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January 20, 2017
Fifteen minutes after locating Wan's remains, the group has reached a fairly lush meadow—the piece of low ground contains short grasses, but is situated near a stream, and surrounded on all sides by a forest, the mountains leading to and 's settlement off in the eastern distance.and burying
"Alright, everyone. We'll train here for today., Guilin, you stand over here," Dao points to a spot to his right, and the two move a couple of meters to the location. "And men, you take the opposite side," he instructs, pointing to his left before his group of twenty men move to the desired location. The two sides form their respective lines, facing each other. Guilin, excited, gets into a fighting stance, fists raised and ready for action, while Singi looks at him curiously before eyeing the soldiers who are standing at attention.
"Guilin, step forward," Dao instructs, to which his son complies, still rearing to go.
"Now Singi, I want you to observe Guilin's posture and motion for this move, and afterwards, step forward and try the same. It's rather simple..."
With that, Dao turns his attention towards his men, and nods. Not even glancing at his commander, one of the men bends a large bolder and sends it Guilin's way with a hard punch, grunting as he does so. In response, Guilin widens his stance and remains rooted to the ground before making contact with the boulder, punching it with his right hand and shattering the boulder into large chunks which fly past him, while Singi's jaw slacks open, awestruck. Upon closing her mouth, she glances over at Dao and the soldiers, slightly nervous.
"You're expecting me to pulverize a boulder on my first try at earthbending?"
"No, I'm not," Dao responds. "I only wanted you to pay attention to Guilin's posture, and the motion he did to shatter the boulder. What I'm going to have you do is much less dangerous for a novice such as yourself, but it involves the same technique—I want to first see if you can move a boulder."
Singi nods, balling her fists. One of Dao's men bends up a large mass of rock, about Singi's size, between the two lines of people, while another bends a larger boulder a couple of meters away from them.
"Now, step forward before this boulder, here," Dao directs, gesturing to the first rock. "I want to see if you can copy Guilin's technique and move it so that it hits the other one down there," Dao again, directs his hand, gesturing to the boulder a few meters away to his left.
Singi relaxes her hands and slowly walks over to the first hunk of earth, before peering over the large mass to get a look at her target. Widening her stance, she juts her right arm forward, her fist just barely touching the boulder, when a gust of air exits her hand, sending her backwards with a yelp. She maintains her composure however, and touches bare ground with her feet, skidding to a halt as dust picks up from the ground. Once the dust clears, Singi slowly begins to walk back to the boulder, slightly miffed, while Jamyang simply looks on at her.
"Try to imagine the boulder as an obstacle—you'll need to move it out of the way in order to proceed."
"Normally, we airbenders just find a way to go around any obstacles..." Singi mutters to herself.
Singi once again delivers a punch to the hulking piece of earth, her fist making contact with the stone, only for a sharp jolt of pain to run up her arm and along her spine. She winces in pain, clenching her eyes shut as tears begin to form in the corners of her eyes, while clutching her right fist in her free hand and tucking her arm away.
"You okay?" Guilin calls.
"Yeah... kinda," Singi groans as she tries to compose herself.
"Keep trying, Avatar!" Dao calls.
"Care to give me any hints or tricks as to how I can move this thing, General?"
"There are no tricks in earthbending, Singi. You need to be direct and head on."
"Direct and head on, got it."
With that, Singi moves a couple of meters away from the first boulder, Dao raising an eyebrow while Guilin looks on in curiosity. Singi begins running towards the boulder before leaping in the air, letting out a battle cry. As gravity takes her down, she sticks out her right foot, directing it towards the boulder. When her foot makes contact with the large rock, it doesn't budge, and Singi's leg bends forward on impact before she hops off the hunk of earth and lands back on the ground. She growls in frustration, balling her fists as they and her arms tremble momentarily.
"You need to stay rooted to the ground when earthbending, for the most part. Unless you are sending a piece of earth towards your target from above, an attack from the air won't do much," Dao states, before taking a quick glance at Singi's dainty hands. He turns his head, eyeing Guilin's knapsack beside Jamyang, and the two animal hybrids.
"Guilin, do you mind if I use a certain item I'm sure you have in this bag of yours?"
Dao walks over and kneels before the knapsack. Sticking his hand in and rummaging through its contents, Dao finds what he is looking for and pulls out a roll of protective wrappings. He walks back to Singi, holding out the wrappings before her.
"These wrappings may help you work with the material a bit more. They'll protect your hands from injury. One thing about earthbending that may seem pretty obvious is that you'll often have to get 'down and dirty'. I don't want you to get hurt... at least too badly, during our lessons, or for these fine robes of yours to get torn."
Singi smiles in appreciation.
"Thank you, General. Do you mind if I quickly fly back to the village and change into some more appropriate clothing?"
"Of course not. Just don't take too long."
With that, Singi bends a cloud and whisks off north, while everyone else takes a moment to rest up. Once back at the tent, Singi strips down, wearing royal yellow robes with short sleeves reaching to just a bit beyond her shoulders, exposing her bare arms decorated with her airbending mastery tattoos. A fandango pink sash is wrapped around her waist, and her legs are still fairly covered—tight royal yellow pants reach down to her knees while the remainder of her legs are concealed in brown leggings, topped with dark brown shoes. Having grown her hair out further over the past three years, the two small strands of her hair that originally reached down to brush her cheeks now extend just beyond her jawline, still secured in two tiny tango pink string scrunchies. Meanwhile, Singi undoes the bun that she had worn from all of those years waterbending training, and fashions a portion of her brown hair into a ponytail reaching down to the middle of her nape. Finally, she puts on a red-brown bracelet along each of her upper arms, and wraps her hands and most of her forearms in the protective wrappings, her fingers, elbows, and upper arms exposed. Satisfied, she exits the tent and flies back to the training site via cloud. Upon touching the ground, Dao places his hands on his waist and smiles, giving an approving nod.
As Singi walks forward to face the boulder again, Dao continues talking, while in the background, cranefish struggles to maintain her composure.has decided to entertain herself with Qiú by attempting to balance herself upon the creature, the smaller animal rolling into a ball while the
"If there is one thing I already see in you, it's that you're persistent. Earth is the element of substance—it is stubborn, strong, and enduring, much like us earthbenders. A bender's personality is often reflected in the element from which they manipulate, and, if someone happens not to be a bender, you can still often find similar qualities due to living alongside fellow benders. It's integrated into their culture."
Singi stands before the boulder and takes a deep breath.
"Before you, is your natural opposite, and it's going to keep standing there until you force it to move. Now, use that persistence I saw in you and force that mass of earth to move!"
Determined, Singi widens her stance and delivers multiple punches to the boulder to no avail, but nonetheless, keeps going, Jamyang smiling at her unwavering performance, while Jiefeng, losing her composure, hops off of Qiú, and the two hybrid animals also take notice of the teenager.
"You can do it, Singi!" Guilin shouts, while the two animals call in response, Jiefeng outstretching her wings, and Qiú bouncing up and down on his feet.
Closing her eyes momentarily, sweating, Singi draws back her right arm and opens her eyes, yelling a battle cry as she launches her fist straight forward before it makes direct contact with the boulder. The force of the blow sends the hunk of earth shooting towards the boulder behind it a few meters until the two collide, shattering into large pieces. With the trial successful, Guilin cheers, joined in by Qiú, Jiefeng, and even some of Dao's men. Jamyang and Dao nod approvingly, while Singi wipes the sweat off her brow with her right arm and places her left hand on her waist, somewhat exhausted, but even more-so, relieved. After the celebrations have subsided some, Dao approaches Singi with a smile on his face.
"It was a basic move, but regardless, congratulations, Avatar Singi. You're officially an earthbender. Don't expect it to get any easier from here on out, though. Earth is still your opposing element, and it could very well take you years to fully master it."
Singi smiles, an air of determination in her tone.
"Don't worry, General Dao. It took me five years to master airbending, and three for waterbending. I'm used to it, and I'll train for however long it takes."
"That's the spirit! The day is still young, so, let's keep training!"
Singi gives a determined nod before another one of Dao's men bends up two large pillars of rock about seven feet tall.
"Guilin, step forward and slice this rock apart, before sending your pieces directly ahead of you," Dao commands.
Stepping forward, Guilin stands before one of the large pillars before he spreads his legs apart, planting his feet on the ground, before moving his upper body forward. Flattening his left hand so his fingers are pointing towards the target, he motions his right hand towards his left in a diagonal slicing motion from northeast to southwest. A large crack forms across the middle from the same direction Guilin motions his right hand, causing the upper half of the pillar to slide to the ground. Lifting his left foot and slamming it down one foot before him, Guilin lurches forward with a quick punch, sending the top half of the pillar flying. Shifting his body so he faces his father, Guilin lifts both of his hands, his fingers tightly tucked in against his palms and grunts, levitating the bottom half of the column, much to Singi's amazement. Upon lifting the rock, Guilin draws back both hands, balling his fists, before directing a punch with his right hand to the floating piece of earth, sending it forward before gravity brings it down to the ground with a loud crash.
With Guilin's demonstration done, it's Singi's turn to mimic the action. She slices and sends the top half of the rock formation effectively on her first try, but lifting the bottom half was another story. As if she was trying to lift the mass of earth with her bare hands alone, she struggles with getting the remains above ground. Beads of sweat collect along her face, and she tightens her eyes shut as she attempts to keep her hands straight above her head. Reminding herself that she needs to remain planted on the ground for this portion of the technique, she reminds herself not to stand atop her toes in an attempt to get the mass levitating in mid-air. After a few more seconds of struggling, and amid cheers of encouragement from Guilin, the remaining earth manages to slowly lift and disconnect from the ground. Slowly opening her eyes, Singi marvels that she was able to finally lift the hulking mass, and, with a determined grin on her face, delivers a quick punch to the rock, sending it flying and landing near the tree line, breaking down into three smaller chunks.
As those present erupt in cheers and claps, Singi stands tall, smiling that she performed another earthbending task successfully. For the next few hours, the training commences.
Later that night, Singi collapses on her side of the tent, exhausted.
"Boy, I'm beat!"
"You did very well for your first day," Jamyang acknowledges, before a familiar call comes from outside the tent.
"I'm in here, Guilin. Come inside," Singi responds, sitting herself up and facing the entrance of the tent. With permission granted, Guilin pops his head inside the tent, Qiú doing the same from the very bottom of the entrance.
"Hey there! I just wanted to say, good job today. I think you even impressed my dad with how well you picked up on everything."
"Well, your dad is a good teacher, and you clearly know your stuff for a kid your age."
At this, Guilin chuckles and rubs the back of his head sheepishly.
"Gee, thanks! Just be ready for another rock poundin', earth shakin' day of lessons tomorrow!"
"You bet I will be," Singi chuckles.
"Good! Well, night!" Guilin and hisremove themselves from the tent before the airbenders can even respond.
"Uh, night, Guilin!" Singi acknowledges, before groaning slightly and collapsing back down on the floor of the tent.
"I can't wait until I master earthbending," she moans in a mixture of annoyance and fatigue.
- Like in "
", Singi's first day of learning a new element includes mentioning the "title" for each element. For water, addressed it as the element of change, while Dao addresses earth as the element of substance, from which this chapter's title is based.
- Likewise, on Singi's first day of firebending training in " ", mentions that his native element is a "source of power". "Power" is the given title for the element.
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