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|Aang of the Air Nomads|
25-Aang of the Air Nomads
It's interesting to note that in the last chapter; Sokka was told he was nasty. In this chapter? Someone else, and by Sokka nonetheless.
Part two here...first in-canon chapter that's one hundred percent fanon. o.O' Don't always expect those. This one just had the opening, and perhaps the need, for it.
The names "Vehementis" and "Donum Spiritus" came from Latin, given to me by Kaizuh.
Vehementis: a violent wind
'Donum Spiritus' - Gift of the Spirit. (google translate...) or 'Gift Spirit/Life Force' ()
And yes; I realize the image I drew up is pretty shoddy. Y'know, the simple outline near the bottom of the page. I have no intentions of finishing it; I only wanted to display the scene - the table, the book, the characters, the room. Y'know. If any of you that are reading feel the need (or out of boredom) to fix up the image and complete it, be my guest. Though I don't outright promise I would use it. ^^" Also depends if multiple people draw it. lol...contest. o.O' -hides-
Oh; or, if somebody wants to draw Katara in the courtyard - with her hand on Aang's glowing arrow, send me a mail. ^^" It would take the place of that 'Courtyard' picture ... which doesn't even have just Katara/Aang in it. x.x'
Hm. Apparently, Momo got left completely out of this chapter. Poor lemur-bat thing.
Mention Only: Sky Bison, Dragons
Northern Air Temple, Elevator Room / Lobby, East Spire's Sleeping Quarters - Aang's Room (fanon)
Mention Only: Second Tier Landing (first location in episode)
Objects... (of interest?)
Sokka's Boomerang (rope!)
Vehementis' Statue (Mention only)
Donum Spiritus (Mention only)
Aged Table, Bed in Aang's room (fanon)
Dilapidated Songbook (fanon)
Filthy Flute (fanon)
Food: Eggs, Ice Cream (fanon)
Pai Sho Table (fanon)
Pai Sho Pieces... (fanon)
- Kalao (Serpent Water Tribe Spirit)
- Deep Sea | Tidal Wave | Tiger Seal | Rainbow | Blue Dragon | Hei Bai | Unagi | Sky Bison
Pai Sho Formations... (fanon)
- Terror from the Deep (Kalao, Deep Sea, Tidal Wave)
She followed Aang out of the corridor and through a large open doorway. The massive, domed ceiling curved into the room's walls, spanning nearly four stories high with numerous walkways and doors lining its side. This sight was breathtaking, though cracks and holes now marred its once beautiful grandeur. Pipes raced like hamster-mice trails along the room, though the technology seemed to scar this room far less than the others she had seen.
Gazing inattentively upward, she nearly bumped into Aang as he halted in the middle of the room. "You two go on ahead." Teo stated, rolling past them as he turned his head back. "I'll get some food going for us. Do you like turkey-duck burgers?"
"I don't eat meat." Aang frowned, stepping away from Katara to seat himself in a chair beside one decorative pai sho table. "So..." His grey eyes slid over toward Teo. "You keep that here now huh?"
Aang, it'll be okay. They don't eat like you. She took her turn seating herself beside the pai sho table, glancing over its many empty squares before turning her eyes to Teo. "What else you got?"
Teo leisurely rubbed his brown hair, seeming to give this some thought before continuing. "Some kinda health patty stuff that I think's pretty nasty. My dad loves them though. And, well...eggs." Teo afforded a sharp shudder, seeming to cringe at the mention. "I don't know why we have so many eggs. Ugh. Dad seems to like using them in his experiments." Dropping his arms to his wheels, he gave his chair a spin to face the two of them. "Some fruit, some pies, uh...soup... Oh! We've got ice cream too; my dad keeps a secret stash of that in the back that he thinks I don't know about."
That sounds almost like something Aang would say. Katara afforded a soft chuckle, as did Teo; Aang even seemed to be suddenly surprised by something. But, what is ice cream?
"Pies?!" Aang bellowed in surprise, lifting his head as he seemed downright elated at the news. Whoa! What's with the excitement? "What kind of pies? Do you make them here?"
"Well; they aren't fresh." Teo stated almost apologetically. "It's like, week old apple pie that we get from Earth Kingdom villages nearby. It's still good though."
"Oh." All his excitement fell flatly by the wayside, swiftly altering his expression to deflation. Aang? She lifted a brow curiously. "Well, I'll try it. Some fruit would be good too."
"I'll have some soup." Katara added, setting her mitts on her lap, over her coat. "Thanks Teo!" Gosh. It's nice to actually be served for a change. Neat!
"Coming right up guys!" His chair whipped away with a quick motion, thrusting his arms forward as he rolled behind the room's further storage area. Though. I guess that has happened a little lately. She silently mused.
She returned her blue eyes to Aang, parting her mouth in preparation to question him about his quirky and sudden adoration for pies of all things. "Okay!" He blurted suddenly, laying eight colored tiles onto his side of the table. "This game is more of a strategy game. Take out eight tiles from your stash; it should be in the side of the table."
In the table? She leaned back and scanned the lower column of its base, spotting a crevice with a loose stone panel in front of it. Removing this cover, a bed of assorted tiles lay tucked in its pocket. Oh. She removed her lavender gloves, laying them on the table before spreading eight randomly grabbed tiles beside them.
"Okay. Now what?" A colorful teal tile among the eight she had seized her eye. "Ooh, I like this one." She clutched it between her fingers and lifted it curiously.
"A good starting piece, too!" Aang exclaimed as he laughed sharply, lifting an accusing finger to her. "Of course you would find a water set."
"Is this..." Wait, this is...really? Lifting her voice in sudden astonishment, she half-ignored Aang at her discovery. "Is this Kalao?"
She spun the tile within her fingers' grip. One side held a delicately crafted serpent etched onto its teal surface. On its other side was a masterfully crafted, elegant Water Tribe symbol. She turned a look of wonder upon Aang. "They have our water spirits in pai sho?!"
With an immense smile, he nodded agreeably. "Pai sho is world renowned." His hand gestured into the air beside him. "They have like, everything. While it only takes forty pieces to make a complete set, there are probably at least a thousand different pieces in the world!" He paused suddenly, gazing upwards as if in contemplative confusion. "Well, a hundred years ago anyway..."
Katara chuckled, setting her piece back to the table. I would so have the best water set of any player. A sheepish grin overcame her with sudden pride, finding herself already combating the urge to feel addicted. "Okay; so, what do we do next?"
"I'll let you go first." The Air Nomad leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms before his orange tunic. "When it's your turn you can choose to move and attack with a piece already on the board, lay a new tile anywhere on your half of the board, or draw two tiles from your stash."
Okay...well, here goes. She claimed her Kalao tile, reaching forward to set it in a square near the center of the table. "Alright. There. So I guess it's your turn now." Silently, she sighed to herself. What are we doing...?
Aang responded quickly, laying a tile close to hers. "There. I want you to attack my tiger seal. Pull out the tab in the side of your tile, look at what's on it. What's it say?"
Tab? She picked up Kalao, flipping the tile between her fingers before spotting a small notch in its side. She pinched this notch with her fingernails, sliding out a small, stone slate with intricate carving. "M four, A seven, D three, E W, L two..."
"Don't worry about the rest." Aang cut in. Oh, good. She slipped the narrow slate back into the tile and set it down, only a vague notch able to be seen in its edge. "That means Kalao can move four spaces, its attack strength is seven, defense is three, element is water and it can link with two other tiles. Now, move Kalao three spaces and attack my tiger seal."
Uh, okay. She obediently slid her piece along the board, releasing it beside his tile. So yes; I 'attacked'. She mused idly, lifting her eyes to Aang as if imploring him to continue.
His fingers nimbly stretched forward, flipping his tile over to lay it with its Water Tribe symbol face-up. "It's defeated. Neither of us has any way of making use of it anymore, so it's staying put. Oh; you can safely move over it though."
A thoughtful, simple smile creased her cheeks as she simply blinked in subtle wonder. He's going to be me bad. But at least he's happy...I can do this for him.
Aang laid another tile to the table, a very colorful one at that. "Ah, a special piece, though weak. This is the rainbow tile; it attacks with one from each element, except physical."
Come again? She arched an eyebrow, staring at him with a simple one-sided frown. "Physical is an element? Since when?"
Aang nonchalantly shrugged in reply. "The game is fair to everyone, non-benders alike." Finished, he afforded her a simple smile.
After some time and a bowl of soup later, twenty-four defeated tiles littered the game board, only seven tiles in play. Of these seven, three were Katara's, four were Aang's. Teo propped his arms on the side of the table, lazily following the two's motions as they furthered their game.
I'm losing. She reminded herself. "So, how do we win? Or what happens if we run out of tiles?"
"If both of us run out of tiles and can't defeat each other then it's a stalemate and neither wins. That rarely happens. Otherwise, if someone defeats all their opponent's tiles on the board and the player has no more tiles in their hand; they win, even if there were more in stash."
"Oh." She replied singly. Her eyes were preoccupied, locked on Aang's blue dragon. It loomed dangerously close to her deep sea and tidal wave tiles. That one piece of his had already destroyed her sky bison, Hei Bai and Unagi tiles all on its own.
She sighed inwardly, a frown playing at her lips. What else did I expect? Of course he's winning. Oh well. She couldn't help but feel personally challenged, as if wronged by him since he was obviously more knowledgeable than she was at this.
"Let me show you something." He began. Lifting her attention from his piece, she saw him pointing to Kalao, which had ventured into his half of the board. "Move Kalao between your deep sea and tidal wave tiles. It has link two, remember? That means you can join him with two other tiles."
"Do what now?" She questioned dubiously, though she followed his request to move her precious tile to the specified location. She had prided herself in keeping it in play this long, cherishing that piece above her others. Gosh. She removed her finger from the tile, dropping her eyes to it. I think I like this silly game.
He grinned knowingly, settling his grey eyes into hers. "Any piece can link with others, but only certain pieces gain the most benefits. Those three tiles make the formation Terror from the Deep." He reached forward, flipping his blue dragon over in defeat.
She gazed in awe, slightly surprised though trying to keep the sudden interest from being all too visible. I defeated that stupid piece? ...perfect. "Alright then." Terror from the Deep huh? Just like the stories...don't anger him.
"Basically your tiles work together, adding their numbers when they attack. I uh, won't go into specifics just yet. Maybe some other time."
Teo sniggered, leaning away from the table. "Maybe I'll have learned a thing or two and I can teach others here how to play it with me."
Aang busied himself joining three tiles into his own formation. That would figure. His is probably better. "Well...there are a lot of rules." Aang half-heartedly replied, turning toward Teo. "Right now I'm only playing the basics. I mean; advanced tactics even involve splitting the board into five sections according to their element, more resistances per tile, tiles can activate skills and combined formations have a bit more limitations – as well as perks."
Ugh. "Yes..." Katara weakly replied, lowering her eyelids slightly. "Keep it simple for us dummies please." Finished, she gave Aang an awkward smile, to which Teo joined in a short laugh.
"Well, then I can at least play the basics!" He followed.
"No way." She muttered under her breath, gazing in awe at the board as Aang flipped his last piece over.
"Congratulations! You win!" Aang leapt to his feet and gave her a respectful bow, lowering his head so that his arrow presented itself in full view.
"Well; you went easy on me..." She leaned against the back of her chair, resting her hands upon her lap gingerly. "I didn't really..."
"I'd say he probably did it on purpose." Teo broke in with a sharp laugh.
"Are you saying I couldn't?" She quickly retaliated, snapping her eyes to the air walker in question.
He threw his hands ahead of him, waving them quickly. "Oh no; not at all! It's just-"
"You did great for your first time Katara." Aang added. "Better than mine anyway! You could play with the best if you practiced."
If I practiced. Her expression softened, her blue eyes drifting to her lap. She gently clutched her fur coat between her fingers, these words alone reminding her of an undying itch. "Maybe some other time. I'd rather practice my waterbending for now. You know, for the North Pole." She lifted her eyes with a smile, settling their blue centers upon her friend across the table. "But thank you Aang, this was fun. We'll have to play again sometime."
"Hey, speaking of first times..." Teo rolled away from the table, lifting a hand to scratch his chin. He set his brown eyes to Katara, gleaming curiously toward her with a playful smile. What? "Have you ever flown?"
"Me?" She questioned dumbly, glancing to Aang. Me. Duh, who else would he mean. She frowned nervously and shook her head, returning his attention. "Well, I have if you count flying on Appa."
"No!" Teo interjected quickly, seeming as if he could leap from his wheelchair at any given moment. "I mean actually flying! What it's like when the wind alone holds you up, lifting you all on its own!"
"Oh. I can't do that." She felt her face flush with warmth, turning away from the excited boy.
"Sure you can!" Teo countered instantly. "It's just like dad said, everyone is on equal ground."
"So to speak." Aang added, providing a snort in finality. "Go on Katara, give it a try. Flying is the best experience ever – even if it is just gliding."
"Me, flying." Her sapphire eyes sparkled with wonder, settling her eyes to the table in worrisome contemplation. Her heart raced, heightening her nerves greatly. "Okay. Let's try."
"Great." Teo answered, twisting his chair toward one of the expansive room's exits. "Meet me after sunrise tomorrow at the landing on the second tier. You know, where you landed with your bison. It's getting late so we should probably turn in for the day."
Following Teo down toward the elevator room they had first visited, they stopped just after passing through its entrance. The constant creak of metal gears and the bubbling of the slime-filled fountain returned to her ears. Yuck.
"Teo!" A brown-haired girl called out loudly, leaping from over the edge of the second story to slide down the edge of a pipe, leaping to land deftly on her feet. "Where have you been?!" She ran over quickly, stopping just in front of the group. Her eyes, however, were locked on Katara. "Oh...uh, hi! I'm Lillia."
Teo stretched his hand toward the two beside him. "Hey Lillia, this is Aang and Katara. I don't have any idea where –"
She butted in instantly. "-Sokka is. Right? He's on the third floor at the moment, enjoying his bath. Your dad gave up his for him." Katara lifted a brow curiously as Lillia turned to her. 'Gave up' his? "Go on Teo, I'll take care of Katara."
"Thanks Lily. Hey, Aang?" As Teo glanced over his shoulder he suddenly frowned. She whipped her head over her shoulder as well, noticing Aang walking down the hallway that led to the outer perimeter. Aang? "Uh, I'll check on him later. Thanks again Lily, goodnight Katara."
She nodded to Teo, preparing to tell him goodnight just before Lillia gripped her arm and tugged her into the room. "Come on, let's go."
What, hey! Katara gently pulled her arm free, following after Lillia with a perplexed stare, somewhat of a glare, as they stepped onto the elevator. "So...I'm sorry about earlier, again. It was completely an accident." Lillia calmly stated, flipping a switch as soon as Katara stepped onto the metal flooring.
"Huh? What did you d-" Katara jolted back, seizing the metal rail as a hiss sounded. The elevator had shot up into the air, leaving Katara's stomach behind. Whoa, ugh! She winced and closed her eyes as it stopped abruptly; leaving her head spinning.
"Oh, right, should have warned you about that." Lillia giggled lightly as she stepped off. "And you know; about scaring your bison. Sorry."
"Wow." Katara stared at a large tub of steaming water in awe. Marble decorated the room's interior and floor, seemingly one of the temple's rooms that had been intricately tended to. This room was no different than others, however, as pipes and empty basins spotted its walls.
"Yeah, amazing isn't it?" Lillia merrily chirped as Teo's father's workers left the room with their empty buckets. The girl stopped by the doorway, laying her hand on its frame as she spun back, causing her long brown hair to sail behind her gently. "We're so lucky to have Gonja with us. It's because of him we're...well, here."
"Yeah...I'll say." Hot...water. I, I can't wait... Katara breathed softly, taking in the 'sauna'-like quality of this warm, misty room. Already she could feel cool sweat beading on her forehead, smiling as she anticipated a bath like she had never had before. Gonja? "So, who is Gonja?"
Lily's brown eyes beamed with laughter. "Oh, that would be Teo's dad of course! He's really held this community together. We all love him here and owe him a lot, if not our lives."
"Listen, Lily..." Katara began softly, a tinge of guilt overcoming her. "I don't like taking your turn for a bath. This should be yours."
Lily shirked off her comment, turning for the doorway as she stepped out onto third floor's walkway. "You're our guests here, just enjoy yourselves – we don't get visitors often...besides, Gonja is looking to fix that problem for us sometime." Oh, right, the bath-house that Aang stopped him from building... She frowned slightly, again feeling guilty for taking her bath due to this. "Have fun!"
Katara shut the door, setting a metal bolt in place to serve as its lock, a practice that felt very foreign. Okay, I don't like that... Her eyes ran for a way to make her feel more secure. It wasn't that she didn't trust them; she simply wanted her privacy while around complete strangers.
She reached toward pails of cool water lining the wall, swinging her arms forward as the pails toppled over when their contents raced for the door.
Kneeling quickly and lowering her arms, the water splashed against the base of the door. She exhaled stoutly, sliding her leg forward as she knelt overtop it. Immediately she clenched her fist and tightened her arms muscles, racing her arm toward the ceiling with just as tight a scowl.
The brief echoes of cracking ice filled her ears as the water, swiftly solidifying, closed the gap from the floor to the ceiling against the door.
Her wrists' and thighs' muscles thrummed, each pulse reminding her of the tension she had placed upon them. A smile crept upwards on her lips as her arms drifted lower, rising to stand at ease and observe the ice-wall encasing the door. Now that is how a waterbender locks a door.
She twisted on her heel, crossing the room to a large basin filled with water. An almost giddy smile danced on her lips as she knelt beside it, bending her wrist so her fingers arced down. Lifting her hand, tugging a small stream of the warm water to follow after her fingertips, she moved her free hand to test the water.
As soon as her fingers tasted the hot water, a ragged sigh escaped as her eyes rolled back behind closed eyelids. Oh wow. I am so going to love this. All these inventions aren't that bad... A smile played on her lips, letting the stream cascade back into the waiting basin.
Shortly after an hour had passed, Katara finished fixing her hair back into a braid, admiring herself in a foggy mirror. Never, in all my life, just wow. That was so... She let out a pleasant sigh, extremely satisfied. Then a heavy rap on the frozen door filled the air and startled her into a brief jump. "Katara? Aang wants us. Wait 'til you hear what he has to say."
"Just a minute." She snapped her hair loopies into her hair bun and turned for the door. Lifting her arms toward the ceiling, she swung her arms quickly down and behind her, feeling the very tips of her fingers turn icy as her handiwork collapsed to water, chasing after her arms before being dropped into the basin.
She reached for the door, turning its knob and pulling – but it didn't budge. Uh... She gave it another tug, and hesitated a moment. Okay. What gives? She spotted the bolt and frowned, rolling her eyes slightly as she slipped it back. Oh, right. I guess that lock works. She slid it back, opening the door as she stepped out onto the metal walkway with her brother and Aang. "What is it?"
Sokka crossed his arms and leaned against the rail as Aang smiled up to Katara. "Well, I took a look at the east spire's sleeping quarters. Other than the wall they knocked out it's still in pretty good shape. So..." Aang paused, tilting his head as his eyes dodged both siblings. "What I'm saying is; I'd like to..." She smiled curiously; Aang seemed so hesitant to say whatever he was thinking.
During Aang's hesitation, Sokka blurted in. "He wants us to give up being all cozy here to spend the night out there in the freezing cold."
Katara's smiled faded, leading her to shudder at the mere thought. "Well, it does feel comfortable in here..."
Aang lifted a hand in explanation, returning his stormy eyes to Katara. "I just wanted you to experience what my culture used to be like. I know it isn't the same, but you can't get this anywhere but our temples." He paused, a somber frown overcoming him as his eyelids fell. "And soon, not even here..." Oh. Well, when you put it that way...
"There's something I don't understand, Aang." Sokka carried on with a sudden and obvious change of topic. "How can you stand the cold, without even so much as a coat?" Uh, now...that is weird.
"Oh." Aang lifted his eyebrows in thought, replying with uncertainty. "I'm not sure. I guess I just don't think about it. I mean, back when I was here we stayed up in these mountains all the time. I'm just used to it."
"Hm..." Katara seized her chin between her fingertips, narrowing her eyes as she mulled over this notion. I've lived in cold weather all my life too. Why does it bother me more than him? Her ocean blue eyes lifted to the airbender with resolution. As a waterbender from the South Pole, I should be able to take the cold better than even you. "Alright, let's see what these rooms are like. Come on Sokka."
Sokka sighed dejectedly, drooping his head as he followed after her. "I had a feeling you were going to say that."
"It's not that bad guys; seriously."
She stepped onto the small metal elevator, followed shortly afterward by her brother and Aang. "Besides; this will be a good refresher since we're about to be at the Northern Water Tribe." She exclaimed joyfully.
"Yeah, it'll be just like home." Sokka returned as her hand found the lever. Glad you understand. "Though I'd rather stay here where it's warm." A loud hiss of hot air sounded as the elevator quickly dropped to the bottom floor.
She halted as Aang spun back for the opening, lifting his finger above her head to lead her to whip around and gaze to the top banister. "We'll be sleeping on the top floor. That's where my room was back when I used to come here, and it's still in decent shape."
The sun's fading rays struck the inner walls of the courtyard, lighting the circular room with a luminescent orange hue. Aang led them to its center, perfectly positioned between all four monk elder statues.
"Yeah but just one thing." Sokka interrupted with a pessimistic weight, lifting an eyebrow curiously. "Where are the steps?" Oh. Glancing left to right; this only just struck her. Each of the two higher walkways had no connection to the other, a perfect standalone circular path. You're right...
Aang laughed playfully, lowering his arm to clutch his gut. "There aren't any! This place was designed for airbenders. We just leapt to the floor we wanted. So, you guys ready?" Are you kidding me?
"To leap three stories in the air? Of course." Sokka wittily retorted, crossing his arms. Hah! Oh Sokka...
Aang turned to her and took a quick step. Oh great, here we go again. "Aang..." She backed away a single step, eyeing him with quiet disdain as he reached forward and swept her off her feet and into his arms. Yeah...I figured this was coming again.
He bounded into the air as she laid her arm across his shoulders for balance. As her gut took a moment to catch up, she realized this sensation felt similar to the elevator within the temple. Thankfully she felt her feet set down on the walkway's stone in a matter of a moment.
Aang snickered softly, releasing her as she stood upright and smoothed her clothing down with a subtle frown. "Hey. I asked this time." He quipped with a knowing grin. Yes, you did. Katara lifted her eyes to him with humor just barely noticeable behind their depths. She smiled gently and flipped her hair braid back over her shoulders, turning as Aang pointed to a room behind her. "That's my room. I'll be right back with Sokka."
A whirling breeze swept around her as Aang leapt over the rail. "Uh-uh. No! Forget it!" Her eyelids fell halfway, approaching to lay her hands on the rail and lean over it. "I'm not about to throw myself in the air to your bending. Appa is one thing..."
You really hate bending, don't you? An eyebrow arced as Aang turned up inquisitively to Katara while she addressed her brother. "I guess you prefer the alternative; sleeping on the cold snowy stone of the courtyard?"
"I'll get up there myself." Sokka mused aloud, leading both Katara and Aang to chuckle.
"Now this I've got to see." She pressed against the railing, settling her arms on its surface as she set her head upon her hands. Go on, fly.
Sokka obviously racked his brain, an expression of turbulent thought weighing on him as he crossed his arms and turned about, observing his surroundings. Suddenly, his confusion vanished, a smile taking its place. "I'll be right back." He coolly replied, heading for the exit.
"What are you gonna do?" Aang perplexedly posed, tilting his head to one side as Sokka left.
"I'm going to pay a visit to Appa. You'll see."
Are you serious? All that trouble for this? "So instead of letting Aang easily carry you up, you're going to have Appa fly all the way over here with you. Brilliant." She rolled her eyes and stood upright, unable to see her brother any longer.
"No, even better." His voice echoed into the courtyard. "I'll get up on my own. Just watch."
The lone Air Nomad in the middle of the courtyard lifted his grey eyes to her. "Uh...I'm gonna go with him and see what he's up to. Wait for us, we'll be back soon."
"Okay." Aang made his way out of sight after Sokka. She frowned as she observed her surroundings, a lonely circular terrace with no stairs. I don't have much of a choice, anyway.
The old door creaked loudly as she slowly swung it back, entering into a simple stone room aglow with candlelight. Wow. She dropped her arms to her side, drifting her gaze one corner to the other. It all looked the same; barren. This...this is; where is everything?
She crossed the cold stone to stop on a small green mat with a circular table resting at its center. The table looked terrible, splintered and weak from decades of ill attention. Beyond the table in the back of the room, a dull yellow mat rest atop the stone itself – cut directly into the wall. Off-white, dirty sheets and a faded orange cover lay over this mat and the remains of what used to be a white pillow lay at its head.
You're kidding me. I mean; I know he lived a simple life but...wow. This is nothing like home. How could he live like this? She glanced around the room once again, small cube cutouts in the wall held glowing candles. There's nothing warm, there are no dressers, just...nothing.
She knelt beside the table, sitting upon her legs as she lowered her eyes to its worn surface. At its edge rested a musty book with what appeared to be an instrument beside it, now covered with dust and grime. Curious, she curled her slender fingers around its cold metal, lifting it as she wiped some of its filth away with her other hand. A flute? Here? The Air Nomads played music?
Rather than dare putting the dirty instrument to her lips, she placed it back to the table and turned her attention to the old, dark brown book. I wonder what this is...odd, since he has nothing else here. She took the cover in her hands gently, lifting the book as she began to open it.
Whoosh! A puff of dust sailed into the air as she jerked back suddenly. In her surprise, the book slipped from her hand and landed with a thump back on the table. Stifling coughs into her hand, she waved frantically with her other hand to disperse the cloud she had set off.
Oh shoot, no! No! The book lay flat on the table, its cover separated and a handful of pages scattered on the table's surface. Her eyebrows knotted, quickly seizing each page and re-gathering them on the book, covering them neatly with the now loose front cover. Oh I hope this book wasn't sentimental to him! Careless, careless! She sat back and crossed her arms, placing her palms against her sides firmly. Okay. Don't touch anything.
Clank! She jumped at the sound of metal striking stone, throwing her arms beside her chest as she glanced for the open door. Sokka's boomerang sat tightly against the walkway's banister, a sturdy rope hanging from it. He tied a rope to his boomerang?
She smiled, placing her palm on the edge of the table to lift herself to her feet. Crack, thump! She stumbled and fell to her knees, wincing in pain as she realized the edge of the table had collapsed beneath her. Ow...right...touch nothing.
"Are you alright?" Aang's curious voice alerted her to his presence as he entered the conservative room.
Heh. A nervous, faint blush crossed her cheeks as she glanced up to him. "Just fine." Sorry about your room. She lifted her hand to rub just behind her head, beneath her hair bun.
A look of sudden astonishment overcame Aang, gazing in awe at the table. Without a word; he slowly crossed the floor to drop beside the table, lifting a musty brown cover awaiting him clean off its book.
"Aang, I was just looking at it and, well." She huddled her arms tightly against her chest, fretting her apology. I guess it was important to him... "I'm sorry."
Sokka's grunts entered the room as he fell over the edge of the banister, clambering to his feet. "That's okay." Aang softly added, drifting his attention to the stacked pages.
"Alright now that we're all..." Sokka began yet halted quickly, dropping his arms to his side as his wide eyes observed the room before him. "Uh; this was your room?"
Aang nodded, setting the book's cover aside before claiming the dirty flute in his hands.
"Wow." Sokka singly retorted, chucking two bedrolls in the floor before seating himself beside his sister on the simple green mat. Yeah, I know what you mean. She shared a quick look of astonishment with her brother. I feel out of place here too.
"What?" Aang questioned plainly, lifting his eyes to Sokka.
He shrugged nonchalantly. "I just expected something...I don't know, that wasn't nothing?"
You have such a marvelous choice of wording... "Sokka's just surprised that your room is so...different from what we're used to." She added kindly, repeating her earlier attempt at keeping the peace without hard feelings.
"Oh." Aang flatly replied with resounding deflation in his tone. "Yeah, I know what you mean." Wait. Did he just say he doesn't like our home? I think he just did! She bit back her belief, deciding it best not to find out.
He slipped his hand forward, resting his fingertips on the separated pages before him. "This was a songbook that I was practicing with Gyatso. They wouldn't let me play in an actual bison polo tournament until I was older, so Gyatso started teaching me a few songs to cheer them on until then."
"You can play music?" Katara questioned in sudden wonder. He never ceases to surprise me.
"Yeah." His finger glided along the page, removing a streak of dust as he seemingly followed faded notes on the page. "I started practicing here in secret. I wanted to surprise Gyatso with how much I had improved for his next tournament."
But you never got to... She frowned sadly for him, as her brother piped up. "Why do you like this bison polo so much if you've never played it?"
"Oh no, I did. Gyatso let me play with the Shining Lotus now and then, splitting the group into three against two just for fun; me being the on the side with three." He set the flute back down, a brief smile gracing his lips as memories loomed just beyond his grey eyes. "He always took Sister Iio's side. I think they liked each other. I asked him once, but he only smiled."
"Aang; he probably smiled because you just didn't understand. Monks didn't have children..." Sokka posed with an arched eyebrow.
"Sokka..." She hissed under her breath, scowling at her brother as she batted at his arm.
"Right; the enlightened monks didn't." Aang shrugged as he set the cover back on his book. "But that was by choice. Monks that didn't choose the path to enlightenment were free to."
"Monks could have children?" Katara questioned perplexedly, tilting her head. Well, I guess it makes sense or they'd have been gone a long time ago. Heh. But still... "I thought the monks didn't marry?"
"That's right." Aang replied with a smile. "On both counts. I guess their way of life hasn't been entirely forgotten."
Katara's gut knotted, her eyebrows lifting as she turned away. He, he...then, he doesn't? Oh, I had no idea...ew. Ugh. She gripped her elbows tightly, frowning with weighty disgust so strong she couldn't even think of what to say.
"Oh." Sokka plainly retorted; seemingly just as surprised as she was. That is, until he continued. "You guys sure were serious about taking it easy. In fact, you..." She squeezed her eyes closed tightly, certain that he was about to make some unwelcome wise-crack to Aang. "...never mind, not going there."
"What do you mean?" Aang questioned dumbly, arching an eyebrow. "What's the problem?"
Okay. Any thoughts I had of possibly ever liking him like that; just forget it. She turned away, her throat feeling as if it could burst to the false sense of bloating due to her stress.
"We kinda don't agree with that..." Sokka mildly replied, haplessly rubbing the back of his head just beneath his wolf-tail. "I mean; our parents were married. And if they weren't...and the Air Nomads being like...well, you." Sokka hesitated, clearly tying his tongue in the process of explaining himself.
Glancing to her brother, she noticed his cheeks were actually slightly pink. She probably was the same; she felt hot, but couldn't tell. "Aang that's just nasty." Sokka furthered.
"Oh." Aang replied with astonishment. Katara didn't dare to look at him for his reaction, still too distraught over the idea herself. "It's not that bad...it's just another way of life." Aang weakly shrugged. "They still cared for each other...just didn't marry...or live together."
YUCK! She finally slipped her eyes toward him, her disgust shining through as he seemed to be staring right at her with a sudden twisted frown. She dodged his eyes, cringing as she slipped her hands down to her lap, not participating in this talk.
"That makes no sense." Sokka continued; single handedly spearheading their complaints.
"Sure it does." Aang meekly muttered. "For that society."
The three of them didn't utter a word for a good minute, leading Katara's nerves to further fray.
"I didn't say I felt that way though..." Aang added ever-so-quietly. You...don't? Her eyes drifted to their corners, observing his reaction. Upon his eyes meeting hers, they locked eyes and stared inquisitively one to the other.
"Well you are an Air Nomad...and the last of them. So..." Sokka posed. "Why would you feel any different?""Because..." He dragged his word out, glancing haplessly downward as he ran his thumb along the table's edge. But he didn't continue for a moment. ...because what? "I don't know." Aang lowly responded, dipping his eyes to the book ahead of him. "Like you said; it's nasty."
"Whatever Aang. Doesn't matter to me anyway." Sokka spun back and spread out his bedroll, preparing for sleep.
Aang's eyes averted to his old bed, his chin still dipped to his chest. For a moment, the urge to comfort him due to his pain rose within her. However, she pushed it back down. Comforting him over this topic seemed too grating a thought for her. Thank goodness he agrees it's nasty...ugh. She turned away, seizing the bedroll Sokka had thrown for her to prepare for sleep.
The gleam of sunlight struck her eyes, forcing her to squint tightly as she moaned in brief disgust. Rising from her fur-lined bedroll, she stretched and sleepily glanced about the barren room. Sokka lay snoozing beside her, but Aang's bed at the back of the room was empty.
This did not startle her. This was an air temple; he probably was out doing something Air Nomad-like. She heaved a soft sigh and climbed to her feet, gazing out the window to the distance below as a thought jarred her awake. Oh yeah...today I fly. She blinked, wondering if she really could. I wonder what it's like to fly like Aang.
Heading out of the room, she paused at the banister and frowned. She had forgotten until this moment that the only way down was with Aang's help, the rope attached to Sokka's boomerang, or the less preferred alternative of simply jumping. Oh now that's a great idea. She teased herself for that final thought. That's when she spotted Aang sitting cross-legged at the center of the courtyard...glowing.
"Aang!" She shouted in horrified surprise, jolting fully awake. Without a moment's hesitation she leapt over the edge of the banister, seizing the tied rope in her hands and sliding down it quickly. Landing her feet on the cold stone below, she spun around and bolted for him, frozen in the Avatar State.
He wasn't moving. She knelt at his side, staring at him with confusion as she took his shoulder in her hand. "Aang?" No response. She straightened herself, returning her hand to her side. He's meditating again. But...in the Avatar State. That's odd.
Though the simple fact that he was meditating calmed her, allowing her to lean back and simply stare in awe. However, seeing as he was sitting here perfectly quiet, glowing, a thought toyed with her mind that despite initially rejecting it continued to pester her.
I wonder what it feels like, when he's glowing like that? Is it hot? She found her hand reaching for him. Laying her fingers on his glowing skin at the back of his head, she rubbed gently along its path, finding that he actually felt rather cool to the touch. Hm. She dropped her hand back to her lap, simply waiting.
"Katara?! What's wrong with Aang?" Sokka swiftly spat out as he leapt over the edge of the third floor as well. "Why's he glowing it up?!"
She shrugged, none too concerned though also curious. "I'm not sure. I just found him like this. I think he's meditating, but..."
"Meditating?!" Sokka bellowed as he reached her side, dropping to his knees. "Meditating." His tone carried a hint of bother. "Great. Another Avatar quirk. When he meditates he glows..."
"Well, it is strange. He's never done this before."
"Just wait it out. Whenever he runs outta juice he'll come to and probably be tired."
Runs out of juice? Katara arched an eyebrow and eyed her stupid brother. But you're right, he probably will be tired.
The two sat quietly beside each other with their glowing friend just ahead of them for some minutes, before Sokka interceded again. "So..." She glanced to him. He returned her attention for a moment, but looked away as he continued. "Katara, can I ask you something?"
This can't be good. "What's on your mind?"
"It's just that, what Aang did to you..."
Is this about him firebending? She cut him off quickly. "Sokka, if this is about that. Don't even s-"
He likewise threw his hands up, quickly cutting off her cutting him off. "Just level with me Katara. Why weren't you mad at him? Seriously? Was it just because you learned you could heal?"
Both her heart and her mouth dropped. "Excuse me? You think I'm that shallow?!"
"Sis. It isn't that." His words came out calmly, his eyes speaking clearly of sincerity. My gosh; he isn't being rude. He's being serious. "It's just, he really was out of line back there and you seemed like you were more angry with me for defending you. I just don't get it."
She turned away ever so slowly, drifting her eyes to the stone floor beside Aang. "Do you remember the first time you led me into a canoe?" Sokka issued a sullen grunt, likewise turning away from her.
"Uh-huh. But, that..." He nervously rubbed the back of his neck. "Well, you shouted at me after that anyway. It's not the same."
"Sokka; I nearly drowned and froze from that! The water was so cold...I could have died." She mused in retort, yet kept her voice gentle as she swiveled her head about to lock on him. "And yes I know, I did yell at you. You were goofing around and rocking the canoe to purposefully scare me; that was stupid."
"Heh." He narrowed his eyes, turning back to her to begrudgingly reply. "Why do you always end up talking about me?"
She outright ignored he had said anything, simply continuing without pause. "But after that happened, you wouldn't stop apologizing and being hard on yourself. You nearly cried..." Her voice tapered off, casting her eyes in his direction.
"Uh...can we talk about Aang again? I mean, you know what dad was going to–"
"Don't, Sokka." She interrupted, though kindly, as Sokka thoughtfully closed his mouth and set his soft blue eyes on her. You know how you were acting, and that had nothing to do with fear of dad. "What you did, you did because you were sorry."
Finishing this, she scooted closer to her brother. His eyebrows lifted in displeasure, leaning away from her. "You would have given anything to take back what you had done." She tilted her face up toward his, passing him a faint smile. "I let it go after that. Right?"
"Right." He somberly finished, glancing back to Aang as he shifted side to side fretfully. "Okay; I get it. So, Aang really cared and was sorry. But he still burned you. I guess I just expected you to show at least a little anger."
Oh. Uh... She leaned away from him, turning to set her eyes on the back of Aang's glowing head as she pondered this herself. I guess I don't really know why. However, a thought crossed her mind she figured she could pass off. "Well, you gave him enough of that for everyone..."
Sokka sighed and rolled his eyes, quipping sarcastically. "I am so sorry that I-"
"Care." She abruptly finished, turning a kind smile to him.
He set a sudden look of surprise to her, before softening his expression. "Yeah..." She lifted her hand and laid it gently atop her brother's shoulder, turning back to Aang, awaiting him to finish his glowing meditation. "Okay...uh, you just hang out with glow-boy here. I'll be back with breakfast." He swiftly rose to his feet, spinning back to leave just as she struck her forehead with her palm. Glow-boy. Alright already, enough with the jokes...
Enough time had passed that she and her brother had finished their breakfast; yet still Aang glowed on. Here she lay aimlessly on the stone with her head sideways upon her gloved mitts. Oh come on already, snap out of it.
Sokka slipped out his boomerang, which he had reclaimed, to poke Aang twice in his side. "Earth to Avatar, Earth to Avatar..."
"Stop it." She muttered without so much as turning her eyes to him.
"What? I'm bored, and wondering if he's actually there." Just as he finished his complaint, the solid blue of Aang's tattoos overcame the glowing white, his grey eyes finally reopening.
"Aang!" She slapped her palms to the stone, lifting her upper body as she turned a beaming smile to him. "Welcome back! What happened?" Sokka crossed his arms, tucking his boomerang beside his body as he curled his lip in patient curiosity.
"Uh...sorry guys. I came down here to meditate early in the morning." Aang uttered with regret, turning his stormy eyes to Katara. "I meant to be back before you woke, but I kind of accidentally slipped into the Spirit World. I don't know how it happened..."
Sokka frowned plainly, twitching his eyebrow as if the mere words Spirit World pained him. Oh... She twisted her eyebrows up into her forehead, staring at her brother's plight. Right; Hei Bai.
Aang rubbed the back of his head in the looming silence. "Like I said, I would have come back sooner but I couldn't figure out how to get out of the Spirit World. It's nothing like this place."
"That's not what you said last time... you said it was blue and just like our world." Katara posed, lifting herself to sit atop her legs as she laid her hands upon her lap.
"Yeah that's why I was so confused..." Aang lifted an eyebrow to her. "It wasn't blue and there was no temple here at all. It was just rock with water falling from the sky."
"A waterfall?" Sokka glanced up, before lowering his eyes with a smirk. "Maybe that's what happens when it rains in the Spirit World."
She didn't make any assumptions, simply tilting her head perplexedly as Aang shook his head. "No, it wasn't even a waterfall. I'm not sure how to explain it, it's like a gentle stream that's just flowing down...with nothing around it. Other than that the mountain seemed the same. Just, no temple..."
"Whoa." I love it. I love it I love it I love it. Her sapphire eyes lit with interest.
"It's hard to say but I think I saw a few spirits; they just kept their distance and I couldn't really be sure. And I think I saw a sky bison..." Aang added with hushed wonder, drifting his gaze to the snowy stone. He rotated, sitting cross-legged to face between his two friends. "Vehementis. You know; the one from that statue in the temple's lobby – the grey, thick and curly haired sky bison."
"Great...interesting...so, welcome back to the real world. Where, y'know, everything is real." Sokka waved his arms out beside him, shrugging his shoulders as he slipped his boomerang back into its holster. "Well if that's all, I'm gonna go see Gonja."
"Ignore Sokka." Katara mumbled with a hard stare to him. "What's so important about Vehementis that you'd see him there?"
"Well...he's the only sky bison that's revered by my people, and that's because of what he did when they were founding the Northern Air Temple."
"Fine, fine. Listening." Sokka propped an elbow off of his leg, pressing his wrist against his cheek as he waited for Aang to begin his tale. You can at least act interested Sokka, wow.
"When the Air Nomads were founding this temple, the families that lived here accidentally stirred up a dragon roost. The adults that stirred the nest fought to protect everyone but were killed...Vehementis alone defended the young of the Air Nomads living there. He managed to hold back the dragons until help arrived, but after the battle he died to his wounds." Aang shifted his gaze past them for the exit to the courtyard, toward the main temple. "He was revered for saving the young."
"He sounds like a wonderful bison." No wonder you love Appa so much. Sky bison sound so loyal! But wait...you saw him in the Spirit World? Hm...mom...I wonder if he's learned anything more yet; if she might be there.
"Well the story says because he did that, the Donum Spiritus which was with them wasn't lost. Though; it just kind of disappeared anyway during Avatar Yangchen's life."
"Donum Spiritus?" Sokka sighed, rolling his eyes. "That sounds like 'dumb spirit.'" Katara cringed, wondering just how her brother's mind operated.
He shrugged. "I think it means 'gift of the spirit' or something. The statues here show him holding it. Monks who wanted to reach enlightenment would journey to lay their hands on that relic. I don't know any more than that."
"Aang; how did you get there? The Spirit World, I mean." She suddenly posed with concern, lifting her eyebrows. "We've been waiting for about an hour – you couldn't seem to hear us at all."
"I was just concentrating on my meditation...next thing I knew, I was gone." Aang's eyebrows lifted perplexedly. "I don't understand it either and didn't know how to get back...I think Vehementis tried to talk to me; but not like we do. I just understood him without words. He flew me under the mountain. But there, the sky was below me and the ground was above me...it was weird. When I looked up I saw you guys and my body right where I had left it. As soon as I saw myself I just...woke up."
"Well that's all fine and entertaining, but it sounds like you spent an hour doing absolutely nothing." Sokka mused aloud, swaying his arms left to right.
"I guess..." Aang's words came out dully, lowering his eyes to the stone of the courtyard. "Sorry guys."
Katara had other ideas. Sokka; try looking at the bigger picture. He's the Avatar; he's still learning how to be the Avatar. "Maybe this trip was to help you learn about the Spirit World. Now you know a way to enter it! Meditating."
"Hey, yeah!" Aang excitedly began, turning a beaming smile to Katara. "And how to get out of it – just see my body again! So if nobody moves it, I can find where I left it!" Then his lips bunched up in a perplexed frown. "Er, if I can find it in the first place."
"Who would want to move it? That sounds weird." Sokka softly ridiculed.
"Oh, speaking of flying..." Aang outright ignored Sokka, a grin donning his face as his grey eyes took in the sight of Katara. What...? What? Why are you looking at me like that? "I think we were supposed to meet Teo this morning."
"Oh." She paused, a sudden weight sending her gut to the floor. Oh shoot. Right; I'm going to fly. Spirits help me.
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Props to Ianbernard for helping make this wonderful chapter template with images! (he created the images)
The Boy in the Iceberg