The Fire Nation Capital, also known as Capital City, the seat of the government for the Fire Nation, home to the Fire Lord, the Fire Nation Royal Family, and Fire Nation nobility. Located on Capital Island, a large island in the western region of the Fire Nation, it's one of the largest settlements in the world and one of the most heavily fortified cities in the World of Avatar, alongside Ba Sing Se. It's clean, smells nice, unlike Kings Landing, and beautiful.
I hate it. No, that's wrong. I actually love it, I just hate the inhabitants. The majority of nobles here act as if they're young masters straight out of a bad cultivation novel. Unfortunately, I was called back by the Fire Lord himself to personally give me my new assignment.
Walking up to the massive doors of the throne room, I give the pair guards a nod before making my way in. The throne room, the room in which the Fire Lord presides over official business. It is characterized by an ornate throne seated on an elevated platform high above ground level with a wall of fire separating the Fire Lord from the subjects .The chamber also serves as a war planning room, where the Fire Lord sits with his generals to privately discuss confidential battle operations and tactics. The imposing architecture of the throne room is designed to intimidate all who enter, unfortunately for Ozai everything in this room doesn't even make it to the top one hundred list of intimidating things I've faced.
As I walk up to the center of the room, I make sure to unnoticeably lower my body's temperature to make sure I don't cook in my armor. Once I reach the middle of the room, I take a knee and wait for him to address me. As I wait I can feel him increase the temperature in the room to ascertain his dominance. It's a tactic he does whenever anyone of even remote importance has an audience with him, it usually makes the target nervous and sweat. Usually.
Eventually he stops his one man pissing contest, and speaks in a low voice "Kagutsuchi, or do you prefer Ryu?"
That's a rhetorical question and a answering could be seen as insubordination and answering could be seen as impudence. The correct answer is to answer him without answering the question.
"It is your prerogative, Fire Lord Ozai" I respond
"Yes it is" he answers. "Remove your mask."
Bringing my left hand to the back of my head and my right to my face, I unstrap the buckle and gently place the porcelain mask on the floor. The design itself is simply a white porcelain mask with an impassive face design on. Almost exactly like Amon's mask from Legend of Korra.
Once the mask is on the floor, I raise my head to look at him with an expressionless face as he speaks "Effective immediately you are assigned to the Royal Palace as an instructor for my daughter. You will teach her all you know of combat and military tactics. Not only are you to teach her, but you will also act as her guard in place of the Royal Guard. Like any servant of the royal palace, you will be given a room. You start at sunrise tomorrow. Dismissed."
I bow my head in acknowledgement, pick up my mask, stand and quietly walk out of the room. Once outside I'm met with a servant. He's a bit on the short and heavy side. Standing at about five feet five inches, approximately one hundred and ninety pounds with most of it going to his bulging stomach. Facially he's your average Fire Nation commoner with brown hair tied in a bun, dull bronze eyes and wearing the typical red servant uniform.
"You must be Kagutsuchi" he says "Follow me, I've been assigned to show you your room"
As I follow him I take the opportunity to ask a question "Who else lives here other than the royal family?"
"Other than servants, the princess's tutors and the royal family, no one."
I'd ask about the princess, but the chances of him answering truthfully are slim to none. If he did answer honestly and the princess doesn't like what was said she'd barbecue him.
"Here we are" he says.
He leads me to a door a floor lower than the throne room and opens it to show a small spartan room with only a bed and small nightstand as furniture and a fire nation flag as decoration. The bed itself is covered in red bed sheets, the flag is hung on the wall behind the head of the bed and across from the door, making it the first thing you see. The last accessory in the room is the lamp resting on the nightstand.
Before he leaves I ask "Where is the princess's room?"
He looks at me oddly for a second before answering "Straight up."
Nodding my head in thanks, I walk in and close the door. Once in I light the lamp, undress and lay on my bed before thinking about my encounter with Ozai.
Ozai is a political genius, yet an accomplished military strategist he is not. It seems that the DNA involving military tactics and strategy went all to his brother, Iroh. While removing me from the battlefield might not seem like such a big deal, it does in fact have a major impact. To the men of the Fire Nation army, I am an exalted figure almost on par with Iroh. Between my one hundred percent success rate, and the vast number of Fire Nation soldiers I've saved in my three years walking from battlefield to battlefield, I've gathered such a major following in the military that people called me the second coming of Iroh and dubbed me Dragon. In simpler terms, I was growing too powerful politically. Most Fire Nation soldiers would do almost anything for me, unlike Ozai who only controls the military through fear of his firebending prowess. If I were to prove that I'm as powerful a firebender as Ozai, then the military wouldn't hesitate to side with me if Ozai and I fought. That is the difference between being loved and respected by your men versus being feared by them.
To deal with this problem he took me, his best warrior, off the battlefield and placed me in a position where I can't gain anymore prestige. If I stay here long enough the soldier's respect and love for me will be replaced by their fear of Ozai. Unfortunately for him, he'll have to send Azula to capture Aang, and as her personal guard I'll have to go along with her. After all, reassigning again will only make it obvious that he worries about my growing power.
As Azula stands in the Agni Kai chamber, she continues to study the new instructor facing her. She didn't know what to expect when her father told her that she'd be getting a new combat instructor. However, she knows that she wasn't expecting this. He, because that is definitely a male under the armor, stands half a head taller than her wearing the uniform of the Southern Raiders except for a few key differences. For starters, he wears no helmet and instead covers his head with a hood attached to the armor. His face is also covered, with a porcelain mask that shows an expressionless face, and lastly he wears a pair of vambraces with three spikes protruding from the back, they seem to be to catch a blade.
She had asked the guards around the castle what they know about him, and according to them, he's a legend in the military. Feared by the Fire Nation's enemies and respected by his peers, he supposedly has not only a hundred percent success rate, but also a history of wiping out whole platoons by himself without receiving any debilitating injuries.
Taking another look at him, she can't help but voice her thoughts "You don't look like much."
Without so much as a twitch, he answers "Famous last words."
His answer completely catches her off guard. Not only did he answer without any emotion, but his words make it sound as if he is joking with her. Unfortunately due to his mask, she can't tell if he is joking or not, and she doesn't like it. Not being able to tell what his current emotions are is going to be a problem that needs to be taken care of now.
"Does that mask serve a purpose, or are you just that ugly" she says mockingly.
There, that should irritate him enough to answer with emotion. If it doesn't, it should at least force him to defend himself by taking the mask off.
"Quite the opposite, your highness" he answers "I find that it is in fact a lack of ugliness that necessitates the mask."
Is he smirking, or is that sarcasm in his tone? By Agni that infuriating mask must go.
"Remove the mask" she orders, no longer willing to entertain his bold manners.
He removes his hood, showing beautiful midnight black hair tied into a ponytail. Grasping the clasp behind his hair, he undid it and removed the mask. The first thing she notices is the lack of emotion on his face, she might as well have told him to keep it considering that even without the mask on she couldn't read him at all. The second thing that catches her eyes is that he was in fact very handsome. Midnight black hair slicked back into a ponytail giving full view of his very handsome face, and his golden eyes, like the sun. The only blemish on his face is a scar that starts from his left eyebrow, runs through his eyelid only stopping at the edge of his lips.
Earlier she doubted his claims, now, however, she wouldn't be surprised if he did in fact wear the mask due to his handsome feature. She won't be admitting that however.
"I've seen your face, and while you admittingly possess above average features, it isn't the true purpose of the mask." she says
"No. I do not in fact wear the mask to hide my handsome features. During one of my first missions I attracted the attention of Koh the Face Stealer. A spirit whose sole purpose is to steal any face in his presence, should they showcase any emotion. Ever since then, he haunts me, waiting for me to slip so that he may steal my face. Originally, the mask was to hide my face as I mastered the ability to remain emotionless no matter the situation, eventually it stayed as a habit."
Azula doesn't know how to respond. She expected the reason to be mundane and of no importance.
Interrupting her train of thought, he says "Regardless, it is not important. What is important, is that I get an accurate representation of your skills. We are going to spar, and you are to hold nothing back. Come at me with the intent to kill, or you won't even be able to hit me. Begin when you are ready."
Setting herself into a fighting stance, Azula watches as he crosses his arms behind his back and suddenly exhales the biggest stream of fire she's ever seen at her. Not waiting a second, she dodges to the right and counter attack with her own stream aimed at his chest. Instead of dodging he walks towards it, and Azula watches as her flame extinguishes itself before it can hit him. Before she can process what happened, he roundhouse kicks another flame at her. Thinking that her blue flames are easily more powerful than his orange flames, she tries to overpower it with her own, only for it to be completely destroyed by his flame. Before she has time to retaliate, he's in her personal space and connects his knee to her solar plexus. The following exchange is humiliating, she tries to fight back and use her firebending katas for close combat like she was taught, but it's useless. Everything she throws at him is dodged or blocked and everything he throws at her connects. Thinking that she sees a chance to disengage and create distance for firebending, she retreats. By time she realized that it was a trap, the flame from his back kick had already connected and completely threw her out of the ring and into the stands. Pain erupts from the back of her head and stars fly in her vision, but before she slips into unconsciousness she realizes that his hands never left his back and that her flames never even touched him.
As she comes to, Azula notices that they are still in the Agni Kai chambers. Getting up she goes through her spar step by step. However, no matter how much she goes through the fight, she can't seem to figure out how his flames overpowered hers, how he could maneuver and retaliate so easily with his arms crossed behind his back, and more importantly, how did he extinguish her flames as if they were his own.
"How did you beat me?" she asks. "My technique was perfect and my flames are more powerful than yours."
He looks at her, and answers "Princess, one thing you'll hear from me throughout my time as your teacher is that nothing is perfect. Everything can always be improved in some way. To reach perfection means to stop improving, to stop improving means to stagnate, if you stagnate then you give everyone the opportunity to not only reach your level, but also surpass it. Don't strive for perfection, strive for improvement instead."
As she listens to his words, she can't help notice how they contrast her father's teachings. He taught her to always strive for perfection, that perfection is everything. Yet as she contemplates his words, she can see the truth behind them, and she wonders why his teachings sound far more accurate than her father's.