|Cause Some Trouble
Author: Ayala Atreides PM
Ever wonder what happened to Earth King Kuei after The Crossroads of Destiny? Find out right here. There's thrilling danger! Exciting romance! Chilling suspense! Fantastic adventure! And Sandbenders! Kuei/OC. Full summary inside.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Romance - King Kuei & OC - Chapters: 27 - Words: 143,395 - Reviews: 86 - Favs: 38 - Follows: 30 - Updated: 04-16-13 - Published: 12-30-09 - id: 5623361
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
CAUSE SOME TROUBLE
Edited 5/18 for new AN/summary: After parting ways with Team Avatar, Earth King Kuei left to travel the world as a commoner. He had no idea what he was getting himself into. His journey takes him to the Si Wong Desert, where he finds unlikely friends in two Sandbenders. Together, this unusual trio might just change the future of Ba Sing Se. Action/Adventure/Romance/Political Intrigue. Kuei/OC.
I listen to music when I write, and I have this playlist that I've made specifically for writing this fanfic. For each chapter, I will post links and/or lyrics, when applicable, for that chapter's associated music, so that you, the reader, can get a sense of my emotional/mental state while writing that chapter, and the mood I'm going for. For this chapter, it's "Danse Macabre" by Camille Saint-Saëns. You can listen to it here on Youtube: www .youtube watch? v= YyknBTm_YyM (just remove the spaces)
Edited 5/6/10 to add marker for scene transition and to change timeline from "Eight weeks" to "six weeks".
Edited 6/1/2012 to change timeline to "Four weeks".
PROLOGUE: THERE IS NO WAR IN BA SING SE
Four weeks after the return of Sozin's Comet…
Sokka grinned sheepishly at the solemn-faced Royal Earthbender Guards lined up shoulder-to-shoulder on either side of the wide promenade leading to the Earth King's palace. It was a familiar sight—they had stormed this very walkway not too long ago. They had been received as enemies that day, but today the young heroes—Aang, Katara, Sokka, Zuko, Toph, and Suki—were welcomed as the most highly honored guests, possibly by the same soldiers!
"I kinda feel like we should be apologizing or something," Sokka whispered to Zuko, who was walking to his left. The other boy looked askance at him.
"Apologizing for what?" asked Zuko, his one remaining eyebrow pulling inward in a frown.
"Oh, that's right, you weren't there," Sokka said as if to himself, rubbing his chin speculatively.
"Why, what happened?" the young Firelord asked as his frown deepened.
"We took out a couple battalions of these guys," Toph answered cheerily from behind the two boys. She waved to a few of the soldiers, who blanched visibly despite their best efforts to remain appropriately stoic. "Aww, they do remember us!" Zuko looked torn between being impressed and being concerned over the mischief his friends had apparently wrought. Momo, riding on Aang's shoulder at the head of their little procession, chattered noisily at Sokka.
"Momo's right, Sokka, I'm sure they're not still mad about it! We were on their side," Aang joined in blithely as he scratched behind the lemur's ears. The six teens had returned to Ba Sing Se at the behest of Earth King Kuei, who, it seemed, had returned from his travels and wished to begin rebuilding the diplomatic ties between his kingdom and the Fire Nation. Aang and the others had been delighted to hear that Kuei was so eager to extend the hand of friendship to his former enemies so soon after the war's end; Sokka, thinking back to his disastrous attempts at awakening Bosco's much-praised "animal instincts", was just glad Kuei had made it home in one piece.
The young war heroes reached the top of the steep flight of steps outside the palace and made their way inside, chattering happily all the while. Sokka regaled Zuko with a slightly exaggerated rendition of the siege he'd missed out on, with the others interjecting whenever the details became a little too grandiose. Soon enough, the massive, ornate doors leading to the throne room loomed before them. Katara turned to her brother and gave him a mocking bow.
"Care to do the honors, O brave warrior?" she teased.
"Very funny," Sokka grumbled. The guards standing on either side pushed the heavy doors open and the group entered. They'd barely gotten five paces into the room when the lighthearted mood that had surrounded their journey evaporated.
"You?" Aang shouted, enraged, whipping his staff around to point at the man sitting on the throne atop the dais at the other end of the chamber.
"What, what's going on? Who is it?" Toph demanded as she and the others took up fighting stances. Even Zuko reacted; he may not have been there when his friends had stormed the palace, but he still recognized the former Grand Secretariat of Ba Sing Se.
"Long Feng," Katara muttered darkly. He rose and spread his arms, smiling serenely.
"Welcome back to our proud city, Avatar Aang." The young Airbender advanced towards the dais.
"What are you doing here? You have no right to sit on that throne, traitor!" he snapped. Long Feng lifted his hands appeasingly.
"You're right, of course. The blame for the Fire Nation's capture of Ba Sing Se rests on none but my own shoulders. I acted rashly—I was greedy, and I underestimated Princess Azula. What's more, I overestimated myself. I will not deny my guilt, although I wish I could. Now that our fair city has been freed, my one desire is to atone for my crimes, to undo the destruction my actions caused." Here he paused and bowed his head. "It's the least I can do to honor His Majesty's memory."
"'Memory'?" Katara echoed, an edge of horror creeping into her tone.
"What did you do?" Toph snapped.
"It was nothing I did, I assure you. Indeed, if only there was something I could have done." He wearily pinched the bridge of his nose. "The Earth King has passed away from an illness—the royal physicians believe he contracted it while traveling during the occupation. It seemed like a minor ailment when he first returned to Ba Sing Se, and the physicians thought he would recover. But then his health began declining rapidly, and none of their remedies were having any effect…" He let his voice trail off, looking around at the shocked, silent young war heroes. "Don't worry," he assured them swiftly, "my presence on this throne is a temporary measure—His Majesty died without an heir, and so the task falls to me to produce one."
"Ew," Toph muttered under her breath.
"By selecting one from a list of qualified candidates," Long Feng added bitingly, shooting a sour glance at her. Aang scowled, then lowered his staff with a resigned sigh.
"I need to talk with my friends," he announced in an icy tone.
"By all means, please do," Long Feng agreed. The group of teens retreated to the hall beyond the throne room's threshold, where they huddled into a circle. The young Avatar turned his eyes over each of his friends' faces studiously before his gaze settled on his Earthbending teacher.
"Toph?" he asked anxiously. The small girl shrugged, her expression troubled beneath the fringe of black hair that fell across her sightless eyes.
"He's telling the truth." The stillness that had hung over the group broke as everyone began talking at once.
"Are you sure? Really, really sure?" Sokka demanded, placing his hand on his friend's shoulder. "Maybe he's fooling you like Azula did!"
"He must be lying! Maybe you were standing too far away to tell," Katara insisted.
"Let her talk!" Zuko's abrupt exclamation, the first time he'd spoken since arriving in the throne room, silenced the group. Abashed, the others refocused their attention on the girl.
"Thanks, Sparky. Like I said, he's not lying. Y'know how I said there's physical changes when somebody lies? They're a little different for everyone, but I never forget 'em once I've seen 'em. And trust me, Long Feng isn't even half as good as Azula. He's not lying." The five friends fell silent again as they processed this news.
"So what do we do?" Katara asked, wrapping her arms around her torso. "We can't work with him, not after everything he's done!"
"I don't think we have any other choice," Aang said. "I mean, maybe he really has changed. Weirder things have happened to us, right?" Here the gang turned as one to look at Zuko, who shrugged self-consciously.
"Hey, I never dealt with him. I'll trust whatever decision you guys make," he said.
"This doesn't feel right," Sokka muttered.
"I know." Aang squeezed his eyes shut. Momo nuzzled the boy's cheek comfortingly. As they returned to the throne room, Long Feng smiled graciously and folded his hands into his sleeves. Choking down his apprehension, Aang stepped forward and looked the older man in the eye. "Okay, Long Feng. We're willing to give you a chance." The words felt hollow even as they left his mouth, but what else could he do?
Long Feng returned to his apartments within the palace compound, satisfied with the day's work. The Avatar and his friends had decided to postpone their diplomatic negotiations with Ba Sing Se until a new king had been chosen—fair enough. He could certainly appreciate their reluctance to place that much power into his own hands given their past experiences with him. He'd scarcely had time to call for a servant to bring him some tea when he realized that he wasn't alone in the room. He spun, fists raised to Earthbend at the intruder, and found himself facing Lieutenant Jianjun of the Dai Li. Long Feng scowled at the agent.
"What are you doing here? I didn't summon you," he said with a dismissive wave of his hand.
"Actually, sir, you did summon me." The younger man stepped forward and looked Long Feng squarely in the eye. "The tower is secure, sir." Long Feng staggered, and his head snapped back as if he'd been struck. Jianjun stood dutifully as his commander recovered his composure, taking a deep breath through his nose to steady himself. Finally he straightened and brushed imaginary specks of dust from his sleeves as his characteristic ice-cold smirk settled on his face once again.
"Brainwashing—such a barbaric practice. Hopefully we won't be needing it any longer," Long Feng said calmly.
"The Avatar, sir?" prompted the lieutenant.
"We have his support—grudgingly, I'll admit, but we have it nonetheless. His little lie-detector couldn't pick up a single hint of anything less than complete truthfulness from me. And the execution?" Here Jianjun wavered. His silence made Long Feng glance sharply at him. "Lieutenant, please tell me that that bespectacled idiot has been disposed of." The calmness in his tone was now meticulously controlled, rigidly maintained over a razor-sharp edge of warning.
"It seems that we overestimated our hold on the Royal Earthbender Guard, sir. Our ranks were infiltrated by soldiers who are still loyal to the Earth King; there was an ambush waiting for us when we arrived at Lake Laogai with the prisoner. Of the five agents you sent to carry out the execution, I'm the only one to have survived. By the time I woke up, the traitors and the Earth King were gone." Long Feng turned away and pinched the bridge of his nose. The lieutenant could feel the sudden tension radiating from him like a physical force in the room with them. Long Feng composed himself, setting his anger behind a well-practiced mask of coolness.
"No matter," he said icily. "It's only through sheer luck that he survived on his own during the occupation. He won't be so fortunate a second time. Life outside the safety of the palace will take care of him, I should think. But just in case, send word to our agents throughout the kingdom, tell them to keep an eye out for His Majesty, and if they see him… eliminate him."