|Chapter 5: Grand Lotus T'las|
July 27, 2012
Bo stood in the courtyard with Lien, they were both thinking about what had happened. It was all very confusing, they had just been captured by airbenders and people in white and blue uniforms who seemed to be led by a man who they hadn't even seen entirely. Then, just as quickly as they had been captured, the mysterious man had released them. Behind them, the airbender children were playing a game with air scooters, laughing all the while. Bo hadn't seen them earlier that morning, but he guessed that was because the adults had told them to hide from the intruders. This line of thought raised the question of how the airbenders knew he and Lien were coming.
As Bo was trying to figure this out, one of the children, a little girl, came up to him and said, "My brother says you're the Avatar, are you?"
"No I'm not the Avatar," Bo responded.
"Oh, I guess that means you can't bend all the elements, never mind then."
"Actually, I can bend the four elements, why did you want to know?" Bo asked.
"Well, we were wondering if you wanted to play on the air scooters with us," the girl said.
"Sure, I'll play with you, how do you play?" Bo asked.
"Well first you make an air scooter like this," the girl demonstrated and Bo did the same. "Then you fly around on it while chasing each other, the object of the game is to be the last one to stay on your scooter, and you knock other people off by blowing on them, like this," the girl blew a giant gust of air at Bo and he fell off his scooter. "Ready?" she asked.
"You bet!" Bo replied and they began the game.
Lien sat watching Bo and the others playing, she decided that she should practice her waterbending some more, so she started by using the water in the clouds that surrounded the temple. Lien hadn't been taught any more waterbending since hers and Bo's escape from Wàng's fief so she had just been figuring out her own techniques and practices. Bo played with the airbenders while Lien practiced waterbending until the sun had almost set. Then the monks called the children back into the temple and Bo and Lien followed the crowd.
"So, did you have fun?" Lien asked Bo scornfully.
"What's wrong with you?" Bo asked.
"Oh, I don't know, maybe I feel neglected because my teacher decided to go off and play air scooter with the people who captured us while I practiced waterbending which I barely even know how to do," Lie replied sarcastically.
"Well you could have played with us, I know that you can't airbend yet, but these airbenders are pretty creative, I'm sure they could have fit you in somehow. If it makes you feel better though, tomorrow, I'll teach you more waterbending instead of playing with the airbenders," Bo said.
Lien was about to respond when they suddenly entered a large hall which appeared to be one for dining. Both she and Bo gazed in awe at the vast chamber filled with long tables which seated hundreds of people dressed in orange and yellow. It was brightly lit with torches and candles, the food lay prepared on the tables. Across the hall, sat x# old men and women also dressed in the orange and yellow garb. Sitting to the left of these monks was the man who had energy bent Bo, this time he wasn't hooded. Bo looked at his face as he gazed out at the crowd and eventually met Bo's gaze. The man had pointed ears, slanted eyebrows, slightly greenish skin and when Bo looked into his eyes, he saw no emotion, as if he were a golem, instead of a human.
Bo accidentally bumped into an airbender who was sitting at one of the tables. He got some kind of food all over himself.
"I'm so sorry," Bo apologized.
"No worry, I clean easily," he said cheerfully which was to be expected of his kind. The airbender then airbent the food off of his clothing and went back to eating.
Bo and Lien sat down at one of the tables next to the kids they had played with outside. Bo looked again at the man with the pointed ears. He noticed this time that he was clothed in much the same clothing as the guards who had escorted him and Lien to the courtyard. "I wonder why he changed his clothes." Bo said.
The girl he had played with outside said, "His name is T'las, he's a grand lotus, that's why he's wearing his uniform tonight, he's going to promote one of the order to the position of Grand Lotus."
"So, that's why he's dressed formally," Lien said.
"The White Lotus is here?" Bo asked.
"Oh yeah, they've lived with us in the temples for the past two hundred years," the girls said. "I'm sorry, I forgot to introduce myself to you two, I just got so caught up in air scooter, my name's Nyui."
As they all ate, and talked, Bo watched T'las as he ate some kind of soup that he didn't recognize. When T'las finished his meal, he rose along with the rest of the monks sitting next to him. The monk in the center rang a small but loud bell that quieted the dining hall.
T'las spoke in his gravelly voice, "People of the Northern Air Temple, members of The White Lotus, and esteemed guests from other parts of the world, today is a very important day. Today I will promote one of our members to the position of Grand Lotus. The new Grand Lotus is to replace Grand Lotus Mai of Kyoshi Island who has just died. This of course means that he will be leaving the temple, however, we will all still remember him. Now, without further delay, I present to you Grand Lotus Wong."
As soon as T'las finished, another blue uniformed man walked up to where the monks and T'las were and the monks and T'las all bowed to him in the traditional bow of respect. The man, who Bo and Lien guessed was Wong spoke, "I shall deeply miss each and every one of you but it is my duty to take Mai's place as there are no members on Kyoshi Island prepared for the responsibilities of a Grand Lotus, and so I shall leave you in the morning, I shall remember you and this temple." When he had finished Wong left the hall, presumably to prepare for his departure in the morning.
As soon as T'las and the monks sat back down, the rest of the hall resumed their conversations and meals.
"So, if you aren't the Avatar, then how come you can bend all four elements?" Nyui asked Bo.
"Well Lien actually figured that one out," Bo said, "Lien, would you like to explain?"
"Well, when I was reading in the library of old Ba Sing Se, I came across a scroll called "The Legend of Korra" which detailed the story of Avatar Korra during the second and third centuries AG," Lien said.
"Yeah, we have that one here in our library," Nyui said.
"Well, two of the characters in that story were Makko and Bo Lin, they were brothers and Makko was a firebender."
"While Bo Lin was an earthbender," Nyui finished, speaking excitedly as if she had realized what Lien had. "They were both born in what was technically the Earth Kingdom, meaning that the old logic of what you could bend depended on where you born was false."
"And that meant that no matter where you were born, you could bend whatever element you wanted as long as you put your mind to it, you could even bend all four without being the Avatar if you wanted to," Lien finished.
"That's all nice, but just because what you bend doesn't depend on your nation doesn't mean you can bend any and all elements," Nyui said.
"That's why we decided to prove it, and prove that Bo wasn't just a freak of nature," Lien said as Bo turned to look at her with a look of confusion and annoyance. "I asked Bo to teach me earthbending, and then waterbending, at first I couldn't waterbend, but then when Wàng almost executed Bo, I was forced to help him, I unlocked my waterbending."
"Well, we do need more data," Nyui said, "would you mind teaching me earthbending or something else?"
"I guess that we could do that," Bo said. "You seem to emulate those scientists of old who helped make the discoveries that improved society, that is until the war."
"I guess it's hereditary," Nyui said. "All my ancestors so far have left the temple to explore the world and use the scientific method, all of them have either disappeared or been killed in witch hunts and raids."
"Aren't you worried that you'll do the same thing and wind up the same way?" Lien asked.
"No, because if it happens, it happens, there's nothing to worry about," Nyui told Lien.
Within a few more minutes, they finished eating and all went to bed and slept soundly. They awoke the next morning and all ate breakfast in the same hall. Everyone was silent, presumably because they were all tired. It seemed that the monks liked to start early in the morning.
After breakfast, everyone went about their business, for the first few hours, everyone worked in the fields and harvested the fruits, grains, and vegetables that had planted that spring. Because Bo and Lien had nothing better to do, they followed suit.
The next meal was in order and was ready by the time work had finished. They all once again filed into the dining hall and began to eat hungrily.
"I wonder when T'las is going to talk with me again," Bo said.
"He was going to talk to you again?" Lien asked.
"Sure he is," Nyui said. "He's going to talk to Bo about his history and tell him about the Avatar, he's also going to send you on a quest to find him, or her."
Bo and Lien stared at Nyui gaping at her. "And how do you know this?" Lien asked.
"Did I also mention, I'm kind of nosy," Nyui explained.
"So you spied on him?" Bo asked.
"Yep." Nyui smiled proudly.
"So when is he going to talk to me?" Bo asked.
"Oh, I didn't get that part, one of the monks was coming up the hallway and I had to leave or else I'd get caught," Nyui said.
After lunch, it was training time for the children. They were learning how to become airbending masters. "My test is today," Nyui said.
"Test? For what?" Lien asked.
"For her arrows," Bo said. "They are tattooed onto them and are a sign that they have completed their training as an airbender."
"Yep, can you guys come and watch, it's not like you have anything else to do while you stay here," Nyui said.
"Sure, we'd love to," Lien said.
"Great, right this way," Nyui shouted as she rushed down the hallway, probably getting a boost from her airbending.
Lien and Bo were about to follow her when T'las spoke behind them, "Bo, I wish to speak with you now, your friend Lien is allowed to follow if she likes."
"I'd go, but one of our new friends has asked her to watch her test," Lien said.
"Ah yes, Nyui, I trust she also told you what we were going to talk about then as well?" T'las asked.
"How did you know?" Bo asked.
"I have very sensitive hearing, and although she may have thought herself silent enough not to be heard, I still heard her eavesdropping on my conversation," T'las explained. "Well, Bo, are you coming?"
Bo turned to Lien, "You go ahead, I'll catch up," he said.
Lien then turned and hurried after Nyui who was waiting at the end of the hallway for them.
Bo then followed T'las down to the other end of the hall way until they came to a stairway on the left of the hall and proceeded down to the bottom level and walked down that hallway until they entered the same room Bo had been in just the day before.
"Well Bo, I suppose I should start at the beginning. As you may have guessed by now, I am not human. Furthermore, neither was my father. I was born on a planet that is largely desert. My people called it Vulcan. Before I was born, my father worked for the planet's intelligence agency, the V'shar and eventually went to work in an organization called Starfleet Intelligence. Starfleet Intelligence was very similar to the V'shar, however there was a key difference, the larger organization it served, Starfleet. Starfleet was the military force of a planet called Earth, however, this is not the Earth on which we live now. This Earth is in the stars. Now I understand that you may find this fantastic, but it can all be verified if you allow me to finish.
"This Earth also had inhabitants that were the exact same, physiologically, as you, except for the capability to bend the elements. Now, Starfleet did not only serve Earth, it also served Vulcan, and hundreds of other worlds in what was called the United Federation of Planets, or the Federation for short.
"Once I was born, my father decided to stop working in the spying business, considering how dangerous it was and how if he died or was captured his son would be fatherless, and went to work for the Federation as an ambassador.
"Now that I have elaborated on where I come from, to make the story complete, I must tell you when I come from. I come from the year 2416 AD, standard Earth calendar of the Federation, this would be about the year 2101 AG by your calendar."
"Are you expecting me to believe that you are from the future?" Bo asked.
"Yes, but as I said, this will all be verified after I have finished. Now as a diplomat, my father was put in charge of working with foreign space faring nations as well as those who weren't space faring. Then, Starfleet discovered you're planet. This was quite the discovery for them because they had only ever found a few planets where species that were almost identical to them had evolved. What was even better was that you were almost warp capable and would complete your first warp test within a few months."
"Warp capable?" Bo asked.
"Warp drive is how most space faring nations travel, warp one is the speed of light and the higher warp factors follow an asymptotic curve as they increase. Of course the actual technical aspects of warp theory are not important right now, what is important is that you understand that warp capability is a standard for first contacts between the Federation and other worlds. In other words, we were not allowed to speak with you until you could travel at at least the speed of light. We weren't even allowed to be near you. The purpose of this was to not influence the way your culture developed.
"All was going smoothly and my father was called to go make the first contact between the Federation and your world. So he took me along and we boarded the starship Columbus and within a few days we arrived at your world. I myself witnessed your first warp vessel flying as speeds that even the best Starfleet ships couldn't reach. After your warp launch, my father and I, as well as the diplomatic team, beamed, or teleported down to the surface of your world to speak with your leaders. When we arrived though, we knew something was wrong. When we were aboard the Columbus, the sensors indicated that you had undergone a major conflict recently resulting in many damaged buildings that were in bad need of repair. When we arrived, all of your city known as Republic City was in as good a condition as it probably had ever been. When my father noticed this, he attempted to contact the other ambassadors who had beamed down to the other major cities in on your world. He could reach none of them. We knew that we had been stranded when we tried to contact our ship, and once we discovered what the year was, we knew that we had time traveled.
"To this day, none of those who were present knows why or how we time traveled, but we did. Soon after we arrived and realized the circumstances of our situation, we decided that it was futile to stay separate from your people while we tried to get home to our time. We knew that we would need your help. So we began to live with you. However, we had to keep knowledge of our true identities secret and only a few of your people knew who we were. The Avatar was among them."
"So why did you have to keep secret?" Bo asked.
"We had to remain secret so as not to influence your development. As time wore on though, we began to realize that we couldn't go home, and so we resigned ourselves to life among you until our deaths. Then, the war began. The Avatar was trying to keep the peace through diplomacy, however, that quickly failed. The Avatar had to revert to military action. She urged those on the Republic Council to take it, however, they had also refused to agree on anything, the entire Republic of Nations had broken down. At that time, the White Lotus was the intelligence agency of the Republic of Nations, the Avatar had appointed my father Grand Lotus, or the leader of the agency, at the time the war began. He almost ended the war before the fighting even started. However, he was killed before he could finish his job," T'las finished.
"Okay, first a couple of questions," Bo said. "When you were in my mind yesterday, who was the other hooded man?"
"That man was my father, he was there because as you have already seen, Vulcans have telepathic capabilities, my father left an imprint on my mind when I was very young so that if he died on this world, his mind would have a place to go where it could still guide me," T'las explained.
"Also, I saw the Avatars and they spoke to you, how did they do that if you aren't of our world and therefore shouldn't be able to contact the spirits?" Bo asked.
"They were there, because my father shared minds with the Avatar before he died, just as you and I shared minds yesterday. This left an imprint, allowing my father to speak with the Avatar whenever he meditated. Since my father's mind resides within me, I am also able to speak with the Avatar's past and present lives."
"If you can speak with the present life of the Avatar, why haven't we found him or her?"
"Because Bo, the present, as well as the past lives after the start of the war, have all been children and been very confused about what was happening. This confusion prevents us from accurately pin-pointing their location because they believe they are dreaming, and so will not tell me where they are when I ask them," T'las answered.
"Very well, but there's one hole in your story, you'd have to be at least two hundred years old in order for you to have been present during all of this," Bo said smugly.
"Two-hundred six years and three of your months to be exact. We Vulcans are very long lived, the low end of our normal life span is two-hundred years, however, the oldest Vulcan lived to be over five-hundred," T'las said, removing the look of satisfaction from Bo's face.
"So, why have you told me all of this?" Bo asked.
"I've told you this because I am growing old, whether or not I look it. I no longer have the capability to search for the Avatar myself, I need your help Bo, the world needs your help. If the Avatar isn't found soon, Lord Wàng will be master of not only the fiefs of the former Earth Kingdom, but also those of the rest of the world, and those of us in the last free cities on Earth will all perish under the might of his armies. The Air Nomads will be gone, and this time perhaps for good," T'las finished, letting the gravity of the situation set in.
"How am I supposed to help?"
"The spirit of the Avatar will tell you shortly, and at the same time I shall verify with you all that I have said," T'las said as he moved his hand to touch Bo's head to initiate the mind link they had experienced earlier. "When the bridge is complete," T'las said, "you will not see the white void you saw earlier, you will experience the memories of both my father and me over our entire life spans up to the point that our link was initiated. During these memories, they will seem as real to you as they did to us. You will see the Avatar repeatedly, she will try to give you clues as to where her present form is. Unfortunately because she exists in the Spirit World, she cannot tell you exactly who and where her present form is, the link between the spirit and real worlds is a very complicated and confused one ..." T'las trailed off as Bo fell into the memories of T'las's father. Bo experienced all the details of his life over the course of a few seconds and then he experienced T'las's memories. When Bo came out of them and back into reality, he collapsed to the ground with a headache. After a minute, his head cleared.
"Sometimes," T'las began, "data transfer of such magnitude in such a small time span can cause pain in one's head, I'm sorry that I neglected to remember this or else I would have proceeded much more slowly. I'm afraid this negligence is the effect of the onset of an illness I have recently contracted."
"Bendii's syndrome," Bo said, knowing exactly what T'las was talking about although he had never heard the term from anyone else. "That's why you can't look for the Avatar, because within a few months, the effects will be worse, you thoughts and suppressed emotions will begin to spread to those around you without your ability to control them."
T'las looked away, "Yes, did the Avatar give you any clues as to where he present form was?"
"No," Bo said.
"Very well," T'las said as he began to exit the room, "I shall continue to investigate her whereabouts as I meditate and I suggest you do the same. However, I also would suggest that you sleep or at least meditate for the rest of the day to give you time to sort out the memories you have just seen, find what will be useful to you and also relieve the headaches. I shall see you at a later date Bo, farewell," with that, T'las left the room.
Bo also exited and ascended the stairs again, the sun was already setting, "I guess I missed Nyui's test," Bo said to himself as he went to his room. Once there, he sat on his bed, crossed his legs, and began to meditate. Soon, the memories he had just seen flashed before him. He was T'las's father, T'ron, he was standing in front of the Republic Council building. There was a crowd gathered around him and his group of diplomats, they all stared at him. He was confused about why the city was in such good condition, "What's wrong, he said, the city should be war torn." Then he was standing in front of the Avatar. She spoke to him. "I am Avatar Yoshi, I'm very glad to see that you are willing to help Bo," Avatar Yoshi turned and looked at a young boy at her feet. "This is Avatar Myagi, he doesn't know it yet but he will help save the world. However, he is in trouble, he needs help."
"Why does he need help?" Bo asked Yoshi, however, his voice was that of T'ron.
"Go ahead and tell Bo where you live Myagi, go ahead so he can help you," Yoshi told the boy, not answering Bo's question.
"I live on Kyosh ..." the boy began to say until the memory which seemed almost like a dream faded away into a white void.
"Wait!" Bo cried as the two Avatars receded into the distance. This time Bo's voice was his own. He ran after them until something caught his foot. He turned to see what it was. When he looked, he saw corpses. All rotting away with pink welts all over their skin. He looked back up and the void around him had turned black and was filled with corpses such as those that he had been standing on. Bo was filled with terror. The corpse that he had gotten stuck on turned to look at him, it was his mother.
"Help the Avatar honey, help him, he's in trouble," she rasped as she reached out to pull him into the pile that he stood upon.
"Mom, let go, otherwise I can't help him," Bo cried.
"Why did you leave me Bo, why didn't you help me when he came, why didn't you stop them?" his mother asked.
"Mom, I was four, I couldn't."
"You should have known, we should have known your father better," Bo's mother finished as Bo began to sink into the pile.
Bo awakened, he was sweating. The sun was down, he was late for dinner. He rushed back down stairs to the dining hall. When he entered, he saw Lien and Nyui and sat down next to them.
"So, how was the talk with T'las?" Nyui asked, cheerful as always.
"It was a little strange, I can tell you about the details later but the bottom line is we need to look for the Avatar," Bo said.
"We?" Nyui asked.
"Well, you don't have to go, but I assume that you'd like to come Lien," Bo said turning from Nyui to Lien.
"I guess, but why can't T'las do it, he seems capable enough," Lien said.
"Yes," Bo replied, "but in this case, appearances are deceiving."
"What's wrong with him?" Nyui asked.
"Let's just say that he's really old and frail," Bo told her.
"Okay, even if we do go looking for the Avatar, how do we know where he or she will be?" Lien asked.
"He's in some place called Kyosh, I don't think he got to finish telling me where he was, but we do have to find him and help him soon, he's in trouble," Bo said.
"How do you know that the Avatar's a he and that he's in trouble?" Lien asked.
"Avatar Yoshi told me, she was the Avatar before the war started," Bo said.
"And how did Avatar Yoshi talk to you?" Nyui asked unbelievingly.
"I had a vision, sort of a leftover from T'las energybending me," Bo said.
"All the way from yesterday?" Lien and Nyui asked in unison.
"No, he did it again today, except this time I got an awful headache." Bo went back into thought as Lien and Nyui had no more questions. "Kyosh, Kyosh, where could Kyosh be?" Bo asked himself.
"Ah ha!" Nyui exclaimed. The entire hall went silent and looked at where the three were sitting. After a few awkward moments the people went back to eating and their conversations. Nyui, now slightly red with embarrassment said, "The place isn't Kyosh Bo, it's Kyoshi Island, you said that the new Avatar got cut off, I bet that's what he was trying to say."
"Are you sure it's Kyoshi Island?" Lien asked Nyui.
"What other places start with Kyosh Lien?" Bo asked. "I think that Kyoshi Island is where he lives, and that's where we are going."
"May I come?" Nyui asked.
"Sure," Bo said, "but first we need some form of transportation, our balloon got scattered across the mountainside. We can probably ask T'las."
Later that night, the three followed T'las out of the dining hall. "T'las! We know where the Avatar is," they yelled after him.
T'las turned, "As do I, he is on Kyoshi Island, his name is Myagi, and he is in trouble, I too had the vision."
"That's great, that means you can help us get there," Bo said.
"That depends on what kind of help you need," T'las said.
"We just need transportation," Lien said.
"Why don't you just use Nyui's sky bison?" T'las suggested. "And congratulations on receiving your arrows Nyui."
"Thank you," Nyui said.
"We'll also need a map, ours is lost somewhere on the mountainside," Bo said.
"I'm sure the monks can provide you with one if you just go to the library."
"Thank you, we should prepare our stuff for travel now," Lien said.
As they were turning to go to their rooms to pack, Nyui turned back to T'las and asked, "What kind of trouble is the Avatar in?"
Bo spoke, "There was a pile of corpses, with pink welts on their blackened bodies, they were rotting."
"I suspect a plague, which means that you must hurry if you are to succeed," T'las said.
Once again, the three turned away and left for their rooms, to pack up their things for travel to Kyoshi Island.
For the collective works of the author, go here.