Title: A (random) tale
Word Count: 520
Characters: Avatar Roku, Aang, Toph
Spoilers: the last bit takes place somewhere between Bitter Work and The Library.
Notes: proofread by Merry Marchetti . All remaining mistakes are my fault, not hers. :)
Firebending was natural. Airbending was an exercise in detachment. Waterbending was torture. Earthbending was, more often than the other disciplines, déjà vu.
Once, while traveling trough the Earth Kingdom in his journey to achieve mastery of all elements, young Avatar Roku was challenged by an old man to an earthbending duel. The old man was said to be a powerful, ruthless master who had come out victorious in all but one duel.
Despite still being a student and thus not a match for an experienced earthbender, Avatar Roku accepted the challenge and promptly assumed stance.
Soon after they had begun sparring, Roku realized how foolish his decision had been. His opponent's skills far surpassed his own. It was taking all the young Avatar knew to not be defeated. He felt as if he were fighting the enraged spirit of the Earth itself. As he grew sore and exhausted from the struggle, his reflexes waned. He wasn't quick enough to evade two stone walls that burst from the ground and squeezed him like a press.
When the walls subsided, Roku could barely stand.
"I fought your predecessor once. She had beautiful form. Much more skilled than you," the old man said derisively. Then with a sneer and a flick of his hand he trapped the Avatar's limbs between large spikes of rock.
From where he stood entrapped, Roku watched as the earthbending master did his final move, and then a sudden sense of familiarity rushed through him. The memory came as clear as day.
Time seemed to slow down as the Avatar freed himself and redirected the earthbending master's attack with just a nod and a wave.
Avatar Roku walked to where his opponent had been sunk to his nose in quicksand, and peered down at him. "You know, you should try new moves."
After being freed by Roku, the old man admitted defeat with a graceful bow and went on his way.
Alone, Avatar Roku bent his head in a gesture of deference to an unseen sifu. "Thank you, Avatar Kyoshi."
They'd decided to leave camp an hour before dawn - while it was still dark - and fly low, using the hills as cover. Sokka and Katara dozed off as soon as they took off. Aang guided Appa in silence.
"I was just thinking about firebending."
"Well, you should be worried about that. If it takes you as long as it took you to master the most basic principles of earthbending, you'll never learn it in time."
"I know," Aang said and petted Appa's head. "Master Jeong Jeong said it takes time and discipline to control fire without hurting people. I have neither! Plus, I don't want to firebend."
Toph was about to point out that he had no option and that he should just quit the whining, when Aang added, "Well, most of me doesn't want to learn firebending, anyway. There's this super tiny part that doesn't think it's going to be that bad."
Toph gave him a look.
He grinned. "Not too long ago, that super tiny part used to be reaaaally good at it."