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"The Test" is the first chapter of The Rise of Kyoshi.

Synopsis

Seven years after Kuruk's death, Kelsang stole the Air Nomad Avatar relics in hopes that they could do what the traditional Earth Kingdom ways had failed to accomplish: find the next Avatar in the earth cycle. To this end, he and Jianzhu traveled to the remote Yokoya Port to run their sacrilegious experiment, as the town was easily overlooked by ships, merchants, and even maps, as well as being a safe distance away from the turmoil ravaging the rest of the world.

Jianzhu makes his way to the two-story meeting hall at the end of Yokoyan avenue, where their test would take place. Entering the hall, the Earth sage finds Kelsang meticulously organizing worn toys on ten long yellow cloths stretched across the floor, among which are the four Avatar relics they hoped an Earth Kingdom child would select. While the airbender is finishing up, Jianzhu expresses his surprise at the amount of toys and asks Kelsang how he managed to convince Abbot Dorje to let him take the relics. Without stopping his work, the monk responds that he did not ask for permission just as Jianzhu had not requested Lu Beifong's blessing to administer the Air Nomad test in the earth cycle.

The two masters commence their test but soon discover that what seemed easy in theory can result in pure chaos in reality, as a failure to select the four relics is taken badly by the Earth Kingdom children and their parents. Even the village captain fails to keep her composure when her daughter Aoma was proven not to be the next Avatar. As the test progresses without success, Jianzhu is dragged into a heated negotiation with a former who demands to be paid a salary if his daughter Suzu is the Avatar and a small monthly fee if she is not. Jianzhu initially refuses but when signaled by Kelsang to stop arguing as Suzu already successfully chose two out of the four relics, he quickly agrees. The two masters look on with hope as the girl moves toward a third relic, but they find their hope crushed along with the relic when the girl violently stomps on the toy rather than picking it up.

The farmer tries to collect her negotiated price for when her daughter would not be the Avatar, but Jianzhu snaps at her to leave the building. As he leaves the premises, Jianzhu discovers a girl who had been spying on the proceeding from the outside. Noticing her underfed and bedraggled appearance, he assumes that the girl must be an orphan whose parents were killed by the daofei. Kelsang joins them and tries to make conversation with the girl, who introduces herself as Kyoshi. Despite Jianzhu believing the tall girl to be too old, Kelsang decides to let her take the test. As opposed to the other children who became overwhelmed by the plethora of toys and the promise that they could select and keep four of them, Kyoshi seemingly remains unfazed before quickly snagging the clay turtle duck, the Avatar relic no one had even come near to that day, and returning to her position by the door. Kelsang tries to coax her into selecting three more, but Kyoshi had learned that the promise of more could be dangerous and lead to her ending up with nothing as opposed to the one toy she already had. Before the two masters could do anything else, she makes a run for it, disappearing between two houses with the toy still firmly clutched.

The loss of the relic and thus the chance for them to discover the new Avatar throws Jianzhu into his past, where he is plagued by the memory of standing in the ruins of a decimated village while being told by an official Earth Kingdom messenger that reinforcements would not come before being transported to his failed negotiation with the pirate lord Tulok, who literally and figuratively spat on the treaty his grandfather had made with Avatar Yangchen, creating yet another reason for why it was imperative to find the new Avatar as soon as possible.

When Kelsang brings him back to the present, Jianzhu states that they need to go after Kyoshi to retrieve the relic, but Kelsang decides to let her keep it, feeling bad for possibly taking from a child who clearly has so little in her life, and face Abbot Dorje's wrath alone, seeing no need for Jianzhu to implicate himself as well. When Jianzhu expresses his disbelief that Kelsang was willing to ruin the Air Nomad test just to make a girl happy, Kelsang optimistically notes that the relic would find its way back to its rightful place. Taking a look around the town, however, his optimism cracks a little, and the monks add a doubtful "maybe" to his statement.

Production notes

Character revelations

Trivia

  • The first chapter of the novel describes a stuffed hog monkey and a clay turtle duck to be two of the four Air Nomad Avatar relics, whereas the episode "The Storm" and the older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com, now archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - Gear: Avatar Relics, depict the monkey to be made out of wood and the clay relic to be a turtle flute.
    • It should be noted that Kyoshi ended up accidentally destroying the clay turtle duck, making it possible that the relics had to be replaced sometime between 305 BG and when Aang was presented with the toys.
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