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|Tale of Aang: Renewed Hope|
Jacob T. Fawkes, Krista Marx
December 26, 2011
The First Chapter of the.
It has been six months since the end of the war and the world is from far balanced. The world is divided in numerous revolts, uprisings, and rebellions. In this time of turmoil, Avatar Aang is joining an expedition to rediscover what he can about Air Nomad culture in hopes that maybe one day it may return. Before he can begin his journey though he must acquire the help of a band of "acolytes" to join him on a journey that will test the resolve of the Avatar and bring renewed hope to a still-darkened world.
2nd Month, 101 AG - Fire Nation Capital
It is good that you have been able to agree to join us on our expedition. Though we have done a great deal of research, particularly with the help of my father; it would be especially helpful to have an actual airbender with us. Tenzin and Tali will be excited to meet you. We will be leaving as soon as you can meet us at the Northern Air Temple. I know the recent Dai Li and "Ozai loyalist" revolts have been taking a great deal of your time, and I am grateful that you are taking time to accompany us. See you soon.
Leader of the Air Acolytes
"Aang, I know you have been planning for this expedition for weeks now, but I don't think now is the best time.," stated Zuko as he, Katara, and Aang began the long walk to Appa.
Katara nodded in agreement saying, "I think Zuko is right on this Aang. I'm really worried that Feng or Bujing will take advantage of you being gone and all. Let's not forget about the New Moon Celebration coming up either," she added worryingly.
Aang paused for a moment to think. He knew that Long Feng and the former general were real threats, particularly since they had taken over the colonies. With that, Aang wondered what life would've been like if the Harmony Restoration Movement had been able to take effect. But there was no point of thinking about what could have been, only what was. With that, he placed that though out of his mind for a moment, and replied to his friends concerns, "I know you both mean well, and we will deal with the revolts in time, but this is something I have to do. These 'acolytes' could be the future of the Air Nomads and I want to make sure they develop the way they should. As for the New Moon Celebration, I will be finished in plenty of time to meet you all there. I would be more worried about Sokka, seeing as how he is on the other side of the world from the North Pole."
"Sokka will be stopping at Wu Long Forest before he heads up north.," Katara said with a confused look about her face, "I think he wants to go looking for his sword."
Aang, Zuko, and Katara finally arrived at Appa. Though Aang knew that neither Zuko nor Katara were comfortable with the current predicament. Neither was he, now that he thought about it.
"Zuko...Katara," Aang said in hopes of comfort. "We should've known that peace would not be this easy. Ozai was a serious threat that needed to be dealt with. We had to act fast. But, old wounds need time to heal. We have to deal with the problems, yes; but right now one problem at a time. I am hoping to find a peaceful solution on this expedition. I am putting my faith in Teo and his followers."
"And we will put our faith in you, as always," Katara said. With that she gave Aang a kiss and wished him luck. Zuko then came and wished Aang luck on the journey, though Aang was fairly certain he could still see concern in Zuko's eyes.
"I will head to the Northern Air Temple first, meet up with them. Then we will go in the cardinal directions until we reach the Eastern Air Temple." Aang said reciting Teo's planned trip. "In all it should take maybe nine months. Then I will pick up Toph in Ba Sing Se, and we will head up North in time for the celebration."
"Sounds like a plan." Zuko said.
With that Aang gave Appa a yip-yip, and they were on there way. NOW Aang could show just how worried he really was.
"I have NO idea what I am going to do!"
Northern Air Temple
Four days of non-stop travel had given Aang plenty of time to think of possible solutions as he approached the Northern Temple.
"I can't think of anything that could make them all stop fighting," Aang said as depression began to set in. Just as it began to settle, he caught sight of the temple at last. "We're there buddy!" Aang said to Appa with great pleasure in his voice. Looking quickly for a landing spot, a large mass of orange caught his eye; with one person in particular grabbing his attention.
"Aang, I am so glad you made it," Teo said to Aang as he finished landing Appa. Then two people, also in Air Nomad garb, approached Teo and Aang. One was a young woman probably about Katara's age. She had long, black hair and her eyes seemed very inviting. She was the polar opposite of the older man standing next to her. He might have been the same age, but the look in his eyes was anything but comforting. He seemed to ooze both confidence and strength, traits that would make the perfect airbender.
"You must be Tali and Tenzin," Aang started. "I am glad to finally meet you."
"It is our pleasure Avatar. We are extremely honored that you accepted the invitation to join our expedition," Tali said with an apparent giddiness.
"Yes," Teo said with a hint of annoyance. Aang could guess that Tali had been bothering both Teo and probably Tenzin all day about his arrival, though if the man standing next to Tali was annoyed at her, he didn't show it. In fact Aang could capture no emotion in Tenzin's face other than sheer serenity. He seemed to be completely at peace with the world, yet another airbender quality.
"So, Aang" Teo said with a hint of excitement, "Lets head to my dad's workshop, I have some things we have collected over the last couple of months to show you."
As they made there way down the hall to the mechanist's workshop, Aang studied the walls that not a few months ago, were covered in pipes and ooze. Now, the walls were clean and well kept, the pipes and other machines were hidden, and he could see people in nomad garb painting new murals of airbending history.
"We have begun a complete restoration of the temple," Teo said with pride, "Tenzin and I found several old scrolls and books that have allowed us to save most of the history of the airbenders. That and one of my dads old inventions allowed us to rediscover what the old murals looked like. I think you are going to like this."
When they arrived at the workshop, Aang could see that even this place was cleaner...more serene. And there, working some new contraption, was the mechanist, nomad garb and all; apparently Aang had started quite the fashion statement here. Not that he minded that much.
"Hello Avatar!" the Mechanist said as he finally noticed the four people now taking up space in his workshop. I take it Teo is here to show the flash box. "Flashbox?" Aang said with apparent confusion.
"This," Teo answered as he brought out a strange device that looked like box with a telescope sticking out of it. "Its used to create images of the world around it," the Mechanist said to answer Aang's continued confusion; continuing, "When I first arrived here I came across the various murals, when we needed to remove them in order to add new things to the temple. I took images of them with the flashbox so that I could keep a memory of it. I completely forgot about it until you arrived here a few months ago. Since then, Teo has been using those images to restore all the parts that...I destroyed." There was a sound of shame in the Mechanist's voice at that last part.
"Mechanist, are all the supplies ready? We will leave in two days..." Tenzin said. As he continued conversing with the Mechanist, Aang faded into his own thoughts. He realized that this was the first thing Tenzin had said since he had arrived there, he also realized that Tenzin was much younger than he looked or acted; he was probably only slightly older than Zuko or Sokka. An entire civilization run by children; that didn't comfort Aang at all.
Aang listened in again, "...after we collect as much as we can from the expedition, the acolytes will begin the recolonization of the temples," Tenzin finished with a continued look of satisfaction.
By the time everyone headed off to bed that night, the plan was fairly set for the expedition. Aang was both excited and nervous to see what could HE could learn from unearthing the past.
4th Month - Western Air Temple
"So you would sleep out on the edge of the cliff!?" Tenzin said with an air of disbelief.
Aang laughing at the apparent distress in the voice replied, "Yes, it was intended to bring you closer to the updrafts. Help you feel the air as it were. Most of us wouldn't have been in any danger, since we could fly through airbending."
Still with an air of fear in his voice; Tenzin replied, "Still wouldn't be quite comfortable. I think I would've stayed close to the giant Pai Sho table myself." Hoping to change the subject; Tenzin quickly stated, "It's incredible how much of this temple was preserved. You know seeing how close it was to the Fire Nation and all."
That innocent comment touched a bitter nerve, though Aang was careful not to show it. That was awfully hard seeing as how Tenzin's eyes seem to pierce right into his mind.
Almost as if he could read Aang's mind; Tenzin quickly corrected himself, "I am sorry, I didn't mean it to come out like that."
"It's fine," Aang said with a bit of a forced grin. "You are right, though. All these murals are still so well kept. Even the slide that Teo found is nearly the same."
At that moment, Tali arrived and told them to come with her. She took them to a huge mural that Aang had never really noticed until now. He must have walked down this hall a dozen times when he visited this temple a hundred years ago. It was entitled "The Exile teaches the Avatar". It showed Avatar Yangchen's waterbending teacher give an incredible display of waterbending prowess. It must have been a sight to see in person. There was something eerily familiar when he looked at the face of the teacher. He seemed youthful, much more than one would expect for a master except for the eyes which were an extremely piercing grey. This 'exile' was also obviously a very powerful individual to procure such an important mural. There were waterbending techniques Aang had never even seen before. He could have studied this mural for a lifetime and probably not learn all of the techniques shown.
7th Month - Southern Air TempleFive months into the expedition and Aang was back in the empty halls that had once been his only home. He had always known that this would be the hardest leg of the expedition. As he peered through the dust filled rooms, memories of friends long past came rushing back. The rooms were empty now of course, save for a few Acolytes, but Aang could see his friends and masters playing in the courtyard or doing their duties around the temple. He could see Tarno and Ooki competing to see could make the biggest wind funnel, while Jinju was off playing with the various lemurs around the temple. He could see Monk Taolin creating paintings of the nearby Patola Mountains, as he always loved to do. Now they were all gone, and the courtyard was empty save for Teo and Tali making the final preparations for the ceremony. Aang was alone, the last airbender, and as much as he might wish otherwise; these Acolytes were not and could never be the Nomads.
As Aang finally approached the statue of Monk Gyatso, one more memory came rushing back. The last time he ever spoke to Gyatso.
"Aang, whatever you may have heard I promise you, the Council is not going to take you away from me," Gyatso had spoken with an air of certainty.
Aang then replied, "But Monk Pasang's word is final." Gyatso without even batting an eye grew a devilish grin as if he knew a great secret," Normally, Aang, you would be right; but I know someone whose word is even more final than Pasang's. He's coming tomorrow and I had planned to make him your waterbending teacher."
This had made Aang more comfortable as Gyatso never promised anything he didn't keep, though the notion of a waterbender bossing Monk Pasang around did seem rather strange to Aang now that he thought about it.
The next day, Gyatso friends had arrived. One Aang now remembered must have been a young Guru Pathik, though the other Aang could not even recall his face let alone his name. All three of them, Aang remembered were happy to be meeting each other again. It had been a long time since they had all seen each other. Aang had stayed hidden hoping that Gyatso would be successful in his mission.
As Gyatso began to talk with his friends, their moods seemed to change. Though Aang could not hear the conversation, the face of the second person, a younger man, seemed to say it all. He was furious. Was this the man that Gyatso had told him about? He began to storm off to the council room with Gyatso and Pathik close behind. So Aang had nothing to do but wait.
After what seemed like hours to Aang, Gyatso and his companions came out of the room with a saddened look upon their faces. They must have been unsuccessful. It was too much for Aang to bear. With tears in his eyes, Aang fled from the scene.
And then he ran away.
Aang had never even said goodbye. As he continued to reflect, Tenzin came up behind Aang with a morose look in his eye.
"It's complete?" Aang said with hesitant anticipation. A nod followed, and the two of them were on their way to the courtyard outside in the heart of the temple.
At every temple, Tenzin and Teo had suggested the placement of memorials to commemorate the fallen friends Aang had always known. They had done so at the Northern Temple and the Western Temple, but this was different. This memorial was special. All around him, Aang could see the courtyard packed with maybe 30-40 Acolytes all quiet in meditation and thought. Aang, himself, could not meditate on the past for it haunted him too much to do so these days. Beside him, he could see Tali, usually loud and energetic, deep in thought and very reflective with Teo and Tenzin right behind her. In the center of the now packed courtyard, there was a large stone which was ornately designed and decorated. At the foot of the stone was a small torch which Aang lit with a quick burst of fire. On the stone, there was a brass plaque which read
Beside this large stone lay a much smaller, simpler stone. It wasn't elaborate. It wasn't distracting. It was much like the man it memorialized. It was a simple stone marker which read,
As Aang read this marker, he remembered that man as all of that and more.
9th Month - Eastern Air Temple
As the expedition entered into its final weeks, Aang knew two things. One, the Dai Li and Ozai loyalist insurrections would not simply go away. Letters from Smellerbee and The Duke showed that they had made no serious progress in the sieges. They would need the help of the Water Tribe armies to shift the balance in their favor. But, what role should the Air Nation play. It was their world too, but the Acolytes were little more than a shadow...children playing dress-up. Did they have the heart? Could they?
And the second thing Aang knew...Guru Pathik was dying.
"Avatar Aang, I am so happy to see you again," Pathik said obviously weak with age." It seems I was wrong about the Avatar State."
"But, I was wrong about many things too," Aang said hoping to change the subject."There is so much wrong with the world...nothing I ever thought I would have to deal with. I don't know what to do. I need your help."
Pathik's humor seemed to drain for a moment. He then answered, "Do not worry, Aang. None of us have all the answers, it would be foolish to think otherwise. You will find a fix the world, you just have to keep your mind open. A solution could come from anywhere...anyone. Keep your eyes and your mind open and an answer will come to you."
"You are the Avatar. It is your destiny to keep the world in balance. But no Avatar has ever done that on their own. I learned that from an old friend of my own. You will need...your own friends...before this is...over." With that Pathik left this world.
As Aang held grasping his teachers hand, a wash of anger flooded over him. One less of his generation was around. People who knew a world without war were dwindling fast, and it seemed unlikely to change anytime soon.
The ceremony was plain spoken and simple. Much like the man it honored. All the Acolytes were in attendance, Tali in particular was standing next to him grasping Tenzin's hand mournfully. She had shown herself to be quite motherly at points and her eyes were almost as piercing as her partner in crime.
"Aang...are you okay," Tali said. "I'm fine," Aang replied in frustration. Tali seeing his rage spoke hesitantly, "If you need anyone to talk to..."
"No, I don't. I'm going out with Appa for a moment." As Aang left, Tali tried to follow. She was stopped by Tenzin who still her hand firmly in his own.
"Leave him be for a bit, Tali. He needs his time alone."
As Aang and Appa were in their flight, Aang had all his anger and wrath exploding at once. Had he not mastered the Avatar State, it would be very possible that he would be glowing. So heated in rage was Aang that he did not notice a strange force driving Appa towards the north. It was only after a strong gust of turbulence that Aang realized Appa's quickening pace. His attempts to rein his old friend were unsuccessful; whatever Aang did, Appa fought back.
"What is it, buddy. What do you see?" Aang pondered questioningly.
After about an hour of travel, Aang could see the source of Appa's interest. An island, very mountainous and sparsely wooded, but that's not what drove the center of Aang's attention. No, Aang's attention was on the big white furry creatures flying around the island.
"Sky Bison! A huge herd of Sky Bison!" Aang said in disbelief.
As they landed on the island, Appa's presence drew this herd toward them. The last herd of Sky Bison in the whole world was now mere inches from Aang. Not only were there Sky Bison, but a couple hundred flying lemurs as well. Creatures that must have fled the Eastern Air Temple before the attack. Whole species, a little different looking perhaps but a hundred years would do that, lived on this island.As the matriarch of the Sky Bison approached Aang and Appa, she nudged Aang's towards her forehead. As Aang did so, images rushed through his mind. The matriarch's intentions became clear. It was she who had called Appa there. The herd's resources were dwindling. The herd would not survive for much longer. They remembered an old home to the south, but did not know the way. They needed someone to guide them. They needed...hope.
"I understand" Aang said realizing what he needed to do.
He climbed on Appa's back and allowed the other bison to react to his motions. They understood a guide when they saw one. Many of the lemurs also knew what was coming and hitched rides on other members of the herd. Then they were off.
Sufficed to say, it was quite a shock for everyone when Aang returned from his flight, herd in tow.
"What is going on? Tenzin said in complete awe.
"A lesson in Bison taming," replied a rather joyful Avatar. "All Airbenders would have a sky bison companion, a friend who would stand by them and depend on them. If you guys are as serious as you say you are, you need Bison."
There was animosity in the crowd. Reluctance on both sides. 100 years of self-reliance could make anyone reluctant, but some the eldest bison could probably vaguely remember riders. As for the Acolytes, A ten-ton flying creature would seem intimidating to anyone...except for two Acolytes of course.
Tali and Tenzin stepped forward to find their companion, as Aang expected they would. Teo was apparently answering a letter of some sort and couldn't participate, but there was always later.
Tenzin approached a young, rambunctious buck. The buck throughout the entire trip had been troublesome and curious, and yet in the sight of this powerful and gentle spirit in front of it, the buck seemed almost tame. The perfect partners.
"What will you call him?" Aang spoke in earnest curiosity.
"I have been reading various texts on the history of the Air Nomads. I think I have the perfect name...Buddhan."
"The ancient Avatar? Aang vaguely remembered the name, sad to say but ancient Air Nation history was never his forte. It did seem to fit however. As for Tali, the Matriarch made her decision for her. Two kind and caring almost motherly spirits seemed to work in harmony to calm everyone; both Bison and Acolyte. As for the name, only Tali could think this was perfect, Moonpeach. One by one, all the Acolytes found their partners...even Teo eventually found a Bison and gave a name that Aang knew wasn't a coincidence, Gyatso.
The next week was spent teaching the Acolytes how to fly, how to work with their Bison. It was also spent in figuring out how to bring the rest of the herd to the other Temples and the other Acolytes. Teo assured Aang that he would take care of it and, for once, Aang was actually certain of it. Things were turning around for the better.
And then the letter showed up, and everything got better. Aang was preparing to leave for the New Moon Celebration when Teo came racing at him break-neck speed.
"They replied!, They replied!" Teo huffed in a breathless voice. He must have assumed that Aang knew what he was talking about.
"Who replied about what?"
Teo regaining his composure elaborated, "The Avatar Aang Fan Club has agreed to join the Acolytes! I've been in contact with them for the past few months, and they have been able to contact all their branches and agreed to join us."
"Cool, a fan club? How is that particularly helpful?" Aang said not sure how this news changed anything.
"The Fan Club has branches and members all over the world. Ba Sing Se, Omashu, the Fire Nation Capitol, and Yu Dao."
Aang remembered that name. Smellerbee had been sending constant reports from their. It was one of the old colonies that the Dai Li had taken over after the war. And now there was a friendly force on the inside, that could provide them the information they needed. The Air Nation could play a role in ending this war after all!
"That is great! Zuko and Katara will be so happy to hear that!" Aang said with his happiness pouring from nearly every orifice.
Tenzin walked up right behind Teo with Tali in tow.
"I know that you have to head out, Aang, but would you mind with Tali and I accompanied you all the way up to Ba Sing Se. We will be helping to associate ourselves with the Fan Club Leaders."
"Sure thing Tenzin." Aang replied. With the plans arranged and Tali and Tenzin's bison ready to go, the party was on their way.
As Aang peered over to his compatriots flying to his left and right, for the first time in a long time; Aang felt as if he was finally heading towards somewhere brighter.
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