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|Foreseer of Futures|
26 December, 2014
Sand. The great orange dunes of the Si Wong. A home to some, as the great city of Sha Yao does thrive in these harsh conditions. Though to most, it is a place to die.
For me however, I rather enjoy sinking my feet into the granules beneath, feeling the sensation of the silky yet coarse substance seep in between my toes. It isn't too hot for me, nor does it bring me pain. I am not a human after all.
I climb the crest of the next hill, dressed in my usual golden tunic, adorned with patterns of faint violet. Us spirits can be far too boring sometimes, never changing our appearance and such. The sun was high and I held my arm up to shield the bright rays from my eyes. I wouldn't need to traverse the seas of sand for much longer, as my destination was in sight.
The stone spires of the tall and elegant building lay ahead. I smiled. It had been a long time since I had seen my old friend, and he had invited me for tea whilst I was in the Spirit World. It was also a long time since I had been anywhere else in the material world other than my own cave. Alas, there were times when I would inhabit cities, and then a mountain where any who climbed would receive what I offered. But now I settled for an even more isolated area, a cave as such, which was underneath an area which had a 78% chance of later being renamed, the 'Crystal Catacombs of Old Ba Sing Se'. But seeing as the other events in the founding of the grand city had percentages ranging from 88% to 90%, I suppose it is almost certain that these caves would be named thus.
There are powers and forces that bind the Spirit World and the Material World together, in ways that neither human nor spirit can ever fully understand. Perhaps these forces are destiny, or fate? Love? I had spent many years trying to understand such things, but as I would always find it seems that both worlds are guided by some cosmic energy or force that I would never fully be tapped into. But one thing that I am tapped into is the flow of time of our universe, and for this reason I was only too happy to accept my friend's invitation for tea. I had seen many troubling futures recently regarding his home in the material world.
The next hill I climbed allowed me to gaze onto the full structure before me; The tall stone spires I saw a few hills back now towered above my head, almost blocking the harsh sun. At the base of the middle spire, the tallest of seven, was a large dome which was golden brown in colour. There were four more spires, shorter than the middle one, each descending into their own domes, and to the far ends of the building were two towers, each rising as high as the middle dome. It was truly an elegant building; the intricate designs of the multiple windows and archways, the arrangement of the white-grey bricks which formed the tall spires and edgings which contained swirling patterns engraved in the stone, the golden tiles which adorned the several domes and caught the light rays from the sun, sparkling spectacularly among the orange dunes surrounding the complex. But as anyone who had been inside the building knew, its true beauty was in the knowledge that was kept inside.
I slid my way down the next dune, clutching onto my staff in one hand. My bare feet came to a stop when I reached the base, and I exhaled a satisfied breath. It wasn't long before I felt the wind rushing against me and a trio of single black feathers descending into my vision, that I knew my friend had arrived. The large barn-owl spirit landed before me, sending waves of sand about with his massive wings. He was almost entirely black, with white feathers occupying the area around his face, and two white eye-shapes spots on the back of his head.
A grin forming from my lips, I dipped my head in a bow, "Wan Shi Tong, it is an honor to see you again my good friend." We were close, though it wouldn't be appropriate to greet my friend with a hug simply because he was three times the size of me. Unlike many spirits I took the form of a human, average height, silver hair tied to the back, and small wrinkles indicative of my age, though being a spirit they could not accurately convey how old I was. The only thing that was different between my form and a human were my eyes, which were bright purple in color, a color which humans did not possess.
"Dao, I am honored that you have accepted my invitation for tea," The owl dipped his head as well, and although he could not smile with that beak of his, I imagined from the tone of his voice that he would if he could. "Shall we proceed upstairs? My knowledge seekers are not only good for finding information."
"Certainly," I replied with a nod.
The balcony was bright with the sun bearing down, and the stone a pure white as we left the inside of the library. Wan Shi Tong had brought this library from the Spirit World long ago, in order to benefit humanity with its wisdom. After strolling through the hallways of this grand establishment, my good friend had led us here to a balcony outside with a table set up for two. He was right about those knowledge-seekers being good for more than just seeking information; one of the fox spirits held a teapot in his mouth, the other reached with his front paws on the table, placing a teacup on one side. Wan Shi Tong motioned with a wing for me to take a seat, and with a slight nod I made my way over.
The view was awe-inspiring from up here. The rolling dunes were a relentless orange, bright and vibrant from the sun's glow. The sky a picturesque blue, unspoiled by a single cloud. While many considered these harsh lands a hell on earth, I couldn't help but marvel at its beauty.
My attention turned to the fox spirit pouring tea into my cup, his head at an awkward angle to allow the tantalizing smelling liquid to fill my cup. After the spirit had finished, I brought the cup to my mouth, the steam filling my nostrils until the tea reached my lips. The taste was unreal; never in my years here or in the Spirit World had I ever tasted such a tea. "Mmmm," I hummed, "What did you use in this?"
The owl spirit laughed, "The selection of plants used in tea here in the Material World is pitiful compared to the flora we have in the Spirit World. However, there are some flavors here that are worth tasting. This is a combination of jasmine blossoms and green tea leaves, along with a selection of leaves from the Spirit World flora."
Again I took another sip. "You do not want to taste your work?" I motioned the cup towards Wan Shi Tong.
"We need not food or drink to sustain ourselves. I do not see purpose in indulging in such things, though it is nice to have tea for when guests arrive."
"But isn't it nice to experience what this world has to offer? The tastes, sights, and sounds?" I smiled while looking into the owl's dark eyes.
"I have a duty to this world, Dao. I prefer not to be distracted from my search for knowledge."
"Ah," I replied, afterwards taking another sip. There was a time where I thought exactly like Wan Shi Tong. I too had a duty to this world; to bless humans with the gift of foresight and enlightenment. I had wanted to give hope to those who were hopeless, showing those who were in strife that their sufferings would come to an end. I wanted to enlighten those who sought to know where they came from, or to share with them the ancient histories that were not recorded on paper. But as was proven time and time again, the majority of humans were greedy and violent, seeking nothing but a way to overpower their enemies.
There was a moment of silence before I spoke up, "So, how is your work going then?"
"After the move into the Si Wong almost two thousand years ago I've had to rely more and more on my knowledge seekers to gather information, since there are few who come here now and even fewer who bring new information."
"But the move was worth it?"
Wan Shi Tong paused a moment before answering, sighing loudly, "It is slow. Very few make it here. But I know that it was the right decision. Only those who truly seek wisdom and knowledge will be determined enough to make it here, and those are the people whom I want to benefit. So I guess the Si Wong desert will be my home for the foreseeable future." He quickly chuckled after his last sentence, "Ironic it is that I use such terminology with you my friend. You probably already know how long I will stay here."
I laughed politely, "You know my abilities Wan Shi Tong; very rarely will I see a future that is set in stone, only when my own actions are involved. Otherwise I see possible futures, each of which is expressed as a percentage. I haven't yet seen many possible futures where you leave the Si Wong, and those I have do not have very higher possibilities of occurring." I dared not to tell him about one future I saw, where an Avatar named Aang and his friends would enter the library and anger Wan Shi Tong enough to make him return to the Spirit World with his library. Although it had a low chance of occurring – only 14% from memory – I had learned in my many years of gazing into the future that sometimes, destiny had a sense of humor, and the most unlikely events will sometimes come to pass. It was all about cause and effect; if a certain sequence of events played out, it could alter the percentages of upcoming futures. But there was and still is only one future, one path that destiny has chosen for both worlds to follow. The only reason I saw possible futures was because no man or spirit could ever know exactly what the future holds, and my job bestowed upon me when I was born from the Tree of Time was to guide mankind through visions and dreams, according to the possible futures that I saw.
"Speaking of visions," Wan Shi Tong's voice brought my attention back to the conversation, "How has your work been going? Have you had any more visitors?"
"Hmmm..." I sighed. "The last person to visit me was fourteen years ago, a woman who was thirty-seven years old. Though the other day I created a dream for someone. I had seen that future many years ago now, and of course because my actions were involved it was certain that it would happen." I laughed a little, "I even got to use a projection of the future Moon Spirit, Yue will be her name, seeing as that future is certain to take place as I will also be sending a vision to her father when the time comes." It was a little risky that I had used Yue's projection in Miki's vision, simply because she had not been born yet nor become the Moon Spirit. It would have been safer to just use another being. But I had seen many of the futures surrounding Miki, and the reason I chose to use the future Moon Spirit's form was to give Miki a sense of purpose; that there are forces and powers that drive both worlds, and that Miki was meant for so much more than simply a girl with bloodbending abilities.
"So who did you send this vision to?" The owl spirit cocked his head to the side.
"Oh Wan Shi Tong, you know how you hate it when I spoil the future for you," I joked, sipping up the last drops of tea from my cup. It then prompted the knowledge seeker next to me to refill the cup.
"As I have said before my friend, they call me Wan Shi Tong; he who knows ten thousand things. But I have always said they should name you Dao; he who knows ten thousand more."
I laughed politely, "It's not about how much we know, Wan Shi Tong. We both provide services for the humans, both of us imparting knowledge. We just do it in different ways; you with your library, and me with my cave. But to answer your question, the vision was sent to a young girl who possesses a rare form of waterbending."
"A rare form? What do you mean?" Wan Shi Tong tilted his head again inquisitively.
"A type of waterbending that allows one to move the water in another's body, thereby controlling their movements. It will one day be called 'Bloodbending'. And although this girl has the ability to perform regular waterbending, she has yet to discover her abilities in that area due to a block in her chi pathways."
Wan Shi Tong gasped softly, "That sounds incredible." He motioned a wing to one of the diligent fox servants next to them, "We must record this new bending style."
"Ah ah ah," I held up my hand, shaking my head, "Remember my rules, good friend. Any physical copy of information I give is under my power, and I will have to destroy it." I shrugged, "I can't have paradoxes stacking on top of each other from recorded information that has not yet come to pass. Anything learned from the future must be kept as knowledge and knowledge only."
"Hmmm... I suppose I'll have to wait then," The owl sighed, but it was quickly followed by a laugh. "But how is this girl important?"
"Well," I began, "She will be helping to end the ongoing war between the Northern And Southern Earth Kingdoms. A war with roots which began several generations ago, when the throne of the old Earth Kingdom capitol of Omashu was inherited by twin heirs. But right now, she is searching for the new Avatar with some of her tribesmen." I frowned after my last sentence.
The old owl nodded slowly, "If the Avatar is involved than I'm sure it will work out." A sarcastic snicker from my mouth grabbed Wan Shi Tong's attention, "You do not think so?"
Sighing loudly, I answered the question, "I have never liked the idea of an 'Avatar', nor have any in the past or future that I can see, have brought or will bring about balance to the worlds." I admitted. "All they ever do is bring about more and more imbalance between not only the spirits and humans, but also humans themselves."
"But you cannot forget about how I came here to the Si Wong, Dao. Avatar Shouxi was the one who gave me the idea two thousand years ago to move here, after he stopped the humans who were trying to kill me and take my library from me while it was located in their city."
"They do have their moments I suppose," I shut my eyes briefly. " But my main quarrel with the Avatars is more with what Wan did. Raava and Vaatu are not meant to be separate. Yet now one of them exists inside the Avatar and the other stuck in a tree, thanks to that bumbling fool Wan. I still resent the fact that he defiled my very birth place by turning the Tree of Time into a prison." I formed a scowl as I shared my inner strife. "For there to be true balance and harmony, the light spirit and dark spirit must be together, fighting their eternal fight. For if only Vaatu was around, there would be chaos, and darkness would envelop the world. But if only Raava was present, than how would we know what light is, or appreciate light when there is nothing to compare it too?" I paused to allow my words to sink in, "For there to be true balance Raava and Vaatu must both be present and at war, but after the Avatar's actions that will never happen." I looked up at my friend, and noticed my words making an impact. Though I knew Wan Shi Tong still held optimism for the humans, I had seen some futures where my poor friend's ideals had been withered away by the actions of some. Remembering one of my reasons I came here, I quickly spoke again, "But I'm glad we have met today, not only to discuss this, but also because I have seen a number of possible futures regarding your library."
"You have? Do tell."
"Unfortunately it seems that your library will become the final battle grounds for a war which is unfolding." I answered solemnly.
Wan Shi Tong leaned back from where he sat, "I have killed for my library before, and I am not afraid to do it again. But who is it who threatens us here?"
Sighing loudly, I rubbed my temples gently, "I can't remember all the details. There are few times where the future is clouded, but often in times of war there are so many more variables to consider that can change or be manipulated, and so there are far more possible futures than at any other time," I explained, looking back towards the owl spirit. "But I can see one particular scene where I am standing in the desert, just outside your library. But... I cannot move I... Am somehow stuck, with this warm sensation pulsing around me. And then," I paused to try and recount this future. For me, it wasn't just a future I saw but also a nightmare, which had been haunting me for decades now, "I see that bloodbending girl, Miki. Falling from the sky with another girl. And the armies of Sha Yao and the Southern Earth Kingdom are all around, trying to break into your library with you outside fending them off." I exhaled loudly, realizing that I could not search this future any more for the time being. "It is strange that this future is so clouded, especially since it will come to pass for my own actions are involved. But I can only assume that it will not be good for either of us, my good friend."
"When the time comes, I will be ready. Thank you for telling me."
I nodded, smiling a little. I was still frustrated that my abilities were failing me. But whatever was the case with this future, I knew that one thing was certain; the Spirit of the North would be important to this war unfolding.
- And you all thought SotN was written in third-person ;P I had the idea to have the story told by another person, one who was watching all that went on, after reading a book by Larry Doyle called "Go Mutants" where something similar happens. He did a much better job of transitioning from third to first than I have, but nevertheless it was still fun to try it out myself.
- Originally, Dao's name was made up when I randomly strung six letters together in a two part name, which was, Dao Kal. After doing a wee bit of searching, it turned out that 'Dao' actually means something in Chinese; it is a variant form or 'Tao', and has a few different uses, the most relevant to Dao's character is a noun meaning 'way' or 'road' in the sense of one's journey. Not too sure how reliable my sources were, but I quite like how this definition can relate to Dao's ability to see time as a 'path' or multiple threads when he sees the future.
- Dao is also the narrator of the short introduction from Chapter 1
|Spirit of the North|
|• Chapter 1 - Manirak • Chapter 2 - Memories • Chapter 3 - The Librarian • Chapter 4 - Liberation • Chapter 5 - Guilt • Chapter 6 - A Final Goodbye • Chapter 7 - Reconnection • Chapter 8 - Visitors from the East • Chapter 9 - Avatar • Chapter 10 - The Dream that Led to a Journey • Chapter 11 - Promise • Chapter 12 - The Vote • Chapter 13 - Unspoken Desires • Chapter 14 - Beyond the Borders • Chapter 15 - Foreseer of Futures • Chapter 16 - The Warrior Within • Chapter 17 - First Blood • Chapter 18 - Victories and Defeats • Chapter 19 - Secrets of the Book • Chapter 20 - Entering the Earth Kingdom• Chapter 21 - The Dream Nobody Thought Would Come True • Chapter 22 - The Great River City: Part 1 • Chapter 23 - The Great River City: Part 2|
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