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|An Opened Wound Chapter 1|
August 14, 2013
Thirteen years after the defeat of Phoenix King Ozai and Princess Azula, the world is at peace but the Fire Lord is not. Plagued by foreboding premonitions and dark memories, Zuko fears for himself and his family.
Chapter 1 (Prologue)
The Fire Lord sat alone at his desk late at night. Sleep had become an unaffordable luxury over the past few months. With the Imperial Council* convened and the New Year's military budget due the next day he could not afford any luxuries let alone one that consumed hours.
"Finally!" he exclaimed just after two o'clock as he finished reviewing his speech. "Maybe I could afford a few hours of luxury after all," he said.
The Fire Lord rose from his desk and started his lonely walk through the dark palace chambers. He passed the dining room, the kitchen and several luxurious sitting rooms before reaching the enormous Grand staircase. He paused staring up at the vast mass of marble with a scarlet carpet descending its surface. He remembered twenty years before when his sister would routinely trip him on these stairs. Trembling at the thought of his sister he began his ascent.
Despite it being his home, the Fire Lord had never felt at ease in the palace. It was filled with bad memories, chiefly the one that had occurred in the room he now stood before, the one that had scarred him both physically and emotionally. Trembling once again he made his way into the East Wing one of the few places not spattered with past horrors. "Ahhh" he released upon entering his living quarters. He paused and turned to his right he loved this room.
The Nursery was one of the two places in the Palace where the Fire Lord had solely good memories, a place where he was not His Imperial Majesty Lord and sole Autocrat of all Fire, but instead Father, Papa, or just Dad. He took the risk of waking his children and opened the door. Inside were his good memories, his escape from years of torment and a dark past. He leaned down and kissed four year old Princess Ursa and then moved to the next room where the pride and joy of his entire nation lay. One year old Crown Prince Shaozu lay curled on his pillow, his father's greatest joy and source of the Fire Lord's greatest fear. The Fire Lord entered his chamber; quickly undressed and rested his head next to his wife and went to sleep.
A boy cowered on the ground, tears rolled down his face as he cried "Father please!" The boy's father was unmoved. "You will learn respect and suffering will be your teacher." The boy screamed as his father unleashed a blast of fire into his face. "Now you have a scar to match mine!" The scene melted away to reveal a mound of burning corpses and the Fire Lord turned to see himself throwing fuel into the inferno.
The Fire Lord awoke in a pool of sweat, for third night in a row he had had the same dream. He looked over to see his wife staring at him.
"It's five in the morning what's wrong," Mai asked.
"I had the dream again Mai," her husband answered.
Mai grabbed her husband and held him close to her. "You're not your father; you may look like Ozai but your nothing like him, you're a great father and a great husband, you're Zuko." Zuko didn't respond, later as he rode to the Council to make his speech he pondered those final words, "you're Zuko". He hadn't told her the second part of the dream because he knew all too well what it meant. For Zuko had never told Mai several things about his life while he was banished, some things too terrible to tell even her let alone the Avatar or any of his friends. Now when he heard "you're Zuko" he didn't know if that was a good thing.
Imperial Council* -- Legislature of the Fire Nation created after the war to assist the Fire Lord.
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