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Even Though My Work Is Unparalleled

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144 年 3月 2日

Admittedly I have not yet completely filled my last journal but have nevertheless decided to start afresh with this one to mark the beginning of what might become my greatest project yet. I have been hired by Suyin Beifong (daughter of hero and legendary metalbender Toph Beifong [and the Blind Bandit of Gaoling!]) to, in her words, “bring to life” her ideas for a city unlike any other in the Earth Kingdom. I must admit her plans are ambitious, and a part of me cannot help but worry if I may have bitten off more than I can chew by partnering myself with her. Suyin already owns the land on which we plan to build her city—all ten thousand hectares, mountains, valley, river and all! I still have not dared ask how she managed to get all that land and what she paid for it.

It is rich land, well defensible, should we start building in the valley. There’s a small village already there (tiny, really, more a cluster of four or five semi-nomadic families), and they weren’t all too happy when Suyin first showed up with the deed to their land, but she managed to make quite a convincing case for them joining her new city. Turns out that none of them own the land, and that they'd in fact been squatting. No paying taxes, but that means no protection services from the Earth Queens' forces either. We've been hearing news of bandits from the north widening their territories, so Suyin's offer of citizenship to a large, well-defended city was of course unsurprisingly attractive to many of them. Suyin has also already agreed upon more than adequate compensation for those who want to leave. I must say that her promises leave me a little nervous. So far all we have to show is the land. Even most of our current investors are friends of Beifong family. Yet Suyin seems positive that we will succeed. Her confidence starts to make sense when you think of whose daughter she is. I have yet to meet Toph, but Suyin assures me she's every bit as terrifying and magnificent as the news makes her out to be. I sense that there is more to that when it comes to Suyin herself, but families are complicated and it's none of my business.

So thanks to Suyin's sweet-talking, it's pretty much set that we are doing this. The valley is a beautiful place, and I’m still rather shocked to find that no one has tried to develop it yet, especially considering its closeness to Omashu and Gao Ling. Maybe it’s the proximity to the swamp that put them off.

In the meantime the remaining villagers have been resettled to Gao Ling (in the estate of Suyin’s grandparents, who weren’t all that pleased), though quite few of the younger people, both benders and non-benders have elected to stay and help. Suyin was worried they’d get underfoot (she has already selected all the finest craftsmen and strongest metalbenders to help us build this city [as well as a construction crew from RC that I’m sure is connected in some way or another to the Terra Triad]) but I managed to convince her to let them stay and help. If we do manage to achieve this dream of hers, it’ll be worth it to get these people involved. Besides, if we’re going to end up living with them, we’re going to have to get to know them soon enough.


144 年 7月 14日

Construction is well underway, far quicker than I’d initially anticipated. I’m too used to working with machinery and non-benders, with only a single earthbender or two for the more complex structures, but the caliber of people Suyin has hired is unbelievable. It’s no surprise, they are almost all students of Toph, and so pretty much on Suyin’s level, but to see it all in action...there are no words. There remains the fact that what we are doing is unprecedented. No such city exists in the world. When she’d first approached me with the idea of a city built mostly of metal (there’s no way we could build an city entirely out of metal regardless of what Suyin says in her little speeches, that is an architectural and engineering impossibility) I’d honestly thought she was rambling drunkenly (though to be fair, we were both quite drunk). But I’ve learned by now not to underestimate Su’s ambition. She’s a woman who knows what she wants, and isn’t afraid to reach out and take it. I must confess that her drive is why I first decided to join her. That, and because her ideas intrigued me, and because they seemed almost impossible. It is vanity too, in part, and pride: I wanted to be the one to make the impossible real. And now it looks like we will actually achieve this impossible dream. This is never something I envisioned myself doing when I'd first left my village to study in Ba Sing Se University, and I have Suyin to thank for it all.

I asked her a few days ago how she got the land. She joked that she won it from the Earth Queen in a mahjong game. I don’t believe her, and yet I feel that that is just the kind of thing that Suyin could make happen.


144 年 9月 20日

I think at this point I am beyond denial. I am taken with this woman, and I both love and hate her a little for it. She terrifies me, and yet when my heart races for her I’ve never felt more alive.

Spirits, I am being ridiculous. She'd not the kind of woman my parents would ever accept back home. She threatened me with a knife the day I first met her, and tried to sweet talk me into bed the next.


144 年 11月 4日

We have completed laying the foundation for what will be the first of several “platforms” (for lack of a better word, I’m still trying to come up with something better) if everything works out as planned. This will be the main city hub, so that even if the rest do not work out, we still have something to show for our work. Seeing that Suyin was insistent on having it smack-dab in the middle of the valley, we had to make sure that the ground beneath it was stable to bear the weight of a mostly-metal structure. We’re lucky that the region is fairly rocky, and with the help of Suyin’s band of elite earth and metalbenders, we have managed to set up a firm, stable base. Su is eager to start with the framework, but I would like a little more time to lay out the grids of the various utility systems, especially for sewage. Not only will the river provide our main source of water for both consumption and irrigation, it will also generate our electricity. And while we’re all a team of experts in our various fields, not one of us has ever built a city from the ground up before. There is so much that could potentially go wrong.

Su tells me I worry to much, that we can figure it out as we go along. She is not the first to tell me that, and I am much aware that I lack the courage and adventurous spirit she possesses. She has travelled all over the world: it shames me a little to think I have never ventured beyond the borders of the Earth Kingdom. Yet I feel strongly about this, very strongly. I have not told her yet that I have delayed construction for a week to go over the plans again with Silna (my foreman, and the only other voice of reason!). But at this point, regardless of what feelings I may have for Su, I fear I may have to put my foot down, or else depart from this project. I cannot continue if it means putting people at risk, either now in its construction, or down the road, with everyone dying from dysentery.


144 年 12月 22日

We have just celebrated the winter solstice. Despite her general lack of skill in preparing anything meant for consumption, Suyin is quite adept at rolling out tang yuan. She makes hers with lots of ginger, but I won’t complain: it helps against the cold. Winter isn’t quite as harsh here as I’m used to, but we’ve had a cold snap a few days ago, and we’re definitely feeling it. Construction has slowed, in part due to the weather, but also thanks to the torrents of rain we’ve been getting almost every other day. Another thing to worry about. The rivers haven’t spilled their banks yet, and our research and surveys have shown that they rarely do, but I still have my fears. Regardless, right now we’re in a position to see exactly how well the foundation holds. We’re camped out on the main base while we’ve been putting up the framework of the first few buildings: residential mostly. Sewer lines have been laid out—properly, after I managed to talk Su round to slowing down and shifting a few things around. My biggest fear now, after the flooding potential, is the electricity lines we need to lay down. This is the worst possible time to do so, with all this rain, and the generator we’ve installed further up the river isn’t running yet. Most of our workers have gone home for a few weeks, to celebrate the solstice with family. It’s mostly close friends now, future citizens and us. And Toph surprisingly, though Suyin says she’ll be leaving again at the end of the month.

Sometimes I feel like I am the only one worrying about all these things. Suyin is supportive, and I know she tries to listen, but she has just as much to do, supervising the metalbenders, and dealing with the more social and political aspects of what we are doing. For every little thing that we achieve, the work still seems endless. There is so much that needs doing, so many things to plan and check in triplicate. I feel like I’ve moved far beyond my capacities as an architect to that more of an engineer and a builder, territories I am only slightly familiar with. I'm not foolish enough to think that I can take on everything by myself: Silna's work has been invaluable. I have also started delegating more, trusting others to know what they are doing. And yet, I still feel the pressure to keep an eye on everything. I do not want to let her down. Every now and then it feels like it is her faith in me alone that sustains me. I cannot let her down.

It is a comfort to have her close. I’ve been finding it hard to fall asleep of late, but Suyin, no matter how tough the day as been, can drop right off. In a bed, on a pile of sand, in the dirt, she’ll just sleep until she’s had her six hours and then she’s up again and ready to go. Meanwhile I must content myself with listening to her breathe. It is soothing, even if it does not quite send me to sleep myself.

I love her.


145 年 2月 8日

For the new year we did an electricity test run. It went well, better than I’d anticipated. We have lights now, powered by the turbines upstream. It also means that the contracts we’ve had with most of the fire and lightningbenders have ended. Most are returning back to Republic City, which from a financial standpoint frees up funds for other areas. Yet parting is bittersweet. I’ll be especially sad to see Toshiko go, she has been a good friend and excellent partner and sounding board when it came plotting the power lines throughout the city. But she has a family to get back to, and Suyin’s already offered her (and her entire family) citizenship. Toshiko said she’ll think about it. Some of the other firebenders are staying, which pleases Suyin no end. More and more of her dream is coming to life, and we’re all beginning to feel like family now. I can’t believe it's been just little over a year-and-a-half since I’ve first met her—it feels like a lifetime ago.



Architect of my dreams,

Sending you all of my love from Ba Sing Se, because not a single tiny bit of this terrible city deserves it. The queen is insisting I stay a week longer, and at the present moment I am in no position to bargain with her. Mom has offered to come to Ba Sing Se, but knowing mom, she will only make things worse, especially since her most insufferable majesty most honorable Majesty hates her.

(In the case you have intercepted this letter, Wai Chan of the Dai Li, you can ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||.)

Anyway, here I am, rubbing elbows with the rich and famous of Ba Sing Se, many who want to rub more when they find out who I am. I have already received three marriage proposals! Three! All political maneuverings of course, though if the Han family were really so desperate for connections to the Beifong name they’d do better than offer me their youngest. He's sixteen, Baatar! They’d even dragged the boy along, and he looked like he was afraid I’d eat him alive. I had to go to the onsen after that just to feel clean again. This is why I hate this city so much. If mom had never been a part of Uncle Aang’s resistance, the Beifongs would have remained minor nobility, unworthy and beneath their notice. But now I’m just another pathway up society’s ladder for them. Even I had deigned to be interested in any of their lousy offspring, marriage would be the least effective way to mom's wealth or name. Or mine for that matter. Good thing I love you because you love me solely for my dashing good looks and wonderful personality, sweetheart, or you’d be beating off other suitors with your slide rule.

Wow, I’ve ranted for almost half a letter. Apologies, my love, that you have to listen read about all this. Rest assured only you have managed to lay foundations in my heart. (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist!) But back to the original intention of this letter (other than to tell you that I hate this place, and that I miss you and Zaofu so much), the queen has not yet agreed to my tax proposals. She trying to claim far more than we can afford to give at the moment, based on the grounds that I can personally afford it...which is ridiculous, that’s not how this system works…. This is clearly a power grab, but I refuse to be indebted to that harpy. I am meeting with King Huan of Omashu tomorrow to discuss the system of tribute he has with the Earth Kingdom. We may be able to adapt it to Zaofu, especially if I can get him on our side against the Queen.

Missing you.




Dear Suyin,

If you do not return by the end of the week, I will assume the Dai Li have you and I will call your mother. Please, please do not antagonize the Earth Queen (or anyone else for that matter). I know your negotiations are important to ensure Zaofu’s statehood, security, and appropriate representation in the court and matters of state, but I don’t really see us going anywhere were you to disappear either.

Besides, then I would have to come to Ba Sing Se and rescue you. It would be a terrible rescue attempt. Please don’t make me have to do this. Remember what happened in Lao Sai? It will be just like Lao Sai. We do not want that.

An update on construction that I do not want you to worry about because I have it under control: the alluvium by the river delta where you had planned the airship docking platform has turned out to be less stable than our survey had indicated. The foundations keep sinking. I am in talks with Silna and Yi Cheng about this. They believe that instead of completely moving the site, we may be able to mine some stone from the mountains and use that to stabilize the soil, along with some “earthbender tricks” I was assured meant compressing the soil and rerouting the river slightly. As the one responsible for the survey, I take full responsibility for the setback. I’m just relieved we found this out now, and not after we had built the platform. Silna says it might take us about a week to complete these additional modifications. I have also put all other construction on the city main on hold, to ensure that I haven’t made any errors there.

Please do not worry. Everyone’s being very safe. Do what you have to do in Ba Sing Se. I pray the meeting with the Earth Queen and King Huan goes well. May she finally see sense in your proposal. I hope to see you soon.

Yours truly,

PS. I must ask, silly as it may be, but what do you mean when you address the architect of your dreams? Me, bringing your dreams of Zaofu to life? Or as the man of Do you dream of Has your dream You know what I mean. I know, I know, I’m quibbling over semantics but you know I overthink these things, and now that you’ve put this thought in my head, it is your fault should I go mad. Come back soon. Be safe. I love you.



Architect of my heart,

I must admit when I read of the setbacks I was tempted to pack up and leave immediately. Not that I don't have faith in you, but it would have been a good excuse to get out of this hole. And I don’t know if I could live with myself should something happen to you. But I trust you have everything under control. And I do not put it past the Queen to not use this against us should she find out what happened. So, yes dear, I’ll stay. (Also, Baatar, my love, you severely underestimate my abilities if you think the Queen and her goatdogs can just make me disappear.)

The meeting was...passable. Hou Ting, the Queen, is a stubborn, spiteful bit woman. King Huan’s presence and advice was invaluable, and with Omashu setting a precedent (a centuries-old one at that), it was hard for her to argue against what we were proposing. Besides, I tried to push the experimental nature of Zaofu in my plea. After all, if we succeed here, why should we not share our technology with the rest of the Earth Kingdom? Ba Sing Se could certainly use it, and that’s the capital! I hate to think of the Earth Kingdom being left behind technologically just because she refuses to extend her oversight to the development and modernization of the lesser states. Sadly the Queen is a little too short-sighted to think of such things: she remained focused on monetary tribute. Still, this is a topic I think we should return to one day, when Zaofu has been built, and we have something truly valuable to offer.

By the way, King Huan is incredibly impressed. He has privately offered a considerable personal investment (will discuss this in greater detail with you in person), and wishes to visit the site in the coming months. Nothing is planned yet, so don’t freak out. I won’t leave you to deal with royalty alone.

Be safe. I miss you.


PS to your PS:
Oh Baatar, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to drive you crazy with my turn of phrase. Or did I? I miss you. I hate this place, but I think I could much better tolerate the politics and bureaucracy here if I had you by my side. Architect of my dreams, I can almost see you, holding up my letter, squinting at the phrase, wondering what I’m getting at. I must admit I wasn’t thinking all too hard when I wrote it down, it’s the kind of silly sappy address I must have read before in a cheap romance novel. Not that I think you’re silly! Or sappy, or cheap! (You’re definitely not cheap, love, your initial consultation fee still gives me nightmares.) I was trying to be poetic, o architect of my heart, and I suppose you could take it either way, and more. There is much you are an architect of, my love. Not all are appropriate for a letter. But you are assured I will dream of you tonight, and in the nights to come before I see you again.



Dearest Baatar,

I’m so sorry, but I must extend my stay again. Do not fear, I am not being kept here against my will. Mom is in Ba Sing Se, as is Uncle Sokka. I’m not quite sure if they’re here on my behalf—mom says she isn’t, and knowing her, that’s probably true—but their presence does give me some clout. I’m finalizing my negotiations with the Earth Queen tomorrow, after which I will leave for the Si Wong desert. I’ll be visiting some old friends among the sandbenders, but my main purpose is to meet Aiwei. I don’t know if you remember, but he made news a few years ago when he left the “employ” of the Earth Queen. Caused quite a scandal, as I recall, since his departure revealed that she was conscripting children to the Dai Li. One of the reasons why she’s so paranoid of late, I think, but her loss might potentially be our gain! He’s a truth seer, and a skilled one at that. I've asked around quietly, and apparently he has been in exile for the past two years. But when but Uncle Sokka said he met a truth seer in the Misty Palms Oasis, I was naturally intrigued. Even more so when mom said he was "halfway decent" in seismic sense (Toph-speak for "really good, possibly as good as me"). I'm still shocked she'd even admit such a thing. I hope I’m right. If we can convince him to join us in Zaofu where we can offer him protection, he might prove to be a valuable asset for the city.

I promise no more detours after this. I miss you and I love you.




Su. We have been attacked by bandits. We managed to fight them off, but several people have been injured. Please return as soon as you can. Love, Baatar


145 年 9月 25日

Another bandit raid. They are getting bolder. Suyin has petitioned the Earth Queen for security forces. I’m still not sure what the bandits want. Our construction supplies aren’t exactly valuable, except the metal, but that's very well protected.


145 年 11月 3日

The Earth Queen has denied Suyin’s petition for aid, on the grounds that she lacks the resources. I’ve never seen Su so livid. Had she been a firebender, I’m sure she would've breathed fire. After losing Chee Feng last week...we cannot continue this way. Once they found our camps too well protected, they starting conducting raids on our supply chain, mostly the trucks ferrying in ore from the Earthen Fire mines. This has set back our schedule by weeks, if not months, and we cannot afford to hire additional security for the trucks. Suyin says King Huan might offer the protection of some of his troops, but the both of us hope it doesn’t come to that. We wish to remain as independent as we can. It’s one thing to be ruled indirectly by the Earth Queen, but to be beholden to another state entirely…. We would rather Zaofu not start off indebted to Omashu.

Suyin has mentioned that some of her pirate friends might help. While I’m not too keen on the idea of mercenaries for hire (and offering them a place in our city as payment), Suyin seems to trust them. And I trust her. Besides, now that she has finally convinced Aiwei to join us, we might be able to put his truth seeing skills to good use.



Dear Mom (and whoever is reading this to her),

You did not say how long you’d be in Yu Dao, so I hope this letter reaches you. Again, please pass my condolences and deepest regret to the Chee family. They are welcome any time to claim Zaofu citizenship and take up residence here should they chose to do so. I know it will never make up for their loss, but I promise them that Chee Feng's sacrifice will not be in vain.

I know you said never to put any trust in authority (except you, but we know that didn’t turn out great for us either), but I guess that one part of me that isn’t as jaded and bitter as Lin was holding out for some small kindness from the Queen. We are her subjects after all. But you were right. No troops. No help. She doesn’t care about us, not a single iota beyond the money we send her for her wasteful indulgences.

I’m done with the monarchy. She’ll get her taxes, every single stinking ban, but it’s blood money, all of it. Our blood, the blood of her people. If there truly is balance in the world, she will one day reap her reward for this injustice.

I’m so angry, mom. I feel like could rip a mountain in two. The only thing that’s keeping me going is the knowledge that I have all these people relying on me. And your support. I know you think Zaofu’s ridiculous, but you popping up every now and then means the world to me.

I promise I’ll stop being sentimental now.




Dear Uncle Aang,

You must have heard from mom by now what’s going on in Zaofu (or not, I never know if she bothers to tell anyone anything). I guess since I can’t be sure I might as well update you on it. Construction has been going well until a few months ago when we started experiencing bandit raids. We managed to defend ourselves well enough at first, but they’ve been growing in number, and Chee Feng was killed in one of their raids. You might have known him, he was one of mom’s metalbending students. She went to return his body to his family, I’m not sure when (or if) she’ll be back in Zaofu.

I don’t want you to worry about me, I can take care of myself. I don’t even know why I’m writing this, to be honest. At first I was going to ask you if you could intercede on my behalf with the Earth Queen, but on second thought I don’t think I want to inflict her upon you. Spirits know she’s picken-headed, and me sending the Avatar after her isn’t going to endear me to her any further. How do you do this, uncle, mediating between all the leaders of the world and their petty demands and grievances? I’ve been trying to meditate lately, recalling the practices you tried to teach me when I was a kid. I wish now I’d paid more attention. Baatar’s a little better at it, but it’s also part of his culture, seeing that his people used to mingle closely with the Air Nomads (all the more reason for you to come visit us and meet him!).

How is Lin? She never replies to any of my letters, I don’t even know if she reads them. Give Aunt Katara and Tenzin (and Bumi and Kya if they’re there) my love. Please visit soon, I really want you to see Zaofu and meet Baatar!


P.S. Another bit of news I’m not sure if mom has passed on. Baatar and I are married! We decided to keep it low key (what with everything going on) and save the tea ceremony and giant Beifong family dinner for when we have everything settled here. You’re invited to that, whenever that may be. 


146 年 03月 19日

Just when we thought we’d been rid of them. Another raid. Suyin has been talking about domes for a while now, an additional measure of protection. Platinum, so that they can’t be bent, even by metalbenders. It’s a logistical nightmare, considering the extra cost of mining and transport, the fortifications we need to make for the foundations to bear the weight of all the metal, not to mention the design…. It will take a miracle of engineering and architecture, and I must say that at this point, I’m tired. I love Zaofu, but I can't wait for us to be done. Suyin has become more and more obsessed with safety and security, and I can’t blame her. She has nightmares too now, waking up at night fighting, crying. Between the two of us we make up maybe half a functional mess. We’ve been talking about trying for a baby, but that’s another thing that we’ll have to put on hold for now.

The good thing is that the city proper itself is almost complete. Almost everyone with existing citizenship contracts has moved in and pretty much settled down. It looks like an actual city now, not a giant dusty construction site. We’ve had zero problems with utilities so far too, and I pray it remains that way. The central tower that we’d first planned as a main docking hub for airships (aside from the docking base) will be repurposed as a surveillance tower and the main security hub. We’ve also started expanding. The docking base is complete too, and now that we can start flying in all our supplies, construction on the other sectors should go faster. Hopefully the airships will prove far harder for raiders to attack.

It’s been two years since we first embarked on this project together. In some regards we’ve come further than I’d ever dreamed possible. Zaofu is beginning to make a name for itself, and not just due to the several close disasters we’ve had. Citizen applications are streaming in from all over the world: Suyin, Aiwei and I are discussing forming a council to deal with this, and creating a criteria for the kind of people we wish to accept to the city. Some may accuse us of being elitist by having a criteria at all, and yet I think so far we’ve managed to avoid favouring any one group of people over another. The current citizens of Zaofu come from all nations, from various social stratas and backgrounds. Also I’m pretty sure that thanks to Su's connections, at least a fifth of the citizens have a criminal background of some kind, but that’s all forgiven here. As long one proves that they’re willing to change, improve themselves and contribute to the city's development, Zaofu has a place for them.



Baba, Mama,

I hope this letter finds you in good health. I know that I have not proven to be the best of sons, running off to the other side of the kingdom to build castles in the air. You weren’t all too happy either when I used all my savings to fund the initial stages of Zaofu’s creation. I am proud to write that after all these years, everything I have worked for has finally come to fruition. I would like to apologise that most of my communication over the past year has been reduced to sending you news clippings of Zaofu, but it there has been much going on, as you might have gleaned from them.

Now that we're officially a city, I would once again like to extend an invitation for you to come move in with Suyin and me. We have a more than enough room to spare, and we would both love to have you here with us. With the domes fitted, and Suyin training a security force like no other, Zaofu is one of the safest, if not the safest city in the Earth Kingdom. I would very much love to show you too the work I have done here, and the ways in which I’ve integrated the culture of our people into some of the design. The fascia pattern of the main security headquarters is based on your abatai design, mama, and nothing would honour me more than being able to show you how much your work has inspired me. And baba, nothing would please me more than being able to show you the kitchen we have managed to install in our house. It’s everything you’ve ever dreamed of. Much to our shame Suyin and I remain as inept at cooking as ever, though we have hired a chef who claims his mother is from our coast. His shorba stew tastes almost like the real deal, though I believe he could take some pointers from you regarding how he ripens his baaslag cheese—it is not as sharp as yours, though maybe that's just my own personal taste.

Should you remain hesitant, I hope this next bit of news will convince you. Suyin and I are expecting our first child. (Please mama, baba, do not fear, we are married, we just have not had an official dinner and tea ceremony yet. You are invited to that too, please see the additional envelope for details.) She should be due around the third month next year, and I very much hope you will be there to meet your first grandchild.

I realise that this is a lot of news all at once, and apologise again for being being remiss in my duties as a son. Please consider this an attempt to make up for the three years of absence. Should you accept the invitation, you do not need to worry about transportation at all. We can handle that, seeing as we now have our own fleet of airships.

I look forward to your response, and very much to see you again soon. Please forgive any physical and emotional transgressions.

Your son,



Dear Lin,

Seeing that I haven’t heard from you at all in almost ten years and you couldn’t be bothered to respond to a single letter I’ve sent you (or my wedding invitation), I gather you might still be mad me. I really don’t know what else you want me to do aside from go all the way to Republic City to fall to my knees and beg you for forgiveness. And you know that’s never going to happen. I feel I’ve done everything I can to reach out to you, so I’d say the ball’s in your court now.

Anyway, I just want to let you know that you have a nephew. We’ve just celebrated his full month today (hence the parcel of eggs and the ang ku kueh). We’ve named him Baatar, after his father. I know, a boy! We don’t know yet if he’ll be a bender, and mom keeps joking about sticking him in the ground and seeing what happens. I know you’re not interested in babies, or children in general, but I thought when he’s older it might be nice if he (and maybe his siblings!) had his aunt visit every now and then, and teach him some of the tricks I don’t know. (Not that they’re many, if any. I suppose they could learn to scowl and grump like you.) Between the two of us, can we really mess up any more than mom has? (Though really, nowadays I believe her sending me away from RC was the best thing that ever happened to me.)

This will be the last letter I send you. If I don’t get a reply I’m just going to assume you’ve completely washed your hands of me. If that is so, so be it. I hope you are happy, whatever you’re doing. Take care.