The Firebender

Chapter 24: The Invasion

Water, Earth, Fire, Air

Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Only the avatar master of all four elements could stop them but when the world needed him most, he vanished. A hundred years passed and my cousin and I discovered the new avatar. An airbender named, Steven. And although his airbending skills are great, he has a lot to learn before he's ready to save anyone. But I believe, Steven, can save the world.

September 16, 1245

Okay, I have good news and bad news. The good news is, Steven is awake and he is doing great! But the bad news is, we still have no idea where Ruby is. Steven is calm about it, he knows where she is, but he can't tell us because he isn't completely sure.

It's confusing.

Like, how can Ruby even go to the spirit world and talk to avatar Rose? Not even Steven had the power to do that! And what is she planning? What are we planning? We've been riding on Lion for hours, heading to the firenation, and I don't know what Steven is going to do.

Everyone is on edge, going into war basically blind. But Steven and Sapphire are so sure. They both have faith in Ruby. I do too but…no!

No buts.

Ruby has proven herself repeatedly. She is part of our family and I believe in her, and whatever she has in store for her mother and sister.

I never thought I'd say this, but…Ruby is our only hope.

Connie closed her journal just in time to see the approaching palace guarded by several prepared benders. "How are we going to get past them without alerting the whole palace?"

"Then we'll have to be quiet. Yellow Diamond is being kept somewhere deep inside the palace; the only ones we have to worry about are Jasper and Lapis." Steven says, turning to face his friends. "I know Lapis is our friend, but if we have any chance of winning this—"

Pearl interrupted him. "We know, try not to hurt her but at least disable her for the time being. But Steven, why don't we just go with Ruby to find her mother? There will be more of us fighting, and she'll probably need our help,"

"Ruby has it under control, besides," Steven turned back around to the approaching palace. "Ruby is going to need her palace cleaned out when she returns to us as the new Firelord." He grinned, letting go of Lion's reigns. "Our only threat is Jasper now. Find and reprimand her, then we wait for Ruby to take care of her mother,"

"Don't forget your fire proof suits," Peridot said, tossing various outfits to her friends. "It won't protect you completely, but it should take away some of the burn,"

Amethyst whistled, shrugging into her green jacket provided to her. "Nice digs, thanks P,"

"They do look nice," Pearl mumbled softly, sliding into the fitted pants as well.

Peridot groaned, hurrying to reach into her bag as they began to land. "They're battle armor, you clods, they're not supposed to be stylish," She grinned as she pulled out five tiny, gray, balls. "Here, you'll need these,"

"…what are they?" Sapphire asked, nevertheless putting them into her pocket.

Peridot smirked. "Something I've been working on, smoke bombs, and spark bombs. In case you need to make a quick escape or distract someone,"

"Awesome," Amethyst cheered.

Steven let go of the reigns once they landed behind a mountain of rocks. "Peridot, can you stay here and watch Lion? If anyone comes to attack, just leave, don't worry about us,"

"S-sure," Peridot swallowed, looking around the darkness paranoid. "Stay here…all alone…this is fine,"

Sapphire jumped down with Steven, looking up at the other. "If we do run into Lapis, Pearl you should confront her; you didn't get close to her like the rest of us,"

"Act like she's still the scum we thought she was," Pearl mumbled. "Got it,"

Steven grabbed his glider, placing it behind his back in its holder. "Sapphire and I will go after Jasper, the rest of you take care of Lapis and make sure the guards don't give word to us; nobody goes near Yellow Diamond until we have Jasper, and Lapis taken care of,"

"Once we have them out of the way, we can go find Yellow," Steven swallowed. "Ruby should be there. Let's go,"

Connie jumped down with practiced ease, and gripped her sword, preparing for a battle.

"Where are we going?" Ruby asked, looking around the spirit world in awe as spirits wander around in the skies, running around on the ground. "Shouldn't I be heading to the palace to take care of my mother?"

Rose kept walking, not looking back as they approached a single cherry blossom tree. "You and I both know, there is no way your mother is at the palace; she knows that Lapis went looking for you—"

"What?" Ruby gasped, running to catch up to the stoic avatar. "D-did she hurt her? I need to get back!"

Rose sighed. "She's fine, Lapis is the least of her worries," Ruby relaxed, slightly. "She knew Lapis went to find you, and she assumed by the time Lapis returned then you and your friends would attack. Jasper most likely knows your friends are coming, and will have the guards ready for them."

"Then can you take me back, so I can help?" Ruby was losing what little patience she had.

Rose stopped once she reached the tree. "Sit down." She pointed to the ground beneath the blooming tree; she sighed as the firebender complied. "Even if I did let you go, you don't have the power to do what you have planned—well, not yet anyway."

"So, are you going to lend me some…avatar magic?" Ruby huffed, crossing her arms. "And why do we have to do it here?"

"This is the purest spot in the spirit world," Rose said. "And I can't just lend you our magic, so to speak; once you have it, it'll be your responsibility to use it wisely." She looked down at her. "There will be consequences if you don't,"

Ruby swallowed. "So…what kind of abilities will I have? Will Steven and I be connected?"

"You won't be an avatar, but you'll be able to communicate with past ones; and yes, you will be connected to Steven, and all of us," Rose said softly. "You can't bend all elements, Steven is still the avatar of this time, but you will be important; his pain will be your pain, you two will be…a fusion of sort, in terms of your emotions."

Ruby nodded. "So, if he's sad I'll be able to feel it, and when I'm angry he'll it?" She sighed when Rose nodded. "…okay, what else? What should I do with this power? When is a good time to reach out to the other avatars?"

"Whenever you need guidance, we will be there for you because of the help you have granted Steven. For example, Steven has trouble contacting me; so, you will reach me for him, if he ever needs you to." Rose paused, thinking. "Think of yourself…as the avatars guardian."

Ruby snickered, causing Rose to frown. "Did I say something funny?"

"I'm no special guardian, Rose," Ruby clasped her hands together with a sheepish smile. "I'm just the firebender he took a chance on, and I suppose I owe him my life because he saved mine. So, whatever, call me his guardian." She nodded with determination. "Let's get this started,"

Rose couldn't help but smile along. "Okay, you will feel an overwhelming amount of energy flowing through you, before feeling stronger than ever before,"

"So…it's going to hurt before it feels great?" Ruby mumbled, nervously.

Rose nodded. "Yeah, sorry about this in advance,"

"Just do it," Ruby swallowed, shutting her eyes before feeling two strong hands on her forehead.

A bright red light engulfed the two, Ruby could see it through her shut eyelids, before a sharp pain shot through her body. She opened her mouth for a silent scream, it was overwhelming like Rose had described; she clawed at the dirt, trying to muffle to pain.

"Our pain," Rose whispered, softly enough for Ruby to hear through her suffering. "The pain of every avatar is flowing through you right now. The suffering we have endured for centuries, is now a part of you. We are connected, we are one,"

"You're the guardian," Rose chuckled. "…sounds better than just being the firebender, doesn't it?" She asked, releasing the bender, and watching her fall to her knees.

Ruby shook, it felt like electricity was piercing her body in aftershocks. She took big, gasping, breaths; spit falling from her mouth, teeth clenching together as another wave hit her.

She refused to scream.

Rose hummed, walking around the crippled teenager. "If you can't carry our pain, then you can't carry his." She kneeled in front of the bender who tore out yet another patch of grass from the ground. "Come on, Ruby, there isn't much time. Fight it."

Ruby clenched her teeth even tighter, eyes snapping open. "…this…" She growled as another shock hit. "…is no-nothing…"

"…" Rose stood up, crossing her arms as she watched the bender pull herself up slowly. "…okay then," She said as Ruby swayed for a second, before gaining her balance, looking Rose dead in the eye. "Let's do this,"

Steven stopped as they reached the patio leading to the back entrance of the palace. "…something's wrong, this is way too easy."

"Do you think they knew we were coming?" Sapphire asked softly, walking closely behind Steven as they reached the door.

Steven slid it open with ease. "Unlocked," He nodded towards the dark kitchen ahead of them. "Stay on guard,"

Sapphire tightened her grip on her water pouch. "Got it,"

They barely took five steps before someone switched the lights on. Steven swallowed as Jasper stood a few feet away from them with a dozen guards behind her.

"You didn't think we'd just let you walk into our home, avatar?" Jasper smirked. "My mother knew you were coming for weeks now. I'd love to skin you alive, and use your head as a trophy…" She sighed. "But my mother wants you alive, so she can do it herself," Jasper nodded her head towards the duo. "Take him alive, but do what you want with the waterbending peasant."

Sapphire snarled, readying her water whip. "I'd like to see you try—" She waved her hand, causing the sink to explode with a burst of water; landing on the guards. "I've got them, you get Jasper,"

Steven was about to argue before he watches Sapphire move her hands fluently, freezing the water, immobilizing the guards. "Go!"

"Okay, be safe," Steven shouted over his shoulder, as he ran to find Jasper who had disappeared during the ruckus.

Connie groaned, lifting her sword up after knocking out yet another guard. "So much for sneaking in," She huffed, walking over to Amethyst. "They totally knew we were coming,"

"Which means, Yellow Diamond is probably not even here. Great," Amethyst mumbled, metal-bending the guards with iron from the security gates. "Now what do we do?"

Pearl placed her hands on her hips, looking around the large palace they were wandering around in. "Our job isn't to go after the firelord, we just need to put Lapis down; she has to be here, so let's split up—"

"You want to split up, in the firelord's creepy palace?" Connie raised an eyebrow. "That must be the worst idea, ever. What if we run into some guards and they surround us, we don't have back up!"

Amethyst dusted her hands off. "I think we took out most of them,"

"Doesn't matter, we need to stick together," Connie declared.

Pearl sighed. "Connie, this place is huge, Lapis can be anywhere and we're running out of time. If we're going to find her, we need to split up. I'll check out the north wing, and you two look at the south one," She plucked out a small gray ball. "If things get bad, use a smoke ball to escape,"

"Fine, be careful," Connie mumbled, readying her sword as she and Amethyst prepared to search out the palace.

Pearl nodded. "I will, don't worry, I'll see you two later,"

Connie and Amethyst nodded before going their separate ways.

"Is this it?" Ruby asked, stopping in front of the portal leading out of the spirit world.

Rose hummed. "You tell me, do you feel her on the other side?"

Ruby lifted her hand, closing her eyes, she took a deep breath before exhaling. "…she's here," Red eyes reopened, she sighed. "She's angry, and sad,"

"You should hurry, then," Rose said. "Steven, and the others will need your help,"

Ruby nodded. "I know," She glanced over her shoulder one last time to wave at the large woman. "…I'll be seeing you,"

"Yes," Rose smiled. "You will,"

Ruby looked over her shoulder one more time before walking through the portal. She could feel the energy she had been searching for emitting through the void; as if it were reaching out for her. The vibrant colors of the vortex relaxed, before she was greeted with a cool grey texture she was too familiar with.

"…I should have known you'd be here," Ruby mumbled, looking around her familiar family beach house on Ember Island. "The last happy memory we had with dad,"

Yellow Diamond laughed from her seat on the steps overlooking the ocean. "You and Jasper spent all night having a bending duel while your father and I watched,"

"Yeah," Ruby couldn't help but laugh, as she slowly approached the back-porch-steps behind their beach house. "We would have gone until sunset, but dad wanted us to watch the sun fall; he made his homemade fireflakes, they were delicious…it was our last good day, before he turned ill,"

Her mother sighed, glancing at her daughter for the first time in years. "…you look older,"

Ruby scoffed, crossing her arms, amused. "I've been gone for a few years, so, I would hope so."

"You came through a spirit portal," When her daughter gave her a look she explained. "Rose used them to visit me from time to time, so I'm assuming the new avatar has granted you the same curtesy."

Ruby nodded, feeling it was wise to not mention it was really Rose Quartz who granted her access. She didn't want to reopen any closed wounds, or give away any of her secrets to her soon to be opponent.

"It was an emergency," Was all she said.

Yellow Diamond chuckled, pressing down on her red cape covering her combat outfit; the firenation symbol etched on the back. "The fact that the avatar sends you to find me, instead of coming here himself, just proves how weak he is—"

"Steven isn't weak," Ruby snarled, trying to keep her emotions in check. "He just doesn't believe in killing anybody—"

"So, he sends you to do the job. Weak," Yellow Diamond looks over at her, red eyes meeting dark ember.

Ruby clenches her fists. "He's not—"

"And what does that make you, hmm?" Ruby paused as her mother goes on. "Willing to jump through the first portal to kill your own mother, just because he asked you to."

Ruby drops her arms at her side, biting her lip. "…some mother you've been,"

The glare met her, she was far too accustomed to it by now. She would receive it during meetings whenever she spoke out of term or wore something unfitting for the occasion.

"And some daughter you are, killing me without a thought." Her mother showed the first hint of true emotion Ruby was used to seeing, anger. "I've done my best to shape you into the rightful heir to the throne, but you have disappointed me at every turn. Running away, joining the enemy, and betraying your nation!"

Ruby scoffed. "I didn't betray them, I did what was best for me. I had to grow, without you turning me into a smaller version of yourself; it would have killed me—"

"What would have killed you? Making me proud?" Her mother shouts.

"—being like you!" Ruby screamed, all the anger from her childhood finally pouring out; exploding. "Dad warned me, he told me before he died, never to be like you or live up to your expectations. He prided me on believing in myself, in my choices, and making the right decisions. Not, killing innocent people to gain the upper hand," She ran a hand through her curly locks. "When I rule this kingdom, I'll be wise, and caring—"

Her mother laughed, rich, and cruel. "You? Rule my kingdom, I think not—"

"And I'll make sure everyone's voice is heard, no one will have to fear," Ruby goes on, not caring about her mother speaking over her. "…all four nations will live in peace."

Silence filled the void as they stared at each other for a few seconds.

"Peace, with that dream you'll be a fool sitting on the throne," Yellow Diamond snarled. "Just like your father—"

Ruby growled. "Don't speak ill of the dead. My father was a great man, and he deserved better than what he got. You may have loved him, but his death made you cold; you were softer before, a long time ago."

"I was weak,"

Ruby shakes her head. "If you think being weak is defined as being a decent mother, and good ruler, then you and I have different definitions of the word." She pauses, looking at the last good memory of her family. "…I really don't want to ruin our memory of this place with a fight, but I have no choice, time is running out."

"Your friends won't get anywhere, I have guards surrounding the palace," Her mother snarled, finally rising to her full height; towering over Ruby by at least five feet. "I knew the moment that water tribe peasant left the palace she was going to find you—"

Ruby shook her head, dread washing over her in large amounts. "Y-you knew about Lapis?"

"Of course, I knew, from the moment I saw her," Yellow mumbled, looking across the water.

"Then why did you let her stay at the palace when she was younger?" Ruby clenched her fists. "You better not hurt her—"

Her mother scoffed, glaring at her daughter as if she were stupid. "Why would I hurt my own flesh and blood?"

"…what?" Ruby whispered, releasing her fists in confusion. "What are you talking about, your own flesh and blood? Lapis is from the northern water tribe like Sapphire,"

Yellow Diamond sighed. "I suppose I can tell you, since you won't be able to do anything once I'm finished with you, but…your aunt, Blue. There is no way of you knowing this but, your sister ran away a long time before you were born—"

But she did know. She had seen the story herself when Rose shared her memory. The cross roads Blue had faced, the choice to leave everything behind for true love. And the result of that love; Lapis Lazuli.

Ruby backed away, her stomach was suddenly in knots. "S-so…Lapis is our cousin? How can you be so sure?"

"Blue, and her lover grew sick when Lapis was young, and she knew I'd do anything to protect my own blood, so she sent her to live at the palace." Her mother explained. "Lapis doesn't know the truth of her origins, just the lies that were given to her."

Ruby frowned. "But what about those meetings you would have with her and Queen Celine?"

"We discussed what kind of bender we thought she would grow into. It was either fire or water, but when the flag incident occurred the Queen was relieved; Lapis would be able to live a normal life at the palace," Her mother explained. "She may have waterbending blood, but she's still a firebender."

She didn't know, then. Her mother still believed Lapis was a firebender, after all these years, it was the only thing keeping her friend safe.

"You do know Jasper and Lapis are a thing, right? They're related!" Ruby snarled, face turning green in disgust. "You should have told her—"

Her mother sighed. "There's no way I would let it get that far,"

"They're in love!" Ruby exclaimed. "You should have told us, warned her, not to get too close."

"Jasper is already promised to another, since she was fifth-teen, so there is no problem when it comes to marriage," Her mother mumbled, as if it were nothing. "Jasper, and Lapis are royals, they can sleep with whoever they want,"

Ruby made a face. "One of the many reasons why you're a terrible mother, the list is getting longer just when I thought it couldn't."

"Being a mother is harder than you think," Her mother explained. "I did everything in my power to give you and Jasper everything you would have ever wanted. A good mother protects her family—"

Ruby nodded. "And protecting me means forcing me to kill innocent people?"

"We get rid of threats, Ruby," Her mother snarled.

"The waterbenders, and earthbenders are no threat to us," Ruby laughed weakly. "…I don't know why I'm arguing with you, you'll never see things the way I do. You'll never be able to see past your prejudice,"

"And you can't see past your ignorance," Her mother shrugged. "Agree to disagree,"

Ruby nodded, scratching her chin with a horse laugh; eyes red with emotion. "I guess there's nothing left for us to talk about,"

Yellow Diamond shrugged, unclipping her cape to reveal her fighting armor.

"…I guess not."

Ruby swallowed, preparing herself for what she was going to have to do to her mother—no.

This woman was not her mother.

She lost that right.

I know I've been silent for a while but sophomore year in college has been busy, and work, so. Here you go. I don't know how long this story will be, but it's ending I guess.

For the Lapis being Blue Diamonds daughter thing, it kind of just happened. I didn't really think about it until I wrote it, that they would end up being related in some way. But I guess I've been watching Game of Thrones too much.

Sorry for the delay, but thanks for reading guys. Happy holidays!