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April 6, 2015
First Year of the Horse–Ri Long Era
The world is falling into chaos. Not so long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony and balance, as benders of all sorts co-existed with non-benders across the planet. Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked.
Okay, okay, they didn't really attack. Not with full-scale armies or anything. In fact, there really isn't a Fire Nation yet. What we did get, about twenty years ago, was a small boatload of people getting pushed across the sea from a small island that most people didn't even know existed. Dressed in funny red robes and shapeless hats, they arrived on the Sanyama Island (the biggest island in the Sun Vassalage) looking for opportunity, some elbow room, and a big pile of gold to...ahem...dedicate to Agni.
Because yes, these strange hooded men worshipped Agni, a very strange, chaotic embodiment of all fire. Granted, the Bhanti people had worshipped Agni as well, but only as the sun, not as fire in general. But these oddball heretics, led by Sage Mitsu, believed that there was only one deity of fire, the most powerful one, who granted all power to His people, those who followed the superior element (yeah, these guys haven't had that many Avatars recently).
And the land they arrived in? The Sun Warrior Vassalage is big, barbaric, and hardly united at all. It's mainly a series of loosely knit territorial claims with a capital as far-removed as you can actually be without being in Ba Sing Se. Excellent sailors by nature, they amassed huge groups of people, the best of the best, to be brought before their twin gods. Who just happen to be dragons, yes, if you can believe it, but they're big dragons. Those who are worthy get taught Firebending and can go home to be powerful rulers; those who aren't get roasted to a crisp and eaten. It's worked for thousands of years, and the Sunset Chiefs (northwest), the Pyre Shamans (central south), and the Burning Fishermen (eastern islands) have been going along with it; after all, they get a chance to participate in a centralized economy, and nobody's gone to war for a fairly long time, right?
So was it bad luck that, a few years after the Fire Sages set up shop on the southwestern edge of Sanyama, the Southern Water Tribe began raiding the coast? Many people seem to think otherwise, at least among the Fishermen and Sunset Chiefs. The Pyre Shamans like them, but it's mainly because they favor actual fighting with their Bending instead of lazing around being spiritual (fun fact: Pyre Shamans is a bit of a misnomer by this point). And the Water Tribe raiders just know there are a large number of islands to the north with gold, metal, and some wood. It's almost impossible to find down in the South Pole, and the resident Air Nomads are a little cautious about blue lumberjacks on their own archipelago.
The Earth Kingdom, under the Twenty-Fourth Earth King (Xiang, by the way; he's in his early fifties and loving life as only an Earth King can), is doing relatively well. Certainly, a number of coastal states are suffering from the lack of trade, the Sandbenders are picking fights with the Beetle-Headed merchants, the Cult of Avatar Zhu Tu is going through a revival phase (Avatar Milan wasn't exactly the best one the Earth Kingdom produced, so best try the next earliest, from nice, totally not-rebellious-like-Gaoling Makapu), and the Faith of the Eleven Perspectives on Jennamite has forcefully taken control of Full Moon Bay, but hey, trade's fine, the borders are stable, and most people aren't really bothered yet besides a few hundred peasants here or there.
The Air Nomads are...the Air Nomads. They still go around helping people, and they've recently started raising the price on their fruit tarts to four copper pieces (for people without currency they've got a surprisingly good idea of market value), but otherwise they're almost obnoxiously the same as they've been for the past...four thousand years.
There's the background. Recently, Sun King Gi has been having trouble with getting appropriate sacrifices for the masters Jie and Ti (whose name glyphs, 解体, make a very worrying word), and the politicos of Kin City are becoming restless. The Water Tribe have already started to set up their own client kingdoms in the Fisherman Islands, and are moving inland. And there are rumors of a heretic beyond compare in the south: a woman who has learned to ride a dragon, like a common steed. And that's just the Fire Archipelago.
Truly, Avatar Lu of the Northern Water Tribe has an awful lot to do. And she's not even twenty...
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