Ember Island. For most Fire Nation citizens, Ember Island was a vacation destination known for its gorgeous crystalline beaches, lovely villas, and bustling theater scene. For those who were versed in their history, however, particularly members of the royal family and court, they knew that Ember Island was renowned for having mystical properties. Some even believed that a visit to the island had the ability to cause one to understand truths about themselves they had long since buried.
This was what Ty Lee understood to be true, considering Lo and Li’s advice before she and her friends, Azula, Zuko, and Mai arrived. Despite this, Ty Lee could not help but feel herself overcome with a deep sadness even as she was attending a jovial party. All the most important teens in the Fire Nation were supposed to be there, yet every time Ty Lee tried to do anything or talk to anyone, she would end up accosted by all manner of guys who wanted to swear fealty to her.
It was after one of these confrontations (which ended in her inadvertently knocking out three young men with chi blocking) that Ty Lee found herself outside, leaning over the balcony that overlooked the beach, lost in thought. She was thinking about her family, about her friends (who seemed to somehow be having less fun than she was, a fact that made her even more dejected), and her own place here at this party.
“Ty Lee? Is that you out there?”
Ty Lee perked up, and she turned around. Azula was standing in the doorway, her ever-present air on nonchalance and self-importance emanating from her carefree stance. “Mai and Zuko and I were thinking about bailing. This party is lame, anyway. Wanna come with?”
Azula. The very reason Ty Lee had returned to the royal court anyway. Ty Lee always wanted to help her best friend however she could, but now that the Avatar was dead, Ty Lee could do nothing but question what her place even was amongst these people anymore. What purpose did she serve?
Ty Lee smiled sadly, and she said, “Thanks. I might come down later, but I want to be alone right now.” She faced the balcony once again.
Azula looked at Ty Lee, concerned over her friend, but ultimately shrugged, and returned to the intermingle of partygoers.
Staying there, for a moment Ty Lee let her only companion be the moon. After not long, she decided to leave the balcony, descending a short staircase, and take a walk into the tropical forest below.
The ground was a patchwork of rough roots, soft sand, and coarse dirt. As someone who was very protective of the state of her feet, Ty Lee felt it a little odd to be roaming while barefoot. It was...exhilarating. The sensitivity of her soles gave her a new way to understand the world in which she lived.
Hmm, she wondered, thinking about that Toph girl she had seen occasionally during her infrequent battles with Team Avatar. Apparently, if the intel was true, she was completely blind and used earthbending to sense the layout of the land through her feet. If that were true…
“Hmmmm…” Ty Lee truly did consider the thought. She had no bending powers of her own, but it was an interesting suggestion, nonetheless. Plus, it might make for a quality circus act! And so, Ty Lee pulled a decorative ribbon from her swimsuit, and she tied it around her eyes, ready to test out her navigational skills using only her senses.
“Alright, Ty Lee… you can do this.” Ty Lee held her hands out before her, probing the space, then with a running leap, she landed on her hands, balancing in a handstand and taking several steps forward before springing back upright to her own bare feet, sending up a plume of dust and sand.
“Whoo!” she cheered, exhilarated by the danger and excitement of doing acrobatics blindfolded.
“Kind of rough, though… maybe I should be wearing shoes doing this,” Ty Lee noted, realizing now that the roots and sharper rocks had dug into her soles from her forceful descent. Her shoes remained at Chan’s house party, and she wasn’t quite ready to return yet. Leaning against a nearby palm tree, Ty Lee grabbed her ankle and dexterously raised it in front of her face, innate flexibility allowing a close examination of her foot with ease. There were a few splinters which didn’t break skin, but she still had to pluck out.
“There we go!” Ty Lee cheered, letting go of her foot and allowing it to snap back to the ground, where she inadvertently felt it slam into similar splintery regions.
“Oww! Seriously, what is up with this floor?!” Ty Lee repeated the process she just did, though this time she now noticed the ground upon which she stood.
“Is this… a little village?”
Crouching down, Ty Lee discerned that yes, there appeared to be a small village on the forest floor. Making it up were several dozen huts, roughly as tall as her thumb was long.
“These are… toys. Little models some kid made. They look really nice!” Ty Lee continued to talk to herself, tapping a finger and pushing one hut over.
“They’re pretty fragile though. Ohhh… I must’ve stepped on one. Oh, I’m sorry!”
Then, she heard a scream. A teeny, tiny scream.
Ty Lee gasped. Her keen sense of hearing discerned that it most likely came from somewhere close by. Somewhere, right under her nose…
Mai and Azula considered Ty Lee gullible, and they even had a propensity for pulling the occasional prank on the young girl. So needless to say, Ty Lee felt quite perturbed and called out to the forest, “Yeah, yeah! Real funny, guys! You can come out now!”
The only response Ty Lee received in return was another scream. Ty Lee finally took off the blindfold, staring into the night. She looked around furtively, thinking, why did these screams sound so close… but also… so distant?
With trepidation, Ty Lee’s eyes fell back upon the village.
The spirits were known to interact with the human world in limited capacities. As far as villages the size of a table spread, it was odd, true… and not to mention difficult to fathom it hadn’t been stumbled upon before Ty Lee came around.
Come to think of it… where was she?
Ty Lee looked around herself, only to realize the shrubbery and foliage did not at all appear like that of Ember Island. The formerly tropical plants now appeared far more temperate, and the mighty rainforest trees had now become narrow, young-seeming pines, many of which only twice or so the size of the young acrobat.
Ty Lee. You have been chosen.
The voice invaded Ty Lee’s brain, causing the girl to cover her ears and crouch as the invasive force took over her every thought.
Worry not. This is no punishment. This is, in fact, a gift. For you alone, Ty Lee. Your pure heart has enticed the spirits to choose you, as only one as pure as you can be trusted to administer judgment to the wicked.
These poor human souls are the descendants of the followers of an ancient king, who sought to upset the balance between the human world and the spirit world. Their souls are black with hate, and the spirits have held them here, awaiting one of character to whom we can trust to carry out their judgment. That human is you, Ty Lee.
As she crouched, still trying to plug her ears as best as she could, Ty Lee felt something enter her heart. Something incorporeal, unknowable, something alien. By all accounts, it felt much like how she had heard bending described to her, but not… elements. Emotion. Energy.
Do what you need to do, Ty Lee. Do not fail us… we will not harm you if you do, but we will be oh so disappointed.
And the presence left.
For once in her entire life, Ty Lee felt unbalanced. She was shivering, the invasive memory of that… that voice still lingering in her head.
Punishment. Wicked. That… that feeling. What did it all mean?
Ty Lee stared down at the encampment beneath her. Already one hut had been destroyed, most likely as a result of her lack of care and consideration blindfolded. With fear, Ty Lee lifted her own foot once again and stared at it.
There, on her pale sole, was a spot of blood, an inch in size. In the rough outline of a star -- no, a man.
“Oh my… goodness.”
Ty Lee’s eyes widened as a number of people began to exit their huts. Their clothing and outfits were difficult to make out from their extreme size differences, but they appeared to be wearing archaic versions of Fire Nation garb. The group, mostly men and women, all left their homes, subsequently pointed up at the colossal acrobat, and began to run away, screaming something in an ancient dialect.
Ty Lee’s heartbeat quickened as they began to spread out and disperse. She looked around, seeing that they were indeed in a clearing. It’d take a little while before they got to a point where they could escape. Plus, something… not her eyes, or her ears in particular, but… something… told her there were still a lot of the shrunken people in their homes, hiding, hoping this was a nightmare of sorts.
“Well… I guess I’m not getting out of here until I do something.”
And Ty Lee descended her foot upon the closest nearby hut. Its pointed spire tickled her sole, eliciting a giggle from the bubbly girl, but soon the straw and branches that made the slanted roof caved in, followed by the walls that supported them, until at last, Ty Lee’s powerful foot had crushed the house in its entirety. As she did, Ty Lee’s sensitive sole also felt the indignant splatter of humanity. She gasped slightly, but this death came accompanied with that similar feeling enter her heart. That… odd feeling.
“Hmm… that was… intense.”
But it wasn’t enough to convince her to abandon this endeavor. Rather, Ty Lee aimed for another teepee, this time with her other foot. She brought her toe in front of the door and flicked it, caving in that half of the wall. Ty Lee chuckled at that, then stopped herself. This was supposed to be a somber experience. No laughing.
Ty Lee’s roaming foot continued in the residence, searching for its occupant. Inside the miniscule house, a terrified man cowered in the farthest corner as the beast-like foot sought him out, before finally her big toe pinned him against the wall.
The inch-sized man struggled against the massive toe but was only driven beneath it to the ground. A single flex by Ty Lee ended his life as he collapsed into a pile of blood.
“My… hm…” Ty Lee thought, putting a hand to her chin. “You know… honestly… this is kinda fun!”
And with gusto, she took another step into the village, this time wasting not a moment in targeting the nearest residence. Her foot smashed down upon it, and the bubbly girl’s eyes widened as that feeling entered her heart again. This felt absolutely great! Oh man, she could not wait to crush the next one.
And crush the next one she did. The largest building in the encampment, an almost tent-like shape set up in the center stood before her.
“The largest building… it must have the most people!” And with a cheerful jump, Ty Lee ascended into the air, bringing down both her feet upon the shin-height chapel. It exploded in a barrage of flinging wood slats and straw. At the same time, she touched the ground, Ty Lee felt that good feeling of hers, multiplied dozens of times over. She blushed hotly and fell to the ground.
“Where are you?! Come out, come on out! You can’t hide from me!” she growled, sinisterly growling to the rest of the houses that seemed quite vacant from her observation.
Ty Lee stood up to her full height and scanned the surrounding clearing. Despite the lack of light, the stars and moon above seemed to provide just enough light for her to identify precisely the remaining tinies running away. They were each a few meters or so away from one another, but that would be no problem for one as acrobatic as Ty Lee.
Taking a running start, Ty Lee grinned and said to herself, “Ready or not.”
Then, she pushed off the ground, pumping her fists as she geared up before leaping into the air, doing a front flip and landing precisely on the ground, both feet having caught one running straggler. But her performance wasn’t over, as this maneuver strung into a second flip, once again catching several fleeing men and women. Then another. And another. The stamina of Ty Lee knew no bounds as her stylish executions wetted the soles of her feet again and again, and yet she still did not slip. Her perfect balance was needed as she hopped on one of the last remaining runners before jumping high into the air, executing a split, and landing, legs far apart, upon the last group. Both heels had smashed a tiny into mush, as did her thighs as well as her butt and crotch, resulting in an incredible sextuple kill.
Ty Lee giggled, her beautiful face harboring a wondrous smile, as she officially, truly said to nobody but herself, “Ten out of ten.”
Ty Lee woke up.
She was once again outside Chan’s house. The porch was empty, and her cranium throbbed and ached.
“Ugh, what happened?” she groaned, rubbing her head as she sat up, confused. “Was that… some sort of dream?” she pondered. It certainly felt like it. And yet…
“Oh, there she is!” cried a feminine voice.
Ty Lee looked to her side and saw two Fire Nation nobles, both teenagers, look at the young acrobat with a sense of ridicule. “So, you’re the skank who stole our boyfriends away from us! Though how an ugly platypus bear like you could be found attractive at all is beyond me.”
Ty Lee was taken aback and hurt by the comment, and that sense, that feeling in her chest started to return. The pressure built until--
They were gone. The pair of girls were gone.
Ty Lee got up and walked to where they once stood. And there, just where she thought they’d be, were the two partygoers. She could hear them quite clearly as they jumped up and waved their hands at Ty Lee, who smiled sharply.
“Okay, okay, we’re sorry! J-just change us back?”
Ty Lee did no such thing. Rather, she raised her foot, causing their eyes to widen in fear.
Ty Lee waved, and cheerfully replied, “Bye bye!”
The girls were disassociated from their bodily structures and turned into one single blood spot, mingling together.
“I never thought I would ever agree with Azula about that… but she was right. Cruelty is pretty fun.”
Ty Lee began to slide and rub her feet into the porch wood, spreading their remains out along the ground until nothing remained of them except a magenta sheen on the sole of her dancer’s foot.
“My aura… and my feet… have never been pinker.”