Ba Sing Se sunset
Sunset Wisdom
Chapter information

Stories of the World



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Release date

July 6, 2013

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A one-shot about Toph and Iroh having a wise discussion in Ba Sing Se ten years after the end of the Hundred Year War. An entry for Ty's one-shot contest

Sunset Wisdom

A leaf floated down from the tree, dancing in the wind. It flipped and spun, turned and rolled through the air as it slowly tumbled towards the grassy ground.

"Life is like a falling leaf," said Iroh, sitting against the tree, staring up at the falling leaf. "It starts on the branch, clinging on to the bough like a child clings to its mother. But as it grows and as the seasons change, the leaf becomes more independent, breaking free from the tree. The leaf starts to drift down." His amber eyes followed as the life hit a light gust and flipped over before spiraling down. "Like in life, the leaf tosses and turns in the breeze, unexpectedly shifting. Our lives are unpredictable and one action affects what follows." He paused as the leaf slowed down and drew closer to the dirt. "And finally, the leaf touches the ground and returns to its earth where, no pun intended, it can trace its roots back to. Just like us. After the tosses and turns, flips and spins, we too return into the soil from which we came."

He finished his monologue quietly as the leaf lightly touched the ground. "You sure are wise, Iroh," complemented Toph.

Iroh chuckled, a smiling touching his lips. "I've experienced much in my long life to draw this wisdom from."

"I guess there are some perks to being old," Toph said, her cloudy gray eyes dancing with amusement.

"Yes!" exclaimed Iroh. "Such as saying your bones are too weary and slipping out the back door while everyone else isn't looking."

"Then what do you do?" Toph questioned, laughing quietly.

"I come up here and watch the sun set and the moon rise," replied the Fire Nation prince. "And I look out over the Impenetrable City and think about the thousands upon thousands of lives, stories, and people down below me and realize that I could have ended it all."

He folded his hands and looked down at his lap. "But instead I chose to retreat. By doing that, I helped to cultivate and create the stories of these unique, intelligent, and wonderful people below."

"Not only does one action affect your futures ones, but the actions and lives of others, too," murmured Toph, turning to face Iroh. "The choices you made, the choices I made, the choices Aang, Katara, Sokka, and everyone else made ten years ago influenced what is going on now."

Iroh nodded, his gray hair ruffling in the wind. "That, Toph, was a wise statement."

The blind earthbender gave a triumphant snicker. "Ah-ha! I am becoming a wise person, too. Toph the Great, Toph the Mighty, Toph the Wise!"

They laughed together, the sun sinking lower and lower into the sky. A golden hue was cast across earth city, creating a beautiful spectacle. Iroh stared out at it, a small smile on his face.

"When I come up here," he said, "I think about what the city, what the world would be like if I hadn't withdrawn my troops from Ba Sing Se or if I hadn't switched sides against Ozai. I would have created something awful and terrible."

Toph cocked her head. "Why dwell on the choices you didn't make and start worrying about which ones you will make?" she commented. "You made the right choice all those years ago, so stop thinking about the 'ifs' and start thinking about the 'nows'."

Iroh placed his warm hand on Toph's shoulder and smiled. "Thank you, Toph," he told her sincerely. "Those words have taken a large burden off of my shoulders." He arched his back and groaned in delight. "Now I will start thinking about my future choices, like what tea I will make when we get back to the Jasmine Dragon!"

"You better make the jasmine tea," Toph replied, "or else I might have to throw a rock through your shop."

"Well I better hurry over and start making it!" Iroh laughed, hopping to his feet. "Or else I'll have a rock thrown through my shop!"

Together, the girl that once knocked down the man who later gave her tea rose and set off down the hill towards their tea, the setting sun illuminating their figures.


  • This idea just flowed along. I didn't actually have a set idea for it. I just started with the first sentence and went from there
  • It is precisely 704 words

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