A boy jolted awake, his breath being erratic as he looked around on where he was. He was confused, and in a state of panic, as right now, he's in the middle of the ocean, his support only a wooden plank that made him float above the water surface. The wave then suddenly hit his face, water coming into his nose, making him cough up. His hands were shaking, his legs tired, he didn't know what was going on, the last thing he knew was when someone had shot him in the—
Another wave hit his face, and more water entered his nostrils and mouth. Coughing up again, he frantically looked around, doing a 360 degrees scan of his surroundings, and soon, he noticed that there was an island nearby, and he held out hope.
His already tired legs pushed his body through the water, trying to bring himself towards the shore. This time, he went along with the wave, and while he had to hold his breath everytime the wave carried him, it's still better to go against it.
He pushed himself further, his adrenaline kicking in. it's not fast enough, he thought, his body was too small to have a strong stamina and a strong kicking power, the most he can is just bear with it, but at this point, he feared that he's not going to make it, or he'll make it, just not conscious when he arrived.
The shore kept getting nearer, and in desperation to go to it quicker, he abandoned the plank that held him above the waves, and used his hands to push his body further towards the beach. He could feel he's starting to lose vision, fatigue slowly consuming him.
Finally, he could feel his feet touching sand, and he stood up, though he could barely keep himself in that position. He quickly walked through it, and at some point, he could feel that he was touching some kind of wooden structure. It was a dock, he kept walking, using the structure to support himself. And after a grueling couple of minutes, he arrived at the shore, his vision already blurry.
But when he turned to the front, he saw… two half-naked grannies, sitting on a bathing chair.
That sight made him cough up the water that he had inhaled.
On a clear afternoon, two elderly women reclined in their bathing chairs, placed in front of their modest shack overlooking the black sands of Ember Island, a renowned destination in the Fire Nation's territory. Their attire, a stark contrast to their age, might have been scandalous to the locals, but they cared not. This was their land, however diminutive, and they exercised their right to do as they pleased.
Beside their chairs, a small table held drinks for their enjoyment. One of them sighed in satisfaction as she sipped her drink, saying, "Finally, we get to have some rest, sister. Perhaps our life will be a little easier now. The princess is possibly the greatest talent of the royal family in ages, and we don't have to teach her as rigorously as we thought."
"But she seems unsatisfied with her own power. She wants more," the other sister remarked. "As her personal tutors, we would have to give her what she wants. Maybe your words are wrong. Maybe we should just enjoy this peace while it lasts because in the coming years, we may not have as much time."
"Maybe you're right, maybe I am," the first sister shrugged, sipping her drink. "Either way, let's savor this vacation."
The second sister grinned and agreed.
As the two elderly women basked in the warm Ember Island sunlight, their eyes closed, and they fell into a trance of relaxation, the only sounds their own breaths and the soothing waves lapping against the soft sand and wooden docks near their shack. The wind rustled through their aging bodies, deepening their sense of relaxation. With a cool drink in hand, they managed to momentarily ignore the inexorable march of time.
But a nagging thought crept into their minds. "We're old, sister," the woman on the left finally stated.
"Yes, sister," sighed the woman on the right.
"Don't you think this life is becoming unfulfilling?" the woman on the left continued. "We're mentors to the princess but have never had a child of our own to teach. No legacy to impart..."
"I think we'd make terrible parents," the woman on the right commented. "Besides, this place is all we have left. Let's enjoy it while it lasts."
"And once we're gone, what will happen to this place? Give it to the kingdom?"
"To the locals, probably," the woman on the right shrugged.
"That doesn't feel satisfying at all."
"It is what it is, sister. If you wanted to get married and have children, it's too late for that."
"You're right..." the woman on the left sighed. "But… the scroll… it'll just be a waste."
"We have time to find someone," the woman on the right reassures. "Preferably someone like us… someone with a passion for—"
Their peaceful contemplation was disrupted when they heard harsh coughs nearby. Their eyes flew open, but there were no intrusive men or mocking youths in sight. Instead, a young boy, drenched in saltwater on the beach, clearly just swam there from the ocean, and was desperately trying to clear his lungs.
The two sisters sprang into action, rushing to the boy's side to help him expel the water. He was… wearing clothing uncommon to the culture around here. He wore a water tribe clothing, complete with the white fur and light blue color, but instead of having a dark shade of skin, he had a paler skin tone than the rest of how the water tribe usually looks, though the difference of color between the average fire nation citizen and him was still visible. The boy looked to be around 9 years old, almost the same as the princess they're currently serving.
"There, there, child," the first sister comforted him as she gently patted his back, aiding his recovery. Once all the water had been coughed up, the boy lay on the sand, his vision fading, and he passed out, possibly from exhaustion or other causes. His breathing gradually steadied.
The two elderly sisters exchanged a glance, contemplating their next move. A mutual understanding passed between them as they decided to bring the child to their shack and assist in his recovery.
Approximately a full day later, the boy abruptly awoke on a wooden sofa. He gasped for breath, disoriented and sweaty, struggling to make sense of his surroundings. His trembling hands and unfocused gaze betrayed his confusion.
The first memory that flooded back was not of a boy but of a man in his early twenties. Before this bewildering turn of events, he had endured a mundane and soul-crushing job, working long hours for meager pay. His only aspiration had been to escape that dreary existence and live in peaceful solitude by a beach, but that dream seemed unreachable. Everything changed when he was shot in a violent incident. The shooting was the last thing he recalled before ending up in this bewildering situation, trapped in the body of a young boy adrift in the ocean.
"Calm down, child," a voice from the corner of the room broke through his thoughts. The boy turned to find two elderly women, sipping tea at a table on the floor.
"-Who are you?" the boy stammered.
"That's not important right now," one of them replied, the woman on the left. "What matters is your identity. Do you remember your name?"
"Name?" the boy frowned, his memory of the body limited to just one detail: his name. "I'm... Kavir."
The woman on the left pondered for a moment. "A water tribe name. That won't do. How about... Sozim?"
"What?" The boy's frown deepened, recognizing the faces of the women who had saved him on the beach. "Are you the ones who saved me?"
"Saved you? No, child. You came to us," the woman on the right clarified. "You interrupted our vacation."
"Oh... I'm sorry."
"No need to apologize," the woman on the left chuckled. "So, what will you do now, child? You're awake."
"I..." The boy knew nothing about them, how he had arrived here, or what to do next. "Where am I?"
"You're on Ember Island, if you know where that is," the woman on the right said.
"From the looks of it, you're from the water tribe," observed the woman on the left. "Southern or Northern?"
"Water tribe? Ember Island? Southern or Northern?" The boy repeated the crucial details he had heard, the body doesn't have any memory of that. "I... I don't remember."
"You don't remember?" the woman on the right continued. "You've lost your memories, child? But you remembered your name."
"I only remembered that," the boy murmured, though his past life before inhabiting this boy's body lingered in his mind.
"That's not good," the woman on the right remarked. "You don't know where to go or who you are."
"We could turn you in to the guards," suggested the woman on the left. "But we're not that heartless."
"How about you stay here?" the woman on the right proposed. "We only come here every weekend or when we have free time, so we need someone to look after the place. We'll provide you with money and food, of course."
"I... I don't even know your names," the boy hesitated.
"Right," the woman on the left nodded. "I'm Lo."
"And I'm Li," the woman on the right introduced herself. "Here's the deal, child. You stay here, maintain the place while we're away, and we'll compensate you. Since we need to conceal your true identity as a water tribe member, you'll need a new name and different clothing."
"Alright," the boy agreed. "But... Why are you helping me?"
"What do you mean?" Li raised her eyebrow.
"You're the one who came to us, right?" added Lo.
The boy was perplexed. "I guess? But still..."
"Don't overthink it, child," Li interjected. "For now, your name is Sozim. If you're up for it, we'll take you to town to get some new clothes."