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"The Agreement" is the sixteenth chapter of The Rise of Kyoshi.

Overview

Rangi begins to train Kyoshi in the art of firebending. Later, Kyoshi agrees to join the Flying Opera Company and takes a daofei vow.

Synopsis

Kyoshi sleeps poorly, concerned that Lao Ge knows she is the Avatar, and thinking she is in danger if every old person she encounters is able to deduce she has great power or discovers her true identity. Rangi wakes her up before dawn and tells her they will start her firebending training. They walk away from the camp to some small hills as Kirima, Lek, and Wong sleep and Lao Ge is missing.

On the way there, Kyoshi feels like a prisoner as Rangi prods her several times to move faster. When they reach the mounds, Rangi tells her to get into the horse stance. Kyoshi reluctantly asks her if they will be firebending since they can be easily seen and Rangi responds that they will only be reviewing the basics, telling her to hold her stance for ten minutes. Kyoshi feels intense pain in her thighs and back and after three minutes she realizes Rangi wants to punish her for not telling her everything. She apologizes, but her friend tells her she is allowed to speak once her hips are parallel. Kyoshi proceeds to agree she should have told her that her mother was an airbender and that she did not think that information was important. Rangi says that it is relevant and that the truth about her origins is shocking. Kyoshi hopes that continuing to give details about her mother will help her escape the difficult training.

She says that Jesa was a nun born in the Eastern Air Temple, becoming a highly regarded master at a young age; however, on a journey through the Earth Kingdom, she met Kyoshi's father, an earthbender and daofei. He convinced Jesa to participate in a scheme, and she fell in love with him and the criminal life. She eventually tattooed serpents over her arrows and began her life in the underworld. Jesa became an important figure among daofei; however, her airbending abilities decreased from the spiritual taint of her new way of life and she began using a set of war fans to compensate.

Rangi congratulates Kyoshi for maintaining the horse stance for five minutes and tells her to promise she will never throw her life away for a boy. Kyoshi rhetorically asks who could be worth that, but immediately regrets her words, remembering Yun and Kelsang. She is disgusted that, even for the briefest moment, she forgot about her friends and considers that unforgivable. She also thinks that the rarer her moments of happiness are, the further she gets on her path to vengeance. After she recalls how she could not firebend against Jianzhu, she tells Rangi that she is ready to create flames. Rangi denies her, saying that she is very tense and that she will produce the wrong kind of flames. She shows Kyoshi how a wrong state of mind affects firebending, dropping into a stance and letting her knuckles smolder. Kyoshi still tries firebending, despite Rangi's protest. Instead of launching a flame, Kyoshi's hand starts burning as she feels like she is holding red-hot coal. She falls on her back, pointing her hand away from any target. A contorted spout of black smoke rises from her fingers. Rangi stares angrily at her, but before they can argue, Lek comes to them and asks what sort of weak firebending was that. Rangi answers she had a momentary collapse of discipline, continuing to hide the fact that Kyoshi is the Avatar. Lek tells them that breakfast is ready and they go to eat.

Kyoshi, Rangi, and the daofei eat gutted, skinned, and burnt elephant rats for breakfast. The two friends take quick and furious bites to show each other how upset they are as Lek comments that he is surprised they willingly eat this kind of food. Rangi tells him that she has survival training from the academy and Kyoshi says she is used to this from her life on the streets as a child when the villagers from Yokoya did not feed her. Kirima says that she must hate them for that, but Kyoshi responds that she hates her parents more and Lek throws the remnants of his meal into the fire, walking away angrily. Kirima explains that it is because he idolized Jesa and Hark, who found him in a town outside the Misty Palms Oasis after he lost his brother, the last remaining member of his family. They took care of Lek for a few days and after he proves useful on a job, he becomes a member of the Flying Opera Company. Kyoshi is annoyed and sarcastically says that she will be nicer to the boy her parents decided to raise instead of her. She continues to tell them that she wants them to train her since they are the only available benders. Kirima asks why she needs a waterbending teacher, to which Kyoshi answers that wisdom can be learned from every nation. She also tells them that she wants to learn dust-stepping. Kirima and Wong are surprised by her request and say that it is their group's signature technique and that it is not free. Rangi responds that they are pretty serious about something she learned after seeing it once and Kirima says they will teach Kyoshi dust-stepping only if she becomes a daofei and swears their oaths. She nods, telling them that she understands the implications, but Rangi and Wong urge her to think twice before accepting. Kyoshi does not want to become one of them, but she wishes to avenge Kelsang and Yun. She asks what the oaths are as Rangi is strongly disappointed with her.

Kirima says the swearing-in ceremony should take place in a grand hall where the initiate stays under an arch of swords and spears. Kyoshi takes a spot by the riverbank with Wong behind her holding a pocketknife over her head. She makes the same salute the daofei did the night before with a fist, representing the outlaws, on a flattened hand, the symbol of the law-abiding community. A new member of the gang has to recite fifty-four oaths to be accepted, but Kirima lets Kyoshi off with three: to defend her brothers and sisters and obey her elders, to follow no ruler and no laws, and to never make an honest living, working for legitimate people or accepting money for her efforts. Kyoshi thinks that the third oath is the most perilous for her as her job in Yokoya kept her alive, but she reminds herself she is not that person anymore. After she finishes taking the oaths, Kirima salutes her and Wong gives her a congratulatory pat on the shoulders, before they start cleaning up the remnants of their camp. Kyoshi tells them that the deal was for lessons and Kirima assures her they will train her after they travel farther away from the lawmen. She also says that even "baby vengeance seekers" need food and money to survive and they currently do not have either.

Kyoshi thinks the daofei are treating her like Lek and she needs to establish a better position in the group's hierarchy. As Wong reaches down to pick up a blanket, Kyoshi steps on it, pinning it to the ground. He gives her a threatening stare and she crosses her arms as she looks him in the eye. Wong says that if she keeps acting like this, he will not teach her how to use her fans. Kyoshi pulls out one fan and asks, surprised if he knows how to use them. He takes the fan and snaps it open, throws it in the air, and it spins perfectly around its pivot. The leaf traces circles as it flies and Wong catches it and starts singing. He thrusts the fan around him in a series of flitting gestures, opening and closing it rapidly. Kyoshi watches his dance, knowing these moves can be used as attacks and defense techniques. After he finishes, she applauds him and asks how he can do this. Kirima explains that Kyoshi's father was an actor from a family lineage that traces back to one of the Royal Theater schools in Ba Sing Se and that they have to stay sharp at performing to have a cover in the cities they visit. This is one of the reasons the daofei group is called the Flying Opera Company. Kirima raises a leg behind her and over her head and easily does a cartwheel. Kyoshi is astonished and thinks that their training for performances is why they are so light on their feet in combat. Wong hands her back the fan and promises to teach her how to use it if she gives him a fifth of the money she will make on any future jobs. She quickly agrees and Kirima tells Wong he could have gotten at least half of Kyoshi's shares.

Lek jokingly asks if they want to get going or sit there rubbing each other's backs all day, and Kirima says that he should guess who the new member of their group is. He angrily argues that Kyoshi follows the law and that she does not care about their code, refusing to call her kin. Kyoshi and Rangi mount Pengpeng and see that Lek saddled the bison quickly and perfectly. He tells them he likely has more experience at it than them, and Kirima recalls how easy it was for them, Jesa, and Hark to smuggle different items when they had Longyan. As she and Wong climb on Pengpeng's back, Rangi gets in the driver seat, not letting Lek fly the bison. He takes out a map, considering that real leaders navigated and scheduled, telling the others they were going to a meeting post in the mountains outside Ba Sing Se to find some easy jobs for a start. They lift off, and he suspiciously asks Kyoshi and Rangi how they got a flying bison and if they stole her from an airbender friend. Kyoshi is grateful he reminded her of her hatred for herself and Jianzhu, since she would never be able to fly along with Kelsang again. She answers that they indeed stole Pengpeng from a friend. Rangi is surprised by her lie, and Lek disgustingly says it is a cold act but one he would expect from someone that does not respect their parents. Kyoshi says nothing as she took in the view around them. Then, she remembers they forgot Lao Ge and asks the others where he is.

Production notes

Series continuity

Character revelations

  • Jesa was born in the Eastern Air Temple, became an airbending master at a young age, and was highly regarded.
  • Hark was an earthbender and a small-time thief with a lineage tracing back to the Royal Theater School in Ba Sing Se.
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