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May 6, 2014
After a while and with a bit of demolition, Zuko managed to get out of the prison. However, it was far too late to get Aang back, so now Zuko was stuck again.
"Great. How does that kid do it?"
"Should we scour the area sir?" one of his generals asked. Zuko just sighed.
"You go help repair the prison. I'll try to find some clues," Zuko instructed. Without a second word, his guards went back to help in the repairs. Zuko simply looked in the area where Appa used to be. The only evidence at all was some fur on the ground where Appa used to be. Other than that, he didn't have much to go on. Raiu followed him towards the site, a bit angry.
"No. Not at all."
"Zuko, the Firelord isn't gonna be pleased hearing this, you realize that?"
"Of course I realize that, that's why I need to get him back."
"Well, you better," Raiu turned, but Zuko got mad at him.
"Hey, it's not like you did any better!" Zuko snapped. Raiu, though, simply snorted.
"Which one of us is Ozai's son?" Ozai is the official name of the current Firelord. And in this case, Zuko's father.
"So which one of us has his honor on the line?"
"Good. The Firelord needs warriors and the last thing he needs is a failure like you. You better get him back, otherwise it'll be more than your face that's gonna be burned." Zuko's hands instinctively turned into a fist, him wanted to punch the cat in the mouth so its famous fangs would fall out. The last thing he needed to be reminded of was not just his scar but his honour as well...But any attack on Raiu would give him even more trouble than ever, so he covered his anger in a face of discontent. Raiu, although still mad at him, understood his annoyance.
"Hm...Have any ideas in mind?" Raiu asked.
"Look. I know you only follow Ozai's orders, but can I ask you something."
"Well, Ozai didn't mention a thing about this, so it depends on what it is."
"...there's someone I need to find. Perhaps some help...The Dragon of the West. Iroh." Raiu had an odd look of confusion mixed with surprise on its face. Just the name Iroh made Raiu feel uncomfortable.
"...Is that it or what?"
"Do you know where Iroh is?"
"That's better. Well, Firelord Ozai is pretty strict when it comes to this kind of information as you may know...But I will give you a hint. He is somewhere in the Earth Kingdom...if you want to go on a wild turkey-goose chase, fine. But I'm sure Ozai will not approve."
"I don't care. Right now I need his help," Zuko said, looking away. Raiu huffed, its breath touching Zuko's skin.
"Fine. But what about your guards?"
"Tell them to to go back to Ozai. I need to do this alone." Raiu, although not wanting to, did what it was told and left. Zuko walked in the opposite direction. He needed this.
The Fire Nation prince, now left to his own mind, was simply wandering around the forest, having his own thoughts clouding his own mind. He didn't have a clue on where either the Avatar or Iroh was located at this point. He was far away from the prison and the Freedom Fighters by now. It was very dark at this point, close to night time. Zuko was looking off at the sun, which was barely peeking out right now, close to hiding behind the hills. Zuko's sigh was filled with regret. As his mind was flowing back with memories back in the Fire Nation...and on that day...that painful day.
His flashback took him back to a long time ago, back at the Fire Nation palace. There he was, standing on one end of the arena where the Fire Nation duel, known as an Agni Kai, was to take place. Two combatants entered from different sides of the arena. One of them was Zuko, not having his scar. The other side...the other...was Firelord Ozai. His own father! The thing was though, Zuko didn't know about this and now he could see himself begging for his father's forgiveness.
"Father, I'm sorry! I don't want to fight you!" Zuko begged, but Ozai simply stood over him with a look of anger.
"Father, please. I don't want to hurt you," Zuko pleaded. But it didn't do well for him...his flashback ended with a blaze. And screaming...
Zuko found himself back in focus again, back to where he was. The sun was now fully hiding behind the hills, as it was now officially nighttime. Zuko felt a tear run down his face and he also felt his sorrow fill his emotions. He didn't mean to. Zuko was so distracted by his memories, that he didn't even hear someone coming up alongside him.
Zuko didn't jump too much from the sudden extra voice. But it was enough to surprise him at all...the extra surprise was who said it. Zuko jumped to his feet as his eyes saw upon the person...or creature in this case...
"I've been looking for you Zuko. Now my search is complete."
"...Vulkan..." Zuko stood in front of Vulkan with a smile on his face.
"I'm glad to see you're okay, Zuko. I was worried something terrible happened to you," Vulkan explained.
"How long were you looking for me?"
"...well, I'll answer that by asking you this. How long was it since you left?" Zuko just stared at Vulkan as it walked over to him. It had indeed been looking for him for a long time. Vulkan broke the silence by saying "I've heard who you were looking for."
"You did? When?"
"When you were talking to Raiu earlier. You wanted to go find Iroh and seek his aid in finding the Avatar." Zuko simply smiled.
"You are an ancient spirit aren't you?" Vulkan chuckled and sat down next to him as they looked out where the sun once was.
"It really has been a long time hasn't it?" Zuko said.
"Yes, it has. Though I still remember it clear as day."
"Me too. I still want to thank you for what you did for me. If you didn't show up, I wouldn't be here."
"It's the least I could do. After all, Shinoki doesn't deserve to torture someone as yourself."
"Right. He was there, wasn't he?"
"Yeah. He's gone now, thank Raava. I'm sorry I didn't show up earlier."
"No, no. I understand...Didn't you say something about Iroh?"
"Iroh?...oh yeah, Iroh. I guess I got distracted." Vulkan got up and walked ahead a little bit.
"Do you know where Iroh is?"
"Well...as far as an exact location, I do not know... But I might have an idea on where he's going."
"You do? Where?"
"That's just it, though...He wanted to go to Ba Sing Se. You know. The Earth capitol?" Zuko felt his heart sink. Why would Iroh, a Fire Nation general, want to go there?
"Well, there goes my chance..." Zuko sighed.
"I never said that. I said he might want to go there. I never said it was a guarantee...I got an idea. How about I go find Iroh?"
"What? How come?"
"You want to find the Avatar right? The longer you're distracted, the longer the Avatar will be away from you. Avatar Aang is heading to the North Pole and it will be the winter solstice by the time he arrives, at least at the rate he's going...You just go north, I'll go find Iroh. Deal?" Vulkan gave Zuko the most important news ever. Zuko was simply speechless that he was given all of this information so soon.
"Deal. Thank you, Vulkan. You're the best."
"And you're the lucky one. Good luck, Western Dragon." Vulkan gave him a wink and it started off on its way. Zuko watched as Vulkan ran off into the night.
The next morning, All of Zuko's soldiers had finished the repairs on the prison hold and were now waiting for Zuko. Instead, though, Raiu showed itself.
"Where's Zuko?" one of the generals asked.
"Fire Prince Zuko couldn't be with us. That failure wanted to go find the Dragon of the West instead of helping us out. Now with that said, the next order is-"
"Take back what you said and get ready to go." Raiu spun around and saw Zuko walking back.
"Well look who decided to join us? What happen to finding Iroh?" Raiu groaned.
"Change of plans. We're heading north, men!"
"Yes. The North Pole. It's where the Avatar is heading. We can capture him there."
"And how do you know about that? Did a little birdie tell you or something?"
"Perhaps. But a reliable source told me so. Now no more messing around. Time to head out!" Raiu was surprised seeing Zuko back, but no longer questioned his motive. If the Avatar went that way, then so be it. Zuko, however, was completely ready to go. His new motive was in sync with Aang's...time to head off to the North Pole.
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