Eastern Air Temple at night
The Limitless Sky
Chapter information

When Air Nomads Walked the Earth



Written by

The Ultimate Waterbender

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This is the fourth chapter of When Air Nomads Walked the Earth. Hope you like reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.

What happened last time...

Syra begins her more advanced Airbending training under Sister Iio. As she is walking home at sunset from her first session with her, she looks out over the horizon and sees everything in the world as perfect.

Meanwhile, Siro hangs out with Zorin who has come home from his military school for a two-week long visit. The two enjoy a fun day of Firebending duels and training; Siro wishes for every day to be as fun and blissful as that one.

Swimming and Stargazing

"Ha! I win!" Syra exclaimed as she landed her Sky Bison, Pala, at the base of the Pankin Waterfall.

"Alright, victory is yours this time!" Tyla shouted as loud as she could; the torrent of water crashing down in Pankin Waterfall almost drowned out her voice. She landed her Sky Bison, San, next to Pala. They had challenged each other to a Sky Bison race to the foot of the falls. They had originally bet three silver pieces each; however, both their guardians told them they were too young and innocent to be making such deals, so it ended up becoming a friendly race.

Eastern Air Temple waterfall

The Pankin Waterfall.

The two friends and their guardians had decided to spend the day at the Pankin Waterfall, a natural wonder of the Telukin Mountains, not too far from the Eastern Air Temple. After five consecutive days of Airbending training and private training sessions with Sister Iio, Syra hoped she could take this day to bathe in the cool water and sunbathe under what would hopefully be a blazing sun.

Sister Min and Tyla's guardian, Sister Laanga, descended from the air on their Sky Bison, Min on her Bison, Raul, and Sister Laanga on her Bison, Nina. They had packed everything necessary for a relaxing day; Sister Min had even brought some fresh baked Fruit Pies for the occasion.

"Isn't it beautiful?" Min shouted over the roar of the falls. "This waterfall is a true wonder of nature!"

"I'm thinking, Min," Sister Laanga suggested, "that maybe we ought to settle somewhere out there!" She pointed to a rocky outcrop not too far from the falls. "Otherwise, we'll all lose our voices trying to talk to each other!"

"Well let's go shall we?" Min yelled. The small party made there way to the outcrop; the raging of the falls still filled the air, but it was much better than standing directly next to them. They unpacked their belongings and settled down. The day was already growing hot and it was barely mid-morning; Syra knew the sun would soon be scorching down on them come noontime.

She unsaddled Pala who, just as quickly, ran towards a large pool of water that had streamed off and created a calm, natural pond, free from the rapid currents of the Pankin. Syra, who was already feeling the day's heat, dressed down to her swimwear and ran after her Bison who plopped into the water and rolled happily on his back.

"Woo!" Syra exclaimed after dipping her foot in the water; it was chilling and yet the coolness of the water appealed to her. She stood warily on the edge for a few moments, but after seeing her Bison lolling about without a care in the world, she said, "Oh, what the heck!" Without further hesitation, she splashed right in. She remained underwater for several seconds, letting herself become used to the temperature, then burst to the surface and saw Tyla standing by the side cautiously. "Come on in!" Syra called out to her. "The water feels like heaven!"

"Okay," Tyla said shakily, "if you say so..." She dipped her feet in the water and dove under the water. She shook her long black hair out like a wet Sky Bison when she resurfaced and shouted, "Whoa! This feels so great!"

Sokka cleaning Appa

Pala rolls lazily about in the water.

"I know right!" Syra replied. She dove under the water again and then swam over to where Pala was still lazily floating on the water. Despite his sprawled out position, he still attempted to lick her face when she mounted his belly. "You're such a good Bison, you know that!" she told him as she rubbed his belly. She then slid off him and landed in the water with a splash.

She noticed Sister Min and Sister Laanga wading by the edge, enjoying the cold sensation the water brought them. "Yikes!" Min exclaimed. "This water is pretty chilly!"

Laanga laughed and remarked, "I haven't gone swimming in years! I think I'm getting too old for these kind of wild things! Swimming in a frigid pool right next to a raging waterfall! Now that's something I haven't done since I was a kid!"

Syra smiled to herself at Laanga's comment before a wave of water suddenly splashed her. She wiped the dripping water off her face and saw Tyla standing just a few feet away with a grin on her face. "Oh, I see!" She splashed some water towards her and yelled, "Splash fight!"

The two began sending waves at each other even using Airbending to create currents that knocked each other down and swept them off their feet. They chased after each other, laughing and screaming as any eleven year-olds would. After splashing around in the water for what seemed like a long time, they both swam back to the edge and, soaking wet, walked over to where Min and Laanga were chatting away.

"Did you girls have fun there?" Min asked as they sat down on their blankets. "You both seemed to be having a blast out there!"

"We sure did! It was awesome!" Tyla replied and Syra nodded cheerfully.

Laanga said, "Well you still have the whole rest of the day ahead of you for more splashing around in the water! For now, though, relax a little and have lunch."

Fruit pie

The Fruit Pies are enjoyed.

The two dried themselves off with their blankets then sat down and enjoyed steamed rice and noodles, fried vegetable dumplings, Peach Nectar and slices of Min's famous Fruit Pies. Syra could feel the sun sizzling down and couldn't wait to get back into the water. Even so, she took her time eating and enjoyed sitting around with the others. At first, they all talked about general affairs like how Airbending training was going and how they were enjoying the summer.

Gradually, the conversation split into two; Min and Laanga became engaged in their own discussion while Syra and Tyla chatted with each other. Tyla asked how her training with Sister Iio was going to which Syra replied that it was going great, however, she hadn't yet figured out the airball technique. After eating and lounging for a few minutes, the two decided to go swimming again. As they were heading back to the pool, a drenched but very contented Pala strode over to where San was resting in the shade and laid down to take a nap.

The temperature of the water felt even more heavenly in contrast with the slowly exceeding heat. Syra and Tyla spent their time simply diving and paddling in the water or wading about.

"Let's see if we can find anything special in the water to take back home with us," Tyla suggested.

"What do you expect to find in an isolated pool in a huge mountain range?" Syra asked, amused at the idea that her friend wanted to search for a little trinket to take with them as a memento.

Tyla told her, "Nothing big. Just a pretty stone or something like that. We have to bring back some sort of material item, so we can look back on it and remember how much fun we're having today."

"Sounds good," Syra replied and began probing the water for anything interesting. On the other hand, Tyla began tossing rocks out of the water in search of a memento whatever that happened to be. She's really eager to bring something back as memorabilia, Syra thought to herself. But with good reason. Min and Laanga had decided to go wading in the water again; the day was too sweltering to sit around on the blankets and talk.

"What are you doing, honey?" Laanga asked.

"I'm trying to search for a pretty stone or something as a kind of memento of this day!" Tyla yelled. "But none of these stones I'm finding are really pretty!"

"Keep looking! You'll find something!" Min assured her and the two nuns began talking to each other.

Syra had stopped searching and looked over at her friend who was bent over the water in concentration; every now and then she would fish something out of the water and, after a few seconds of consideration, would toss it behind her. "No... nope," she could hear her friend mumbling to herself.

Tyla picked another rock out of the water, shook her head and unknowingly threw it over her shoulder right at Syra. Without even thinking, Syra caught it, much to her surprise, in an airball. She was stunned at that moment. I did it! Didn't think I would accomplish it during vacation, but I finally did it! "Tyla!" she called out.

"Yes?"Tyla asked without looking up.

"Look what I did!" she cried out.

Tyla looked up and asked, "What?" However, before Syra could say one word to her, her eyes grew wide and she yelled, "You did it! You actually performed the airball technique!"

"This is the first time I've been able to do it!" Syra shouted.

"See? Didn't I tell you that you would eventually figure it out?" Tyla told her. "I knew you would learn it eventually!"

"Guess you were right!" Syra exclaimed as she beheld a stone that she had finally been able to encase in an airball. "Guess you were right..."

The remainder of the day had gone smoothly: Syra practiced the airball move a few more times then spent the rest of her time swimming around in the water and Tyla found a beautiful rock to take back home with them. It was a round, perfectly smoothed and flattened out rock, cream colored with golden colored diagonal stripes running across it.

In the afternoon, after the sun had already began to set and streak the horizon with orange, they ate dinner together with Min and Laanga. Min surprised them by saying they would fly back to the temple, but not necessarily to their houses. Instead, they would fly to the highest tower of the middle structure of the temple and spend the night stargazing. Then afterwards, they would fly home and retire for the night. After drying off, dressing up and packing up their belongings, the party mounted their Bison and flew off to the temple. Syra looked down on the Pankin as they flew over it; she promised herself she would visit the falls again soon.

It was late evening when they arrived at the tower of the temple. The sky was already dark, save for the streak of red that still marked the sun's fading presence on the horizon, and tiny glistening stars began appearing. They laid out their blankets and kept their spare robes by their sides in case the weather should become too cold.
Eastern Air Temple tower

The Tower of Yangchen under the brilliant light of a thousand stars.

"You know," Min said, "the nomads call this tower the Tower of Yangchen in honor of the great Air Nomad Avatar. It's also known as the Divine Spire because this is the greatest point in the temple where one can feel the cosmic energy flowing in from the universe, according to Guru Pathik, the man who colonized the Eastern Air Temple."

"I don't feel anything too differently," Tyla said. "What is cosmic energy supposed to feel like?"

Min chuckled at this and told her, "Well it's not something you can really feel physically... I think you're a little too young to understand..." Tyla just nodded.

It was silent from then on; no one uttered a word. The night air was crisp and still, the darkened sky dotted with thousands of stars all sparkling; it was truly something to behold. The sky seemed endless with its array of stars. Syra sighed and decided to break the silence by asking, "Why do they say 'the sky's the limit'? Because, as far as I can tell, the sky is infinite."

"Oh, it's just an expression," Min replied. "It just means that the there is no limit to how far someone can journey. It's hard to explain... you'll know the answer when you get older."

Hearing this, Syra shrugged the thought off and focused her attention on the stars again; the night sky stretched over them like a vast blue dome. In her mind, she could almost make out the word "PERFECT" etched in the sky, just one big constellation. She knew it was probably just her imagination at work, but she took that message to heart and thought it to be true.

Trip to Jang Hui

"We still aren't at the fishing village yet?" Siro asked Zorin. He was lying on his back on the bottom of a small boat that the four family members somehow managed to fit themselves into comfortably.

The family was taking a two-day trip to the large fishing village of the Jang Hui River. Siro had never seen the fishing village before, but his father had; Lee Wang had described it as beautiful, however, Siro doubted that a village floating in the water could be that extraordinary. They had rented an Eel Hound and a navigator that would lead them on their travel. Riding the Eel Hound, they reached the edge of the river within a couple of hours and decided to take a boat to the village. The navigator decided to stay behind and tend to the Eel Hound while the family was on their trip.

"No, not yet," Zorin replied. "We have to be close by now, though."

Siro laughed and said, "You've said that a hundred times already!"

"Hey, don't get mad at me!" Zorin held up his hands in mock defense. "Dad is the one slowing us down," he said, casting a look at Lee Wang.

Lee Wang had turned down a local dockworker's offer to row them over to the village and decided it would be more interesting if he rowed them to the village himself. Unfortunately, that spirit of adventure faded away; he was rowing them at the speed of a Snail Sloth.

"Hehe, these old joints of mine aren't what they used to be!" Lee Wang laughed. "I sometimes forget how old I'm growing!"

Siro smiled at his father's remark; it was rare for Lee Wang to be in such high spirits and joke around with his family.

"Dear, you're really wearing yourself out," Zala told him. "We should have allowed that nice dockworker to row us to the village. Do you want me to take command of the boat?"

Lee Wang refused saying, "No, no, don't trouble yourself. You'll overheat! The temperature is rising rapidly; a few more hours and we'll all be toasting!"

"Gee, Dad," Zorin remarked, "you seem to be in a good mood considering the conversation last night."

Siro's curiosity arose when he heard this. "Conversation? What conversation last night?"

"Oh, nothing that concerns you, my son," Lee Wang dismissed his questions. He shot a warning glance at Zorin who looked down at his feet.

Something's fishy, Siro thought. They're hiding something. Oh, if only I knew what it was! However, he wasn't going to let anything prevent him from relaxing today, so he tossed his thoughts aside.

Jang Hui

The bustling fishing village of the Jang Hui River.

After several more minutes of painstakingly drifting in the Jang Hui, the family finally docked at the village. Siro climbed out of the boat and gazed at the unexpected magnificence of the village; he had assumed that the village would be a mere collection of huts and a few seedy shops. Instead, what stood before him was an entire town, dozens of sturdy, well-built cabins and many shops and businesses. One could have never guessed alone that it was a fishing village.

"This is incredible!" he cried in awe as two little boys ran passed him, laughing and chasing each other.

"What did I tell you, eh? I knew you'd be surprised!" his father replied.

A middle-aged man walked up to them and welcomed them. "Ah visitors! Welcome to our little fishing village of Jang Hui!" Siro could hardly believe it was 'little'. The man continued, "I'm Zhan, the head of Jang Hui. You folks taking a little vacation?"

"Yes, we're staying for an overnight," Zala told him.

"Very good! We have guest houses standing right on the edge of village overlooking the river. Just follow me," Zhan said and led them to their cabin.

The family's lodge was small yet comfortable, lightly-built and cool. There were four rooms: a main room which was a kitchen and living room together, two bedrooms and a small bathroom. The rooms were adorned with seashells, stones and driftwood. Although not the level of comfort Siro was used to, it was satisfying to him.

"Take your time settling in and feel free to swim in the Jang Hui whenever you feel like it!" Zhan said. "There may be seaweed and fish swimming about, but don't worry, they won't do any harm! And if you have any questions, come see me or ask a local resident and they'll help you out." When he had left the cabin, the rest wasted no time in settling in their little abode.

After unpacking the few possessions they had carried with them, Zorin suggested they all go swimming in the water to which the others agreed. The heat of the day struck them as they walked out of their cabin dressed in their swimwear which only made the water more appealing. Since their house was on the outskirts of the village, they didn't have to walk far before arriving at a dock.

Zorin immediately ran and dove into the water without so much as a splash. He resurfaced, wiped his hair and face and yelled, "Woo! Man, this is awesome!" He plopped on his back and began backstroking in the water.

"Alright, here I go!" Siro exclaimed. He ran off the dock and dove in the river after Zorin. The cool water felt relieving.

"Good form, little brother!" Zorin shouted. "Looks like all those diving lessons I gave you all last summer paid off!" He dove under the water again and came back up with seaweed dangling from his head which he quickly brushed off.

"Look out!" Lee Wang yelled as he ran and flipped into the water, landing with a huge splash. He came up to the surface with a warm smile on his face; Siro was amazed at his father's joy. "Ha ha! Still know how to do the old flip-dive!"

"Oh please!" Zala said. "Watch this!" Extraordinarily, she stood backwards on the edge of the dock, crouched down and expertly back-flipped into the water.

"Whoa! I never knew you could do that!" Siro exclaimed.

"I've known that dive since I was your age!" Zala replied and disappeared underwater again.

"Hey look," Zorin said, pointing to a group of small fishing boats in the water. "Looks like the fishermen are casting their nets out already." They waved to the fishers who noticed them swimming about in the river and waved back. "Hey, Siro. Remember we used to play that game called Lion-Shark Attack and I always managed to get you in the end?"

"Yeah, I remember. Up for a short game?" he asked already knowing what the answer would be.

"You bet!" his brother agreed. "Well, you better start swimming or else I'll catch you!" he warned and sunk beneath the water.

He's still that little kid he used to be! Siro thought to himself and dogpaddled away.

It was evening and the sunset on the Jang Hui was glorious; the brilliant orange sky was slowly turning a dark blue as night settled in. Siro couldn't find time, however, to embrace the stunning view. Word had come from their navigator that he had received a message from a Messenger Hawk addressed to Lee Wang. He had been called back to Sen Go by the leader, Suran, who was calling together a council the very next day.

Unfortunately, the family had no choice other than to leave Jang Hui that very night. Siro was disappointed at this prospect after the wonderful time he had spent with them earlier that day. Duties were duties, though, and it was crucial that Lee Wang attend the meeting. They were packing up their belongings in silence.

Zhan was waiting outside the cabin for them and led them over to where the dockworker was waiting to escort them back to the navigator. He bid them a farewell and told them they should revisit Jang Hui as soon as time permitted. Lee Wang assured him they would before the end of the summer and they all shuffled into the small rowboat.

In an instance, they had reached the shore and clambered out of the boat. The dockworker said, "So long" to them and rowed away. Silently, they began walking to where the navigator was waiting with the Eel Hound.

Katara at the Jang Hui River shore

Siro looks out over the Jang Hui River.

Siro, however, didn't turn around so quickly as the others did. He stood by the bank of the Jang Hui and looked up at the night sky that had just a moment ago been streaked with orange. A full moon hung low and the water was calm. In the distance, he could see the faint glow of the lights coming from the cabins of the village. There were only a few wispy clouds hanging in the sky; everything was serene and peaceful.

Siro's thoughts then turned to what Zorin had said earlier: You seem to be in a good mood considering the conversation last night. What did that mean? Did it relate to the meeting his father had to attend tomorrow?

"Are you coming, Siro?" Zala asked him.

He replied, "I am." He took one last look at the village and the wide, bluish-purple sky, turned around and began walking away.

Additional Notes

  • This chapter was originally going to be entitled "Usual Vacationing", but "The Limitless Sky" sounded more appealing.
  • The way Syra was cuddling and petting her Bison, Pala, is the way the author cuddles with her dog.
  • Siro was originally going to visit the Secluded Hot Springs with his family, but after finding the beautiful screenshot (the last picture), the author decided to change the location to Jang Hui.
  • Some may consider this to be a filler chapter; even so, this is one of the author's favorite chapters.
  • This chapter was finished five days before the scheduled date.

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