Story [Avatar:The Last Airbender] Daughter of the Fire Nation (Izumi Decathlon for 2021 Fanfic Olympics)

Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by devilinthedetails , Jul 1, 2021.

  1. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fantastically Fiendish Fanfic Manager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 19, 2019
    Title: Daughter of the Fire Nation

    Author: devilinthedetails

    Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender/Legend of Korra

    Genre: A variety of genres.

    Characters: Izumi; Zuko; Mai; Katara; Princess Yue; OC.

    Summary: A compilation of stories written for my Izumi Decathlon for the 2021 Fanfic Summer Olympics.

    Index of Entries:

    Abdication. 110 Word Hurdle. Izumi; Zuko. Post #2.

    Fountain. 100 Word Sprint. Izumi; Mai. Post #3.

    Paper Dragons. 200 Freestyle. Izumi; Zuko. Post #6.

    Ruled by Fear. 1500 Word Dash. Izumi; Zuko; Mai. Post #8.

    Cold Ears and Cold Feet. 400 Word Cross Country. Izumi; Zuko; Mai. Post #9.

    Conversation with the Moon Spirit. Fantastical Fencing. Izumi; Princess Yue. Post #10.

    To Know and Love. 4x100 Relay. Izumi; Zuko; Mai; OC. Post #13.

    Broken Cycle. Prime Time Coverage. Izumi; Zuko; Mai. Post #15.

    Dagger Eyes and Nonsense Wars. Single Sentence Shotput. Izumi; Zuko; Mai. Post #18.

    Daughter of Water and Fire. AU Archery. Izumi; Zuko; Katara. Post #20.

    Decathlon complete on 7/29/2021.. Thread always open for comments, of course!
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2021
  2. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fantastically Fiendish Fanfic Manager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 19, 2019
    Title: Abdication

    Genre: Family; Drama; Angst.

    Characters: Izumi; Zuko.

    Event: 110 Word Hurdle.

    Summary: Zuko abdicates, and Izumi secedes him.

    Abdication (110 Word Hurdle)

    Not long after the present incarnation of the Avatar died, her father came to her as she wrote diplomatic letters at her low desk--ever since writing started to make her father’s fingers ache, she’d composed official state correspondence for the Fire Nation--and said gravely, “It’s time for me to abdicate and you to secede me.”

    “You were a great Fire Lord.” The greatest, she thought, staring at her ink characters. “You think I’m ready?”

    “I raised you to be ready.” His smile crinkled his eyes. “Now, it’s time for me to retire before I die. I don’t want to work until I die.”

    The unspoken “like Aang” hung in the air.
  3. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fantastically Fiendish Fanfic Manager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 19, 2019
    Title: Fountain

    Genre: Family; Fluff.

    Characters: Izumi; Mai.

    Event: 100 Word Sprint

    Summary: Izumi asks her mother the meaning behind her name.

    Fountain (100 Word Sprint)

    “Why’d you name me Izumi?” Izumi asked her mother as they stood in a courtyard at dusk, watching a fountain foam mango with a reflected sunset.

    “Izumi means fountain,” her mother replied, matter-of-fact as ever.

    “I know.” Beneath her golden glasses, Izumi rolled her eyes in a gesture inherited from her mother. “I could read characters since I was three. I’m asking why you named me ‘fountain.’”

    “It was by a fountain that your father and I first fell in love.” Her mother’s cheeks flushed a rare sunburn pink. “It was by a fountain we decided to name you Izumi.”
  4. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Izumi is another great character to feature in the Olympics! (Really, it's just a spoiling to see so much ATLA content from you. [face_love])

    Oh, but that hurt, didn't it? But it was a good hurt. Zuko is making a tough decision here, but a good decision - Izumi is ready to lead, and there's no one better he can entrust the Fire Nation to.

    I grinned such a stupid grin for that - especially the sunburn pink detail. A beautiful sentiment, beautifully expressed. [face_love]

    This, too, is off to such a wonderful start! :D =D=
    devilinthedetails likes this.
  5. Briannakin

    Briannakin Former Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Feb 25, 2010
    EEEEE! Yaay! Izumi was one of my favourite characters in LOK - even though she got relatively little screen time - and I am so happy to see you expand on her here.

    I love this moment between father and daughter. I also think it shows how mature Zuko is as a leader - he knows it's best for him to retire and that he knows shes ready.

    Haha. I can just see Izumi doing this!

    I love this and cant wait to see how you develop her.
    devilinthedetails likes this.
  6. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fantastically Fiendish Fanfic Manager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 19, 2019
    @Mira_Jade Thank you so much for reading and commenting on all my Avatar content[:D]Writing all this Avatar content has been a joy to me since I'm currently obsessed with that fandom, haha.

    I am really enjoying the opportunity to write about Izumi. I feel like there is a lot of freedom to work with her because there isn't that much known about her character in canon (so I can be creative) and writing about her gives me a chance to explore life after the war, a time period I find fascinating.

    Writing "Abdication" did hurt me like a gut punch. Not only is Aang dead but Zuko is aging, retiring, and mourning the loss of his friend, which breaks my heart=((But at the same time, there is the hope of Izumi being well-trained to lead and of Zuko's confidence in her, and of Zuko himself being willing to step away from power and entrust the future of the Fire Nation to his daughter. The piece was short but definitely packed all sorts of emotional power for me as I was writing it.

    But then I couldn't resist lightening the tone a bit with the next story where we get the beautiful sentiment and explanation behind Izumi's name[face_love]And I'm so glad that you like the "sunburn pink" detail because I did really love that phrase and hoped readers would appreciate it as well!

    @Briannakin Thank you so much for commenting and for being excited by this Izumi Decathlon[face_dancing]Izumi had my love and respect as a character as soon as she gave her speech about the Fire Nation spending too much of its history engaged in nonsense wars (reminded me a lot of Zuko speaking truth to power when he confronts Ozai on the Day of Black Sun about how the world hates and is afraid of the Fire Nation because of what the Fire Nation has done). Like she just seemed like such a smart and fierce character who wouldn't hesitate to put anyone in their place if she felt she needed to. As if she was someone who couldn't be trifled with. So I look forward to being able to explore her character and life a bit more here. And to get a look at what happened in the Fire Nation in the aftermath of the war.

    So glad you liked the father-daughter moment in Abdication. I can promise more father-daughter moments in this story because I like to imagine that Zuko and Izumi had a great relationship with a lot of love and trust between them. I really wanted to communicate how mature Zuko was as a leader, knowing when it was time for him to step aside and let his daughter assume the responsibilities of ruling, and how much trust and confidence he had in her because he knew that she was well-prepared for the challenges of ruling.

    Izumi rolling her eyes beneath her glasses like that made me smile and chuckle as I was writing that line, not gonna lie. She got some spunk in her just like her parents, and I love her for it. [face_laugh]

    I hope you'll continue to enjoy how I develop Izumi's character throughout the Decathlon! Thank you again for the support and interest in this story!

    Title: Paper Dragons

    Genre: General; Family; Fluff; Mush.

    Characters: Izumi; Zuko.

    Event: 200 Freestyle.

    Summary: Zuko buys Izumi a paper dragon.

    Paper Dragons (200 Freestyle):

    “Do you want a paper dragon?” Izumi’s father asked her as she rode his shoulders, his fingers wrapped tightly around her ankles so she wouldn’t fall to the crimson cobblestones below.

    On her father’s shoulders, she had been able to see the masked street plays and the firebending performances that were hallmarks of the two-week long Fire Festival that commemorated the new year over the crowds filling the city. Later, she would watch the red and gold fireworks explode over the capital, banishing any evil spirits and bad fortune.

    “Yes, please, Father!” Izumi clapped her hands with glee as her father walked through the throng to a paper dragon vendor.

    Excited, she babbled to her father about everything she had ever read about paper dragons. “There are different paper dragons traditional to the northern and southern Fire Nation Islands, did you know that? Southern dragons are made from heavier, more durable paper, while northern dragons are made from lighter, more flexible paper, because southern dragon dances are about strength, and northern dragon dances are about agility.”

    “I didn’t know that.” Her father beamed up at her with a pride Izumi could read clearly as a book. “But now I do.”
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2021
  7. Briannakin

    Briannakin Former Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Feb 25, 2010
    EEEEEEEE! I love this cute little fluffy piece so much! Zuko is such a great father and clearly loves and has pride in his daughter.
    I love this image. It immediately took me back to so many nostalgic memories with my own father. Zuko wants Izumi to see and experience everything and it just made me so happy!

    Hehehehe! Izumi as the gushing little nerd makes me so happy.
    devilinthedetails likes this.
  8. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fantastically Fiendish Fanfic Manager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 19, 2019
    @Briannakin So glad that you loved this little fluff piece since it warmed my heart and made me grin the biggest, ear-to-ear grin writing it. I definitely headcanon Zuko as someone who would really try to be a great dad. I think he would take a lot of inspiration from his uncle in terms of how a father should behave and try to be totally different from Ozai both as a father and as a Fire Lord. I imagine him as being quite open about how much he loves his daughter and how proud he is of her and all her achievements.

    I'm so happy that this story took you back to your own memories with your father because I like to imagine this story as a sort of mini tribute to the relationships between fathers and daughters. I was sort of drawing on my own memories of special times with my dad when he would walk around with me on his shoulders or lift me up so I could see over the heads of crowds. And I love the idea of Zuko doing the same thing with an adorable young Izumi.

    In my headcanon, Izumi has a very clever, bookish side, so I couldn't resist turning her into a gushing little nerd here, and I'm so glad you loved seeing her that way.

    Thank you again for reading and commenting! I hope you'll continue to enjoy this Izumi Decathlon!

    Title: Ruled by Fear

    Genre: General; Family; Drama.

    Characters: Izumi; Zuko; Mai.

    Event: 1500 Word Dash

    Summary: Izumi struggles with algebra.

    Author's Note: Trigger warning for discussion of child abuse and associated trauma but Izumi herself is not the victim of the abuse. But I cannot write about the Fire Nation and its royal family for loo long without looking at some of the skeletons in the closet from the Hundred Year War era. Especially since I sort of intend this decathlon to look at the impact that war and its aftermath had on the Fire Nation. Like how much damage the Fire Nation not only did to the rest of the world but also to itself and its own children.

    Ruled by Fear (1500 Word Dash)

    After the final bell rang across the generously appointed campus of the Royal Fire Academy for Girls, tolling the end of another school day, Izumi retreated to the library. Satchel slung over her shoulder, she stepped into the silent sanctuary with its proud, crimson columns streaked with gold. It’s imposingly elegant cypress shelves and tables arrayed in perfect, soldier-straight rows nobody would have dared to ruin for fear of the librarian’s wrath.

    Claiming a vacant table, she pulled her arithmetic book out of her satchel and began to study for the next day’s algebra exam. She pressed her fingers to her temples to help keep her focus narrowed to her corrected homework assignments and carefully recorded notes. Algebra was a mystery and a headache to her. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t understand this business about variables and replacing numbers with the characters that had previously only been used in her reading and writing lessons.

    It was all so confusing. At least to her.

    Usually, Izumi appreciated the hushed, solemn atmosphere, often coming to the library as a refuge when the day’s classes were done, but today it felt too oppressive. Too confining. As if she needed to go somewhere else just to breathe away from the suffocating sense of impending failure.

    She rose with a rustle of her uniform. Worried that tomorrow would come all too soon--bringing with it the dreaded algebra examination--Izumi returned to the palace. Part of her was tempted to ask her mother or her father for help, but another, stronger part of her was too afraid and too ashamed to do so. To admit her confusion and ignorance to her parents. How could a parent be proud of an ignorant daughter, after all?

    No, Izumi was certain that a parent could only be proud of a smart child. One who understood everything she was taught in school. One who didn’t need any help with algebra.

    She would have to save face, hiding her ignorance inside her like the shameful secret it was. So, she reviewed all her algebra notes and assignments in the privacy of her chambers until her vision blurred and she started to wonder if her glasses were failing her as she was beginning to see double. She emerged from her study session only for dinner with her parents at which she was quieter than usual, fretting about how she would perform on the next day’s algebra test.

    That night, she didn’t sleep in her bed but at her desk, her chin drooping against her chest when she could no longer force her eyes to remain open. After an uncomfortable sleep filled with nightmares of failure, she awakened with a stiff and aching spine. Standing awkwardly, she attempted to stretch the tension out of her back, and then crossed over to her gold-embossed mirror.

    As she ran a brush through her black hair and styled it into a topknot--looking sloppy at the Royal Fire Academy for Girls was not allowed, no matter how messy one felt on the inside--she glared at the shadows under her eyes that no makeup could mask. She looked as exhausted as she felt.

    Her mother noticed, commenting as they ate their breakfast of steamed rice and miso broth dotted with green onions, mushrooms, and tofu, “You look tired, Izumi.”

    “I stayed up late studying for my algebra exam.” Izumi pretended to be fixated on chasing down an errant clump of steamed rice with her chopsticks even though she wasn’t eating much of anything in the hope of discouraging further questioning from her mother.

    Fortunately, her answer seemed to satisfy her mother, who only wished her good luck on the exam.

    Hours later, as her mathematics teacher distributed their tests, her mother’s well-wish echoed in Izumi’s ears, only adding to the pressure throbbing like a migraine in her head. She had to do well. She had to bring honor, not shame, to her family, to her parents, to the Fire Nation. She was her parents’ only child so she must be their pride and joy.

    The stress of needing to be a perfect daughter and heir of the Fire Nation only made it harder for her to solve the algebra problems before her. When she handed her exam in at the conclusion of the class, she had a sinking sensation in her stomach. A foreboding that she had failed in school for the first time in her eleven years of life.

    Failure was a terrifying prospect. It made it hard for her to focus in the rest of her lessons. It made her throat tighten when she tried to eat dinner that night with her parents. It made her favorite komodo chicken taste like ash on her tongue. It made her toss and turn in her bed, dooming her to another sleepless night.

    If the idea of failure was horrifying, the reality of failure was even more so. The next day in mathematics, she had to endure her teacher returning her test to her with an arched eyebrow and an imperious, “Please see me after class, Princess Izumi.”

    The please, Izumi understood, did not make the request optional.

    Blood pounding in her veins, she risked gazing down at her results and instantly regretted it. Written there in stark, uncompromising scarlet was a declaration of her failure.

    It was impossible for her to think of anything else except her failure until the lesson drew to a close with a bell ring that could have been her funeral gong. That she almost wished was her funeral gong as she pushed her numb legs forward, against the throng leaving the classroom, to approach her teacher’s desk.

    “You will have your father sign your exam and return it to me tomorrow.” Her teacher’s imperative brooked no argument. “Your father will know how to deal with your failure.”

    Sweat dappled Izumi’s skin. She knew how Fire Nation fathers had dealt with the failures of their offspring--with beatings and burnings--since the reign of Sozin, her great-great-grandfather. At least her father had outlawed the burnings upon ascending to the throne. Her father had never beaten her, but she had also never failed like this before. Her grades were always excellent, placing her at the top of her class.

    After school, Izumi stood on trembling tofu knees outside her father’s study. Before what remained of her courage could flee, she knocked on the door and took a deep breath to steel herself when her father called for her to enter.

    Upon stepping into the room, she knelt before him as if this were a formal audience, not a private meeting. That must have alerted him something was amiss for he furrowed his brow at her. “What’s wrong, Izumi?”

    “I dishonored you and mother. I-I failed.” Izumi’s voice shook like her hand as she offered the evidence of her failure to her father. She didn’t say anything else. She couldn’t say anything else.

    Her father glanced at the grade for a long moment before picking up his pen and signing the scroll. The silence almost stifled Izumi before he finally asked softly, “Did you try your hardest?”

    “Yes.” Tears began to trickle down Izumi’s cheeks as she gazed up at her father, willing him to understand that she had tried her hardest and still failed. She hadn’t failed from laziness no matter what her teacher might believe.

    “Then you did not fail.” To her surprise, her father dropped to his knees beside her and cradled her in his arms. “If you worked hard and with determination, there is no failure. No dishonor. No shame. Only the resolve to keep working hard until success is achieved.”

    “You aren’t going to beat me?” Izumi mopped at her eyes with the cuffs of her robes. “I think my mathematics instructor expects you to beat me.”

    “No doubt he does.” A sigh shook her father’s frame. “Too long the Fire Nation has been ruled by fear. Fire Lords ruled their people by fear. Fathers ruled their children in the same way. It was called strength, but really it was the most dangerous kind of weakness. That’s why we have to find a new way of ruling through love.” He paused to plant a kiss on her forehead. “Love is stronger than fear. I learned that from my uncle. My uncle never beat me, and I will never beat you.”

    “You’re the best father in the world.” Her heart overflowing with love and relief, Izumi kissed her father on the cheek below where his own father had burned him.

    “I’m proud of you, Izumi.” Her father patted her knee. “Do you know why?”

    “Because I’m smart?” Izumi guessed because her teachers usually told her she was smart. Except when she failed her algebra test.

    “You are smart, but that’s not why I’m proud of you.” Her father smiled at her. “I’m proud of you because you’re determined and you work hard. Now, let’s see if we can figure out that algebra…”
  9. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fantastically Fiendish Fanfic Manager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 19, 2019
    Title: Cold Ears and Cold Feet

    Genre: General; Family.

    Characters: Izumi; Zuko; Mai.

    Event: 400 Word Cross Country.

    Summary: Izumi travels to the Northern Water Tribe.

    Cold Ears and Cold Feet (400 Word Cross Country)

    Izumi stood at the prow of the royal steamship as it cut its way through the icebergs toward the Northern Water Tribe. Her ears were so cold they felt frost-bitten--she’d never been this far north, and Fire Nation blood was made for the tropics, not the poles--but that was nothing to how cold her feet felt in her boots.

    Part of her wished that she had never insisted on being part of the exchange program her father had established with the help of the Avatar between the Water Tribes, Earth Kingdom, and Fire Nation in which students spent a year learning and living with a sponsor family in each of the other nations. A program meant to promote harmony and understanding between the nations. A program she had been convinced would reflect poorly on her father if she did not volunteer to join it at the appropriate age. A larger part of her ached to explore the dams and canals of the Northern Water Tribe. Her heart was in conflict with itself. Like an iceberg splitting and cracking into the frigid ocean.

    “Send your hawk to us with a letter every week.” Her mother shot her a warning look. “Or we’ll embarrass you by coming up here to figure out what’s wrong with you.”

    “Yes, Mother.” Izumi resisted the temptation to roll her eyes.

    “Remember your Breath of Fire.” Her father tugged lightly on her frozen earlobe. “And keep your hood up. It’ll keep your ears warm.”

    The thought of a hood made her wonder if she ought to wear the thick-furred hoods and dresses preferred by the women of the Water Tribes. The fashions of the Water Tribes, after all, had been designed for the cold polar regions rather than the hot tropics of the Fire Nation.

    “Should I wear my hair in loops like the Water Tribe girls for the welcoming feast?” Self-consciously, Izumi fingered the golden ornament that marked her as heir to the Fire Nation throne. She didn’t know how to style her hair like a Water Tribe girl, but she also didn’t want to stick out in the wrong way at the welcoming feast the Northern Water Tribe’s chief was hosting that evening for the arrival of the exchange students.

    “Wear your hair however you want.” Her mother always had a ready answer to all fashion inquiries. “You’ll look beautiful and right no matter what.”
  10. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fantastically Fiendish Fanfic Manager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 19, 2019
    Title: Conversation with the Moon Spirit

    Genre: General; Fantastical.

    Characters: Izumi; Princess Yue.

    Event: Fantastical Fencing

    Summary: Izumi meets the Moon Spirit.

    Conversation with the Moon Spirit (Fantastical Fencing)

    The North Pole was cold, and during the exchange program where she studied for a year with the Northern Water Tribe, Izumi often found herself taking refuge in the verdant warmth of the Spirit Oasis.

    The first time she went to the Spirit Oasis, she had been nervous. Uncertain whether she would be welcome in this space sacred to Tui and La, the spirits of the Moon and Ocean, when her father had violated the serenity and sanctity of this oasis with the blazing violence of his firebending.

    Yet no force or presence, visible or invisible, seemed to oppose her as she took solemn, soft steps across the Spirit Oasis that was empty of all people but her and came to sit, cross-legged, by the water that, strangely for the North Pole, wasn’t frozen.

    Gazing into the glass-smooth surface of the water, she was hypnotized by the sight of Tui and La swimming about each other in their eternal dance. Moon and ocean. Gravity and tide. Push and pull. Light and dark. One fish black with a white spot on the head; the other white with a black dot on the head. Yin and yang. Every element containing and blending into its opposite. The living image of balance in the physical and spiritual realms.

    Here there was the peace of staring up at an unclouded moon or hearing the music of waves breaking against a dock. Izumi thought she would be content to just sit here for a hundred years if she was allowed to live that long.

    A ghostly white girl--insubstantial and pearlescent as a vision or a mist--wearing the fur-hooded blue dress and distinctive hair loops of the Water Tribes appeared shimmering before her.

    “Greetings, Princess Izumi.” The ghostly white girl bowed to her.

    “Who are you?” Izumi didn’t feel frightened although perhaps she should have. Just curious.

    “I was once a princess like you.” The ghost girl sounded wistful, not sad. As if she were in a realm beyond sorrow. “A princess of the Water Tribe, not the Fire Nation. Before I sacrificed my life to revive the Moon Spirit, I was called Yue. Perhaps I am still called Yue by those who remember me.”

    Izumi had heard stories of the brave Princess Yue. How she had been born frail and on the cusp of death. How even the best healers of the Northern Water Tribe had been helpless to save her and could only suggest that she be brought to the Spirit Oasis in the hope that Tui and La might be moved to pity and save her. How the Moon Spirit had strengthened her, giving her life and snow-white hair. How she had repaid that life by returning her spirit to Tui when General Zhao sought to destroy the Moon Spirit.

    Izumi wanted to ask what was left of Princess Yue--what had transcended death and not been subsumed entirely by the Moon Spirit--how she had managed to be so courageous at the moment of truth, but instead a different question burst from her lips, “Why have you come to visit me?”

    “I often come to visit this Spirit Oasis.” Princess Yue’s tone was soft as gentle waves lapping against sand. “We could say that you have chosen to visit me.”

    “Do you hate me?” Izumi asked even though she was afraid to hear the answer because it might be “yes.”

    “Why would I hate you?” Ripples of confusion seemed to eddy from Princess Yue.

    “Because I’m a firebender.” Guilt surged through Izumi like a riptide. “Because of what firebenders did to this place. To the Moon Spirit. To you.”

    “Only some firebenders did that.” Princess Yue looked drowned in memory. “Not all. It was a firebender who came up with the way to save the Moon Spirit. Who made me realize that I needed to sacrifice my life, my spirit, for the good of my people and the whole world. Who gave me the courage and strength to do what I had to do.”

    “Oh.” Izumi stared into the Spirit Oasis, remembering that story as well when Princess Yue mentioned it.

    “Fire and water aren’t so different after all,” Princess Yue said, ghostly gaze locking on Izumi’s. “I know you come here to find comfort and warmth, Princess Izumi.”

    “Fire and water are opposite elements.” Izumi’s forehead furrowed. “At least that’s what I’ve been taught.”

    “Opposite elements like the moon and the sun.” Princess Yue smiled at her. “The sun was the first firebender, you know. The way the moon was the first waterbender.”

    “I thought the first firebenders were the dragons.” Izumi frowned, recalling her father’s lessons and wondering if he could possibly be wrong even after his journey with the Avatar to the Sun Warriors. “Ancient dragons named Ran and Shaw.”

    “Dragons learned firebending, its life-giving and its dangerous qualities, from the sun,” explained Princess Yue. “That is why firebenders rise with the sun as waterbenders rise with the moon.”

    “Oh.” Izumi had indeed heard that timeless truism about the powers of firebenders and waterbenders waxing and waning with the sun and the moon. She had even felt it for herself as her own firebending rose and set with the sun. “I guess that makes sense.”

    “The moon orbits the sun and reflects its light.” Princess Yue’s remark was a wisp that told Izumi she would be leaving soon. Returning to the distant moon of which she spoke. “And the side that does not reflect the sun’s light is eternally dark and cold.”

    “But the moon can eclipse the sun’s light,” Izumi pointed out. In Fire Nation history, those eclipses were dreaded. Labeled the darkest days in history. The Days of the Black Sun. Dangerous and cursed.

    “Yes.” Princess Yue gave a final nod before disappearing along with her fading words. “That is what we call balance in the elements and the universe, Princess Izumi.”

    When the ghost who had once been a living, breathing princess like her--an embodiment of her people’s dreams for the future--vanished, Izumi continued to gaze into the depths of the Spirit Oasis for a long time. Contemplating the dance of the moon as it orbited the sun and reflected its brilliance. Thinking about how the moon could eclipse the sun and how although firebenders and waterbenders were opposites, they weren’t so different after all. About how all that was called balance. About how her perspective had changed because of her visit to the Spirit Oasis and her meeting with the long-dead Princess Yue. About how that was why she had traveled to the Northern Water Tribe--to broaden her view of the world. To be altered and then somehow find equilibrium in her new knowledge.
  11. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    First of all, I have to apologize for falling behind on these! Let's see if I can fix that now. Because there have been so many gems posted both here and in all of your ATLA threads. [face_love]

    I could just see Izumi in the library, and I really felt for the heavy burdens and expectations she placed on herself all throughout this piece. She truly is her father's daughter in that way, isn't she?

    Tofu knees was such a great detail!

    Well, hit me right in the feels why don't you? Father!Zuko was just the best here. [face_love]

    I really do love your Mai! [face_laugh] [face_love]

    The entire idea behind the student exchange was brilliant - and I could see it being something taken straight from canon. I adored seeing Izumi and Yue meet, and one more wound between cultures healed. [face_love]

    I will never get over the balance and symbolism between all the elements, and you know I am a sucker for the special bond between fire and water. [face_mischief] This was beautifully expressed! [face_love]

    Keep up the excellent work! =D= [face_dancing]
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2021
    devilinthedetails likes this.
  12. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Beautifully written introspection and conversations between Izumi and her dad particularly. His words about doing her best means she's not a failure :) I love that. The paper dragons was interesting, how the different style of crafting reflects the cultural difference/emphasis of the Islands.
    devilinthedetails likes this.
  13. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fantastically Fiendish Fanfic Manager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 19, 2019
    @Mira_Jade Thank you so much for reading and commenting! No worries about falling behind. I totally understand falling behind since I've been doing a ton of that both with my fanfic reading and writing this year. There's just never enough time in a day for all the fanfic related things that I want to do:pSo, yeah, I can totally relate to falling behind basically. This year has basically been me falling behind on everything and feeling vaguely guilty about that.

    I'm so flattered that you think I posted so many gems here and in my other Avatar threads. I just love that show and want to do justice to its complexity and characters whenever I write about it!

    I'm so happy to hear that you could picture Izumi in the library (I have a lot of library experience to channel when writing them) and that you could really feel the heavy burdens and expectations Izumi places on herself throughout the whole piece. I definitely picture Izumi as someone who is very driven and will put a ton of pressure on herself. She is very much her father's daughter in that way, as you say. She really can be very hard on herself.

    Tofu knees might have been one of my favorite descriptions in the whole piece so I am so proud it was a highlight for you.

    That passage totally hit me right in the feels too as I was writing it. I really think as a father Zuko would value things like hard work and determination much more than innate skill or talent. In that way, I sort of imagine him as the anti-Ozai. As a father, Ozai really valued innate skill, favoring Azula because she was a firebending prodigy, and then being terrible to Zuko because Zuko was seen as less talented in firebending. So I think Zuko wouldn't really focus on the innate talent aspect (which is not really something that can be controlled) and more focused on hard work and determination (which can be controlled). At least that is my head canon for Zuko as a father.

    Yay, so happy to hear you say you love my Mai because she can be such a fun and unique character for me to write.

    I'm so thrilled that you loved the whole idea of the student exchange program. I just thought one of the coolest things was how the avatar would travel between the Four Nations and learn about each culture in the process. It occurred to me that an exchange program would be a great way to achieve greater cultural understanding and harmony between the Nations after the Hundred Year War. And it totally struck me as something Zuko would endorse since he seemed to learn a lot as a result of his own travels and that Aang would support so it could be another great project for the two of them to work on in the world.

    Writing Yue and Izumi meeting was really fascinating for me, and I'm so glad that you adored it! It's also a very powerful way to show the reconciliation and healing between these two cultures, so I am so happy to hear you appreciated that aspect as well.

    The balance and symbolism of the four elements is one of my favorite themes in Avatar so I couldn't resist exploring it here, and it's wonderful to know you enjoyed reading about it. The bond between fire and water is definitely an intriguing and beautiful one so I couldn't resist writing about it here!

    I hope you will continue to enjoy the final few entries of this Izumi Decathlon! :)

    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Thank you so much for reading and commenting on all my stories!:)I'm so flattered that you found the introspection beautifully written. The conversations between Izumi and her father were some of my favorite parts to write--in some ways, I think of this piece as being about the relationship between fathers and daughters as well as about the aftermath of the Hundred Year War in the Fire Nation--so I am so pleased to hear those were highlights for you. And I totally agree with Zuko that Izumi working hard and doing her best means she wasn't a failure, so I'm so glad Zuko was able to pass that wisdom onto her. I think she'll remember it forever.

    So glad that you liked the details about the crafting of different paper dragons because I really enjoy the chance to explore those sort of little cultural details in the Fire Nation!:)

    Title: To Know and Love

    Genre: General; Friendship; Family; Romance; Drama; Mush; Fluff.

    Characters: Izumi; Mai; Zuko; OC.

    Event: 4x100 Relay.

    Summary: In the Fire Nation, Izumi finds the four types of love: friendship, affection, charity, and intimacy.

    To Know and Love (4x100 Relay)

    Ember Island Summers

    During long summer days vacationing on Ember Island, Izumi met Daisuke when he was just a little boy to her little girl. Beneath the bright, burning sun, they became fast friends. Wading in the foamy waves before they crashed against the shore. Collecting seashells and holding them to their ears to hear the echo of the ocean. Building palaces and pavilions in the sand. Exploring the tide pools for fascinating trapped marine life.

    Their friendship grew with every summer spent together until it became more than friendship, blossoming into kisses that tasted like mango ice cream and cold watermelon juice.

    Toyed Affection

    Daisuke wasn’t just the first boy Izumi dated and kissed. He was also the first boy she fell in love with or thought she fell in love with, and, in the ferocity of first love, she feared he didn’t love her at all.

    “I’m afraid he’s toying with my affections,” Izumi confided in her mother. No need to say who “he” was. Her mother would know.

    “Then you must speak your mind. Put him in his place. Stop him toying with you.” Her mother’s tawny eyes gleamed. “That’s what I did with your father. We’ve been mostly happy ever since.”

    The Happiest Day

    “As your mother, I’m supposed to tell you this will be the happiest day of your life, so enjoy it.” Izumi’s mother tied the red belt around the waist of Izumi’s dragon-embroidered wedding robes as they prepared for the ceremony that had been the center of Fire Nation attention for months. “Instead, I’m going to tell you don’t let it be the happiest day of your life because that would mean your marriage was terrible and boring. Try to make each day of your marriage happier than the last. Always give more than you take and always keep things exciting.”

    Father-Daughter Dance

    Her father wasn’t only the person whose shoulder she sobbed into the first time Daisuke made her heart break. He was also the one whom Izumi shared a special dance with at her wedding reception.

    “Always remember,” her father whispered in her ear as he held her close during their dance at her wedding. “Nobody ever loves each other like fathers and daughters.”

    “Nobody ever knows a daughter quite like a father.” Izumi’s smile was both happy and sad.

    “To know your daughter is to love her.” Her father’s voice made Izumi remember bouncing on his knee as a five-year-old.
  14. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Exquisite wisdom from mother and father. I love the advice to make your marriage exciting and every day happier than the last. @};-
    devilinthedetails likes this.
  15. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fantastically Fiendish Fanfic Manager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 19, 2019
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha As always, thank you so much for commenting!:)I'm so glad that you appreciated the wisdom Izumi got from her mother and father since I really enjoyed being able to show their perspectives on love and marriage and the advice and perspectives they can pass along to their daughter. I really think Mai's words about making your marriage exciting and making every day happier than the last are excellent. I think a lot of times there can be a focus on creating an ideal and perfect wedding day so I kind of wanted to focus more on what would long-term make a happy and fulfilling marriage, and it makes me so pleased that Mai's words resonated with you as well.

    Title: Broken Cycle

    Genre: General; Family; Drama; Action.

    Characters: Izumi; Zuko; Mai.

    Event: Prime Time Coverage.

    Summary: In the Fire Nation, it is a struggle to break the cycle of violence.

    Author's Note: Trigger warnings again for discussion of child abuse, violence, colonialism, imperialism, and warfare. Part of the motivation for me writing this series was looking at the scars the Hundred Year War and the Fire Nation conquest left not only on the other nations but on the Fire Nation itself, which to me meant addressing many of the big elephants in the room with the Fire Nation and its royal family. I think there is a lot of painful history there that needs to be acknowledged and worked through so that is why I end up writing stories like this.

    Broken Cycle (Prime Time Coverage)

    “We’ll have to cut funding to the hospitals to continue arming and manning the ships patrolling international waters with reports of pirate attacks on the rise,” Izumi’s father pronounced, his voice echoing grimly through the arched chamber where he sat in council with his highest-ranking advisors, Izumi’s mother, and Izumi herself.

    “Cut funding to the hospitals?” Izumi burst out before she even realized she was speaking. “To pay for arming and manning warships instead?”

    Izumi’s mother shot her a reproving, repressive glance. One that warned she was supposed to be silent, seen and not heard, observing and not speaking, during this council meeting. She should defer to her elders. That was expected Fire Nation protocol, but Izumi had spent too many years studying around the world, growing in knowledge and gaining in confidence, to be a quiet, perfect daughter of the Fire Nation now.

    “That’s what I said,” her father confirmed crisply, lifting an eyebrow at her outburst. Her impertinence.

    “How can you do that?” demanded Izumi, righteous anger sparking within her before it could occur to her how her wrath, her rudeness, her sheer defiance could burn her. “How can you take money away from sick people--money that could save their lives--to arm and man warships when our navy is decades more advanced than any other in the world? When it could take generations for anyone to catch up to us after we’ve already wasted so much of our money and resources on funding and fueling war since Sozin’s time? How dominant over the rest of the world does our navy need to be when we claim that we want peace?”

    “Izumi,” her mother hissed, looking as if she very much wished she could hurl a barrage of her famous knives at Izumi in that instant.

    Izumi could see the heads of the rest of the councilors twisting on their necks as they shifted their focus from her to her father and back again, mouths agape and eyes wide with fear.

    It was only then that an icy sensation coursed through Izumi’s veins as she understood what brought the dread to their ashen faces. The memory of what had happened on the last occasion an heir to the Fire Nation throne had dared to speak out of turn in a council session was still blazed into their minds even after all these years. A scar written on her father’s face as a reminder to any who ever forgot what a Fire Lord’s fury could do. A permanent lesson that Izumi suddenly found it hard to stare at without flinching.

    Her throat tightened as she imagined what had happened to her father befalling her. Being forced to duel her own father in an Agni Kai. Being burned in the face when she refused and knelt before him, begging for mercy. Being exiled and not allowed to return to her homeland until an impossible quest was complete.

    “We will adjourn council for today.” Her father finally broke the silence that had seemed so heavy with danger and history. “Princess Izumi, please stay. I wish to consult with you further.”

    With visible relief that there had been no Agni Kai challenges issued, the councilors bowed and hurried to the door as fast as their voluminous red robes and dignity would permit.

    Izumi herself didn’t know whether she should interpret her father addressing her by her formal title as a positive or negative omen.

    “Would you like me to stay?” Izumi could see her mother mouthing to her father.

    “I would prefer to speak to Izumi alone.” Her father shook his head, and her mother kissed him on the cheek, beneath the scar left by Izumi’s grandfather when her father was only thirteen, and left the room in a swish of silk.

    The room felt too large and empty. Too like a gaping maw that could swallow Izumi and her defiance whole in a heartbeat. She had to speak, launching her own obstinate attack, before that happened. Better to be on the offensive and not risk ceding any ground than on the defensive.

    “I spent a year studying in the Earth Kingdom.” Izumi lifted her chin and hoped it wasn’t trembling. She couldn’t afford any chinks in her armor. “I saw the damage the Fire Nation did. Damage that has yet to be repaired. That might be beyond repair. I’ve seen the memorials and museums to all the Earth Kingdom citizens that were killed.”

    The paintings and portraits that tried to capture those lost to a century of violence and colonization. The stone statues that sought to replicate and couldn’t the expression and life of flesh and blood heroes and victims. The plaques carved with statistics that could make rock weep. The names and numbers that could blur together into a river of tears. The too-sweet flowers laid at the base of the monuments that smelled of grief and nothing beautiful. The flickering yellow candles lit at night to honor and guard the souls of the departed.

    “Have you forgotten the war and all those who died in it?” she continued when she was confident she wouldn’t choke on her words. “Because I haven’t.”

    “Neither have I,” her father informed her tersely. “The ships aren’t to fight the Earth Kingdom. They are to patrol and protect international waters from pirate attacks. We have received formal requests from the Earth Kingdom and Water Tribes to patrol and protect international waters with our navy. Our ships also won’t be operating alone. They will be engaging in joint operations with forces from the Earth Kingdom and the Water Tribes.”

    “But a bulk of the forces will come from the Fire Nation fleet.” Izumi didn’t have to ask. She knew. The Fire Nation had by far the largest and best equipped navy on the planet and never seemed to stop building it. Even under her father who proclaimed that he wanted peace, not war, between the nations.

    “Yes.” Her father met her gaze squarely. “The Earth Kingdom and Water Tribes need us to provide a majority of the fleet for the defense of international waters. They need our help. Our protection.”

    “No.” Izumi shook her head. She had read the history books of how the Fire Nation had come to be a colonial power. The history books that recorded how what should have been the pride of the Fire Nation--its innovation, its technological advancements, its unending drive for progress, its centralized government and schools, its law and order, its passion for honor and tradition--had been morphed into the cause of its greatest shame. Its greatest crimes against the world.

    Of course she had. Ever since she was a little girl, history had always been one of her favorite subjects. Attracting her with its achievements and repelling her with its atrocities in equal measure.

    “I’ve read the history books,” she went on, struggling for an articulate way to express everything she was thinking and feeling. All the rage, sorrow, and shame inside her. “The history books tell us that in the time of Sozin’s father and grandfather the Fire Nation was called upon by the other nations to patrol and protect the international waters from pirates and other threats. That’s how the Fire Nation and its citizens came to see themselves as superior to the other nations and worthy of ruling over them. That’s how the Fire Nation developed its military and naval advantages over the other nations. Military and naval advantages the Fire Nation has never lost since the days of Sozin’s grandfather. The Fire Nation thinking it has to protect and patrol for the other nations is how the cycle of colonization and conquest begins. We haven’t even recovered from the destruction of the last cycle of colonization and conquest, and you want to start spinning the wheel again.”

    “You don’t understand.” Her father snapped at her as he never had before. Today was a day of sad firsts and bitter milestones. “You haven’t lived long enough or seen enough to understand these affairs of state.”

    “I’ve lived long enough to know what you’re doing is wrong,” Izumi retorted. “And I’ve seen most of the world.”

    “I need your public support for my rule, Izumi.” Her father steepled his fingers as he did before he made a declaration he expected others to obey unquestioningly. “You can debate and question me all you like in private, but in public, I need your agreement and obedience. We need to present a unified front or our enemies, our opposition, will eat us alive and prevent us from making the changes we desire in the Fire Nation and the world.”

    “If I didn’t speak up in council today, you wouldn’t have known my objections.” Izumi’s fists clenched. “My opposition to your plans to defund the hospitals and pour the money into our navy instead.”

    “I would’ve if you’d asked for a private word.” Her father’s jaw was taut as her fists. “That’s what you should do next time you wish to contradict me. Instead of arguing with me and defying me in public, ask for a private word.”

    “And if I don’t?” Izumi’s temper flared, and she lost control of her tongue. “What will you do to me then? Burn me? Banish me?”

    “Get out!” There was thunder in her father’s tone, and lightning flashing in his eyes. “Get out now if you know what’s good for you!”

    Nobody defied the Fire Lord when he was in a fury. Not even a princess of the Fire Nation. Especially not a princess of the Fire Nation who was the cause of his anger.

    Izumi fled from the room then. Out of the room and down the hallway to the palace gates. Through the palace gates, past the startled guards, and into the city.

    Into the city where she could lose herself in the throngs winding in and out of stores to find the best deals on fashionable clothing or pausing to buy nibbles from vendors selling street food. The scent of the salt-grilled fish on a stick known as shioyaki wafted toward her. Even more tempting were the takoyaki--bite-sized, savory balls fried golden-brown and filled with octopus, tempura, green onions, and pickled ginger.

    She reached the blue and green oasis of a park. Crossing under the shadow of an arch, she walked along a pebbled path lined with cherry blossoms until she came to a bridge that spanned a small pool. At the crest of the bridge, she could rest her arms along the gilded railing and watch the slow-moving koi with their red, black, and white speckled bodies dance through the smooth, sun-dappled water beneath her.

    The mesmerizing patterns of the swirling koi captured her attention for a few moments before she continued her progress through the park. She passed through a rock garden that entered onto a larger pond populated with an adorable flock of turtleducks that paddled through the water or waddled around the grass, begging for pieces of bread from sympathetic passerby.

    Turtleducks were favorites of her father, and as a result, all the capital’s parks were well-stocked with a collection of the creatures meant to please the Fire Lord should he visit. By the pond’s edge, Izumi could glimpse a cart selling rolls to anyone who wished to feed the turtleducks. The citizens of the Fire Nation were industrious, and any opportunity to make a profit would invariably be spotted by a budding entrepreneur such as this cleverly-situated vendor.

    Izumi claimed a seat on a bench where she could watch the turtleducks floating in the lake. On the opposite end of the lake was a two-story pavilion housing what appeared to be an ice cream parlor if the cones and sundaes customers were eating at tables and on benches were any indication.

    There were many fathers enjoying ice cream with their daughters on this beautiful, sunny day, Izumi saw, and tried not to think about her argument with her own father. How he might have bought her ice cream and sat with her at a table if they weren’t at odds with each other. How they might have looked at the turtleducks swimming together. How they might have fed the turtleducks as they had a thousand times before…

    “I thought I might find you here, Izumi.” It was her father, walking toward her on the pebbled path as if her thoughts had summoned him.

    “Father.” She started to rise, but stopped when he gestured for her to remain seated and settled himself beside her on the bench.

    “I’m sorry I snapped at you to get out if you knew what’s good for you.” Her father’s voice was soft as the gentle whisper of leaves in a spring breeze, and somehow him apologizing to her felt wrong. Drove home to her how wrong her own disrespect and defiance had been. More than his shouting ever could have. “My father used to yell that at me, and sometimes I copy him even if I don’t want to. Even though I want to be someone you can copy.”

    “I-I forgive you.” Izumi ducked her head before stammering through her own apology. “I’m sorry too. I shouldn’t have shouted at you or challenged you like that. It was disrespectful.”

    “I love you.” Her father’s arm wrapped around her shoulder, comforting as any blanket. “I hope you know I’d never burn you or banish you.”

    “I do.” Izumi swallowed a lump in her throat. She did know that as surely as she knew her own name. That was what had made her question to her father about burning and banishing her all the crueler, she reflected now just as the blue lake mirrored the white clouds in the sky overhead. She knew her father would never burn or banish her, but her father hadn’t been so lucky. His father had burned and banished him. Exiling him and scarring him. And, she, Izumi, had wielded that memory against him like a weapon. Like a cutting knife to the heart. She felt a sharp stab of pain in her own heart. “That’s why I shouldn’t have said that. It wasn’t a fair question.”

    “I should’ve been better prepared for you to challenge me in council.” There was a twinkle of amusement in her father’s eyes as he gazed at her now. “I should’ve realized that if you inherited your mother’s stubbornness and my temper it was inevitable that you’d challenge me in council one day. It was your destiny, we might say.”

    Izumi could feel the sparkle in her own eyes as she smiled impishly at her father. “I am my father’s daughter. And my mother’s.”

    “We should get ice cream.” Her father glanced over at the pavilion selling ice cream across the lake. “I could use something cool after a hot, stressful day.”

    “We should,” Izumi agreed, rising with her father and thinking with an overwhelming surge of love for him that he was the only father in the Fire Nation who would buy ice cream for a daughter who had just disrespected and defied him.
  16. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Beautifully written! =D=

    I agree with Izumi that so often what starts off even with sincere intentions as "protection and patrol" turns into heavyhanded rule.

    I think that if Izumi had approached her father in private he would have heard her out as we see he sought her out at the park and they reciprocally apologized and had a delightful ice cream.

    This says a lot for the genuine love and honesty between them.

    devilinthedetails likes this.
  17. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Don't mind me, playing catch-up again. ;)

    Aw! I love how this childhood love developed into something real and lasting - with all of the ups and downs and questions being more than worth it in the end. [face_love]

    This was GORGEOUS advice for any young couple, and especially made beautiful by a mother speaking to her daughter. [face_love]

    I could feel an echo of the past leading up to Izumi's outburst - even if the circumstances here are just different enough, Ozai was enough of a monster that his ghost haunts even here, where this bond between father and child is as absolutely united in love as it should be. [face_plain]

    Yikes, not fair, Izumi! :eek: That had to hurt Zuko like a dagger to the heart; but, even here, at the angriest he's ever been with his daughter, hurting her is never even a thought. That's how it should be.

    Beautiful! I really appreciate that both of them realized that the other was reacting from a place of fear and anger, and met in the middle to repair their bond. I especially liked the line about it being Izumi's destiny. Zuko's not wrong there. :p [face_laugh] [face_love]

    Both of these events were excellent, and I look forward to reading more! =D=
  18. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fantastically Fiendish Fanfic Manager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 19, 2019
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha As always, thank you so much for reading and commenting!:) I'm flattered that you found this so beautifully written. I think Izumi is right that what can start off with sincere, good intentions in terms of protection and patrol can be turned into something more sinister in the future. And especially with the Fire Nation's recent history of imperialism, violence, and genocide, I can definitely understand why she is so wary.

    I absolutely believe that if Izumi had approached her father privately about her concerns, he would've been more receptive of what she had to say. I think that is one of the most important lessons for teenagers to learn. When the right time and place is to say something. I think teenagers have a lot of passion and often have great ideas as well, but they don't always know how to channel that passion effectively or how is best to share their ideas. So a little of that happened with Izumi here, I think.

    I did want to end on a hopeful note with them both apologizing to each other and going off to get some much-needed, delicious ice cream. Nothing repairs a relationship like ice cream!

    And I'm so glad that the honesty and the genuine love between them was able to shine through as I hoped it would. Because I do think these two love each other very much even if they argue[face_love]

    @Mira_Jade Thank you so much for reading and commenting!:D I assure you, I never mind you playing catch-up on my stories!

    Childhood friendship that grows into a real, lasting romantic love is one of those tropes I have a real soft spot for, so it was a pleasure for me to be able to create such a story for Izumi here, and I'm so thrilled that you loved reading this one! I think for Izumi, all the ups and downs of falling in love were totally worth it as she found a deep love that could make her truly happy despite any hiccups along the way.

    I'm so glad that you found Mai's advice gorgeous. I really am a huge fan of mother-daughter bonding and advice-sharing, so I just knew that I had to include some in this piece about Izumi finding love. I really liked the idea of Mai being able to provide Izumi with a unique perspective on love and happiness.

    The echo of the past was definitely creating an oppressive feeling and atmosphere. I do think Ozai's evil and tyranny is sadly strong enough that the reverberations will still be felt in the Fire Nation and the Royal Family as a sort of ghost haunting the past for some time. Ozai created a very painful legacy and reckoning with that isn't easy, unfortunately.

    Yeah, I definitely think Izumi's words to her father were unfair and very hurtful there, which is why I wanted to have her apologize to him for saying that and realizing that she was out of line. But I also was proud of Zuko in that even when he was so angry at his daughter, he didn't think of hurting her. It really showed that an abusive past can be overcome. So I was definitely proud of Zuko for rising above that pain and abusive past here and showing that he doesn't have to be ruled by anger as his own father would have been. He can control his temper and choose not to be abusive, and I think there is something empowering about that.

    And I'm so glad that you found Zuko and Izumi's reconciliation so beautiful. I really wanted wanted to show them meeting in the middle here to repair their bond, and Zuko's line about Izumi's destiny did make me smile to myself as I was writing it. He's definitely not wrong as you say:p

    Thank you again for reading and commenting! I really appreciate it, and hope you will enjoy this next installment!:)

    Title: Dagger Eyes and Nonsense Wars

    Genre: General; Family; Drama.

    Characters: Izumi; Zuko; Mai.

    Event: Single Sentence Shotput

    Summary: Izumi is a fearless Fire Lord who has learned lessons from her father and her mother.

    Dagger Eyes and Nonsense Wars (Single Sentence Shotput)

    Izumi’s mother taught her to shoot daggers with her eyes, her father raised her to believe the Fire Nation had spent too much of its history engaged in nonsense wars, and now she was a fearless Fire Lord who knew how to lead her country in war and peace.
  19. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Dagger eyes is a very vivid description of a sharply observant and fierce ruler to be. Nonsense wars, what a great way to describe the waste of conflict that doesn't solve what is intended and creates more harm. [face_thinking]
    devilinthedetails likes this.
  20. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fantastically Fiendish Fanfic Manager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 19, 2019
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha As always, thank you so much for reading and commenting!:) I couldn't resist the dagger eyes description since it seemed so perfect for a sharply observant and fierce ruler like I imagine Izumi to be, and it also seemed like a great tribute to Mai. A way to show Mai's influence on her daughter. And I fell in love with Izumi when she described many of the Fire Nations past conflicts as being nonsense wars so I knew that I would have to pay tribute to that awesome line in this Izumi decathlon somehow! So it makes me super pleased that you loved the reference to nonsense wars!

    Title: Daughter of Water and Fire

    Genre: AU; General; Family.

    Characters: Izumi; Zuko; Katara.

    Event: AU Archery

    Summary: Izumi is a daughter of water and fire.

    Daughter of Water and Fire (AU Archery)

    Izumi was the daughter of water and fire, born of a marriage of opposite elements that somehow found harmony inside her. She was the only child and heir of her father, the Fire Lord, but she wasn’t a firebender like him. She was a waterbender like her mother. Her mother who had been the daughter of the chief of the Southern Water Tribe and the last, proud waterbender the Southern Water Tribe had produced when it was at the cusp of extinction from her father’s people and their cruel warships.

    Once when she was little, she had sat in a courtyard at dawn, watching the sun rise scarlet over the palace and staring wide-eyed at her father with the gold eyes she had inherited from him. Wishing that she could weave ribbons of flames from her fingers and toes as he did. Wondering why she couldn’t produce fire as he did.

    “Why can’t I firebend like you?” she asked from her perch beside a bonsai tree that had stood in this courtyard for two hundred years and likely would remain here for another century or two after Izumi’s own death. Not that she liked to think about dying when she was still so young and in the bright sunrise of her own life.

    “Because you are a waterbender like your mother.” Her father paused in his firebending to smile at her. “You can’t be both a firebender and a waterbender.”

    “Why not?” Izumi frowned. She liked being able to send streams of water shooting from her fingertips like fountains, and she had never thought that the price of being able to do so was not being able to weave fire as her father did.

    “Because nobody except the Avatar can bend more than one element.” Her father’s explanation failed to satisfy or illuminate. “The spirits and the balance of the universe forbid it.”

    “The rules of the universe seem stupid to me.” Izumi pouted.

    “That may be.” Her father shrugged and resumed his morning firebending exercises. “You can’t fight them, however, and you’d be unwise to try.”

    Izumi didn’t have a reply to that, and so she slunk off, not wanting to look at a power she couldn’t wield. Would never be able to wield.

    Years later, when she learned in her history books that there had never been a Fire Lord who wasn’t a firebender, she asked her father in that same courtyard, “Can I really be Fire Lord after you when I’m not a firebender? There’s never been a Fire Lord who wasn’t a firebender.”

    “There’s never been a marriage between a Fire Lord and the daughter of the chief of the Southern Water Tribe either.” Her father smiled wryly at her. “There is a first time for everything, Izumi.”

    “First times in government can mean rebellion.” Izumi had learned that from her history books as well.

    “Not always.” Her father’s tone was firm and reassuring. “You are my daughter and my heir. You will be Fire Lord after me. I will ensure that before I die.”

    “I don’t want to think of you dying.” Izumi shivered even with the warm rays of sun striking her skin.

    “I won’t be dying for a long time.” Her father kissed her forehead. “That’s a promise, turtleduck.”

    Turtleduck. His nickname for her since she was a toddler who waddled everywhere. A nickname she was sure she would never be able to shake. She would always be his turtleduck, his daughter of water, and that comforted her, because she didn’t want to be anything else. She wanted to be his turtleduck forever.
  21. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Sweet and warm talks about firebending versus waterbending and Izumi's destiny. =D=
    devilinthedetails likes this.
  22. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fantastically Fiendish Fanfic Manager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 19, 2019
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Thank you so much for reading and commenting throughout this Decathlon! :) I'm so glad that you found this last story sweet and that you enjoyed the talks about fire bending versus water bending and about Izumi's destiny. This was definitely an interesting piece for me to write, and I really enjoyed delving into the differences between fire bending and water bending as well as what Izumi's destiny might have been like if she was the daughter of Zuko and Katara rather than Zuko and Mai. AU's can be so fascinating to write!
    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha likes this.
  23. Seldes_Katne

    Seldes_Katne Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Mar 18, 2002
    What a lovely, magical set of stories! I’ve watched all four season of ATLA several times, and this collection was a worthy sequel showing how much the world changed after Ozai’s defeat and Zuko’s elevation to Firelord.

    The exchange student program: My part of NYS used to foster students from Northern Ireland back when it was divided between Catholics and Protestants, giving those young people a chance to interact in a neutral space and learn about each other (and see how different religions exist mostly harmoniously side-by-side). I’d like to think this program played at least a small part in the people of Northern Ireland decide to stop fighting each other and find ways to like together.

    It’s hard to choose a favorite story here: I enjoyed the exchange between Izumi and Yue, exploring the differences and similarities of their respective Elements; Izumi’s struggle with algebra (so did I) and Zuko’s actions after discovering her failure; and Mai’s advice about marriage. It was also good to see Zuko unlearning some of the lessons his father and grandfather taught him about family interactions and punishment. Here’s hoping the Fire Nation as a whole unlearns them as well.

    And darn it, now I want a paper dragon. And some ice cream…. :)
  24. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fantastically Fiendish Fanfic Manager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 19, 2019
    @Seldes_Katne Thank you so much for reading and commenting!:)I'm so flattered that you found this a lovely, magical set of stories. I really enjoyed writing these. It was a pleasure to delve into Izumi's character and to explore what might have happened in the Fire Nation and the world as a whole in the aftermath of Ozai's defeat and Zuko's rise to Fire Lord.

    It makes me so happy how many readers have appreciated the idea of an exchange student program. I think your story speaks to the value exchange programs can have in terms of education about other cultures and potentially broadening perspectives. The interesting thing for me as I was writing this story was the idea that the Avatar studying among the different nations already provided a sort of framework for how an exchange program could work in that world, and Zuko himself would know how much he learned traveling the world when he was in exile, so it made sense to me that he might be motivated to begin an exchange program for students from around the world to have that opportunity to learn and grow.

    I am super flattered that you found it hard to pick a favorite story. I loved being able to write an exchange between Izumi and Yue because it did give me that wonderful chance to explore the similarities and differences between their two elements as you say. Izumi's struggles with algebra were totally relatable to me, because math has never been my strong suit. (I always say there is a reason I became a librarian, haha.) I'm so happy you appreciated Mai's advice about marriage and seeig Zuko unlearn the lessons his father and grandfather taught him about family interactions and punishment. I like to imagine the Fire Nation as a whole will unlearn the lessons of Sozin, Azulon, and Ozai, though the healing and the re-learning of how to rule by love rather than fear will take time. Fortunately, I think Izumi will carry on her father's legacy in terms of not ruling by fear, and I think that could make a huge difference for the Fire Nation going forward. So overall I am optimistic about the Fire Nation's future. Change isn't easy and takes time, but I do believe the Fire Nation is changing for the better, and that is good for the whole world.

    And I definitely found myself wanting a paper dragon and ice cream as I wrote these stories so I can't blame you at all for that[face_laugh]

    Thank you again for reading and for your kind words!