Our protagonist who, thanks to one alternate decision in early Season Two, now finds himself on an entirely different path as to what canon depicted. Among the bigger changes: the capacity to heal with fire, becoming a yaoren, finding his long-lost remaining grandfather, befriending Dai Li agents and fugitives from the same, and getting an entire Fire Nation ship to defect to his cause.Most of this is because he didn't steal Song's ostrich horse, skipping one of his most notable displays as a villain. While not quite a full-time anti-hero, he always tries to do the best for his people. Now, 'honor' is less synonymous with 'ticket to Ozai's favor,' and Loyalty has replaced much of his attempt to relive 'when his family was actually happy'.Tropes associated with Embers' version of Zuko include:
Cover-Blowing Superpower: His bending, healing, swordsmanship, and royal manners all have the potential to put in him some very uncomfortable situations. Even his ninja skills can come into question if he becomes to difficult to read.
Doom Magnet: He's almost the go-to pawn for spirit-world exploits. Thing is, he's not so easy to handle and he's pretty savvy about living with the some of the worst luck in the world. He doesn't even need to watch out for meteors or lightning strikes, since fate will steer Azula and an entire army ofEarthbenders his way, instead.
Properly Paranoid: Starting plans is easy for Zuko and Iroh; they think of the worst situation possible, then work from there.
Double Consciousness: Amaya's technique created a 'mask' that takes the patient's spirit and forges an alternate personality fitting a Ba Sing Se refugee.
Double Think: 'Lee' is of the Water Tribe and adept at living in Ba Sing Se; he's there to catch Zuko before he does something in ignorance, and Zuko can depend on him to help deal with Fire Nation loyalty to some degree. He's also heavily affected by Katara's Inner Waterbending.
Expecting Someone Taller: Scarce meals have slimmed the imposingly ripped Zuko of before, damping the more obvious flare of his presence. When he arrives as a healer, no one expects the teenaged mass of stern grumpiness.
Finger Snap Lighter: He unintentionally starts to forms fire daggers when angerednote Most times, they are just sparks from between his tense knuckles. Other times, they are obvious, blazing implements that could easily be mistaken for (unrestrained) intent to maim.
Chi-fueled Bursts of Super Strengthnote References how he casually heel-strikes through metal chains, and when Iroh gently tossed Zhao by the foot after the Agni Kai and Zhao went skidding several meters across the arena. and Super Speednote References how he jumped onto a hovering air-ship while also referencing the aforementioned Super Strength.
Rock-hard nails that...steel can't cut? Admittedly, they let him scale rock like a mountain goat dipped in glue and if he ever chose to grow them out, he could sharpen them into deadly claws. note They are taken from his chase scene in the canon finale, where Aang jumps onto a cliff and Zuko climbs almost as fast as he runs; and from Azula's first in-series fight with him.
Genre Savvy: Whenever Zuko is about to rant about Aang, just replace "the Avatar" with "The Hero" and it will be even more relevant in some places.
Hero with an F in Good: Even worse than canon. Canonically, most if not all of his problems stemmed from confusing his "duty" with his desire to please his father. In Embers, he has a hair-trigger temper that pushes him towards black-out, burn everything within sight rage on a regular basis, multiple curses, and an inborn compulsion to kill those who challenge his authority. The only thing that keeps him from being exactly as brutal and sadistic as his sister is a similarly inborn protective instinct.
Horrible Judge of Character: Zuko takes many leaps of cynicism with Aang, even thinking him nearly irreparably stupid and failing to see the psychological reasons behind Aang's actions. He also admits " I don't understand people. I try and I try and I don't."
"Zuko does not give up. He doesn't quit. He doesn't get bored. For all I know, he doesn't even sleep. You can smack him with a boomerang. Freeze him in ice. Dump him in the ocean. Blast him into a wall hard enough to leave little Zuko-shaped dents! And Aang's done that. Lots of times. He. Doesn't. Stop." Sokka to Hakoda
Incendiary Exponent: Played with. Zuko can weapon-ize certain things by firebending into them and moving them as he would flame (air heated into plasma), thus passing as a pseudo-bender of other elements.
Misery Builds Character: A key element of his character in canon(one which he canonically abandoned once he realized cruelty has no constructive purpose), but in Embers he's arguably turned it into Warrior Therapy.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: He says himself a lot of heartache could have been avoided if he'd just talked to Aang at the South Pole.
Not Good with People: When the gates of war don't hinge on his courtly manners. Otherwise he's pretty good with:
Asahi, his ostrich-horse companion.
Toph, who also knows courtly manners, but might as well be a talking badger-mole, otherwise.
Shidan, the very draconian husband to the Lady of Byakko who is literally a dragon. Being Zuko's grandpa also helps. He's under standing orders from his wife to NEVER go to court: he controls his temper by avoiding people that make him want to eat them.
Pint-Sized Powerhouse: While the show altered his size depending on how imposing he needed to be, here Zuko is always hinted as being rather short. He even grumbles about the men of other nations being built so big, but that doesn't stop him from being the imperially trained, fire-breathing, Dual Wieldingninja badass he's always been.
Refusal of the Call: Zuko is meant to be Aang's adviser, but doesn't want to be anywhere near the boy.
Reincarnation: Of Kuzon, Aang's best friend from the Fire Nation.
The Call Knows Where Zuko Lives: Spirits aren't easily dissuaded by Zuko's lack of acceptance. If anything, they will just turn around something that he is doing to make his actions turn out in Fate's favor.
Tranquil Fury: When he's channeling his usual, explosive anger through Lee especially when he's drawing on Lee's nature as a water tribesman, and more so still, when channeling Katara's raw loathing and combining it with his more explosive hatred.
This Is a Drill: When he needs to get through solid rock and not around it, he can use his Firebending in this manner. As seen at the end of the Beach arc and when killing the Plague Spirit.
Fundamentally unchanged from canon, though Word of God says he's less of a Love Martyr in this timeline. Embers' Iroh is more actively involved with his nephew now that the events of late Season 2 have been averted.Tropes associated with Embers' version of Iroh include:
Badass General: He held Ba Sing Se under siege for 600 days, and the city's residents and generals still freak out to varying degrees on hearing his name.
Be Careful What You Wish For Others: Iroh has a bad habit of making pleas to the spirits to "help" Zuko, which usually don't turn out very well for Zuko. See, Zuko in Embers is mostly invisible to spirits — Iroh isn't, and he thusly acts as a lightning rod for spirit-problems that Zuko would normally be able to evade.
Exact Words: Sly as Iroh is, he almost never lies, but instead choses to use words that let listeners craft their own deception.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Though well-meaning, Iroh's acts of... less than stellar wisdom... tend to just make Zuko's life ever more difficult. For example, it turns out that Zuko becoming a yaoren, and thusly rendering Zuko invalid to inherit the throne and his crazy sister Azula the only legal heir, is all Iroh's fault, as a result of wishing to the spirits.
No Time to Explain: By chapter four, Iroh knows Aang doesn't understand Fire Nation loyalty and customs. While Team Avatar is (grudgingly) willing to listen, he can't divulge his usual lecture, lest Azula returns tostrike, againnote this is sequentially analogous to the end of the episode The Chase, from canon.
Older and Wiser: Zigzagged. In many ways the failed siege and its aftermath changed Iroh for the better. In others... there's room for improvement.
Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Zuko, and several others who are in the know, think that Iroh needs to stop trusting so much in the Avatar and the Spirits to sort things out. Given that every time Iroh invokes the spirits and/or tries to get Zuko to ally with Aang tends to blow up in Zuko's face, they kind of have a point.
It's gotten to the point that, in chapter 84, Pakku himself all but calls Iroh an idiot for his beliefs and implies that when Zuko figures out just how much of his problems can be attributed to Iroh, things are going to get ugly.
Tempting Fate: The end of chapter 4. Iroh is making some progress with Zuko, bit by grudging bit, when he thinks "At least we haven't seen the bison". Sure enough, Zuko takes another three steps and finds a familiar clump of white fur, on the ground. The events of The Chase ensue.
What the Hell, Hero?: In chapter 73, the air/water-bending yaoren Langxue really lets Iroh have it in regards his machinations, idealism and ignorance in roughly equal measure.
Chapter 84 sees him getting a more level and oblique version of this from Pakku, who has some pointed words to say about Iroh's belief in his own supremely wise elder act and how much authority it gives him over his family.
Still the Avatar, Aang is portrayed as a thorn in Zuko's side. He's twelve years old, hyperactive, and naive. His main counsellors aren't much older or more experienced. And it doesn't help that Aang spent the last century tucked away in an iceberg, ignorant of events outside, and after the thaw, has a LOT to catch up on while being unaware of the extent of the changes. Oh, and did we mention he still needs a Firebending teacher? And someone who can teach him Fire Nation culture? Yeah, not happening anytime soon.And then it does. After eighty some odd chapters of 'fic and numerous instances of What the Hell, Hero?Tropes associated with Embers' version of Aang include:
Beware the Honest Ones: How Zuko sees him. Fans of him from canon know that Aang will do the Right Thing, no matter the risk, no matter the cost. Zuko just sees him as an immature idiot who is willing to throw himself on the judgement and mercy of Kangaroo Courts who regularly boil people in oil.
Brilliant, but Lazy: Canon saw him unprepared right before the comet, and Toph calls him out on it both then and here.
Broken Pedestal: Air Nomads don't have evil people! In chapter 54, Temul shows them how Kuzon was killed...by airbenders, trained by Aang's fellow Temple mate, Ja Aku.
The latest chapter has Aang realizing that Monk Gyatso, his beloved teacher, was WRONG about "no one can make you do anything you don't want to". For him, it's like the sky is falling.
Might be worse when he realizes that it's an Airbender Exact Words twist; Gyatso was technically correct in his defense of free will, he just failed to mention that, "Some people canmake you want what they want."
Culture Blind: Most notably, because the Avatar is supposed to help everyone else in the world get over such a problem.
However, he's also tolerant of cultural differences; Air Monk philosophy is that eating meat is wrong, but he never mentions this to the others until Sokka asks him about it. He shows no surprise or horror at the burial customs of other nations. Respecting other cultures is easy for him; it's finding out what the differences are that's hard.
A. Airbenders tend to be flighty (pun intended) and don't sit around to show off their intelligence. Problem solved, big world full of problems, move on to the next one. Not unjustified, as he does have an entire world to save, and canonically learned his lesson about staying on one place too long back on Kyoshi Island. Unfortunately, he hasn't quite figured out that problems don't necessarily STAY solved.
Horrible Judge of Character: Subverted. He can get the wrong idea of a person, up to the point that they tell an outright lie. As a Master Airbender, he can read spoken words and all their subtexts so long as they are carried on the wind. What throws him off are people like Jet, who mostly believe in their lies, or Long Feng, who twist the truth as they will. There are also instances where the motivation and psychology of the subject are so strange to him that he mis-interprets what he's sensing. For example, it takes him a long time to understand that finding an action to be distasteful or even repugnant will not necessarily stop someone from taking that action.
And when a close friend shows a darker side for him to judge, he goes into full-blown denial.
Kick the Dog: With Boots. (Boots was not exactly blameless toward Aang, but given the power differential... )
Kid with the Leash: To the Avatar Spirit. Since the Avatar Spirit is the Avatar of the entire planet, he's supposed to be this to the entire world. Koh, the Fire Nation... he'd have better luck herding cats.
Last of His Kind: Partially averted. In Embers, while there are survivors of several Air Nomad groups still out there, Aang is still the last remaining Air Monk, and the only one left who holds to (what he knows of) their ways. All the others would much rather see those ways die out. In fact, a character in chapter 59 all but implied that until Aang gives up the Temple ways, the only way to be rid of all traces of the Temples is to wait for Aang to die.
Living Lie Detector: Being an Airbending master, he can easily see through lies. So easily, he knew Zuko wasn't using lethal force the entire time he'd been chasing the Avatar.
This turns out to be not as reliable as Aang thought, as he doesn't want to use leathal force is not the same thing as he won't use lethal force.
Obliviously Evil: He doesn't want to hurt anyone. Unfortunately, between dealing with three different alien value systems, chronic lack of patience and insane powers, a lot of the characters who meet him see him this way.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Dousing the flames keeping a murderous zombie army from swarming a colony that has just only finished dealing with Fong is generally not the best response to a worldview altering decision.
It is after the Beach Arc, after he finally got to lash out at Aang, that Zuko realizes there is more distinction within the Avatar beyond incarnation. Until then, he'd assumed Aang was fully aware in the Avatar state and that it was a shift in mood, not a shift of spirit.
Aang knows his culture as well as one would expect from a 12-year-old monk, even some of the details others in the cast would consider less-than-fitting for their spotless image of Air Nomads. Most notably, the community/family-oriented Water Tribe is a bit shaken by an Air Monk's lack of parents.
Unbeknown to Aang, some of his own legends are less than shining examples of decency.
Spanner in the Works: Zuko's thoughts reveal this when he is thinking about how Aang ran away from the Southern Air Temple and, thus, from the Elders' decision to brainwash him:
Aang might have the attention span of a flutter-hornet on a honey high, but that impulsive decision might just have saved the world.
A very dangerous volcano, the one that killed Yangchen, was set to go off when Aang would have been training with the Northern Water Tribe a century ago. He would have tried to stop it, and a less-than-half-trained avatar going up against what killed Yangchen and all her yaoren? His disappearance caused that plan to be put on hold, and the eruption with it, for a full century.
The group Kuzon and his uncle wanted Aang to spend time with instead of being brainwashed? Turn out to be brainwashing people for the Fire Lord.
Debatable; it seems probable that Kuzon and his Uncle wanted Aang spending time with the yamabushi, not the onmitsu. Although it is suggested that Kuzon didn't realize how thoroughly the onmitsu had bought into Sozin's side, given that he did send some of his rescued airbenders to them.
Time Travel: Sort of. It took a one-way trip into the future courtesy of an iceberg; it's taking him a while to catch up with the cultural changes.
Tomato in the Mirror/I Am Who?: Aang, you are the Avatar. In canon, he was already clinging to his identity as just a normal kid/air nomad. In Embers, he's been forced to face the fact that he is, to whatever degree, Kyoshi and Roku, among others, and responsible for their screw-ups. With the focus Embers is placing on spirits and politics, the fact that the Avatar is the Avatar of the world-spirit is likely to play a larger role. Aang just isn't a normal kid who can have a normal life.
Violence Really Is the Answer: Played with. Aang is unwilling to take a life, but quick to use his bending, which often does more damage than he notices. While mostly played for laughs in canon, in Embers this comes back to bite Aang, badly. Also, because of the war, those closest to Aang want him to temporarily let go of his Thou Shalt Not Kill policy - before this was explicitly stated to him, Aang believed that his allies shared his belief. After said confrontation, he is deeply upset and confused by the knowledge that they don't, even as he grapples with understanding the why's.
Subverted quite thoroughly in the climax of the fic. Unlike in canon, in Embers Aang decides that Violence Isn't The Answer and sticks to it. All the way down to how he deals with the fic's Man Behind the Man, Koh the Face-Stealer. And it is awesome.
What an Idiot/Idiot Hero: Mostly due to ignorance about the spirits and interrupted training by Gyatso. If not that, Aang doesn't stick around his worst fans to prove them wrong. Otherwise, he'd just rather play than think, provided there's nothing urgent going on.
The Woobie: He really, really, REALLY is. No one outside of his True Companions and obvious allies likes him as a person. The rest of the world is split betweeen worshipping him for being the Avatar (and the only person who can save the world) and hating and fearing him for being the Avatar and/or an airbender and/or an Air Monk. He doesn't know how to live up to the expectations the "good guys" have, he doesn't know how to cope with having things expected of him at all and he doesn't know how to cope with needing to cope. The world's become too small and dangerous for Aang's run away / do whatever seems most immedidiately expedient then run off problem-solving strategy to work, but he's too busy mentally avoiding the consequences to work out where he's going wrong.
Team Mom and Love Interest roles unchanged, Katara gets put through the wringer in Embers. She arguably retains the same personality she had, but in this Alternate Timeline, everything's been Turned Up to Eleven. Nobody's safe from her, not even her own family, and she doesn't even know it until it hits everyone, including her, in the worst possible way. Thankfully, Yue and Toph step in to mitigate it all somewhat, but from what we've seen, Katara's still got a long way to go.Tropes associated with Embers' version of Katara include:
Berserk Button: Deconstructed and Justified. Why did Katara go on the defensive when Zuko wasn't actually attacking her or doing anything terrible? Because he was. On top of being the symbol of what killed her mother, by trying to get through to Katara he was attacking the idea of herself that she'd built up in order to function. In other words, he was attacking her psychological weak point For Massive Damage. What happened when her Sanity Meter went to zero? She went into an Angst Comaand nearly died. In a world with Embers' laws of metaphysics, he was essentially coming at her with a knife (not that he knew this), no one would help her or believe her (a double whammy) and her subconscious reacted accordingly.
Beware the Nice Ones: Vathara agrees with canon that Katara is this. She is also an avowed opponent of this trope;
Katara is not honest. Katara is sweetness and confidence and "we're going to help Aang save the world!" Until she runs into something she doesn't like, at which point the Sugar Queen cracks, and a lot of nastiness oozes out. ...Yeah. That relationship is going to end so well. I think I'll take my chances with Azula....
Disability Superpower: Most likely averted, by Word of God. Katara has a wound to her spirit and could become a yaoren, but Katara is such a self-reliant person that she's almost certain to never ask the world in general or a Great Spirit of another element for help, giving them an opening.
Extreme Doormat: A normal person's response to nearly being killed should not be "We betrayed him." It's this tendency towards just taking it from her loved ones and saying that it's not the other person's fault because they were hurting (that reasons are not excuses and don't make it right is a major theme of the fic) that got her into this mess.
Genre Blindness: She (along with Aang), genuinely believes that she's doing the right thing, which doesn't always match with the changed world of Embers (which has gradually grown from divergence to full-on AU); her actions have both more realistic implications and more supernatural consequences.
The Heart: She remains this in Embers. Lampshaded by Toph in Chapter 37: "Katara keeps us together."
Heart Is an Awesome Power: Her abilities allow her to pull on others' emotions. The bad part about this is that she was not taught to control it very well, thanks to Pakku. Hakoda and Sokka are wary about her pulling on their hearts.
This power is extrapolated from Katara's canonical moments of managing to spark emotional resurgences in others, such as her pep-talking the imprisoned Earthbenders into a successful revolt in Episode 6.
Honor Before Reason: Both a positive trait and a negative trait. Zuko praises her for being willing to do the right thing, even when it's hard, but Embers puts a lot of importance on thinking. In addition to that, since 'people judge normal by themselves' and Katara actually doesn't think that she's a very good person, anyone less honorable than her (which is actually setting the bar really high) must obviously be a terrible person. It's also Water Tribe honor. For instance, there's nothing dishonorable about stealing from others, especially bad people, if your people need it, to a culture where it's traditional to raid your enemies (on top of piracy).
Horrible Judge of Character: Though this seems more of a side-effect of her Moral Myopia. Anyone who doesn't side with her or Aang (Xiu, for instance) isn't a friend, especially if they happen to like Zuko. She's especially this around those of the Fire Nation.
Wrong Genre Savvy: Things that would fix problems in a more idealistic world actually start problems in Embers. Contrast this with Zuko, now the Protagonist, who has had to learn to calm down before he can't think, lest he get himself and Iroh killed, when they were on the run.
Kid with the Leash: She canonically has this power over the Avatar State via Cooldown Hugs. Except she's on somewhat shaky ground with Aang ever since Zuko's blood-contract-guided psychic attack on her in Chapter 31. If Aang goes ballistic again and the Avatar Spirit wants to re-enact Kyoshi's hurricane, it's possible that Katara won't be able to calm him down. And it would be Zuko's fault.
Confirmed in Chapter 80; Aang goes off (albeit due to being possessed), and burns Katara's back as badly as Zuko's face.
Hero Insurance: Invoked. Katara is disturbed when she is prevented from trying to heal someone while they were sleeping. She's the Avatar's teacher. Why does she need consent to fix somebody? She's the good guy!
Never The Avatar's Fault: After Aang (unintentionally) blasts a steel door into her, her first words to Toph are "we betrayed him".
Revenge: Her motives still remain the same from her canon self.
Stepford Smiler: Resulting from being forced into the Team Mom position for her own family after her mother was killed protecting her. As her grandmother points out in the show, Katara was also the symbol of hope for the Southern Water Tribe not for herself, but because she was a waterbender. No one wanted to deal with the fact the person they needed to cheer them up was not a very happy person, actually, so she grew up convinced that if she showed her true self with the pain of losing her mother, her resentment of being put into this position and her hatred of the Fire Nation no one would love the real her. For a waterbender, with their emphasis on community, this is explicitly just as bad as what Ozai did to Zuko.
Team Mom: The problems with trying to be this while coping with the loss of her own mother are brought up.
There Are No Therapists: Not only did Katara not have one, as a waterbender she was expected to be that much-needed therapist. Even Kanna was understanding about the fact that Katara couldn't have prevented all those deaths without training, but Katara still blamed herself.
Vision Quest: Only non-yaoren to have one, so far (Aang's canon one was cut short).
His core personality hasn't changed, though his experiences have. Sokka stands the middle ground - while he is firmly on Aang and Katara's side, his maturity and innate sense allow him to see things as they really are. This talent helps save the day during the Beach Arc; when Katara's rampant emotional turmoil and unawareness of her More than Mind Control talents threaten the truce, Sokka consciously makes the effort to overcome his prejudices and try to understand where the other guys are coming from. (Even if it does break his brain.) As such, while Zuko would love to set Aang and Katara on fire, he can tolerate Sokka.Tropes associated with Embers' version of Sokka include:
Disability Superpower - Averted. All Sokka really gets from Temul is some much needed indepth knowledge about the Fire Nation and its culture. Otherwise, Temul kicks his ass during their sword training.
Face Palm: He does this in ch. 37 when he hears how Aang and Katara put their address on the posters they posted of Appa while staying in Ba Sing Se.
Genre Savvy: Though not as much as Toph. That's mainly because he's not as well-educated about other cultures as Toph is.
Head Desk: Forgoing his palm, Sokka smacks himself with the blunt end of Boomerang when Aang reveals he knew of Zuko's non-lethal intentions the whole time.
Improbable Aiming Skills: Conversed. Zuko, informing him about the chi and bending, points out that the usage of chi extends beyond the elements, into relatively mundane skills, such as nailing a target with a boomerang just right.
Oh Crap: Being The Smart Guy makes him sensitive to the Unfortunate Implications after a Culture Clash and to the sheer scope of trouble down the road, if some things don't get fixed right away. The most current example is in Chapter 60 at the end where Sokka figures out that the Fire Nation knows about their plans to invade during the Day of Black Sun, which Shidan confirms.
The Greatest Earthbender in the World, and damn proud of it, Toph is the most grounded of the Gaang, both literally and figuratively. While the others base their opinions on preconceived - and sometimes unfounded - notions and run with it, she withholds her judgement, actually taking the time to learn what the truth of the matter is before coming to any decision. It's because of this she agreed to aid Zuko in the jailbreak that freed Appa (Jet, Smellerbee and Longshot were a bonus). Solid, patient, and nurturing, to a far greater extent than in canon, Toph personifies all the best attributes of her element, and Zuko couldn't ask for a better ally in a tight spot.Tropes associated with Embers' version of Toph include:
Blood Oath: She has an Earth Kingdom Contract with Aang, to help him defeat the Fire Lord. As with Fire Nation Loyalty, it could kill her if she backs out of it, even if she has no reason in the world to do so.
Boxing Lessons for Superman: Subverted. Zuko gives her advice on how she might be able to swim, but she doesn't take to it nearly as easily as metal and molten glass. Although, it has lead to the pleasant surprise that bending smoke lead to quasi-Airbending.
Chekhov's Skill: Her awesomeness will be of great help to Zuko and his group at the North Pole, much to Azula's shock and Koh's chagrin.
Face Palm: Several times. Particularly when Aang talks about putting up more Appa posters.
Healing Hands: Only in an emergency; she says after doing it that it takes more out of her than a Rumble, and she'll leave it to the professionals otherwise.
Combat Medic: Emphasis on 'combat'. She's quickly picked up on Earth-Healing, but states that she'd rather deal damage than fix it, only when Zuko or Katara are absent would she try it.
Cast from Hit Points: After healing a bruise, she says she's come out of entire tournaments with less exhaustion. Considering Toph's power and skill, its hard to distinguish between an exhaustion of strength or a strain of prowess.
Genius Bruiser/Dangerously Genre Savvy: Toph is fully aware of the implications of her Metal-bending; if "no one" is supposed to bend metal, then how many other "impossible" techniques can she get away with? She's experimenting with the use of salt in seawater, and even bent the ashes in smoke.
I Thought It Was Forbidden: Tao immediately tries to shut her down for bending the ash, thinking that she's begun bending Air and thus insulted both the great spirits of Air and Earth by not sticking with what she was given. While not immediately revealed to the cast in-scene, the readers can easily pick up that Tao is Sadly Mythtaken.
Only Sane Girl: Amongst everyone else's not so sane moments, Toph's the only one keeping a level head and looks at the situation objectively, especially with regards to the Fire Nation. She's the only one who can.
Secret Keeper: She knows that Zuko, Iroh and the Fire Nation have draconic ancestry. She also knows that Zuko can waterbend, too, but she doesn't tell Aang, Sokka or Katara.
Fire Princess and Daddy's Girl, Azula personifies all the worst that one of her ancestry can claim - and she, along with Zuko, has more draconian ancestry than most. All Fire Nation citizens have dragon's blood to some degree (it's practically required to firebend in the prescribed form), and a few have dragons for recent ancestors (Teruko). Azula and Zuko? Out of their 8 great-grandparents, three were dragons, Sozin was a dragon child (someone whose parent was a dragon), and Roku was the Avatar. It's a recipe for disaster, and while Zuko thankfully has chosen a different path under Iroh's guidance, Azula was raised by Ozai. As a result, she's running headlong down the Dark Dragon road of carnage, death, and utter destruction. It's all in the name of her father, for the glory of the Fire Lord and her Nation... And she won't let anyone get in her way. As of chapter 81, not even her own father — said Fire Lord. Congratulations, Ozai.Tropes associated with Embers' version of Azula include:
Break the Haughty: At the end of the Invasion of the caldera, Azula is betrayed by one of Ty Lee's clan. Not only this, but Mai implies that the Fire Lord does NOT appreciate her changes in his plans, and may mean that she is just as disposable as her brother is. It is thought by some readers that Mai herself may have deceived Azula to make her feel as every bit betrayed as Mai felt when she found out about Azula's own treachery in pairing her with Zuko. By chapter 81, readers find out that, no, Ozai really is that dismissive of both his children.
How good is she? In Chapter 48, Vathara Retconned Azulon's punishment from the canonical "know the pain of losing a first-born son" into "know the pain of losing a most favored child" Azula. Azula actually retconned it right back, conning Ursa into believing that Zuko was the sacrifice.
Shidan: You saw a threat. And you acted. All it cost you was your mother... and your brother's nightmares.
Enfante Terrible: In a nutshell, Azula has been terrorizing everyone since she was old enough to walk. Mai and Azula discuss this trope when talking about the possibility of Azula having kids and how to avoid this.
Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: She just does not understand how people can be so easily compelled by emotion to do drastic things. To her, there has to be an ulterior motive and hidden agenda; after all, that's why she would be openly passionate.
Karma Houdini: See the rest of Azula's entry? In Chapter 88, she becomes the new Fire Lord. Even Ursa, whose family has been in silent rebellion against the rule of the Fire Lords since the war began, and herself acknowledged that her daughter is a monster, shows up to show support for Azula's rule. Time will tell if she gets to keep it as Vathara has made it clear that having a Firelord is driving the Fire Nation insane.
Little Sister Bully: Zuko has learned to make himself scarce when she utters the phrase 'Little Zuzu'. note Now that they are older, he is still probably boned if she is in a creative mood and distant by a several dozen miles.
Mind Rape: Unsurprisingly, being the psychopathic genius she is. Poor Min.
Mind Manipulation: Whether of hesitating followers or resistant prisoners, Azula will herd undesirable emotions.
Blood Oath: Such is Loyalty, where just thinking the wrong way spells trouble. She owes Loyalty to Ozai and she can press others into yielding it to her.
Pet the Dog: Chapter 66. Lets Aang go during the invasion trying to fulfill a promise to Zuko. In a surprising move (for her), when Aang decides to charge straight into the Caldera anyway, her reaction can be summed up as I tried.
She Is the King: Canon gives the viewers Daddy's Little Girl Azula with one beach episode. How... developing. Embers, in contrast, runs Azula through the wringer very nearly as badly as it does Zuko. By the end of the fic, readers can look back and, even if they don't agree with all the salient points, see how Vathara has shown Azula's growth from Daddy's Little Weapon to "The Lord of Caldera City" (not Fire Lord, as Aang had dissolved that position's spiritual authority). Vathara has done an amazing job with Azula's Character Development.
The Sociopath: Azula is condemned to be a sociopath by genetics and upbringing. After some spiritbending mind healing, some of the worst of the sociopathy is walled off and Azula gets more freedom of choice in her actions. Of course, she still CHOOSES to do evil things (like trying to kill Zuko), but now she's a bit more rational about it. It remains to be seen if this is an example of Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
Nope. It takes a lot more work (Mai? Just, wow. That was one heck of a loyalty/betrayal-contrast gambit), but in the end, well... See the trope above this one.
Well Done Daughter Girl: She strives for Ozai's attentions and constantly proclaims and reaffirms her loyalty to her father. Until she doesn't. "Sorry Daddy, but... What you want isn't what your people need. Looks like it's my turn up to bat. Hey Zuzu, wish me luck!"
Daughter of Governor Tsumami and the Lady Niji, Mai is still the dour girl we met in canon. But she makes her Heel-Face Turn a lot sooner, once it become clear just how long Azula's been lying to her - and just how deep her deception went. It's one thing to date someone. It's another to be related to said person, in a way and to the degree of consanguinity that the laws clearly state are prohibited. (In Embers, she is descended from Roku's daughter, Momiji, the sister of Ilah, who was the wife of Azulon.) The worst part is Azula knew the entire damn time, and had incorporated the expected side effects into several plans.Tropes associated with Embers' version of Mai include:
Action Girlfriend: To Min, much to his distress. She plans to go back to the Fire Nation.
Awesome yet Practical: Her knives. The diamond-laced wire she gave to Min to help him break out of his prison.
Still our ditzy, bubbly, bouncing acrobat, Ty Lee becomes much more than that in Embers. Descendant of the Duo Qang, one of many Airbender tribes that used to roam the winds, Ty Lee's people were decimated during the era of Avatar Yangchen, and those who weren't killed outright in that period were later kidnapped to the temples and brainwashed into becoming monks and nuns. The survivors who escaped both fates ended up settling in the Fire Nation and ultimately pledged their services to the Fire Lord. Since those services tend to include chi-blocking and the arts of stealth, it's no wonder that the Duo Quang are now known as the onmitsu - Ozai's own army of ninjas and assassins. Ty Lee knows about her family history, and will do what it takes to stop Aang - last of the Temple Monks - from what she and her people believe will be a second Holocaust.Tropes associated with Embers' version of Ty Lee include:
Angst Coma: The latest chapter shows Ty Lee learning about the truth of Kuzon and her clan's ways. Time will tell whether she decides to ask Agni for help...
Anti-Villain: She helps Azula because she wants her clan to live. She actually doesn't want Aang to know what the Temples did.
Aura Vision: Fully functional, rather than being a glorified horoscope (and ambiguously connected to her chi-blocking).
She's also this about Aang, too. Despite being a Temple Monk, Aang would NOT condone any of what Xiangchen or his followers did, and never would Aang do this to her or any of the other Air Nomad survivors.
There's also Zuko. In chapter 42 she says that Zuko is too nice. She's in for a surprise when she sees him again...
Tomato in the Mirror: While telling Azula about what the Temple Monks did to her ancestors, Ty Lee doesn't know that her Elders have her and her family in Harmonious Accord. Subverted in that Ty Lee, post chapter 38, told Azula that she remembered certain things, as revealed in chapter 42.
Essentially unchanged from canon, Long Feng takes much the same path as he did on the show. The only difference is the end: after imprisoning Azula, he attempts to double-cross her, using Ty Lee as leverage. Azula does not take kindly to Long Feng's treatment, killing him with a well-placed lightning strike. His old responsibilities are divided afterwards, with leadership of the Dai Li falling to Agent Chan, while Agents Quan and Bon becomes Kuei's new advisors.Tropes associated with Embers' version of Long Feng include:
The 24-year-old royal gets a major fleshing out in Embers. For starters, Kuei never leaves Ba Sing Se, but instead retreats underground (quite literally) to strike back at the Fire Nation forces occupying his city. It gets better. Turns out the Earth Kings were and are still considered the spiritual heart of the Earth Kingdom for a damn good reason - they descend from ancient shamans and have power over the spirits in their domain that's second only to a fully realised Avatar. How powerful is Kuei? He evicts Wan Shi Tong, the knowledge owl, and all his servants, out of the Earth Kingdom. Permanently. Yikes.Tropes associated with Embers' version of Kuei include:
"Does that sword still mean you're a healer?" Kuei blurted out. "Some of the scrolls I have - here, let me show you..."
Arranged Marriage: Most Earth Kings get this. Kuei just got his due to Agents Bon and Quan saying "It'd take a miracle to find spriritually strong women in the middle of a Fire Nation invasion-", and also because the Touzaikaze were impressed with Kuei enough to send their own special women as prospective brides.
Badass Bookworm: He's got a personal library full of powerful information yet unknown to the rest of the world, and he's a powerful enough spiritbender to kick Wan Shi Tong out of the Earth Kingdom.
Cultured Badass/Gentleman and a Scholar: Thanks to reading unknown amounts of scrolls in his library, Kuei is one of the first to know about yaoren, and had a dissenting opinion about the all-powerful Avatar. He's read up about his ancestors, his own people, and even the Air Nomads, whom no one really knows anything about (other than the Air Monks). He forms an alliance with Zuko, the exiled former Prince of the Fire Nation, knowing and understanding how important it was to have a place where anyone can be themselves, as well as a buffer-zone between Earth and Air. And now he's just taken it upon himself to have a kick-assswordswoman for his Queen.
Kuei delivers this sentence in chapter 29 to the fox servant of Wan Shi Tong:
"We find you and your master, Wan Shi Tong, have behaved with contempt to us, and to our people! We find that you have done us harm; willfully, pettily, and with full knowledge of our desperation, beset by enemies! We find that you have cast aside the virtues of civilized creatures. And so, we render our judgment! You, your master, and all his servants are hereby banished from our lands. Your master may petition Oma and Shu. Should they decide his punishment is enough, we shall revisit our judgment. Until that day - begone!"
Good Is Not Dumb: Long Feng had it so that the Earth King was seen as a naive, harmless, puppet-king bookworm who needed to be protected. Sure, he's ignorant of many things, including what's been going on within his city. However, he has had years and years and YEARS of reading the scrolls in his personal library, so he knows things the Dai Li and the rest of the cast do not.
He's also a fairly competent commander, since he lacks the usual Earth compunctions against tearing up your own streets to get at the enemy.
The Heart: Literally. All Earth Kings are the heart of Ba Sing Se.
100% Adoration Rating: He's getting there. After laying the smackdown on Wan Shi Tong and his servants, all the Earth Kingdom, including the Fire Nation refugees, bowed down to him. Also, Azula set herself up as ruler of Ba Sing Se. The Fire Nation refugees most likely will NOT stand for this, and may attempt to sabotage her in the future.
La Résistance: He's running it, and rather more effectively than the military. A Fire Nation guard in Chapter 45 muses that an Earth Kingdom general would never dig pit traps in the streets of his own city. Kuei is not fighting like traditional Earth generals.
Missing Mom/Disappeared Dad: Kuei's parents were killed 20 years before Embers starts. The assassins were said to have been from Taku.
Non-Action Guy: He has protection in his Dai Li, as well as Eshe and Amisi.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: He's become this. Granted, Bon and Quan are carrying out his orders, but with Long Feng dead, he's heading towards being a competent and capable ruler.
Soul Power: He has authority over the spirits of Ba Sing Se. Also noted to become one of the best spirit-benders out there.
Spanner in the Works: And HOW!! Wan Shi Tong only apparently did not remember that he lives in the Earth Kingdom and the Earth King has power over the spirits there, including himself. And now, one of the Big Bads, the Dragon Makoto aka Fire Lady Tejina even says how he has messed up her spy network. How awesome is that?
Wan Shi Tong
The giant owl spirit who, pissed off at humanity, sank his library in the desert and nearly took the G Aang with him. They escaped, after Sokka whacked him over the head with a book and Toph stopped the library's descent long enough for them to get out. In Embers, Wan Shi Tong is out for revenge.Tropes associated with Ember's version of Wan Shi Tong include:
In canon, Aang's pre-war Fire Nation buddy, briefly mentioned, seen only in one of the side comics, and not much else is known. In Embers, Kuzon of Byakko was not only Aang's friend, but found out about the planned Air Nomad massacre and tried to warn Gyatso beforehand. Failing to stop the killing outright, Kuzon saved those he could, hiding them away in places only he knew where. He never stopped searching for Aang, over his long life becoming Lord of Byakko, Azulon's intelligence agent (and later assassination victim), Ursa's grandfather, and thus Zuko and Azula's great-grandfather. Also, after his death, he accepts an offer from Agni himself to finish the job he started, as Aang never reappeared in his lifetime. Kuzon ultimately ends up being reincarnated as his own descendant: Zuko.Tropes associated with Embers' version of Kuzon include:
Back from the Dead: Died "in his sleep" roughly 17-18 years before Aang thawed out of his iceberg.
Backup from Otherworld: Sometimes Zuko unconsciously uses Kuzon's old speech patterns and memories. Then Yangchen comes along.
Unexpected Successor: Before Sozin started the war, Kuzon wasn't expected to become Lord of Byakko. Loyalty sickness claimed everyone ahead of him, after Clan Byakko refused the Fire Lord's orders to kill. Kuzon only survived thanks to Shidan's fire healing.
Fire Lord Ozai
His core personality is unchanged, though his background has been fleshed out. Ozai is considered a dragon child, and a dark dragon, to boot. With Azulon's heritage (three-quarters dragon, one-quarter human) and Ilah's (Avatar Roku's daughter), it's lucky Iroh and Lu Ten turned out as well as they did. Ozai, on the other hand, personifies all the worst that a human with too much dragon blood can become - and he's trained Azula to be just like him.Tropes associated with Embers' version of Ozai include:
Ambition Is Evil: More so than Zhao, and the consequences are bound to be worse.
Like her husband, retains her characterization, though Vathara has tweaked her genealogy in Embers. Here Ursa is no longer Roku's descendant (that honour goes to Ilah, Azulon's wife), but rather the daughter of Lady Kotone of Byakko and her husband Shidan. After Azulon put on the pressure, Ursa was sent to marry Ozai mostly to put Clan Byakko in line. All is not what it seems - Lady Kotone's father was Kuzon of Byakko, and Shidan was his dragon companion before their marriage. Byakko always plays to stay ahead of the game, and Ursa knows to do whatever she must for her family and her clan.Tropes associated with Embers' version of Ursa include:
Action Girl: She was mentioned to have been good with swords.
Arranged Marriage: The reasons in Embers are such that Byakko's rulers needed to buy protection from Azulon, and also for Revenge.
Last seen in canon being transferred to Zhao's command, just before Zuko's ship blew up, Jee survived the resulting deluge at the Siege of the North. In Embers he's since been promoted to Captain (more due to lack of experienced officers than anything else) and he and his crew now deal with the scores of newcomers onboard the ship.Tropes associated with Embers' version of Jee include:
The Captain: Only now he actually holds the rank, instead of acting as such under another's command.
Fighting for a Homeland: Zuko plans to create a new domain. Jee plans to make sure he survives long enough to make that happen.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Averted from canon; when Toph and the Blue Spirit bust Appa out of the Dai Li headquarters, Jet and his crew go along for the ride. Too bad Jet's too damn obsessed to stay out of trouble.
Part of Jet's gang, who sometimes shows more sense than her leader. Pity common sense isn't too common, as Jet's words and actions are liable to get them all killed. Although part of her knows that what he's doing is wrong, she remains loyal nonetheless.Tropes associated with Embers' version of Smellerbee include:
Only Sane Man: He's looking to be this, since Jet is losing his shit over the Fire Nation.
The lord of Shu Jing, a gray-eyed swordsman adopted by Temul, who was present at Kuzon's death. He was chosen by Temul to become her successor as Lord of Shu Jing. Piandao was only a Major when he met Kuzon and Temul, and presumably retired from the Fire Nation Army soon afterward.
Gray Eyes: Tend to indicate air nomad ancestry. Since it's confirmed that he is still the non-bender son of Firebenders, or at least thinks he is, he may or may not have anything to do with the rescued children. Apparently people in the Fire Nation assume that Gray Eyes mean someone has an ancestor who was a Child by Rape of the Air Nomad armies.
Parental Abandonment: Piandao thinks his birth parents were firebenders who orphaned him because he couldn't bend.
What the Hell, Hero?: gets one from Zuko for leaving the giant killer Kanaloa that lives in Boiling Rock off the map.
Original Characters - Ba Sing Se
Veteran member of the Dai Li after twenty years, Shirong is unusual in that unlike most of his fellow agents, he works alone. This is due to an encounter that left him so scarred spiritually that partners simply didn't last long. Instead, Long Feng has him working as a recruiter, which allows Shirong to play to his strengths and has would-be recruits undergoing (usually survivable) spirit encounters that test their mettle. All goes well until he meets "Lee", a Fire Nation colonial who's also a waterbender. Shirong tries to recruit him, and ends up getting dragged into the spirits' grand plan, becoming the second yaoren.Tropes associated with Shirong include:
Head of the local detachment of Ba Sing Se's lower ring City Guard, Lu-Shan's job consisted of watching over his men, making sure chaos and anarchy didn't rule the streets, dealing with troublemakers, and when things got too much for them to handle, call in the Dai Li. Then the Avatar arrives. And the Fire Nation invades. Oh, and one guy in his department's really a Fire Nation refugee, who's disappeared along with his family and everyone else who's like them. Now Lu-Shan's got to work with the Fire Nation to keep order and peace in his city, and it's not as bad as he thought it would be. So far.Tropes associated with Lu-Shan include:
Enemy Mine: Ba Sing Se's street scum and would-be avengers are a nuisance to both the well being of the Lower Ring and the Fire Nation occupants. Common sense dictates calling a truce, even if it makes his skin crawl.
Interservice Rivalry: City Guards and the Dai Li, to the point where no news on the latter is bad news.
Justified, considering what the Dai Li was up to before (mindbending, involuntary disappearing acts), and what's been implied that they're up to now.
Seems Kuei's new advisors are continuing Long Feng's practice of keeping their king in the dark, despite Kuei's leadership in La Résistance and the expectations of full disclosure. Bon? Quan? Not a smart idea, guys.
Urban Segregation: Due to the vastness and social strata of Ba Sing Se, tends to stay in the Lower Ring, unless making reports.
Urban Warfare: Has to deal with this, both against his people and the invasion forces. Lu-Shan is even less happy about it than the above.
The first of Amaya's many hidden Fire Nation refugees in Ba Sing Se, Huojin was six years old when his parents disappeared, taken by the Dai Li. Amaya took him in, and he's been loyal to her ever since. Husband to Luli and father to Daiyu and Lim, Huojin's lived in Ba Sing Se for thirty years. He's made a good life for himself, joining the City Guard, and is indistinguishable from other Ba Sing Se residents, what with the queue of hair, the eyes, and his speech. His temper, though, is pure Fire Nation, but nobody really takes note of that. He'd be happy to live out his days in the city, with his family... Then two firebender refugees show up, and Huojin's life is no longer as stable as once was.Tropes associated with Huojin include:
Huojin's loving wife and mother to his daughters, Luli works as an Earth Kingdom jade carver, making ornaments and jewellery for the city's residents. Toph takes a shine to her, as even though Luli can't bend, she knows her craft well and is eager to share her experiences with a willing audience. Luli is one of many Earth Kingdom residents who opts to leave in the mass exodus from Ba Sing Se, as she would never be separated from her husband and children.Tropes associated with Luli include:
Housewife: As her profession allows her to work from home.
Open Minded Parent: She freely associates with Fire Nation, Water Tribe, and Earth Kingdom alike.
Professor Tingzhe Wen
Teacher of history at Ba Sing Se University, Tingzhe comes from a long line of Earthbenders. He's come under the Dai Li's radar for supposedly subversive, anti-regime commentary hidden in his lectures. Married to Meixiang, a Fire Nation refugee, and has four children. Aids both Zuko and the Gaang when the situation calls for it, and assisted in the later evacuation of Ba Sing Se. After much trouble, undergoes a ceremony and is made head of the new Clan Wen, to solidify and protect his family.Tropes associated with Tingzhe include:
Absent-Minded Professor: Subverted and played straight. He just acts that way to throw the Dai Li off his trail. But sometimes.... When his son, Jinhai, was born, his students had to go and fish him out of the Airbender section of the library stacks.
Fled the Fire Nation's Home Islands years ago on the orders of her family lord, Meixiang was the only one of her immediate family to reach the haven of Ba Sing Se. She fell in love with and married Professor Wen, gaining respectability and a step up the social ladder to living in the city's Middle Ring. Due to the mixed marriage, the family in divided - her older two children are solid Earthbenders, while the younger two are more Fire. To help ease the way and bring harmony, Meixiang performs a ritual that creates a new clan, one outside the Fire Nation's complicated web of loyalties and intrigues. Such an act is unfortunately considered treason in the Fire Nation, punishable by death, and Azula is resolved to see that all traitors suffer the consequences of their actions. Even the children.Tropes associated with Meixiang include:
Country Cousin: Her great-great-grandfather was Avatar Roku, making Meixiang and her children kin to Zuko and the royal family. Zuko is unaware of this until much later on.
Knife Nut: Which, apparently, is not uncommon amongst non-bender Fire Nation women.
Eldest child of the Wen family, Min is a stubborn Earthbender who knows his family's irregularities, were they to become known, could mean their doom. He's desperate to ensure that they're safe, and looks to joining the Dai Li as a means to that end. Regrettably, the city falls, and then Azula takes interest in him - and his recent Fire Nation ancestry does nothing to help matters.Tropes associated with Min include:
Annoying Older Sibling: Inverted, in that Min's terrified of, among other things, his little brother's Firebending and their family's Fire Nation ancestry, rightfully believing it's going to get everyone in the Wen household killed. This manifests in his bad attitude and he isn't afraid to show it.
Jerkass: Towards Zuko, and not without reason, of course, but still. Although he does get better eventually.
She's the perfect, pretty professor's daughter. She has all the right clothes and makeup, and the right manners. She participates in the right activities, like poetry, and would nver do anything so unladylike as Earthbending or (gasp!) fighting. There's absolutely nothing wrong with Jia, she's perfectly normal, and by extension, so is the rest of her family. Right? Wrong. Turns out Jia is as scared as Min about the wellbeing of the family, but instead of lashing out with words and actions like her brother, Jia hides everything and plays her part behind a courtly mask - and hopes to all the spirits no one will suspect to look behind it.Tropes associated with Jia include:
Ambadassador: Zuko plans to send her along with an older assistant to the Fire court. Jia is perfect for the role due to her ability to keep up a courtly mask and her demonstrated courage against Azula ought to earn her the new Fire Lord's respect.
Silk Hiding Steel: Especially evident when she gets the drop on Azula despite being frightened half to death.
Thirteen years old and staunch defender of her little brother, Suyin is the only one of her siblings who has no bending ability whatsoever. Despite this, she plans to learn as much as she can to protect him from any threats, even posing as a firebender if it means keeping him safe.Tropes associated with Suyin include:
Badass Normal: With her mother and Mai to look up to, she's in good company.
Big Sister Instinct: In a way that shows she's more attuned to Fire, though not as much as Jinhai.
The youngest child and son of the Wen family, Jinhai is a six year old with a familiar problem that Zuko helps with. (It's not the boy's temper.) Jinhai was born during Iroh's siege of Ba Sing Se, which, along with his mother's genes, may have influenced his abilities.Tropes associated with Jinhai include:
Children Are Innocent: Partially subverted, in that while Jinhai does know what's going on, his parents and siblings are trying to shield him from the worst. Especially Jet.
For Your Own Good: Zuko pulls this one on Jinhai. It's a harsh lesson, but one Jinhai does take to heart.
Another Dai Li agent, he first shows up when hunting a man-eating spirit loose in Ba Sing Se. During an interrogation session, said man-eating spirit arrives, possesses Amaya and proceeds to freeze him over. While two of his fellow agents are killed, Bon manages to hold on long enough for Zuko to save him. The methods Zuko uses, however, unwittingly give Bon the strength to break free of Azula's inner fire when she takes over. During the Fire Nation occupation, Bon acts as one of two advisors to the Earth King, concentrating mostly on the civilians and helping Kuei adjust to his rule.Tropes associated with Bon include:
The Matchmaker: For a brief period of time, much to Quan's amusement, Bon's extreme dismay, and Kuei's obliviousness. It's harder than usual, not just because she'll be a future royal consort, but as the girl must also meet certain spiritual requirements rarely found outside the Dai Li's own (male-only) ranks.
The Touzaikaze solve that problem - and create a few new ones - when they send in two of their own women as potential brides.
Squick: Bon's reaction to the possibility of having a relationship with a Joo Dee.
Those Two Guys: With Agent Quan, after being promoted to royal advisors.
Tear Jerker: He and the other Dai Li, for the most part, sacrifice everything they have and everything they could have been to serve their city and their king. That preclusion includes their own happiness, any chance of marriage and family.
"We give up everything for our city. Can't it give us something back?"
Formerly Long Feng's second in command, Quan finds himself promoted when Azula executes her coup. Unlike most of the other Dai Li, Quan's dealt with "Lee" before, and this encounter leaves him with just enough to resist Azula's will - and release the horrors the Dai Li kept contained in order to try and bring her down. The deed meant Quan having to break his Dai Li oaths - an act fatal to Earthbenders - and has him accepting death, believe he has nothing else to live for now that Long Feng is dead and Azula is now his master. Kuei has other ideas, and Quan is quickly made the king's advisor alongside Bon, carrying out Kuei's plans to resist the Fire Nation occupation.Tropes associated with Quan include:
Conflicting Loyalty: On the one hand, he swore to protect the city. On the other, Long Feng was his boss and leader and Quan wants revenge.
Born in the Northern Water Tribe, Amaya was a girl, a bender, and not the Avatar. As such, her family planned to marry her off to the first strong Waterbender who offered (Pakku was even a candidate). Sick of the politics and unwilling to marry anyone, Amaya took a page out of Kanna's book and bailed. She made it as far south as Ba Sing Se, and having been trained according to the North's customs, meant her skills as Healer were a valuable asset to the city. Soon after her arrival, she met and adopted Huojin, an action that would lead to three decades of hiding other Fire Nation refugees within Ba Sing Se's walls. Then Lee and Mushi came along...Tropes associated with Amaya include:
One of many Fire Nation soldiers tasked with occupying Ba Sing Se and attached to Huojin's old Guard detachment, Yakume hails from the Fire Nation domain of Onsenzakura. He does not like the Earth Kingdom, its people, or its ways. At all. That said, he's well aware that Ba Sing Se feels the same way towards him. His job is to keep the peace, and if it means working with the people who not too long ago would have speared him through and/or bury him alive (and might still do it given a chance), well, so be it.Tropes associated with Yakume include:
Booby Trap: Got caught in one, along with his men. Four went in, only two came out again.
Cultured Warrior: Knows a lot about the Earth Kingdom for a Fire Nation soldier. Justified, in that it makes his job easier.
Dangerous Workplace: Occupying a city's bad enough. Occupying the capital of your enemy is worse. And then there's the booby traps. Yeesh.
Mounted Combat: Was assigned a Komodo Rhino, the standard animal mount for Fire Nation ground forces.
Take This Job And Shove It: Averted; while he might feel that way, this isn't Yakume's first such stint, and it won't be last, because he knows that someone's got to do it.
And if it not him, then someone worse like the kind of soldier who's become all too commonplace under Ozai's rule
Urban Warfare: It's getting there. He's lost the men and got the marks to prove it. The Dai Li left in the city aren't sitting just around...
War Is Hell: Well aware of this. It's why he tries to work with the locals - the alternative is worse.
Won the War, Lost the Peace: Yes, Azula captured Ba Sing Se, finally putting the city under Fire Nation rule. Yes, the Dai Li are (mostly) under her command, and yes, the Earth Army leadership has been taken out. All of it means absolutely nothing when La Résistance fights back.
Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Holds himself, the City Guards and the occupying forces to that standard. Anyone who doesn't, Yakume promises to deal with personally.
The second-in-command aboard Jee's ship Suzuran with an almost terminal case of nerves, leading to quite literally explosive results and constant transfers as his commanding officers got sick of the antics. It's partly due to Sadao's paranoia, and partly because his natural talents, like Zuko's, lie more in wave-style Firebending. Since being introduced to fire-healing, Sadao's incidents have notably decreased.Tropes associated with Sadao include:
Butt Monkey/Running Gag: His previous commanders got so sick of Sadao's "antics" they usually ended up throwing him overboard.
Except when Sadao saved them the trouble by preemptively jumping ship. Good thing he can swim.
Doomed Defeatist: Subverted, in that he's still around, but he definitely had the defeatist attitude down pat in his earlier appearances. He got better once Zuko got him starting on healing.
Heal It With Fire: His strange affinity for external Firebending is great for changing a destructive flame into its healing form.
Healing Shiv: Other marines are less successful, as Imperial Firebending is taught around creating fire and letting its destructive nature pan out; not for handling anything (beyond extinguishing the unnecessary).
Lieutenant Newbie: While not new to the Navy (it's implied he's been in the service for a while now) Sadao is new to the whole command thing. Leads to...
The Apprentice: To Jee. Assuming Sadao lasts long enough to learn about command.
The Klutz/Having a Blast: He's no Combustion Man, but he has a "special" talent of accidentally blowing up things no one thinks actually could. This has wrecked his nerves for much of his life and the patience of most of his family. Before he could usher (further) havoc on his family's glass-blowing business, he was shipped off to war. In the wrong military branch. He was supposed to be headed for the Army, but ended up in the Marines, a place with less breathing room, making him more nervous and making his nervous detonations a concentrated problem.
28 years old and the female commander of the Suzuran's Marine contingent, Teruko is one of the few women in the Fire Nation military who isn't in the Home Guard. She hails from Byakko, Kuzon's former domain, and like Zuko, has draconian ancestry. She takes over teaching Jinhai and Shirong Firebending after the exodus from Ba Sing Se, Zuko being preoccupied with the bigger plan at the moment.Tropes associated with Teruko include:
Dope Slap: Pulls one on Sokka. He then realises she's a girl.
Semper Fi: If the above didn't make it clear, the quote below will.
"I," Teruko said in a voice that surfaced from the faceplate like magma, "am not a girl. I am not woman. I am not missy. I am not your little sweetheart who cuts up seal meat in the igloo kitchen, iceboy! I, am a Fire Navy marine."
Ranking non-commissioned officer of his squad, he does his job well. A widower of some years, he and his squad are the best Teruko's got.Tropes associated with Kyo include:
Dope Slap: He can do it without even seeming to move.
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Against the Earth Kingdom bandits who killed his family. It not only got him reassigned, but the rest of his squad too.
Private Fushi is among the younger marines onboard Suzuran, and aside from her CO Teruko, is the only other female Firebender stationed there. Hails from the capital, and is considered more "modern" compared to shipmates from places such as Byakko or Shu Jing. Despite this, she does seem to know more about the old Fire Nation customs and history than her fellow privates.Tropes associated with Fushi include:
The only one of the Marines who'd served on the Wani prior to his posting on the Suzuran, Sukekuni is familiar with Zuko's habits and has the grace to forewarn his teammates.Tropes associated with Sukekuni include:
Well over a hundred years old, Shidan was once Kuzon's dragon companion, and knew Aang before the war. Later on, during the genocide of the dragons, he opted to take human form and in this guise married Kuzon's daughter Kotone, becoming Ursa's father. He has, for many years, acted on behalf on Byakko's interests; he holds no loyalties to anyone in the Fire Nation outside that of his wife, useful when helping one's grandson rebel against the Fire Lord.Tropes associated with Shidan include:
Humanity Is Infectious: Subverted. He hasn't quite lost the dragon-like presence or the teeth. His speech mannerisms betray his struggling mastery of words and when Saoluan asks why the Fire Nation has to be filled with homicidal maniacs:
In life, Temul was a contemporary of Kyoshi. She survived the Avatar's hurricane that decimated her people and later tried to bring back the wave styles that had been lost. After her death, she remained as a ghost, allying herself with Kuzon and assisting in his plans. She wasn't privy to everything, though. The onmitsu found that out the hard way. Lived in Shu Jing, the same town Piandao calls home. Both were present at Kuzon's passing. After Piandao retired, he tried to help the area. Apparently, he suceeded well enough for Temul to adopt him. In chapter 54, she also adopts Sokka, as a form of were-gild from the Avatar for Kuzon's and her own deaths.Tropes associated with Temul include:
Berserk Button: The Avatar. Any Avatar. With Kyoshi's actions and Roku maintaining the status quo, Aang had better watch out...
Sozin's dragon companion, and later wife, she is grandmother to Iroh and Ozai, and great-grandmother to Zuko and Azula. A dark dragon and longtime ally of Koh, she is also the last known surviving dragon of the clan that once guarded the supervolcano Asagitatsu, the location of which was lost for generations. It was because there was no one able or willing to pacify the volcano that it last erupted, killing Avatar Yangchen and her yaoren in the initial blast, and countless others with the resulting ash fall. (A similar eruption took place 2000 years ago, according to archaeological findings; Asagitatsu's explosive eruptions tend to occur once every 1000 years, and the latest is presently a century overdue.) Like Shirotora, who has Clan Byakko to control it, Makoto's clan once served the same purpose for Asagitatsu - until they vanished for reasons unknown. Asagitatsu is discovered to be the volcano neighbouring the Northern Air Temple that Zuko plans to set up his colony of last resort, and luckily for the would-be settlers, two of Makoto's blood are there to make peace with the long-abandoned volcano. Whether they can succeed, or whether Makoto will allow it, remains to be seen.Tropes associated with Makoto include:
Death Faked for You/Faking the Dead: The first by claiming Makoto was killed, starting the tradition of dragon hunting, when in fact Makoto had taken the Shapeshifting Lover route to become Sozin's wife as Fire Lady Tejina. The latter happened after Sozin's death and the Shapeshifter Mode Lock on her human form ended - a badly charred human body was found in Tejina's chambers. A positive identification was never made, but everyone assumed Tejina had died. Seeing as how Makoto's still around, it's a good bet that the corpse was really that of a particularly unfortunate palace servant-turned-decoy.
She Who Must Not Be Seen: Has yet to make an appearance in person, despite indications that she should be at least somewhat aware of current events.
She makes her long-anticipated appearance in ch. 47.
It's Personal: Said to be her reaction to a member of Clan Byakko killing her son Azulon. They were already enemies on general principles (all dragons want dark dragons dead).
Fridge Brilliance/Fridge Horror: There is (potentially) another reason she helped instigate the current war - Asagitatsu's guardians were her clan. The Northern Air Temple was built right next door. Dragons are known to prey on sky bison. Did the Air Nomads at some point slaughter the Asagitatsu dragons in order to protect the bison? Did Makoto in turn encourage the genocide of the Air Nomads in part because of the loss of her clan? Was this the event that led to the schism and blood feud between the remmants of Clan Asagitatsu and the other dragons, and had Makoto urging Sozin to hunt all the rest down as revenge for her lost kin?
Alternately, that last one could also have occurred to prevent any other dragons from setting up shop on Mount Asagitatsu and pacifying it, taking the volcano's destructive power out of the equation - and given just what Asagitatsu is capable of unleashing, it's easy to see why Makoto and Koh fully intend to keep this ace up their sleeve.
Alternately again, it's possible that she killed her clan herself to ensure there was nobody around to hold the volcano back, or that her clan died off due to throwing a high number of dark dragons, which would oblige the other clans to attack them.
In Chapter 47, Avatar Yangchen's death brought ruin upon her clan. She actually traded her clan's domain to Wan Shi Tong in exchange for human knowledge.
Mayfly-December Romance: She was easily a thousand years older than Sozin when they married, and she's still alive and killing... Somewhere.
Tough Love: She does this to Azula to see if she is worthy of Sozin's and her (Asagitatsu's) line. Azula is not amused in the least. While Azula may not realize who she is (yet), it is highly doubted now that Azula will ever take her side.
An orphaned Water-tribe boy from Kyoshi island. He is 13 years of age, short, wields a katana, and after Yue steps in, he becomes the third yaoren (of Air and Water). Unlike Shirong and Zuko, Langxue was also a yaoren in previous lives.Tropes associated with Langxue include:
Reincarnation: Of Hyourin, one of Avatar Yangchen's yaoren friends. This isn't the first past life that Hyourin has had, however.
One of the older Kyoshi Warriors, and currently the longest-serving. Most of the Kyoshi Warriors are Suki's age because those who were Saoluan's died en masse fighting a giant leech some six years past. She acts as a sister/surrogate mother to Langxue, no one else wanting to take him in. Later accompanies him on his quest to find the other yaoren.Tropes associated with Saoluan include:
A black, female ostritch-horse whom Zuko healed. She has a nasty set of claws and an even worse temper. Previously belonged to Ping, who was first the victim of a Fire Nation raid, and then, when the repercussions of that became obvious, was murdered by her father and brothers. Her death unleashed the plague spirit that brings Zuko and Iroh to the ranch, who in turn get Asahi and bring her family's crimes to light.Tropes associated with Asahi include:
A tall silk weaver who hires Zuko to treat her grandmother's headache. Later, when 'Lee' manages to anger the older woman, Xiu thanks him for distracting her grandmother from complaining about her boyfriend. Both she and the aforementioned boyfriend return about 3 arcs later and play important roles as exposition bait and plot boosters, respectively.Tropes associated with Xiu:
My Eyes Are Up Here: with Zuko, who opens the door to glare at whoever's on the other side. It takes Zuko a second to realize that he's looking at breasts before he looks up, to see a wry look on Xiu's face.
A ghostly pair of boots (known as a Beto Beto) that walks behind people to creep them out, trip or kicks people when he's especially rowdy, and always wants to play fetch (kick-the-can style) with rocks or shamans.Tropes associated with Boots include:
Meaningful Name: Toph named him... Which, given the rest of the Gaang (Sokka in particular), was probably for the best, since spirits tend to reflect how spirits regard him. So, if Sokka sarcastically called him Doom Greeves: The Conquerer, Boots might have actually changed to fit that name. But that didn't happen, and chapters later (56), Sokka himself provides insight into Toph's naming of the spirit:
Sokka: "You like her because she's trouble," Sokka decided, eying the faint swirl of ashes above the sound of tapping toes. "Because she's loud and stubborn and she shakes the ground - and that scares people. Which is what you live to do. Aang thinks you're her friend, but - it's more of a partner in crime, isn't it?"
Child by Rape/Mixed Ancestry: Tao was the result after his mother was caught in the Fire Nation's initial invasion/attack of the Earth Kingdom city of Taku. Ping wasn't the only one; such atrocities have been ongoing since Sozin's time.
My God, What Have I Done?: Faces this after attempting to teach a naive Aang about the realities of war and the times they live in, Aang's reaction, and Hakoda having to set Tao straight that Aang really was that sheltered and knew absolutely nothing at all about how life isfor everyone.
A young woman of the surviving Air Nomad tribe, the Touzaikaze. She is an air-healer. She heals Tennen, and goes with Amisi to meet Kuei. Due to Kuei's banishment of Wan Shi Tong, the Touzaikaze offer her and Amisi as potential brides to the Earth King. Tropes associated with Eshe include:
Meaningful Name: If this troper didn't know any better, her name sounds like Asia.
Actually, it sounds like Aisha, Prophet Muhammad's third (and supposedly favorite) wife.
And by Word of God, it actually means "life" in Ancient Egyptian. Having a spiritually strong queen might just be vital for the survival of Ba Sing Se.
Ninja: She and Amisi infiltrate Kuei's hiding place through the air shafts. Bon and Quan don't notice until the girls are right there in front of them.
What Beautiful Eyes: Understatement. Kuei has to think very hard on an appropriate metaphor before settling for something brief.
Sometimes, Kuei was really glad he wore glasses. If he'd stared right into those earnest gray eyes without any shield... well, he wasn't sure what he would have done. She was just - well - pretty didn't fit, not really. The noble ladies of Ba Sing Se were pretty. Looking at Eshe was like sneaking to a palace window to watch a thunderstorm roll in. Tasting the wind, and knowing it came from somewhere else. Seeing the gray slant of a downpour far across the city, long before the rain could dampen palace stone... "Your eyes are like the rain."
A female sandbender of the Touzaikaze. She helps Yakume and Lu-shan get Tennen out of a rock-slide and later, goes with Eshe to meet Kuei. She and Eshe are sent from their tribe to offer alliance with the Earth King.Tropes associated with Amisi include:
Ninja: She and her cousin infiltrate Kuei's hiding place through the air-shafts. Bon and Quan don't notice until the girls are right in front of them.
Pair the Spares: Possibly with Bon. Although Kuei could marry her as well as Eshe, he's noticed that Amisi and Bon might be falling in love, and he has no intention of marrying Amisi if it would make her miserable.
One of the adult male members of the Touzaikaze. He is uncle to Amisi and Eshe.
One of the male members of the Touzaikaze. He is cousins with Amisi and Eshe.
An ex-Onmitsu known as the Demon of Taku who deserted Sozin's forces & was hiding out in the Western Air Temple shortly before Sozin's attack on the air nomads.
One of Aang's fellow monks at the Southern Air Temple. His name is mentioned in chapter 37 by Kuzon. In chapter 54, his name is mentioned again, via Temul's flashback, and is confirmed by Aang himself to have trained the Onmitsu, the airbenders who killed Kuzon.
Ascended Extra: He was the one monk during the canon episode "The Storm" who told Aang that because he was the Avatar, it would be unfair for him to play on any team.
Poisonous Friend: "That's the only way it's fair." Chilling. Though, Ja Aku doesn't seem to be very attached to Aang. His fanaticism with keeping airbenders spiritual, however...
Posthumous Character: Kuzon was pretty old when he mentioned Ja Aku, so it's safe to say that he may be dead.
Evil Mentor: He had something to do with the incident in Shu Jing where the onmitsu, trained by Ja Aku, whom Aang said himself had trained them, turned on Kuzon and killed him.
A merchant for Byakko under Shidan's orders. She's one of the prisoners that Hama captured. Toph breaks her and the rest of the prisoners out. With Toph's Earthsense, we learn that she is one of the members of the Yamabushi, the mountain sages living in the Fire Nation.
Badass Normal: She works for Shidan. Going undercover like that takes guts. Especially when getting captured by Hama.
Blow You Away: Averted. She's an Air Nomad, but not an airbender. She's a descendant of one, perhaps.
Genre Savvy: The yamabushi know who the Avatar's been travelling with. Hitomi knows that Aang is not yet ready to accept certain truths outside of what he's been taught, so it's best that he finds his own Way before the mountain sages ever make themselves known to him.
Warrior Monk: She's part of the yamabushi's order, but she's moonlighting as a spy for Shidan.
No Time to Explain: Her fear of Avatar Aang the "Temple child" is palpable, and tells Toph why she can't meet Aang:
"So long as Monk Aang lives, the Temple lives. The Elders were talking to Monk Gyatso before... before the war. But his apprentice wasn't old enough to find his Way. We aren't to speak of the morning wind until he is." "His way?" Toph frowned. "It's... important," Hitomi said carefully. "When you're old enough to ask questions. And think of your own answers."
One of Lituya Bay's inhabitants. Shidan's youngest child, and a firebender like her elder sister, Ursa. She helps Zuko to his feet in the latest chapter.
A male waterbender of Lituya Bay, formerly of the Southern Water Tribe. Unable to return home knowing he would spread a Hate Plague, he and some of the prisoners who survived Hama's breakout ended up in Lituya Bay. There, he met his wife, Karasu of Byakko, and had four children with her.
Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Or at least unable to associate with Water Tribals. Even decades later, he and every other escapee has to watch their tempers around Hakoda and the other sheltering Tribesmen or they'll infect them with the Hate Plague they contracted in Azulon's waterbender prison.
Hate Plague: He and all other survivors of the waterbender prison are carriers.