This is an AU zutara that's a dark political fic so romance will be slow. The history of the land is different from the show and will be revealed gradually. Ages, Zuko: 24, Sokka: 23, Katara: 22, Azula: 22, Aang: 20, Toph: 20.

Without further ado, I present to you SUBTERFUGE

As usual, R&R


Subterfuge

noun

Deceit used in order to achieve one's goal.

PROLOGUE

The hut was sparse. Apart from a couple of pelts lying on the floor and a folded bedroll, there was nothing else, save a bowl containing water. Seated cross-legged atop one of the pelts was a frail old woman. Her eyes were closed and her hands lay palm up on her knees, two balls of water hovering a couple of inches above them. Her breathing was steady, chest rising and falling at measured interval.

Lost in her meditation, the old woman didn't notice the lithe figure clad in black that appeared at the window suddenly. With cat like grace, the intruder stepped in. Sharp, critical eyes surveyed the surroundings with precise movements, zeroing in on the sole door.

The woman on the pelt continued to breathe as the figure behind her bent slightly at the knees. Black gloved hands raised up and formed into claws, the last two fingers in each hand folding further than the remaining three. Cold, calculating eyes narrowed slightly and then the figure raised one hand and made a slicing motion through the air.

The slowly rotating balls of water splashed on the floor as the old woman controlling it seized up. Her blue eyes snapped wide in horror, mouth opened in a soundless shriek. After a moment of desperate flailing, the old woman collapsed on the floor and went completely still.

The intruder straightened and sighed. Wiping sweat off own brow, the black clad figure crouched next to the old woman and checked her pulse. Satisfied that life was snuffed out of its prey, the figure in black stood up.

"Accept my obeisance, healer Kala," the intruder muttered. "May your soul rest in peace."