A/N: Hi! I don't own Legend of Korra, nor any of the characters!
Argh, I'm so frustrated x_x I have like, 5+ Korra stories I'm currently working on or planning, and like 5+ other stories from other fandoms that are yet to be finished. Damn it Korra, why you gotta be so good at being shipped with other characters! And why not with the characters I actually want you with? Anyway, canon Korroh next (thank god), so no more AUs (hopefully). Please review, I hope you enjoy!
And I'm so sorry that I didn't name Zuko's daughter Honora! I actually tried to, but I felt so silly naming her that x_x Please understand, I ship that name as a canon name, but it was too inappropriate for my fic's context. Like, Zuko's Daughter would go, "Call me Firelord Honora," and I would fall apart from there. So I checked and the general consensus after Honora is "Ursa".
Oh, and Iroh will be there next chap, just not now! He's gonna get a dramatic entrance! Oh yeah, and the chapter title's significant. Watch as it evolves other the progression of the story X)
Summary: In order to celebrate the great legacy of the Fire Lord and the Avatar's union ever since the conclusion of the Hundred Year War, a move to have the new Avatar taught Firebending by the Royal Family themselves is made.
EDIT 21/12: All punctuation, grammar and spelling errors have been fixed by the wonderful IloveStBerry! She's been a BIG, BIG help to me and has inspired me to keep writing, so please shower her with some love for her great work! :)
Chapter One: Incendiary
Incendiary (adj.) - Capable of catching fire, deliberate
Korra felt the boat shudder as it set off from the port, eyes darting around as she kept her knees-drawn-to-chest position. A few hours ago, never would she have anticipated leaving her South Pole home so soon, nor in such a manner as this. The Order of the White Lotus had been insistent on preventing the transportation of Avatar Korra out of the safety of her compound, a direct motion of defiance against Avatar Aang's wishes they'd argued, but Katara would have none of it. A firm believer in tradition and celebrating the legacy of her late husband and the previous Firelord, the Master Waterbender had announced it time Korra begin her journey into the world she would be protecting and serving. And so, aged 17, Korra departed from her sheltered life back in the South and begun her epic venture into the world beyond.
Korra had already mastered Firebending, which was the purpose of her travels today. The motive behind her deportation was an important one, more so than simply extending the Avatar's bending capabilities. It was about honour, and peace, and continuing the legacy of Zuko and Aang. Korra shut her eyes as she reflected on how she had gotten here, in the hull of a Fire Nation ship in the first place. As she shut out the world around her, her thoughts began to wander.
Ever since the conclusion of the Hundred Year War, a great celebration had been established in honouring the memory of the two most important contributor's to the new era of peace: the Avatar and the Firelord. Avatar Aang and Firelord Zuko had, together, united the Nations as one and restored balance and harmony into the world, working together to eradicate discord and injustice. Korra felt her lips curve into a smile. The story of the two and their adventures had always been her favourite as a child.
And now, the world was set on continuing their legacy. Firm on preserving their good relations and connection with the Avatar, the Royal Family of the Fire Nation had insisted upon hearing the birth of Korra, that when the time came, they too would serve the Avatar just as their previous Firelord had.
And now that promise was set to be fulfilled.
"When she finishes her Firebending training," the Firelord had instructed, her gold eyes gleaming as news that the new Avatar had been reborn reached her ears, "tell her keepers' this: We shall have her taken to the Fire Nation, under our behalf, and we will teach her the ways of Our Firebending, of how to produce real fire. That, is how we will show our thanks to the Avatar."
Korra finally opened her eyes as she gulped once more. Why was she so nervous about the whole thing? She was the Avatar, and as much as she was excited to even further develop her Firebending skills, which were great enough as they were, she was also worried. What was the Fire Nation Royal Family like? The Firelord, who she'd heard from Sifu Katara was an extremely powerful and ruthlessly ambitious woman for her Nation? Korra was supposed to be civil with them, friends even. Korra steeled herself. If Avatar Aang, a young Air Nomad, could become friends with the Fire Nation's greatest Firelord, who was once his greatest enemy, surely she could too.
That didn't make the worry any more smaller.
Perhaps the greatest thing that gnawed away at her insides was the fact that she was finally going out, finally given the freedom to venture out into the world. All her life, all she'd ever known of the world she would be serving was that it was filled with snow and ice and bitten by chilling winds and winters. Korra felt a surge of excitement propel through her body as she contemplated the world beyond ice and snow. Of course she loved her home in the Southern Water tribe, but what was the world like beyond that? Was it lush with trees? Or was it barren and empty, stripped of any natural residue?
"Oh Naga, it's all right," Korra soothed her polar bear dog gently, the mammal giving a whine as the boat yet again gave another shudder. Korra had been adamant on having the domesticated beast come with her, stubbornly refusing to go lest her animal companion come too. All her life, Korra had had Naga by her side. Naga was, essentially, Korra's one and only friend.
Korra gave a stretch as she finally stood up, pacing around her room. When the Fire Nation ship arrived, some of the older people had tensed, apprehensive and pointed at the sight of the once ominous ships. Long ago, as Sifu Katara had explained, the long, burgundy, elegant ships topped with pagodas producing black billowing smoke had been a symbol of invasion, of sieges and destruction. Long ago, those ships had burned houses to the ground, had taken families away with them. Now, the ships meant nothing but strength and majesty, harbouring no ill-intentions. Still, it took a little time for many who had suffered because of them to get used to the idea.
Korra had been awed by the sight of it as soon as it had pulled into port. To her, the ships were the epitome of strength, of power.
They were freedom, and also presented a new chapter in her life.
"Now be careful, do you hear me?" Senna had told her wholeheartedly, as she pulled her daughter into a tearful embrace. "Don't talk to anyone you don't know, don't go down any dark alleys either. And be on your best behaviour when you meet the Firelord, will you?" Senna told her firmly, pulling her daughter at arm's length to stare her right in the eye. "I don't want you causing any trouble, do you hear? Keep that temper of yours in check. And remember your manners, Korra," she chided lightly, giving her daughter a stern look, "you're staying with royalty now."
"Yes mum," Korra had sighed good-naturedly, as Senna gave her daughter one last tearful glance before pulling her back into her arms. "My little Korra, all grown up," the older water tribe woman had whispered mournfully, proudly, "I'm going to miss you."
"I'll miss you too. The both of you."
"Stay safe," Tonraq had added, as he enveloped the both of them into one huge hug. Korra had shut her eyes, inhaling the scent of her parents, the scent of home. They were finally parting ways, and she was growing up.
The price for freedom was harder than she thought.
Commandeering the ship was Katara's oldest son, Commander Bumi. A wild and loud man who Korra was sure had been sipping a little too much cactus juice, the Commander had been enthusiastic and ecstatic upon meeting her, cheering her up instantly after having to leave her family. Though he was essentially a United Forces man, as was the ship, he belonged to the Fire Nation division. The Commander had apologised, stating that the Royal Family were occupied in other more trying matters and were sorry that they couldn't be there to pick her up themselves. Nonetheless, Korra's spirit remained undampened. She had never travelled in a ship before, no less one as extravagant and luxurious as the one she was currently in. When Korra had been ushered to her own room, she gushed. Never had she lived in such finery.
So here she was now. Sitting on her double poster bed, staring into the wall blankly. The room was overwhelmed by bold reds and crimsons, highlighted by golds. Korra had marvelled at the room's beauty. If this was what a Fire Nation ship's interior looked like, she couldn't wait to see what the palace had to offer.
A knock to the door. "Avatar Korra," Bumi's voice bellowed in from the other side, "are you there?"
Korra got up and stood to open the door. "Yes, I'm here. Is everything all right?" she called back, as she unbolted the door.
"Yes, everything's fine," Bumi grinned as the door cracked open to reveal his brown smiling face, "I just wanted to let you know we'll be arriving within three hours. Might I suggest you use this time to get some rest? That hag of a Firelord is going to be working you all day as soon as you arrive," Bumi spoke, howling with laughter as Korra gave a smile in return.
"Thanks Commander," Korra responded, stretching her taut muscles as she gave a long yawn, "I think I might just do that." And, with Bumi finally leaving her to the comfort of her own privacy, Korra collapsed onto her bed, and promptly did so, dreaming of brilliant golds and reds and a land unknown.
"Wake up, Avatar! We're here!"
Slowly, Korra cracked an eye open, only to be assaulted by vivid reds and golds once more. What time was it? Korra thought as she rolled over, giving a groan. She had been dreaming of the ancient dragons and fire, brilliant, luminous multi-coloured tongues of fire.
It had been a rather pleasant dream.
"Come on, Naga," Korra urged her animal, waking the slumbering polar bear dog up with a pat to its white fur. Instantly, Naga perked up, ears alert as she rose to her hackles, Bumi's distant shouts and howls occupying the silence that ensued. After having reattached Naga's saddle, and giving herself a quick once-over in the mirror to make sure she was at least presentable for the Firelord and her family, Korra opened the door, and, leading Naga right behind her, advanced towards the exit.
"Avatar Korra!" Bumi greeted her, beard and hair messy as usual, his bright red uniform askew, as Korra squinted into the brightness that permeated the hull of the ship, the opening to a new world, her new life. "May I present to you..."
Wordlessly, Korra moved past him and stepped into the sunlight, her heart hammering, blue eyes wide, breath caught...
This is it...
"... the Fire Nation," Bumi finished dramatically, as Korra stepped out of her past and into a whole new world.
For once in her life, the usually loud and outspoken Avatar was rendered speechless as the world stopped to greet her.
"Welcome, Avatar Korra," a woman around the age of Bumi greeted her, giving a small nod of the head, curved lips ruby red and eyes a molten gold, as Korra stood there, just stood there, too enamoured in the wonder of the world surrounding her to reply back, let alone give a bow of acknowledgement,
"Welcome to the Fire Nation."
The Firelord had quickly become one of Korra's most favourite people in the world within minutes of meeting her.
Beautiful, refined and poised, everything Korra herself was sure she was not, the Waterbender could only file the wizened Firebender into the ranks of Sifu Katara and her own mother as the young girl's eyes stayed glued to her, the effortlessly graceful woman the epitome of perfection. Every time she talked, it was as if she was commanding an entire fleet herself. The woman was powerful and elegant and quite frankly a queen... it was little wonder why so many people both revered and respected the woman before her.
"We hope you had a comfortable journey, Korra," the Firelord remarked as a group of guards bowed in respect to both of them as they passed by, "how did you find our ship?"
Korra launched into her response, eager to pay her appreciation to the older woman, "Oh yes, it was great! The ship was amazing! Thank you so much for your hospitality, Firelord..."
"Ursa," the woman supplied thoughtfully, stopping for a moment in her tracks, before giving Korra a small smile, "you may call me Firelord Ursa, if it pleases you."
"Oh," Korra blinked, a light blush dusting her dark cheeks, "Thank you then, Firelord Ursa," Korra returned, giving a bow and a small smile herself.
"We hope you weren't discouraged by that brute of a man in charge of your transportation," Ursa continued, as Korra looked up at the proud woman's face once more, "whilst it was our wishes to have attended to you personally ourselves, matters in the palace have been rather...distracting, lately. Forgive me for leaving you with that insolent hog monkey, Korra," Ursa spoke, turning to address the young Avatar wholeheartedly, "we hope he was not too much of a handful. Though he is rather trying on our patience at times, Commander Bumi really is a genuinely esteemed and capable officer," the Firelord attempted to reconcile, whilst Korra raised a hand, shaking her head.
"Don't worry about me," Korra reassured her, blue eyes sincere whilst the Firelord appeared slightly startled, "Commander Bumi did an excellent job in overseeing my travel here. I only wish I could've slept a little longer," Korra laughed, before the Firelord graced her with yet another small smile.
"That is good," Ursa replied, relieved, features more relaxed, "your comfort and happiness is important to us, Avatar Korra. Ever since my father's friendship with your predecessor, we have wasted no time in forging just as strong a bond with you. We hope you do not mind," Ursa said politely, as Korra felt another dizzying smile grace her face. This isn't so scary after all.
"Not at all!" Korra declared cheerfully, her face radiant with joy and happiness, "I'm actually rather excited about all this. Tell me, when do we begin our Firebending lessons?" Korra asked eagerly, all formalities melting away as excitement and enthusiasm took over.
Ursa smiled to herself, before shaking her head softly. She couldn't wait until her son met the young and bright Avatar.
Oh Iroh, how I cannot wait for the moment when you meet the young girl...
"Training will begin soon," Ursa promised, as Korra's face lit up once more, "but beforehand, let us show you to your new room."
Korra stared, utterly flabbergasted and amazed.
If the room in the ship had been fit for a king, this room could be defined as nothing but fit for a god.
"We hope..." Ursa managed uncertainly over the younger girl's shoulder, as Korra stood there, frozen and still, "it is to your liking?"
A few more seconds of silence stretched on before Korra turned back to the Firelord, quiet and speechless.
"This room..." Korra started, voice low, worrying the Firelord greatly, "... is amazing!" Korra exclaimed, practically giving a shout as she accidentally sent bursts of fire with her fist pumps from over-enthusiasm, the Firelord caught between feeling bemused and reprimanding the child or being delighted by her enthusiasm. "Thank you so much, Ursa!" Korra cried, barely able to contain the grin stretching across her face.
"We are glad you think so," Ursa replied, keeping her composure in the sight of the overhyped child, "rest assured, your polar bear dog will have similar accommodation in the stables close by," the Firelord reassured the Waterbender as Korra gave a silent thanks of appreciation back through yet another smile.
The room was, in all honesty, magnificent. Once again characterised by its blatant overpowering prevalence of reds and golds, the room was as big as her whole compound itself, the cold, ebony marble tiles serving as the floor whilst the walls were a deep-set burgundy. Draped across the walls were several scarlet-red tapestries embroidered with gold, their stitchings of great dragons and lion turtles telling a story not even Korra could begin to comprehend. The bed, of course, was a regal four poster bed that Korra was sure she would have no trouble sleeping in. The giant rug on the floor was a beautiful crimson, once again embroidered with elaborate gold detailing, and the remaining furniture in the room were all carved out of a beautiful mahogany wood. Korra could not help but feel overwhelmed at the luxury of her new surroundings. Although she had always loved the humble yet homey atmosphere of her home, the young Avatar could not help but indulge in the grandness of her new room either.
A few minutes in, and already Korra's new life in the Fire Nation seemed promising.
"We shall be holding a banquet in honour of your arrival," Ursa mentioned, as she moved to draw the giant russet drapings to let the light pour in from the enormous window. "The banquet will commence after your training for the day has finished. Since it is a formal occasion, I advise you to dress well. The whole world shall be anticipating you there, young Avatar," Ursa stated, as Korra gave a cringe. Immediately, the Firelord was upon the girl's choice of expression like a hawk. "Is something the matter, Korra?"
"No, not at all!" Korra quickly reassured the older woman, her grimace indicating otherwise, "it's just that, I don't really have anything to wear..."
The Firelord did not appear to be fazed by this at all. "In that case, we will have no reservations in supplying you the corresponding gowns then. Tell me, what colour would you like your dress to be? Red? Black?"
Korra blushed, fidgeting slightly before turning to face the intimidating woman. "If... if it's all right, could I ask for a blue one? A water tribe dress, maybe?" Korra had always taken pride in wearing her Nation and ancestry loud and proud. If Ursa did not approve of it, well...
The Firelord appeared thoughtful for a moment, her gold eyes flickering in contemplation before they finally settled into their usual intense, sophisticated selves once more. "We will scour the whole of the Nation, and plea to every tailor within our reign until we find a suitable water tribe gown for you. Is that all right?" Ursa asked, as Korra felt her face bloom into a cheered smile.
"We've only been in each other's company for a little under an hour," Korra remarked quietly, "but you've already done so much for me to be grateful for. Thank you," the water tribe girl bowed deeply, sincerely, staring the woman right in the eye unflinchingly, "really, I mean it. Thank you."
Ursa remained quiet, before smiling once again. Just like Father said, Ursa thought fondly, remembering those talks she would share with her father about his adventures with the Avatar back in the day, they're so full of life and vitality. The embodiment of life itself. "Of course, Avatar Korra. We are meant to be friends, are we not?" the Firelord said, as Korra's blue eyes gleamed like sapphires. "Now come," the Firelord gestured, as Korra swiftly discarded her parka onto the bed, "now it is time.
Let us show you how a real Firebender fights."