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|Playing with Fire|
|Total word count||
September 24, 2015
It is our earliest memories, our earliest of lessons, our very earliest of experiences that forge us. The heritage is the hot block from which everyone's personal blade emerges. Childhood shapes us. Growth cools us. No one could deny that the lone woman on Ba Sing Se's elite earthbending defense force was a sharp blade. As with anything sharp, you must watch which end you face. But alas, there were some vital shaping lessons that Ratana of the Terra Team would not fully learn.
In her earliest of lessons, Rang Xue showed her that an element of the world was not a toy, but a piece of nature, essence, beauty. Power. Earth was the extension of an earthbender, and an earthbender was an extension of earth. Born of earth, this lesson came to her naturally upon revelation.
Other similar lessons were harder to learn, especially when it came to fire. Treating the hot flame as a toy was a surefire way to get burned. Amidst the battlefields of the world, Ratana was one of countless spirits, countless leaves from the vine, ravaged by neverending warfare. Like any master of her element, she met the challenge head-on. Not only did she not fear the firebenders she faced, she would not let herself fear any fire.
She had no fear of dragons. Perhaps this was foolish, after her scaling encounter. She reminded herself that the thief boy saw something different in them, and in her daydreams she could picture herself mounting such a beast and riding it into battle. Never mind the fire.
She had no fear of a volcano, either. As much an inferno as it may be, its innards were in fact the molten state of her native earth.
And she had no fear of the son of the enemy general. Born of fire himself, perhaps he was the worst kind of all for the earthbender. While his fire seemed warm and comforting, it made her forget to be wary of how hot and scalding the element could be. Distraction from her vigilance was something she could not afford.
The carnivorous flame of Sozin's heirs burned and devoured the world with it. The fire of the dragons worshipped by the Sun Warriors had long perished, with a pair of insignificant embers remaining. Oath keepers kept the secret, all of fire themselves, except for one of earth.
Ratana played with fire in her eyes. The burn must be given in return. The Fire Nation would be delivered justice without mercy, fate without kindness, the very same cruel side of fate seared into her kin's memories.
Atop a dragon's back, she could picture their entire country being burned down, as they had done to others, and appropriately dealt by the original source of the flame they forsook. Falling so slow. One was the one she loved born from what she loathed.
Ratana's earliest lesson stuck with her lifelong.
Others were much harder to learn.
An earth girl should not play with fire.
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