Zuko was in his office shuffling large piles of paper on his desk. He knew that being Firelord would mean work, but he never thought it would be quite this much. It had been six years since the defeat of his father and with it the end of the hundred year war. A year after the war Zuko had attended the wedding of Sokka and Suki, then the year after that he had attended the much more elaborate wedding of Aang and Katara in the southern water tribe, where they now lived. He had to admit that he had always thought that they would be the first ones to get married out of their group, but as he new from personal experience life isn't at all how you plan it out to be.
Toph on the other hand had been living ion Ba-Sing-Se in the upper ring of the city, and had become a very close friend with the re-instated earth king. As far as he knew, she hadn't found that special someone. Zuko's relationship with Mai hadn't lasted. They had broken up two months after the war had ended, after Zuko found her impossible to be around, always gloomy, dull, and moaning about one thing or another, so he had been the one to break up the relationship. Mai had gone crazy when he had told her, and had sent death notes scrawled on pieces of parchment to him, wrapped around one of her weapons from her extensive collection. Now he had no idea where she was, but quite frankly he couldn't care less.
He sighed as he looked back over the events that had happened leading up to this present day, then a soft knock sounded at the door breaking him from his thoughts.
"COME IN!" He shouted so his voice made it through the thick metal door, as he started to sort through the mess on his desk. The door creaked open, and a petite girl around nineteen came in, with her another stack load of paper. She had short black hair, which followed the contours of her slim face, and contrasted against her liquid golden eyes. She was a servant here, and a friend of the Firelord.
"Here are the suggestions the council have made for the upcoming festival, they need your approval," She explained to him, setting the pile of paper down on the desk in front of him, and then bowed.
"Oh, and this came for you as well," She said. The girl fumbled around in one of the pockets of her light red robe, traditional uniform for the servants that worked in the palace. When she didn't find what she was looking for, she tried the other pocket, glancing at Zuko apologetically, he smiled in response. The girl breathed a sigh of relief, and pulled out a rolled up piece of parchment, then placed it on his desk next to the new stack of paper,
"Thank you," Zuko told her, giving her another small smile as she bowed blushing, then left the room. He knew that she had a crush on him, but he treated her as a friend since he didn't feel the same way, and she had accepted that fact graciously. He sighed and pulled the new stack of paper across his already cluttered desk, and began to sort through them, signing what he agreed with, with his signature and the royal stamp ( the fire nation insignia, but he had added a dragon on it, a birthday present for his uncle), and binning what he disagreed with.
He got half way6 through the stack, and then stopped to take a break. He felt like he was going to get carpel tunnel. He leaned back in his chair stretching his hand, flexing his finger, and then spied the scroll that had been left on his desk. Ever since the death threats he had received from Mai, he had been reluctant to touch any other letters he was sent. He cautiously reached over to the far side of his desk, and picked up the scroll. Slowly but surely he untied the ribbon that held it in place and unrolled it.
Hey sparky! It began. Zuko sighed and smiled as he automatically recognised who the letter was from. Toph still kept to her traditions of calling her friends by the nicknames she made up for them, before the war had ended. He laughed to himself, and then carried on reading:
So I hear its coming up to your anniversary, six years of being firelord WOW! Time really does pass you by quickly. Anyway I thought I'd pop along to the upcoming festival and see how you were,
Lady Toph Beifong
Zuko smiled to himself. Toph was coming. He hadn't seen her in a year and a half, but they kept in touch by letters. Toph still couldn't read or write so he knew someone wrote them for her, and read out his so that she could reply.
Zuko leaned back in his chair still smiling, as he began to wonder how Toph had changed in the long period of time they hadn't seen each other, and also how she was, and what she was doing currently.
The festival was two days away, the fire nation held one every year as a remembrance of Zuko's coronation, and the end of the war. People from all over the world flocked to the country to take part in the joyous celebration, also signalling that the world was still at peace with one another. So Zuko had plenty of time to get prepared and arrange sleeping chambers for her, as he knew she would be staying in the palace with him. He sighed again as he rolled the scroll back up, and placed it in one of the pockets in his robe, then he looked at his cluttered desk with papers scattered everywhere, (so you couldn't even see the desk underneath it), and continued to sort through them.
Toph was in a carriage, riding through the lower ring of Ba- Sing-Se. The festival in the Fire nation was two days away, and since she didn't have the help of a giant furry bison to aid her (much to her delight); she had allowed herself enough time to travel there.
She hated riding in these things, but they were the only way to get around unless you used the public transport system, which she didn't lie any better. The entire carriage was made of wood so she couldn't see a damn thing, and was completely clueless as to when her journey would end.
Another five minutes passed as the carriage slowly made it's was along the bumpy road and Toph was already bored, that was until it gave a sharp jolt causing her to fall of her seat, then stop. Toph pushed herself off the floor, blew her bangs out of her face, then leaned to the front of the carriage and pounded her fist on it's wooden wall,
"WHAT'S THE HOLD UP?!" She shouted to the driver, after she had finished banging. No reply. She sighed annoyed, then leaned over to her right and fumbled around until she found the handle on the door, then pushed it open. She felt uneasy at the quiet atmosphere that greeted her when the door swung open, usually at this time of day the streets would be bustling with people. She felt around on the floor to see where the entrance was so that she knew when to step out, 'If only they invented a carriage made of earth, that would make my life so much easier!' Toph thought to herself. She stood up and was about to step out of the carriage to see what was going on, but a pair of arms reached into the carriage and yanked her out without difficulty, then she felt herself being slung over someone's buff shoulder.
'What is it with people these days?' She thought to herself again annoyed. The lower ring was full of people like this,(rebels, bandits, you name it) but she didn't think that they had the nerve to stop a carriage and rob its passengers.
"Put me down," She ordered as politely as she could manage. She got a grunt and a throaty laugh in response. Toph sighed, 'Fine if that's the way you want to be.' She lifted her foot and kicked the person in the stomach as hard as she possibly could manage. The person bent forward letting their grasp on Toph go, and she landed on her backside on the floor with a thud. She picked herself up, and brushed herself off, then took in her surroundings as soon as her feet were in contact with the earth.
Five well built men stood in a circle around the wooden carriage, including the one who was just getting up off the floor. Toph smiled then encased each of the men in an earth prison with a stomp of her foot and a flick of her wrist. She grinned even more and folded her arms over her chest, but it soon faded into a scowl as each of the men broke free from the earth she had put them in, shattering it into hundreds of pieces.
"Humph, Earth benders….No matter," She muttered to herself before smirking again. The five men started to close in on her. Toph stretched and gave a small sarcastic yawn,
"Do you mind if I take a nap? I'm a little tired," She said the smirk still gracing her lips. She could feel the men stop for a brief moment in confusion, but then proceeded to move in closer once they had collected themselves, 'Just a little more….Perfect.' The men were that close to her that they could reach out and grab her, but before they even had a chance to try, Toph fell backwards into the earth, punching her fists into the floor as she fell. She made the earth mould to her form to soften her impact, whilst each one of the men rocketed into the air screaming like little girls.
Toph stood from her mould in the earth, and delicately brushed herself off,
"Thanks for the morning workout!" She called to the screaming men, as they landed back on the earth with loud thuds, each one becoming instantly unconscious when their heads were introduced to the earth, before she muttered the word 'Jerks,' and turned round.
"Cho, it's safe to come out now," Toph called into the empty area around her. Cho came out of one of the ally ways she had been hiding in looking rather scared. She wasn't exactly a servant to Toph, she was more like a friend who worked for her, and was more than happy to do so. It was considered to be a privilege, since she was a war hero.
Toph stood her arms by her sides, as she blew her bangs out of her eyes again.
"I'm sorry Lady Toph…" Cho muttered in apology ashamed of herself, not quite managing to finish her sentence. Toph knew for a fact that Cho was no bender, and she wasn't exactly that great at fighting in a hand to hand combat, even though Toph had been teaching in one way or another, so she would have done exactly the same thing as Cho if she had been in her position,
"Let's just continue with our journey," Toph replied with a grin, so that Cho would know she was forgiven.
"Ummm… That's going to prove a little difficult my lady," Cho began. Toph raised her eyebrows as to question why,
"Those bandits broke the wheels on the carriage so we wouldn't be able to get away," Cho explained, looking over her shoulder to the destroyed carriage that was no longer useable. Toph smiled as she had an idea. This was going to be fun.
"I thought you said this was going to be fun!" Cho shouted over to Toph,
"It is!" She shouted back laughing before she added,
"At least you are able to see!"
Toph and Cho were riding bareback on the two ostrich horses that had been pulling the carriage, Toph's had been tied to Cho's so that it wouldn't run off in a different direction to hers,
"Don't worry, we'll be at the docks shortly!" Cho shouted again,
"Who said I was worried, I'm enjoying myself, you're the ones that's worried!" Toph replied laughing. Truth be told she hadn't been looking forward to sailing part at all. Cho had been teaching her to swim, in exchange for her teaching Cho how to fight, but she still wasn't very good at it, and her fear of water didn't really help. 'At least the ship is made of metal' She thought to herself, which made her feel marginally better, since she could fix anything if there was a problem, especially if it was starting to sink. She was getting so worked up about things that that 'could' happen that she began to hyperventilate, so she focused on being able to see Zuko again, for the first time in a year and a half.
He was the only one of her friends that she kept in touch with the most, since she didn't really want to intrude on the other happy couples. On her last visit to Kyoshi island where Sokka and Suki now lived, Suki had, had a little boy and was pregnant again, and on her visit to Aang and Katara in the southern water tribe, (which she detested greatly since she hadn't been able to see a thing for a week), it had turned out to be a celebration, as they announced Katara was pregnant. This had been about eight months ago, so Katara would be nearly due, if not already had it likewise for Suki.
She hadn't been able to see Zuko, because he had either been busy, and when he wasn't busy she had been with her new job as the Earth kings advisor, so she thought that this festival would be the perfect time. She had asked the Earth king for a break and he more than willingly agreed, in fact he practically packed her bags for her to go, saying that she had been working too hard, and that she more than deserved a break.
Toph had been so wrapped up in her memories that she hadn't realised she had stopped moving.
"My lady…. Are you alright?" Cho asked quietly, tapping Toph softly on her leg. Toph shook her head, as if she were trying to shake away the memories, then blinked twice coming back to the present,
"Sorry Cho," Toph replied blinking again,
"Are we there already?" She asked jumping down from the animal she had just been on for spirits knows how long. Her feet touched the earth, something she hadn't realised she'd been longing to do since she'd been so preoccupied. She smiled and sighed as she was able to see again.
"Lady Toph," A low husky voice called out. Toph turned round to face the man who had called her, feeling his vibrations in the ground he let off as he bowed, along with two other men that were behind him. She gave a small bow of her own in response, as did Cho.
"I hope that you're journey was pleasant, if you don't mind my saying I am a little surprised at your method of transportation," The man said politely as he rose from his bow. Toph turned as if to look at the two ostrich horses (which everyone knew she couldn't), and then turned back to face the man,
"Oh right yeah, spot of bother on the way," She merely replied shrugging her shoulders,
"Are you alright?" The man asked concerned. Toph nodded her head,
"I presume you will be the ones taking us across to the Fire nation," Toph said changing the subject. The man stood examining Toph to see if she really was ok. Once his inspection was complete he replied,
"Yes we are, and I hope everything will be to your satisfaction,"
"I'm sure it will, thank you," Toph replied.
Cho unloaded their belongings from the ostrich horses and handed them to the men that had been stood behind the one that had spoken, then she accompanied Toph on board the ship. Toph had decided that she wanted to stay up on deck for a while, since she wanted the fresh air and cool breeze that went in perfect harmony to the sounds of the waves, as they lapped at the sides of the ship. The other reason was because she could 'see' the entire ship perfectly from there, so she felt more comfortable.
She leaned against one of the sides of the ship, scrunching up the metal then making it flat again, repeating this process absentmindedly as she went back to her memories she had, had before most of them revolving around Zuko and wondering what he had been up to, if he had found any one yet, or was in a relationship. These thoughts swirled round in her head, until she was pulled back to the present again when she was called below deck for supper.
Hi readers. Well here it is, the first chapter of my first Toka fan-fic. I hope you liked it. Please R&R! They are very appreciated :)