Yet, I had never spoken to one of them. I had never asked what caused the Agni Kai, or how they planned to live, even though they would be seen as a failure. When I was fifteen and a half, we docked the closest one could get to Omashu, seeing as the city is a 2 day journey from the closest dock, this was not difficult.
My uncle had convinced me to go on shore. I didn't care to leave the ship, the stares children gave me, the pity in women's eyes, the arrogant thoughts of the men who were certain I had received the scar only because I was a stupid boy who had rough housed with his friends... It sickened me.
A woman passed by. She did a double take after glancing at my Uncle. "Iroh?"
He turned to the sound of his name. "Kyoko? Kyoko!" They hugged. It's odd, seeing such intimacy. In the fire nation, bowing is all we do. Suddenly worried that this Kyoko may have been an old girl friend of my Uncles, I turned to leave.
Uncle Iroh seized my shoulder with his hand. There would be no escaping him now... "My nephew, Zuko."
She bowed. "Quite handsome." I scoffed. Was that supposed to be a joke? "You simply have to come for dinner! Izuka will be so surprised to see you."
"As much as we would love to." I cut in. "We have a crew of twelve men, all who need food."
Much to my dismay, Kyoko's encouragement only grew. "Why didn't you say so! I'll have dim som, duck, sweet and sour pork... It will be a feast, and my daughter-in-law is visiting with my son, so I'll have help in the kitchen."
"Kyoko served as a chef when I was in the war. The best there ever was. We look forward to it." Uncle Iroh accepted her invitation.
The crew was thrilled, and there was no way out. I was stuck with a visit I had no desire to make. Uncle Iroh pushed me, telling me to be on my best behavior. I made up my mind right then and there to pout, sulk and be rude through the night.
"Iroh, Zuko, come on in." Uncle and I entered, the twelve men (Including the cook) following us. We sat, and waited for the dinner to be served. As promised, there was dim som, duck, sweet and sour pork, even fried rice, udon noodles, tempura, sashimi, a feast, as promised. Traditional Fire Nation cuisine. "Where is that husband of mine?"
Kyoko's daughter-in-law, Kozue, replied, "He left this afternoon... I hope he didn't hurt himself again."
Her husband, Kyoko's son, laughed loudly. "Dad, hurt himself? The man's too stubborn to get hurt!"
"But dear... He fell in a ditch just last week..." Where all old people senile, or just the ones I'd heard of?
"I didn't fall in," A gruff voice spoke. "I got in, laid down for a nap and forgot how to get out!"
We all turned to the gruff voice. My eyes widened, there, on the right side of his face, sat a burn mark. It was different then mine, instead of being red from the tip of the bridge of the nose to the ear, it went from the chin up, causing the bottom of his eye lid to cover his entire right eye. "Like I said, too stubborn to get hurt!"
Izuka laughed good heartedly. "Where are my daughters? We have guests! Perhaps Tomo can finally find a husband..."
A young woman, maybe twenty, came into the room with a much younger girl, six at the least, in her arms. "Don't you even start that again! I have a fiancé and you know it!"
"Tomo gonna marry Hotohori when he get's back from the war!" The young girl jumped out of Tomo's arms and went to her father. She looked at me. "Daddy," she whispered. "Is that your brother?"
He laughed, everyone (Myself excluded, of course) did. "Of course he is! He is of the fire nation."
I admit, I felt... Honored that he had said that. We were sons of the fire nation, the both of us. I have seen many Agni Kai, many men become scarred, and many rather die then live with the dishonor of losing. I finally had my chance to speak with someone who would understand, I understood why Uncle had wanted me to meet this man so much.
Instead of thanking Uncle, instead of seizing this opportunity, I held my pride and said nothing.
This, I regret the most.
I feel the ending is... Weak. But I hope I got the message across. What was the message? Well... I'd like to see your opinion on that.
Written because I've been wondering where all the other people who have lost in Agni Kai's are. Oh where oh where have the scarred gone? Oh where or where can they be?
Avatar: The Last Airbender © Nickelodeon