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February 9, 2017
Born special, Li is the Avatar but also has a friend no one can see.
Heavy breathing echoed across the canyon as a young man felt sick to his stomach. Avatar Li felt that he was tricked, even after two years with the Air Nomads, he still felt this way. Li mastered firebending at sixteen and was sent to learn airbending next. The Northern Air Temple proved a challenge in and of itself.
Li thought that his physical training in the Fire Temple would prepare him for anything, but his current state proved anything but that. His borderline exhaustion was exacerbated by a voice, "I told you to stretch before going out."
Li looked at the ageless woman beside him. Ayame was a beautiful and humorous girl, with a penchant for mocking Li, no matter the time or place. Li carefully observed his surroundings. Certain that they were alone, he responded in a calmer voice, "You say that like I had a choice. I can't glide yet and if I tried to air-run, I would be even more tired. This was really the only option left."
"You could have just stayed in the temple and meditated. You don't have to go down the mountain every time the merchant comes to town."
"And stay in a place that serves no meat!? I'd rather-"
Li immediately cut himself off and looked around for any traces of life. He calmed down again when he was certain he was alone. Li always was careful, for his companion, Ayame, was not a being seen by all, or any for that matter.
The beautiful woman only appeared before him and she only sought to affect him. Li never doubted her existence, not once. She knew things before they happened and knew about him better than his own parents. Ayame had been with Li from the beginning and cared for him.
Still, Li understood what the implications of his mental state would appear to others if he openly professed his companion's existence. Ayame had insisted that they keep it a secret, even in youth. The young Avatar would soon realize she was protecting him from judgement and felt even more certain of her authenticity.
But Li still could not explain her, even if someone listened to him. Li had only read of spirits who took human forms, but never actually met one.
Li's face reddened as he whispered, "What am I supposed to do?"
Ayame's light demeanor cooled, she approached him calmly. She was roughly his height, proof of how much he still had to grow. She hugged him as she answered, "Li, I know it's hard to interact with a world that doesn't see me. But I'll never stop you from moving forward, even if that means abandoning me."
"Ayame, I would never abandon you! I-"
A finger quickly covered his lips, shushing him. Ayame smiled morosely. Li had never seen her like this. The Ayame he knew his whole life was cheerful and bright, never one to let a spot of doubt touch her.
"I don't know what the future will entail for us. But when you become a true master, the real Avatar, you'll encounter spirits. Maybe then, you'll find out if they can see me."
The red garbed student breathed slowly, ignoring the dull ache in his chest from his morning search for meat in the local village down the mountain range. Li felt more exhausted and hungrier from the trip than if he stayed. However, he could not stand the strictly vegetarian diet of the Air Nomads.
A benefit of this lifestyle was the calm and peace. Meditating, while annoying at first, helped him sooth his aches with quiet reflection. He thought on his recent teachings. Li was near completion of his training with airbending, a final tier was needed before he could be called a master. His masters stressed being calm within. To the Air Nomads, that meant abandoning all attachments. Li dismissed much of this at face value, because he knew that the Nomads did not have the concerns the rest of the world had and so had the luxury to act so pious. Li knew the rest of the world did not have such a freedom from burden.
Still, Li understood that peace within was critical to understand himself and the Avatar. To speak to his predecessor, he would need to have peace. This mildly troubled Li. Li felt at peace when he held onto one thing, Ayame. Alone, he could restless, alone and afraid, but with her, he could brave any danger.
He once angered a dragon by his precocious exploring of a nest. Fighting the protective mother, he was only calm then because of Ayame's whispers. Li knew this was not supposed to be the way he lived, but it was. Her presence was the calming lake.
Li wondered what effect this would have on him in the future.
Li recalls another memory from his predecessor who mourns the death of his beloved. "Ayame, what would you wish for if you could have anything," the deep voice resounded, alerting Li to something that was off. He saw through the man's eyes as he spoke to Ayame, holding her tightly.
She responded sweetly, "To stay like this."
Li felt resentment, that smile. She smiled to this man as if it was him. He realized his jealousy and the conflict within him grew. Ayame was his alone, for no one else knew she existed. Was he actually happy about that? She was his alone...
Not allowing him to resolve this, his vision from the man changed to tears, his dirt ridden hands slammed the ground in anger as he crawled forward. Before him was Ayame's body, bleeding, almost devoid of life. He embraced her, telling her it would be okay as he drew water forward to heal her.
A hand stopped him, "Don't. It's too late." Ayame gasped, struggling with each breath.
"No, no. I can save you."
"Not this time," tears rolled down her cheeks, "I don't want to die."
"Stay with me! Please, don't leave me alone..." He shook her as her breath slowed.
The grief Li felt from this struck hard. And the anger that washed over him was sync with the wrath that evolved as his vision was taken to a bloodbath. A village burned. Man, woman and child, all were dead before him as he killed everyone he crossed. Only one last man stood before him.
"We are all monsters, Lin. I'm just the one who woke up."
Curses on his life and fate rolled out of the tongue of the man surrounded by corpses. The deep voice of the vision continued, "You started this feud, you took everything from me. And now I have returned the favor."
The vision lifted his hand gathering fire in his palm as he blasted it at Lin. Screams or pain resonated through the burning village. A sense of satisfaction permeated Li. The young Avatar realized that it was not his own feeling, but he did not reject it either.
Li's eyes opened calmly, he stopped being startled by these visions after living with them his whole life. At first, it startled him, then it scared him. These visions of another man with Ayame made him think they were dreams or nightmares. But as he grew older, he realized they were visions of the past, of his past.
Li was named after the last Avatar, Li of the Earth Kingdom. Li had a fiancée, Ayame who was a noble. What Li did not understand was why she died. What reason was she killed by this Lin of his past?
Li's burden became understanding what happened. He knew Ayame was not his, only a ghost of his predecessor's. Was it guilt, fear, love? What bound her to him?
The young Avatar stood still with his eyes closed while the Temple's Masters watched him from their pedestals. The Masters stood there in marvel at the accomplishment. From afar, it would appear that Avatar Li had done nothing, but the perceptive Nomads knew what he had done.
Li was airbending without moving, he was capable of complex actions without movements or forms typically necessary for an airbender. The turbine of wind the continuously circled Li showed the power of his concentration.
"Most impressive, Avatar Li. I have not heard of any accomplishment so grand since Master Laghima flew over a thousand years ago."
"I am most honored by this praise, Masters, I merely tried my best to take from your teachings." Li masters airbending.
"Nevertheless, Avatar, the last few months have shown growth that you have accepted our understanding and ways. We are at peace saying that you are a master."
Li bowed to the Temple Masters as turned away. He felt the rush of wind as Ayame leapt for him, jubilant. That bright smile, so honest and endearing, how could it be false?
"I knew you could do it, Li! I will always be there to cheer you on!"
Li smiled as he embraced Ayame, "Always."
Next chapter, A Welcomed Madness
- Wow, it's been a while since I have posted on here for any fanons. I used to be Kuir, I go by Snowbold now, cheers!
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