Two guards dragged Zuko by the top part of his arms down the hall expecting him to struggle, but his body was loose and his head hung. He had been ordered to take off the top part of his clothing and was quickly hand-cuffed. Zuko knew what has coming, and he didn't want to let go too easily. His heart raced like a rabbits and they drew near to a large metal door. Zuko looked up slightly to look through his long hair growing over his eyes as one of the guards unlocked the door. He hung his head again as they dragged him in. He winced slightly as his bear feet rubbed against the cold floor, in which the front parts of his feet had originally been dragging against the red carpet lining the corridor, making them sore. They undid his hand-cuffs and let the guards chain him up, both arms hanging limply through the tight shackles which were attached to his hands. He stood, almost wobbling, in the middle of his current room, and the guards looked at him before turning to walk out closing the door behind them. A few minutes past and Zuko began to hear the sound of feet hitting the carpet, walking towards the room. The door opened and in walked Zhao and another man, who was well built and wore a mask that covered his eyes and part of his nose. He carried with him an object in his hand and stood behind Zhao. Zuko didn't bother looking up but instead looked down at his feet and listened. Zhao walked up to Zuko and grabbed his chin lifting it up quite vigorously to make him look into his eyes. Zuko stared in Zhao's as he began to talk.
"Well, well, Prince Zuko, or should I say, the Blue Spirit?" Zhao smirked, but Zuko showed little emotion other than hatred in his golden eyes. "Who would have thought, you, of all people, would go to such extremes? But then again I expected much less than what you have now become." His voice bounced off the walls making the last words trail through Zuko's mind. He let Zuko's head drop again almost pushing it down. Zhao turned round and nodded his head slightly, motioning the man to go behind Zuko. The man positioned himself, and held the object in his hand. This man must have been working out due to his large muscles and the way he was standing showed he had had practice with whatever he was holding. Zuko wanted to see what it was like, just to guess what amount he would go through next. He turned his head and his eyes widened when he noticed the object he was holding. A Whip. Zuko's heart beat even faster and could almost hear the rhythm of it until Zhao spoke again.
"Now, I can be nice Zuko. If you tell me where they are hiding, I'll let you go."
Zuko stood there for a moment, battling with his mind. But his mind was already made up. He would have to go through with this. For their sakes.
"…I'm not telling you anything" Zuko answered bitterly moving his eyes to look at Zhao. Zhao looked first at his face, and then focused on the large red scar covering his left eye. He sighed and tilted his head slightly looking at the masked man. Zuko's eyes stayed glued on Zhao but squinted slightly, when he knew what would happen next. The masked man gripped harder on the whip and drew it back. He raised his hand and sent it crashing down. Zuko screamed in pain as the end of the whip cut deep into his back. Zuko's body was tight, his eyes were locked shut, his teeth pressing together and he clenched his fists hoping to relieve the pain he was enduring. Zuko panted and Zhao spoke again.
"You don't have to suffer like this you know" he said sounding like he was enjoying every moment Zuko suffered "If you told me where they were hiding, I could easily release you to freedom, and you name would be cleared of all crimes you have committed against your own nation." Zuko still breathed heavily and let out a struggling answer, "I said…I'm NOT telling you…" sternly but shakily speaking. Zhao didn't motion the masked man to do it, but the man knew what to do. Another slash tearing through Zuko's back sent Zuko into an uproar of pain and he let out another scream. His whole body was tight and he lifted up and the throbbing began to overcome his entire body. He again hung with the chains rattling, echoing in the large, slightly lit metal room. Zuko kept his eyes closed and Zhao sat in front row seats watching and enjoying the show. Zhao said nothing this time and let the man whip Zuko's back once more making part of the whip's end hit Zuko's neck. Tears came to Zuko's eyes and he reluctantly let them spill. Zhao smirked again as he saw a few of them drop to the ground. Zuko's mouth opened slightly to let out his panting, but half of his mouth kept his teeth clenched.
"This is your last chance. Tell-me-where-they-are!" Zhao stood patiently staring at Zuko, waiting for his answer.
"…For the last time…I'M NOT TELLING YOU!" Zuko gathered his energy and pulled his body forward slightly to let Zhao see his expression. No longer fear. No longer…afraid. Zuko's eye-brows furrowed deeply down, touching the brink of his eyes. Zhao, still looking at Zuko, sighed again deeply and looked at the man whose eyes kept switching from Zuko's bleeding back, to Zhao's piercing expression back to Zuko's art worked canvas. He nodded, and hoped that this last one would make all the difference in his job, knowing full well that he was going to enjoy this last strike.
Zhao turned and started to walk slowly out of the room. He closed the door behind him and waited for the scream. The corridors were silent and still and then only sound that was heard was his own deep breathing.
Zuko looked at the floor and sorrow spread across his face. His eyes weld up and his tears burned his face more than his scar had three years before.
Zhao waited impatiently now and held his breath slightly.
The whip came up.
The shattering scream, hearing the tears stream through the eyes that held a hundred painful memories, blasted down the corridor and could possibly be heard several floors above.
Zhao smirked and continued down the corridor.