Heart of the Dragon General

General Iroh. Fire Nation hero. First born son of Fire Lord Azulan. The Dragon of the West. It was thought he would be the greatest warrior in the history of the Fire Nation.
But all that changed when the war claimed his son's life. This changed him, and he turned his back on the war.
This was a necessary event. Iroh had a role to play in bringing balance back to the world...but to play that role, he first had to be broken down, so that he could be rebuilt. This truth was self evident in the spirit realm.
But one particular spirit felt this was unfair to Iroh. The wheels of fate are cruel to those caught in the gears, but this particular spirit felt that Iroh deserved kindness. And so this spirit sent Iroh one who would help him to rebuild himself.
And so, shortly after his son's funeral, Iroh would find a creature sent by the spirits, the likes of which he never would have imagined...a pretty pink pony princess.
Somepony to love...and be loved by.


35. Settling In

Zuko, Jong, and Zhin walked carefully through the streets of the poor quarters of Ba Sing Se, making their way towards the house they were assigned.  Zuko glanced to the side as Iroh caught up to them, Cadence on his shoulder and a vase of flowers in his arms.  When Zuko glanced at the flowers, Iroh shrugged.  "I just want our new place to look nice in case someone brings home a lady friend."

Zuko rolled his eyes.  "I thought match making was her job," he grumbled, jerking a thumb at Cadence.

"Whose idea did you think it was?" Cadence teased.  "Besides, who says I was talking about you bringing home a lady friend, cousin?"

Confused, Zuko glanced towards Jong and Zhin.

"Oh, I don't have to do anything with either of them," Cadence replied easily.  "They're already taken care of."

Iroh blinked and blushed.  "I think I'm a little too old to be looking for a lady friend," he murmured.

"The fortune teller said you'd find love in your second life," Cadence countered.  "And you did say that we can think of being here as 'starting a new life'."

Iroh frowned, stroking his beard as he thought about that.  He then shrugged the thoughts aside for the moment.  "I found us some new jobs, and we start this afternoon."

"We're being followed," Jong pointed out calmly.  "Jet and his crew."

"Jet mentioned something about Firebending and 'hot tea'," Zhin added.

Iroh blinked.  "...oops."

"I'll think of something," Cadence promised.  "Just try not to think too much about them, and don't do any bending."

Before long, the group reached the tea shop Iroh had gotten them jobs at.  Jong and Zhin decided to stay roaming, rather than working just yet.  Iroh, Zuko, and Cadence went in to get ready for the job.

While the owner of the shop went into the back to try and figure out how to get an apron sized to Cadence, Iroh tasted the tea the shop served.  "...this tea is nothing more than hot leaf juice!" he spat.

Cadence shuddered as she tasted her own cup.  "Even Zuko can make better tea than this, and he's an amateur!"

"How very flattering of you to say," Zuko murmured, his voice flat.

"Hey, tea is serious business!" Cadence countered.  "And you are an amateur."

"We need to make some changes around here," Iroh grumbled, taking the pot of 'tea' and tossing it out the window.



The work through the rest of the day went rather well, a bit better than even Iroh had hoped.  Then again, Cadence being her adorable self had numerous customers coming in, and the much better quality tea Iroh brewed had them staying happily.  The owner was certainly overjoyed with the increased business, though no mention of raises was made.  At the end of the day, Iroh, Cadence, and Zuko met up with Jong and Zhin at the small apartment they now shared.

"Would anyone care for some tea?" Iroh asked as he prepared to brew a pot.

"...I think I've had enough of tea for today," Zuko groaned.  "Cadence, could we play Pai Sho to take my mind off of tea?"

Cadence chuckled indulgently, ignoring Jong and Zhin's snickers.  "Sure thing."

"...has anyone seen our spark rocks?" Iroh asked.  "I can't seem to find them."

Cadence paused.  "...can I try something?" she asked, fluttering over to the counter.

"...alright," Iroh replied, stepping back to watch.

Lifting the lid, Cadence beckoned upwards with her hooves and wingtips.  The water floated out of the pot, much to the confusion of those in the apartment.  "I haven't done this before, so..."  She focused on the water and began moving her hooves and wingtips in circles.  The water flowed continuously, mirroring her movements, slowly moving faster and faster.  After a time, the water began to bubble and steam, and she deposited the boiling water back into the pot.

"How?" Zuko asked, confused.

"What?" Cadence asked.  "Is it really so surprising?  You know Waterbending can turn steam into water, water into ice, and ice into water.  Is it that big of a stretch to believe it can turn water back into steam...only stopping halfway and get boiling water?"

Iroh's eyes widened.  Smiling - and making sure he wasn't in view of the windows - he turned to Zuko and put a finger to his lips.  "Amazing to intuit this technique I developed by studying Firebending," he proclaimed a little louder than necessary.  "Zuko, I'll teach it to you tomorrow.  But remember, don't let anyone else know what we can do.  We just want to live peaceful lives now, without being dragged into the war."

Cadence smiled as her ears twitched.  After a time, she spoke up.  "He's gone," she stated, surprising Jong and Zhin.

"Do you think he bought it?" Iroh asked.

"Of course," Cadence replied.  "I was Waterbending in plain view of the window...and everyone knows that only the Avatar can bend more than one Element."

"And what you said about us just wanting to be left alone means he'll back off, since he'll feel guilty for stalking us?" Zuko asked.  "Clever.  Did you plan this all out?"

"Nope," Cadence replied.  "I just snatched an opportunity when it presented itself."

"And I rolled with it," Iroh proclaimed, laying on his side.  "I'm very good at rolling."  In a fit of humor, he demonstrated.

Zuko chuckled and rolled his eyes as he set up the board for a game of Pai Sho with Cadence.

"I call winner!" Iroh called out as he returned to making tea.

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