"I'll admit she did better than I expected."
The other spirit, who wore the form of a tall, handsome man who glowed golden with some inner fire, turned to face the speaker. "She did what she did for herself," Agnir, the spiritual embodiment of the sun, replied. "But she had realized now that the path her life had taken was no longer capable of sustaining her. It was enough to save her from him- this time."
The old man shook his head. "This time," the spirit who had once been an Avatar named Roku whispered. "So you're certain of it, then? He's not giving up, even though my great-granddaughter is lost to him?"
"He can't give up," Agni said. "His existence is on the line. And he may yet find a way to turn Azula to his cause before this is done. They are very alike in some ways. Of course, that is to be expected, considering exactly what he is."
"I warned Sozin," Roku said. "I told my old friend that he was shifting the world out of balance, but all I accomplished was that he made certain I was dead before embarking on his war. He tried to break the Avatar Cycle by destroying the Air Nomads- and that atrocity still echoes in both worlds."
"Yes," Agni replied, looking out over the verdant jungles of the Spirit World. "The worlds are connected- Sozin was a fool to think his actions wouldn't have consequences. I'm certain you're familiar, Roku, with the ways in which 'small' upsets of the balance, such as the destruction of small parts of the environment, can cause even friendly nature spirits to become monsters. What the Fire Nation started with the Air Nomads and continued for a century was far worse. You warned Sozin- I warned my Fire Sages. But they wouldn't listen, and then it was too late."
Agni turned to look at Roku with his gaze that burned like stars. "If even the smallest disruptions of the balance can create horrors, what of a century of war? He was born from the fires of the Air Temples and nurtured by a hundred years of conflict. For all that time he was quiet, basking in light of human evil, but no more. Peace has been restored, and the power that fuels him is slipping away. Now he is putting forth all his power to ensure that the mortal world falls back into chaos- and you know that when it does, it will take this world with it."
"Leaving him alone ruling over nothingness," Roku finished.
"We have our own duties here," Agni said. "We cannot abandon them, no matter the cause." The sun-spirit waved a hand and multicolored flames sprung up before him, forming into the images of mortal humans. Roku saw his successor there, and all of his friends, and the princess, as well as other, less defined figures. "It is in their hands now," Agni said. "May their strength be enough."
"It will be," Roku said. "It must be."
First off, I'd like to thank everybody who's read and/or reviewed this story for doing so- I really appreciate it. Second, although "Heart of Fire" ends here, the story doesn't- this fic was intended as the first of a trilogy focusing on Azula, and the first part is now complete. In the next installment (untitled as of yet, though I'm pretty sure it will be something "of Fire") we'll be going with Azula to the Earth Kingdom and see some canon characters we haven't run into yet- Ozai, Iroh, Ty Lee, Long Feng, and others, plus some new OCs. Thanks again for reading, and if you're interested in continuing with this storyline, check back in a few days for the prologue of story II.