Beauty and the Beast: Avatar Style!
Chapter 1: Once Upon a Time
Once Upon a time, in a faraway land, a young Prince lived in a shining castle.
"Come on people, speed it up! The master will be here any minute!"
"We're going as fast as we can!"
It was a cold winter evening and the sun was beginning to set behind a tall luminous castle that sat on a hillside. Inside said castle, servants were busy at work in the dining hall preparing for the impending dinner time. Two assistant chefs rolled in large silver trays of deliciously prepared food and began setting them up on the table while the maids bustled around them trying to straighten out the table cloth and organize the silverware.
Just then, a young brown haired woman wearing pale geisha makeup and a long green dress hastily entered the dining room and started to inspect every aspect of the dinner table. Briefly checking the time on her pocket watch, she began jotting things down on her notepad.
"Okay plates, check. Silverware, check. Napkins, check. Food platters, check. Candles...candles? Oh no, where are the candles!? They should be right here-"
"Check!" Said a voice behind her. Turning around, she let out an annoyed sigh as she saw a tall young man wearing a dark blue waiter outfit with his brown hair tied up a pony tail.
"And one devilishly handsome waiter, check!" Holding up a candelabra in each hand, he gave a sly grin and walked past her to set the candles on the table.
"Sokka, where have you been!? The master will be here soon and you just off and disappear into thin air!" Suki nagged. "You were hitting on the maids again weren't you?"
"Suki would you relax? I'm here aren't I?" Sokka asked as he lit the candles with a match. "And no, I wasn't hitting on the maids. I was just...helping them tidy up a bit."
He then looked off to the side where a young maid wearing a pink dress was waving and smiling at him. Giving her one of his dazzling smiles and a wink, the maid began to blush and giggle.
Seeing their exchange, Suki rolled her eyes in annoyance. "You're such a dog."
"Jealous much?" Sokka asked smugly.
"As if." Suki scoffed. "Now if only you put as much effort into your job as you did chasing young girls-"
"Oh lighten up will ya? The master won't be here for a while. Besides the reason I'm back late is cause I got lost trying to find the good candles which YOU told me to get. They weren't where I usually leave them so-"
"Where you usually leave them is at the bottom of the broom cupboard when I specifically told you they belong in the drawer next to the silverware!"
"Well then no wonder I couldn't find them! Technically me getting lost was your fault." He pointed out pompously.
Suki then let out an aggravated groan. "Ugh! You are so infuriating!"
"Me!? You're the one who has to be punctual all the time and is constantly kissing the master's butt! If you ask me, you should add 'Crazy wound-up control freak' to your list so you can check that off too!"
Before she could respond, an old bearded man rushed through the door pushing a tea cart. He was followed closely by a young bald-headed boy who had a lemur on his shoulder. Both of them looked anxious. "He's coming! Quickly everyone, to your stations!"
"What?" Suki cried looking back at her watch. "But Iroh, he's ten minutes early!"
"You know the prince." Iroh said to her. "He does what he wants, when he wants. And since it's his birthday, what he wants is to have dinner right now!"
Quickly all the servants rushed around making last minute preparations, dishing out food and main courses till the table was a picture perfect display of a feast. As they finished folding the last napkin, a loud bang shook the room as the doors flew open, revealing a regal looking teenage boy with dark tied up hair and red robes.
Although he had everything his heart desired, the prince was spoiled, selfish and unkind.
The dark haired boy glared around at the servants, who quickly stood off to the side, and made his way past them towards the table.
"Good evening your majesty!" Suki piped up as the prince arrived at the end of the table. "Hope you're feeling well tonight! We've prepared a marvelous feast in celebration of your thirteenth birthday. Some of the dishes include chicken, pork, a really good beef stew-"
"Enough!" The boy snapped. "Don't bore me with all you're stupid recipes!"
"Sorry sire. Right sire. I'll just stand over here sire." She said backing up untill she stood next to Sokka who mumbled the words 'suck up' under his breath.
The prince stood next to chair and looked impatiently back at the servants. "I'm sitting!"
Instantly three servants rushed forward to pull out and push in the chair for the prince. They also tied a napkin around his neck, put a fork in his hand and dished the food onto his plate for him.
For a while the boy ate in silence but soon was recoiling in disgust as a servant put a piece of stake onto his plate. "What is this? You! Waiter!" He pointed at Sokka. "Come here!"
Sweating a little, Sokka rushed forward. "Yes sir?" He asked nervously.
"This meat is overdone! Get rid of it!" He said flinging the steak off his plate, which hit Sokka right face.
"Yes sire..." Sokka said as the steak slid down his face, leaving juice stains on his outfit. Picking it up, he headed for the kitchen.
"Would you like a cup of tea my dear nephew?" Asked the old man as he pushed his cart forward and held up a teapot.
"Is it green tea?" The prince asked.
"Well, no...but I do have some delicious ginseng and jasmine if you would like to try-"
"I told you I only drink green tea!" The prince shouted while batting away the teapot which crashed to the floor. "Now either get me the right kind or get out of my sight!"
Looking at the broken teapot, Iroh sighed sadly and turned to the young boy standing behind him. "Aang, would you please go to the kitchen and fetch some green tea for the prince?"
The boy nodded and quickly sped toward the kitchen while Iroh knelt down and cleaned up the mess. Aang instantly returned moments later, having not spilled a drop of tea. Approaching the prince, the boy bowed and smiled as he held the small teacup out to him. However, the prince merely scowled at the bald-headed child causing him to back away in fear.
"You're not one of my servants! Who are you? What are you doing here? And what is that giant bat thing on your shoulder!?" He said pointing at the lemur. Seeing his hands ablaze with fire, the lemur shrieked and flew onto the chandelier as the prince bore down on the terrified boy.
"Nephew please!" Iroh said getting between the two. "This is Aang. He's a young boy I found down at the market place who was selling teacups for coins. His parents had just recently died and the poor boy was struggling to feed himself, so I offered him a job as my assistant. As for the bat, well that's just his pet flying lemur Momo. I assure you that he is well behaved as well as house trained."
"I don't want filthy street commoners working in my palace!" The prince exclaimed. "Especially someone as incompetent as an eight year old!"
"Um, nine sir..." Aang said weakly to which the prince scowled at him, causing him to again withdraw.
"I assure you he is not incompetent." Iroh said. "He is as hard working and useful as that mustached Earth Bender who cooks your meals or that nice blind girl who helps with your wardrobe. I know he will be of great help here at the palace, especially to someone as old as myself. Please nephew, I will assume full responsibility for him and make sure he does what he's told."
The prince glared back at Aang, who looked humbly at him and tentatively offered the cup of tea again. The prince then scoffs and grabbed the cup. "Fine. He can stay. But if I hear of one screw up or find out that anything in the palace is missing, I'm throwing you both in the dungeon!"
"Thank you nephew." Iroh said ignoring the last part of the sentence. He then gently grabbed Aang by the arm and retreated back toward the wall.
"One more thing." The prince said pointing toward the ceiling at Momo. "Keep that flying rodent outside, otherwise I'll make it into my own personal footstool." Looking at the chandelier, Aang whistled at Momo and quickly gestured toward the door, causing the lemur to fly out of the room.
"I'm finished with this feast! Bring me my presents!" He shouted causing all the servants to quickly remove the plates of uneaten food and replace them with dozens of neatly wrapped gifts.
One by one, the prince opened his birthday gifts which ranged from all sorts of extravagances like gold statues, jeweled goblets and magnificent self-portraits. However, instead of being happy with his gifts, the prince scowled even more in dislike with each opened gift.
"These are the best presents you could get!?" He shouted as he held up a blue porcelain demon mask and threw it to the side. "I already have most of this stuff!"
"There is one more gift, your majesty." Suki said holding up a small package. "It's from one of the members of the staff. It to thank you for your kindness and hospitality-"
"Oh just give it to me!" The prince said, yanking it out of her hands.
Quickly unwrapping it, he looked in disbelief as a plain ordinary book lay in front of him. "A storybook!? You call this a present!? Which one of you sent me this tacky gift!?" He demanded, staring down the servants. As they all looked among themselves in confusion, young Aang ducked bashfully behind Iroh.
"Somebody better come clean or I'll-"
Just then a loud knock rang throughout the hall, carrying all the way into the dining room.
Then, one winter's night, an old beggar woman came to the castle and offered him a single rose in exchange for shelter from the bitter cold.
"Who disturbs my birthday!?" The prince asked, standing up swiftly. "Waiter! Tell them to go away!"
Sokka, who had been in the kitchen trying to clean his robes, heard the door knock and instantly ran out into the hall to answer it. The prince sat back down, expecting Sokka to have turned the person away but was shocked when he came back, his shoulders covered in snow.
"Well? Did you send them away?"
"Sir, there's an old woman waiting outside the door. I tried telling her to leave but she insisted on talking to you."
"Of all the impudence! Fine, I'll turn her away myself!" He then stormed past Sokka and walked straight down the hall to the front door, which he cracked open slightly.
Repulsed by her haggard appearance, the prince sneered at the gift and turned the old woman away.
There, standing out in the middle of snow covered entrance, was a ragged old woman with matted white hair and a tattered cloak which she clung tightly around herself. The prince looked down at her in disgust. "What do you want?"
"Please sir..." She said hobbling forward. "Take this rose, in exchange for shelter from the bitter cold?" She then held up a small yet beautifully vibrant red rose that shimmered with flakes of snow.
The prince however sneered at the flower. "I don't need some girly plant! Just because I took in one commoner today doesn't mean I'm taking in another! Now get lost!"
But she warned him not to be deceived by appearances for beauty is found within.
"Please sir..." The woman said moving closer to the door. "I know I'm just an old lady and I don't dress like royalty or wear any fine jewels, but I am a good woman. Beauty can always be found within everything and I promise I will reward you for your kindness if you let me stay for just one night."
"Reward me with what? That stupid rose? That tattered old frock? I already have more then you'll ever own." He said rudely. "Now go away you wretched old hag, you've disturbed me enough!" And with that, he slammed the door in her face.
The woman looked on in shock and disbelief, before narrowing her eyes in anger. Just then the last rays of the sun disappeared into the horizon and the clouds briefly parted to reveal the rising full moon, whose rays shined upon the old woman and engulfed her in light.
And when he dismissed her again, the old woman's ugliness melted away to reveal a beautiful enchantress.
As Zuko walked back towards the dining room, the doors flew open blowing snow and cold air into the hall which extinguished all the candles. Turning around, he watched in shock as a beautiful young woman with white hair and a flowing white gown floated into the room and stopped right in front of him.
All the servants from the other room rushed into the hall to see what was going on and were shocked to see the white clad woman who stood before the prince.
"Oh my gosh..." Suki said covering her mouth in awe.
"It can't be..." Sokka said gazing at the woman "It's...it's..."
"Princess Yue." Iroh said as Aang hid behind him in fear. "The goddess of the moon herself."
The prince tried to apologize but it was too late, for she had seen that there was no love within his heart.
"Yes, I am the moon goddess Yue." The woman said, her voice ringing through the halls. "Many times have I roamed these lands, looking to interact with people and experience the love and kindness they show one another. But never have I been treated so coldly, so abysmally, then I have by you young prince." She said glaring down at him.
Instantly, the frazzled prince bowed down before her. "I beg for your forgiveness moon goddess. Had I known it was you I would've-"
"Would have what? Treated me any differently than you do commoners or your own servants!?" She said angrily to him. "I can see now that your actions are the result of your own cold heart. And for that, you must suffer the consequences..."
Panicking, the prince threw himself at the goddess's feet. "Please! I implore you. Spare me and I'll pay you half my fortune to make up for the offense I've caused you!"
"It is too late young prince. No amount of money or treasure in the world can fix the cruel emptiness in your heart."
And with that, the moon goddess rose high into the air and lifted the rose she held up toward the window. "For while it is true that beauty can always be found within, so can ugliness..."
As punishment, she transformed him into a hideous beast and placed a powerful spell on the castle and all who lived there.
As the rays from the moon hit its petals, it glowed brightly and shot a brilliant beam of light which struck the prince in the chest. Falling to the ground, the prince clutched his arm in pain and screamed his hands became long and claw like.
The servants rushed forward to help but were stopped by Yue who floated down toward them. "And as for all you servants, who helped make him what he is, I place a curse upon your house and all who dwell within it!" Taking the rose, she aimed it at the servants who backed away in fright. Dozens of rays of light burst forward, each one hitting a servant or maid or cook, causing them to collapse and shake violently.
"What-what's happening to us?" Suki yelled as she felt her nose become pointy and stretch in two directions.
"My feet! They're disappearing!" Sokka cried out as his legs turned into metal and began to mesh into one. As he tried hopping away, he tripped over Aang who was slowly shrinking, and banged his head on a table which knocked him out.
Throughout the castle, all the servants quickly began to change, their skin turning into wood, metal, porcelain or cloth. Some grew while others shrunk. Some lost limbs while others lost their entire bodies. Soon, not a single human was left in the castle.
As Yue continued to cast her spell, the prince struggled to stand up but kept succumbing to the pain from his skin, which began to blister and turn red. After finally getting to his feet, the prince looked at Yue with pure hatred and malice. In his anger, he instantly shot a fireball toward her head.
Sensing the oncoming attack, Yue turned and deflected the fireball back at the prince, who barely had time to react as the fire struck on the left side of his face. The prince screamed out in agony and fell to the ground clutching his burning, wounded face. Going to his side, Yue knelt down and looked at the prince as blood started leaking through his fingers. Feeling a twinge of guilt, Yue waved the rose over face and instantly the blood flow stopped and the pain subsided, allowing the prince to look up at Yue with his only good eye.
"Why don't you just kill me if I'll offended you so? Why make me like this?"
Yue looked intently at the young prince. "As I said before young prince, I am a good woman. And despite your violent attempt on my life, I will show mercy and grant you a chance to change your condition, including those of your servants. This rose I had offered you..." She held it up to him. "Is an enchanted rose, which will be in full bloom ten years from now. If by then you can learn to love another and have earned their love in return by the time the last petal falls, the spell will be broken."
Yue then reached inside her robes and extracted a silver mirror. "I give you this mirror, which has the power to show whatever or whomever you wish to see. Use it wisely." She then conjured up a side table which contained a bell jar on top. Placing the rose inside it, she then snapped her fingers and sent it up to the prince's room. Then without a word, she started floating toward the door.
"You can't leave me like this!" The prince snarled at her as he tried standing up. "What kind of just goddess are you!?"
Turning around, Yue glared angrily at the prince and waved her arm, causing a gust of air to knock him back to the ground.
"One who has given you everything you'll need despite your ingratitude." Yue said floating back toward him. "Remember young prince. If you do not fulfill the conditions of the spell and continue to live a cruel and heartless existence, you shall remain forever and always, what you are on the inside...an ugly, monstrous beast."
Holding up the mirror, the prince saw his hideous reflection and turned away as he cried out in anguish. Setting the mirror on the ground, Yue floated to the door. Stopping briefly, she summoned from the next room, the blue demon mask and set it next to the mirror. Yue then took one last look at the prince, who lay on the ground covering his face and curled up in the fetal position, and at the servants who lay scattered around the floor, just barely conscious.
"Good luck to all of you. Especially you...Prince Zuko." With those last words, she vanished into the night.
Ashamed of his monstrous form, the beast concealed himself inside his castle with a magic mirror, as his only window to the outside world.
The rose she had offered, was truly an enchanted rose which wouldn't bloom for many years.
If he could learn to love another and earn their love in return by the time the last petal fell, then the spell would be broken.
If not, he would be doomed to remain a beast for all time.
As the years past, he fell into despair and lost all hope.
For who could ever learn to love a beast?