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|Taylor and the Firebender|
January 7, 2014
Taylor and the Firebender
"Since we haven't had much progress with Earthbending, I figured we could work on a little Firebending," Stella said.
Chi-Ji, Stella, and I were standing outside the walls of Ba Sing Se. It was an open, rocky landscape that we used for Earthbending. Stella said that it was an old quarry site that was used during the construction of Republic City and the restoration of the Southern Air Temple's Sanctuary. She said that the land was a gift to the Beifongs from the Earth King after Avatar Hyun-Ki died.
Even though Stella was only the step-child of a Beifong, she had serious seismic sense. She was an expert in traditional, seismic, pro, and regional Earthbending. She also knew all sorts of Waterbending, Firebending and Airbending forms. She had friends all over the world and had been everywhere. She had prepared me to study every type of bending. She even knew stuff about Waterbending that I didn't.
Stella and Chi-Ji in one day, had made me a better Avatar. Today, we were going to get back to bending. "So, Taylor, have you made any Fire at all?" Chi-Ji asked.
I nodded. "Yeah. When I was younger. My mom said I melted a lot of stuff when I was a toddler. I don't remember, though."
Chi-Ji nodded appreciatively. "That's how most kids find out they're Firebenders. It's harder to trace in the womb than Earthbending and Waterbending. And of course, almost all Air Nomad children are Airbenders, so there's rarely a reason to check.
"Anyway, Taylor, your goal today is to make the Breath of Fire," Chi-Ji said. "It's not necessarily a simple move and not every Firebender can do it. It takes a lot of breath control, which I know you have. The breathing techniques in Firebending, however, are much different from the ones used in Waterbending."
"How?" I asked.
"Firebending breathing techniques are meant to be continuous, while Waterbending breathing techniques are shorter. It's offense versus defense. Firebenders tend to strike first in an attack," Stella said. "As the Avatar, it's important to know your attacker. Regardless of bending style. And in turn, know how to gain the advantage, whether that means bending, or being evasive."
"I'm going to give you another lesson," Chi-Ji said. "About one of the past Avatars."
"Okay," I responded. I was beginning to like Chi-Ji's lessons. She was never boring and her stories were always relevant.
"The Fire Avatar before you was named Akari. She was a very stoic woman, but she was extremely insightful. She wrote down her technique and the similarities between all the elements. But she more frequently wrote about the different types of benders.
"Most Firebenders who are not masters, according to Akari, used too much force and not enough breath. Most Waterbenders who are not masters, lose stamina quickly because they breathe too much or too quickly. So in other words, you have to learn breath control for Firebending or it won't work. So let's start working," Chi-Ji finished.
"Okay, Taylor, this breathing technique is more important than the other ones you'll learn from me. Breathe from your diaphragm. It's right below your ribcage," Chi-Ji said, poking me.
"This is also where you'll need to breathe from in general," Stella interjected. "Your diaphragm pushes up on your lungs. You'll feel like you're doing sit-ups if you're breathing correctly."
"Okay," I said. "You aren't going to laugh at me if I do it wrong, right?" All of my insecurities had started crashing around me. Stella's eyes were compassionate as hung my head.
"Of course not, Taylor. We love you. Who's been laughing at you?" Stella asked.
"No one, yet. I feel it coming, though," I said.
"Taylor. Bending is one of the most difficult things to master. Almost everybody does it once. You have to do it four times. We all know that. We support each other. Even a master messes up sometimes. Don't you ever misfire at a target, Taylor? Because I do. A lot," Stella said. "No one will laugh at you. What you're doing is very brave. And the job you have is noble and respected. So don't worry."
Chi-Ji nodded. "Taylor, my mother and father and sister are master Firebenders. They've definitely messed up. My family and I all have training scars, except for Caleb," she said, pointing to her a small red mark under her eye. And then again to her chin and neck. "David's scars are on his chest. My mom has one across her stomach. Hana's scar –the most noticeable one anyway -" Chi-Ji choked up a little, then controlled herself. "Is on the entire right half of her face. My father's is on the back of his right hand."
"What's the story there?" I asked, apparently putting my foot in my mouth. Stella took her hand and gave a cut it out gesture.
"I'll tell you later." Chi-Ji said absently, "We need to practice some. It's almost sunset. We don't want to be arrested." Chi-Ji winked at Stella. Stella just rolled her eyes. "You ready to make some fire, Taylor?"
"Yeah," I said weakly. I did an unenthusiastic fist pump.
"You'll be great. I know it," Stella encouraged.
"Okay," I said.
"Okay take a really deep breath, Taylor," Chi-Ji said. "Your throat will feel hot. Nod when you feel it."
I few seconds later I nodded.
"It'll be too hot in a few more seconds. When it is, exhale through your nose for as long as you can, pushing from your diaphragm. Your nose will burn a little bit, but keep going or it will roll down your throat. Do it now."
I exhaled slowly. Smoke came out of my nose as I did. It shocked me so much that I inhaled sharply. And it did burn my throat. I sat down in the dirt and coughed.
Stella grabbed the water skin from around my neck and put it up to my lips. I drank every drop I could without Waterbending.
"Sorry, Taylor. I should have told you what was going to happen," Chi-Ji apologized with her hand over her mouth.
"It's fine. Let's go again," I said. I stood up.
"Are you kidding, Taylor? You're hurt!" Chi-Ji shouted, looking at me like I was completely insane. She even had tears in her eyes.
"Chi-Ji, I'm fine. I'm self-healing," I said, trying to calm her down.
"What?" she asked.
"Some Waterbenders with the ability to heal, can heal themselves. I'm a healer. I can also heal myself. That's why Stella gave me water. My throat is perfectly fine. Don't worry," I answered.
"You're really okay?" She asked.
"One hundred percent," I assured.
"I guess you really do learn something new every day," Chi-Ji said smiling. "Anyway... do you want to try it again?"
Just then, two Dai-Li agents began sliding down the outer walls. Their technique was impeccable. They moved gracefully, but accurately, much like Stella's example. And almost as soon as they started, they finished their descent.
"Soon Min," one of the agents addressed Stella, "Avatar, Princess Chi-Ji. There has been a breach in security."
"Thank you for telling me, Agent," Stella said. She pulled out a portable telephone.
Stella started speaking into it quickly and in the rarely used language of the Earth Kingdom. I didn't speak it very well, but what I could understand of it was my name mixed in with a lot of other familiar names.
Chi-Ji was listening to Stella, too. Chi-Ji obviously understood. I looked at her about to ask her to translate, but she had a finger over her mouth. Stella looked at her and obviously asked her a question. Chi-Ji answered in the same tongue, but less fluid in tone. Then, Stella rose by making a tall pillar of earth underneath her, and bounded onto the top of the wall.
Chi-Ji looked at me. "We've got to go, Taylor," she said in Republic, so I could understand her.
"Where are we going?" I asked.
"We're going over the Serpent's Pass."
Behind the Scenes!
- Every time the author has typed 'scenes' on any of the chapter pages, she accidentally typed "scences" first.
- Avatar Akari is the Fire Avatar before Taylor. She doesn't get mentioned in this fanfiction again until the second "book"
- The author doesn't like the idea of everyone in the Avatar Universe speaking the same language.
- Scars are a big deal in Tales of Yukio
For the collective works of the author, go here.