After performing the ritual and demonstrating her new abilities to the Fire Lord, in the form of a more powerful blue flame, the princess's life did not change much. Azula still practiced most of her time, honing her fire-subduing and hand-to-hand combat skills to perfection. Instead of taking a normal vacation at the hot springs, she preferred to read historical books on military subjects, honing not only her combat skills, but also sharpening her own mind with what she thought was useful information.
No one in the palace noticed that she was becoming increasingly irritable, and all sorts of books or scrolls about rituals were added to the books on military histories and campaigns of the past.
It was partly my fault, or rather it was the natural consequence of my attempts to take over her body and regain her human senses. Azula had always liked to show off her high position, along with her power over the servants ' fates, at every opportunity, but lately it had become too frequent. The girl enjoyed the fear of her subordinates, constantly reminding them with her small hints where they belonged and who was standing in front of them.
Over the past four days, I've tried to act as carefully as possible, not giving too much cause for concern as I recover from my injuries. Azula was an extremely intelligent person, and that didn't bode well for me. With just one failed attempt to possess her body, I made her suspect something and start learning dangerous knowledge. Maybe she'll sense me and find a way to get rid of the spiritual parasite. After all, I am nothing else to her. Unfortunately, this is not far from the truth.
But I couldn't just give up. Not that I didn't want to, but I just couldn't!
Her body, somehow unknown to me, became my very real prison. I simply couldn't get out of Azula and find a suitable body. Attempts to do this caused unpleasant sensations mixed with pain. Perhaps it was the ritual, or the wounds I'd received, or something that had escaped my attention... I wasn't sure.
Fortunately, it wasn't that bad. When she was awake, I could see through her eyes, listen with her ears, and feel a little of the princess's emotions. Watch her life from the sidelines. Azula had a titanic amount of control over her emotions, so the most pleasant part was terribly lacking. To my great joy, I could see and feel the Qi flowing through her body, and this was the greatest advantage in my position. Well, apart from feeling the princess's emotions, which were like drops of sweet nectar to me.
Thanks to all this, I tried to spend time with the maximum benefit for myself. Studying the character of Azula, behavior, habits, preferences, manner of communication, ways of manipulation. I tried to understand how she sees lies, and I also tried to learn how to subdue fire with melee techniques. The latter was most welcome. Seeing how she interacts with her inner energy-Qi, I memorized her feelings, body position, position of internal energy, the interaction between the body and Qi, as well as their relationship with each other.
Thanks to my special vision, which was somewhat broader than that of a human, I saw the world somewhat differently from Azula herself. I could look at her a little bit from the side, and at the same time observe the world through her eyes. This, together with my sense of Qi, allowed me to learn from her experience in many things, sometimes I even saw her mistakes and theoretically imagined how to make this or that technique better and more effective.
To confirm the theories, I had to take control of the sleeping body and try the techniques I learned. The risks were big, but I decided to take the risk anyway. Fortunately, Azula's chambers were quite large, and I tried not to accidentally set them on fire and accidentally wake the girl. I was able to confirm most of my theories about fire magic by leaving the princess in a dormant state. It was only after that that she began to devote more time to books about rituals, becoming interested in various books about spirits.
It would have been a success if it wasn't for one small "but" — her undeniable power, which easily takes control of my body at the slightest desire.
When Azula's consciousness is asleep, I can interact with her body. But when she wakes up, at best I feel hot, and at worst I feel like hell. In addition, all my actions do not go unnoticed by the real owner of the body. I discovered this right after testing my theories on magic. Later that day, she began repeating my Chi experiments after me. Perhaps the princess sees my actions as I see hers. This was another piece of bad news that made me rethink my immediate goals.
Over the past time, I have often tried to occupy her body, deal with the girl and remain the sole owner of the new container. It was all in vain.
My attempts did not work at best, and at worst I felt a lot of pain and immediately stopped all actions, hiding from the attention of the hostess. Such a scenario was logical. This is her body, not mine. I'm only here as a parasite. It was stupid and naive to think that I would get the perfect body without any problems. You still have to fight for it and work your brain well.
In the meantime... the idea of taking over the girl's body had to be postponed until better times. I absolutely did not have enough knowledge, but this is my first attempt. And what makes me think it would be so easy to take the body from its true owner? Oh, yes... I don't even want to remember this nonsense.
As I pondered the usual topic of what to do next, I found more and more disadvantages in the idea of occupying Azula's body. And it wasn't just that she wasn't the right gender for me. I just wouldn't be able to pass myself off as Azula convincingly. The girl's father would have no problem figuring me out, and so would the servants.
On the other hand, it will be possible to use Azula... as long as she doesn't use me.
Still, the girl is extremely smart, perfectly knows how to lie and feel when they are lying to her. Using it in the dark just won't work, I just don't have enough skills. It's more like she's using me. However, I don't see any other way out, and it seems more profitable to me every time I think about it. Since I couldn't take her body, I can use all my knowledge to win her over. And then I can look for ways to become stronger, and maybe I can find a way to change my position as a prisoner, or even find a more suitable body.
That's just for this you will need to establish communication with her. I had a few ideas on how to do this. Up to this point, I've been thinking about what I should do best, and I haven't been in a hurry to do it. And even now there is no hurry, you need to think carefully about everything, develop a strategy, get to know the princess as best as possible, remember all her weaknesses, the story, the end, the smallest details of her life...
But time won't let me. By following Azula's life, I've more or less figured out where in the canon I ended up. During this year, one bald monk will wake up from a century-long sleep without doing me any good. So many ideas, so many ways to become stronger, so many opportunities, most of my after-knowledge is limited to a very short period of time due to one bald factor.
Taking a deep breath, I stretch my entire body with pleasure. How nice, I don't even want to think about the murky future. Yes, it was night, and I couldn't deny myself the pleasure of rolling around in a fancy bed, taking over someone else's body. Azula's mind was asleep, and I'd learned a lot about what not to do if I didn't wake her up. While I was in her bed, I was able to enjoy my usual human feelings while thinking about what I should do next.
It's just a pity that time is running out…
Seven days had passed since the ritual that turned Azula's flame a bright blue. The change in color was just the tip of the iceberg, the power of the flame increased with physical strength, as well as speed, agility, and Qi control. If earlier, during training, she could easily defeat five fire masters, but now she does not cause problems and a dozen. But the fire lotus Ritual also had its own strange consequences. Positive or negative, she wasn't sure yet, and the uncertainty was unnerving, as were the strange visions and the strange state of sleep.
This day passed just like so many other days in the Princess ' life.
In the morning, she was put in order by the servants, after which she went to her training, after which she spent her rest over books, followed by a meal and a return to training. Quite often, routine everyday life was mixed with military advice and some orders from the Owner of the Fire. Unfortunately for the princess, this day was too ordinary.
After visiting the hot springs before going to bed, she settled down on her bed, waiting for the next strange dreams instead of the usual ones. Although the dreams themselves rarely visited the princess's mind, the rest process had changed significantly in the last week. Azula quickly connected this fact with the ritual, and after a long search among the library's books on various topics, she began to guess the adverse consequences of the ritual.
It was this ailment that the princess received in return for greater strength. Now she often walked around her room while she slept, sometimes training in her private quarters. A small thing, but for the perfect princess Azula, it was a huge disgrace, which she wanted to get rid of before anyone noticed her illness. She felt a cold rage at the thought of anyone finding out about her shameful secret.
The situation was not corrected even by training in a sleepy state, when she played with fire with unimaginable ease, doing something incomprehensible. Repeating what she'd seen in her dream, Azula thought it was a stupid waste of time. This was the last thing that looked like a full-fledged battle technique for conquering fire magic. Controlling the flame shape... is a useless thing in real combat.
Unfortunately, neither in the books nor in the secret scrolls did she find a cure, or any other way to get rid of this disease. But I've read a lot of different literature about rituals, spirits, various places, and much more.
Relaxing under the covers, she waited for sleep, feeling a pleasant ache in her muscles and a slight drowsiness after today's training. This day passed, like hundreds of days before, in a routine way. Having done her best in training, the princess was about to give herself up to the power of sleep, when suddenly she heard a strange voice in her chambers.
"Azula," was the trained warrior's instant reaction. The girl threw up the blanket, hiding from the sight of the unknown. Quickly darting to the corner of the room, she took up a fighting stance, ready to stab the assassins sent to the death. But her eyes didn't see the enemy who said her name.
Her chambers were empty, except for the blanket that had been thrown up and quickly fell to the floor. Looking around the room once more, she found no one. Casting a glance towards the bed, the princess instantly guessed the location of the unknown person. Thoughts and conjectures quickly began to form plans inside the princess ' mind.
"I guess since you've given yourself away, we can work out a compromise." I'll pay three times as much for the customer's head. I have to admit, your skills are impressive, but once you've given yourself away, there's no need to hide. One shout from me and all the palace guards will come running, but I'm merciful. I'm giving you a chance to explain yourself, " Azula said as she carefully walked around the bed, moving around the room with a quiet step.
"I'm not hiding, look under the bed," came the reply, but she couldn't figure out where the voice was coming from.
"Stupid attempt," the princess replied in frustration, before shouting, " Guards! Guards to me! There's a killer here!
Less than half a minute later, two fire benders dressed in battle armor burst into the princess ' private quarters at once, and they immediately took up attacking crouches, allowing Azula to take cover behind their powerful backs.
After looking around the empty room with a rumpled blanket in the center, they looked at the princess with a question: "Your Highness?"
"He's hiding, you fools, look under the bed!" the guards exchanged glances and surrounded the princess's bed. After exchanging a few gestures, they began to approach the bed. Slowly, one of them came as close as possible. Grabbing the cloth, he lifted it, peeking under the king's bed.…
"There's no one here," the guard said shortly, casting a questioning glance at the princess.
"Of course it's not there, because the killer is hiding in the closet!" Azula said irritably.
The guards stood in front of the cabinet and looked at each other. There was skepticism in everyone's eyes, but duty was duty, and the princess's orders were non-negotiable. One gave the signal to check, the other slowly approached the cabinet, putting his hand on the door handles, pulling on himself.
"There's no one here," the man said, looking at the dozens of identical red coats. To make sure, he even moved the hangers, carefully examining the inside of the closet.
Azula still expressed her displeasure with the situation, frowning. The princess looked like she was being rescued by the dumbest guards in the entire world. Narrowing her eyes angrily, she spoke:
"Of course, you took so long to save me that the killer might have done the deed and fled the scene! Unacceptable delay! If there was a killer here, I'd be dead by now!" The girl scolded the men angrily. Only then did the men begin to realize how fucked up they were.
"I beg your pardon, Your Highness! They answered simultaneously, throwing themselves at Azula's feet.
"Don't make excuses, your check is over for today, go back to your duties. You'll be sparring with me tomorrow, and you'd better show your best if you want to keep your honorary positions. Free to go!"
Thumping their chests, the guards hurried out of the angry princess ' quarters, not wanting to make their situation any worse.
Azula was left standing alone in her room, alone with her anger, her thoughts, and her unknown companion.
"That was funny," she heard the unfamiliar voice say again, with a hint of amusement in it.
Looking out into the corridor, she made sure that the guards had run far enough away from her anger that they wouldn't hear her voice. She didn't need the servants to think she was crazy, talking to the emptiness in her room. He sits majestically on the bed, not showing his true emotions. While thinking about what had happened.
"Where are you?" the words come out of the princess ' mouth with restraint.
"Behind your back" the princess immediately jumps out of bed, turning back.
There was no one behind him. Thinking that the other person was simply invisible to her eyes, Azula picked up the blanket from the floor and abruptly threw it over the bed. It fell down calmly, as if nothing had ever been there.
"It was a joke, you need to relax," came the same cheerful voice with a hint of instruction.
"Show yourself!" she orders, her voice showing her annoyance and anger.
"Go to the mirror," the invisible interlocutor calmly replies, not at all afraid to tease the girl.
Azula carefully approaches the large mirror, seeing nothing but her own reflection. Black hair, golden eyes, familiar features, a red robe covering her naked body. Her gaze found nothing remarkable.
"If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm in you"
"Who are you?"
"Finally the right questions. Who can be in your body? Especially after going through an old and dubious ritual under the guidance of a person who has never performed this ritual? " the answer was filled with the malice of an unknown person who did not stop making fun of the girl, even more exasperating her.
"The demon!" hisses a guess at his reflection: "What do you want?! What are your goals!?"
"Don't raise your voice unless you want to lie to the guards again. By the way, accept my praise, so quickly come up with a lie, so naturally play it, you are a great actress, I would clap, but I do not have hands available," the spirit did not stop verbally mocking the princess, forcing Azula to restrain herself so as not to grind her teeth.
Such an arrogant tone made the imperial lady extremely angry. The Princess would have given whips to anyone who dared to speak to her in that tone, but she was dealing with a spirit that would be hard to hurt. It was as if the unknown person didn't care about her status or the power of the fire Nation. And this state of affairs was very angry with Azula, who from childhood was used to special treatment in her direction.
"What I need is nothing, a trifle, a mere trifle. I want to be a living person again, and you can help me a lot, " the spirit continued in a confident voice.
"Why would I, the princess of the strongest country in the world, help some demon?" She replies icily to the ghost, not taking her evil gaze off her own reflection. If the servants saw Azula's look like that, they would immediately throw themselves at their feet, begging for forgiveness. But the demon didn't care about the girl's anger.
"Oh, you won't be left out, I know a lot and I can give you even more. Your benefit from our cooperation will depend only on your ability to listen, hear, and learn. I have a lot to give to your nation, to help you achieve your goals, " the spirit continued to say in a sweet voice, until Azula interrupted him sharply.
"You talk too much," the Princess said in a surprisingly calm voice, completely controlling her emotions: "You're a weak liar, it was naive to think that I didn't know anything about spirits or demons. I'll get rid of you. I'll make you pay for your arrogance, you're just a pathetic parasite in my body that can't even take my body. You will soon be heading back to your spirit world. I promise you that before this happens, you will suffer a lot and regret your audacious attempt to possess me.
Having finished with the threats, Azula moves away from the mirror, leaving her chambers. The spirit remained silent, confirming the princess ' guess.