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|A Typical Day|
February 27, 2011
A Typical Day is "Sozin's Blood" second chapter, which shows us what could have been a typical day for teenaged Iroh. But it's not that typical ... It revolves around love, mostly.
All right people, it would have been a shame to not see what young Prince Iroh did when he was a teenager, right? So, it's a bit of a filler, but it allows me to introduce some characters and some Firebending. I hope you'll enjoy it despite it being a filler.
"Prince Iroh, it is time for you to wake up."
Iroh opened his golden eyes at the sound of the quiet voice. He was in his room which was still dark, save from rays of light which entered by openings near the ceiling. Dust was hovering in the luminous streams, shining like a little sun for a moment before turning back into their earthly grey mediocrity. An appropriate metaphor, thought Iroh. Fire over Earth.
"Your Majesty must hurry if he wants to be ready in time," said the same voice.
Iroh turned his eyes on the silhouette dressed in servant's clothes. And smiled.
"Haoru, how many times must I tell you to not employ the third person when referring to me? "Prince Iroh" or "Sir" is fine."
"Your Majesty will have to tell me again tomorrow, as it is the sole way to express the pleasure that is mine to serve your mighty self."
"No boot-kissing, Haoru."
"As his Majesty wishes. May I repeat that you, I mean, he must hurry up?"
"Oh, right. School."
Haoru called all of Iroh's servants who started to dress him with a remarkable efficiency. Iroh was quite popular among the servants. Always nice, always polite, he almost treated them as equals. By contrast, Fire Lord Azulon's servants had all developed an addiction to relaxing tea, and their eyes still twitched a little afterwards. Many eventually joined the army. A much less stressful job.
Iroh turned to his chief servant.
"Haoru, I will eat my breakfast in the Tea Pagoda. I want to leave quickly, so be sure it is served to me within the next ten minutes."
"As his Majesty wishes. May I assume his Majesty wants to accidentally stumble on Lady Cixi?"
"How do you know about that?"
"I'm afraid his Majesty confessed me his love a month ago."
"To who did I also tell such a thing?"
"His Majesty has spoken of Lady Cixi's qualities to all the people he feels close."
"Which are ...?"
"Pretty much everyone in the Palace, Sir."
The other servants chuckled in the background and Iroh reluctantly smiled. Given the gossipy nature of the servants, the whole capital city certainly knew of Iroh's crush on Cixi, and it was only a matter of time before she eventually discovered it.
If of course she didn't already know it.
"I guess what's done is done", sighed Iroh. "Now, I must prepare for the cataclysm that is still yet to come."
Iroh went out of the palace by a small exit, checking no one saw him. He pulled a hood on his head. Although royalty had many advantages, staying anonymous was not one of them. He had lots of fans among post-puberty and unmarried Fire Nation noblewomen and they all hoped to catch his attention and become the next Fire Lady. The most fanatical even camped before the Royal Palace.
He entered a dark alley and slowly navigated towards Cixi's house. It was a tall building which stood alone on a plaza, revealing the importance Cixi's family held. Pine trees were gently swinging with the touch of the wind. And only one window was lit.
Iroh leaned against a nearby wall while imagining his beautiful Cixi combing her black hair. He was lost so deeply within his daydreams that he almost didn't notice the figure leaving the house and walking in the direction of the Royal Academy for Girls.
It was her! Iroh immediately recognized her, with her long jet black hair and her thin and pale complexion. He could imagine the amber of her eyes glowing with the morning sun.
As quietly as possible, Iroh ran across the plaza and tried to stealthily be closer of her. At last, he was only a few feet behind her but he remained hidden to her sight, as he was shaking behind a corner. She had stopped to walk and seemed to be waiting for someone.
Come on, Iroh, Iroh's brave side told him. You can do it. She's just a beautiful girl, a beautiful single girl. She will not do something unspeakably horrible to you if you tell her you love her.
But she might tell me she doesn't love me! Iroh's cowardly side replied. I will just stay here and watch her. I'll talk to her tomorrow.
You already said so yesterday.
And the day before. And the day before.
So you prefer to just stare at her in delight forever instead of actually trying?
Come on, Iroh. If you don't act, that idiot Chan will have her as his girlfriend. Have you seen how he watches her?
You're right. I must act now before ...
"Cixi!" a girl voice shouted. A tall girl ran and reached her friend. The two girls started walking together.
Before Zola arrives.
"HUH!" Iroh screamed, a little too loud, before starting to bang his head on the wall.
"Pupil Jiuan, can you tell me what was Fire Lord Sozin's greatest accomplishment?" Mr Luong asked.
Jiuan pleadingly looked at Iroh, his entire being saying : "I don't know the answer. Please, help me!"
Iroh checked what were his possibilities. He could order Mr Luong to change the topic, but he wasn't sure Jiuan would score better if the subject was Fire Lord Azulon's greatest accomplishments. Of course, he could dismiss the class, but eventually his father would know it. So there was only one possibility left.
"Well, Pupil Jiuan?" Mr Luong said, toying with his ebony black sideburns. "What is your answer?"
"I want to answer, Sir." Iroh told the teacher.
Mr Luong bowed on the ground, as Jiuan sighed with relief.
"As you wish, Prince Iroh."
Iroh cleared his voice.
"As we all know, Fire Lord Sozin's greatest deeds were the Four Battles of the Air Strongholds, where the Fire Nation army and the Air Nation army fought. It was the first battle of the War, the War to end all wars. Fire Lord Sozin wanted to share our prosperity, our superiority and our genius with the other nations of the World. However, it was impossible to do so with the political system of the other countries, the Water Tribes being made of savages and the Earth Kingdom being too divided, too corrupted and with too many rivalries between the different provinces. As for the Air Nation, it was ruled by conservative fanatical priests. None of them would have accepted to change its ways, thinking their way was the best. Ours was the best, obviously. After all, we had got ridden of senseless spirituality, of corruption and of the loads of tradition.
Fire Lord Sozin's greatest threat was the Avatar, the man who ensured the peoples of the world would stay into their wrong, twisted ways. So Fire Lord Sozin waited for the old Avatar to die and prepared his armies as a new Avatar was growing up in one of the Air Strongholds. Sozin was a clever man and knew when the Great Comet of Power would return. So, fifty-two years ago, he declared war on the Air Nation. The Air Armies were ruthless and made use of terrible bending. But thanks to our superior strategies, our superior element and the might of what is now known as Sozin's Comet, our military managed to defeat the Air Nation, even though it was divided in four."
"Pupil Gazo, why did great Fire Lord Sozin divide his armies in four?" Mr Luong asked suddenly.
"Because the Four Air Strongholds were at the four corners of the Globe, Sir. And Sozin's Comet stays in the atmosphere for not even an hour, Sir." a brown-haired student replied.
"Pupil Hoil, when will Sozin's Comet come back ?
"In 48 years and 19 days, Sir." another student quickly calculated.
"And now Pupil Jiuan ..." Mr Luong began.
Jiuan had started to sweat, but Azar the Luck Spirit seemed to be protecting him, as the gong which announced the end of the morning classes resonated. In less than two seconds, Mr Luong was alone in his class.
"Man, I thought he was going to peel my skin for good this time!" exclaimed Jiuan.
They were before the porch of the Royal Academy for Boys. As the younger students were noisily playing in the yard, the older boys were trying to look cool while watching the girls of the opposite building.
"Come on, Jiuan, don't make me believe you've never, ever, heard of the Four Air Strongholds and the coming of Sozin's Comet." Iroh said.
Jiuan had a sly smile.
"Of course I knew about it, but I wasn't going to please the old turtle-rascal."
"Mr Luong is 30."
"That's twice our age!"
"They will beat you if you're not careful enough."
That managed to silence Jiuan who started to play with his wooden cards. Jiuan wasn't a Firebender but he had extremely agile hands, with which he enjoyed doing sleight of hand, legerdemain and prestidigitation. That made him quite popular with the ladies, even though he was extremely ugly, with his fat build, his zits and pimples, his greasy hair, not to mention a severe case of halitosis.
"Oh, Iroh, you lost your wallet."
He was also kleptomaniac.
"At least I give you back the items I steal from you!" protested Jiuan when Iroh shouted in outrage for the umpteenth time.
But Iroh wasn't listening to him anymore, as Cixi had finally emerged from the group of girls. Jiuan waved a hand before Iroh's eyes, trying to make him react, to no avail. He then pushed him in Cixi's direction.
"What are you doing?" Iroh questioned.
"I make you do what you should have done already a long time ago. Besides, if you don't ask her quick if she wants to have a date with you, Chan will do that first. Look."
Iroh watched in the direction Jiuan pointed and saw indeed a muscular boy with a confident smile heading towards Cixi.
Iroh started to run in a dignified way but as he was about to reach Cixi, he bumped into his biggest nightmare.
Iroh had fangirls. And Belle-Tching was the worst. By far.
"Iroh, I mean Prince Iroh, of course, haha, it's very sweet of you to come see me, I bet you have noticed I had a new haircut, don't you, you're a very polite boy, always nice to us poor girls who are usually persecuted by men ..."
And it went on and on, words erupting in an endless flow from the 7-feet tall mountain. It was true that he was too polite with women. Jiuan had already told him so. When other boys would have already politely excused themselves and started running, Iroh felt that it was his duty to stay with the muscular girl while watching helplessly as Chan got closer to Cixi.
Won't she stop for breathing? Iroh asked to himself.
But he wasn't saved by her spontaneous asphyxia.
"Hello darling." Jiuan told Belle-Tching. "Did someone ever tell you how gorgeous you are? You're even prettier than ... that flower."
And with incredible elegance, Jiuan made appear out of nowhere a Moon Flower from behind Belle-Tching's (waxy) ears.
"Would you mind talking with me for a little while?" Jiuan questioned, his eyes illuminated by a golden light.
Belle-Tching giggled and threw Iroh aside. As she walked away her arms tightly tied around Jiuan, Iroh noticed the magician's hand slowly heading to her pocket.
Finally ridden of the monstrous blob, Iroh turned to the Royal Academy for Girls ... only to see Chan in deep conversation with Cixi.
Suddenly the world didn't seem that bright.
"I had to show her the 32 objects I have stolen from her to make her flee. I barely escaped the Water Tribe kiss." Jiuan told Iroh. "But I hope it was worth it."
He looked at Iroh who had hidden his head under his crossed arms.
"Er, it doesn't look like it was." noticed Jiuan. "Aren't you supposed to already be back at the palace?"
"I have nothing left to live for." cried Iroh. "She almost kissed him!"
"Why didn't you use your Royal Powers to intimidate Chan and made him flee sobbing?"
"She doesn't like bullies. I will never be able to court her!"
Jiuan had an idea, but he was torn between his loyalty to Iroh and the various promises he had made. Finally the call of friendship was stronger.
"You know ... There might be a way to talk to her without Chan around."
Iroh's head popped up.
"Promise first you won't say to anyone that I'm the one who told you about it."
"Told you about what?"
"Okay, there's an underground party organized tonight in the Harbor City and I've heard she will be there."
"Why did no one told me about it?!"
Jiuan sighed again. "Come on, Iroh, why would someone talk about an underground party to the goody-two-shoes Crown Prince?"
Iroh ignored the last comment.
"Where is that party?"
"You're late, student." Hayao said. The small man was waiting in the pagoda where they played Pai Sho, a cup of tea in front of him.
"I'm sorry." apologized Iroh. "My father must be furious, I had to practice Firebending with him."
"Fire Lord Azulon had canceled your training, as he had to preside a War meeting."
"I guess I'm lucky, thanks goodness!" shouted Iroh, relieved. "It's horrible when he's angry at me!"
"However, he's still furious, as he had intended to introduce you to his generals. The metal in the throne room has started to melt actually."
Iroh facepalmed. Karma truly enjoyed playing tricks on him.
"What will be my punishment?" he miserably asked.
"Extremely harsh Firebending training, student. Harsher than usual."
"It's Pai Sho time then, I guess."
They started to play. In two minutes, Iroh lost three times.
"You're not doing as well as usual, student. What are you hiding?"
Iroh composed a face of pure innocence.
"Nothing, Sifu. Truly nothing."
He looked at his master's face, which was as cold and expressionless as usual. But this time, Hayao had raised a bushy eyebrow.
"Then let's go back to the game." he slowly stated.
"His Majesty is truly sure he wants to go to the Harbor City, alone, by night?" Haoru anxiously questioned.
"Yes, Haoru." replied Iroh. "If I'm not back in three hours, then wake up Hayao. In the direst case, alert my father."
"As His Majesty wishes." Haoru simply said.
Iroh quickly sneaked out of his quarters and was out of the palace in mere seconds. Instead of making use of his royal authority on the sentries that guarded the entrance of the caldera, he quietly rocketed himself with his Firebending over the volcano edges. Five minutes later, he was in the muddy streets of the Harbor City.
The Harbor City was the home of all the Fire Nation criminals and evil minds, so dangerous that no guard dared enter it by night. This, of course, made it an ideal meeting place when someone had to involve himself in semi-legal activities, like hiring a bounty hunter or throwing underground parties.
Iroh quickly reached a metal building and he knocked the door in a precise pattern. Immediately, the gate was opened. A grim man with dark circles under his eyes proposed to take his coat, but Iroh declined the offer, preferring to keep his hood down in order not to be recognized.
He entered a large room, decorated with candles and with musicians playing in the background. There were all of the rich teenagers of the city, most of whom Iroh knew. And they were strangely moving in the rhythm of the music.
He finally managed to see Cixi in the farthest corner of the room, sitting alone at a table. Perfect, he thought. He walked towards her, avoiding the teenagers who were still moving in a chaotic manner. When he reached the table, he was so full of confidence that he felt like he could lift a mountain.
"May-May-May I take a seat?" he stammered.
Cixi looked at him with amazed golden eyes.
"Prince Iroh?" she asked. "What are you doing here?"
I came here because I want to tell you since I saw you for the first time that I am madly in love with you. thought Iroh.
"Er, I've heard there was a-a-a party here and I wanted to come," said Iroh. "I've heard too that you were gonna come, and I wanted to see you. Without Chan."
"Chan is just a bag full of hot air." She smiled. "And it's so sweet of you."
He smiled back. The night was going to be beautiful.
Karma has an extremely hard intolerance of sweet moments. Many Air Nomads theologists have speculated that it has a Dark Side that enjoys playing pranks on people. In about forty years, it would find a good guinea-pig in the Southern Water Tribe, to which it would make experience lots of hardship, struggle and anguish, most of which would look self-inflicted. It would be no surprise that with all its evil energies focused on this young man, the Dark Side of Karma would completely forget about the War, and it would be over after 15 years of slapstick on this unfortunate Water Tribe boy. But as for now, it was no wonder that it crashed that beautiful moment and triggered pandemonium.
Zola, Cixi's friend, came at her table and started to say : "Cixi, you must meet ..." but then she saw Iroh and her eyes widened with fear.
"THE CROWN PRINCE IS HERE!" she shrieked.
In mere seconds, the whole room was filled with cries, shouting, yelling and general loud noises. Iroh and Cixi were pulled outside by the fleeing crowd and were left standing alone in a dark street of the Harbor City.
"I bet the party's over." Iroh told Cixi. "I'm sorry."
"There's no problem." Cixi said. She put her hand on Iroh's forearm, and he felt tingles of pleasure spreading on his spine.
"Er, would you mind if I drive you back home? Figuratively speaking, since I have no palanquin."
She just took his arm, which he took as a yes.
They had been walking silently for fifteen minutes, with Iroh stupidly smiling, when Cixi squeezed his arm.
Iroh looked up. Five men dressed in black were standing at the end of the street, looking quite menacing.
"There is no need to worry, people," said the man in the middle that looked like the leader. "If you hand us your money quietly, there won't be too much violence."
"I don't think they are just gonna let us walk away after having mugged us." Iroh whispered to Cixi.
She rolled her eyes. "No kidding."
Iroh took a Firebending stance and shouted : "Let us go, and I won't hurt you too much."
The bandit sighed. "As you wish, Shu."
They stayed silent for a few seconds. Iroh felt the energy in his stomach slowly heating up, as the stomach itself pushed and pulled the diaphragm and the lungs, with his breath becoming heat and energy. He felt his chi slowly building up against his fingertips, as his energy lines started to shake with power.
Suddenly, the chief thug Firebent a stream of fire at Iroh, which he blocked. He counter-attacked by sending a few fireballs, his chi rushing in his arms. He then spinned his arm in a series of fast kicks and sent several burning arcs to the five bandits. But their chief blocked it all.
Crap, Iroh thought. He might be a better Firebender than I am.
The main thug jumped in the air, his clutched fist bright with flames, then landed, and his fist hit the ground. A massive explosion made the earthly ground crack, sending bits of rock flying everywhere, and a column of fire hurled towards Iroh's face. But he put his forearms together, perpendicular to the ground, and his chi ignited into a shield of fire which sent the column scorching the walls of the street.
The chief of the bandits stopped attacking and dispatched his fellow thugs around Iroh and Cixi. They obviously were not Firebenders, as they used swords and machetes against them. Iroh kept sending fireballs at them, protecting Cixi with his very body.
"Stay behind me!" he ordered her.
She kicked with her foot one of the bandits in a very painful place.
"You know", she told him, "if we ever start a relationship, you should stop patronizing me."
At last, Iroh made a fire whip with his foot which he used against the thugs. Although he had been sure to only make minor burns, the bandits fled in the darkest street, leaving only their chief standing and Iroh panting.
While his men were fighting Iroh, the chief of the bandits had been simply blocking the Crown Prince's continuous attacks with his left arm. And now Iroh could see he had fallen right into a trap. While he had tired himself unnecessarily, the thug chief had charged a powerful blazing attack in his right fist.
The thief smiled evilly and then unleashed a mighty stream of fire that engulfed the street, dissolving the walls in a few seconds. But as Iroh and Cixi were about to be killed, a small man, who was barely 3 feet tall, jumped before them and, with an almost absent-minded gesture, put out the fire.
The bandit at first looked at the small man wrapped in red robes, barely understanding what just happened. Then he created a long fire blade, burning with all his rage, and sent it, aiming the small old man. But he just joined his hands like he was praying, and as the fire blade was only an inch of his wrinkled fingers, he took control of the blazing stream and divided into multiple fire lashes, which he sent to the dumb-struck thug. They landed before his feet and exploded upon contact with the ground, hurling him backwards. As he raised his head, dismissing the blood that was running from a little cut, he stared at the small scary man, who was quietly standing in the burning street.
"Leave now." Hayao said. "And do not dare cross my path again."
They were back in the caldera of the Capital city and were waiting before Cixi's manor.
"But Sifu", Iroh asked, "how did you find me?"
"Haoru told me of course. He was scared and he was right. I was lucky to find you. And you were lucky too, student. Very lucky."
"I will never thank you enough for what you did, Master Hayao." Cixi told him. "You saved our lives tonight."
"I only did what was my duty." Hayao simply stated. "Now say your goodbyes. You have five minutes."
And he left them alone in the plaza.
They both held hands and each was starring into the depths of the other's eyes.
"I must thank you too." Cixi whispered. "You made me have one of the best nights of my life."
"Even with the threat of death?"
They remained silent for a few minutes.
"I love you."
"I love you too."
When they kissed, Iroh felt his body temperature increasing and was afraid for a few minutes that his back might burn.
She ended the kiss.
"I would like this moment to never end." Iroh said. "I would like the sun to never rise, the time to never pass, and to just stay here with you."
He kissed her again.
"Go now. We'll see each other tomorrow." she told him.
And she entered her house. As Iroh left, he felt that he was at the beginning of a great adventure.
- Belle-Tching is the grandmother of the hysteric Zuko fangirl we see in "Nightmares and Daydreams".
- Chan is the same person as Admiral Chan, which makes him the father of the boy of the same name in "The Beach".
- The Water Tribe kiss is the Avatar World equivalent of the French kiss.
- The bandit speaking of Shu is of course a reference to the tale of Oma and Shu, a tragic romantic tale with many links to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. I'm here making suppositions that it was adapted in a play, maybe by Pu-on Tim's father. Anyway, we could translate the sentence of the bandit as : "As you wish, Romeo." That bandit is quite knowledgeable for a thug.
- Of course, it was an underground party because they were dancing.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|Sozin's Blood Chapters|
|Book 1: Sparks|
|The Second Prince - A Typical Day - The Twenty-First Day of the Eighth Month - To Live - The Beach, Part 1 - The Beach, Part 2 - Inconsistencies - Interlude : Cixi Alone - Southwards|