The Weight Of The Avatar Mantle
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(General P.O.V)

"You have questions. Questions I am sure you have had for some time. If you're smart as I believe you are, questions that you will keep on asking and wondering about, even after getting the answers you seek. Because you can never be too careful when a mantle such as the Avatar is placed on your shoulders. Whichever being or beings chose you, did it for a reason."

"The Avatar is not just a figure of absolute power in my world, he or she represents a deterrent force of good. A keeper of balance and a beacon of oneness. Of Harmony. They have the whole world in the palm of their hands. Removed from the day to day nuisances that plague normal folk yet their influence can be felt through every nation."

"The cycle is a part of why his personage is very significant. However, the weight of that Mantle is less obvious. The Avatar is a figure of order, balance, harmony, power and… immortality. Which is both a curse and a blessing and the weight that can never be relinquished to another. A soldier fights knowing that they will either lose their lives in battle or win the war and go back to his family when the fight is over. The Avatar has no escape even in death. Every death is simply a new beginning. To continue the never ending fight with chaos. The never ending struggles with the fickle morality of men."

"I lived through a time of great suffering. Some of it caused by my own hands. I have seen things I want to forget dearly but cannot. Yet, The Avatar has lived through dozens of wars, times of so great a strife, the world seemed to be on the brink of total destruction. I need you to understand. That weight…that weight never gets easier. Which is why, to bear that weight of memories and experiences, The Avatar's spirit is much stronger in comparison to a normal human's. Their soul is blinding in its light. Powerful enough to enforce a balance between the material world and the spirit world."

Iroh concluded his explanation on the true weight Aden carried on his shoulders. The teen had never thought about it that far deep. But he felt that those were words he had needed to hear. To never lose his purpose and to know just what sort of burden he was tasked with.

Aden had teleported them out of the Fire Plane onto an Island far away from Sanctuary. A fire burned between them, providing light in the gazebo Aden had constructed some time back, with the intention of relaxation. The tea table set was off to the side, the kettle still pouring out steam. The island itself boasted a clear reef that was filled with coral outcrops. Fish of different kinds swam through the water providing a beautiful obstructed scenery of marine life. As it was nighttime, the sky was awash with the light of stars. Despite the Elemental Dimension being huge, measuring hundreds of thousands of miles, all that area was confined to 5 sections of land separated by space time shenanigans.

Each section represented an element, so there was no way the stars shining above were part of Aden's creation. The most likely explanation, was that it was a scene of the normal view of the night sky from planet earth. Unfortunately Aden could not recognize any of the constellations. He hadn't really tried to figure it out, content in just enjoying the scene without ruining the magic.

"I understand you're still curious about what sort of being I am. What is your understanding about spirits?"
Iroh asked the teen. Aden affectionately ran his hand over Hakai's scales, absentmindedly.
"Well, not a lot. I didn't even know that Hakai and Saisei were spirits until they intervened in our fight. I only thought that Hakai was a special but curious dragon."
The spirit in question nuzzled her snout onto his neck making Aden chuckle a little at the action.

Hakai spoke through the link, referring to Aden's mistake about their identity. Iroh laughed as Aden scratched his head in a little embarrassment. I mean, if he'd been a little bit more attentive, he could have found that out easily but oh well…
"My knowledge about spirits is not expansive enough. All I know is that they are supernatural entities that often embody concepts of life and nature. They live in a parallel plane of reality that co-exists alongside the mortal world."

"A textbook response. Not wrong but woefully shallow. Spirits are more than just Supernatural Entities embodying different concepts. At some point, that embodiment becomes so concrete that they themselves become that concept. That case only happens when a Spirit fully crosses over to the mortal world, however. We have had a few instances of this happening. Twee and La. The ocean and moon spirits are prime examples of this."

Iroh took a sip of his tea as Aden nodded in contemplation.

"What about Hakai and Saisei? You said that a spirit could fully cross over to the mortal world. Does that mean that there is a different plane of existence where they came from or were they actualized as full spirits of fire?"

Aden wondered. The implications not lost to him. The existence of his own version of the spirit world existing right under him without his own knowledge would be... disconcerting.

Iroh shook his head, scratching his beard in slight puzzlement.

"In the case of Hakai and Saisei, I find myself similarly stumped. To know more about their origins, you will have to strengthen your spirit and learn how to meditate. The Avatar is the bridge between the mortal world and the spirit plane. As I mentioned earlier, your spirit is much weaker than even a spiritually attuned bender from my world."

Aden nodded, trying to figure out how he was going to deal with this new information.

"Oh one more thing, how did you become a spirit?"

Aden questioned before he forgot. He already had a lot to think about.

Iroh stilled and placed the cup in his hands back on the table set beside him. His face looked grim above the fire as he stared back at the young Avatar. Silence dominated the grounds until Aden thought the old general was not going to answer. Iroh sighed, suddenly looking older.

"War is impure. You can never know it's price until the pain you inflict on your enemies is felt by you. After losing my son...Lu Ten, I lost my purpose and drive. And for a Firebender, conviction is needed to muster up the energy inside us. I used that excuse to leave but the truth was, I was finally fed up. Karma had caught up to me and extracted her fair price."

"I needed to find myself again, for I was changed man. So I journeyed across the lands, trying to piece back the shards of my soul. During that time, I saw first hand the impact of my actions. The impact of the Fire Nation's hubris. All that pain and hatred fueled for a meaningless campaign to conquer a world that was already united through the Avatar under one banner. I sought to know the real truth about how, where and when it all went wrong. And the understanding I came to was that I could not understand my grandfather's actions."

"This further led to me wanting to know more about the fickleness of human morality. From Sozin's point of view, he was not doing anything wrong and the fire nation thrived under his rule yet...he was a monster to others. Who chooses what values to follow and instill? Sozin chose an extreme form of patriotism. A world that was driven forward by the teachings and principles of Firebending. Yet, his goals blinded his eyes to the truth...that the nations were different for a reason but not separate. I learned of the Avatar's true role in existence."

"A never ending crusade to maintain balance, stretched out over hundreds of years and I learned from history...his true was not to keep the world safe or balance, it was to keep the world moving. No matter how many wounds it sustained, the Avatar was merely a panacea to the symptoms. Content to lie in wait to deal with the next crisis that arose. Crisis formed by the combination of two things, human immorality and... bending." Iroh's face grimaced.

"I entered a dark phase then. Coming to the conclusion that war, pain and suffering would not stop. This war would end, only for another to spring up long after I was gone. And the reason for that was twofold. I could not change how people think but I could change their instrument to inflict pain on others... bending."

Aden sucked in a breath. The look on Iroh's face as he recalled his looked like the face of someone who had been saved from commiting a despicable act.

"Bending was at fault. Bending was the reason my son was stolen from me. Bending was the root of all evil."

Iroh closed his eyes.

"Grief oftentimes can bring out the worst in us. I wanted to burn the world. To rid it of this cursed affliction. To me, bending was the enemy and so I set out to find a way I could kill this affliction. The only lead I had was spirits. So I journeyed everywhere, my heart blazing with conviction and fire. Each step I took, dimmed that fire however. Because just as I was convinced that bending was evil and bad, I saw pure acts of love and joy that it also brought. The water-benders used it to provide clean water and heal, the earth-benders used it to build new structures and save people from the Fire nation. And the tales as well as the philosophies of the air-benders showed me their tranquil approach to life. They loved, lived and died holding on to the purest expression of their own bending."

"By the end of my journey, as I stood before Wan Shi Tong...I was completely exhausted. Exhausted by my hate for earthbenders and Firebenders and bending in general...I only wanted it all to stop. For me to go back to those, peaceful times underneath the Sakura tree with my son. Wan Shi Tong showed me a new of wisdom and true union of consciousness with the world. Inside that library, I was touched by a spirit. Which allowed me to attain spiritual attunement. I learned all I could. And then set to the world to curve out my path. Not to defeat or stop the Fire Nation but to show them a different way. At the end of my life, that touch by a spirit coupled with my own spiritual growth enabled me to ascend as a spirit of knowledge seeking and wisdom."

Iroh completed his story. At the end of it, Aden knew what to do. The teen knelt on his knees and bowed, his forehead touching the ground in heartfelt humility.

"Please teach me, Grandmaster."