|"I always had a feeling I would be undone by a fancy party."|
|— Jianzhu mutters to Hei-Ran, referring to Lu Beifong's party invitation.|
"Obligations" is the seventeenth chapter of The Rise of Kyoshi.
Hei-Ran and Jianzhu attend Lu Beifong's party in Gaoling.
Inside the Avatar mansion's library, Hei-Ran and Jianzhu discuss an invitation from Lu Beifong. Jianzhu mentions that Chamberlain Hui influenced Lu into inviting the Avatar to their residence in Gaoling as he believes that the Avatar should be trained by more noble masters. Jianzhu partially agrees, noting how poorly Kuruk ended up under their guidance. Hei-Ran disagrees, arguing that they were young back then and his downfall should not be on their shoulders. Jianzhu still argues that it does not help their case with Hui, then asks about the shirshus they requested from Professor Shaw. Hei-Ran answers that Shaw has not replied yet so they will need to make it to Lu Beifong's party another way. Hei-Ran suggests that they claim that the Avatar, who the world still thinks is Yun, is sick. Jianzhu considers her idea but disputes it, saying that it will only make him look like a bad guardian and will raise suspicion amongst the sages. Jianzhu admits that, though the truth will eventually get out, they need to delay it as long as possible. Hei-Ran suggests that they determine which sages will remain loyal to Jianzhu, to which he agrees and remarks that Hei-Ran will need an elegant dress for the prestigious party.
After slowly traveling by caravan, Hei-Ran and Jianzhu finally make it to the impressive Beifong manor. Chamberlain Hui greets Jianzhu and asks them about their journey; Jianzhu lies that his trip was of the utmost pleasure. Hui goes on to flirtatiously flatter Hei-Ran, which causes her to cringe. The sage feels bad for how often men like Hui attempt to force themselves onto her. Hui asks where Kelsang and Yun are, to which Jianzhu solely answers that they are together. Lu Beifong greets his two guests and immediately discusses a business deal regarding the Southern Water Tribe that they had proposed to him. Hui, who has a habit of disagreeing with Jianzhu just to sound important, worries about giving his southern neighbors too much of an advantage over the Earth Kingdom. Jianzhu and Hei-Ran work to justify the mutually favorable agreement and make it appeal to Lu Beifong. However, Lu sides with his chamberlain regarding the matter, saying that he will not agree to anything until he can speak to the Avatar. Jianzhu, who tries his hardest to not look at Hui with contempt, asks to speak to him privately.
Jianzhu falsely tells Chamberlain Hui that, after an argument regarding his bending progress, Kelsang and Yun ran away together on a flying bison. Hui is shocked by the news and tries to understand why Kelsang would take the Avatar. Jianzhu, pretending to be helpless, asks for Hui's wisdom and assistance regarding the lost Avatar. Hui, who is pleased to feel significant, assures Jianzhu that he will take charge of the matter, and then Lu, along with the other sages, that Master Kelsang took Yun on a "nomadic journey of self-discovery". Since the story comes from Hui rather than Jianzhu, the sages believe the tale and spend the remainder of the party hitting on Hei-Ran.
As they journey home, Hei-Ran reveals her anger toward Jianzhu for being too vulnerable with Hui at the party. Hei-Ran undoes her top-knot, which startles Jianzhu since it is a sign of lost honor in the Fire Nation, and says that she feels guilty for how she treated Yun as his teacher. Jianzhu ensures that they can still make things right by finding Kyoshi. Hei-Ran worries that Hui will reveal what they told him to the other sages, but Jianzhu says that it is in Hui's best interest to wait. To aggressively get the last word in, Hei-Ran makes a jab at Jianzhu's recent displays of poor self-preservation and goes to sleep. In the name of neutral jing, Jianzhu attempts to fall asleep rather than plotting his actions any further.
Hei-Ran and Jianzhu arrive home to find Professor Shaw with a gift of shirshus. The earthbender plans to use the beasts to track down Kyoshi and bring her back to Yokoya.
- Xu Ping An is mentioned for the first time.
- A poet named Yuan Zhen is mentioned in this chapter. In real life, Yuan Zhen was a key literary figure of the middle Tang dynasty of China.