Firelord Ozai, had proven himself incompetent, and had been defeated by the Avatar. Immediately after that news was received, Firelord Azula had gone insane. The royal palace was in a state of lockdown, and everyone was stepping around glass, and Azula’s temper. The oldest heir, the former prince Zuko, was locked away, and kept in prison on his father’s orders. No one really knew why he was truly imprisoned, but there were rumors.
“I heard that he was sweet on an earth nation girl,” Yuhan, was a younger guard, and still fresh faced. He had yet to face Azula’s wrath, and he hadn’t lived through Ozai. Zuko liked him in his own way. He was slightly annoying, and a little exuberant, but he was still kind. While he wasn’t allowed to talk to Zuko, he still talked at him.
“Can’t be. I heard that he tried to challenge Azula for the throne,” Xiang was older, and a bit wiser, but a lot quieter. Her kindness came quieter too. Sometimes it was an extra bowl of rice, or a warmer cup of tea. Or sometimes, rarely she would leave the door open just a little long and Zuko could feel the warmth of the sun.
“Dontcha meen Firelord Azula?” Yuhan giggles slightly. Zuko knew people didn’t respect her anymore. People were fearful, sure, but it takes more than fear to rule.
“Both of you are wrong,” Ming slides Zuko’s meal into his cell. He reaches forward and takes it with a grateful nod. In the earlier days, he had simply refused to eat. If he could waste away enough, the doctors would come and maybe just maybe he could escape. It didn’t work. It never worked. So far he had several attempts to escape in just the few short months of his imprisonment.
“Oh right cause I’m sure you know what happened Ming,”
“I sure do Yuhan. Heard it from someone who was there myself!” Zuko snorts into his rice. The rumors surrounding his imprisonment were insane. He had even heard one where he was secretly an earthbender, and Ozai’s accused him of treason to his shame.
Naturally, Zuko supposed he was here because of Ozai’s shame. The firelord couldn’t bear to think of someone thinking that total domination and erasure of culture was a bad thing. Zuko hated that he was here. He could do so much better, he could be so much better. It was his destiny. But, instead here he is, stuck in a jail cell listening to guards about the daily gossip in the palace.
The guards snap to attention and Zuko looks up. Warden Poon enters the room, followed closely by one of the fire nations generals. Zuko didn’t really recognize him. To be fair the last time he was in a war council, he was a bit horrified at his- no. The Firelord’s plan. “Nothing we say leaves this room. Technically this is treason. And it’s treason for even thinking this. The current Firelord is incompetent. She’s locked herself in a wing and hasn’t left for almost a week now.,” He pauses and gives them time to catch up. “The only person that we have left of the royal families line, is sitting in front of us.”
Zuko drops his bowl. How can they think about putting me on the throne? I’m- I’m not right for the job. The general kneels on the ground, his head rested gently on his hands.
“Please Prince Zuko. You are all we have left. The Fire Nation needs you”
The day before his coronation, Firelord Zuko, had been sleeping in a jail cell, barely surviving. He was thin, and the full force of the sun had blinded him when he walked towards the palace. No longer was he the disgraced exile prince, accused of treason. Now he was the Firelord, and with the weight of his crown on his freshly washed hair, he now had the weight of thousands on his shoulders. He had to be better than his father. He had to be better than his sister. It was slightly strange, no longer being a prisoner. He had the freedom to go anywhere in the palace, except for Azula’s locked wing. He could call for meals whenever he wanted, he no longer had to live in his own filth. People looked up to him, people looked to him for answers.
Before long I’ll have to look into the release of some of the war prisoners at Boiling Rock. Zuko sighs as he walks from the council room. But, then again. No one is responding to any of my letters…
Zuko was exhausted. He had to contend with generals who were stuck in the past. Why aren’t you continuing the war Your Majesty? Why aren’t you assisting in the genocide of thousands Your Majesty? Honestly he didn’t think they could get any worse. It's much easier to deal in contracts and treaties than war. He sighs. Not only that. Azula… He was worried. She never came out, and anyone who entered her domain came out traumatized. Zuko had yet to go visit her at all, though he did want to. He was scared. How would she react? Would she blame him? Would she even believe him?
“YOUR MAJESTY!” Zuko barely had any time to realize who was sprinting towards him, before Ming had slid to a stop in front of him. Zuko honestly couldn't do this without her. She was funny, and loyal to a fault. Every night she would stand outside his room. The first assassination attempt was rough. He barely managed to survive, but Ming was there instantly.
“Calm down Ming, take a breath,” She pauses and holds up her hand as she breathes. Zuko stands watching her. What could get her so worked up?
“The Avatar is here!”