Jinora panted as she scrambled to get over the last large rock before entering her new secret place. She knew she was an airbender, but she wasn’t strong or confident enough to really do anything without her father watching close by. But either way, she needed to get inside her alcove as soon as possible. Footsteps were quickly approaching, and they sounded like they knew exactly where they were headed for: the same place she was.
Once the coolness of the stone hollow washed over her, she pressed herself against a side and forced herself to calm down. She had only discovered this place a few days ago, but it was already hers in her mind. The footsteps drew closer and Jinora felt her chest tighten. She tried and tried to hold it back, but the harsh coughs finally broke through. The footsteps stopped, but she couldn’t.
There is someone in my alcove, Jinora though to herself, panic and anger beginning to entwine in her chest. The coughs that escaped the vines enclosure were oddly familiar, reminding Jinora of her childhood years. Carefully, she peered into the alcove to see a young acolyte bent over, her face obscured by the cloak and dancing shadows from leaves above. Finally the coughing fit died down, and she could tell the stranger was turning around, so Jinora darted back behind the trees, hiding from view. But, I don’t understand. No one could have found this place. And…who even is that stranger. She doesn’t look like any of the acolytes children, and she’s too calm to be Ikki.
“Hello?” she finally asked cautiously, still hiding behind the branches. She waited for a response anxiously, slight anger flushing in her cheeks. This was her special hideout, a fort she had protected and cared for for years, and now some new child had stumbled into it. The growing silence between the two girls finally became insufferable and Jinora swung herself into the alcove, nearly bumping into the other girl. Her eyes widened, unable to comprehend what she was seeing. The girl in front of her…those family eyes, that familiar hair…Jinora scooted backwards until she had reached the other side of the alcove. Was she dreaming? Had the heat of the island gotten to her? “Jinora?” she finally asked, her voice wavering with shock.
Her coughs had finally died down, and once she was able to listen again, Jinora still couldn’t hear any footsteps. Soon enough, she had to clear her throat, causing her to justbarelyhear the end of a spoken word. The small airbender froze. Whoever it was knew that she was there, and that knowledge scared her. But what scared her the most was the fact that she was effectively trapped. She didn’t know just how far the cave extended, and the person was at the mouth, silently moving closer now. It was impossible to dart out, even with her small stature.
The back of Jinora’s neck prickled at the sound of her name. “Mommy?” she automatically replied, her voice shy and worried. How had her mom found her here? No one had been watching her…wait, no. Raising a hand above her eyes and squinting, she peered at the silhouette of the character. Not only were they too small, but now after taking a moment to reflect on their voice, they definitely weren’t her mother, nor one of the other Acolytes. “Wh-who are you? How did you find me here?”