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|The Origins and Evolution of the Fire Nation|
This is the first chapter of the historical fan fiction about the Fire Nation Royal Family,, The Origins and Evolution of the Fire Nation. It covers the first origins of the Fire Nation through to how it became what it is today.
Among the four nations, it can be said that the Fire Nation, from its humble beginnings, has grown to be the most influential and prosperous in the world. The heavy industrialization during its "Great March of Civilization" – known more modestly as the Hundred Year War – undoubtedly caused social, cultural and political shifts, for better or for worse, which would change everything about the relationships between the peoples of the world. However, this tremendous event was hardly without millennia of growth and evolution.
Stories tell of the first Firebenders, a prehistoric tribe that came across a mountain called Long Long. These nomads found that the area was an abode for a race of fabled, monstrous creatures. At first, the brash youth of the tribe attempted to hunt them, but were no match for the huge, serpentine beasts. And the tribe dwindled in the harsh winter.
Soon, nights reigned for longer and longer, and bitter cold held the tribe in its hands. The tribe's shaman meditated for days until the longest night of the year was at its peak. At this point, he entered a trance, and felt as if he were stepping out of his own body. Around him, the beasts were suddenly abundant, but they seemed to be only ghosts of reality, as if the shaman had stepped into a world of spirits. One approached him, and here it is said that the first proper encounter between humans and dragons occurred. The shaman negotiated with the dragons, and led them to his tribe's camp, invisibly showing them the hardships and sickness that were upon his kin, and had befallen them every winter before, the inevitable deaths of those who succumbed to the cold. The dragons found sympathy with his pleas for help, and taught him that the human spirit was more powerful than the cold; that within him was the energy to extend his chi beyond his limbs into the air in a miraculous flame. These instructions all seemed to bestow themselves upon him in an instant, while a bright green flash blinded him for a moment. In return for this knowledge, the shaman promised to end the hunting of dragons. With the sun's first light, the shaman awoke. His first exhalation was entwined with warm, forgiving flames, which caught the dry grass he had been laying on. The shaman contained the fire with stones, but kept it strong. He brought the tribe here, and demonstrated this newfound skill, bestowing it upon his seven brothers, who in turn gifted their partners and children with it. As well as this, the tribe and the dragons reconciled, learning from the beasts to focus their power from their hands and feet. While they still knew how, they transferred the power to their allies; but also, they learned to use the fire viciously – as a weapon – against their enemies. They traveled to do this, but the shaman's second child and her family stayed with the first fire he had created from his breath, keeping it alive for thousands of years, eventually in secrecy. A few generations passed, and the knowledge to transfer the power was forgotten, replaced instead with this bending of the element of fire, passed down from mother to daughter, father to son. One thing they remembered, though, was the shaman, who became known as Long Peng – the friend of the dragons.
In fact, three other instances of bending were learned as well, by other groups around the world. This formed a balance between those who could bend water, earth, fire or air. At this point, the first Avatar, the divine medium that was the link to the Spirit World, was born, to keep peace among the four peoples.
As time passed, the Firebenders took their powers for granted, and moved southward, slowly settling over a tropical archipelago where manipulating fire only meant burning forests down and fighting amongst themselves. The shaman's bloodline remained the rulers of all Firebenders, because their Firebending was thought to be the purest of all, as it was directly bestowed upon Long Peng by the dragons. Many factions formed, either claiming an island as their territory, or fighting for territory on the mainland. Over time, the smaller tribes amalgamated into larger ones, by process of Agni Kai – fire duels. These battles were to the death, two chiefs fighting for dominance. The loser's tribe would be forced to swear allegiance to the more-powerful chief. The logic behind this was that if one had great skills in Firebending they must have been closer to the Spirit World, and therefore had the divine right to rule. As certain chiefs gained prominence and their territories grew to immense proportions, Agni Kais became last resorts, as most villages would accept the sovereignty of the chief's forces. During these years, the royal sages – the descendents of the shaman and his seven brothers – accepted these skirmishes as long as the chief in question remained loyal to them first – land was immaterial for them. If a chief went out of line he or she would be bested by the sages, proving their everlasting and almost godly presence over the land. The tribal chiefs would later become the Fire Sages' governors, enforcing their will – as only those loyal to the Fire Sages remained in power. The ruler of all Firebenders was still the most powerful sage, as he or she was thought to be the most direct descendant of the shaman.
The Golden Age
Centuries passed and the Fire Nation's political structure settled. Old feuds were forgotten and the people lived as one. The darker-skinned natives of the archipelago had at first been shunned as lesser beings, but as the two peoples mixed it became difficult to determine how pure one's blood was. However, the bloodline of nobility was much more closely contained, and the Great Sage – previously analogous to the Fire Lord – would be the greatest Firebender in the world, because they would be the closest to the Spirit World by either inheritance, or a combination of that and spirituality. The Council of Sages was a group of royal families descended from the shaman and his seven brothers. At first, the shaman's first direct descendent would have the birthright of ruling, however, as time passed and nothing could be kept perfect, the best of the Council of Sages would rule.
These were the sub-dynasties; when the current Head Sage's bloodline ended, or was found to be inadequate a consensus among the Council of Sages would be met to start a new sub-dynasty where the most powerful family of the council would rule until found inadequate.
Extremely occasionally, an outsider would be found to be powerful enough for their family to join the Council of Sages. Through this logic, constitutional crises could arise. Most prominent of these was the Civil War that occurred sometime during the seventeenth or eighteenth century. A warlord and his followers seemingly completely unrelated to any of the Council of Sages challenged the current royal family for power. The warlord was found to be more powerful than any of the sages – the best Firebender in the world. Therefore, he expected to be appointed the Head Sage immediately. However, as his blood was rather mixed, they denied him rule, claiming that his prowess in Firebending must have been a fluke. The nation was divided over whether it was proper for him to take the throne or not, and war erupted between the two answers to this question. The double-standard of not allowing this clan into the council was unprecedented, and later it was found that the current government was corrupt. The warlord's forces won the war, and started a full new dynasty. Again, the same logic as previously mentioned applies here: to be the most powerful Firebender in the world meant you must have been a more direct descendant of the shaman, or closer to the Spirit World, and therefore reserved the divine right to rule. However, few of the warlord's descendents were Firebenders, and his bloodline was quickly reinforced with the old dynasties' by necessity.
The War of Change
Some two thousand years later, the Earth Kingdom of Hu Xin engaged in war with the Fire Nation, occupying more and more of the archipelago until only the southern portion of the mainland was left under Fire Nation rule. This arid region was deemed useless by Hu Xin and left for what remained of the Fire Nation. The Sages promised to rebound, however, with the war technically over, thousands of soldiers and other war-related workers were laid-off, creating a major economic crash. The people rose up against the royal families and exiled the government, quickly falling into to small factions. For about two hundred years, the remnants of the Fire Nation functioned in this way, in poverty, until what was left of the Council of Sages was taken lead of by revolutionary leader Yang Sen. His dream was to regain control of the Old Fire Nation land, and he riled forces to do so, taking back the land which was originally theirs. He was seen as a great war hero and ingenious general, although centuries of no activity from the Fire Nation had left Hu Xin careless, with hardly any forces in the occupied territory. This set the stage for reunification of the Fire Nation. Yang Sen was found to have enough royal heritage to become Head Sage, reinstituting the old government under the Yang dynasty. A major change occurred, however. From this point on, there was no longer a Council of Sages, as selection by blood would no longer function as it was once intended, and instead, there was simply one royal bloodline (although the families found to be the most pureblood were quickly reincorporated). Yang Sen realised that spirituality was still important, and reinstituted a new form of the old bloodlines as the Fire Sages, a new religious authority for the Fire Nation. The Yang Dynasty remains in power to this day.
- Long (龍) - dragon
- Long Long (龍龍) - cloudy
- Long Peng (龍朋) - dragon friend
- Ma Wang (馬王) - "horse king" champion
- Yang Sen (陽森) - "positive forest"
- Yang (陽) - positive
^most of that probably doesn't make sense in real Chinese
For the collective works of the author, go here.