I was walking to my father’s office like always. It was one of the few times in a day that I realized how lucky my family was to be Fire Nation aristocrats.
In the middle of a large and busy capital there still existed nestled gems of the old days. My father as a government worker of his background worked in one of those buildings. It didn’t matter if he was the lowest of the low in the building. It didn’t matter that for an aristocrat his fire bending was laughable. All that mattered was that my father went to work content. He liked his workplace. My father liked the moments of quiet in a busy world. We were very much alike.
Normally though my father would he waiting for me by the garden to pick up his lunch. However, today I haven’t seen him….
There was never really a chance to explore the area, so maybe this was my chance. It was easy enough to leave the public gardens and the tourist areas to slip towards the building that held the government offices. Father, if memory served correctly, worked on the 11th floor. For a low ranked employee, it was miraculous that he worked on the third highest floor of the pagoda. But then again, father was always very good at paperwork related tasks.
“Trash. Where do you think you’re off too?”
“Mr. Dae Jung. I am just going to pick up lunch from my daughter then I will be right back.”
There was a group of three office workers around my father. One looked like a typical young Fire Nation aristocrat. He was handsome, arrogant, and stood in front of the others around him. One of the men behind him kicked my father.
“Worthless dogs like you have no right to talk to Dae Jung. Stay there and beg to be able to go meet your daughter.”
Dae Jung walked forward and picked my father up by his hair.
“Worthless. You are only here because of test scores. You’re a disgrace to the Fire Nation with your behavior…and your mediocre bending.”
My father was flung against the wall. Dae Jung laughing loudly.
“I wonder if your daughter is as spineless as you.”
He bend down towards my father
“Perhaps if she is pretty enough, I will make her one of my mistresses.”
He stood up and looked down at my father.
“That should help clear up the stain you have brought to the Fire Nation.”
I dropped the lunch box in my hand. Father had always asked me to not bend in public. I wasn’t supposed to lose my temper. But I had no idea my father’s life was this.
I slide forward and kicked my leg out. Fire streaming out from me separating the men from my father.
He looked up towards me. Why was he so worried for me!?
“Rina! What are you doing?”
The men turned to look at me. They had ugly expressions. The one in front shrugged.
“Min. Your daughter isn’t a beauty, but she’s alright. At least she can somewhat fire bend. Not a complete trash like her father.”
He fixed his hair and put on a smile.
“Rina was it? You are decent enough. I will allow you to be my mistress.”
I walked past him and picked my father up by his arm.
“Father, let’s go. I will buy you another lunch.”
He looked worried and nodded his head trying to leave quickly. One of Dae Jung’s lackies grabbed my arm.
“Where do you think you’re going? Master Dae Jung has given you the honor of being his mistress. Low born trash like you doesn’t even deserve that much.”
I glared at the no name kiss up.
“Let go of my arm.”
“Or what? Your fire bending trick won’t work twice.”
I rolled my eyes.
“You seem so talented.”
Father grabbed my arm.
“Rina please. Stop this. Let’s go.”
Dae Jung laughed like a cheesy movie villain.
“You should listen to your father. Cockroaches know very well how to survive.”
Cockroaches!?!?!! How dare this arrogant piece of…
“Oh? I suppose then you are a master at the art of surviving…”
Dae Jung’s face turned red in anger. The men behind him freaking out. The fatter one moving to grab me when his owner put his hand up to stop him.
“Tzai. There’s no need for you to get violent. It’s my job to remind those below me the reason there exists a proper hierarchy. We can’t have trash thinking they are something special now can we.”
“You are so wise Master Dae Jung!”
Ugh. Kiss asses. The man smiled at me. It was so creepy how he could smile angrily and somehow glance over my body at the same time.
“I will have you kneel down and apologize, or I shall have your father lose his job. Do you understand cockroach?”
This guy was stupid.
“Hah. Why would I bend down and lick the foot of some over inflated bug.”
Father pulled me back.
“Rina, please. Drop it.”
The other lackey stepped forward.
“You should listen to your father! Master Dae Jung is one of the top benders and officials in this building.”
“Hah. Only in this building? How does he qualify for anything great?”
Tzai looked as if he was going to burst a blood vessel.
“You slut! Talking about Master Dae Jung like that!”
The man stepped forward to punch. A stream of fire came out. I took a step to the left and moved my hands so the fire would go the right. It blew right at the other lackey. The poor bean pole falling over from shock.
“What’s your problem. Fire bending inside an official building? Do you want to get fired?”
Their owner shook his head in disappointment. Truly, in his eyes no matter the situation those born below him would be the cause of any and all disturbance. Privileged jerk wad.
“Quiet Xin. The cockroach is right. For the safety of those who work beneath us fire bending is not allowed in the building.”
Oh? Was there a semi decent side to him? Nope. An evil smile appeared on his creepy arrogant face.
“That’s why we have a training stadium out back.”
I waved my hand.
“Yea, no thanks. You can go and vent your own frustration there. I have a lunch date with my father.”
They all looked at me shocked. There was no way I was going to follow these idiots anywhere. Besides my father was already trembling.
“What makes you think you can walk away now. You have insulted the honor of the next head of the Si family. If you do not fight me then your family will lose their position. Actually, live like the rest of the cockroaches that stain our great nation.”
I narrowed my eyes. No wonder he had such confidence in himself. Who would hurt a hair on the head of the next heir of the Si family. They were the type of people that could try to pawn off one of their daughters to the next Fire Lord.
“Oh? Then if I fight you and win you won’t still do the same to my family? How generous of master Dae Jung.”
He looked at me even more annoyed. I couldn’t deny that I enjoyed it. Arrogant prick.
“I would not debase myself like that.”
Ah. This noble idiot was getting on my nerves. With excuses like that. I might as well throw down the best deterrence for these sorts.
“Fine then. I will fight you in Agni Kai.”
They all looked shocked for a moment. The thin one stuttering.
“No one has fought in Agni Kai in 5 years…”
I looked at him in fake shock. Yea, I already knew that idiot. All of you nobles and your pride was chalk shit.
“Hah? Weren’t you concerned about your honor and the honor of the Fire Nation? Agni Kai is the only option between us nobles?”
The two looked at the man in front worried. He seemed lost in his head for a moment. My father pulling my arm strongly. Don’t worry father. This piece of shit will surely say no. Then we can safely go home and we can find you a new and better job.
“Rina please. Let us go. There is no need for some-”
“Fine. But when you lose I am looking forward to quite a few rewards ”
What an over confident piece of arrogant shit…. JUST BECAUSE MY FATHER SEEMS SCARED DOESN’T MEAN IT IS FOR ME…..wait… WHY DID HE SAY YES!?!?! Okay, time to play it cool and get out of this.
“What do I get out of winning?”
Xin and Tzai continued to make his dog like status known with his barking.
“How shameless! Expecting anything other then your fathers job!”
I glared at the two of them. In many ways they were worse than their owner.
“Are you stupid? If I win and father keeps his job you can still treat him like trash. No. You must offer more then that. Where’s the assurance.”
Was this arrogant piece of shit actually raising his head in the air!
“You challenged me to Agni Kai. You can’t back out now.”
I am not the one backing out!!! I need you to realize you are.
“You should have more sense then that. No wonder your underlings are so stupid. If I win my father must be completely left alone by you three and your influences. Alright?”
Okay. Please cancel this. This show is already giving me quite the head ache. I just want to home and finish my video game. Ugh. He stuck out his hand with a sneer on his face.
“Of course, a cockroach would attempt to debase themselves with unneeded worry. I have no problem agreeing to your terms. However, when I win I expect the proper compensation. You will look adequate enough in sheer attire.”
Sheer attire! I am going to fucking kill this SHIT HEAD. I gripped his hand.
“I promise not to kill you.”
Dae Jung just laughed it off.
“Let us go to the out door area.”
“Rina. Please. Let us go home.”
I looked at my father and shook my head.
“How can we leave now? That piece of shit tortures my wonderful father. As a daughter I cannot allow that to go on.”
My father gripped my arm. His hands were shaking.
“Father can take it. It doesn’t bother me much. If you go out there and something happens. Nothing good can come of it.”
I pulled my wonderful and gentle father into a hug.
“Do not worry. I will not let anything bad happen. In the name of the Fire Lord I will crush that bug.”
I turned around to walk from the side of the area towards the platform when my father started to pull me back.
“Rina. We are going home.”
I could hear Dae Jung jeering from the platform. It seemed he had finished his conversation from the other side. Trash. I smiled at my father.
I pulled myself from his grip and moved onto the platform. I knelt down facing away from the shit. Although Agni Kai had not been done in five years every traditional building and government building had the necessary items. On my shoulders was a covering with the Fire Nation symbol. I had changed into loose pants and a covering for my chest. Two arm rings decorated each arm. On one side of the platform was a gong that some roped in worker was waiting to hit. There was even a small gathering of government workers watching out of curiosity. They already had their phones up and were probably messaging about it to the world. I really can’t lose. The setting was perfect…except it should have been sunset. That was a miss on my part.
I took a deep breath. The sound of the gong reverberating in the silence. I turned around to face my opponent. It didn’t matter how much he was like a piece of shit. This was Agni Kai. I had to respect tradition and face it seriously. However, it was extremely hard to do when he stood there barely in a proper stance waiting for me to move first.
I muttered quietly to myself.
I took a deep breath and let out a series of punches. Well, it was to be expected that he could push them away with a strong kick. His return was a simple kick towards me. How much was he looking down on me! I simply moved to the right and clapped my hands together. A jet stream of yellow and red fire shooting from my hands. Dae Jung managed to split the wave with his own clapped hands. Things wouldn’t go anywhere if we both just moved like this.
Lucky for me, he was impatient. Dae Jung immediately zoomed towards me (again looking down on me by not even fire attacks!). I flipped over to the right. Fire moving around me as I moved from the air. It, as always, proved the best option. As he was smart enough to fire off punches as I moved away. When my body finally hit the ground my leg sweeped for fire to slash at his feet.
Dae Jung stumbling back losing his footing. I immediately used the momentum to turn around completely and push myself back up to fire off a series of punches. It wasn’t hard for me to then force him off balance.
“MASTER DAE JUNG!”
“MASTER DAE JUNG!!!”
There goes dog #1 and dog #2. I jumped kick up. Fire slashing next to Dae Jung when my foot came down. My fist stopping right in front of his face.
“You lose. Keep yourself completely away from my father.”
Dae Jung looked up at me in a combination of anger and shock.
“You cheated! There’s no way I would lose to you!”
I could only sigh, and remind myself not move from my stance.
“You lost. Move on.”
Dae Jung raised his hand point at me.
“Your flame was red! That’s proof you cheated! This duel doesn’t count!”
What was wrong with this idiot! This prideful moron! This shitty little thing of made of nothing useful! I fired off another shot besides his head.
“This is Agni Kai. If you keep insisting that you haven’t lost I will have to finish this another way. Stay down heir of the Si family.”
“I AM TELLING YOU YOU CHEATED! YOU COCKROACH!”
I mean. What am I supposed to do with this? This isn’t Agni Kai… this isn’t even a fight between fire benders. He was exactly like a child. Dae Jung was what my father meant about what benders have become. I understand it now… The world no longer was the same in the stories that were passed down to us. I took a deep breath and moved back from him. My pity was overcoming my anger.
“If you are so determined to be a winner work on your bender instead of wasting time on others.”
Dae Jung just screamed. Fire roaring out of his mouth. This was getting hard to look at.
Suddenly, I could feel a shift in my father. My body turning to see the two lackeys firing off shots at my father. He had fallen on the ground. What I had felt was his hands hitting the Earth.
My fire would never reach him to help! I couldn’t hold back and help my father! I am sorry father. I took a deep breath and picked up my foot. Quickly, I slammed it down on the ground. A line of earth tracing from my foot towards my father. The earth rising on either side of him. The two lackeys falling on to their backs.
“CHEATER. PROOF! DID YOU ALL SEE THAT.”
Eh. That is the conclusion he goes to. What has become of my beloved nation. I turned around to look at the standing Dae Jung. He was shaking from either anger or fear. I couldn’t quite tell which one it was. Dae Jung firing off another shot at me. WHAT THE HELL. YOU ALREADY LOST!
I moved quickly to the left having to roll to get away. This was embarrassing. I quickly rolled back onto my feet and turned around to kick a stream of fire towards him. My attention diverted by the feeling of movement towards my father. THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE SACRED!
I stomped my right foot down so I was in a squat. Taking a deep breath I raised my hands. Following my breathing was two blocks of rock. One more breath and a flip made me able to throw the rocks towards the dogs. My hand punching downward, so the ground beneath them sank. Taking a step forward I clapped my hands together. The ground moving to bury the two up to their neck. FIRE BEND LIKE THAT!
I rolled forward quickly. Dae Jung didn’t load the weight of his body properly. It was not hard to feel him move at all. Still, what a piece of disrespectful trash. My arm moving sideways and back to fire off fire towards him. Agni Kai may be over, but I would never disrespect our tradition. My body flipping over his body to land behind him. Rainbow tinted fire arching over him. Without using my fire bending, I back kicked him. Dae Jung falling forward right on to his face.
“You lost Agni Kai. Stop this foolishness. No one cheated. No one played unfair. You just weren’t strong enough.”
I pointed to the dogs buried by my father.
“You have so much pride as a Fire Nation noble and you let that happen! You let dogs defile you have to stay down.”
Once again Dae Jung was shaking. His fists were clenched and his head was down.
“Of course you cheated…”
His head snapped up, tears in his eyes.
“You are the avatar, aren’t you! You had to do Avatar cheats!”
My mouth dropped open. I had been so consumed with this fight and the distress of my father I hadn’t actually connected the dots of what had been going around me. I looked around. There was a large group of people. All of them had their phones out and were recording the event or taking selfies. Fire Nation guards were pushing through the crowd towards my father. I fucked up. I really fucked up. I didn’t want to be the Avatar. Now the world knew I was.
I took a deep breath and turned back to Dae Jung.
“I already told you Agni Kai was sacred. I would never do anything to stain it. No Avatar tricks happened. If I had used them anyone here would have seen it. I won fair.”
Dae Jung stood up again.
“No one here would believe you. You are a cheater!”
This guy needs to stop calling me a cheater. I might actually use Agni Kai as an excuse to kill him… Plus, he was really sounding redundant.
“Can you stop calling me a cheater already… I didn’t cheat.”
Nope. Didn’t cheat. But I need to get out of here. I turned away from him and started to walk towards my father. I could see the guards had almost pushed through the crowd. I quickly hoped off the platform and made my way to him. I guess it was a blessing that people were hesitant to move towards me. It wasn’t hard to quickly pull my father into a hug.
“I was so worried.”
My father pulled me away from him. A sad look on his face.
“You should be worried, but not for me. Your mother and I can no longer keep you safe.”
Father… How much longer were you planning to make yourself suffer for me. How much longer were you willing for me to not see myself as a bad daughter. Tears filled my eyes. How did I end up with such gentle parents…
“It is my job to keep you two safe.”
I felt myself being pulled back. I hadn’t even realized the guards had gotten to us… I had just said I would be capable of taking care of my parents… Yet, I had already made that statement a lie.
“Rina Gao. Min Gao. You two will be escorted to Fire Lord Azai. Come quietly or else we shall have to cuff you.”
I looked at my father. Why were they making it sound like we were being arrested? Why was father looking so sad?
“So. You are the Avatar the world has been waiting for.”
I looked up from my kneeling position. They really had brought me to the Fire Lord. Even if he was older now there was still that intimidating aura. I can see why Azai was respected by the Fire Nation citizens. He seemed reliable.
“Yes. I am the Avatar.”
“I must say Avatar Rina. You did quite well in hiding yourself.”
“Until she recklessly challenged some low life to an Agni Kai.”
I turned my head to see the crown prince Ozuko. He was well known as the playboy prince. Besides him was Princess Azumi. The two younger princesses were not here for some reason. Fire Lord Azai was a very forgiving person. All he did was raise his hand to silence his son. No wonder he was a playboy, being spoiled like that.
“I would like to know since when you have known you were the Avatar.”
“As far back as I can remember.”
Fire Lord Azai turned to my father. No. Don’t be mad at my father.
“Min. You are a noble of the Fire Nation are you not?”
My father bowed his head.
“Yes, Fire Lord Azai.”
“Then why did you not report that your daughter was the Avatar?”
I watched my father take a deep breath. He was shaking from fear. All I wanted to do was break tradition and move to comfort him. But if I did that, then I would surely shame my father.
“I.. I do not believe the world wants an Avatar anymore. And my daughter has no desire to be one. What father would want to cause their daughter pain.”
I couldn’t help, but clench my fists. Father. Mother. I am also spoiled by you. Fire Lord Azai turned towards me.
“You do not want to be the Avatar? Isn’t that what most people want?”
I shook my head no.
“I have no intention of taking up the mantle.”
The Fire Lord laughed.
“It doesn’t matter your intentions. Destiny is destiny. You cannot stop it from being fulfilled.”
I took another deep breath and raised my head so I was looking at Fire Lord Azai.
“I can certainly try to have my own free will about the matter.”
To my surprise the Fire Lord smiled.
“Yes. You can certainly try.”
Fire Lord Azai turned to the officials in the room.
“Move the Gao family into one of the residences here. They will need to be reassigned to job that can keep them sheltered from the press.”
A few officials moved out of the room quickly. Fire Lord Azai turning his attention back to me.
“Where are you at with your bending?”
Ugh. Don’t pull the let me train you card. I looked down at the ground. I don’t want to indulge this. The Fire Lord turned to my father.
“How far along is she with her bending?”
“Rina has mastered fire bending. She has been able to earth bend from a young age. However…”
The Fire Lord raised an eye brow at my father’s answer.
“She cannot air bend or water bend at all.”
Crown Prince Ozuko and his sister Azumi both started cracking up laughing.
“What kind of Avatar can only bend two elements.”
“I bet she can’t even really bend the two she’s got.”
I clenched my fists tighter. My temper always got me into trouble. I can’t let it make this situation worse. Fire Lord Azai simply smiled wider.
“Well, lucky for her she will have plenty of opportunities to try and learn here at the palace.”
My head snapped up immediately.
“Fire Lord Azai…”
He smirked at me. EH!?!? The Fire Lord is supposed to be dignified.
“Certainly, you can try and escape destiny, just as much as I can try and help you fulfill it.”
My head dropped to the floor as a reflex. I was beginning to lose respect for the royal family. The Fire Lord laughing.
“Besides, your family will be safer here than at home. You should thank me. You now have free rent.”
I could only groan. The two idiots remarking.
“Father. If she stays around like this she will completely ruin the atmosphere.”
“That’s right! How will I be able to perform if everyone is focused on her.”
Wow. They both said that in complete different tones. The prince was joking and his sister… She lived up to the rumors. The Fire Lord only smiled at his children.
“I’m sure you two can manage.”