prologue • two

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PROLOGUE

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PROLOGUE

THETEMPLE had been the private training setting for the Royal Family for over a thousand years. It was still a glorious building. It was round, made of the finest marble with pillars by the walls for extra decorations. The room is high and the large windows not only shower the room in the sun's light, they also work as doors into the palace garden and could be opened when the room got too heated. 

In the middle of the room lays a red rug with a black fire emblem in the middle. It was the training mat. Torches by the wall serve as light and a source of fire for special techniques.

Many members of the Royal Family had learned all they knew in this place, which is partially the reason why Zuko shows his four year old granddaughter this place. Already has the princess shown her ability to bend fire to her will, scaring the nanny whose dress she set on fire when she was only two years old. He found it time that she saw this place and met Master Zao, one of the most famed firebending masters of this time.

The tall, grey haired male waits for the Fire Lord and his granddaughter on the mat. He bows before his lord. "Welcome, Fire Lord Zuko. It is an honour to be training Princess Daiyin the basics of firebending." Zuko nods and pushes the princess forwards. Daiyin shows him a toothy smile and bows, her fist against her flat hand. 

"Thank you for accepting the position as my teacher, Master Zao. It is an honour." The man chuckles and bows back to the young toddler. "No, princess, the honour is all mine." The Fire Lord smiles at his granddaughter's politeness and tells her to go and investigate the temple. When the princess was gone, he steps closer to Zao. "I have spoken to my son and daughter-in-law. She is too young to do anything remotely advanced. We want you to stay on the basics with her until she is at least seven years old. Understood?" Zao bows again.

"Your wish is my command, my Lord. I will not teach her the advanced techniques until you give me the sign. But, I do need to say, I see a remarkable firebender in her. Very resourceful too, if I believe the rumors in town. We need to be careful of how she progresses in the future. Her strength needs to be kept at bay until she is old enough to deal properly with them. Otherwise, she might unintentionally hurt someone."

That leaves Zuko to think. She truly is a natural talent, almost more powerful than his sister Azula at her age. He was worried for her safety when Daiyin might lose control. He was worried that she would progress too quickly for herself to handle, which might result into her hurting someone.. or herself. He fixes his amber eyes on the man opposite him.

"I believe that, if there is one person who can help her progress as she should, it will be you, Master Zao. Three months from now I want to see a demonstration of what she has learned. Thank you for your time." Zao bows as a way of saying goodbye. "Thank you, my Lord."

Daiyin skips back into sight and rambles on about all the amazing posters she has seen on the walls, asking what the scribbles mean, and all other nonsense a four year old could think of. Zuko grins at her and places his hand on her shoulder. "Why don't I show you how to feed the turtle ducks?"

"Yeey, turtle ducks!"

THETHREE months passed faster than the Royal Family could have imagined. Daiyin was growing steadily and was beloved by everyone, including all of her family. Izumi, her aunt, spent a lot of time with her as did her parents. For the rest she lived a rather sheltered life, not leaving the palace without a large amount of guards. She was the second heir to the throne after all.

Zuko sits on his knees in the temple, next to his wife and his other family members. Everyone was curious about the child's progress, which they heard was rather fast for a girl her age.

They all smile when Daiyin enters the temple and stands on one side of the carpet. With her hair pulled up and the two locks of hair framing her face, Zuko finds that she looks a lot like his sister, Azula. Not only in her face, but also in her determination and her great source of natural talent. With all his might he hopes she doesn't completely end up like his sister.

On the other side of the mat stands Master Zao. He bows before the princess, greeting her respectfully. A sign that the girl returns. The Fire Lord could almost not believe his granddaughter was only four years old. She was acting so maturely for her age..

"Now, remember what I have thought you. Let the energy flow, let your fingertips be the outlet. Be aware that this is only about your breathing and control. It doesn't matter if you can't do it-" Master Zao's speech was cut off by Daiyin. She stands ready in position and balls her fist. She punches it forward, a large blast of fire hitting the torch and setting it on fire. Then she turns around 180 degrees, her leg swinging with her movement. As she swings, she sends a wave of fire in the direction of her teacher, who could barely escape her attack.

Lastly, she holds her two balled fists against each other and pushes them forward in a powerful trust. The fire slams forward in a blast. She twirls one quarter so she looks at her family and bows, her balled fist against her flat hand. She looks at them with a little smile.

"How did I do?"

Everyone was a little hesitant to reply to that. What was there to say about this performance of excellence? Of her great talent at such a young age? Sakura was the first to say something. She stands up and spreads her arm. Daiyin ducks into her mother's arms for a hug and wraps her tiny legs tightly around her waist. "You did amazing, darling." But her eyes show how scared she was and Kazuo looks at his parents and sister in uncertainty.

"Grandpapa, grandmama, how did I do?" Zuko and Mai look at their granddaughter, smiling at them with a happy glance in her eyes.  She was so proud, not believing she did anything wrong. Zuko didn't want to make her feel bad just because she was a natural talent ar firebending. She couldn't help it, nor could her teacher who hadn't foreseen this much capability inside her.

"Very good, Daiyin. It was really.. impressive for a girl your age." The princess beams and jumps out of her mother's hold to wrap her tiny arms around both their necks. "Thank you, grandpa Zuzu!" The Fire Lord brushes his slowly wrinkling hand through her soft, thick black locks.

They just have to accept that they have a very special firebender in their home, who needs the proper guidance so that she will not use it for the worst. And Lord Zuko will give her that help himself.

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