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|Whispers of the Past Lie Within the Parchment Part 2|
Why It's Late
Some emailing problems avec le rédacteur en chef (Hi =]) as well as not feeling well made this chapter come out late. Since I feel bad for making it come out late (even if it seems like no one really follows the series) I'm releasing two chapters to compensate! Also this chapter really sucks and the next one is really awesome. Part four, coming out on Monday, will be even better.
The Whispers Sneak Past the Avatar's ears...
With Master Geming's absence, Ai Shi resumed her usual sorting around the library. Due to Ishio's absence as well, Frost and Liwei hovered close by.
"I don't like him," Frost broke the silence between the three. Ai Shi seemed unperturbed, and Liwei casually glanced at his comrade.
"Master Geming?" he asked.
"Yeah..." Frost hesitated to voice her opinion in front of his apprentice, "he seems so condescending. Not to mention that strange vibe that this whole library is giving off." Liwei simply shrugged, and left Frost to simply sigh and begin looking over Ai Shi's shoulder.
Yellowed with age, Frost watched as Ai Shi checked the national insignia on each scroll and put it in its appropriate shelf. All of the Waterbending scrolls went in one place, Earthbending another, and so on. The library had two main floors, and from what Frost could tell this floor held only the Waterbending and Firebending scrolls. In Ai Shi's arms were scrolls of all four bending arts, but the only ones that were put on shelves were those with blue and red ends. Those with gray and green ends remained in her arms.
"Seems funny," Frost spoke, pulling out a Waterbending scroll and scanning it quickly. "putting opposite bending elements on the same floor." She was talking to Ai Shi, but the girl did not look up; she was already too preoccupied handling the scrolls to make decent eye contact.
"Master Geming liked to believe that this symbolizes mixing all the bending elements and creating a universal peace," Ai Shi responded while gently sliding a Firebending scroll into an appropriate spot. She handled the scrolls like one would an infant, so delicate that one would think the slightest jolt would cause the scrolls to disintegrate.
Frost was still mildly disturbed by the old man, despite his care for the old bending knowledge. "You two sure make Geming out as a decent person. So why did it seem as though he completely ignored everyone other than Ishio, and Liwei for a split second?"
Ai Shi sighed and set down the parchment she held. "Recently, Master Geming has been... different."
Two worlds stood inches apart. Two worlds which should never collide. Yet right now, Ishio could literally stick his arm through to the Spirit World and pull it out again without getting a scratch. Most would be interested. Two months ago, Ishio would have leapt through without second thought. But now...because of his status as the Avatar, something about the portal, and how Geming seemed to praise it, did not sit well.
"I can change the world." Geming said finally. A crazed grin still stuck on his face as he waited to see the Avatar's reaction.
"These portals should not exist... If anything, we should be trying to ignore them and resume as normal, not building our lives to be closer to them." Ishio spoke, and the words didn't even seem to be his own. It was as though the experience of all the other Avatars spoke through his body.
"You don't see it, do you?" Geming continued to smile, "I'm paving the way for a revolution! In a few moments, the police are coming to burn down the library!" Ishio's eyes widened, and a lump formed in his throat. "The police know about the bending literature."
"Exactly! They will kill us all! An old bending master and the Avatar die at the foot of a spirit portal at the hands of our oppressors! It will inspire the millions of benders out there, those that hide their bending out of fear!"
"You're mad..." Ishio's words could barely manage to make it past the lump in his throat. Master Geming laughed at his response.
"Lately, there's been a threat of the police coming to burn down the library..." Ai Shi now led Frost and Liwei into the basement of the tower-like library. "Ever since Master Geming began building up the library, he's been becoming more and more detached. Even the scrolls are just a part of the surroundings, he has stopped reading them completely," she explained. "When I recommended that we move the scrolls, Geming didn't respond. 'The scrolls here can't be found anywhere else,' I told him. Normally, he would have been quick to do something to preserve the scrolls, but when I mentioned it he didn't seem concerned at all..."
"This is so unlike him," Liwei began while following Ai Shi. "I last came here three years ago, and he had begun to act strange and build up the library. But from what you're saying, it seems like he's an entirely different person than the Master Geming I knew."
"My thoughts exactly." Ai Shi responded.
They arrived at a large, metal door, like one that might lead into an engine room of an old Fire Nation ship. It took some jamming of a key into a rusty key hole, but the door eventually gave in and swung open. The room they entered was a stark contrast to the rest of the building. Before them was a massive computer, like no other computer they had ever seen. Computers weren't a rare sight; while they weren't everywhere, and most people had better things to do than mess around with electronics, most had seen a computer at one point or another. But this computer was completely different. As though it was a giant brain, moving and computing everything. Frost and Liwei stood in awe and could do little more than await an explanation from Geming's apprentice.
"I made this computer with the help from a Metalbending Earthbender who used to come to the library," she stated. "We made it so that no matter what happened to the library, this computer would always survive: it has a metal coat, so fire won't hurt it, the room is airtight so water can't damage it, and the room is so strong that even if the entire cliff collapsed, this room and this computer would still survive. After it was built, I set through the process of scanning all of the bending scrolls into the computer." Ai Shi then walked over to another great device and patted it, as if introducing an old friend. "This machine can perfectly copy a scroll without damaging it at all. That's why you saw me carrying and organizing scrolls, even though no one has come here to read them in ages."
"Amazing..." Frost finally managed to say. Though she did not hold a history with the library, the idea that a machine could do that blew her mind.
"Even though Master Geming is resistant to technology, I'm sure he'd love to know that his scrolls are safe..." Ai Shi trailed off, pushing the bridge of her ill-fitted glasses back up her nose. "But he refuses to even come down to look. Something's really not right."
Liwei nodded. "If Master Geming really isn't the same, then I can't help but wonder why he is willing to teach Ishio..."
"And why, if he never lets anyone to the top of the library, he took Ishio..." Frost added. Both of them were starting to form some conclusion as to Master Geming's true intentions.
From the village, a horde of people made their way to the library. At the height of the top floor of the library, they were insignificant specks. But those insignificant specks were out to kill them. Ishio gulped, and tried to make his way back towards the stairs. If he could go down there and explain to them, maybe they'd give everyone time to escape before burning down the library.
An old, but muscled arm grabbed Ishio around the throat. "They already know you're the Avatar," he said with an evil grin, "there's no way for you to escape."
Liwei, Frost, and Ai Shi froze. Foot steps could be heard at the entrance to the library. Ai Shi frantically herded the others out of the room with the computer and locked the door behind her. They ran up to the main floor of the library to hear shouting outside. With these noises, Ai Shi was white as a ghost. Her hands quivered as she haphazardly opened the door and stepped outside.
Those closest to the library shoved the teenagers out of the way. At least a hundred people, both police and civilians, had gathered outside the library. Some held torches, and the police actually had flame throwers. The Fire Nation library would go up in flames. The mob seemed to completely ignore Liwei, Frost, and Ai Shi; they thirsted only for the blood of Geming and Ishio.
"Should we give them a warning?" A young police officer, armed with a flame thrower, inquired tentatively.
"Geming has had years of warning. He and the Avatar will go up in flames! Them and their spirits won't be able to hurt us anymore!" The leader spoke charismatically, inspiring all of the crowd into a bloodcurdling battle cry. "What do we do?!" The trio had pulled themselves off the ground, and Frost now spoke in desperation. They were all panicked—they were about to watch as the Avatar and his Firebending teacher went up in flames. But neither of the others could speak.
The leader of the crowd approached the building. His right hand flew into the air in a salute of sorts before that same hand swiped downward and snapped his visor over his face. In an act of symbolism he lit a single match and threw it onto the building. Flames erupted, and others followed his lead in throwing fire onto the ancient building while the police surrounded the building and ignited their flame throwers. In a few moments, the entire building would be consumed by flames.
Geming lay unconscious. It sent a pang of guilt through Ishio, knocking the old man out, but he needed to get out of there. Smoke filled his lungs, he raised the collar of his shirt to cover his mouth while he ran towards the stairs. Met with a wall of fire, Ishio quickly backed into the room atop the library and grimaced. The obstruction covered the exit, leaving Ishio without anyway of escaping. "I don't want to die..." he thought desperately, "I just want to be a bender, to live my life..."
A sudden rumbling shook the world. The earth around the library began to crack, and the destruction halted. Unsalvageable, the library lay crumbling to the ground; despite this, many still tried to cause as much destruction as possible. The worst of society had been exposed in a few minutes. As the ground split, the stubborn crowd refused to back off. Up until the moment where the ledge holding the library toppled into the ocean, people refused to see their imminent death. It was too late once the salt water already filled their lungs; dozens of families left, minus one, because of how brutally violent they had been.
"What... Did he do...?" All three of the teens spoke, practically finishing each other's sentence. They had been pushed out of the way of the split earth, but they still approached the ledge in shock. An entire chunk of earth now sunk into the ocean, as though Ishio had extended the sea floor so that the library would be completely lost. Even with the threat of the crowd and the library gone, something extremely important was missing from their group.
"Ishio!" They screamed at the ocean, as though screaming at it would help him come back. But they knew deep down in their hearts, the Avatar was gone.
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