While people may assume wealthy, influential, and significantly important have glamorous, trouble-free, and never-ending fun lives, that is far from the truth.
There is wisdom in the words that do not put someone on a pedestal. Furthermore, remember that everyone, in the end, is the same. From the most abundant man in the world to the lowest beggar, we are all human. Therefore no one is greater or lesser. In the end, all that matters is how you treat others. Not skin, nation, religion, or who you love or what gender you identify with. All that truly matters is your heart and soul. So, in the end, we are the same. So keep that in mind as you read the following tale.
Currently, it was a gorgeous day in the Fire Nation. While most days were regarded satisfactory, this one, for some reason, seemed extraordinary. Most people were taking advantage of the sunny weather conditions that included the royal family.
Fire Lord Iroh had requested his father to fill in while he left on a spiritual quest. Azulon didn't argue that every family member will sooner or later go on their spiritual quest whenever Agni tells them. Prince Lu Ten and Princess Ursa had gone away for a weekend to themselves. Even married couples need a break from parenthood. Consequently, the two went to Ember Island for a week to themselves.
Lu Ten and Ursa had left their three-year-old son Zuko in the care of his great-grandparents. The young prince was proving to be a handful but then again, what child isn't a handful? At the moment, Lady Ilah was having teatime in the gardens while keeping an eye on Zuko. He was playing nearby with his stuffed tiger-monkey lost in some fantasy that only he knew.
It was constantly endearing to see a child be a child. So innocent and carefree, not yet jaded by the world. It always made her heart soar when she witnessed the few rays of true sunlight. "Zuko, don't go too far," his great-grandmother called out to him. The little boy popped his head up, gazing his golden eyes into hers. "Okay, Granny," as he went back to his game.
Smiling, she sipped some of her son Iroh's mystery tea. Ilah could never figure out how her eldest son was such a talented tea maker, but she didn't question it. The retired Fire Lady relished the invigorating sunrays giving her old bones some revitalizing energy. It was an excellent day to sketch. Knowing young children like to draw, she was about to ask Zuko if he wanted to draw when she gasped.
Her great-grandson wasn't at the foot of the summerhouse any longer. Striving not to panic, she started to call for him. Her lady's maid, Calypso, quickly heard her desperate calls and agreed to help find the child. They searched for twenty minutes without any luck. Just when they're about to call in Azulon, they heard Zuko laughing. Immediately they dashed to the turtleduck pond.
Ilah managed to catch her great-grandson before he fell into the pond. "ZUKO!" she looked incredibly anxious, but the child's face showed he didn't see what was wrong. "Granny, why you unhappy?" he asked, perplexed.
"Zuko," as she took a few deep breaths before explaining what was wrong to the child. "I was frightened. You gave both Calypso and me such a fright. There so many dangers around you. We want to keep you safe. However, when you run off like that, you scare us because we don't know if you're hurt. So please don't run off again," she gently scolded him.
However, Zuko's face remained confused, and he quickly voiced why he was confused. "So, it was wrong to go with Uncle Ozai?"
"What? When did Ozai show up? Moreover, why did he desire to remove you from my sight?" she questioned sternly. The young tot shrugged as he didn't understand his uncle did something wrong. "He just said there was a present waiting for me at the turtleduck pond. I was trying to find it," he replied innocently.
Ilah closed her eyes and let out a curse word in her mind. She knew Zuko didn't comprehend why what Ozai did was wrong. He just did what adults told him to do. "Well, it's time we went inside. We can do some coloring. You like to color and draw, right?" as she attempted to regain her composure from the scare.
The tot nodded happily as his great-grandmother held him close to her chest and went back into the palace. She threw Calypso a look, and the albino understood. Calypso instantly went to track down Ozai. She figured he must be shacking up with his concubine, Shula. He rarely came out of his bedroom these days because he got so much satisfaction violating his kept woman.
Instead, Calypso discovered Shula departing Ozai's chamber. Calypso didn't appreciate the fact she observed bruised handprints on the young woman's arms, but she didn't appear troubled by it.
"Salutations, Calypso. Is there something I can help you with?" Shula inquired, seemingly not noticing how upset the lady's maid was.
"Shula? Where Ozai?" she demanded sharply.
"I've been with him for the better part of an hour. He did leave for about twenty minutes to get me some refreshments. It's not easy to satisfy the Prince when I'm famished."
Calypso shook her head, seeking to clear her thoughts. Everyone in the palace acknowledged something wasn't quite right in Shula's mind. This girl still felt her responsibility was to be battered because she felt she was serving her country. There were valid rational motives why Azulon had selected a concubine for Ozai and not a bride. However, even he was appalled that the young lady selected in reality appeared to relish being abused. It made her euphoric. Clearly, she wasn't right in the head.
"Is he in his bedroom right now?" she asked in a tightly controlled voice. Shula shook her head. "No, he said he was going to the royal spa to soak away his troubles."
"Very well, I suggest you go visit the royal physician. They may be able to do something regarding the bruises," Calypso suggested only for Shula to brush off her concerns.
"He merely plays rough but makes things quite exciting. He's not so bad once you get to know him," Shula replied as you expected any battered woman who didn't understand what healthy love was to say.
"Good day, Shula," as the albino left her once more, muttering under her breath how the concubine needed to see a therapist desperately.
Calypso ultimately located her mistress loathsome offspring. For once, she didn't care about respecting decorum or feel self-conscious that she walked in on him sitting in the hot springs.
"Prince Ozai!" she snapped sharply, and the demon prince glared at her with such hatred. No doubt remembering how she didn't tolerate his shenanigans when he'd been a child.
"What do you want?" he growled, and Calypso did her best not to flog the prince.
"Your mother wants a word with you. As in now. Not later. Furthermore, don't think of ignoring her. You may be grown, Ozai, but if you act like a child, expect to be treated as one. I've never been one to resort to violence when it comes to children or even grown children. However, I'll be honest with you. I'd love to slap your bottom till it fell off for what you did today!
So get to your mother right now, or I will do just that!" as she left angrily.
"Bitch," he muttered but got dressed and went to locate his mother. He found her in the drawing-room. Taking a nap on one of the sofas was his brother's grandson Zuko. He hated that child so much. Weak, talentless, and just insufferable. Still, he saw his mother's ire rose, and he sought to minimize the trouble he was in.
"Hello, Mother, you look lovely today."
"Ozai, don't try to flatter me. It didn't work when you're a child, and it certainly won't work now. You're lucky you're dealing with me today. Your father skin you alive if he had the chance today. Be grateful he doesn't.
Your father wouldn't be as merciful as I'm to you right now. You're fortunate he's covering for your brother at the moment," she jerked her head, indicating she wanted him to take a seat. Once he was seated, Ilah got to the point of her fury. "Don't try to act innocent or deny your intent. You knew perfectly well Zuko was under my care today.
You also know he wasn't to be allowed out of my sight. You also know the tot doesn't know how to swim yet. Therefore why did you tell him to go find a present at the turtleduck pond knowing there be a danger of him drowning?"
He knew she was rhetorical with her question, but he answered anyway, "What is so wrong telling about a gift I left for him?" his mother's eyes narrowed in chips, and she snarled at him.
"Gift? You just tried to gift him a terrifying death! You know he's too young to understand you'd malice intent. I know you've been beating poor Shula up even more because she has yet to give you an heir.
I can't speak for the poor girl or how you twisted her mind to think that is how love works and mistreatment is perfectly normal. But I warn you now, Ozai. If you try again to dispatch Zuko or do any more harm to Shula, I've no problem convincing your father to throw you in prison and lock away the key!" With that, she stood up and dusted off her gown. Then she went over to the tot and left the room with the sleeping child tightly in her arms.
Ozai scowled again, hating his parents still treated him as if he were a child. However, he heeded their threats for now. His mother always kept her word, so any threat from her wasn't an idle one.
Ilah didn't let Zuko out of her sight for the rest of the day. She made sure the young prince stayed by her side at all times. He slept until an hour before dinner. When he woke up, she'd taken him to where her husband kept his Pai Sho board for entertaining. She attempted to teach him to play as well, not swallow the pieces. Zuko was more interested in making a tower out of the game pieces and then making it boom. She enjoyed helping him and then went to have dinner with Azulon.
Zuko, this time sat on his great-grandfather's lap as he ate his food. Azulon and Ilah just giggled at the sight of their great-grandson getting all messy. Azulon relished hearing about how Zuko's day went until he got to the part where Ozai tricked him, saying there was a gift at the turtleduck pond, and there wasn't. Then, Ilah asked Calypso to get Zuko ready for bed, and he'd be sleeping with them tonight. Nodding, she took the squirming boy away.
"Azulon, this is getting more dangerous by the day. I hated that I can't even trust my own flesh and blood! Except looking into Ozai's eyes is like looking into Anto, the Black Spirit of Death's soulless eyes!
I've never been able to figure out what we did wrong raising him. I sought all my life to correct his behavior, but he's only gotten more dangerous as a young adult then he ever was as a child."
"I know, Ilah, I don't feel I can trust him either. I'm even more concerned now for Shula if she should finally conceive. What would happen to her or the child she-bear? I'm starting to wish there wasn't a thing as an heir and spare. I wish I hadn't commended that poor girl to this twisted relationship."
"Me either. I'm starting to think we should send Ozai to prison and if Shula happens to have a child after he's thrown into jail, let someone else raise it."
"You deny a mother the right to her child being a mother yourself?" he had one eyebrow raised.
"No, of course not. I meant we get a nanny to help her but not mention Ozai is all."
"Well, it's hard to throw a member of the royal family in jail. But I think we should seriously consider it. But not until Iroh and the others get back. This will require the whole family."
"You wish Kimana to be present too? She is Zuko's grandmother, after all."
"Yes, but currently Kimana is with her family helping them in her village prepare for the summer sun celebration. She won't be back for another week."
"Well, until everyone gets back, we must keep Zuko with us at all times."
No one was quite sure what to do regarding Ozai or if anything could be done. But as for the matriarch and patriarch of the royal family vowed, they keep everyone safe no matter what.
Ilah- Pam Hyatt- Kaede Inuyasha
Calypso- Willow Johnson- Kikyo
Shula- Alania Burrnet- Izayoi- Inuyasha's mother