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.


55. The Comet, Part 2

Cadence raced away from Omashu, unsure where she was going, only knowing that she had to get away from what was coming.  Before long, everyone she knew and cared about would be embroiled in a massive conflict that could tear the world apart, and one or more of those she cared for most would die because of it.  And no matter how far she ran, she couldn't escape that it was all her fault.

Maybe if she'd kept her mouth shut, or done what she was supposed to and captured her Uncle for the Agni Kai, it wouldn't have ended in death.  Zuko was a very skilled bender, and his new skills might have been enough to tip the scales.  If he demonstrated enough of them in the fight, especially in response to Ozai's lightning, maybe the battle could have ended without death or doubts of Zuko's abilities.

Maybe, maybe, maybe...that word raced through her mind, showing every possibility of what could have been, what might have been, what should have been.  And each time she raced through these thoughts, her mind returned to what the Sun Warrior Chief had said.  She was not of this world.  She did not belong here.

She come to a halt somewhere between Omashu and Ba Sing Se.  Looking around, she found herself in the middle of a field of red clay, red as blood.  Staring out at it, her mind's eye filled it with bodies of those who would likely die this day...because of her.  The clay was red with the blood of those who fell because of the war...and would fall because she had let the war continue because she didn't want to risk losing those she cared for.

She could feel the approach of the comet.  It would begin its passage soon, and already the fire stirred inside her at its approach, its burning power seeping into her magic and through her magic into the water, earth, and air of her spirit.  She could feel the power pulling her apart, and she desperately clenched down on the power so she didn't lose control.  Seeing yet more evidence that this world had no natural place for her, she sank to her belly and burst into tears.



Deep in the prison of Ba Sing Se, a certain prisoner felt the approach of the Comet.  As the flames power began to fill her, her broken chakras overflowed, spilling out of the proper pathways and into every cell of her body, filling her with power and agony beyond anything anyone had ever known.  Unlike what most would have done in such a situation...she embraced both pain and power, as mad laughter filled the prison...

...just before it exploded.



Aang stared down at the rocky pinnacles that marked the western shore of the continent, the closest land point between the Earth Kingdoms and the Fire Nation.  This would be where Ozai would make his move if he did so, where the fate of the world would be decided.

Sokka had come up with a clever plan to deal with the assault.  If Ozai came, then it would be timed to the start of the Comet's passage, when he would have the maximum amount of time to scorch the land.  As such, atop each and every rock pillar was a Firebender to counter the fires of Ozai's men, along with an Earthbender to keep them stabilized.  Waterbenders were positioned near the shore, to keep flames from spreading too far.  Sokka, Suki, Toph, and Katara were aboard a War Balloon controlled by the Mechanist, ready to attack the incoming fleet from the air.

Aang himself stood on Appa's back, high above the battlefield.  He had one single objective in this battle.  While everyone else would do all they could to prevent Ozai's fleet from making its way inland.  Aang, however, was to take down Ozai hard as fast as possible.  Once Ozai was out of the fight - especially if it was very visible when it happened - his troops would surrender.  Aang was told in no uncertain terms that he would have to set aside his distaste at the idea and - if necessary - take Ozai down permanently.

It had been rather hard for Aang to face even the idea of setting out to kill someone.  It went against everything he'd ever been taught, both as an Air Nomad and as the Avatar.  He was supposed to protect and respect life, not destroy it.  But after some soul searching, he'd taken a look at the Accords of Omashu, the peace treaty signed to end the Hundred Year War.

While the exact articles were somewhat convoluted as far as exactly how it would all happen, the message was clear.  The Four Nations - or what was left of them, at any rate - would bond together, combining skills and resources with the express purpose of creating a brighter future for everyone.  Developing new technologies for a healthier world civilization, where even distance would not separate anyone anymore...

As he read through the Accords, he could see in his mind's eye the glorious future of which they spoke.  A future of peace, prosperity, and joy...this was what he was here to protect.  As the Avatar, as an Air Nomad, as a human being...he had to do whatever it took to protect that bright future, and bring everyone together in love and peace.  And if the sacrifice required to make that world a reality was his own innocence...then so be it.

The Comet approached.  The fleet was in sight, with Ozai right at the front, madness in his eyes as his fire raged in his veins.  Aang locked eyes with his opponent despite the distance, and knew the time was now.  If he was to protect everyone he cared about, he could hold nothing back.

Closing his eyes, he let go of his attachments, let go of his fears and worries...let go of his own sense of self and right and wrong.  He embraced the knowledge of what he had to do, and the certainty that he was capable of it.

The Avatar opened his glowing eyes and leapt from the back of his Animal Companion, diving down to the battle that would determine the fate of the world, the Elements swarming to his call.



As the Comet became visible in the sky, Cadence looked up from her tears to stare at the blazing sign.  "All I've done...did it just make everything worse?" she whimpered.  "Would the world have been better off...without me?"

"Well I certainly think so."

Cadence gasped, knowing that voice all too well.  She spun to face the one person she never expected to see again.  "Azula?"

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