BY : Death_Rattle
Category: Avatar - The Last Airbender > AU/AR - Alternate Universe/Alternate Reality
Dragon prints: 5257
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to Avatar: the Last Airbender or any of the characters. I do not profit from my writing.

It was a good day, Lord Shing decided. And a good day, it would continue to be! Provided of course, everything went according to plan ...Alas, how could it not? His request for an audience had been put forth without much difficulty, after all. Though, what he was about to ask for seemed-


No. Not impossible, surely. Fire Lord Azula would, evidently, have to marry and bear children. She would have to continue her father's legacy- Fire Lord Sozin's legacy - as well as the royal bloodline! That much was inevitable. Granted, Phoenix King Ozai had never, not once, made it known that he was willing to consider offers for his daughter's hand ...Nor that he wished for her to marry at all, come to think of it.

The Princess? Ha! Her daddy wants her all to himself, some admiral or general had jeered (not so long ago) after having indulged in just a bit too much ale.

There were whispers, it was true. Personally, Lord Shing had never put much stock into gossip - least of all when said gossip concerned the royal family and was of a particularly foul nature, to boot.

All gossips aside, Lord Shing kowtowed before Phoenix King Ozai and Fire Lord Azula, demonstrating proper respect toward both father and daughter, as he willed himself not to vomit. By all the spirits, no one had prepared him for just how terrifying the pair could be... two piercing golden stares, burning a hole straight through him as though he were nothing. Nothing at all. He would not speak until being addressed directly - he dared not!

Benefits of power aside, Ozai found court, and ruling in general boring. It was true, the Phoenix King didn't like being King. That isn't to say he'd ever give up his position, oh no, quite the opposite. But he just wished the damned fools he ruled over would sort their own damn problems more often, so he could spend more time partaking in the pleasure of life and less time embroiling himself in trivialities. His daughter, however, seemed all too eager to pick up any slack Ozai left for her, especially today. She wore her new crown and the marks he had placed on her neck proudly, using per impeccable memory and mind to ease the responsibilities of her father from her secondary position on the dais.

Ah, Lord Shing, Ozai recognized immediately. Unlike most of the other lords, who had gone out to acquire lands and titles for themselves in the Former Earth Kingdoms (Like those fools Michi and Ukano, who had birthed the only other woman in the world who could make his daughter cry), Shing had stayed home. It was really no surprise however, since most of the lands he owned rested on Ember Island (which was, of course, the main reason Ozai recognized the man at all, though he would never admit it). Instead of fighting war of flame against the earth savages he waged wars of policy and gossip against his even pettier opponents.

"Rise. What business do you bring forth for me today, Shing?"

"Your Highness, Phoenix King Ozai, Great Conqueror and Hero of the Fire Nation," Lord Shing began, pandering to the Phoenix King's notoriously inflated ego. "I am truly humbled to be in your presence. It is an honor."

The sweat broke upon his brow, his every muscle tightened in a manner most unpleasant and for an instant, he felt as though he would faint dead away on the spot. Then came the feeling, yet again, that he would vomit all over the cold, unforgiving floor.

"If his majesty would be so magnanimous, if his majesty would consider, this humble subject- humble servant! This humble servant wishes to make a request."

Get on with it, the Phoenix King wanted to say (and almost did). There were formalities and there were formalities and Ozai only had patience for the ones that didn't consume too much of his time. "I will hear your request" he said, quickly.

Lord Shing swallowed hard, collecting his thoughts. This was it.

This was it.

"On behalf of my s-son, Shing, second of his name... I-I have come to ask, with the utmost respect for... for your daughter's hand in marriage," he stammered, quickly adding "Fire Lord Azula is a vision of beauty, fierce as the dragons! All that a man could desire- and then some!"

"Our house would be honored beyond words."

The Phoenix King's golden eyes widened as soon as he heard the words daughter and marriage slip off the pathetic man's tongue. How the man could think his second-rate son named after a second-rate Lord who also happened to be himself could even begin to approach worthiness of Azula was absolutely beyond Ozai. His request was not only misinformed and ill-timed, it was insulting. Did Shing really think some noble boy with no accomplishments of his own could even appease the hero-prodigy of his daughter, did he think The Phoenix King incapable of choosing an appropriate husband himself!?

"You're right" Ozai managed, seething, standing up from the throne and approaching the flames separating royalty and peasantry. Separating people like him and his queen from people like them who have to claw for power instead of owning it by right.

"Azula is all a man could desire, she really is a picture of perfection." he paused, gauging his reaction (still hopeful, the little fool). "And that is exactly why a pathetic, weak little boy with no accomplishments of his own could never hope to deserve her. Nor does the name of your sorry excuse for a house which can only advance itself by petty politics make up for it, which is why Lady Shing is as equally undesirable as the boy she birthed, the one you're trying to pawn off on me"

The Phoenix King walked through the flames, and began stepping down from the dais. "But not only is your offer so pathetic it's hardly worth considering, it's convinced me of something unexpected, Shing." the flames rose behind him "Your house has existed, walking the halls of this court untouched for almost a century, never facing the consequences of its pettiness. Today that changes! Your son will prove himself worthy of consideration the same way my daughter proved herself of being desirable in the first place - by facing our nation's toughest enemies in the field. And you! You have dishonored me by suggesting my daughter is on a level as low as yours, you've dishonored me by trying to take what's mine. Agni Kai!"

Ozai would not only teach Shing a lesson, he would show everyone what happened when you tried to take what was his, when you even dared consider yourself worthy of it.

Agni Kai

The Phoenix Queen could scarcely believe her ears and yet... Father was right. Just who, in the name of Agni, did this simpering, sniveling excuse for a man believe he was - not to mention his (likely) equally pathetic son. How dare they - How dare they! She would not be sullied by such lowly beings nor would she pollute the sacred bloodline of Fire Lord Sozin with this filth! No, she would never. Shang- Shung- whatever his stupid name was!- dare not imagine himself as being worthy of her greatness. There was but one man who could claim such an honor.

Ozai. Her father - her King. He would fight for her. He would reduce this wretched peasant to smoldering ash before their entire court, before the terrified faces of lowly subjects... they would all see! Azula was his queen... His and his alone. Father wanted them all to know and they would.

Smirking with satisfaction, Phoenix Queen Azula sat straight-backed and rigid, effortlessly regal by her father's side - so very proud to wear the gleaming, golden hairpiece atop her head and yes, the marks upon her neck withal.

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