|More from MibuWolf||Action/Adventure/Drama||PG-13||Positive||Main Page|
|Loss Outweighs Victory Part 1|
Selfishness Fuels Unnecessary Conflicts
Wind roared around the Northern Air Temple. The very walls rumbled with the force of two teenagers training; at this point, the other Nomads knew better than to interfere. A month and a half of training, and both Haneul and the Avatar slowly grew more intense with their skill.
Ishio slammed on his brakes, skidding and quickly planting his feet. Before he could ask for a break, Haneul quickly stepped in front of him and aimed a quick punch. It blew past the right side of Ishio's face as he swerved his neck out of the way. Air surrounded his feet, and he pushed off of the ground. Haneul followed, and the two quickly stepped around the training area, firing rapid air-assisted attacks at each other. In mid-step, Ishio quickly spun around and swept his arms with him, concentrating a stream of air into a sharp attack. The other moved his hands in a circular motion, moving the air into a shield of sorts before allowing it to dissipate.
"You still try to make your attacks too much like Earthbending. You're getting the concept, but Airbending is lighter, your moves are all heavy." Haneul folded his arms, analyzing the Avatar's ability skeptically.
"But he's much better than before." The two turned to see Master Bingwen enter their training area. In unison, they snapped to attention and bowed to the Master Airbender. He held up a hand, signaling them to relax, and they returned to their leisurely postures. "At this point, the best way for the Avatar to truly grasp Airbending is to use it in combat. With the situation outside the temple, finding that time shouldn't be a problem."
Without response, the two teenagers furrowed their brows. Bingwen continued, "The Avatar can't stay here much longer. For now, the wisest choice of action would be to finish up here as quickly as possible so that the young Avatar can learn Waterbending, and restore the world to its rightful state."
"It's been a month and a half—in two weeks we can head back to Republic City, and one of my friends is a Waterbender. She can teach me the art." Ishio turned to Haneul to elaborate upon the rest of their plan.
"Of course, there is a matter which I need you assistance with in the following few weeks, Avatar," Bingwen interrupted. "A powerful spirit crossed through the portal. He's been wreaking havoc, as you might have heard. Completely claimed half of the temple as a region for his spirit subordinates. You're the Avatar, the bridge between the worlds. Please talk some sense into him."
"Sure..." Ishio replied hesitantly. The idea of spending the rest of his time as a spirit diplomat wasn't thrilling, but as Master Bingwen bowed and departed, Ishio could not argue. Even Haneul left before Ishio could respond, leaving the young Avatar to drearily head over to the other side of the Temple.
Feet dragging reluctantly, Ishio neared the opposite part of the temple. The halfway point was obvious: the crowd of spirits made a distinct line segregating the two sides. Nearing the "border" between the two halves of the temple was similar to the feeling of a soldier crossing into enemy lines. Shifty glances from the spirits—as if daring him to cross over—fell upon Ishio. They did not break out of their stream-like crowd, nor even stop for a moment, but they saw Ishio as the enemy whom they could not touch—yet.
"I need to speak to your leader," Ishio spoke as he approached the edge of the crowd. One nearby spirit scoffed at his request, but no others stopped or even acknowledged his presence. Clicking his tongue in annoyance, he tried again, "This is the Human World. You need to return to the Spirit World. To your own world." The spirits did not respond. Slowly, their border moved outward until Ishio was pushed back by the throng of spirits. Then, the border returned to its normal spot.
Even more frustrated than before, Ishio grit his teeth to try a last time. "Look here! I'm the Avatar, bridge between worlds, and you will take me to see your leader or I will use my... Avatar... ly... powers." He wasn't entirely sure of what he was saying towards the end, but it worked well enough. The crowd stopped moving, and one spirit stepped forward.
This spirit seemed vaguely familiar. Not in the way of a person one recalls from their past, but as a stereotype known to all. Faint, taking on a human form, almost like a ghost from a bedtime story. "Sorry to disrespect you, Avatar. Several Air Nomads have tried the same tactics, so we've grown to simply ignore any humans." The spirit gestured for Ishio to enter the side of the temple. "Yoru will not be pleased, but it is my duty as a spirit to honor your request, Avatar."
With a slight bow, the Spirit lead Ishio out of the crowd. The spirits parted for the two, and seemed to create a pathway that led out of the grounds into the temple. As the main part of the temple, it seemed remarkable that such a split had been created that the temple was divided between the spirits and the humans. They ascended the steps of the temple, rising and rising, passing spirit after spirit, until they reached the top. There, they were met with an intricately designed door. Small horn like protrusions lined the stone, with no visible way to open it.
"Use your Airbending." The spirit instructed, "The spirit portal is just beyond this door. The Air Nomads haven't opened it in a while, which is why Yoru chooses to command our side of the temple from here. We spirits can pass through the wall, but you can't do the same."
Ishio sighed. "Fine, fine." He inhaled slowly, and his foot moved back into a sturdy stance. Just like in his training, he used all of his air power to make him lighter on his feet, to prepare for his bending. Moving in a circle, he swung his arms gracefully. A controlled stream of air followed his movements, until he spun once more and shot the air towards the horns. Air blew through, and small circles, with the traditional "Airbending" insignia began to spin. Then, all the movement stopped. Ishio held his breath for a moment, and the door began to creak. It opened like an old man, hesitant to get up, but it opened. And beyond, Ishio could see the recognizable tear in the fabric of space as well as a figure seated in a throne.
As the two stepped into the room, a small flickering flame illuminated the mysterious figure. Right elbow resting on the arm rest, cheek leaning against that same arm's knuckles, the spirit had a dissatisfied look across his face. Unlike the other spirits, this spirit seemed almost like he could be a normal human. His body, unlike many other spirits, seemed to have adjusted best to the new environment. Like how Ishio took on a spirit-like form in the Spirit World, this spirit took on a human-like form in the Human World. His long black hair was tied black in a ponytail, with his chin highlighted in a black goatee. Had it not been for his unnaturally flowing black robes—which seemed to billow despite the lack of wind and the fact that he was sitting down—he could have been a normal person.
"My child, you disappoint me. Who is this human you have brought before me?" His voice sounded like three people talking in unison, all lower voices, yet just barely off.
"The Avatar, sir. The Monks have called him to act as a peacemaker in our conflict." The spirits voice squeaked, intimidated by this great being.
"'Our conflict'? My child, you speak the words of the Monks. There is no conflict between us, only a conflict the Monks have with our presence."
"I'm sorry, Master Yoru. They brought the Avatar be rid of us."
"Indeed they did." Yoru leaned back in his chair, dropping his arm from the arm rest to fold both across his chest. "Let me ask you this, Avatar. Have the Monks told you what has really happened?"
Ishio clicked his tongue and rolled his eyes. "I know the game spirits like you play. You try to get a person to question his cause. I know that you all are in the Human World, and you're spirits. That's all I need to know to understand that this situation isn't right."
"At least here me out, dear Avatar. That is what you Avatars are supposed to do, is it not?" Ishio rolled his eyes, but said nothing. The other continued, "We came here like many other spirits. You see, my children and I are... Less than welcome in the Spirit World. We came to the Human World out of hopes for a new life. But we were met with the unkindness of the Monks. They have tried all number of things to rid us of 'their' temple. And we have done nothing malicious towards them. Consider this, Avatar: Do you really want to fight for people who would harm a peaceful opponent?"
"As far as I've heard," Ishio began, "you haven't been peaceful. You had your spirits raid the supplies of the Air Nomads last week. It seems like you are working just as hard to get rid of the Monks."
"Those measures would never have happened, had it not been for the acts of the Nomads first."
"Don't try to justify yourself. You are both in the wrong here, but the difference is that one of you is supposed to be in the temple and the other is not."
"Say what you will, Avatar. But your judgment is clouded."
"Clouded or not, you will return to the Spirit World. I'll give you a day to prepare yourself before I return." Ishio said this final statement and turned towards the door. Before he could leave, the door slammed shut. With no way to open the door from the inside, Ishio turned back towards Yoru, his face flushed with anger.
"I'm afraid you will not be leaving, and thus not returning tomorrow." Yoru shifted back to his original position in his chair and smiled. "I must thank you, Avatar. Your presence has given us the bargaining chip we need. If the Monks don't leave, we'll kill you. And they need you to resolve the whole issue humans have with benders now, no? Dead Avatar means second Air Nomad Genocide."
"Idiot. I'm an Earthbender, I can just bend my way out of here."
"And risk collapsing the precariously structured temple? You know as well as I that the Temple is not built to withstand such an extreme shift as would be caused by removing the door, or whatever you had planned."
Unable to find another retort, Ishio simply gritted his teeth and clenched his fists in anger. "You're an evil bastard."
"So says you."
On the other side of the temple, Haneul sat with several young Airbenders. "So I know that Aang recreated the Air Nomads, but how are there so many not related to him?" Haneul asked out of curiosity while passing a ball back and forth, using only air, with a toddler.
An older Monk sat next to Haneul, helping a few younger benders with their calligraphy skills. "Well, after the Temples became havens of bending once more, the Air Nomads descending from Aang found several citizens of other nations capable of Airbending. Since they never had the training, they never knew of their ability. In truth, during the war, there could have been generations of Airbenders who didn't know it. That's also why your mother and father's relationship wasn't incest."
"Makes sense." Haneul paused in his game to spin the ball around in the air with his bending. Happy laughter came from the Airbending toddler, who clapped his hands in delight.
"It's interesting. Back in those days, the Fire Nation tried to kill all the Airbenders. But you never really can complete a full genocide. There will always be a few in hiding, or even a few who don't know they fall into whatever group is being slaughtered." A young, probably seven-year-old, bender cocked his head sideways at the older Airbender. The Monk laughed, and redirected his attention back towards the young one. "But that is all morbid talk. Right now, we are living here peacefully even with the police tracking down benders. Save for the spirits, of course..."
A abrupt earthquake shook the temple. Haneul, the Monk, and the younger benders all lost their balance despite the fact that they were sitting down. "What was that?!" They stood, and looked about for the source of the tremor. Not too far away, a large crater was created in the middle of the ground. Several wounded or dead Nomads lay nearby, those alive groaning in pain. Up in the sky planes swirled the temple.
"It's United Republic! They're attacking the temple!" Someone shouted. Panic broke out through the Monks as they ran for cover.
"Where's Ishio?!" Haneul looked around for the Avatar—he was still negotiating with the spirits. Still, with all the sudden chaos, having the Avatar at their side could save them from their attackers.
"Bad news!" Another Monk staggered into the scene, shocked for a moment by the planes and the explosion before he sputtered out his report, "The spirits have taken the Avatar hostage! They say that they'll kill him unless we move out of the temple!"
"We'll all die unless they let him go!" Haneul growled as he continued to watch the sky.
"But the spirits won't." Master Bingwen pointed out morosely, having joined the rest of the Nomads.
Gaze averted, Haneul clenched his teeth. "Dammit!" He shouted, "This couldn't possibly get worse!"
His words seemed to bring the planes lower. They circled close to the temple and several small soldiers began to drop. One plan landed, accompanied by several men. Landing in the temple, they began to attack the Air Nomads. Bullets flew, air whirled, and a great battle had broken out on the temple grounds. Most were skilled enough to use their Airbending to redirect the bullets, taking out some soldiers in the process. But the younger benders were not so fortunate. Those who were unconscious or unable to fight were loaded into the plane. More than killing all of the Nomads, the authorities wanted to experiment. All knew this, and all would fight for their lives. But the battle continued to rage.
- Yoru (夜) means "Night" or "Evening" in Japanese
For the collective works of the author, go here.