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November 18, 2016
"Singi, continue waterbending, but I'd like to talk to you about something."
"Sure, Master, what is it?"
"In a few days, the moon will be full. There is a ritual we waterbenders perform on every night of the full moon, and I would be honored if you and Monkwould be willing to join us."
"Sure. What's this ritual about?"
"It is called the Moon and Ocean Spirits for teaching us to waterbend after our departure from the lion turtles. We also pay tribute to the spirits as a whole during this ceremony, for they play a big part in our culture.", and it is performed in order to thank the
Still maneuvering a stream of water around her, Singi looks up towards the moon and reflects on her culture.
"The Air Nomads also have heavy respect for, and worship the spirits. Back when our people lived atop the lion turtles, we held friendly relations with the spirits. I think we may have been the only kind to do so, since Monk Jamyang told me that the Spirit Wilds were dangerous to venture into for most people, because of the spirits."
Singi bends her stream into a globe and steadies it with her hands before gazing at her distorted reflection through the sphere of water.
"Avatar Wan was the first to change that, though..."
Singi continues gazing at her reflection, her expression turning a bit more sullen.
"Well, just because the spirits have moved back into the Spirit World doesn't mean we cannot stop worshipping and respecting them. In fact, I know of two spirits who took on mortal forms long before the time of the Avatar—the Ocean and Moon Spirits themselves—La and Tui."
At this, Singi's hands halt, and her sphere of water splashes onto the sand in a heap as she turns around, excited.
"Really? So not all of the spirits are back in the Spirit World?"
"No, and you should know—you're part spirit," Gekkō chuckles.
Singi laughs in response, slightly embarrassed.
"True," she chortles.
"Tui is the Moon Spirit, and La is the Ocean Spirit. The two took on the forms of koi fish over ten thousand years ago, and reside somewhere in the North Pole."
Singi thinks back to the pond where she connected with Avatar Wan, and distinctly recalls the two paintings drawn on the rock.
"I told you about how we learned waterbending by observing the moon's push and pull on the tides—that was aided by Tui and La. Because of their assistance to mankind, we thank them every month by holding the Full Moon Festival."
"So, how exactly do you celebrate?"
"The celebrations start at sunset, in which waterbenders congregate to a spiritual or sacred spot at or near our settlements. For us, that is the pond I told you about weeks ago."
"I remember seeing the paintings on the rock slab beside the pond."
"Yes, someone painted those a few years ago as tribute. Anyway, at moonrise, we all pray to the spirits, particularly La and Tui, ensuring friendly relations for years to come. After that, there is a grand feast of traditional foods, and various activities like face-painting, mask-masking, storytelling about our culture... the past. I even hear that waterbenders who live in the Polar Regions include snow sculpting as part of their activities."
"Well, it all sounds grand, and given our shared cultures' interest in the spirits, I'm sure Jamyang and I would be able to attend."
Gekkō smiles, "That's good to hear, thank you.is welcome as well... some of the foods will be fish-based, so, I'm sure she'll love that."
Singi giggles, "I have no doubt she will."
With that, Singi resumes her training, smiling at the prospect of taking part in a proto-Water Tribe cultural staple.
A few days later, at sunset, Singi, Jamyang, and Jiefeng emerge from their tent and walk to the center of Kunatuk, standing beside Koda's trading post. The settlement is abuzz with the residents gathering various items, such as paints, candles, lanterns, streamers, and food, and Singi picks up Jiefeng so as not to get lost in the hustle-and-bustle.
"Hey, Avatar Singi!" a voice calls, causing the trio to turn in the direction of the interjection, and finding Koda walking up to them.
"So I hear Master Gekkō's invited you to our Full Moon Festival! That's great, I'm sure you and Monk Jamyang are gonna love it!" he shouts enthusiastically, swiping his right fist across his chest for effect.
"I'm sure we'll have a great time, Koda," Singi responds, smiling.
After a few minutes, the entire community treks to the northern pond and begin setting up the decorations and tables needed for the event. Streamers are tossed around the cherry tree, entangling the vines in wrappings of various shades of blue, and lanterns are lit and placed along some of the branches as well. A few lanterns are also placed in makeshift boats and gently pushed along the pond to float gracefully atop the water. Two long tables are set to the left of the painted rock slab along the northern side of the pond, with even more lanterns sitting atop the furniture, along with the silverware and various food items, which include various fish, squid, crab, and seaweed dishes. Eventually, the preparations are done, and the residents gather en masse and face the lustrous full moon, Singi and Jamyang following their lead.
"Great Spirits La and Tui..." Gekkō leads the group prayer "... we thank you for granting us the knowledge of waterbending after our departure from the lion turtles. We hope and pray for continued hospitable relationships between our people and the spirits. May the spirits sustain the lights that dance in the far north and south, and approach our settlements without fear, ridicule, or persecution during the solstices."
At this, Singi's eyes brighten with curiosity.
"We hold this festival in your honor, as a celebration of your kind and your influence on the culture of the waterbenders. May peace reign supreme for years to come between man and spirit."
With the prayer done, everyone settles down for the feast, Gekkō sitting at the head of one of the tables, while Singi and Jamyang sit beside him. Not long before the feast commences, Gekkō gently chimes his glass with a utensil and stands.
"Before we begin with the feast, I would like to also honor two guests who have accompanied us tonight for the festival—Monk Jamyang, and Avatar Singi."
At this, Jamyang stands, with Singi following, glancing around and finding all eyes focused on her and Jamyang.
"Not only does the Air Nomad culture, like ours, greatly respect the spirits, but we are fortunate enough to have the great bridge between man and spirit beside us tonight for this staple event in our culture, centered on the spirits."
Gekkō turns his head towards Singi, smiling wholeheartedly.
"Let us give a toast to the Avatar, for without this being, we would have never departed from the lion turtles and learned the art of waterbending from La and Tui. May she carry on the legacy of the revolutionary Avatar Wan with much success and peace between man-to-man, and man-to-spirit."
At this, everyone raises their glasses, and salutes, Singi's cheeks tingeing slightly, flustered, before Jamyang places his free hand upon Singi's upper back and smiles at her fondly. With the feast underway, everyone fills their plates and begins eating. Singi turns her head towards Gekkō, and speaks.
"Master Gekkō, first, I want to thank you for allowing Jamyang and I to attend this event. It's wonderful!"
"There is no need to thank me. Our cultures share a common interest; it is only right to include you in the celebration."
Singi acknowledges his response in a nod before continuing.
"I recall in the prayer that the spirits are able to approach us during the solstices. Can you tell me more about this?"
"I'm afraid I do not know exactly why it is that the spirits can transcend into our world in the days of and prior to the solstices, but they have appeared from time-to-time during that period, and we have welcomed them as companions."
Singi nods in thanks, enlightened, but also slightly confused.
Singi decides to focus on the matter at another time, and continues participating in the festival for the remainder of the evening, joining the residents in creating masks, face-painting, and listening to some traditional stories by the older members of the settlement. Jamyang even exchanges a few stories from Air Nomad culture to the wonder and curiosity of the waterbenders.
Eventually, the celebrations come to an end, and the precession of people makes their way back to Kunatuk. Upon reaching their tent, Singi places Jiefeng down and opens the tent, allowing her inside, before facing Jamyang.
"So, what did you think of the festival, Singi?"
"It was rather remarkable. I never knew until tonight how much the waterbenders respect the spirits, just like our culture. It makes me so happy to see that not everyone views the spirits with fear and hatred."
"I agree, and I hope that such admiration will only grow towards the other world cultures... with your help, of course," Jamyang replies, causing Singi to smile, before changing her expression to one of concerned curiosity.
"I don't suppose you know as to why the spirits can transcend to Earth around the time of the solstices."
"I'm afraid Wan did not mention any of that when I, but like Master Gekkō, I have seen the spirits during that time when I grew up."
"And you were never curious as to why they were able to appear?"
"Of course I was, but none of the other monks knew why it occurred either, and I never saw Wan again after our encounter."
Singi looks down, slightly disappointed, before shifting her head back up with a warm grin.
"Why don't you settle in for the night, Jamyang? I'll join you in a moment."
"Alright. Goodnight, Singi."
After Jamyang has entered the tent, Singi looks up at the moon with a mixture of pride and curiosity.
"At some point, I'll need to ask Wan just how the spirits can enter our world, while apparently I'm the only one who can cross into theirs," she thinks to herself. After a few more minutes of taking in the sound of the waves lapping along the beach, and staring at the moon, Singi retreats into the tent, spiritually aware, but at the same time, knowing that the entire mystery has yet to be solved.
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