Izano Zuko.
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As the sound of the onrushing bullet train filled the air, its passengers as well as those who were awaiting them at Glory Station – the eponymously named main station of Glory City – expected a routine Monday morning. Despite the speed with which the train was traveling, those within were sitting in the lap of luxury, with this particular train being a high end, luxury model. The wealthy and somewhat lower ranking nobility often chose to use this type of train to make their way across the city, or even across the country. As the train approached Glory Station, the intercom system beeped, and a voice spoke.

 

“Ladies and gentlemen, we shall be reaching Glory Station in exactly ten minutes. We ask that you be seated, buckle your seatbelts and remain seated until instructed otherwise. Thank you.”

 

As soon as the announcement was completed, those who had been moving about or standing immediately began adhering to the instructions. There was a brief period of commotion as everybody shuffled back to their seats and such. The stewards and stewardesses congregated at their designated seating area, and began speaking amongst themselves.

 

“Hey!” One of them virtually whispered as they sat down.

 

“What?” Another responded.

 

“Don’t tell me this is about –”

 

“That creepy ass guy over there!”

 

“Fuck off, I knew it!”

 

“Would you just forget about that guy, already?!”

 

“I can’t! Just look at him! Almost completely dressed in black, he’s hidden most of his face with a weird scarf mask thing, hasn’t said a fuckin’ word or even acknowledged us when we’ve approached!”

 

“So what?! It’s not like he’s broken any laws or anything.”

 

“…I think we should tell an Agent about him when we reach Glory.”

 

“What?! What for? Existing?!”

 

The discussion continued all throughout the remainder of the trip. The person who was the cause of the debate, the ‘creepy’ guy remained seated and perfectly still, without even looking towards the group of gossip mongers. He was truly an intimidating figure, and that had a tangible effect on the mood and atmosphere of the train cabin He was wearing a cloak that was in absolute tatters, exposing his arms, parts of his torso, and a good portion of his legs All of the exposed parts of his body were wrapped in bandages that were black, although it was anybody’s guess as to whether black was the original colour or if they were white once upon a time. Half of his face was also tightly wrapped in the same shoddy bandages as the rest of his body; hiding what looked to be a pair of rather large earrings, and his bare feet remained planted on the cabin floor. His skin was dark, and the exposed part of his skin was completely covered in burn scars which appeared to be unbelievably uniform and symmetrical. They mirrored one another – as if they were designed or tattooed with fire. He had an equally shabby and worn travel sack resting by his feet – which looked like a dirty bed sheet more than anything. His eyes were intense and barely blinked as they darted about the cabin, scanning in intently. There was another person in the train who had seemingly flown under the radar of those stewards and stewardesses who had focused their attention on the bald man. He was seated a little further back, and appeared to be the complete opposite of the man in front of him – at least at first glance. He was dressed in regular clothing, had long, healthy looking hair, flawless skin with an extremely tanned complexion, a maintained beard, and in general, was just a handsome guy who probably would have gotten more attention if everybody wasn’t feeling so uncomfortable due to the presence of the other guy.

 

The train eventually came to a rather brisk stop, and after a minute or two, the sound of the doors being unlocked echoed throughout the cabin which was now filled with mild chatter. As the intercom beeped once more, and the person who had spoken before thanked the passengers, the stewards began directing them towards the exits closest to where they had been seated.

 

“Please have your Identification Passes ready to be inspected by the authorities!” One of the stewardesses bellowed from between her cupped hands.

 

The I.D.P’s were compulsory for every single citizen of the Empire regardless of race, gender or specie – whether Orcs, Elves, one of the Bestial Races, and so on. The I.D.P’s contained everything that a citizen would require, from their passport, to their driver’s and Magician’s Licenses. If one attempted to do anything without the relevant license, punishment was swift and merciless. This particular bullet train had come from beyond Glory City’s borders, and thus passports were required to so much as depart the train. There were Officers stationed at every door, dressed in their armoured uniforms, ranged and melee weapons on their waists, serious scowls on their faces and Scanners in their hands. The stewards and stewardesses organised the passengers into lines, and the one who had been itching to report the ‘creepy’ guy as a potential threat watched him out the corner of her eye, waiting to see if he was going to kick up a fuss. Just then, her attention was caught by the tall frame of another patron walk in front of her. As her head snapped towards his direction, she found herself staring just a bit, and that didn’t go unnoticed.

 

“Would you stop that?” One of her colleagues said as he popped up from behind her. “How many times are you going to stare at that guy?”

 

“H-Huh? I wasn’t staring.” Was the weak and unconvincing denial that the woman could muster.

 

“Oh please… you’ve stared at that dude about as much as you have that crispy guy back there.”

 

As the male steward said this, they both looked back to see the burnt man stand up. He was equally as tall and built as the handsome one who had just walked past, which surprised the pair slightly. He stood at his full height of 6’5, and after locating and grabbing his luggage, made his way towards the queue that was closest to him. Each step seemed to make the train shake ever so slightly, and the look in his eyes actually made the other passengers who were in front of him move aside and clear the path for him. The act of I.D.P checking was fairly brisk, as the passengers did not want to incur the wrath of the notoriously impatient police officers. After a few minutes of scanning the atmosphere in and around the platform changed completely as the sound of multiple footsteps seemed to drown out every other sound in the station. A group of 5 men and women appeared, all dressed in the Robes of the Order. Despite being slightly different in terms of weight and style, they were all deep red in colour, signifying their rank within the organisation. They all had their respective Spellbooks latched onto their waists, and as they approached the train, people naturally moved out of their way.

 

“I can’t fucking believe that we’re the ones who had to come pick this fucking savage up!” Barked one of the Agents.

 

“You and I both, brother.” A rather tall female responded. “We’re Agents as well. We aren’t the lackeys of those ranked higher!”

 

“Yeah!” Another, but shorter female boomed in agreement.

 

“Stop making a fuss in public.” A calmer sounding voice ordered.

 

“I’m gonna up and kill this dude the moment I see him!”

 

“You know what? That sounds like a fuckin’ plan!” The other Agent chimed in.

 

“So who’s gunna go first?”

 

“Go where?”

 

“I mean who’s gunna take the first shot at the savage?”

 

“Nobody is!” The one who appeared to be the leader said. “I thought I told you all to stop making such a fuss in public.”

 

The change in the tone of his voice caused the others to quiet down, and that was just in time as well, as moments later, a small commotion kicked up as the police officer who was scanning the I.D.Ps at one of the train entrances suddenly created a little room, and drew his weapon, before pointing it directly at somebody.

 

“I’m only going to say this once…” The officer cautioned “…toss your bag towards me, and step away from the door!” He boomed in a somewhat panicked and worried voice.

 

The officer continued to point his baton towards whomever it was he had cautioned, and for some reason, he felt as though the situation demanded more urgency, as he pressed a button that caused the baton to go through something of a transformation, with the smooth, blunt rod suddenly stretching and thinning out, transforming into a blade. Once the change was complete, streaks of lightning began to dance all along the surface of the blade. Just as it appeared as though the officer was about to start barking orders once more, the group of Order Agents reached him.

 

“What is going on here, Officer?” The leader asked.

 

“Who – oh, an Agent?  This crazy looking bumpkin possesses a basic, Level 1 I.D.P, yet is in possession of Magical Items of such a high level, my in-visor scanner is unable to even see what they are!”

 

The Agents all looked at the officer, before looking towards the door.

 

“Whoever is in there, please step out?” The Leader requested.

 

“Hey…” One of the Agents said to the others. “What are the chances that the person in there is…”

 

The Agent couldn’t finish his sentence as a few moments later; a bare foot poked its way out of the doorway, before the rest of the body followed. As the man came into view there was some silence as a collective chill that ran down the spines of the group. He emerged completely from the train and stepped onto the platform, bag in hand, and the officer audibly swallowed a lump in his throat, before raising his sword once more, as if readying himself to defend himself or strike. He was stopped however, as the leader of the group of Agents raised his hand.

 

“Calm down, Officer…” He said without as much as breaking eye contact with the man. “Izano Zuko?”

 

The man looked the Agent before him over for a while, before nodding slowly.

 

“We are your welcoming party as well as your escorts. We’ve come to fetch you. Call me Kev.”

 

There was a bout of silence as this Izano Zuko looked over the Agent who had spoken to him, as well as his companions, before snorting somewhat and walking past them. After he took a few steps, Izano Zuko suddenly felt an extremely strong gaze on his back, prompting him to stop and quickly look behind himself only to find that there wasn’t anybody or anything there. He continued to stare at the area behind him for a little longer, before facing ahead and striding off powerfully.

Kev quickly started walking as well, making sure to walk ahead of Izano Zuko. The rest of his crew did the same, and as they walked, there wasn’t even a murmur of Zuko being a savage or any of that. He was taller and bigger than everybody in the group, and despite them all being Agents, the fact that they were on escort duty meant that there was something about this guy, and they didn’t want to find out firsthand what that was exactly. Meanwhile back in the train, there were a few flabbergasted stewards with gaping mouths watching as the creepy passenger was being escorted out of Glory Station by a group of Agents.

 

“It certainly does look like that guy is here on Order business doesn’t it, you judgmental little Half-Elf?”

 

“Oh be quiet…” The red faced stewardess huffed as she walked off.

 

As the small group walked through the station, Izano Zuko was visibly looking around, his head moving ever so slightly as he looked around. It was really his first time being in such a modern and pristine venue, usurping the train station he had just come from. The look in his eyes suggested that Izano wanted to explore, or at the very least, inquire about the things that caught his attention the most such as the multiple advertising screens, the many cleaners on hand to pick up trash or clean up any mess the instant it occurred, or the extremely heavy police presence; there were armed, uniformed policemen and women everywhere. Everything shone and sparkled as well, which was odd for something that saw so much foot traffic. Due to the Agents though, any traffic in front of them would split almost immediately and allow them to walk right through, and this helped greatly with the speed of the trip through the station, and soon enough, they were standing in front of the convoy of parked vehicles. These were custom SUVs made especially for the Order, with these ones being the same colour as the Robes worn by the Agents.

 

“Alright, you all see how you split yourselves. I’ll be taking our guest to HQ myself.”

 

“Y… you’ll be driving, Kev?” One of the Agents asked with quite a bit of concern.

 

“Of course I will… why? Is there some sort of problem if I do drive?”

 

“Nah! Not at all! It’s just that, it’s been a while since you last drove, that’s all…”

 

Kev eyed the Agent in question suspiciously, before reaching for and opening the rear door and beckoning Izano Zuko in. Another of the Agents reached for his luggage, which drew quite the sharp stare from the man.

 

“I just wanna put it in there…” He said as he pointed to the back of the car.

 

After a few moments, the bag was reluctantly relinquished, and both Kev and the Agent swung around to the back of the SUV. Just then, one of the female Agents seemed to approach Izano Zuko and hurried him into his seat, before quickly fastening the seatbelt and giving the man a look and a nod.

 

“You might be needing this…” She said before stepping back and closing the door.

 

“Alright.” Kev said as he made his way to where everybody was. “We’ll see you all back at HQ.”

 

The group members all mumbled their acknowledgment and their goodbyes, and watched as Kev stepped into the car. There was a period of silence as they waited for the car to start, and when that didn’t happen, they all exchanged knowing looks.

 

“Should somebody go help?”

 

“Are you crazy?! Do you wanna die?!”

 

Just then, the car started and for a few second, it revved and jerked forward repeatedly, as if threatening to stall. This continued for far longer than it should have, and as the Agents all exchanged knowing looks once more, they were shocked to see Izano Zuko looking right at them as well. It was an odd little exchange of looks between the group and the guest which was brought to an abrupt end as the SUV suddenly shot out from its parking spot with a near ear shattering level of tyre squeal. As the car blasted off and raced down the road, the remaining Agents stood there, watching the SUV surprisingly jerk and blast down the road before disappearing. There was some silence, before one of the Agents broke it.

 

“Ten bucks says they don’t make it to Order HQ in time.”

 

“…I don’t think anybody is going to argue against that.” Another responded, before the others nodded and grunted their agreement.

 

“…did you guys feel it as well?” One of the female Agents asked.

 

“Yeah… that savage is dangerous.”

 

“He’s practically bursting with Mana. Each and every step he took forced Mana into the ground.”

 

“If Kev isn’t careful, that savage could explode and he might not be alive long enough to test that new 1080 Ti of his.”

 

“Well, he’s driving, so there was already the threat of death looming above both of their heads.”

 

“…good point.”

 

Meanwhile in the car, despite the choppy and downright frightening drive, both Kev and Izano Zuko were still alive. The atmosphere within the car was pretty tense, if only because all of Kev’s attempts to make conversation had fallen flat up until that point.

 

“…so, Zuko – you don’t mind if I just call you Zuko, do you?”

 

“…”

 

“…so as I was saying, are you able to share any information on why you are here? We just received instructions from the Archmage telling us to come and receive you at Glory Station.”

 

“…”

 

“The Archmage seemed extremely irked when he called us into his office to relay the instructions – almost as if the instructions came from above him as well.”

 

“…”

 

“I mean, there aren’t many people in the city with authority over him, so…”

 

Kev appeared to be completely content with having a conversation with himself, as Zuko wasn’t even offering a grunt or a snort of confirmation or participation. He just looked out the window, taking in the sight of Glory City. The city was actually built a fair distance into the Florian Sea, and there wasn’t so much as a hint of dry land that wasn’t artificial anywhere near or in the city. Despite that, Glory City was rich in flora and fauna, especially in the more affluent districts, such as the one Kev and Zuko were driving through. Tall palm trees, manicured grass and shrubbery, all mixed in with beautiful, modern architecture. Much like in Glory Station, there were a plethora of advertising screens, all of different sizes, all of which doubled up as posters or billboards, as well as advertising screens and monitors that displayed news bulletins and such. Zuko’s gaze remained transfixed on the scenery outside, as well as the people of that scenery. The majority of those who were on foot were humans, but there were also a fair number of High Elves, Half Elves, and the odd Half Orc walking around as well. They were all dressed in classy attire; bar the Half Orcs were mostly there as hired security by those who thought of themselves as being particularly important. They were currently driving through one of the lesser Business Districts, and despite it being one of the poorer examples of Glory City’s penchant for perfection, one could be forgiven for thinking that the City Lord’s residence was nearby. As Kev drove, he pointed towards what appeared to be a large skyscraper in the distance, remarking on how that was their destination. The journey to the Order’s HQ was a fairly brisk one, and apart from a few close shaves, incidents of road rage and the continued one-sided conversation, the drive was somewhat incident free. The Order’s HQ was an absolutely MASSIVE tower that shot up so high up into the sky, it almost seemed to be never ending. The tower was surrounded by a rather intimidating looking fence, which had guard towers placed all along it. There was also a particularly large force of vehicles parked alongside the long stretch of road that led directly to the Order’s entrance. Kev - who was still talking even when the car pulled up to one of the two massive gates - lowered the window and held some sort of card to a small scanner. With a beep and a scanning noise, a voice spoke.

 

“Agent Kevin Black, welcome back.”

 

The sound of hydraulics filled the air as the gate split and opened, allowing Kev and Izano Zuko entrance into the property. The car drove in, and after a minute or two of navigating through the giant parking lot, Kev finally pulled into a parking spot.

 

“Well, we’ve arrived.” Kev said, stating the obvious. “Let’s go see the Archmage quickly. He’s not known for his patience after all.”

 

Kev hopped out of the car and made his way towards the back of the car to collect Zuko’s bags. There was some shock and awe from Kev when he saw the shoddy looking bag which has such Magical Power brimming from it he was a little tentative in his reaching for it. Meanwhile inside the car, there seemed to be a brief struggle as the car shook a little, but before long, that all stopped. A few moments later, Kev was joined by Zuko, who just reached in and took his bag. The bandaged man then looked around at the building, before nodding and just walking off in some random direction.

 

“Hey, where are you going?!” Kev said with a slightly flustered tone. “Don’t just walk in whatever direction feels right! Follow me!”

 

Zuko stopped and turned back to look at Kev, who beckoned for him to follow. He did just that, and the pair walked alongside a wall, at which point Zuko noticed that the building itself was almost entirely covered with Magical Energy, as if an extremely high level Spell had been cast on it. Kev noticed Zuko eyeing the wall and nodded to himself.

 

“Good spot. There are a shitload of Spells and such cast on HQ in order to make it seem like just a tower. Only those of us who are official Order Agents see it for what it is.”

 

“…”

 

Zuko didn’t even respond and Kev just shrugged it off with a slight sigh. A brisk walk later, the pair reached a large glass door that slid open the moment Kev was a certain distance from it.

 

“Yo, Zuko; stay right behind me, okay? That way, the Tower’s defenses won’t turn you into paste.”

 

Zuko said nothing, but he did step that little bit closer to Kev as they walked in. As they both did, Zuko felt something tangible pressing against his skin as he crossed the threshold, as if he was entering a different space all together. Once inside, Zuko’s eyes were immediately drawn to how many Agents were walking around what looked like a foyer of sorts, and the different attire they were wearing. There were some who were in similar robes to those worn by Kev and his crew, but then there were those who were dressed in armour. The armour in question was different to that worn by the police, it was more… elaborate. The armour also varied in size and weight, with different materials and metals used in the different types. One thing that was constant however was the intermittent pulsing and glowing of strips and glyphs on the various kinds of armour and weapons.

 

“Those are Knights.” Kev said. “They are… well, I guess they are our colleagues.”

 

Zuko continued looking at them, before looking at Kev with something of a raised eyebrow.

 

Kev actually knew what Zuko was thinking, but just shrugged once more ass continued walking. They could both feel the eyes of those within HQ all focusing on them. They were staring at Zuko, and weren’t even trying to hide the fact that they were. Murmurs of ‘savage’ and ‘barbarian’ could be heard from both sides, those of the Knights and the Mages. Zuko paid them no mind, and just walked, his long and powerful strides still forcing Mana into the ground beneath his feet. As the duo approached a large front desk which had a multitude of receptionists all sitting behind it, their presence quickly noticed.

 

“Ah! Agent Black!” A male receptionist called out. “We’ve waiting for you—”

 

“No… no, no, no.” Kev said as he waived his hands dismissively. “There’s a table full of pretty women at this table; why is the only guy here talking to me? No thanks.”

 

The female receptionists all shook their heads with barely contained sighs, all while their male colleague did the same.

 

“Do you really have time for this, Agent Black? The Archmage and the Knight Captain-Commander are both waiting for you and your companion.” He said.

 

“Yeah, I don’t care! There are plenty of wom—wait a minute! Did you say that bo—”

 

“YESSS!!” All of the receptionists answered in united annoyance.

 

“Shit! Zuko, let’s go!”

 

Kev burst from where he was standing and as he darted off, there was a chorus of calls, before the guy spoke.

 

“Agent Black! They’re in the Chamber of Scrying!”

 

“Stop talking to me!!” Kev shouted back.

 

“Agent Black!!!” The guy shouted once more.

 

“Shut up!” Kev boomed. “Stop acting suspect!”

 

“It’s not that!” The others screamed. “Your ward is running in the opposite direction!”

 

“What?!” Kev boomed as his head snapped behind him, only to see Zuko thundering in the complete opposite direction. “ZUKO!!”

 

Zuko was in the middle of a long stride when he heard his name being shouted, which caused him to stop and look back. Kev was gesticulating and waving his hands above his head.

 

“This way, man! Didn’t I just tell you not to go where your gut tells you to?!”

 

There was a bout of derisive laughter and snorting that came not only from the Knights, but the Mages as well as Zuko ran towards Kev. The two then continued in the right direction, Zuko’s cloak fluttering as he ran with his arms pressed down at his sides.

 

“Why the fuck are those two in the Chamber of Scrying?! Who is being tested?!” Kev boomed as if he was awaiting an answer from Zuko, who just ran behind him.

 

Due to the fact that they were now running, there was less time for those who were in the Tower to look and laugh at them, and not only that they rather quickly reached the Chamber. When they did, Kev folded like a house of cards and started panting and wheezing like crazy. Zuko just looked down at him, wondering why his guide was so out of breath. Kev looked up Zuko, who wasn’t even the slightest bit out of breath.

 

“Don’t look at me like that! I’m a Mage!”

 

Zuko’s brow rose as he looked completely unimpressed with that excuse.

 

“Yo, fuck you man.”

 

Kev stood up, wiped his own sweaty brow with his forearm and reached to open the rather impressive and elaborate door, but it swung open before his hand even reached it. It opened to reveal quite possibly the highest level gathering of Order personnel available. The Archmage, the Knight Captain-Commander, their assistants, their Deputies, their children, who were also high ranking members of the Order, and a few more important people. The sight of all these people made Kev freeze on the spot, and look almost unbearably intimidated. Zuko then strode right next to him, and unlike Kev, he looked completely unflustered. Whether this was because he had no idea who any of these people were, or because he was naturally fearless, Kev couldn’t help but want to cuss him out some more.

 

“Ah… Kevin Black.” The Archmage said as he looked at the Agent, before turning his attention to Zuko. “…and the savage.”

 

“Hmph.” Snorted the man who was standing opposite him. “Of course he would be Mage.” He practically spat.

 

The Archmage and Knight Captain-Commander were older gentlemen, who just looked strong. The Archmage had salt and pepper air, which was long and slicked back, while the Knight Captain-Commander was completely grey with a manicured beard. His armour was bigger and more elaborate than any other Knight’s, while the Archmage’s robes were similar to the Captain’s in terms of size. The two men were flanked and surrounded by their respective delegations, and they continued to stare at Zuko and Kev.

 

“…you may leave, Agent Black.” The Knight Captain-Commander said as he dismissed Kev with a flick of his hand.

 

“O-O-Of course, Captain!”

 

Kev gave an extremely stiff and nervous salute, before turning around, and walking out. The door closed behind him as he left, and once it did, he fell to his knees, wiping his profusely sweating face as he did.

 

“H-Holy FUCK! Who the fuck is that guy, and why does his arrival warrant the very top brass all coming to see him?!”

 

Meanwhile within the Chamber, Zuko – who was yet to say anything just looked at these powerful Mages and Knights who were all eyeing him.

 

“Judging by his appearance, this savage looks as though he was also some kind of thug…”

 

“Yet Lord Hunter insisted on this happening, and refused to even listen to any objections.”

 

There was silence as the two old men grumbled at the presence of Zuko being in their building. The rest of the gathered crowd also glared at him as they looked him over, wondering what happened to his head, and why his body was mostly wrapped in those filthy bandages. After some more grumbling and staring, the Archmage spoke to Zuko directly.

 

“Listen, Savage; at the… insistence of the City Lord, we have been… implored to offer you the chance of joining the Order. You cannot simply join however, and must be tested, if only to determine what rank and robes you receive.”

 

“So he definitely is a Mage, then?” The Knight Captain-Commander inquired.

 

“Of course… he constantly leaks Mana from virtually every orifice that he has.” The Archmage sneered.

 

“Then there’s absolutely no reason for us to remain and breathe the same air as that creature.” Sneered the Captain.

 

The Archmage didn’t even respond as he raised his left hand, and after a moment or two, said hand began to emit a gentle glow. Just then, the ceiling split, and a rather large contraption dropped down from the opening, landing with a rather loud crash. It had all manner of pipes of varying size that disappeared up into where it dropped down from.  The contraption had quite a few monitors connected to it, displaying different information on each screen.

 

“Alright you Filth… cast a Spell, any Spell and aim it at the Scryer before you. It will determine the strength and purity of your Mana, and depending on what it is, we will –”

 

“For goodness sake, William! Would you stop explaining things to this thing and have it complete the test? Some of us have better things to do!”

 

“Silence, Donald! This is Mage business!” The Archmage sneered in reply.

 

“If that’s the case, then why are we still standing here with his savage?!” Boomed Knight Captain-Commander Donald.

 

Before Archmage William could even respond, the bickering duo was interrupted by what sounded like a massive explosion. They both looked in the direction of the ‘savage’, and found that the Scryer had been hit by something so hard, that a portion of it had actually been blown off. As it swung back and forth on its pipes and cables like a pendulum, shrapnel flew towards the group of Order Agents and Hierarchy. The Mages robes glowed a bit before a large Magic Circle appeared in front of each Mage, with Archmage William’s being the biggest. Meanwhile, the Knights simply raised their left arms, and the plating on their forearms changed and transformed into shields of various sizes. The flying particles all flew into the respective shields and as the swinging Scryer slowed down, the sight of Izano Zuko suddenly came into focus. His cloak was fluttering, his free hand clenched tight, and his eyes were suddenly completely brown, yet seemed to be glowing with some kind of light.

 

“Izano Zuko is my name…”

 

Those in the Chamber who heard this, all heard it from inside their heads, rather than through their ears. William and Donald immediately knew what was happening.

 

“Telepathic Communication…” The Archmage said as he looked at the nodding Knight Captain-Commander.

 

“…call me a savage one more time, I dare you. Your pain will be so legendary, that your ANCESTORS will feel it.”

 

As Zuko made this threat, a small shockwave burst out from his feet, sending more bits and pieces of the seemingly destroyed Scryer flying towards the group once again. All of a sudden, two Knights from the group burst away from the group, and dashed towards Zuko, who still had his bag in one hand.

 

“That was tantamount to an attack on our Captain!” One of the two who were charging Zuko screamed.

 

“You savage filth! How DARE you?” The other boomed.

 

Zuko, who looked completely unperturbed, just raised his right hand, which glowed for a second or two, before one of the Knights was hit by something, and was hit HARD. Knight was flung backwards with incredible force, and the heavy plate armour was left with a massive indentation on the breastplate. As the one Knight flew towards the wall on the opposite end of the Chamber of Scrying, the other continued to charge, now with its shield and shield arm raised, ready to block and deflect any more of those weird invisible attacks. As if Zuko accepted the challenge, his hand glowed a few more times, and the Knight’s shield was pelted twice with whatever it was Zuko was attacking with, with the second one actually blowing the shield baring arm away and exposing the Knight’s body. Zuko then sent forth another attack, which smacked the Knight right on the gut and sent it hurtling towards the same wall as the previous Knight.

 

Just as the Knight crashed into the wall, Zuko pointed his right hand to the left, and no sooner had he done that, was a multi-pronged lightning spell crackling through the air towards him. Three pure blue lightning bolts then crashed into some sort of invisible barrier in front of Zuko, a blue light flaring up throughout the Chamber. His cloak and a few loose strands of his bandages all fluttered from the force of the lightning bolts hitting the barrier, but Zuko took no damage. His hand pulsed a few times, and the Mage who had cast the Spell and was standing behind a Magic Shield with his Spellbook out, was suddenly taken by surprise when his shield was hit with great force about three times, and looked worryingly close to shattering.

 

“Fortified Magic Shield!” He boomed.

 

A larger, thicker and squarer Magic Shield appeared in front of the other one, as he prepared himself for another barrage.

 

“Hmph!” He snorted. “Simplistic savage; using the same attack over and over won’t work on Mages such as—”

 

The Mage was interrupted as he felt things wrap themselves around his ankles and wrists, and before he could react, he was launched up towards the ceiling above. He was smashed into it with sickening force, before being thrown into the ground with an equal amount of strength, smashing the floor tiles and leaving him in a crumpled heap on said floor tiles. There was something of a moment of shock and awe as Zuko just stood there, after having dispatched three Order Agents without so much as breaking a sweat.

 

“Hmph… pathetic.” A rather feminine voice declared.

 

This was followed by the sound of heavy boots clacking on the floor as the woman who said that moved forward and broke free from the crowd of Knights. Her armour was far more elaborate and almost decorate looking as compared to the other Knights she was with. Her steps were heavy and deliberate, and her demeanor seemed to hint at her not being impressed with Zuko’s display.

 

“Don’t embarrass us.” The Knight Captain-Commander coldly ordered.

 

“Fear not, Knight Captain-Commander.” The female Knight reassured as she reached behind her neck with her right hand. “I’ll carve the understanding of the word respect into that burnt skin of his.”

 

As she said this, she pulled out a very long sword from behind her neck. The blade was slightly curved at the end, and was thinner than that of a regulation Order bladed weapon.  She kept walking until she was around half way between Zuko and those behind her.

 

“You’re about to be taught a very painful lesson, you filth.” The Knight spat as she readied her weapon.

 

Before she could get proceedings underway however, she heard the sound of rustling robes coming from behind her. A second later or so, a Mage clad in light blue robes landed next to her. He had long hair which was tied in a ponytail. He was a rather good looking fellow who appeared to be in his early 30’s or so. He smirked quite broadly as he looked at Zuko.

 

“Oh my…” The Knight remarked. “For the son of the Archmage himself to get involved… I’m honoured.”

 

“No need for the attitude, Princess Cassandra. Also, what is there in taking a dig at me, when your own father is right there behind us?”

 

“Shut up, pretty boy. And don’t call me princess, Curtis.”

 

Zuko watched as the children of the leaders of the Order bickered like their parents did. He glared at them with unblinking eyes, and just his gaze made it difficult for the two in front of him to ignore him. They put their bickering on hold, and turned their attention to Zuko, who was yet to make a move.

 

“So… how do you want to handle th—”

 

Cassandra didn’t even give Curtis the chance to complete his question as she charged Zuko, moving with far more speed and force than the previous two Knights had. Zuko raised his hand and aimed it in her direction, and after it pulsed a few times, it shot off more of whatever it was he had been shooting at his attackers. With a few flicks of her wrist, Cassandra had deflected every one of Zuko’s attacks before increasing her speed and producing a shockwave which blasted dust and such towards those who were behind her. Her speed and power were insane, and within the blink on an eye, she had closed the distance between herself and Izano Zuko, before leaping into the air and attacking. Her sword was raised above her head, and brought down in one fluid movement, and just as it looked as though he was about to cleave Zuko in half, the blade of her sword met with resistance, crashing into a what was assumed to be a barrier, a shockwave emanating from the point of impact. Without missing a beat, Cassandra began to swing her sword repeatedly, ferociously crashing it down on the barrier with such speed that it seemed like only a matter of moments before breaking through. Zuko kept his hand raised, looking unflustered, as if he had something planned. Whatever that was however, it was completely thrown out of the window as he saw something out of the corner of his eye flying towards him. He quickly aimed his right hand towards the incoming attack, and the multicoloured projectiles quickly crashed into another invisible barrier, each one producing a similarly coloured flash of light with each impact.

 

He then quickly brought his right hand back to where Cassandra was, and that was just in time as well, as she was perilously close to smashing right through the shield he had put up. He thrust his open palm towards her just as she raised her sword one more time, and with something of a flourish, she was pushed back, flying through the for a short period before regaining control of her body. Tiny panels on the back of her armour opened, and small jets of fire pulsed out from them, halting her movement. She then slowly floated down to the ground, and the moment her feet made contact with the ground below, the small thrusters were switched off, and the panels closed. Cassandra stood perfectly straight, and rolled her neck slightly, as if to loosen it.

 

“Really?” She said as she starting rolling her neck in the opposite direction. “Magic Missile?”

 

“What’s wrong with Magic Missile?” Curtis asked as he looked at Cassandra.

 

“You have all those Spellbooks out, and you choose to use one of the weakest, base level Spells?”

 

“Excuse me, but do you hear me getting on your case about the choice of attack you used? It wasn’t even a genuine attack; you just swung that sword at him like some kind of brute!”

 

The bickering continued, much to the embarrassment to their respective parents who were silently watching the battle with keen interest. Meanwhile, Zuko, who was watching the exchange between the two, slowly set his bag down behind him, and stood with both hands by his sides. His knuckles cracked as he clenched his fists, and the sound was so loud that it got the attention of the two Agents, before spreading both arms out, holding them down at waist level, his palms open. His eyes began to glow, as did both of his hands. This caused Cassandra and Curtis to ready themselves for an attack, with Curtis having pulled out three Spellbooks, which were all floating at chest level, and open. As he looked at Zuko, the Spellbooks seemed to be flipping through their own pages, the sound catching his partner’s attention.

 

“You had better be searching for a better set of Spells to cast.” She grumbled as she held her sword in both hands.

 

“Shut it, and just focus on keeping him occupied.” Curtis retorted; smirk gone from his face as he seemingly started to take Zuko seriously. “Daddy!!” Curtis boomed with something of a disingenuous tone. “Have you noticed it yet?!”

 

“Silence, you idiot!” William snapped back. “Pay attention!”

 

“What is he talking about, William?” The Knight Captain-Commander asked.

 

“That idiot son of mine doesn’t even know what he’s talking about, yet he asks me if I’ve noticed it.”

 

“That doesn’t answer a thing, you old bastard.”

 

“Silence! I will discuss this with you after the battle.”

 

“Very well… that said, why are we allowing this fight to continue? We have very strict rules regarding…”

 

“Yes, well that man is not an Agent… he is merely a visitor. Besides, there is something unbelievable about how he fights. I need to see more of it before drawing any conclusions about it.”

 

While the two older gentlemen conversed, Curtis raised both hands, before hovering them above his Spellbooks, and Cassandra took that as a sign that he was ready to go. She once again initiated an attack, dashing towards Zuko with more force and speed than before. Once again, Zuko raised his right hand, but this time, he swiped it in a horizontal motion, and instantly, the ground in front of Cassandra morphed. Spikes made from the tiles, concrete and whatever else the floor was made of suddenly shot out from the ground and as they did, a semicircular crater of sorts formed behind the point that they sprouted from. The longer and bigger the spikes grew, the deeper the crater became, and Cassandra quickly raised her left arm. Her shield wasn’t forming fast enough for her to successfully defend against spikes whilst advancing.  As she leapt up in the air to try and jump over them, the spikes grew even longer, following her as if they had a mind of their own. Meanwhile, Curtis, who had been silently reciting a Spell, pointed towards Zuko with one hand just as he finished reciting it.

 

Shut The Fuck Up!!” Curtis boomed as a purple light shot out from his hand and flew towards Zuko.

 

Zuko looked at it briefly, and quickly looked back at Cassandra, as if this oddly named Spell was of no threat. It hit him, and covered his body for only a second, before being blown off and disintegrating into the atmosphere. As the tiny purple particles floated to the ground, Zuko looked at Curtis and thrust his left hand out in his direction and much like with the spikes for Cassandra, a large rectangular wall of sorts was formed from the floor in front of him.

 

“As if something like this would wo—”

 

Before Curtis could finish, a bunch of spikes formed and shot at him from both sides, forcing the enchantments of his robes to work overtime, as the two Magic Shields suddenly appeared to meet the spikes.

 

“Fuck!” Curtis shouted as he thrust both hands out to either side. “Don’t let that shit touch me!

 

Two Magic Shields which looked extremely similar to those used by the previous Mage appeared, which was just as well, since the spikes were threatening to smash right through the auto shields. Closer to Zuko however, Cassandra had bulldozed her way through the spikes after having raised her now fully formed Tower Shield, and used the small thrusters on the back of her armour to generate speed, before smashing the spikes to bits. She was careening towards Zuko, blade at the ready. He looked at her, closed his fist and extended his index and forefingers, pressed the together, and flicked them upwards. Immediately, a wall similar to the one he summoned for Curtis sprang up from the ground and shot straight up, catching Cassandra directly in the stomach and forcing her  right up into the ceiling with immense force. Her armour served its purpose as it severely lessened the effect of the attack, and she quickly rolled along the wall before popping off over the edge. Her thrusters suddenly burst with more force, and she absolutely zoomed through the air towards Zuko. She once again closed the gap between her and him in an instant, and swung her sword with ridiculous force, breaking through whatever shield or barrier was there previously, using her momentum to spin, raising her sword once more, and upon completing her revolution, she swung down. Zuko quickly raised his hand up to the blade, which stopped just short of cleaving into the open palm before it, and crashed into yet another invisible shield. This one was much stronger than the previous one however, and Cassandra sword and arm were actually blown away. She didn’t let that deter her however, and she swung her sword again, and just like with the first strike, Zuko’s hand was there to meet the strike and block it. Every attack produced a shockwave and oddly enough, sparks. 

 

“Take this!” Curtis roared, interrupting the exchange between Cassandra and Zuko. “Turn Him Into a Pin Cushion!!!

 

Zuko looked towards where Curtis was, only to find a large number of projectiles hovering high above Curtis. Each projectile was spinning in place, and Curtis, who had destroyed the wall and spikes, grinned as he brought his hand down, which was the signal for all of the projectiles, which were actually a very high level version of the Magic Arrow Spell, to shoot down towards Zuko. As they flew directly towards him, Zuko just raised his left hand, and raised a series of walls that all blocked the path of the arrows to him. This was a temporary measure to allow him to have enough time to deal with Cassandra, who was attacking once more. As he blocked yet another strike, Zuko brought his left hand next to his right, and with an immense shockwave, Cassandra was powerfully blown away. Zuko then turned his attention towards the remaining arrows that had broken their way through the created walls, quickly bent his arms, pushing them behind his back and even crouched down a little, bending his knees. His arms shook and vibrated for a second as if they were charging something, and just as the arrows were about to make hit him, Zuko thrust both hands up towards them. Even though most of the people in the Chamber of Scrying couldn’t see it, a massive blast burst out from Zuko’s hands, immediately obliterating whatever arrows were close to hitting him, and then flew towards Curtis, who himself raised his hands and cast another Spell.

 

Six-Headed Turtle Motherfucker!

 

Six large, tortoise shell shaped shields formed and dug themselves into the ground, creating a multi-layered barrier between him and the blast. It wasn’t quite visible what this blast was of, but whatever it was, it chewed through the first three shields with ease, breaking them apart en route to directly hitting Curtis, who had both hands raised and was feeding as much Mana to the remaining shields as he possibly could. This appeared to help, because the final three shields lasted a lot long, and also successfully absorbed the brunt of the blast. By the time the final tortoise shell shield broke apart, the blast had been successfully defended, although it came at a slight cost as the Mana that was required to fortify the Spell was quite vast, and left Curtis breathing a little heavily.

 

“…what on earth was that?” He said to himself more than anybody else.

 

“I don’t know…” Cassandra said as she took up her position next to him once more. “…but it looks like we might have to get serious if we want to kill him.”

 

Just as Cassandra reached back, as if to draw another sword, the sound of something beeping was heard, as well as the sound of some printing.

 

“What the…?”

 

“Ah, the Scryer is done evaluating that savage’s Mana.” The Archmage said as he floated up from where he was standing, and levitated towards the contraption, which despite its current shape, was surprisingly still working.

 

When he landed on the ground, he pointed his open hand in the direction of the printed sheets of paper, which flew up into his hand, and there was a moment of stillness as Mage read the report. The moment seemed to drag on forever, with the Knight Captain-Commander losing patience.

 

“Hurry up, William!” He barked. “How long does it take you read a piece of paper!?”

 

The Archmage didn’t say anything as he carefully scanned the document, a look of disbelief flashing upon and disappearing from his face almost too quickly for anybody to notice. He slowly walked towards Zuko, who was still standing at the ready for more combat. Once the old man reached him, he raised his hand as if to signify that he wasn’t looking for a fight.

 

“…the City Lord left something for you in the event that your results were… favourable.”

 

The Archmage reached within his robes, and after rummaging around for a bit, pulled out something that looked like an old, tattered piece of paper and handed it to Zuko. It took some time for him to actually take it, but when he did, Zuko only needed to look at it for a second before recognising it. Whatever emotions the paper brought were quickly pushed to one side, and Zuko slowly softened his stance. He looked at the Archmage, who by now had folded and put the test results away in his robe. The two looked at each other in silence, as if they had no idea how to proceed. The Archmage knew what to do next, but really didn’t want to.

 

“This is the situation; Izano Zuko… my superior has left instructions on how to proceed if we got to this point. I don’t have the desire to explain any of it to you right now, therefore, I shall have some accommodation arranged for you for tonight, and we can discuss these results.”

 

“Forgive me Archmage, but we were in the middle of something with this savage!” Cassandra interrupted, her hand still held at the back of her neck.

 

“Not anymore.” The Archmage retorted. “As things stand, he is… well, he’s not an Agent, but he’s leaning closer to being one than not being one, which means that the law is in effect.”

 

“But…”

 

“But nothing!” The Knight Captain-Commander said as he walked towards Cassandra. “You had your chance. Stand down.”

 

“Yes, Sir.” Cassandra said, sounding rather dejected and putting her sword away.

 

The Archmage, who had been watching this exchange, turned his head and looked towards his own son to say the same.

 

“I hope you were listening as well, Cur—”

 

The Archmage was stunned to silence as he saw Curtis putting his Spellbooks away with record speed. He then quickly fixed his hair, fixed his robes, and then hopped over towards Zuko. Before anybody could say anything, Curtis started laughing and started to repeatedly pat Zuko’s left shoulder with a massive smile on his face.

 

“Hey dude, you’re really impressive! Look at all the damage you did… making all those spikes and shit.”

 

“…”

 

Zuko didn’t say anything, but he was visibly calmer, and both arms were once again beneath his cloak.

 

“You called yourself Izano Zuko, right? Call me Curt!”

 

Zuko, for the first time since arriving in the city, actually nodded his acknowledgement.

 

“Curtis!” Archmage William thundered. “What are you doing?!”

 

“I’m just greeting Zuko…” Curtis said with a shrug.

 

“How can you just greet somebody so casually after you just fought in the manner that you did?”

 

“Huh? But Cass didn’t do any better.” Curtis said as he pointed at the Knight.

 

“What?! Leave me out of this!” Cassandra shouted.

 

“He isn’t lying though.” The Knight Captain-Commander said with a glare.

 

“Stop trying to deflect! Also, how many times have I told you to cease that humiliating Spell invocation?!”

 

“Uh, come on, Daddy-o… you’re embarrassing me in front of company…”

 

Zuko just stood there awkwardly, not knowing what was going to happen next. He just reached behind his legs, grabbed his bag, and seemed as though he was about to turn around and walk off.

 

“Wait.” The Archmage said as he put his scolding of his son on hold. “Wait outside. I will have somebody come and show you to where you will be spending the night shortly. It will not be a long wait.”

 

Zuko looked at William for a few moments, as if trying to gauge the level of truth in his words. A few moments later, he turned around and slowly walked out of the Chamber of Scrying. There was silence as he did so, and once the door closed, the discussion about him started.

 

“…that City Lord… He may have stumbled on to an absolute gem.”

 

“…you sensed it too, Father?” Curtis said, looking entirely serious. He then placed the hand that had been tapping Zuko on the shoulder in front of his father’s face. “Can you see it?”

 

William looked at the palm before him, and after his eyes baulked for a second, he nodded.

 

“That man… he’s pure Mana.” Curtis said as he pulled his hand back.

 

“What are you two grumbling about?” Donald said as his curiosity got the best of him. “Also, what is the deal on those test results?”

 

“Well…”

 

While the Archmage and Knight Captain-Commander discussed the results, and those who had been rendered unconscious by Zuko were receiving medical attention from those within the group who were adept at administering it, Zuko simply sat in the hall, across from the entrance to the Chamber. He was sitting cross legged on the floor, waiting silently for whoever it was that was supposed to take him his lodgings for the evening. It wasn’t yet late, however despite traveling via bullet train, his journey in from beyond the Empire’s borders was a long one. The wait seemed to be taking longer than he thought it would, and just as his patience was about to run out, the sound of heavy footsteps could be heard approaching from a distance. He looked in the direction the steps were coming from, and soon enough, a slightly overweight fellow of average height came into view. He walked with a deep dip, and was dressed in attire that was different to Mages and Knights, as there was no armour present. It did look uniform-ish however, with a quilted long coat which had the Insignia of the Order above the right breast pocket. His hair was edged up to perfection, his beard was wonderfully manicured, he was wearing dark glasses, and his shoes and jeans weren’t Order issue. Zuko thought he was there to guide him, so he was starting to stand up when the gentleman just breezed right past him, much to Zuko’s annoyance. The sound of squeaking sneakers then filled the hallway, as the guy stopped, turned around and made his way right towards Zuko, who by now had ceased his attempt at standing up. Once he reached Zuko, he stood in front of him, and then crouched down, before looking him over

 

“…never seen you around before.” The guy said in a somewhat raspy voice. “You’re unfamiliar to Brometheus. Who are you?”

 

“You were summoned to collect me, yet do not even know who I am?” Zuko grumbled, using his Telepathic Communication.

 

 “Whoa, calm down there, broski. Brometheus wasn’t sent to collect anybody – wait a minute, Brometheus recognises this voice…”

 

This man who was referring to himself in the third person as Brometheus then crossed his arms and looked to be deep in thought, tilted his head to the side, and let out a monotonous hum, before his face suddenly came alive.

 

“Izano Zuko! Yo, Brometheus heard you threatening some old dudes a little earlier… who were them dudes? Why did they keep calling you a savage?”

 

“Wait a minute, you heard me?!” Zuko asked, sounding completely surprised.

 

“Yeah man, Brometheus heard it all. So what happened? Why are you out here? Did those old dudes beat your ass?”

 

“I’m waiting for somebody to guide me to my sleeping quarters.” Zuko stated plainly, with just a hint of annoyance.

 

“Shit, okay… uummmm, do you know where exactly you supposed to be sleeping?”

 

“No. That old bastard gave no details.”

 

“Uhhhh…” Brometheus quickly looked at his watch before standing up. “Look, Brometheus is in a rush, but he might be able to help. Where is this old bastard? Brometheus can quickly go and see him.”

 

Zuko just gestured with his head towards the Chamber door, which prompted Brometheus to nod and head on into the Chamber. After opening the door and walking in, he couldn’t believe the sight that was before him, as he saw a bunch of powerful Knights and Mages still inside, looking bored as hell as the two older men were deep in discussion. Their attention was drawn towards Brometheus, who quickly took a knee and looked towards the ruined and cracked floor below. There was a moment of awkward silence, which was fueled by intimidation and confusion.

 

“Who are you?” One of the Mages inquired.

 

“Brometheus Bob, Patriotic Technician and Professional Brogrammer, BRO!”

 

Brometheus banged his clenched fist against his chest, as if to emphasise some kind of point. This introduction was met with absolute silence, and after a few more moments, the same Mage who had spoken before did so once again.

 

“…who?”

 

“His name is Robert.” One of the Knights said with an embarrassed sigh. “He’s a Technician from one of the lower floors.” The Knight then looked at Bob. “Robert, what are you doing here?”

 

“Sir! Brometheus was making his way towards the elevator, after having relieved himself in the bathroom with a righteous slash, and en route to the lift, Brometheus spotted this BBQ Pork Crackling dude, sitting in the hallway, with a mean look in his eyes. We got to speaking, and he revealed to Brometheus that he was waiting for somebody to take him to his quarters. Brometheus then offered to do some digging around for that dude, because he looked reeaaaally pissed.”

 

Once Brometheus Bob finished speaking, there was yet another period of silence.

 

“…why the fuck does he speak in the third person?” Curtis asked as he looked at the Knight who had introduced him.

 

“…what the fuck is a ‘Brogrammer’?” Another Knight asked.

 

“Why do such weird people end up as part of the Order?” Cassandra asked as she shook her head.

 

The Archmage suddenly appeared before Brometheus, cleared his throat and spoke.

 

“Very well, Robert—”

 

“That’s Brometheus, Lord Archmage Boss Sir!” Brometheus said with another bang on his chest.

 

“…B-Brometheus… you are tasked with showing the sava… Izano Zuko to his temporary lodgings in the… the…” The Archmage remained quiet for a beat, before sighing and using a Spell similar to Zuko’s Telepathic Communication to relay the command. “Take him to the Onyx Tower, Suite 16B. Collect the Access Card from the front desk, see if he needs anything to eat, and then just dump him in the Suite. Understood?”

 

“Yes, Sir! Brometheus understands. He’ll get right on it!”

 

“Very good! Get to it!”

 

Brometheus stood up, and banged his chest once more, before facing the Knight Captain-Commander and doing the same. He then turned around, and flew out of the Chamber, leaving a still stunned room full of people within. William looked towards Donald, who was equally as confused and shocked as the rest of those in the Chamber and sighed.

 

“The weird people you and your division attract never cease to amaze.”

 

“Fuckin’ weirdo Knights.” Curtis said with a shake of the head.

 

“Oh that’s rich, coming from the Mage who calls Flame Wave Rotisserie Chicken Style!” Cassandra scoffed.

 

“Excuse me? I didn’t quite get that?” Curtis said as he glared at Cassandra.

 

“You heard me!” She boomed in reply.

 

As things threatened to boil over in the Chamber of Scrying, Brometheus Bob was walking with Zuko in tow. They were headed towards the same front desk that Zuko and Kev passed just earlier, and Brometheus was dipping the whole way, and Zuko couldn’t understand how one as chubby as he could walk like that and still move so quickly. It didn’t take the pair long to reach the front desk, and after a bit of incredulity on the part of the receptionists, the Access Key was released, and the two were quickly on their way towards the Onyx Tower. Brometheus had been silent pretty much most of the walk, however as they walked through a door into a somewhat empty hallway, Brometheus Bob suddenly turned around and grabbed Zuko’s cloak with a supremely desperate expression on his face.

 

“What the fuck, bro?! What the fuck?!”

 

“What are you doing, Buffoon?”

 

“Buffoon?! It’s Brometheus, you pork crackling motherfucker! What the fuck did you do?! What the fuck happened?! Why is it that the room that you and the most important motherfuckers in the Order were all in, in that fucking state?! Why are you getting a Suite in the Onyx Tower – the Tower that houses all of the high rollers in this bitch?! Who are you?! Why have you involved Brometheus in this shit?!”

 

Brometheus was having something of a meltdown, after having held his composure for so long. His grip on Zuko’s cloak had tightened during the entire outburst, and he was breathing somewhat heavily once he was done. He looked into Zuko’s eyes, waiting for some kind of response, but he quickly realised that he wasn’t going to get one, and just as he was about to have another go at Zuko, he realised that he was taking an aggressive stance with somebody who had threatened the highest ranking Agents in the Order, and seemingly had a battle with them, and there he was, virtually gripping Zuko’s neck.

 

“Release me, Buffoon.” Zuko calmly demanded.

 

Brometheus did just that, and even tried to smooth the tattered cloak out.

 

“H-Hey, man… look, Brometheus is sorry, bro… yo, this cloak was already like this before Brometheus got his hands on it, right?”

 

“…”

 

“So, let’s keep going – Brometheus is sure you want to have a rest, maybe take a shower… that ain’t to say Brometheus thinks you stink or anything, it’s just… Let’s get going!”

 

Brometheus stopped smoothing over the cloak, and quickly walked off, and Zuko followed suit a moment afterwards. Brometheus was suspicious eyeing Zuko as he walked, but did his best not to look back at the towering man, lest he get hit with whatever those unconscious folks back in the Chamber of Scrying got hit with. The two men got to a set of elevators, all of which had a series of letters and glyphs which demarcated which floors and smaller buildings the elevator in question led to. Brometheus walked down towards an elevator that was right at the end, and it had a simple symbol above it, which was a large ‘O’. As he and Zuko stood before the elevator door, Brometheus stared at the symbol, and audibly swallowed a lump in his throat.

 

“…Brometheus has never even stood in front of this lift, let alone gotten inside it.”

 

He saw Zuko looking directly at him, looking somewhat impatient.

 

“Okay, okay…” Brometheus said before pulling the Access Card out from his pocket.

 

He raised it to what looked like a small camera or scanner, which had a glowing red light pulsing out from it. After a brief scan, the elevator door opened up, revealing a black interior.

 

“…t-they really are pushing this onyx theme, aren’t they?” Brometheus said more to himself than anything.

 

Surprisingly enough, Zuko actually nodded as he strode in, and his guide followed in after him. The elevator doors closed, and immediately after doing so, the elevator absolutely burst in some kind of direction, and while Brometheus looked unfazed, for once, Zuko looked a little perturbed. Thankfully for him, the elevator reached its destination almost as quickly as it started moving, and a moment later, the doors opened. Brometheus walked out and as the pair walked down the hallway, both seemed to be a little taken with the décor, which was all glossy, black tiles, black walls which had decorative glyphs and symbols glowing on the walls, wafting up and down. There was just a hint of ambient lighting, and one would be forgiven for thinking it was no longer day time outside, judging by the level of light in the hallway Brometheus quickly composed himself, and raised the Access Card again, which resulted in it started to glow and emit a slight vibration. As they walked, the glow became more prevalent, as did the vibrations. It seemed as though the Key was doing these the closer they got to the Suite, and by the time they reached it, it was going crazy.

 

“We’re here.” Brometheus said, stating the obvious and drawing a stare from Zuko.

 

He quickly unlocked Suite 16’s door, and before he could say anything, Zuko had already pushed past him and walked right in. This suite was more like a massive loft, extremely well furnished, and seemed to have been the lodgings of somebody who was really high ranking at one time or the other. Brometheus actually spun as he walked into the loft, completing more than a few revolutions.

 

“Holy shit… nice digs, bro.” Brometheus said they both reached an extremely classy looking lounge. “Yo, Brometheus Bob was told to get you something to eat and make sure you settled in properly, so what do you feel like eating?”

 

”Food. I will eat anything, so long as it is edible, Buffoon.” Zuko said as he immediately started exploring the loft.

 

Brometheus waited for a little longer to see if Zuko wanted to say anything else, but when he got nothing but silence, he made his way out and began his quest for food. Zuko found the master bedroom, which was extremely spacious, and set his bag down. From there, he sought the bathroom, and in the process, found the shower. It took no time at all for Zuko to begin to shower, and after a while, Brometheus came back to the sound of the roaring shower.

 

“Yo, BBQ Bro, Brometheus has your food. Where do you want it?”

 

“…”

 

“Yo, bro? Bro? Broooooooo????”

 

“Leave the food anywhere, and GET OUT, Buffoon!”

 

Brometheus didn’t even wait a second longer than necessary before tossing the food parcels onto the table along with the Access Key and leaving.

 

“…man, Brometheus paid for that shit outta his own pocket.” Brometheus grumbled as he walked down the wall towards the elevator.

 

In the bathroom however, a large number of white bandages lay on the tied bathroom floor in a heap, while in the shower, Zuko stood under the jets of water with his forehead pressed against the shower wall, revealing his skin for the first time. His body looked like a mural of some sort, with the unbelievably intricate design not tattooed or etched into his skin, but rather, burned into it. The entire mural was just one big burn scar, and a near pitch black substance oozed from multiple orifices, before being caught in what water hadn’t been turned to steam by Zuko’s insanely high body temperature, and washed off of his body. The water on the shower floor was black, and it looked as though it was going to stay like that for a while, as the shower roared on into the night.

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