Thanks to Kelev for reviewing last chapter. I know I said before that the Avatar story has ended, but I'm adding in one bonus chapter. Part of this is because I'm doing it for a fellow writer's birthday present, but also because I find this character too intriguing to leave out. The main inspiration of this is from the canonical online game "Escape from the Spirit World" where you see one spirit that was with Aang for 3 of the 4 past Avatars he ran across. That spirit is Hei Bai, and he will star in this bonus chapter.
Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko own Avatar.
The village was right in my sights, with more despicable people to hunt down as I lumbered my way across these woods. In the last little while, the forests in this area had been subject to some serious damage, all thanks to members in the human world. To teach these nasty people a lesson, I was going to take one individual from their world into mine, keeping them prisoner until they decided to take actual action to stop what was going on. After all, I was the guardian spirit of the forests, so why wouldn't I do such a thing?
Who was this? There was this bald kid with arrows on his head and hands ordering me to turn back? First of all, I'm a spirit, and that meant I was immortal. No mortal being in this world ought to be telling me what to do. Second, it was these mortals who picked a fight with the spirits when they took liberties with my forests, so who were they to ask me to leave? Ignoring the imbecile, I marched into the village, ready to find my next prisoner. The crazy kid was still sauntering back, pretending he didn't have a care in the world. If he was in charge of the forests, and he saw his area of supervision being destroyed, he wouldn't be singing the same tune.
Finally, the clueless one decided to turn around to face me. "Oh, you must be the Hei Bai spirit. My name is..." Uh, stop. I didn't want an introduction from you or your forest destroyers. If by flashing that goofy smile and pretending you were friends with everyone was your way of telling me everything was alright, then you were sadly mistaken. Blasting him in the face with my sonic roar attack, I raced past him and headed straight for the first building. What do these humans think they were doing with these houses anyway? They couldn't even stand properly, as I levelled them with just one push. Why were these creatures so incredibly outdated?
It didn't matter though, as that just made my job easier. The sooner I trashed their homes, the quicker I could take them all prisoner. After all, no humans meant no more destruction, and that would me my forests were back at peace. As I pounded another house into the dirt, there was nothing that could stand in my way.
"I command you to turn around now!" The boy yelled at me. What? He commanded me to turn around? Let's get one thing straight here, I was immortal and he wasn't. I was doing my job to keep the forests safe while he was acting like a lunatic. I was doing the right thing while his kind kept trashing the place. What gave him the right to bark orders at me? He wanted me to turn? Well, he got it, as I whipped around and nailed him with a left back-swing. If you didn't want to get hurt, then you'd better stay out of my way.
"Hei Bai, over here!" Another voice shouted. Before long, I felt something poking my rear end, giving me a slight pinch and causing me to turn my attention elsewhere. I saw this taller boy dressed in blue come out to greet the bald one, who I thought I had gotten rid of earlier. Well, if this taller kid thought he could ambush me, then he got another thing coming. Little did he know that I could teleport short distances, and that meant I had the perfect chance to strike.
I disappeared from view while the two were distracted via their talk with each other on how to deal with me. Believe me, there was no way to deal with me, not until you dealt with this forest first. Materializing behind the blue boy, I snatched him with one of my shorter limbs and raced off into the night. In my battle form, I had six limbs, four for running while two smaller ones located before my front legs for smashing and grabbing things. Since wise guy here decided to fight me, I was more than willing to see how much strength he had in him. With him tightly in my grasp, I hustled back to the entry point between this world and the Spirit World.
Well, looked like Baldy knew more than just running around pretending to be in charge, as he somehow found a glider and was following us. "Aang, over here! Help!" The one in my hands yelled. So the bald kid's name was Aang? Normally I didn't inquire over what my prisoners were named, but at least I could recognize one individual should I come back again. As for Mr. Smartypants here, I had the perfect punishment for him once I got back into the Spirit World. Seeing the statue of me closing in, I made the spiritual connection and left this world.
I returned to my realm in the Spirit World and placed the mouthy guy with the rest of my prisoners. It had been a while since the forest was burned, but it didn't make me feel better. Someone from the Spirit World ought to teach these humans a lesson in messing with the balance of the world. For eternity, the spirits watched over the human world, making sure every action was in line with the balance. Now, a war had been waged and nature was no longer being respected the way it was before. In the past, humans lived harmoniously with nature, taking only what they required and nothing more. Now, with things getting crazily out of hand, it was only time before these beings destroyed the very world that was their home.
At the same time, I figured that while what I did was drastic, I realized all other beings in the Spirit World would agree with my move. As the guardians of our world, it was our job to ensure that balance remained, even if it meant punishing the mortals. No spirit would say they fulfilled their duties if they couldn't do their job, and right now I had a job to do. Stashing the crazy teen in blue with the rest of the villagers, I made sure he wouldn't be going anywhere soon. If he beaked off any more, I wouldn't even let him urinate! Try talking back at me now!
I blasted through the ground into the village the very next night, ready to pick out another person to join my prisoners. As expected, the humans still hadn't done anything about that scorched piece of land at the forests. Burnt trees, broken stumps, and an otherwise unusable landscape decorated the hillside, and it wouldn't be long before they tore up this patch of the woods in front of their village as well. When would these pathetic creatures ever learn?
And to no one's surprise, Baldy was still here, standing in front of the largest house in the town and acting all superior. What, no witty banter this time? No more blowing air around and acting like a goofball? Well then, guessed that just gave me more chances to go grab more villagers. With such a big house in front of me, there were bound to be loads of people inside. Anyone of them would make a fine prisoner for me. Heck, I might as well take everyone inside, just to get rid of them all. No humans, no more damage to the forests. Seemed easy to me!
But then, right before I could blast the house open, the kid known as Aang jumped over me and placed a hand on my head. Strangely enough, there was spiritual energy through him, making me pause for a second. There was only one human who could possess that much spiritual energy, and that was the Avatar, known as the bridge between the two worlds. If this were true, then I was in the shock of my life. I had never seen an Avatar that young before, let alone one that was this goofy. I heard from the other spirits in the Spirit World that the Avatar had been lost for a hundred years, and now here he was? Did he really know what he was doing?
"Now I understand," Aang addressed me sympathetically, "you're upset and angry because your home was burnt down. When I saw the forest was burnt, I was sad and upset, but my friend gave me hope that the forest would grow back." With that, he pulled out an acorn from inside his clothes and lifted it to my face. It was quite an awkward exchange to say the least.
Nonetheless, I picked up the small acorn, thinking carefully about his words. It was true that something this small could grow back, but could it cover the entire forest? It would take an awfully long time to replenish the area with trees, certainly not within the lifetimes of most of these villagers. And with the war still going on, I wasn't sure if this was the best way to go about things. With so much destruction, could humans still be trusted with restoring nature?
But still, it was a chance I had to take, as humans were part of the world that we lived in. Whether the spirits accepted human's ways or not, they were a part of us, just like how we were a part of them. To deny them this opportunity to fix their mistakes would be like to deny them the opportunity to live in the world. Things would always change, for better or for worse, and it was up to the spirits to ensure things didn't go the way of destruction. Other than that, it wasn't our job to regulate what the people did with their lives. As long as there was responsible and non-destructive use of the forests, there wasn't more I could do.
Accepting Aang's offer, I turned back into my normal form and left the village. My regular form was what was known as a panda bear, which was a creature that didn't really exist in this world. There was a species similar to me somewhere in the Earth Kingdom known as a bear, but those were purely brown while I was black and white. Turning around, I lumbered my way out the front gates, leaving the village for good. I would have to find the strength to forgive the humans for this destruction, and gave them at least another chance to fix their mistakes. And if it meant anything, I would continue to help the Avatar in ending the war. He was bound to visit the Spirit World soon, right? When that time came, I would be there to help him.
I made a small bamboo forest sprout at the gate of the village, all the while reopening the portal to the Spirit World to let the villagers I captured out, Mr. Blabbermouth included. Maybe I was overdoing it when I didn't allow him to use the bathroom, as that crazy guy quickly scurried off into the houses. Whatever the case, I learned a lesson today. Even though humans might lose their way in life, they were capable of good, as shown by the Avatar. Now, the one thing I had to do was to convince the other spirits to continue helping the Avatar as best as we could. It wouldn't be easy, as each spirit might be convinced their way was better. The one I had to watch out for was Koh the Face Stealer, who supposedly had some history with past Avatars. But if all spirits could work together, then even we could play a part in making the world a better place.
I slowly lifted an eyelid as Avatar Roku appeared before me. Rarely did the past Avatars come into my realm, although it wasn't unusual. Most were just passing by, rarely stopping at all. That was fine by me, as that left me with all this time to eat and sleep. But today, I could tell Roku was in here for a reason, and it most likely wasn't a good thing.
"I would like your assistance, Hei Bai," he addressed me, he voice strong and steady, but a slightly worried expression on his face. "My successor Aang is currently in the Spirit World, and I would like you to help me bring him back out once he's finished with Koh."
I immediately lifted myself off the ground, my entire body tensing as that name was mentioned. I knew of Koh, but I never imagined the current Avatar would approach that spirit. Koh was the most sadistic, amoral, and uncompromising spirit in this realm, knowing to steal people's faces all because they showed any emotion before him. An Avatar before Aang, Kuruk of the water tribe, had the face of his wife stolen because Koh believed Kuruk wasn't fulfilling his Avatar duties. It still scared me how anyone could resort to those tactics.
But nonetheless, Roku insisted that I kept an eye out for Aang, which I figured was the right thing to do. Aang was still young, and had quite a long career ahead of him as the Avatar. The whole world's balance was in his hands, with the Fire Nation on the attack right now. We the spirits had to do whatever it took to ensure Aang succeeded, even if it meant protecting Aang from one of our own. Heeding to Roku's instructions, I slowly made my way into Koh's realm.
As I journeyed through the marshes and swamps of Koh's area, a flurry of thoughts went through my head. For someone as young and inexperienced as Aang, he sure went through a lot. If being stuck in a block of ice for a century wasn't bad enough, how would he take the fact that his people were completely wiped out? I knew this really didn't apply to us spirits, as we were immortal and a century would seem like a minute to us. But for someone like Aang, I couldn't even begin to imagine the pain he went through.
But at the same time, spirits and humans ought to work together more, because this was the only way to bring peace to the world. Aang taught me a lesson last time we met, showing me that destroyed forests could indeed grow back. It might take a long time, past the lifetime of this Avatar, and quite possibly the next one, but it was possible. Right now what we had to do was made sure Aang got what he sought in the Spirit World, and to take him back to his world.
I caught out with Aang just as he exited Koh's cave, a chilling sensation descending upon me as I approached that area. Aang was either the bravest kid I knew, or the dumbest one, having the guts to challenge Koh like that. But still, with his smiling face resonating through this dark and damp area, it really brought some warmth and friendliness around this place. Besides, his smile meant Koh didn't steal his face, which was always a good thing.
Aang climbed onto my back as I hurried back to the portal in which he came from. "The spirits are in trouble," Aang told me as I lumbered along. For a large panda, I actually did have some speed in me, although I didn't use it very often. Guys like me preferred a slower pace in life, just lounging around and eating bamboo, rather than raced across the Spirit World. "The Ocean and Moon Spirits supposedly gave up their immortality a long time ago, taking the shapes of mortal beings in the Northern Water Tribe," Aang continued, "if the Fire Nation got to the oasis, they would be doomed." Hearing that, I couldn't help but quicken the pace.
At the same time, I thought about some of the stories on these two mysterious spirits. I never really knew too much about them until I met up with Aang, but I did recall that there were spirits who would transcend boundaries and into the other place. But to give up immortality was really something different, as that was a sacrifice that I doubted most spirits were willing to make. Would anyone in this world be willing to do that just to live among humans?
Then again, part of the job of the spirits was to teach mankind, educating them on the values that truly counted. While it wasn't our job to regulate what they did or controlled them with an iron fist, the spirits were supposed to give advice to humans, pushing them along the right path when they went astray. The only thing that was out of bounds for us spirits was free will, as all individuals were free to choose how to live their lives, provided they did not interfere or harm another's right to choose. So for the Ocean and Moon Spirits to go that far, just to show mankind kindness and humility, it was truly a grand gesture to make.
Finally, I returned Aang to where he came from, letting him hop off of me and onto the platform. "How do I get back?" Aang asked, looking around for a clue. I knew the Avatar could travel here when under heavy spiritual influence, such as meditating at the Spirit Oasis that Aang mentioned earlier. But here, with a spirit in front of him, there was no need.
Rearing onto my hind legs, I shot a thin beam out of my mouth. It went straight into Aang's body and lit him up from within, shining so brightly until I could no longer see him. Before long, he disappeared from the Spirit World, going back to his own and fusing back into his own body. The Ocean and Moon Spirits were in his hands now, and I sure hoped he would make it back in time to prevent the Fire Nation from damaging them.
"Good riddance," a voice next to me sounded off. I turned around to see Enma, the monkey spirit, cast a condescending eye at the platform. It wouldn't surprise me that Aang tried to ask him for help, only for this arrogant monkey to brush him off. Meditating might be what he was good at, but he sure failed when it came to social skills. And one thing I absolutely could not stand was disrespectful people like him, especially to someone doing as much as Aang.
Turning into my powerful monster form, I stalked up to Enma and bared my teeth at him. You wanted to get snarky at people? Let's see how snarky you could get with a sonic blast right up your face! Opening my mouth, I nailed him with a sonic roar, sending him straight into the water and drenching his robes. Have fun meditating now, you goof! As I turned back into my regular panda form, I admired my work as Enma tried to peel himself off the sticky marshes.
Realizing my work was done here, I headed back to my realm. I didn't know when I would see Aang next, but I had a feeling he might frequent this place a lot more. If he ever wanted my help, I would be more than willing to offer myself. But until then, I wanted a meal first. All that running and hustling really worked up my appetite, and I hadn't had anything to eat since Roku woke me up. Now where was my crunchy bamboo?
"Hei Bai!" A young voice called from the forests just as I was about to finish my stick of bamboo. The Spirit World really got shook up recently when we found out that the Avatar could no longer go into the Avatar State. The Fire Nation really struck hard as Aang was supposedly unconscious in the real world, all the while his spirit was here. I hadn't seen him around yet, but knowing Aang, I knew he would show up soon.
And there he was, bounding up to me and giving me a big hug. "Roku told me I'd find you here," he exclaimed, snuggling his face in my fur. Well, even though his body was probably in pretty bad shape outside, he seemed pretty healthy to me right now. Maybe it was because his spirit was never wounded? Whatever the case, let's see what I could do for him.
"I don't suppose you've seen Avatar Kyoshi around, have you?" Aang asked. That was a really good question, because I usually didn't keep track of where the past Avatars went once they got into the Spirit World. Besides, why would Aang want to find Avatar Kyoshi? Wasn't Roku's advice enough for him to deal with?
Nonetheless, I allowed Aang to climb onto my back as we treaded out of my bamboo forest. Being the guardian spirit for forests, I usually stayed within the bamboo and rarely went anywhere else. Last time Aang was here, I had to go to Koh's realm to help him, which was quite a nasty experience considering how swampy and sticky it was. Hopefully Kyoshi was nearby and I didn't have to go anywhere too far. "There she is!" Aang suddenly shouted.
I lifted my head just in time to see the giant of a woman standing before us. Screeching to a halt, I let Aang jump off my back and greeted Kyoshi. Apparently, Aang got into some incident in the real world where Kyoshi kind of left him for dead, claiming she killed a warlord and the village where that warlord came from tried to hold Aang accountable for it. That issue led to a series of unfortunate events that Aang had to fix. Oh well, all's well that ends well, right?
Then Kyoshi told her story to Aang, claiming she had other priorities after defeating Chin the Conqueror. "I accomplished a lot of good, but I also made some mistakes," she began, taking Aang back to her era, "one of my greatest challenges was dealing with a peasant uprising in Ba Sing Se. The peasants felt that the Earth King's role was outdated and he did not represent their interests. So they stormed the Upper Ring, and destroyed priceless artefacts and buildings that represented the old government." I paused just as she finished that sentence. There was some type of rebellion in Ba Sing Se back then? Now that was news to me!
"The Earth King summoned me to end the revolution," Kyoshi continued, "he wanted me to do whatever it took, including hurting the peasants, but I wouldn't do it. The Earth King then sent his guards after me, and I was forced to retaliate on them." Well, this couldn't be good. With Kyoshi's strength, what did the Earth King think he could do? Seriously, why were humans so incredibly stubborn? This Earth King seemed no different than the current Fire Lord right now.
"Finally, I forced the Earth King to make a compromise," Kyoshi stated, looking down at Aang who stood intently watching and listening, "I told him that everyone in the kingdom must have a voice if balance was to prevail over tyranny. I proposed to protect his interests as long as the peasants' grievances were heard, and changes were made within government to better reflect their wishes. Luckily, he agreed, and I set off to train an elite force of earth benders who would be silent, precise, and feared by all. They became known as the Dai Li."
Say what? The Dai Li? Weren't they the same group that just overthrew the Earth Kingdom with the Fire Nation princess? What was Kysohi thinking? "They're the worst, most corrupt earth benders in the world!" Aang yelled, shocked and angry at Kyoshi. Given what they did to Aang, I wasn't surprised at his response. What was going on here?
Kyoshi sighed. Even though her face was usually covered with make-up, I could tell she had a significant amount of sadness as she described what happened next. "I thought I was doing the right thing by creating a group that protected cultural history. I had no idea what they would become." Well, like that's a surprise. Given how Kyoshi wasn't in charge of changing things within the palace, the Earth King and his bureaucratic cronies could do whatever they wanted. Why would they have to care about what the people wanted?
I lifted my head to Kyoshi again, just in time to hear her conclude. "Aang, our actions always have an effect. Sometimes positive, sometimes negative, and sometimes for not many lifetimes," she stated. Well, I could kind of see where she came from. Once she passed on, it was Roku's turn to be the Avatar. Since successive Earth Kings might not be as willing to keep their word to Kyoshi, they might just overturn her decisions regarding openness and transparency in the Earth Kingdom. And if they were able to incorporate the Dai Li as a government agency, then they truly had control over everything. Kyoshi's legacy just went up in smoke.
With that, Kyoshi lifted Aang back onto my back, asking him to find the water bending Avatar before her. "His name is Avatar Kuurk," she informed Aang before disappearing into thin air. With that, I was left to journey with my friend once more, but also got some time to think about what Kyoshi had said. Being an immortal spirit, I had the advantage of seeing what the world looked like from the safety of my bamboo forest, and I didn't have to worry about any mistakes made. Whatever I did, I could fix myself, no matter how long it took.
But for Kyoshi and other humans, they didn't have that advantage, as once they passed on, they could no longer go back. It was up to the next Avatar to deal with the world, and it wasn't always the case that they would be well-received. Kyoshi did all she could to help the Earth King, and it was the Earth King and his descendants that blew a great opportunity to fix their kingdom. While it sounded cruel for me to say it, but they truly made their own beds, and now they had to sleep in them, given what the Dai Li had done. Hopefully, Aang could get better soon, and would have what it took to fix both the Fire Nation and the Earth Kingdom.
"We're in the realm of Koh, Hei Bai," Aang whispered to me as that humid, swampy feeling returned. I really didn't know where Kuruk would be, since he was all over the place as well. But knowing that Kuruk was the one who had bad blood with Koh, I figured he might still stalk around this area, waiting for the right time to strike Koh. "We better be careful..."
"Kyyyaaaaa..." I froze dead on my tracks, barely avoiding running into a screaming figure that leaped in front of us brandishing a spear. He was dressed in blue while wearing animal skin on his head. Unfortunately, Aang wasn't so lucky, as he was thrown off my back and into the disgusting muck. Aang, meet Avatar Kuruk, Avatar Kyoshi's predecessor.
"Relax, kid, I'm not going to hurt you," Kuruk stated, lifted Aang back to his feet. I tried so hard not to laugh at the water bender's ridiculous entrance. Kuruk was a different Avatar than Kyoshi, at least based on the story he was telling Aang. "Have you seen a beautiful woman with long, brown hair around here? She's my wife," he described, "When I was a young Avatar, I traveled the world, challenging other benders to tests of strength." He went on to talk about the tests, some of which were downright ridiculous. Seriously, who would challenge a fire bender to an Agni Kai while they were shopping for groceries? Didn't Kuruk have better things to do?
"I loved impressing girls with my bending prowess. I was arrogant, proud, and boastful," Kuruk continued. If pandas could roll their eyes, I would have done so already. Being the Avatar was not an easy task, and yet here he acted like he was entitled to the role. If Aang was immature when I first met him, then Kuruk truly took the cake, and the sad part was that he was an adult already! But then again, I guessed when things were peaceful and prosperous, and the four nations were still somewhat cooperative with one another, then it might be fine to let them settle their own differences. Still, that type of attitude really wasn't my stick of bamboo.
Turning back to Kuruk, I listened on intently as he described what happened next. "I never thought about settling down until I met the love of my life. We met during the New Moon celebrations, when the sister tribes would come together as one." I recalled some detail on this, something about the two water tribes getting together for a huge party. Hearing this, I didn't know what I was more surprised at: Kuruk falling in love, or Kuruk not falling down drunk and making a fool out of himself in this celebration. "Her name was Ummi, and she was from the Southern Water Tribe. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen."
Kuruk's tone suddenly went from excitable to sombre as he described how he changed his irresponsible ways and settled down after meeting Ummi. "We were to be married in the Spirit Oasis," Kuruk explained, referring back to the home of the Ocean and Moon Spirits, "but on the day of our wedding, tragedy struck. Ummi fell into the spirit pond, as if some unseen force pulled her in. She was gone, but she didn't drown. Rather, she disappeared into the Spirit World. Koh took her to punish me for my past mistakes." No surprise there, given Koh's cruel and sadistic nature. That guy didn't care for morals, and would do whatever it took.
"Every year, on the anniversary of our wedding, I traveled to the Spirit World, hoping to save my wife from Koh. But I failed," he concluded, dipping his head in shame. Hey, no sweat. I had been here for eternity, and I hadn't had any luck finding a faceless woman walking around anyway. Besides, even though I didn't agree with Koh's choice, I saw some good out of this. At least Kuruk now had to take his duties seriously and served the people of the world, rather than act like a goofball all the time. Maybe now that he was here, we could help him look for her?
Suddenly, Aang recalled seeing someone similar here. "Koh still has her," he declared, "when I was in Koh's lair, he showed me Ummi's face!" Oh, so maybe all was not lost then! If Kuruk could get into Koh's lair, he still had a chance to save his wife...
And before I could even move, Kuruk took off, heading back into Koh's realm. "Avatar Yang Chen is waiting for you," he called as he disappeared into the mist again. Well, I guessed that meant we had to be on the move again. You coming, Aang?
Aang boarded my back as we headed for the mountains, where Yang Chen would most likely be located, given her nature as an air bender. I was very happy to hear that Kuruk would find his wife again, but also found that Kuruk had the inherent flaw of human nature: acting too quickly on one's own goals and didn't pay enough attention on the other responsibilities in life. It was unfortunate that the spirits had to resort to taking his wife just to teach him this lesson, but sometimes that was the way life went. We all wanted to learn things to painless way, but in this case, it had to be through a painful way. Hopefully the cruelty didn't have to continue in the future, with the world entering a new age if Aang could finish the job.
"Hello, Avatar Yang Chen?" Aang called as we climbed this very tall mountain. Hey, just because I was a large lumbering creature who preferred a slower pace in life didn't mean I didn't know how to climb mountains. Besides, with Aang wanting all the help he could get, I couldn't possibly just hang him out to dry. I had to make sure he found Yang Chen, and got what he had to get from the air bending Avatar before I left.
Finally, a woman wearing Air Nomad robes, similar to but longer and looser than Aang's, appeared before us. "It's an honour to meet you, Aang," she greeted my friend. It was odd to see two air bending Avatars standing side-by-side, as rarely did an Avatar reach that far back into their lifetimes. But still, given what Aang was going through, this was for the best.
"It's been such an amazing experience meeting my past lives," Aang replied, "and I realized no Avatar is perfect. They all struggled and made mistakes, like me. But it made me wonder, why is the Avatar spirit a human in every life? Wouldn't it be better if the Avatar was an all-powerful spirit that that never died?" What? Were you implying that the Avatar spirit ought to be someone like me? I had enough to worry about with forests, and now you wanted more?
Luckily, Yang Chen was there to set the record straight. Claiming that the Avatar must be compassionate towards all people, the only way to do that was to live with them. "The Avatar must experience sadness, anger, joy, and happiness. By feeling all these emotions, it helps you understand how precious human life is, so you will do anything to protect it." I could see where that might come in handy, as Yang Chen herself was known to have done everything it took to defend the people of the world. It almost seemed ironic that an Air Nomad would love life so much that she would resort to force in order to protect it. Weren't they supposed to be peaceful?
I flopped down onto the ground, lying on my stomach as Yang Chen continued, "If you were an all-powerful spirit living on top of some mountain, you wouldn't have much in common with an ordinary person. So the Avatar continues to take human rebirth, and with each life, learns what it means to be human." Somehow, I could tell that was a direct reference to the Ocean and Moon Spirits, who gave up their immortality just to live among humans. Maybe that was what we spirits ought to be doing more; instead of sitting from the safety and comfort of the Spirit World, we ought to go into the other place and interacted with humans, just to learn what they were like and how they progressed. After all, wouldn't that help us better guide their actions?
Yang Chen then finished the discussion off by telling Aang that while the Avatar spirit was alright, his physical body was not. He was still in a coma in the other place, and would take some time to heal. "And unfortunately, it seems like your ability to enter the Avatar State has also been disrupted," Yang Chen diagnosed, placing a hand on Aang's head, "you won't be able to rely on your past lives to help you. You must rely on your friends." Well, that was pretty sobering. How was Aang going to defeat the Fire Lord now?
"And when you wake up, you won't remember this journey to the Spirit World. It will be like a forgotten dream." And with that, Yang Chen's arrows glowed alongside Aang's, creating an immense amount of spiritual power before disappearing into thin air. By the time I opened my eyes again, Aang and I were alone once more. Well, what was that all about then?
Our journey down the mountain was in complete silence as I mulled over what had happened. Avatar Yang Chen was a very wise Avatar, and was respected in her time due to her dedication to the world. She once stated that the Avatar's duty to the world meant she had to sacrifice some of her personal beliefs, doing whatever it took to ensure the world was safe. I could see that being reflected in some of the other Avatars, as both Kyoshi and Roku defied their own political leaders in order to send them a message. It certainly wasn't an easy thing to do, and I could imagine Aang running into similar problems in the future, should he face the Fire Lord.
Yet at the same time, Yang Chen really sympathized with Aang, and human nature in general. Humans were flawed, and they made mistakes, but it didn't mean it was beyond saving. Life was too important to be cast aside, and by seeing the strengths and weaknesses of humans in living their lives, the Avatar could truly appreciate what it meant to live. Unlike Avatars, we spirits didn't have that luxury, due to our immortality. Maybe this was the reason why some spirits didn't appreciate life as much as humans, with Koh being the main culprit here. This was just another sobering reminder that life was sacred, and only by interacting with humans could we spirits possibly understand them. They might be misguided, and some might hang on too tightly to their ill-conceived beliefs, but overall they were capable of good.
"I'm going to have to go soon, Hei Bai," Aang whispered to me by the time we were back at the bottom of the mountain, "even though Yang Chen said I wasn't going to remember these events, I have a feeling I may have to refer to the past Avatars in the future. If we're lucky, maybe we'll run into each other again." Hearing that, I knew it would be a hard journey back to his battered body. Who knew how much longer before he was strong enough to fight? With the way he got shot in Ba Sing Se, he was lucky he was brought back at all.
I brought him back to the same platform I used to send him back last time. I really wanted to thank Aang for these wonderful experiences, as each time I learned something new about humans and the way they behaved. From now on, I would never take any of this for granted, and would do whatever I could to better understand humanity. Maybe I ought to leave the Spirit World and entered their world more, and just observed how humans changed their way in interacting with nature in general. Whatever the case, if Aang got healthier, I believed he could be a force for positive change in the future.
Rearing onto my hind legs, I shot that beam from my mouth again, and sent him back to his world. For now, he was on his own, but knowing him, he could make it through this. All the past Avatars had their hardships and all coped with them their own way. I was certain that Aang would find his way and carved out his own destiny in the world. As I left the platform, I realized how much of a difference Aang made in my life, and what I could do to give back. Sometimes, even spirits should change their ways, and did their part to make the world a better place.
A group of young people gathered in this park before me, all dressed in strange costumes but generally in a great mood. It had been centuries since Avatar Aang put the world back together, and there seemed to be a prolonged peace in our time. While there were still political and other disagreements here and there, humans were less likely to settle their conflicts via force. And in most developed parts of the world, a sense of environmental stewardship came into play, with this city being an example. Who would have thought that even after industrialization, with motorized vehicles replacing animal-drawn ones, that there would be a park in the middle of the city? It was truly amazing how much progress had been made.
And today, in this park, plenty of people were enjoying their time. There seemed to be some type of festival going on here, and the hosts of the party did everything they could to make sure the visitors were having a blast. I didn't want to disturb their fun, so I just stayed invisible and in the woods, watching this group as their host led them around. The host of the group was a teenager calling herself Sabaku, dressed in a rather interesting suit. She had a white shirt, black tie, and jeans, almost like she was wearing a school uniform. I heard she was supposed to be this character from a television show, another new phenomenon that occurred after industrialization. Personally, I didn't care for this type of technology, given I wouldn't have access to it in the Spirit World. But still, seeing this group have so much fun and using nature in a responsible way, this was what I truly hoped for after meeting Aang.
And as their activities continued, I thought about all the things that occurred, and what it truly meant to be human. As I found out from the past, humans were flawed creatures, but were still capable of good. It was in the hands of the people of today and tomorrow that the world would be a better place. While humans had the abilities to destroy the world, they also had the abilities to make everything around them better off. Their imperfection was what drove this balance, but as long as the spirits were watchful and caring, destruction would never triumph over peace.
I also recalled Fire Lord Zuko, the man who took over the throne in the Fire Nation after Aang finished the war, promised his people an era of love, peace, and hope. And today, even though there were still conflicts, it was an inspiration that kept people's hopes and dreams alive. Like all humans, the Fire Lord was a mortal, and had to leave this world after his time. But for everyone else, they were still able to hang on to that, and tried to solve their differences in more peaceful ways. And as an immortal spirit watching over everyone, that was also my role, to help humans get on the right path without interfering or regulating their lives. As I continued to watch this party unfold in the park, I thought of one thing only...
My name is Hei Bai. That was my story. Those were my rites of passage.
The present is for Legend of Zelda 4 Life who is turning 16 today, the age in which Avatars are revealed their identity. She also happens to be hosting an anime convention in her city, and I based the park here off of the real park she'll be using. Happy birthday and hope you enjoy it. But for now, this is truly the end of this story, and I'll come back after Avatar: Legend of Korra is finished to write more. Until then, happy reading!