Of Shadows and Fire: Chapter Five



Dawn rose over the Earth Kingdom. On the ship of a certain Fire Prince, every firebender (aforementioned prince included) awoke as the sun filled their chi with energy and life.
Prince Zuko had not slept very well at all. It had only been a few hours since the shadowbender had tried to kill him, and he felt more irritable than usual. After washing and dressing himself, he took stock of the damage around his room.
One of the assassin’s daggers laid a few meters away from his sleeping pallet, while the other was still embedded in the wall opposite. Her cloak was still on the floor as well, along with the armor he had taken. Gathering the items, he stored the cloak and daggers in one of his large drawers and hid the armor under a table. He then left the room to check on his new prisoner, telling a passing guard to alert his uncle of the situation.
The guards at the door stood to attention as he approached. Zuko let them leave, and unlocked the door. He carefully slipped inside, wary of any attack.
The girl was still lying on the bed, eyes closed. She still seemed to be asleep, but Zuko could tell she was already conscious, wary of anything and everything around her.
“I know you’re awake.”
Sighing, Kurami’s eyes slid open. Turning her head to look at the prince, she said nothing, but her unspoken question was still heard.
“Your breathing.”
Kurami was slightly surprised. He wasn’t supposed to be able to sense the shift in her breath; she had spent years perfecting it, making it undetectable. She sat up, rolling her stiff shoulders and neck. Her armor was missing, leaving her in her tunic and her regular clothes. Her boots were still on, and her hair was a complete mess. She pulled it completely loose, letting it drape over her shoulders. Ignoring the prince, she pushed her hair out of her face, adopting a blank expression.
“Who are you?” asked the prince, crossing his arms. Kurami stayed silent, inspecting her short nails.
He tried again. “Who do you work for?” More silence.
“How did you infiltrate my ship?”The firebender continued to ask questions, his patience starting to wear thin.

His fists were starting to smoke, but there was nothing but silence from the shadowbender. Growling under his breath, he stormed out of the room, slamming the door loudly and locking it behind him.
A brief smirk flashed across Kurami’s face. Time to try my escape plan, she thought. Standing, she summoned a shadow to her, planning to destroy the door, but nothing happened. Confused, she tried again, with the same result.
“What the…” she trailed off as she realized her situation.
“He…he blocked my bending! That jerk!” she exclaimed angrily.
“How in Izanami’s name did he…” she trailed off as events from last night flashed through her mind. The punch to her stomach. The center of her chi, the source of the energy for her bending, for all bending! How dare he!?!
Kurami punched the door with all her strength, barely holding back a scream at the intense pain that shot through her left arm. Ow, ow, OW! she thought, clutching her hand to her chest.
Sitting back down on the pallet, she gently inspected her hand, checking for any broken bones, hissing in pain every now and then. Her ring and little fingers were both cracked. She untied her belt, wrapping the dark red fabric around her hand, immobilizing the broken fingers.
“Stupid door. Stupid Prince. Stupid mission!” she muttered. “Once I get out of here, I’m gonna kick his ass so hard…”
Zuko stormed outside the room, slamming and locking the door behind him. Sighing, he leaned against the door, thinking about his next plan. When he heard the shadowbender exclaim in anger and shock, he couldn’t help but feel smug. His satisfaction vanished quickly, however, when he was startled by a loud thunk echoing from behind his head, followed by a muffled shout.
Did she just…punch the door?
Echoing footsteps on the metal floor made Zuko look up. His uncle walked toward him holding a tray full of food and tea.
“Good morning, Prince Zuko,” General Iroh greeted.
“Uncle.” Zuko’s response was curt.
“I heard we acquired a new guest last night. What happened?”
Zuko explained the entire situation, starting from when he heard the assassin enter his cabin. After he was done, Iroh nodded sagely.
“I see. Well then, Prince Zuko, I think you should go have some breakfast. The cook made some wonderful roast duck!” he exclaimed, mood changing immediately at the talk of food. “I shall give this to the young lady. She is probably hungry as well.”
At Zuko’s look, he added, “She is still human, Prince Zuko, and a girl near your own age, from what you told me. It would be good for you to remember that.” With that, Iroh entered the room.
The girl’s head snapped up as Iroh closed the door behind him. She looked wary of both him and the food he carried.
“It’s not poisoned,” he assured, sitting down beside her. At her skeptical look, he picked up a roll and bit into it, eating it all. She did the same. He noticed that she was trying not to move her left hand, which was wrapped up tightly with dark red fabric.
“Are you alright?” he asked, gesturing to her hand. She just nodded, slightly holding her hand closer to her. He held out his own hand.
“May I?”
She didn’t respond, but slowly, she let him take her injured hand.
“I apologize for my nephew,” he said as he inspected it. Two broken fingers, but they would heal cleanly. “His temper gets in the way of his manners sometimes.” Releasing her hand, he introduced himself.
“I am Iroh, former General of the Fire Nation, elder brother of Fire Lord Ozai, uncle to Prince Zuko and Princess Azula,” he said. “But I’m sure the Black Spirits already taught you that, daughter of Kai.” Pure shock crossed the young girl’s face.
“I also know that one of the rules a Black Spirit must follow in case of capture is to stay silent and tell nothing, especially not your name. Correct?” The girl nodded, shock still plain on her face.
“You do not need to worry. I shall not tell my nephew anything you tell me.”
The skepticism returned to her face, but she finally spoke.
“How do you know who I am?”
The third person POV’s were in this order: Zuko, Kurami, Zuko, Iroh.
About the different references to each other, Zuko only knows Kurami as “the girl”, “the assassin”, and “the shadowbender” because he doesn’t know her name. Kurami knows Zuko’s name, but just refers to him as either “the Fire Prince”, “the firebender”, or previously, “the target”.
Just to clear up any confusion, the term “Shadowbender(s)” refers to the ones Anei created in the beginning, as opposed to “shadowbender”, which just refers to Kurami.




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