I never knew my parents. But I wasn't like The Duke; I didn't raise myself. I was raised in a little fishing town, by a fisherman and his wife. I was an only child. They couldn't have any of their own, but as soon as I was old enough to understand, they told me I was adopted.

Actually, all I know about my real parents is that they were rich. And I only know that 'cause of the bracelet. It's all I have left of them, and it's covered with jewels. Diamonds, emerald, and rubies. Granted, it's tiny. I was wearing it when my "parents" found me. I still wear it, but around my neck. And no, I don't choke myself. I wear it on a chain.

Sometimes I do wonder who my real parents were. I don't even know why they abandoned me. Did they get captured? Killed? Did they just not like me?

"Veronica!" my mom yelled. I snapped out of it.

"Are you okay?" she asked.

I nodded. "Yeah. Just thinking."

She smiled a bit. "Alright, you little daydreamer, get to work." she poked my nose and walked away.

I flinched (I always do that), sighed, and stood up. I was tall for ten–not that I've grown any since then.

I walked over to my dad. It was a Sunday, meaning he was working on the docks. "Have any work for me?" I asked.

He looked up. "Actually, could you help skin the fish?"

I frowned.

"I'm kidding!" he said. He looked around. "Actually, there isn't much you can do. Why don't you go play with your friends?"

I raised my eyebrows. "What friends?" There were only two other kids my age, and they would only talk to each other.

"Okay, point taken. Why don't you go practice your bending?"

I sighed and started walking away. "There's only so much you can teach yourself," I muttered. I was the only earthbender I knew. Sometimes I wondered if my parents were benders…

I shook my head, tilted it to the side, and hit it like those stupid thoughts were water and I just wanted to get them out.

I took a deep breath, exhaled, and took my stance. I lifted my arm. A piece of rock slowly followed my hand up. For a moment, I just tried to keep it there. Then I tried to bend it into a tree.

Nothing happened.

I sighed and let the rock drop. I was bad. Maybe not terrible, but most certainly not good.

"Let's try this again," I mutter. I bent the rock up, held it there for a second, and shifted my stance.

The rock shattered against the tree.

"Ha!" I yelled, pointing up at the sky. "Take that, universe!" It took me two years to be able to do that.

I heard a scream.

I whipped around.

The voices multiplied.

It was coming from my village.

I sped off towards home. (Not that that's saying much. I'm not exactly the most active person… ^^')

I was there a few minutes later.

The Fire Nation.

At least half the town was already gone; dead or carried away. I ducked behind a tree so they wouldn't see me.

I couldn't do anything. I knew I couldn't do anything. So I just stood there until the screams ended and the footsteps faded away.

I stepped out from behind the tree and looked over the ruins.

They'd burnt down everything. Shops, homes. There were bodies all over the ground, some charred, some stabbed.

I tried to keep my breathing even.

A tear rolled down my cheek.

Then I saw my parents.

The were laying next to each other, arms reaching out for each other. They both had spears in their chests.

I fell to my knees and started sobbing.

A while later, I felt a hand on my shoulder.

I managed to lift my head and turn around.

A boy a couple years older than me was standing there. He had black hair tied back under a cone-shaped hat, intelligent, dark brown eyes, and a bow and full quiver strapped to his back. He looked down at me, concerned.

I took a deep breath and exhaled. "I'm alone," I said.

He tilted his head to one side, like he was trying to tell me something.

I didn't understand him. I could never read him, and I don't think I'll ever be able to.

He reached down, took my hand, and pulled me up.

He led me out of the town, not letting go of my hand.

"Where are we going?" I asked. My curiosity was stronger than my sadness.

He didn't answer. I wondered if he could talk.

He led me into a forest. By now I'd realized it probably wasn't smart to be alone with an older boy like that, but he didn't seem threatening and, besides, where else could I go?

I looked around and gasped. The leaves were the most beautiful shade of red, and what little sunlight came through sparkled against them.

After a bit more walking, he stopped in front of a bigger tree.

I looked around again. It all looked the same to me. "Where are we?"

He ignored me, dropped my hand, took an arrow out of his quiver, aimed up, and shot.

I heard a clang as it hit something metal. Two ropes dropped down.

He held one out to me.

Um… I thought. I looked at him, eyebrows raised.

He looked insistent.

I gulped and took it with both hands.

It pulled me up.

I squeezed my eyes shut and screamed.

My arm hit something.

I opened my eyes and saw I was a few feet above a wooden platform.

I let go and squeaked when my boots hit the wood.

The boy landed next to me.

I looked around. Besides the platform I was standing on, there were a few more scattered around the trees with huts on them. Altogether, it was pretty cool.

He gestured to the pile of wood and nail a few feet away from us. A work in progress.

"So this is where you live?" I asked.

He nodded, then tilted his head to the side again, a look I'd come to recognize as 'Follow me.'

I followed him to the other side of the platform, across a bridge, and across another platform.

There were four kids sitting on the floor, looking at what I guessed was a set of blueprints.

There was a girl with brown hair tied back in pigtails. She was facing away from me, but looked about my age. There was a girl with almost red hair, a burn on her neck, and a look of concentration who looked about eight. There was a younger girl, around six, who was obviously struggling to stay focused. She was blonde, something I'd only seen a couple of times before, and had a scar running down one side of her face. The last one was a boy about my age with shaggy brown hair. He was facing away from me, but it seemed like he was in charge, mostly because he was the one pointing things out on the blueprints. He was also the only one carrying weapons.

The blonde girl looked up and noticed me. That made the redhead look up, too. She poked the boy to get his attention.

He turned around.