Triumph and Tragedy
Chapter information

When Air Nomads Walked the Earth



Written by

The Ultimate Waterbender

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Two Separate Lives

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Tutoring and Results

This is the second chapter of When Air Nomads Walked the Earth. I hope you enjoy reading this chapter!

What happened last time...

Syra, a young, passionate Air Nomad girl, competed in the semi-final Airbending matches held by her school and proved herself to be a skillful Airbender, making it to the championship level.

Meanwhile, in his Fire Nation hometown of Sen Go, twelve year-old Siro harkens back to earlier times when he would always play with his older brother, Zorin.

The Championship Match

"Easy there Pala! Down, down!" Syra laughed as she attempted to prevent her large, cuddly sky bison from licking her face all over. "Come on now! I have to go to the courtyard so I can practice my Airbending before the championship level matches are held." She was unsure of why her bison seemed so enthusiastic to see her. "I have to go now. When I come back, I'll have a first place medal, or so I hope!" Syra said.

Appa spots Pathik

Syra's sky bison, Pala.

She left the sky bison stables and quickly headed to the same courtyard where the semi-finals were held yesterday. Tyla immediately caught sight of her when she arrived and greeted her with the same enthusiasm as she had yesterday. "And the future champion is here!"

Syra laughed and said, "Very funny, Tyla."

"Are you ready to blow away the competition?" she asked.

"I couldn't be more ready!" Syra replied.

Then Tyla said in a low voice, "Uh oh. Here comes Miss Prissy." That was their little nickname for Jia who Syra saw was prancing their way with her accomplice, Mika, close behind.

Syra rolled her eyes and said in as polite a voice as she could, "Can I help you?"

"No," Jia said with an air of importance. "Just wanted to let you know that the competition out there today is fierce, so you better watch out." She smirked as she said this. Mika giggled at this.

Syra could feel herself growing angry, but said nothing. Tyla snapped back by saying, "You just watch! Syra will win this so fast that your heads will spin!" The two cliques seemed a bit shocked at Tyla's comeback, but quickly regained their "cool".

Jia said, "Well... I'll be excited to see that." She and Mika walked away in a dignified manner that sickened Syra. She was more determined than ever to show them wrong. Then Master Yangsu called the four finalists over for last minute training.

"Don't worry," Tyla assured her. "You'll show them!" Syra smiled and thought, Boy am I lucky to have such a great friend.

Once again, Syra was to compete in the last match of the entire competition. Her opponent this time was Salara, one Syra could count on to be doing most of the attacking. Salara was sweet, but when it came to a competition, she went in full force. Syra refused to let nervousness overcome her, however, and was more than eager to battle it out in the ring.

Sister Iio told the audience, "And it is now time for the final round of the annual Airbending tournaments!" The crowd cheered and Syra readied herself for the match. "Battling it out in the ring are finalists, Syra and Salara!" She and her opponent ran out into the ring. She glanced quickly at Tyla who gave her a thumbs up.

"Okay, are you girls ready?" Master Yangsu asked. Both nodded. "We're ready!" he told Iio.

She announced, "Let the match begin!"

The two girls circled around the middle of the ring, but it wasn't long before Salara made the first strike, sending a quick air kick Syra's way. Syra jumped out the way and sent an air blast at her which she dodged. There's no time to wait or play a defensive game, not this time, she thought. It's on!

Like the match yesterday, the two soon reached a stalemate. There were many swipes, blasts, kicks, punches, much diving and conjuring of protective air shields. Syra even attempted to use air suction to defeat Salara, but to no avail.

Then, midway through the fight, Syra heard a voice call out, "Syra! Syra!" It wasn't a cheering voice, but instead a voice signaling something to her. Gee, I'm in the middle of this heated match. What could Tyla possible want to tell me now? Syra thought.

She turned around for a quick moment and to her utter disgust, it was Mika who was calling out to her, not Tyla. Mika stopped calling her name as soon as Syra identified whose the voice was and started giggling. Ugh great! Another one of Jia's tricks..., she thought, feeling herself becoming furious with the two.

If that wasn't already unfortunate enough, Salara used Syra's momentary distraction to send a powerful air gust at her. Syra turned her head to see the incoming attack and conjured up an air shield. However, she hadn't created it in time and, instead of deflecting the attack, the gust collided with it and sent a force strong enough to knock Syra out of the ring.

Syra was unsure of exactly what happened afterwards; she was too swallowed up by fury at Jia and Mika to think clearly. Although she did hear Sister Iio announce, "And we have our champion! After one long week, it is my highest honor to announce Salara as this year's Airbending tournament champion!" The crowd cheered and praised the winner. Sister Iio invited the other finalists to the ring to be congratulated. The others did except for Syra who ran away from the courtyard as quickly as she could.

It seemed that no one noticed her desertion for a few moments because she couldn't hear anyone calling after her. She didn't care, though. All she wanted was to go to her secret place where she would go to escape any troubles: the sanctuary where there were large statues of Avatar Yangchen.

Yangchen statue

Syra's secret place: the Avatar Yangchen statues.

She arrived at her secret place, sat at the base of a large statue and let all her anger be poured into her thoughts. Those nasty cliques are always picking on me! I could have won! And even if I hadn't, it would have been better to be defeated naturally than because of their tricks! Tears were streaming down her face. Then she heard a voice call out, "Syra?" She recognized it.

"Syra?" Sister Iio entered the sanctuary and spotted Syra. "There you are! What's wrong? Why are you so upset? Is it about the competition? Oh, dear, you mustn't be upset because you placed in second!"

"It's not that," Syra told her. "It's why I placed second." She went on to tell Iio about Jia and Mika's trick to distract her.

Iio was very sympathetic; she said that she herself had dealt with cliques. "I know," she said. "What if I told you that I would be happy to serve as your personal overseer in your Airbending training? You'll still train in school, but later on, I can help you perfect those techniques and help you become an Airbending Master!"

"Oh really?" Syra asked, feeling her spirits rise. "That would mean everything to me! I happily accept! Thank you, Sister Iio!"

"Then it's settled!" Iio said. "Let's go back to tell Sister Min." Syra followed and although she was still sore about losing the tournament, she was much happier.

Struggle and Relief

"Good morning, dear! How did you sleep last night?" Zala asked a sleep-eyed Siro.

Siro yawned and told her, "Pretty good."

She laid a steaming bowl of noodles before him and remarked, "You seemed rather tired last evening."


Zala, Siro's mother, becomes puzzled about her son's behavior.

"I was pretty exhausted," Siro replied and began eating his bowl of noodles. They were steaming hot and seasoned perfectly. Mother always knows how to make one feel better with a bowl of noodles, he thought. Zorin could eat ten bowls in one sitting. He thought of the dream he had last night.

"What's so interesting?" Zala asked. "You're smiling rather oddly."

"Oh nothing," Siro said. Before his mother could say another word, he finished up the rest of his breakfast and said, "Better get ready for school." He hopped off his chair and ran upstairs to get ready for school.

Music teacher

The school teacher, Master Shyo.

"Now class, open your textbooks to where you left off yesterday and continue your reading about Fire Lord Kuzora," Master Shyo commanded. "I would also expect a quiz tomorrow on the material. Now get to work!"

A few groans were uttered and everyone opened their history books. Siro began reading the next section about Fire Lord Kuzora's reign, but like yesterday, his mind drifted off. He thought of the dream from last night about his brother. At first, it wasn't so pleasant, but it eventually turned out to be a dream he wished had never ended.

Siro was playing marbles with Jengso in the schoolyard during recess. The day was sunny and warm and Siro was winning the game so far. All of a sudden, an enormous fireball came streaking across the sky, striking the school building and causing it to erupt in flames. The students all began to flee the scene; Siro tried to run, but found himself unable to move.

He felt hopeless when he suddenly caught sight of the source of the fire: a massive red Dragon ridden by, much to his surprise, Zorin. Zorin was smiling and said, "How's my little brother?" Siro could hardly believe his eyes. "Get up and hop on!"

He wasted no time in mounting the fiery beast. "Where are we going?" he asked, unable to hide his thrill.


The Dragon in Siro's dream.

"Wherever you want!" Zorin replied and with that, the Dragon flew off. They traveled all over the world together, stopping to visit both the Water Tribes, the Air Temples, Ba Sing Se and many other incredible sites. They tried all the exotic dishes, rode a variety of fauna and witnessed the daily lives of natives from all around the world.

Siro was unsure of exactly how much time had passed in the dream, but he was too happy to be with his brother on this incredible journey to care. When they had visited every site imaginable, they laid down in a grassy field under a starry night sky. Siro could feel himself growing sleepy, but he didn't want to fall asleep. "This was the best time I have ever had," he told his brother.

"Nothing like spending a little guy time, eh, little brother?" Zorin said and the two bumped fists the way they always used to. Then tiredness overcame Siro and he fell asleep.

"Siro! Pssst! Siro!" He snapped out of the dream when he heard a loud whisper. He turned his head over to Jengso who was alerting him of something and raised his head to find Master Shyo standing in front of his desk, arms crossed and with an angry look on his face.

"Been daydreaming again, Mr. Siro?" the teacher demanded to know. He could already feel himself turning red in the face.

"I... I," he began to say.

"I am warning you for the last time," Shyo told him sternly. "If I catch you daydreaming one more time this week, I will have to ask you to bring your parents to a conference to discuss your behavior."

Siro couldn't say anything except, "Yes sir."

Jengso offered to walk home with him again after school. "Still been thinking about your brother?"

Siro nodded and said, "I just don't know how it started and why. My brother does visit frequently and besides, it's summer! I should be trying to have fun not brooding on this!" They came to the point again where they would continue on their own.

"Well... I hope you feel better," Jengso said. "See you tomorrow." He continued on his way home. Siro watched his friend go off before continuing on his way home. Before he could take another step, however, he heard a voice taunt, "Aww, does someone miss their brother?" Siro turned and saw Hanzin and his gang of friends striding down the street towards him. Hanzin and his gang were the bane of both younger kids and the school faculty. Teachers loathed him and students feared of being tormented by him.

"What do you want?" he asked, trying not to sound nervous.

"Nothing," Hanzin replied casually, "but I know what you want." The nasty grin on his face grew wider. He suddenly grabbed Siro and said, "You better learn to grow up, you little freak! You can't go crying for your brother forever!" He threw Siro to the ground hard and laughed as he watched him run away quickly. Siro ran home, flung the door open and shut it closed. He caught his breath then began to relax. He knew his father wasn't home and his mother wouldn't be either because today was one of the days she took her pottery to the market to bargain with local residents.

He took his schoolbooks to the kitchen and laid them on the table, dropping one by accident. As he was bending down to pick it up, he heard someone say, "What are you learning in school now, little brother?"

Siro turned and saw Zorin standing in the doorway of the kitchen. He had a huge smile on his face. "What? You're not going to give me a hug or anything?" Siro ran to his brother who grabbed him, hugged him and tussled his hair. "It's good to see you again!"

All Siro could say was, "You too."

Additional Notes

  • This chapter was originally going to be called "A Bittersweet Day" and then changed to "Bittersweetness". Upon realizing that this was not a real word, however, the title was officially changed to "Triumph and Tragedy".

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