Air and water. Earth and fire. They say that long ago, the four elements were distinct, separate, like the nations that controlled them. But everything changed when the Fire Nation fell. The Avatar, master of all four elements, used his power to bring the War of the Flames to an end, and everyone thought he had brought eternal peace to the world.

Although the Water Tribes and the Avatar himself objected to the Earth Kingdom's subsequent occupation of the Fire Nation, neither had the power or the will to resist it. To everyone's surprise, many of the citizens of the Fire Nation accepted the occupation willingly, and for ninety years the Nation recovered and began to flourish under an occupation that slowly became an alliance. Finally, exactly ninety-five years since the end of the War of the Flames, the Fire Lord and the Earth King met together to restore the former's sovereignty, and to end the occupation and create a true alliance. The aging Avatar Aang was in attendance that day.

She pushed her way though the crowd. What seemed like half the population of the world had come to Ba Sing Se for the historic signing of the treaty, but she had taken special considerations to make sure she'd be as close as possible to the center of the ceremony, and to the Avatar. She wouldn't have much time when it came to the critical moment, but she was sure that she would succeed. Finally, she was as close as she was going to get. She saw the fool that called himself the Earth King, and the pathetic sycophant that had dared take the title of Fire Lord.

And she saw the Avatar. There he was; shaved head, arrow tattoo, and all, looking barely sixty. His wife stood next to him, looking slightly more aged but still beautiful. She almost felt a pang of jealousy; her own cruel beauty had fallen victim to the ravages of age years beforehand. No. Jealousy is for the weak.

The Earth King was blabbing something about the wonders the Fire Nation had created, and how he was proud to give them back the right to self-determination they had so willingly earned.

She fixed her gaze on the Avatar. I killed you once. But you came back, and you destroyed everything. This time, I'll finish the job. She began to focus on the streams of chi energy flowing through her body and the air around her. Slowly—ever so slowly, so as not to attract the attention of the numerous firebenders surrounding her, she began to create a sphere of positive yang around her hand, and a sphere of negative yin directly behind the Avatar. The charge built up to high intensities; some of the Fire Lord's guards were beginning to look around warily. She had to do it now. She held up her hand and released the energy. A bolt of lightning sizzled from her hand—

Straight through the Avatar's heart. He turned to look at her, and she saw a flicker of recognition in his eyes just before they went blank.

Azula ran. She would not be able to hide for long, but it didn't matter. She had accomplished what she had set out to do; she had killed the man who had ruined everything she had ever worked for; the man who had destroyed the honor of the nation she should have led; the man who had forced her into hiding like some common criminal.

She had killed the Avatar.

Six days later, in the Northern Water Tribe's fortress of ice, under the full moon, I was born. They named me Yue, after the moon spirit. My grandfather Hahn seemed to particularly approve of the name; I've never asked why. They'd heard the news of the Avatar's death only a day beforehand, and as the next Avatar would be a waterbender according to the ancient cycle, they knew the odds were pretty good it was going to be me. At the same time, the Southern Water Tribe, now known as the Mist Union, closed its borders as a sign of universal mourning. They did not open again for fifteen years, and when they did, nobody was prepared for what happened next.

AVATAR: The War of the Mists

Book 1: Earth