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|Tales of Yukio, Chapter 4|
January 7, 2014
Chapter Four Part One, The Prodigy
"Hi! I'm Chi-Ji! It's nice to meet you, Taylor!" a young girl said excitedly. The Fire Lord's daughter, Chi-Ji, had come to stay at the palace. She apparently was an amazing archer and Firebender. But I could also tell she was one of those people who finds everything fascinating. She immediately became friends with MiHee, which didn't surprise me, but her attitude was so great that she even made friends with ChoHee, who didn't talk to anyone.
"Hi, Princess Chi-Ji," I said half-heartedly. "It's nice to meet you, too." After I said this, I tried to smile at her, but I was shocked at the scars on her face and chin. I tried not to stare, but the burn spots were impossible to ignore. One of Chi-Ji's scars ran from the bottom of her chin, down the left side of her neck, and disappeared under her collar. Another was shaped like a tear drop directly on her cheekbone.
Despite all of this, she was still one of the most beautiful girls I'd seen. Her beauty was about Stella-Level: Classic. She had black hair and gold eyes, like most Fire Nation citizens, but hers were more amber. Her body was small, but athletic. She carried two bows and about forty arrows on her back, which looked extremely heavy. But Chi-Ji didn't appear to be burdened by the load.
Her brothers hugged her after she introduced herself to me. She ran into David's arms. David caught her and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "It's been too long, Chi-Ji. I've missed you."
Caleb was less enthusiastic when Chi-Ji ran into his arms. He caught her, but didn't hug her afterward. "Hi, baby brother!" Chi-Ji said. Especially since Chi-Ji was several inches taller than Caleb. The seven-year-old was squashed up against her stomach.
"Chi-Ji, It's only been a year and a half," Caleb complained.
"Seven years old is a lot different than six years old," Chi-Ji answered lovingly.
"So, Chi-Ji, what brings you here?" I asked. I was still feigning innocence about hearing Stella and my mom talking on the phone. I was waiting for Stella to bust me, but if she knew, she pretended like she didn't have a clue.
"I'm here to tell you what I know about the Avatar," Chi-Ji answered.
"Why?" I asked.
David, who was standing next me in the dining room, piped up. "Because the Avatar has been very involved with the Fire Nation Royal Family."
"Yes," Chi-Ji said, proudly, "In fact, my mother was going to teach Lyn-Chen Firebending."
"Huh. That's pretty cool," I said. "I guess I'm already working with the family." I smiled at Chi-Ji. She beamed and blushed. David laughed at her.
"Chi-Ji is never embarrassed," David responded, "Good job, Taylor." I laughed, but it sounded forced.
Ever since I heard Stella and my mother talking, I'd been hyper-aware of all my social interactions. I was constantly paranoid thinking, did that sound girly, or am I really awkward around this person? It drove me absolutely insane. The not knowing.
And then, the "made no progress in Earthbending" comment didn't really help my self-esteem. It left me peeved that I couldn't move any amount of rock or even dirt. The comment made me try harder, which also made me more frustrated. Especially when MiHee and ChoHee did it with ease.
Stella had tried to encourage me, but I wasn't having any of that. And my mom just tried to make me come home. The only person who gave me any true support was my grandfather. He reminded me that energy moves differently in Earth. He told me I would figure it out eventually.
"So Chi-Ji, you're a Firebender?" I asked.
"Yes, I am. But I don't use it very often," she answered.
"'Cause I hurt someone I love. Plus, I prefer Chi-blocking and archery. I trained in Firebending for years, though," she answered.
Girls are confusing, I thought as I realized she told me the whole truth. I wanted to pry more, but I had a better question than who? "Chi-Ji, will you teach me Firebending?"
"I can show you some stuff. But my sister is much more experienced," she admitted. David cut her off. "Chi-Ji, you have so much potential. You can make blue flames, which hasn't been seen in hundreds of years. Hana-"
Chi-Ji cut him off. "Tae Hun, you sound exactly like Dad," she snapped. I hadn't heard David called by his real name since the day I met him. Chi-Ji must have been angry. Or maybe she was just really sensitive about her gift. Either way, it was out of character for her. She shook her head, controlling herself, and then smiled. "Taylor, I look forward to teaching you. I've been wanting to meet you as long as I've known SoonMin... uh, I mean, Stella," Chi-Ji said.
We walked to the dining table. I pulled Chi-Ji's chair out for her, then sat in the seat next to her. David sat on the other side of her. And at twelve o'clock on the dot, MiHee cartwheeled into the room, followed by ChoHee who was walking normally. Stella follewed the girls, too. She did two back handsprings into the room, then did a back flip, and stuck the landing. Chi-Ji giggled at Stella's display of acrobatics. "Hi, Stella," Chi-Ji said, as Caleb pulled out a chair for both MiHee and ChoHee.
"Chi-Ji, since we're all here, I think it's time to start learning. Some of us know more about the Avatar Cycle than others, but I was hoping you could talk about it," Stella said. Chi-Ji's face lit up when Stella asked for her to speak.
"Okay," Chi-Ji said. She took a deep breath, and began to speak.
"The Avatar Cycle is not only the calendar we use, but also cycle of Avatar births. The cycle always moves in a specific, rigid order: Air, Water, Earth, and Fire. With this cycle, we can always know the nationality of the next Avatar. Taylor, you are the Water Avatar. After you die, the Avatar will reincarnate into a citizen in the next nation in the cycle. The Avatar after you will be an Earthbender. After that, a Firebender, and so on," Chi-Ji said. "Thank you, Chi-Ji. Will you talk about Sozin's Comet, as well?" Stella asked.
"Sure. Sozin's Comet, once called the Great Comet, brushes Earth's atmosphere every hundred years. When it hits Earth's atmosphere, it is set on fire. This comet's energy can be harnessed by Firebenders when the comet is in our atmosphere. Firelord Ozai once said that the comet gave a Firebender the 'power of a thousand suns'.
"There are two major events that happened under the comet's influence. The first is known as the Air Nomad Genocide. Firelord Sozin used the comet's power to wipe out all the Air Nomads, hoping to kill the Avatar. He didn't kill the Avatar, and because of that, he started a war known as the Hundred Year War. This was a world war that literally took place for a hundred years, from on passing of Sozin's Comet to the next.
"Firelord Ozai tried to win war by using the comet's power to burn the Earth Kingdom until it was just ash, but was thwarted by the original Team Avatar and Avatar Aang. But I'll talk more about Aang and Team Avatar some other time," Chi-Ji said. She smiled at Stella.
I was impressed by Chi-Ji's knowledge, even though I'd only had a tiny sample of it. Her words were deliberate.
"Thank you for sharing, Chi-Ji," Stella said, with real gratitude. "When you all are finished with your meal, please meet me in the dojo. Come with me, Chi-Ji."
As Stella and Chi-Ji left, Caleb spoke. "Finally she's gone!" He yelled. ChoHee just looked at him and shook her head slightly. David didn't say anything, he just continued to eat his vegetable soup. But MiHee spoke up.
"Why don't you like your sister?" she asked.
Caleb didn't appear to think about the answer, like he had already thought it out. But his answer was not drawn out or dishonest. He simply said, "Because she's a Firebender and I'm not."
Part 2, David and Caleb
I immediately felt for my brother. No matter how many times I told him that Earthbending was just as good as Firebending, he wouldn't believe me. I tried not to get frustrated with him, because I had been in his position just twelve years ago. Except Caleb's situation was much worse than mine ever was.
Caleb and I were similar in so many ways. Other than the obvious, we each had an older sister. Both sisters were Firebenders. Both of us lived in their shadows. Both of us were disowned by our father, Fire King Myung Dae.
My disownment started before I was born. My mother, Firelord Dukran, announced my birth and also revealed my bending abilities. She was nervous to tell our excited country that for the first time in history, a non-Firebending prince was expected. But she was more afraid of my father's reaction.
King Myung Dae was more than disappointed. He was in denial. For years after my birth, he made me study Firebending in hopes that the doctor was wrong. He tried desperately to teach me Firebending, but, of course, I made no progress.
Even more than he wanted me to be a Firebender, I wanted to be a Firebender. My mom, also a Firebender, had taught me basic Earthbending, which she had learned from Stella. When my father found out, he was furious. He challenged me, a non-Firebender, at age seven, to an Agni Kai, which I obviously couldn't win. My mother intervened and protected me, but I still was burned across my chest. My mom was unlucky and got burned across the stomach. The worst part of her accident was that she was two months pregnant with Chi-Ji.
Very shortly after Chi-Ji was born (enough time for our family portrait to be redone), I was sent to Ba Sing Se. I worked on Earthbending for years, but I still couldn't move anything.
About six years later, when we found out that Chi-Ji was a prodigy Firebender, I was immediately filled with joy, but also with hurt. While I loved Chi-Ji, I was jealous of her Firebending abilities. She had everything I wanted. But I realized I had more and that I didn't need to weigh her down.
But Caleb's story was different. Seven years after Chi-Ji was born, Caleb was welcomed into the world. My father believed my mom when she said he was an Earthbender. He basically just disowned Caleb. But worse, he disowned my mom. Like myself, Caleb was challenged to an Agni Kai. Except Caleb stood a chance. Caleb was a prodigy himself. At Metalbending. Hana and Chi-Ji stepped in. Hana succeeding in burning my father, who was very proud. But Hana also stepped in front of one of Chi-Ji's fire streams which left the right side of Hana's face destroyed. But that's another story.
But Caleb was still hurt. He blamed Chi-Ji and Hana for his problems. He said he still loved Dad. He thought he wasn't good enough. Even though he's done amazing things with his bending, even though he has everything he's ever wanted; it still wasn't as good as being a Firebender in his mind.
Behind the Scenes!
- This chapter was originally two chapters, but it looked too short for both parts to be separate.
- Part 2 of this chapter is the only time David gets a point of view.
- Chi-Ji's name came from the nickname of the author's friend.
- Chi-Ji's original character design looked a lot like Azula.
- Chi-Ji and Taylor have been shipped as "Chi-T" by the editor.
- Hana is the oldest child of Firelord Dukran. However, she is not the Crown Princess.
- Hana is twenty three and David is twenty one.
- Excluding Hana, every child in the current Fire Nation Royal Family are exactly seven years between each of them. David is twenty one, Chi-Ji is fourteen, Caleb is seven, and Firelord Dukran is pregnant.
For the collective works of the author, go here.