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|The Search for a Candidate|
Previously on Energy Saga Edit
Aang and Sokka travel to the North Pole, so that Aang can meet with the Moon Spirit. Princess Yue tells him that, as a spirit, she can teach him energybending. She teaches him some of the basic moves, but is unable to tell Aang how to use it to create airbenders, or if this is possible. Aand and Sokka agree to leave the North Pole to experiment with trying to give airbending to non-benders on their own. Yue says that before Aang leaves, she will teach him the most powerful move in energybending: Shuten Shogai.
Chapter Eight: The Search for a Candidate Edit
Spirit Oasis in the Northern Water Tribe, 104 ASC Edit
“Shuten Shogai?” Aang asked Yue.
Yue nodded. “Yes. It is among the most powerful bending moves in existence. It’s so strong in fact, that you won’t be able to use it while we’re in here. It’s far too dangerous. We’ll go through some of the motions and then when the time comes that you need it you’ll know how to perform it.”
Aang was still excited, though slightly disappointed. “What if I just shoot it into the sky? I won’t hit anything with it. I’ll be careful.”
“No – it’s still too risky,” Yue replied back. “Also, it’s not just that. You need another person with you when you do it for real. It’s an attack in energybending that combines both of your energies and creates a super-destructive force which will be fired at your opponent – or wherever you wish.”
Aang looked down. “But doesn’t that make it impossible for me to perform then? There are no other humans alive now that can energybend.”
Yue shook her head. “The other person does not have to be an energybender. They do not even have to be a bender. Ultimately it is you who performs the attack.”
“Well, let us begin then. I don’t want to keep Sokka and Appa waiting for me for too long.” Aang was longing to hear about the new move.
Yue bent her middle finger down to the center of her palm, showing him the center of a person’s Chi in their hand. Aang’s point and the point of the person he was performing it with would have to remain joined the whole time for it to work properly. Yue then walked him through the steps. It was a complicated move of course, but not too overwhelming. It began sort of like a relaxation exercise but ended like a throw. It was unlike anything Aang had seen before.
Once she was finished, Yue turned back to him. “Okay, now it’s your turn. Show me your Shuten Shogai.”
It took Aang a few times to get it right. But he had Yue there to patiently correct his mistakes. Fortunately, he did not get exhausted like when he did Energy Shove and Chi Enhancement. But of course, that could be because he was not performing the move for real. Nevertheless, he felt invigorated when he went through all the steps correctly. His energy was pulsing. If this is what it was like now, it must be so much more so when he actually did the move.
Aang turned and bowed to Yue. She smiled back at him. “Congratulations Avatar – you are an energybender now.”
“All thanks to your teachings,” Aang said, bowing to her with respect. “I cannot wait to try out Shuten Shogai for real!”
Yue shook her head. “It is the strongest move there is – you must use it sparsely, if at all. If you are lucky you will never have to use it. But now that you do know how to do it, you have the option available to you if you must.”
“Okay, okay,” Aang said back to her. “Well, I’d better get back to Sokka. He’s probably getting pretty impatient right now. I told him I would only spend a few minutes in here today at most.”
Yue nodded and waved to him. “One last piece of advice before you leave. Always make sure you’re the one bending the energy and the energy isn’t bending you.” And then she faded away and disappeared over the pond.
Ocean Between the Northern Water Tribe and the Earth Kingdom Edit
“Sounds like a pretty eerie line to end your training on,” Sokka told him later as they left the North Pole on Appa.
“Yeah, well she did say they can have a mind of their own sometimes, whatever that means. Anyhow, she taught me one final move today – Shuten Shogai. It’s the most powerful one there is – according to her, anyways.”
“Nice,” Sokka nodded to him. “Well, even if the giving people airbending part doesn’t work out at least you know it wasn’t a wasted trip.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. It’ll sure be a help if we run into those assassins again. I need someone there to perform it with me – I guess it’s like a joint move. The other person does not have to be an energybender though – they don’t even have to be a bender.”
Sokka started to stand up. “Well, let’s do it now then. Just tell me what I have to do and we’ll test it out.”
Aang hesitated. “Yue told me to not use it unless it was absolutely necessary. She said if I was lucky I wouldn’t ever have to use it.”
“Come on Aang. We’re over the ocean right now – what harm could it possibly do? Cause a tidal wave when no one’s around? Or if you’d rather wait until we’re on land, we could just aim it at something in some deserted wilderness. I know – let’s aim it at a mountain!”
“It’s not like I’m not curious to try it out as well,” Aang retorted. “But I gave Yue my word. It’s probably more risky than we’re accounting for.”
“Fine – if you say so,” Sokka said, disappointed.
“I know – how about I use recquiescence on you instead? You haven’t experienced that yet. It’s an amazing feeling – and it’s quite relaxing as well.”
Sokka shrugged and allowed Aang to place his arm on him to perform the technique. Immediately, Sokka felt a warm jolt shoot through his body and he sprung to his feet, clearly not expecting it to be that effective.
“Wow – that was something. Now onto the next step of this journey – about giving people airbending – have you come up with a plan for that yet?” Sokka was scratching his back as he said this.
Aang looked gloomy. “Well, I’m not a hundred percent sure it’ll work yet – and when I do try it, it’ll be a risk for both me and whomever I’m performing it on. It has to be the right kind of person – and I’ll have to inform them of the risk they’re taking before I actually try it on them.”
“Well, good luck with that,” Sokka responded sarcastically. He had a point, Aang thought. This was going to be a lot harder than he originally anticipated.
Western Earth Kingdom Edit
For the next several weeks, Aang and Sokka traveled on Appa through the Earth Kingdom in search of someone for Aang to experiment on with not much luck. They followed gradually down the coast from small town to small town. Aang had decided that it would be easier to find someone to potentially make into an airbender in a smaller community due to their simpler lifestyle.
Indeed, Aang could not just give airbending to anyone. They must be a good learner, with strong will and be spiritually attuned. They must also not already be a bender. At the present Aang did not know anyone who completely fit the model. Pathik was too old and Teo was crippled – it would be even more risky for them than it already was and Aang was not prepared to take that risk for them. If it did work out, then he would likely use it on Teo later on, since other than that he was the exact fit to become an Air Nomad. The person he did choose would have to have the heart and spirit of an airbender. Someone like Toph or Sokka would certainly not do.
And, if matters were not already difficult enough, in order to be Energybent they must be willing to let go and submit to him as he bent their energy. This would make it easier for Aang and he needed all the help he could get. If he was able to do it, giving bending would likely be much harder than taking. And as much as Aang hated to admit it, the person would be at considerable risk if it did not work or if something went wrong. As Aang and Sokka had asked around in the settlements they visited, they came across more than one almost perfect candidate who either could not or would not accept the risk involved. Aang did not like the prospect of putting people in danger either – but he saw his work as being for a benevolent cause, so he forced himself to deal with it.
Faxian Island, 105 ASC Edit
At long last, Aang and Sokka arrived at Faxian Island, which resided off the southwestern coast of the Earth Kingdom. Although pristine and upward-sloping, the tiny island was not volcanic. It was covered in grassy plains and was home to a small village of about fifty residents. None of inhabitants had dreamed that the Avatar of all people would have a reason to visit them in their lifetime. Given their past experiences, Aang and Sokka did not have high hopes for finding what they were looking for here. Sokka had even stated that he would have skipped over the whole place if they were not exceptionally low on food supplies.
As Aang and Sokka stopped at a local salesman’s booth, Aang questioned the owner. “Can I get one of your large bags of fruit, please?”
“Six bronze pieces,” the gruff, middle-aged man told them nonchalantly.
“Thanks. By the way, is there anyone in this village you know of who’s not an earthbender and who is relatively peaceful and is spiritually attuned? Age doesn’t matter too much, but we’re on the lookout for someone who fits that description and preferably on the young side.”
The shop owner did not take long to think it over. “There’s Trinley – he’s a strange fourteen year-old boy who lives alone with his mother. He lost his father to the Fire Nation in the war. Never met a more calm, at ease fellow in my life. No matter what fault comes his way it doesn’t seem to bother him much.”
“Okay…can you tell us anything else about him?” Sokka interjected inquisitively.
“Hmm…yeah. I think he kept having these dreams when he was younger – like he was flying or something. Pretty weird if you ask me,” the man said matter-of-factly.
Aang and Sokka’s mouths fell open. Finally, they were onto something. “Can you be so kind as to direct us to where Trinley and his mother live?”
Aang and Sokka followed the shopkeeper’s directions and found a small, run-down wooden house next to a field. Aang knocked at the door, which was answered by a short, slouched woman with dark, graying hair. “Hello Miss. I’m the Avatar and I need to speak with your son, Trinley. Is he around?”
“Come in,” she beckoned while stepping aside. She was not a particularly talkative or cheerful woman. She led them to a small door in the corner and opened it for them.
Inside this room was a young boy with long, dark hair sitting in a meditative stance on his bed, facing the opposite direction from Aang and Sokka.
“I have visitors,” the boy stated, still facing away from them.
“Yes. I’m Aang – I’m the Avatar – and this is my good friend Sokka,” Aang answered for him.
Trinley turned to face them, but gave no further acknowledgement at this time. He had violet-colored eyes. This was rare – especially for the Earth Kingdom. As Sokka waved at him awkwardly he continued to give them both a blank stare.
“As you know, I’m the master of all four elements,” Aang continued. “As you also probably know, I’m the last airbender left standing after the war with the Fire Nation. But I came across a new kind of bending – energybending. This allows me to bend another’s energy and I might be able to give another person airbending ability by doing this. I believe that person is now supposed to be you. If you accept this, your life will change substantially from now on. You will have to abide by certain rules and you will be spending a lot of your time away from here and away from your mother.”
“So that’s what my dreams meant. Okay, let me know when you’re ready and you can perform on my body what you will,” Trinley answered, apparently unconcerned about the sacrifices he was being asked to make.
Aang paused for a moment. “You must understand that there is no guarantee that this will work. And if it does not work, it is a risky procedure you are taking. You could become heavily messed up or die in the process.”
Trinley did not bat an eye at this statement. “Well, I’m ready when you are.”
Sokka was baffled by Trinley’s reaction. “Look, kid – were you even listening? You’re risking your life and even if this is successful your whole life as you know it will change.”
“I heard everything fine,” said Trinley calmly. “I can tell that it is destiny that brought you here to me today and whatever happens I accept the fate it brings me.”
Aang was surprised. “Alright. Just come over to me and kneel down. Let your body and your energies be at ease and simply go with the flow.”
Finally, it was the time Aang had been waiting for ever since he left the South Pole with Sokka months ago. He positioned himself to Trinley like he had done with Ozai long before. He took a moment to think back to it and enhanced his own Chi slightly. Then he took a deep breath and began the process. He did it differently this time – doing the opposite of what he did before. He focused on pushing when he otherwise would focus on pulling. He also focused hard on Air, since that was the element he intended to give to Trinley. He placed his free hand on the crown of the boy’s head. According to Guru Pathik, that was where the seventh chakra was located and that was the one which connected to pure cosmic energy.
At last, Aang released him. Trinley had kept his eyes shut and now opened them. “The moment of truth – try airbending,” Aang told him.
Trinley moved his arms about and did a few jump-kicks, but nothing happened.
“Ah, I didn’t think it would work,” Sokka commented.
Aang was disappointed. It seemed he would have to give up his hopes on this after all. Just then, Trinley had something in his nose. His head leaned back and then he let out a sneeze, which sent him ten feet in the air as he hit his head on the ceiling and fell back down to the floor with a deafening thud.
It had worked – Trinley was an airbender.
Southern Water Tribe Edit
Meanwhile, extensive preparations were being made for the event that was set to take place later that same day at the South Pole. Some of the Water Tribesmen and women were setting up tables and chairs for the feast that would follow the ceremony. As this happened, Hakoda and Pakku stood by the edge of the village, looking at the scene before them.
“I knew the day my daughter would be getting married would come someday and that I would have to bear witness to it,” Hakoda remarked proudly to Pakku. “I never really had the time to think about the logistics of it much since the war was on for most of our lives.”
“You’ve outdone yourself, Chief Hakoda,” Pakku told him, looking around at the amount of accommodations that were being made within the small village.
“I’ll be spent after this, no doubt. I do hope that when my son marries that Suki girl he’s seeing that her family can pony up for it. But I won’t bother myself with thoughts of that now. It looks like we’re ready to put this show underway.”
“Ummm…no we’re not Hakoda,” Pakku said, looking about. “Where’s Aang?”
Faxian Island Edit
At that very moment, Aang was sitting down with Sokka and Trinley in Trinley’s house as Trinley’s mother served them all tea. “I’m excited to start your training. I hope that you are too. Wait until the Summer time – it’s a great time for flying on your glider. But of course that’s not for a while – the Winter Solstice was only two weeks ago.”
“The Winter Solstice was three weeks ago,” Trinley corrected him.
Aang was shocked. “No – that can’t be right. It was definitely two weeks ago. Right, Sokka?”
“Hey, I haven’t been keeping track of the date,” Sokka answered, alarmed. “I thought you were.”
“But if it really was three weeks ago – that means today is the day of the wedding. I’m supposed to marry Katara today!!!”
Sokka put down his tea cup. “We’re more than a day’s ride away on Appa. Possibly two – we’ll never make it!”
“Oh, you in trouble now,” Trinley’s mother chimed in with a smirk at Aang.
Aang turned to Trinley. “You’re about to get your first airbending training.”
Appa panted loudly as he flew forward over the ocean at breakneck speed. He was gliding swifter than they had ever rode on him before. Sokka was at the front of the saddle while Aang and Trinley were both at the back pushing air backward in order to propel them forward faster.
“Just send as much air as you can backward,” Aang told Trinley. “Just straight back – don’t worry about direction. Sokka’s taking care of that.”
“Easy for you to say,” Sokka shouted back at Aang while struggling to steer the giant bison in the right direction at the speed they were going.
Aang could hear how tired Appa was. “Sorry buddy, but this one time you’re going to have to go as fast as you can.”
“Hey Aang, why don’t you use recquiescence on him?” Sokka suggested.
“That’s not a bad idea,” answered Aang. He sent an energy jolt into Appa’s body and Appa shot forward a little more.
At last, they reached the edge of the Southern Water Tribe. Appa crash-landed as soon as they got to the ground that was the South Pole. Appa had hit the ground so hard that Sokka, Aang and Trinley were all flung off of his back and they all landed hard in the snow. Aang’s face was buried on the ground. As he looked up, he saw that someone was standing over him. It was not Katara or Hakoda or anyone from the Water Tribe. It was Toph.
“Way to make an entrance, Twinkle Toes,” Toph said in her usual smug, tomboyish manner.
“Toph – where is everyone? Has the wedding started – did I miss it?” Aang said frantically as he rose to his feet.
“Relax, you made it back just in time. And boy do I mean just in time. You and Sokka and Appa were gone for quite a while. Everyone’s been wondering where the three of you were.” Digging her feet into the ground, she added “wait, there’s four of you?”
Trinley waved at her and smiled meagerly “hi, I’m Trinley. I’m an airbender now.”
Aang sharply cut him off. “No time for introductions! I need to do some bending on my clothes. They’re the wrong type and they’re wet, scruffy and muddy. I can’t go down there like this.”
“No worries, I have some extra dress clothes for you in here,” Toph gestured into one of her expensive handbags. “I had a feeling you might need some help with that – call it intuition. There’s a hut on the way to the pavilion that the ceremony is in that you can use to change.”
Aang threw his arms around her. “Thanks Toph – you’re a lifesaver!”
Toph looked inept as she patted him on the back prior to his releasing her. “Yeah, now go get married, Twinkle Toes.”
Aang gratefully took the set of fresh new clothes from his friend Toph and ran into the empty hut on the way to where the wedding would be held. He then changed and spruced himself up in the precious little time he had to spare. Once prepared, he dashed toward the large icy building that lay before him and slowed down in order to enter in a dignified sort of manner.
Once inside the giant structure, Aang found a host of people waiting for him – people from all three remaining, well-established nations. He spotted the members of Katara’s immediate family. Hakoda was standing toward the front of the large room, ready to bear witness to the wedding of his only daughter. Not far off were Kanna, Katara and Sokka’s grandmother and her husband Pakku, the great waterbending master from the Northern Water Tribe. Just beside them were Huu, Tho and Due of the Foggy Swamp Water Tribe. Although they had not always been in close contact with the rest of their nation, they were technically one of the Water Tribes.
From the Earth Kingdom, at the front was Toph Beifong and situated next to her was her newest friend, King Bumi of Omashu. Aang could also spot Haru along with the Kyoshi Warriors – Suki and Ty Lee included. Even farther back were the Freedom Fighters, the Mechanist from the Northern Air Temple and his son Teo.
There were guests from the Fire Nation as well. Fire Lord Zuko and his girlfriend Mai by his side were the most noticeable. On Zuko’s other side sat his uncle Iroh, the legendary Dragon of the West. By Iroh’s other side sat the War Minister Qin, who had also served under Zuko’s father Ozai.
At the very back of the pavilion sat the Earth King Kuei in his palanquin, lifted by bearers on each end. He was surrounded by his normal battalion of palace guards. He had probably never been this far away from Ba Sing Se in his entire life.
There were certainly many people who had gathered for this occasion situated throughout the ample space that stood before him. However, it was at the altar that he stood now. Located beside him was the Water Shaman – a prominent holy man from the Western Water Fortress who had traveled here to conduct the marriage between him and Katara. All of a sudden, Aang grew tense in expectation of what was to come. He knew what an important circumstance this was and how close he had come to missing out on it.
And then, at the farther side of the room, Katara came down isle. She was barely recognizable as the young girl that he had saved the world with a few years before. She was – for lack of a better term – a beautiful woman. She was dressed in a glamorous, elaborate dress of the kind Aang did not know even existed in Southern Water Tribe.
As Aang and Katara stood before him, the Water Shaman began to project his voice throughout the room. “We are gathered here for this most special occasion – the wedding of Katara, daughter of Chief Hakoda, of the Southern Water Tribe to Aang, the Avatar, of the Air Nomads. Let us begin. Do you, Katara, take Aang to be your husband?”
“I do,” said Katara, gazing into Aang’s eyes.
“And do you, Aang, take Katara to be your wife?”
“I do,” said Aang, gazing into Katara’s eyes.
“Then by the power of the Moon and the Ocean Spirits and the grace of the tribal chieftains, I now certify your union. You may now kiss the bride.”
Aang kissed Katara just like he had when they were outside the Jasmine Dragon following the end of the Hundred Years' War. It felt as if they were alone in the room full of people that lay in front of them.
Soon, it was time for the reception dinner. When Aang approached his spot at the table, he had his vegetarian dish set out for him. Sure enough, the sea prune stew he had dreaded was there, though he decided he did not mind anymore. The dinner was uneventful and it was soon time for dancing. It turned out Katara had bumped into the singing nomads in the Earth Kingdom when she went on an errand to pick up some flowers and they had agreed to play for them. Aang and Katara were of course the first ones to dance. They began with a traditional Water Tribe dance, as Kanna had instructed them to. Of course, they both soon got bored with this routine and moved onto using their waterbending moves. Although Sokka was still out of breath, Suki managed to drag him out as they become the second couple to hit the floor. Fire Lord Zuko and Mai were not far behind. After that, many others began to dance around them. Toph first danced with Haru and then with a warrior from the Southern Water Tribe. Trinley at first stood idly by, not knowing anybody else. He tried to fit in first by dancing with Toph and then by attempting to snag a dance with Suki. Longshot was dancing with a girl with long hair and makeup. Aang only recognized her as Smellerbee when she spoke. She had said that it was not typical for her to dress like this, but that she made an exception for this event.
Aang spotted out of the corner of his eye Huu and Pathik conversing with one another in the corner. They seemed in a relaxed mood and the clothes they wore now were not unlike those they usually did. Apparently the change in weather from where they were both used to did not bother them. It was at this point that Aang and Katara decided to take a break from dancing to split off and mingle with some of their several guests.
Aang soon saw Haru and his mother near the edge of the dance floor. As he walked over, Haru greeted him. “Aang! Congratulations. After all that you and Katara have done for us, it is wonderful to be with you on your happiest of occasions.”
“Thank you for coming, both of you,” Aang said to Haru and Haru’s mother. “So where is your father, Tyro – is he around?”
“He was unable to make it,” Haru’s mother answered.
“My father has been promoted to the Council of Five by the Earth King,” Haru told him, looking grim. “He’s in Ba Sing Se right now.”
“Well, that’s good news,” said Aang cheerfully. “He’s one of the highest ranking leaders in the Earth Kingdom now. Congratulate him for me the next time you see him.”
Haru looked away. “Not sure when that will be. With all his new responsibilities, he doesn’t have much time to spend with his family. It has been some time now since he last visited our village.”
“Oh, sorry to hear that,” Aang said awkwardly.
Just then, Katara was passing through, accompanied by an older gentleman Aang recognized as the shop owner and boatman from the river village in that Katara had saved from a polluting Fire Nation factory. “Aang, you must remember this man from when we were traveling through the Fire Nation. I disguised myself as the Painted Lady when we were in his town.”
“I could never forget that ordeal!” the man interjected before Aang could answer. “Of course, at the time, I had no idea that our Painted Lady and her friend were the Avatar and his Water Tribe companion.”
Aang smiled. “So – tell me – are you Doc or Xu today?”
“Neither,” the man answered with a faint of laughter. “My brother Doc works on the dock, my brother Xu works in the shop and my brother Bushi cleans rivers. My name is Dadao and I attend weddings!”
Aang merely laughed and rolled his eyes, knowing how pointless it would be to argue. Soon afterwards, Ty Lee came over to him. Ty Lee had brought a date with her. He was tall with short dark hair and wore a white shirt and pants with a green belt and scarf. They were arm-in-arm with one another.
“Hiiii,” said Ty Lee with enthusiasm. “Congratulations Aang. This is my date, by the way. Gitsu, this is Aang. He’s the Avatar!”
“How do you do,” said Gitsu, extending out his arm. “I know he’s the Avatar, dear. We actually met a long time ago – in Ba Sing Se.”
“Ummm…we did?” Aang asked him quizzically.
“Yes,” Gitsu added slyly. “Beneath the crystal catacombs – Katara was there, too. You went into the Avatar State and rose up really high into the air. The Fire Nation Princess then struck you down with her lightning. You fell down the whole way – classic stuff.”
Aang of course knew this all too well. It was definitely not something that he enjoyed reminiscing about. Especially at his own wedding. “Has somebody told you this?”
“Hah! No, I was there. You don’t recognize me then, that’s okay. I’m a Dai Li agent.”
Aang’s mouth opened in surprise. She’s dating a Dai Li agent now? Well, then again…it’s not like he was the only old enemy of theirs at the wedding. “Oh. Well, I guess I didn’t recognize you specifically – there were quite a few of you there.”
“Yeah,” continued Gitsu, grinning. “The best part had to be when the Fire Nation Princess shot at you with her lightning.” Gitsu then made a serious face and pointed his hand into the air, startling Aang. “Zap!” Gitsu and Ty Lee both burst out laughing at his impression. When he noticed that Aang was not amused, he added “oh lighten up, man. Everything’s funny with hindsight, ain’t it?”
“Yeah, totally,” Ty Lee merrily added. “So many memories of that place – like those guides on the way in.” Ty Lee offered up her own impression now. “’I’m Joo Dee. Welcome to Ba Sing Se.’”
“How much I wish you were one of our Joo Dees,” Gitsu suavely turned and said to Ty Lee. “None of them were even half as pretty as you are.”
Ty Lee was apparently touched by this. “Awww, Gitsu, that’s got to be the sweetest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”
Aang left Ty Lee and Gitsu behind to find someone else. If this is that guy’s idea of friendly conversation, I’ll pass, Aang thought to himself. He spoke briefly with War Minister Qin and Iroh, asking how things were for the Fire Nation and Ba Sing Se nowadays.
Before the end of the evening, Aang spoke with Trinley once again, thanking him for his help in getting there and promising to continue training him after the honeymoon.
At long last, Aang and Katara were alone again. This was the first time it was so since Aang had proposed to her by bending the clouds. And now they were husband and wife. Aang did not know what to say to her now. He did not even know where to begin.
“So it’s finally happened. I’ve missed you lately,” he told her.
“I missed you a lot, too,” Katara said back to him.
“Really – you seemed a lot more content with the situation than I was,” Aang told her.
“I was trying to hide it,” Katara blushed. “At least we don’t have to worry about it now.”
“No…no, we don’t,” Aang agreed.
Aang had a dream that night. He was flying high in the sky on Appa with Katara at his side. The sky before him was calm and tranquil. It reminded him of how things were before the Hundred Years' War. Katara was resting her head on his shoulder and looking forward with him. She was holding a baby in her arms and smiling peacefully.
As they flew forward on Appa, there were others flying behind them. They appeared to be Air Nomads grasping their gliders, following the same route they were taking. Aang could not count how many there were exactly, but the sky seemed filled with them. There were men, women and people of all ages.
Then, the sky abruptly started turning darker around him. It grew darker every second. Eventually, Aang was surrounded by total blackness and Katara, Appa and the rest of the scene dissolved around him. Soon, he was sitting down in the middle of a pitch-black place and a bright light appeared in front of him. Out of this bright light emerged the tall, sage-like figure of Avatar Roku, his most recent past life.
“Aang, I must talk with you now. This is a matter of grave importance.” Aang could tell by Roku’s voice that he was serious. Roku had contacted him during his dreams before, such as when he wanted to show Aang memories from his past friendship with Sozin, the Fire Lord who had begun the Hundred Years' War.
“What is it, Roku?” Aang grew uneasy at the tone that Roku was taking with him. If he was contacting him now, there must be something really bad about to happen. But everything seemed to be getting so perfect – how could there possibly be anything so urgent for Roku to warn him about like this now?
“You must not energybend ever again,” said Roku flatly.
“What?” Aang replied in alarm. “Why would you say that?”
“Be warned – you can only keep your own energy unbendable for so long. The art that you now practice left this world ages ago. It is not a part of our world anymore. Bringing it back may complicate things. What’s done is done – now that you have used it on Trinley, you can still train him – but promise me you will end it there.” Roku said the last part with noticeable urgency.
“I don’t understand what issue there is,” Aang retorted. “Apart from Katara, this has to be one of the most amazing things that’s happened for me.” And indeed it was. The opportunity to bring Air Nomads back into this world was phenomenal. But first Jeong Jeong, then Pathik and now Roku was warning him against it. This was ridiculous. What could possibly be dangerous about it?
“I know this may seem like a dream come true to you at the present moment. But you must understand – there are implications and consequences for what you do. Sometimes we need to listen to what is offered to us, even if we don’t fully understand it. When I was a young Avatar just mastering the elements, Kyoshi told me not to let my personal attachments get in the way of performing my Avatar duties. I didn’t know what she meant at the time – but she was right. I spared Sozin in the name of our past friendship when I could have ended the looming threat then and there. You may not fully understand the meaning of what I tell you now, but that is not reason alone not to accept it.”
“But this is about saving the world…rebuilding it,” Aang said in response.
“No, what you are doing is not saving the world. It’s toying with it – there’s a distinct difference. I’m still uneasy about how you came across this knowledge when you did – right before you fought Ozai. You were conflicted at the time – vulnerable to temptation. This made you forsake the advice of your own past lives. And now you are doing it again. If you had just simply finished the Fire Lord like you should’ve.”
Aang turned his head away from Roku. “Don’t you mean if you’d just finished the Fire Lord like you should’ve?”
Roku was quite taken aback by this. He took a deep breath, and then countered “I made some mistakes in the past – and that was one of them, yes. But I don’t want to see you make mistakes like I did. Don’t let the world fall out of balance again so soon after finding it. Listen.”
“No, you listen!” snapped Aang. “You said it to me yourself. You should have seen the war coming and prevented it. My people’s plight is all your fault! The world’s plight is all your fault! I’m rebuilding now from your mistakes, so don’t you complain how I do it!”
Aang paused – perhaps what he said was uncalled for. After all, he did respect Roku immensely and appreciated his council. Roku now seemed very resentful of what he had just said. “Roku, I’m sorry, I-“
“No, don’t be. It’s quite fine. I suppose now that my advice is no longer needed I can go enjoy some quiet spiritual retirement. Hey, I may have been the biggest screw-up the world has ever known – but at least I can be reassured that I was reincarnated as someone wiser and more competent than I.” There was a definite tone of sarcasm to his voice. “Here, I thought I was telling you how to do your job, but now you supposedly know so much more than I do.”
“Roku…” Aang began.
“I’m sorry I interrupted your dream…Avatar Aang.”
Aang opened his mouth to say something else, but did not get the chance. A second later, he was flying with Katara on Appa again.
TO BE CONTINUED…
- “Dadao” means marriage in Chinese
- Trinley’s name is the name of the 12th Dalai Lama. The 14th and current Dalai Lama is named Tenzin Gyatso, where two Avatar characters likely derive their names.
- This is the longest chapter so far, with over 6,000 words.
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