Fan Fic: The Fall Of The Fire Empire
Avatar: The Fall of the Fire Empire
is an Avatar: The Last Airbender
fanfic by contributor Master Ghandalf
who surprisingly also wrote the Azula Trilogy
. It's an AU story in which Aang was quickly defeated at some point in season one
, and the Fire Nation took over the world and became the Fire Empire. Several decades later, an elderly Azula still rules the Empire with an iron fist as the Dragon Empress, with the Earth Kingdom completely enslaved and the Water Tribes reduced to a few scattered villages. In this dark future, we follow three main viewpoint characters, one from each of the remaining nations:
Jiazin is the daughter of the governor of Long Du Shi (formerly Ba Sing Se), and almost as much of a teenage firebending prodigy as Azula. She is summoned to the Empress' palace for a mysterious mission, but soon finds herself a pawn for both Azula and her spymaster Qing Xi.
Tong is an earthbending slave who rebels and kills his master, then falls in with other rebels who hide out in the tunnels under Lake Laogai.
Kanoda has spent his life listening to the tragic heroic legends of Sokka and Katara, and decides to go off himself to become a hero. But he finds it's not as easy as it sounds when he's captured by the Chosen, Azula's elite order of female warriors.
These three storylines gradually draw closer together as the heroes learn of each other's presence, and work together to finally overthrow the Fire Empire. Naturally, appearances by canon characters are relatively rare, but the OCs here are all very good in their own right, and the story is complex and full of plot twists that will keep you engaged.
Now has a sequel, Legacy of the Fire Empire
. Five years after the fall, Kanoda and Avatar Aang
must deal with the aftermath and a new threat.
Be sure to add tropes as you see them.
(N.B. Be WARNED that there will most likely come to be Late Arrival SPOILERS
in the Sequel's trope section, particularly as time goes on and it becomes harder to hide aspects of the first story's plot.)
The author has now completed a "special edition" with revision and commentary. It can be found here
Avatar: The Fall of the Fire Empire contains examples of:
- Action Girl: Jiazin and Chaiy are the two most notable. Even Yue is capable of handling herself in a fight, though she doesn't like it.
- Affably Evil: Qing Xi.
- Alas, Poor Villain: Shiyan, who sinks into catatonia after accidentally killing the person she was raised to see as a living god.
- Amazon Brigade: The Chosen; they even have their base on the former Kyoshi Island. In fact, Azula was inspired to create them after her first encounter with the Kyoshi Warriors in this timeline.
- Though he isn't prominent until the later stages of the story, High General Xia is quickly established as being a Noble Punch Clock Villain who is both loyal to the Fire Empire and highly honourable - a sharp contrast to Qing Xi and Yuan.
- Cheng, thanks to being less cruel than the other Chosen (and her frequent Butt Monkey tendencies), comes off as somewhat endearing rather than scary in her desire to follow the Chosen's purpose, and yet she actually pulls off the "villain" part when she kills Shu Bei Fong as a result of said loyalty. It's really not hard to feel for her even from the start.
- Anyone Can Die
- Ascended Extra: Some characters, notably Jiazin's father and Cheng, were originally conceived as bit parts who grew into larger roles as the story progressed.
- Awesome Moment of Crowning: Jiazin
- Badass Grandma:
- Azula. Even at over a hundred, she's still the single most dangerous individual on the planet.
- Toph was revealed to have been one as well, being Shu and Chaiy's ancestor, and almost succeeding in killing the Dragon Empress herself.
- And Yue though she doesn't look it.
- Badass Normal:
- All the Chosen (who are forbidden from firebending even if they have the ability - Azula's smart enough that she doesn't run the risk of creating another her).
- Kanoda although he's usually Overshadowed by Awesome.
- Big Bad: Azula
- Big Bad Wannabe: Yuan
- Book Ends: The Prologue of this story is a Scribed message written by former Earth King Kuei during his final days, offering his encouragement to those who believe in hope and peace. The Epilogue is scribed by Fire Lord Jiazin 5 years after her coronation, reaffirming that hope has indeed returned to the world.
- Butt Monkey: The universe really doesn't like Cheng.
- The Caligula: Azula
- Climax Boss: There's one at the end of each major arc (or 'Book'). Noteworrthy locations, too:
- Book 1: Gian, fought at the Rebel Base at Lake Laogai.
- Book 2: Admiral Yuan, fought at the N.W.T. City Ruins.
- Book 3: Dragon Empress Azula, fought on her warship, not far from Long Du Shi.
- Co-Dragons: Directly beneath Azula is her inner circle, who are all roughly equal; High Minister Qing Xi, High Admiral Yuan, High General Xia and the Mistress of the Chosen. There is also Zhi, the Chosen who acts as Azula's personal bodyguard and attendant.
- Companion Cube: Subverted. Like Sokka, Kanoda has a boomerang he greatly values, and helps him out of a tight spot. Unlike Sokka, he loses it early on and never finds it again.
- The Consigliere: Qing Xi is nearly as smart as Azula, far less charismatic, and decidedly more rational, which puts him in the position of being the one whose cool logic backs up her grand schemes. It's also why, when she goes completely off the deep end, she takes pains to hide her plans from him, since she knows he wouldn't stand for it. Technically this is part of the High Ministers job; most of them end up getting too pushy about it and get themselves fired... literally. The fact that QX has lasted as long as he has speaks to his competence.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Gian's - which involves being stabbed through the chest by a sword wreathed in blue fire, and being burned alive from within.
- Cruel Mercy:
- After Yue/Tui destroys Yuan's fleet, she lets him live to wallow in his failure and insignificance. Unfortunately for him, Shiyan is much less merciful.
- And at the end of the story Jiazin's first act as Fire Lord is to force Qing Xi into retirement as punishment for collaborating with the majority of Azula's crimes.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Yue can temporarily call on a larger amount of the Moon Spirit's power, effectively creating a mini-Avatar State- but it's horribly hard on her body, and ultimately kills her.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy:
- Gian, at least until Jiazin unexpectedly pulls out the blue fire and incinerates him.
- And Azula, of course. Of course, as in canon, she may also have traces of Wrong Genre Savvy - whatever variables she'd considered, she certainly didn't take into account being offed by one of her own Undyingly Loyal Chosen.
- Dark Action Girl: All of the Chosen, with Shiyan as their main representative.
- Deuteragonist: Kanoda; Jiazin is the protagonist and Tong is the tritagonist.
- Doorstopper: This one story is about as long as the entire Azula Trilogy, though it is divided into three acts that each have their own climaxes.
- Enemy Civil War: Azula's master plan invokes this; she sends identical messages to every high-ranking officer in her army and navy, telling them that they, and they alone, are to rule as regent until her (nonexistent) heir can be revealed. She knows that this will lead to every one of those officers fighting each other for control, thus plunging the Empire into a war that will destroy the world.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Governor Yan Li (Jiazin's father), General Xia and High Minister Qing Xi.
- Everyone Calls Her Mistress: The Mistress of the Chosen doesn't use her own real name, having completely surrendered her entire identity to Azula.
- Evil Counterpart: Meta-example. Shiyan was designed to be, essentially, an evil Suki with elements of Azula mixed in. Doesn't come up in-story, though, since Suki is dead, and likely has been for a while.
- Evil Versus Oblivion: High Minister Qing Xi is not what anyone would call a good person but that doesn't mean he wants Azula to destroy the Fire Empire with her death.
- Five-Bad Band:
- Five-Man Band (the most clear one):
- Flaming Sword: Jiazin can wreath her sword in fire as Gian found out to his misfortune.
- Generation Xerox: Yuan is very much like his grandfather Zhao, if a bit more unstable. Justified, since Zhao is a legendary "hero" of the Empire is this AU, and all his family have lived in his shadow - Yuan is trying to almost literally out-Zhao Zhao!
- Heel-Face Turn: Jiazin, High General Xia, Governor Yan Li.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Yue, to ultimately liberate the Moon and Ocean Spirits.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Azula is finally killed not by one of her actual enemies, but by one of her most loyal Chosen, Shiyan.
- Hot-Blooded: Chaiy, though when you consider what's been done to her people it's hard to blame her.
- Humans Are Bastards: At least Azula thinks so; she sees herself as the Only Sane Woman in a world where everyone else refuses to acknowledge that they are evil and would turn on each other in a heartbeat.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Cheng, in contrast to the more experienced and ruthless Shiyan. Then she kills Shu Bei Fong ...
- In the Blood: Averted. Toph's descendants are earthbenders, but aren't anywhere near as powerful as she was.
- Katanas Are Just Better: The Chosen, like the Kyoshi Warriors, use katanas (though unlike the KWs, they don't bother with fans). Subverted in that Jiazin, despite being a wealthy and high-ranking noble, uses a straight-edged sword instead.
- Kill It with Fire: How Jiazin kills Gian - the description of his death is quite scary, too.
- Knight Templar: The Chosen are a particularly disturbing example; they're raised from birth to unquestioningly view Azula as an absolute god who can never be wrong, and fully see themselves as heroes for doing her will.
- La Résistance: The Earth Kingdom rebels, led by Toph's grandson Shu Bei Fong and his daughter, Chaiy.
- Last of His Kind: Well, Last of Her Kind, rather - Yue is both the only known survivor of the Northern Water Tribe, and the only Waterbender in the world because of her close connection to the Moon Spirit.
- Legacy Character: Apparently Qing Xi and Azula's plan is to create the fiction that Azula is immortal by having Jiazin "become" her by hiding behind her robes and mask. Turns out Azula has other plans, and the whole Legacy Character scheme was just a distraction for QX.
- Medieval Stasis: Justified. While taking place in an era analogous to The Legend of Korra, technology has barely advanced from what was around in the original series. It's eventually revealed that the imprisonment of the Moon and Ocean Spirits unintentionally trapped the natural world in social and technological stasis because of the disruption to the Balance of all things. The world can only get worse but not better until the Spirits are freed.
- Mercy Kill: Apparently, when an aged Ozai descended into senile madness, Azula smothered him with a pillow — according to Qing Xi, it was the only merciful act of her life.
- Mystical White Hair: Yue, which signifies that like her canon counterpart, she's been touched by the Moon Spirit.
- Nietzsche Wannabe: Azula is a borderline example.
- Noble Demon: High General Xia.
- Non-Action Guy: Shu Bei Fong, as stated above, is more of a planner, negotiator and leader than a warrior.
- No Name Given: Jiazin's father is not given a name (Yan Li) until about 2/3 of the way into the story. Justified in that he usually appeared from Jiazin's Third Person Singular POV until that point.
- Not So Different: Jiazin and Azula, or at least Jiazin fears particularly after developing the ability to create blue fire.
- Not Quite Dead: Aang.
- Omnicidal Maniac: Azula may have accepted the reality of her own impending death - but that doesn't mean she's not planning to drag as much of civilization as she can down with her.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: Like Sokka before him, Kanoda is a skilled fighter, but he has a hard time measuring up against the benders, trained-from-birth fanatics, and spirits he finds himself mixed up with.
- Pillar of Light: When the Moon and Ocean Spirits are freed.
- The President's Daughter: Jiazin is literally the daughter of the Governor of Long Du Shi (aka Ba Sing Se). Subverted in that she is a major (arguably the main) character in her own right, rather than just because of her social status.
- The Quiet One: Tong
- Really 700 Years Old: Yue
- Rebel Leader: Shu Bei Fong is the ultimate head of the rebellion; since he's not much of a fighter, his Action Girl daughter Chaiy actually leads the rebels in the field.
- Sacrificial Lion: Shu Bei Fong
- Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training: The Chosen are trained from childhood to be the ultimate living weapons. Not incidentally, most of them have no grasp of ordinary human social skills or interaction, which is reflected in their overly-formal, somewhat stilted speech patterns. Of course, this is only to be expected when Azula designed the training program...
- Sealed Good in a Can: Tui and La, held captive by the Fire Empire since the destruction of the Northern Water Tribe.
- Sequel Hook: Most of the main plot is wrapped up, but we still don't know what happened to Cheng, and the epilogue mentions that strange cults have started to spring up in parts of the former Empire, worshipping a deified Azula, while Aang is Walking the Earth to help restore peace and balance, aided by Kanoda.
- It seems these will be picked up in the sequel; see below.
- Shout-Out: The author is a big fan of The Lord of the Rings (as evidenced by his username), and it shows in chapter titles like "The Board is Set" and "The Deep Breath Before the Plunge." And there's possibly a thematic one in the climax, as just like Sauron/the One Ring, Azula has become such an absolute evil that none of the heroes are able to defeat her, and she can only be stopped by a random twist of fate.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Close to the middle, but tilted more in idealism's favour despite the darkness - while the fic was a Work-in-Progress, the author even admitted in his fanfiction.net profile to being "an optimist at heart" and that he expected a hopeful ending.
- Smug Snake: Admiral Yuan, the granson of Zhao who continues the family's tradition quite nicely.
- The Sociopath: Gian, and possibly Yuan. Azula has some sociopathic traits, as per canon, but here that doesn't really even begin to cover how disturbed she is.
- Spanner in the Works: Shiyan, through a rather cruel yet fortunate twist of fate.
- Spiritual Successor: In general, the fic was written as a thematic counterpoint to the main series, using the same setting in a different time period, and similar character archetypes with different twists. In particular, several characters parallel canon characters' arcs, personalitiles, or abilities:
- Jiazin = Zuko + some Mai
- Kanoda = Sokka + Katara
- Tong = Toph
- Aang = Aang
- Yue = elements of herself and Aang
- Qing Xi= Long Feng made successful
- Yuan = Zhao
- Shiyan = Azula + Evil!Suki
- Cheng = Ty Lee + Evil!Suki
- Azula = Herself + Ozai
- Chaiy = Jet + Toph
- Gian = Combustion Man + Jun
- Standard Evil Empire Hierarchy:
- The Emperor: Dragon Empress Azula
- The Right Hand: The Mistress of the Chosen
- The General: High General Xia
- The Guard: High Admiral Yuan
- The Oddball: High Minister Qing Xi
- Supporting Leader: Chaiy, Tong, and High General Xia during the Final Battle, as they take on the Imperial army and Chosen while Jiazin, Kanoda, and Avatar Aang go after Azula herself.
- Thanatos Gambit: After Azula accepts that she's going to die, she figures she'll take as many people as possible with her, but in a way that will result in her being remembered as a martyr who tried to stop those deaths while the real heroes will be seen as the ones responsible.
- Theme Naming: Azula's inner circle, the Mistress of the Chosen excepted, are all named for historical or legendary Chinese dynasties.
- Those Two Bad Guys: Shiyan and Cheng
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: After Jiazin allies with the rebels, she and Chaiy are often contrasted, though it's more like Lady of War and Cute Bruiser.
- Touched by Vorlons: Yue, made an immortal and extremly skilled waterbender by the Moon Spirit.
- Tragic Monster: Though YMMV, Azula at least has vibes of this.
- Two Lines, No Waiting: The story is split quite nicely between its three plot threads, which also becomes less and less of an issue as they get closer together. Even scenes without any of the three heroes are all about something that has a direct impact on at least one of them.
- Tykebomb: The Chosen, as noted above - they're raised from infancy to be Azula's ultimate warrior-servants.
- Undying Loyalty: The Chosen, towards Azula.
- Unperson: Zuko - after his death, his very existence was struck from the official records and history, with him only appearing in some private documentations. Upon reading them, Jiazin is horrified.
- Villainous Breakdown:
- We essentially meet Azula in the middle of one, as she is finally forced to face her own old age, the one enemy she can't possibly defeat.
- And Yuan seriously cracks after the Moon and Ocean spirits are stolen back by Yue, which dissolves into a Villainous BSOD after she destroys his fleet.
- Shiyan is seriously put off her game when Cheng starts questioning her role as a Chosen, and goes into a full BSOD when she accidentally kills Azula.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: We never found out what happened to Cheng, after Shiyan released her.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Narrated by Jiazin in the historical records.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Kanoda at first. He becomes more straightforwardly Genre Savvy with Character Development.
- You Killed My Father: Cheng assasinates Shu Bei Fong, much to Chaiy's grief and rage, and Tong has to reason with her to prevent an execution. She is able to prioritise her duties, thankfully.
Legacy of the Fire Empire contains examples of:
- Amnesiac Dissonance: Shiyan, when her memory starts to return, is initially horrified. Then her old personality fully reasserts itself, and she has no problem going back to killing.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Li Shang and Aitan
- Big Bad Wannabe: Wei and his Dragon Sho, hold several children hostage so they can force Fire Lord Jiazin to step down from her throne, and bring back the Fire Empire. When Kanoda throws a spear at them, they make the mistake of sending out the soldiers leaving themselves unguarded. Kanoda then acts as a diversion, while Avatar Aang ambushes the soldiers when they come back and promptly knocks out Wei and Sho.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Aitan has apparently learned to use a version of Ty Lee's chi blocking in order to induce great pain.
- Demoted to Extra: Jiazin, The Hero in the first story, will be reduced to supporting character according to Word of God. Given that he wants the other major characters to shine this time, the decision is not necessarily a bad one.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler/Trailers Always Spoil: Unsurprisingly, the sequel's summary spoils that Aang is alive, Walking the Earth and the (apparent) central character; not to mention the cults. Right now, avoiding the author's profile is the best way to avoid spoiling oneself about this, but avoiding the summary whilst browsing helps as well.
- The Paralyzer: Aitan
- Religion of Evil: Aitan's Azula worshipping cult.
- Reverse Mole: Zai, one of Aitan's acolytes, is actually a spy for the Chanjienote rebellion.
- Shipper on Deck: Aang seems to ship Jiazin/Kanoda.
- Time Skip: Five years, pretty much picking up where the story left off in the epilogue.