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Aang's goodbye scroll
Sister Dearest
Chapter information
Series

Dancing Shadows

Book

1

Chapter

9

Release date

March 20, 2012

Chronology
Last chapter

Starry Skies

Next chapter

One Last Sale

Chapter 9 of Part 1 of Dancing Shadows.

Overview

Wei attempts to cope when her sister contracts a terminal disease.

Content

Storytime

Wei threw up her newly-earned bag of coins in the air, catching it as it fell. She smiled to herself, proud of her latest victory. She had taken on a local crime lord and his bodyguards. Ten men in total, and she had killed them all, escaping with only a small cut on her left shoulder.

"I'm getting better," she muttered to herself, as she looked at the still-rising sun.

She walked through the streets of the Lower Ring of Ba Sing Se, until she came to her small home. She walked in the door triumphantly.

"Morning, boys," she called, as she entered the small, tumbledown house. "Brought home a present."

Feng was sitting at their small table, eating a breakfast of fruit. Nekku came out of his room as Wei came home, still rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

"Hey, Wei," Feng said, tossing her an apple. "Job go well?"

"Hell yes it went well. Ten men. Killed 'em all by myself."

Nekku pulled up a chair. "Nice. Do tell more."

She sat down and took a bite of the apple. "Well, the job was to assassinate some crime lord who had killed my contractor's eldest child. I found him and his bodyguards doing some business with some men, likely selling drugs or something of the sort. I waited for the other men to go away. The crime lord and his bodyguards lingered afterward for a bit. So, I snuck over to the roof nearest the first bodyguard. Then, I threw a knife-" she made a little motion- "and hit him right between the shoulder blades. As he went down, I swung down to the ground-" she motioned again- "and threw two more knives, hitting one man in the throat and catching another in the foot. I ran towards the man with the injured foot and swept him off his feet-" she did yet another small motion- "then kicked him into a man behind him. I threw a knife at the one, and stabbed the other with my dagger. I quick jumped up onto the roofs again as the rest of the men came at me. There were two archers, so I dodged their arrows, then ran over to them and dropped down on them, burying my daggers in their throats. Two men with swords came at me from either side, then. I dodged the one's blow, and parried the other. I took the parried man's sword and drove it into the other man as he came at me. As he fell, I stabbed the other man in the stomach with a stab behind me."

Feng smiled as he watched her go through her story, exaggerating every detail with hand movements.

"Alright, so, eight guys down, two to go, right? The crime lord sends in his last bodyguard. He's this huge dude, dressed in heavy armor, wielding some giant hammer. He slams it on the ground, and I see he's an earthbender, because as he does, pillars of earth go from his hammer to me feet. I jumped up from the ground right as the pillars reached me, so they propelled me high in the air. I turned around when I was up there, and threw some knives at the guy while I fell down. He blocked them, but when I fell, he was distracted. So, I quick rolled through his legs, jumped up, and broke his neck. I turned around, and the crime lord was right behind us. He was a pushover. I just ran up and drove a dagger through his heart. And, so, money earned."

Feng chuckled. "Nice job, Wei."

"Yeah, thanks," she answered, as she took a bite of her apple. "So, I was thinking, we should celebrate. We've been at this job for more than two months now, and we're already the best assassins this side of the city. So, we should go get Lily, and have ourselves a little bash down at The Winking Badgermole. Drinks, dancing, you know, the whole shabang."

"...Shabang?" Nekku asked. Wei threw her apple in the air and caught it again.

"Yes, shabang. Look it up. I think it's a word. Anyways, what do you think, Feng?"

"Sounds like a plan. You go get Lily later, and me and Nekku will meet you down at the Badgermole later tonight. Till then, do whatever. I'm gonna go play some Pai Sho."

Nekku stood up. "Have fun with that. I'm gonna go see if I can find a good book or two."

Wei waved them out the door. "Enjoy yourselves, guys. Now get the hell out of here." She chuckled along with her two friends.

Out for the Night

Several hours later, when Feng and Nekku had exhausted their Pai Sho board, and Wei had caught up on her missed sleep and retrieved Lily, the four met up at the illustrious bar that was The Winking Badgermole.

Wei looked gleefully at the large building as the four kids walked inside. "Oh, boy, I've heard stories about this place. Ale and beer and rum like nothing you've ever tasted!"

Lily chuckled. "Wei, normally I'd tell you to behave yourself, but... Let's go have some fun!" She squealed in delight, and pulled Wei along beside her, rushing into the bar. Wei laughed, and ran after her, followed by Feng and Nekku.

They were mesmerized by the inside of the place. It was dimly lit, and enormous. There was a large floor in the middle of the place, in which people were dancing. There were several bar counters scattered around the place, and tables all over, filled with people eating and getting drunk.

Wei called a waiter over, and ordered a table. The four of them sat down, and Wei threw her bag of money on the table. "My treat. Order whatever you guys want."

Lily immediately got up and ran over to the dance floor, and joined in a large dance that was taking place. Wei smiled as she watched her go, red hair trailing behind her. She looked at Nekku and Feng. "Alright, boys, who's up for a round or three?"

Feng and Nekku both raised their hands. Wei signaled a passing waiter. "I'll take nine beers. Thank you, sir." She handed him the money for it, and some tip along with it. The waiter soon brought their drinks.

"Feng. Nekku. Drinking contest. Let's do this." The two eagerly agreed.

Wei didn't remember too much after that.

Disaster

Nekku woke up slowly. He touched his head gingerly as he sat up in bed. His head was aching.

"Ugh," he said. "Hangovers... Dammit, Wei, why did I let you- Ah, spirits, that hurts..."

He stumbled out of his bed, pulling the sheets off by accident as he did. The door was a short way away; he got to it and pulled it open.

When he looked, he saw Wei crying at the kitchen table.

Jericho, the owner of Lily's shop, he recalled, was standing near her. Feng had his hand on her shoulder.

Jericho looked at Nekku as he stumbled out of his doorway.

"What... What time is it? Why's Wei crying? Why is Jericho here?" Nekku asked groggily.

Feng motioned for him to take a seat. "It's almost noon," he said. "And Jericho is here to deliver a message. Wei is crying because... Because of it." He silently motioned for Jericho to continue. Nekku looked closer. Feng was holding back tears, he could tell. Just barely holding them back.

The hulk of a man that was Jericho stepped forward. "It's... It's Lily. We found out this morning. Near the end of the night... Nekku, you and Wei were drunk. And Lily suddenly collapsed while she was dancing... Feng tells me he carried her to my place, and brought you two here. I summoned the doctor this morning, to... To check Lily out..."

He paused for a moment. Nekku was shocked to see the ghost of a tear rolling down his face. He regained his composure quickly.

"Lily has a terminal disease. I forget what it's called, some big fancy medical term. It attacks the brain, shutting off systems of your body, one by one. It started with her legs in this case. She can't walk now. Eventually, it shuts down her brain. Thing is, we don't know when. It could happen any time. All we know is... Sh-shes going to die."

Wei was sent into another round of tears. Feng put his arm around her in a futile attempt to comfort her in whatever way he could. Nekku just sat there, with his mouth agape. It was hard to believe; no, it was impossible. He refused to believe that the smiling, happy, dancing girl he had gone drinking with last night was immobilized and dying.

"She's... She's going to... To die?" he managed to get out. Jericho just nodded sadly, and sat down. Feng, his arm still around his friend, was trembling, fighting to keep back tears he knew mustn't fall, for Wei's sake, if not for his own.

Suddenly, Wei stood up, wiping her tears from her eyes.

"Jericho," she said. "She could... Her brain could shut down at any time, correct?"

The beast of a man nodded somberly.

"Then I'm going to be by her side until it does. I won't leave her. I'm going to the shop. Feng, Nekku, do you guys want to come with?"

Feng stood up.

"Of course I do. She was a great friend of mine."

Nekku stood with him, without saying a word. The two boys followed Wei out of the house, and through the mess of city streets that led to the small shop that was Fire and Steel.

Arrival

They arrived, and Wei immediately rushed through the shop, ignoring the sign that read 'closed' in the front, into the small room in the back that was Lily's. She fell sobbing at her sister's bed.

The younger girl was bed-ridden, her legs no longer functioning. She was fighting a fever, as well, and had a rag soaked with cold water on her forehead. She looked pale, the white skin drawing out the red in her hair. Her eyes were closed; her chest rose and fell with her slow breath. She opened them as Wei entered, and smiled.

"Hey, Wei," Lily said weakly, as Feng and Nekku entered the room after Wei. She smiled at them, as well. "Thanks for coming, you guys. Means a lot."

Wei stood up, looking on at her sister.

"Lily... I'm... I'm so sorry..."

Her sister smiled again.

"For what, Wei? You didn't do anything."

"I know, but... I told you I'd always protect you, I swore to myself I would never let anything happen to you! And now... Now you're... You're going to..."

She broke down sobbing again. Lily sighed, and reached out, pulling her older sister's head up to look at her.

"Wei, you can't blame yourself. It's a disease. There is absolutely nothing you could have done to protect me from this. Honestly, don't be silly."

"But..."

"No buts. Listen, I don't have much time left. The doctor gave me a month at best. I don't want you to spend my last days moping around all the time, alright?"

Wei nodded.

"Promise?" Lily asked.

Wei smiled sadly.

"Promise. I'll stay here with you until the end. And I won't mope. For your sake."

Lily smiled again, and stretched out on her bed.

"Thank you." She looked at the two boys, standing awkwardly in the back of the room. "Thank you two, as well, for coming."

Feng nodded. "No problem. You're one of the few people I've had the opportunity to call friend. I'll stay here as much as I can, too."

"Me too," Nekku said. "I'm glad to call friend anyone who's that close to Feng and Wei."

"Thank you. Thank all of you," Lily said. She looked at Wei again.

"I'm getting tired, sister. You don't mind if I sleep for a bit, do you?"

"Not at all. Sweet dreams."

The First Day

Wei spent that entire night crying by Lily's bed. She had promised she wouldn't be sad, but she couldn't hold it in. She could barely cope with the situation. Her sister was dying.

Before dawn came, Wei managed to stop her tears and wipe them from her eyes, and catch a few hours of sleep. She awoke to Jericho bringing a plate of fish in for Lily.

"Hey, Wei," he said. "There's food in the shop, too, if you want some."

Wei nodded thankfully. She went out, and saw Feng and Nekku eating at a small table, in front of the view of early-morning Ba Sing Se waking up. They found it difficult to enjoy as they normally would.

"Morning, Wei," Feng said quietly. "You alright?"

She shook her head, meekly.

"But... I have to be strong, for Lily."

Feng nodded.

"You should eat," he said, pushing a plate full of fish and fruit over to her. She nodded thankfully, and took the food back into Lily's room, where she ate with her sister.

The doctor came again later that day, to check up on Lily. He asked Wei to step out of the room, which she did, and stayed in it for around twenty minutes. He ushered Feng, Wei, Nekku, and Jericho in when he was done.

"Well," he said, giving a short cough. "It's as we thought the first time. The disease, Shao's Syndrome, it's working quickly on her. It... It took out her legs, and we fear her brain may be soon. I'm sorry."

Wei fought her tears back.

"Where... H-how... How did Lily get this..." she managed to say.

The man coughed again.

"Well, it's very rare. We've concluded that it's actually an airborne disease. Some people simply carry it, and it doesn't affect them, and then they can spread it to others. It's incredibly rare to even carry it, let alone contract it."

Wei nodded.

"There... Erm, there is another thing. Shao's Syndrome wasn't seen in the Earth Kingdom before this War started. We believe the disease is of Fire Nation origin, carried over by their soldiers."

Wei looked up, eyes wide.

"The... Fire Nation... They did this?"

"Well, in a manner of speaking..."

Jericho coughed, and handed the doctor his fee.

"Thanks, doc," he said.

"Oh, um, of course," the man said, quickly taking his leave.

Wei was staring straight ahead at the wall, unmoving. She began to tremble slightly, from anger, now, instead of rage. "They... Did this..." she whispered. "The Fire Nation. They've taken my sister from me. They gave her this. It's their fault, all their fault. They'll pay for this, I swear it." Her voice began to rise. "I'LL KILL EVERY LAST ONE OF THOSE ROTTEN BASTARDS!" She punched the ground.

Feng ran over to her.

"Wei, calm down. It's not their fault, they only carried it-"

"IT IS THEIR FAULT! THEM AND THEIR DAMNED INVASION!"

"Wei, please. Calm down. Please. For Lily."

She sighed, lowering her eyes, then closing them. She took a few deep breaths, then nodded.

"They're still going to pay."

Feng nodded.

"Do what you must. Just not right now."

Later On

A week and a half later, Wei, Feng and Nekku were still living in the small shop. Wei kept a constant vigil over Lily. When she was awake, Wei put on a brave face. She played games, talked, reminisced, tended to her fever, and did things for her. Feng and Nekku often came in with them, helping to keep Lily company.

When Lily slept, Wei wept. Watching her sister's ashen face, and the steady rise and fall of her chest, she wept. She cried for everything. She cried because Lily would never grow up, never get married or have kids or get a smithy of her own. She cried because she had failed to protect her. She cried because she had failed.

Sometimes, she stopped crying, and she began to get angry. Angry at the spirits, for letting such a thing exist. Angry at the Fire Nation, for bringing it to her sister. Angry at herself. Angry at the doctors. Angry at the world.

Feng often came to comfort Wei when she was like this. He would soothe her when she was sad, and calm her down when she was angry. He told her that she'd see her sister again after she was dead; told her that it was alright. She nodded when he told her these things. She believed him. She knew it to be true, deep down inside.

A Job

Two and a half weeks after Lily's disease was first discovered, Jericho came to Wei, Feng, and Nekku.

"I have bad news, everyone," he said. "We're nearly out of money. We can't pay for all these doctors... It's just too much."

Feng looked at Wei. She shook her head. He looked at Nekku. He nodded his.

"We'll go get some money, Jericho."

"I'm not sure I'd like to know how. Good luck."


Feng and Nekku took a simple job: Another thug was causing trouble for another shopkeeper, and that shopkeeper wanted him dead. Standard routine. The two boys found their prey hanging out with one of his buddies getting drunk under a tree in one small square. They stalked the man through the city. Eventually, he came to a small courtyard, in between three houses and connected to an alleyway.

The man stopped with his buddy, obviously waiting for something that would never come. From the rooftops, Nekku silently nodded to Feng. They both took their bows off their backs, notching arrows and aiming carefully.

Nekku imitated a bird call, and sent his arrow flying. It hit the thug's crony squarely in the small of his back, dropping him instantly. Feng loosed his, hitting the thug's left ankle. He swore, notched another arrow, and loosed it, sending it into the man's hip. Finally, he sent one last arrow flying, hitting the man through both lungs.

The two boys dropped down to the ground, pulling their arrows out of the corpses. They talked as they walked back to the shopkeeper, to receive payment.

"Feng," Nekku said. "What was that? It's not like you to miss twice at that short range."

All Feng did was sighed.

"You're worried about Wei, aren't you?" Nekku continued. "She's taking it pretty hard. You're worried about her."

"Well, duh. She was my first friend. We've been at each other's sides for ages. Until you came along, all we had was each other."

"Right. That's it."

"It is."

Nekku sighed.

"I wish I'd had the chance to get to know Lily better."

"I wish you'd been able to, too. She was great. All the times we had..."

He brushed some stray forming tears from his eyes.


Kayla and Ehan stalked the duo from the rooftops.

"Let's take them out," Kayla said. "No screw-ups this time. We do it, swiftly and silently."

She raised her arm, beginning to pull water from her pouch. Suddenly, Ehan shot his arm out, grabbing hers.

"No," he said. "Don't. Listen, they're grieving. Their friend is dying. They don't deserve it. Their friend doesn't deserve it. Just leave them be for now. We can kill them some other time."

"What's gotten into you, Ehan? Suddenly grown a heart? Suddenly putting others before your own glory?"

"I know what it's like to lose, alright? If I find out you've touched the Shadowborn or his friends before they're done grieving, I will kill you myself."

Kayla leaned back, eyes wide.

"Alright, alright, fine. We won't take them out."

"Thank you."

Death

Another two weeks passed. Lily's condition worsened. It started to be harder for her to breath. Her fever got worse. One day, she suddenly lost control of her right hand. The next day, it was the entire right arm. Wei now stood a constant vigil, never leaving her sister's side. She continued her routine of sobbing when Lily was sleeping, and attempting to be brave while she was awake.

One day, while Feng and Nekku played Pai Sho and Wei was telling Lily a story, Lily began to cry out. Wei rushed to her sister's side.

"Lily! Lily! What's wrong?!"

"It's today. This is the day; this is the hour. I'm about to die, Wei. I can feel it."

"No... Lily! Feng, Nekku, Jericho! Come quick!"

The three of them rushed into the room. Lily looked up at them.

"I... I knew this was coming..." she said. "But I didn't expect it to be like this..."

Wei crouched down and hugged her sister, crying.

"Lily, I'm so sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so so sorry..."

"Don't be, sister. I'll see you again."

"I know, but..." She was sent into another fit of sobs. Feng, Nekku, and Jericho were crying, as well.

With one final spurt of energy, Lily leaned up and hugged her sister. She gently whispered into her ear "I love you," and then slowly exhaled for the last time, still pressed against her sister.

Wei sobbed again. She cried and cried over her sister's now-lifeless body.

Sister Dearest

A week later. It was the first day of September, and the skies were gray. A light drizzle of rain fell. Wei, Nekku, Feng, and Jericho trekked up through Ba Sing Se, to a small glassy clearing. In that clearing was a hill with a small tree on it. They climbed up it.

They were carrying the still body of Lily in a casket between them.

They got to the top of the hill, and Feng and Jericho each took a shovel, making a small grave. They finished digging the pit, and helped Wei and Nekku lower the casket in, slowly. They then shoveled dirt back over it, patting it down gently. Wei brought forward a small stone, engraved to say:

Here lies Lily

Sister Dearest

Wei began to sob again, the rain hiding her tears.

Jericho coughed.

"I... This world will be a worse place without her. She was the best apprentice I ever took, but she was more. I lost my wife before I could have a child. She filled that void. She was like a daughter to me. The best daughter a man could have." He wiped his eyes.

Nekku stepped forward next.

"I didn't get to know Lily. I wish I had, now. I'm sorry she didn't get more time. For her, and for us."

He stepped back, and Feng stepped forward.

"Lily was an amazing person. She was one of the first friends I ever had. I have so many fond memories of her. I'll never let them go."

He stepped back. Wei stepped forward, now. She didn't say a word this time, however. She simply took out a small roll of parchment. Her final goodbye to her dear sister. She gently placed it in a small, oblong box, to protect it from the elements. She placed it gently before her sister's grave, and shed one last tear, which fell down into the soil in which her sister would remain forevermore.

Trivia

  • I'm sorry if this chapter isn't too good. Action is my thing, not emotions and such.

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