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|Two Years Later|
April 20, 2013
Quir thrust his fist out and back, trying pointlessly to make his hands move in the way they used to, but to no avail. He snapped his feet back with perfect form--but no power. He cursed under his breath.
"Three time decorated member of the Dai Li and I'm relegated to a bloody farm," he hissed under his breath.
"Sir," a soft voice with a Fire Nation accent called out. Quir turned and put a hand up to shield his eyes. In the distance he could make out two thin forms standing at his gate.
"May we have shelter for the night?" another voice rang.
"Just a second," Quir called. "I'll be there in a second."
A few short thoughts raced through his mind as he walked to the gate and they only intensified when he saw that the pair were young--teens even--and that both were clearly Fire Nation, though the boy was much darker than the girl.
"You two travelers?"
"Better," the boy said with a grin. "We're nomads."
"Look awfully Fire Nation to me," Quir grumbled, but he opened the gate and let them through.
The boy seemed to notice the comment but didn't react. Quir gave them both quick looks. Their clothes seemed to have been bought in the Earth Kingdom, but the boy's straight back and the girl's clipped words gave them away as being from the country that had driven Quir and his men out for nothing more than being a few minutes late.
"We can set up our tents on your grounds," the boy began, but Quir's innate hospitality forced him to interrupt. "Naw, you can stay with me and my sons tonight. The girl will have to have the guest room to herself."
The girl seemed to be taken aback by this, but strangely it was the boy who thrust out a hand. "Deal."
Gre took a deep breath and tried his hardest to summon fire. "I'm sorry, sir," he muttered. "I just can't do it."
"You have managed to advance thus far on your hand-to-hand prowess alone. If you cannot light one little candle, you are clearly not a firebender. I only tolerated you this long because of your father."
Gre hung his head. "Yes, sir. I understand."
Wulon sat at the edge of Lio's bed, animatedly describing the new technology that was emerging. "They call it an automobile. It's really quite remarkable, darling."
"I suppose you cannot bring me one?" Lio's voice asked. In the two years since his first visit her voice had gotten stronger and her mind sharper, but she was still convinced that Wulon was a dream.
"No, dearest, I cannot. But maybe I can take you in one someday."
Lio's eyes began to flutter and Wulon knew it was time to leave. "I'd like that," she whispered, before her eyes closed fully and her breathing slowed.
"Do you think that it would work?" Wulon inquired at the desk.
"Sir, she's suicidal."
"She hasn't shown any violent signs for two years!" Wulon retorted. "Ask her nurse."
"I'm sorry. I cannot permit such an act," the secretary said. "However, she has tried to escape before, many times. Perhaps this time she could be successful." The older woman gave Wulon a small nod before turning back to her work.
"Thank you," he stage-whispered as he ran outside to arrange a meeting with his mechanic friend.
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