Azula twirled her hair around her fingers. "Though me?"
"As I said, human gate."
"I didn't think you meant it literally. How is that possible?"
Xin touched his fingers gently to her forehead. "Your dreams. Your anger. Your distress. They navigate through your thoughts and find their way into this world. Some of them at least. Like your mother. I don't think she likes me by the way."
"Don't take it personally, she doesn't like me either."
"That's not what she told me." Xin shared. "And she hasn't told me much at all."
"What about the others?" Azula changed the subject. "How do they get thorough?"
"The usual. Mirrors, ponds, rituals."
"Great." Azula muttered. "How am I supposed to stop them?"
"You have to be in the Spirit World of course. They can't be harmed in the Physical World." Xin explained. He glanced out the window. "I best let you get to sleep…"
"But you never told me how to get into the spirit world." Azula interrupted.
"I died before I found out. Consumed by the dark spirits. I'm still trying to separate from them." He faded out, leaving Azula to ponder those black eyes.
Sure Xin had left her so she could sleep, however that wasn't going to happen.
Not after seeing what Azula decided to call the Skull Spirit.
Not after hearing Xin's last words. They left her to wonder if she'd ever share those dark eyes with him. If she couldn't find a way into the spirit world then they'd keep coming, more and more of them, until they suffocated her.
The thought kept her eyes open and fixed on the ceiling as her head conjured visions of the spirits surrounded and crawled over and into her body as Xin did to Lu-Ming. And so she stared and stared wishing that she had something to take her mind elsewhere.
She was standing at the edge of the pond, a slight breeze picking at her hair but it wasn't hers. It was darker than hers. She kicked a rock into the pond.
She was home.
A smile curved over her lips. Home.
She'd have to get her servants to fix her hair right away. A day of relaxation was long overdue. She hadn't had one since Sozin's comet. How nice it would be to have her servants instead of nurses. Azula dashed into the palace. Her palace.
"Father I'm home."
The man turned to her. It's been so long since she'd seen him.
But he seemed to look right through her.
"Leave us alone!" Zuko yelled.
The smile left her face. Leave it to Zu-zu to ruin everything again. Fine, she'd find Mai and Ty-Lee. Or at the very least Ty-Lee. She didn't care at all to bother with him today, she had so many other things to do. Perhaps she and Ty-Lee could do a little shopping—she'd been meaning to change out of those trashy asylum robes. She stepped out into the yard again.
Ty-Lee was already waiting for her.
Azula hadn't even stepped off the porch when Ty-Lee's eyes went wide. Azula had never seen someone take off so fast. Azula's frown deepened .
What was wrong with her? Shouldn't she at least get a chance to explain herself?
With a huff she stormed back into the palace. Zu-zu would just have to deal with it. Opening the door didn't quite reveal what Azula had expected. Everyone was there; Ozai, Zu-zu, Mai, Ty-Lee, her mother, Aang, and the rest of his group. A second glance revealed that Lo and Li had even occupied a spot in the room.
"Demon!" The old women shouted in perfect unison. Their fingers both aimed in Azula's direction.
Azula was a lot of things; manipulative, tricky, sure. Evil? Probably, to some degree anyways. But a demon?
"Demon!" The twins repeated again.
"Just because I banished you two doesn't mean…" Azula started. Her words falling short when she caught her reflection in the mirror.
Her hair was defiantly darker and her skin much paler. And the left side of her lip slashed to the ear. But above all, her eyes…
They weren't her own.
The shadow snaked in and out of her body.
Every mouth in the room had a single word to chant. "Consumed."
Over and over again. "Consumed."
Azula bolted up so fast her blanket fell to the floor. "Consumed."
She was panting again, a few beads of sweat trickled down her neck. She didn't know how long she'd been asleep or even when she'd fallen into it. But she had slept long enough for her sleeping thoughts to work themselves into a frenzy.
"Consumed." She spat the words into the darkness.
She flopped back down and covered her eyes with her arm. Clearly she'd look a wreck in the morning. She was going to have to trick Shou into letting her put a little extra makeup on tomorrow.
Until then she'd have to just lie here waiting for the sun to awaken.
Lie there and try to focus on anything but the word 'consumed' or any synonym of the word.