Pathik explaining to Aang
The Prelude
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The Phrygian


The Phrygian

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The First Thaw

Sweat dripped down from Aang's face. With each step he took, a few drops would sprinkle the cold stone floor in front him with a soft pit pat pit pat. He had been labouring up these stairs for what felt like hours. His limbs tired, he flailed them around with little care and in his orange monk's robes, one might have mistaken him for some strange, monastic zombie. Almost a whole flight ahead of him, Guru Pathik in contrast climbed with grace and humility- his face skyward, looking into the open night sky above.

They were climbing what Pathik had claimed was the highest tower in the Eastern Air Temple; a roofless behemoth Aang had seen many times in his younger days- though the monks told him that he could not go up them until he'd earned his tattoos.[1] "For an old man," Aang shouted up at Pathik, "you sure keep in good shape!"

Pathik let out an enthusiastic laugh, his wiry frame silhouetted against the star light pouring in from above. "Not too far now Aang!" he yelled back.

"How far!?" Aang cried out, failing to hide his exasperation as he nearly tripped over a large, dark rock buried halfway into one jagged step.

"You stare so often at your feet Aang that you lose sight of where you're going- look up!"

With some trepidation, careful to stop walking so as not to trip this time, Aang looked up. He felt a sense of excitement rush over him. They were only another flight away, with Pathik himself climbing up onto the tower roof.

Moving into a brisk walk, Aang moved up the stairs as fast as caution would permit. Breaking into a run on the last few steps, he burst out into the cool night air- his smile wide and his eyes, if possible; wider. They were standing on a stone terrace, built around the open ceiling staircase that they had ascended. The tower had been built into the side of the mountains, and from its edge he could see the entire temple complex flow outwards- extending into the valleys below, to the distant horizon lit only by the light of the stars twinkling above. "You see, Aang," Pathik said, putting a hand on his back while clutching his side, "good things come to those who wait."

"Those who walk more like!" he said, wiping his forehead.

Pathik gestured Aang to follow him to a spot across the tower overlooking the temple complex. They both sat down and as Aang had been accustomed to, meditated for some time.

A long time.

A really, really long time, in fact.

He wondered at first, if it was the laborious stair climbing- but they'd climbed and walked similar distances before- not uphill, but tiring nonetheless. His calm demeanor was quickly degenerating into boorish impatience, and he huffed loudly to get Pathik's attention- to no avail. "I hope he hasn't fallen asleep again" Aang thought to himself, "like that last time when he said had make me a glass of onion and banana juice..."

"This is not like when I fell asleep pouring your juice, Aang; I was much more tired then," Pathik said smiling, with Aang nearly falling over in surprise. "Look up" Pathik insisted, without turning to him. Still taken aback by Pathik's insight into his head, Aang did so, trying to keep an open mind in spite of his growing skepticism for this lesson.

The night sky loomed above him. He could see thousands upon thousands of tiny little blinking stars. Each seemed to wink back at him; some bigger, some smaller... they all seemed so distant and yet, so close. He stretched out his arm as if to grasp one, smiling. He thought back to the times had looked out at them from Appa's back- staring at them, wondering what the future held, where they were headed, what... what Katara was...

"This... this is the last chakra, isn't it?" Aang said, finally understanding. "Yes," Pathik breathed, "once you open this chakra, you will be able to go in and out of the Avatar State at will... and when you are in the Avatar State, you will have complete control of and awareness of your actions."

Aang's heart was racing, he looked intently at Pathik - his mind clear, his resolve pure - and his determination to master this awesome power never so strong. With confidence he exclaimed, "let's do this!"

Pathik looked upwards, his eyes misty. "The thought chakra is located at the crown of the head. It deals with pure cosmic energy, and is blocked by earthly attachment." His gaze slowly turned downwards upon Aang. "It is pure consciousness: an absence of object and subject, our liberation from the illusion of the world."

"Like the light chakra!" Aang exclaimed.

"Yes," Pathik said with calm, "but it goes even beyond this. The light chakra breaks down the illusions of separation that divide our physical world. But the thought chakra extends beyond the physical- beyond the material existence of this planet." He stretched out his arms and said, "look to the sky. The physical world is like the canvas; each star a speck of color, each cloud a stroke of the brush. But the canvas is but a painting- one expression of the artist who finished it, and one among many thousands of others both like it and unlike it. From each stroke lies a potential stroke that went unexplored- with each bit of color that splashes out across the page, some other could have taken its place. Existence and nonexistence, object and subject- they all co-exist, together; always, eternally." Aang's look of determination faded slightly, looking suddenly confused. "We are but the flecks of paint strewn across the vast canvas of our world. For each of specks there are ten thousand other variations: ten thousand potential avenues unexplored. What if the brush was turned another way, the stroke done from another angle? An artist explores these avenues. Such is the reality of things: that we live in a multiverse of many realities."

Aang's face was now positive contorted in bewilderment. "But Aang, you are so attached to this existence that you cannot know them. You are bound by what makes you human, the realities of survival, struggle and suffering. But you have the power to go beyond this". Pointing up to the sky, Pathik continued "it is an illusion, an illusion that existence is but one exclusive and total. Like the Spirit World, like so many other worlds- it is but one expression, one expression of the same truth."

Aang looked stunned, but Pathik looked suddenly confident. "You will understand," he said in a consoling tone. "Meditate on what attaches you to this world."

Caught off-guard by the sudden shift from lecture to command, Aang began scrambling his thoughts together...

Time passed. Aang would eventually awaken from his meditation and fail to unlock his seventh chakra. Though Pathik pleaded, Aang would flee to rescue a girl that attached him to this earth like no other. Initially distraught, Pathik meditated on his turbulent thoughts and emotions- and in time, reconciled them with his faith in the Avatar to accomplish what he sought to undertake. Aang would have to find his own way, and through Pathik- he had the tools to help him when the time came. Pathik could feel his thoughts and worries of this world beginning to wash away... as if down a river...

The sky lurched above him. Pathik remained calm and inattentive, focused on himself. With a great belch, the vastness of the sky suddenly began to collapse in upon itself. Earth and star collided in a spectacular crunch- and Pathik felt his body melt into a stream of unending consciousness... and blinding white light that stretched on for infinity.

As Pathik rode through it, there was a brief ripple. He passed it, his mind at ease... but the ripple grew. Another consciousness was also on this same path, passing Pathik and falling out suddenly from the light above. It was diving downward, earthbound- its inhabitant screaming in his sleep, throwing off the soft quilt he had been covered under and finding himself drenched in sweat.

"HWAAAAAH!??" he shouted, his sister waking up abruptly beside him.

"WHAT!?" she yelled, and from behind her their white fox bear turned up his head, howling indignantly (with a great "GGGRAAAAaawwww") at having been woken up so late at night.

"Dream..." the boy panted, wiping his forehead of sweat. "Can't... boy, old man... can't... can't, what?" he said, his mind still reeling from what had seen. A young tattooed boy speaking with a strange dark... man? Was it a man? He had... a beard, no or did he? It was beginning to fade... like sand falling between his fingers.

"What are you talking about, Horkou?" his sister said, her eyes glazed from sleepiness. "I told you not to eat before bed, by the gods... obviously you'll get nightmares..." But was it a nightmare? He could barely remember it now, his head falling back onto the soft quilt seemingly of its own volition.

"Just get... back to sleep, we need it for tomorrow..." his sister grumbled. The fox bear sighed in agreement.

"Yeah..." Horkou sighed, "yeah, you're right..."

With the memory of what had seen fading, his mind eased and he fell back asleep in minutes.

He would remember none of it in the morning.


  1. Aang did not receive his tattoos at the Eastern Air Temple, getting them not long before the series started at the Southern Air Temple.

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