The Kingdom of Vagabonds and Beggars
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The Avatar of the Fire Temple



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The Kingdom of Vagabonds and Beggars is the fifth chapter of The Avatar of the Fire Temple.


Haru's day was going from bad to worse. He lied bruised and freezing in a stinking gutter.

Dragging himself to his feet, he saw a light a short distance away. He hoped he would find food and warmth there.

As he approached, he found the path littered with beggars, vagrants and cripples begging for money. He tried to ignore them and continued to where the light was coming from... but it seemed they had other ideas.

As he pushed past, they started to chase after him, throwing aside their crutches and sticks! Haru was herded into a large hall filled with beggars and cripples where a large fire blazed, the infamous Court of Miracles.

Haru found himself in front of a man seated on a barrel. It was none other than the beggar who interrupted his play, Zuko! All around the hall, the city's lowlifes are drinking, dancing, and making merry. "Welcome to my court," welcomed Zuko.

Here the young man was not a beggar, but a king, the King of Vagabonds and Beggars. Zuko told Haru that he must pay a fine for entering his kingdom unimvited, or be hanged! "What is it to be?" asked Zuko.

When Haru says that he doesn't have a single coin upon him, Zuko told him that there was only one way to save his life, to join their gang... but first he had to pass a test. "You must prove yourself," instructed Zuko.

They hung up a gown covered in bells. Haru had to climb a stool, reach into the pocket, and take a purse from it without making the bells sound. "Can you pick a pocket?" asked Zuko.

He failed miserably. The crowd went wild with excitement, and poor Haru was pale with fear as the "executioner" fixed a noose around his neck.

However, King Zuko offered him a final chance to be saved. It was a vagabond and beggar custom, he said, that a man could be spared from hanging if someone in the room agreed to marry him. "Wed a wench, or it's the rope for you!" declared Zuko.

"Things did not look good for Haru until, at the last minute, the crowd parted and Katara stepped forward. She was willing to be wed to the condemned man, he was saved! "I'll take him," stated Katara.

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