|By The Bos||Part of the Avatar: Guardian continuity.|
|"Jiang Rha twisted everything he told me. He said that all members of the Water Tribe would kill like that group, and that Earth Kingdom citizens are equally brutal. He lied the whole time, and I believed him. The biggest mistake of my life was agreeing to get on that boat."|
|— Zhentu to Mai and Ty Lee in .|
Zhentu is a character in Avatar: Guardian.
Zhentu was raised on an island in the outer Fire Nation in Zhangzi Village. Due to the island being far away from the Fire Lord, the islanders had a larger degree of freedom. The villager's free speech was not as restricted and the villagers, including Zhentu grew tired of the war. Not many of their population was drafted into the military, so they remained isolated. Zhentu grew up hoping for world peace; though he is very protective of his family, even at a young age. He was trained in Firebending at a local school and learned quickly.
After the war, Zhentu and his village expect peace to return. Unfortunately, the peace did not last. The village was invaded and taken over by the Firefighters, who killed many of the village's Firebenders. He was able to escape, but was one of the few who managed it; the rest were captured or killed.
Meeting Team Avatar
Zhentu managed to stow away on a boat and reached another island, where he spent the night. The next day, he was walking out of the village and saw a Water Tribe citizen walking around town. Enraged at what happened to his village, and not wanting it to happen to this town, he attacked him, only to have his attacks blocked by Zuko. The team takes him aside and asks him what happened and decide to help him save his village.
After the battle, Zhentu devotes much of his time over the next few days to helping rebuild his village. After the villagers force him to take a much needed break, Zhentu retreats into the woods to mourn for the loss of his parents. He lights small candles and remembers his family. A wind blows out the candles, but he is unable to relight them due to his current emotional state. A mysterious stranger appears and helps him to light the candles. The stranger expresses sympathy, and tells Zhentu that his loss should not be taken lightly. The man introduces himself as Jiang Rha and offers Zhentu to join his group, which Zhentu accepts.
Becoming a Warrior
- "They didn't tell me! I've told every single one of you guys who has asked me these questions! I don't know where they're going!" - Zhentu defending himself from 's verbal attack.
After joining the Phoenix Warriors, Zhentu was subject to numerous interrogation sessions, during which officers questioned him as to where the Avatar and the Fire Lord were. Zhentu found the meetings pointless, as he had already said numerous times that he had no knowledge of where the group went. During his last session, he was verbally attacked by Colonel Zhian, who claimed he was defending the Avatar and Fire Lord for helping to save his village. After vehemently denying the accusations, Zhentu is sent back to his room, where he laments his situation.
- "What have you done? He was the Phoenix King, and you just killed him!" - Zhentu defending Ozai after his death.
After deciding he wanted a mission, Zhentu went searching for Jiang Rha. After eventually finding him in the hallway of the ships, he followed him until he entered a room. When Zhentu entered, he saw Jiang killing the Phoenix King. He put out the flames on Ozai's body though he was already dead. After discerning Jiang's motives, he escaped the room. Zhentu manages to make it to the ship's cargo hold, where he pushes a crate into the ocean to fake his death. After hearing the fabricated story, Jiang announces to the crew that it was Zhentu who killed Ozai, and that he was now in control. Zhentu remains in the hold, crying as he believed that his entire nation hated him. Later, when the Kyoshi Island, Zhentu switched ships, leaving the flagship as to escape from Jiang Rha.were attacking
Saving the Fire Lady
- "My name is Zhentu, and I will keep you safe." - Zhentu introducing himself to Mai and Ty Lee.
While Zhentu lies asleep in the cargo hold, he is woken by the ship rocking. He hears screams from outside, and decides to investigate. Upon exiting the ship, he finds the Phoenix Warriors attacking the Capitol, and realizes that he must save the Royal Family. He manages to enter the Capitol city, where he finds his way through the streets to enter the palace. When he finds the Fire Lady, he defeats the Phoenix Warriors that were attacking her, killing them to protect his ruler. He then tells them that they need to continue moving, as to save themselves from rebels.
Zhentu leads the girls through the hall, eventually opening a door that led them to a boat powered by Firebending. Zhentu allowed the boat to set sail, where he suggests planning a destination. Ty Lee suggests going to Ember Island, where they would seek the advice of Lo and Li. Zhentu continues propelling the boat until the three are almost at the Island, when he begins feeling faint. He passes out, leaving the girls to take care of him as they steer the boat into shore. He is carried inside, where he is placed in a bed while Mai begins nursing him back to health.
When Zhentu wakes up, he is surrounded by not only Mai, but Zuko and his friends. The Fire Lord interrogates the young Firebender, revealing that Ozai was dead and that Zhentu had been a part of the Phoenix Warriors. After these revelations, Zuko orders that Zhentu leave, barking his orders at the young Phoenix. Zhentu honors the Fire Lord's order, exiting the room. On his way out, he passes Ty Lee in the hall. The two hug, sharing an emotional moment in which Zhentu gives few details of the prior events, but informs Ty Lee of his departure. After leaving the beach house, Zhentu wanders the sands of the beach, deep in thought about his wrongdoing.
- "I've made some poor choices in the past, but I know that I will make up for them. And the first step to my redemption is to protect these two girls. Now, kindly leave them be." - Zhentu threatening Chan and Ruon-Jian.
After walking into town, Zhentu returns to the beach. He sees two teenagers harassing girls, both of whom he recognizes. He deflects Chan's fire blasts before telling the two to leave the girls alone. Chan attacks him, but Zhentu proves triumphant, forcing the two to run away. Zhentu then makes up with the girls, and they decide to go to the Fire Nation Capitol, in order to assist Zuko.
While on the boat, Mai prompts Zhentu to explain how he came to be in the Phoenix Warriors. He agrees, explaining that he joined the group in hopes of avenging the loss of his parents, and that Jiang had lied to him as to the group's true purpose. He displays his regret, and the two believe him. When the three reach the Capitol Island, they immediately rush towards the city. A fire blast is sent at them, and Zhentu blocks it. The older soldier, calling himself, tries to play the situation off as a miscommunication, but Mai and Zhentu ruin his story.
Cho, tired of trying to ease his job, tells the three that he is a Phoenix Warrior, intent on capturing the Capitol. He then tells them that he will take them hostage, and asks that they surrender. After Mai refuses, Cho attacks, but Zhentu blocks again. After taunting the balding officer, Zhentu challenges him to an Agni Kai. Cho accepts, and Zhentu kisses Ty Lee before leaving to fight.
The two Firebenders battle for a lengthy period, with Zhentu eventually emerging victorious. After turning back to his friends, Cho awakens, having faked his defeat, and attacks again. As Zhentu blocks his attack, Mai plunges a dagger into his chest, killing the Warrior. The group run into the Capitol city, trying to find a way to help save the Fire Nation.
As they run through the streets of the Capitol, Zhentu hears a battle. Upon investigation, he finds Jiang Rha barely alive, having been defeated by Iroh. Zhentu verbally battles with his former master, speaking of his recent enlightenment. As Jiang speaks, Zhentu notices his labored breathing. Feeling pity for the Admiral, Zhentu puts him out of his misery, searing his chest before leaving for the palace with Iroh.
When they reach the palace, Zhentu watches as Iroh awakens Zuko, and as the Fire Lord defeats his foe. Zuko eventually thanks Zhentu for his protection of Mai, asking Zhentu to "forgive me for dishonoring" him. Zhentu enters the palace along with the rest of Zuko's friends, and stays at the palace overnight. After Zuko gives his speech honoring those who helped save the Fire Nation, Zhentu asks Ty Lee on a formal date. Though he intended the matter to be private, everyone hears his suggestion: Love Amongst the Dragons. Everyone laughs, though he is uncertain as to why.
- "I've made some poor choices in the past, but I know that I will make up for them." - Zhentu speaking about his revelation.
Zhentu's life has shaped him in many ways. As a young child growing up in a peaceful environment, he became very trusting, if not a tad naive. Having never been led astray, he retained a romanticized view of the world; one where everything seemed to work its way out. Unfortunately, his world was changed with the invasion of his island by rogue Waterbenders. His usually calm and peaceful demeanor became more stressed, and he began to become slightly paranoid. As he neared reclaiming his island, Zhentu began to foster deep feelings of rage, formed from his loss and torment. He manages to kill without a second thought, and calmly reacts after his death.
Despite his outward projection of either calm or anger, Zhentu is a truly emotional person. His anger is derived from his loss, something that still haunts him. He is shown to be consistently conflicted about his decisions, many of which he regrets. His constant manipulation clouded his judgment, causing him to make poor choices that would cause him anguish later on.
Zhentu was raised in a town that elevated peace and harmony, making Zhentu favor peaceful methods over violence. Through his journey, he has learned that not all things can be solved by peace, but still remains hesitant to battle, despite his temper. Despite his desire for pacifism, Zhentu is not one to give in easily. He always fights for what he believes in and ensuring that his loved ones are protected.
When he first met Team Avatar, Zhentu's Firebending abilities were only slightly above par. He was able to create relatively large amounts of fire with moderate amounts of control, but his potential remained untapped. While fighting to reclaim his village, Zhentu used his emotions to drive his Firebending to new heights, allowing himself to become a greater threat. After joining Jiang Rha and the, Zhentu was exposed to several Firebending masters, including the Admiral himself. His bending began taking on a much more powerful flare, with him using bolder moves when dueling against Jiang Rha following the death of Ozai.
Zhentu's confusion over the next several weeks ended up increasing his bending prowess, as his new found control over his emotions allowed him more precise control over his abilities. After discovering he was in the Fire Nation capital, his drive to protect the Fire Lady allowed him to defeat several Phoenix Warriors. During his duel against, Zhentu used a flowing style of Firebending, changing his opponent's attacks into his own, while utilizing few attacks of his own. Despite both his youth and inexperience, Zhentu managed to defeat a much older Firebending master, further displaying his new found proficiency for the art.
- Zhentu was created as an excuse for Team Avatar to find a village the Firefighters had taken over, but due to the author's hope not to create a character for no reason, his role was expanded in the series' third book.
For the collective works of the author, go here.