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855 BG (age 128)
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Maiara's tenure as the Avatar is remembered as being very peaceful, but only because she suppressed records of the Bloodbender Crisis in order to prevent the bloodbending technique from returning. The Bloodbender Crisis was perhaps the defining event of Maiara's life. It was a conflict between the Water Tribe, led by Maiara, and a coterie of bloodbenders. There was little open warfare between armies in this conflict, but a great deal of guerrilla strikes, assassinations, and other subtle and deceptive methods.
Avatar Maiara was born in the Southern Water Tribe in 983 BG, the daughter of a fisherman and a healer. Other than exhibiting a preternatural talent for waterbending, she had a normal childhood. Maiara's animal guide was a male polar bear dog named Qajaq, who was given to Maiara as a baby. According to legend, Maiara lived next door to a boy named Tungajuaq, who used to tease her. Tungajuaq and Maiara trained in waterbending together as children, and they became friends over time. Tungajuaq was a waterbending prodigy, and very passionate about the art. He was the only one in the tribe who could almost match Maiara in terms of waterbending ability.
When Maiara was 16, the shamans of her tribe revealed that she was the Avatar. When she departed for her Avatar Journey, she took her friend Tungajuaq with her. He became the first of her traveling companions, the first member of her "Team Avatar". Maiara and her friends had many adventures as she traveled the world, learning the four elements. As Maiara learned the other elements, Tungajuaq advanced his understanding of waterbending, becoming one of the greatest waterbending masters of his time. He invented over a dozen techniques, incorporating ideas from the other bending disciplines he encountered to improve his own repertoire of skills. After several years, as Maiara reached the end of her journey, she and Tungajuaq realized they loved each other and in short order they were married.
Maiara and her husband settled into married life. In the second year of their marriage they had a daughter, Inua, who was to be their only child. This was mostly due to the fact that both Maiara and her husband had vocations outside the home that they were passionate about. Maiara was often away performing the duties of the Avatar, and Tungajuaq became the head Waterbending Master of the Southern Water Tribe, (a position parallel to the one Master Pakku held in the Northern Tribe centuries later). Tungajuaq was an advisor to the Tribal chief and instructor to all the waterbending children of the tribe. He also continued his studies of all aspects of waterbending, from its esoteric spiritual aspects to the most practical kinesiology of its movements.
The Bloodbender Crisis
By this time Tungajuaq and Maiara were both in their late 40's. Constantly hunting for a greater understanding of his art, Tungajuaq eventually reinvented a technique that had been forgotten for centuries: bloodbending.
At first Tungajuaq's intentions were good--he only attempted bloodbending for the sake of advancing the understanding of waterbending as a whole, and only preformed it on small animals. But using such a powerful technique eventually became too tempting for him. Tungajuaq's curiosity became too much, and soon he had to know whether it would work on humans, and then on how many humans. Finally, he began openly teaching bloodbending to his students, considering it as acceptable as any other waterbending technique.
When Tungajuaq first began teaching bloodbending openly, Maiara ignored her misgivings and tried to keep her faith in her husband. After all, no one at that time had any memory of the last time bloodbending was used. Initially, many people actually volunteered to be bloodbent in exhibitions as a joke or novelty. They would often be made to do goofy but harmless things for the entertainment of crowds, as in a hypnotism act. However, it wasn't long before the people of the Southern Water Tribe became uncomfortable with the idea of losing control of their bodies to any bender who may want to use them. Maiara held out on the side of the bloodbenders for a long time, trying to calm the tribe's fears of it and parroting her husband's position: that bloodbending was no more dangerous than any other type of bending and the danger of the technique only depended on the intentions of the bender. In fact, Tungajuaq was known to say that bloodbending could actually save lives, giving the example of using it to walk a suicidal person back from a ledge. The controversy over bloodbending eventually became a political issue in the Southern Water Tribe (which at that time had a higher population and was a well-developed collection of cities, like the Northern Tribe). When Tungajuaq began to suspect the current Tribal chief was going to outlaw bloodbending, he and several students who were fiercely loyal to him seized control of the Southern Tribe. Tungajuaq used bloodbending on the chief to make him sign a formal decree naming Tungajuaq as the "Grand Protector" of the Southern Tribe, and transferring all real governmental powers to him.
At this point Maiara could no longer ignore her husband's conduct and tried to persuade him to stop his takeover and give control back to the chief. Sadly, Tungajuaq was half-insane by this time, and had come to believe his ability to control people physically justified an ethical right to control them. He would not relent, and Maiara was forced to fight her husband. Having been taught blodbending by Tungajuaq prior to this, she found that she was able to render herself immune to the effects of bloodbending on herself. But Maiara couldn't bring herself to kill her husband, and so Tungajuaq escaped.
For the next ten years, Maiara and her allies fought a secret war against Tungajuaq and his followers. Tungajuaq had no standing army or political power, but he and his followers operated like guerillas. He created a floating ice fortress for them, which was as large as a small island and roamed the ocean so that it was never in the same place twice. Tungajuaq could also get almost as many resources as he needed by using bloodbending to manipulate people with access to them. Tungajuaq himself was obsessed with improving and passing on his bending knowledge, and tried to gain control of the Northern and Southern Tribes through subtle and devious methods facilitated by bloodbending. There were few true battles in the war, few conflicts between large military forces, but this secret war still led to hardship for the people of the Water Tribe. The real authorities of the tribes were forced to implement a sort of police state, where everyone had to be treated with suspicion since anyone could potentially be under the influence of a bloodbender.Tungajuaq himself had no interest in the other nations, but some of his followers were less discriminating and used their abilities to take over small collections of villages and towns and run them as personal fiefdoms.
During the ten years of the war, Maiara and Tungajuaq's daughter Inua left the Southern Water Tribe, unwilling to side with one parent against the other and blaming them both for the conflict. She embarked on her own journey to see the world, and eventually ended up in the Fire Nation, teaching a course on Water Tribe history and culture at a university in the capital city. She did not hide her identity, but forbade any of her students to ask questions about the conflict or her family members.
Maiara did her best to fight the bloodbenders, but when she caught up to one of their operatives she could never be sure whether the person was an innocent victim of bloodbending, forced to serve against his or her will, or whether he or she was a bloodbender claiming innocence to avoid capture, or whether he or she was a non-bender who had nonetheless voluntarily chosen to work for Tungajuaq's bloodbenders. Furthermore, she knew if she ever found her husband again she could never bring herself to kill him. After years of fighting, and at a loss for what to do, Maiara went into seclusion. While in a deep state of meditation, she heard chanting which led her to an encounter with the Lion Turtle. The Lion Turtle taught her energybending. Shortly thereafter Avatar Maiara did find Tungajuaq and faced him in single combat. She was able to successfully employ the energybending she had learned to take his waterbending abilities away.
Tungajuaq was taken to a prison facility in the Southern Water Tribe while Maiara rounded up the rest of his followers, which took almost a full year. She was able to use energybending to neutralize most of them without taking their lives. She also had come to realize that bloodbending was simply too dangerous to remain public knowledge. With the consent of the Northern and Southern Tribal Chiefs, Maiara embarked on a program to eliminate all knowledge of bloodbending and records of the war. This included energybending anyone known to have practiced it, destroying all writings on the subject, and even disavowing knowledge of what was called the Bloodbender Crisis, and destroying any records of it. Even the fact of Tungajuaq's existence had to be erased from the public record. The tribal chiefs passed a law declaring that even discussion of bloodbending was illegal an punishable by a fine and up to a year of imprisonment. Bloodbending was treated like a taboo term from then on, and if anyone did have to mention it they usually called it "The Forbidden Technique."
Although the Bloodbender Crisis was over and the world was at peace for the time, Maiara still faced a great deal of trouble in her personal life. Her daughter remained estranged, and she could never go back to her old life with Tungajuaq, even though she still loved him deep down. In prison, Tungajuaq exhibited signs of serious depression and anger. Maiara asked that he be released into house arrest under her custody, thinking she might be able to help him and return to the life they once had. Tungajuaq barely spoke to his wife, telling her only that he wished she had struck him deaf, dumb, and blind rather than take away his ability to bend. For someone like Tungajuaq, who had been waterbending before he knew how to walk, who had built his life on waterbending and had been so in love with the art that it drove him insane, losing the ability to waterbend was like losing his soul.
Tungajuaq only remained in Maiara's home for about a week before he escaped one night while she slept. The next day his body was found floating just outside the city walls. He had chosen to drown himself rather than live without the ability to bend.
Maiara grieved for her husband and went into seclusion, wandering the earth again, this time as a hermit. For years she ignored her duties as the Avatar, and during that time natural disasters claimed many lives. However, after a few years Maiara realized she could no longer live apart from the world, and her desire to help people eventually saw her back to her proper role as the Avatar.
Maiara was in her mid-60s when she returned to the Southern Water Tribe. She reunited with her old friends, who in turn encouraged her to reconnect with her daughter. She went to the Fire Nation and had tearful reunion with her daughter. They were both able to forgive each other, and comforted each other over the loss of Tungajuaq. By this time Inua had married a minor government official in the Fire Nation and had two young children with him, one of whom was a firebender.
The rest of Maiara's life was relatively happy. She successfully maintained peace in the world, and lived to see the births of three of her great-grandchildren.
When Maiara was about 115 years old, she helped settle a minor taxation dispute between the city-state of Omashu and Ba Sing Se in the Earth Kingdom. Maiara considered this a minor and relatively mundane duty for the Avatar, but as it turned out, after her death this conflict would erupt into the , the defining event of her successor Zhengyi's tenure.
Maiara died of renal failure brought about by extreme old age in 855 BG. She was 128 years old. When her body was committed to the sea, she still wore the betrothal necklace Tungajuaq had given her. A replica of this necklace was later enshrined in the temple complex around the Spirit Oasis.
Maiara was kind and fun-loving, a bit like her spiritual descendant Aang. As a child and young woman, Maiara liked to please all parties and could even be a little naive at times. She preferred to believe the best of people. Although this made her compassionate and sometimes helped her when called upon to settle disputes, it proved a disadvantage in the months leading up to the Bloodbender Crisis, because Maiara refused to see what her husband was becoming and even sided with the bloodbenders initially.
After the Bloodbender Crisis, and especially after Tungajuaq's death, Maiara's personality darkened considerably. She even withdrew from the world for several years, angry with the universe for the tragic life she led. However, after taking time to grieve Maiara regained her kind personality. She was able to was able to reunite with her estranged daughter and serve faithfully as the Avatar.
Maiara was a master bender in all four bending disciplines by the time she was twenty-four years old. She also learned to fully control the Avatar State. Maiara trained in healing since she was a toddler and excelled at this skill. Additionally, she also learned bloodbending from Tungajuaq, and was probably the only Avatar to ever learn the technique. However, she never used it on a human and, after the inception of the Bloodbender Crisis, never used it again at all. Maiara was privileged to learn energybending from the Lion Turtle as a way to end the Bloodbender Crisis peacefully.
Maiara had dark brown skin and hair. She wore her hair parted in the middle and tied it into twin braids that fell to the mid-chest. She liked to use strips of various materials to bind her braids. Since her status as the Avatar required her to be a world traveler, she wore many types of clothing, including the native clothing of the other three nations when she trained there. However, when she appeared before later Avatars in spirit form she wore a blue knee-length anorak with white fur trim. Her anorak had small stones of the same type used to make betrothal necklaces sewn in to the shoulders. In the middle of her anorak was a vertically-oriented rectangle of a lighter blue shade, which was embroidered with a design that looked like a combination of the waterbending symbol and a yin-yang symbol.
- Tungajuaq (husband)
- Inua (daughter)
- All other Avatars including Avatar Rinpoche and Avatar Zhengyi (past and future lives).
Maiara's name is transliterated as 邁喇, "mài lǎ." The first character means "to take a step." Maiara is a real name meaning "wise" among the Tupi people, an indigenous ethnic group from Brazil.
|Preceded by||Avatar in the Heir of Ban continuity|
983 BG - 855 BG
| Succeeded by|
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