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|The Last to Die|
July 23, 2012
Gyatso slowly sipped his ginseng tea under the shade of the lychee tree. "Today," he spoke to his students, "you will be learning about the value of patience. I'm sure you all know from your mentors about how being patient is essential to success as an airbender and as a monk, but it also is very important to bending techniques." A few of his students jostled in their seats, clearly having little understanding of the concept he was teaching them. "The air is flowing all about you, waiting to be used by you, while going about its business in nurturing life. You too must wait for the proper time to shape the flow of the air, or your bending may not come out quite as you hope."
Gyatso continued as he stood up, gently placing the cup of tea on a stone. "The wind must be used when it wants to, you cannot force it to move against its will." Gyatso demonstrated by blowing dust into the wind. He coughed as it came back onto him. "Instead, you must try a different motion and wait with patience for the wind to change." This time, he bent the air around his body and returned its own strength back to it, spraying the fine dust lightly over the leaves of the tree.
"Gyatso!" he heard from above. Monk Pasang dropped in on his glider. "I would like to speak with you for a moment."
"As you probably see, I am in the middle of teaching. Perhaps this could wait a few moments?" replied Gyatso.
"It cannot. The Council of Elders has called an emergency meeting regarding your vision."
"I will come at once then," Gyatso affirmed. He turned to his students, "I would like you to practice patience while I am gone by simply meditating until I return or you have other responsibilities to fulfill. I'm sure it would do you all some good." Ah yes, the vision, Gyatso thought. The other night, in his evening meditation, he had sought out his old friend Avatar Roku in the Spirit World to ask him about finding his disciple Aang. But Roku had much more to say than merely about his next incarnation. Don't worry Roku, he thought. The elders will heed your request.
The Council meeting
"The council will come to order," spoke Pasang. Silence fell upon the meeting hall. "We have called this meeting to discuss a vision beheld by Elder Gyatso about a possible breach of peace." A murmur traveled through the assembled crowd. Pasang banged his gavel. "Now, I know this may come as a disturbance to you, but we should all hear what he has to say."
Gyatso stood from his seat. "Thank you Head Elder Pasang. Two nights ago, I was meditating on the question of Avatar Aang's disappearance I sought out the spirit of Avatar Roku in the hopes that his connection with the new Avatar would help us on the matter. He was unable to provide us any useful information on finding Aang, but he did give me a warning. He said that he had seen Fire Nation ships on the Mo Ce Sea headed toward the air temples fully armed for battle. He believes that they intend to destroy our temples using the power of the great comet, and leave us homeless. Now, I know this may come as a great surprise to you, and you have every right to be skeptical as I was. But Roku is a trustworthy spirit, and I know many of you, including myself, had known him in his living days. He told me to warn you to prepare to defend our temples on the day of the comet, and for us to carry his message to the other temples. I propose that we send word to sisters Lio and Jangmu and brother Chogyal at once, so that they can be prepared before the comet's arrival in five days."
"I find Gyatso's proposal in order," stated Pasang. "Any who would speak against?" A lone hand slowly rose. "Elder Tashi."
"Thank you Elder Pasang." Tashi stepped to the front of the council. "We all know about how the Fire Nation has recently started a few colonies in the Earth Kingdom, but this attack you speak of is completely unprecedented. No nation has ever attacked another for absolutely no reason. The Air Nomads have been neutral in nearly every war in history. Why would the Fire Nation decide to destroy the Air Nomad temples as opposed to the Northern Water Tribe or Ba Sing Se? I urge you to consider the precedent for this." Tashi slowly walked back to his seat.
Pasang banged his gavel again to quiet the observing monks. "Now that the dissent has spoken, we shall move to vote. Those in Favor?" Gyatso and two other monks raised their hands. "Very well, the messengers will be sent at once."
The day of the Comet
It was Gyatso's turn to stand guard. The comet would come soon, and probably the Fire Nation with it. It was all he could do to sit and wait here, ready to warn the others of the attack. It was also Roku who first saw it the last time, Gyatso realized. Only then, a different enemy had sailed in from the north, and we were both much younger. Gyatso scanned the east for any sign of the incoming comet, but saw only the moonrise. Off to the sea in the north, no sign of the coming danger showed itself either, though sometimes he thought he saw a smokestack or two on the horizon. Then all of a sudden, the eastern sky burst into light! A false dawn had opened up on the world. Gyatso could feel the power of the comet spirit Ketu filling him with energy, and he knew the Fire Nation to a much greater extent. Almost instantaneously, this new found strength turned into despair. As radiant as the comet, a humongous flame emerged from the northern sky. The Fire Nation had arrived.
Gyatso airbended his voice across the island. "The Fire Nation has landed at the mountain base! Everyone get to the perimeter. Children and elderly get inside. We must protect our home!" The Fire Nation dragons quickly ascended the mountain with their enhanced energy. Scores of Firebenders hopped off the dragons and blasted fire bombs straight at the temple, turning a serene home of hundreds into a raging inferno in seconds. A tornado of air arose as everyone inside tried desperately to escape, but for most, it was too late. The comet increased the firebenders' power to such an extent, and they were so outnumbered, that Gyatso quickly realized they could only win defensively. "Everyone fall back to the sanctuary." But the firebenders' onslaught was too powerful. Ketu had given them too much power. Airbenders were falling one by one under the force of the powerful fire wall. Even flying at top speed, it must have been half an hour dodging and deflecting the onslaught of flames. By the time they reached the sanctuary, there could not have been more than a dozen left. Gyatso realized this was not an attempt to destroy the temple. This was nothing short of a massacre. The master airbenders each took out dragons worth of firebenders, but even that was in vain. Even though only a few firebenders remained in the temple, the greatest airbenders were outmatched by even the least of them. The final fighting dragon flew overhead, burning down the last few Air Nomads where they stood.
"Pasang!" The noble monk had grabbed onto the majestic dragon, and steered it off the side of the cliff. But the firebenders reacted quickly. The Dragon shrieked in pain as its wing burst aflame, and Pasang fell lifeless into the water. If I can just hold out until the comet passes, I could defeat them all, thought Gyatso. But that task was far from easy. From out of nowhere a cloud of flame and dust formed around him. When the smoke cleared, Gyatso was the only Air Nomad standing. The comet will leave in just a few minutes. The wounds on these last few firebenders will consume them without Ketu's power.
Gyatso back flipped into the air, skillfully dodging the brunt of the fire attacks. Gyatso quickly fired a blast of air into a pipe. The door to the empty sanctuary swung open. Jumping to the high platform in the center of the room, Gyatso sealed himself in a ball of air and blew the firebending attacks around the room. Swiftly launching darts of air from within his sphere, he managed to take down the firebenders until he faced a single opponent. Just as a powerful fire jet launched at Gyatso the flames in the room all died down. The comet has passed! The soldier soon collapsed on the floor. Gyatso stood for a moment, surrounded by the bodies of his people and his enemies, but he felt his energy slowly fading away. The power of Ketu has left me. Gyatso collapsed on the floor. Before he passed into the Spirit World for the final time, as his last breath left his body, a single thought passed through his mind. Aang.
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