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Zuko and Zafir were walking in the dark hallways of the Earth King's Palace's basement. Zuko was following Zafir, who was scooting from the one dark corridor to the darkest, walking in a quick pace. Zuko was catching nervous glimpses of the Dai Li agents rushing next to them. This must be the second Lake Laogai, he thought. After twenty minutes walking, they came across a black door.
"Here we are." Zafir muttered and opened the door. He walked in and Zuko followed. It was completely dark, and after Zuko's eyes got used to the darkness, he could make out two uncomfortable wooden stools and a big black leather bag beside one of the stools.
"Welcome to our Willbending gym."
"Would it be too much of a problem if you lit a lamp?" Zuko said dryly.
"Willbending, like every other dark art, is better performed in the mystery of the darkness." My god, that guy is completely out of his mind. "Let's start shall we?" Zafir walked to the middle of the room and sat on a stool. Zuko understood he expected him to do it as well, and found his way to the stools in the dark.
"For a start, we will perform some breathing exercises. Breath." Zuko started breathing in and out, while Zafir was staring at him like he was some kind of an interesting animal. Suddenly, Zuko's chest started aching. It was like a hand was inside him, twisting his lungs. Zuko tried to yell in pain, but he couldn't. He also noticed he hadn't stopped breathing calmly. Despite the awful pain inside him, his body wouldn't react like it was in pain. After some moments, the pain stopped.
"What happened? What did you do?"
"What you just felt was the start of a Willbending performance. I conquered your will and made you feel the pain, but ordered you to show nothing. And you didn't even feel the power of my will conquering your mind. This is an immense advantage of Willbending." Zafir looked at him calmly. "Now, I want you to try it. Causing pain with Willbending is the most common and easy move. Your sister performed it within seconds, before I even explained anything to her. I don't believe you can do it that fast. Prove me wrong." Zuko concentrated on Zafir. His movements. His feelings. His thoughts. He watched him, and suddenly felt disgusted of Zafir. Of his will. Of his actions. Zuko was conquered by hate. Zafir did not deserve to think for himself. Zuko had to be stronger. He had to show him who was more powerful. After some seconds, Zafir started breathing slowly. Zuko felt like he was struck by lightning. But his body didn't move. Zafir. Zafir had thought on his own. How dared he...? How dared he act by his own will? He needed punishment. Pain. Zuko repeated this word in his head multiple times. Zuko heard Zafir's scream. No, he must not express it. Let him be trapped in his own head. Zafir stopped screaming, and continued to breathe calmly.
"Enough" Zafir said and Zuko lost the control of Zafir's mind. He felt like he was again out in the air after some hours of being under the water's surface. What had he been thinking? What had he been doing? He felt the last wave of hate hit the solid rocks of his conscience and the storm inside him calmed. "Well done. I must say I am impressed. I can definitely see a connection between you and your sister. Your father must have been a very talented man." A connection between me and Azula? Zuko thought. No. Azula was a monster. Zuko wasn't. Or was he? Were his actions some minutes ago proving his connection to his father's killing instincts? To his sister's sinister nature? Wasn't he a relative of Roku? Was he his father's son? Zuko felt disgusted with himself. Zafir didn't seem to notice.
"Ready for something more challenging? I want you to make me feel delighted. Zuko closed his eyes. He heard Zafir breathing. And he again felt the same disgusted feeling. But this time he wanted to act differently. He wanted to make Zafir happy. It was obvious to him that Zafir was not able to feel for himself. He needed help. Happiness. Zuko thought of the word multiple times.
"Enough" Zafir interrupted and Zuko felt disgusted. But this time, disgusted with himself. Was he completely like Azula now? Thinking he was better than everyone else? "Bravo, Zuko. Of course, Willbending is rarely used to please somebody. But it is a good exercise. And you managed to perform it. Now, for something more useful. I want you to make me feel sad. So sad I will wish I could die. So sad I could kill myself. This is an advanced move and it is only used by master Willbenders. Once you perform it, you will be almost ready." Zuko concentrated on Zafir again, and he felt the same way he had felt before. But he felt like acting differently. He felt Zafir deserved to be sad. He wanted to kill him. But he thought it would be more entertaining if Zafir was the one to perform the murder. Be desperate. Be so desperate you want to commit suicide, Zuko thought.
"That's enough. Excellent, Zuko. You are a great Willbender." Zuko felt like he wanted to commit suicide. Was he like Sozin, wanting to spread sorrow and death? "And now, the last thing you need to now. I want you to make me move. This is the ultimate Willbending technique. Make me act like you want me to. But don't let me show it." Zuko closed his eyes. Now, he did not feel so much like before. He was disgusted, but most of all he wanted to see Zafir doing something. He wanted him to perform the Dancing Dragon. Dance. Dance the Dancing Dragon. Zuko thought, and Zafir stood up and started doing the movements of the dance he had never learned before.
"That's enough", Zafir said after finishing the dance. And Zuko hated himself again. Was he like Azulon, playing with his prey before finishing it? "Extraordinary, Zuko. You are now a Willbender. You are one of the best pupils I've ever had. Of course, your sister was way better, she Willbended on me to make me move when I asked her to make me sad. But I could easily compare you to Hama... Hmm... I didn't teach Guru Pathik, but Zuphokkang told me he was a very good student... Anyway, I have to leave..." Zuko had paid no attention to what Zafir had been saying, he was very busy thinking about the time he had passed in the 'Willbending gym', about the way he had felt, conquered with hate... But when Zafir stood up and grabbed the black leather bag, he noticed it.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
"My work here is done. I would really like to stay and see how you will develop, but unfortunately I have some... work to do. When I come back, we can talk." And the Willbending Master disappeared in a rain of purple sparkles, leaving the new Willbender alone in the dark room.
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