|"Why can't people see I'm more than just a pretty face?! I have the soul of a poet!"|
|— The Dark One describing himself.|
Moo-Chee-Goo-Chee-La-Poo-Chee the Third, more commonly known as The Dark One, was one of the first students of the Beifong Metalbending Academy. As a young man, he harbored a deep love for artistic endeavors, most importantly poetry, but faced ridicule due to his name. In consequence, he developed a severe distaste for everything, even going as far as announcing his hatred for everyone and anything. The pinnacle of his hatred was his own real name, and thus he made sure that it was never spoken, calling himself "The Dark One". As a student of Toph Beifong, however, he finally faced his insecurities and opened up to others. The Dark One consequently began to hone both his poetic skills as well as his metalbending abilities, eventually becoming an instructor in Toph's academy.
Moo-Chee-Goo-Chee-La-Poo-Chee the Third was born to a family living in the Fire Nation colony of Yu Dao in 87 AG. From an early age, he deemed the name his parents gave him to be ridiculous and developed an aversity toward everything in the world.
One time, when he was out on the streets of Yu Dao uttering hateful remarks at the address of every passerby, he inadvertently moved Toph's space bracelet ever so slightly. The earthbending master thus recruited him for her academy, thinking he had potential to become a metalbender. However, progress was slow, as he was unable to move even a single coin by the time that Sokka visited the academy.
When the academy was taken over by firebender students of the Master Kunyo's Firebending Dojo, The Dark One commented that although he hated practicing forms like Toph had ordered, he hated being kicked out of their own school even more. Having managed to buy the students three extra days to practice, Toph and Sokka tried many different methods to get The Dark One and the two other students to bend metal. During one of these attempts, Sokka figured that since the students had originally moved Toph's bracelet unintentionally while in extremely emotional states, all they needed to do was recreate that state. To achieve this, Toph uttered The Dark One's real name, Moo-Chee-Goo-Chee-La-Poo-Chee the Third. However, instead of being able to earthbend, The Dark One broke down, stating that the mention of his real name had "lodged a splinter in [his] soul".
The evening prior to the battle, he and the other students were prepared to leave the academy when they overheard Toph telling Sokka that she had been expecting them to be something they were not. Inspired by the fact that someone expected him to be something more than "a tall, dark, mysterious hunk," he and the other students figured out the key to metalbending and were able to bend metal coins, thus defeating the rival firebending school.
He stated that he had the "soul of a poet", and thus started speaking in vivid and poetic terms, much to the annoyance of Toph, Penga, and Ho Tun, who all wished he would go back to hating people. When Toph was in trouble during the battle for Yu Dao, The Dark One, Ho Tun, and Penga intervened. The Dark One made a dramatic entry, poetically declaring his intention to protect his home city in the middle of the battlefield. He and his fellow students then metalbent the Fire Nation soldiers' helmets and used coins to defend Toph.
Saving Sifu Toph
After Toph departed from the academy to see her friends, The Dark One, Penga, and Ho Tun became its temporary instructors. He told the students that chi clung to their bodies like a heavy, suffocating cloak, and that they should take hold of its "dark folds" and keep guard against "the impish breath of distraction", confusing them. At that moment, Sokka arrived, telling the three that they needed to come with him. The Dark One told the students to continue their training and told Sokka that he was filled with questions, to which the warrior responded by saying he would explain more on the way, but it was a situation in which Toph needed their help.
The students arrived to the town where the Earthen Fire Refinery was located, where they met up with Aang, who explained the situation to them: Toph and several others were trapped underground and he could not dig them out due to the iron ore deposits in the ground; he thus needed their metalbending to do so. Katara added that Toph stated it to be like spider ants stomping beneath their feet, much to The Dark One's dismay, because it was an exercise in which they were blindfolded and had to stand in a sand pit while throwing giant metal plates back and forth over their heads, an exercise which, he added, if they failed to complete, they would be stomped by the plates. As Sokka noted that the response was a departure from his poetic ways, The Dark One explained that he could not compose poetry when freaked out of his mind. When asked by Ho Tun if he was ready, the poet said he could feel the iron beneath them and began bending on Ho Tun's call. Upon revealing a giant iron mask, The Dark One wanted to know what they had uncovered, to which Aang said it looked like the mask of a warrior or spirit. The metalbenders continued removing the iron and, with one final heave along with Aang, pulled everything out of the ground, allowing the caved-in group their freedom. Toph complemented the three, but after she collapsed into her father's arms, The Dark One called the situation "dread upon dread" and that "dark fog of despair [rolled] relentlessly through [his] heart". Lao assured them that she was just exhausted and would be fine. He asked who the man was, to which he confirmed his identity as Toph's father.
Defending the Earthen Fire Refinery
The students continued to stand near their instructor as she rested. However, when they learned that Aang was about to destroy the Earthen Fire Refinery and Toph awoke, she called on them to help her stop him. They raised an earthen wall to stop his attacks. They were blown off the wall by Aang's air rings but landed softly on their feet before returning to the battle. Toph called on them to metalbend, but their attacks were dodged. The Dark One soon looked strangely when the giant spirit, General Old Iron was approaching them. With an intense battle between the spirit and Avatar, Toph again called on the three, but this time to help Aang by peeling off Old Iron's armor with their bending, just like the forest bowing to the east wind exercise. They were able to do so and thus give Aang an open shot to the spirit's chest, but General Old Iron soon noticed that the four metalbenders were destroying his armor, thus turning his attention to them. Toph told them to run while she held him off, but The Dark One did not want to, saying the bitter grip of death was still sweeter than disloyalty. They soon watched as Aang delivered a severe blow to General Old Iron and the vanquished spirit gave a speech about how humans were more powerful than him before walking away. The next day, the poetic metalbender sat with Yee-Li while eating food, sharing a conversation.
Three months later, The Dark One participated in the parade for the new Spirits' Friendship Festival, using his metalbending to play the cymbals, floating them in the air above him as the procession made its way down the town's main street. After these events, The Dark One, Penga, and Ho Tun became full-fledged instructors at the Beifong Metalbending Academy, teaching the beginner classes. Regardless, they continued to train under Toph.
Growth of the academy
The success of Earthen Fire Industries meant that the academy gained a new sponsor. New facilities were built and the academy began offering tuition for free. Toph also deemed The Dark One, Ho Tun, and Penga skilled enough to lead the beginner classes, although The Dark One hated teaching. When Toph asked her students for a weekly report, The Dark One told her that he had been avoiding teaching and sending his students on ten-mile hikes. Toph did not seem interested in The Dark One's problems and left the meeting abruptly after cutting off Penga. When his colleague expressed her passion for working with the new metalbenders, The Dark One expressed his dislike of Penga's emotions were the same as his own, signifying that he did not like being dismissed by Toph. She explained that the problem was that everything was so respectable and perfect before leaving.
The Dark One expressed his dislike of Toph's cryptic statement, and Ho Tun raised that it may have been because the academy was so different to how Toph learned metalbending. The Dark One was skeptical about why Toph would care about it, and Ho Tun explained that while Toph's education was difficult, they got to live in comfort. In response, The Dark One expressed his distaste for Toph yelling at him constantly at the academy. When the group reflected on their personal growth, The Dark One claimed that he had changed to tolerating things instead of hating them, and that included Ho Tun and Penga. Penga was ecstatic about this change, which embarassed The Dark One. He was also skeptical when Ho Tun raised a plan to prove that they were as capable as Toph was, noting that they were not on her level at all. When Ho Tun elaborated on his plan for them to attend an underground bending match, The Dark One sardonically noted that now he was the one seeing doom everywhere, wary of the consequences.
Arriving in a derelict part of Yu Dao, The Dark One noted that he might write a poem about the dark grittiness of the city, beginning to spontaneously compose a poem, but he was hushed by Ho Tun. The Dark One told his comrade that his plan was ridiculous, as Toph had not even asked them to do it. However, when Ho Tun noted that he wanted to enter in the tournaments to prove himself to Toph, The Dark One stated that his poet's heart would not let Ho Tun do it alone. When they arrived at the place, Ho Tun told Penga that The Dark One had informed them of its location. He initially claimed that he had walked dark paths in search of inspiration, but confessed that his uncle who often placed bets told him about it. The Dark One was uncomfortable with the abandoned warehouse; however, claiming that the grittiness was enough for even him to loathe it.
The trio got in line to register for the bending duels. As they were waiting, Sun damaged the warehouse's metal support beams with his lavabending in a duel against a waterbender, causing it to start collapsing. Penga used her metalbending to keep the beam in place, although the building continued to crumble. The Dark One and the others helped bend scraps of metal away from the crowd, though headed outside when the warehouse finally did collapse. He also introduced himself to Sun when Toph convinced him to enroll the academy, dourly telling Sun that he only tolerated his students, in contrast with his more enthusiastic colleagues.
On the following day, The Dark One and his friends officially welcomed Sun as well as his comrades at the academy.
Work at the South Pole
Some months later, The Dark One, Ho Tun, and Penga were drafted by Toph to assist in the Southern Reconstruction Project. As the workforce which had previously constructed factories at the South Pole had been expelled due to a political crisis, the three students were used by their teacher as replacement. One day, The Dark One and Penga were repairing a forklift when Ho Tun asked them for help in moving a large amount of snow from the factory grounds. After putting all the snow on a large pile, The Dark One felt inspired to perform a poem which lamented the snow's impediment of their work despite its external beauty. As the three moved away, the pile became unstable and threatened to bury them alive. However, they were saved by Toph's intervention. Dazed by the experience, The Dark One argued that they were students, not construction workers, prompting the other students to voice their grievances as well. As Ho Tun and Toph were discussing the issue, The Dark One was asked by Penga why he had suddenly stopped to speak in poems, to which he responded that poetry and life-threatening moments did not fit well together. Toph then dismissed her pupil's arguments, although her motivational rhetoric left The Dark One unfazed.
A few days later, Team Beifong was enlisted to help in a hostage rescue mission at the Bridge of No Return, where Southern Water Tribe nationalists under Gilak had ostensibly agreed to exchange a kidnapped Earth King Kuei for Head Chieftain Hakoda. The rebels showed their true colors when Kuei and Hakoda were both on the bridge, as Gilak attempted to burn its rope. Led by Malina, Penga, Ho Tun, and The Dark One intervened. When Gilak asked the metalbenders to identify themselves, The Dark One poetically declared names to be inherently of little value, especially as a battle was about to commence. As the nationalist failed to understand him, leaving The Dark One somewhat frustrated, Ho Tun and Penga quickly explained their comrade's argument in simpler terms. Team Beifong then attacked, defeating most of the rebels. However, Gilak stormed onto the bridge before they could incapacitate him. There, he attempted to kill himself as well as Hakoda, resulting in a struggle that destroyed the bridge and caused Hakoda, Gilak, Malina, Kuei, and Zuko to fall into the abyss. The Dark One and his friends were shocked at the sight, but luckily they were subsequently saved by Zuko, Aang, and Katara.
The Dark One was thoughtful and insightful, easily finding beauty in not just the world around him but especially in words. He believed to have the "soul of a poet" and loved to express himself through poems. However, his early life was marked by his disdain for his own name as well as poor relations with other children his age. The Dark One consequently became rather spiteful, rejecting society and the opinions of others. He claimed to hate everything, especially his real name and his youth, and was resentful of people seeing him as just a pretty face. However, his experience at the Metalbending Academy allowed him to gain new confidence, resulting in him reducing his opposition to the world around himself. He would claim that he began to tolerate things and people, instead of hating them. He began to speak in a poetic way whenever possible, while also bonding with his fellow students, although would continue to mistreat the students placed under his charge. Regardless, The Dark One continued to reject his birth name, once calling names "ephemeral labels" that were forced upon individuals by society.
The Dark One was an earthbender, but from Toph's perspective, he needed practice in order to begin learning metalbending. Along with his fellow students, The Dark One was later able to teach himself a basic level of metalbending being able to redirect metal coins in the direction of Kunyo's students. During Toph's absence in the Beifong Metalbending Academy, The Dark One functioned as a temporary instructor, tutoring newer students in metalbending. Alongside Toph, Ho Tun, and Penga, he was able create a weak spot on General Old Iron by metalbending his armor off. By 102 AG, he had mastered metalbending to such a degree that he was able to bend both large as well as small metal objects with great precision.
|The Dark One||
- Gene Luen Yang, the author of The Promise series, has described The Dark One as "the emo goth student".
- The Dark One represents the vice of "a preoccupation with death", which is overcome during his time at the Beifong Metalbending Academy.
- He was voiced by Jennie Kwan when she performed a Dark Horse live reading of Toph Beifong's Metalbending Academy.