Zuko and Ozai
In the Presence of My Father
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Phoenix Empire


Book 1


Chapter 2

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Chapter 2- In the Presence of My Father

To finally be welcomed back into his father's home after three long years was certainly relieving for Zuko. Everything felt as if it was all just a dream, like all the servants and sense of authority were merely pieces of his broken past. Then it was time to once again face the Fire Lord. Zuko and Azula had been summoned by their father to give a first hand report of the events that took place two weeks ago in Ba Sing Se. The family reunion certainly didn't have the Prince excited. The last time Ozai had seen his son was the night of his banishment; the night Zuko received his scar. A mark of an outcast, until, of course, Katara kindly fixed that up for him. He knew the scar didn't make him himself inside, but he was afraid that was all his father would remember of him. Azula told him otherwise, saying that, "With a new face comes new honor, I'm sure Father will recognize that." Zuko wasn't so sure.

It was time. The two siblings stood before the Fire Lord, both prepared to tell of their victory. Ozai motioned for them to sit, and he began, "Azula, Zuko, I have heard that together you were able to capture your traitor uncle and secure the city of Ba Sing Se for the Fire Nation. Tell me of your victory." It took no nudging to get Azula to talk, and she immediately began telling of her plan to take over the Dai Li and use their forces to control the Earth King. From there she gave a detailed account of the battle against the Avatar and Katara down to when Iroh was imprisoned. Ozai had been satisfied with her tale and turned to Zuko.

For a moment the Fire Lord stared at his son's face. The moment seemed to stretch on and on as Ozai closed his eyes and looked again. "Zuko," he started, "the mark of your defiance no longer resides on the left side of your face. An explanation of this is for another time, but bear this knowledge: no matter the feats you accomplish, that scar will forever remain in my memory. Every time I look upon your face, scar or not, we both will remember." With that, the rival siblings were dismissed. A feeling of discomfort had settled firmly in the Prince's mind. Now knowing his father would never forgive his previous acts was startling and punishing. Though the Fire Lord welcomed his son back to his home and nation, certain deeds were clearly unforgivable to him. Directly after meeting with Ozai, Zuko made a beeline for his chamber in hopes that the comfort of his own bed would settle his mind. Of course, this wasn't the case.

Standing in front of his door was none other than Azula. It was as if she fed off of others' misery and suffering, so this was like dessert. "Zuko, why so down? It isn't like your own father said he could never forgive you. Oh, I forgot, it is!" she taunted him in her sweetly sarcastic voice known to push buttons.

He had been on his last nerve before, so all it took was a nudge to push him over. "This is all your fault, Azula! You told me he would forgive me! That my honor would be restored!" It was too late to contain his anger, and Azula knew all the wrong tricks to make it worse.

"All my fault, hmm? That's funny, because I was sure that I wasn't the one banished. And who spoke of forgiveness? I merely implied the possibility of returning home." Before leaving she was sure to let Zuko know who here was superior. Azula walked away with a truly sick pleasure wiped all over her face.

With a hand over his left eye, Zuko lay on his bed. Such heavy, influential changes had been occurring in the young Prince's life and it had him feeling rather overwhelmed. This isn't what I expected, this is not what I wanted. Zuko thought to himself. All I asked for was to be welcomed back to my home- to regain my honor. But here I am now. Have I not the things I once wished for? And yet, I still am not happy. In a sudden burst of anger, Zuko attacked the Fire Nation flag hanging directly in front of his bed. He watched as it curled and flamed until it fell. For a moment he wondered if the Fire Nation would meet the same fate.

Next Chapter: To Walk Among the Dead

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