The reign of Firelord Ozai was a turbulent time for the world, to say the least. Simultaneously, however, it was a time of great prosperity for the Fire Nation. In the land of the Firebenders, a strong economy buoyed by wartime spending was overseen with the utmost shrewdness and care. Domestic funding for infrastructure, education and medical care reached never before seen peaks. In the Fire Nation, if not the rest of the world, life was good. To this day, these favorable conditions are seldom attributed to Ozai, but rather to one of his chief councilors: a man known by his people as Lord Junren.
Junren was born into Fire Nation aristocracy 36 years prior to the reemergence of the Avatar. Over the course of his childhood, he received the best schooling the powerful country had to offer. A quick-witted and charismatic boy, Junren enjoyed popularity among his peers and teachers. Though his intellect received effusive praise by those who knew him, his marks rarely rose above mediocre, perhaps out of rebelliousness, inattentiveness, or simply a lack of motivation.
From this early age, Junren expressed a keen interest in the military, to the point of demanding lessons in weaponry and often reading books on warfare tactics in his spare time, as opposed to playing chase with the other boys. Sadly, Junren was denied a position in officer training (as would befit his breeding) due to his status as a non-bender. His parents were steadfast in their refusal to allow him to lower himself to enlist as anything less. Some have speculated that it is from this event his poor scholastic performance stemmed. It wasn’t until enrolling in the University at age 17 that he would finally unleash his potential.
His great disappointment apparently put behind him, Junren’s marks suddenly rose up to meet the expectations of those who believed in him. His teachers praised his aptitude in seemingly any subject he took an interest in, with a particular focus on economics and politics. His passion for sweeping strategy seemed to transfer in whole from the military to government. In truth, close friends have said he found much greater satisfaction in the prospect of affecting grand change with his nation in a “more positive” fashion. His ideas were lauded from clever to groundbreaking. On the annual royal visit to the University, members of the faculty brought Junren to then-Firelord Azulon’s attention.
Word has it that the Firelord had been giving much thought to his legacy as a ruler. The popular opinion regarding this is that Azulon was concerned not so much for his people's well-being, but rather about their perception of him. To achieve this end, he sought to greatly improve overall living conditions within the Fire Nation. Unfortunately, he was finding his own ideas, and those of his counsel, sorely lacking. He initially appointed Junren as a simple advisor, only to hand the matter almost completely over to the young man within the next four years due to the young man’s extraordinarily successful policies. Firelord Ozai was only too happy to retain Junren's services following his succession.
In the nine years Junren held office before the return of the Avatar, the Fire Nation prospered like never before. The man himself became renowned and beloved not just for his deft care of the populace politically, but also for his well documented acts of charity. Upon the ascension of Firelord Zuko, Ozai and his entire counsel, Junren included, were put on trial as war criminals. Several counsel members testified against one another, but none of them could convincingly implicate Junren in any wartime activity. It was generally agreed that during the conflict, the man had focused on domestic wellbeing as he always had, avoiding any discussion of military decisions despite it being his former passion. Junren was not only completely exonerated, but soon came to be considered a hero after testimonials surfaced of his actions during the destructive duel between the royal siblings Zuko and Azula that set fire to much of the city (documented elsewhere). Indeed, most of the mobilization in fighting the blazes is credited to Junren.
Due to his incredible popularity and history of benevolence, Zuko personally selected Junren to be the man to take charge of the Fire Nation’s efforts in repairing the tattered relations between the nations of the world. To this end, Junren formed a massive charity organization dubbed ‘Rising Phoenix’, whose goal it would be to assist victims of the war and oversee reconstruction of the ravaged towns and cities. Within a mere two decades, Rising Phoenix’s influence and efforts could be felt throughout the four corners of each nation. Junren was extremely active during this time, and was seen at many sites of his organization’s efforts, whether large or seemingly insignificant. His popularity spread throughout every area Rising Phoenix laid hands; a considerable number.
Unfortunately, as with all things, there was more to Lord Junren than meets the eye. The kind and endlessly generous personality he presents to the public masks secrets of the most devious sort. Unbeknownst to all but a select few of his innermost circle, Junren has become one of the most powerful individuals in the world. Not only from the connections and influence generated by Rising Phoenix, but also from a source far darker.
Through his secret proxy, General Fenghuang, Junren also controls a criminal syndicate of massive proportions. The raiding criminal forces he commands through Fenghuang necessitated the formation of a peacekeeping force within Rising Phoenix itself large enough to match this threat. Thus, the greatest private army ever assembled now marches to the beat of this cunning man. By intricately funneling money and resources between his two organizations, mimicking the care and skill with which a spider would weave a web, Junren has managed to strengthen each exponentially. Exactly how Lord Junren intends to wield this power, and to what end, remains to be seen…
-Writeup by Rimmer
Junren is a Fire Nation noble of some standing, and among the most prominent members of that Nation's nobility to maintain his standing following the end of the War. Though known to have been an open supporter of the Fire Nation's war movement, Junren was also one of the first members of the nobility to side with the new Fire Lord Zuko following the events on the Day of the Comet. He gained considerable favor with the new Fire Lord by quickly using his ties in the military and especially the merchant marine to slow and halt their attacks, causing the great conflict to wind down considerably faster than it might have otherwise, and avoiding what could have potentially been considerably greater bloodshed. This almost certainly contributed to his retaining the majority of his wealth and property when many other nobles and landowners were stripped of theirs.
Though Junren did lose a great deal of his overseas holdings when they were returned to the Earth Kingdom as part of the war's-end reparations, he retained a good deal of land and property, and especially an amount of power among the merchant marine fleet. Today, twenty-odd years after the War's end, Junren has built himself a small financial empire of his own by gaining control of much of the now-flourishing merchant traffic between the three nations, and is considered one of the Fire Nation's most influential figures. A noted philanthropist, he donates a large scale of his profits to charity, especially to those charities involved in repairing the damage caused by the War. Though once a public figure, in his later years Junren has become something of a recluse, remaining almost constantly at his estate in the eastern islands of the Fire Nation, directing his financial empire from afar via a network of aides and contacts.
Though publicly a charming and friendly figure, those in the know know that Junren is more that his public image would hope to convey. Despite his age, he is still former Fire Nation Military (Navy specifically), and in his prime was known to be one of the most accomplished swordsmen in all the world, a talent that age cannot have dented too significantly. Though he had retired from the military life by the time of the Avatar's return, he was known to have been a strong supporter of the War for a considerable time, and his reputation as a cunning battle strategist is still a legend today. There are also reports that figures of possible ill repute have been seen coming and going at the Junren Estate, though the remoteness of that homestead makes them impossible to confirm or deny. Still, Junren has never been known to oppose the new Fire Lord more loudly than his situation required, and his contributions to charity are substantial. For all intents and purposes, he can be considered exactly what his P.R. portrays him as; an aging, self-made shipping magnate, seeking to use his success to atone for his past mistakes.
-Writeup by Amazing
See Category:Junren for a complete listing.