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Why did the Four Nations Change

In Avatar The Last Airbender we found out that the original firebenders were an Aztec/Mayan society and that the original airbenders seemed to have Celtic/Nordic roots. None of what we've seen of the modern four nations makes it clear why they left their ancient ways in the first place, a baffling mystery. It's also baffling how only one way of viewing bending, such as "fire as life" for the firebenders and water as "change" and so on, why not many variations on the philosophies of the bending elements? Such a mystery is interesting to think about, and there are thousands of possibilities to explore.

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