Chapter 21: Welcome Back

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I smiled as I hugged Sela, Lee's mother before she handed Zuko a package of food. " Here. This ought to get you through a few meals." She stated smiling at the two of us. Zuko helped me mount Zazu, suddenly I hear a rumbling sound and look up to see a giant dust cloud in the distance coming towards us. I notice it's the soldiers from yesterday, "What do you think they want?" I asked in general. "Trouble," Zuko replied simply before the soldiers appeared in front of us on sheep pigs. "What do you want, Gow?" Gansu asked. "Just thought someone ought to tell you, your son's battalion got captured," Gow replied. My eyes widened as I turned to look at Lee and his parents. They looked horrified, my heart ached as I recalled when Lu Ten died.

I was meditating like Father had told me when my mother came into the room, I opened my eyes and saw her saddened expression. "Mom? What's wrong?" "Iroh has lost his son. Your cousin Lu Ten did not survive the battle." She explained with tears running down her face, my eyes watered as I tried processing what she just told me. Lu Ten and I had always been close, along with Zuko he was like an older brother. My mother's arms wrapped around me as I cried into her shoulder.

I was brought back to reality when Zuko moved Zazu to block Gow from Lee and his family. He glared at us, " Why bother rooting around in the mud with these pigs? " Gow stated before turning around a retreating back the way he came with his men. "What's going to happen to my brother?" Lee asked as his father turned towards his mother, "I'm going to the front. I'm going to find Sen Su and bring him back." They both turned and walked back towards their home. Lee started crying and ran towards us, "When my dad goes, will you stay?" He asked us, I opened my mouth to reply, but Zuko beat me to it. "No. We need to move on. Here." Zuko pulled out his dagger and gave it to Lee. "I want you to have this. Read the inscription." Lee took it and unsheathed it, "Made in the earth kingdom." I held back my giggle as Zuko sighed, "The other one." Lee turned it around before reading. "Never give up without a fight." We started trotting down the path, I turned to look back at Lee as he ran behind us before giving up. My eyes stung as I turned my head back around and buried it in Zuko's back. I thought back to when mom left and Ozai was crowned Fire Lord.

I stood in between Zuko and Azula as Ozai was crowned Fire Lord, I stared blankly ahead as we kneeled as Ozai stood. Soon the ceremony was over and I walked down the hall towards my room. "Princess Kaida?" I turned to see one of the guards approaching me, "Your Father would like to speak with you in the throne room." I nodded and followed him back down the hall. We soon arrived and he held the door open for me to walk in. Inside, Ozai sat proudly in all his Fire Lord glory. "You're excused." The guard quickly left me standing alone, "Father?" "Kaida. Come." I swallowed nervously and walked to stand in front of him. "Do you know how Iroh's retreat has cost us in the war?" "Umm, I know Ba Sing Se was important to conquer for us to win the war." I answered nervously. Ozai nodded, "Correct, but since Iroh retreated instead of crushing the earth kingdom while he had the chance. We now need more soldiers and power to conquer Ba Sing Se again and win the war. Now Kaida, how do we get more Soldiers and Fire Benders?" "Recruit them?" "True, but we also need allies who have armies and soldiers already." I nodded as he continued, "Since you're my youngest daughter and third in line to the throne. I've decided you will marry Lord Takko and Lady Jin's son Zane when you become of age. " He stated, he looked down at me. "Is that understood?" "Yes, umm but father why-" "Do not question me, girl! I am the Fire Lord now and what I say goes. Is that understood?" I flinched as the fire around the throne increased. "Yes, Father."  "You will also begin attending the Royal Fire Academy for Girls with Azula. You need to learn how to act like a princess of the fire nation and that includes not speaking out of turn." He hissed at me, before dismissing me. I quickly made my way to my room and shut the door behind me. I felt tears threaten to fall from my eyes as I tried to calm myself. My legs buckled and I fell to the ground sobbing as I realized my future had been decided for me in a matter of minutes. "Kaida. Kaida.. Kaida?

"Kaida!" I jumped as Zuko waved a hand in front of my face waking me from my daydream. "Huh? Oh, sorry, were you saying something?" I asked as he shook his head in disbelief. I noticed we had stopped, "I said, What happened to your dragon? He's been gone for three days now." "Oh. Oh! You're right! Where is he? Do you think he's okay? What if something happened? What if he got-" "Kaida! Calm down! I'm sure he's fine." Zuko reassured me, I nodded before remembering the whistle I had found in Mushu's chest. "Wait, maybe this can help!" I exclaimed showing Zuko the dragon shaped whistle. I blew it, but no sound came out. I furrowed my eyebrows and tried again. "Wow. That was impressive." Zuko stated sarcastically. I pouted, "I really thought it would work...Anyways where are we-" "Wait! You two, please! I need your help!" I looked over to see Lee's mother running towards us. "Please, you have to help. My son, he's in trouble." "What happened?" "After you left, Gow and his men came back and threatened us. Lee pulled out a knife on them, I don't even know where he got it! They said if he's old enough to fight, then he's old enough to join the army. Please, I already lost one son to the war, I can't lose another." She pleaded as she cried. I hugged her, looking at Zuko who was beyond mad. "Don't worry, I'll get your son back." He told her before we mounted Zazu and rode off towards town. When we arrived, we saw Gow and his soldiers standing in front of a tied up Lee, Zuko jumped off Zazu and pointed his swords at Gow. "Let him go." Gow smirked, "Oh yeah, and what are you gonna do about it?" Zuko attacked him, Gow fought him using his earthbending. The other two were about to join in, I blocked their attack before I took them both down and went to untie Lee. "Run Lee." I told him, he nodded and ran over to his mother. I turn around just in time to dodge a rock being thrown at me. "You should learn your place girly." I glared at him, "Don't call me girly." I stated as I fought him while Zuko got up. Gow managed to knock me down and was about to throw a boulder at me. Zuko jumped in front of me and stopped it with his firebending. Gow looked scared as he fell to his knees and cowered in fear, Zuko helped me up. "Are you alright?" I nodded before looking around to see everyone staring at us, especially Lee and his mother. "Leave these people alone and never come back," Zuko told Gow who nodded and ran away. I noticed the knife Zuko had given to Lee laying on the ground, I picked it up and went to hand it to Lee. "Don't come near my son." His mother hissed, I frowned as Lee glared at Zuko and I. Zuko put his hand on my shoulder, pulling me away from everyone's hateful glares. We mounted Zazu and rode off, "They were scared of us." "They are always scared of us." "But, we tried to help them." "We're always going to be the enemy Kaida. As soon as someone finds out we're firebenders, they're never going to look at us as anything other than the enemy." I sighed as I laid my head against Zuko's back and watched as the town faded away into the distance. I noticed a shadow fly over us and looked up, "Did you see that?" "Yeah, is that?" Mushu landed in front of us, "Do you two have any idea how long I've been looking for you?!" Zuko stopped Zazu and I got off running towards Mushu and hugging him. "Mushu! You're back! Where have you been?" "Where have I been?! Where have I been!! Let me tell you where I've been! I've been flying for days trying to find you two! I got captured by some weird swamp people! Then, I ended up finding your little avatar and his giant furry mess! That thing tried to eat me! He's lucky I didn't barbecue him! And, then I had to deal with this high pitched ringing noise! It was like some lemur was being eaten or something! Finally, I flew two days straight to end up here." I petted his head, "I'm sorry Mushu. But, I'm glad you're back." He mumbled but let me continue to pet him as Zuko watched in amusement. "Welcome Back, overgrown lizard." "Don't make me fry you, ponytail." I rolled my eyes and laughed as they started arguing while we started walking again. 'I hope someday people won't see us as the enemy anymore, I hope the world is at peace again.' 

Yay! I finally finished this chapter! Happy New year guys! Sorry, it's been a while since I've updated, things have been really busy with work and stuff. Anyways, thanks so much for reading and I hope you guys enjoy the new chapter. I'll be trying to update as often as I can and again thanks so much for reading.  ^_^

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