Copyright Viacom International Inc. All Rights Reserved. Nickelodeon, Nickelodeon Avatar: The Last Airbender and all related titles, logos, and characters are trademarks of Viacom International Inc. In layman's terms, "NOT MINE"
He had taken to escaping lately. Escaping everything. His girlfriend. His psychotic sister. The large castle he was supposed to call home. Everything.
Zuko wandered aimlessly on the large main island of the Fire Nation. The sun had yet to rise when he had set out that morning a week ago, and it was coming dangerously close to setting before Zuko had decided he had better find a place to stop. This was the longest he had traveled since the days he spent searching for the Avatar with his Uncle.
No, he was not going to think of him right now. This was his time to escape. Escape everything. Even his destiny. If only for a while.
There was a small riverside village not far off in the distance. It seemed just as good as anywhere else to stop, so Zuko made his way towards it. He was clad in a worn traveling cloak and hid his face behind his veil of jet black hair. Hopefully the people here would not bother him. If miracles really happened he might get lucky and no one would even recognize him like on Ember Island.
Upon entering the small river village, Zuko was greeted by a number of patrolling soldiers. They all ignored him as he stared after them and made his way towards the nearest building that smelled of food. The smell, to Zuko's displeasure, was misleading. A few men sat around wobbly tables in creaking chairs that threatened to splinter at any second. Behind the long shabby counter stood a grungy looking man stirring what Zuko assumed was supposed to be edible. The man took just enough time to eye Zuko's scar as he sat down.
"Just water," he told the man. The grungy man did not address Zuko again in except to refill his rather dingy looking glass with more water. Tired of watching the soldiers parade back and forth through the windows Zuko tried to get some answers. "What's up with this place?"
"Soldiers' barracks jus' outside town," the man replied. "Jus 'bout everythin' here goes to them now."
Zuko's mind wandered back to the small Earth Kingdom village he had come across during his earlier wanderings. Thinking of Azula, he was not surprised that there were self righteous, pompous soldiers in the Fire Nation as well. He would do something about this arrangement between the barracks and village once he got back to the castle. By the time Zuko had finished drinking and his legs were properly rested the sun had already set.
"There's an inn, jus' down that-a-way," the man said as he pointed Zuko down the street. "Don' look too good, but it beats sleepin' on the ground."
Following the man's directions Zuko came to one of the more dilapidated buildings of the town. How had things gotten so bad so close to the capital? Taking the first room he was told was available, Zuko made his way up the rotting stairs and into the dark, light-less room and tossed his bag on the ground. Then he made the mistake of collapsing onto the bed. Not a good idea. The man had been right about it being better than sleeping on the ground, but not by much.
After a few hours of sleep eluding him, Zuko took to looking out the small window of his dark room. The moon hung high in the sky with the dazzling stars dancing gloriously around it. There were few moments of true peace in his new life, but he was enjoying this as one of them. The sun may be the source of his power, but there was nothing wrong with the moon either.
A banging on the door brought Zuko back from his reverie. Before he could respond three soldiers barged into his room.
"Make it quick, boys! It's late!" one of them ordered.
"What's the meaning of this?" Zuko demanded.
"Quiet, brat! All new comers to town get searched!"
"I got it, Captain Chen!" one of the men called as he held up a small pouch from Zuko's bag. "His money purse!"
"Put that back!" Zuko ordered.
"Pipe down! This money is going towards keeping you safe, kid!" the Captain laughed as he and his men left. The fire burned in Zuko's eyes as the soldiers thunderous laughter echoed all the way into the streets.
"Forget waiting. I'm doing this now!"
"You never think these things through!"
His Uncle's words echoed in his head. Taking a short calming breath, he puzzled over the situation. To fly off the handle and incinerate those fools would be something that Azula would do. He was not and did not want to be Azula. But on the other hand, he could not simply allow them to get away with this, could he?
Sitting down with his now ransacked bag, Zuko began to recollect the items. He had to do something, but what? And how? As if in answer to his question, a black velvet sack brushed against his hand.
"What's this?" he asked no one as he took the parcel in his hands. "Wait."
He remembered. That day almost two months ago. Azula was warning him that he would miss the ride home if he didn't hurry up. Something had been bothering him. It was as if something was calling out to him. Following whatever feeling it was that was drawing him, he had found himself back at that strange lake base of the Dai Li. The unexplainable power drew him towards it until he dove headlong into the water. The mask. He needed the mask back.
Pulling the velvet away, an all too familiar stared at him with those empty, hollow, haunting eyes and that mischievous grin. A strange sensation overcame Zuko. It was as if he was staring at himself, or at least a part of himself. Throwing his clothes aside he donned the familiar black stealth suit and pulled the mask over his scarred features.
Under the veil of the moonlit sky, a shadow silently stalked its way tot he Fire Nation barracks. Its feet made no sound as he sprinted from shadow to shadow with his broadswords on its back. What mischief he would make! What havoc he would wreak! The mere thought put more speed in his steps. They would regret what they had done.
The Blue Spirit had returned!
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