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Omashu Attacked is the fourth chapter of.
He could feel the power surge through him as the sky turned a blood-red colour. Never again in his life would he feel the sheer energy pulsing through his veins, overwhelming his body as he lead the team of ninety-nine other men across the bridge. They all felt the same feeling, but none of them would enjoy it like he did. Power was what fueled him, and today he would be filled up.
Di Ren threw his fist into the air above him, sending a long jet of fire towards the sky. Today his fire burned hotter than ever, and he enjoyed every moment of it. He wanted to be the one to do the most damage today. He would not waste a second of this once-in-a-lifetime event. He would not spare anyone that got in his way, men, women, children and infants alike.
The newly-liberated city of Omashu grew closer. They were walking along the only entrance to the city, a narrow pathway that required the guards to line up in three columns as they marched across. They began marching quickly; each second it took them to enter the city was a second of the comet that was wasted. There were four guards at the gate who tried to stop them, but they were easily powered by the strength of one hundred Firebenders whose bending was increased tenfold.
The wall was also no match for them. A few of the large group of soldiers blasted a hole large enough to fit through, and they entered.
The soldiers were ruthless. They gave only a minute's warning to the city's inhabitants. After the sixty seconds were up, they began burning houses; some soldiers even blasted homes so powerfully that they simply were gone.
Of course, they were fought against. There were Earthbenders in the city, and many of them did what they could to try and stop the soldiers, but it was to no effect. They were unstoppable with the comet.
Di Ren was a madman. He destroyed every object in his path. He was making his way to the Royal Palace to turn it to ashes. He had already received word that Bumi was nowhere to be found, however, which was a major problem. After the city was liberated on the day of the eclipse, the Fire Lord wanted the king, as he put it, as his "personal prisoner".
But finishing the mission as it was intended to be finished was only a small part of why Di Ren was here. The main event was burning the entire city to the ground, which he succeeded at. He worked his way up the steep slope of the city, making sure to incinerate everything he could possibly reach. He saw a house in which a mother and her small child were hiding in, not wanting to face the Firebenders as they tried to escape. He saw them through the window, smirking at the fear visible on their faces.
Gone. Wiped out in a few seconds. And as for the two inside, they simply no longer existed.
It was the price to pay for disobeying the commands of the Fire Nation, he thought to himself.
The Palace was a few yards away. Nobody was left to stop him. There was no more screaming; all those who had obeyed, had left. The entire city was dead silent, save for the noise created by the massive amounts of fire being produced. It was a sweet sound to Di Ren. And it was about to become much sweeter.
He immediately began releasing fire as he approached the Palace. He stared at it with what seemed like a crazed stare as it was demolished by two enormous jets of flame. He made sure to reach every corner of the Palace, enjoying every moment of its destruction. By now the entire city was wiped off the face of the Earth, and it was only this part of it that was left. The other soldiers, who at this point had nothing left to do, helped in destroying it, and after a few minutes of intense Firebending it was gone, just like the rest of the city.
Di Ren burned the Fire Nation insignia into a small piece of stone before turning around to his troops, simply saying, "Good work. The Fire Lord will be pleased. Now let's leave." The hundred warriors began marching back down the city, towards the once-great wall surrounding it. They made their way across the long, narrow bridge, at the end of which a small fleet of war balloons was waiting for them.
They boarded their war balloons, and Di Ren watched the now-refugees fleeing for Ba Sing Se. As his balloon passed directly over them, he laughed loudly enough for them to hear clearly. The once-great Earth Kingdom city was now nonexistent. The comet was now just about to leave, and for a final celebration Di Ren sent a blast of fire that would just miss the citizens, causing the ones nearby to cower away from it. Di Ren laughed another wicked laugh as he flew away on his war balloon to return home a war hero.
King Bumi, who unknowingly was now just a Bumi, was travelling back to what he thought was his great city. He travelled alone via Earthbending, and was going at a fairly quick pace. He was now close to the city, but something struck him as odd. At this point he was usually able to see some of the buildings. Unless they were...no. It was impossible. The Fire Nation had been defeated.
Bumi sped up, going at an almost uncontrollable pace towards the bridge. But there was nothing left of it. The wall had been breached. The city had been burnt down. All that was left were mere piles rocks, and the shadow of a once-great stronghold. The entire area was deserted, or at least it seemed that way.
Bumi rushed into the city, yelling to see if anyone was left. But there was no one. Nothing could tell him of what happened, save for a single rock that sported the Fire Nation insignia. Not that it gave him any more information than what he had already known. It was quite obvious that this had been done by the Fire Nation. But there was no clue as to what had happened, or if anyone even survived at all.
Perhaps they didn't survive. Maybe the people that invaded his city completely disregarded its citizen's lives. It was quite possible to Bumi that he was the only one left. He was the only thing left of this place. And if he was, it then meant that he failed as a king. He failed to protect his city, to be there when it needed him. Instead he was hundreds of miles away in Ba Sing Se, which was not where he needed to be.
But he knew where he needed to go now.
"Sir. You have a visitor, King Bumi of Omashu."
Zuko stared at his servant for a moment. He saw the king the night before Sozin's Comet arrived. He didn't seem very...right in the head. Zuko hadn't said anything then, of course, for the sake of being polite, but it made him wonder why the king was showing up at his doorstep without warning. He was probably thanking him, for all he and Aang had done. Why wouldn't he? After all, they had brought peace to every nation on the planet, ending a century-long war and allowing the entire human population to be that much safer. Why wouldn't a major leader be thanking him?
King Bumi walked into the Throne Room, in which Zuko was spending the time he rarely spent in there – he couldn't just sit around all day; he wasn't one for all the incessant pampering that came with the title of Fire Lord. But Bumi looked like he needed it – he appeared to be very tired and battered, and not at all happy. It looked like he wouldn't be thanking Zuko any time soon.
"Omashu...is gone." That was all he had said. That was all he could bear to say.
A look of concern made its way onto Zuko's face. "How is that possible? You took it back, you drove them all away – the War is over!"
"But it ended too late." And Bumi told Zuko how he had traveled back to his once-great city, only to find nothing. "You wouldn't have thought a city was once there," he said. And as for the people who once lived there, there was no trace of them either. As far as Bumi knew, they were all burned along with the city, ashes among ashes of the buildings.
It all seemed impossible to Zuko. It had to be impossible. He had never heard anything from his father regarding this plan. In the short time he had returned to the Fire Nation, he heard so much about the military...had Zuko missed something along the way? But it seemed so unlikely; out of all the plans, to miss a plan so grand as the complete destruction of the second-largest Earth Kingdom city –
And then it hit him. Of course he missed it: he wasn't there. Bumi regained his city on the day of the eclipse. And where was Zuko after the eclipse? With the Avatar. Of course, he knew his father was setting to burn down the Earth Kingdom, and its second-largest city would surely be one of his targets. But Zuko had assumed all the burning would be done by his father. After all, there didn't seem to be any other incidents of cities being burned down – none that were very major, at least. So if his father didn't do it, the question was...who did?
Well, wasn't that a puzzle.
For the time being, Bumi was living at a small home nearby the Palace. Zuko had quickly begun his search for the leader of the army which had burned down Omashu. Of course, being the supreme ruler of the Fire Nation, this wouldn't be hard – he could easily find out the names of every single person who served in the army during the arrival of the Comet. He didn't know what he would do with the actual city once he had completed this task, but he would come up with something. Zuko wasn't the best at thinking of plans beforehand.
Zuko had gotten a servant to gather a list of those who were high-ranked in the army, and information on where they were during the eclipse. There were certain names he were looking for; for many of them he had already known where they were, which helped to narrow down the list even further. Finally he had come to the name he had expected in the first place: Di Ren. Next to his name was the city of Omashu.
Di Ren. He was a monster, as Zuko recalled. He was as bad as Zuko's father, and mostly everybody who knew him, feared him. But still, it was an honor to be in his group. They were unstoppable; the Dai Li of the Fire Nation, and every single one of its inhabitants knew it. Di Ren had a talent (if you want to call it that) for striking fear into the hearts of everyone he met – come to think of it, he was just like Azula as well. Zuko could swear Di Ren was related to his family. He didn't know anybody that scary who wasn't.
But now, the question was what to do with Di Ren. Should Zuko kill him? And what about his hundred elite? It just didn't seem like a good idea; he didn't punish any other Fire Nation Army members who had willfully ceased all operations pertaining to the War. The few who still tried to continue what had been already been ended were a different story, but Di Ren hadn't done anything wrong after the War ended. If Zuko wanted to be fair, he could not punish Di Ren. But fairness really was the last thing on his mind right now...
No. He could do nothing. It wouldn't be right to punish him, and not everybody else who had been fighting the same war.
He crept in quietly. He knew what he was doing was dangerous, and that he could very well die if everything was not executed perfectly. What he was most afraid of, was that he would be too loud walking in. You can't assassinate someone in their sleep if they aren't sleeping, and he knew he wouldn't win if it wasn't done while they were sleeping.
But Di Ren had taken care to make sure it would go just as planned. Zuko had to die with a plan this good, he just had to. He had predicted already that some people in the Fire Nation wouldn't change, a prediction he was right in making. And some of the guards, whom Zuko trusted in his naïvity, were not loyal to him, but to the ruler he had overthrown. It was because of this that he could enter the Palace without opposition, as the guards he needed were just where he needed.
After Zuko died, Di Ren would take the throne. And being the magnificent plotter he was, he had covered everything necessary for this to be possible as well. Powerful men had powerful connections, and Di Ren was no exception. He had hired someone to forge a note so that it appeared to be written by Zuko, stating that in fear of assassination he wished to be succeeded by Di Ren due to his excellent service in the War. And then he had found the Fire Lord's official seal, and stamped it.
Also hired was a man who made a natural sedative, which would prevent Zuko from waking up. This was due to the fact that Di Ren could not leave any burns on the Fire Lord, as a doctor (who Di Ren had also hired) would announce that Zuko had died peacefully in his sleep. Unfortunately, this burnless method would cause great discomfort to him in his sleep, which meant that he could not be able to wake up. Di Ren would slowly heat his head so as to raise his internal temperature without causing any physical signs. It was the perfect plan, from the perfect planner.
Then there was the final problem, that being the Avatar and his friends. To fix this, he had set up one of his men for each of them, waiting for any of them to walk outside. They would not kill – no, doing so would create an outrage amongst the people. Also, it would be suspicious as well for more than one of such important people to die in the same night. Yes, they would just silently knock them out using whatever methods necessary, then drag them back into their homes, and return to their positions.
Now Di Ren had just slipped Zuko the sedative. He would be in a very heavy sleep for three hours, which was longer than needed to finish this – in reality, Di Ren only needed about an hour. This might have seemed long, but it was necessary to do everything perfectly. But first, a three-minute wait for the sedative to take effect. This would be the worst part for him.
"Sleep tight, now." He pulled a chair to the side of the bed, and sat down.
The first minute was an eternity. Never had Di Ren been so impatient in his life. He quickly became bored...but there was nobody else but him and –
Then a blast of fire came from nowhere. He reacted and successfully dodged it, but was confused – it came from the door, not from Zuko. Standing there was a guard who had found out about this plan. He lied to Di Ren about his allegiance, knowing he could have the power to stop the assassination and save the new Fire Lord.
Zuko shot straight up. The sedative was halfway to taking full effect – only 90 seconds left now. Everything seemed...blurry. He couldn't concentrate on what was happening. All he saw were streaks of fire, and then one man fell. And then there were a few more streaks of fire...what was going on? Who was – he couldn't even complete that thought. Everything went black.
|New Beginnings • What Happened to Ursa • Reunion • Omashu Attacked • Ozai's Followers • Descent, Part 1 • Descent, Part 2|
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