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Chapter Three: Charm
Chapter information

Avatar: The First Skybender


Volumen Primum: Paradiso (天堂)


Chapter Three: Charm

Written by
Release date
  • July 31 2012
Last chapter

Chapter Two: Flying Cloud Odin

Next chapter

Chapter Four:

Master Ratava's
Current Status Activity


Previously on: Avatar: The First Skybender

Above the clouds lie the Archiurano of the Sky Parliament, an aerial insular region composed by a major island where the Celestial Elite lives spoiled by the Outsiders, half-breed islanders. Having assumed a friend's identity and gone work in her place, the girl ever in disguise finds out that the Bearer of the Flying Cloud Odin is in fact her older step-sister.

Chapter Three: Charm

They say the third time is the most difficult to do, but to me every first time is the hardest one, being the youngest of three daughters. It is not an easy task to get my father's attention. If I had not come into this world, my mother would still be here; so, in a silent way, they blame me. The only person that truly ever treats me right is my mother's mother; she says that I resemble my mom so much.

We live near the northern Earth Kingdom coast, high up on the hills of the Wind-Maker Mountains on the Providing Grounds region; I dare say that we live at a low altitude place, because from here I cannot see much of the sky itself, there's only sky to see in between the mountains, just like the ocean. Sometimes I can spot small boats or even a ship once in a while. And if you look up the clouds won't relent, that's why it's always raining or snowing around here; it's rare that we have a sunny day.

When I look into the sky, all I can see is numb clouds and greyish shadows shaped like cream puffs as enormous as Fire Nation airships. They remind me of the cotton candy my Grandma used to bake on Avatar's Day, just as delicious as the warm, succulent sweet fruit pies she always made on my birthday, but as bitter as the stares my sisters and my dad have always given me.

My bittersweet memories made me who I am today, though I don't know yet, if they've made me stronger or just colder. Whether, as I carry them into adulthood, they will allow me to prosper and endure through any hardship, or if they'll render me an empty shell, unable to truly love, or to be loved.

Beyond that, maybe, not just love itself... Because, I know I love Grandma, but... I mean, something, more special, something that detaches a little bit, yes, it is about trust, that's all about... Those narrowed eyes looking by the sides up on me, the nasty glares I can sense they sent from the inside upon my back... I know Mom died to bring me to life... Mom trusted her life, the rest of it, anyway, for me to start living mine, and I didn't even have conscience of myself, but how can I take the step... and the risk... of trusting others, when those whom have surrounded me withhold from sharing that bond with I... with the sacrificial end my mother met eternally laying a burden upon my person, how can I withstand the pressure to not let that be in vain?

And then I close my eyes, like I always do, when things get so noisy in my mind. And I try to shut things from it. Try to keep it quiet. My own quiet place, for me to be; where no one can see me, mock me, or worse, bend me against my will.

How could I change my world, if I can't even lead my way? I've already taken the blame for this one mistake of being born. Would you still be here, if I hadn't came into life? And what if I just cannot go on without you? You, the mother that I never knew.

As I wash the dishes with my Grandma, I just look outside the window, to the solar clock in the middle of the square, next to the fountain, and some small trees. And I just wonder why would I still be here. If just I could snap my fingers and vanish into thin air. Out of sight, out of mind. As if I have never existed. As if anyone would never be reminded of me. But they wouldn't, even if I'd go away, their hatred on my back would continue, and wherever I'd be, I could feel the keen piercing sensation feverish onto the back of my head. I wish I could make this tiredness disappear and simply get out of here. That would make my conscience clear, striding away, catching the flow, going on with the wave... I'd rather be anywhere else, but here.

If I had a room for myself I would just curl, crawl and crumble on the mattress, and stick my head inside the pillows to scream and cry till my voice ended. I'd be there, in that dark empty space locked inside, away from the world, waiting for a miracle. Waiting hopeless, for nothing would happen. Because, here, this is what it'd be. How many times have I asked myself if that wouldn't be that the right time to just grab my bag put it on my back and run away, Then, after looking into my Grandma's eyes, and this notion doesn't come to reality? Every time I think of leaving I touch one of the presents she gave me on my previous birthdays. I always wear the ribbons she, herself, sewed to me, and one locket in the shape of a maple leaf. I know it is hard for her to save money and give them to me, so I am very grateful.

Staring everyday out into the world across the street, hating the way my life has turned out to become, in sort of a hush feeling that poisoned me from the inside. I can remember a few things about my early childhood, and the places I used to lay, but all times I kept losing track of myself. Memories are some badass when they're related to my sisters. It's like a driveway to hell downing a hill in silent, trying to learn, but ever not being able to follow their steps. So I held the things I wanted to say, and always I was afraid, and I didn't make any sound.

Those memories are long gone; those days have turned into the most darkened corners of my mind. No dreams from back there, and subtly I got used to that situation, and so being hatred have turned to the normal me, and daydreaming began to fade out from my daily activities, when they were around. It's a shame those days cannot turn back. So I could live a renewed life. I'd love to be somebody else.

Recently I keep asking myself when I would start breaking down. I feel so out of place in here. It's like somehow, as if I just don't belong to this wholeness. I don't fit the portrait. I am meant for something else.

I must be meant for something else.

Nobody understands me. I can't trust them. Only my grandmother, and even she doesn't know what's like, when nothing feels alright, to be me.

I see that she senses I'm stuck into an existence I am not very fond of. She doesn't like to use the hate word. And that I'm tired of the people that live around here — who can blame me? They make me sick! All those half-smiles, and fake kudos grins, and some of them as a hell of hypocrites, full of lies.

And no one seems to worry about anybody else but their own-selves.

Nobody sees my soul bleeding.

There are a few times — actually there are a lot of them — that I simply feel that everybody has so enormous problems. Not the kind of problems that with a small attempt of thinking one may come up with a solution, but those very ones, circumstances, that none of them might change.

Some problems are born with us.

Sometimes I feel like nobody wants to solve them. Or even get them the smallest chance to become more than their situation. Believe me, when I tell you that I know what's like to hear people saying that we'll never be able to get through our limitations.

My own father says that at least seven times a day.

While encouraging my sisters to train their bending on each, every; and any type of ground like material we may have access.

But on me he shouts only words of me not going to make it. Cursing me with his eyes that bending hasn't been born into me because I killed my mother with my birth.

My town isn't the kind of well-organized one, and it is almost as if we live in the countryside, away from the development and technology that the Kingdom has been immersed into for years.

As the citadel sleeps, and the pavement is no longer full of stepping sounds and chattering giggles, I look through the stain-glassed window to catch the slight sight of movement, but as usual there's none.

If neighbours watched me from my attic sill they'd've thought what a crazy girl I am, for being woken up so late, looking at thin air, at the nothingness.

At least, if they could just understand...

The dark clouds high up in the sky are signs of a rainy early morning, and along with the rain drops, my tears shall keep falling down from inside. If Mom were alive, could she notice those tears streaming down my throat?

I'm so lost, like there's no light capable of guiding me from this darkness back home. No one can take me home, because my body is already here, but my soul isn't. I don't have a home to turn back for even if there were somebody able to guide me there.

My eyelids kept falling, but once in a while my eyes showed me images of people walking down the streets carried by a chariot pulled by one muscled gigantic Sabre-toothed Moose-Lion. Suddenly I felt my body density weight and it started to tingle. I tried to reach my voice, but it had already gone.

Before falling restless on the floor my hand could grab the phone on the wall next to me — Father and his paranoia finally served for something.

It's two o'clock in the morning and I was waiting down the floor, all by myself, alone save for the darkness, and the grievous people on the piazza right in front of my house.

"Tell me where have you been." I could hear through the phone line.

"I found a note with another name," Another voice talked into the conversation.

So, another phone in the house was out of the hook, of the calls could've been crossed. Anyway, the chatting was interesting; it seemed as Water Tribe Soup Opera.

Now would've been that very part when someone could blow a kiss and then the other person tells that they don't feel the same. But it wasn't a soup opera, and it wasn't comedy, either.

"Now I'll be relieved. She'll be gone," My heart pumped fast, and my mouth dried, that voice was my father's.

"Let's get her, she must be upstairs, in the attic," This was my middle sister, Měi líng.

"So, it's just earthbend from the outside, we'll enter through the window sill, she shall be lied on the floor already," My pupils dilated, but not from surprise, if my father and my middle sister were into this, so my older one too. Méi líng was just as cold as Dad and a bit worse.

I couldn't stay there forever; I was already biting my tongue to start making my blood flow, so I could sense my body again.

"You can hide behind your stories, but you cannot take me for a fool," They were playing with the wrong girl. I played nice all my life. I kept things cool, and while I was trying to bring peace into my house, they were selling me to those men, I didn't even know why.

"Oh my... Grandma! Oh! Holy Momo!" If they touch her, what could I do?

For one thing they didn't know; Grandma was a few steps ahead of them, though she knew all consequences, from the very first day.

The day of my very first conscious birthday, I was seven.

The day I was given my Maple Leaf Locket.

"Daddy, what's you're going to give me for my birthday?" Yeah, that was me and my shrieking acute little voice the night before my birthday, when I was about to become seven.

"Mèi Ling, what about a hug?" My father wore his stern look and his bottom low voice resounded as deep as every day, only a little less deep on the night before my birthdays.

"And a kiss?" I might as well have kept my mouth shut, because he has never answered me that question, nor ever gave me a kiss my entire life.

At that time I didn't realize how detached my father was to me. I only thought that he was that way now and that someday he'd be warmer, and welcoming. I think my hopes never shall become true.

"Mèi is not getting any presents tomorrow!" This annoying voice was my middle sister Měi's. And yes, she was very pretty, even though she was only eight at that time.

"Don't bother with little things like that, Měi, Mèi knows by now that in the morning, if she's lucky to have father's hug, that'll be her present, after all, it'll be seven years without her!" And fulfilling the trio, that's Méi being so mature for her age of nine and a half almost ten, Her voice so grave for a girl even at that time, Father's prodigy and protégée.

"Mèi-Mèi, you should not listen to your sisters, they are just jealous of your name ideogram," Grandma's voice was so young at that time I can even picture in my mind if I close my eyes. Her advices always giving me strength.

"Why are they being so mean on me? And, why are they always keeping lifting up that issue about Mom's..." I was sobbing, I sob too much.

"Baby girl, don't start crying, your mother never cried," That was definitely a lie Granny told me, "You know, Méi is the wild rose; and, Měi is the beautiful one..." I ever was so bothered about our names sounding so similar one to another.

"And mine?!?" Grandma never told me before.

"Someday, I'll tell you, my dear. But for now, you'll know why: it's because you are the third one."

My face shrugged into a mask of scorn, if there was something that annoyed me more than our names being almost the same, was me being the third one to receive it, them, it; anyway, it doesn't matter.

As if we were all for one, and one for all...

Friends forever, and forever friends...

That is just not fair.

At that night I slept like an angel; only that I was awoken most of the early morning time and sleepy during the actual morning.

Right after midday, we got lunch: pan-fried noodles, leechi nuts and moon peachs salad, egg custard tart, and fried dough. Even if it was my birthday, Yù Xiàng Li, my Father doesn't put off a business appointment.

Hell yes, he transformed my birthday lunch into a meeting for signing new commerce routes for the family business.

So, the event of me turning seven passed by unnoticed.

Until the sun showed itself reddish near the horizon; that time, my grandma took me by the arm, and walked with me to the family shrine, where the ashes of my mother lay until the present moment.

The dusk seems so warm and cool at the same time, as a hug and a wet kiss on the cheek. And then, right in front of me stood my grandmother holding into one hand a baton made of oak and on the other a small reddish wooden made locket, with a lime green collar full of velvet tiny leaves on each link of it.

"This is your seven-year-old present, my precious," My grandma's eyes were glimmering with tears.

"Th-thank you so m-much, Granny, just please, do not cry."

"Promise me that you'll never ever open this locket!"

"I pr-promise, Gran-grandma."

"Only, only if it's a time of full necessity, and there is not even the slight chance of finding any other solution."

"I understand, but I don't know why you are saying these things..."

"You'll be fine, just use it every day, from today on, could you assure me that you'll ever be one with this locket, Mèi?"

"Yes, Grandma Hú Zhà." That was one of the first times I called her by the name, "By the way Granny, what's that you're doing with that wand? Are you a witch?"

"I am," She told me, and then she smiled a grin between irony and sarcasm.

I've never been good enough to find out truth among those two.

You've just got to tell me what's wrong with society, because whenever and everywhere I look I see people dying to be on control of things, and they'll not stop until they've reached this.

I feel as if I have taken some sickness pills, and my body aches as if it were recovering from a surgery. My attic walls don't hold any pictures of me or anybody; I don't gather stuff, 'cause actually I don't have much, even books are rarity in here.

I wished things were a little different, and I could follow those stories' archetypes, telling me how I should be, though certainly, it doesn't make sense to me anyway.

"Is everybody going crazy?" I wonder myself about my family, if I can even call those three by this word. And, in no time at all, my mind wanders to the question of if is anybody going to save me at all, thus Granma wouldn't hold both my sisters, and my father together.

"Can anybody tell me what's going on?" Vaguely my conscience turns back to its original state, and my eyelids don't want to blind me anymore.

So, a shadow answers my intuition and the stained glass window breaks open, leaving one more void for the moonlight to fulfil my room... Er...Attic, whatever.

"If you open your eyes, darling..." This strange woman had a soft voice as if she were praying some mantra with her thoughts.

That creature, believe me not, wore the weirdest hairstyle I've ever seen, just for the record. I'd never go to the same hairstylist as she.

"What do we get here?" Spoke that velvet voice making me drowsy even more.

"You may think, that you'll see that something is wrong, but it is all your imagination..." then I couldn't sense any part of myself again.

I guess things are not how they used to be; There's no more normal families, and my own isn't an example of a perfect fine one either. Parents act like enemies, but my father haven't been a good one since I can remember, but he's never been the kind of man who'd stabbed me on the back. As so I thought. Despite all the hatred he showed me after me growing up after my seven years of age. Now, he's being into this situation, makes me feel like the Hundred Year War II.

I guess all around are so damn busy, it's like no one's here, and they don't even act like care. Money seems to be the first priority, and this isn't supposed to make sense. But, since I'm pretty used to their positioning about my existence, it kind of makes a little sense to me now, just a little bit indeed.

Rich people driving big old Sato mobiles models, while kids are starving lying in the streets homeless. Does anyone care? Life's pretty unfair, would anybody like to share?

But why am I thinking about all of that? I must be very dazzled.

"LISTEN!" That woman, the one with the strange haircut, yelled and then all my senses came back to me, but I wasn't inside the attic no more. I was being pulled down the house by my two older sisters using earthbending chains of stone and handcuffs on my wrists and fingers; why would they do that, for the Avatar's sake?

"I'm sick of all this waiting!" Shouted a man's voice from the chariot cabin stopped on the square fountain corner, my father beside it bowing low as if that man were some kind of authority.

"Maybe you're the one who's wrong, not me..." That time the voice came not in the tone of a full grown up man or woman, but instead it was a child's one. However the owner of it was not any child at all.

"So what are you going to do? What you going to say?" The manly one asked, now his tone sounded as if the one to whom he was directing himself was actually the real person in chief of that entire situation.

There was no other reaction, than just a tiny stare showing aversion. The man knew he had crossed his limits, and also that he'd be punished for that when it all ended.

I saw my entire family outside our home, the silence stood on top of the town, it meant that everyone was asleep...Or have they had been put to sleep? Or worse, eternal sleep?...

There could've been a way to do it my way, to save my grandma, who was being captive sided by two wardrobe-sized men, their arms round as oak tree boles.

You might've thought that I had no way out, any future in sight, nothing at all. Then, my head started living in the past, thinking about my firsts attempts on earthbending with my sisters, and guess who our teacher was — Oh, forgive me — our Master...

Yes, Yù Xiàng. You may know him by now.

Because he's my father.

"Méi Líng, Měi Líng, Mèi Lìng!"

Two pairs of footsteps went running down the staircase and outside the house to the courtyard for the earthbending lesson.

"Mèi Lìng!" Another time my father had called me, and I was still grooming myself.

"Mèi Lìng Li!" This time it was him yelling at me, and I could hear the sounds of his heavy feet stepping up the stairs to the attic.

Earthbending was kind of a family tradition, and despite me being the assassin daughter, it was my mother's desire for all her offspring to learn from him even if she herself weren't a bender.

I was putting my trainers on, so finishing the job. Just for him to start his job of yelling at me just like always. And so I went down to one of my first earthbending lessons, in which I was a complete failure.

After what did seem to be a free sample of eternity, my father stopped, face-palmed, and did stride back to the yard; it meant I had one minute to get there. And when he meant one minute, he meant sixty seconds counted.

I got there, alive and breathing, but not for too long. As so my father would, and did, assure himself.

First he said for me to start practicing stone and random earth levitation with Měi, my middle sister, which was a little lazy on things related to stones and rocks. But instead of just being lazy I was a complete zero. Nought, I couldn't move a dust even if I blew at it. Then after my ego started dropping, my father put me to train a little with Méi, my older sister, and stone and rock prodigy; that's when the thing got hard. I have bruises to prove you the story.

As I couldn't rock shield — actually I couldn't rock anything — to protect myself, all kinds of rocks and stones randomly thrown just found their way into mine. And that wasn't nice.

That really wasn't nice, as if my training wasn't hard enough my father put me to an amicable dispute of triple bending fight. And — What a dad! — of course I lost.

Both my sisters stared at each other and exchanged the grievous idea of persecuting me, as I could only run and climb on the nearest tree. But Měi produced a small earthquake at the same time that Méi did a few amount of thin rock columns to shake the tree even more. So before I noticed, I was on the floor — or not, sometimes I was in mid-air — and then started the earth bullets. There's one part of my arm that I still feel the presence of one, could it be that grandma had forgotten to take another one too?

So, listen: my two sisters became more than best friends from this day on, they became my personal bullies. 'Cause I couldn't move a stone move, or rock shield, or any other basic earthbending movement. That's my generation.

"It's going down tonight..." The childish little voiced young man whispered these words into thin air.

And they seemed to switch something inside my stomach — apparently the sensation was as if I had forgotten to have lunch. So, body, let's go, we're going to do it till we die, 'cause I have no reason to apologize for, neither I need to say I'm sorry, or do what everybody wants me to. In fact it's not so complicated, because all people want almost the same these days. Make money, no matter what, even if you inflict harm onto others.

And this switched a small tiny — I dare say I was proud to be able to perform it — evil half-smile.

When we are the ones standing on top and doing things the way we please, our way, others say we got no future, and we're living by no rules. And that was the way I saw those people. They invaded my house, they along with my father and sisters imprisoned my grandma and me, and I didn't even know why back then. But living in the past is all that I can right now. Actually living is a privilege I cannot afford to have anymore.

My father was still bowing to the little young man that had just stepped out the chariot, while I was grabbed by the soft-voiced woman by both arm wrists into a cold water chain tool, something that I didn't even know about, was she a Bender or not?

My pending head was no more weighting so much at the hearing of those words, then I looked around me but all I seem to see was people standing immobile, expecting something to happen. The sympathy of the devil — like if we were going through emotional scripted inner circle destiny. And don't even dare say to me that was some kind of ritual and those they needed inspiration — in other words a sacrifice — and that was me — and above all things my life wouldn't wait for that.

This I was one hundred per cent sure. So, I guess it was up to me.

I wouldn't stand there kneeled waiting, contemplating the night wind blow my life's away, until my body laid left for dead. Life happens, let's it happen. While they were making up excuses, a casualty, I'd left that for another day, 'cause that wouldn't happen to me.

Procrastination running circles in my head; what would I have to do for it to be delayed?

I'd have to fight. I'd have to stir their lungs up.

That was the exact moment when I started laughing madly. How on earth would I be capable of doing that to two wardrobe-sized bodyguards, an waterbender from hell with a voice that made my legs tremble — or so did seemed to me, a muscled man twice my height, the tiny-voiced young man and, to add to the mixture, my two older sisters, not counting my own father?

That would rock!

Rock my brain out, or was I getting mad? Or I could have got one ticket to ride straight to Spirit World. No way back, see ya, so long, farewell.

My father has raised his look to meet my face and he started to laugh with me. The pair of us was uncontrolled. That was when the bending started.

He moved his feet so the sandy soil grabbed them and made the terrain around me soft enough for me to start sinking. I was not worried, I don't know where my head was — definitely — and so, I did the same.

And it worked.

For the first time ever I bended the earth. Or so I thought it was me bending. I, a complete zerobender, starting to bend an element even after having trained during almost half of my conscious life, that would be a strange case for the Ba Sing Se University Genetic Centre to study. At that time I didn't think about it, but now rethinking about I'm kind of a freak, am I? Inside my head, things works differently, I don't know, I think too much sometimes.

"There you go, you're always so right! It's all a big show; it's all about you..." I said that, wouldn't you believe? Yes, and he just got pissed off; so the sandy terrain surrounded me and became bars.

I made an earth smash movement, and used the blocks of sand — levitating them obviously — to throw at him, but he dodged them.

"You think you know what everyone needs! You always take time to criticize me!" My words continued as if I were on a psychologist treatment session. Another rock the size of my head almost smashed my actual head, but I managed to miss it by inches, blessed be the Avatar.

"It seems like every day I make mistakes... And I just can't get it right... It's like I'm the one you love to hate, but not today!" I made some sandy soil around where we were and also made it start to shake, so I call it a sandshake! And created a tiny cloud into where I could sneak to try to reach my grandma.

My father spoke some cursed words at me, saying things that nobody would want to know, or even be the issue of. And those hurt my feelings, and I couldn't stand them anymore.

"Shut up! I don't wanna hear it, get out of my way!" I made the sand-cloud disperse and grab around his legs, he wouldn't be able to move from there.

The strange in that entire situation was that nobody else was making a sound to what we were doing. It was like we were part of a personal show for them. And I was the main audition.

"Step up! You'll never stop me, nothing you say today is gonna bring me down."

I didn't know yet how wrong I have been about that statement.

"You never ask why, so there you go: it's all a big lie whatever you do..." He shouted at me smirking insanely. An continued: "You think you're special, but I know, we all know, That you're not! You CAN'T BE!"

"You're always there to point out my mistakes and shove them in my face," I made two earth columns grabbing his hands, "So, hands up, old man, don't tell me who I should be, and don't try to tell me what's right for me! Don't tell me what I should do, I don't wanna waste my time!" Tears WERE already in my eyes.

"I'll watch you fade away" our voiced resounded together at one time, which was the hitch for the entrance of my two sisters in the middle of the brawl.

You know when people that you grow fond of for some random reason you discover that even if they weren't meant to be your best mates they would be there; and that all this is no longer true.

I thought that I could always count on them. Growing up with two older sisters sharing a name with them, even if the only differences were pronunciation and ideograms, it would still be a kind of bond. I thought that nothing could become between us three, and that we were said to be a family no matter the distance as long as we would stick together. Though physical distance was close, psychological distance was too far apart.

I thought we would be alright...

That we'd be just okay, but I was stupid and they broke me down.

I'll never be the same again.

Méi Líng, my older sister undid the earth columns I made — at least I thought that it was me who did those — and Měi Líng, my middle sister, undid the quicksand covertures on my father's legs, freeing him.

I wonder why it always has to hurt fighting those three.

For every bending that I would've been able to learn, if I were a bender, theirs were stupendous; and they both had only started training a few years before me — actually using myself as comparison makes any earthbender a wonderful master.

I promised myself that I wouldn't forget what they did to me that day. And also how they showed me things, their moves, the way they've bent earth to free Father and to attack me simultaneously.

Méi sliced every earth column she made into earth razors that flown circling through the air, surrounding me. And, Měi started to undo the grounds. For a little moment I was enclosed by abysses that I could swear to see magma bubbling down there. I wish I had never seen that, because fear emerged from me like a volcano.

So thank you for showing me sisters cannot be trusted. And for lying to me, your friendship and those barely few good times we had, you might not even want them back. But when the tables turn again, they'll remember me, and will be wishing I were there for them. I'll be the one they'll miss the most, but they'll only find my ghost. As time goes by, they'll wonder why, they're all alone.

Remember when I said that actually I thought it wasn't me performing the bending in that past fight? Well, so kind of it was, and it was not — at the same time, so a Ba Sing Se U. Geneticist tried to explain to me, though it does not come in handy to explain it back to you now, I'll continue to tell you the occurrences with me bending and all, okay? Don't bother to ask, I'm no bender at all. Actually, in active state...

With my body fenced by the abysses and the heat from the newly born magma downwards I saw something that I could swear that I would not ever see in my entire life.

I saw grandma fighting.

"One more thing: before you go, grab the keys, because we're going out and leaving home, and we won't ever come back again." My grandmother recited those words. And both men beside her laid down, took the handcuffs off of her and stood there motionless and without a word.

Now I knew the reason why everyone was relent silent and stood motionless. But why couldn't grandma do the same to father and my sisters, was it just because they're family? Oh my, grandma needs to revamp her concept about family ties.

And so she clapped hands and the soil around my feet returned to the way it were. And so, the heat ceased altogether.

"Grandma Hú Zhà, you know you just cannot use your mojo-jojo on us..." This nonsense came from my middle sister Měi's mouth.

"You've been feeding us on that disgusting mix of herbs and egg custard for so long... Your...powers won't harm us." That time it was Méi talking; one nonsense more — that runs in the family (through my father's side, of course — Grandma Hú Zhà is my mother's mother, not his).

And then she was in fighting stance — and I was fanboying her with sandy pom-poms like a cheerleader.

So my sisters attacked from both sides, one with earth columns — that was Méi, and what she did best — and the other with shaking grounds — this one was Měi, and shakes is one of the things she does best.

My grandma's figure is tiny and weak-looking, but she is not at all weak. She ricocheted in mid air, sliced herself a few amounts of the earth columns Méi did, and threw them onto the quicksand soil my middle sister made, so she could jump from one rock to another and knock out Měi. That was lying down below the terrain she herself made into quicksand, but Father solidified it so she wouldn't sink.

"Well, stay up late for one more show my granddaughters. We're friends till the end, but your sister and I will take on the world. We just don't care at all, anymore." Grandma Hú Zhà began reciting that strange language one more time. But, then she started talking: "I wonder what it's like to be you two: to never really care how bad it hurts. So go ahead and lie and keep moving on. It's all about yourself and you're never wrong. I'll watch you crash and burn. The day is gone, and it's cold here outside."

And then she got hold of me. But we were intercepted by the three of them — Měi Líng, Méi Líng and Yù Xiàng — respectively my middle and older sisters and father.

"Why aren't these people doing anything?" I talked to myself in low voice.

"You'll understand soon Little Plum." My Grandma called by a nickname that was a caring way of using the meaning of our family name.

"You know I'd rather keep my mother's single name..."

"You know she didn't like your grandpa, may Koh has stolen his face..."

"He was your husband!"

"Yes, but you know, I'm the black widow, I married three times and I've killed them all..."

"I love your sense of humour, but Gran, we're cornered..."

"We're not, darling..."

"And outnumbered..."

"We're not, charmed one..."

"Stop saying those shameful nicknames, grandma, I'm blushing..."

"See... There's wonderful things when someone's starting calling you by another name..."

"Like what? Give me an example..."

"You start to see yourself through a different angle. And you gain another meaning for your own identity."

"So, Little Plum, and Charmed One, mean something special about me? Wow, I gotta note those to the others one thousand and seventy five I have on the parchment..."

"Girl, stop just talking and do your bending moves, just like you did before okay?" My grandma said, "ok"; She must be out of her mind, but then she winked her left eye at me.

I kind of understood, and kind of not. Actually I didn't understand anything. But I did the moves and so I — I mean, we — did my first earth shield.

"Do you remember the days? Way back when we used to say nothing could change us, and no one would stop us... So, it's just like that. I'll never be like you."

"What are you talking about, Grandma?"

"I'll tell you about your birthday."

"What about my birthday?"

"The day you were born... Was the same day Avatar Rèn died..."

"Grandma, I'm no Air Nomad..." I just got confused; A few Avatars back in time could bend other elements even when they were children. "Am I?"

"No, my child, but I've been doing some searching, and there's a friend of mine back in Ba Sing Se University, specifically at the Genetic Centre. He's quite good... And handsome too... And He's only a few years younger than you... two or three... But that's not a problem, my second husband was younger than me and he's been a really good lov..."

"Grandma! I don't wanna know about this! We're in the middle of a fighting!"

"And we're listening, too," The three of them stated moodily.


  • This chapter wasn't supposed to end at this point.
  • The three sisters' names meanings are (from the oldest to the youngest): "Wild Rose tinkling Plum"; "Beautiful Bell Plum"; "Charm Order Plum". The narrator is the youngest of the three sisters, so her name matches the chapter title.
  • The enemies seen in this chapter will reappear. And they have something to do with the lost of the Airbenders.
  • Ba Sing Se University is the most important scientific source of researching about bending-genetics.


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