Now the series is over, it's up to the fans to tie up the loose ends. One of the most interesting loose ends in my opinion is Azula. Aang's story is pretty much over, so is Zuko's, though he can still come in handy as a secondary character. Azula's story however has merely begun. Her fate at the end probably was the most cruel of any person in the avatar world and it genuinely touched me. In my opinion there's only one person, who can saver her, and I doubt she'd be very willing to see that person. The story I'm writing will focus on Zuko, and his quest to see his sister happy again, in the first chapters, but don't get me wrong, this story is about Azula and the Odyssee she takes to reach her goal, Zuko is nothing but a secondary character.
Even though the title Azulyssee seems fitting, I'm not too sure it sounds good, opinions on it are welcome.
If people wondered why I didn't use a diamond cell. I'll say this: diamond might be hard, but it isn't tough, except for Black Diamond which is the toughest material I know of. Another disadvantage is the fact that diamonds burn and are hardly appropriate to contain a firebender. Corundum (the mother mineral of ruby and saphire) seemed like the optimal substitute.
Anyway: I don't own and probably never will own Avatar, the last airbender and its characters, nor do I plan to make money with this fanfiction. Enjoy the story and leave a review if you feel like it ;-).
The silence was deafening. Two torches provided the only faint light in the room. A room specifically designed to contain the Fire Nation's most powerful prisoner. The floor, the ceiling and all the walls were erected, or rather bended, out of corundum, one of the toughest and least fusible minerals in the world. The bars that separated the cell from the guards' section of the room, were also made of corundum rather than steel. The only metal was to be found in the locks and hinges of the door that connected the guards' section with the rest of the prison. The cell itself could only be opened through earthbending. As the convict's impulsive and unpredictable behaviour made the guards feel far more secure guarding her from the outside, they only entered the guardians' section to bring her food. But even this action was limited to moments the prisoner was either calm or asleep. A hatch in the door opened and a pair of eyes could be observed scanning the room. "I think it's safe to go in, sir", the guard said.
The door opened and warden Poon entered the room carrying a tray with the girl's dinner. She just lay awake on the plank that was supposed to be her bed, not interested in what was happening outside of her cell. "Dinner is served, your craziness", Poon mocked as he dropped the tray and kicked it towards the cell. Grains of rice landed on Azula's face as the tray collided with the bars. Poon laughed and turned around. The presence of a second person standing right behind him, who had entered unnoticed, immediately startled the warden. "Yuh-your lordship", he stuttered.
"Pick it up and give it to her the way you should! … Oh, and apologize", the scarred Fire Lord ordered.
"Yes sir, certainly sir", Poon fearfully replied. He headed towards the tray and rearranged the food on it. "My apologies, miss Azula", he said as he shove the tray between the bars, "Enjoy your meal." All the warden got in reply was a hateful glare of the former princess. It made him feel highly uncomfortable, and he motioned to leave the room as soon as possible, only to be stopped by Zuko.
"If I ever see you treat my sister, or any other prisoner for that matter, like that again, I'll personally put you in that cell with her. I wonder how long you will be begging her to finish you before she actually will. Now leave us, I want to talk to her in private!" Poon rushed out of the room as fast as he could. Zuko proceeded towards his sister, the bars bended like a curtain as he walked through them.
Azula sat up. "I suppose you expect me to thank you, your lordship", she said annoyed.
Zuko shook his head and took a seat next to her on the plank. "You don't have to thank me and you don't have to call me 'your lordship'. You're my sister you can call me whatever you like … even Dumdum if that makes you feel better."
"How about hallucination?"
"I'm not a hallucination!"
"That's what all hallucinations want me to believe. You can't be the real Zuko, Zuko doesn't care about me, I could simply rot away for all he cares. And if you're not a hallucination, how come you
just walked through the bars? I have to say out of all hallucinations I've had so far you're pretty much the stupidest. Still not convinced? Maybe you will be when I hit right thr…"
"That doesn't prove anything, you're just a very realistic hallucination, that's all! You won't fool me, I've got experience."
"You can never touch a hallucination, Azula, and the reason I walked through the bars is because Toph's just outside keeping an eye, err foot, on the guards. She bended the bars."
"Very well then. What do you want? You're only here to mock me, isn't it? That's what they all do. I must be the joke of the Fire Nation, hahahahaha, the joke of the Fire Nation."
"No, I just wanted to talk to you."
"I don't know, about you. You are my sister you know, and despite what you think, I do care about you!"
"So you do huh? You sure have a funny way of showing it. Maybe I should thank you for locking me up in this gem stone. At least you respected my royalty, I doubt anyone else got a cell this valuable, not even father! Thank you oh great and mighty Fire Lord."
"Azula, could you quit the hostility, please?"
"Why? Does it make you feel uncomfortable? How do you think I feel Zuko? How do you think I felt when I was put in here? With this Poon goon mocking me day in day out. How do you think I felt knowing mother never cared for me and thought of me as a monster? How do you think I felt when Mai and Ty Lee dropped me like a brick? How do you think I felt when you left and betrayed us, after all I had done for you? It was me who brought you back home, remember, it was me who persuaded father to take you back in. I would have conquered Ba Sing Se eventually, with or without you. I didn't need to help you!"
"I'm sorry, Azula."
"Hah, I bet you are. No one's sorry. No one has ever cared for me … except for dad."
"You're wrong. I do care for you, I wouldn't be here if I didn't. Mother cared for you, you were just never open to it. Mai and Ty Lee cared for you, but you can't force friendship with fear, that's not how it works, it's bound to go wrong eventually."
"And why should I believe you? You're one of the few people who never feared me and I've never seen you care for me. Why would you start now? The only person who cares is father."
"You don't really believe that, do you?" Azula looked up confused. "Our father has never cared for anyone but himself. He used you, Azula, you were nothing but a tool to him."
"No! That's not true. You're lying!"
"Think about it, Azula. He couldn't use me or mum for his plans, so he got rid of us. But you were perfect: talented, intelligent and most of all, you were less open to mum, she couldn't trigger your conscience. All he had to do was create you the illusion that he truly cared for you, mould you the way he wanted you to be, and he could get you to do anything he wanted, making you think that it was what you wanted. And look where it got you. When was the last time you were genuinely happy, Azula? When?"
It couldn't be true. Azula didn't want to believe it, but it all made sense. It made sense and she hated it. She truly hated it. Tears started to form in her eyes. Why was this happening to her? What did she do to deserve this? Upon seeing his sister cry, Zuko tried to comfort her, only to be brutally pushed away. "Just leave me alone!"
Zuko stood up. It was clear Azula needed some time on her own right now, and he would only get in her way. The bars deformed as he walked towards them. "I'm sorry Azula", he whispered as he went out, leaving the once so confident Fire Nation princess crying.
"That's about time!", Toph greeted the Fire Lord as he exited the corundum room, "So how did it go?"
"It's pretty bad", Zuko replied, "but I refuse to believe she's beyond help."
"You know, not that I don't think it's noble what you're doing, trying to help your deranged little sister and all, but forgive me if I don't share your hope for her. Or sympathy for that matter."
"I understand, but no one deserves to go through this, not even Azula."
"I guess you're right, though she comes pretty close."
"Yeah, yeah, I'm sorry. So, will we leave this depressing place now?"
"Not yet, there's one more visit I need to pay."
"Great, more family reunions. I suppose he's not beyond redemption either then?"
"I doubt it. Anyhow, this isn't a social call." Both benders proceeded through the dark hallway until they reached the former Fire Lord's cell.
"So, will this be a private conversation as well?", Toph asked.
"No you can enter with me if you like, it won't be that long, … I think." He opened the door and entered the room. Toph entered as well, but kept herself in the background.
"A second visit in such a short period of time", the fallen tyrant greeted his son, "I really should be honoured, I guess."
"Cut the flatteries", Zuko angrily interrupted him, "What you did to mum and me was pretty bad, but at least you never pretended to care for us."
"I take it, you're talking about your little sister", Ozai calmly replied, "How is she?"
"Don't act as if you care! You knew she was slipping, didn't you?"
"Obviously. She was in no condition to join me on our little eradication expedition, hence I had to find a way to leave her behind and make her feel OK with it. Making her the ruler of the homeland was the obvious solution."
"Even though you knew she wasn't ready."
"I suspected her growing paranoia could cause a major exodus out of the homeland, but what did it matter, as I soon would have the entire world at my feet. If she would end up ruling a barren wasteland, she'd only have herself to thank for it."
"How can you be so heartless?"
"Come on now, Fire Lord Zuko, it's not because I, unlike everyone else, covered it up, that I am the only one to blame. You are just as guilty as I am."
Zuko gasped. The confident look on his face immediately faded away as his father's words sank in. Ozai enjoyed every moment of it. He still had power over his son, and even though it was only a minor consolation considering he'd be rotting away in this cell for the rest of his life, it was a consolation nonetheless, a moment to be cherished. Zuko just turned around and left the room, his last whispering words to his father were: "Enjoy the rest of you stay." The doubt that could clearly be heard in his voice only made Ozai happier, as he was left alone in his cell again.
"OK, now I do feel compassion for your sister", Toph said as she and Zuko left the prison.
Zuko didn't reply. "What have I done to her?", was all he could mutter.
"What do you mean?", Toph replied in surprise, "You haven't done anything."
"Exactly." A single tear rolled out of Zuko's good eye.