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|Chapter One: Jinora|
March 11, 2014
Jinora let her eyes slide shut as she turned her face up to the warm sunshine and welcomed the feel of it on her skin. More than that, she welcomed the feel of the cooling breeze dancing around her body. In her mind's eye she 'saw' the air currents cavorting around buildings, Satoshimobiles, and people; made out the shapes of these objects so clearly she could have navigated the congested street with her eyes closed and not stumbled.
With a small sigh she opened her eyes and picked up her tea cup. To many of the passers-by, she was unremarkable unless they passed close to her small round table in the Plaza, and those few who did were startled by what they saw: a frail seeming, thin old woman with her silver hair tied into a topknot at the back of her head, sky blue arrow tattoos on the backs of her hands and on the road map of wrinkles that was her forehead, and deep brown eyes that shined with youth and vigor better suited to a ten year old than a ninety year old. Such people took note of those eyes, the tattoos, and the traditional orange and tan robes of the Air Nomads, dismissed her as either a crackpot or a throwback to a bygone era, and forgot her before they were fifty paces away.
After swallowing her little sip of tea, Jinora resumed penning the letter she had spread out on the table in front of her.
My dear Kah-Pa,
Greetings from the Earth Kingdom! Summer is quickly bearing down on us here in Ba Sing Se. Every day the temperature goes up a few degrees, I envy you living in the cool breezes and starry nights of the Bay. I am still waiting.
It has been twenty-two years now since Avatar Korra's era came to it's peaceful end. Though mankind has made magnificent strides in the areas of science, medicine, and technology in all of the Nations perhaps only in the Fire Nation, which lead the way for such a revolution, is it more evident than here in the Earth Kingdom.
I sit in a large plaza just off of the main thoroughfare, besieged by pigeonflies and the occasional urban panther hoping for a handout. All around me, the squat pagoda style buildings that once were the hallmark of the Earth Kingdom have been replaced by towers of steel and glass stretching hundreds of feet high that reflect the sunlight like a myriad of precious stones. The roads are smooth and even with black paving, and Satomobiles of every size, shape, and hue you could hope to imagine make an utter mess of everything and clog the streets.
Quaint tea shops and market stalls have been replaced by corporate headquarters, small houses replaced by tracts of single unit dwellings called apartments, and where once only the very affluent could afford a radio every home now has a television, a telephone, and two cars.
Even the clothing has upgraded to suit modern tastes. Long robes and gowns are reserved now for only formal occasions, the normal attire being a shirt of spun cloth and loose pants called 'slacks' among the older people, while the youthful adorn themselves in plain shirts, pants from a new fabric called denim, and smart brightly colored shoes. I have noticed over the past twenty years that as the weather gets hotter the garments get shorter. Young ladies, in particular, are fond of this fashion trend. Everywhere I go I see them with their bare arms and pretty, sun-tanned legs out to the open air to stay cool and-I suspect-to be admired by the boys who like to look at such things.
Diseases that only decades ago were certainly fatal have been all but eradicated thanks to preventative medicine and so many liquids, syrups, and pills that to try and catalog all of them would be a lifetime's work. People no longer grow their own food, it is grown for them and mass produced for quick and easy consumption on the go. Hurry seems to be the phrase on the lips of people everywhere. Earth Kingdom people seem incapable of slowing down and relaxing anymore.
But for all of the wonderful things that humanity has gained, there is also much it has lost. When I moved here two decades ago to begin my search, the Spirit World began a gradual distancing of itself with each new invention, or discovery, or pill so that now the sight of a spirit is an extremely rare event and when such spirits are sighted they are undeniably increasingly hostile and aggressive. The arts of Bending, once viewed as marker of cultural heritage and National pride have been reduced to mere tools of utility; rarely given any more thought or respect anymore than flipping on a light switch. Indeed some of the more uncommon arts, such and sandbending and lightning generation have been forgotten completely.
But by far the worst is the world's attitude regarding the Avatar. When Avatar Korra did not immediately reincarnate, there was great consternation. As the years drew on and the Avatar did not appear consternation melted down to concern, concern to ambivalence, and ambivalence to apathy. There are many whom say now that the cycle is at last finally broken, and that the Avatar will no longer return to us because science now occupies the place once meant for her. Or him.
I pray for the sake of the world that these people are wrong. But, and I am very ashamed to admit this, there have been times I wonder if they aren't correct. I hope these people are wrong, and I hope that my doubt of the Avatar's return is unfounded. I sincerely do, for the world is falling out of balance.
I hope to come back to Air Temple Island later in the summer and visit. Until I do, please give all of my love to Tu'uri and Akytreu.
Your loving aunt, Jinora.
Jinora set her pen down and looked down into the depths of her empty tea cup. She saw nothing there but a few sad, drenched tiny tea buds and for a moment the sight reminded her of what the world itself must see when it searches in vain for someone whom might never return.
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