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|"Those orchards were once part of the Fire Nation! They rightfully belong to the Fire Nation! How dare those monks withhold Fire Nation resources from their rightful owners!"|
|— Fire Lord Sozin|
"Resources" is the fourth chapter of the AU fanfiction story.
Two years later, Sozin is made Fire Lord following the death of . In order to help mitigate starvation and poverty in the wake of the , Sozin attempts to persuade the Air Nomads to annex fertile Kalden Island, but he makes little headway.
"Izuma, Great Lady of Fire to our nation for 21 years. You were our fearless leader in the Civil War. Our benevolent defender of national unity. You were mother of Sozin. Mother of Kuzon. Wife of Jiroh, now passed. Wife of Gizu. We lay you to rest." Two Fire Sages lit the sarcophagus. Sozin listened to the Fire Sage intoning. He thought he was sad, but he refused to acknowledge anything he might be feeling. He stared out with cold determination at his subjects assembled in the plaza below. Crying was a weakness he would not allow himself. He had been beaten whenever he had cried in public as a child. His mother wanted to wean him of the habit of making his emotions known to others. That was a weakness his enemies could easily exploit if they were made known. He was only twenty-one, and he knew his enemies would expect such a young Firelord to be an ineffective, cowing whelp. He refused to appear weak on his first day as Firelord. It was the best way to honor his mother. He walked over and knelt before the sarcophagus. "You are now succeeded by your first son." The Fire Sage placed the diadem in Sozin's topknot. "Hail Sozin, Lord of Fire!"
Sozin watched the people and the Fire Nation standards they were holding incline low before him. He clenched his jaw. He would not cry.
Kuzon had cried though. He was still crying at the funeral, but more softly. None of his attendants could get him out of bed that morning. A servant had entered Sozin's room as he was getting dressed, asking that he try and get Prince Kuzon ready for the funeral. Kuzon had been staring up at the ceiling when Sozin entered. "Go away," he had said.
Sozin, pretending not to hear him, had sat down on top of Kuzon. "Boy, Kuzon's got a lumpy bed," Sozin had joked, trying to cheer him up. Kuzon had just pushed him off. "Mmph! Sozin! I'm not in the mood, okay?"
Sozin had lost the little patience he had. "Well, what do you want to do? You wanna lie here and be sad the rest of your life?"
"Yes," Kuzon had flatly said.
"...Too bad," Sozin had told him, yanking him out of bed by his clothes. "You're a prince, and you have a state funeral to attend. Take some responsibility for once, Kuzon! Mom would want you to be strong. You can't abandon your duties just because you're sad. I'm sad too, but the people need to see a strong Firelord. That's more important than feelings...And I'm your guardian now, so you'd better be dressed by the time I get back!" Sozin stormed out.
Kuzon glared at his brother's back and wiped his eyes.
Kuzon had had a different experience with his mother on the eve of her death, and allowed himself to feel his sadness more so than Sozin. Izuma had been gravely ill with a flu-like fever. There was a plant known to be able to lessen the symptoms, but it had been almost wiped out in the Fire Nation Civil War, and none were available to anyone who happened to contract this illness, not even the monarch. Her sons had watched her grow weaker and weaker, but nothing could be done. More than once Sozin had somberly pulled a misty-eyed Kuzon away from peering through the barely-ajar door to her chambers. At one point though, their mother had regained enough lucidity to talk to her sons. She had told Sozin what she always told him: don't be weak, don't allow the poverty or dissention to continue, don't let the Fire Nation become divided. But she also urged him to look after and love Kuzon. She said Kuzon would always be truly loyal to him, because family are the only ones you can really trust. Kuzon was much more openly sad and she had comforted him. She told him to love his brother and not grow apart as she and Kai Hin had, but she also revealed what Roku had told her, about the chi of the two brothers. She told Kuzon that although Sozin would be his guardian, he had to watch over Sozin as well, and make sure he didn't do anything rash or become too much like Kai Hin. Then she told him she loved him, and was very proud of him. It took Kuzon a while to digest what he had learned about his brother, on top of Izuma's death soon after, and he was still trying to figure things out at the funeral.
After the service, Sozin ascended the Dragon Throne for the first time. Ironically, the throne of the Firelord was pretty cold to the touch. Sozin also thought it seemed bigger than it had been, and he felt like he couldn't fill it. I'm just nervous, Sozin thought. All the gathered courtiers and officials awaited the new Firelord's very first decree. The first decree was highly ceremonial. It wasn't supposed to be influenced by any advisors, and the Firelord was supposed to phrase it in the proper, traditional way.
"I, Sozin, Lord of Fire, Scion of the Sun, Guardian of Sons and Daughters of the Flame, by the Power of Agni and the Eternal Conflagration, hereby make this decree, and all that follow, solely for the betterment of the Fire Nation and in the service of its people. For my first decree as Firelord, I command that a council be formed to study ways by which the Fire Nation can decrease its dependence on foreign imports." There was applause. Some important agricultural districts had been made barren when Kai Hin salted the earth in the Civil War. Since then the Fire Nation had made up for the dearth of food by importing crops from the Earth Kingdom and Air Nomads. This cost more and was causing poverty and unemployment rates to climb. Although the courtiers would have applauded anyway.
Sozin eventually raised his hand to silence them. "For my second decree, I command that a Royal Observatory be built on Mount Sugin outside my city." Now he would have his own observatory only a few miles away, just like he'd always wanted as a boy. It's good to be the Firelord.
Sozin's first few months of rule were not too eventful. Dignitaries from the other nations wanted to meet the new Firelord, so it was mostly hosting banquets and garden parties. Plus there were some tariff modifications to sign. There had been some rumors of rising poverty rates in rural areas, but no regional prefects were coming forward with complaints, so Sozin paid it no mind. Eventually, Sozin's council on foreign imports reported back to him. They offered a few solutions. A lot of them involved trying to regain some of the Fire Nation's traditional lands. The Southern Air Temple controlled Kalden Island, a place known for its vast orchards of a versatile food called birdfruit. Hardy, nutritious, used for making dye and its tree for building material, birdfruit had been a staple food for the Fire Nation and Air Nomads for generations. However, it grew in few places besides Kalden Island. The island had once belonged to the Fire Nation, but had been given in exchange for an evacuation airlift to a besieged city during the Civil War. A cold snap had killed much of the airbenders' crop that year and they desperately needed the food. Sozin decided the orchards on Kalden Island would probably be the easiest resource for which to negotiate.
Sozin sent messengers to the Southern Air Temple with a request that they open negotiations. They agreed, and the negotiations were held at the Count of Saiga's estate in the south of the Fire Nation. They went on for months, but the Air Nomads conceded nothing. There were not many resources in the mountains, and there was a blight affecting some of the types of cereals they raised. Losing the orchards might not cause widespread starvation, but it would make life much harder for the monks and cause dangerous disruptions in their economy.
When he heard of the failure, Sozin was livid. "Those orchards were once part of the Fire Nation! They rightfully belong to the Fire Nation! How dare those monks withhold Fire Nation resources from their rightful owners!" Sozin told himself he was enraged by the starvation in his country, but really—and perhaps he knew this inside somewhere—he was enraged that he could not make the airbenders comply. He was angry at his lack of power, even as the Firelord. At his weakness.
He exiled the head diplomat, but he couldn't do much else. The Fire Nation was in no position to move against the Air Nomads. Sozin sent emissaries to the Water Tribe and Earth Kingdom to negotiate for access to food resources, but they only made negligible gains. Sozin, unwilling to accept the Air Nomads' refusal, sent more and more forceful requests to reopen negotiations every few months. The unrest over the rising poverty rate in the Fire Nation was growing.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|Enemies and Traitors chapters|
|Prologues - Brothers - Responsibilities - Necessities - Resources - The Avatar - Opportunities - Preparations - Betrayals - Changing Plans - Scars - Counting Losses - Exiles - Ghosts - Homecoming - The Traitor and the Firelord - Escapes - The Last Chance - Legacies|