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|Letter of Regret|
Secrets Within Masquerades
Strangers who'd encounter the enormous town would've taken to their heels the very moment they arrived, overpowered by all the hustle and bustle that was roaming everywhere.
It was a day like any other. Citizens hurried through the streets, taking walks while small-talking, blocking traffic, shouting over half the given area to attract some customers or by running across the whole quarter because of lack of time, praying not to be fired. Although it looked amusing at the first glance, this was the definition of everyday life in Republic City.
The big metropolis, built by the former Avatar, Aang, and the former Fire Lord, Zuko, had been growing ever since its establishment, which led to its high status. Its great population consisted of people of all nations, except the Air Nomads. Those lived beside Republic City as the last ones of their remaining culture, on a small island in the middle of Yue Bay, known as Air Temple Island.
Compared to Republic City, the island was tranquil. At least it would be, if it wasn't for the airbenders who were training at the moment. For two hours, sounds of growing frustration could be heard alongside the rustling of the fresh wind that was streaming around the airbenders.
Korra sighed and paused in her movements. She had been practicing the same move for exactly two hours. Since Tenzin decided going back to training was best for "getting back in the groove", they were practicing constantly without any breaks, much to the displeasure of the kids and the Avatar.
"Dad, can we please take a break?" asked Ikki who was right about to topple. Tenzin, who had been observing his pupils, held on and responded. "No, you can't. You'll continue the exercise as long as you need to. And I don't want any excuses. This applies to everyone."
As he wouldn't know better, he shared an intensive eye contact with the Avatar who, however, remained unimpressed.
Full of anger, Meelo fluttered his hands.
"That's not fair! What have we ever done to you? I'm done for today!" Demonstratively he crossed his arms to underline his statement.
The airbending master sighed before speaking to his oldest son, hoping to calm him down.
"Meelo please. Just go on with your training. When you're done you--"
Unable to speak further, Tenzin was roughly cut off by Meelo who was about to blow, bugging off the commands of his father.
"No! No one's telling me the do's and don'ts! I'll leave you alone and YOU are NOT allowed to come with me!" He pointed his finger at Tenzin before creating an air scooter and speeding away on it, leaving a cloud of dust behind.
Frustrated with the behavior of his son, Tenzin hung his head and watched as Ikki followed her brother. As expected, the young Avatar also stopped with the training, much to her relief but Tenzin's annoyance. Only Jinora continued her training, but was unnoticed by her father.
Tenzin sighed before raising his head to say:
"You - you know what? Maybe we should quit for today because it's already late. We'll continue tomorrow with your training." Without any other word, he turned back and left the two others on their own.
Korra rolled her eyes before walking off too, but stopped in her steps, noticing a still practicing Jinora. With a small smile on her face, the waterbender made her friend aware of the absence of the others, amused about the fact that the airbender didn't pay attention at all.
"Ehm, Jinora? You can stop with practicing."
Jinora, visibly absorbed into her training, turned her face to Korra as she noticed the presence of just the two of them. "Where are the others?"
"Your dad thought it's 'pretty late' and decided to take a break for today. Finally."
But it was only noon.
The airbender made an unsure look before she responded.
"Yeah... But I guess a bit more training wouldn't hurt."
Surprised by Jinora's statement, Korra raised an eyebrow.
"Don't you think you need a break? Your dad's been pushing us for this whole time, and he seems to not have changed his mind entirely. You should enjoy your free-time as long as you can."
But the girl stayed at her decision.
"Don't worry. I have everything under control. Trust me."
Eventually, the Avatar complied, but warned her friend a last time.
"You shouldn't be too hard with yourself. You've gone through much."
Jinora nodded as Korra turned away from her and headed to the housing.
Inside the rustic temple, a friendly and concerned Pema encountered the Avatar on her way to her room.
"Korra, is everything alright? You look stressed." She sighed and continued before Korra could answer.
"Is Tenzin really pushing you too hard? Should I talk to him? Perhaps I can convince him to not make you practice everyday ... Wait, where's Jinora?"
The non-bender eyed the Avatar with a questioning look on her face while the latter blinked a few times. Every time Pema got concerned or mad about something, she overreacted. Ikki told her about Pema's total outburst during their vacation at the Southern Air Temple. Her siblings, deservedly the victims of the outburst, had informed Ikki since she hadn't been around, sadly.
Now, after the incident with the spirits, Pema was even more caring - understandably.
After all, she nearly lost one of her beloved children. Korra knew her as a lovely and calm woman, but if it was for her kids, her own flesh and blood, Pema wouldn't stand at anything. No one could resent it, but sometimes the overall smart non-bender could get on one's nerves though.
Korra wasn't sure what to say. If she said the truth, which would be that Jinora was still training, Pema would just be more concerned. And furious. The waterbender could already imagine an angry Pema yelling at a confused Tenzin. The outcome wouldn't be pleasant.
"She's... outside," Korra finally answered nervously.
A bit to her relief it was the truth. But not the whole truth.
"And why is she all alone there? What is she doing?" Korra could almost hear the hecticness in her voice. Not a good sign.
She rubbed her neck to somehow get rid of the hard pulse beat she felt in her veins.
"She ... is ... - she's playing with Furry-Foot," the waterbender said hesitantly.
A shadow came across the face of the woman, something Korra had been afraid of.
"That's ... nice ..." Pema replied weakly, her voice laced through with disappointment. Apparently, the non-bender wasn't all that happy about the fact that her daughter was playing with spirits. Korra wondered if she should take it back and tell Pema the truth, but she kept it this way and passed the green-eyed woman silently.
She finally arrived her room and let herself fall onto the bed, exhausted from all the issues she dealt with. And before she could tell, she was trapped in the land of dreams.
A few hours later, the former Pro-Bender woke up and joined the family at dinner. She was happily greeted by Ikki, who seemed to have waited for her and acknowledged with a deep yawn which caught Tenzin's attention.
"Korra, I completely understand that you're exhausted because of all the training, but it's no excuse to yawn during dinner. We're eating. Haven't I taught you how to be polite and respectful?"
"Yes, dad. I remember completely," she gave back teasingly and let out a weak yawn before sitting down next to Ikki. Tenzin sighed - the third time that day - and tried to forget the conversation. However, the family was interrupted by a White Lotus guard approaching the airbending master. "Master Tenzin, a message from the Earth King came in. It's for you."
Skeptically, the airbender raised an eyebrow. Wondering about the reason of the sudden news, but took the scroll eventually and read each word carefully. Korra, on the other side of the table, could see how the light gray-blue eyes of her mentor eagerly followed the words which were written on the paper. When he finished reading, he let out a quiet groan and stuffed the message into his robe.
"And, what's standing?" Ikki asked curiously and leaned over the table, excited about the content of the letter.
"Nothing important," Tenzin replied shortly to which Ikki felt hurt due to the rough answer she got from her father.
Surprised of the reaction of his father, Meelo was curious as well. "Come on dad. Please tell us. I promise I won't fart. For now."
The man who brought in the letter, looked around uncomfortably and snuck out quietly, wanting to get away from the somewhat awkward family.
"Do you have to be so curious? You see, dad doesn't want to talk about it, so just let him be."
The two siblings glared at Jinora who hadn't said anything until that moment what could have lasted longer if it was for Ikki and Meelo. Annoyed with their sister, the two confronted her. Especially Ikki.
"And do you have to be so mean to us? We just want to know something. It's not your business."
"Yeah," Meelo agreed, "just focus on your boring books since you're so into them."
Before Jinora could say something, Pema interfered, angry about the contact of her children.
"Enough! How often did I tell you to not be so rude towards your sister?"
"What? You are blaming us?! She was the one who started!" Ikki yelled, offended.
"But did you have to confront her this way?" Pema asked sternly. "She is your sister. When will you two understand it?"
Jinora glanced away at that comment. Afterwards, though, her siblings gave in - still mad about being charged instead of her.
After the hotheated dinner, everyone spread out on the island while Korra sat on the steps in front of the entrance, lost in her thoughts. Right after dinner, Tenzin had left for Republic City for unknown reasons.
The Avatar had a bad feeling about the letter which let down Tenzin's mood. She tried to figure out a plausible explanation, but she couldn't think of any.
In the evening, Tenzin returned and was greeted heartily from his kids who shared a hug with him.
Pema called the five of them in for dinner; a second after the announcement, the three kids ran into the house hungrily.
While eating, the Avatar noticed a distressed Tenzin looking into his soup with an empty expression. Concerned about the wellbeing of her teacher, she spoke to him, hoping to at least bring back some life of him.
"Tenzin, are you okay?"
Wearily, he raised his head and answered the question of his pupil halfheartedly.
"What do you mean? I'm fine as you can see."
However, Korra didn't believe him. It was obvious he wasn't.
"I'm done eating! Man, my stomach is about to explode," sounded the heavy voice of Meelo, who patted his stomach.
Tenzin looked to his son, no expression except sadness on his face. Silently, he stood up and made his way out of the room, followed by confused gazes he didn't notice. Meelo, the most confused one, felt guilty and asked:
"Did I say something wrong?"
Pema just shook her head with no meaning and told them to go for sleep, so she could have the opportunity to talk to her husband privately.
"If he's willing to..."
- The original story is written in German.
- So it happens that this is the first chapter to be translated into English.
- The original title in German is called "The Letter" (Die Nachricht).
- This chapter is one of the chapters to have different titles and scenes than the original ones.
- In the other version, Tenzin is more rude when Meelo wants to take a break; in this version he's calmer and Meelo is the furious one.
- The paragraph in which Korra is confronted by Pema, refers to the vacation of Tenzin's family to the Air Temples in The Southern Lights. It is also mentioned of a nearly loss of one of Pema's kids - meant is Jinora when her soul had been trapped in the Fog of Lost Souls which lies in the Spirit World.
- When Korra approaches the dinner, the short conversation with Tenzin is about her disrespectful behavior. However, in the other version, it deals about Korra's sleep.
- Although the following conversation with Tenzin's kids takes the same direction, it is kept longer in the rewritten version and deals with the relationship of the three siblings.
- Ikki's line "And do you have to be so mean to us?" reflects her statement to Tenzin she made in Civil War, Part 1.
- For those who are interested in why the story is written in two languages:
The author wasn't all too pleased with the outcome in the German version, so she wanted to make it better in a somewhat rewritten version and has the opportunity to improve her English skills and to share the story with more people due to the widespread language.
- This chapter has been written in cooperation with .
- Furthermore, the image in the infobox has been solely made by AvatarKya.
- This chapter counts 1932 words, whereas the German version of it counts 1683 words.
For the collective works of the author, go here.