Disclaimer: Avatar: the Last Airbender was not mine the last time I checked. It was Nickelodeon's.

A/N: Just a little brain-fart idea I had about the history of bending.

In Hebrew, 'Tof,' means drum.


Taiko was blind, and yet could see.

To him, life was a rush of heat and energy flowing swiftly through the air in a never-ending stream. Hot and cold played against his skin in a delicate dance, humming one way and another, tingling in his fingertips.

His mother and father glowed in his useless gaze, their bodies bastions of heat, illuminating the air around them with the force of their own fluttering lives. The blood in his veins was like liquid fire, and he watched in wonder as it flowed.

Taiko hated the rain, when the cold invisible water streamed down from the warm glowing sky and snuffed out the light. The earth, too, was an expanse of icy darkness, except when it was heated by his beloved sun.

A blind Sun Warrior cannot fight, but when Taiko brought forth the fire in his veins the chieftain himself was impressed, and proclaimed that Agni had given him a blessing to compensate for his deficit. During his first battle, he watched as the heat spilled out of human bodies like a river, staining the ground hot, boiling away to nothing until he couldn't see them at all. He gave up on war.

One day, his village was ambushed by an enemy tribe, and he was taken prisoner. He watched as the heat was taken from his father, his brothers, all who could fight, while he was left alone for his blindness. He passed from anger's heat into the dreaded dark cold of hatred, and all his feelings shut down.

The energy around him hummed with two tones, and he grabbed them, split them, tore them apart. There was a roar of thunder, and his enemies lay dead at his feet.

Taiko was blind, and yet could see.

Dhola was blind, and yet could see.

To her, the world was a maze of currents and movement, where every moving body and breeze and breath told a story. The vibrations in the air sang in her ears, and she sang back, pulling the air towards her and letting it dance back out. She hated being enclosed where the air was still and sad. It wanted to move and be free, couldn't everyone see that? Why ever stay indoors?

More than anything, Dhola wanted to fly, and though the other nuns forbid it, one day she snuck out and took a glider. Then she was up, and oh, oh, what a feeling it was! She saw with her entire body, feeling the wind, playing with it, letting it play with her. She could see just fine, the body of every bird and bison cutting through the sky, the forms of the mountains around which the air flowed like rocks in a riverbed, everything was crystal clear in the open air. So enraptured was she that she didn't notice as the winds blew her far from the temple grounds, and when she finally tired and landed, she did not know where she was.

She called out for help, but no one was around to hear. Frightened, she gripped her glider and tried to feel the movement of the air, but it was unfamiliar.

That night, he wind sang a lonely melody in her ear. She curled up underneath a bush she had found by its branches moving in the breeze. It was a long, sleepless night.

In the morning, Dhola felt the movement of a bison high above, and tried to call to it. But it was too high, and her voice could not reach. So she listened to her words, to how they moved and felt in the air, and magnified their vibrations many fold, and they grew outward in a wave of sound, falling finally on the bison's rider's ears.

Dhola was blind, and yet could see.

Chayak was blind, and yet could see.

Life to him was a sea of tremors, the slow stately slide of glaciers and the rush of the sea below. Even the air thrummed with water as it evaporated. But most fascinating to him as a child was what most concerned his parents, the way he would place his hands on another's skin and trace their veins, his blank eyes staring into the distance.

Worst for him was when he was separated from the water, when he was perched on a foundation of stone or so near the fire that it melted and drifted away. It was only in those moments that he felt truly blind.

In the cold villages and cities of the North, there was little room for the disabled, and Chayak was given no pity for his condition. He was expected to work, and so work he did, guiding boats by feeling the movement of water beneath the ice. He was a better navigator than any other member of his tribe, and his prowess was renowned.

But his hands were not always so sure, and one day he cut his wrist badly while gutting fish. The rush of warm water from his body played on the edge of his senses, and he did not cry out. He placed his hand on his wrist and tried to push the flowing water back into his veins, but it did not obey him. There was a knot, streaming like water beneath his skin, all out of place. He straightened it, and the pain eased, and the bleeding stopped.

Chayak was blind, and yet could see.

Toph was blind, and yet could see.

The world to her was one of mass and density, of insides and forms and three dimensions. The earth whispered to her of all its secrets, and once, when she was a small child, she buried herself utterly in the ground, seeing the world with the plane of her whole body. But the sky, the space between the comforting reality of mass, was an empty void, frightening in its vastness, and to jump was to disappear, perhaps to never return.

To the world she was a delicate blossom, unable to care for herself. But the Badgermoles taught her differently, and she came into her own beneath the earth where she belonged, with her own name and her own fame and her own story to tell.

Toph was an unusual earthbender indeed, for she denied the comforts of the home for the open road, and the Avatar was lucky to have her at his side.

Once, she was caught by her enemies and placed within a metal cage. Frightened but determined, she pounded upon it until her hands were bruised, listening for the song of the earth's ore that it used to be. When the metal finally told her its secrets, she twisted and tore it, and escaped triumphant.

Toph was blind, and yet could see.