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One: Hushed Mystery
January 7, 2013
The midsummer breeze sweeps through the Air Temples...
One way or another, you will get to know me better. I'll never know who you are, but you will know everything about me: see every thought that goes into my every action in the days ahead.
Beams of the light of the sun pierced through his eyelids. Being woken by sunrise was a simple pleasure derived from the lazy days of summer. This one turned over on the roof of the Northern Air Temple, letting his face and body soak up the rays of the fresh days while still halfway between the real world and that of dreams. His fingers clutched a flute tight to his chest. He fell asleep playing on the roof again. Lethargic mornings like these were a blessing which this particular individual counted more than most, but a blessing that he would not forget—nor would the elders let him forget.
"Sohyon! Lazy ass, get up!"
Such exclamations seemed commonplace to this individual, such to the extent that he often heard them at times like these when he knew he should be actively engaging with the community, but not usually with such coarse language...
"Stop lying around like a pregnant sky bison and get up! You'll miss them!"
A familiar hand clenched the front of Sohyon's shirt and began rigorously shaking the drowsy Air Nomad. He tried to open his eyes, only to close them as he met the vicious glare of the sun. This elicited more shouts and curses. With a groan, Sohyon forced his sleep-caked eyes open to meet the gaze of his unshaven comrade. After noting that his friend's pathetic beard had not grown past the small wisps of facial hair, he responded, "Miss who?"
Eagerly, the other dragged Sohyon to the edge of the temple roof, seating himself to the right of the latter with his legs dangling down. Sohyon followed, however sitting on the edge with his legs folded in a comfortable almost-meditation sitting position. Then, his friend pointed to the left, towards a small group of figures. "I've been following them across the rooftops... usually behind them." He added the last bit with a mischievous grin.
Finally, the figures came into sight. "Eizo, it's just the elder sisters—" Sohyon began, turning to his friend and opening his mouth as if to continue.
"No, no! But look they have a hot one with them! Look!" Eizo grasped both of Sohyon's temples and turned him back towards the female Air Nomads. Most of them were over the age of eighty, however among them there was in fact a younger one. "If I'd known that's what they looked like in their prime, I'd have moved to the Eastern or Western Air Temple a long time ago!"
Now they were in front of them, and walking by. Eizo leaned forward to stare at them as they walked by, the direction of his gaze rather obvious. "Seriously, I don't see why you care that much." While Sohyon spoke, Eizo had put his fingers to his lips and used his airbending to produce a loud wolf whistle as they passed. None, including the youngest, seemed to take notice.
"So many degrees of not fair, Sohyon," Eizo said leaned back as he spoke, folding his arms and looking at the other in disbelief. "Of course you, the innocent one, would be the one with the good looks and the charming degree of musical proficiency. Girls dig musicians, and I can't even make a sound on that stupid thing." He gestured in a simple wave—or more accurately flail—of his hand towards the flute still in Sohyon's hand.
With a shrug, Sohyon put the flute to his lips and produced a few notes. They seemed haphazard to him, but Eizo simply stared in disbelief and a teasing jealousy. Both knew that Eizo was not truly envious, but he would put on the act for a while and then get bored with it and move on. "You probably don't want to hear this, but I really have no idea what you're talking about," Sohyon stated with the flute still pressed to his mouth. In response, Eizo fell backwards in feigned exasperation. Then, he started laughing while still lying back and staring at the sky.
For a moment, there was silence between the two. It was not out of any sort of negative feelings; it was just a mutual acceptance of a need for a lack of communication. This was what separated their deep friendship from any common relationship: not feeling awkward being around each other even without conversation. Sohyon began playing his flute again, out of a sheer desire to play again. With his first note, Eizo started laughing again, and he let out a coughing first note, chortled by his own laughter. "Did you fall back on the cactus juice again?"
"It was one time!" Still lying down, Eizo threw up his right arm and his index finger rose to signify the number one. The lack of typical joint-induced in his movements would suggest otherwise, though Sohyon was well-aware of the fact that this was just the whimsical nature of his friend.
One time... Sohyon opened his mouth as if to speak, then promptly shut it. His friend had so many mysterious adventures, most of which Sohyon figured he would never hear. After all, he could practically hear Eizo's response to any sort of inquiry about what actually happened when he left the temple all those years ago: it would probably be something along the lines of "Really falling into the cliché there, eh Sohyon?" or possibly simply a shrug and a "That'd take the fun out of seeing your face contort into that funny thoughtful expression you have whenever I say something cryptic." Realizing that his brows were deeply furrowed and his lips pressed against each other in a tight line, Sohyon forced his face to relax so as not to emphasize the point his mind's Eizo had made.
"I can see why you spend so much time up here," the real Eizo spoke, redirecting Sohyon's attention. He was still lying against the roof, now with his hand raised above his head so that the sunlight was filtered through his fingers. It was clear that he was staring at the distinct blue arrow tattoo inscribed on his hand. Discerning what Eizo was thinking would be nearly impossible, but he seemed fixated on this visible manifestation of his identity. "Such great views," he laughed to himself and let his hand fall. It rested against the roof, pushing him so that he was sitting upright.
"Eeeep!" Eizo found himself face-to-face with an older Air Nomad, released the quiet shriek, and fell back in shock.
The Elder propelled himself completely onto the roof, standing straight as a tree with his arms folded in his sleeves. Sohyon shot up out of respect and instantly crumpled into a bow before straightening himself as well. "Master Seijin," he greeted the Elder while Eizo regained his composure.
"Sohyon," the Elder returned with a slight nod. He paid no particular mind to Eizo, and continued, "Your time is your own, Sohyon. However, the Elders request your immediate attention in a matter of the utmost concern. It means the premature end of your early-monkhood, but we do hope you will make the best decision."
Once again, Sohyon bent his back over into a stiff bow, glanced backwards at Eizo from the corner of his eye before straightening again. His friends' feelings of the matter briefly flitted through his head, and while he wondered how this might affect Eizo's disposition, he was also well-aware of the fact that he had little real say in the matter. "It would be my honor to listen to the Elders' wishes."
"I am glad." With that statement, Seijin gestured for Sohyon to follow. Eizo moved to follow as well; this action was returned with a simple hand which told Eizo that this was not his concern. A bitter expression flitted across his face momentarily, but Sohyon had no opportunity to apologize before Seijin swept him away.
They swiftly made their way towards the edge of the roof before gracefully stepping off. Using their airbending, each of the nomads leveled themselves so that they seemed as light as a feather falling to the ground. Seijin's arms remained folded, while Sohyon used his to level himself ever so slightly in their descent. The difference in skill was remarkable: both were master airbenders, however almost half a decade age gap made it seem as though they were master and apprentice. Once their feet barely touched the ground, each broke into a quick stride as they made their way to the main building of the temple.
"Why are the Elders requesting me personally?" Sohyon inquired finally, his tone relaxed rather than tentative, however very respectful. "There are several more capable Air Nomads than me for any given task."
"I recommended you personally, Sohyon," the Elder admitted, his gaze driving forward. "It is a matter which concerns an Avatar's duty. You saw the sisters of the Western Temple this morning, did you not?"
The sisters of the Western Temple, in other words those sisters Eizo had been gawking at not too long ago. Sohyon smiled a little at this memory, but it did not betray his composure. "Indeed I did, master."
Seijin nodded a little, "In short, the Avatar is currently being raised in the Western Air Temple, however a problem has arose, and it is something the Avatar would normally take care of. The Western Temple took the responsibility, however the Air Nomad they chose is of questionable mental stability, but there are no better candidates. I am a personal friend of one of the Elders there, and I recommended you for the task. Thus they came here to assess your capabilities and debrief you." He paused, having said all this without stopping for too long of a breath.
Sohyon's brow furrowed. "The Air Nomad of questionable mental stability... was she the younger sister with them?"
"Indeed. She was opposed to giving up the assignment, thus persisted on following." As Seijin finished speaking, he and Sohyon arrived at the main temple.
There were a total of seven elders seated: three from the Northern Temple—leaving one spot open for Seijin—and four from the Western Temple. Standing before them was the younger sister, standing just right of center. Sohyon silently took his place beside her while Seijin took his seat. The sister made brief eye contact with Sohyon, but it was enough to send a shiver down his spine. Her eyes seemed to drive through his very spirit with murderous intent. It was Sohyon who broke the gaze by turning towards the Elders.
"Sohyon, I presume Seijin has told you why you have been summoned?" One of the male Elders spoke. He was a short fellow, with a long gray beard and stern face. His ridiculously high voice would be almost humorous if Sohyon did not know that this particular Elder was almost twice the age of the next eldest.
"Master Seijin told me the summoning had something to do with the Avatar. But nothing more, master." Sohyon bowed his head as he spoke, not daring to look up for fear of disrespecting or catching that young sister's gaze again.
For a few moments, the Elders whispered between themselves. Though Sohyon could not hear, he knew that they were discussing how much he should know. "Master Seijin is correct in that regard," the small Elder responded.
"In specific, it is a conflict within the Earth Empires." A different male elder spoke. Without looking up, Sohyon knew who this one was as well: a large fellow, of ridiculous contrast to his smaller comrade. His voice was deep, booming. When Sohyon was younger, he believed that the Elder who had spoken previously was the child of this one, as they have always had such a great height difference. It was memories like these which emerged in Sohyon's anxiety about the situation: his mind was trying desperately to lighten the mood so he would not fall over and die of stress on the spot. It was not every day that an Air Nomad came before the Elders of two different temples, and even less often about a situation of this degree of importance.
"Two of the empires are on the verge of war." Yet another Elder spoke. This one was the youngest of the Elders, being only in his late sixties. He had a round stomach which the young ones would often bounce on, and had a deep belly laugh and button nose which just seemed to fit. "Each of the empires has enough international allies that this could mean a war throughout the entire world. It would not directly affect the Air Nomads..."
"It is part of an Avatar's duty to make sure that this does not happen." This was Seijin's voice. Now, Sohyon tentatively looked up, making eye contact with his master. "The Avatar is currently residing in the Western Air Temple, but as she is too young to take on such a task, the duty fell onto the Temple as a whole."
The Elder Sisters nodded in confirmation. One of them spoke, "We chose Kanae for the task, but Sister Liling has informed us that she is not stable enough for such a duty." At this, one of the other sisters nodded slowly. It was strange to note, but she had a sort of underlying beauty line with age, which served quite a contrast to the other decrepit sisters. From her reaction, Sohyon guessed that this was Sister Liling.
Beside him, the young sister seemed like she was going to explode. Quickly, she stepped forward and began to speak: "Master Liling, I am a far better candidate than this trash! Why—why, he was with that creepy nomad on the roof—"
"Kanae! It is not in your place to judge the decisions of your Elders!" The Elder Sohyon guessed to be Liling snapped. It was as if a weight fell on the room: the energy was smashed out of Kanae, and she dropped her head in respect and said nothing more. After a brief pause, Liling continued, "I contacted Seijin about the matter, and he proposed you as a candidate. We need someone who is level-headed, responsible, as well as young enough that they do not have responsibility to young ones and old enough that they are already a master. According to Monk Seijin, you fit all of these criteria."
"You will be expected to act as a mediator, thus have no biases for either side. Your goal is to create a peace, if only a temporary one until the Avatar is old enough to take on her duties." Seijin summarized the points, suggesting that the meeting was coming to an end. "Do you accept this task?"
"It would be my honor, masters," Sohyon bowed his head once more.
"Very well," the small monk replied, "prepare your Sky Bison—you will be leaving in the morning. You will be traveling to the city of Ishi Sentō, just on the border between the Mountain Empire and the Stone Empire; it is neutral grounds for both sides."
In surprise, Sohyon lifted his head and blinked several times. "So soon...?"
The Elders seemed to ignore this question. "Also," the youngest Elder continued, "we request that you keep a journal. Track your progress so that the Avatar can use your findings if the need arises for her to take over in the future."
"Of course, Master." Sohyon bowed his head once more, before quickly turning and leaving. He purposefully avoided the eyes of the Elders, as well as those of Kanae. All he wanted was to get out of there, and fast.
When Sohyon arrived at the bison pens, he simply took a deep sigh of relief. No one was in sight: it was just Sohyon, the bisons, and the overwhelming stench of bison feces. He knew exactly where his own sky bison was, and found her in a matter of moments. Once he was within a few feet, she lifted herself, walked a couple of steps, and lied down again. Sohyon ran his hand through her thick fur, feeling each strand between his hands. Then, he simply burrowed his face into her coat and screamed: a loud yawp at no one in particular except his confusing circumstance. This was far from anything Sohyon wanted: all he wanted was to live a peaceful life in the temple and die, nothing more.
His bison recoiled at the sudden noise her master made, and Sohyon sighed to himself. "Sorry, girl." She seemed to understand the apology, and calmed down a bit. Silently, Sohyon removed her saddle from a nearby hook and set about preparing her to travel tomorrow. At first, she resisted, until eventually coming to accept the fact that they were going on a journey soon. Camping supplies were placed nearby; they had never been there before, thus Sohyon assumed someone left them out for him. In the midst of tying down a rolled up tent, the Air Nomad simply stopped. "I don't even know what to do, Meali." He gently petted his sky bison as he addressed her.
"I see you noticed the supplies I left out for you." A voice behind Sohyon caused him to jump. He whipped around to see Seijin standing on the other side of the pens, stroking the snout of his own bison. "Just before I came to fetch you I left them out. Figured you'd need them..." The old Air Nomad trailed off, acknowledging that these were only words to fill the uncomfortable space. His hand dropped from his bison's nose and he began walking towards Sohyon. From within his sleeve, he produced a small leather-bound notebook, which he handed to his student once close enough.
After Sohyon took the journal, Seijin continued speaking, "I recommended you for this assignment not only because they need someone, but because I think it will be good for you. Help you see the world."
Sohyon felt the binding of the book with his index finger. "You don't need to explain yourself to me, Master," he replied quietly, not looking up.
Seijin nodded simply, and turned to leave. Before he could make it very far, Sohyon's hand shot forward and grabbed his wrist. "Master Seijin, what is the worst scenario? What happens if I fail?"
"Then you return to the Temple, and we wait until the Avatar is old enough to stop a war," the old monk's words were comforting. As he spoke, he turned back to face Sohyon, putting his hands on either shoulder. "I have the utmost confidence in you, Sohyon. You are the most charismatic nomad in the temple, possibly in all four. If anyone is able to stop a war before it begins, it's you." Seijin smiled underneath his furry beard, causing the moustache to puff out in a gentle smile. Sohyon always noticed this about Seijin: his emotions could always be seen through his beard. Usually this would relieve his tension, but today he was simply too shocked—too high-strung.
"Thank you, Master Seijin," his reply was simple and short. He took a step back, breaking Seijin's light grasp on his shoulders. "I should get some rest."
"Indeed..." Seijin replied quietly. As Sohyon walked away, the old monk added, "Good bye—and good luck, Sohyon."
Evening was turning to night as Sohyon returned to his room. A small space, but one which held all that he needed: a feather bed pushed against the left wall, with a low desk just next to it. The desk had no chair, as it was intended for the user to kneel while using. It was to this desk where he now traveled, kneeling in front of it and removing the book Seijin had given him. He set this book on the table, flipping it open to the first blank page. Though Sohyon had yet to travel to the Earth Kingdoms, he felt that he should begin the journal early, just to get the feel for writing in it.
Meticulously, Sohyon took to crushing his own ink. It took a few minutes, which gave him time to think about what to put inside the pages. Then, he poured just a small enough amount of water into the ink and took out a thin brush with which to write...
- I have yet to journey to Ishi Sentō: this is my last night in the Northern Air Temple before I set out. This task seems far too great for one man, but I have no real qualms about the assignment. If you eventually do read this, Avatar, you are probably smirking about my delusion. It messes with one's mind, to be thinking that you are writing to someone based on a particular event that may or may not happen. Other than this article, I will try to keep my opinions largely separate from what I am writing. After all, if you are reading this, Avatar, it means that you are only interested in what I did, particularly what I did wrong. This is, I guess, an introduction of sorts. Since I am from the Northern Air Temple, even if you have to step in, we will probably never meet. I only hope that you might begin to see me as a friend. Fill in details about what I might be like based upon what I'm writing (give me a strong jaw line!).
- My writing is probably apparent in its stuffiness. I feel so uncomfortable writing in about what I've done. Maybe it's just because I've never really done anything. Up until today, the most eventful part of any week might be finding a new way to make my flute playing more convenient. Now I'm going out into the Earth Empires to deal with who-knows-how crazy politicians. One way or another, you will get to know me better. I'll never know who you are, but you will know everything about me: see every thought that goes into my every action in the days ahead. I guess I just hope I can become more eloquent along the way.
- -Sohyon, Day Zero
With that simple conclusion, Sohyon set down his brush, cleaned off his ink receptacle, and—after waiting for the ink to dry—closed the journal. He did not know what the Avatar would think of him should the time come for her to step in, but honestly he did not care too much. It was a journal to document the journey, nothing more. Since Sohyon had nothing more to write, he simply crawled into his bed to get what sleep he could before setting off.
Here it is! A fanon I finally feel is worth of following my work on Roh Ji Hoon in giving me a mildly crack-ish idea for Eizo as well as a very catchy song to listen to throughout my writing. On a similar note, I'm sure I will need to thank Caffeine for any late nights (I'm really funny, but anyways that music video and song is really good so yeah). I could talk about KPop this whole time, but I'm going to end my ramblings with that rather than posting my whole playlist. To finish off my Oscar speech, I'd like to express to all my readers a deep gratitude for your interest. This is going to be what I hope is a real wild ride!. After months of struggling through ideas and trying to keep myself from writing and falling off the edge of the Earth, I have meticulously planned and thought out a new idea. As I do have it largely planned out, I will release the chapters serially to keep myself from getting on a writing hype for the beginning and then stopping in the middle. At the end of this brief introduction to the story, I would like to give some quick thanks to my editor as well as to my flute-playing little one (she is the daughter of Christian and I, Katu, and you gotta deal with it) for helping me get a solid idea for what to do with Sohyon with his flute playing. I would also like to express my deep love for
- "Sohyon" as a name is remarkably similar to that of the leader of Korean Pop Group U-KISS "Soohyun" as well as to that of the youngest member of Korean Pop Group 4Minute "Sohyun" –coughs awkwardly- Hear the pronunciation!
- "Eizo" is a Japanese name... Hear the pronunciation!
- "Kanae" is a Japanese name meaning "fragrant seedling". Humorously, it is the most difficult to pronounce and does not have a helpful pronunciation audio thing. Actually, there is one, but it's not for the Japanese pronunciation. The name is pronounced "kah-nah-aeh" but somewhat fast so it sounds almost like "kah-nay" with an emphasis on the "ay" sound.
- "Meali" (메아리), Sohyon's bison, is a Korean word meaning "Echo"
- "Ishi Sentō" (石戦闘) is a Japanese phrase which translates to mean "Stone Battle". The creativity is blowing your mind.
- The author went through the process of making ink for calligraphy in a class she took, though as she does not make a habit of it, the specifics might be a tad off.
- The title of this chapter, as well as some content to follow, is a nod towards the Paradise Cycle in its season form. If you are familiar with the Paradise Cycle... let's just say you'll get an idea of what's to come.
For the collective works of the author, go here.