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Fan Fic / Azula Trilogy

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The Azula Trilogy is a series of Avatar: The Last Airbender Fan Fics by TV Tropes contributor Master Ghandalf, who also wrote The Fall of the Fire Empire and Destinies Rewritten. It deals with the eponymous character's attempt to return to sanity and make sense of the ruin of her life following the events of the series Grand Finale.

The first fic, Heart of Fire, picks up a year after the events of Sozin's Comet. The world is largely at peace, Zuko is Fire Lord, and Azula has been in a catatonic state in a mental hospital ever since her Villainous Breakdown. Fate, however, still has plans for her, as the fanatical Fire Nation General Azun refuses to accept that the War is over, and decides to use Azula as the ideal ruler for a renewed conquest. Coming out of her catatonia, Azula escapes from his men but has no solid memories of her former life, falling in with a pair of peasant siblings as she searches for her identity. Meanwhile, Zuko moves to confront Azun, while a dark power watches and waits from the sidelines.


The story continues in Path of Fire, and comes to a conclusion in Soul of Fire .

Note: Master Ghandalf is revising the entire trilogy. The revision of Heart of Fire is complete as of 2/18/2016. Path of Fire has been revised through Chapter 1 as of 3/12/2016.

This work contains examples of:

  • Amnesiac Dissonance: Averted. Azula's personality is largely the same with or without her memories, though she's somewhat less ruthless and manipulative, and she's completely fine with who she was. It's later that she starts questioning things.
  • An Ice Person: Ilook favors ice-based waterbending moves.
  • Aura Vision: Ty Lee; the fic goes with the idea that it is, in fact, an actual ability she has, and is part of the reason she's so good at chi-blocking.
  • Badass Bystander: Zhung, Ling and Joti's father is a retired veteran of the Fire Nation army.
  • Badass Family: Azula, Zuko, Iroh and Ursa.
  • Bad Boss: Ilook when he had some henchmen.
  • Balance Between Good and Evil:What ultimately does Zhan Zheng in in the end is the simple truth that War, by its very nature creates a desire for peace, thus correcting the balance of the world and making is goal of unending war impossible. When Azula informs it of this truth, it causes Zhan Zheng to doubt itself, weakening it enough to allow Aang to banish it.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: The final fight against Zhan Zheng.
  • Benevolent Boss: General Azun, who is widely beloved by his followers.
  • Big Bad: Zhan Zheng, the Spirit of War for the whole trilogy, though Azun and Wei Ming were the primary antagonists of the first and second stories, respectively.
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  • Bittersweet Ending: The epilogue.
  • Brainwashed: Wei Ming is suffering the aftereffects of this.
  • Broken Bird: Wei Ming. Her village and mother burned to the ground by the Fire Nation, forced to live in poverty in Ba Sing Se, imprisoned by the Dai Li after her father rebels against them, turned into a Joo Dee, and left immobile in a Lake Laogai cell for god knows how long while Joo Dee-afied. Needless to say, when Zhan Zheng joins with her, she becomes the walking embodiment of revenge. She becomes so consumed by it that she forgets her own real name and much of her old life, only remembering them while moments from death.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Azula cannot firebend during most of Heart.
  • Breaking Speech: Various characters do them but Azula's to Zhan Zheng is the most notable.
    • "You are a lie."
  • The Brute: Jian Chin.
  • Chessmaster: Azula herself, Azun, the Governor of Janxing, Long Feng, Wei Ming, and Zhan Zheng all play at varying levels of skill throughout.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Ty Lee. Joti can also be a bit of one at times, and Ilook varies between being an evil version of this and a full-on psychopath.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Ilook invented a waterbending move that's basically an inverted healing, functioning as "lay-on-hands, instant pain". He's rather fond of using it, too...
  • Continuation: Continues the storyline of the series, though shifts the focus to Azula.
  • The Corrupter: Zhan Zheng.
  • Criminal Amnesiac: Azula in most of Heart.
  • Cruel Mercy: Villainous example: Azula sees letting the Governor live when she could easily kill him as the perfect humiliation. Given that she was still a long way from her Heel–Face Turn at the time, she probably meant it.
  • Dark Action Girl: Wei Ming and Azula when she regained her firebending and sided with Azun.
  • Demonic Possession: Zhan Zheng is fond of this one.
  • Determinator: Azula, especially in the finale of Path.
  • Deuteragonist: While Azula is the main protagonist of the whole series, Zuko is the deuteragonist in Heart and Aang in Soul.
  • Distant Finale: The epilogue of Soul of Fire takes place decades after the main events of the series. Possibly far enough into the future that any follow ups could coincide with Legend Of Korra.
  • The Dragon: Ki Mong to Azun, Bhan to the Governor, Xang to Jian Chin, and Jian Chin to Zhan Zheng.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending
  • Easily Forgiven: Averted, the only one who lets Azula off the hook easy is Ty Lee (largely because as Mai points out, Ty Lee likes everybody).
  • Easy Amnesia: Azula still has some of her memories, but not enough to make sense of her life. She remembers everything near the climax of Heart and stays that way.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Wei Ming, so much.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Zhan Zheng could be seen as this, though he's a bit more knowingly malevolent than most; Koh, of course, is a straight example.
  • Enemy Mine: Azula and Aang versus Zhan Zheng at the climax.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Learning how to comprehend good is an extended process Azula has to go through. Zhan Zheng, though, never learns.
  • Evil Gloating: Long Feng dodges this, but can't resist going for the Ironic Echo.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Long Feng learns this the hard way after dealing with Wei Ming. Jian Chin's partnership with Zhan Zheng doesn't end well either.
  • Evil Is Petty: Ilook attacks Azula a second time not because it would be useful to his employer (it isn't) but simply for besting him in combat.
  • Evil Overlord: Jian Chin is a passive one until he meets Zhan Zheng.
  • Eviler Than Thou: The confrontation between Azula and Azun in Heart.
  • Final Battle: The Battle of the Earth Kingdom Royal Palace in Soul, with three notable mini-battles ocurring roughly simultaenously: Zuko and Mai vs. Xang, Katara vs. Ilook, and Aang and Azula vs. Zhan Zheng.
  • Forever War:Zhan Zheng's ultimate goal. Azula defeats it by explaining that the very nature of War makes this impossible.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Wei Ming is one of the brainwashed Joo Dees, given supernatural powers by Zhan Zheng.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Azula's Ozai and Ursa hallucinations play these roles in "Path of Fire"- somewhat subverted in that they never appear together. The Ozai hallucination goes away after Azula delivers a Shut Up, Hannibal! to it, and the Ursa one when she meets up with the actual Ursa.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Azula got a 'good' one in the end of Path.
  • Healing Hands: Ursa has a firebending version of this power. Katara, of course, has the waterbending version, and Ilook can do this too, though he prefers reversing it.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The whole plot is basically one for Azula.
  • Hero Killer: Wei Ming and Zhan Zheng-possessed Jian Chin. Ironically, Hero Killers created to pose a serious threat to Azula, a Hero Killer herself.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Ilook's torture technique is essentially a corrupted healing. When Katara fights him, she tries to use a true healing technique to counter it. It...ends up doing a lot more than she expected. He loses control of his own powers, stumbles into a pool of water and promptly liquefies.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Zhan Zheng's true form. The ones he possesses, particularly Wei Ming, give off this vibe too.
  • Ironic Echo: Invoked by Long Feng when (he thinks) he has Azula at his mercy.
    "Aren't you going to gloat? Tell me how you've triumphed and how feeble I am before I expire?"
    "No. I'll just tell you what you told me a year ago: you weren't ever a player. Not in this game."
    "You could have at least come up with your own line."
  • I Was Beaten by a Girl: Ilook (The fact that she was 15 doesn't help.)
  • Karma Houdini: The Governor of Janxing is still alive and scheming after his final appearance, though considering his age Karma might probably be catching up to him sooner than later. Hasn't yet, though.
    • Inverted in Sozin's case who seems at first to avoid any punishment for his crimes. In a notable scene, Azula meets her great-grandfather and he reveals her that in the afterlife he is punished more than any other human being. Zhan Zheng also thinks he's going to get away clean... until Koh comes along, that is.
  • Karmic Death: Long Feng, Ozai, and Ilook all get them.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Zhan Zheng's ultimate fate. After Aang and Azula banish him back to the Spirit World, where does he end up? Koh's lair. After he gives Zhan Zheng a reason you suck speech and explains that it was he who gave Azula the knowledge to beat him, you can do the math on what happens next.
  • Killed Off for Real: Ozai and Long Feng. Both by the same person, no less.
  • Knife Nut: Mai (of course), Wei Ming.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Azula isn't interested in going up against a fully realized Avatar, and decides against fighting Aang.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Both Azun and Wei Ming were being controlled by Zhan Zheng.
  • Mama Bear: Ursa doesn't particularly like Azula, but she does love her, as anyone foolish enough to attack Azula in front of her will find out.
  • Meaningful Name: Azula used Yujin (a variation on the Chinese word for ember) as her alias when she could neither remember who she is nor was able to firebend. Also "Wei Ming" means "Twilight", according to an online Chinese translator.
  • Mugging the Monster: When Azula's ship is raided by Captain Shang and his pirate crew. Subverted in that Shang's side actually WINS at first thanks in large part to Ilook and their larger numbers, but Azula's iron will and Wei Ming's interference turn the tide in the end.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Were it not for the intervention of Zhan Zheng and its pawns, Azula would almost certainly have never been put into a position to regain her sanity and execute a Heel–Face Turn. Ties in to Azula's Breaking Speech at the end about how Zhan Zheng is self-defeating.
  • Noble Fugitive: In Heart.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The final battle between Azula and Wei Ming. Wei Ming doesn't walk away. Azula does, but only barely.
    • The fight between Azula and General Akai's Royal Firebenders.
  • No-Sell: Wei Ming can choose to deflect most bending (it works best with firebending, isn't that hot at stopping earth, and is somewhere in between on the others), though if it's powerful enough like lightning, it can still do damage.
  • Not So Different: Azula with Wei Ming and Zhan Zheng
  • Not Quite Dead: Jian Chin at the end of Path.
  • Haunted Castle: The Obsidian Citadel.
  • Oh, Crap!: After Azula first regains her memories. She only regains them partially, namely nothing regarding her downfall, effectively making her into her evil Book 2 version. She proceeds to mercilessly kill Akai's men, toss Ling, Joti and Akai into prison, and side with Azun. This, thankfully for everyone's sake, doesn't last long.
  • Old Master: What Azula ultimately became per the epilogue of Soul.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Any powerful bender who is possesed by Zhan Zheng.
  • Physical God: Zhan Zheng can turn people into this, for a price...
  • Posthumous Character: Ozai in Path of Fire.
  • Psycho for Hire: Ilook.
  • Psychological Torment Zone: Azula's whole Spirit World journey in Soul of Fire.
  • The Power of Friendship: Ling and Joti's, and later Ty Lee's, genuine friendship helps pull Azula back from the brink.
  • Purple Eyes: Wei Ming has these, though people tend to find them (coupled with the rest of her appearance) to be eerie rather than attractive. The odd color is actually a sign that she's spirit-touched.
  • Quest for Identity: Azula's main goal in Heart.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Azula gives Azun one in the climax of Heart, calling him an idiot for actually believing the official propaganda, and a weakling for needing to justify his action to himself and give him purpose.
  • The Remnant: Azun's "Army of the Rising Flame" and the Dai Li agents who are still loyal to Long Feng.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Wei Ming is on one.
  • Scars Are Forever: It's implied that the scar in Azula's face is such a one.
  • Seppuku: Azun's way to end his life.
  • Shadow Archetype: Several of the main villains reflect aspects of Azula's own nature, be it Azun's Fire Nation nationalism, the Governor and Long Feng's cold-blooded Chessmastery; Ilook has Azula's Ax-Crazy without her smarts or self-control; Wei Ming is a similarly deadly, unnerving warrior who comes from a different nation and the opposite social class - and she's a shadow-themed character pitted against a fire-themed character to boot!
  • Slasher Smile: Ilook.
  • Smug Snake: Jian Chin, Bhan. Long Feng, as per canon, sits right on the borderline between Smug Snake and Magnificent Bastard.
  • The Sociopath: Ilook. The trilogy takes the view that the title character herself is not one, though she does have tons of issues and can act sociopathically at times, particularly early on.
  • Spanner in the Works: Ilook's petty attempts to gain vengeance on Azula indirectly result in her gaining the knowledge to defeat Zhan Zheng.
  • Spirit World: Plays a major role in Soul.
  • The Starscream: Bhan to the Governor.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Wei Ming does this a lot, to Long Feng and Jian Chin's annoyance.
  • Stepford Smiler: Ilook almost always wears a creepy and sadistic grin. Truly piss him off, however, and it becomes a feral sneer.
  • Storming the Castle: The finale of each part.
  • Supporting Leader: Aang in Heart of Fire and Zuko in Soul.
  • Those Two Guys: Ling and Joti.
  • Time Skip: Heart of Fire picks up a year after "Sozin's Comet". Path of Fire starts about a month after Heart ends, and Soul of Fire picks up directly from Path.
    • The final epilogue is set several decades into the future, far enough for Azula to be an old woman.
  • Torture Is Ineffective: Ilook tries to interrogate and torture Iroh. First Ilook tried with threats that were ineffective, as expected; then he formed icicles only to have Iroh melt them with his breath (and could have burned him, had he been so inclined); finally Ilook used his corrupted healing technique that Iroh redirected on him. At which point, realizing that anything he tried would have failed miserably at best and resulted in Iroh torturing him at worst, he whined and fled.
  • Undying Loyalty: Many of Azun's men feel this way towards him, most exemplified by Ki Mong.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: In Soul, we are just told that Azula tells the Gaang her plan for defeating Zhan Zheng. We don't learn what the plan is until she puts it into action.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Azun and Zhan Zheng both have them. Azula, of course, is suffering the aftereffects of one.
  • Visions of Another Self: At one point during Azula's trip to the Spirit World, she's shown visions of herself in other worlds, including one where she was banished instead of Zuko, and one where she was apparently born a peasant, (possibly shout-outs to What it is to Burn, and Distorted Reality, respectively).
  • Walking the Earth: Path of Fire, to an extent, also Azula's final fate.
  • Walking Spoiler: Zhan Zheng
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We don't know what happened to Ling and Joti after Azula freed them. They were originally supposed to show up in the second and third fics, but those stories developed in such a way that they didn't fit. And Ty Lee takes over what role they could have played anyway.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Azun, who really thinks Fire Nation rule would be best for the world.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Inverted by Zhan Zheng who can only possess persons from specific groups, and insane people are one of these few.
  • The Worf Effect: Zuko's and Aang's confrontations against the main villian of Heart and Soul, respectively makes clear just how dangerous the opponent really is.
  • Worthy Opponent: The Governor views Azula as one, as far as Chessmasters go. In fact, he almost refers to her as one word-for-word after she Out Gambits him.


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