hiding, but she was firm in her reasons. Airbending training went better suddenly, since Leah's trip to Alice Springs taught her what it went to have inner peace, albeit for a short time.
"Air is an unchaging thing. The other elements allow you to change them, to freeze, melt, solidfy, etc. Not air. Air is all around us, yet it is a stubborn element, not allowing you to do anything but manipulate it. But at the same time, air is the most free of the four elements, constantly changing and shifting. Are you with me so far?"
"Huh?" Leah asked, coming out of a stupor.
"Leah, what's wrong? You've been like this ever since you got back. Is there something you need to talk about?"
"No, it's just.."
"You miss the open air." Adrian completed.
"Yes. I miss being so close to a normal life again, only to have it snatched up by the same people. It's cruel."
"I understand where you're coming from. I look old, but I've only been here about 15 years. I've been let out twice, and I can tell you it's extrememly wrong to only have a taste of a free life, only to quickly be brought back here."
"Yes, it's just wrong. What are they thinking?"
"The BDA mean well. They only exist for other "normal" people to live a free, normal life. Their intentions are good, as are the conditions they treat us with, however their methods of persuasion are a bit harsher than I'd agree with."
"Like shooting you for bending in your cell. Or constantly watching you. That's the one thing I miss from before. Privacy. Sure, the dressing and bathrooms are private, but for once I'd just like to know that no one's watching me sleep, eat, read, just watching my live."
"Your intentions are familiar. When I first came here, Rose, who's been here longer than any of us, told me about Bracken, the first Avatar."
"Then who was second?"
"Joel, and then you. You are the third Avatar."
"There's only been three Avatars?"
"Yes. Benders have been around since beginningless time, but the Avatar only showed up about 85 years ago."
"Then how did Bracken know he was an Avatar?"
"I think he would rather tell you."
"That's not possible, he's long gone, or else I wouldn't be here." Leah explained, confused.
"Leah, don't tell me you don't believe in ghosts?"
"I don't, and certainly not all the 'Ghost Whisperer' nonsense."
"I'm no ghost whisperer, but airbending requires meditation to gain enlightenment from the energy flowing all around you. Last week before you came back, a spirit introducing himself as Avatar Bracken contacted me. He wishes to speak with you."
"But how do I talk to him? I'm no master at meditation."
"Rose told me that at the solstices, Bracken used to be able to hear things, see things that we couldn't. We assume it's some sort of connection to the afterlife that's strong on the solstice, but it is worth a shot. The winter solstice is in two days."
"But how do I contact him? Just wait for a voice to appear?"
"Get into this stance," Adrian explained, sitting down and crossing his legs. "Then put your fists together and close your eyes. With all luck, you should be able to speak with him."
Two days later, after asking the Enforcers if it was okay, she sat down in her cell, waiting in the stance Adrian showed her. Adrian had advised her to clear her mind, listening for a distant answer. But things just keep flooding into her mind: "What's for dinner?" "Itch, must not scratch." "Man, I look stupid in this stance."
Just as Leah began to quit out of pure frustration, she felt the slightly familiar glow return to her eyes, and she felt lifted out of her cell, up into a land of clouds. Sitting opposite her, was a gruffy looking man, bald but with a beard. His eyes impressed her, fierce, unyielding, but also with a small broken look to them.
"Hello Leah. I'm glad you figured out the way, and that Rose was able to help. I am Avatar Bracken."
"Umm, hello. I'm 'Avatar' Leah. So...what is it that you need?"
"Why yes, yes there is. I understand that you are trying to escape."
"How'd you know?"
"Leah, I'm dead. I'm pretty sure that I'm not limited by earthly attachments. I must credit you on your discovery. Glassbending never occured to me."
"Well, thank you. Why are you advising me against escaping. Surely, if you've seen the things you have, everyone else here has already tried, and failed. Nothing any of them could do or say can convince me against my intent."
"I understand that. You've heard fears, stories, attempts. Have you ever heard mine? I'm sure Rose hasn't told you, as she is the only one who witnessed it and it hurt her deeply."
"Why? What happened?"
"YOU escaped? How? What did you do?"
"Hold off Leah, let me start at the beginning. I originally was brought here as an earthbender at the start of the first world war. I stayed here for several years, angry at the BDA, for they had taken me from the very heat of battle. My own battlion thought that I had deserted and had been killed in the attempt. Very dishonorable and shameful. One night, in the heat of my anger, lying down in bed, a peculiar feeling came over me."
"Like what feeling?"
"A feeling of sudden power rushing into me, but it felt unwhole, broken and twisted. It was a jarring experience, as I was incapacitated for several days afterwards. When I finally came to, I practiced normal boxing moves, and a rush of air went out from my fist."
"You could suddenly airbend?"
"Yes, and to my amazement, water and firebending as well. I felt great. The power of the four elements at the tip of my fingers. Nothing would be able to stop me. I was already a master of earthbending, and the prison back then was made of metal. I bended my way out of my cell, and fought my way outside the compound. None of the Enforcers or devices could stop me. But then the Leader showed up."
"And what happened?"
"He was suprised at my sudden abilities but confident that he could strike me down nonethe less. We fought for what felt like hours. The best of my abilities were completely matched to his own. He originally fought with firebending, but with a surprise, deceitful move, came off as an earthbender be sinking me into the earth. Taking advantage of my wounds and my trapped position, he conjured lightning and struck my heart."
Bracken opened his ghostly shirt, revealing a nasty burn, frozen forever in its deathly image.
"He killed you. But how does he bend two elements?"
"I have some idea, but I need more proof before I tell you my idea."
"So, not that your story didn't come off as helpful, I still don't get why you called me here."
"Even though you have this great, and inventive new power, it may not be enough. You've only just mastered earthbending, with only slight progress in the other three elements. Your friends aren't trying to keep you here because of their own insecurities and stories. They're trying to advise and help you because they care about you and they don't want to see something to happen to you."
"But what about you, you barely know me."
"Leah, you exist to the world as a hidden hope. Almost all of the colonies have been captured or destroyed. Another Avatar born into the world would only alert the BDA to the remaining colonies. I don't want to see another innocent person die because of their feelings towards the BDA. I want you to stay. I'm not asking you to take this to heart, but please think about what you are doing before you attempt anything."
- Roses' connection to Bracken will be revealed later in the story
- The author named Bracken after his brother, who later was upset that his character was killed off.
For the collective works of the author, go here.