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|"Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before."|
|— Edgar Allan Poe|
Noatak leaves Republic City in the wake. He contemplates past choices, aspirations for the future, and his identity.
"The scar is fake!"
"The Avatar was telling the truth!"
Grey clouds hung overcast in the sky. The sea felt calm and tranquil as the boat skimmed smoothly over the water. Whitewash leaped from the sides as the boat sliced through the open ocean; the misty brine carried a slight tang of salt. Leaving Republic City in the wake, the boat sped onward into endless blue. For so long he felt lost and alone like a boy cast into the sea. He ran away from a home and family. He forgot his identity and became corrupted by the mask. The cold words pierced his mind:
"That's why I brought you out here, to learn your destiny! When the time is right you will claim Republic City and destroy the Avatar! You must avenge me. That is your purpose in life!"
The revolution wasn't built on revenge, but a dream for peace. He chased his own dream, not Yakone's. Everyone should be treated equal and fair. The revolution had been real. The Equalists weren't puppets in a grand scheme, but individuals seeking their rights. They fought for a pure cause and believed in their actions. The revolution still lives within the people who believe in it. Dreams never truly die.
The soft golden horizon blended the ocean and the sky. One could stare forever. Alluring in its beauty, he gazed out across the new frontier. The sea stretched miles deep, filled with all kinds of life. The sky scratched at the heavens above. He felt blind to the sights he missed, the people he could've met, and the experiences wasted. He smirked and thought back to his childhood in the Northern Water Tribe and sitting on that cliff, trying to make sense of the world. As a child, Noatak peered into the endless horizon, wondering, fearing, and doubting. He had a dream, but he felt powerless, tiny, and weak. Now, even after losing everything, the horizon presented a new, humbling truth. The whole world lay ahead. He felt an unfamiliar sensation. Freedom.
"The two of us together again! There's nothing we can't do!"
"Noatak...I'd almost forgotten the sound of my own name."
Memories flooded his thoughts. He remembered playing in the snow, and laughing. When was the last time he laughed? He could never forget Water-bending for the first time. Feeling the push and pull of the tides and becoming one with the element, it was the greatest moment of his life. He reminisced about sitting by the fire with his brother: whispering scary stories and then staying up all night shivering with his back to the wall staring at the door. Mother would coax and sing until his eyelids became heavy. She sang lullabies until he fell asleep. Those were the only times when he dreamed sweet dreams. Those were the days he loved to remember.
The dreaded hunting trip marked the beginning of the end. Trudging through the icy blizzard, learning about Yakone, and being forced to learn the darkest form of bending: those memories caused Noatak to wince and try, in vain, to forget. But, he could never get rid of the gruesome sensation. He used to revel in his talents to blood-bend. He used to think:
"The ability to bend the blood in an enemy's veins, enforcing your own will over theirs, it's the most powerful thing in the world."
Even as a young boy, Noatak realized power is a funny thing. In the silence he contemplated and thought to himself:
"People naturally thirst for power; they want to feel like a god, able to control others. Lust for power drove Firelord Sozin to nearly wipe out a race of people; he died an old man with an unfinished dream, filled with regret. Power caused the ultimate demise of Ozai as he wasted away in a dark jail cell. Ironically, once a person achieves power, the feeling grows stale. Power wasn't what they were truly seeking. Outraged by disappointment, they become corrupted. The person they used to be exists only as a distant memory. If not power, then what do people really pursue?"
At that moment, chasing that golden horizon, Noatak realized his failure. He didn't fail the revolution or the Equalists. He failed himself.
"Your hero, your savior, Amon!" the words echoed in his mind.
He wasn't a hero or a savior, just a man hiding behind a mask, corrupted by his own lust for power. At the moment of judgment, he was no better than Yakone. He remembered his own father, broken and hollow with nothing inside him. Once he lost his power he was nothing but a shattered soul. He only lived through his dreams of hate and revenge and his sons suffered for it. Tarrlok was no different from himself. They both became agents of revenge, twisted by their father's shadow. All of that is in the past. Everything is going to be so different now.
"It will be just like the good old days."
A tear slid from the corner of his eye down his cheek. Sometimes he wondered if he made the right choice, when he ran away, formed the Equalists, and embraced the mask. But now, it doesn't matter anymore and it feels surreal. The past is history, and another chapter of life begins: a second chance. Reuniting with Tarrlok, traveling the world, and being free to shape his own destiny, it all feels so right. The future holds so much promise. He never took his eyes off that golden horizon.
|Elements of Life|
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