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September 23, 2016
At the break of dawn,hastily gets herself prepared for the day and grabs two fruits from the bowl atop the dining table, placing them in her robes. As soon as she bursts out of the family hut and bends a cloud to mount, she is immediately stopped by a familiar voice.
"Singi!" her mother, feeding a few hay bales to one of the resident air bison, calls "Are you sure would be up at this time? It's only dawn."
"I'm sure he's meditating right now to start his day. He has been overseeing the construction of the temple to the north. Besides, we're good friends, I'm sure he wouldn't mind me dropping by earlier than usual."
"Fine..." her mother sighs "... but can you at least draw some water from the well and water the garden before you leave?"
"Sure thing, mom!" Singi calls as her cloud fades and she runs in the direction of the communal water well. Once there, she loosens the rope tethering the bucket to its roost atop the well and after a loud splash, slowly begins to draw up the bucket from its dark, moist depths. Straining under the heavy weight of the filled bucket, Singi fails to notice the worn down rope slowly unfurling until it snaps, sending the bucket back down into the abyss.
"No!" she yells, as she can only watch the bucket fall out of sight into the darkness and land back into the water with a loud splash. Singi attempts to airbend the bucket out, but with the tunnel being pitch black, she can only make out the sound of swishing water as her attempts to retrieve the object remain shrouded in uncertainty. Slightly frustrated, she attempts a new technique, facing her palms upwards as she brings her hands up over her head. The sound of the water below grows louder and soon, Singi is in shock when she finds the bucket bouncing slightly atop a pillar of water. She quickly grabs it, the column of water falling back down into the well with a large swashh! She walks back to her house, a bit dazed, but gets her task done, tossing the water across the garden before making her way back to the well and double-knotting the rope back onto the bucket, setting it atop the stone rim of the well. Once done, Singi once again bends herself a cloud and takes off north, the incident at the well yet another conundrum entering her mind.
After some time riding her cloud, Singi arrives at the erection site of a large temple, a curved menagerie of walls and towers capping one of the tallest mountains along the range, not far from the northern ocean. She descends towards one of the smaller buildings where she knows Monk Jamyang spends much of his time, landing on the ground gently, with the sound of a broom sweeping against the floor tempting her inside.
"Umm... Monk Jamyang?" Singi quietly mutters, as she pulls back the curtain, revealing an elderly man nonchalantly sweeping what appear to be wood shavings into a pile in the one-room building. The early morning sun brings sufficient light, glimmering from four small windows to highlight his light blue arrow tattoos and yellow and red robes contrasting his tan skin. The monk lifts his head and smiles warmly at the teenager, his graying mustache curving upwards and the wrinkles along his face becoming more pronounced. "Why, Singi, I never expected you to stop by here so early. Please, come in." Jamyang raises his right hand, gesturing her inside, to which Singi complies.
"I'm sorry for visiting you so early, Monk Jamyang," Singi apologizes. "No need to apologize, young lady," Jamyang gladly responds while resuming his sweeping. "I have always welcomed your occasional visits, and today is no exception." Singi smiles, but her facial expression soon turns serious. "I came to you this morning because—" Singi's eyes wander and she immediately stops talking, her eyes widening. Lifting his head towards Singi, he follows her gaze and smiles at what has captured her complete attention. Standing before them is a wooden statue of the man that has appeared in Singi's , embraced by a kite-like figure with multiple tendrils curling around him. Light blue paint is intricately patterned on the non-human form.
"Th—that person! He—he's been appearing in my dreams recently! That's what I wanted to talk to you about!" Singi exclaims loudly in a mixture of wonder and anxiety.
Jamyang turns his head towards Singi, focused. "You've been having dreams about Avatar Wan?"
"Who?" Singi asks after a brief pause, dazed.
"Wan, the first Avatar. I believe I gave you a synopsis of his story before: He was a young man who hailed from a lion turtle city that granted the element of fire. Wanting to help those in need within the city, he stole the element and attempted to raid the palace of the city's ruling family, and as a result was banished to live in the Spirit Wilds, but was allowed to keep the element as a means of survival..."
As Jamyang spoke, Singi's eyes widened slightly in realization.
"... the Wilds were dangerous during his time, as the spirits inhabited them. Luckily, Wan managed to befriend and live with the spirits for two years, perfecting his ability to bend the element of fire as an extension of himself—something no other human had done before. Eventually, he was deceived into freeing Vaatu—the spirit of chaos and darkness—from his counterpart, Raava—the spirit of peace and light—and spent the next year learning the elements of air, water, and earth, with aid from Raava, before the onset of Harmonic Convergence."
"Yes. It is a supernatural phenomenon that occurs once every ten thousand years. The planets align, and during this time of amplified spiritual activity, Raava and Vaatu battle for the fate of our world. Should Vaatu win, our world would fall into ruin, but, what little light remains inside of him—Raava—will grow for another ten thousand years until the next Harmonic Convergence, in which the battle would begin again. It is a never-ending cycle of balance."
"So, what happened to Wan, Raava, and Vaatu? Where are the spirits?"
"Together, Wan and Raava defeated Vaatu. The battle took place in the Spirit World, where Wan's spirit permanently bonded with Raava. As a result of their bond, a powerful mechanism was unlocked that we have come to call the Avatar State. During the Avatar State, the Avatar's eyes glow white, and his bending is enhanced."
Singi thinks back to the dream she had the night before, and recalls to herself the moment Wan's eyes glowed, signaling the Avatar State.
"Anyway, with Vaatu defeated, Wan ordered the spirits back into the Spirit World, and made it so that no human could physically enter the Spirit World and free Vaatu. It was also at this time that the lion turtles relinquished their roles as protectors of mankind, and no longer gave humans the ability to control the elements."
Singi could only stare at Jamyang, half focused and half bewildered at the information he was revealing to her.
"Wan spent the remainder of his life trying to maintain peace between the different groups of people in our world, as a means to atone for his mistake of freeing Vaatu, and word spread about, oh, thirteen years ago, that he had died in battle."
"So everything... the way things are now. How the spirits are gone, how we're not living atop the lion turtles... all of this is because of Wan?" Singi questioned in a mix of sadness and bewilderment.
"Yes. There are some details that I am missing, since I only met him once, and—"
"Wait, you met Avatar Wan!?"
Jamyang chuckled. "Yes, over sixty years ago. He was passing by my home village one day, collecting some supplies, and we invited him to spend the night. That night, I remember being so fascinated by him, and asking him plenty of questions..."
A nine-year-old Jamyang quietly sneaks out of his family's hut late one autumn night, peering cautiously at the glow of a campfire a few meters away. Looking around him to make sure no other locals are out in the village, he then quickly but quietly scurries over to the middle-aged Avatar accompanied by his animal companion. Wan is seated against the sleeping cat deer, using a small branch to slightly shift the kindling around, sparks quickly flying skyward with each change in position, an orange and yellow blanket draped against the creature's back.
Wan shifts his head up and is a bit shocked, but also pleased to see the boy standing in front of him.
"Young air-wielder, what are you doing up so late? You should be in bed."
"I... I just wanted to ask you some questions."
Wan's eyes softened a bit. "Alright," He pats down the spot next to him on his left with his hand, gesturing him over. "... but not for very long." Jamyang smiles enthusiastically and sits beside him, but now that he was sitting next to the man of legends, he became a bit nervous. Wan showed no signs of anxiety or annoyance, and simply smiled at the child, ready and waiting to hear what the boy wanted to ask him.
"Ummm..." Jamyang looks around, trying to collect his thoughts and relieve his nerves. He notices the cat deer beside him, its fur graying along the top of its head, inner surface of the pinna, and down the nape of its neck. "I've only seen a few of that kind of animal... what is it?"
"This is Mula, my cat deer and very close friend. I saved him from a group of hunters in what was the Spirit Wilds many years ago, and we have been close ever since." Wan gently scratches behind Mula's right ear affectionately, causing the cat deer to stir and open his eyes a bit, soon raising his head and yawning before settling back down to sleep.
Jamyang chuckles quietly and smiles, moving onto his next question with a bit more confidence. "I've heard much about you from the legends, but how did you manage to yield more than one element?"
"Well, it's quite a long story..." Wan hesitates but sighs lightly and decides to give as much detail as possible within a small time span. Jamyang stares in wonder, both at the story he was being told, and still being shell shocked that he was sitting beside the man that had changed the world in such remarkable ways. Occasionally, he asks a question for further clarification, but tries not to use up plenty of what free time he has asking a plethora of questions.
"Now then..." Wan paused, waiting for the boy to properly introduce himself.
"Jamyang... I think it's best if you go back to sleep. You can grant me a proper send-off tomorrow morning."
"Send-off? You're leaving?"
"I'm afraid I must. I need to continue my mission to maintain peace between the different groups of people in our world, to amend for the mistake I made all those years ago."
Jamyang frowns and reluctantly stands, but his smile returns upon seeing Wan grin warmly back at him, as he too gets to his feet. Jamyang bows respectfully at the Avatar.
Wan returns the gesture, "Goodnight, Jamyang."
The two smile upon finishing their bow, and Jamyang rushes off, Wan simply staring at the boy until he his out of sight, before settling back down against Mula and putting out the fire.
The next morning, not long after dawn, Jamyang bursts out of his family's hut and finds Wan placing his packed belongings atop Mula, the visiting pair surrounded by a small crowd of villagers. Despite the mist and chilly morning temperatures, Jamyang quickly rushes over to the scene in excitement.
"Wan! Wan!" Jamyang shouts, causing Wan to turn around and smile ardently at the approaching child.
"Good morning, Jamyang."
"Good morning, Wan," Jamyang replies, smiling. "I wish I could come with you."
"And I wish you could join me as well, but my mission is far too dangerous for someone as young as you."
"Will I ever see you again?"
"Perhaps. I have spent much of my life so far as a wanderer, an ambassador of peace, much like I have seen your kind of people become since Harmonic Convergence. While I cannot allow you to accompany Mula and I, if you follow the path you shape for yourself, I am sure you will find that destiny will grant you many benefits."
Wan kneels down to Jamyang's level and places a hand on his shoulder.
"I hope that through your actions, you will aid me in restoring peace and balance to the world. I have no doubt you will succeed in just that, and no matter where I am, I will always be proud of you."
Wan stands and the two bow at each other again, after which Wan mounts Mula as tears begin to form in Jamyang's eyes.
"Goodbye, everyone. Thank you for your hospitality."
The crowd bows in respect, and Wan looks down to Jamyang one more time and smiles, his deep copper eyes starting to glow with the light of the rising sun.
"Until we meet again, Jamyang..."
As the tears begin to run down Jamyang's cheeks, Mula turns and slowly begins to trot away from the crowd. Jamyang soon can't handle the emotions taking him over, and he rushes forward ahead of the crowd and stops, watching the pair move further away from the village.
"I'll make you proud, Wan! I'll never forget you!"
Soon, Wan and Mula have faded from sight amongst the low-lying mist, slowly beginning to burn off as the sun continues its rise along the morning sky; Jamyang's tears still falling with a mixture of sadness and pride as a true legend has left him, but made his mark in numerous ways.
After hearing Jamyang's story, Singi was in awe.
"Wow..." she exclaims, before turning her head to gaze at the wooden statue. "I'm sure Wan would have be proud that you carved this statue of him."
Smiling, Jamyang replies, "I have no doubt he would be. It's taken me ten years to carve this work of art, and I'm just in the finishing steps."
"So... is the figure behind Wan supposed to be Raava?"
"Yes. When I met Wan, he drew a picture of Raava for me as part of his story, and while Wan has passed on, Raava lives on, I'm sure in another person... Wan's successor to maintain peace between the people of this world by yielding the ability to manipulate the other elements."
At this, Singi's eyes widened slightly when she recalled her experience earlier that morning.
Jamyang turned his head to face his pupil. "Yes?"
"Before I came here this morning, there was an... incident at the communal well."
"Well, I was drawing up some water when the rope snapped, and the bucket fell back into the water. I tried to use a different airbending technique to retrieve it, since the tunnel was dark, and well... instead of air, the bucket appeared atop a column of water."
At this, Jamyang's eyes widened. He briefly lowers his head, trying to process what was revealed to him, and looks back up at the statue before composing himself and looking back at Singi with a calm, yet determined look on his face, gesturing his right hand toward the doorway of the building.
"Come with me. I want you to show me exactly what you did."
Eventually, the two make their way to a fountain along the temple grounds. Singi copies her movement from earlier, slowly raising her arms with her palms facing upward. As she does so, the water in the fountain trembles before slowly rising up in a small pillar. Jamyang looks on at the phenomenon with his mouth agape before Singi lowers her arms, bringing the water back into the fountain with a splash.
"My pupil..." Jamyang utters in amazement and joy, "... I believe Raava has chosen you as Wan's successor." Singi's eyes widen. "We must inform your parents immediately. You have an incredible journey ahead of you, as you, are the new Avatar."
- Singi not recognizing Wan by name upon seeing his statue is a unique case, unlike the instance when Aang recognized Roku upon seeing his statue at the Southern Air Temple. It could be, however, that Singi was in such great shock upon seeing Wan's form before her, that she could not process the proper recognition of her predecessor.
- The flashback to Wan and Jamyang's befriendment occurred in 9,811 BG, making Wan 39 years old at the time.
- Wan's final statement to a young Jamyang before departing reflects the latter's eventual mentoring of Singi, and how in essence, Wan can watch over Jamyang with Singi being his successor.
- In addition, Singi and young Jamyang bursting out of their respective family's huts reflects their transition to their greater destinies—Singi to be the Avatar, and Jamyang to aid in bringing peace and balance to the world (by mentoring the next Avatar).
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