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|Whispers of the Past Lie Within the Parchment Part 4|
Enter the Spirit World
A strange world surrounded Ishio. Moments ago he had faced death. Moments ago Ishio had resigned himself to being the Avatar who never lived up to potential, to leave saving the world to the kid born in the Fire Nation. And moments ago, a strange power had overcome him and given him amazing bending ability... Now he breathed as any normal person. A heavy mist weighed Ishio down, like in a swamp almost. He felt fairly sure that no swamp existed in the Fire Nation, so he had obviously fallen very far from where he last was. A cliché would have been for him to wonder aloud as to where he was, but knowing how cool he was he would simply explore.
His foot caught on a vine, and he stumbled forward. The lush floor broke his fall; he could conclude that wherever he was definitely was some sort of swamp. Else there wouldn't be dangerous, large roots sticking out of the ground and soft floor to break his fall.
"What the hell?" A voice broke through the silence. It's owner could not be seen: there remained one sole human within this entire human world, and he still did not know where he had fallen. His deep green eyes searched the area for the voice until it broke through again. "You're going to kick me and not even apologize?!" Ishio looked around once again and pinpointed the voice. The tree seemed to have developed an elderly man's face, and the tree appeared quite angry with Ishio.
"What?" Ishio asked in dull inquisitiveness.
The tree only appeared angrier. "You scuffed up my root with your damned shoes!"
Silence. Ishio blinked in shock before he realized that tripping over the root would be akin to kicking the tree. Rising to a standing position (for this way he would be able to exert his Avatar-ly authority), Ishio bowed. "I'm sorry, sir." His back straightened and he looked into the tree's eyes. Before speaking again, Ishio's brain slowly made the connections. A talking tree. Mist. Forest. He had stumbled through the Spirit portal above the library and now found himself in the Spirit World. This tree before him was some sort of spirit who lived in the area, and as a spirit he must have some sort of respect for the Avatar. "I appear to have stumbled in through one of those portals. I'm the Avatar, and you are?"
"Hmf. The Avatar. You say it as though the title means something." The tree avoided the question of his name to rebuke the young Avatar. "Tell me, Avatar, if you're so mighty and powerful why haven't you closed the portals and stopped all these humans from coming through and destroying my roots?" Since the tree was so close to a portal, Ishio concluded that a fair amount of people must have stumbled through and tripped over his roots. Though curious how anyone got in with the portal so high up...
"As cynical as ever, Shinrin. Leave the boy alone." Another spirit appeared, and Ishio turned to the new face. Now, it looked as though a polar bear dog had wandered in. The polar bear dog's voice served a stark contrast to the coarse voice of Shinrin, the tree. Contrary to Shinrin, the polar bear dog's voice was soothing, almost as though you would want the polar bear dog to read you bed time stories.
Shinrin huffed angrily and swore under his breath before his face faded once more into the bark. The other spirit turned towards Ishio. "I am called Naga, the previous Avatar's Animal Guide."
"The previous Avatar?"
"Yes, Avatar Korra. I have come to bring you to her."
Ishio fell silent, unable to find words to respond to this revealing. He had only ever heard stories about Avatar Korra, the awesome female Water Tribe Avatar. Though he wouldn't say this to Avatar Korra's face, Ishio actually preferred Kyoshi as far as female Avatars went. But in his mind, it was Kyoshi, Korra, then Yangchen. Still second. Back to reality.
"Of course..." Ishio responded. To what, "of course", he did not know. Avatar Korra seemed to have told Naga to bring Ishio to her, even if it meant dragging him by his toenails.
Arms wrapped around Naga's neck, the soft white fur brushed against his skin. A pleasant change from riding on Odraz all the time, though he still preferred his badgermole. Though Naga moved fast, no wind brushed against Ishio's face. As though the Spirit World was a vacuum, existing without any sort of air. Yet somehow, Ishio could breathe. An anomaly, but something that Ishio surprised himself at not being too curious about.
Naga slowed at the foot of a large tree. Two figures had situated themselves around a table. A woman with brown hair and dark skin sat at one side of the table. Beautiful with skin that had aged yet did not make her old. Opposite her sat a man probably in his sixties. Bald, with the Air Nomad tattoo and a beard. Between them lay a Pai Sho board with several pieces across the board. Ishio cautiously approached, careful not to interrupt their game. As he neared, he saw that the older man appeared quite frustrated and the woman had a smug expression on her face.
"Look! The young Earth Avatar has come." The old Air Nomad spoke suddenly, gesturing over to Ishio. This attracted the woman's gaze, and while her attention was diverted Ishio noticed the Air Nomad move some tiles around.
"Ishio! I need to finish kicking Aang's ass, then I will speak with you," the woman spoke, and Ishio nodded in response to Korra's blunt way of referring to her Pai Sho match with Avatar Aang before taking a seat in the middle of the Pai Sho board.
It took a few moves, but finally Korra spoke, "Did you move the tiles?" Aang grinned mischievously, causing Korra to sigh and abandon the game to turn to Ishio.
"Now then. Ishio. You probably already understand the burden of being the Avatar, so I won't bore you with that lecture. Rather, I need to tell you why you are trying to fix your world." Korra did not hesitate in getting to the point of why she had sent Naga to fetch him. "As your predecessor, it is my duty to explain to you that the Human and Spirit Worlds are not meant to coincide. Physical bodies and Spirit bodies should not be able to so easily pass between worlds, and the passing which as been occurring the past thirteen years are tearing apart both the Spirit World and the Human World. If something isn't done, the universe will literally collapse, and all things we have known will cease to exist. You need to fix the portals between realms, and to do that you need to master all the elements."
Korra did not give Ishio a chance to get over the shock of the whole "universe collapsing" thing. "But what does mastering the elements have to do with closing the portals?"
"The only way to achieve the Avatar's full potential is by mastering all the elements." Korra grinned at her avoiding of answering what the Avatar's full potential was, and her own knowledge of what it was. Ishio figured that pressing the matter would be pointless, as Korra seemed intent on not explaining to Ishio what he had to do.
"So I'm guessing the Avatar's full potential will have some way to close the portals?"
"And I need to find out what it is on my own?"
Meanwhile, Avatar Aang seemed a bit put off by the fact that Korra had so abruptly ended their game. Still, he felt the need to chime in. "You'll figure it out, Ishio. And if you don't, just ask a Lion Turtle!" Aang laughed at this inside joke with himself. Sensing that the conversation was finished, Naga gestured for Ishio to follow her to leave.
"Wait," Ishio began before departing, "what was that strange power back at the library? The power that created that giant earthquake and sunk the library?" "Avatar State. You call upon the power of previous Avatars through your body." Aang said this without hesitation. And with that final comment, Ishio felt that he should head back to the human world.
"Ishio," Korra spoke again, and Ishio turned to look at the Avatar as she spoke. "Remember that sometimes a greater enemy than the universe is those who inhabit it."
Once more, Ishio fell through the portal. Though he had sunk the area below it, Ishio was surprised to land in soft sand and not break his neck. Had it moved? Ishio had a sudden thought that maybe the portals moved, and that was why so many different people fell through and why no one had thought to just block off the area in which the portals stood...
In the distance, Ishio saw the village burning. Gun shots and fire spewing from what could only be bending. His friends had gotten engaged in some sort of combat. Without hesitating, Ishio ran towards the village to try and help them. Ai Shi on her knees, Frost unable to move, and Liwei seeming to have lost his ammunition. Quite the sight. Upon entering the village, Ishio quickly bent his fingers, held his left hand palm up and cut his hand horizontally through the air. Several protrusions of earth slammed into the officers surrounding Ai Shi, crushing most of their ribs, and sending them flying through the air into a burning building. He moved his arms so that they were in front of him, but bent slightly, with his palms facing inward. Ishio knew he was their only chance of survival, so his expression had become quite serious.
The police could not even react as Ishio's hands thrust downward. From there, his arms quickly went back, elbows bent so that his hands were almost level with his shoulders. In this move, a boulder appeared before him. Immediately after, he brought his arms into his chest, splitting the boulder into several small projectiles, and threw his arms forward once more. All of the projectiles launched at the police officers, landing and splitting the officers' skulls with the immense force behind them.
Only a few officers remained, and thanks to the thinning of Frost, Ai Shi, and Liwei earlier the existence of others was dubious. From his arms being extended, Ishio slowly brought his arms together so that the underside of his forearms faced upward with his fists clenched. The movements were carefully timed with his breathing, and on an exhale his front foot stomped forward. A rock wall emerged from the ground and he punched forward with both hands, sending it flying into a few officers. Ishio stepped backwards, dragging his foot along the ground, and created another rock wall behind the officers. He brought his arms back and slammed the two walls into each other, crushing the officers within. With the other officers, Ishio's left foot slammed into the ground and his left arm shot across his chest. The movement made the earth beneath the officers unbalanced; in his next move, launched both his arms in the opposite direction and sent the officers flying. They landed on the roof of a burning house which crumbled beneath their weight and brought the whole structure down on top of them. Surrounded by burning buildings and corpses, Team Avatar had successfully fought off the threat.
"Geming was insane," Ishio informed the rest of his group. His voice was tired from all he had been through in the Spirit World and now here.
"We need to get out of here." Liwei said, completely disregarding Ishio's declaration.
Odraz appeared in the village. His great body examined the fire and backed away a safe distance cautiously before Team Avatar mounted the creature.
Once they were a fair distance away, Ishio spoke up. "So basically I fell into the Spirit World and that's why I didn't come to help you guys earlier."
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