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Asylum Seeker is the fourth chapter of the fanon storywritten by .
The House of Fengkuang
The House of Fengkuang was dark and dank despite the high noon sun outside. The screams of the inmates within it echoed throughout its long dark hallways making the guards shiver on their duties. The doctors swept throughout the hallways handing out their drugs to the dozens of patients of the biggest asylum in the Fire Nation.
The highest security wing of the asylum was a single cell. It was a stone room, outfitted with a single bed made of steel jutting out from the wall and a toilet. There was a circular room all the way around the room, much bigger than the room it contained within, that was kept at freezing temperatures, and beyond that four armed men guarded the single exit out of the room. Its single inmate sat on the steel bed, chuckling lowly to herself.
Today was unique however. Today, she had a visitor.
The guard opened the door to the inner cell and the cold escaped into the room. "Visitor! Look sharp!" he yelled. The patient barely looked past her long black hair.
The visiting man stepped past the guard. "You can leave us now."
The guard was apprehensive. "Are you sure? The prisoner – sorry, patient – is highly dangerous."
"Oh, Princess Azula and I are old friends."
The guard nodded once then retreated out of the room. The fallen princess looked up, her golden eyes glinting with a spark of her cruelty.
"Do I know you?" she said, her voice dripping with malice.
The visitor was a tall man in traditional Fire Navy armor, but it was burnt and dented on his forearms. His hair was a dirty blonde and he tied it back in a topknot at the back of his head. Sideburns extended all the way down his cheeks. "Of course you do, princess. I'm Admiral Zhao."
"You're not Zhao..." said Azula, chuckling lowly to herself again. "And besides Zhao is dead."
The man smiled broadly. "Is he now?"
The Royal Palace of the Fire Nation
Aang walked into the Fire Nation palace. Two of the guards nodded formally to him and escorted him to the throne room, where Fire Lord Zuko sat with his wife, Mai. The Avatar walked into the room and Zuko immediately stood up and quelled the flames that separated his throne from the main room. The advisors filed aside, creating a small pathway from the entrance all the way to the seat of the Fire Lord.
"Aang," said Zuko, stepping towards him and shaking his hand. "Is everything alright? I thought the child was due around about..."
Aang bowed his head low. "Can we talk in private, Zuko?"
Zuko's eyes narrowed and he was silent for a moment, then he turned to his head advisor. "Jeed, the Avatar and I will be having a private meeting in my chambers. We are not to be disturbed under any circumstances. Do I make myself clear?"
Jeed bowed low and began to escort the other advisors out into the hallways. Aang allowed himself a small smile. When he had first met Zuko, the guy had blown fistfuls of flame right at him, but for over ten years now, Zuko had been one of Aang's closest allies, second only to Katara. There was no-one Aang counted on or trusted more.
Mai came up and hugged Aang briefly in welcome – there may be have a small hint of a smile there, but Aang wasn't sure and Mai wasn't much for smiles. "I'll see you later," she said to Zuko.
"Oh, Mai, when I said private I didn't mean you weren't included," Aang said.
"It's fine. Honestly, I have better things to do," said the Fire Lady. "It was good to see you though." She stalked off and followed the advisors out of the hall.
Zuko motioned to a secret door in the back of the throne room. "Shall we?"
Aang and Zuko went though into Zuko's chambers. They were huge and lavish, a place suitable for the Fire Lord, but Zuko's hand in them was unmistakable. He had a picture of his uncle Iroh and his mother Ursa on a desk in the corner as well as some pictures of Mai's younger brother – he was 14 now. The luxurious furniture was contrasted by the old, rundown tea set that sat on a table in the center along with huge amount of papers and maps of the Fire Nation.
"You've got a new scar," Aang said, motioning to the corner of his own mouth.
Zuko smiled weakly. "Did you really come here to discuss the quality of my skin?"
"Another assassination attempt?"
"There have been four more since I last saw you, Aang."
"Four?" Aang gasped, his eyes wide.
"Yeah," said Zuko, as he picked up the old teapot and began to pour some tea into some cups. "One attacked Mai's home last month, when she was visiting her parents."
"Was everyone alright?"
Zuko nodded and handed Aang a cup full of jasmine tea. "Ty Lee was visiting."
Aang smiled slightly. "Was she okay?"
"He's the only one we've captured alive. He looked like a pretzel, but he was alive," Zuko said. "But I'm figuring out the cult situation," he indicated the papers and maps on his desk. "And it isn't what you came to speak to me about."
"Zuko. Diyi... the airbending child... was born."
"That's great news, Aang, but..."
"She's gone. She was kidnapped."
Zuko put down his tea. His eyes narrowed. "And you suspect the Cult?"
"The Cult have been particularly active recently, but this is bigger than anything they've ever tried before."
"Do you know where they are? I can handle it from there."
Zuko went over to the papers on the table. "I have no idea where their base of operations is. But, a unit of Fire Nation soldiers was deployed to Ba Sing Se last week without authorization from any of my military advisors or me. That's probably the Cult's doing. I've ordered them to be left alone and I've got some spies tailing them."
"What do they want in the Earth Kingdom?"
"I have no idea, but I intend to find out."
"I guess I'm going to Ba Sing Se."
"I'm coming with you."
"I don't need your help, Zuko."
The Fire Lord was silent for a moment. "Fine. I'm going to see Uncle. Might as well tag along. Appa's faster than a war balloon."
"I mean it, Zuko. This is personal. Somebody is trying to destroy what I've been working towards for nearly ten years and I won't let them," Aang's eyes were full of silent anger and determination.
"Don't lecture me about your problems, Avatar. This Cult attacks my country and kills my people constantly! Did you see the house in the city? That entire family was killed because their eldest son was my ambassador in the Northern Water Tribe!" Zuko yelled, wearing his own anger less silently. "So, if you're going against them, I am going with you whether you like it or not!"
Aang was quiet, then nodded. "I'm sorry, I forget you have just as many problems as I do. We'll do this together then."
Zuko smiled, his anger at his friend had vanished. "The Avatar and the Fire Lord."
Aang smiled too. "Let's go save the world again, hotman."
"Don't call me that."
The Jasmine Dragon
The small legion of Fire Nation troops walked down the main street of Ba Sing Se towards the inner circle and the royal palace. People in the streets stood in the doorways of their homes, worried looks on their faces as they remembered the horrors of ten years past, but the kids played joyfully and ran around the soldier's feet. They didn't have the bad memories of the War, but it wasn't long before their concerned parents had them back in their homes and safe behind their legs.
In the Jasmine Dragon, Iroh was sitting at a table and sharing a cup of perfectly brewed green tea with his favorite customer.
"Why is there a small army walking towards the palace?" said Toph quite loudly, putting down her tea.
Iroh looked puzzled and walked towards his shop window. True to Toph's word, the legion was walking through the inner wall. It wouldn't be long before they reached the royal palace.
"Are they Fire Nation?" asked Toph, who was now standing behind him. Her shoulder-length black hair was messy and hung in front of her face, concealing her features.
"I don't understand," said Iroh. "My nephew would not send his soldiers here. He wants to promote peace, not terrify his neighbors!"
Under her hair, Toph's blind eyes narrowed. "Something's wrong. Their heartbeats are too fast. They're scared for some reason."
"The king will need you, my young friend."
"I haven't paid for my tea."
"You've been coming here for years and I don't believe I've ever made you pay for your tea."
Toph punched his arm affectionately. "Look after yourself gramps," she said, before she ran out into the street, twitched her foot and let the ground from the street seemingly swallow her whole.
Iroh looked back into his store and saw the long line of dirty footprints on the tiles of his shop. "I should make her pay for cleaning the floor though," he muttered, shaking his head and wondering where Liang kept the mop.
The Inner Circle of Ba Sing Se
Toph was running under the streets of Ba Sing Se, letting her earthbending tunnel in front of her and close off the tunnel behind her. She had to make it back to the royal palace before that troop did. Zuko wouldn't send troops into Ba Sing Se, which meant they could be dissenters, still following the beliefs of the dethroned Ozai. They could be a danger to the Earth King and there was one line of defense between danger and the Earth King: her.
She came to the surface in a room of the palace behind the throne room. She was unprepared and so quickly pulled on the robes and armor that proved her as an official advisor to Earth King Kuei. After she was finished, she moved into the throne room and stood behind the King as the Fire Nation troops walked towards them. She could feel them coming, their armor clanking against the stone floor. The Earth Kingdom guards let them pass, but Toph felt the apprehension in their hearts.
King Kuei looked up at her through his glasses, though Toph's blind eyes stared straight ahead, unresponsive. "Why are they here?" he whispered.
"I don't know," Toph answered. "Don't worry. You're safe."
Kuei smiled. "I have no doubt of that, Miss Bei Fong."
"Hail Earth King Kuei!" yelled the leader of the Fire Nation troops. He bowed in the traditional Fire Nation manner. There were seven of them, noted Toph, all less than twenty feet from the King.
The King didn't return their bow and remained on his throne. "Hail," he said coldly. "What is your business here?"
The leader of the troops removed his helmet. "We are here to promote peace, King Kuei."
"And this is the way you promote it? By marching through my streets and terrifying my people? Is this your Fire Lord's method of diplomacy?"
"You misunderstand. We were not sent by Fire Lord Zuko," said the troop leader and Toph's eyes widened in shock and worry.
Toph cut in. "Then who sent you?"
"We are the Cult of Sozin and we are here to tell you that Zuko has failed in his duties to our nation. A plan has been set into motion and soon his reign will be over." Toph tried to interrupt with a complaint, but the troop leader spoke louder. "When his throne is taken from him, our group will gain control of the Fire Nation and restart our attempt to share our culture with the rest of this world."
King Kuei rubbed his brow in thought. His eyes betrayed his fear. "Why are you telling me this?"
"Surrender now, Earth King. Submit to the will and the rule of the Fire Nation and none of your people will die in our invasion."
The King was quiet, so Toph spoke up. She was loud and arrogant. "Zuko won't be ousted by you pansies!"
The troop leader smiled. "His fall is inevitable, earthbender, as is the fall of your nation."
Toph's fists were clenched. Her anger easily showed on her face as he stared down the troop leader with her dead eyes. There was a very long moment of silence before the Earth King spoke. The whole throne room was on edge.
Kuei steeled himself, and then stood up. "The Earth Kingdom will never fall," he said as the troop leader clenched his teeth in anger. "Nor will it bow to you. We will oppose you at every turn, and you will not return to the rest of your group to wage war upon us."
The troop leader snarled. "You would shoot the messenger, King? What about diplomacy?"
"Diplomacy is between nations and you said yourself that you are not allied with Fire Lord Zuko. Seize them!"
Toph smiled with sheer joy at the words. The guards were drawing their weapons and beginning to charge. The Cult of Sozin troops were drawing their own weapons and the leader growled viciously and pulled back his fist.
Everything was slow motion for Toph. She felt everything that was happening through the earth. The leader was pulling back his fist and adjusting his stance, leaning back on his left foot. She could feel the vibrations of him taking a deep breath; she knew that stance. It was a basic firebending stance that she'd seen Zuko and Aang perform dozens of times. He was going to blast a large blast of flame directly at the Earth King.
She stomped her foot and a wall of solid earth sprang up in front of the King and the flame broke harmlessly on the wall. Then, she thrust both her hands forward and, with barely a grunt from Toph, four thin pillars of earth sprang from the base of the wall and collided with the metal helmets of the four soldiers behind the leader. There were four resounding clangs and the four unconscious soldiers all flew across the throne room with nice big dents in their helmet.
Toph lowered the wall with a gesture and walked towards the remaining soldier. "You're going to tell me what you're planning."
Kuei felt brave behind his mighty bodyguard. "And she can tell if you're lying, why do you think I hired her?"
"Then I won't talk at all! Yah!" he screamed, adjusting his stance for another blast of flame. Toph clenched her fist and swung her arm up and the soldier yelped as his metal gauntlet buckled inwards, grasping his arm, before swinging wildly into the air. The jet of flame leaped from fist harmlessly up into the air, leaving the soldier hanging pathetically like a desperate student trying to get the teacher's attention.
Toph smiled widely and raised her other arm in the same manner and the soldier's second gauntlet swung into the air. She unclenched her fist and the soldier, dragged by his gauntlets, was taken off his feet and into the air, dangling like a puppet.
"You little bit..." started the soldier before a flick of Toph's wrist brought the metal from his chest plate twisting up over his mouth and clamping it shut.
"You'll talk when I tell you to," said Toph in her own boisterous way that no one else could quite pull off. "And not a second before." She smiled widely and although she couldn't see it, she could sense there was fear in his eyes.
The High Security Wing
Azula still stood directly opposite to her visitor, eyeing him from under her unkempt black hair. "Let's say I believe you," she said. "What is it you want with me?"
The man who claimed he was Zhao smiled. "Isn't it obvious, princess? Your father named you Fire Lord, but your brother usurped your rule. I will help you reclaim your birthright, Azula."
"People don't do things for free. What's in this for you?"
"A little revenge and the high admiralty of the Fire Navy when you reclaim your throne."
Azula smiled. She was composing herself quickly; the insanity was ebbing away and it was being replaced by cold, calculating plans of how to get revenge on everyone – the Avatar and his friends for ruining her plans, her so-called allies for betraying her, her father for failing, and her brother for still breathing. Everyone was going to pay for the long ten years she'd been stuck in here.
"Fine," she said, sneering and brushing her hair out of her eyes. "But no-one kills Fire Lord Zuzu but me."
Zhao nodded cordially. "Yes, ma'am."
"So," Azula started. "How are you getting me out of here? If you haven't noticed, you can't firebend in here; that's what the whole cold room is for."
"You misunderstand my escape plan, princess."
"What?" screamed Azula, the insanity brimming in her eyes once more. "You said you were here to free me!"
"Yes, I did, but this cell is inescapable. I've told you how I cheated death and I hope you paid attention, princess."
"What? No!" Azula screamed. "You can't!"
"It's a long journey," Zhao smiled. "I'll see you on the other side."
Zhao dashed forward, his arms blurring with speed. Azula screamed – "No! No! I am Fire Lord Azula! You can't do this!" Blue flames flickered around her hand as she attempted to defend herself, but she was out of practice and it was too cold to produce a steady flame. Zhao was on her in a second, his hand around her throat.
Azula let out one final protest as she was slammed up against the wall. She bashed her fists against Zhao's arm, but his grip was hard and tight.
"Relax, princess," he said. "Say hello to death for me."
Azula could feel power radiating from Zhao. He wasn't firebending, but his hand seared her neck like hot coals. Her vision lost its focus and faded to black. Before she lost consciousness, she saw the darkness close in on her and rows of sharp, pointed teeth – too many to count – coming closer and closer...
A few minutes later, the man who claimed to be Zhao stepped out of the cell and the guard closed the door to the cold room behind him.
"Looks like you picked a good day, mate," said the guard in a friendly manner. "She's normally a lot louder than this."
"Oh, I have a feeling she'll be a lot quieter from now on," he said smiling, before stalking off down the corridor.
In her cell, Azula sat on her bed. Her breathing was low and shallow and her eyes were cold and dead as they stared blankly and unblinking into space.
As always, please post any reviews, criticism, comments and/or praise to the talk page. Feedback keeps the author in me motivated to continue, so please review!
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|Child of Destiny Chapters|
Book 1: Fear
The First Airbender - Stolen - Sharks and Sea Serpents - Asylum Seeker - The Swordmaster of Kyoshi Island - Cold Snap - Due North - Better to Have Loved and Lost - Wrath of the Blackened Blade - Water's Fall
Book 2: Anger