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|The New Air Nomads|
Previously on Energy Saga
Azula is released from the mental hospital in 106 AG. Zuko invites Aang to come receive her with him, with the possibility of Aang taking away her bending still on the table, as Zuko believes she might still be dangerous. Outside, Aang finds another mysterious man following him and chases him. Before he could be interrogated, the man from the unknown organization commits suicide.
Chapter Ten: The New Air Nomads
The Avatar and His Family, 106-120 AG
For the next few years Aang did not have another serious encounter with the mysterious followers and assassins that had troubled him in his exploits and plagued him in his mind. Strangely, it seemed as though something had caused them to retreat or change their strategy regarding him. This left one less thing to bother him, and Aang was allowed to devote more of his time and focus to energybending. And he used energybending on many occasions. When he found the time, he took more trips to the North Pole to learn what he was able to from Yue. He now knew a lot of moves and was well-versed in the most powerful ones. However, he had still never used Shuten Shogai. Aang did long to see what it was actually like when performed for real. But he kept his prior promise to Yue about never using it unless absolutely necessary.
Following his success with Trinley, Aang used the power of energybending to give many more people airbending abilities which they did not already possess. After he had quite the expedition to find Trinley, it soon became significantly less time-consuming to find people to use energybending on. Indeed, people were literally lining up to find Avatar Aang, who was now using unknown forces to give people the ability to bend. Non-benders from all over the world were interested in the idea and after hearing success stories were even willing to make the long journeys to find Aang themselves to have the chance at airbending. All Aang had to do now was examine them and pick the best out of the crowd. He had to be sure the person had the potential not to just be a good airbender, but also a proper Air Nomad. Among the crowd, many were simply bored people looking to toss some wind around and fly around on gliders. Aang typically sent those ones home straightaway. Nevertheless, there were still plenty of good ones as well.
Once he gave his seekers airbending, he began to train them as best he could remember starting with his earliest training when he was a small boy. Everyone had to start the beginning, no matter what age they were. Some were only children and some were decades above Aang in age (not counting the hundred years he spent in the ice berg, of course.) Aang did not employ a set amount of time for how long one would learn the basic moves in airbending. When they were ready to move on, they would move on. It was as simple as that. Trinley and a few others excelled quite quickly. Most, however, took some time to become adjusted to the gifts that Aang had given them. However, once Trinley had mastered the basics himself, Aang let him teach newcomers part of the time, which helped speed up the overall expansion. Getting past the early stages was tough. But once that was accomplished, there were rewards and fun parts to look forward to. Making Air Scooters and playing the game on them which Aang had long ago been excluded from, playing Air Ball, racing on their gliders and participating in traditional Air Nomad events were all a part of the package.
Reconstructing a nation was by no means limited to the practice of airbending, of course. Aang also taught Air Nomad society, culture and history. As he was only twelve when he ran away, Aang could only rely on his own memories so much for this. He dug up scrolls and scrolls from each of the Air Temples in search of important information and talked to some historians from all ends of the world who were familiar with the cultural practices of ancient and extinct civilizations.
Although Aang had done his best to recreate the Air Nomad life he remembered, the new Air Nomads had some notable differences with the old Air Nomads. For instance, in the old days, all four of the temples were active with two housing exclusively males and two housing exclusively females. This meant that much of Air Nomad life was gender-segregated save for the "mixers" and trips in between the temples on a periodical basis. As quickly as the new country had grown under Aang's guidance, it was still much smaller than it was before the Hundred Year War. Adjustments had to be made accordingly. There was only one Air Temple active – the Southern Air Temple – and it was coed. Aang let the diverse group of individuals learn airbending "from the source" by having Appa do demonstrations for them. However, there was only one sky bison around and the lemurs, while they could still be found, were now scarce and endangered. There was increased reliance on gliders. Aang had requested a couple of air balloons from the Mechanist for emergencies and the Mechanist was all too happy to oblige for him.
The Mechanist himself still resided at the Northern Air Temple, where he and his band of refugees continued to live the life they had become accustomed to after being driven away from their homes by the Fire Nation during the Hundred Year War. Aang and the Mechanist had reached a peace with one another. The Mechanist would continue to inhabit and expand upon the technology-driven way of doing things he would do in the past as long as he left certain sections of the temple untouched and avoided the destruction of sacred artifacts. In addition, Aang granted Teo and a few others the ability to airbend so that there would remain somewhat of a presence of real airbenders within the autonomous region. Aang granted all of the people of the temple honorary Air Nomad citizenship, which meant, of course, that for the first time not all of the Air Nomads were benders.
The Eastern Air Temple, by contrast, still remained largely deserted. Guru Pathik still dwelled there at one hundred and seventy years of age and still cracking. His lifestyle was pretty much the same as it had always been, but he received visitors much more frequently. Aang let him be a spiritual guide and counselor for many of the new Air Nomads as they became adjusted to their new lifestyle. The old Air Nomads were quite a spiritual people, so the spiritual teachings from one of the few who actually remembered them was certainly helpful.
The Western Air Temple was available for housing and travelers in between locations. There was typically somewhat of a small community there, though this did fluctuate depending on the time of year. There was also a war monument in remembrance for the late-stage battle that had been fought there and Aang and his friends' past experience with it.
Aang's first student, Trinley, was still among his finest. Following his honeymoon with Katara, Aang had continued to train Trinley as he had promised. Trinley carried his relaxed and determined mentality that he had shown Aang upon their first meeting into his airbending training and this made him quite the capable student. He soon began helping Aang to train others and he was a patient, but diligent, instructor.
Not all of the new initiates were as convenient as Trinley. For example, there was Icarus. He was a powerful bender now and inspired the others a great deal. But Aang was troubled by how aggressive he was. This was not normal for an airbender and he seemed to regard certain bits like respecting all life, keeping a modest appearance and shaving of heads to be beneath him. He was forced to accept most of this for Aang to work with him, but he still showed visible discontent.
Even more peculiar than Icarus was Nola. Aang did not know much about her background. As Aang recalled, Nola had been really excited when she first came before him seeking bending abilities. Indeed, he could not remember anyone else who could not wait to get started like she was. Soon afterwards, however, she became visibly less enthused. She had some of the most potential out of all his students, but she did not seem at all satisfied with her being there. Nola seemed to remain at the temple mastering airbending out of some deep sense of duty rather than her actual passion for being there. If she was ever asked about this she denied it and she was now one of the most powerful benders Aang knew. But thinking back to when he first met her, Aang was at a loss to what could have caused her sudden change of attitude. It was as if she was an airbender because she felt she had to be, not because she actually wanted to be.
Shao was equally as dutiful as Nola and around the same age. But Aang could tell that he was by contrast very happy to be there. He had a rough life before coming to the Air Temples. Growing up in the Earth Kingdom, he lost his family to the Fire Nation and was severely wounded before he was able to recover with the help of a local eccentric herbalist. As an airbender, he had the opportunity to build a new life for himself in the new nation and he did not take this lightly.
And then there was Feng Qu. One of the oldest new initiates, Feng Qu was humorous and jovial, reminding Aang of Iroh. Aang had misgivings about him at first. He seemed as if he simply wanted some fun activity to do in his golden years and found the idea of flying around and airbending with his glider exciting. But Aang gave him a chance and in time he proved to be a worthy and capable pupil.
Rensa was also toward the upper end of the age spectrum for new initiates. But she caught on quickly and soon seemed as though she had been studying airbending all her life. Kind and tender, Rensa was always happy to help others who needed her.
As the group grew and grew, Aang created a Council of Elders to lead it. As Aang still had his duty as Avatar to the rest of the world, he found it best to delegate his responsibilities here elsewhere. At first Aang headed the Council himself, but devolved the burden when he found this no longer needed. The membership of the Council would rotate on occasion. Twenty years after the end of the war with the Fire Nation, the Council consisted of Trinley, Nola, Shao, Feng Qu and Rensa. Icarus sometimes attended meetings and was often suggested for membership, but Aang decided to discourage his appointment due to his more aggressive nature.
Delegating the day-to-day responsibility of running the Air Nomad civilization elsewhere allowed Aang to spend more time with Katara and his family. They currently resided in the Southern Water Tribe, which was a relatively short ride on Appa from the Southern Air Temple. Aang and Katara now had three children: Tenzin, Kaddo and Vameira. Tenzin and Vameira were both airbenders and Kaddo was a waterbender. The five of them traveled together quite frequently as Aang performed his work as Avatar all across the four nations, although he would exclude them from more perilous missions. The family of the Avatar thus had a very multicultural lifestyle.
Tenzin was the oldest of Aang's children at thirteen. An airbending prodigy, he constantly excelled at the top of his class. His father felt reminded of himself at his age and was very proud of him. He spent a good portion of his time at the Southern Air Temple, as did his sister. Kaddo, a waterbender, learned primarily from his mother, who taught waterbending at the South Pole. Vameira exhibited the same adventurous, friendly spirit her father did, but she was very much her own person. She was shy around new people, although hyper once you got to know her and although she was an airbender, she stated that she fully intended to live up the Southern Water Tribe half of her heritage by having her future husband give her a betrothal necklace. She did not seem to care when it was pointed out to her that betrothal necklaces were a tradition of the Northern Water Tribe.
It did indeed seem to Aang and his family as though their home was the world. And the world had changed a fair amount before them. The Southern Water Tribe had been substantially rebuilt now. It had a much different look than when Aang was awoken there out of the ice block. It was even partially industrialized like the Earth Kingdom and the Fire Nation. In this capacity it was even ahead of the Northern Water Tribe, which had decided to remain mostly the same as of now. There was a small, but sure number of waterbenders. They were all natural-born, not Energybent like the new Air Nomads. After the war, there were a few more babies born as waterbenders whose ancestors had carried the gifts. There were also some of the waterbenders and Healers from the North who had come with Pakku to help rebuild their sister tribe. A portion of them had returned home when most of the work was done but others chose to settle in the South permanently, which added to the local population.
Katara was now the main Master waterbender in the South Pole. This applied to both the offensive forms and healing. All who had the ability learned from her. Pakku and the rebuilders from the North had been prominent in the earlier years but Katara had become largely the head instructor. Pakku himself had passed on a few years back – peacefully in his sleep. He had trained hordes of waterbending masters in his time. He had a full life, traveled the world and lived long enough to see his step-great-grandchildren. Kaddo even got to learn some basic waterbending moves from him when he was a toddler. Pakku was mourned greatly as a wise and respected leader and given a magnificent ceremony at the time of his passing.
Sokka and Suki were now married as well. Of their four children, one was a waterbender. Another was aspiring to be a Kyoshi Warrior. Sokka had become the Chief of the Southern Water Tribe. Hakoda was still around and enjoying an enjoyable but slightly eccentric retirement experimenting with the new trinkets and inventions that came with the industrialization package. Sokka still had his recognizable personality and sense of humor, even if he was noticeably more mature now.
About a year after Zuko and Aang went to the mental facility when Azula was released, something unexpected happened to Toph, who was still living in Omashu. Bumi, whom she had grown close to, finally passed away unexpectedly. Toph was saddened by the occasion – so was Aang. But then she found out through his will that he desired for her to succeed him, having no heirs himself. She was nineteen and done with her schooling by this point. She graciously accepted. Her parents, who continued to live in Omashu, were now extremely sorry for sheltering her when she was younger and promised they would never be ashamed of her or tell her what to do again. Toph likewise forgave them and had a great relationship with her parents now. She went on to become a capable, popular and personable ruler.
Zuko and Mai had also gotten married by this point and had children together. Zuko was a great and just Fire Lord, helping bring peace and prosperity to his own country and the rest of the world. Sozin had never known that his great-grandson would be "spreading prosperity" throughout the world in quite the opposite way he had intended. Azula remained in exile on Ember Island and occasionally saw Zuko and Mai, although they tended to keep their distance out of caution. Zuko's advisors were now almost entirely different from his father's during the Hundred Year War. War Minister Qin served in his position until old age and subsequently retired. War Minister Chan had taken his place. Chan was of course the teenage boy Zuko and Azula had had an unpleasant experience with on the beaches of Ember Island years back. Zuko had accepted his appointment because he received word from sources that Chan would be qualified for the position, although he expected this might be cronyism and elitist. Nevertheless, there was little practical need for a War Minister in Zuko's new era of "love and peace."
Even though the world was better now, Aang still found himself keeping the peace and balance from time to time. A local trouble here, some disgruntled Fire Nation rebels there, etc. Even though there were still Fire Nation nationalist outbursts that opposed Zuko every now and then, they became less and less frequent as time went by. Aang was on the whole satisfied by the state of the world. Aang was never one to blow his own trumpet, but he could not help but think to himself that he had to be possibly the best Avatar ever! When he started performing his duties, one of the four nations was entirely gone, another was almost destroyed and the world had been torn apart seemingly irreparably by warfare. Now the world was at peace and with the help of energybending he had managed to build an entire country, which as far as he knew no other Avatar had ever done. Perhaps he would never feel what it was like to perform Shuten Shogai, but that was something he could live with. The energybending that he could use had been such a help to him. Roku, Pathik and Jeong Jeong were clearly paranoid and did not know what they were talking about. Energybending had been nothing but good, there could not possibly be anything wrong with using it as much as he wanted. Now, Aang had a loving family, friends and companions in every nation and had managed to build what felt like a permanent peace. This had to last forever, he told himself. There was nothing that could go poorly now.
Aang had no idea just how wrong he was.
TO BE CONTINUED...
- This chapter bridges the gap between Book One and Book Two.
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