I silently moved to the breakfast table. After our meeting with the Fire Lord we had been shuffled away from the hording press to be shown where we would stay. They had prepared a “suite” for me in the main palace and a wing for my family tucked away in the back palace. It was by their words the farthest and safest location from unwanted outsiders. There was no way I would stay on my own and not with my parents. Their disappointment about the matter didn’t mean much. They promised to keep the suite for me and thankfully left us alone as a family for the rest of the day.
My parents only made me feel worse. They were either hugging me, making tea, playing family games or avoiding what had just happened completely. We were ignoring it all night. By the time I went to bed I could see how tired they were. So when I came to breakfast I was hoping for them to let out their anger and disappointment in me. Of course, they did not.
“How did you sleep?” My mother smiled at me. I looked at her awkwardly. “It was way too soft.” She chuckled and turned to my father. “Min, you two always say the exact same things.” He smiled at her softly. “Do we? I hadn’t noticed?” I watched her hug his shoulder for a moment before moving back to the kitchen. It was already prepared with groceries for us. She was making my favorite breakfast. It really hurt. My fist clenching my chest as I sat down.
The two of them continuing their banter as I felt my walls begin to crumble. My head falling down as tears began to flow. “I’m sorry. I’m really sorry.” Father and mother turned their attention back to me. “I know I needed to control my temper. I know I didn’t listen. I know I messed up. I just. I just didn’t remember those things in the moment. I couldn’t see past what they were doing to you, dad. I couldn’t see.”
My father rushed over from his seat and wrapped his arms around me. “You did nothing wrong.” He put his hand on my chin so he could tilt my head up towards him. “Do you hear me, Rina? You did nothing wrong.” My mother joined us. “Your father is right. How could such a good daughter be wrong?” She started to shadowbox the air. “You kicking their butts was absolutely perfect.” My eyes teared as I looked up at them. They were such loving idiots. “I’m sorry. I’m really sorry.” My mother bent down to join in the family hug. “It’s fine. It’s fine.” She leaned away from me and winked. “You looked completely awesome.” My father nodded his head. “Total action hero.”
The two looked at me with such endearing eyes. All I could do was nod my head. “I am mother’s daughter.” Father nodded his head smiling. “Definitely, it reminded me of a younger Haeri.” I cracked a smile as my mother hit his arm. “Younger? I am still young.” He nodded his head quickly. “Of course, of course.”
I took a deep breath. There were things a daughter needed to do for her parents. Leaning forward across the breakfast table I began to put some vegetables on my father’’s plate. “Hurry and eat up, Dad. You need to become as young as mom and your daughter.” The two turned to me and smiled. Everyone sitting down at the table. The breakfast was harmonious and nice until the door opened.
In the doorway was a Fire Nation official and the crown prince. He was eyeing the breakfast table as if it was mediocre. The official simply coughed. “The Fire Lord has requested you join his Highness and her Highness at the training courtyard this morning.” I turned to look at my parents. Their happy smiles turned into serious ones. Both nodded their heads at me. “Go on.” “I’ll save you some food.”
I stood up quickly and followed the official and crown prince out. He was not very chatty but he did insist on insulting us. “Is that all the common folk have to eat in the Fire Nation?” The official said nothing so I simply nodded. “For many that would be considered a wonderful breakfast, your Highness.” He scoffed at me. “My father must not be doing a good job then. For you all to have so little.”
My eyes looked up at the official. He had not even flinched at the comment. Since when was someone allowed to get away with criticizing the Fire Lord? In the royal palace no less? “I believe many in all nation’s would agree that the breakfast my family made was a wonderful one. Many do not feel having more food in a single serving every day is needed… your Highness.” He simply shook his head in disappointment.
We finally arrived at a courtyard. Her Highness, Azumi was standing their waiting. When we arrived she immediately ran to her brother. “Ozuko, I was getting bored waiting!” She leaned to glance over at me. “What is she doing here?” The official finally spoke. He was an annoyingly quiet one. “Your father has requested the Avatar train with you this morning.” She looked at me completely upset about such an idea. “Her? He thinks she can train with us? She is nowhere near our level.” Was I not? Stupid nobility and their tendency for elitism. I may be a lower class noble but everyone in the Fire Nation was born to receive the education and opportunity for mastery and merits. There were many outstanding talents from non-nobility that could probably teach her a thing or two.
I turned to the official. “If my presence here is a problem for her Highness I will gladly return to my family.” He narrowed his eyes at me. “That would be rude to our Fire Lord, Avatar Rina.” I narrowed my eyes back at him. “I believe disrupting the training of his heirs would be even ruder of me.” A crooked smile appearing on my face. “After all, the future of our great nation is not in my hands but theirs.” Her Highness Azumi nodded her head happily. “Exactly, it is us who will dictate the future of our great nation. Not some upstart like her.”
Taking a deep breath, I bowed to the official. “I shall depart then. Please, give my apologies to the Fire Lord.” Before I could leave the Crown Prince grabbed my arm. “Who said you can leave?” I turned to look back at him. “Can you kindly unhand me Prince Ozuko.” His smirk made it really hard to control my emotions and remain formal with them. All I wanted to do was punch him and throw his sister across the courtyard. “Absolutely not. If I did you would run away and then I would not have any fun.”
I could feel a vein begin to throb in my forehead. “I believe this training period is not meant for fun but for development.” He shook his head at me. “As the Crown Prince it is up to me to decide what is for fun and what is for development. And I say this is for fun.” I pulled my arm free from his grasp. “Respectfully your Highness, with an attitude like that I do not believe your subjects would receive you as well as your father.” Princess Azumi walked up to us in irritation. “Who are you to tell my brother what to do?”
The official bowed slightly. “Your Highness please do remember she is the Avatar.” Princess Azumi scoffed. “She’s not even a half-baked one. There is no reason to listen to her.” I took a deep breath. Remember my parents yesterday, this morning… Remember everything they’ve ever taught you…their smiles and hugs. “Father should just throw her and her family into the trash and wait for the next one.” THROW MY FAMILY IN THE TRASH!
My head snapped up and I glared at her. Steam coming off my skin. “I think her Highness needs to learn the value of human life.” My eyes glared at her. “Or at least when to shut her mouth.” Her brother cracked up laughing. “Good, good, Azumi. You got her talking.” She did not look like she enjoyed her brother’s praise. Her eyes were narrowed on me. “Don’t you ever lecture me on when to shut my mouth, you ugly louse.” UGLY LOUSE.
I walked towards her so her face was only inches from mine. “I believe her Highness needs to learn what true ugliness is. Perhaps, she can start by looking in the mirror?” Princess Azumi punched forward at me. A stream of fire filling the inches between us. I smiled as I stomped the ground. A sudden surge of Earth pushed her back and hard onto her butt. I smiled until I heard her brother’s laughter. “She totally got you, Azumi.”
Her highness stood up quickly and marched back over. “That doesn’t count! She earth-bended.” I turned my head on her and said nothing. She stamped her feet in irritation. “That’s cheating, you here me! Covering up your flaws with another element.” I ignored her. The Crown Prince turned to me. “She has a point. You did use another element.” I scoffed on him. “I only used the easiest method to get her away from me.” He chuckled as his sister turned red with rage.
She lunged forward but he caught her. “I’m going to get you!” Her brother pat her head. “Now, now Azumi. There’s an easier way to settle this.” She turned to look at him. Obviously, curious to what evil idea he had. “Simply fight her. One on One with only fire-bending allowed.” I scoffed at him. “I have no interest in fighting her.”
Princess Azumi was now smiling again. “Of course, you don’t. You know you would lose.” I rolled my eyes at her. “Lose? To you? Did you hit your head when you fell as well?” The Princess turned to the official. “I order you to referee.” He bowed silently. “Yes, your Highness.” I turned to her brother. He was smiling like an idiot. Was this what he wanted in the first place? He gestured towards one side of the courtyard. “Go on. Show her why she must of hit her head.”
I glared at him but walked forward. His sister moved to stand a bit away from me. The official raised his hand and then swiped it down. An arc of fire signaling the beginning of the fight.
She rushed towards me. I had to admit she was incredibly fast. Every move was hard to see as she punched, kicked, jabbed and evaded in large bursts of yellow orange flames. The princess was energetic and talented. It was annoying to see. It would really be easier to just send her flying on her ass. Sighing, I started to get into the fight more. While, she was talented her style of fighting was more showy than needed. Outside of close quarter combat she liked large dramatic bursts of flames. If she did not have such a high degree of stamina she would of already been in trouble. Really, so far all I had to do was redirect her martial arts and flames.
Sadly, that made her even more cocky. “Is that all you got Avatar!” No, it was not. A part of me was eager to fight. To not hold back as I have always done. There was a part of me that wanted to prove that I was superior to her. That my flames could never be compared to hers. I had to keep that part as controlled as possible. Even in times like this.
Taking a deep breath, I remembered what my father said, “Flames are not fire and aggression. They are life. We tend to feel and let that consume us in bursts. But a true fire bender does not allow their lives to be but bursts of feelings. You must grab hold of your life in that moment. You must remind yourself that it is yours.” I took a deep breath in and a deep breath out. Flame coming from my nose as I exhaled. This moment was simply a moment in my life’s stream of moments. It needed not be more than I wanted it to be.
When she shot a large jet of flames around me I gathered it around me, kept it moving in a circular wheel in front of me. My mother’s words in my head ringing like a reminder. “People fear fire because they fear the chaos of destruction but in that chaos their fear stops them from remembering they are the order.” The wheel spun faster and faster in front of me. A myriad of colors slipping in as she shot out more fire. Finally, when I felt my control slipping I crashed it into the ground so it spread out like colorful hot waves across the courtyard. In their distractions I ran through it. Simply and without flames I threw her onto her back. My fists pointed downwards towards her. “It is over, your Highness.”
She looked up at me stunned. The sound of clapping could be heard echoing throughout the courtyard. We both turned to see who it was. It was the Fire Lord and a group of nobles and officials. Many were smiling. He walked over to us and offered his hand to his daughter. She took it regretfully. Glaring at me from behind his back.
The Fire Lord smiled at me. There was something off about it but I couldn’t figure it out yet. “That was truly a beautiful sight, Avatar Rina.” I bowed. “It is simply Rina, Fire Lord.” His smile shifted to one of a grandfather. “Allow yourself the praise from an old man. You did well.” The Fire Lord turned to his daughter. “As did you. My little girl may be a prodigy but even prodigies face challenges.” Princess Azumi nodded her head begrudgingly. As soon as her father turned away from her she was back to glaring daggers at me.
He looked over at his son. “And you Ozuko? Have you anything to say about this match?” The Crown Prince simply shrugged at his father. “I would of liked to see more of her bending.” His father laughed. “It is true that for what she is she is very reserved.” His eyes sparkling as he looked at me. I bowed slowly. “I have inherited my father’s temperament. I apologize.” The Fire Lord cracked up laughing. “You most certainly have not but we can accept that excuse for now.”
Why did everyone have such low opinions of my father? He was a wonderful and dedicated man. If I could wipe them from the Earth I would but I could not. It would sadden my father and mother too much. The Fire Lord looked down on me. “Come, Avatar. It is time for family lunch and I would like you to join us.” I nodded my head in resignation. As if I could say no to such a gesture.
Everyone started to walk towards one of the dinning halls. Princess Azumi pushing past me to catch up to her father in the lead. A whispered threat in passing, “You’ll regret this, ugly.” I shook my head uncaring. As soon as I could escape this place the better. There was such unnecessary people here. The Crown Prince appeared by my side. A large smile plastered on his annoying face. “It seems my sister doesn’t like you at all.”
I glared at him. “The feeling is mutual, your Highness.” He simply smirked. “And your feelings towards me?” I bit down everything I wanted to say and forced a smile on my face. “Still undecided.” Prince Ozuko chuckled. “Well, I should work harder than to make you dislike me as well.” My smile stiffened. “And why would you wish for that, your Highness?” He leaned down towards me. “Because that would be more fun, of course.” An evil light twinkling in his eye. “If the Avatar adored me like everyone else than what would the point of her be?” MY EXISTENCE WAS NOT FOR YOUR SAKE.
I turned my head on him and walked away. I should of just let myself die in Agni Kai. Let another Avatar deal with this shit. One who wanted to.