What Happened to Ursa
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Avatar - Book 4



Written by

Mark Ebson


Mark Ebson

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What Happened to Ursa is the second chapter of Avatar - Book 4. It tells what happened to Zuko's mother before and during her period of banishment.


Aang was up unusually early today, along with his friends in their neighbouring houses. They were all preparing for a meeting that Fire Lord Zuko had requested the night before. He requested one very early, much to Sokka's dismay. Right now Aang could imagine that he was in his home with Katara yelling at him to wake up. It could take a lot to wake Sokka up when he wanted to sleep, and a special meeting early in the morning with the Fire Lord wasn't enough alone to entice him to wake up. It would take a half hour of screaming and objects thrown at him before he slipped out from his bed.

Aang was the first one out of his home, along with Momo on his shoulder. He then leaned against his door, waiting for the other three to get themselves ready. The next one out was Toph, who actually looked somewhat decent. She wasn't covered in dirt today, which made a huge improvement on her appearance.

Aang smiled and laughed silently. "I see you don't have your 'healthy coating of Earth' today, Toph?"

Toph scowled and let out an angry sigh. "You'd better shut up, Twinkle Toes, or you're gonna have a healthy coating of fist."

Aang did shut up for the most part, although he did laugh quietly. Any threat from Toph was one to be taken seriously, but at the same time the fact that a little girl was threatening to punch him just seemed too ironic to not laugh at.

Toph didn't say anything, but instead she found a small puddle of mud to the side and splashed it in Aang's face as Momo flew away to dodge the dirt. Then she started to laugh as Aang rolled his eyes, at least happy that he could get it off with one quick move of Earthbending or Waterbending.

Immediately after this, Katara came out, dragging an unwilling Sokka along with her. Their house was across from Aang's, so his face was the first thing they saw – and the first thing they laughed at. Embarrassed, Aang bended the mud from his face at theirs, which solved his problem of their laughter rather quickly.

Now all of them were involved, and the group soon broke out into a large mud fight. Everyone was participating, covering each other in the dirt. Even Momo sensed what was going on and splashed some onto Sokka, much to his frustration. By the end everyone had ganged up on Toph, who sensed every movement up until that point and dodged every blow. Once everyone had turned against her she welcomed the mud, saying happily to Aang that her "healthy coat has returned".

They walked to the palace and entered (Toph had cleaned herself up by this point), and a guard escorted them to Zuko. They entered the Throne Room, which took on quite a different appearance with the arrival of the new Fire Lord: no longer was the back covered in fire; instead it was empty save for the throne, and there were fire lanterns along the walls to help brighten the room. Zuko seldom sat in his throne; instead he would wander the palace doing whatever it was he needed to be doing rather than having a servant simply take care of it for him.

Zuko did not look happy in the least. Well, that wasn't much of a surprise, but the other four could sense that this was not going to be a good meeting.

There was a small table in the room with five chairs to accommodate everyone in the room. Zuko gave the standard hand signal so that his servant would leave, and the five were alone. Zuko was the first to speak.

"I know that some of you might not appreciate waking up so early-"

"Waking up so early? Early would be in another hour!" Sokka had interrupted Zuko already, and they were not even one sentence into the meeting yet.

Then Katara began yelling, reprimanding Sokka for being so rude. "The Fire Lord himself invites you into the Palace to speak with you, and you can't stay silent for a minute?"

"'The Fire Lord himself'? Katara, it's hardly an invitation when the Fire Lord has been traveling with you for half the summer!"

Zuko interrupted them. "May I continue?" When both of them apologized and fell silent, he continued. "I know that some of you might not appreciate waking up so early, but this is important. I need to borrow Appa."

Aang was confused why Zuko was making such a big deal out of this. He would have let him borrow Appa any day. "Why are we here, then? Of course you can borrow Appa. How long you need him for?"

Zuko frowned and looked towards the table for a moment, then spoke again. "I don't know."

"What do you mean?" Katara asked. "Don't you know where you're going?"

"That's the problem. I need to find my mother, and she could be anywhere in the entire world right now."

All the other four looked at him; even Toph, who had no reason to. Aang said, "Going through the entire world? That could take years. I don't know."

"That's why I called you here. I figured since nobody's really in charge of your group, you all could take a vote."

Sokka spoke. "I'll say yes. Being without Appa for years might be hard, but if it means you could find your mother then we have to take a chance."

Then Katara went. "I'll say yes, too. I lost my mother from the War, but you don't know that yet. You have to look for her."

Toph continued the chain around the circle. "I'll say yes. I'm sure your mother's out there."

Then nobody spoke for a minute.

"Aang?" Zuko was looking at him, waiting for an answer. "I want this to be unanimous; if you don't want me to take Appa for so long, then I won't."

Aang still did not answer for a moment. He was so attached to Appa – Sister Iio from the Eastern Air Temple had said that a Sky Bison was a companion for life, and she was fully correct in that. Appa was Aang's companion, and Aang was not sure if he could give him up for so long. But then again, Zuko's mother was missing – something Aang felt was more important than being away from Appa.

"Fine. You can have him," he said in what may have been the most unconvincing display of approval ever to be uttered.

Zuko was overjoyed. He wrapped his arms around Aang for a hug, nearly dragging him out of his chair as he bolted out the door. The others followed him, barely keeping up with his pace as he ran for the field which had Appa. But before he got very far out of the Palace, a messenger hawk flew for him.

Zuko stopped, impatiently opening the message which had been delivered to him. The others saw him read it, and then stare wide-eyed at it.

"My mother's in Ba Sing Se," he said quietly. "And she's coming here."

The others ran to catch up with him, as he was running so fast that he was a long ways ahead.

"What's the message say?" asked Sokka.

Zuko continued staring at it for a few more seconds. "My mother's coming," he finally answered, and then began walking back.

Katara stared at him for a moment, thinking that he was disappointed somehow. "You are happy about this, aren't you?"

Zuko nodded. "More than I ever have been. I can't even think of what to say, and she's not even here yet."

A day passed, and Zuko waited anxiously for his mother to arrive. She said she would be arriving the next day, and he could wait no longer. He sat on his bed, twiddling his thumbs as the day grew longer and his patience grew shorter. Finally a servant arrived in him room, informing him that his mother had arrived and was waiting for him at the entrance to the Palace.

Zuko began running. Well, this wasn't just simply running – was there something faster than running? He was dashing, sprinting down the hall. He was in a state of euphoria, and he wore an uncharacteristically large grin as he made his way to the front door. The Fire Lord's room was far away from the front door so that would-be attackers would have a number of guards to get by first. This was the first time that Zuko wished he could have a room near the front instead.

When Ursa saw her son coming down the corner, she too rushed towards him. When they both met, they hugged and she kissed him on the cheek and they laughed out of pure joy. Even the guards smiled behind their helmets.

"Let's go into your room," Ursa said. "We have a lot to catch up on."

They entered Zuko's room, Ursa immediately disappointed. "Zuko, if there's one thing you've learned from the time that I've been here, it's that you either make your bed or get a servant to do it for you. How do you expect to sleep in a bed that's all messed up like this?" As she turned to fix it, Zuko rolled his eyes behind her back.

"And I know that you're rolling your eyes. Stop it." Zuko shot a confused glance in her direction, wondering how she could tell. But he just figured that all mothers could tell, and waited for her to be finished with making his bed look neat.

Once the bed looked like nobody had ever sat in it before, Ursa turned around again to face her son. "I suppose you would like to know what happened to me after I left," she said. Zuko nodded.

"Well, after your father made that dishonorable request to Azulon, your grandfather ordered him to kill you so that he could also feel the pain of losing his firstborn son."

"It wouldn't have been much of a pain for him," Zuko said with contempt.

"Sadly enough, yes, and he was going to do it, Zuko. I had to protect you. I had to kill your grandfather."

"You what?" Zuko's eyes widened from the mere thought of his mother being a murderer. Up until this point he didn't think that she killed him – he thought that at least she had gotten someone else to.

"Zuko, it was for you. That night when he ate, I poisoned his food. He died peacefully in his sleep. I knew that it was a cause for death right on the spot, and if someone found out that I had killed him, then we couldn't ruin your father's political career, of course." Ursa rolled her eyes at this statement. "Your father said that if I were to make him Fire Lord he would spare me, and say that he had 'seen' me do it, and would banish me. So I wrote a letter next to the Fire Lord's bed saying that he had wanted to give Ozai the right to the throne and that it was his dying wish, and sealed it with his seal. I placed it right there, in that spot." She pointed to a small table a few feet away from where they were sitting.

Zuko was still confused as to why this had all happened. "But why? Why did you do it in the first place? Or why could you at least have said you'd done it but still gave Uncle Iroh the throne?"

"Because, Zuko, he would have killed you if I hadn't."

Zuko looked down at the floor, knowing that there was no other choice for his mother. "And what did you do in Ba Sing Se? Did you know I was there?"

"In Ba Sing Se? I did what all others do, live as refugees. I fit right in along with them. And so did you, in your uncle's tea shop. I saw you there."

"But then why didn't you at least tell me while I was there?"

"Because in Ba Sing Se, everyone is watched. Everything that goes on is noted. I couldn't blow your cover, nor could I have blown mine. Now, tell me what's happened to you since I left."

Zuko wondered if he could even remember everything that had happened to him. "Well...I suppose I'll start at me attending a war meeting when I was thirteen. I spoke out of turn, and father forced me to duel an Agni Kai. Well, he tried, but I didn't want to, and...he gave me this."

Ursa gasped. She knew that her son and his father never had a very good relationship, but she had never expected something like this. "And what happened next?"

"Then he banished me, and told me that I could only come back with the Avatar, so I travelled with Uncle. The Avatar didn't even appear until three years later, and I found him, and I followed him all the way to the North Pole. And I almost had him, but I failed.

"By then father said that I was a failure for not being able to capture the Avatar, and Uncle was a traitor to the Fire Nation for stopping Zhao from destroying the Moon Spirit at the North Pole."

Ursa interrupted him. "Captain Zhao? That nasty man? I could never stand him."

"Actually, it was Admiral by then, but the Moon Spirit was revived by some girl and it and the Avatar destroyed his entire fleet and killed him. But then Azula was sent to capture both of us and take us home as prisoners, so we became refugees. While we were travelling me and Uncle got into a fight and we split up, but he followed me in secret. Then we found each other at an abandoned town where Azula was attacking the Avatar, and we and his friends all attacked Azula, but she attacked Iroh and left. So then we fled to Ba Sing Se, but Azula was there and she teamed up with the Dai Li to overthrow the city and threw us in prison."

At this point Ursa was glaring; not at Zuko, but at the thought that her daughter would have her son thrown in prison. It was just unbelievable.

"One of the Avatar's friends was there, and I thought I had changed to their side, but Azula showed up at the same time as Uncle and the Avatar and got me to help her. And then she attacked the Avatar, and would have killed him, but I knew his friend had spirit water from the North Pole to help revive him.

"Then I was welcomed back home as a war hero, and I found out that Azula told them that I had killed the Avatar so that way in case he was really alive, I would take the blow to my honour. Then the eclipse came, but everyone was prepared for it, so the city was evacuated. I confronted father, and told him that I would join the Avatar. He made me stay so that he could tell me about what happened to you."

"What did he tell you?" Ursa was curious as to whether Ozai told him the truth.

"He told me that he was going to kill me, and that you had helped him be Fire Lord and kill Azulon. Then he said you were banished. But he was just tricking me. He only made me stay so that he could try and kill me, but I escaped and joined the Avatar. Eventually, on the day of the comet, I faced Azula, who was just about to become Fire Lord."

Ursa stared again, not knowing that she was so close to becoming Fire Lord. "And what happened?"

"We dueled an Agni Kai. And the Avatar's girlfriend and I beat her."

Ursa gasped again, knowing that Agni Kais might result in death. Realizing that this was what his mother was thinking, Zuko spoke again. "We didn't kill her. She shot me with lightning, but the girl revived me and eventually chained her. She went insane. She's at a mental facility on an island near here; I even visited her a few days ago."

Ursa was still not completely relieved; her daughter going insane and being housed in one of those prisons wasn't exactly what she was hoping for.

But she hugged her son, happy that she was finally home.


Avatar - Book 4 Chapters

New BeginningsWhat Happened to UrsaReunionOmashu AttackedOzai's FollowersDescent, Part 1Descent, Part 2
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