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20 December 2006 @ 02:11 pm
Contest entry  
Title: Frostbite 
Author: greenfireangel
Word Count: 824
Rating: PG-13
Notes: For prompt – From Water to Ice. Warning: implied character death.

This is bad. This is very bad. Iroh paced the floor of his private study, clutched in his fist was the letter from General Shu. He paused to reread the letter one more time, hoping the message would change.
 
To Fire Lord Zuko,

My Lord, it has come to my attention that the rebel, former Admiral Taro, has taken it upon himself to stir up trouble for the Fire Nation.
 
I regret to inform you, that Taro and his men attacked the Southern Water Tribe two weeks past. Taro was ruthless in his slaughter of the tribe. I will send a detailed report of the casualties and damages soon.
 
My men have searched the ruins, but the bodies of Chief Hakoda and his son have not been found. At this time we believe there to be no survivors. However, my crew and I are unfamiliar with this environment. I request more men for a more extensive search.
 
Admiral Taro is not in my custody at the time. His current whereabouts are unknown. We have identified him as the one responsible by the insignia found on the bodies of the fallen firebenders at the scene. It is Taro’s family crest.
 
Respectfully,
General Shu
 
P.S. Please, extend my condolences to the Fire Lady.
 
“Rafu,” Iroh called to his clerk, “send a request for an immediate audience with both The Fire Lord and his Lady.”
 
“But sir, the Fire Lord is very …”
 
“Just go. Now!” Iroh collapsed as his clerk ran to do his bidding. Although he thanked Agni that he had intercepted this letter, he was troubled by the thought of having to tell her.
 
Iroh glanced at the small portrait of his nephew and his niece-in-law, his children. He stared at the brilliant smile on his niece-in-laws face. She does not deserve this sorrow…
 
“Uncle, you requested an audience? You should know that you need not be that formal with me… Uncle?” The Fire Lord looked at his beloved Uncle and frowned. “Uncle, what is…?”
 
“Sit down, Zuko. We must wait for Katara.”
 
“She is with the healers, right now.” A brilliant smile crossed Zuko’s face. “We think she might be pregnant.” Zuko stated proudly. “You should have seen here face when she told me this morning. I swear the water in the garden pond was dancing.”
 
Iroh, however, only hung his head further. “Zuko, there has been news, terrible news. I…”
 
“Uncle?” Zuko asked, now alarmed. “What news?”
 
“General Shu sent you a missive. The messenger claimed it was urgent, and since you were deep in negotiations with the representative of Omashu, I took the letter on your behalf.” Iroh paused, for once unsure of what to say next.
 
Taking an extra tea cup, he poured the Fire Lord a cup of the steaming Jasmine tea. “Drink this. You’re going to need it.”
 
Zuko took the cup cautiously, unnerved by Iroh’s behavior. “Uncle, you said we needed to wait for Katara. Why does she need to be here?”
 
“Zuko, Admiral Taro, has attacked the Southern Water Tribe. Shu is searching for survivors as we speak, however he requests more men.”
 
“Uncle, General Shu has a full crew. Why does he need more men?” Zuko was afraid of the answer.
 
“Read the letter for yourself. They have found no survivors. Shu continues searching only in attempt to deny the truth. They’re dead, Zuko. All of them are dead.”
 
Zuko sat frozen in shock at the news. “But Hakoda and Sokka…Pakku set up those…they were well protected.” His shock quickly turned to anger. The fire in the hearth blazed fiercely. “What are we going to tell Katara?”
 
“Tell me what?” Katara asked, slightly confused at the temperature in the room and scowl on her husband’s face. He had been quite happy when she had left him just a short while ago. She quickly found herself in an overly warm embrace; her husband stroking her hair.
 
Currently incapable of caring what had made her husband so angry, she blurted out her news. “Zuko, I was right. The healers confirmed it. We’re going to have a baby!” She looked at her husband and uncle for signs of their enthusiasm, but only found sadness in their eyes.
 
“Zuko?” she asked hesitantly. “What’s the matter?”
 
The Fire Lord ushered his wife to a seat. He offered her a cup of the warm liquid his uncle had given him. “Katara, I have just received word of an attack.” He caressed her cheek. “My general does not believe there to be any survivors…”
 
----
 
That day was forever recorded in the histories of the Fire Nation as the day of frozen fire. In the following days, reports of frozen tea, frigid rivers, frosted windows, and a menacingly placid ocean flood the palace clerks’ desks. The most terrifying reports, however, were those of diminished bending ability due to the cold temperature, and for those around Fire Lady Katara, the inability to bend.
 
 
 
Emmagooseniteflite on December 20th, 2006 10:14 pm (UTC)
Oh my, that cold temperature is probably very bad for the baby, as well.

This is very well written, and the pacing is well-timed. Kudos!
Emmamaenaine on December 21st, 2006 01:53 am (UTC)
*blush*

Thanks.
Emmagooseniteflite on December 21st, 2006 07:07 am (UTC)
You're welcome. The more contest entries I read here, the more I feel that I have no chance to win. le sigh.
he wore black and i wore white: zuko ahhhdefendit on December 21st, 2006 01:42 pm (UTC)
Sad... but clever and well written!