|"Avatar Kuruk!? You... you communed with Avatar Kuruk? You looked like you were having a fit!"|
|— Jinpa questions Kyoshi after he saves her from drowning.|
"Past Lives" is the third chapter of The Shadow of Kyoshi.
As Kyoshi and Jinpa fly overseas to the Fire Nation, a sudden voice and intense pain forces Kyoshi to fall into the ocean. Underwater, Avatar Kuruk attempts to commune with her, but she is unable to interpret his words. Jinpa saves Kyoshi from drowning, then makes her explain what happened to her.
Kyoshi and Jinpa travel to the Fire Nation together, flying over the Mo Ce Sea on his flying bison Yingyong. Jinpa tells Kyoshi that they are about to fly over the small island where Avatar Yangchen performed waterbending for the first time and asks her if she wants to stop to see it. Despite Kyoshi's strong curiosity about Yangchen, she tells Jinpa not to land since she is in a hurry to get to the Fire Nation. Jinpa tells Kyoshi that he will tell her once they are flying over so she can admire it from above. Kyoshi settles back into the bison's saddle and thinks about how long it has been since she has talked to Rangi. She asks Jinpa is they have reached Yangchen's special island yet, but he is confused about why they have not flown over it yet as everything he has read says that it should be right where they are flying over. Kyoshi starting saying that she is fine if they just keep flying and cannot find the island.
In a split second, Kyoshi hears her name and seizes from a sudden bolt of intense pain. Her vision goes blurry, her hands go limp, and she falls off the bison. A sharp pain rushes through her head from temple to temple as she plummets down to the ocean. Kyoshi hears that same male voice calling her name again, a deep voice that does not belong to Jinpa. She hears the mysterious voice repeat himself again as she suddenly dives through cold saltwater. Underwater, Kyoshi opens her eyes and hazily sees Avatar Kuruk in front of her. He seems as if he is trying to ask for her help, but Kyoshi can only hear of a few of his words. She forgets that she is still underwater and gasps for air, breathing in water. As Kyoshi drowns, Jinpa dives into the water and grabs her hand. After an embarrassingly long time of struggling to reach the surface together, Kyoshi remembers that she is a waterbender and carries them up in a bubble. Jinpa and Kyoshi catch their breath as they finally reach Yinyong, who is floating on the surface of the sea.
Jinpa asks Kyoshi is she is alright and she says that she is, claiming that she simply lost her balance and fell down. Jinpa frowns at Kyoshi, asking what she means by just falling, after which she admits that Avatar Kuruk was trying to communicate with her. Jinpa is startled by her words and says it looked more like she was having a fit rather than speaking to her past life. Kyoshi tries to calm him down by saying her encounters are not usually as painful as this time was. Jinpa is upset that Kyoshi has not told him about speaking with Kuruk before, and tells her that speaking to her past lives is supposed to be a holy experience, rather than a "life-threatening seizure".
Kyoshi grimaces from disappointment in her lack of spiritual abilities. Ever since she failed to interpret Kuruk's words at the Southern Air Temple, Kyoshi has felt even more like an illegitimate Avatar. Though Kyoshi wished to commune with more notable past lives, she received garbled messages from Kuruk every time. Out of embarrassment, Kyoshi had kept it a secret from Jinpa, rather than asking for wisdom, and had tried to ignore Kuruk and forget it ever happened. However, her secret is now out.
Kyoshi tells Jinpa that it is not a big deal as every so often she hears Kuruk's voice, although she can never understand what he is saying. Jinpa gently tells her that if one of her past lives is trying to get her attention, it must be an urgent matter. Kyoshi yells that once she finds a spiritual master, she will try to commune with Kuruk, but until then, they need to focus on getting to the Fire Nation.
Kyoshi rages on, asking Jinpa if he is somehow just going to just fix everything that is messed up about her right now. Jinpa's face shows his intense hurt and disappointment. Kyoshi realizes that she is not only a bad Avatar but also an awful master to her secretary, the man who just saved her from drowning. She sincerely apologizes to the Air Nomad and admits that she wishes he could serve a worthier Avatar. Jinpa smiles half-heartedly toward her, causing Kyoshi to sigh and look down at the ocean.
Kyoshi's spirit is hardened once more as she spots a destroyed island which pieces look as though they have been blown apart by an intense display of bending. She recalls the story of Kuruk's first time entering the Avatar State and realizes that he destroyed Yangchen's special island. She becomes even more disgusted by the Avatar that Kuruk once was.