Avatar: The Legend of the

Prologue: Conquest

I remember a time when there was hope.

For a hundred years the Fire Nation waged war on the other nations of the world. Water Tribe, Air Nomads, my own beloved Earth Kingdom all fought valiantly for our freedom, but to no avail. The Air Nomads fell first, for the Fire Lord believed that the Avatar had been reborn among them, and so he hit them with all of his power. They were a brave people, but peaceful. They knew little of war, and in the end war consumed them.

For a century afterwards the war ground on, and every few years a rumor would resurface that the Avatar lived and would save the world. All prove false, until one- a boy named Aang was said to have airbending powers, and to have mastered the basics of waterbending as well. But that hope was short lived- he was captured by Prince Zuko of the Fire Nation and born back to the prince's homeland in chains. Imprisoned in the depths of the Fire Lord's fortress, he was never heard from again.

That summer Sozin's Comet returned and enhanced the powers of the firebenders a thousandfold. Fire Lord Ozai assaulted Ba Sing Se himself, along with his elite warriors, and the great city was leveled to the ground. My advisors had kept the war secret from me- for my own protection, they protested as the palace burned around us- and so I watched my world destroyed without knowing fully why, and I wept for my people. Ozai came for me himself- I will never forget his smirk- and bound me to take me back to his Nation. A dead king, he said, would be a martyr- an imprisoned and humiliated one a joke.

Then his daughter rushed in, telling the Fire Lord that her brother Zuko had been killed in the fighting. Neither firebender seemed overly concerned, and I have wondered often if one or both of them had not arranged the honorable prince's death.

Standing on the ashes of my palace, Ozai proclaimed himself the Phoenix King, absolute ruler of all four nations (I was to learn later that at the same time as Ba Sing Se fell, a certain Admiral Zhao led a vast fleet to attack the Northern Water Tribe. With the comet's power behind them, the battle was intense but brief). Then he had me loaded onto an airship and transported to the Fire Nation, where I was locked in a cell and largely forgotten, save by a single sympathetic guard who brought me news.

Another century is almost past, and the great Fire Empire rules the world unchallenged. Old Ozai is long dead, and his daughter is an old woman now (though not as old as I!). She took the throne of Fire Lord following her father's passing, and gave herself the personal title Dragon Empress. Even in her age, her wits and firebending powers are as sharp as ever, though I have heard rumors that she is no longer entirely sane. The Dragon Empress has no heir, and I have heard the guards talking fearfully of the future. When that dreaded monarch is no more, they think that the power struggles will tear the Empire apart.

I am older than she is and likely will not see that day. The guards allowed me paper to write this, because they know that no one will ever read it. But I hope that someday, somehow, it will be read. This tyranny cannot last forever- it never does. Sooner or later the captive Avatar will die- if he has not already done so- and then his spirit will be reborn into the world. Even if the Fire Empire somehow manages to silence him again, oppression breeds heroes. Sooner or later, someone in some oppressed village of the former Earth Kingdom or Water Tribe- or even the Fire Nation itself- will decide that they have suffered enough and will lead their people to freedom.

I believe this with all my heart and soul. I must. To all those who resist the Empire, I give you these ancient words of wisdom- "from beginningless time darkness has thrived in the void, but it always leaves to purifying light." I thought I could be that light once. Now it must be new heroes who will take the challenge. My blessings and those of all the spirits be with you, whoever you are.

You will need them.

(From the writings of Kuei, once Earth King, during the last days of his imprisonment under Dragon Empress Azula, year 89 post-ascension)