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"Desperate Measures" is the ninth chapter of The Rise of Kyoshi.

Overview

Desperately needing to determine the identity of the Avatar, Hei-Ran tests Kyoshi to see if she is capable of firebending. After somehow failing the test, Kyoshi talks with Yun.

Synopsis

Kyoshi realizes how much different she is being treated in the mansion now that everyone knows that she is potentially the Avatar. She used to help herself to a bowl of jook in the morning, but she is now served breakfast in one of the dining halls that is reserved for guests, where Kyoshi sips her tea alone. Since Jianzhu is not sure whether Kyoshi or Yun is the Avatar, he now treats them both like nobles. Kyoshi's former coworker, Rin, addresses her as "Mistress" and informs her that she needs to train with Jianzhu in an hour. Kyoshi feels embarrassed about the special treatment and, horrified of being on display, she runs to hide in the mansion's small library and locks the door behind her. She stays there alone until it is time for her to meet her earthbending teacher.

Kyoshi arrives at the unfamiliar training ground and sees Jianzhu waiting for her in the middle of the stone courtyard. She bows like a servant to him, but he asks her not to do that anymore. Kyoshi follows him into a nearly empty supply closet, where Hei-Ran is waiting for them. Hei-Ran warmly greets her, but Kyoshi still feels out of place around the firebending master. As she offers to help Hei-Ran in any way possible, she notices how arid the room is, but she explains that she had to dry it out for their exercise. The two sit across from each other on silk cushions meant for meditating, with Jianzhu watching behind them.

Hei-Ran explains that they will perform a traditional Fire Nation test on Kyoshi that is performed on newborns to determine whether they are capable of firebending. Kyoshi feels nervous, but Hei-Ran ensures her that she needs to do very little. She holds shredded birch bark and cotton mixed with some special oils under Kyoshi's nose and asks her to simply breathe and feel her inner heat, explaining that if the tinder lights, she is a firebender. The earthbender feels uncertain if it will work, but Hei-Ran reminds her that this is a test meant for newborns and says that it is esentially impossible for a true firebender not to make some indication with the method. Kyoshi breathes deeply as her instructor asks her to relax.

After two minutes of failure, Hei Ran heats up the room and pleads for Kyoshi to create even the smallest of sparks. Ten more minutes pass without any luck before Kyoshi collapses forward coughing, and Hei-Ran crumbles the tinder in her fist. The headmistress tells Jianzhu that it usually takes seconds for babies to pass the test under the same conditions. Kyoshi asks them if Yun has passed the test; without giving an answer, Jianzhu storms out of the room. Out of frustration, he explodes the earthbending discs that were stacked by the door.

Later on, Yun finds Kyoshi hiding in the library and sits next to her on the floor. Kyoshi searches through a medicine chest filled with hundreds of labeled herbs and tinctures. Yun jokes that the chest is mostly filled with remedies for baldness, causing Kyoshi to snort. Yun apologizes to Kyoshi and says that he knows she never meant for this to happen, but Kyoshi mentions that Rangi does not see it that way, which makes her realize that she needs both of her friends to feel whole. Yun assures her that Rangi will eventually come around as she is "a person of faith", and then comments on how he is trying to act like Jianzhu with his wise words. Reminded of him, Yun admits that he is currently worried about Jianzhu's well-being, as he has realized that training the Avatar is a "cutthroat business". He explains that there are people, such as some Earth Kingdom sages that only desire to use the Avatar's power and reputation to profit themselves, which is why he and Jianzhu hav been working so hard as, the more good they do for the four nations, the less changes another sage will try to take him away from his master. Kyoshi is reminded of how she accused Kelsang of taking advantage of her for this very reason and feels guilty about it. Instead, she tries to ask about the possibility that she is the true Avatar, but is unable to finish putting the thought into words. However, Yun understands her concern and explains that if Kyoshi is actually the Avatar, the treaty and peace agreements that he and Jianzhu have brokered would become null and void; if leaders found out that the Avatar was not the one who previously signed deals with them, the world could be thrown into chaos.

Yun's attitude drastically lightens as he questions Kyoshi about the dried fire lily petals on top of the medicine chest. Kyoshi blushes as Yun continues to tease her about the flowers. Their inside joke was formed eight months earlier as Kyoshi arranged a vast supply of fire lilies sent to them by a Fire Navy admiral. While Kyoshi sorted the flowers, she had allowed him to lie down on the floor and rest his head in her lap.

The scent of fire lilies was now a reminder to them of the time that they had almost kissed each other. Yun and Kyoshi giggle and blush as they flirtatiously tease each other. After complimenting her smile, he tells Kyoshi that if it turns out he is not the Avatar, he will be glad that it is her. Yun then informs her that Jianzhu is taking both of them on a fun trip.

Production notes

Character revelations

  • Yun sees Jianzhu as both his mentor and his family.
  • Yun and Kyoshi nearly kissed eight months ago.
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