A bead of sweat made its way down Azula's forehead.
"You're wife?" Toph laughed.
Shade paid her no mind and with a sweeping arm motion, flung her against the wall on the other side of the room.
"His wife? What's he talking about Azula?" Zuko frowned.
"He…Wan said something about Shade needing a bride. He didn't say why. But…"
"Who is Shade?"
"The Spirit possessing Lu-Ming." Azula nodded in his direction.
"So, who's the lucky lady?" Mai asked.
"I…I think I am." Azula swallowed the lump in her throat.
"What would make you say that?" Zuko questioned.
Azula pushed back her sleeve to reveal the mark. A mark that burned a furious red color.
"Shall I get the Avatar?" The spirit within Shou asked.
"Yes. Capture the boy and be rid of him." Shade hissed.
At that, Katara was on her feet. "Toph, Sokka, and I will protect Aang. The rest of you can protect Azula." She ordered.
"Azula can protect herself." Azula muttered to herself.
"What was that." Chan asked.
"Nothing." Azula rolled her eyes. "Just do your banishing thing already."
"Wait." Shade demanded firmly. "Hear me out little Spirit Beacon." He lifted his hands in a submissive manner.
"You kidding!? Take him down!" Sokka shouted.
"Listen to me Spirit Beacon." Shade repeated. He projected himself closer. "You and I. We aren't that different." He was now next to Azula, close enough to make her skin crawl. "We both want power. You and I, we can take the world together. Rule it together. Reshape it to our desire."
"I want nothing from you." Azula muttered.
"You have a choice; you can accept my hand willingly and re-shape the world with me. Or…I can make you." At the threat escaped his lips the mark coiled around her arm.
"Allow me to demonstrate." He smirked. "Set your brother on fire."
"You don't have to demand her to do that." Zuko murmured under his breath.
Azula found herself lifting her arm. "I don't actually want to hurt you Zu-Zu. Not now anyways." The deep blue flames made their way off her fingertips.
Zuko dodged the blast.
She sent another in his direction. And another.
This time Zuko barely got out of the way.
"That's enough, Beacon." Shade released his control.
"Why do you want me to help you 're-shape' the world?" Azula panted.
"Because with your help I know I won't have to worry about a pesky Spirit Beacon interfering or tarring apart my hard work." He paused "And, I know you have it in you. I've been watching you for a long time, since you were born. I know you want the Fire Nation crown. With me, you can have it. You can have it and more."
"With my power, you can have complete control…"
The notion was enticing. Azula thought of Mai and Ty-Lee—how fun it would be to show them what control…what fear really looked like. She thought of Zuko—how great it would be to be able to overpower him again (not that she couldn't). And she thought of Aang and Katara—to avenge herself and take back the Earth Kingdom in honor of her father.
Azula looked around; Sokka brandishing his boomerang, Katara readying her water, Toph balancing a boulder above her head. In the other direction; Zuko ready with fire, Mai with her weapons, and Ty-Lee…well she looked ready to chi block someone.
She'd done so much to them, and yet they were all ready to help her out.
But they could very well turn on her at any minute…
"You say you've been watching me. If that's true, you would know that I'm pretty good at manipulating people." Azula remarked. "And I know when I'm being manipulated."
"Perhaps you don't know as much as you think." Shade inquired. "As I said, you don't have much of a choice..."
"I wasn't finished." Azula cut in. "I know when I'm being manipulated. Your offer seemed sincere enough. I mean, what could you possibly gain by giving me your power? You said it yourself, you can make me doing your bidding."
Shade's smirk widened.
"I'd be more than happy to accept power…if I get to help decide how we shape the world."
Katara let out a gasp.
"Azula! What are you doing!?" Zuko yelled. "I thought you changed."
"Oh please, Zu-Zu. You know I'd never miss a chance for power."
"It's a deal Beacon." Shade leaned in closer again. This time his words projected into her head. "We will destroy the door to the gate, leaving it open forever. We will unleash every spirit into this world, until all of humankind is consumed."
He took Azula's hand and led her away from the group. "The age of Spirits begins now."
"Surrender humans, and this will be painless. Continue to fight, and you will pay steeply." He threatened.
"As for you." He cupped Azula's chin in his hand. "Once our vows are said, one we are a good and happy family, our powers will merge and we will tare down the gates."
"I look forward to it." Azula grinned. Her eyes cut menacingly into Zuko's.
"What the hell are you thinking." Xin's voice invaded her thoughts. "I thought you were fighting against being consumed."
She brushed him off. He could wait…for now.
"You should have just let me be the Fire Lord Zu-Zu."