A/N: Hey guys! sorry this has taken so long, I was out of ideas for continuing this story but I finally came up with a way to complete it! I'm currently in my last year of high schooling and end of year exams are coming up soon so I have to focus on my story before my stories! I don't know when I'll be able to upload the next chapter but I'll definitely upload it and more before the year ends!
Love Alice XX
Chapter 35: Inner Demons
Azula awoke with a groan, she sat up in bed. It's been 8 months since she took over as Firelord and the War was finally over. Katara was on her right while Yue and Suki were cuddled up together on her left, all three were peacefully asleep. Quietly she slipped out of bed in her tank top and pants and walked out of the room. Kita who had become a guard for their door at night as she liked to sleep there woke when Azula walked passed. The White Wolf looked at Azula with curiosity and lay her head back down on her paws watching the hallways. Azula knew that the night shift servants were working away and she found her way to the kitchen.
"Oh Firelord Azula, how can we assist you?" one of the chef's asked.
"Can you just make me a cup of tea? I'll take it in mother's garden," Azula said,
"As you wish Firelord," he replied before barking orders to the others working.
Azula walked from the Kitchen down the dark hallways until she reached the balcony which led to Ursa's favourite garden. Although Ursa spent most of her time with Hakoda in the Southern Water Tribe, this garden was her sanctuary and as such Azula had named it Ursa's Garden. This is usually where Helios slept as the Dragon couldn't fit anywhere else in a palace except the gardens. The dragon awoke when Azula approached and looked at her, she could tell something was bothering Azula.
'Are you okay, mistress?' The dragon yawned looking at Azula with one open eye.
"Everything this fine Helios, you need not worry about it," Azula replied sitting down at a garden table.
'Something is bothering you Azula, I can tell' the dragon said knowingly.
"It is nothing but insistent nightmares that I thought I had left behind ages ago. But recently they've occurred more and more frequent," Azula said.
"Umm... excuse me Firelord Azula but I have your tea," a palace maid said standing at the door nervously.
"Thanks, but I'll give it to her," Katara's voice cut in and Azula was surprised when her water bending wife took the tray of tea off of the maid and brought it over.
"You may leave us," Katara said over her shoulder and the shaking maid who scurried away.
"What are you doing up?" Azula asked as Katara sat down.
"I should be asking you that, you have another meeting with the war council tomorrow followed by negotiations over trade routes with both the Earth Kingdom and the Northern Water Tribe," Katara said, her water bending wife had taken to keeping Azula's schedule prompt something she thought would be more for Yue.
"I know, and I'm not looking forward to it," Azula grumbled drinking her tea.
"You know, your uncle says drinking tea is like an art form." Katara said watching Azula just pour it and drink it in one gulp.
"The only pieces of art I like looking at are you, Yue and Suki," Azula said sheepishly earning a giggle and a light slap on her shoulder from her wife.
"Still quite the charmer despite having to run the country. It's been almost a year since you took over. Are we going to have a celebration?" Katara asked.
"Of course we are, we're going to hold an end of war anniversary party right here," Azula said standing up.
"Okay, now on to what I wanted to ask. Are you okay?" Katara said in all seriousness, she stood up and went around behind Azula wrapping her arms around her.
"Just nightmares... from that time," Azula sighed, there was no point in lying.
"Come back to bed, have a rest and we'll deal with that when it comes to it," Katara said taking Azula's hand and leading her back towards their chambers while a servant went to pack up the tea they had drank.
Azula and Katara slipped into bed beside their sleeping wives, Yue and Suki. Cuddling up to Azula, Katara dozed off and Azula soon followed, no more nightmares occurring that night. The next morning Azula woke and stretched, the bed was empty but her clothes were set out for her and she could see steam coming from the bathroom. She got up and walked to the bathroom, striped and then hopped into the warm water allowing herself to wakeup with a soothing soak in warm water. After waking up she got out and dried herself then got dressed for the day, Yue, Suki and Katara were engaged in an animated discussion while eating breakfast when Azula walked in.
"Morning Azula," the three echoed.
"Morning Yue, Suki and Katara," Azula replied and sat down.
"Today you're required at another meeting with the War council, then you have negotiations with trade routes between the Earth Kingdom and the Northern Water Tribe. Additionally you're to announce the creation of the first new fire nation non-war ship called the Royal Dragon Cruise ship, and make an appearance within the city to talk to the people," Katara said laying out Azula's schedule for the day in front of her.
"I'll be at the trade meetings with you Azula," Yue said with a smile.
"I'm training the newest batch of royal guards along with the Kyoshi warriors that wish to remain in the fire nation," Suki added.
"I'll be at the war meeting with you," Katara nodded and Azula smiled and continued eating breakfast.
"I hear that Aang is also going to be at the global summit being held here in a few days, he wants you to read a proposal for a new capital city to be build in the Earth Kingdom directly where all nations can get to it, I've placed the proposal on your desk," Katara gave Azula a kiss.
Azula finished up breakfast while her wives talked and she listened intuitively adding a small comment here and there. When breakfast was over she had a cup of tea and began to head to the meeting where the war council were gathering. The council were already seated and waiting when Azula and Katara entered, they both sat at the head where they were surrounded by blue fire that Azula emitted.
"Now this council is in session, your reports please generals?" Azula said clasping her hands together.
"Fire lord, the soldiers remaining in the Earth Kingdom are helping to establish new villages before they return home as per orders. Additionally their arms have been confiscated as per ordered and there have been very few incidences involving the use of fire bending - primarily as self defence from still angered earth kingdom soldiers and earth benders alike," General Jin reported.
"Have the incidents reported handed to Fire Lady Katara for assessment, what's the news with removing the weapons all naval ships with the exception of the Fire Nation Royal Navy?" Azula said as General Jin gave the papers to a servant who then gave them to Katara who set them to one side.
"Fire Lord Azula, the work is going well - yet slowly due to the amount of workers we have and how much we are required to pay them. So far we've disarmed 100 ships with another 100 to be done. I would respectfully request more budget to get the work done within the next 4 months," General Pan, head of the Fire Nation Royal Navy informed.
"Have the detailed proposal placed in my office on my desk with the other budget proposals, I will look through them with Fire Lady Yue and we will come to a conclusion before the next war meeting in two weeks time," Azula said, to which the servant took the papers and handed them to another servant who left the room with them.
"General Lin, how is the supplying of goods to the Southern Water Tribe and labour to help them rebuild going?" Katara asked.
"Well Fire Lady Katara, the supplies have all been shipped and Ex Fire Lady Ursa and Chief Hakoda of the Southern Water Tribe have been monitoring shipments and taking inventory of the supplies we've been shipping - However most of the labourers that aren't working already are hesitant to move to the southern water tribe without their safety ensured unlike the desperate workers," General Lin informed.
"Take 10 of the disarmed ships from General Pan, they will be put under the leadership of Generals Sokka and Ruby - they'll also gain assistance from Ty Lee and Mai along with the freedom fighters to ensure their protection," Azula responded.
"Understand Fire Lord," both Sokka and Bee replied respectfully.
"Next is the plight of the Grand Cleric of Omashu who was removed from duty overseeing the Fire Nations ruling of Omashu, they've requested an advancement of position. They believe they're entitled to more wealth due to being the parents of Mai who is the current head of Royal Security along with Ty Lee and June," General Sohrab said amused.
"Denied," Azula responded immediately - she had never liked Mai's parents as soon as she met them and they tried to use Mai's stature and friendship with Azula as a way to gain more wealth despite them being against her engagement to Ty Lee.
Mai and Ty Lee are due to be married within the next month, Azula would be the one to marry them as Fire Lord. Once the war meeting was finished Azula was required to attend negotiations which went by rather smoothly with the help of Yue. It was when she was out in the city that she was the most annoyed, everyone was bowing and saying "Good afternoon Fire Lord Azula," she didn't mind the title but it annoyed her how everyone automatically acted as if she was a living god.
Azula smiled as Yue took her arm and they were escorted around the area being told of the new plans for the harbour area. Azula listened intently as things were explained to her by the currently minister of the harbour. "And now we come to our grand design, the First Imperial cruise ship's grand opening," Minister Tua said.
A crowd had gathered and were cheering when they saw Azula and Yue appear with their escorts and June and her Shirshu. "June keep an eye out, I have a feeling something is going to happen," Azula said, June nodded and did just that - directing guards to different places.
"Fire lord, if you would be so kind as to give this vessel your blessing. It is about to embark on a tour of the four nations as per approved by the royal court," Minister Tua said.
"It would be my pleasure," Azula said then addressed the crowd.
"Fire Nation citizens, as your fire lord I bless this beautiful creation and deem it now open, I hope you all enjoy the cruise and the various experiences of the four nations you're sure to have. Be humble, do not mock the other citizens of the other nations as they are still hostile towards many of us for what we've done," Azula announced.
She drew her broadsword then ignited it in blue flames, she raised it above her hand and went to cut downwards. Something soared through the air and Azula immediately turned and parried an arrow, sending it into the ground. The crowd gasped and everyone saw a group of what appeared to be rebels. They were being led by an older man, with amber eyes. They bore down at Azula and she was suddenly taken back to when she was young girl training in the southern water tribe. Specifically the day she lost her mentor and Katara lost her mother.
"I will not bow down to a false fire lord," he announced. "You again, I vowed then if I found you, I would kill you myself," Azula growled out and grabbed her robes throwing them off of her. Underneath she had pants and a tank top but as it was she could move freely. She whistled loudly and the sound resonated through the city.
The henchmen of the group attacked but Azula was ready, and so was Yue. The fire lady with her blue crown threw various things from her sleeves. The henchmen were surprised when they turned out to be small throwing knives that were concealed within the fire ladies robes. Mai had taught Yue well. One of the henchmen reached Azula and went to attack slicing at her with his sword. Azula side stepped the blow then used her own sword and cut the attacker in half horizontally. His torso fell off of his legs and blood started drenching the ground beneath her. Another henchman reached Yue, Azula was concerned but when she turned to help she was surprised. Yue had dodged the blade then jabbed the man in nerve points around his body, she then produced another small blade and jammed it into the attackers eye. 'Remind me to thank Ty Lee, Mai and Suki' Azula though as she turned back to her attackers.
They charged at her in a group, she parried blades and sliced off limbs. She even decapitated one of them causing it to rain red with blood. The man and his fire benders turned to run but they were stopped. Blocking their retreat was a dragon, and in front of that dragon was a white wolf. It growled at them.
The fire benders sent blasts at the two beasts but Helios blocked the flames with its own, shielding Kita. Once the fire benders paused Kita rushed out and jumped at the,, her fangs biting down into flesh. The wolf and dragon's rage responded to Azula's and they went rabid on them. The only one left was the man, he stood his ground but Kita and Helios just blocked his escape.
"June, take him in. We'll put on a show for anyone who disrupts the peace I've brought," Azula said turning her back on the man.
"What're you going to do with him?" June asked as Nyla stung the man with her tongue causing him to be made immobile.
"Send out a note to all the cities and all the villages, a week from now there will be an Agni Kai," Azula ordered.
It was time for her to face her demons