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The Avatar is the fifth chapter of the AU fanfiction story.
The council of senior monks at the Southern Air Temple hold a meeting to decide how to deal with Sozin's demands. Afiko persuades them not to give up the island, and to accelerate Aang's training as their eventual protector. Aang's air scooter game is interrupted and he is told he is the Avatar. Aang's friends Taro, Kunchen, and Jangbu eavesdrop on this announcement and tell the other boys. Taro promises Aang things won't change between them, but Aang runs away soon after.
Gyatso hurried through the door to the council chamber. "Aang and I returned from Omashu as soon as we received the message. What's the trouble?"
As he sat down, the abbot rang a gong with a small mallet. "The council of the Southern Air Temple is convened." He glanced around, regarding each of the other monks seated on simple orange pillows in a circle. "We are here to discuss Firelord Sozin's requests for control of Kalden Island. As you know, we refused the Firelord's offer months ago, but he continues to request we reopen negotiations. Actually, at this stage he has begun to demand it." The abbot passed around the letters containing Sozin's requests. Indeed, there was a visible progression over time from letters that began "The Firelord humbly requests..." to one that said, "His Eminence, Sozin the Great, Lord of Fire, strongly urges the Air Nomads to reconsider..."
"This is troubling," the bespectacled Monk Lobsang observed.
"Perhaps we should just give up the island?" Gyatso suggested. "It will be difficult, but we can probably survive without the fruit."
"Why should we?" Afiko spoke up. "The Fire Nation just endured a civil war. They're in no position to threaten us. Those orchards ensure our survival. We can keep them as long as we want."
"Granted, but we should be very careful not to underestimate the Fire Nation," Gyatso said.
"I agree," the abbot said. "I have spoken with Monk Samdhup from the Northern Air Temple. His abbot met with Sozin when Sozin assumed the throne. My fellow abbot believes Sozin is an unstable ruler, very aggressive, and may be dangerous."
"How could he be dangerous? He has no resources," Afiko countered. The abbot pented his fingers in front of his mouth.
"That's true," the cantankerous, bearded Monk Senge agreed. "It will cost a lot more to maintain the temple, and the birdfruit has become a staple food. Why give up such providence needlessly?"
"We should keep the island, if only to show the Fire Nation that we will not roll over for them," Afiko said. "That type of strength is what people like Sozin respect."
"Very well. We will put it to a vote," the abbot declared. By two votes, the council decided to refuse Sozin's demands again.
Gyatso had voted against it. "But what if Sozin does try to gain those orchards by force?" he asked. "We should make some kind of preparations. I met Sozin when he was young. There was something not right about him, and judging by the wording of these letters and what the northern abbot said, Sozin could be a serious threat if the economy of the Fire Nation ever does recover."
"Agreed," the abbot said. "These are troubling signs. But what sort of contingency could we employ?"
The monks all thought for a few moments. Finally, Afiko spoke. "We have the ultimate contingency," he said. "The Avatar."
"No, Afiko," Gyatso replied. "Aang is not ready—"
"Wait. Hear me," Afiko interrupted him. "If Sozin really is as dangerous as you think, then it's the only really viable choice. And it's a safe move politically. The Avatar is the protector of the whole world. No other nation can complain that we are accelerating their protector's training, not even the Fire Nation."
"With respect, I must disagree entirely. I resent the use of my pupil for political gain."
Afiko's lips curled in a persuasive, saccharine smile. "Gyatso," he said, opening his arms in a sympathetic gesture. "It's not about political gain. If Sozin is really a threat, a fully-realized Avatar may be the only thing that can keep him in his place. Accelerating Aang's training not only guarantees the airbenders' safety, but the safety of the rest of the world as well."
Gyatso sighed. "If we put it to a vote...I will abide by the council's decision."
It passed with three votes. "We had better get Aang," the abbot said.
Afiko didn't trust the other monks to negotiate with the Fire Nation. He didn't think they had guts for it, didn't think they were strong enough. He stayed behind in the council chamber to talk with the monks who were to be involved in negotiations. He requested he be added to the official group of emissaries to the Fire Nation.
The abbot, Gyatso, Lobsang, Senge, and Tenzin went to find Aang in the courtyard. Aang was demonstrating the air scooter, a new technique he had invented on the trip to Omashu. "You kinda have to balance on it like it's a top," he instructed.
Pupil Jangbu was pouting with his head in his hand, presumably because of a failed attempt. "Man, that's hard!" he said.
Lobsang's pupil Kunchen always admired Aang. A lot of the pupils did. "Where'd you learn that trick, Aang?" Kunchen asked
"I made it up."
"Woooow!" Kunchen gushed, spinning and waving his arms in excitement. Taro stopped practicing the air scooter to laugh at Kunchen's goofy dance.
It pained Gyatso to interrupt Aang's fun. His life was about to change forever. It would be such a burden for him. "Aang, come with us," he finally said. "We need to speak with you." Aang followed them into the sanctum.
Most of the boys had stopped their playing. "What do you think they're talking about?" Jangbu asked, walking over to another boy, Khalama.
"I dunno," he said.
Then Jangbu smiled. "Do you think we should find out?"
"Definitely," Kunchen said. Jangbu hadn't noticed he was standing right next to him. The boys had left their gliders leaning against the South Wall when they went to play. Jangbu picked his up.
"Wait. Let me go too," Taro blurted, uncharacteristically. "I want to know what's happening to Aang too."
Jangbu and Khalama were a little surprised that Taro was concerned enough to speak, but Jangbu offered him a shaky "Uh, sure. Come on." Taro opened his glider as well, and Kunchen secured himself between them with one hand on the inside of each boy's knee. They glided up over the roof of the sanctum and alighted very carefully. Luckily, the roof of the sanctum was in disrepair and there were many termite holes in the wood and gaps in the vines covering it. Kunchen jostled to fit his head in between Taro and Jangbu as the looked through a large one. They could see the five monks talking to Aang.
"You chose them because they were familiar," Monk Senge was saying.
Gyatso seemed apologetic. "Normally, we would have told you of your identity when you turned sixteen, but there are troubling signs. Storm clouds are gathering."
"I fear that war may be upon us, young Avatar," the abbot said. Avatar!? At that, Kunchen was about to cry out in excitement, but Jangbu clapped a hand over his mouth. Jangbu stared daggers at him and made the gesture to keep quiet.
"We need you, Aang," Gyatso said.
Taro, Jangbu, and Kunchen moved away from the hole in the roof and glided back down to the south wall. The other boys ran up. "What are they doing? What's happening to Aang?" they asked. Jangbu held up his hands. "Calm down, calm down. Okay, this is huge news, guys," he said.
Jangbu and all the other boys leaned into a huddle in their eagerness for the news. "Aang...is the Avatar!"
The other boys exploded with laughter. Kunchen laughed at their reaction, but Jangbu looked annoyed.
As the laughs died down, one heavyset boy wiped his eye and asked, "No, really, what did they say?"
"It's the truth!" Jangbu shouted.
"It is," Kunchen reassured them, and Taro added a "Yeah!"
"I mean, it makes sense," Taro reasoned. "Did you ever wonder why Aang is so good at airbending? No one else comes up with techniques like the air scooter and marble spin."
The laughter died down. Taro felt the mood become grave. He didn't like thinking about how things would change. None of the pupils did. "Let's keep doing the air scooter, guys," Khalama said, trying to take their minds off of it. "I want to see if I can master the Avatar's technique," he joked.
As it turned out, it wasn't too hard to do. Balancing was the most difficult part. It wouldn't have been easy to balance on a regular top, let alone one made of nothing but air. But by the time Aang came back to play, most of the other boys had figured it out. "Hey, not bad! You guys have been practicing!" Aang said, happy to see his friends at play and hoping to join them.
"Not only that," Kunchen said, scooting around Aang, "We made up a game you can play with the air scooters!
"Great!" Aang exclaimed. But as he formed his own air scooter, the other boys stopped. They all looked sad. Aang didn't understand. "What's going on?"
It was Jangbu who said it. "Now that you're the Avatar, it's kind of an unfair advantage for whichever team you're on."
"But I'm still the same – nothing's changed. So, what, I can't play?"
"That's...the only fair way."
Aang dismounted his scooter. "Oh, okay." But Taro could tell from his voice, it wasn't okay.
"Sorry, Aang," Kunchen said.
Taro watched Aang walking up the ramp to the temple. He didn't feel right watching his friend go. "Aang!" Taro ran up to him. "Sorry about those guys."
Aang tried to smile "It's okay," he said, turning away.
"Look, Aang," Taro stopped him, "I don't care if you're the Avatar, or what. We'll always be friends." Aang nodded at him, and tried to smile again. "C'mon, we'll take Appa down to the gardens and get some moon peaches."
"Thanks, but I..."Aang sighed, "I don't really feel like it right now." He sounded depressed.
Taro gave him a smile. "Tomorrow then. Or whenever. We'll do something one day this week, all right?"
"All right," Aang said.
Taro went back to the game. Aang ran away soon after, so as it turned out, Taro never did get to speak with him again.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|Enemies and Traitors chapters|
|Prologues - Brothers - Responsibilities - Necessities - Resources - The Avatar - Opportunities - Preparations - Betrayals - Changing Plans - Scars - Counting Losses - Exiles - Ghosts - Homecoming - The Traitor and the Firelord - Escapes - The Last Chance - Legacies|