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May 4th, 2011
The Unlikely Hero
Tengu was up early, as usual, practicing the forms that made him a valued protector. These past weeks, the Order of the Black Lotus had been strangely quiet, so he had put himself on alert. He was extra cautious and acutely aware of his surroundings, searching for even the slightest hint of a threat. It was not surprising then that when he heard a faint sound behind him that morning, he immediately turned around, ready to retaliate. However, rather than the deadly foe he expected, he found Sora, holding up her arms.
He hesitated for a moment, but then decided to wipe his sweat and put his robe back on to pick her up. Sora instantly cuddled against his shoulder while Tengu kissed her forehead gently. It had been now almost six months since the leopard incident, but Sora would still have trouble sleeping from time to time. It was only natural that Tengu had become one of her favorite people to look to for support and comfort.
"Come on; let's go back to bed..." the monk says softly. Sora shook her head vigorously, pointing to the ground where Tengu had been practicing.
"So, you think you got what it takes to practice with Sifu Tengu?" the hardened hero jested. The child nodded as she drew a small smile. "Okay, no wasting time then!"
Almost an hour later, Aang rubbed his eyes, rising out of bed and deciding to check on Sora. He approached her bed, but all he found was the covers thrown astray. Scared, he immediately rushed out of the room, bolting into the chilly outside weather without a second thought. Instead of finding Sora in danger, he saw her childishly imitating the motions of his friend. His fears averted, Aang walks closer, with Tengu sensing his presence without knowing the identity. The former assassin did a backflip over the child's head, landing between Aang and his daughter while holding a fighting stance.
Tengu was instantly relieved. "Oh, glad to see it's only you, Master. Did we disturb you out here?"
"No, Tengu," said Aang laughing. "Everything is fine, I was just a bit worried that I didn't find Sora in her bed. What are you doing, honey?" Aang says, kneeling down to address his daughter who is looking around Tengu's leg to see who he is talking to.
"Daddy, I'm airbending!" she makes making whooshing sounds with her mouth while imitating Tengu's motions.
"Oh, really?" Aang replied
"She has been mimicking my motions for the past hour now, in fact."
Aang laughed as he picked Sora up and kissed her. "Oh yeah? The backflips too?"
"She is a prodigy, as her father was before her," Tengu said with a smile.
Aang began tickling Sora, and took her inside. "Come on, baby. We have to wash up and get ready for breakfast."
"Aw, Daddy..." the child protested.
Still walking inside, he addressed Tengu in a mocking tone. "You too, mister!"
"Yes, Father!" Tengu answered in sing-song, cracking a small smile.
The Unexpected Sage
Amid all this playful banter, it would have been easy to suppose that Aang was having a family vacation at Kyoshi Island. In reality, Kyoshi Island was hosting the last leg of a long diplomatic tour of meetings between the Earth Kingdom, the Nomads, and the Southern Water Tribe arising out of the Gaoling incident. Unfortunately for Aang, the meetings had shown a cathartic effect, with the encounters unleashing nothing less than a landslide of reproach for past offenses, dating even back to the Great War.
The Southern Water Tribe resented the Earth Kingdom's intrusion into their soil in contempt of their sovereignty. The Earth Kingdom reproached the Water Tribe's ascetic restraint during the attacks on Ba Sing Se, including of course, The Siege. It wasn't long until the Fire Nation was dragged into the meetings. Tensions during the reunions had escalated to a point where Aang had to put aside his plead as a victim and act as mediator instead. Even then, his absence during the 100 year conflict was called into question.
These rifts began becoming evident in the battlefield, where tensions among the various factions made cooperation and coordination awkward and clumsy. The Four Nations began losing ground battle after battle, often in encounters where they would have otherwise decimated the enemy. As the blame game increased in intensity, the Black Lotus strengthened their grip on the Southern Earth Kingdom, even planting new bases and adding numbers to their ranks. However, the meetings continued, and each time the quality of the dialogue worsened.
Aang began losing hope that anything would come from these meetings. This feeling of despair became especially strong during one meeting in the otherwise peaceful Makapu Village. That day a strong altercation between Sokka and General Fong had just taken place. Not even Aang or Iroh had been able to rein them in and both men had almost reached for their weapons. The ensuing silence was tense and rigid and it was surprisingly interrupted by the gracious, soft-spoken Earth Queen. Wei Li usually did nothing but sit by her husband, Earth King Kuei, but on that day she was the one to speak the words that managed to turn everything around:
"As much as it pains me to see the angst between my brothers, I am glad to see the words flow, however painful and bitter. You see I, for one, know too well of the irreparable damage of those wounds that remain hidden; of how the words that are never spoken destroy. I will endure a thousand fights, but not a day more of silence. If this is how we are to heal, so be it."
Kuei had married Wei Li a year after the Great War. Most every leader present in the meeting knew of her story. She and her late former husband, Lin were both avant garde artists who had taken to the use of public spaces in Ba Sing Se to post and display their work. Their pieces often addressed social and moral issues within the city, and it wasn't long before the Dai Li labeled them as "scandalous", "offensive" and "a menace to the long-standing cultural heritage of Ba Sing Se". Lin was imprisoned, whence he died of a mysterious, undiagnosed illness, according to the official report, at least...
Wei Li had been incarcerated as well. She was beaten, starved and even tortured by the Dai Li, as their brainwashing techniques failed to produce an effect on her psyche. She would have surely died if the evil Gestapo had not been deposed and dissolved.
Sokka, who had taken his hand to the hilt of his sword, cast down his glance upon the floor. After a deep sigh, he began to remove his sword and his shield and with a reverence, he placed them at the Queen's Feet.
"Your Majesty speaks with wisdom. No more will the Water Tribe bring weapons into these chambers. We will use our words and we will use them to speak the truth, not insults. Long live the Queen."
After a brief, pensive silence, Fong took his hammers and also placed them at the feet of the queen's throne:
"The enemy is not in this room." He then glanced at Zuko. "We are all friends, wounded by the same sword and burnt by the same fire..." Zuko bowed slightly. "We will use our words and we will use them to speak the truth, not insults. Long live the Queen."
The meetings remained tense and long, but for the first time in over a hundred years, the Nations were really making progress towards a united, stronger world. Old problems were addressed with sincerity and openness and a new level of healing and understanding was bringing old enemies and rivals closer than ever before. Fortunately, these reckonings had breathed new life to the Four Nations' armies, who with renewed focus began to take back the territories they had lost to the Black Lotus.
A closing ceremony to the diplomatic tour would be held in Ba Sing Se, where an official apology would be issued from the Earth Kingdom to the Avatar, his Chief Counselor Tengu and his family. The Kyoshi meetings' core objective was to establish the conditions for a new international peace treaty that would be signed at the closing of the ceremony in Ba Sing Se. Discussions had gone on for the last two weeks, stretching long days into nights and putting a heavy toll on Oyaji and the Island's volunteers. However, they had been impeccable hosts, catering to the highest of the World's leadership without a flinch. Today, the meeting had finally adjourned, and after lunch, all of the leaders would begin to prepare to travel to Ba Sing Se for the closing ceremony.
The Uncomfortable Choice
Blissfully unaware of these developments, Sora spent the morning exactly the same way she had during the past two weeks – running around, playing tag, and just wreaking general havoc with her newfound friends. Sora was the type of girl who was ready to have fun anywhere, even at the South Pole, but here at Kyoshi Island, she had been having a the time of her life: taking in the sunshine, the warm breeze and having so many children to play and have fun with. She was a little freaked out by the guy who foamed at the mouth at first, but he turned to be quite harmless in the end.
Time went by quickly, especially when the weather was so idyllic it was during summer in Kyoshi Island. One by one, the children's parents called them in for lunch. In the end, her own fun was cut short, as Ty Lee came to fetch her to have lunch with her parents, who had been discussing important matters:
"I don't know Aang. I mean, it's just such a big city and there will be so many people..."
"Exactly my point – it would be crazy for the Black Lotus to try anything in plain view in Ba Sing Se."
Mom was not so sure. "To me it would be the perfect cover: a huge crowd. A quick hit and they could be off with Sora with a sea of people hiding their tracks."
"Where could they hide Sora that we could not find her with so many people looking out for her?" Aang questioned his wife.
"Aang, we spent weeks looking for Appa in Ba Sing Se, and he is almost as big as a house – this is a five year old! They could even make her fit in a basket, for all we know!"
A cold shudder ran down the Avatar's spine. He still remembered flying over Ba Sing Se on his glider, pointlessly looking around for his bison. He couldn't imagine having to do so for his Sora. A brief silence took over, meaning that the point had been both made and understood.
Sokka and Suki had been silently watching the conversation unfold. They had not yet heard it from Mom's lips, but Aunt Suki knew she was the obvious choice for taking care of the child. Finally, she spoke:
"Tengu goes with Aang to the meeting right?"
"Yeah..." Aang answered, as Tengu and Katara just nodded.
"Yes, the formal apology includes all of them: Aang, Tengu and Katara. Sora even – it's just that we're wondering if the trip is safe enough..." Sokka clarified.
"And what is your plan then? I mean, Sokka and Hakoda are going too. Can't you stay behind until the ceremony is over?" she turned over to Aang, asking another question. "Is Katara staying or going?"
"I already ran that by Aang and he tells me the diplomatic situation is still delicate and that me not going to the ceremony could be seen as me not really opening up to the Earth Kingdom..." she continued in a tentative tone. "I was hoping for Sora to stay with Uncle Sokka and Aunt Suki..." she winced as she let the last words out.
"But you do know I'm required to go to Ba Sing Se too, right?" Sokka responded "The treaty requires my signature as Chieftain of the Southern Water Tribe."
Aunt Suki decided to take one for the team "Well, she can stay with me. I'm sure she'll be fine with me and the girls here."
"I know you guys can hold fort and I'm thankful but, I kind of was expecting Sokka to be here too. What if something happens? I mean, you have a pretty large civilian population to take care of too..."
"Well Katara, that's also kind of my point. If Sora came along, she would be close to some of the World's most powerful benders and warriors. And yes, it is a public event, but it's a military event. I don't know..." Aang was torn between his options.
Sokka knew his brother-in-law, even being the Avatar, really hated hard choices, so he tried his hand at easing his fears: "Yes, Aang, but I kind of see where Katara was headed. A heavily attended public event in the World's Largest City – an attack there would provoke a chaotic situation that would make for the perfect getaway. Kyoshi is remote enough that there would be enough warning if the enemy showed up. Also, Zuko left a couple of Fire Nation boats for a preemptive evacuation if the Black Lotus shows up in numbers. We've had this covered for quite some time now, so..."
The Unwelcome Announcement
Right at that moment Sora jumped on Aang's lap. "There is my little princess! Gosh, a sweaty little princess too!" Aang kissed his daughter's cheek.
"I was playing tag!"
"Honey, eat your lunch..." Katara ordered, in full-mother mode.
Halfway through her first mouthful of noodles, Sora decided to ask something, but mom immediately chided back an order. "Hey! Mouth closed, chew properly and swallow! Then speak!"
Aang chipped in "Yes, Sora. We've kind of been through this before..."
The kid pushed her noodle soup down the hatch and asked again: "Mom, Ty Lee said we're going to Ba Sing Se."
"Mommy and Daddy have a very important meeting with the Earth King and are going to Ba Sing Se, yes."
"Awesome! They say it is the biggest city in the World! Are we flying in on Appa?"
Aang added "You're staying here with Aunt Suki and your new friends. We'll be back before you know it."
The Avatar tried his best nonchalant performance, but a twitch in his voice gave him off. They really had never let Sora with someone other than immediate family, so he was apprehensive.
"But I want to go with You!"
"Honey, it's going to be a very boring, long, busy event. No playing, no running, no games... Besides, Mom, Daddy, Tengu and Uncle Sokka are all going to be very busy with grown-up stuff. Trust me, you'll have a much better time with Aunt Suki here..." Katara tried to reason with her daughter.
"It's not fair! Daddy always gets to go places and now you're going too, and I'm going to be left all alone!" Sora began pouting.
Aang went to his child "Baby, we've been through this before, okay? The bad people are still out there and as long as you can't defend yourself somehow, you need to be somewhere safe."
"But you're the Avatar, Daddy! No one can beat you!" The child reasoned.
"That is a good point..." Sokka blurted, making his younger sister stare daggers at him.
"What...? No one's ever beaten Aang, except Azula, of course..."
"Sokka, please," Suki interrupted. "Honey, you'll stay here with me and the Kyoshi Warriors. We'll have lots of fun, you'll see!"
"It's not fair! You just don't want to take me because I can't bend like you!" Tears began flowing down Sora's little face "Please Daddy don't take Mommy away! Don't leave me!"
Katara covered her mouth, as her eyes started to well. Glances were shot in their direction from all over the table. The subject, which was becoming harder and harder to address each time in private, had just become public. The child of the Avatar and the World's most powerful waterbender not being able to bend was beginning to turn into an itch that their inner circle just had to scratch. Now more people had been given an open invitation to butt in.
Already everybody in their family had served their succulent, piping-hot explanation, completely unfazed by the fact that Mom and Dad did not care for them. For them, their Sora was perfect. They had managed to stifle all or their innermost yearnings for their child to follow in their footsteps as another of the World's great benders, and in doing so, they had managed to cope with this most baffling circumstance.
Aang took a firm hold of his daughter's shoulders and stared directly in her eye:
"Listen to me Sora, we've been through this before. Bending is a gift, some people have it, other don't. You are a beautiful, healthy, bright young girl and you are perfect just the way you are. And it is because we love so much that we would not want to expose you to anything dangerous. Please, baby, try to understand!"
"But Lu Ten and Ursa are going!"
"That's because Uncle Zuko thinks they're safer with him and that's his personal choice. We think you're safer here, with Aunt Suki." Katara reasoned, with Mai nodding by her side.
"Not my choice, really..." Zuko mumbled out from beneath a mouthful of noodles. Mai quickly ribbed him... "What..?"
Sora stopped protesting, but she didn't stop crying, and she didn't have any more food, no matter how much her parents pleaded. Finally, they allowed her to go play while they packed for Ba Sing Se. They were hoping playing with her friends would help her clear her head and make her happier about staying behind. However, one of the leaders was not so sure about that.
An Unexpected Truth
Tengu knew Sora rather well and was keen to the fact that she hadn't take the news of her extended stay all that well, so he decided to look for her.
After quite a bit of scouting, Tengu discovered Sora next to a small pond, sitting next to the reeds, weeping quietly.
He sat beside her, delighted by her beautiful pouting, but also sad to see her so upset. Finally, he asks:
"What's the problem?"
"I'm trying to waterbend to show Mom and Dad that I'm a good bender, but no matter what I do I get nothing but ripples..." the child explained through her tears.
"So you're trying to show Mom and Dad that you're ready for the trip but the water is not cooperating?"
Sora assents quietly. It is a windy day, and even when Tengu reasoned the child must have been confusing the natural effect of the wind for weak waterbending, he decides to humor her for a short while.
"You see, Sora, I've worked with benders from all around the world. I can show you what you're doing wrong, if you want."
She turned her teary eyes to meet those of the former killer. She nodded once again.
"Come on!" he said as he stood up "Show me those ripples!"
Tengu felt the breeze suddenly die around the pond. He thought nature was being especially cruel today with his little princess. First making her believe her motions were causing ripples on the water and now removing all evidence altogether in the presence of a witness. He braced himself for the teary episode that was sure to follow.
Sora took her stance, took a deep breath and swiftly went through a flawless waterbending form.
And there were ripples...
Sora continues to push harder and harder, making the ripples grow ever so slightly...
Tengu was awestruck for a moment. He couldn't think, feel or move. His eyes were fixed on those tiny waves that dared ripping along the top of the pond in the complete and utter absence of any wind whatsoever. Tengu then noticed that the child's focus was limited to the water's surface. She did not see the reeds bending, or the leaves on the nearby branches twitching.
Tengu quickly ran a series of scenarios in his mind and chose to employ a subtle approach. "Ah! I see the problem!"
"What?" Sora asks, once again on the verge of frustration.
"You're doing it wrong!"
"But that's exactly how Mom does it!" bellowed Sora.
"Ah-ah! No arguing with your Sifu!" said Tengu with a smile.
Sora smiled and bowed. Tengu then began adjusting her waterbending moves, subtly transforming them into an airbending form without her noticing. Of course, he did not stop there. Seeing that the girl had talent and discipline, a rare combination, the incurable perfectionist decided he would fine tune the form of this five year old child. For what seemed like an eternity to the little girl, he tweaked and pushed, until, upon execution, a gust of wind blew him back.
While on the ground, Tengu realized that he had actually fallen over. The veteran warrior who was used to beating soldiers and assassins on a routinely basis, had just lost his stance to a little girl.
Sora giggled since she thought he was playing pretend, but she stopped laughing when she realized he now was dead serious. She began to think he was upset with her for having done something wrong... Tengu's amiable expression had vanished, and was immediately replaced by that of the stern Sifu, the inflexible Master.
"Do it again" Tengu commands in a severe, dry tone.
The young girl complied, half out of respect, half out of fear.
"Again! Harder!" Sora started to get nervous, not used to the rigid treatment of Tengu the Sifu. She pushed back, almost crying.
"Harder!" She pushed even harder, tears forming in her eyes.
"Faster!" She pushed again, ready to cry...
Tengu was wired; electric. His movements were quick and crisp as he took off his robe, which back home signaled intense hand-to-hand training with Daddy. Sora was now afraid Tengu might want to do this with her so she started shaking her head ever so slightly, her small body trembling. Tengu hung the robe from a low hanging branch on a nearby tree.
"Again! There! Harder!"
Sora barely got it together in time, so there was no effect... Why is Tengu doing this to me?
"Listen to me! You know this form, we have perfected it already." Tengu had realized she was straining her young student's frenzied nerves, so he took a moment to reassure her. He went to her and knelt in front of her, grabbing her shoulders gently; "Breathe for me... Come on..."
The young girl took her misty eyes off the robe and looked into Tengu's eyes.
"You know this, you have it! All you have to do is trust your moves."
Once he had re-established a good connection with her, he gave a final, definite instruction: "Focus! Starting position, sweep!"
Sora listened to her teacher, and went through every motion cleanly, ending with a strong push...
And the robe fell...
"Sora, what is happening?" asked Tengu, unable to contain his smile any longer.
"I'm bending?" answered the child.
Tengu smiles as he kneels in front of her and grabs her small shoulders once again.
"Yes you are, my dear. You are Airbending."
The Unsuccessful Demonstration
A rabid boarcupine would have had a daintier gait coming into Aang and Katara's guest house than Sora. She stormed into the temporary homestead with the grace of a hurricane, almost toppling Katara over upon impact.
"Mommy – I can airbend!"
Katara quickly exchanged glances with Aang. She decided she would play along as in the South Pole, just to see if the game could help the child take the edge off their separation: "Ah! No bending indoors! You know the rule!"
The child just nodded violently as she stormed her way back outside. Tengu was standing outside, all smiles.
As Sora goes through her motions, a roguish gale decided to join her, making her parents think she was only pretending to bend.
"You're such a powerful bender, Sora!" Aang says, playing along, though still wish he wasn't kidding.
"Daddy it's true! You will take me with you now, right?" Sora stares in disbelief at her mocking father.
Aang just lets out a frustrated sigh.
"Sora, let's just stop this, okay?"
Tengu defends his student "Master Aang, please give Sora another chance, the breeze..."
"Master – I saw it myself, otherwise I would not..."
Aang walks up to Tengu, admonishing him quietly "Please. Don't add insult to injury."
Tengu motions for silence with his hand. "My apologies, Master. Sora?"
Sora bowed her head, hiding angry tears "My apologies, Father."
"Come. It's time to go."
Sora crossed her eyes with those of her teacher. He motioned for her to stand at attention. She did. Tengu's room was in the second story. With a quick, explosive motion, he propelled himself up, riding his own air current and landing gracefully on the balcony. Sora's eyes captured every move...
An Inconvenient Truth
It was about time to leave when Aang stepped into Tengu's room, still upset over the recent episode with Sora.
"I'd like to know what that was all about."
Tengu finished closing his bag and his small travel trunk and turned around calmly. His eyes were completely lacking of any of the usual kindness he showed his master. His expression was severe, sharp; somber.
"Some things are better left unspoken if there is no one willing to hear."
Katara dropped in as well, drying her tears. Aang hugged her as he turned to Tengu:
"You may speak freely."
"I will not speak as your servant, but I will be bold enough to address you as friends." Katara nodded.
"The child is an airbender."
"Tengu..." Aang interrupted with a sigh, but Tengu was determined to be heard.
"She is an airbender! I would know better than to lie to two parents whose heart has been set on rearing a great bender from the very beginning. Two parents, whose disappointment is so great and their false acceptance so poorly fabricated, that they will label her not being a bender an injury and her eagerness to prove herself to you an insult!"
Katara's tears streamed anew, this time out of guilt and shame. Aang's eyes welled up, as he looked out the window, unable to respond.
"If I had been your child I would have been subject to the same shameful standard – treated as a cripple, incompetent, incapable! I would have been treated as less!"
"But you were a bender!" Aang protested.
"I never learned! My father would rather have me fight with my hands and never learn to master earth than put me in the mine with the rest! My value to him laid not in my bending, but in my content. And Sora's content is far more precious than any ability you might want to see her develop."
The Inexperienced Flyer
Once the moment for goodbyes came around, Sora found the tears and hugs from her parents to be confusing, since they were much more abundant that usual. She could hear a profuse stream of apologies amidst the slurry or words and caresses, but she could not be comforted. Mommy was going away with Daddy, and this was too new for her. She liked Aunt Suki, but not as much as Uncle Sokka, who was her favorite clown in the whole world. He was leaving with Mom and Dad and so was Grandpa. Even Tengu was leaving! This was completely unacceptable. No sir, she would not have this!
Tengu, Aang and Katara finally boarded Appa, who with one sweep of his powerful tail, rose up almost 20 feet in the air. Aang had him hover over his friends for a short while he waved his last goodbyes. Everybody waved back to the Avatar, his wife and Tengu. In all reality, watching Appa take flight was always a formidable spectacle, as no one would reason a ten-ton animal with six legs to be able to fly - it just never got old. If someone understood this well, that was the five-year-old Sora. In fact, she was counting on everyone to remain mesmerized just a tiny bit longer.
Sora carefully gauged everybody's attention focus, and just at the right moment she broke free from Aunt Suki and started running towards Appa. Sora's anger over her parent's decision to leave her behind was already a well-established fact, so it was not a surprise that she would try some ill-conceived, last minute run for it. What were strange were those weird movements she was doing, it was almost as if she had been trying to flap her arms as wings. Now, everybody knows that a five year old can't really jump much, so watching the tiny girl suddenly jump 10 feet in the air was shocking, to say the least. In a supreme effort, she focused on her arm movements and took off, clearing everyone of the earth-bound party trying to catch up with her.
Among all of the people watching, only two could make sense of the child's strange movements and their outcome. Mom was not one of them...
"Aang, what's going on?" Katara screamed at her wits' end, unable to make any sense of the situation. She was watching her child inexplicably soar through the air and then plummet back to the ground again in a free fall, wearing a frightened expression.
"She doesn't know how to land!" It was all Aang could tell his wife before diving out of Appa's saddle. With a fierce push, he propelled himself downwards, past Sora, managing to turn around and land just in the nick of time. When he caught the child, they were pale, trembling, speechless and breathless.
And then, after a short moment, they both started crying... The young girl was still scared. Her father, on the other hand was crying tears of joy...
Aang clutched his daughter, shaking like a leaf, weeping uncontrollably. He mumbled a thousand unintelligible apologies in between his sobs. He then held Sora at arms' length, and began laughing. He then raised his little girl up high and let out a merry, joyous, hearty laugh. Sora smiled, as she could tell Daddy was happy, although she had never really witnessed him in such a frenzied state. She also figured it must have been a pretty impressive jump, since people were cheering, clapping, jumping – even the foaming guy was going into his trademark hysterical fit...
Of course, innocent young Sora could not really understand, but Kyoshi Island was witnessing something much larger than her first airbending jump, or even the Avatar having a bending child. This was the first public proof that she was in fact, the first natural born airbender in over a Century. Creation needed no longer cry out for the manifestation of the Sons of Air.
Meanwhile, Tengu had managed to secure Appa's reins and steer the bison back to the ground. A teary-eyed Katara joined with her husband and child in the celebration. Tengu watched from a few steps back in joyous contemplation. Both parents turned to him and brought him into the family hug, which grew larger and larger as Suki, Sokka and Hakoda joined in.
Aang stood up, still crying and shaking and faced the Earth King and the rest of his leader peers. Once again, Earth Queen Wei Li stepped forward:
"I'm sure such an important discovery can afford the Avatar Family a week's delay to adjust to this new experience." Nods were seen all around. "My father taught me everything I ever needed to know about art. You teach your daughter well, Avatar Aang, and I'm sure she will bring you great honor."
Aang was moved to tears as he kissed the Queen's hand and bowed to his peers.
Zuko pulled closer. "She's right Aang, no substitute in a girl's life for Daddy. She needs you more than any of us right now." The two friends hugged tightly.
Next morning, three figures practiced their airbending forms at dawn. Two men and a small child moved in unison, their silhouettes drawn against the rising sun. Each one of them was a living, breathing testimonial that new beginnings were possible and, because of those new beginnings, the World stood chance for renewal, rebirthing and redemption.
- Wei Li was inspired by Chinese Artist Ai WeiWei, currently incarcerated by the Chinese Government over "economic crimes". WeiWei has for years been an outspoken dissident of the Chinese Government and their curtailing of human rights and freedom of expression.
- Making the world "united and strong" is a tip of the hat to Alone, by Millennia 2.
- Zuko never chose to have his kids tag along. Mai forced that upon him in Wanted, after their abduction in Ember Island.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|Honor Thy Father Chapters|
| Hope Against Hope - A Change of Pace - Tainted Sanctuary - A New Home - Recovered - Empowered - When In Doubt - The Hunt - Full Moon - Reckonings - Sora
The Love of the Daughter - The Wasted Warrior, Part 1: Cycles- The Wasted Warrior, Part 2: Regrets- Daddy - The Charade, Part 1: The Shadow - The Charade Part 2: The Beast - The Charade, Part 3: The Fool - The Breakthrough - Redemption, Part 1: Dejection - Redemption, Part 2: Dominion