|"They're not in this life for money or freedom. They take glee in pillage and destruction. They're wanton killers. And Xu Ping An is their brains, heart, and soul."|
|— Wong about the Yellow Necks.|
The Yellow Necks, later known as the Autumn Bloom Society, was a militant spiritual organization that primarily recruited daofei outlaws and fought for the overthrow of the Earth Kingdom's government. Originally founded by Xu Ping An as a small criminal outfit, the Yellow Necks rapidly expanded under his charismatic yet brutal leadership and began a large-scale rebellion that caused great devastation. Inspired by Xu's beliefs, the Yellow Necks became infamously fanatical, sparing few in their rampage in the Earth Kingdom's central provinces. Their name was derived from their appearance, as the gang members usually wore yellow scarves.
The Yellow Necks were eventually defeated and most of them ruthlessly massacred by Jianzhu. Xu was imprisoned, and the survivors went into hiding. Led by Mok and Wai, they gradually rebuild their strength and reorganized under the name "Autumn Bloom Society", tucking moon peach blossoms into their clothing to identify themselves. Over time, the Autumn Blooms became the most powerful daofei outfit in the Earth Kingdom. In 296 BG, the organization freed their leader with the help of the Flying Opera Company. Xu Ping An promptly declared the Yellow Necks restored, but the movement's resurgence was stopped by Avatar Kyoshi, who killed Xu in a duel. Most of the Yellow Necks subsequently scattered in terror, though some reverently acknowledged the Avatar as their new leader per daofei customs, much to her consternation.
Rebellion, near-destruction, and resurgence
The Yellow Necks were originally a very small criminal gang under the leadership of Xu Ping An. Despite their humble beginnings, the Yellow Necks proved exceptionally successful thanks to Xu's charisma and lightning generation abilities. They gradually expanded into a bandit army and began to openly fight against the Earth Kingdom in a destructive insurgency. After several years of warfare, the Yellow Necks were trapped at Zhulu Pass by Jianzhu in 304 BG. Xu Ping An was captured and imprisoned, and at least 5,000 other rebels were executed.
The survivors fled in terror, and it was generally assumed that the Yellow Necks were fully defeated. In truth, however, several hardline members of the movement remained dedicated to Xu Ping An's cause. Led by Mok and Wai, the former Yellow Necks reorganized in secret, forming the Autumn Bloom Society. They set up camp in the secret daofei town of Hujiang and began to build up a network across the entire Earth Kingdom. Instead of openly partaking in criminal activities, the Autumn Bloom Society would offer other gangs aid in their most desperate times. Indebted in this way, many daofei groups such as the Flying Opera Company became associates of the Autumn Bloom Society; over time, the group thus became the most influential criminal organization on the continent while also avoiding the authorities' attention. Meanwhile, Mok and Wai continued to search for the whereabouts of their leader, eventually locating him in the prisons of Governor Te Sihung.
Rescue of Xu Ping An
In 296 BG, the Autumn Bloom Society launched its preparations for the operation to rescue Xu. Mok and Wai began calling in all the favors from other gangs, assembling a powerful force. One of the most crucial elements in their plans was the Flying Opera Company; though small, this gang consisted of powerful benders. As the latter visited Hujiang, Mok and Wai pressured the Flying Opera Company into agreeing to aid their operation, threatening grave consequences if they attempted to get out of the deal. Soon after, Hujiang was attacked by a shirshu, and the Autumn Blooms had to kill the creature amid great destruction. Discerning that the creature had been hunting for the Flying Opera Company, the Autumn Blooms wanted to question the small gang though the latter managed to escape beforehand.
Realizing that their position could be compromised, the Autumn Blooms ordered Hujiang abandoned, and moved most of their forces toward Governor Te's fortress. They stationed a small rearguard at the town, hoping to kill those who had sent the shirshu. The rearguard was wiped out, however, and one gang member who had been left behind due to being too injured to move was captured, questioned, and tortured to death by Jianzhu. These setbacks ultimately did not affect the Autumn Bloom Society's plans too much. When the time for the attack on Governor Te's Palace came, a sufficient strike force including Kang Shen sectarians and the Flying Opera Company assembled as Mok and Wai had hoped. While the actual assault did not proceed very well, with many Autumn Bloom Society fighters killed, the Flying Opera Company successfully freed Xu Ping An.
Upon being rescued, Xu immediately took control of the Autumn Blooms and declared the Yellow Necks restored. While most outlaws present were overjoyed at the return of Xu Ping An, the Flying Opera Company successfully requested to leave, as they had fulfilled their mission and been absolved of the debt to the Autumn Bloom Society. After a short time of rest and reorganization, the restored Yellow Necks set out for the nearest town of Zigan, intending to destroy it on Xu's orders. As they came across a small farm, the rebels stopped and took the local family prisoner, as Xu wanted to torture them to showcase the resumption of his rebellion. Before the Yellow Necks could do so, the Flying Opera Company returned and the small group's leader, Kyoshi, challenged Xu to a lei tai to stop his rampage.
The rebel leader agreed, and initially overpowered Kyoshi in their duel. Before he could murder her, however, Kyoshi triggered the Avatar State and killed Xu. Most Yellow Necks fled the scene; one group led by Mok took Xu's corpse with him. Several terrified gang members believed that Kyoshi was some kind of demon "drenched in blood and white ashes" that had consumed Xu entirely and would later spread tales of horror in the surrounding countryside; some of these Yellow Necks were eventually captured by the prefectural captain of Yousheng. Another faction, consisting of Wai, the surviving Kang Shen sectarians, and a few others stayed at the place of Xu's death, seemingly revering Kyoshi. They only left when the Avatar ordered them to do so. Per traditional daofei customs, she had become the new leader of the Yellow Necks, though she was dismayed when this was revealed to her.
Mok and his followers initially resumed their banditry in the countryside but eventually relocated to Ba Sing Se. There, they reorganized as the "Triad of the Golden Wing" and began to grow in influence until being tracked down by Avatar Kyoshi.
The Yellow Necks, and by extension the Autumn Bloom Society, was deeply rooted in the customs and beliefs of the daofei. Its members generally lived by the traditional outlaw codes of conduct, putting great importance in honor, respect for elders, and loyalty to one's fellow organization members. Gang members addressed each other as "brothers" and "sisters", while male elders of the group including Xu were granted the honorific "uncle". Yellow Necks and Autumn Blooms were usually willing to die for each other, though they were not above leaving grievously wounded companions behind. Like other daofei, the Yellow Necks acknowledged the lei tai as a legitimate way to settle disputes and to change their leader; accordingly, some Yellow Necks regarded Kyoshi as their new boss following her killing of Xu Ping An.
The Yellow Necks notably differed from other daofei in their fanaticism. The Yellow Necks took their customs as an almost religious dogma and followed the commands of Xu without question, regarding him as a savior figure. By extension, they regarded the violation of daofei customs as a much graver issue than other outlaw groups did, and many Yellow Necks harbored a hatred for all law-abiders that was unusual among daofei. As a result, their members regarded their criminal activities as spiritually charged and in service of a higher cause. They did not shy away from brutally harming outsiders and would not spare civilians whom they regarded as inherently evil.