V. Inheritor

They stand at either side of him, inscrutable as statues.

Zuko can barely see his supplicant through the curtain of flame and that, perhaps, is the greatest triumph of all.

"My Lord," Azula spits. On her knees. A hazy outline – weak and unreal. Zuko could snuff her life out at any moment. "My Lord. I have performed as you asked. Another year of meditation within the confines of Jashin Prison."

His servants do not move, blink, or breathe without his permission. Now is no exception. They look ahead, blankly. Until the Fire Lord orders otherwise Azula is invisible to their eyes.

The Council married Zuko off, not too long ago, to a young woman of advantageous breeding from the northern isle. Her existence is irrelevant to this situation. Zuko's marriage is irrelevant to most things. Had his wife not understood this from the beginning, Zuko might have pitied her - or himself.

But the idealism was burnt out of him a long time ago. In its place were two women whose hearts he'd never know, even as he understood that they'd follow him into hell.

Unless someone stronger came along.

"Duly noted. Under the advisement of my council, I hereby order that you continue to persue spiritual enlightenment in the confines of your new home."

Mai and Ty Lee make no argument. They make no motion at all.

Azula produces a low, whining noise in the back of her throat, like a beaten dog. Zuko ignores it. He's got living proof that there's nothing of Azula's he can't take.

Zuko is uncertain if this vengeance belongs to the Fire Lord, or the shadows that flank his throne.