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Knowing this fight was nothing more than a visual aid for my fire bending training, I decided to fight him mostly using my sword, with a little bit of fire on the side, so with that in mind I started the duel, or training match. Extending my left arm at him in a quick and fast motion as my hand opened towards my opponent, followed by several bursts of blue fire balls, which Iroh stopped head on with little to no effort.
What Iroh didn't seem to notice was that I hadn't intended to attack him at least not fully, because more than a few fireballs crashed into the earth creating a wall of dust.
With a smile, I rushed at him taking advantage of the rising dust, I positioned myself behind him and with the blunt end of my sword I swung at him with all my strength, but to my surprise Iroh avoided the attack by jumping over it.
"You are strong… very strong... but that has made you weak, young Akira," Iroh commented, and all I could think about was… what the fuck was he trying to say… was this what Zuko always felt?! How being strong is making me weak?
"I'll be honest with you… you are making less sense than a mute's joke without arms," I replied.
"A mute without… that is just cruel," Iroh shook his head, "What I meant to say is… your overwhelming power has made you predictable,"
Predictable? Me?! Was that true? It couldn't be, I was always innovating, looking for ways to improve my skills, being predictable would infer I had a pattern when fighting… one that was painfully easy to counter should someone with enough experience fight me, "Let's see how predictable is this," I shot back swinging my sword downwards creating a powerful fire slash that Iroh once again managed to dodge.
"I have no doubts you can beat me," Iroh chuckled, "But the fact is you are easy to read young Akira, your own power has blinded you… the old you was terrifying… Pakku told me so… innovating beyond the norm at a terrifying rate… but now? You lack the creative you once had,"
"So… you are saying I ran out of ideas?" I chuckled.
"When was the last time you invented something new?" Iroh asked,
"Hmm," I can't believe it, the old man was right… when was the time I had a new innovative idea, since when did I care about forms… I became a formidable water bender by innovating the style to fit my needs, and here I am… emulating Azula and others.
"Even now I can see your current style is heavily influenced by Azula… if you want my advice… I would recommend you to go back to your roots… your style was having no style… a formless form was what made you a force to be reckoned with….copying and imitating others is helpful but if you let the information you learn define who you are… it will with time weaken you," Iroh added with a smile.
"Very well," I chuckled, "Let's see if I still can rock a formless style…" dropping my sword to the ground I decided to think out of the box what could I do that wasn't an imitation of what I had learned, what could I do that was an improvement over something old, and then it hit me, an idea worth trying, with a smile that startled Iroh I pointed at him with my index finger as I gathered a large amount of flames on it, before launching a narrow beam of fire he barely managed to dodge. The beam pierced a metal bar behind Iroh, showing it was strong enough to pierce or melt its way metal.
"Not that I don't appreciate someone actually taking my advice… but go easy on this old man," Iroh sighed, "That was a very deadly technique… I remember you using something similar against Zhao, but with water instead of fire,"
"Water bullets," I nodded, "Little but powerful, unfortunately I can't do that with fire… fire needs someone pouring power into the flames unlike water...so instead of a bullet you get a beam," I shrugged.
"I see," Iroh smiled.
"But… maybe if I create big balls of fire… I can make something similar to my water bullets… with an explosive touch," I said in deep thought.
"Have you learned this move?" Iroh said with a smirk creating a lightning, before shooting said lightning at me, and by how slow his motions were it was clear he wanted me to dodge so that he could introduce me to his lightning redirection technique, unfortunately for him it was time to show him I wasn't as predictable as he had originally assumed, with a smile, I slap the lighting with the back of my hand to an abandoned house behind me, showing him I was able to redirect lightning without using his method, all thanks to my enormous skill controlling my chi.
"I have," I smiled.
"Impressive," Iroh chuckled, "That is way more effective and practical than my technique to redirect them… truly impressive, but it is clear a fire bender can't do that… nor a water bender… meaning you used chi or… energy bending to slap the lighting away,"
"I did," I nodded.
"Well, I give up," Iroh chuckled, throwing his hands into the air as a sign of him accepting his defeat willingly.
"Very well," I sighed, "I wanted to keep fighting you… you seem to inspire my creativity… but I respect your choice,"
"Until next time, young Akira," Iroh smiled, walking away.
Well, it wasn't like I had expected this to go, but I had learned a lot… like the fact I had forgotten how I used to learn stuff, I never followed any rules, I made them, and Iroh had made me see that, "I will bring cookies to our tea next time," I shouted.
"That would be lovely!" Iroh shouted back.
I chuckled at his response, as I walked back to the castle with a few things clear in my mind, for one… I was going to follow Iroh's advice, and two… I was absolutely, most definitely sure Iroh was stronger than Ozai, even now that he was fat and out of his prime, he could crush his brother. Not sure if the fight would be one sided, but Iroh would win regardless.
"A fight between them would be legendary," Too bad I will never see it though.