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|The Energybending Teacher|
Previously on Energy Saga
After Pathik tells Aang the basics of what energies are, Aang and Sokka get the feeling they are being followed and Aang receives a vision from Yue, telling him to come learn to bend energy from her at the North Pole, which he proceeds to do.
Chapter Seven: The Energybending Teacher
Spirit Oasis in the Northern Water Tribe, 104 AG
"Hello Aang. Hello Sokka. Welcome," Yue's spirit form said to Aang and Sokka.
As the Avatar and his companion stood on the out-of-place grass in the Spirit Oasis in the cold, icy North Pole, they were transfixed by the figure before them. Yue was there, floating just barely above the water – at the center of the pool where the two koi fish which were the Moon and the Ocean continued their eternal cycle of one another. Yue's life force was currently residing in one of these fish, as the Moon Spirit. Yet she was also seen in her spirit form up above. Transparent, she appeared to be donning her traditional Northern Water Tribe Princess dress. Her face was beautiful and sad at the same time. Her hair ended in waves. Whether this was because of her affiliation with the water element or just a ghostly spirit trend, it matched her well.
After greeting them, Yue turned her eyes toward Sokka and began gliding over to the spot where he stood. Sokka, however, did not reciprocate this action. Yue took notice. "What's wrong? Are you not happy to see me?"
Sokka has hesitant to reply. "I...I am. It's wonderful to see you again. But things are...different now," he trailed off just above his breath.
"Ah, there is someone else, you mean," Yue stated. "That Kyoshi Warrior girl – she's very pretty. And smart, too."
"Yeah," Sokka agreed with the faintest trace of a smile.
The awkward reunion was cut short. "Forgive me, Sokka. But I must speak with Aang alone now."
Sokka looked almost relieved. "Alright. Goodbye, then." He turned and exited the Spirit Oasis through the door he and Aang had used to come in.
Aang stared at Sokka as he left. He was happy to be relieved of the awkward tension as well. He turned back to Yue, unsure of what to say next.
However, she obliged for him. "So...Avatar. I understand that you have been seeking to learn the ancient art of energybending now. Tell me about this. What has motivated you to do so?"
"The whole of my people were destroyed by the Fire Nation. I hope to find out if I can use energybending to give people airbending the same way I took away Ozai's firebending. Then I can start to rebuild the Air Nomads, one person at a time."
"I see..." replied Yue.
"Is this possible?" Aang asked with anticipation.
"I don't think I can really answer that right now," said Yue, much to Aang's disappointment. "Energies are very complex things. They control a lot. It is far easier to say what energybending can do than what it cannot do. As for what you speak of, I know not about. Now...is that the only reason behind your quest?"
Aang turned his head. "Well...not really. There was also this assassin that I ran into a while back. He tried to kill me while I was in the Avatar State. That would have broken the reincarnation cycle and the Avatar would have ceased to exist forever. I also have this feeling that I'm being followed everywhere I go. If I could fend them off without having to go into the Avatar State and put the fate of the world at risk, which would be a big help."
Yue smiled calmly. "You are strong and wise. Your heart and mind are both pure. You wish to use energybending to help you restore balance to a world which desperately requires it – as a part of fulfilling your Avatar duties. And as Avatar, it seems it only makes sense for you to learn it. This knowledge is yours by right. Now, I will begin to teach it to you."
Aang beamed. But he was still a little confused. "So...how is it that you can energybend?"
"All spirits can bend energies," Yue said simply. "You'll come to see that the bending of energy can be dynamic and creative once you get into it. Maybe you will eventually find what you're looking for. Or maybe not. But it is almost certain that you will find much you did not intend to find along the way."
Aang was eager to begin. "I didn't expect this, but I suppose it makes sense now. I've come to the most spiritual place in the North Pole to learn energybending. And I always thought airbending seemed the most spiritual. Based on the Air Nomad lifestyle and how all the Air Nomads were benders and all."
"Hmmph," Yue scoffed. "If any of the four elemental bending arts are more spiritual than all the rest, its waterbending...because unlike the others it was initially taught to humanity by spirits."
"What do you mean?"
"Well: waterbending was taught by the Moon and the Ocean Spirits, earthbending by the badgermoles, firebending by the dragons and airbending by the sky bison. The other arts were each taught through different kinds of animals. But waterbending was taught by the Moon and Ocean Spirits."
"Hmmm...well, I never really thought of it that way," admitted Aang.
Yue continued. "Initially the original waterbending teachers were supposed to be the krakens. But they went extinct just before they could teach anyone. Therefore, the Moon and the Ocean spirits stepped in at the dawn of elemental bending to take their place. They would not ordinarily have done this. Although all spirits are different, direct interference by spirits into the mortal world is a rare occurrence. No spirit takes it lightly."
"Okay. So who were the initial teachers of energybending?"
"Oh. I thought it might have been the Lion Turtle."
"The Lion Turtle? What's that? Is that an animal of some kind?"
Surely she must be joking, Aang thought. She suddenly had all this newfound knowledge of energybending. How could she not know what the Lion Turtle was? It was the Lion Turtle who introduced him to energybending in the first place. "Never mind."
Yue continued. "When I first told you that the Spirit Oasis was the most spiritual place in the entire North Pole, I had no idea what an enormous understatement that was. Other than the Avatar, the Spirit Oasis is probably the strongest connection to the Spirit World from this world that there is. You see, the Spirit Oasis was created by the spirits when they bent spiritual energy from all over the North Pole and concentrated it in this one spot, making it into a nexus. After the Spirit Oasis was created, the humans came to see. They were amazed by it all. The spirits then used this energy to communicate with the humans and taught them how to bend energy for themselves. This was at the dawn of energybending."
"The dawn of energybending – wow," Aang exclaimed. "I always thought the dawn of elemental bending was long ago. The dawn of energybending must have been much farther back." Aang took a moment and stared around himself once again. This was the place where perhaps the first bending in this world ever took place. "That's why you can communicate with us so easily here?"
"Indeed," Yue responded. "The power concentration in this place is overwhelming."
"So the members of the Northern Water Tribe were the first energybenders?"
"No. There was no Water Tribe. There were no nations yet. Only humanity."
Aang found all this fascinating, of course. "How is it that you know all of this?"
"My partner has shared information with me. He has shared much with me since the Siege of the North. We have many conversations together."
"Yes, my partner – the Ocean Spirit." Yue gestured down to the other black and white koi fish.
"Oh, yes," said Aang in realization. "I remember - him and I took out an entire fleet of Fire Navy ships together. How you doing, old buddy?" Aang approached the pond and the Ocean Spirit turned his eyes the other way, apparently not wanting to be disturbed.
Yue rolled her eyes. "Forgive him – he's not as talkative when we have company."
"I don't remember him talking much then, either," Aang chuckled. "I guess he really is the strong silent type, then."
"Right," Yue agreed. "Anyhow, let's begin your training. Let's see what you know so far. What did the guru tell you when you visited him?"
Aang tried to recall, rolling back his eyes. "He just taught me some basic stuff about energies, really. I didn't know how to bend energy so I figured I would start by learning about energy in general. He had me read my own energy and showed me how to read someone else's. He used it as a way of learning about them. Then he taught me how to feel the flow of energy in the surrounding area."
"Hmmm...right. None of that is directly related to energybending. Still, what did you see when you read your own energy?"
"I felt a sort of flowing stream through my tantien," Aang described. "Thoughts came into my mind about some of my personality characteristics that are my driving force, so to speak. At the center I found something else. It was like a guiding nucleus of energy. But it took the form of a locked door. One I desperately needed to open, but did not have the key for."
To Aang's surprise, Yue smiled at the mention of this last part. "I know what you're describing. We'll be sure to open that up for you."
"Then let us begin," Aang said with a bow.
"You were on the right track to know about energies before you tried to bend them. You need to understand what you are dealing with before I teach you your first new moves. The truth of the matter is, there are literally hundreds of different kinds of energy: spiritual energies, bodily energies, world energies, natural energies, cosmic energies. They make the world go round, really. As a human, though, you cannot bend all kinds of energy. You can merely bend the energy that resides within your own body and the life forms around you. Certain spirits can bend other kinds of energy, but that is limited to them. But you should not feel limited by this – there is plenty you can do bending the kind of energy that you can bend. And a lot of the times, the different kinds of energy mix and intermingle with each other. The motions of the universe see to that. If it is truly time for this lost art to be reintroduced to the world, it is up to us to play our part in it."
"Whoa – wait," Aang responded. "I came across this in the first place because I was looking for a way to defeat the Fire Lord without killing him. It wasn't because it was the 'right time for it to be reintroduced' to the world."
"Perhaps the energies had already decided to bring back energybending at this time and merely used your dilemma as an excuse to do so."
"But...energies can't think."
"You'd be surprised. Energies can seem like they have a mind of their own sometimes."
Meanwhile, Sokka had spoken with the locals and found a spot to set their tent up near the stables where Appa was staying. After leaving Aang and Yue in the oasis, he had borrowed a canoe from one of the young warriors he had served with during the Siege of the North in the Hundred Year War. He then used the canoe to set out and go fishing around the giant ice mass that the polar city was carved out of. After successfully catching two, he returned to the city and spent the rest of his free time steering the canoe through the canals of the downtown area before docking the boat and returning to the tent he had set up for him and Aang.
Soon afterwards, Aang entered the tent as well. Sokka had just begun preparing a pot which he would be using to cook the food he had acquired. Aang did not appear to be tired. Maybe energybending was easier than he thought, Sokka thought to himself.
"Hey there, Aang," Sokka greeted him. "I got us some food."
Aang briefly stared down at the fish Sokka had caught, then turned to Sokka and glared at him. "How many times do I have to tell you that I'm a vegetarian?"
"Hmmm...didn't really think of that. Oh well, more for me, then." After looking back at Aang, he added "there's still some Earth Kingdom fruit in our bag. I suppose that's all yours now."
Aang did not respond to this. He simply walked over to where Sokka and his pot were and sat down, cross-legged beside him. Sokka continued to prepare his meal, waiting patiently for Aang to begin talking again. When several moments had passed and Aang remained still, Sokka took matters into his own hands. "So, how was your first day of energybending training – did Yue show you anything new."
"No. I didn't learn any new moves today."
Sokka was somewhat startled at this. "Yue didn't teach you any moves? Isn't that the whole reason we came here in the first place?"
"We just went over some background stuff today. Actual training will begin tomorrow, she said." As Aang answered him his mind seemed on something else.
"Well, that's good. Don't forget why you're really here," Sokka told him matter-of-factly.
The next day, Sokka agreed to stop by the marketplace in order to find food Aang could actually eat. Aang of course, had to wake up at the crack of dawn so that he could get in as much training that day as possible. Upon returning to the Spirit Oasis, he found Yue there waiting for him. Shortly, they began conversing about which moves Aang would start learning first.
"Obviously you knew a little bit about energybending before coming here," Yue stated to him. "Tell me what you know so far. Then we can go from there."
"Well, I already learned how to take away someone's bending ability by bending their energy. That's what the Lion Turtle taught me. I didn't know what he meant at first. Then while I was fighting Ozai it all made sense. It was very dangerous. I could feel my own energy at risk and how fragile it was. If I made the slightest screw-up it would not have ended well. Then more recently when I fought against Zhao Jr. I sort of – accidentally discovered – another move. My chi becomes enhanced for a brief time. But then I feel fatigued for some time afterwards."
"I see. So you know two moves already. Basic ones, but it's a start. Tell me, when you used energybending on Ozai, what position were you in with him."
Aang quickly demonstrated for her. "Ozai was below me – like so. I had just beaten him back with all four elements in the Avatar State. Then I used earthbending to hold him in place while I concentrated on bending his energy."
"Oh, okay. Sounds like you had it pretty easy then."
Aang thought for a moment that he heard her wrong. "Easy? My own energy was this close to being corrupted and I might have died. It wasn't easy at all."
"But you said yourself that you had already weakened him during the fight before. And your earthbending held him still the whole time. Imagine if he had been fighting back."
Aang thought about this. It had been hard enough when Ozai had been stationary. If he had actually tried to use energybending on him at the height of their battle – like when he was curled in the ball of rock and Ozai blasted tons of comet-enhanced flames at him. The idea seemed ridiculous if not completely impossible. "So, what am I going to learn now?" Aang asked, leaving the subject behind.
"The first move that I will show you is not a dangerous one at all. I'm sure you can master it pretty easily. Then later today we can move on to the more advanced techniques. This move is called recquiescence. First, I will walk you through the motions. Then I'll demonstrate it on you. It's not a violent move, so you needn't worry." Yue glided across the water and her transparent figure stood on the grass next to him. Then she demonstrated the bending movements for him. "Okay, now loosen up your limbs. I'm going to try it on you now."
Aang let his muscles hang and prepared himself for what Yue was about to do. She did what appeared to be taking a deep breath – although as a spirit, Aang did not see how she would do such things. Yue then put one hand over the other – palms facing her – and gently touched his arm near his shoulder blade. Then, she grabbed his wrist, rotated it in both directions and snapped it down.
Aang felt a surge flow through him almost immediately. A warm, tingly feeling started in his arm where Yue had performed the technique and then shot through the rest of his body. Suddenly, he was much more wide awake than he had been before. It was almost a caffeinated feeling but without the airy part at the back of the head. Aang began moving his arms up and down.
Yue took notice of this. "Well, how was that?"
"It was...sensational," replied Aang.
Yue smiled. "Yes. You see – energybending can be fun at times. Perhaps we can try it more as time goes on as an occasional treat. Now, let me show you the next move I have for you. It's called Energy Shove."
As Yue demonstrated the motions for him, she appeared to be leaning forward and pushing something forward. Then she turned back to Aang. That was it, he thought to himself. Seems easy enough.
"Okay, your turn. Use energybending and push forward."
Aang nodded and complied. But this move was nothing like the first one she showed him. He suddenly felt colder and less coordinated as he pushed forward. Then he suddenly fell back onto the ground. Startled, he lay with his bald head in the grass. Then he started to feel light-headed.
Yue stared down at him. "Yes, that one is a bit more difficult. Well, try it again."
Aang rose to his feet and took his fighting stance. He practiced the move again, only to feel the same way when he pushed out and then fell back shortly afterwards. He was already tired after only trying the move twice. But at least he did not fall to the ground this time. "Why does it feel like that when I push forward and then fall back a couple seconds later."
Yue explained it to him. "What is actually happening when you use this move is some of your bodily energy leaves you for a brief period of time. Then the energy returns to you once it has completed its task. That is why you fall back. You were overwhelmed by the energy coming back into your body – you've never felt it before. Another move that energybenders sometimes use to counter it is to try and block the energy on its way back, preventing it from reaching your body and leaving you weakened. However, since there are no other humans alive now who can energybend, we don't have to worry about that."
Aang looked a little bit uneasy as she explained this to him. He was sure that it would help to know this in time. But this was harder than he had expected. He hoped that as a fully-realized Avatar that anything new would simply come easy to him. Instead, it was like earthbending training for him all over again. And he felt tired and dehydrated – similar to how he felt when he performed the chi enhancement technique. The strengthening and subsequent weakening of his body really took a toll on him.
"Why do I feel this fatigue every time I use energybending now?" Aang asked Yue. "It wasn't like this at all after I fought Ozai."
Yue pondered this. "Maybe since you're relatively new to this, it's a little much for you. There are no other energybending humans around so we can't really compare your case to anyone. But I'm sure it'll be better as time goes on."
Aang was not entirely satisfied by this explanation. "Can you maybe use recquiescence on me again?"
"Well...I suppose so," Yue answered. "Since this is just practice, I'll make it easy for you. But keep in mind that you'll have to get by on your own eventually." And with that, Yue approached his body and shot the more pleasant feeling through his body once again.
Aang tried the move again. And again. And again. Although he had the motions down right, it did not appear any easier yet. And he felt tired, light-headed and fatigued after every single time. Performing the move time after time seemed a tremendous effort. It's probably just this one move, he thought. Like he had said, when he used energybending on Ozai, it had been dangerous...but not extremely tiring. Then again, he felt sort of like this after using Chi Enhancement as well. Aang needed Yue to use recquiescence on him quite frequently in this first day of training.
"Can't you do it to me just one more time?" Aang asked her after what felt like the hundredth time he tried the Energy Shove.
"Are you serious? I just used it on you barely a minute ago. You need to do some more work on this before I use it on you again." Aang had not seen this side of her when he first met her, but Yue could be quite the stern, disciplined teacher.
Aang was exhausted. He felt in desperate need for a recquiescence. But Yue was not giving it to him just yet. He half-heartedly went through the motions of Energy Shoving once more.
"That was pitiful," Yue told him firmly. "Do it again!"
"Ugh." Aang swung a little harder this time.
Aang practiced the forsaken move once more. After this attempt, however, he could not take it anymore, and let himself fall to the ground. A couple of seconds later, he passed out in the grass.
He had completed his Avatar training. Now that he finally had some time of his own, he could pursue what he wanted. Now he was walking through the hedge maze in the palace gardens. This had been one of his most favorite places to come when he was younger. Back then he had gotten lost in it for hours. It made a good hide-and-explode playing ground. But now he was not playing games. He was looking to build a family. Seeking companionship. As he turned the final corner and reached the center of the maze, there she was. The love of his life, she was just as stunning and beautiful as ever. It was...Ta Min.
Yue was shaking him now. "Aang, Aang, wake up. It's fine. I used recquiescence on you now. Here, why don't you take a quick break and go eat some food. Then come back to me when you're done."
Aang shook his head back and forth. He did not understand what just happened. Ta Min? Wasn't Katara the love of his life? He said nothing. He merely rose to his feet and did as Yue suggested. After a quick snack at the Northern Water Tribe's exquisite marketplace and some water, he returned to the Spirit Oasis, ready to train again. After a few more rounds, he asked Yue to use recquiescence on him once more.
"Why don't you try using it on yourself this time? If you face those assassins and turn like this every time you attack them, you'll make their job of killing you all too easy. At least this way, you'll be self-sufficient when the time comes."
Aang reluctantly started to perform recquiescence on himself, not knowing if he had the energy left to do so. As he managed to shoot the burst of energy through his body, he passed out again.
Aang knew now that his people were on the brink of extinction. It was now his job as Avatar to save them from that fate. Now, he was the only one who dared to stand up to a tyrant bent on world domination. He could not simply defeat this horrible man. He had to create a new society for his people. Where they could be free. This awful person had to die for the world to be safe. And the new place he would take his people would bear his name. It would be...Kyoshi Island.
"Aang, tell me – what's going on now? That's the second time you passed out today from sheer exhaustion."
"I think...I think I just remembered one of my past lives."
"You what? Well, that's nothing new, is it? You've journeyed to the Spirit World and talked to your previous reincarnations before."
"Yes, but before they simply told me what I needed to know. I actually remembered experiences from my past lives as though I was there – like it was me experiencing them. It was no dream. I remember it now as clearly as I remember when Katara pulled me out of the block of ice. Is this normal for energybending?"
Yue appeared as baffled by this as Aang was. "Well...as the Avatar, your energy is somewhat different than everyone else's. This could be one of its extra properties. Maybe it's a unique side effect for you. I wouldn't delve too much into it until you know more about how it works."
Aang practiced with Yue for the next several days, but did not have any more visions like the ones on the first day. Yue showed him a few more moves in this time – including one called Energy Tremor. This move threw energy to the ground and made a shockwave, temporarily immobilizing the energy in the living things in the surrounding area – leaving them defenseless. This would be great for fighting the assassins if he knew they were around but could not see them. Now, when he meditated and felt inside of him, he could feel the "locked door" was now partially open.
Each night, Aang returned to the tent and met with Sokka. As tired as Aang was when he returned, he was usually not up for doing much at nighttime. One night, Sokka asked him for a quick update on how his energybending training was coming along.
"The first day, I started I had a lot of trouble getting used to it. I still need recquiescence about twenty to thirty times a day..."
"Recquiescence – what's that?" Sokka asked him quizzically.
"It's a move where I reenergize my body when I'm tired. And it feels good at the same time. Anyway, I think I'll be a lot more prepared the next time an assassin shows up now."
"Okay, that's great. But remember, we have a time limit on our stay here. We have to go back to the other side of the world – literally, when you marry my sister. And what about making new airbenders – did you learn anything about that yet?"
"No. And Yue doesn't seem to know anything about it either. Maybe it's not possible. But now that I have an understanding of the fundamentals of energybending, I figure I can try it on my own and see if it works. I suppose it would be kind of the opposite of what I did when I took away Ozai's bending."
Sokka seemed a little skeptical of Aang's newfound confidence. "Well, if you want to try it we better not waste any more time up here. You should tell Yue that you're leaving tomorrow. If there's more you need to know later, you can always come back."
"Yes, I suppose you're right. Okay, I'll talk with her about it tomorrow morning." And then Aang began eating his fruits and vegetables. He was in high spirits now – at last he was finally ready.
When Aang explained himself the next day, Yue merely nodded, raising no objections. But then she added "Before you go, there is one more thing I must show you. It is perhaps the most powerful move in all energybending. With this at your disposal, no one – not even those assassins you keep talking about – will stand a chance."
Aang got wide-eyed with anticipation. "What is it?" he asked her.
"It is called...Shuten Shogai."
TO BE CONTINUED...
- Shuten Shogai means "full assault" in Japanese.
- The world of Avatar, in relation to the Spirit World, is commonly called the "physical world" by humans. This is in contrast to the spirits, who typically call it the "mortal world".
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