Some history on Zuko's form of bending.
It’s the third day that Zuko and Iroh have been in their group when Toph asks about Zuko’s tattoos. Zuko and Iroh share a look before the young life bender puts down his lunch, giving her his full attention. “The leaves and vines are to show my status as a life bender” he says simply while tracing the green, silver, and yellow emblem around his neck. Toph looked curious and Aang seemed considering. “When the four arts started showing up they needed a way to identify themselves so they thought this would be the best way.”
Toph nods her head apparently pacified. “So then what’s the one all over your back about?” Sokka’s voice pipes up, loud and brash as always. Zuko eyes him, wondering if he should tell or not. Uncle shakes his head, a warning in his eyes. Zuko contemplates his decision and decides to tell. “The phoenix is the symbol of an ancient group of firebenders who practiced the philosophy of life and rebirth.”
“They believed that each day was new and that the soul was renewed of any wrong doing each day.” “They were wiped out years ago.” His voice has grown tight with restraint. “They were destroyed by one of my ancestors” he finally manages to speak past the lump in his throat. The group is stunned silent. Katara looks disgusted, Toph just seems sad, Sokka’s face is comically horrified and Aang is crying. “Uncle thinks that there might be some scrolls about them in the White Lotus library, maybe the Fire Nation could have them back again?” He’s one person though, how is he possibly supposed to bring back an ancient civilization from the dead and teach to a nation 100 years deep in war how to function is peace?
It’s gotten too heavy and he needs some air. The balcony is cool and the wind eases his overly warm face. He remembers how beautiful the phoenix had looked when it had been completed. The design taking up his entire back, transformed into a bird of flaming crimson, orange, faint henna, and startling yellows. Victorious and vengeful in its beauty, like how Uncle had described the ancient sect.
He wishes sometimes he’d been born in another age. He wishes he’d been born where his bending and his destiny weren’t such a hard thing to accomplish. He was lucky though. He had Uncle and Aang, Katara even if she did glare at him every second of every day, the walking earthquake Toph, and Sokka even if he did tell terrible jokes. He might never be Fire Lord but perhaps he can do some good for his nation.