Two bearded figures in red plated armour covered with black-leather of the salamanders were forced to kneel on the snow-white floor constructed out of the sheer waterbending abilities on the sheet of snow, much like the entire city.
The Northern Tribal Palace could be considered as a work of art that even the Fire Nation couldn't topple. Beautifully crafted structures that seemed to bend and mingle with the surrounding as a whole, the entire city divided into four regions, but the palace remained as the connecting force, signifying how the various tribes of the North slowly unified to create the hegemony that the current Northern Tribe was.
The two Fire Nation delegates looked at each other before standing up, disregarding the cold touch of the spear tip pressed against the nape of their necks before proclaiming loudly.
"The Fire Nation greets the Chieftain with gifts. We plan no harm!"
Their voice resounded against the almost empty hall of snow and ice before the man sitting on the throne-like seat constructed out of condensed water narrowed his eyes.
His body garbed in the leather of the cat-seals, a ferocious polar-ape's hide with massive jaws adorned the top of his head. Dark skin that contrasted with the pure-white hide, the current chieftain of the Northern Tribe slowly nodded his head towards the guards before gazing at the two envoys.
"Negotiations are always welcomed. But, since ancient times, before any demand is to be put forward, a show of sincerity is a must.
So, I ask you delegates. What does the Fire Nation bring to my doorstep in a show of their sincerity."
The older delegate stepped forward before bowing deeply, his grating voice slowly attracting the Chieftain's interest.
"We bring along the captives of our recent conquest of the south. As a show of our sincerity, they have remained untouched, unsold.
And of course, they are to be brought to your doorsteps without any strings attached."
At a hundred metres distance from the huge wall of ice that surrounded the entire Northern Tribe, two small relief boats slowly moved towards each other. On the boat emerging from the Northern Tribe stood a tall and bulky figure, squarish jaws and a stern expression.
Behind him stood the two envoys sent by the Azula and Zuko respectively with a group of waterbenders stationed at the end of the boat.
Meanwhile, opposite to them, Commander Zhao manned the ship while Azula and Iroh stood together. A group of firebenders alongside Brian were stationed at the back of the ship.
"Princess Azula, Mighty Iroh, I, Bhumana am extremely honoured to meet two legendary figures of the fire nation.
It has been brought to our notice that you wish to gain our trust."
Nodding, Iroh spoke in Azula's stead. This had already been agreed previously while the main objectives were also set beforehand.
"Bhumana, the lion son of Bhiman, the young chieftain of the tribe. It is my honour to finally meet you.
As we proclaimed, we are willing to let go of the captives, unharmed and without any deception. This will be our show of sincerity and the proof that we don't wish to bring any harm to the Northern Tribe."
Azula took a seat as she let her uncle do the talking. Unlike Zuko, she wasn't arrogant enough to actually think that she was the perfect candidate for such a diplomatic task when her uncle was already present.
Of course, it was darn hard for Iroh to convince Zuko that letting go of the captives would eventually lead him to the Avatar.
"What makes you think that I cannot kill you right here and right now."
Bhumana suddenly spoke out.
'Here it comes.'
Zhao and Azula thought internally while Iroh let his hand comb his bristly beard before nodding.
"Fair enough. But please enlighten me, the Courageous Lion Son, what makes you think that we cannot call back our forces engaged in Ba Sing Se and annihilate your entire force, removing the Waterbenders from the face of the world?"
His tone remained mild and warm, but the waterbenders behind Bhumana immediately mobilised tendrils of the ocean and immediately turned them into spikes of ice while the Fire Troops didn't even move a single inch.
Meanwhile, Iroh continued unhurriedly.
"Hmm. To kill the princess and the eldest prince of the Fire Nation... I think, the Northern Tribe would cease to exist within a month.
What do you think, Bhumana? Even if you are young, you should surely understand what your father has sent you for, right?"
Bhumana nodded slowly before waving his hand towards his forces. Even in face of threat, a polite, respectful smile sneaked up his face as he chuckled.
"As expected of the Mighty Iroh. Even in retirement, your blade hasn't chipped away."
Shaking his head, Iroh smiled in return.
"I would've chipped away if I were really a blade. Being a hammer, even if rust covers my body, my might won't extinguish."
Iroh sighed as the first part of the plan was already achieved. When the prisoners were started getting transported, Azula, Mai, Iroh and even Zuko looked at a particular prisoner with disheveled black hair, fairly beaten body and a pair of shimmering violet eyes getting taken away by one of the Waterbenders.
2 Hours Earlier.
"Are you sure?"
Azula spoke with concern flashing through her eyes as Nik held her waist in their private chamber.
Nodding, he smiled.
"Yeah, it's fine. Just like I said, I am a hybrid, so the waterbenders shouldn't feel that vary of me.
It is better that my condition is pushed to a... worrisome state, but overall, if I manage to sneak into the tribe, I'll find those two spirits in due time."
Azula whispered as her lips were seized by Nik before he smiled at her.
"For real, now? When did my princess become such a coward?"
"Huh? Cowardice and concern are completely different matters. I may not have worried about you before, but now, I do."
Azula spoke calmly, her words managed to surprise Nik.
"Oh yeah, one more thing, beware of the Brian... he is somewhat like me."
"Do you mean..."
Azula's eyes flashed while Nik nodded.
[You have altered the record by 0.3%.
World Root gained: 0.3/100%]
Nik looked at the Notification in front of him before gazing at the beautiful city he was slowly being transferred to.
The Northern Tribe!