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Chapter 25-Behind The ShadowsEdit

The Dining Hall Where Visumbra Has Just Announced The Presence Of EonEdit

Everyone in the room froze. Perfect Visumbra thought, Now I can find you. With Eon standing still, it took her less than a minute to identify the Shade. Visumbra's eyes widened slightly as she locked eyes with Eon. No way she thought, It can't be... Then Eon's finger twitched and a shadow fell from the ceiling, punched Azula so hard she spun a full circle before falling to the ground, and ran, easily bulling everyone present out of the way.

"After him!" Visumbra yelled. Everyone in the room took off after him, Azula scrambling to her feet and hurling a death bolt after the shadow Eon had conjured before chasing after it, utterly furious that the shadow had dared to strike her and leaving everyone else in the dust as she chased after the shadowy assailant. Visumbra and the Royals hurried after her, everyone except Visumbra and Eon unaware that the real Eon was just throwing shadows around to make it appear they were chasing the real deal.

Visumbra's mind was in turmoil as she joined the crowd in chasing after Eon's decoys, Why? Why are you doing this? How have you kept this hidden? Can they really not know who you are? They chased Eon for nearly an hour as the Shade wove through the palace with ease, displaying a disturbing knowledge of the palace's layout and effortlessly evading the guards as the alarm was sounded before finally disappearing down a rabbit hole in one of the gardens.

The royal family approached the rabbit hole and looked at it warily. "We'll have to fill in every rabbit hole in the royal gardens," Ozai declared. Azulon frowned, "No, it wouldn't do any good. The shade is probably already gone, and in any case we could never fill every rabbit warren, mouse hole and ventilation shaft in the palace, and shades can go wherever they want at night. We will double the guard, but I fear we shall not be able to prevent Eon entering whenever he feels like it."

Azula rubbed her jaw, which was slightly discolored from where Eon's shadow copy had decked her, "Let him come. I'll kill him myself." Lu Ten nodded, "Agreed. Eon will receive a royal welcome should he dare to set foot here again." Lu Cee nodded in the emphatic way only children can, "Stupid shadow." Iroh stroked his beard, "I will see to it that bodyguards are set for every member of the royal family." Ursa smiled, "Thank you Iroh."

Visumbra couldn't stop glancing at Eon, By Etake's black horn Eon, how are you pulling this off? Eon met her gaze for a moment and subtly quickly winked at her.

Two Hours LaterEdit

Visumbra bolted the door behind her as she stepped into Eon's room, "Do you have any idea how close you came to being revealed this morning?" Eon made a casual brush stroke on a piece of parchment, "I have a fair notion. Thank you for not revealing me. That could be rather disastrous at this stage." "Stage of what?" Visumbra asked, "Why are you doing this?" Eon smiled, "Because Visumbra, it is my duty to stop the Black Lotus from seizing power. They seem to have amassed a disturbingly great deal of it in the past few decades, and they are hungry for more."

"How could you possibly know that?" Visumbra asked. "I listened in on one of their little meetings the night I killed Admiral Chan. Poor Zhao doesn't even realize he lead me right to his superiors." "Including..." Visumbra began tentatively, but Eon raised a hand to stop her, "Don't even say his name. I didn't want to believe Zuko's warning but now I have no choice." Eon sighed heavily, "and that means eventually I'll have to..." Eon choked on the words and Visumbra laid a hand on the Shade's shoulder.

"I don't like this. It goes against everything, every rule of conduct, every notion of honor or righteousness, but it's my duty to the throne and the empire," Eon said quietly, "And even if I don't do it myself, it'll still be my hand that lowers the headman's axe." Visumbra saw tears welling in Eon's eyes, "I know. I know." "Damn him," Eon whispered, trying to restrain tears as the brush snapped like a twig between the Shade's fingers, "Damn him to the deepest pits of Tartarus for making me do this."

Five Years EarlierEdit

Azula knelt before the man in charge of overseeing her training, "You summoned me Lord Marshbane?" Azula was undertaking three years of military training as was the custom among Death Bringer nobility. She was currently in her second year and already a very capable warrior but still untested in the field. Lord Marshbane nodded, "Yes Princess, given the glowing reviews from all your instructors, I have decided it is time for your first field mission."

A smile flickered across Azula's face as she raised her gaze to his, "What is my mission Lord Marshbane?" Marshbane accepted a scroll handed to him by the demure young woman standing next to him. He unfurled it and showed it to her. It was a rendering of a man with what looked like a knife scar across one eye, a neat beard and a blind eye, "This," Lord Marshbane explained, "Is Captain Despi Able. We have received intelligence that he is supplying information to the Republic about the movements of our ships. He is a leak, you are to plug it."

Azula smiled, there were few things she hated more than traitors, "Of course. Where is this Captain Able?" Lord Marshbane gestured to the young woman next to him, "Mai will show you the way and assist you should you require it. He resides in a port town on the East Coast. You should be able to find him easily." Azula nodded, "We shall leave at once." Lord Marshbane nodded, "Very good."

Three Days LaterEdit

Captain Able was not a thin man, so when he adjusted his britches as he stepped out of the sheltered alley into the rain, a great deal of lard jiggled unpleasantly. He stopped in surprise as he noticed the two black clad figures standing in the deserted street waiting for him, dark cloaks flapping in the winds that smelled like a storm as one pulled a bow to full draw. A chill ran down his spine as he realized these were undoubtedly imperial assassins.

He gulped and then his liquor sodden blood began to pump faster as he decided he wasn't going down without a fight. Captain Able wasn't a Death Touch, but he was very large and he was extremely strong, as he proved when he ripped the light post next to him out of the ground with one hand and swung it at the two black clad figures, both of whom nimbly leapt out of the way. The one with the bow released the arrow and sent the giant captain crashing to the ground.

Blinded by rage and pain, he lashed out at the bow wielding assassin, completely forgetting the one behind him. Azula sprang forward and drove a Death Touch laden hand into his back, the light of the Death Touch parting his flabby hide like melting butter. Azula nonchalantly caught hold of his spine and obliterated a chunk of it with her Death Touch. Able collapsed, unable to stand and attempted to force himself back up with the strength of his hands, but Azula was like a surgeon, her Death Touch laden hands leaving crater after crater in the traitors back.

After she had thoroughly perforated his back with fist sized holes, she prepared to deliver a finishing blow to the back of his head. Suddenly a hand caught her arm. She turned ready to strike and then saw it was Mai. Mai didn't often show expression but her expression now was so twisted with hatred that Azula actually recoiled a little. "Let him die a slow painful death," Mai said angrily. "Well that's not very efficient," Azula said bluntly, "If we leave him he might survive, and it'll take hours for the poison to finish him. We'll be spotted!"

Mai pointed with her bow, "It's not about efficiency Azula! It's about justice! This scum deserves the slowest death we can give." Azula looked where Mai was pointing and her eyes widened in horror as she saw the arm dangling over the edge of the trash pile. Azula ran to look and stopped in horror as she saw what was on the other side, "That monster..." she whispered. She reached and hefted the horribly broken form from the rubbish, "Come on Mai," she said, "We have to get this girl medical attention."

Just as they were loading the girl onto the back of one of their horses Azula's blood ran cold as she heard a sound crueler than any she could have ever imagined. She turned around, stormed down the street to the treacherous captain's fallen form and with a furious Death Touch laden stomp, silenced his laughter. "Go to hell," She said angrily. She turned and walked back to the horses, "Come on Mai, let's go. We're done here."

Two Days LaterEdit

The girl finally stirred and Azula woke Mai with a light shake. "Where am I?" the girl asked. "You're with friends," Azula replied. "Friends?" the girl asked, the word sounding strange in her mouth. Azula nodded, "This is Mai, and I'm Azula. We're you're friends. You'll be safe now." A faint smile twitched across the girl's lips, "I'm Ty Lee."

Next Time: The StormEdit