Authors Note: After my very long break from this fic, I have finally returned with every intention of finishing it. Heres the third chapter. R & R
Chapter 3: Heartache
Azula opened the door quietly, slipping into the shadowed room without a sound. Three figures leaned against the back wall, their heads lowered, and faces downcast towards the floor. Around each ankle and wrist they wore cold, metal cuffs that were chained to the wall, allowing very little mobility. Two of the figures, one male, one female, wore blue clothing and had the dark skin generally found in waterbenders. The last prisoner, apparently the youngest, was a small, pale girl with dark hair.
At her arrival, the three faces snapped upwards, six eyes glaring at her with pure hatred. “Welcome.” Azula said calmly, as if her prisoners were actually delighted to be in her presence. “Where’s Aang?” The dark skinned peasant was quick to jump to business, her tone loud and demanding. Azula narrowed her eyes with disapproval. She never addressed the Avatar by his name. Doing so could disrupt her plans for him. Names created stability, comfort, and the last thing she wanted was for him to feel human.
“You’ll see him soon enough, though when you do so, I don’t think he’ll be comforted by your visit.” She began, stepping towards them with an air of authority. Azula knew that in these situations, she had to remain completely collected and intimidating, she had to make them believe that she was in total control. “You see, I have a small request for you. In return or my generous hospitality, I’d like you to do a small favor for me. Your going to visit the Avatar, and your going to forget that he was ever your friend. You’ll speak to him as if he were now a hated enemy, someone who you trusted and who failed you.”
The trio stared at her for a moment in disbelief. “Forget it! I would never do anything to hurt Aang, you pathetic-“ Katara’s iron strong voice was cut off when Azula savagely backhanded her across the face. The girl spit out a mouthful of blood, clearly shocked. “No, you pathetic. You seem to forget that with a single command, I can put each and every one of you to death. A slow one.” Azula’s voice had risen considerably, and she quickly reigned it in. Remain collected. “You seem quite uneager to hurt your friend, but by refusing to corporate, that’s exactly what you’ll be doing.” Azula raised a hand, at on cue half a dozen guards entered the room. Two to a prisoner, undoing their chains but keeping them restrained and tying a gag around their mouths. “If you so much as sneeze, it will be the Avatar who bears the punishment.”
Azula left the room, followed by the group behind her. She strode down the hallway, hands behind her back and chin high, with an air of purpose. As they neared the Avatar’s cell, her brain mentally sighed. Contrary to popular belief, she didn’t exactly enjoy torturing. She just tolerated it far better then anyone else.
The door opened, revealing the back of the Avatar’s chair, facing away from them. She walked closer, withdrawing a cloth from her pocket and tying it around the boy’s eyes. He gave a grunt of protest, but said nothing. The guards followed Azula into the room, with the trio in tow. Now, each of them had a knife pressed against their throat in a warning to keep silent. The room was small, but could fit all of them, though uncomfortably.
Azula stepped around the chair to face the Avatar, whose face was concentrated. He knew that there was more then just her in the room, but could most likely not tell who. Azula reached down a hand, trailing it along the arrow tattoo of his left arm. “These must have been painful to get.” She commented. The Avatar was silent, though the blindfolds edges crinkled inwards, a sign that he bore a face of determination beneath it. Azula drew a knife, small but sharp, and pressed it into the skin below his elbow. The blade burrowed into his skin, right in the center of his tattoo. The Avatar winced. She glanced back at her prisoners, each of them now bearing a face of horror. If they were smart, they would remember her warning to keep silent.
She suddenly began to drag the knife down his arm, while the blade cut through his skin as if it were butter. The Avatar threw back his head, jaw clenched tightly and muffled screams emerging from behind his grinding teeth. She did not pull the blade out, but instead continued to pull it along, slicing a horrible gash into his arm. The knife tore between two of his knuckles before finally exiting him, having slashed through the space between his fingers and run out of skin to cut.
The Avatar was rocking side to side in his chair, still screaming, with tears emerging from under the blindfold. Azula glanced up in time to see the guards rushing the two water tribe peasants out of the room, and could barley make out the sound of them being sick above the boys screaming.
Only the blind earthbender remained, her unseeing eyes giving Azula a look as dangerous as the one she usually gave. It was unsettling. Azula left the room, followed by the two remaining guards and their sightless prisoner, shutting the door tightly behind them. Azula looked at the waterbender, eyes cold as steel. “Its simple.” Azula began, a smile on her face. “Either you break his heart, or I break his neck.”
Katara reached up to brush a loose peice of hair from her eyes. She was surronded on all sides by soldiers, though she bore no restraints at all. Their heavy footfalls beat against the steel walls of the ships before becoming echos, fading into her eardrums and off to nothing. Ahead of her Azula walked, hands behind her back, and appearing confident. Katare felt the sudden urge to trip her, to beat her mercilessly into the ground, but resisted. The price of defiance would not be to her, but to her friends. Katara knew that if she so much as sneezed in retaliation, Aang, Sokka, and Toph would be tortured before her very eyes.
Aang. Katara felt her bottom lip quiver, but refused to give Azula the satisfaction of seeing her cry. Katara could not shake the horrible flashbacks that kept coming. She could not erase the images of her dearest friend in so much pain, so much agony. Her fingers curled inwards into an angry fist, but what could she do? Katara had never felt so helpless. Had it been her own saftey on the line, she would have made an attempt to take the freedom of herself and her friends. But she would do nothing to jeapordize their saftey, and perhaps Azula knew that.
They stopped before Aang's cell, Azula casting a look of warning over her shoulder before opening the door. Katara stepped forward with her, while the gaurds remained at the door, unseen by Aang.
"Good morning Avatar." Azula greeted. Aang's face, which had been downturned, quickly shot up. Katara tried to catch a glimpse of his expression, but could see nothing, and was forced to remain behind him until Azula signaled for her. She stared longingly at Aang's back, wishing for nothing more then to wrap her arms around him and cry.
"Leave me alone." Aang growled. Katara's eyes widened. Not since Appa was stolen had she heard such anger in his voice.
Azula made a 'tsk'ing sound with her tounge.
"You've been here for nearly three weeks and still havn't learned any manners." <i>Three weeks?</i> Katara knew that could not be correct. Aang had been taken less then a week ago! Why was Azula lying about this? Of course, Aang had probably been unconciouse most of the time. He wouldn't know the difference.
"Don't look so upset. I have a friend here to see you." Hearing her cue, Katara stepped forward, forcing the tears from her eyes.
The expression on Aang's face was undescribable. It was a smile of pure joy, his eyes sparkling brightly with delight and love. "Katara!" He exlaimed, jerking up in his chair in an attempt to rush forward and embrace her, but being held down. Katara said nothing. She forced her lips to remain firm, not to smile. Aang's face of happiness slowly faded, replaced by confusion. "Katara? Whats going on...why are you here with Azula?" His voice was soft and scared. Aang sounded like the frightened child he was.
"How dare you talk to me like that? How dare you act like.....like we're actually friends!" Katara kept her voice loud and angry, though couldn't stop her voice from breaking in the middle. She choked back the horrible sob that threatened to break free, feeling suddenly sick. This was real torture. Katara looked over at Azula, prepared to tell the princess off and reasure Aang that everything would be okay. She couldn't take this. And yet, Azula gave Katara one look. No words were needed. Katara knew that if she refused now, Aang would be put through even worse torture, as well as Sokka and Toph. Katara took a deep breath. She would play by Azula's rules, for now. She couldn't do anything that might anger the princess into actually killing one of them. She believed that they wanted Aang alive, though herself, Sokka, and Toph...they were disposable. They would have to bide their time until they could escape, and then Katara would have a warm hug and long apology and explination waiting for Aang.
"W...what?" Aang asked, his expression that of one who had just been slapped.
"You betrayed us. You failed us! We put all of our trust in you, and you completly failed. I've made alot of mistakes in my life Aa-Avatar, but believing in you was my biggest one." Katara had almost addressed him as Aang, which Azula had stricktly forbidden, for reasons that Katara could not understand. Katara opened her mouth, forcing herself to try and deliever the last line of Azula's scripted act. I hate you. She had to say that, and yet the words would not come to her mouth. Katara was speechless. She couldn't bring herself to it.
Azula must have sensed this, for she quickly began to exit the room, motioning for Katara to follow. Katara took one last look at Aang before departing. His face was still as stone, mouth slightly open, brow knitted together in deep confusion. Katara forced herself to follow Azula, and as soon as the metal door shut, she began to sob uncontrollably.
Azula's fingers were curled into tight fists, her eyes narrowed angrily, and her footfalls hard against the dirt road. Behind her trailed twenty soldiers, all marching in unsion. The sound of the rythmic steps was almost hypnotic, never missing a beat. The Fire Nation prided itself in such discipline. That water tribe peasant had been so close to completly blowing everything. Azula inhaled deeply. She hadn't said the words that Azula knew would cause more damage then anything. To be disobeyed in such a manner set Azula's blood on fire. She wouldn't tolerate such an act.
Under her supervision, and with the water peasant forced to witness, Azula had given the older boy a few cuts and bruises. She hadn't liked that at all, weeping like a pathetic weakling the entire time. She wouldn't disobey orders again, Azula was certain of it.
The view of trees and plants was quickly replaced with a town as they journeyed further down the road. It was small and, much to Azula's satisfaction, devoid of anything relating to the Fire Nation. This was a critical part in her plan. The midday sun was overhead, and the streets were crowded with the small population of the town. Some venders were selling goods, traders haggling prices, and people running errands. The company reached the town and suddenly all activity came to a screeching halt. Azula gathered her muscles beneath her, legs bent, before taking a great leap. Her muscles shot forward like a spring, carrying her high into the air. She settled on the wooden rooftop of a nearby building, a high posistion where everyone could see her.
"Do any of you know why I'm here?" She asked, tone smooth and cold. The citizens exchanged confused glances, some of the bolder ones even daring to shake their heads. Azula dawned a sinister smirk, raising a hand and producing a scalding hot ball of blue flames. Before anyone could react, she fired the ball at a shop across the street. Its dry wood immediatly caught fire, and within seconds was burning to the ground. The citizens gasped, taking steps away before being herded towards her again by the surronding soldiers.
"I am here because one of you has made an incredibly foolish decision. One of you has aided the Avatar and his companions in the quest of preventing one equal nation. In his quest of creating boundaries between us all, of discriminating and seperating us into lables based on where we come from." The people below appeared very frightened and confused. Of course they should be confused. None of them had ever seen the Avatar, a fact Azula knew for certain. They were all innocent, but then again, they didn't know that.
"The Avatar is a dangerous and unstable fugitive. Anyone found guilty of helping him in any way will answer directly to me." Azula nodded towards the blazing building. A few embers were beginning to jump onto other buildings as well. "Consider this your reward for helping him." And with that, she returned to her company and they began to depart, leaving the citizens to deal with the hungry fire.
"We still have four more towns to visit." Azula announced. Repeating the same act four more times would be boring, but she would survive. After all, this was indeed a very critical part to her plan.
Last Edit: Jul 15, 2008 14:37:22 GMT -5 by Aangfan
=) Love. Love. LOVE it. Agggggggg. Your description is impeccable, and I didn't notice the grammar errors until I went back and actually looked for them.
"Katara!" He should be "Katara!" he Any time you have a word after a quote that's like, "he said" or "she said" or "exclaimed So-and-so", the word directly after the close-quote shouldn't be capitalized. This, of course, excludes names. It didn't take away from the story at all. I just felt obliged to say because I'm a nit-picker. But I will be eagerly checking back. -i
I'm lovng this story so far! I've been looking for a good fic to read, and I think I've just found one. *Karma*
"Evil wakes in vengeance. Be careful what you choose"
"And there is a greater evil. Humanity itself. The evil that lies in the hearts of men. The evil that drove a wedge between two in-laws (Roku and Sozin). The evil that fueled a despot (Ozai), the evil that warped a child (Azula)"