- This article is about the Rise of Kyoshi chapter. For other similar uses, see The Iceberg (disambiguation).
|"You did good, kid. [...] They'll be telling stories about this for a long time."|
|— Kyoshi hears Kuruk's voice as she grows dizzy.|
"The Iceberg" is the seventh chapter of The Rise of Kyoshi.
Kyoshi and her allies meet with Tagaka in the South Pole. After tensions rise, Kyoshi's team battles against the pirates. Kyoshi displays an incredible feat of earthbending that no one, even herself, knew she was capable of.
As Kyoshi and her group travel on Pengpeng to the South Pole, Kyoshi has a terrible dream in which she is surrounded by rain and lightning. A lightning flash reveals two mysterious hooded figures, the sight of whom fills her with hatred, and she claims that she will never forgive them. The ominous figures hold hands and engage in a vague transaction. Kyoshi's dream startles her awake, and, in her panic, she teeters over the edge of the flying bison's saddle until Yun and Rangi pull her back, causing her to fall on top of them. As the other passengers try to make sense of the events that have just transpired, Kelsang warns Kyoshi to be more careful.
Kelsang and Kyoshi begin to discuss the tradition of Avatars traveling with a group of close friends without elders' supervision. He explains that Avatar Kuruk used to travel with Hei-Ran, Jianzhu, and himself, though he admits that they were poor influences on him, something that the earthbender now greatly regrets. Kyoshi mentions that it sounds like a failing of Kuruk's instead, but Rangi whacks her shoulder, asking her not to criticize Yun's past life.
Three long hours pass before the team arrives at a giant iceberg in the South Pole. Kyoshi notices felt tents, belonging to the Fifth Nation delegation, on the far side of the shore. Yun explains that the Fifth Nation agreed not to bring warships if the Avatar agreed to negotiate far from bendable ground. Kelsang lands his bison on the ice and helps everyone descend with his airbending.
Meanwhile, Jianzhu's ship drops anchor offshore, and its crew heads to the shore on longboats. Jianzhu, together with Hei-Ran and Master Amak, arrive first and step onto the iceberg. Amak, a skilled waterbender himself and the Avatar's instructor, dressed up in dark green, wide-sleeved robes instead of his usual blue tunic, places concentrated spidersnake extract into his eyes, changing his eye color from pale blue to a coastal green. Amak mentions that Tagaka, the leader of the Fifth Nation, is supposed to be the only waterbender present during the negotiation and warns the others to keep his bending abilities a secret. Kyoshi feels like she does not belong in this place so far from the earth, as the slightest mistake could destroy many people's fates.
Tagaka, two of her men in her wake, approaches the Avatar and his allies. She mentions Kyoshi's intimidating height, causing the tall woman to feel uncomfortable. Kyoshi expresses disdain with her face causing one of Tagaka's men scowl at her and shift his stance. The pirate queen herself bows to Yun, who congratulates her in turn on her recent "victory over the remnants of the Fade-Red Devils". Tagaka invites them all to her camp for food and rest, an offer Jianzhu readily accepts.
Tagaka and her guests partake in an awkward dinner at her luxurious camp. While Yun pounds the food, Kyoshi frets over the possibility of it being poisoned and wonders why Tagaka is being so welcoming. After supper, Pai Sho boards are set up so that Tagaka's crew can challenge the Avatar's famous skills. While everyone's attention focuses on Yun playing against three opponents simultaneously, Kyoshi notices the fearful demeanor that surrounds a group of fearful Earth Kingdom servants, which Rangi and Yun had realized earlier. Kyoshi feels stupid for not noticing the kidnapped villagers until now. As her hand begins to tremble, Rangi warmly squeezes it to help calm her nerves.
The Pai Sho game inevitably results in a resounding victory for Yun, causing the room to rejoice in his honor. Drinking heavily, Tagaka asks the Avatar if he is having a good time, to which he compliments her hospitality. The room goes silent in shock. However, when Tagaka bluntly admits that she was worried Yun would attempt to assassinate her before the end of the night. Tension fills the air, and Kyoshi notices Master Amak loosening his shoulders, readying himself for a fight.
Ever the diplomat, Yun tries to calm Tagaka and asks why she had such an impression. The pirate queen explains that her grievance is more toward the presence of the Avatar's bending masters, Jianzhu, Hei-Ran, and Kelsang specifically, referring to Jianzhu as the "Gravedigger of Zhulu Pass". As confusion overtakes Yun, Tagaka accuses Jianzhu of burying five thousand Yellow Necks alive, but the Earth Sage claims it to be nothing but a simple rumor. Tagaka then goes on to accuse Hei-Ran of holding the Royal Fire Academy for Girls' record for the most "accidental" kills during Agni Kais. Kyoshi instinctively reaches her hand out toward Rangi and gets it swatted away. Tagaka thanks Kelsang for trapping her grandfather's fleet in a typhoon, causing the crew to drown at sea. Yun tries to diffuse the tension by emphasizing that Tagaka has nothing to fear from his masters' presence and suggests that even if her accusations were true, he would have just as much to fear from her own fearsome reputation, an argument the pirate queen agrees with.
The pirate queen, her men, and the Earth Kingdom captives exit the yurt, leaving Yun and his allies in private. The Avatar immediately interrogates Jianzhu about burying five thousand people alive. Jianzhu tries to brush it to the side, but Yun demands the truth. Jianzhu laughs and finally admits to the heinous act, claiming that he delivered justice against daofei who believed they could hurt and murder people with no repercussions. He adds that this proved to be effective, as the surviving Yellow Necks dispersed into the countryside with a clear understand of how actions would now have consequences. The sage argues that pirates like Tagaka may bemoan the lack of mercy and yet conveniently neglect what the Yellow Necks had done to deserve their just punishment. Kyoshi notices that Yun is uncomfortable and wants to go by his side, but she is too afraid to do so. Kelsang supports Jianzhu's argument, insisting that Kuruk's companions had to act to maintain balance in the years following his death, prompting Yun to retort that such arbitrary responsibilities had now been thrust onto himself and that he would try to follow the examples his teachers have set. This receives a scolding from Jianzhu for letting Tagaka's baseless accusations rattle him and then orders everyone out so he might speak to the Avatar privately.
Kyoshi leaves the tent, chasing after Kelsang. The monk begins to discuss the mistakes that he has made and how he violated his beliefs as an airbender, having let the Air Nomads down. Kyoshi listens and tightly hugs him, assuring him that he has never let her down. However, when a crashing sound comes from inside the tent, Kelsang heads back to check out the sound's cause and asks Kyoshi to go.
Kyoshi finds herself on the outskirts of the pirate camp, near the ice cliff. She tries to hide from the outlaws, but one of Tagaka's men drunkenly approaches and creepily hits on her. Kyoshi tries to exit but he blocks her path and claims that she looks familiar. He remarks that she looks like a woman he knew from Chameleon Bay, a leader of a "Flying Something Society", though he fails to remember its proper name. The man sexually harasses Kyoshi, causing her to pick him up by the neck and slam him into the ice cliffside. She forces him to apologize and then drops him to the ground. Kyoshi grabs the gourd of wine from him and pours it on his face. She warns him not to bother her again, telling him that Tagaka does not approve of drinking on guard duty. Taking the empty bottle with her, she walks away.
Kyoshi lays on her stomach outside her tent and tries to cool down. She turns her face up to find Rangi holding a flame of her own creation, who notices the liquor gourd in her hand and asks if she has been drinking. Kyoshi chooses to say that she has rather than explain the truth. Rangi picks up Kyoshi's arms and slowly drags her into the nearby tent. Rangi takes off Kyoshi's outer garments and then removes her own, causing the earthbender to notice Rangi's muscular and attractive physique. When the two are lying down, Kyoshi attempts to justify Yun's master's actions, claiming that Jianzhu "went too easy" on the Yellow Necks as she had heard what they had done to unarmed people, and assuring that Hei-Ran never meant to harm anyone. However, Rangi suddenly yanks Kyoshi over onto her side so that she would face her, and mentions that one of her mother's opponents had been her own cousin, which caused people at school constantly remind her that the headmistress was as an assassin. When Rangi buries her face into her chest, Kyoshi drapes an arm over her shoulder, attempting to comfort her. Rangi presses closely against her friend, rubbing her hair against her lips, Kyoshi's pulse-quickening as she takes in Rangi's flowery scent. The firebender eventually falls asleep but Kyoshi keeps her arm around her. Kyoshi has trouble sleeping but sees it as both an honor and a torture to comfort her friend throughout the night.
The following morning, the crew eats breakfast at their own camp, and there is no apparent tension between Kyoshi's allies. Kyoshi is reminded by the possibility that she is the real Avatar in the group but tries her best to push her anxiety away. Yun, Jianzhu, Hei-Ran, Kelsang, Rangi, Amak, and Kyoshi meet Tagaka at the iceberg's peak. A pair of pirates stand with their queen, accompanied by a female Earth Kingdom hostage. The two different sides of the negotiation face each other as Tagaka waterbends an ice table with great difficulty.
Tagaka apologizes for her lack of waterbending abilities as her Earth Kingdom slave lays out traditional calligraphy items for the negotiation, using the Pianhai method. Tagaka and Yun sit down at the frozen table and swap written agreements with each other. After Yun asks her to change a phrasing in her agreement and Tagaka agrees to do so, they move on to verbal amendments. When Yun demands that Tagaka frees all Earth Kingdom hostages, Jianzhu is startled by his bluntness as that is not what they had planned beforehand. Still, Kyoshi feels proud and realizes that this is what Yun wanted her to see when he begged her to come along. Tagaka shockingly agrees to Yun's request as she admits that the slaves are useless to her since none of them was a passable carpenter. She claims that she needs people who could build ships for her navy, trees, and a port to dock in so she could increase the size of her forces. When Tagaka mentions that she knows "where to get those things", Yun quickly realizes that she is referring to Yokoya, verbally warning the rest of his group.
Tagaka suddenly impales Master Amak with a stalagmite of ice and claims that she can recognize kinfolk under a disguise. Her two escorts grab the hostage and jump down the iceberg's slope, dodging a fire blast from Rangi. Tagaka's pirates reach up from the surface of the ice and grab Rangi, Jianzhu, and Hei-Ran down with them, while Kyoshi and Kelsang manage to avoid their grasp. Tagaka holds a jian to Yun's neck, but he uses pieces of the stone ink slab to bend a glove around his hand quickly and grabs the blade from her. Kyoshi's foot gets stuck under the ice surface as a pirate imprisons her lower half by refreezing the water. Tagaka and Yun continue to battle as she admits that she is a much better waterbender than she was previously posing as.
At Tagaka's command, the Fifth Nation's navy fleet begins to leave the iceberg to head to Yokoya. Yun manages to warn his allies that they need to stop the ships before Tagaka completely covers him with ice. Kelsang flies toward the shore on his airbender staff until he is stopped by Tagaka's ice darts, which destroy the glider's wings and cause him to plunge toward the sea. Tagaka levitates the boulder of ice that Yun is still buried in, throws it over the side of the iceberg, and leaps down after him. Kyoshi manages to free herself from the ice and begins to pursue them, sliding down to the pirate camp, where she notices that they have begun loading their camp into longboats. Kyoshi demands that Tagaka return Yun to her, but the waterbender instead admits that she likes Kyoshi's potential as a fighter and asks her to join them. Kyoshi insults her, claims that she would never become a daofei, and realizes that she will have to take Yun back by force. When the pirate points out that Kyoshi has no earth to bend around her, she is suddenly filled with the sensation that, in her time of desperate need, her voice would not be alone. Even though Kyoshi does not fully understand nor feels completely in control, she adopts a Crowding Bridge stance, feeling that she was "both leading and being led by an army of benders". She pulls a column of gray-stone seafloor up from the surface of the ocean, which catches the hull of Tagaka's ship, destroys several others in the process, and knocks pirates off their feet. Kyoshi attacks Tagaka, but she drops to her knees in exhaustion before bringing the earth close enough to defend herself, leaving her vulnerable for the pirate queen to attack.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Rangi shouts for Kyoshi to stay low and shoots fire at Tagaka, knocking her away. Rangi and Hei-Ran blast at Tagaka's reinforcements from Pengpeng as Jianzhu controls the reigns. After the bison lands, the two firebenders decide to handle the waterbenders as the Earth Sage and Kyoshi fly over to stop the remainder of Tagaka's navy. He notices the incredible pillar of stone that Kyoshi had previously pulled from the seafloor. Jianzhu jumps mid-air off of the bison and destroys Tagaka's ships using the source of the earth that Kyoshi had supplied.
Kyoshi hears a man with a husky voice complimenting her performance, but she turns around to see that there is no one else with her. Kyoshi feels dizzy and then passes out onto the ice.
- The outfit Jianzhu commissions for Kyoshi, a pale green silk blouse and leggings to be worn with two different pleated skirts, a shoulder-length wraparound jacket, and wide sash, resembles the kimono preserved in her shrine, as seen in "Avatar Day".
- Kyoshi's observation that the sash exhibits such exquisite stitching that it ought to be mounted on a wall is ultimately realized when a version of the clothing ends up in her shrine following her death, Katara even commenting in "Avatar Day", as Kyoshi did, on the exquisite design.
- Kelsang does not need to wear extra layers to remain warm in the frigid cold, an airbending ability displayed by Aang in "The Boy in the Iceberg" and confirmed by Tenzin in "Original Airbenders".
- Master Amak can change the color of his irises using concentrated extract from spidersnakes, a creature whose association with eyes is also noted in "Zuko Alone" for the similarly named dice roll "spidersnake eyes".
- The Earth Kingdom hostage's preparation of the slab inkstone, brushes, and tiny pitcher of water in the Pianhai method resembles the setup utilized by Master Piandao for calligraphy in "Sokka's Master".
- Yun defines the border of the Zeizhou Province through its proximity to Tu Zin, a mining village depicted as abandoned in "The Chase" and "Bitter Work".
- Tagaka reflects on the Southern Water Tribe's inability to create a large, long-range war fleet due to the lack of trees for timber, a feat the Northern Water Tribe accomplished by 171 AG, as seen during the Water Tribe Civil War.
- Yun forms a rock glove around his hand from fragments of stone to catch Tagaka's jian, similar to how the Dai Li use rock gloves to grip enemy weapons.
- Tagaka hails from a family of waterbenders that have since been disowned by the Southern Water Tribe.
- Master Amak is Yun's second favorite teacher, Jianzhu being his first.
- Jianzhu buried five thousand Yellow Necks alive, earning him the nickname "Gravedigger of Zhulu Pass".
- Hei-Ran holds the Royal Fire Academy record for the most "accidental" kills during Agni Kais, one of the opponents being her cousin.
- Kelsang summoned a storm near the southwestern coast of the Earth Kingdom to destroy an encroaching Fifth Nation splinter fleet, killing many of the pirates in the process and earning him the nickname "Living Typhoon" from Tagaka's father.
- Kyoshi is revealed to be an extremely powerful earthbender.
- Kyoshi momentarily uses the Avatar State for the first time.
- With its thirty-nine pages and 10,816 words, this chapter is the longest of the book.
- Yun accidentally tattooing himself with ink fragments while forming a rock glove from the stone ink slab is meant to foreshadow Yun's ability of pigmentbending.