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Fanfic / The Fall of the Fire Empire

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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 and Destinies Rewritten. 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.


In the sequel, Legacy of the Fire Empire, Kanoda and Avatar Aang must deal with a new threat five years after the Fall.

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.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In this fanfic, Azula's redeeming and sympathetic qualities are all thrown out the window and replaced with sheer malice that rivals her father.
  • Affably Evil: Qing Xi is a cultured, polite, soft-spoken man who also happens to be the ruthless head of the bureaucracy and intelligence service of a tyrannical superpower.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Shiyan, who sinks into catatonia after accidentally killing the person she was raised to see as a living god.
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  • 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.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Jiazin's sword is mentioned as being passed down from her father and grandfather.
  • Anti-Villain:
    • 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: Numerous major characters, including Gian, Shu Bei Fong, High Admiral Yuan, the Mistress of the Chosen, and Azula herself bite it by the end of Fall.
  • Ascended Extra: Some characters, notably Jiazin's parents and Cheng, were originally conceived as bit parts who grew into larger roles as the story progressed.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Jiazin becomes Fire Lord in the final chapter.
  • Badass Normal:
    • Gian is a nonbender bounty hunter who specializes in killing renegade earthbenders.
    • 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) but are still trained to a level where they're capable of going toe-to-toe with the most skilled benders.
    • Kanoda, although he's usually Overshadowed by Awesome, is still a skilled hunter who gets some good hits in including, eventually, against his Archenemy Shiyan.
  • Being Evil Sucks: Ironically, despite having all the power she could ever have dreamed of, having killed or driven off her only friends to get there Azula lives a tormented, paranoid existence in constant fear of assassination and haunted by what she believes to be the ghosts of everyone she's killed along the way. It's clear that being the tyrannical overlord of the entire world hasn't actually made her any happier.
  • Big Bad: Dragon Empress Azula, who has become the tyrannical ruler of the Fire Empire, serves as the fic's main antagonist after the death of her father Ozai, and has become every bit as bad as he was.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: High Admiral Yuan, like his grandfather before him, is a prideful and ambitious officer who doesn't quite prove capable of living up to his dreams of glory when the chips are down. Fittingly, the Moon and Ocean Spirits give him a taste of his own insignificance, which breaks him utterly.
  • Bookends: 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. Things start with her losing an important prisoner through sheer naivety and bad luck and get progressively worse from there.
  • The Caligula: Old age has not been kind to Azula's sanity; she spends most of her time hallucinating conversations with people who've been dead for decades, murdering her subjects in fits of paranoia... oh, and planning what amounts to the destruction of the world, too.
  • Climax Boss: There's one at the end of each major arc (or 'Book'). Noteworthy 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.
  • Composite Character: The author envisioned Kanoda as being one of Sokka and Katara: A non-bender who thinks his way out of problems like Sokka, and a determined idealist like Katara.
  • 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:
    • The story opens with an Apocalyptic Log by Earth King Kuei, who mentions that Fire Lord Ozai spared him because while a dead king might be a martyr, an imprisoned king would be a joke.
    • 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.
  • Dark Action Girl: The Chosen are an order of ruthless female warriors who live to serve Azula's will, with Shiyan as their main representative.
  • Deuteragonist: Jiazin is the protagonist, having the most focus and plot-centeredness of the three leads; Kanoda is a slight step below her in terms of focus and role, making him the deuteragonist, and Tong, who is another small step below him, ends up as the tritagonist.
  • Disappeared Dad: Kanoda's father was slain in a Fire empire attack when he was five.
  • 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. Sure, they'll support the Fire Empire's oppression for the lack of a better alternative, but when it turns out Azula plans on burning the whole thing down? That's going too far.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": 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 Old Folks: Azula by this point is an elderly woman who rules the Fire Empire as the Dragon Empress. When she learns that her death via old age is unavoidable, she decides to devastate the world to take her enemies down with her and make herself look like a hero who tried to stop the war that she caused.
  • 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.
  • 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!
    • In a similar case to Zhao and Yuan, the current Admiral Chan is a descendant of the Admiral Chan mentioned during Avatar: The Last Airbender, and possibly related to the Chan who appeared in "The Beach".
  • Heel–Face Turn: Jiazin doesn't start out particularly villainous but she's still a loyal supporter of the Fire Empire before getting a nasty wake-up call regarding just how evil it really is. High General Xia and Governor Yan Li, who were much more active participants in the empire's activities before switching sides, play it straighter.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Yue sacrifices herself to hold off High Admiral Yuan's forces and thereby 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 is an aggressive, firebrand revolutionary who's usually spoiling for a fight, 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.
  • In the Hood: Yue usually disguises herself with a hooded cloak to disguise her Mystical White Hair.
  • Irony: Lake Laogai, the headquarters of the Dai Li, is used as a base by La Résistance.
  • 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, by stabbing him with her flaming sword and burning him from the inside out - 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.
  • Never Mess with Granny: The Big Bad, Dragon Empress Azula, is now over 100 years old. She is still extremely dangerous and an Omnicidal Maniac who doesn't intend on having the good guys and her other enemies outlive her.
  • Noble Demon: High General Xia tries to be as honorable a man as his position in the Fire Empire military allows. Eventually he can't stomach it any longer and allies with the rebellion.
  • 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 Quite Dead: Aang is still alive, albeit in a coma under the Imperial Palace. He's revived after Tui and La are restored.
  • Oh, Crap!: High Minister Qing Xi has an understated one when he reads all the messages sent to the Fire Empire's Navy and discovers that Azula intends to start an Enemy Civil War.
  • Old Master:
    • 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.
  • 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 effect lights up the sky for miles around.
  • The Quiet One: Tong is a quiet and thoughtful sort who rarely has much to say but is deeply in tune with his element.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Yue doesn't look much more than a teenager, but she's over a century old thanks to the spirits' influence.
  • 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.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Kanoda's grandfather was apparently one of the toddlers in the village when Aang visited the Southern Water Tribe just after being freed from the iceberg, as he remembers the day Aang was there and when he left with Sokka and Katara.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Shu Bei Fong gets killed off during the liberation of Ba Sing Se as a sign that victory doesn't come without cost.
  • 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. They also aren't particularly skilled at subtlety which means poison is a pretty effective means of disposing of them. 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 was 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.
    • Yu Shan, the playwright who penned the play about Azula and her triumphs, is a reference to Shan Yu, the main villain of Mulan, but with the syllables switched.
  • 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 profile to being "an optimist at heart" and that he expected a hopeful ending.
  • Smug Snake: Admiral Yuan, the grandson of Zhao who continues the family's tradition quite nicely. His ego, ambitions, and viciousness well exceed his actual competence.
  • The Sociopath: Gian is utterly and completely heartless, and Yuan isn't much better. 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, ends up being the one to kill Azula and save the day.
  • Standard Evil Empire Hierarchy:
    • The Emperor: Dragon Empress Azula, ruler of the Fire Empire.
    • The Right Hand: The Mistress of the Chosen, head of Azula's bodyguard.
    • The General: High General Xia, the commander of the Fire Empire's armies.
    • The Guard: High Admiral Yuan, leader of the Fire Empire's navy and warden of the prison where the Moon and Ocean spirits are kept.
    • The Security Officer: High Minister Qing Xi, head of the Hidden Flame, the Fire Empire's Secret Police.
  • 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.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: High Minister Qing Xi and High General Xia admit they don't like each other; Xia considers Qing Xi a treacherous and cowardly backstabber while Qing Xi thinks that Xia is self-righteous and has no sense of how things actually work. But they decide to work together to ensure the Fire Empire's survival.
  • 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.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: After Jiazin allies with the rebels, she and Chaiy are often contrasted, though since they're both Action Girls 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.
  • 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.
  • Tyke-Bomb: The Chosen, as noted above - they're raised from infancy to be Azula's ultimate warrior-servants.
  • Undying Loyalty: The Chosen, towards Azula, being indoctrinated to see her as something close to an infallible living god.
  • 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.
  • Villain Forgot to Level Grind: Averted; in the final confrontation with Azula, it turns out she invented at least one new ability where she can bend one's energy similar to bloodbending, and is impossible to defeat, even when ganged up on, unless taken by surprise.
  • 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's an avid student of Water Tribe histories and lore but is wrongly convinced that this story is his adventure and he's The Hero, when it's actually much bigger than that. He becomes more straightforwardly savvy with Character Development.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Azula left orders to the Mistress of the Chosen to arrest and execute High Minister Qing Xi. It fails since Qing Xi gets wind of it and poisons the Mistress first.
  • 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, who rule the occupied Omashu as a team.
  • 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: 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 Mole: Zai, one of Aitan's acolytes, is actually a spy for the Chanjienote  rebellion.
  • 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 is a trained chi-blocker, which lets her immobilize even powerful benders with ease.
  • Religion of Evil: Aitan's Azula worshipping cult, which regards a dead tyrant who tried to blow up the world as a divinity.
  • 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.