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|The Art of Mending|
December 16, 2016
Two days have passed since North Pole, and not long after dawn, the two are packing their belongings with the intent of heading back south. As they exit their tent and begin to take it apart, the sky is overcast with a slight breeze coming in from the north, but otherwise calm.and at the
"I feel kind of bad that I never got to train in a blizzard. The weather's been pretty calm since we came here," Singi remarks.
"I admit, I had hoped for at least a snowstorm, not a full-scale blizzard. Perhaps we can return someday to train here again," Gekkō responds.
After dissembling the tent and packing it away, the two begin to walk the few miles south to reach the ocean, the wind noticeably starting to pick up.
"I know all we really have to do is head south, and that you brought a compass, but how do you remember exactly which way to go? Everything pretty much looks the same now that we're moving away from the mountains," Singi inquires.
"I made markers out of ice at certain points of our walk, remember? Every few meters, I just bent an ice spear as a place marker as we went. So long as we find them as we move south, we'll be on the right path back to the boat."
As they continue their trek, the wind grows more intense and soon blows in snow from the north, pelting the back of their heads like gnats quickly—but irritatingly—nipping at one's exposed skin.
"Hmph. Well, hopefully, we'll make it back to the boat before things get more serious," Gekkō mutters, an air of concern gently ebbing from his statement.
One mile into their walk, the conditions worsen, and soon, the duo is caught in whiteout conditions. Singi can just barely make out the silhouette of her waterbending instructor in front of her. She encases the two of them in an air sphere for a while, shielding them from nature's onslaught. Eventually, it gets to the point where the blizzard conditions worsen, and Singi reflexively enters the Avatar State, her eyes and tattoos glowing a bluish white. Gekkō can only watch as the protective shield grows in size, the wind's howls rivaling those from the storm around them. While the shield brings welcome relief from the blizzard, the two remain stationary, unable to move on in their trek. Gekkō considers trying to get through to her and ask if she can conjure an air bullet, but backs away once he realizes that they would be traveling at such a great speed, that they would likely miss his ice markers. After twenty minutes, Singi breaks out of the Avatar State, exhausted, and slumps over, Gekkō catching her as the air shield dies down and the two face the brunt of the blizzard together yet again. Disoriented, Gekkō clumsily searches for his compass with his left hand while cradling Singi's head with his right hand. Eventually, nature's wrath gets to the waterbending master, and dizzy, he begins to lose consciousness.
Just a few meters away, a band of six men riding buffalo yaks and carrying spears and clubs notice the faint images of two figures bracing themselves against the blizzard. Directing their mounts onward, they find an unconscious Singi and a barely conscious Gekkō, whose vision finally goes black as the men dismount their hybrid animals and cautiously approach them.
The gentle swishing of water can be heard along with mysterious, yet winsome hum gently warbling as Singi slowly opens her eyes to see the roof of a large, tented hut. Waves of relaxation and pleasure circulate throughout her body as she begins to smile warmly and adjust herself to her surroundings, noticing that she is in a pool of water, glowing a bright blue while the water swashes back-and-forth gently, before a voice catches her attention, filled with warm relief.
"Well, good to see you and your old friend here are alright."
A chuckle can be heard before the voice continues.
"Then again, if it weren't for that hunting party, you wouldn't have been found; and, oh my, if it weren't for me, you'd both be dead stiffs!"
Singi shifts her head to the right and finds an Avatar warmly, smiling, the wrinkles on her face becoming more pronounced, and she waves her arms to-and-fro, bending the glowing water in the pool., donned in liberty and medium purple robes with pomp and power sleeves covering much of arms down to her wrists. Her brown skin contrasts with her light blue eyes and white hair, which is braided into an intricate ponytail reaching down to her shoulder blades. The woman stares at the
"Hello, dearie. It's clear by your robes and tattoos that you're not from around here. I understand your weakness and trembling after facing off against that blizzard," the women notes, before turning her head to Gekkō—who is lying beside Singi, but positioned in the opposite direction as her—and smiling slyly, finishing her statement, sarcasm flowing from her words like the rapids from a river.
"But I am shocked to see a fellow water-wielder, and even more-so, a man, not entirely immune to what Mother Nature delivers us every autumn and winter."
At this, Gekkō opens his eyes slightly and grumbles at the elderly woman, "I'm not from the polar regions..."
At this, the woman gasps with slight sarcasm, "You must be more disoriented than you thought," she remarks, "seeing as how many water-wielders have settled in one of the two polar regions since the era of the Avatar began."
Gekkō rolls his eyes slightly before looking towards Singi and speaking again.
"Avatar Singi, are you alright?"
"Yeah, I'm fine, Master Gekkō."
At this, the woman's eyes widen before she relaxes and smiles.
"I thought you might be the Avatar! Why else would there be an air-wielder in these parts when your kind is usually so communal and detached from the rest of the world? Plus, I could sense a sort-of spiritual essence from within you. Oh! Where are my manners? My apologies..."
At this, the two newcomers glance towards the woman.
"My name is Nenana. I am the widow of Adak, the mother of four beautiful daughters, and the grandmother of six rambunctious grandchildren. I am better known, though, as the shaman of this tribe, and I specialize in not only spiritual matters here, but also the art of mending—healing, which I have been doing to you two for the past few minutes. I teach the young ladies here the gift of healing because, for starters, the tribes here are run as a patriarchy. Second, well... somebody's got to patch up these knuckleheads..." she gestures to the hunting party, "when they get frostbite, or get mauled by a pack of wolves! You can never trust a man to go out into this vast, frozen landscape without somehow messing himself up!"
At this, Gekkō groans in annoyance before Nenana finishes waterbending.
"That should do."
"I feel great, Nenana. Thank you," Singi responds enthusiastically while standing herself up.
Nenana nods, smiling, before directing her attention to Gekkō.
"I'm fine, thanks," Gekkō responds bluntly, still rather annoyed.
"Well then, since the storm's still raging out there, how about I fix you up a nice meal? You two can leave as soon as the weather calms."
"We'd greatly appreciate that, thank you again," Singi states, bowing in respect, which Nenana returns before turning her attention back to the hunting party and pointing towards the entrance of the large hut.
"You six! Get back out there and see if you can catch anything! I have enough food here for now, but we'll need a good supply for overnight."
Stunned, the men soon relent and grab their hunting supplies before opening the flap of the hut's entrance and returning to the bleak world of white outside.
"Hmm... men. They would never survive without us, and I don't just mean with regard to healing..." Nenana states, nodding once, satisfied, before focusing back onto the two visitors and humbly asking, "Will seaweed soup do?"
Over a large bowl of seaweed soup, Gekkō, and Singi discuss to Nenana their reasoning for traveling to the North Pole, along with the events that unfolded over the past few days since their arrival.
At this, Singi's eyes widen and she nearly drops her bowl of seaweed soup in shock.
"Wait, you lived in a lion turtle city!?"
"Are you indirectly asking me how old I am, dearie?" Nenana asks, a sly grin forming on her face. "Because as I'm sure your friend here can tell you, you don't dare ask a woman how old she is."
Nenana then laughs while Gekkō humphs in annoyance.
"But yes, there was a spectacular spirit lights show for a few minutes one day when I was merely five years old. Back then, my lion turtle lived in a more tropical region of the world, so for all of us living in the city, it was completely unnatural to see the lights that far south, and what was more, during the daylight hours. Not long after the spirit lights arrived, everyone from the city who was out in the Spirit Wilds rushed back to the lion turtle, saying that the spirits were wreaking havoc, more than usual. They were more aggressive, and had lost much of their vibrant color, instead appearing darker in coloration. They were also said to be essentially invincible to any water attacks. Granted, what was happening with the spirits had been occurring for the past few days, but not on this grand a scale. We all stayed atop our lion turtle for protection during this phenomenon, but for the only time I and the other city-dwellers could remember, the spirits were crossing boundaries—entering the city and creating mayhem atop the very creature meant to protect us. Before all of this began, I wasn't far from the lion turtle, collecting seashells along the shoreline. Everyone who had come from outside the city, including myself, were too frenzied to give back our water to the lion turtle; we kept it, just in case, and what with the spirits attacking us atop our lion turtle, that ended up being the right thing to do. Remarkably, though, a few minutes later, the lights disappeared, the spirits turned back to their usual selves, left the scene, and everything fell silent. Later that day, I just remember our lion turtle calling all of us down before informing us that it would no longer grant us the power of water, nor house us, and that the world had entered a 'new age' of some sort."
"Harmonic Convergence..." Singi whispers.
"What was that, dearie?" Nenana asks, cupping a hand to an ear.
"The lion turtle told you that it would no longer grant you waterbending, nor protect you from the spirits that lived in the Spirit Wilds. That signified the beginning of the era of the Avatar. All of the stuff you mentioned beforehand—the spirit lights, the spirits attacking you, that all must have been part of Harmonic Convergence. I was told by my airbending master and close friend—who actually first Avatar when was young—that Harmonic Convergence is a supernatural phenomenon, which occurs once every ten thousand years. During that time, the planets align, and there's a period of amplified spiritual energy. At that time, in the Spirit World, a man named Wan fought Vaatu, the spirit of chaos and darkness, for Raava, the spirit of peace and light. Wan eventually bonded his spirit with Raava, becoming the Avatar, and together, they defeated Vaatu. I'm just amazed that you're still able to recall all of that—it's incredible."the
"Well, it changed the world. Wan changed the world. I'm not surprised I'm able to recall it as if it was yesterday."
"Did you ever meet him?"
"No. Once we left the lion turtle, my family and I settled here in the north. Sometimes, though, when our tribe welcomed new water-wielders from other lands, they told tale of a wanderer who intervened in multiple conflicts between rivaling armies of the different cultures. They said he was able to use multiple elements."
"That was Wan!" Singi exclaims with excitement, and Nenana nods in acknowledgement.
"That man caused quite a stir for all of the world's cultures, as I'm sure your friend Gekkō here may have told you. Not all of us ended up being able to wield the element once we left the lion turtles, and those who did had to learn how to manipulate and perfect it from other sources, like the moon for us water-wielders. But I do think what Avatar Wan did was ultimately good. Even though we only see the spirits from time-to-time around the solstices, our culture's respect for them, I think, was strengthened since their departure, because their influence is very evident when you see the spirit lights, and when water-wielders around the world celebrate the , as I'm sure you witnessed a month ago. We have so much to thank for them, and that could not be possible without the Avatar before you."
"My culture learned airbending from the air bison, and we too, greatly respect the spirits. I'm excited for the day when I can actually see the spirits."
At this, Nenana laughs. "I wouldn't worry about it, dearie. You're the bridge between our world and the Spirit World. You will definitely be able to see the spirits in either realm."
Singi smiles, before she changes the subject.
"So, you used waterbending to heal Gekkō and I. Can you teach me how to do it?"
"Of course! It'd be a great honor to teach the Avatar healing. I'm sure you'll be needing to use it a fair amount of times during your journey."
"I too would like to learn the technique, Master Nenana," Gekkō chimes in.
"Uh-uh-uh! You're not learning!"
"And why not?" Gekkō asks, fuming slightly.
"Hello? Do you remember what I said earlier? Only females are allowed to learn healing. Up here in the North Pole, at least, men learn water-wielding for combat, women for healing."
Gekkō furrows his eyebrows in jealousy and crosses his arms. "Fine, go ahead and teach her, then."
With the assistance of another woman, Nenana brings out a wooden mannequin of a human with multiple intricate carvings throughout the body, and places it in the water bath before ushering Gekkō away from the scene, much to the Master's chagrin. She then kneels before the carving, Singi taking her spot next to Nenana and gazing at the mannequin with curiosity before Nenana catches her attention.
"Now then, you see these markings along the mannequin? Those represent the chi paths located all throughout the human body."
Singi takes a moment to glance more thoroughly at the mannequin before raising her right hand slightly to gaze at the arrowhead tattoo protruding from her robes.
"Healing involves redirecting a person's chi throughout their body, the catalyst being water."
With this, Nenana places her right hand on the chest of the mannequin and pushes down gently, causing the chi paths to glow throughout the body, the brightest light shining from where her hand has made contact with the figure. She then gracefully ghosts her hand over the mannequin's body, the brightest glow following her hand as an eerie yet enchanting trill gently hums as she continues maneuvering the water around the mannequin's body.
"Using water for healing like this works on external, physical wounds; it has its limits with illnesses and internal injuries," Nenana adds as she continues the demonstration before lifting her hand away, causing the light blue glow of the chi lines to fade and the contact point to fade slowly. "Would you like to give it a try now?"
Singi nods before delicately hovering her right hand over the chest of the mannequin. She exhales slowly, shutting her eyes for a moment before opening her eyes and focusing on the motion of her hand.
"You can also use this skill to heal your own wounds, and please, feel free to use both hands when working on another person."
Complying, Singi applies both hands, utilizing them as if there were an injury present on the right side of the rib cage, and focusing her attention there, her hands ever so carefully rising and falling in waves. Eventually, she lifts her hands away, finished.
"Well done! You can practice on almost any wound you happen to find, and you'll be a master healer in no time!" Nenana states enthusiastically. Not long afterwards, Gekkō approaches.
"If you two are done, the weather has calmed. Singi, you and I should head back to the boat now if we're to make it back to Kunatuk at a reasonable time."
"Sure, Master," Singi responds, before turning her head back to address Nenana. "Thank you very much for teaching me, and for telling me your experience during Harmonic Convergence."
"The pleasure's all mine, Avatar. I'm glad you were so enthralled with my memories of that day. In the meantime, use the skill well, and make us women proud!"
The two laugh before embracing briefly, after which the two stand and bow before Singi and Gekkō resume their walk south.
"Any chance you could show me in secret what you learned from Master Nenana?"
"Not a chance, Master Gekkō," Singi responds before winking at her instructor as the two walk under the midday sun.
- Nenana is the name of a river and a nearby city in Alaska, the latter of the two best known for being the starting point for the 1925 serum run to Nome to combat an incipient diphtheria epidemic.
- Nenana is one of the only people still alive that Singi has met who grew up in a lion turtle city.
- As she was five when the Harmonic Convergence of 9,829 BG occurred, that would place Nenana's current age at 84.
- With regard to the Chinese zodiac, Nenana was born in the Year of the Monkey in 9,834 BG. She shares her zodiac animal with the author of the trilogy, as well as .
- Her use of the [outdated] terms "water-wielder" and "air-wielder" as opposed to "benders" gives the readers an immediate confirmation that she was alive prior to the era of the Avatar.
- Wan used the term "air-wielder" when he first met Jamyang in the flashback from " ".
- As she was five when the Harmonic Convergence of 9,829 BG occurred, that would place Nenana's current age at 84.
- Considering how quickly Wan defeated Vaatu and closed the spirit portals upon the onset of Harmonic Convergence, this is why the phenomena lasted merely a few minutes in the physical world, as opposed to the Harmonic Convergence of 171 AG, which went its full cycle.
- It is heavily implied that the "spiritual essence" Nenana was able to sense from within Singi is Raava.
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