A Royal Welcome
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Avatar Brek

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Turning Your Nation Against You

"Hold it right there!" commanded a woman's voice from across the hall. The Fire Prince and Kimma turned to see Fire Lady Zelda in her royal robes. The aged woman looked down on her son in anger.

"Mother!" said the prince with a fake, uneasy smile. "What brings you here?"

"Your father has told me about your treachery, Zhouray. How could your mouth let loose such foul words? Against your nation, against your father?"

"My intentions are to strengthen our nation," said Zhouray with great annoyance. "The Fire Nation would benefit greatly from the extinction of non-benders" He paused. "And I'm afraid that includes you, Mother."

"You - you monster! You are no son of mine! You can only be the son of a demon who plagued the world with her vile son."

"Then you must be that demon, Fire Lady," interrupted Kimma.

Zelda looked at Kimma, but only for a second. "Guards!" she cried. A group of men in red, metal uniforms with swords at their side rushed into the hall.

"Why summon the non-bending guards my queen? Is it because you know that the others side with me?" asked Zhouray. He snapped his head up and hurled a fire disc at his mother. She barely had enough time to pull a metal wrist-shield out from her robes and was knocked back off her feet. Two guards charged at Zhouray, drawing their swords. Another shot an arrow at Kimma.

Kimma moved her arms in a bending motion, but nothing happened. At the last second, she dove out of the arrow's path. "Zhouray! There's not water here! No plants! And the air is so dry!"

"Use Bloodbending!" demanded Zhouray, now in a struggle with four guards.

"It's hard enough to Bloodbend without a full moon! During the day? Even harder! But inside? That's impossible!" cried Kimma as she was approached by two guards.

After walking down the beach while ignoring angry glares, Brek and Berani finally reunited with Kaeta, who had been showing off his Waterbending to some girls by the ocean. The friends proceeded to stroll down the streets of Ember Island, looking for a place to stay. Most hotels had heard of the non-bending Earth girl with brown hair and turned them away. Team Avatar was ready to give up when Brek saw a large carriage being pulled by two dragon moose. It stopped in front of the three friends and a middle-aged man wearing royal apparel stepped down from the carriage.

"Avatar," said the man as he got to his knees and bowed.

"Umm, hi," replied Brek in a confused tone.

"Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Master Huang of the Royal Palace. I will be instructing you in Firebending for the time to come."

"That's great!"

"Indeed it is. I have also been sent to bring you and your friends back with me to the palace. The Firelord wishes to meet you."

Brek and his friends agreed to go with Huang, wondering how he could possibly know where they were. Brek and Kaeta looked at Berani, who finally spoke up.

"How did you know we were-"

"On Ember Island?" Huang cut in. "Well, Full Moon Bay has a boat that travels here, and Full Moon Bay is the nearest means of naval transportation to Ba Sing Se."

"And how did you know we came from Ba Sing-"

"Brone wrote us a few days ago."

"How does he know you?" Berani was surprised that she could finish a sentence.

Huang simply looked down and smiled. "You will soon find that you have friends all over the world."

After a long, awkward ride in the carriage, they arrived at the magnificent Royal Palace. They were led through the front gate by servants who insisted on giving them something, from food to hot towels.

"Brek, people are staring," noted Berani. This time, the stares were more curious than angry. Brek enjoyed having the sudden attention.

Following the tour through the palace, the group was seated at a table in the royal dining hall. Within a few moments, the Fire Lord and Fire Lady entered. The friends followed the others' example in standing for the nation's leader. Kaeta remained seated, as he wasn't paying attention. He was too busy staring at the third person to enter, a girl his age with black hair and flawless skin.

"It's great that you could join us, Avatar," the Firelord said. "I am Firelord Luzan. This is my wife, Zelda, and my daughter, Zola." The two others waved politely. Berani and Brek responded with respectful greetings, followed by an awkward and voice-cracked "hi" from Kaeta.

"This place is amazing," Brek commented. "I can't wait to learn Firebending here."

"And Master Huang can't wait to teach you," said Luzan. "However, we have recently encountered a scary problem." He exchanged a look of uncertainty with his wife, who nodded, implying you can tell them.

"As you well know, the Isha have been growing and terrorizing non-benders like myself."

"I know what you mean," said Berani remembering her experience on Ember Island.

"Well, the Isha movement has hit home. Our son," he cleared his throat. "Has joined their numbers. Earlier, he attacked my wife and fled with this..." he struggled for a word. "This lunatic in Water Tribe clothes."

"Kimma!" exclaimed the group in unison.

"We've fought her twice," said Brek. "She's a very capable Waterbender, and a very frightening Bloodbender."

"Hmmmm," the Firelord nodded.

"Was there a muscular Earthbender with them?"

"No, I don't think so," Zelda responded.

"We don't know where they fled to," stated Zulan. "Can you help us, Avatar?"

"Of course. We won't leave until this situation is under control."

"May the great sun spirits watch over you three children and reward you with their many gifts," said Zelda with gratitude.

Meanwhile, Zhouray, Kimma, and two other Firebenders were studying a map and a few other documents.

"We should have a majority in the Royal Plaza Tower and at least have control of half of the battlements. Any news from Great Gates of Azulon?"

"Yes, my lord. Unfortunately, all guards that are scheduled to be stationed there during the coup are loyal to your father."

Zhouray slammed the table in anger.

"No need to worry, pooki," said Kimma as she put her arms around him. "I hear that the captains of each of the 12 warships in the harbor are loyal to you, and not your useless father."

Zhouray nodded. "In three days, a new era begins."

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