This story you are about to read is a continuation of my story Element Island, but is fully capable of being a standalone story. You do not have to read Element Island to enjoy this short 4-5 chapter story. I have had this tale in my head for a good long while, but have only just decided to sit down and finally get it written. So without further ado… here is Iroh's Last Search! A unique tale of Ursa's whereabouts which takes place 4 years after the war had ended.
Note: I do not own Avatar: The Last Airbender or its characters.
Iroh sat back down once again and gave out a tired "Yip, yip" as he took off with Appa once more. Avatar Aang was currently with Fire Lord Zuko and would remain at the palace for the next two weeks. Iroh was gracious to have traveled there with them and was even more thankful to be awarded the privilege of using Appa during Aang's stay.
Iroh was steering Appa in a northwest heading as he took out his map again. He held the scroll open and crossed out yet another island.
"This is certainly slow going my friend," Iroh said exasperated. 37 islands searched in 11 days with no success tended to weary the soul.
"But perhaps the next one will have what we are looking for," he said still hopeful.
Appa roared his agreement as well.
It would take a whole lot more to burn out a man of Iroh's patience. Looking at the next destination, Iroh could tell it was going to take a while which allowed his mind to wander back to a conversation he had had 4 months ago.
"So you've finally come," Ozai spat from the corner of his prison cell. "Come at last to GLOAT?... Or to plead to my better nature," he mocked.
Iroh just stood there solemnly and more serious than ever. It was a shock to see how drastic his younger brother had changed over the years. Gone was the man of power; the man in control. Sitting on the ground now sat a man defeated and wasting away... a soul gone sour.
"You look terrible my foolish little brother," Iroh stated with no inflection in his voice.
"Isn't it a wonder. What do you want?"
Iroh ignored the predictable sarcasm. "You should know Fire Lord Zuko has been doing a remarkable job patching up such a broken world. You SHOULD be proud of him."
"Well in any case I am proud of him and make sure I tell him every opportunity I get."
"He's not YOUR child remember? Yours died," Ozai venomously added.
Iroh was unfazed. "Oh I remember everything. But I have also raised Zuko in YOUR place. Loved him in YOUR place, and now I receive love and respect from him in your place."
"He's weak and dependent of others."
Iroh wanted to shake his head. "No you are wrong. It is when you care about others do you become truly strong."
Ozai refused to look up now. Iroh had known he would get nowhere with his brother. The man had hardened his heart long ago.
Ozai finally looked up. "Why are you really here?"
"Where did you hide Ursa?" Iroh asked straight out.
Ozai sneered evilly. "So you're done playing games with me?" He was never going to tell. He enjoyed his last bit of power he had over his family. "I have nothing to say to you," he jabbed with a wicked hallow smile.
"Look I know you. You liked to stay in control over everyone. You would never allow Ursa to wander freely where she may one day cause you grief."
Ozai pivoted away showing his back to Iroh. He didn't want to look at him.
Iroh just continued unhindered. "So I surmise you stuck her in one of the northern uninhabitable islands here in our nation to keep her close... Ozai the war has been over for 4 1/2 years already! For crying out loud stop being so stubborn for once in your life, and tell me which one of those northern islands did you strand her on!"
Ozai then flung himself at the bars with what strength he had and yelled out, "I'LL NEVER TELL YOU WHICH ONE! NEVER YOU HEAR ME! No matter what you or that brat does I'll never give you the satisfaction of seeing her alive ever again!"
Ozai was trembling from weakness and taking quick shallow breathes. Clearly he wasn't even a shadow of a threat to Iroh and what Ozai couldn't see was that his mind was slipping. He no longer was as sharp as he used to have been.
After a moment Iroh finally spoke. "I must be returning to Ba Sing Se shortly," he lied. "Being the most successful and wealthiest tea makers in all of the Earth Kingdom will keep a man busy."
Ozai glared on with putrid disgust on his face.
"Good bye Ozai. You will not be seeing me again."
"Good riddance," he mumbled as he sank back down to the ground.
Iroh then turned and walked out. He didn't bother looking back.
Iroh finally made it back outside and immediately appreciated the afternoon sunshine and fresh air. He smiled a sad smile as he walked back to Appa and Momo who were temporarily in his care.
He hadn't been sure...
It had all been a gamble...
...But in the end he had been right.
Iroh knew his brother would never tell him out right where Ursa was, and after having had analyzed all possibilities with two Lotus Strategists, Iroh had concluded that Ursa was most likely still in the Fire Nation. But where?
His nation of birth was large and littered with countless islands; most not worthy of being named. One could spend a lifetime exploring them all. So after much analyzing he came to the conclusion that the northwestern islands had the most advantages for Ozai. They had the least vessel traffic, the least amount of populated islands, the least resources and military bases which would draw enemy attention, and was the furthest away from any other nation. It seemed the most logical and tactfully advantageous area.
All Iroh had left to do was to see if Ozai would confirm his findings.
Iroh climbed up into Appa's saddle to head off to run errands and soon return to Avatar Aang and the others in the east.
Ozai had said "now the game is over" when in reality the game Iroh was playing had reached the next level. Ozai played right into his hands by having had said "I won't tell you which one." In doing so Ozai confirmed Iroh's estimation and brought the search from a global scale down to one region of a single nation.
Iroh would find her.