Saiken: The Last Avatar
Full summary: Nearly 200 years after the death of Avatar Aang, a 24-year-old Avatar Saiken, the Firebending Avatar after him, realizes that the Avatar Spirit will die when he does. Because he will not be there to balance the world, he decides to start a movement to make the world less dependant on Benders, so when he is gone, they won't be able to throw the world into a vicious war again.
Now, 50 years later, Benders often can only find very simple jobs, like sailing/fishing, mining, and blacksmithing. Three Benders are now in a traveling circus together---Karak and Lai Kel, twin Waterbending brothers, and Arija, a Firebender. However, these three teenagers may have just discovered a way to restore the Avatar Cycle before Avatar Saiken dies…a secret that lies with five children and a herd of animals they must now protect with their lives. The problem is, there seem to be a lot of people who want to stop them….
Notes: First of all, I did start writing this soon after Season Three started (just before The Painted Lady, I think). If anything happens to make what I say obsolete, I'm still going to write it as I planned because I think it's fun.
Secondly, I'm mostly going to be writing chapters at pretty random times, and pretty much, what I think of first I post. This is because my life is really busy right now; the only reasons I'm writing it at all are a) I love Avatar, and b) I kind of like how this plot is going, and I'm not waiting because I've already lost track of where I wanted to go once and I don't want to risk it happening again.
Thirdly, I know this sounds silly, but…if anyone has any suggestions for names, PLEASE let me know. I'm not an expert on the right type of names, and my list of ones that sound vaguely like them is running rather short.
As for this chapter…this one is intended as a sort of prologue. Each chapter will be divided into three (possibly more, but not likely) parts (…long story behind that, but suffice it to say that it'll make things easier for me with my schedule), and the next two parts of "chapter one" should be less of a prologue and more of an intro.
Anyways, I hope you enjoy:)
Chapter One, Part One
The Man in the Tower
In, out. In, out. In, out. Slowly, Avatar Saiken of the Fire Nation breathed, so deeply entrenched in his meditation he could barely hear anything else. Instead of strong, firm instructions from the Fire Sage training him, whispers of words floated past his ears, just gently brushing against his consciousness. He paid them no mind, partially because he had already lost his concentration a frustrating number of times, and partially because he had already heard what the Fire Sage had told him several times. He already knew what his teacher had to say about entering the Avatar State.
Slowly by slowly, Saiken felt the last of his distractions fade away…and, in the best way he could describe it later in life, he felt the Avatar State. It was a strange feeling; he was surrounded by the sounds of thousands of voices and thoughts, not a one of them his. And yet…yet they all seemed connected to him, a part of him…from deep inside of him. They were him…but at the same time, he still held on to his own identity, and aware of his actions. Saiken had mastered the Avatar State.
Saiken rose to his feet, causing Fire Sage Rija's eyes to follow his actions. He watched as the Avatar's eyes glowed briefly, and he knew his work was complete. As a small, serene smile gently worked its way into his formerly stoic expression, Saiken turned towards a large, yet gentle, stream of water, which flowed through the rocks…which contrasted sharply with the otherwise dark red and fire-lit surroundings. It made perfect sense; when Avatar Aang had restored the Fire Sage's temple, he had intentionally put a little bit of every element into this room in order that an Avatar-in-training would have something to train with. Scarce seconds ago, the Avatar of the Great War himself had told him the purpose of that stream and those rocks. Saiken reached over to the stream and, gently, but without hesitation, pulled it towards him. This was unusual for him; since he had learned Firebending first of all the elements, Water had always been a struggle for him; he often forced the water to move too quickly or ferociously, and had never truly grasped the understanding behind the calm and graceful motions Waterbenders displayed. But now…now, he understood, in part. With rapid, but surprisingly fluid motions, he turned the gentle strip of water into a large wave, which he pulled over his head. With a whirl of his hands, the water became a large, blue orb. While breathing out, he forced it up, into the rafters of the ceiling. It followed, and moments later, it froze to the ceiling. But the Avatar wasn't done.
Saiken turned to the rocks and, in a completely different fashion than he had done with the water, he pulled them forward…but not all the way to him. They complied easily, and with a few solid stances, Saiken began to pull them around the room. A few of them dug shallow trenches in the floor, while other ones were broken up and began forming piles of gravel behind them. After a while, he let go of them as a whole, but he still carefully set each of the stones (or pebbles, whichever they were by now) into special places. Rija, knowing what the Avatar was doing, quickly stood and moved himself out of the way. Though it was hard to tell if he knew this or not, he had moved just in time; Avatar Saiken had turned his attention to something just above him. With an ease that was natural to him without the secrets of the Avatar State, he shot two fireballs towards the ceiling. The force of them knocked down a loose panel, and inside where a few colored orbs. With a sweeping kick, an arc of flame raced towards them, and as soon as it hit, they ignited…though not very impressively. There were barely flames coming from them.
Now for the one he had to rely most on the Avatar State for: Airbending. Since there were no Airbenders left in the world, Avatar Saiken had learned all of his Airbending during his time in the Spirit World, when he visited past Avatars. For the most part, he'd learned from Avatar Kasira, the Waterbending Avatar just before him. She made the most sense, after all; she learned it directly from Avatar Aang, but wasn't as far back in the cycle as he was. Remembering what the previous Avatars had endowed his mind with moments earlier, he created a small cyclone, which he sent towards the orbs. Soon, they were caught up in it, so he manipulated them above key parts of the floor. Moments later, they finally fully caught fire, and exploded into small pieces. A flurry of hands and turn-around later, Saiken had more winds carefully directing how the shards fell. As they landed on the rocks, he could see them turning into individual colors; blue, green, red, and white, mostly.
Finally, he came back to Waterbending. Glancing up at the frozen mass above him, Avatar Saiken fell into a firm, but flexible, stance. The water melted once more, turning into a large wave, hovering just above him. He pulled it around him, then pulled it in separate directions. Within a few moments, he had arranged it into just the pattern he wanted. Releasing himself from the state of pure concentration and power he had put himself into, the Firebending Avatar looked around the room, and smiled. Around him, his creation graced his eyes as he finally saw the whole picture. He was standing in the center of a model oasis; his feet fit perfectly in the shimmering lake, which seemed to be form by a stream from on top of a little "hill". The hill had been covered with green pieces of paper, though it looked more like it had been painted on than blown on. The hill gently sloped down and created a ring of raised green rock, though the hill was the only part that went very far above his ankles. Just around the lake, there was pale red sand (a result of the gravel), which almost looked like sand under a setting sun.
As Saiken stepped out of the puddle he had created, Fire Sage Rija approached him. "Well done, Avatar Saiken." He commented. "A job worthy of Avatar Aang himself." Saiken glanced at him, clearly skeptical of the rather generous compliment, so he wryly reminded him, "I am a descendent of his Firebending Master, remember? A few things get passed down through the generations…including his intentions for the items he placed in this room."
Saiken nodded, with a small smile; an expression that had been fading from him over the last couple years. "Thank you, Master Rija." He replied, fully accepting the compliment now that he knew it wasn't merely flattery. He looked over his creation again, then commented, "It's…rather amusing, actually. When…when Avatar Aang told me what he wanted me to do, I thought it was because he created this room when he was 16 and…well, was still a child." He bent down and gently picked up some of the gravel. "But now I understand. He wanted an Avatar who had just mastered the Avatar State to understand all the more just…just how each of the elements could be used in unusual ways to build. Even…even Firebending."
Suddenly, what Saiken came back to him…with a resounding slap. As soon as the words were out of his mouth, something else came to mind…something which carried far more weight than his pleasant discovery about Avatar Aang's intentions. With a sigh, he stood, his expression far darker. "But it's mere child's play. No Bender---no Avatar---could create such a thing alone…not a real oasis. Not a real wonder. Not real hope."
This surprised Fire Sage Rija. While he had noticed that Saiken was rarely impressed by any kind of optimism, especially concerning Firebending, he had thought that the Avatar had truly seen all Avatar Aang had tried to teach. Why was he suddenly so…so glum and unhappy about it again? "What do you mean, Saiken?" Saiken glanced at him, but he betrayed none of his emotion. "You should know that the Avatar always provides hope…especially after the Great War. The Avatar assures the world that the balance will be maintained."
"With every Avatar but me, you mean." Saiken pointed out, a hint of irritation in his voice. He mostly turned away from his teacher, though the corner of his eye remained on the Sage's. "I'm not blind or a fool, Master Rija. I've seen children hiding behind their mothers, desperately trying to maintain their distance from me. I know that some Earth and Waterbenders prepare their elements…just in case there's more Firebender in me than Avatar." He turned back fully to Rija. "And do you know who's fault it is?"
"Avatar Saiken, we have already discussed this." Rija pointed out, calmly. "Just because you are a Firebending Avatar doesn't mean you are at fault for anything."
"I wasn't referring to myself." Saiken pointed out, slightly irritated with Rija's "blindness" to his point. "I know that I have not done anything to warrant those reactions…but I know of someone who has convinced the other nations that I am." Rija arched his eyebrow, requesting the identity. "Avatar Trajen."
This was another surprise. "Your predecessor?"
"Of course." Saiken turned away and folded his arms, glaring intensely at the model he used to think seemed so beautiful. "I just heard his thoughts, Master. I know who he is…and I know what he did through our history. Unlike Avatar Aang, he…held a grudge against the Fire Nation. Even in the Spirit World, he still holds this…thirst for revenge." With a not-quite-amused scoff, he concluded, "He has his revenge. During his time as Avatar, he convinced the rest of the world that the Fire Nation is still capable of starting a vicious war that may last centuries. He's ensured that the people of the Earth Kingdom, and even of the Water Tribes, will never trust me or any other Firebender."
"Avatar Saiken, I don't understand." Rija put it plainly…but his voice didn't convey confusion. It mostly displayed that Rija seemed to know there was more to this than Saiken slandering Avatar Trajen. "What do Avatar Trajen's actions have to do with this?"
"Because of how he managed it." The Avatar finally explained. "His distrust of the Fire Nation has crept into the hearts of everyone---even Fire Nation citizens themselves---to the point where we live in constant fear of another war…one caused by us."
Saiken didn't respond to that, but he did continue, "It's because he was the Avatar of the time. The most powerful Bender in the world and, of course, an Earthbender by nature…and therefore already on the good side of almost everyone. People were willing to listen to his every word just because of something granted to him at birth…something he didn't earn, something he never showed that he deserved." Saiken felt himself losing control over the seemingly cool, even tone he had been using, but couldn't contain himself from angrily muttering, "And I…I was one of the people whose life was changed by his abuse of his position. I thought he was right; for a long time, I truly believed that being a Firebender meant that I would be forever cursed with the urge to do evil."
Fire Sage Rija was silent for a moment, but when he replied, he replied without hesitation: "But you have acknowledged that he was wrong."
"No, I haven't. I didn't say he was wrong…he just wasn't right." Saiken sighed, then finally settled on what he wanted to do. He would just show the Fire Sage. With far less grace than before, Saiken pulled the water out of the lake…and promptly began whipping it at the oasis. Within moments, the paint-like confetti was swept right off, and the model itself suffered some damage. Before long, it looked dingy and dilapidated…but Saiken wasn't done yet. Without even caring where it landed, he threw the water away, ignoring the splash, and he stepped back into the model…but this one, he did it while Earthbending. Each of the rocks broke up and scattered in a different direction. Before long, there was nothing left, minus a few scratches some of the rocks had left on the floor. He turned back to the Fire Sage, who no longer was trying to contain all of his surprise. "That's what's wrong. No matter how much good Benders do, they are dangerous if they aren't under control…and as the Great War and Avatar Trajen's actions prove, the only one who can prevent Benders from doing great evils is the Avatar." He sighed, then finally admitted his real problem: "And the Avatar is about to die…forever."
Once Avatar Saiken made his point, both men fell completely silent. Slowly, he made his way over to a nearby opening, which led to a balcony. For a long time, he just stood there, letting the gentle breeze tousle his hair, completely immersed in solemnity. Fire Sage Rija couldn't help but notice how old he appeared. Despite being only 24 years old, he seemed to already have noticeable lines on his face, which made him appear at least in his early 40's. His long, dark hair, which was pulled neatly into the same type of knot that Avatar Roku (one of the only historical Firebenders Saiken held any respect for) once wore, just added to the venerable image that he may have been trying to develop…or maybe the pressures of his position were forcing it upon him; Rija wasn't quite sure, despite knowing the young man rather well. The only feature that still made him appear at all youthful was his golden eyes; deep, strong, and still full of the yearning for discovery that defined youth for some. Yet, even that inner quality seemed to be a dying casualty of Saiken's struggle to become the Avatar everyone expected of him…to become the last Avatar. Rija began to wonder if, perhaps, his young pupil was beginning to learn his lessons too well…and look farther into them than what might be good for him.
The sage slowly approached him, hoping to somehow comfort him, despite his musings. However, before he could say a word, Saiken began to finally utter the words that had hounded his thoughts for so long: "The Benders of the world must be taken out of power." He turned towards Rija, fully knowing what his expression would be like, and pointed out, "No one knows what will happen when I die, but you know the theories. It will be the end of the world, all the Benders will lose their abilities, all the Benders will die…or the Benders will simply become too powerful, and they'll just start another war without the Avatar to prevent them." He smiled grimly and commented, "But if the world could learn to stop depending on them, then maybe…maybe we can minimize any damage caused by my death. Maybe we can prevent another injury inflicted upon the world by the Avatar."
Rija bowed his head at Saiken's words. It was now difficult to tell what was just talk, what Saiken truly believed…and what part of it Rija could accept. "I understand why you think and feel these things, Saiken." He told him, in a tone that was as close to gently as he ever got. "I have often wondered whether or not the world would simply be better without Benders. But whether it would or not is not up to me."
"Then perhaps…it is up to me." Saiken replied. He turned away from his master and looked as directly into the sun as he could without hurting his eyes. "It has always been the Avatar's duty to protect the world. Each Avatar has had his or her own destiny about how to do it. Perhaps…this is mine."
Rija nodded slowly, though he was still unconvinced. "Perhaps it is." He agreed. "But you must remember something, Saiken: destinies are not mere decisions to be made at one time and never refuted, nor should they be decided lightly. Remember, it is recorded that Fire Lord Zuko always regretted narrowing his search for destiny solely to regaining his honor and throne. If you truly believe this may be your destiny, then…then do everyone you intend to affect a favor, and consider this deeply before you begin your quest to bring an end to the Benders. Do not decide it until after you are sure you are not being controlled by emotion or a fleeting thought." With that, the Fire Sage headed back to his quarters, leaving the Avatar alone with his thoughts.
Despite Rija's best attempts to convince Saiken to consider the situation more, the Avatar went ahead with his plan. He quickly spread the word of what he was wanted to do and why to all three nations. Though some where resistant at first, after a few years of debate, most of the world came to agree with him. Even many Benders realized that their fates were linked too closely to risk having any of the theories he presented come true. Slowly, all Benders in positions of power began to fall away, and instead sunk to far lowlier occupations. A few of them became soldiers who were only to be used in times of great needs, while others used their Bending for crafts and basic jobs, such as sailing, mining, and blacksmithing. The great walls of Ba Sing Se, the beautiful snowy towers of the Northern Water Tribe…all of it was destroyed, in part, to make way for the new order of the world. The world was detaching itself from all Benders…and in the end, they almost succeeded.
50 years later, something happened that would change Avatar Saiken's "destiny" forever.