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The Earth Kingdom Girl is the 1st chapter of the new action/adventure fanon, Avatar: Perfection. It was released January 2nd, 2011 and begins the story of Fire Nation teenager Ryuu and the discovery of a young earthbender escapee outside his home of the Fire Nation's Capital City. The story takes place in the year of 79 AG, during the rule of Fire Lord Azulon and the War between the three nations.
|The Earth Kingdom Girl|
January 3, 2011
Preface & Author's Note
This is my first, though probably not last writing one of these things. And fantastically enough, I don't know what to say. So I guess I'll explain a little bit about my inspiration for Perfection, and the setting and characters you see. The main idea came to me while I was watching "Nightmares and Daydreams", as we see Aang dealing with his nightmares and inner conflict about the invasion and on the other side, Zuko, enjoying his life as a prince again. As I'd seen the episode many times before, but watching it then made me think more about the contrast between how the Fire Nation lived and how the other nations lived. Thinking about all the deaths and all the pain the Fire Nation has caused, it was a shock to me to see them living so happily, so pristinely. Most of all they seemed oblivous. Didn't they care? Didn't they realize what they were doing over all this time? I really wanted to expand on this idea of contrast and oblivion. I was also curious to explore the period when it was unknown if the Avatar would ever return. So I decided to set the story during the year of 79 AG, when Kuei has just risen to his throne. This means in Ba Sing Se, Long Feng has surpressed the knowledge of the war so much that it is considered nonexistant. Fire Lord Azulon still rules the Fire Nation, and sons Iroh and Ozai have been born. Many Earth Kingdom cities and villages have been attacked and claimed for the Fire Nation, and while there are some who fight back, they are no match for the Fire Nation's overwhelming power that still grows. Raids on the Southern Water Tribe begun almost 40 years ago. The Northern Water Tribe is considered a safe haven as well as Ba Sing Se.
Ew, this is getting long. That is basically all you need to know, as the characters and plot will reveal themselves as the story goes along. It's not that hard to understand! But if you do have questions, I'd be happy to answer them! I love feedback of all kinds.
An Audience with the Fire Lord
Two men approached the throne of Fire Lord Azulon, surrounded by glistening flames. Each wore clothing of rich and valuable fabric, such attire that is only worn by royalty. Yet only one, the one on the right who appeared slightly more round, wore a two-pronged crown that bore a resemblance to a flame.
"My sons," Azulon spoke as the pair below him bowed respectfully. "I summoned you to inform you of a significant war meeting I have decided to hold two days from now. I wanted to tell you before hand, concerning the matter we'll be discussing . . . "
"And what is this matter, father?" The younger of the two princes inquired. The other shot him a quick look of surprise and annoyance. Azulon paused before responding. "I have received information that the Earth King has died."
A smile appeared on Ozai's lips while Iroh's remained expressionless. "This is good news, my lord" He replied. Azulon nodded slowly. "Indeed. This will weaken the Earth Kingdom's defenses--especially in Ba Sing Se. If we can gain control of the nation's capital, we will be securing the fall of the Earth Kingdom. We must prepare," Here Azulon rose from his seat and took several steps to the right, so that the roaring flames hid half his face. "For what will be the Fire Nation's finest hour"
Ryuu's father did not approve of large celebrations unless they were in honor or in spirit of the Fire Lord and government. Ryuu's mother said they just encouraged bad behavior. Ryuu's sister of nine years old said that there wasn't any time for parties when she had much more immediate schoolwork to attend to.
So when Ryuu arrived at home in the mid-afternoon on the day of his fifteenth birthday he found a small tied piece of cloth on the kitchen table accompanied by a rolled up note. He studied it, put down his books on the table, and took a seat. First he unrolled the note, undoing the red thread that held it in place and smoothed it out so that he could read it. It was addressed to him in neat, thoughtful writing.
I've gone to meet your sister from school. Your father is at work. I picked these up during my earlier errands, knowing you would appreciate them. I'm making your favorite steamed fish for dinner so do not be late.
Ryuu felt himself smile. One because he did love steamed fish, and two, because he had never once in his life, been late to dinner. His amber eyes then turned their attention to the small bag. Opening it, Ryuu found inside an assortment of Fire Gummies. Plopping one in his mouth, Ryuu tied up the bag again and put it in his pocket. He did the same with the note. Taking one last look around the house, he pulled on his jacket and left.
Walking through the streets of the Capital, Ryuu was greeted by a few people and he responded with a polite nod or wave. It was especially busy at this time of day, so citizens bustled along, some in groups, others alone. Wanting to get out of the congested area as quick as possible, Ryuu increased his pace, slipping through back alleyways, headed towards the far east side of town. He wanted to get somewhere to practice his firebending in peace, where he would not be watched closely by his father. The forest was the ideal place, as people only went there if they needed to gather firewood. No one would be there now.
After a few more minutes of walking, Ryuu reached the wall. Over the years, it had seemed to grow smaller. Concentrating for a moment, Ryuu turned and then used his firebending to get himself over the wall, like he always did. He propelled downward with his right hand, a punch of red flame shot out and slowly lifted him off his feet. Ryuu increased the power until he reached the top of the wall, and here he spun, landed on two feet and brought his fists together. He jumped off on the other side, landing on thick, overgrown grass. A light wind blew at it, and shifted Ryuu's hair so that it covered his eyes. Scowling silently, Ryuu pulled a hair tie out of his pocket and fixed his dark brown hair so that it now held in a traditional looking topknot. Otherwise he'd never be able to see what he was doing. He'd probably burn the forest down, Ryuu thought and laughed out loud.
He began walking again until he reached the denser treeline, where shrubs and fallen leaves covered his path. Ryuu moved around them, knowing his way. He pushed through several low branches until he came to an open clearing surrounded by large trees. This is where he'd practice his firebending alone. He hadn't been here in a while. His father had been training him frequently during the past month, and Ryuu rarely had time for anything. Quickly he shook the thought from his head. He should be grateful that his father. A member of the Royal Procession, trained him so well. Someday he'd be a great firebender, maybe a soldier, maybe a Royal Guard. Either way he'd take part in winning the war. But he'd never get there without practice. Sighing and rubbing his head, Ryuu got into his stance. Leaning back slightly, he jumped and then spun forward, letting a loose stream of fire propel from his foot. He punched two fireballs at the ground with quick precision before pulling back and releasing a stream of fire from his hand. Ryuu stood still now, watching the embers on the ground slowly burn themselves out. He frowned, unsatisfied. His moves felt too fluid. Trying to practice a sharp punching motion with his hand, Ryuu accidently released a fireball as he pumped his left fist forward. It shot into the trees and soon a crash was heard. But suddenly Ryuu heard something else too. It sounded like a scream.
Ryuu remained still and completely silent for the slightest moment before running into the trees, blowing past branches that whacked at his head. He went in the direction the fire had been shot in, and where he'd heard the crash. Ryuu ran around one last tree and suddenly something came into view. A girl. She stood on the side of tree, one with scorched bark and a fallen branch. Panting, Ryuu slid to a stop in the grass. He caught his breath before looking up and speaking. "My apologies--are you okaya--"
Before he'd even finished his sentence the girl had taken one step forward, planting her foot into the ground and then coming around with her other in the same strong motion, and amazingly, she seemed to lift a chunk of the earth straight out of the ground. She was earthbending, Ryuu realized just before the piece of earth was sent hurling towards his face. Scrabbling backwards, Ryuu just had time to send a stream of fire from his hand to meet the earth in the air, exploding it as Ryuu fell onto his back. Showers of small rock and dirt rained down upon his head and he lifted an arm, trying to protect his tightly shut eyes. When he opened them the slightest bit, he now found the same girl standing above him, in position to attack. Up close, Ryuu saw that her skin was bruised and burnmarks encircled her arm. She looked tired, her eyelids heavy and rich black hair messily tied back in a large braid. Her green eyes locked with Ryuu's, and found himself unable to tear away.
"Don't move moron, or I swear I'll plunge a boulder down your throat" Ryuu blinked. He didn't expect her such a cold, dangerous voice. She looked a little younger than he was, maybe twelve, thirteen. "Who are you?" He demanded. It sounded harsh, hostile. But then again, he had the right to be. An earthbender in the Fire Nation?
"Shut up," She responded without any hesitation, still drilling him with her sharp green eyes.
"Why are here in the forest? What are you even doing here?" Ryuu pressed, unfazed.
"I told you to shut up--" The girl snapped and curled her fist tighter. Ryuu's amber eyes moved from her face to the fist. He didn't feel afraid . . . but maybe a little bit intimidated. "Is anyone else with you?" She inquired.
"No . ." Ryuu raised an eyebrow, glancing behind the girl. "You're alone too, I'm guessing?"
The girl let out a snort of annoyance. "Jee, you ask a lot of questions. But I guess that's normal for a Fire Nation kiddie such as yourself," Surprisingly, she stepped back, putting down her arms. Ryuu caught her wince as flexed her arm. He slowly got up, hands raised. "It's not normal to meet some . . . earthbender--especially when they're in Fire Nation territory" Ryuu ventured cautiously as he brushed dirt off his shirt and pants.
She laughed bleakly. "It's not exactly my 'choice vacation' either". She suddenly got into her earthbending stance again and Ryuu tensed, but rather than attacking him she rose a rock out of the earth and sat down. "Do you have a name, flamey?"
Ryuu remained standing, feeling strange concerning how casual the girl had become. He didn't answer at first, so she replied "I'm Lia. And you're right, I am from the Earth Kingdom. Go off and tell your little Fire Nation friends if you want to, but I'll be long gone by the time you get back."
Was she challenging him? Another wind blew at Ryuu's face yet he still did not move. The girl--Lia watched him carefully, her eyes not leaving his hands. "My name is Ryuu," he finally answered, taking a step forward. "And I'm not going anywhere."
Lia shrugged. "Suit yourself, Rylu," she said, turning to the side to attend to a gash on her bleeding hand. She dug a dirtied cloth out of her pocket and applied it to the wound. Letting out a ragged sigh, she closed her eyes.
"What happened to you?" Ryuu asked softly, a feeling of sympathy heavy in his chest. Lia laughed a humorless laugh "You should have seen the other guy" She said in an almost sad voice. Almost. Her eyes remained closed and she shuddered as another gust of wind passed by. Silently, Ryuu approached her, digging in his pocket. After fishing around, he pulled out his bag of Fire Gummies. "Here," He said, holding it out to Lia. She opened one green eye lazily and in a quick motion snatched it out of his hand and opened it. Picking a gummy up, she briefly studied it before tossing it into her mouth hungrily. Seconds later she spat it onto the ground and made a disgusted face. "Those things are spicy!" She exclaimed, coughing and spitting, trying to get the flavor out of her mouth. Ryuu cringed and backed up, trying to avoid being spat on. "Well--sorry," He replied sheepishly, folding his arms. After Lia seemed to settle down she turned away again.
"Look," Ryuu sighed, becoming impatient "Can I help you? I can get you some water or food that's a little less spicy, maybe some bandages and medicine for your cuts" He offered. Lia got up from her seat suddenly and glanced at him through narrowed eyes. "Who do you think you are?" She spat, temper flaring.
Ryuu took a step back. "I just want to help" He tried to explain. "I'd never accept any help from any Fire Nation boy! I don't need your help!" Lia seemed more furious than she'd been before. Ryuu didn't get it. They then stood in silence, staring at each other until Ryuu spoke. "I'm going to go."
"So go" Lia turned and began to walk away through the trees. Ryuu watched her go. He felt more confused than anything. That girl didn't make the least bit of sense to him. He had the urge to follow her. But he ignored it, turning and walking away.
Ryuu burst through the door of his home, having run the whole way back from the forest. He found the rest of his family already seated at the table, with dinner infront of them. Six pairs of eyes bore into his head and Ryuu could think of nothing else to do except bow. After he did so, he quickly hurried and sat down in his seat. They wouldn't ask why he was late, not yet, at least. Ryuu's mother silently began passing out portions of the steamed fish and vegetables while Ryu's father continued to glare at him. Keiko sat politely and expressionless, but there was an amused glint in her eyes. Once Ryuu's mother had finished, they began to eat in the same silence.
Keiko quietly asked to be excused once she'd finished eating and Ryuu's father nodded. She hurried away to her own room. Ryuu's mother got up and began clearing the dishes and leftovers. That left Ryuu alone with his father at the table. His father scratched his slightly graying dark hair. His amber eyes almost matched Ryuu's perfectly. He cleared his throat and folded his hands before speaking. "So would you like to explain, or do I have to ask?" His voice was stern, serious.
"No sir--" Ryuu shook his head obeidently, looking downward for a moment. There was a second when he considered telling his father about Lia, but somehow he could not bring himself to do it. He feared that if he did, the Fire Nation troops wouldn't bother to spend the time sending her back to the Earth Kingdom. Ryuu's father raised an eyebrow, waiting for his response, which finally arrived. "I'm sorry father, I went for a walk in the . . . I went for a walk to practice my firebending. I lost track of time," Ryuu explained, his voice filled with regret. Ryuu's father seemed to buy it. "I see. I'm glad you're practicing your techniques, son, but you are much better off training with me. Especially if these kind of mistakes happen. And Ryuu, see that they will not be happening again."
Ryuu nodded and his father motioned for him to be excused. As he left the kitchen, the only thing still on his mind was Lia, the Earth Kingdom girl.
A half moon shone little light on the cold earth as clouds began covering it one by one. The wind had died down to a light whisper. The only sound to be heard was the chitter of nocturnal animals and the light footsteps of a boy.
Ryuu crept through the forest for the second time that day. Over his shoulder was a large sack, hardly visible in the dark of the night. It contained 2 rolls of bandages, leftover steamed fish and vegetables and a cut of bread, a canteen of water. He couldn't find any other medicine in the house. But perhaps he would not need all this supplies after all. Lia could be long gone for all he knew. He'd been walking for nearly half and hour without any sign of her. Truthfully, he just wanted to go back home and sleep. Preparing to turn around and head for the wall again, Ryuu stopped short when he picked up the sound of a small scuffling and a hoarse cough. His amber eyes peering into the night, Ryuu made out a small shape from a nearby bush. He held out his hand and firebended a small flame in the palm of his hand so he could see. "Lia?"
A sigh of relief followed by more coughing came from the bush. The earthbending girl walked out as if they'd planned to meet. "Good," she said just as her voice cracked, "it's just you."
Ryuu didn't reply, but swung the sack to the ground infront of Lia's feet. "I know what you said earlier, but maybe you've--" Lia had sunk down to lean on her knees and opened the sack, peering inside urgently. "--changed your mind . . " Ryuu finished look unconvinced.
Lia didn't answer. She pulled out the canteen and began gulping the water down. Ryuu wondered if she'd been drinking from streams, if she'd been drinking anything at all. She then turned her attention to the fish, which Ryuu hap wrapped in a piece of cloth. She chopped on it, sitting back now. Ryuu glanced around, still holding his flame in one hand, and sat down cross-legged infront of her. Lia ignored him until she'd finished all the fish and the majority of the water. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and looked at him slyly.
"Not bad, Rylu. Pretty decent of you to do" Lia said, now beginning to unravel the first roll of bandages. Ryuu frowned, "It's Ryuu" He said stiffly. Lia didn't take any notice as she poured a bit of water on her previously bleeding hand before wrapping a bandage around it. It was obvious that her condition had worsened; Ryuu didn't bother asking her why she'd accepted the supplies so quickly. Suddenly Lia spoke, interrupting Ryuu's thoughts. "Well, Ryuu for all this stuff, I guess I'll give you something in return" She said turning now to a burn mark on her ankle. "Some information for some stuff. Eh?"
"Uh, sure," Ryuu shrugged, raising an eyebrow. Lia wrapped a bandage around her ankle and twisted it tight so it would remain in place. She then sat back, leaning on her hands. "So, about two months ago, Fire Nation soldiers invaded the village I lived in. They destroyed pretty much everything . . . and most of the people. They didn't even seem to bother taking most of the earthbenders. Just me, this other ten year old boy and a twenty-something year old woman. They just came to wipe us out," Her voice was more fueled by anger than sadness. "Well, I got away. I ran. I feel bad for running, leaving them. I mean, there wasn't much left but--" She stopped momentarily and shrugged it away "So I run. I was in custody for over a month, and didn't get away easily. I don't know if they're still looking for me or not. So I've just been hiding. Don't know what else to do" Lia fell silent, clasping her hands together.
"Your village must have taken a large part in the war, supplying the Earth Nation," Ryuu guessed, speaking quietly after a moment of brief, awkward silence. Lia looked up and gave him a strange look. "No" She said bluntly "I mean, we supported the Earth Nation, but we didn't fight or anything--"
"Come on," Ryuu's voice disbelieving "The Fire Nation wouldn't have attacked so harshly like that without a reason."
Lia voice grew annoyed "We were practically defenseless! We hadn't done anything wrong--but yet they came in and killed us. Are you saying that's okay?" She accused.
"No! They obviously had a reason to do such a thing. It's ridiculous to say otherwise."
"They had no reason! No right to tear us apart--"
"You're lying," Ryuu got to his feet. "Are you just trying to make the Fire Nation seem like savages? The Fire Nation is a great and noble nation."
"What!" Lia spat, green eyes burning in rage as she got up as well "How dare you call me a liar! I was there! They killed children, my parents--they are savages for creating this war. You cannot defend them--you haven't seen what they've done!
"They've made this world a better place!" The flame in Ryuu's hand flared as his own anger increased.
"They've made this world a hellhole!"
Ryuu let out a furious shout just as fire burst from his hand into the night sky until it vanished all together. The two teenagers were surrounded by blackness and moonlight again. "So I help you and then you criticize me and my nation? Forget it--" Ryuu turned abruptly away and began in a slow jog back towards his city. "You're on your own."
Lia stood alone in the dark, moonlight shining down upon her black hair. She watched Ryuu go, fists curled up in hatred as salty tears stung her eyes. Slowly, a cloud drifted over the moon, swallowing her into the night.
- This is the first chapter in the first book of the fanon.
- Ryuu's birthday was actually planned to be a secret celebration with a few friends where he is caught by his father. It was changed due to the fact that Fire Nation children as seen in "The Headband" were very strict, no nonsense and taught to not show great amount of emotion unless they were "so moved by their love for their country".
- Fire Lord Azulon is the first character to speak in the story. Ryuu is the first one seen bending.
- Fire Gummies are mentioned in the episode "The Ember Island Players" when the Gaang visits the theater.
For the collective works of the author, go here.