|"The stability of the Fire Nation is more important than my life. [...] The other reason I cut my topknot is so that there will be no further disgrace to the country if he kills me. An honorless person does not need to be avenged. I can bear any insult, because there's no more person to insult."|
|— Hei-Ran to Kyoshi on her regrets about Yun.|
Hei-Ran was Avatar Kuruk's firebending teacher and one of his closest companions. Tasked with finding Kuruk's successor after his demise, she served as the firebending master to Yun, who was believed to be the Avatar. A member of the illustrious Sei'naka clan, Hei-Ran was greatly respected in the Fire Nation due to having served as a high-ranking military commander, and later as Headmistress of the Royal Fire Academy for Girls.
Hei-Ran was the mother of Rangi, who was first Yun's bodyguard, and later the lover of Avatar Kyoshi. Hei-Ran worked with Jianzhu to locate her daughter and Kyoshi, but was grievously poisoned by the earthbending master during the conclave of sages in Yokoya.
After recuperating in Agna Qel'a, Hei-Ran returned to the Fire Nation with her personal healer, Atuat, as well as her daughter Rangi. A victim of assassination attempts in Yun's quest for vengeance against the bending masters who had lied to him, Hei-Ran discarded of her top-knot to display her dishonor. Although badly wounded in North Chung-Ling, she and Kyoshi seemingly deduced a connection between Yun and the Saowon clan, and proposed a solution to prevent war in the Fire Nation.
Hei-Ran was a loyal ally of Avatar Kyoshi. As Rangi was in love with her, she considered Kyoshi to be her own daughter, and part of their family.
As Kuruk's companion
Born into the prestigious Sei'naka clan, Hei-Ran once served a high-ranking military commander in the Fire Army. Her relative was assigned to be a chaperone of Avatar Kuruk, but at the last minute, the relative got sick, and sent Hei-Ran as a temporary replacement. As soon as Kuruk laid eyes on Hei-Ran, he was determined to make her a permanent companion of his, and quickly declared his feelings for her. Hei-Ran immediately rejected Kuruk and claimed she had no interest in a relationship with the Avatar, however, she privately clarified that she would have no issue with an off-duty relationship. Eventually, she resigned her post to become a long-term companion of Kuruk.
Hei-Ran became good friends with Kuruk, as well as Jianzhu and Kelsang, the Avatar's earthbending and airbending teachers, respectively. Despite Kuruk having already mastered the four elements, he asked his companions for further instruction, believing that the greatest Pai Sho players never stopped learning. Kuruk's companions kept correcting each other's mistakes and bad habits, and worked to improve their bending.
Kuruk's companions traveled to a meadow near Yaoping Town, where he and Kelsang meditated into the Spirit World for the first time. Returning to the physical world, Kuruk took Kelsang's glider and flew into the mountains. The next day, Kuruk's friends found him crawling through the streets of Yaoping, foaming from the mouth. Some days later, Hei-Ran walked into Kuruk's room at the town's inn, and found him surrounded by broken bottles of wine, and having slept with the inn's maid. Although she did not admit it, Hei-Ran lost a great deal of respect for Kuruk that day.
In approximately 316 BG, four years before Kuruk's death, Hei-Ran married a man named Jinsuk and started teaching at the Royal Fire Academy for Girls. According to Kelsang, Hei-Ran was truly happy at the time, more so than ever before or after. Kuruk's companions began to go their own separate ways at this time. She disapproved of Kuruk's new friend, Nyahitha, and believed that the man ruined the Avatar by indulging him in a hedonistic lifestyle.
Search for Kuruk's successor
After Kuruk's death, Hei-Ran, along with Jianzhu and Kelsang, was tasked with tracking down and helping the new Avatar. As the search for the Avatar proved futile for years, the three friends eventually decided to try to maintain balance around the world on their own. Hei-Ran consequently attempted to become headmistress of the Royal Fire Academy, and defeated numerous rivals in a series of deadly Agni Kai. One of her victims was her own cousin. Though she became headmistress and the school cleared her name of any wrongdoings, the Agni Kais left a lasting negative impact on her reputation. Many rumored that the deaths had been no accidents amid fierce duels, but had been intended and amounted to murder. Rangi actually believed the latter, straining the relationship between mother and daughter.
After Jianzhu mistakenly identified a boy named Yun to be Kuruk's successor, Hei-Ran resigned as headmistress and moved to the mansion Jianzhu had built in Yokoya Port to accommodate the new Avatar. While she became Yun's firebending teacher, her daughter became Yun's bodyguard.
In 296 BG, Hei-Ran caught Yun performing acrobatics in his spare time and criticized him for letting his mind wander when he should be attempting firebending, prompting him to take a Fire Fist stance in an attempt to produce flame before using his earthbending to mimic it. An unimpressed Hei-Ran remarked that masters used to maim their students in the old days before Jianzhu intervened and put Yun's training on hold. Hei-Ran subsequently observed Jianzhu and Yun discuss how to deal with the Fifth Nation. Upon returning to training afterward, Hei-Ran expressed concern over Jianzhu's decision to disconnect Yun from his native element by forcing him to walk across sharp spikes barefooted.
Hei-Ran later accompanied Yun, Jianzhu, Kelsang, Rangi and Kyoshi to meet with the leader of the Fifth Nation, Tagaka. During the banquet Tagaka hosted for them, the Fifth Nation leader brought up Hei-Ran's dark reputation for "accidental kills", as well as the extreme actions of Jianzhu and Kelsang, though Hei-Ran kept her calm when accused. After Tagaka and her escorts departed their company, Hei-Ran remained silent as Jianzhu and Kelsang attempted to justify their actions. When Yun's impudent remarks forced Jianzhu to order everyone out of the tent, Hei-Ran desired to chase after Rangi, who departed first, but chose to exit in the opposite direction.
The next day, Tagaka revealed the whole treaty signing was a ruse to lure Yun away from Yokoya before her waterbenders enacted their ambush and dragged Hei-Ran, Rangi and Jianzhu under the ice. The trio managed to survive and make their way to Kelsang's bison, Pengpeng, and arrived in time as Kyoshi managed to devastate the majority of the Fifth Nation fleet with the very sea bed. Despite having only one good arm, Hei-Ran fought against Tagaka's waterbenders with Rangi while Jianzhu dealt with the remaining ship.
Upon their return to Yokoya, Jianzhu began to suspect from Kyoshi's powerful display of earthbending that she was the true Avatar. To that end, Hei-Ran subjected Kyoshi to a firebending test with a ball of tinder to no avail.
Searching for Avatar Kyoshi
Hei-Ran was later questioned by a recovering Kelsang for the whereabouts of Jianzhu, who had taken Yun and Kyoshi on a clandestine excursion before leaving for an offshore meeting with a delegation from the Fire Navy. When she later returned to Yokoya, she found Jianzhu covered in dust and remarked that he looked like a badgermole spat him out. Subsequently, Jianzhu told her that he had confirmed Kyoshi as the true Avatar, who proceeded to run away after a treacherous spirit killed Yun and Kelsang. Managing to restrain her temper, Hei-Ran proceeded to slap him for his failures before expressing concern that Jianzhu would be scandalized once the truth about Kyoshi came to light. Certain that their former maid wouldn't make it far on her own, she then attempted to summon Rangi to track her down only to be told by Rin that her daughter left with Kyoshi. After dismissing Rin, Hei-Ran rebuffed Jianzhu's confidence in easily tracking down the two girls, reminding that her daughter was trained in evasion and escape. She then asked him how they could've fallen so far when they should be mourning Kelsang instead of trying to control the Avatar. Jianzhu insisted that they had become old and responsible and stated that they should honor both Kuruk and Kelsang's memories by moving forward. He then requested Hei-Ran write a letter to Professor Shaw at the Ba Sing Se University to request use of his shirshus.
While awaiting word from Shaw, Hei-Ran insisted she and Jianzhu meet twice a day for an update. On one such afternoon, they received an invitation from Lu Beifong, inviting the Avatar to celebrate the fall of the Fifth Nation before the Earth Kingdom sages. Jianzhu suspected his rival, Chamberlain Hui, had his hand in this. With no time to use the shirshu before the party, Hei-Ran suggested they claim Yun to be ill only for Jianzhu to rebuff that it would make him look like a bad guardian and that Hui would send all forms of healers to confirm his status. Realizing they couldn't keep the Avatar's disappearance a secret forever, Hei-Ran recommended that Jianzhu consolidate his allies among the sages and determine whom threw in their lot with Hui. The earthbending master agreed before insisting she accompany him to the party.
After traveling to Gaoling in separate carriages, Hei-Ran was greeted by Hui, who showered her with flattery in a blunt attempt at courtship, oblivious to her obvious disdain, though she declined to be addressed by her former title as headmistress. When asked when Yun and Kelsang would be arriving, Hei-Ran flinched as Jianzhu claimed the two were absent. As they subsequently met with Lu Beifong, Hei-Ran supported Jianzhu's petition to provide a loan to the Southern Water Tribe, only for Hui to manipulate Lu into refusing.
As they spoke with Hui in private, Hei-Ran became privately outraged as Jianzhu admitted to having lost the Avatar. She kept her silence as Jianzhu spun a falsehood about him and Yun having a falling out and that the false Avatar had run away with Kelsang. Ultimately, Hui agreed to tell Lu and the other sages that Kelsang was taking Yun on a spiritual journey of self-discovery.
After enduring partygoers trying to court her as well as her daughter, Hei-Ran rode back to Yokoya with Jianzhu and confronted him for recklessly revealing his biggest setback to Hui and piling on one deception after another. She even tore out her own hairpin, catching him by surprise, to show how dishonored she felt. She then lamented having failed Yun, feeling that, even though he wasn't the Avatar, that she pushed him too far. Even though he tried reassuring her that finding Kyoshi would solve all their problems, Hei-Ran expressed her concern over Hui revealing his falsehood to the other sages. Jianzhu assured her that it would be too dangerous and reckless for Hui to act hastily. Hei-Ran then went to sleep for the remainder of the journey.
After Jianzhu returned from tracking the shirshu, he informed Hei-Ran that the trail had gone cold near the Taihua Mountains and suggested that the two girls found safety in Ba Sing Se, only for the firebender to interrupt him, stating that it was too late. As she explained, she had been tracking Hui's movements during his absence and had determined that Hui was acting on the information Jianzhu gave him to build a case with the other sages to revoke his guardianship of the Avatar.
By this point, Hei-Ran had grown weary of the secrecy and insisted they come clean to the Hui and the sages for aid in extending the search, if it meant bringing Rangi home safe. Surprisingly, Jianzhu agreed with her to sacrifice guardianship of the Avatar to see her daughter returned.
However, in spite of Jianzhu predicting Hui wouldn't be prepared for at least two weeks, the chamberlain arrived at the mansion the next morning with a whole gaggle of sages outside of Jianzhu's sphere of influence. During the conclave, Hui revealed his knowledge of a daofei settlement in the Taihua Mountains and inferred that the Avatar was either captured or dead. This news caused Hei-Ran to drop her teacup in shock and outrage, as she realized Jianzhu excluded her from this information, which left Rangi's fate ambiguous. But Jianzhu failed to meet her gaze and focused on Hui. Just as Hui was about to call for a vote to strip Jianzhu of his duties, the entire conclave succumbed to the poison Jianzhu placed in their tea, which included Jianzhu himself, Hei-Ran and some of the household staff.
Hei-Ran survived the poison thanks to her Fire Nation heritage but was left comatose. She later regained consciousness after the Flying Opera Company raided the mansion to rescue Rangi, whom Jianzhu had originally planned to use as leverage to force Kyoshi's compliance, and was taken on Pengpeng to meet with Kyoshi outside Qinchao, though the poison had drained her vitality. Rangi then took her mother to the Northern Water Tribe in the hopes of finding healers to save her. Hei-Ran was near death when she arrived at the Northern capital of Agna Qel'a, and her healer Atuat claimed to have saved her from the very brink of death itself.
Return to the Fire Nation
After about a year of care, Hei-Ran had recovered sufficiently to return to the Fire Nation with her daughter. Atuat came along with the pair, Hei-Ran inviting her as her personal guest for the Festival of Szeto celebrations in the capital. She met Kyoshi again for the first time in a year at a garden party in the royal palace, with the Avatar glad to see the former headmistress in better health, resolving to find who was responsible for her poisoning. Hei-Ran responded that it was Jianzhu, to Kyoshi's shock and surprise. The Avatar apologized for not being able to firebend the day Hei-Ran tested her in Yokoya, but Hei-Ran declared that she was the one who needed to apologize. Kyoshi told her that her recovery was a good start to atoning for her mistakes. After Rangi departed to leave the pair alone, Hei-Ran clarified that she would have killed Jianzhu if she knew what he did, and Kyoshi affirmed that she also would have done so. Hei-Ran told Kyoshi that no matter what, Rangi was kind at heart and that the Avatar would have to go to moral lengths that Rangi never could. Atuat arrived on the scene shortly after, and Kyoshi appreciated the skill of the renowned healer. Hei-Ran left to see to Atuat's antics with Jinpa, leaving Rangi and Kyoshi alone once more.
Hei-Ran arrived back on the scene after Kyoshi made the great faux pas of assuming that Zoryu's half-brother Chaejin was the Fire Lord, proceeding to tell the Fire Lord she would fix the nation's problems and dismissing Chaejin in the presence of the sovereign. Hei-Ran took the group to a side, determined to prevent further diplomatic catastrophe. As Zoryu apologized for organizing a reception large enough to cause such a scandal, Hei-Ran chided him for not blaming Kyoshi and making himself appear even weaker. She also blamed Rangi for not thinking of a situation to divert Kyoshi from such a colossal mistake. As Zoryu explained the situation to Kyoshi in more detail, Hei-Ran left to her chambers with Atuat as soon as she felt unwell. Though she wished to stay so the youths could not make further mistakes, Atuat disciplined her for arguing with her on a health-related matter.
As Jinpa began to serve Hei-Ran and Atuat tea in the traditional Air Nomad style, Kyoshi and Rangi barged into the room, determined to save Hei-Ran from Yun, who attacked the palace and revealed his plan to take revenge against everyone who lied to him. Yun did not harm Hei-Ran that night, but managed to kill Lu Beifong, Chancellor Dairin, and several palace guardsmen before fleeing. Hei-Ran took part in coordinating the palace lockdown in the wake of Yun's attack.
The following morning, Hei-Ran took breakfast with Kyoshi and Rangi on a small balcony. Hei-Ran noted that Kyoshi believed that Father Glowworm had possessed Yun in some manner, but clarified that she had never heard of the name, and Kyoshi should ask Kuruk directly about the spirit. Kyoshi responded that she could not commune with her past lives yet, but Hei-Ran proposed meeting with Nyahitha in North Chung-Ling so Kyoshi could contact her predecessor. Kyoshi was determined to go to the city, but Rangi grew angry at them going away just after the palace was attacked. Rangi could not figure out why Yun killed people so methodically, but Hei-Ran explained Yun's assassination lessons at the mansion to the pair. Rangi told Hei-Ran she was responsible for turning Yun into a monster, threw a table over the balcony, and stormed off.
Hei-Ran was determined to show her dishonor, and gathered Atuat as her second, and the Fire Lord as her witness. She came to the stables where Kyoshi and Rangi were, and declared that it was for not recognizing the true Avatar, failing to protect Kelsang, letting her pupil Zoryu dishonor the nation, and not being worthy of Rangi's esteem. She ritualistically cut off her top-knot, declared that the deed was done, and began to make the preparations to go to North Chung-Ling. Privately, Hei-Ran explained to Kyoshi that she was coming along to act as bait, and that Kyoshi would not have a good chance at capturing Yun without a sacrifice. She told Kyoshi that her death even might put an end to the succession crisis. Kyoshi did not object to the plan, and Hei-Ran took her silence as acceptance.
Traveling to North Chung-Ling
Hei-Ran arrived in North Chung-Ling on Yingyong with the rest of Kyoshi's companions, lecturing her daughter on her selection of bison landings. The group made their way into town, and as Jinpa and Atuat distracted the locals, Kyoshi, Rangi, and Hei-Ran entered Nyahitha's tent. The sage attempted to tell the group's futures, but Hei-Ran informed Nyahitha that it was her. She continued to explain Kyoshi's predicament, and Rangi disapproved of having Kyoshi work with a scam artist. Nyahitha warned of the curse of all who learned of Father Glowworm's name, to the skepticism of Rangi. Nyahitha told Kyoshi that he was less knowledgeable about spirits than Kuruk, but could let her commune with Kuruk that evening.
Outside, a commotion began as members of the Saowon clan arrived in the city. The group observed an altercation between Lady Huazo and Sanshur Keohso, intervening as soon as a member of Huazo's van spat on the ground, causing the Keohso clan to throw rocks at her. Kyoshi earthbent the rocks away, while Hei-Ran distracted the noblewoman, faking joy at seeing her in the city and claiming to also be celebrating the Festival of Szeto in town. Huazo took note of Hei-Ran's shorn hair, telling her that she would remain a close friend in spite of her public dishonor, and patted the former headmistress on the head, considered a great offense to Fire Nationals; however, no-one raised an objection to the act.
The following morning, Yun found Hei-Ran in her inn and began to play Pai Sho with her. He told her that he would win in eighteen moves, and at that point, her life would be forfeit. Hei-Ran accepted this fact, and Yun bent the Pai Sho tiles into a sharp spike, just as Kyoshi entered the room. Hei-Ran was stabbed through the throat, though gripped Yun by the hand and summoned a great ball of fire. Hei-Ran aimed for his torso but hit Yun's shoulder instead. Yun fled the room, and Hei-Ran was greatly angered when, contrary to the plan, Kyoshi prioritized Hei-Ran's life over finding Yun, bringing her sleeves to Hei-Ran's throat to stem the bleeding and rushing her across town to Atuat's field hospital.
Hei-Ran was healed by Atuat, though had to make use of writing on a slate board with chalk to communicate with her doctor and daughter. Rangi was furious when she learned of Hei-Ran's plan to sacrifice herself so Kyoshi could capture Yun. As the Avatar arrived, Rangi angrily stormed off, declaring that she would have nothing to do with Kyoshi after she had used her mother as bait. Kyoshi began to panic, but Hei-Ran got her attention with a flick of chalk and began to tell Kyoshi that Rangi was not leaving. Knowing her daughter better than anyone, she told her that she would soon show Kyoshi that she still cared. Kyoshi told Hei-Ran that she still could not find Yun, Hei-Ran noting that Kyoshi missed her opportunity, and that the clans would use their fight in the town square to justify war. Kyoshi proposed that Yun and the Saowon were working together, as every move he made had benefited the clan. Hei-Ran noted that such evidence would disgrace the Saowon for good, as none of the other clans wanted to be associated with those that had invited a foreign attack on the nation. At that moment, Rangi arrived with noodles cooked with her own firebending to show she still cared for Kyoshi, and Hei-Ran told her to eat up, as the Avatar needed her strength. She told Kyoshi that, as her daughter loved her, she considered her to also be her own daughter.
Later, Kyoshi confirmed that the crops in the town's melonyam fields had been poisoned with salt, and that Huazo had recently purchased a salt-making operation. Hei-Ran believed Kyoshi, but told her that the current evidence was circumstantial. Noting that they needed a confession from the Saowon, Hei-Ran, Kyoshi, Jinpa, and Atuat began to formulate a plan to kidnap Huazo and Chaejin and make them confess.
Huazo laughed upon seeing Hei-Ran in the inn, claiming that the Avatar and Sei'naka had disgraced themselves with the kidnapping and that there would be no mercy for Hei-Ran's clan once the Saowon were victorious. Hei-Ran responded that they did not need mercy, but rather, justice. Kyoshi faced Hei-Ran for one last time before leaving, asking Hei-Ran if Huazo was right and if she truly was losing her honor. Hei-Ran responded that Kyoshi truly understood honor, and that honor must sometimes be laid down for the good of others. Rangi soon walked around the corner, being bent into the ground by Kyoshi, who gave her a kiss before leaving.
Return to Yokoya
Hei-Ran began to make her way to Yokoya after Kyoshi's final confrontation with Yun. Kyoshi promised Rangi that her mother would be there to see her through her injury.
Hei-Ran had a porcelain-doll face, pitch-black hair, and piercing eyes tending toward a darker bronze than typical Fire Nation gold. She looked older after her poisoning, and began to have streaks of gray hair.
A bending master and the personal tutor of both the Avatar and the Fire Lord, Hei-Ran was considered one of the greatest firebenders of her age. She considered her firebending to be much weaker following her poisoning, but still showed an incredible amount of strength, being able to summon a great fireball to hurl at Yun even after she had just been stabbed through the throat.
- Two months after her wedding, Kuruk wrote Hei-Ran a love poem in which he expressed his desire to run off with her, but she never got the letter as Kelsang dissuaded him from sending it.
- Kuruk never told Hei-Ran of his quest to hunt down dark spirits, believing she would fall victim to Father Glowworm's curse.
- Hei-Ran was infamous for holding the record for the most "accidental" kills during Agni Kai at the Royal Fire Academy. Among her victims was her own cousin, a rival candidate for the position of headmistress.
- Hei-Ran was the last living member of Kuruk's original companions.
Kuruk's first firebending master
|Avatar's firebending master|
unknown - 316 BG
| Succeeded by|