This Chapter is NOT Beta-ed yet. Will replace it would I get it back. Beta having problems with Life.

Sorry for the long wait.


Dragons of the West

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Summary: Set after episode, the Firebending Masters. There are many secrets that mortals in the past have long forgotten. Ever wondered how the War started? How the mortals in the Avatar world learned to bend the elements from the help of the Gods themselves? And how did the mortals then defended evil that wanted to take over the world? What happened to Aang's friends before the War, after he disappeared? How is Zuko related to Avatar Ruko and Kuzon? Is Ursa still alive or she is dead? How did Iroh became a member of the Order of the White Lotus? What really happened to Iroh's son Lu Ten? What really became the airbenders 100 years before? Ever wondered what became the other characters in the story after we never see them again?

What secrets would be discovered? And what is the cost to know them?

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Chapter Twenty-Five

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Kuzon son of Roku, friend of the Avatar over 100 years ago had a hard life. He had seen many things, things that he would rather not think about as others he wouldn't have either way. He was there when his father, Avatar Roku was killed while his friend, Fire Lord Sozin had left him to die. He was only a child then, too young to remember such things, but he was there in his mother's arms in the boat watching in horror as the village of where he was born was destroyed.

He met his father reincarnated self, a young Airbender named Aang six years later. He felt the familiar between them both, as Aang of course didn't know how they 'knew' each other. And since that day, they began friends. Few months each year in those six years of knowing each other, Aang and his mentor Gyatso as the elder man was friends with his mother, lived with them. Of what he was told, Gyatso was his father's friend. It was ironic that the friend of his father, was the mentor of the next Avatar after his death.

He was there when he first got the letter from Gyatso that Aang had disappeared. He was shocked, angry and frustrated that Aang would runaway like that. He waited for months, for Aang to appear in his doorstep, seeing that they were friends, he would come to his house. But Aang never came, even to this day, he never came.

He was there in Aang's funeral. Gyatso insisted that he should go, as he got permission for him to come to the Southern Air temple. Bumi, the Prince of Omashu at that time and Nanuq, son of a high ranking warrior from the North Pole, both of his best friends along friends with Aang, was also there. It was the last time the three friends ever seen each other in person.

Kuzon remembered that funeral well. It was highly different then what they do in the Fire Nation, as either part or all the remains of the decease was consume in flames. The Air Nomads, as with there element, set the body on a plate form high into the mountains and let the eagles fed upon the flesh until the body itself was clean. It was there they put the body into their own type of catacombs where centuries of Nomads lie to rest. As they believe being eaten by the eagles would send the person's soul into the Spirit World. (1)

However, they did not find Aang's body. So they mimic of what they would've done to his body. Kuzon wondered if Aang's clothes and few of his belongings still lie in the graveyard.

He was there when he last written to Bumi and Nanuq a month before Fire Lord Sozin attacked the Air Temples shortly after Aang's funeral with the help of the traitor, Afiko (2).

He warned his friends of the War; as he also warned Gyatso of the dangers of his people being wiped out (at the time he didn't know the identity of the traitor, but warned Gyatso of his thoughts there was one). Thinking this, Kuzon laughed at the thought, as many of the Airbenders escaped weeks before the start of the war. For that day on, he became a member of the White Lotus.

He was there in those battles wiping out the Air Nomads, seeing that he was barely old enough to company the men into battle, being that he was sixteen years old when the war started. He remember climbing up those high cliffs to the temples, seeing that the safest way to temples are air bending or flying. He remembered the fear he felt as he saw his brethren falling down to their deaths, as he grip on the ropes that was his only life line along with others above and below him on the same rope. He remember killing those men, women and children in the temples (those that either foolishly stayed or couldn't flee weeks before) as it was their orders to let none live; or be killed yourself in dishonor.

Their blood are stained on his hands forever, but it was war; it was his duty as an Firebender and solider of his Country.

As the years went by, he climbed up the ranks as any good fire bender with high blood would. He married to a fellow fire bender that he met during his training. A girl, Jaya (3) whom was a daughter of a high ranking officer in the Fire Nation navy (much high rank then he) and also a niece of a member in the White Lotus.

Jaya was a girl that defy him to no end for years and yet he love her. Even to this day, he doesn't know how many times Jaya told to him get lost, attack him with her Firebending, throw knives had him just to see what he would do next. Even her father was impress of his bravely saying he would him the marriage blessing if he ever tames her. And yet Kuzon never went away and always came back. Jaya liked that about him, which he knew. And after five years of defying him, he propose to her, her father giving him his blessing and she accepted to be his wife.

They had wonderfully marriage; each passing year was never boring. Jaya had given him five children; three girls and two young boys. And now that she is dead, he will forever miss her, as he felt that part of him went with her to the grave. He prey to her most everyday. When he meets her in the afterlife, they will be together again.

He was there when the Fire Lord's two sons Iroh and Ozai took a liking to his youngest daughter, Ursa. Oh how he was so furious as he march up to the Fire Lord demanding him of his sons not to touch his daughter. But of course the Fire Lord laughed, calling him the son of a traitor and as they are royalty while he is not, even though he is of high blood; his sons have every right to pick any female as their future wife. All he could do was to watch, give his daughter advice and prey to the spirits that his daughter will be spared. However, Fate did not hear him.

He was there when Iroh and his daughter fell in love and was powerless as he watch the two forcefully broke apart because Fire Lord Azulon had made an agreement with Iroh to marry another, whom Iroh was already married to and already have a son with. Jumping to the chance, Ozai took Ursa away from him and married her.

Kuzon was there for the birth of his grandson, Zuko. Zuko was small when he was born, but he is a strong child, at the moment of his birth fire came from his breath as he breathed the sun's rays. It was a good sign. He was the one that carried the small bundle to the Fire Temples, along with it's mother, Prince Iroh (by then Kuzon grungy figured he was okay guy) and his wife, Jaya. Ozai, the sire of his grandson, didn't see to it to be his duty to company them. Saying that the child would be discarded anyway, seeing that he is too small, why would he came to his son's failure?

Kuzon smirked, he remember the shock in the man's eyes when Ursa came back three days later with Zuko in her arms. Zuko had survived the three day challenge that all Fire Nation children go through after birth.

However, he wasn't there for his granddaughter's birth. He was forbidden to do so. Of what he was told, the girl is the mirror image of her father in both in looks and in character. What a waste. Ozai was there in the Fire Temples after the girl was born, while he was not to his son's. Of course the girl child survived the three day challenge, as many did not.

He was there in the funeral of Fire Lord Azulon (who wasn't?). Fate was not kind to his daughter, who in turn had to assassinate the Fire Lord to save her only son. An act that he would gladly would have to done for his daughter, but guiltily knew that the task was meant for her and her alone. He was the one who took back his daughter and brought her home at last.

Even ten years of being home with him, the crimes that Ozai had inflect upon her for eight years is still present. The mind is a tricky thing as the body was created to endure many things and survive. Kuzon wondered if his daughter can be truly healed if she is reunited with her son. Only time will tell.

He remembered the rumors of his grandson being banished three years ago.

He remembered the rumors of his friend, Aang being alive and in child form. How this happened, he is not sure. When Aang gets to the island, he will speck with him.

And now with the Counsel coming together for the first time in 1,000s of years, another chapter of his life has begin.

Kuzon looked back at the young man before him, as he pass a cup filled with tea to the young man. Can it be the same man that he himself had killed long ago? Could it be him?

--Flash Back--

Gyatso twisted his body to the side, his airbending fix on target as wave after wave of fire benders attacked him, all of which lay dead before his feet. His airbending was fierce as a hurricane, precise as fire and yet almost unseen as air itself.

Kuzon, a young lad of sixteen stood in the door way in the room watching his brethren die in the hands of the Master, his sword still on his hip forgotten. Kuzon knew his orders: let none live. Why didn't Gyatso leave weeks before? He told him to run! Why didn't he?

It is his duty and honor to walk up to the man as he can almost call father, to meet his fate in death by his hands…or the other way around.

Gyatso finished the last man, as he turned and both Airbender and Firebender locked eyes; gray meeting gold. Gyatso knew who the boy was, even without the amour or paint on the boy's face…Kuzon.

Gyatso knew either he or the boy will die this day. Gyatso was shocked of seeing the boy. He wasn't of age yet wasn't he? Why is the boy here? How did he came this far into the temple?

The two benders in the same motion locked into their stances staring at each other, none yet moving. They both can hear the battle still wages on outside the room. Blasts of fire and swoosh of air as benders clash against each other to the death.

Slowly the two benders circled each other, waiting for the other to make the first move.

"You have not killed me yet." Gyatso said to the boy.

"I am planning on it." Kuzon told him, his voice slightly quivering. Gyatso knew that the boy was lying to him, but he did not comment it.

"Are you?"

"…yes."

"Why are you here, Kuzon?"

"It is my duty and honor to defend the Fire Nation." Kuzon said, his voice sounded like he said this line to himself daily.

The two fell into silence and then…

None of them knew who attacked first; was it Kuzon? Or was it Gyatso?

Fire and Air meet as the blast of energy collided, as both benders was lifted off their feet slamming into the wall opposite to each other. Angry at his failure, Kuzon jumped onto his feet, pulling out his sword with his battle cry attacked the fallen Airbender, as he did this his fire bending came alive feeding upon his hate as they dance upon his sword.

Gyatso did nothing, as the boy ran towards him.

He made a choice. He will die this day, not the boy.

--End of Flashback--

Kuzon never forgiven Gyatso for not attacking back; because of him, he killed the elder man with dishonor. Because of him defending Gyatso, he was awarded, bringing his family up a notch in the Fire Nation, as his father before him branded the family as traitors since the Fire Lord view Roku as one.

If this man before him is the same man…will he be strong enough not to kill him again in revenge? It would depend of what the man have to say. But if this is Gyatso, then why is he so young and alive? Who brought him here and for what reason?

"I know of who you are. My heart tells me that it is true, but my mind tells me different. So I am going to ask you once. If you lie and I will know, I will not hesitant to kill you if you lie, branding you a traitor. Now, who are you and why are you here?" Kuzon asked the young man, his golden eyes fixed upon him, daring him to lie to him.

At last the young man spoken. "I am called Gyatso."

Kuzon sighed. So he was right. "I thought so. It is good to see you, Grand Master Gyatso." Kuzon almost laughed at the man's eyes widen. Perhaps he will wait, he will have fun messing with the young man's mind.

"I told you of who I am. Now who are you?" Gyatso asked.

Kuzon couldn't help it; he laughed. "Surely you would recognize me, old man." calling a young man 'old' seemed weird to an outsider if anyone would listen. But in reality this man before him was twice his age. "You and my father were friends long ago. Not to mention, that Aang and I too were friends before the War." He tried not to think of the past, the last time the two saw each other. The memories of the good times.

"Kuzon." (4) Gyatso looked back at the Firebender. This is that boy that use to play with Aang hundred years ago? That same boy that he forced to kill him? He had aged well. "But how?"

"How did I live this long?" Kuzon asked, his smile turning into a Fire Nation trade mark sneer. "Not sure. And as why I am here, I am the leader of my people. Answering the Call of the ancestors like everyone else here."

Gyatso nodded slowly, taking another cup of tea to set his nerves. He still can't believe that he is face to face with Kuzon, the little boy is now a grown man. The last memory he had of his boy is the eyes holding such hate, his fiery sword drawn on him…..

The two fell into silence. Gyatso felt he was child once again, waiting for the Elder to speck to him after his prank was found out. Gyatso knew he was being stupid.

"How did you get here?" Kuzon asked him breaking the silence.

"The Lady brought me here." answered Gyatso.

"Lady Jathibiyya? So she does exist in the Spirit World?"

"Yes," Gyatso didn't know if he should be surprise how Kuzon knew which Lady he spoke of. "That is why I am here. She brought me here to warn her children--"

"You mean Aang?" Kuzon haven't spoken the Avatar's name in years.

"And others," Gyatso nodded slowly. "The Fire Lord had make terrible allies. Even the Gods themselves are outrage of this outcome. Yes They knew it could happen, as the Fates themselves had written it so before the World was created. You know as well as I that the Gods can not stop Fate nor Destiny."

Kuzon nodded knowing that the Airbending Master was correct.

Gyatso continued. "This is not a just a war between the four nations. This is a war between the living and the dead. Surely you know this!?"

Kuzon smirked. "Of course we knew. I am Fire Nation am I not? I lived with the darkness of evil since as I was boy ready for battle. I remember Sozin commenting us to march to the Air Temples…let none live….I seen the evil in his eyes, Gyatso. Just as Sozin before him, Ozai wants Immortality. Unlike his Grandfather, Ozai will get it."

Gyatso could feel the fear going down his back.

Kuzon laughed. Gyatso became foolish in his age; even in death.

"Do you have no shame?" Gyatso hissed at him. "Do you even care about anyone besides yourself?"

Kuzon slammed his fist on the table. "Don't you dare speck, old man, or I'll cut your tongue out."

Gyatso knew that Kuzon would not hesitant of doing just that.

"Sir!" a voice called out opening the tent flap. It was Fire Nation boy, who bowed in respect to Kuzon who already stood up, his left hand gripping his sword.

"What is it?" snapped Kuzon.

"Sire, they are here." the boy said, not bothered by how Kuzon snapped at him. Kuzon nodded, waved his hand to leave him.

Without a word, the boy bow and left. Kuzon turned back to Gyatso.

"No one should not know of who I am and why I'm here." Gyatso said. "Aang must never know I'm back."

Kuzon nodded and left. Gyatso shortly followed. He knew what the young boy was specking about moment before. Iroh and the rest of the surviving fleet had arrived.

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Hakoda could see the island of where he stood in the front of the ship. He could smell the cool salty breeze, he taste freedom.

"It's a good view, isn't Water Chief?" a voice said behind him.

Hakoda didn't have to turn around to know who was behind him. Prince Iroh had a habit of talking to him during this time of day. Just a few seconds ago however, everyone seemed to be high spirits since the one of the crew members yelled 'Land'!

Iroh seemed to try to get him to talk, but yet Hakoda was little doubtful towards the man. He is the brother of the Fire Lord after all; he can not be trusted not yet.

Hakoda grunted in a reply. Just because Bato's father are friends with this Firebender doesn't mean he can trust this guy.

"I know you don't trust me." Iroh said. Hakoda bite his lip from laughing at the irony of what the Firebender said. "But I do hope you will in due time."

At that Hakoda watched the man left the deck.

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When the ship docked, one by one those that were on board stepped out slightly dizzy of being on their sea legs for a long time before reunited with their families that awaited for them on the Island.

Hakoda and Bato followed Kemen and Iroh as the four men walked down the long wooded plank onto the earth bended docks. Kemen suddenly laughed of what Iroh just said, a joke that both the younger men didn't heard. Hakoda could tell that Bato was still uneasy with his father being so carefree with the Firebender.

It amazed him that two people, born from two different Nations in the middle of a long war could be so friends despite the fact that one is the brother of a tyrant and the other is a common warrior.

Iroh then stopped as a group of Fire Nation men walked up to their small group. Acted instant the water tribesmen got into their battle stances. Before anything happened, Iroh then bowed in respect of the older looking man who looked like a leader of some kind.

This confused Hakoda; what kind of man would making a the General bow in submit?

Hakoda looked closely the elder man. The man was clearly Fire Nation; his golden eyes, his pale skin and once black hair was now white. At first glance, the man himself wasn't intemanating or interesting; but looked closely Hakoda knew that this man shouldn't be mess with.

(End of Chapter)


Words: 4,315

(1) This is commonly known as "Sky burial". Sky burials is when a human corpse is cut in specific locations and placed on a mountaintop, exposing the corpse to the elements or mahabhuta and animals--especially to birds of prey. In some Cultures (In both modern and past times) people would wait for the birds of prey clean the skeleton before they take the body back into their catacombs/temple or any other type of place where they put their dead or/and where they worship. Many believe the soul to connect to a certain bird so it take the soul into the Afterlife (depending of the Religion). Sometimes the body is disassemble before they get fed to the birds. Others chant mantra around the body, burning juniper incense before placing the body on the mountain.

This type of burial ritual is commonly practice in Tibet.

(2) Afiko: as an Airbender from the Southern Air Temple, who betrayed his people and sold them out to The War's instigator, Fire Lord Sozin in year 0 ASC (After Sozin's Comet) . He aided the Fire Nation in the Air Nomad Genocide. According to the Fire Nation history records 5 years later at the year 5 ASC, Fire Lord Sozin had Afiko executed as a traitor. It is unknown if Sozin executed him after Afiko had no use of him, as the Fire Nation view traitors has dishonor people.

Afiko only appearance is the Avatar: the Last Airbender trading card game.

(3) Jaya: a Indian, Hindu Mythology female name. One of the many names of the Hindu goddess Durga.

(4) End of a pervious chapter 23 of Dragons of the West by FireChildSlytherin5.

Author's Notes: I am sick and tired of the parting Zuko/Katara. Okay, in the beginning of the Avatar series, it's a great parting. But now…I don't know about you guys, but I am sick of that parting. *sigh* Zuko/Katara is so over rated. I'm finding myself when I look for Avatar fics, putting Zutara, Zatara etc in "Without Words" box below Find Story.

Am I the only one? I know I'm not. And NO this is story is NOT & NEVER will be a Zuko/Katara story. This is Zuko/Mai. Thank you.

Anyway, hope you love this chapter. Please Review!

Again sorry for the wait. Life got little busy with me.

Please Read and Review!

--FireChildSlytherin5