2: Prisoners

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We sat in the dark corner of a two room cottage waiting for Prince Zuko and General Iroh. When they arrived home from where ever they had been they didn't bother to look around, leaving Azulaan and I hidden in darkness as Iroh poured sea shells onto the table.

"Look at these magnificent shells!" Iroh said picking up a conch. "I'll enjoy these keepsakes for years to come."

Zuko rolled his eyes angrily. "We don't need any more useless things! You forget, we have to carry everything ourselves now!"

Azulaan calmly interrupted. "Hello, brother. Uncle."

Zuko turned angrily to us. "What are you doing here?"

Azulaan examined the shell he picked up. "In my country, we exchange a pleasant hello before asking questions." He stood and walked toward Zuko and Iroh, me following. "Have you become uncivilized so soon, Zuzu?"

"Don't call me that!" Zuko yelled at his younger brother.

Iroh was clearly upset. "To what do we owe this honor?"

"Hmmm... must be a family trait. Both of you so quick to get to the point." Azulaan broke the shell between his fingertips, leaving Iroh angry. "I've come with a message from home. Father's changed his mind. Family is suddenly very important to him. He's heard rumors of plans to overthrow him; treacherous plots. Family are the only ones you can really trust." He paused for a moment before continueing, "Father regrets your banishment. He wants you home." There was no reaction from the other men. "Did you hear me? You should be happy. Excited. Grateful. I just gave you great news."

Iroh looked at Zuko. "I'm sure your brother simply needs a moment."

Azulaan became instantly furious. "Don't interrupt, Uncle!" He turned to Zuko, annoyed. "I still haven't heard my thank you. I'm not a messenger. I didn't have to come all this way."

Zuko stared as though his life had been a lie. "Father regrets? He... He wants me back?"

"I can see you need time to take this in. I'll send someone to call on you tomorrow. Good evening." Azulaan pulled the door open. "Lets go Reen."

I bowed to Zuko and Iroh before following quietly.

***

We were half way back to the ship when Azulaan looked over his shoulder at me. "You're awfully quiet, Reen. What is on your mind?"

"Nothing, my Prince," I said quickly.

"Oh please. There's clearly something. What is it?"

"It is not of importance, Prince Azulaan, but if you must know I'm thinking about the servant before me."

"Oh," Azulaan examined his long nails. "He's dead if your wondering what happened it was a training accident actually. I was sad to see him go since he actually was quite good but he was too slow and he got hurt." He waived it off. "I need my nails done when we arrive back to the ship. They're getting too dull again."

"Yes, Prince Azulaan," I said, no more confident than before that I'd make the year in the Prince's service.

***

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