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Prelude is the first chapter of the Spirit War series. It is the prologue which sets up the story of the series, the story of Aang while his time as the Avatar comes to a peaceful end.
Book 1: Lunar
July 18, 2009
Long ago, the legendary Avatar kept the world and its four nations at peace with each other. But one day, the Avatar vanished off the face of the earth. The tyrannical Fire Nation used the opportunity to wage war with the other three nations, seeking to conquer them. One hundred years passed and the Avatar finally returned, but he was only a small child. This child struggled greatly and made many sacrifices to put a stop to the warring nations and bring peace at long last back to the world.
Eighty-seven years have passed in the world since the Great War between the nations was ended by Avatar Aang. The three remaining nations are at peace once more, and the tragic memories of the world's devastation seem like long-forgotten dreams to the descendants of the war-ravaged. The scars of the world have long been mended, and Avatar Aang, now a ninety-nine year-old man, has surrendered his nomadic ways, having seen every corner of the wide world dozens of times over and over again. He returns to his home for the last time; to the Southern Air Temple, repaired and reconstructed years ago by joint effort of the three nations into a shrine in memory of the Air Nomads out of gratitude for the Avatar's lifelong protection.
Few of his old friends are still alive; indeed, even his long-time lover Katara passed away in her sleep six years earlier. Together they had twins, a boy and girl who now reside in the Water Tribes. They have grown up and have families of their own now. Days before Katara's death, she whispered to Aang how she for so long wanted to see her mother's kind face again and spend long evenings telling her of the innumerable adventures she had with her savior; the boy from the iceberg. Sokka, her brother was the first of Aang's friends to pass. He had long inherited his father's title as chief of the Southern Water Tribe and with the Kyoshi Warrior Suki had numerous children, each the spitting image of their father; clumsy, comedic but brilliant and brave of heart. Appa, Aang's companion bison, passed some time after that, as did Momo, the lemur, though the lemurs Aang later discovered had repopulated the four temples. Now Aang was truly the last of his kind, the Last Airbender.
This thought did not daunt him, he knew since he was a little boy that he would be the last the world would ever see of the Air Nomads, though the Avatar would have to continue to learn the element of Air in each lifetime. Realizing he would not live forever, he had spend many years recording into a book everything he knew about Airbending and the Air Nomads; their culture, crafts and legacy. Upon the Avatar's request, the book was given to old Fire Lord Zuko for safekeeping, as Air always comes after Fire. Zuko proudly treasured the priceless tome, and his descendants kept it hidden for the next Avatar many years after. Zuko passed, and the title of Fire Lord went to his eldest son, Yaozu. Aang sensed his time was approaching too. Seeing that together he and his friends had restored the world to its former glory, Aang decided the age of 200 was good enough. One last trip he took to the South Pole, where for one hundred years he had spent in the ice. He remarked to himself as he stood gazing at the wintry seas that a century in the ice had gone by in the blink of an eye, as though he had merely taken a short nap. Yet his own lifetime had crept on so slowly with so many joyful memories.
"Destiny is a funny thing," he muttered aloud.
Now Aang returned to the Southern Air Temple for the last time, and after bidding to Yue, the moon spirit that she keep watch over the next Avatar reincarnation, he passed silently in his sleep like his lover. The world soon after learned of his death, and for many weeks the nations mourned him and celebrated the gift of peace the Avatar delivered to them. When his funeral celebration at the temple completed, and all visitors departed, only one person remained behind, the only one of his friends to outlive him, the one whom the Avatar had bidden be the one to return his body to the wind.
An elderly, short woman stood at the pinnacle of the temple where the great ceremony had taken place. She was cloaked in a faded green shawl. Her face was as wrinkled as the landscape, and shriveled like a Sea Prune. It was as brown and round as a baked pie; her eyes were white as snow and twinkled like stars. She could not see the breath-taking view of the sun-setting sky and misty Patola mountains the temple offered her, but this did not bother her in the slightest. She was blind since birth, but this never caused her any complications. As she held in her tanned arms the urn containing her old friend's ashes a cool wind blew forth from the mountains, refreshing her and ruffling her bunned silver hair. The feeling and crisp smell of the air brought back many memories of long ago, soaring high in the sky. She was always terrified of being that high and at the time loathed it, but secretly her heart desires to once more be above the clouds.
"Never did I think I would be the last to go," mumbled the wrinkled woman. At length, she added, "I guess in the end, the old stones of the earth outlast everything else."
The air was filled with the fragrance of Moon Peach blossoms emanating from the trees on the cliff side. The woman could sense on nearly every branch sat Winged Lemurs, merrily chomping on peaches and fluttering about. They did not care that the last of their masters was gone from the world forever. The old woman thought regardless, Aang would be well-pleased to know part of the temple was replenished after the horrific genocide long, so very long ago. She sighed, and held the urn closer to her.
"We sure had fun though, didn't we twinkle toes?"
Memories flickered in her mind, back many decades ago when the two of them were youthful. Aang had helped her to find the courage to defy those who had held her back from achieving greatness. She really owed everything to him.
One strong memory came to her, back during their many adventures when the War was approaching its end.
"Do you really think friendships can last more than one lifetime?" her doubtful young voice resounded in her mind. A warm hand reached for hers and a kind boy's voice replied, "I don't see why not."
Small streams of tears escaped the small old woman's cloudy eyes. They zigged and zagged down the many wrinkles carved on her round face and fell from her chin. With that, she lifted the lid of the urn and thrust the ash upward. It flew about in the air, flipped and swooped and passed over the misty hills. She could not tell where the ash was going, but she knew it did not matter. The Last Airbender was one with the elements.
"We'll cross paths again," she said softly, looking to the sky she would never see.
"When the time comes."
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