The news doesn't speculate. Chali, however, does; Beila brings it up with him once he's home, and he says that out in a little town called Hirakyo there was a graverobbing incident - missing bones. They don't have hard evidence on it yet, but they think the same person may have escalated to taking his trophies from living victims, that this could be a serial.
Disquieting. To say the least. But Chali has no reason to believe that it's Avatar business - no spirits, no geopolitics, no heavy-duty bending. So Beila reads another chapter in the autobiography of Avatar Meixing and goes to her firebending lesson.
"Stars are pretty," he declares.
"So pretty." She puts her head on his shoulder.
"I am. It is true."
"You are very lucky to have me." Nuzzle. "Fortunately, you are skilled in the art of showering me with one hundred percent accurate compliments."
"Yep." Snuggle. "Such as: you're great."
"And cute! And smart! And funny!"
And when they've had their fill of stars, Beila gathers some branches and arranges them, earthbends a firebreak, and sets the wood alight.
"So convenient," says Dao.
"Utility bending for fun and not having to actually pick up rocks or light matches: that's what being the Avatar is all about."
"And building bridges across the ocean."
"I'll get there. The nuns think I might need the Avatar State for it not to take months, though, and they're pretty sure I can't master it until I've been in it at least once, and I haven't been fight-or-flight enough for it to sneak up on me."
"I mean, that's kind of a good problem to have, isn't it?"
"Sort of. I mean, the fact that I didn't master it at age twelve already puts me firmly below Aang on the list of prodigy Avatars so it's not like I have to push to make the record or something. I wish I'd tried bending other things as a kid but I was never a precocious enough airbender to strongly suspect it. I mean, I was fine, but in retrospect I must have been constantly distracted just keeping myself upright, and I don't think any of my predecessors already learned that for me."
"Yeah, that seems like a really specific problem that you have."
"It is a really specific problem that I have! But I should've tried to bend some water at least once. Practiced very quietly, got a jump on things."
"Really? Like... I dunno, I guess I think being the Avatar is already cool enough and you don't need to scrounge up extra cool points by figuring it out before they tell you and doing a bunch of stuff younger than Aang."
"It's not that I wanted to do stuff younger than Aang. That was really a joke. But... I don't like that I was actually ignorant of the fact until I was sixteen, and that I didn't allocate my time the way I would have if I'd known more."
"That makes sense. I kind of get why they don't tell people earlier, though. Maybe all the people who are the Avatar are also the kind of people who are really responsible and stuff as kids, but maybe not, and it'd be tough on whoever had to say 'yes, you're the Avatar, but no, the spirits didn't tell you that your dad should buy you more candy'. You know? And if I'd - like, assuming it were even possible, which it's not, but, if I'd found out I was the Avatar when I was a kid I would've gone crazy over it way before I turned sixteen. I mean I'd probably still go a little crazy over it now, but, 'hey, the person whose job it is to deal with all the most weird and terrible stuff in the world like angry spirits and huge wars and things, that's you' - I feel like that's the kind of thing that a lot of people would rather find out when they're sixteen than nine."
"Yes. But I would have liked to know when I was little, like Korra! And I didn't even try. So I'm kicking myself."
"Well, okay. I'm not gonna stop you."