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The Royal Earthbender Guards of Ba Sing Se, commonly known as the King's Guards, are earthbending warriors within the Earth Kingdom affiliated with neither the Dai Li nor the army. They instead serve as personal protectors of the earth monarch, though Earth Queen Hou-Ting preferred the Dai Li as bodyguards. As elite troops of Ba Sing Se, they are tasked with guarding the Royal Palace, serving as gatekeepers of the Outer and Inner Walls of Ba Sing Se, and acting as sub-commanders for the Ba Sing Se army troops. They are also responsible for the safety of any properties belonging to the earth monarch, such as the royal vault.
Due to their importance for both the monarchy and Ba Sing Se, they were involved in many historically significant events, such as the Peasant Uprising in Ba Sing Se and the Fire Nation's attempt to demolish the capital's walls with a drill.
Reign of the 46th Earth King
When the peasants of Ba Sing Se rebelled and gained control over the whole city excluding the Royal Palace, the King's guards barricaded themselves in the palace, determined to protect him until the bitter end. However, unable to handle the revolt and fearing for his life, the Earth King summoned Avatar Kyoshi to the capital to aid him and bring the revolt to an end, but she refused. The tyrant was furious about the fact that Kyoshi, an Earth Kingdom citizen, dared to defy her king, and promptly ordered her arrest. The Royal Earthbender Guards obeyed without hesitation, but proved to be no match for the Avatar, as she easily brushed them aside with airbending.
Defending Ba Sing Se
Around 270 years later, in 0 AG, the Fire Nation instigated a war that would last a century. The Earth Kingdom was invaded and the Royal Earthbender Guards soon became the first line of defense for Ba Sing Se: protecting the capital to protect the Earth King.
Just like the Council of Five, the Royal Earthbenders remained completely loyal to the Earth King throughout the Conspiracy of Ba Sing Se.
In the spring of 100 AG, the Royal Earthbender Guards, under the command of General Sung, tried to fight off the Fire Nation drill that assaulted the Outer Walls of Ba Sing Se. However, Sung ordered the guards to throw boulders on the heavily armored drill which proved ineffective. It was the aid of Team Avatar that eventually secured the victory for the guards. Some days later, they served as the Earth King's bodyguards during a party for his pet bear.
Later on, the Royal Earthbender Guards attempted to prevent Avatar Aang and his team from reaching the 52nd Earth King, Kuei, mistaking them as enemies of their ruler. They used specialized surface-to-surface rocks against the invaders, re-purposing the projectiles as surface-to-air rocks against the airborne bison of the Avatar. Upon Team Avatar's landing, the King's Guards deployed their whole force to halt the attack, but despite their numbers and equipment, they were quickly defeated by the elite force, who subsequently broke into the palace complex.
When the Avatar tried to convince the Earth King about a conspiracy that prevented Kuei to be informed about the war, the King's Guards escorted Earth King Kuei while he toured around the city with Team Avatar.
The Yu Dao crisis
After the Hundred Year War, the King's Guards continued their duty, and when the Harmony Restoration Movement failed and the crisis regarding Yu Dao escalated, they served as sub-commanders of the Earth King's army in the ensuing battle against the reformed Fire Nation Army. When the battle eventually ended with a ceasefire and a temporary agreement, they, along with Earth King Kuei and General How, returned to Ba Sing Se peacefully.
Decline under Queen Hou-Ting
The Royal Earthbender Guards went into decline following the reemergence of the Dai Li. Hou-Ting preferred the secret police as bodyguards and enforcers, thus using the Royal Earthbenders as mere guards for her properties and prisons.
A unit of earthbender guards helped escort the Future Industries airship with Team Avatar aboard to the Royal Palace. Later that day, they served as escorts when Korra went to secure Hou-Ting's tax payments. However, when Gombo's gang showed up, they ran off in fear, leaving Korra and Asami to deal with them. Royal Earthbenders also guarded the Earth Queen's Temple, and two of the guards were ambushed by Team Avatar when the latter infiltrated the compound. One guard patrolled the palace's underground prison during Mako and Bolin's confinement.
After the queen was murdered by the Red Lotus and Ba Sing Se fell into anarchy, mobs of Lower Ring citizens began to plunder the palace. One group threatened a Royal Earthbender not to attempt to stop them, whereupon he defected, joining the looters. The former guardsman even offered to show the other citizens new treasures to plunder.
The Royal Earthbender Guards sport a uniform very different from that of normal Earth Kingdom soldiers, wearing heavier, dark green full-body armor with a green plume on top of the helmet.
- Since the Earth King's guards were already active around 270 BG, they are the oldest special military unit in the known history of the Avatar World.
- Fire Lord Ozai was known to use dummies clad in Royal Earthbender Guard uniforms during his firebending practice.
- The armor worn by the Royal Earthbender Guards is similar in appearance to that of the brigandine armor worn by both the banner soldiers and cavalry units of the Qing Dynasty military.