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July 9, 2014
Wow, I cannot believe that its already been a month since the break-in at the Beifong house. So much has happened since that day. Ryoma and I officially became best friends, as well as him and Wakato. Hayao has recently gone back to work. Ryoma takes me and Wakato out on the town once a week. Ryoma's been helping me with mastering earthbending. Both of his parents are nonbenders, but Ryoma's grandfather was an earthbender, so I guess that's where he got it from. He went to an earthbending academy when he was five and he recently became a master himself a year ago. Luckily, I had my father to train me, but we couldn't move on to the more complex moves due to him having to go to the war. I'm just glad I have Ryoma to help me become the master I've always wanted to be since I discovered that I could bend. I only have a couple more moves to learn, and that goal will be achieved.
Today, Ryoma has a day off from work, so he told me to meet him outside when I was awake enough to earthbend. The Shimabukuro family have their own private backyard. Instead of dirt on the ground, there is thousands of freshly growing grass blades. Back in Chin Village, the only privacy you can get is inside your own home. It could get frustrating, because the second you would go outside, someone would try to talk to you, but at least we all acted like family. In Gaoling, people greet each other deeper into town, but others seem distant due to the social classes. It really puts people in difficult positions to socialize.
As I make my way outside, Ryoma is waiting for me with a smile on his face and two cups of tea in his hands. That's a little odd. He usually starts training me for a half hour first and then we have an eating break. No food or drinks. And what's with his smile? Not that I don't like it, but it seems a bit too wide for me to not be suspicious.
Before I greet Ryoma, I catch the sight of Wakato sitting on a huge rock, sharpening his new dagger with a smaller rock about the size of a fist. What is he doing out here? When I train with Ryoma, he's either sleeping or talking to Hayao and Ishi. I swear, these two guys will never fail to keep my mind busy with questions that I may or may not have the answer for.
"Good morning, Naomi," Ryoma exclaims as he hands me my cup of tea.
I take a small sip of it. To my surprise, it's not ginseng. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever tasted this kind of tea before in my life. It doesn't taste bad, it's just not what I expected to taste.
"What kind of tea is this?"
"White jade. It got its name because the tea is made from the white jade bush; a very rare type of plant that can only be found in certain parts of the Earth Kingdom. Maybe it exists in other parts of the world, but none that I would know. My dad found a white jade bush the other day and brought a small part of it home. Luckily, mom knows how to make every tea known to man-kind."
Sometimes, it surprises me how much Ryoma knows about the world. I only know the basics of how this world works. There are four nations; the Earth Kingdom, Fire Nation, Air Nomads, and the Water Tribe. Some people have the ability to bend an element, and some don't. One person is gifted to bend all four, and is called the Avatar. In the Earth Kingdom, I know of most food and what kinds you cook with. I've learned through my mother how to spend and save money wisely. As an earthbender, I've learned through my father how to manipulate the earth around me to my advantage if needed. But Ryoma. It seems like he has had lots of spare time in his life before working to study up on the world as a whole. But what much more does he know? All he did was explain this history of a white jade bush.
"I thought since you've been working so hard and well with your advanced earthbending training, I'd give you some tea to boost your energy before today's lesson."
As usual, Ryoma is being his sweet, kind self. But I'm still suspicious.
"Today's lesson is something that took a little extra time for everyone to perfectly demonstrate back at the academy. So don't be frustrated if you don't get it on your first couple tries."
I'm not a fan of failing at a move more than a few times, but the description does intrigue me.
"The move doesn't really have an official name, but the teachers at the academy referred to it as remote earthbending. What happens with this move is that if an earthbender is not on solid ground, but aware that there is earth nearby, they can focus their energy and bend the earth out of physical reach."
I'm kind of skeptical about this move. How am I supposed to bend earth if I'm not on the ground? How am I supposed to get off the ground for that matter? I'm no Avatar; I can't bend some air around myself and keep me afloat from the ground.
"And how will I be suspended from the ground? You got some Air Nomad to keep me in the sky?"
Ryoma laughs at my comment. It's nice to know that someone thinks my snappy morning comments are funny.
"No, but the thought did come to my mind. At the academy, they brought in a group of ostrich horses for us to sit on. They kept every part of our bodies off the group, and tied their ropes to poles so they wouldn't run off while we were concentrating."
I'm getting skeptical again. He may eat animals, but Ryoma hates using any animal for transportation. He wouldn't have rode an ostrich horse just for a day of training, would he?
"WAKATO! BRING IN THE ANIMAL!"
Wakato puts down his dagger and rock, and rushes out of sight. Do the Shimabukuro family own an ostrich horse? I think I would have heard the animal make a noise by now. Sure enough, Wakato comes back, holding a rope that is around an ostrich horse. Wakato and I never had a pet growing up. I always wanted a cat owl, but dad said it would've kept him and mother up all night. Wakato proposed the idea of a lop-eared rabbit, but mom was allergic. The ostrich horse fusses around as Wakato guides him into the yard, but he seems like a friendly creature. Its been awhile since I've seen an ostrich horse in person.
Ryoma walks over to Wakato and thanks him for bringing in the ostrich horse. Wakato hands the rope over to him, and goes back to sharpening his dagger. As Ryoma brings the gentle beast closer to me, it makes grunting noises.
"You own an ostrich horse?"
Ryoma laughs again. "No, my dad talked to Mr. Hoshino about borrowing one of their family ostrich horses. Luckily, my dad and Mr. Hoshino get along well, and now we have the animal for the day. Whenever you're ready, hop on!"
I'll admit that I'm sort of nervous. Not really about the move, but more because I've never actually rode on the back of an animal. And since I've never had a pet before, so I don't know if I have a good bond with animals. I shouldn't show fear. I'm a bender. Dad always told me that key to being a bender is to let go of fear. Inhale. Exhale. I bend a stepping stool below my feet so I can sit on the ostrich horse. It's struggling to get my leg over the animal's back, but I eventually do it. I want to have a good relationship with this animal. As Ryoma ties the rope to a rock, I pet the ostrich horse on his head, feeling its soft fur run in between my fingers.
"Well, I see you've taken the time to form a friendship with the hybrid here."
"Hey, wait a minute! You usually give me a demonstration before I perform the move myself!"
Not sure why that thought didn't click in my head before I got on the animal's back, but it's too late now. Maybe Ryoma has a different way of performing the move.
"I know that you're probably used to demonstrations, but this move is easier than I made it sound earlier. You are a very talented earthbender, and I know you'll get it."
I'll never cease to stop smiling at Ryoma's encouraging pep-talks. There's something about the way he is; the way he speaks to others and makes them feel special. He reminds me that there's not only someone believing in me, but I should also believe in myself.
"Now that there's no part of your body touching the ground, it's time to begin the earthbending process. See that rock over there," Ryoma asks as he points to a rock on the other side of the yard. The rock is pretty big; about the size of the ostrich horses' body. My main concern is that I'll be able to bend the rock off the ground towards me, but due the size of the rock, it'll spook the animal and he'll run off. Ropes can break.
"I want you to focus on bending that rock towards you. Good luck."
Alright, Naomi. You can do this. You just have to bend a rock towards you. Without stomping on the ground. Or planting your hands on the ground. You have to summon it. Focus your energy on the earth.
"I probably should've mentioned that you don't use your hands for this move either. You have to bend it out of pure focus and patience."
Great, more information about this move I wasn't prepared for. How am I supposed to bend earth at me without some form of physical technique? Inhale. Exhale. Focus. Be the rock. Become one with the earth around you. Summon the rock to you.
Five minutes have gone by, and nothing has happened. Ryoma is watching me look like I'm an idiot, and Wakato is sharpening away. It's moments like these where I wish I could have been born a nonbender. I don't really wish it though; it's just frustrating to try to perform a move that you can't get right away.
After another couple minutes, something finally happens. The rock begins to levitate off the ground. I'M DOING IT! I guess the focusing part really pays off! Alright, Naomi. Just bring the rock towards you and--hey, why is the rock coming towards us so fast? How do I drop this thing mid-summoning? My worst fears are coming true, because the ostrich horse is grunting a lot and is trying to run away. I grab onto the saddle as the beast makes the rope break and begins to run into the yard. The animal halts abruptly, making me fly high in the air. What do I do? If I fall, I'm going to get hurt! I'm pretty sure I could be a fatal position right now. Focus, Naomi. Focus for your life! Where's the nearest rock? I look over to where Wakato is sitting to the sight of him running over to Ryoma. I guess that rock will have to do. I lean my head back and form my hands into fist. Please work. To my surprise, the rock begins to levitate and flies right below me. I grab onto the rock, bending it, with me clutching onto it, to the ground.
The yard looks like an absolute disaster. I destroyed a huge part of the grass area. Good thing Hayao and Ishi are forgiving people. I turn around, and jump off the rock being happily greeted by my brother and Ryoma.
"You alright there, master?"
"Yeah, I'm fi--wait. Did you just call me master?"
Ryoma nods at me with his smile forming longer. "But...I thought I had another move to learn tomorrow."
"Yeah, about that...I lied. I wanted you to be surprised about becoming a master, so I told you that you had one extra move to learn. Surprise!"
Why Ryoma wanted to make it such a surprise, I don't know. What's important is that I didn't fall to my death and that I'm actually a master now. A MASTER!
"Oh and, you know how you bent that rock the first time?" Ryoma asks as I nod. "That was actually me."
"At the academy, the teachers made us believe that the ostrich horses were our source of completing the move. What they really did was make us believe that we were bending a rock, but as a survival test, they made the animals get scared enough to throw us off their backs so we could save ourselves in midair."
I have nothing to say. The only thing I can do is wrap my arms around Ryoma's neck, embracing him with joy over taking the title of becoming a master. Feeling his buff hands being placed against my back gives me this sense of care and happiness. This friend, who didn't have to teach me, helped me with where I was meant to learn. Its taken me sixteen years to become a master, and now, I finally am. After Ryoma and I release each other, I look over to Wakato who is inspecting his dagger.
"Come here, little brother," I say happily as I wrap my arms around him. "I love you."
"Ugh, I hate when you get all mushy......I love you too," he says mumbling in my ear.
"Come on," Ryoma says walking over to us. "Lets go celebrate with a delicious breakfast, Master Naomi."
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