Lord and King
Chapter information

The Journey of Tala




Blood and Swamps



Written by

The Snowbold


The Snowbold, Decca03

Release date

January 6, 2013

Last chapter

Chapter 11: The Way Out

Next chapter

Chapter 13: The Ties that Break

War and blood have spread across the world again as nations seek to overpower one another. The Avatar is meant to bring balance to the world. But she is enclosed within the great city of Omashu while the Black Dragon plots. Avatar Tala must master the elements and seek a path to continue her journey as the Avatar.

Chapter 12: Lord and King

Tala laid down on the slab of stone next to Kulek. A warm breeze passed over them. Spring was leaving and summer was upon them. The clear moon in its crescent that was barely there. Kulek breathed in with a deep sigh, "To think, a year ago, you were still learning airbending, and we would sneak out to go to Black River and hit the sands there."

Tala continued, "And now we're stuck in the city; not from a stingy old man, but a war."

"Aren't you the romantic?" Kulek responded sarcastically, "Don't worry Tala. This war will end, like every war before. Then we'll go and explore. I hear that no one has been to the Iar Sea for thousands of years."

"That's because its haunted."

"Why is it haunted? I have never heard of the story explaining that, have you?"

Tala admitted, "No, I have not. I guess if we get out of this war, we could explore the haunted places of the world and prove them false." Tala smiled as she continued, "We can go back to the Swamp, prove that it is all just a tree. And then we'll go to Isles of Seran in the South and prove that there are no werewolves who rule the island like men. Oh and next we'll-"

"Okay, I get the picture," Kulek chuckled, "a little mystery isn't such a bad thing."

Tala rested her back against Kulek's chest as she looked up in the sky. A shadow flew overhead. She sat up and looked closer to see as the shadow crossed the moon. It had wings, massive wings, black and white. She could tell as it approached that it was a Raven-Eagle. She knew already who sent it even before she saw the scroll on its back.

Tala and Kulek were at the throne room, where the Raven Eagle had been before. King Urri, Suun, Kuel, Arkoda, Liman, Hava, and Ralyn had also arrived. The calm bird of prey stood on Liman's arm and bowed to Hava when he approached. Hava removed the scroll with a black and gold ribbon and the bird leapt to a corner where it waited.

Hava unrolled the scroll. He read through the letter silently before he read it aloud. He sighed before he started.

To the leaders of the defense of Omashu,

It is with a higher heart that we inform you of a developing situation. Earth King Iruei and Fire Lord Ma-Tin have agreed to begin negotiations with the leaders of defense of these cities to end hostilities. I, Grand Marshal Rishu, am leaving for The Northern Fortress to join the Earth King in negotiations with the defenders there, Crown-Prince The Snowbold and Fire Lord Ma-Tin will come to Omashu to negotiate.

We hope that this news will be well received by you as it is by us. If this will be accepted, we shall meet at the lines of our conflict, across from the Western Bridge. We await your response.

Crown Prince The Snowbold
& Grand Marshal Rishu

P.S. I hope the Avatar will listen and speak with the Fire Lord, the two will have much in common. - Rishu

Hava looked at everyone, "Well?"

Urri spoke first with a hungry tone, "We should use this opportunity to strike, both the Crown-Prince of the Earth Kingdom and the Fire Lord in one place. It will deal a massive blow to the enemy."

Arkoda stopped the senseless talk, "Don't be a fool. You're assuming we could kill them, which is doubtful. First, Fire Lord Ma-Tin will be surrounded by Imperial Firebenders, we might lose a portion of our forces to cut through them. And secondly, both Ma-Tin and The Snowbold are great masters of combat. The Snowbold has already escaped from this city before and Ma-Tin is a master firebender of great power."

Suun interjected, "But not as powerful as Rishu."

"Perhaps not, but is it worth the risk that she might be? And lets say we succeeded and killed them. Their deaths would be a blow to the enemy, but it wouldn't be fatal. Rishu would still be around and Earth King Iruei would still be present. They will come down here and crush the city and put it into the gorge."

Liman agreed, "I have met the Earth King before. He is not a man to trifle with. If his son was killed, he will destroy anyone involved, Avatar included."

Kuel mulled a different thought, "It is senseless to try and attack them. But in negotiations, our strength and the presence of the Avatar will be a strong advantage. I have known Ma-Tin for a long time. She doesn't want to fight the Avatar, she knows the risks."

"Perhaps we could make her realize this error and renounce Rishu and make him come to heel." Arkoda's idea was interesting to most of them. Hava and Tala had another view, "How about we go through with the talks and see where they are going. We can always stop and if we see an opportunity, then we should take it."

Tala continued Hava's point, "Freeing the city should be our first priority. If we can take back the whole city, then our position is much greater and we can help many more."

Playing The Game

Rishu stood at the door of the tent while Kuir sat on a stool, looking over the Pai Sho table. They were still on the same game as they were when Rishu first arrived. Kuir had since been in a stalemate with Rishu and hadn't made a move for weeks as Rishu had lain a trap with his light and fire tiles. His metal tile was now vulnerable but Kuir knew that a forest tile would be destroyed by his fire or light. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw it.

All the time, he had been playing for the center of the board, he saw that Rishu spaced out his side and covered every entry but was also expecting a fight in the center. Kuir grabbed his water tile and placed it on the far left end opposite Rishu's forest tile.

Rishu turned back and looked on the tile new move. A quirky look was on his face. He had not expected Kuir's move. Kuir smiled widely, "Is there a problem?"

Rishu became serious and then moved his fire tile to meet the water tile. Kuir frowned, that was unexpected. The fire left the center vulnerable but it would take two turns before he could use that advantage.

Rishu tapped his shoulder, "Keep trying."

"Yeah," Kuir was flustered at his inability to beat Rishu at Pai Sho, even in a game they have played for months. He looked at the pacing Grand Marshal, "What is your plan if they refuse the negotiations."

"They won't. For many reasons and opportunities, they will accept. Either to kill you or to free the city. And the Avatar will relish the chance to peacefully end this war. We are giving her that hope."

"Hmmm. I still have doubts in your plan. You assume that she is learning what you want her to learn."

"I know that she is heading in the right direction. I spoke with our agent inside, she has begun things that will never be accepted in the world. She must look to others for guidance and help."

"I still think we must plan for her not going along with your plans."

"There is no plan without the Avatar, need I remind you of the error in the Tunnel because you underestimated her?"

Kuir growled. He didn't understand Rishu's obsession with the Avatar. He was convinced that they needed her in order to win, but he had fought her and thought differently.

A flutter of wings outside came to his ears and soon a Raven-Eagle entered, its wings pressed back the opening of the tent. It landed on the arm of its master. Rishu pulled the scroll out of its pack and let the bird land on its perch in the corner.

Rishu read the letter. He was still pacing when he turned to Kuir, "They will meet with you and the Fire Lord to discuss terms." Rishu smiled, "I guess that means I must head north and join your father in negotiations with the Northern Air Temple."

"I guess so." Kuir stood up and shook his hand, "Good luck, if I know anything about my father, he has not grown kinder over the years."

Tala stood over the gate that led into Old Omashu. With binoculars in hand, she looked out across the Western Bridge. It was three days since they agreed to negotiations and now the Imperial Firebenders were setting up the post for negotiations. She had never seen the Imperial Firebenders but they looked the picture of power described in the books and by Hava and Kuel, both of whom had been to the Royal Palace.

She looked past the talk post and saw the arrival of the two parties. The green representing the procession of the Earth Kingdom led by its Crown-Prince, the massive Kuir, easily standing a head over anyone nearby. He wore much finer clothes than he did while fighting, in fact Tala was sure it was the same outfit he wore to the coronation of Rishu to the Republic Council almost a year ago.

Further off, another procession entered New Omashu. A red and gold procession of Imperial Firebenders with palanquin in the center marched in unison. Hava joined her at the over-walk of the gate, "They're almost here. Soon we'll be discussing a way to end this war."

Tala breathed out, "I just hope that Urri can swallow his pride during this."

Gentle Arguments

Tala entered the large tent posted for the purpose of negotiations. She, Hava and Liman waited while Urri and Arkoda arrived with a contingent of Dai Li, including Ustad, Li, and Sung. For the safety of defensive command, Kuel and Suun remained within Old Omashu.

An Imperial Firebender captain entered and checked the tent again before signaling a soldier to inform their leaders that it was safe. First came Kuir with his array of soldiers, two of whom were Royal Guards, they eyed Hava warily. Fire Lord Ma-Tin entered with more of her Royal Procession.

The Fire Lord was the picture of deadly beauty. She looked like a statue made long ago to describe an old age. But with that beauty came power, her amber eyes shined with ferocity as she seemed to float forward in her rich robes of scarlet and gold.

The greetings were awkward to say the least. As Urri and Ma-Tin both expected bows while Kuir rolled his eyes when Urri had someone announce his title. When the pleasantries were done, they all sat down.

Ma-Tin took control of the discussion, "Now, Rishu has convinced me that negotiations could be fruitful and bring a swift end to this war. So I am here and will listen while mediating along side the Crown-Prince."

"So lets get to it. You want the forces here in the city to pull back from your borders and for your reign to remain seated. Am I wrong, Urri?"

Urri stared malignantly at the Fire Lord, "How dare you speak to a King that way."

"I am the leader of a nation, you are the leader of a city. You are beneath me in stature, old man."

"I don't see the leader of a nation, I see a puppet!"

Tala almost smacked her forehead. Was Urri so stupid to insult a member of the Royal Family, who can likely fry him before anyone could move.

With a voice colder than ice she answered, "Careful, Urri. I am the reason there are not more Fire Nation forces in the city. If I think it necessary, I could decide to leave the Imperial Firebenders to bring a sooner end to hostilities." She adopted a lighter voice, "Perhaps I should speak with someone in the city with common sense and an understanding of math; perhaps your brother, General Suun."

Urri's eyes were wide with that threat. Ma-Tin implied that she was willing to leave the city if Urri's younger brother was in control of the city. Hava answered, "General Suun is leading the defense of the city in case of any mishaps."

He then whispered, "Liman and I will deal with this, if you keep this up, its over."

Hava returned his attention to them, "Perhaps a short break."

Kuir answered with arrogance and pride, "Of course."

The party of defenders filed out. Hava immediately turned to Urri, "Go back into the city and wait."

"I am the king of this city."

"And the king fool. If that was Rishu you said that to, you would already be dead and Imperial Firebenders would be marching the Western Bridge. You can't say stupid things like that. I thought your father taught you statesmanship." Not letting Urri respond, "Go back to the palace. If you stay here, The Snowbold might leap over the table to get his second chance at you."

The two argued for some time before the group convinced him that his presence endangered himself. When he left Arkoda, Liman, Hava and Tala circled in, "So what is our game plan here?" Arkoda asked, "What are we willing to give up and how much can we without Suun or Urri here?"

Liman answered, "First we ensure the safety of the city and its people, we'll go from there."

The rest agreed and entered the tent again. Tala stopped by Li who whispered in her ear, "Ma-Tin and The Snowbold are willing to leave the city alone and abandon the siege if Urri is replaced by Suun. If not, they expect him to go to Ba Sing Se to swear fealty or answer for crimes against the Earth Kingdom."

Tala sat down and relayed the message to Hava, he didn't like that. The Fire Lord and Crown-Prince entered. Ma-Tin continued in another soothing voice, "Now, Omashu stands as one of the greatest cities not only in the Earth Kingdom, but in the world. Its a shame to see it under siege for rebellion."

Kuir continued, "Perhaps if we could ensure the loyalty of the city and its leadership, then it would be fine to remove occupational forces."

"Yes, it was agreed a long time ago, under witness of an Avatar, that Omashu shall keep its King so long as they swore loyalty to the Earth King. That has only been broken with one King of Omashu in all these years. Urri has broken the agreement of the past. Perhaps, the treaty can remain under the witness of this Avatar, under a new King of Omashu. But I would not suggest some puppet from Ba Sing Se. I know there is a man of honor who holds the same line of King Bumi as Urri does. His brother Suun, is a respected and traveled man, educated and a statesman, unlike his wild animal of a sibling. Suun will still belong to the same blood that signed the treaty and would be welcomed as a leader of the city."

Tala knew it was the proposal but still didn't like hearing it. Urri would never relinquish control of the throne. Another war would have to be fought for that. But at the same time, Suun was a great man and a great leader.

Hava answered more confidently than she could have, "I'm afraid neither, I, Urri, or Suun, nor anyone would agree to those stipulations."

They spent some time arguing that point until they made it to the next agreement Li's good hearing reported, "Perhaps Urri could remain King of the city if he were to personally reaffirm his loyalties to the Earth King, then we would know that we could trust his word. Especially since he never swore fealty when Iruei was crowned King, this would legitimize his rule."

Hava and Liman both had pained looks like they wish it was never brought up. It was true, Urri had sworn loyalty to the Earth King, but when he passed and Iruei took the throne, he did not swear loyalty to him, instead he hosted a celebration for an unknown purpose. At the time, many thought Iruei would march on Omashu.

Now it legally questioned the right of Urri's rule of the city when he defied to swear loyalty and follow orders. But they knew if Urri went to Ba Sing Se, he would not likely swear an oath of fealty but rather spit in the Earth King's face and get himself executed. Now they were in the issue of justifying their fight when before it was the enemy's problem.

The hesitation gave Ma-Tin an opening, "What is the matter? Certainly Urri would welcome the chance to cement the fact that he is king of this city with the witness of the Fire Lord and the Avatar."

Kuir smirked, "Hmm, perhaps that is too touchy a subject for the city, maybe we should discuss the fate of Republic City and its lands."

That piqued Hava's interests, "And what makes this negotiation involved in their affairs."

"You are from Clan Jinora proper, a master, and the son of Zun Jinora. I would think you of all people could speak for your clan about the fate of Republic City."

"While there is my sister you have overlooked, lets say I am, there is a council that governs the city, not just the elder of Jinora. Not to mention we have a president."

"Yes and Grand Marshal Rishu is one of them. The President is missing but the council is accounted for. With that, the Council inherits his powers. We need only one more vote to affirm any decision." Kuir smiled.

Tala was a little pissed off that they thought anyone would take Rishu's position as councilor seriously.

Ma-Tin continued, "The occupational forces would reduce and withdraw in certain areas under the condition that a third of the land is returned to its rightful owners, the Earth Kingdom. And that the remaining lands fall under new leadership to be chosen by the council, but not the council."

Arkoda sarcastically questioned, "You want the council to choose its replacement?"

"Certainly, I have chosen my heir, and you will choose a new chief in time."

"I am chosen by the tribe to be their Chief."

"With the blessing of your predecessor, don't think that has no weight on your success."

Kuir started before Arkoda could respond, "The point of bringing up Republic City is to see if it is worth discussing. If so, we shall call on Chairwoman Lio Jinora to join us in these talks. If not; we will leave Republic City under military occupation under command of the Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom."

Hava and Liman shared glances, "Very well, we would be open to talks about the fate of Republic City, as long as the United Republic Council in its entirety is allowed to join."

Ma-Tin answered, "Very well. Perhaps a short break while we send this news out and you inform the king of the city of your progress."

Tala and the others discussed opportunities if they had Lio Jinora with them. The interim leader of the United Republic would give them great bargaining power from where they stood now. An Imperial Firebender entered their private area, prompting them to stop talking. He approached Tala and bowed, "Avatar, my master would be honored if you would join her presence." The Royal guard then exited the tent and waited.

Hava responded first, "You have to go. Any insight into her is something we need. We already know what The Snowbold is like and what he wants, but we don't know why she is involved in this war."

Tala nodded. She stepped out and spoke to the guard, "Lead the way." The Imperial Firebender immediately moved to guide and Tala followed, with her came two Dai Li, Sung being one of them.

Old Flames

Ma-Tin sat in the office of a skyscraper, abandoned during the war but spacious and in the right corner for light. She sipped on tea as a guard entered, "My lord, your guest has arrived."

"Good, let her in."

Tala entered the office room, as soon as she entered, the Fire Lord spoke to her guards, "Leave us."

As they left she looked at her two Dai Li, "Its okay." The two turned and marched out the door in single file.

"It is an honor to meet you, Avatar Tala."

"And you, Fire Lord Ma-Tin."

"Interesting how things go. I am the current Fire Lord and yet I recall more time meeting your predecessor, Avatar Korra. You are the current Avatar and yet you have spent more time meeting my heir, Grand Marshal Rishu."

"Rishu is your heir?"

"Of course. I have no children and the closest royal blood to mine is my cousin. He refuses the throne or chance of it at every turn, but even he won't refuse inheritance. So tell me Tala, why are you so afraid of him?"

"Who said I was afraid of him?"

"Your eyes, when I mentioned his name. As Fire Lord, there are few you can trust, you have to measure and judge everyone. That was something Rishu taught me when I first took the throne. So again, why are you afraid of a man who refuses to take the ultimate power over a nation, but you fear his plans for world domination."

"His actions speak louder than your words."

"Then you haven't seen all of his actions then. Perhaps you have read of our history, you would know that Rishu comes from Royal blood, not only from his father, Prince Luzin; but also his mother, a descendant of Princess Azula."

Tala's eyes opened wide at that, "What?"

"Yes it is open knowledge if you know to look for it, but it is otherwise a little known fact that my cousin is descendant of a Crown-Princess. By that, he has the right to challenge me for the throne, and to the victor, goes the Fire Lord."

She smiled at Tala's shock, "And yet, he has never threatened me or attempted to take my position, even when I offered it to him. Certainly those actions should speak quite loudly about the character of a man. Do you know many men who could refuse such an offer?"

Tala answered confidently, "Hava Jinorra."

"Master Jinorra is one man of many thousands, like Rishu. So again, what makes you fear this man."

Tala saw that this was meant to make her backtrack on her views but knew outright refusal could damage negotiations, "Because, Avatar Korra warned me about the Black Dragon."

"Ah, the Black Dragon," the Fire Lord said the term strangely, "I never understood why Rishu took the title or why it was so important that his name and that name not be connected to each other. Yes, the Black Dragon is an identity I don't understand either. I guess I can understand your fear. Fear of the unknown, especially to the Avatar, who can do so much."

Tala winced at that. It was a veiled insult. That because Tala was so powerful, she feared anything she didn't understand. It spoke to ignorance and fear and it hurt Tala that anyone would associate those terms with her.

"I fear his goals and motives. He speaks in platitudes and lies. And still he fights, even with Republic City conquered."

"Because the conquest of Republic City was not the goal, merely a consequence. The Black Dragon has informed me in some small manner of his plans and it is quite sad that my cousin has taken this task to fulfill alone, well almost alone."

"And what is that task?"

"Don't worry, Avatar. He wants you to understand it soon enough, if you will listen."

Tala bit her lip, she was falling for simple and cunning tricks. Her parents taught her better than this. "Why did you become Fire Lord if you didn't want to?"

"I was Crown-Princess, my father died unexpectedly and there was no one else to take his place but me. It was weeks before Rishu returned at my summons to help. Trust me, Tala, I wish my life was simpler, like it was when I was just sixteen and not a worry in the world."

"When I could walk the palace grounds and joke about this new fashion. Where I could flirt with boys and not worry about their prospects as future husbands. Now I can't breathe without a thought about economy and logistics. Where any man I look at has to be judged by his material worth and not what is inside him. I envy you that."

"Me? I am stuck in this city because of Rishu and have to think about the world."

"You always had to think about the world, and I should have realized that about myself. But you are free to live as you want, to love who you want. I do not have that luxury."

"He was from another nation, wasn't he?"

Ma-Tin laughed, "Yes, he is. A charming young man of great power and wealth. And heir to a great land of his own, but our union would break the very cause we fight for."

Tala almost said it aloud but just couldn't seem to wrap her head around it. Could she be speaking of the same man who so ruthlessly fought and killed.

"Well, here I am, nostalgic over useless banter, when we have serious concerns in the world to deal with. I apologize for taking your time, Avatar."

"No apology needed, Fire Lord Ma-Tin, I am honored that I could speak with you."

The two bowed as Tala left back for her lines.

Tala returned and spoke with Hava quietly. Hava seemed just as shocked as she was, "Mad Azula? She is Rishu's ancestor?"

"Rishu has claim to the throne from both his parents, and Ma-Tin has made it quite clear that she wishes he had."

"I just can't believe she would tell you this. So much could change the political course of the era. Rishu the descendant of a monster, the Fire Lord in love with the Crown-Prince of the Earth Kingdom, and even making it up for rumor's sake is dangerous."

"She wants me to sympathize with her. Rishu has stated he doesn't want me as his enemy. She's just playing her part in his game."


The negotiations reconvened after a short lunch in which messages were sent by both parties to many places. Tala now looked at Kuir and Ma-Tin together. Nothing seemed to imply what the Fire Lord told her but then again, people of that status were often better actors than those in theater.

Kuir began, "Now, we have already discuss some options to look into the future and will continue in depth when the Council of Republic City arrives, but tell me, what makes you think that you can win this war? You don't have the numbers or the resources, you are spread out from each other and mostly contained within your centers of power. So why is it that you fight?"

Liman answered, "For principle. We know we are doing what is right, that we are defending others and helping to ensure peace, which had been here before this war began. And we have the Avatar with us."

Ma-Tin answered, "Truly? You support the growing power of a nation that expands at the expense of the other four? The Water Tribes are weak, soon enough they will become one with the United Republic because of necessity. The Earth Kingdom has lost its lands to this new nation and the Fire Nation was expected to give the largest contribution to its growth. Tell me how that is just?"

Kuir then concluded, "And you may indeed have the Avatar with you. That is noble and just. But let me remind you that there is only one Avatar, she can't be everywhere or defend the whole world in combat, how then do you expect her to stop this war? Destroy everyone in a bloody battle in the Avatar State? That hardly looks like justice to me."

Tala spun with the water, she outstretched her arm with lightning speed. The water jetted forward, turning into large spears. Ralyn lightly moved her fingers, the spears of ice landed with thuds around her, never harming her. Ralyn punched forward repeatedly, disc of ice came from the top of the landed spears and sped forward at sharp angles.

Tala dove, rolled, and jumped to avoid and finally breathed out fiercely. The disc sped forward but upon hitting her breath, turned to water and mist, harmless when it touched her skin. Tala absorbed the water and sent a wheel of sharp ice forward.

Ralyn spun with it and turned it back against Tala. She narrowly dodged it by ducking, but when she stood up, three icicles were at her face. Ralyn dropped her hand, and the icicles fell.

"You're distracted, Avatar. Its affecting your reaction rate."

"I just got a lot on my mind."

"The negotiations?"

"Yeah, the world is expecting me to save it, but The Snowbold made a good point. I am only in one place, I can't defend and save everyone who is under attack."

Ralyn sat down by the main fountain, even if she won, she was tired, "That is the burden of power, responsibility. You have to decide how to end this war, who to defend and who to stop. The world relies on you for this."

"Thanks for the encouragement."

"Tala, the world looks up to you, and is right to do so. You are wise beyond your years, powerful, and kind. The world couldn't ask for more in its Avatar."

Tala smiled, "Thanks."

"Don't worry, I trust that your judgement that you can make better choices than I or many in this city."

With that, Ralyn left the training grounds. Leaving Tala alone in the night to ponder her dilemma. Tala spoke to no one, "What do I do?"


  • The Iar Sea is reference to the IRC as named in the Ba Sing Se Times. As a further joke, the coast of the Iar Sea is 'haunted'. Don't worry, we'll see this land in Book 3.
  • To confirm what the Fire Lord said, Ma-Tin and Kuir did have a relationship before she became the Fire Lord and for a brief time afterwards. Ma-Tin knows that they can't marry because they are leaders or heirs to separate nations.

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