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April 24, 2013
Neru's eyes rolled back in his head as the nightmare set on.
He wasn't himself. A lack of sleep and sudden anger combined in an explosion of rage as he attacked his brother and his girlfriend. Naera's cry as she toppled off the side was ringing in his ears, but for some reason he didn't react. Instead, he turned to Kero.
This was the part where the dream always seemed to break from reality.
Kero shouted and turned into a red dragon, breathing fire over Neru in a swirling path. Neru barely dodged in time and the fire carved a hole in the roof. Neru answered with a series of fluid blasts that bounced off of Kero's armor.
Then Kero changed, turning into a large bear that charged Neru, breaking both legs with one swipe and launching him off the roof. Just before he hit the ground, Neru found himself sitting upright in bed.
Grimacing, he felt his legs; they were still twisted versions of themselves. Breathing hard, he laid back down in bed, thinking of that night.
Wulon spun his thumbs around in cricles as he reclined in the garden, pushing Lio's wheelchair. Despite her ability to walk, the doctor said it would be a good idea to keep her in a wheelchair for a short time.
"You have to tell me how you came back, now that I know I'm not dreaming," Lio said with a characteristic soft smile, reaching up to caress his cheek.
"I was still in prison for almost ten years after the war was over. The Earth Kingdom citizens hated me and the other released soldiers. Not all of them, though. There was a guard who helped me, you know. His name was Jor."
"That's a nice name. Have you seen him again?"
"No. But I'm sure he has a nice family."
At that exact moment, Jor was curled up in a ball in a gutter, his cloak pulled over him.
"Go to the Fire Nation, trash!" a passerby shouted.
Lao City had turned its back on Jor and the other guards. Most had left, but a few, like Jor, had nowhere to go. His parents were dead, his girlfriend had abandoned him, and the town had stabbed him in the back.
Then a light dawned in his eyes. "Maybe I'll just take your advice."
Jor went to stand and felt a rock hit him between the shoulder blades.
"Stay down, you little bastard," came the voice of an old man behind him.
"My parents were married, sir. I am allowed to stand as much as you are."
Jor tried to stand again but this time a foot connected. "I said stay down."
Jor swept one hand to the side, shifting the cobblestones just enough to give him a chance to stand.
"I'm going to the Fire Nation. Maybe they'll treat me better than you are."
"Yeah, go back where you belong!"
Jor ignored the taunt and bought one ticket on the soonest passenger ship: the Daft Captain. The irony wasn't lost on him.
Naera kissed Kero's cheek that morning to wake him up. He smiled. "Hey, beautiful."
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