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|Rendezvous at Pohuai Stronghold|
Chapter 4: Rendezvous at Pohuai Stronghold
Zuko bent backwards, dodging his opponent's fiery kick as he struck at his unprotected leg. The timing of the attack exacerbated his opponent's already poor balance, and he landed flat on his back.
The man, Captain Li Teng, stood and bowed. "Thank you for agreeing to spar, Fire Lord Zuko."
"It was my pleasure, Captain. I needed the practice, too."
Yun Zhen watched the entire match with Ty Lee by his side. "It's such a graceful art."
She smiled. "Earthbending has its advantages."
"That it does." Yun pushed himself up and offered his hand to Ty Lee. "It'll take us a couple of hours to reach Pohuai, and I've already exhausted the supply of swordfighters on this airship. What to do..."
He turned as she pulled his head toward her for a kiss. "That?" They both turned red.
He grinned stupidly. "I doubt that this, fun as it is, will occupy us for several hours."
"I have an idea..." War Minister Qin smirked as the two teenagers whirled around, eyes as big as dinner plates. "Fire Lord Zuko wishes to see you," He indicated Yun, "Immediately."
Sokka yawned. "Why doesn't Fong just use some of the Tank Trains the Mechanist was able to build?"
"Because they're being used to transport the Fire Nation troops and officers that did not use Zuko's airship." Katara stated, matter-of-factly.
Sokka sighed. "I just wish it wouldn't take us this long; I mean, the Terra Tanks are cool and all. They're just not fast..."
"Cheer up Sokka." Aang said. "We'll be there in half a day."
"Half a day is too long to be in the air..." Toph said as she rolled onto her side, her skin turning a slightly greenish hue. "I can't even get some sleep..."
Yuan Chong looked out at the force he had assembled. Ten thousand strong stood, with ships and Terra Tanks, to take on the Fire Nation. The Pohuai Strait was no obstacle, as they had seafaring vessels like the one he currently occupied. He smirked as he felt his victory, the very one the spirits foretold, coming to fruition.
"You will make the Fire Nation pay for their transgressions, Yuan Chong." The spirit of many faces had said. "They will fall before your might!"
"Twenty-one years I waited, building my army. Today begins the day that the Earth Kingdom prospers." He inhaled and exhaled slowly. "Today!" He cried to the waiting throng. "Today we begin to make history! And we will avenge the dead that have languished for the last one hundred years!" They cheered as he held out his hands.
Zuko paced as Yun kneeled. "You can stand up, Yun. We're friends here, not Fire Lord and citizen." Yun stood.
"Are we friends, Fire Lord Zuko? Or have you come to claim me as little more than a subject?"
Zuko's eyes widened. "How did you—?"
"War Minister Qin was quick to insult my parents!" Yun hands balled into fists as Ty Lee looked on with concern. "I assume that's why you called me here."
Zuko bowed his head. "I am sorry; he will answer for that. But you are right, in a way."
Though fire could not come out of Yun's hands, Zuko could clearly see it in his eyes. "I knew it! You think you have a right to me!"
The Fire Lord held up a hand. "That's not it at all!" He pulled a scroll from the armrest on his throne. "I found this in our records."
Yun took it, anger replaced somewhat by curiosity. "What is it?"
"It's an account of your parents' holdings before they were executed and disgraced."
"Zuko!" Ty Lee glared at the Fire Lord.
He once again held up his hand. "Uncle told me what he learned about you. He knew your father and asked me to look into some things. This shows everything they had: their house, finances, land..." Yun's eyes widened as he examined the document. "...Your inheritance. If you will have it, it's yours. I will get everything back that I can and reimburse what I can't."
Yun cocked his head, and his hands shook as he held the scroll. "Why would you do this?"
"Your parents were unjustly murdered. Though I can't bring them back, I can help revive their legacy."
Pohuai Stronghold, large as it was, was the last thing on Yun's mind. He had, for the last few hours, secluded himself on the observation deck. If I accept what was my parents', I will be Fire Nation, not Earth Kingdom. He took another look at the scroll. What is the right choice?
Ty Lee stepped out onto the observation platform. "Isn't it great!? You can finally have something that was your parents'!" She noticed his downcast expression. "Are you alright?"
As they descended toward the fortress, he shook his head. "I'm not sure..."
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