|Life is full of suffering. That’s just the way it is. It’s interesting because we all try and fight to avoid such a thing that is entirely unavoidable. Is it arrogance or foolishness that causes people to strive for such an impossible task, I wonder. I know, for me, it was the latter. I actually thought that if I tried hard enough I could achieve a life without suffering or at least with as little suffering as possible. I was wrong of course.
In the temple where I grew up, the monks always talked about how we could find inner peace through meditation. I was never really that good at it, to be honest, but I did try. I saw these monks throughout my life that had nothing but the clothes on their back and yet they seemed so happy. It was always odd to me. I’d always hear of these people out in the world that had so much more than we did at the temple. I always imagined what it’d be like to be out, to have a real family, to live beyond the endless meditating and teaching of our history.
When I was young I was given my tattoos as a “master”, but I see now that was little more than a coming of age ritual. Not a single one person could master airbending at that age, which was generally around ten or so. Even most of the monks around me couldn’t be considered masters; not really. A few years after receiving these tattoos I asked about my parents. They told me it didn’t concern me and to leave it alone. I pressed on and kept asking and so they decided to finally tell me.
My parents didn’t want me, they told me. They found out I was an airbender and simply left me at the temple as a child. I wondered why but wasn’t able to understand it. Filled with rage and confusion I began to lash out. The monks couldn’t control me and they had no system of punishment for the way I was behaving, it was completely new to them. This went on for a few years until it became entirely too much for them to handle with and they just kicked me out. On one hand I was hurt and insulted but on the other I welcomed it as a chance to see the world out there I always wondered about.
I then found out that I had lived in the eastern air temple and was in the Earth Kingdom, or rather the Earth Republic, as it had recently become. At the time, the government was still developmental and its influence had yet to reach the outer reaches of the continent, which is where I had ended up taking residence. I found a large port town on the eastern coast. I needed a job so I became a dock worker for some time. After a while of living adrift from the world and only doing my job I decided it was time to leave. I wanted to do something I felt was worthwhile.
I used my connections from working in the boatyard to get a ride to the Fire Nation. I wanted to travel the world that I knew nothing of and so I did. During out voyage we passed south very near the southern tribe, or rather what was the southern tribe but now only a wasteland. Subsequently, we were attacked by a group of Wastelanders. Without hesitation I tried to knock them off the boat with a blast of wind but to no avail. They were too experienced and quickly used their weapons to anchor themselves to the ship. As one of them came at me, brandishing his blade, a man quickly stepped in the way and disarmed him. Very quickly the people who attacked us were subdued by the man and those with him.
Astonished I stood as I watched them easily take care of the wastelanders. Mercilessly, the man ordered that the pirates be tied up and thrown overboard and his men followed his words without question. I couldn’t believe what I saw. I had never seen someone die let alone be murdered. The man saw my face of shock and approached me. I thought I was next and wanted nothing but to run away but my body wouldn’t let me move. “Are you ok, son?” he asked me with a face of kindness. I replied that I was and he introduced himself as Malachi. I spent the rest of my journey prying him for information about himself and the world.
He told me he was a bounty hunter and he had those pirates killed because they were worth nothing to him. His brutal honesty struck me but I wanted to learn more. He told me about the state of affairs in the world and the disarray it was in. I wanted to do something but I wasn’t equipped for such a thing. And so I took a chance and asked him to train me to fight; something I had never really learned. I’m not sure if it was pity of actual interest but he agreed. Once we arrived in the Fire Nation he personally trained me in many forms of combat over the years.
The one I took too best was covert attacks and assassination techniques. This bothered me for a while as I didn’t think it was the right thing to do. He explained to me his philosophy about the world, that many who were evil should be removed. This was the man I saw kill people just because they had wronged him. Yes, he saved me from them but were they evil? From what he told me, the wastelanders simply were trying to survive. Albeit in a wrong way, what they did couldn’t be considered outright evil to me.
He spoke of how scum like them should be made to suffer and that they should all die. Over time, I grew to hate him and his ideals. They disgusted me. These people he told me about weren’t evil; he was. And so I did it. I took the things he taught me and I snuck into his room while he was asleep and suffocated him until his breathing stopped. He didn’t deserve the life he had. He got joy from seeing others suffer while not partaking in suffering himself; so, I gave it to him myself. In this world, everyone should suffer.
With all I had left from my former master, I began to take the lives of people who deserved to suffer; these people who controlled so much and lived in glory while people around them starved. Over the years I made my way back to the Earth Republic, in the area around Zaofu. Living there I became a contract killer for the criminals in the area. These corrupt men hired me to kill their enemies who were just as corrupt and in the end I killed those who hired me as well. When I had received my last contract from who was easily the most corrupt man in Zaofu, I knew what I had to do. I killed his enemy and then I prepared to take his life.
In the dead of night, I came upon the compound he called his own. Taking out at least thirty of the sentries he had patrolling to sate his paranoia, granted it had a good reason, I came to the main building and entered in. Making my way to his bedroom and slinked through the halls. I then quickly fell upon him after I found his room and used the blade he gave me to kill his enemy to slowly slit his throat. Suddenly I heard a scream. His wife had stumbled back into their bedroom and saw me draped above her husband as blood spilled out from his throat.
In an instant reaction I threw the knife into her forehead, silencing her scream. She dropped to the ground with a thud and I leapt to my feet and prepared to flee. As I reached the threshold of a nearby window I heard crying. I turned to the noise and saw the wife lying on the ground with movement wriggling next to her. I approached and fond two infants wrapped in a blanket on the ground. I didn’t mean for this to happen. This man was evil and needed to die but I couldn’t say the same about his wife. I had just made these children orphans. I knew they had no family left, as the man had told me because it was his reason to hire me.
Suddenly I heard rustling throughout the building. The rest of the guards were reacting to the scream they had heard. I quickly grabbed the children and fled to my hideout in the mountains. I’m not sure why I took them. Maybe pity, maybe remorse, I can’t really say. Either way, I took them in and raised them. Over the next fifteen years I trained them to be assassins like me. Both of them were skilled earthbenders and excelled at using it in a manner of stealth.
We constantly moved as it was easily to get caught as a group than when I was by myself. When we had little places else to flee; I smuggled us on to a ship just before it departed. Not knowing where it was going we hid in the bottom. One night we heard a ruckus and I went up to the deck to see what was going on. We had been boarded by wastelanders. They quickly saw me and attacked. I defended myself, something I hadn’t done in a long time. Without taking a scratch, I incapacitated all of them but their leader.
“You’re a skilled fighter,” he roared at with a deep laugh. After a moment of hesitation I replied, “I can’t say the same about you men. Even the last group of wastelanders I encountered seemed more formidable; even if my old master did defeat them.” He continued to ask me why I didn’t kill his men when they attacked me, as I easily could have. I told him I had no need to do so; I was simply seeking refuge from those chasing me. To my surprise, he offered me refuse in his village.
I hesitantly accepted and remained guarded. I informed him of the two I had with me and he offered them refuge as well. We then traveled to the frozen wastes where this man was from. We spent quite a long time. The man and I got to know each other well. From the exchanging of stories it seemed we had similar ideals. It was also discovered that the man leading the wastelanders who had attacked the ship I was on many years before was his very son. It put him at peace that I was the one to slay him at least.
After living there about two years, I had decided it was time for me and the two with me to leave. I had planned to travel to Republic City in order to save the city from itself. When I told the man of this he insisted that he would join us. He felt he owed me a debt for slaying the man who slew his son so mercilessly. I was in no place to deny him and so I accepted. It wasn’t until he met us on the ship we were taking out that his daughter seemed to also be coming with us. I had only spoke with her on a few occasions before as she was often sent out on raids on the other nations and ships.
We have all just recently arrived in Republic City. Soon we will put our plan into action and help this city change. I’m still not sure what will change or even if it will be for the better or worse. That is not my concern. The people of this city will decide that. We are merely the Catalyst of this change.