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Juji's fine. He comes back to life in the end when the doomsday device shifts the polarity of the Earth. Oops. Spoiler. Sorry.

Warning! This page contains spoilers for Avatar: The Heir of Ban.

YoungWuPortrait
二十五
Er Shi Wu
Biographical information
Nationality

Earth Kingdom

Ethnicity

Earth Kingdom

Age
Born

c.883 BG

Died

840 BG (aged 43)

Predecessor

Ban Ti Xi (as Mountain Master of the Ban Clan)

Successor

Ban Zhengyi (as Mountain Master of the Ban Clan)

Physical description
Gender

Male

Hair color

Black

Personal information
Weapon of choice

Earthbending, kukri

Fighting style(s)

Earthbending, knife fighting

Allies

Lucky Cho, Shuurai, Aguta, Bi Junren, Dr. Teng,The Ban Clan, Ao Earth King Jin Ling

Enemies

Ban Zhengyi, Xin Fung, Heung Chu, Ying Su, Fu Shan

Chronological and political information
Profession
  • Criminal
  • Adviser to Ao Earth King Jin Ling
  • Military officer
Position
Affiliation

Himself, (ostensibly the Ban Clan and Ba Sing Se)

First appearance

Chapter 1: The Mountain Master's Son

Er Shi Wu--more commonly known as "One-Eyed" Wu because of the eye patch over his right eye--was the leader of the Ban clan, the largest clan in the Hei Chaoliu criminal organization, in the years leading up to the Earth Kingdom Civil War (840 years before Avatar Aang). He was known for his use of violent tactics to gain control of the largest portion of the illegal Dai Zhiwu market in Ba Sing Se. Although Wu's clan participated in several illegal activities, it was mainly dai zhiwu distribution that earned him his money. Eventually, Wu became the richest man in Ba Sing Se, save only the Earth King himself. Not only a master of earthbending, but also of politics and manipulation, Wu created a public persona of a wealthy merchant, and even gained access to the Earth King's court. But rival Hei Chaoliu clans knew who he really was: the most dangerous criminal of the age.

Biography

Early Life

Er Shi Wu was born into a very poor family of manual laborers in one of the most impoverished sections of Ba Sing Se's Lower Ring. His mother left his abusive father soon after Wu was born, and Wu had almost no memory of her for most of his life. He also occasionally claimed to have vague memories of another, younger woman who was around him as a baby, possibly an older sister or aunt, but Wu also remembered almost nothing about her. Growing up, Wu had only his father, who was an abusive, and often absent, alcoholic. For the most part, Wu raised himself on the streets until he was ten. Following a particularly heated fight with his father, he ran away from home permanently. Although he would go on to become a drug kingpin, his memories of his father would lead Wu to despise drugs, alcohol, and those who used them for the rest of his life.

After that, Wu lived on the streets for a short period of time. Records indicate this was when he lost his right eye. Eventually he befriended Ban Ti Xi, then the son of the Ban clan Mountain Master. Ti Xi introduced his new friend to his father and the rest of the clan. The clan gave Wu food and a place to stay, in exchange for doing some odd-jobs for them. Although Wu was not formally adopted by Ti Xi's father, he lived with the Ban family and eventually came to look upon Ti Xi as a brother and the elder Ban as a father. Legend has it that Ti Xi's father himself gave Wu his nickname. Wu was enthusiastic in his work for the clan, even when it turned dangerous or violent. Having worked diligently for the clan for several months, Wu was formally sworn in at the tender age of eleven, an exceptionally young age for anyone who didn't already have a relative in the Hei Chaoliu.

Career in the Hei Chaoliu

Wu's superiors in the clan cultivated his bending ability, often training him right alongside the young clan heir, Ti Xi. The abilities of both boys were considered exceptional, but roughly on par with each other. Wu was always enthusiastic about earthbending, mostly because it made him feel powerful, but he also appreciated the technical aspects and the elegance of it as a martial art.
TiXi&Wu

Wu and Ti Xi were once good friends and cohorts in the Hei Chaoliu

When Wu was sent out to fight other clans, he was known to fight brutally but efficiently. He did not swagger into fights or taunt rivals, like many other clan members. He simply took out enemies as quickly and effectively as possible. By the time he was sixteen, he was allowed to command a ten-man unit, and continued to rise quickly through the ranks. Though many of the men under Wu were older than he, he quickly turned those who chose to challenge him into examples of his ability.

Because Wu was so personally close to the Ban family, he also learned of the economic and political considerations the clan leaders had to make to stay in business. Wu found this very interesting as well, and remained conscientious of the financial bottom line throughout his career. Clan operations Wu was involved with almost always turned a good profit, and he gained a reputation as a canny earner for the clan. As Wu was promoted further he began to earn more money, and a certain enthusiasm for riches awoke in him. Although many people would later accuse Wu of being greedy, sources closer to him claimed he liked wealth more for the power and respect it bought him than for luxury or the gold itself.

Wu's status in the clan continued to improve, but only a few years later Ti Xi's father was killed in combat. Ti Xi took control of the clan and promoted his childhood friend Wu to the position of "General," or the top combatant of the clan and leader of all its fighters. In this position, he was also a personal adviser to Ti Xi in all matters of gang warfare. But only a few years after that, Ti Xi brought Ying Su into the clan at a rank equal to Wu's. This touched off a rivalry between Su and Wu that would continue for years.

Usurpation of the Ban Clan

Then, only a year or two after those events, Ban Ti Xi had a son by an unknown woman. He named the child Zhengyi and raised him at the Ban clan compound for six months. Zhengyi had been born at almost precisely the same time as the death of the previous Avatar, Maiara of the Southern Water Tribe, so by the age of six months he was old enough to be tested to see if he was the next Avatar. As it turned out, he was. Wu was one of only five or six witnesses to the test.

No one can say for sure when Wu's plan to usurp the leadership of the Ban clan began. He might have conceived of it before Ti Xi's father ever died, or he may have thought of it only when Zhengyi was confirmed to be the Avatar. In any case, that was when Wu put the plan into action. Wu realized that Zhengyi could be the ultimate weapon for the Ban clan, and give them the power to decimate the other clans and control the entire Ba Sing Se underworld and beyond. Wu intended to raise Zhengyi as a godson and train him to be he perfect enforcer. Wu knew Ti Xi was too soft to allow his son to be exploited that way, and only trusted himself to control such power. He forsook any friendship that remained between himself and Ti Xi to acquire more power.

That night, Wu--in disguise--revealed the Ban compound's secret location to their longtime rivals, the Du clan. In the confusion of the ensuing attack, Wu and a handful of his most loyal henchmen murdered Ti Xi and made it look as though the Du clan had done it. Wu also killed Xin Kao and the few other clan members intelligent enough to possibly figure out what he had done. Although Ying Su did figure out that Wu was guilty, he allowed her to live because he needed her expertise at combat tactics. However, since Zhengyi was obviously too young to take over the clan, Wu was the ranking officer and therefore became the leader. He played off the clan's loyalty to Ti Xi to solidify his control and make hem loyal to him. His control of the clan gave him the leverage to blackmail Ying Su into keeping quiet over his guilt while still working for him. He told her if she told anyone what she knew he would kill not only her, but Zhengyi as well.

Wu's plan essentially succeeded. Forcing Ying Su to serve as a housekeeper whenever he didn't need her advice, he raised Zhengyi as his own, encouraging the boy to fight and give in to his most violent tendencies. Wu wanted Zhengyi to become as powerful a bender as possible, so he never disguised the fact that the boy was the Avatar. Zhengyi mastered earthbending and became advanced with water and fire before he was fifteen. (He did not learn air because Wu could not find any Air Nomads willing to work for criminals). But Wu also made sure that he selfless, ascetic lifestyle the Avatar was supposed to follow was not attractive to Zhengyi, and that the boy's greatest aspiration was to lead the Ban clan one day as the top criminal in the world, as Wu himself was. Wu also could not let anyone outside the clan know that Zhengyi was the Avatar, since a criminal raising the Avatar would obviously create a public backlash and Zhengyi might have been forcibly taken from Wu.

Wu raised Zhengyi in this way until the boy's fifteenth year. One night, Zhengyi accidentally overheard Wu himself admit to killing Ti Xi. Zhengyi flew into a rage, attacking Wu, but Wu knew this day would come eventually and had prepared for it. Because Wu had hired all of Zhengyi's teachers, he ensured that they left certain specific flaws in his training, which Wu knew of and could exploit. The plan paid off, and Wu won the fight handily. Just before he could kill Zhengyi, Ying Su knocked him out from behind and quickly escaped from the Ban compound with the Avatar. Wu sent his men after them, but Zhengyi and Ying Su got away.

A few days later, in response to his own underlings' failure to capture the Avatar, Wu hired a team of mercenaries, supplemented with one of Zhengyi's erstwhile bending tutors, to capture the boy. The team consisted of Ban clan member Aguta, plus Bi Junren, an ex-war hero, Shuurai, a female Firebending mercenary especially skilled with lightning, and Dr. Teng, a perpetually silent acupuncturist and chi strike master.

Service in the Earth Kingdom Civil War

There are few records of Er Shi Wu after this point. It is known that at some point during Avatar Zhengyi's journey Wu gained a place in the Earth King's court, as well as the rank of Commander in the Ba Sing Se army, almost certainly through bribery and manipulation. With a full regiment of trained soldiers at his command, Wu was more formidable than ever.

Death and Legacy

At some point near the end of the Earth Kingdom Civil War, Avatar Zhengyi, having been enlightened during his journey, succeeded in defeating Wu. It is as yet unknown how he did this, however. Avatar Zhengyi greatly reigned in the gangs of the Hei Chaoliu after the war. Although the city became safer overall, and even some progressive-thinking members of the clans themselves realized it was better for their long-term survival, many hardliners of the Hei Chaoliu revered Wu's memory as the greatest among them. Even centuries after his death, many disaffected, impoverished young people continued to view Wu as a hero and celebrate him as the pinnacle of the self-made man. And it was indeed true that he had come from nothing to become the richest civilian in Ba Sing Se though nothing but his own cunning, will, and ambition. But it was also true that his rise had cost him every last shred of his morality.

Personality

Wu was supremely ruthless. When Wu wanted something, he would do anything and everything to get it, and "everything" is pretty much what Wu attempted to obtain in life. He was also highly intelligent, although he still relied on Ying Su as a tactician. However, this in itself may be considered a sign of intelligence, as Wu knows how to recognize and use people with greater skills than himself. He was clever and manipulative, laying plans that come to fruition over long periods of time, or through the actions of others. He was also capable of great diligence when his plans required it. Wu's poor beginnings made him covetous of wealth, and power more so. Wu would sometimes flaunt his wealth, but he did not wallow in luxury. He was more power-hungry than greedy, but understood that wealth was the best way for a person to gain power. Wu was known to fiercely protect what he considered his, as he had an almost paranoid fear that the universe would somehow take away everything he had built for himself.

However, Wu did have his moments of humanity. He was Ti Xi's friend, once, and while raising Zhengyi he did feel affection for him at times. Zhengyi would sometimes describe distinct memories of Wu checking on him when he was sick as a child, and of Wu expressing concern for him. Whether Wu was interested in Zhengyi's well-being only because of how he factored into Wu's plans is purely conjectural. Only Wu himself could ever know for certain.

It is also worth noting that, although he sold more illegal intoxicants, especially Dai Zhiwu, than probably anyone in Earth Kingdom history, his memories of his alcoholic father made him despise all intoxicants and their users. He never took any intoxicants himself, and--except for alcohol--forbade the use of any among his men. Whereas most other dai zhiwu traffickers were also users, in Wu's eyes anyone who indulged in such things was beyond reproach in their stupidity. This actually may explain why he had so few qualms about distributing a deadly and addictive narcotic; Wu had no compassion or respect for people who used drugs, and so had no problem selling them a means to destroy themselves. Wu was actually known for his healthy eating habits. He was known to only partake of meat dishes a few times a week and ate several green apples--his favorite food--per day.

Appearance

Wu was about 5'10", with a wiry but strong build. His nickname derived from his damaged right eye, which he covered with an eye patch bearing Ban insignia. His forehead was thin and domed, and his features were generally thin and waspish. He had a thin mustache and small beard. His hair was swept back and reaches to his neck, but was receding, more prominently from the sides than the front. He liked to wear a gray silk zhaoshan with gold threading. Beneath this he wore a much simpler yellow pao and ku, sometimes with black silk sippers, sometimes going barefoot. In his younger days he simply wore a green pao and ku set with black trim. He had some Ban Clan tattoos, as well as a tattoo of an eye and a large stylized badgermole tattoo on his back, with the paws reaching over his shoulders.

Behind the Scenes

The name "Er Shi Wu" literally means "twenty-five" in Mandarin Chinese. The Hong Kong Triads use numeric codes to designate the various ranks in their organizations, which is significant to Wu's character because twenty-five is the numeric code for a spy or double-agent. Because of this, the term "twenty-five" is used in general Hong Kong slang to mean a liar or traitor of any kind. This is not a flawlessly applicable name however, because Cantonese Chinese is the language mainly spoken in Hong Kong. But author Manzai preferred the alliterative quality of the name " 'One-Eyed' Wu."

Certain parts of One-Eyed Wu's career are loosely based on real-life Chinese gangster "Big-Eared" Du Yuesheng, for whom the Du clan that appears in Avatar: The Heir of Ban is also named, (though they are not related to him in any particular way). Du ran the underworld of Shanghai at the same time as Al Capone was operating in Chicago, and in fact, controlled more money, subordinates, and territory over the course of his career than Capone.


Preceded by
Ban Ti Xi
Mountain Master of the Ban clan
c.855 BG - c.840 BG
Succeeded by
Ban Zhengyi

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