|"Caoli had imaginatively suggested calling it "The Camellia-Peony War." Despite war being precisely what Zoryu managed to avoid, he liked the sound. It was pretty and poetic."|
|— Zoryu musing about the war.|
The Camellia-Peony War was the name given to a succession conflict between Fire Lord Zoryu and his illegitimate brother, Chaejin. The conflict involved the various noble clans of the Fire Nation, with the Keohso clan fiercely supporting the Fire Lord, while the rich, influential Saowon clan backed Chaejin. Although an open war was narrowly avoided, the period of history was nevertheless marked by some violent clashes and thus poetically called a war.
Under the rule of Fire Lord Chaeryu, the Fire Nation was stable and relatively prosperous. The nation experienced bountiful harvests and catches of fish, and the nation thrived. Chaeryu kept his teenage love, Lady Huazo of the Saowon clan, as his royal mistress, but was encouraged to end the relationship and marry Lady Sulan of the Keohso clan.
Shortly after Chaeryu committed to marrying Lady Sulan, Lady Huazo revealed that she was pregnant, greatly embarassing Chaeryu. To avoid dishonoring Huazo or her house, Chaeryu acknowledged their son, Chaejin. Some time later, Sulan died giving birth to her son, Zoryu. Zoryu's own name caused great offense to the Saowon clan, as it made use of a character traditionally only used by the Saowon. Chaeryu eventually sent Chaejin to the Fire Sages and excluded him from the royal family, forbidding the matter to be talked about at court during his reign.
Fire Lord Chaeryu passed away, and his son Zoryu came to the throne. The good harvests of his father's reign came to an end and the fisheries declined. Some of the older Fire Sages began to believe that the spirits themselves were unhappy with the Fire Lord. Chaejin returned to court as a liaison for the High Temple, but had been embittered by being sent away, and wished to claim the throne for himself. Meanwhile, Lady Huazo had managed to greatly improve the wealth and influence of the Saowon clan, and amassed power across the Fire Islands. When Yun was believed to be the Avatar, he and Jianzhu skilfully mediated the succession conflict in the Fire Nation. The two Earth Kingdom nationals also advised Zoryu to recruit doubles, including for Yun, to maintain his power and protect himself from assassins.
In 295 BG, Fire Lord Zoryu invited Avatar Kyoshi to the Fire Nation to celebrate the Festival of Szeto, hoping to settle some of the unrest in the palace. However, diplomatic disaster struck when Kyoshi mistook Chaejin for Zoryu. Upon being formed of her mistake, the Avatar proceeded to defy protocol by attempting to dismiss Chaejin, and by making the Fire Lord look weak by proposing to resolve all his problems. The same night, the palace was attacked by a vengeful Yun, who held the gathered nobles hostage with earthbending and murdered Lu Beifong and Chancellor Dairin. Many nobles grew outraged about the attack, some even wishing for war with the Earth Kingdom.
Kyoshi set out for North Chung-Ling with her companions in order to protect Hei-Ran from Yun and resolve the latest crisis by bringing the false Avatar to justice. The city had become a frontier in the rivalry between the Saowon and Keohso after Lady Huazo purchased several properties in Keohso territory. After a message appeared in the town's melonyam fields championing Chaejin as Fire Lord, a crude scuffle broke out between the Saowon and Keohso's warriors.
Assuming that Yun was working with the Saowon clan, Kyoshi kidnapped Lady Huazo and Chaejin in an effort to get them to confess, but realized that they truly knew nothing about Yun. In spite of this, Zoryu procured a double of Yun, who confessed to conspiring to treason with the Saowon. An immediate purge of the Saowon began in the city, with the Fire Lord wishing to execute the entire clan. Kyoshi demanded clemency for Saowon and the false Yun, but she was determined that the Saowon and false Yun should be spared.
After Kyoshi killed the true Yun, Zoryu still intended to execute the Saowon, but was intimidated into keeping his promise with the Avatar by Lao Ge. After discussing the conflict with Chancellor Caoli, Zoryu named this period of history as the Camellia-Peony War. As a direct result of the conflict, Zoryu resolved to break the strength of the Fire Nation's noble clans and to have its citizens be loyal to only the Fire Lord. This was a generational project, and Zoryu intended for his descendants to continue his policies until the royal family controlled the Fire Nation autocratically.