Her parents' marriage was assumed to be an unhappy one. Her father, Ruo Han, while supposedly an esteemed earthbender outside the house, was actually an abusive man. Her mother, Xiao Yin, was usually his primary victim. It was easy for Ruo Han because Xiao Yin was a nonbender, and even though she could put up a fight, the former dominated her very easily. However, a year after their marriage, unbeknownst to him until a month later, Xiao Yin was pregnant with their child.
They lived had moved to the Earth Republic after their marriage. And that was where Huo Li was born, in 322 ASC. Now life wasn't easy, Ruo Han had never changed from his cruel ways, and showed no sign of it ever possible. He treated his daughter the same way he treated his wife, there was no love or affection. Usually Xiao Yin would take most of the beating, the last thing she wanted was her child to be harmed.
Huo Li was an antisocial young girl, she avoided all attempts of conversation or greeting, simply keeping to herself. The only person she ever appreciated in her life was her mother, the only one she thought who truly loved and treasured her. Huo Li discovered her ability to bend fire when she was 6, but didn't tell her parents. She usually escaped the house whenever her father was gone, her mother would grant her the access to freedom whenever possible. Outside, she found a hobby in roasting stray animals alive with her powers. Huo Li had no remorse, guilt or disgust doing so, just giddy fascination and glee.
She was 8 when she got the horror of witnessing Ruo Han kill Xiao Yin in front of her very eyes. Maybe if it was anyone else she would not have minded so much. But this was her mother. Xiao Yin's death was simply blood loss, or maybe a stab in her stomach. Cut after cut he had tortured her, she didn't look at all human in the aftermath. More heartbreaking, Xiao Yin smiled at her daughter one last time, a silent message of "I love you," before inhaling her last breath. Ruo Han then proceeded to loom over Huo Li, threatening her to not to reveal what happened in this house that night. Then he beat her, and again, and again, and again.
From that day her father abused her whenever he got the chance, whether he was venting out his anger or simply bored. Huo Li was his play toy. But of course, everyone gets bored of their toys eventually. Ruo Han sold her off to a local brothel when she was 9. Upon discovering she was a firebender, her owner taught her some basic skills. This could help her by attracting clients and not burn them in the process. Huo Li, despite her young age, turned out to be great at what she did.
Her addiction for blood and violence never left her. But in the brothel she never got to satisfy it, so it bothered her greatly in the years that followed. As did her mother's death, she longed for the day she would find her father again and get revenge for what he did. Huo Li finally had a chance at 17, she suddenly got bored of her usual routine and killed her client. Then she killed another person. That night she spilt a lot of blood, until there was it was only her left. She had even killed her owner. Huo Li felt nothing but satisfaction and lust for more blood. Her grin was predatory and her eyes darkened a hue.
So she ran away that night. She didn't want to act on Ruo Han yet, you see. Huo Li remembered her father was an exceptionally esteemed earthbender, so attempting to even injure him now would be ridiculous. She was cunning and calculative, the obsession for revenge was painfully strong. She wanted to be on par with Ruo Han.
Desiring strongly to hone her abilities, she lied her way into the United Forces, under the identity of Akane, a 21 year old fire bender. The United Forces was a rough journey, beginning with training, but the girl pulled through. Huo Li was merciless enough to not care much. In fact, she felt an exhilarating thrill every time she would need to take a life on duty. Despite the above, she proved to be a valuable soldier, her skills quite remarkable.
Occasionally she would bed with other male soldiers- obviously without the knowledge of the army- but each of the unfortunate men turned up missing the next day. Strangely, no one suspected the attractive, fiery woman. Huo Li grew tired of putting up her feigned interest in following orders and routine, even less obeying the law. She took a chance and went rambunctious, injuring other soldiers on duty. She was discharged, of course, but wasn't the slightest upset. Huo Li was actually happy to be able to do things by her own will now.
With such freedom, she traveled back to her old hometown. She found her father, Ruo Han, who failed to recognize the young woman she had now become. They sparred one-on-one anyway. It was a tough fight, Huo Li actually enjoyed it, to the point where she was almost disappointed when she killed Ruo Han with an astray kitchen knife. But all for the sweet taste of revenge, and the sight of her father's blood made up for it. Huo Li took her escape at midnight, laughimg hysterically and mind in a daze. With her goal accomplished, she found herself moving to Republic City. Her bloodlust had grown to the point where it was beyond mad, so maybe she could quench its thirst here.