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Fanon:Chapter 11: Has He Returned? (When Air Nomads Walked the Earth)

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Has He Returned?
Chapter information
Series

When Air Nomads Walked the Earth

Chapter

Eleven

Written by

The Ultimate Waterbender

Chronology
Last chapter

Ragged Edges

Next chapter

The Sound of Laughter (not yet released)

This is the eleventh chapter of When Air Nomads Walked the Earth.

What happened last time...

After departing from the Southern Water Tribe, Syra and Min spend the night at a rundown inn located in the sparsely inhabited Earth Kingdom village of Saijin. During the night, Syra has the horrifying misfortune of being caught in a burning storeroom near the inn, a fire that was allegedly set by three radical men she had seen earlier. Fortunately, she was rescued by her own bison and wakes up to find herself heading home.

Meanwhile, Siro and Kuzon decide to sneak into the Ember Island Theater to see the last scenes of the play, 'Love Amongst the Dragons'. They are caught by an ill-tempered worker and manage to narrowly escape punishment. After abandoning the play and arriving in a secluded spot on the beach, the two openly confess about their rough relationships with their parents.

Author's Commentary

Like the fifth chapter, Eavesdropping (anyone still remember that one way back when?), this will be a shorter chapter than previous ones, however, it is sort of a turning point in the story. And just to give you a little update, from my calculations, it is approximately 15 days before the comet arrives.

Unanswered

She was alone. Standing in a courtyard in the temple with storm clouds swirling overhead like a suffocating veil. There was no life, just emptiness.

She lifted her hands and found them to be gray and ghostly. An enormous, deep bellow, like a lost spirit wailing, suddenly echoed in the air. When the wail had passed, she expected to be met with silence.

But wait... Were those the voices of children she heard?

She cupped one hand around her ear and indeed, she heard voices, the sound of children singing. The cheerful chorus, it seemed, was drifting from the schoolyard nearby. Excited, Syra bounded from her spot and ran in the direction of the music. Nearer and nearer the music sounded until at last, after racing up and down stone stairwells and across bridges and walkways, she arrived at the schoolyard.

Spindly vines crawled along the walls and heaps of dirty snow and weeds lay in multitudes. And there in the center of the yard stood a ring of four girls her own age, holding hands and dancing around in a circle. They were chanting lines, a familiar tune that traced back to her childhood. Her curiosity was burning and she speeded over to the happy quartette who continued their chant.

Ring around the bison sty.
A pocket full of fruit pie.
Summit, summit,
We all fall down!

The four children let go of each other's hands and fell backwards onto the ground, laughing gleefully. Syra surveyed the crowd and found the girls to be her classmates, among them, Tyla. Her mouth widened into a smile just as the four leapt to their feet and, joined together hand-in-hand, merrily began chanting the early childhood song once more.

Syra watched them dance about in a circle, chanting the lyrics, their hair whipping about in their faces, their eyes closed, yet their expressions ones of pure delight. At the end of the chorus, they released hands and toppled over then rose and, much to Syra's amusement, repeated the game.

Over and over, the process repeated once, twice, thrice until the sixth time around, the young nomad observed a change.

As if in slow motion, the lyrics were drawled out, sung cheerfully but at a slower rate, each word hanging in the air like an ugly fog. And the four children themselves changed. A slow transformation as each line was chanted.

Ring around the bison sty...

They appeared normal, happy-go-lucky and carefree, still so youthful and vibrant.

A pocket full of fruit pie...

Suddenly, they appeared paler, wearier as though they had aged several years. Their shining black hair had become dark gray, knotty and matted.

Summit...

Their bright faces became tight and drawn. Their pace slowed down as loosened each other's grip and sang the lyrics listlessly.

Summit...

The four appeared thin and sickly, hunched over and corpse-like. All traces of jubilancy in their voices had disappeared. They were paler than anything she had ever seen, their skin a slate color.

We all fall down!

They fell backwards, hitting the ground with a sickening thud. All except for Tyla who remained standing, her back to Syra. The other three appeared to be simply dead bodies except they weren't truly dead for they still rustled about and groaned.

Syra bit her lip. "T-Tyla?" she stammered, unsure of what had just happened, of what had become of her classmates and, most importantly, her best friend. "Are you okay?" She approached her deathly-looking friend cautiously and raised her hand to swivel Tyla around.

Before she could lay a hand on her shoulder, however, Tyla slowly turned around and faced her. Syra drew back in horror and disbelief at the sight of her friend whom she barely recognized anymore. Her face was gray and melancholy, her eyes, which had now opened, milky white and clouded over. Her lips were cracked, her hair hanging in tangled locks and she was bone-thin. Syra saw tears forming around her eyes only to realize those tears were actually dark blood.

"Why can't you see?" Tyla asked, her voice no longer hoarse but depressing and pleading. The tears of blood began running down her cheeks.

"See what?" Syra asked, both frightened and confused.

But Tyla merely shook her head in dismay. "Can't you see? Open your eyes!" she begged.

"My eyes are open! What is there to see?" She was desperate right now, hopelessly puzzled by her friend's demands.

Tyla grew even more gaunt and pale. She looked as though she could collapse into a pile of dust at one touch of a finger. "I've been trying to tell you."

"Tell me what?" Syra pleaded. "Oh spirits, just tell me already!"

The deathly girl only shook her head. The bloody tears still ran down her cheeks and her lip trembled. "You won't listen... I've tried to tell you. You never listen..."

"I'm listening now! I swear, I'm listening! I'll believe every word you say! Just tell me already!"

But she received no response. Tyla stood statuesquely, miserable and wretched, nothing more than a corpse-like shell of her former self. In the background, she could hear the remaining three children still singing, repeating the last few lines of the song in the same eerie, sing-song tone. "Summit, summit, we all fall down!" That is until she thought she heard them singing instead, "Comet, comet, we all fall down!"

Over and over the chorus was sung. It rang in her ears like an angry Buzzard Wasp. It haunted her to no end.

Like a spark of fire, her eyes snapped wide open and she saw before her the schoolyard where all the students were practicing drills, including her best friend. And everything was normal.


"Just take one small bite and tell me what you think. Is this particular batch as good as the last?" Sister Min knelt down before a rather tired looking Airbender and held a wooden cutting board, meant to serve as a dish, under her nose. A thin sliver of Fruit Pie was lying atop its surface.

Syra eyed the slice of cake as though it were poisoned and drawled, "Are you sure? You've had me taste a pie from every single batch you bake. They're delicious all the same. You don't need my opinion to know that."

Min chuckled and replied, "I suppose you're getting full and sick of smelling the aroma of cake. Of course, I think you'd be more hungry and willing to taste the pies if you hadn't eaten all those Moon Peaches earlier." She pretended to glare at Syra who flashed an innocent, "technically-I-wasn't-doing-anything-wrong" grin.

The young Air Nomad was spending the brisk afternoon in Min's bakery where her guardian toiled non-stop despite there being sluggish business. The bakery was

"I guess I just couldn't help myself," she mused. "Each of the Moon Peaches were sweeter and juicier than the next."

"Perhaps then, I'll stash the crate in a hard-to-reach location," her guardian stated jokingly.

"Hey, I can still move," Syra commented, a bit nastier than she expected. After a slight pause, she added quietly, "Sorry."

"I understand, dear. It's been hard for you," Min said as she pulled another three Fruit Cakes from the smoldering oven.

It had indeed been more difficult for Syra, especially at school earlier that day. She continued to feel pain from being thrown about and wedged in the corner of the storeroom, despite the fact it was three days since the terrible accident. There was always an underlying feeling of dull pain lurking just beneath the surface and should she happen to make a sudden movement, it would erupt as a brief yet sharp bodily ache.

This aspect became a source of torment during Airbending class today where she couldn't even embrace the breezy summer day with her typically upbeat attitude. After trying her hand at a number of various exercises and drills, she found herself unable to continue because of the nabbing pain. A concerned Master Yangsu advised that she sit out during for that day much to her dismay. And Jia, of course, along with her little slave, took advantage of Syra's situation to jeer at her.

She remembered the clique raising a hand to her mouth in mock surprise and mouthing melodramatically, "How incredible! The first day I see 'Your Royal Airbending Master' slacking off."

Mika pouted and added, "Ah, yes, I saw her hobbling earlier. It seems the teacher's pet is getting the royal treatment because she's suddenly crippled or something. That's too bad. I wonder, Jia, if a cripple can still become a master even if they can't walk upright anymore."

Syra began seething and wanted nothing more than to slap the two square across the face. "For your information, I'm not crippled. I just got into an accident, that's all." To prove her point, she began hoisting herself onto her feet only to once again experience pain, forcing her back into a sitting position.

"What's the matter? Trying to stand like a normal person?" Jia taunted. She shook her head disapprovingly and uttered in a hushed voice, "Never to be normal again... Hm, then again, you never were normal to begin with."

Syra closed her eyes, tired of it all, sick of their constant mocking.

"Uh oh, I think we better go," Jia said.

"Yeah, I think she's going to cry," Mika sang and could barely stifle a laugh. The two whipped around and pranced away with Syra watching miserably, all the while repeating in her mind they were just two b-

Something soft and fuzzy brushed against her cheek snapping her out of the memory and causing her to flinch with a start. Her eyes rested on the source of the disturbance: a juvenile Flying Lemur who had wandered curiously into the bakery. She cooed and stroked its head, receiving a satisfied purr in response.

The silvery, tin wind chimes hanging just over the doorway jingled together melodiously as the door to the shop was opened. The figure of a petite elderly woman strolled inside, Syra instantly recognizing her as Moph, the ninety-three year-old mother of Amara, member of the Council of Elders. Despite her old age, the woman was a chipper as ever with a bright smile and twinkling eyes.

"Oh why, good afternoon, Sister Moph!" Min chirped and bowed to the nun who returned the gesture and greeted her as well. "I have your order prepared as I promised." She pulled out a wrapped package and set it on the counter. "One apple-and-moon-peach cake made and ready to go."

"Excellent! You never fail to please, do you?" Moph mused as she fished out a silver piece. "Did you hear the news, by the way? It's so exciting!"

"You mean that the annual Bison Polo tournament is being held at the Northern Air Temple next week?" Min questioned, taking the coin for later donation to charity and placing it in a locked chest.

"Even greater than that!" Moph exclaimed, almost ready to burst with enthusiasm. "A messenger flew in yesterday on a Sky Bison, delivering a letter to Sister Iio and the other members of the Council. Apparently, the missive was sent from the Elders of the Southern Air Temple, saying they had revealed to one boy his identity as the Avatar!"

Bam! The trunk with that day's earnings was accidentally knocked over and several silver pieces spilled out, bouncing and rolling across the stone floor. Min whipped around rapidly, ignoring the coins scattered about, and trilled, "You don't say!"

"One hundred percent true, the absolute, positive truth!" the elderly woman assured her.

Syra found herself excited by the news as well, seated directly behind the counter, listening to the entire revelation and viewing the two women chattering in high-pitched voices as though they were no older than ten years-old.

"But if I'm correct...," Min counted on her fingers thoughtfully while saying this, "it has only been twelve years since the last Avatar, Roku, died, meaning the boy's only got to be twelve. A break from the ancient tradition of revealing their identity at sixteen."

"Indeed. I found that to be rather peculiar and asked Amara about this. Certainly there had to be some sort of mishap or perhaps I was losing track of time and it really had been sixteen years since Roku died. But no, she told me it had only been twelve years. The early announcement apparently stemmed from feelings of urgency. I don't know what could have made them break from tradition, but it doesn't suppress the wonder of it all."

Syra closed her eyes and titled her head back against the wall. She had a nagging feeling of what exactly had made them "break from tradition," but she didn't dare speak a word about her assumptions. That one word which could fracture everything like broken glass...

"Well, I best be going now. It's getting pretty late," Moph announced, taking her order and preparing to leave. "Have a good evening."

"You, too," Min replied, stooping over to pick up the fallen money. "Thank you for letting me know about the whole revealing of the Avatar's identity and tell Amara I said hello."

Pushing open the door, the elder called out from over her shoulder, "No problem and I will!"

Once again, the shop was empty except for Syra and her guardian. The air was hazy as the afternoon passed and evening began to dawn.

"Well, isn't that something?" Min wondered aloud, her tone still one of elation, as she dumped the rest of the money into the box and locked it closed. "To think the identity of the next Avatar has been revealed and so early, too. I wonder who that young boy is and how he feels about being in such a position... I'm hoping you'll be able to meet him at some point in your life, perhaps soon." She walked off to attend to something else.

Crystal clear became the last moments of her dream, the sighting of an unknown Avatar, clearly younger than sixteen, on a deserted battlefield. How Syra approached him with caution and prepared to view him face-to-face only to be awoken at the very last second. She stated out loud more to herself than anyone else, "I may have already met him."

A Jumbled Day

"Aside from waking up before the crack of dawn to the harsh shouts of Sergeant Zenro who doesn't spare us a moment to get out of bed, things are running smoothly here. Training is rigorous but nothing I can't handle. Some of the other men have told me they're seriously thinking of dropping out due to the demands and pressure, but I fully intend on staying. The drill sergeant says I'm doing well, so I'm glad about that.

"I'll keep writing frequently to let you know how I'm doing. I hope to visit you soon, even though it's only been a week since I've last been home. But for now, take care and love to you all.

"Zorin."

Zala looked up from the letter that had just been delivered that morning and beamed. "Well now, isn't that nice to hear?" she said, bright-eyed. "It looks like your brother is just excelling in school. Wait 'til your father hears of this." She carefully rolled up the scroll as though it were a precious document, and to her it may have been, and set it neatly at the center of the kitchen table along with a few other messages received that day.

Siro merely nodded his head and muttered, "Yeah, that's great news." Is that going to be me one day? he couldn't help thinking. Writing letters while I'm locked away in some boot camp? He buried his face in his hands, feeling exhausted and somewhat fed up. The room suddenly felt humid and closed in, a cage from which he needed to escape.

"Where are you going?" Zala questioned as he pushed back his chair, stood, stretched out his arms and made his way out of the kitchen.

"Oh, just going outside to get some fresh air," he told her, flinging open the front door which let in a sweep of balmy air seasoned with just a hint of autumn breeze, mildly so but detectable, an indication that the fall months were just around the corner.

Out into the open he stepped, pulling the creaky door closed and strolling idly along the narrow streets of Sen Go under the ceiling of sky and clouds. The street seemed fairly empty save for a mother sitting on her stoop with her two young children tossing around a rag doll of some sort and an elderly man repairing the wooden beam above his doorway.

Several moments of wandering around and Siro soon found himself greeted by the sound of rushing water as he arrived at the heart of the town. The spacious, circular, cobble stone-paved piazza was his favorite place in town and, contrary to the actual town square which always hosted the bustling weekly flea market, was never overly crowded. At the center stood a picturesque, silvery marble fountain, water steadily spilling over the edges of the high-rising, equidistant monument.

The young Firebender seated himself on the ledge of the fountain and swung his legs off the ground, resting his feet on the ledge as well, his knees slightly bent. A few others were also enjoying their morning in the piazza. Two children ran giddily over to the fountain's edge and each tossed in a copper piece then closed their eyes and stood statuesquely as they made a wish for spirits knew what. Siro had never done anything like that, thinking it was a waste of money. Or maybe he only thought that because of what Lee Wang had always told him and Zorin as kids.

"All the problems in the world and then there's this fetish with throwing valuable money into a pool of water to just sit there like that'll do anyone any good." This was always accompanied by a crossing of the arms and shaking of his head.

"It pleases the children," Zala had once objected.

"And then what? They make a wish, as though whatever they had wished for will simply appear on a silver platter, then walk off and forget the whole thing ever happened. It's foolish, Zala, and you know it." That spelled the end of the matter, no further questions asked.

The two youngsters raced off, laughing and competing to see who would be the first to reach their parents, who stood nearby. Siro remembered racing against Zorin, friends and even his father across the grounds many times in the past. He remembered him and Jengso betting to see who could keep their head submerged underwater in the fountain the longest with Siro winning the bet. He remembered playing Hide-and-Explode here, his classmate, Kyro, nearly blasting in the wall of a house once. He remembered last year when he had sat by the fountain alone with a childhood crush, Meila, and wished he'd had the courage to kiss her before she and her family moved away to Shu Jing. Coming here always brought back a flood of memories.

He barely knew what happened next. In an instant, Siro found himself falling face first to the ground, knocked over by some unknown force. He hit the pavement, the weight of the unknown force keeping him pinned to the ground. Before he could regain his senses, a sharp whistle resonated through the air and whatever had pushed him over bounded off him, so that he was able to sit up straight.

"Bad girl!" he heard a familiar voice reprimand. "You know better! Sit, sit!"

Blinking hard several times, Siro caught sight of Jengso standing several feet away, a large dog sitting at his feet, dark brown in color with splotches of lighter brown, panting, her tongue lolling out goofily and an eccentric look in her eyes. He leapt to his feet, rubbed off some of the dust around his eyes and jogged over to his classmate who had grabbed hold of his dog's collar to restrain her.

"Hey, Siro," Jengso greeted him. "And sorry about that," he apologized sheepishly. "This one is a bundle of energy today." He glanced down at the dog who fidgeted about anxiously.

"Heh, no problem," he replied, with a wave of his hand. "At least she didn't knock me into the fountain." He bent down slightly and petted the dog's head reassuringly. He was received with a rapidly wagging tail and a friendly bark. "Hey, Keeper!" he greeted the jittery canine, scratching her behind the ear.

After a moment, Keeper grew disinterested with being petted, stood up and shook her entire body in that goofy way that dogs were known to do. She then heaved forward, clearly wishing her owner would let her free.

"Alright, alright, you can run around for a little while," Jengso gave in. "But don't let me catch you knocking anyone over, okay?" The millisecond he let go of her collar, the frenzied dog darted from her spot and made a beeline for a flock of raven-doves feeding nearby, sending the panicked birds awry. Both laughed at the site. "I've never known her to be this crazed," Jengso remarked. "She's a hyper dog, yes, but she's practically bouncing off the walls today."

Siro shrugged and said, "Eh, let her be as crazy as she wants. Better than her lying sprawled out on the floor, unwilling to even move away from next to her brother." Jengso nodded in agreement. "How is Rassi, anyway?"

Jengso kicked a loose pebble nearby and said, "He's been doing better lately, although he's still recovering from that strange illness he contracted last spring. The poor thing could barely get up. You saw how he was. And Keeper refused to stray far from him. But he's been feeling better lately and on his feet more often."

"That's good to hear," he replied, ambling back over to the fountain and sitting on its edge.

Jengso followed his lead. "So, how was Ember Island?" he asked. "Anything crazy happen while you were there?"

Siro chuckled and recounted, "Yeah, some crazy things did happen. We sneaked into the Ember Island theater to go see the last scenes of that play, 'Love Amongst the Dragons,' and got thrown out soon after."

"Sounds pretty crazy," Jengso commented. "From what you've told me, it seems that Kuzon always likes to get into trouble. Guess he's one of those guys who likes to walk on the wild side without much self-discipline."

Well, considering the way his family is, he has good reason, Siro wanted to point out, but refrained from doing so. It wouldn't be right to divulge the personal matters of someone his friend hadn't even met.

"So, have you figured out what your topic is going to be for the 'grand' beginning-of-the-school-year essay?" Siro changed the subject.

"Pft, no," the young Firebender told him, rolling his eyes. "I usually leave that matter until Master Shyo actually says we need to begin working on it. Have you? You're pretty smart; I'd figure you have some idea in mind."

"Actually, to be honest, I haven't done a single thing about the assignment either," Siro admitted. "I don't even know what to write. Master Shyo is very vague sometimes. And you'd think the second time writing this kind of essay, I'd know what to do, but I'm still pretty clueless."

Jengso rested his chin on his hand. "Same here. The only reason I was able to get a good grade on my essay last year was because my older brother helped me write it. My paper dealt with the political sciences and my brother is a genius when it comes to that stuff. He came up with everything; I just copied it all down."

Siro nodded and gazed over to Keeper who was now on her back, rolling lazily in the dirt. "My dad helped me write some of my essay on the different government systems of the four nations. Actually, when I asked him for information, I didn't mention I would be using it in my essay."

"Why not?" Jengso titled his head off to this side in curiosity.

"He'd be ready to slit my throat if he knew I'd just be copying down whatever he said onto my paper. Even I know it's wrong to pass off someone's knowledge as your own, but I wasn't about to do hours of research," he replied, tracing his finger along the rim of the fountain. "You know how he is," he added after a pause. Okay, so he wouldn't really slit my throat or anything, he thought to himself. But he'd be pretty angry.

"Oh, yeah, right..." his friend muttered, albeit a bit sheepishly.

The two fell silent for a few moments, simply taking in the view of the piazza. The air had gone from nippy to hazy and humid as morning dissolved into afternoon. All that could be heard was the soft, rhythmic sound of water bubbling in the fountain, the distant murmur of conversation and the sporadic footsteps of Keeper as she raced around the square giddily. Siro saw Jengso glance to his right and do a double-take, his eyes slowly widening.

He rose from his seat on the ledge and held his arms out in front of him, shaking his hands from the side to side. "No, no, no!" he exclaimed. "Keeper, don't! Heel, heel!"

Siro followed the direction in which Jengso had extended his arms just in time to see the fevered dog bounding like a tigerdillo towards them from the opposite side of the fountain. Before he could think twice, Keeper vaulted into the air, narrowly avoiding collision into the edge of the fountain.

SPLASH! Right into the pool she crashed, sending a geyser, no, a tsunami of water at them. Siro attempted to shield his face with his arms, but still received a face-full of water. Wave upon wave of water soaked them as the crazy canine surged through the fountain like it was her own personal swimming pool.

Siro repeatedly rubbed his eyes clear of water. Suddenly, he glimpsed more than just a white, foamy rush of liquid sweeping over him. A fiery, almost blindingly bright mass of fire flashed before his eyes, beginning as an immense globule and ending in a fine, streamlined tail. He saw two walls of energy form, azure to the right and amber to the left. The ground seemed to be shaking violently as the wall of amber slowly consumed the wall of azure. There was an explosion and a gleaming pillar broke through the sky.

Burning white light filled his vision and he was brought out of this sudden trance. The slightly blurred scene of the piazza and a drenched Jengso came into view. He cautiously wiped his face once more and blinked hard several times. He was suddenly aware of a pounding feeling in his head.

The few people there just stared in disbelief; one or two snickered at the site. By now, Keeper had stopped her wild play and merely stood in the middle of the fountain, fur sopping wet, tail wagging steadily, seemingly pleased with her act.

One middle-aged man approached them, saying calmly yet sternly, "You'd better learn to keep that dog under control." Without waiting for any reaction, he turned on his heels and sauntered away.

Jengso pushed back loose strands of soaking-wet hair from his face, blew air through puffed cheeks and stepped forward, taking his dog by the collar once more. "Come on, girl," he coaxed in as tranquil a voice as ever. Keeper didn't even flinch or resist, only hopping out of the fountain and following his lead. "I'm so sorry for that," he addressed Siro who replied quietly, "It's okay."

"I'll see you some other time," Jengso told him and walked on, ignoring the awkward stares he was receiving.

Siro watched him go off, amazed at how composed he was able to remain in spite of that. He wasn't even sober, ambling away at a steady pace and even rubbing his dog gently on the back. The young Firebender then cast his eyes to the ground, now flooded with water. He massaged his temples, his head still hurting, and made his exit as well, plodding at a snail-sloth's pace, doting on the mysterious vision he had had.

Why had he seen such a phenomenon? What did it mean? And most importantly, what had he seen anyway?

He pondered on these questions all the way back home where he was met with the most bewildered look from his mother.


"And this news just arrived today?" Zala was in the midst of washing the dinner dishes, one plate and a dish towel held in mid-air as she stopped her work for a moment.

Siro was sitting on the sofa in the living room next door, scraps of paper, an ink bottle and pen laid out on the nearby end table. He had paused in the course of doing some creative writing to listen in on this interesting revelation. Lee Wang was examining a few forms scattered across the kitchen table, shoulders bent over, chin resting on the back of his hand.

"Indeed," he muttered in a monotone voice, not even glancing up from the documents. "We barely know anything except that this new Avatar a young Airbending master living at the Southern Air Temple. The message that was sent out to the nations worldwide was very vague."

"Now I just wonder what's pushed them to tell this boy so early," Zala remarked, resuming her work. "It's only been twelve years since Avatar Roku died."

"Spirits know why," Lee Wang answered in an almost disapproving tone. "Those Air Nomads have always been a little on the off side. Maybe it was because of some 'spiritual insistence'." He raised his left hand while saying this and waved it dramatically although his apparent joke didn't warrant a laugh from either two.

"Now, now," Zala spoke up, finishing her task and wringing out the dishcloth, "let's not go making a mockery of their spiritual ways. If it was indeed a spiritual insistence of some sort, then that's that." Her husband merely grunted.

"I was actually thinking of writing my essay on the culture of the Air Nomads; how they value nature and retain many spiritual beliefs and that's probably why all their children are Airbenders and the very first Avatar was an Air Nomad," Siro brought up.

"And maybe you can include how they haven't got a properly functioning government, are stuck in their old ways and are all going to be-"

"Lee Wang!" his mother cut him off abruptly. She shot him an expression that said, "I dare you to say anything more."

"Long story short," his father continued on, now looking Siro dead in the eye, "don't even bother writing about that because I'll light a match and that'll be the end of that. Instead of admiring their culture, why don't you pay tribute to our government and lifestyle here? We're the greatest nation in the entire history of the world and I don't think you realize that."

Zala shook her head in dismay and tossed the towel over the rim of the basin. She stalked out of the room, seemingly fed up with her husband's own ways.

Siro merely gave one last look at his father, who had returned to his paperwork by now, and wondered when things between them would be resolved. They couldn't go on like this forever, not speaking to each other much and, when they did, with a tone of coldness and remoteness. Sooner or later, the ice between them would have to thaw.

And then it happened.

Drawing

Syra

This is the sketch I all promised you. I'm very pleased with the way it turned out, although the shading and dimensions could have been better. But I'm still proud. This was done without any stencils, tracings, or computer graphics; all done by hand. =D

Additional Notes

  • The "Ring Around the Bison Sty" song is the author's Avatar World version of the familiar childhood song, "Ring Around the Rosie."
  • Ninety-three year-old Sister Moph is a reference to the user, Moph93.
  • The creepy dream scenario at the beginning of Syra's story is based off a scene in "Wanted" by Sara Shepard.
  • Trivial bit: The Council of Elders is actually a particular branch of the government of the ancient Greek city-state, Sparta. Unlike the Avatar World Council of Elders, this council comprised of at least thirty men as opposed to five.
  • Jengso's dog, Keeper, is named after the author's own dog. Her brother, Rassi, is a reference to the user, Rassilon of Old.
  • Yes, Siro did have a bit of a flash forward there. Of course he doesn't know what he's just seen, but you should.

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