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"The Town" is the eighteenth chapter of The Rise of Kyoshi.

Overview

The Flying Opera Company arrives to Hujiang.

Synopsis

On their way to Hujiang, the Flying Opera Company comfortably flies over the Taihua Mountains on Pengpeng. Lek shares his love of traveling on a flying bison and pats Pengpeng. Lao Ge states his gratefulness towards the group for remembering to bring him with them.

Kyoshi wonders who Lao Ge might have assassinated while he had last wandered off and worries about becoming his next victim. Rangi mentions that the terrain they are flying over is not on a map. Kirima answers that since it is daofei territory, it obviously is not on an official map; they are flying the exact way that they did with Jesa. The group flies over a lake and a town slightly larger than the slums in Chameleon Bay. Kirima welcomes them to the secret daofei town known as Hujiang, and Wong notes that the town seems busier than it usually is. They hide Pengpeng in a cave outside the town and hike to the Hujiang. Rangi warns Kyoshi to keep her head down, however, Kirima argues that they need to all act tough. To avoid looking weak, the Flying Opera Company stands tall and walks with confidence. Wong explains that if you look like an easy target, you will be at risk of getting challenged. Kirima compliments Rangi's tough posture, although the firebender explains that it is just how she normally presents herself.

As the group walks to the town's central bazaar, Kyoshi notices how many weapons the residents all seem to wield and then mentions that none of them look like benders. Kirima asks if Kyoshi is looking to replace her teachers, ad then explains that a bending daofei group like them is a rarity. Wong agrees and tells Kyoshi to appreciate them more. Kyoshi notices two weapon-wielding men accidentally bump into each other and assumes that they are about to fight. Instead, Wong explains that they will have to meet on the challenge platform later in the evening to avoid losing their tough reputations. Kyoshi does not understand why they have to challenge each other, but Wong says that they have no other choice. Rangi mutters that they could choose to stop being daofei, however, an offended Lek yells that the daofei life is some people's only way to provide for themselves. Kirima warns Lek to quiet down as she notices that he is making people look their way. A more calm Lek tells the group to keep walking and appear unified, wanting to avoid the challenge platform.

After they arrive at the bazaar, Kyoshi asks how so much food, as well as people, made it through the mountains, to which Kirima answers that there are secret daofei passageways through the mountains. Wong stumbles on an oil lamp but the vendor it belongs to avoids rebuking him due to his height and reputation. Wong states that the bazaar is crowded and Rangi replies that the crowd is listening to someone speak. The speaker stands up, revealing his ugly face with a leather strap wrapped around it and a moon peach blossom tucked in his collar. When Lek tells the group that they need to leave immediately, Rangi asks what the issue is and Kirima answers that they need to get out of town as quickly as possible. Lek warns Kyoshi not to make eye contact with the speaker as they hustle out of the bazaar, however, when he turns a corner, he bumps into a man who the group greets as Uncle Mok, who wears the same moon peach blossom on his jacket. Mok greets the group, mentioning their long trek from Chameleon Bay, Lek answering that they wanted to be around their brethren once again. Mok asks about Kyoshi and Rangi, the obvious new additions to their group. Kirima explains that they are fresh members, then introduces them to their elder "Mok the Accountant". Kyoshi is confused by the man since he was not in Jesa's journal and she assumed that her parents were the group's only elders. Mok tells the group that he has business to discuss with them and invites them to the challenge platform so that they can watch as they talk. Rangi agrees before anyone else has the chance to, which Mok appreciates and compliments the Fire Nation's natural sense of respect. Mok manhandles Lek, stating how disrespectful he was before he trained in daofei manners and hopes that Kyoshi will learn as quickly.

The group is silent after Mok leaves, allowing Lek time to fix his hair. Kyoshi avoids asking any questions about Mok, who reminds her of Jianzhu. The group heads to an old termite-eaten inn and passes many people wearing moon peach blossoms. They ask for a single room and walk up the stairs leading to their run-down room. Kirima goes on to tell them about the tough times that led to them having to join the Autumn Bloom Society. Wong adds that they are the people wearing the moon peach blossoms, and Kirima says that the Autumn Bloom Society formed after the Yellow Necks scattered and that it has not been discovered by the law yet. Rangi realizes that the speech in the bazaar was a recruitment drive for the society, meaning that Mok must be planning something big. Kirima and Lek explain that they have to go along with whatever the society plans are or else they will be killed for betraying their vows. Lek reveals that though Hark and Jesa valued the group's independence, the group was forced to throw it anyway because of him. Kirima adds that he was sick and would have died if they did not join the Autumn Bloom Society, and argues that Kyoshi's parents would have chosen to do the same.

Kyoshi grows in fury as she remembers back to how sick she was after her parents abandoned her in Yokoya. She is infuriated by the fact that Hark and Jesa cared more for their group than they did for their own daughter and, unwilling to sympathize, she mocks the group and calls them pathetic. They all stare at Kyoshi, who avoids eye contact with any of them. She tells them that choices have consequences and that she should be the one complaining that they are now stuck following Mok. She adds that they just need to do whatever Mok tells them to and then get on with their mission. Kirima agrees to take things one step at a time, however, Wong mentions that Kyoshi did not have to say it as harshly as she did.

Rangi asks to have a moment alone with Kyoshi. After the others leave the room, Kyoshi attempts to justify her actions to Rangi, saying that the Autumn Bloom Society was nowhere in her mother's journal. Rangi scorns Kyoshi, saying that it is difficult to watch her dig herself into such a pit. Kyoshi argues that she is doing all that she can but that some firebending lessons would help. Rangi reminds Kyoshi that she is the Avatar, meaning that instead of joining a daofei group, she is supposed to be doing good for the world. She adds that Kyoshi should have connected to her past lives for guidance rather than getting herself in this mess. Rangi expresses how sickened she is that the Avatar herself is undercover in a daofei town when a normal Avatar would have destroyed it. Kyoshi argues that since the world has waited for years for an Avatar, it can wait a little longer. Rangi calms herself down and says that, since she is Kyoshi's bodyguard, she is forced to obey her.

Later that evening, the group eats a meal together in their hotel room. Lek forcefully tightens the thongs around his sleeves, causing Kyoshi to ask if he is alright. He explains that he is worried about Mok finding out that they have Pengpeng with them. The group walks through the streets of the town and enters a large, noisy building. An Autumn Bloom man greets them at the door, revealing that Mok is on a balcony waiting for them. They enter the building and notice a fight taking place, which Kirima explains is a lei tai. As they watch the unarmed fight, Wong explains that the match is not over until the winner declares it as such. Kyoshi turns away, not wanting to watch a man get nearly beaten to death, and asks where Mok is. Kirima points up to a converted hayloft known as the "balcony". The group climbs up one at a time, greeting Mok and the ugly street preacher with a leather strap covering his nose. Mok introduces the wild-eyed man as "his Lieutenant, Brother Wai", to whom the group respectfully bows. Mok criticizes Kyoshi's timid attitude, but Lek attempts to stand up for her, saying that she is tough when she needs to be. Mok makes a signal, causing Wai to grab Lek's hand and slash it with a knife. He tells Lek that he was not talking to him, and he screams with pain as his blood spews onto the floor, then pulls down his sleeve and toughens up. Kyoshi's expression turns to stone, which Mok says is an improvement.

Mok becomes distracted by something below and the group turns to see what it is. Kyoshi somehow prevents herself from shrieking as she realizes that Rangi is below standing on the lei tai platform. Mok explains that anyone can start a fight just by standing on the platform, as Rangi is doing. Rangi tears off her armor until she is wearing only a sleeveless white tunic. Kyoshi wants to jump down and stop Rangi, but her allies give her a look, convincing her to stay put. Rangi's opponent, who is much larger, asks to fight without firebending. Rangi agrees and kicks her opponent's knee as he's about to put weight on it. He stumbles awkwardly as Mok commends Rangi. The man takes a deep stance before Rangi charges toward him, causing him to fall backward. Kyoshi hopes he will fall off the platform, which would end the lei tai; unfortunately, the man recovers once more and races toward Rangi before punching her directly in the face, making her fall onto the center of the platform. Kyoshi screams at Rangi, which causes Wong's hand to press on her shoulder as a warning. The man raises his foot above Rangi's head, but she wraps her body around it. With the subtle movement, Rangi shatters the man's leg. Rangi, who bleeds from her mouth, stands over him as he screams in pain. She skips down from the platform and grabs her amour as the room fills with silence. Rangi climbs up to the balcony, shrugs, and says that it looked like fun. Although Kyoshi knows that Rangi is only putting on an act, she wants to attack her for making such a stupid choice. Mok, who is amused by Rangi, bursts out into laughter, and compliments her to then invite her group to supper. Rangi, wearing a phony smile, addresses Mok as "Uncle" and accepts his invitation.

As they eat together on the balcony, Mok talks about Governor Te Sihung, who has had a certain member of the daofei locked up for eight years. Rangi, wanting more information, asks if the prisoner is important, however, Mok becomes angered by her question and explains that their future mission to break him out is about brotherhood. Rangi apologizes for her words, but Mok explains that what she needs to worry about is how their group is going to free his "brother" from Te's prison. Kyoshi asks what he means, so he explains that he will meet the Flying Opera Company at Governor Te's mansion in thirty days. He says that if they arrive early, they need to use the time to prepare for the attack, rather than doing it without him.

As the group stands outside the inn, they agree to leave Hujiang first thing in the morning. Wong says that he will be drinking until the morning, and then wanders off. Kyoshi thanks Lek for standing up to Mok for her, but he downplays it. Kirima says that she will need to heal Lek's hand before she can treat Rangi's face, but the firebender denies Kirima's offer to help and walks away. Kyoshi calls for her to come back, but she refuses. Kirima explains that after winning the lei tai, Rangi will be perfectly safe, though Kyoshi should still follow after her. The Avatar finds Rangi outside of town, sitting at the edge of a lake and asks her to explain herself. Rangi defends her actions, saying that she was only trying to earn respect from Mok. Kyoshi insults Mok and tells her that it was a senseless risk, to which Rangi agrees by saying that she did exactly what Kyoshi has been doing lately. She reveals that she blacked out during the fight and how helpless Kyoshi must have felt while watching her, which is exactly how she feels all the time; she fought on the platform so that Kyoshi would realize how she constantly makes Rangi feel as she throws herself into senseless danger. Kyoshi says that she just wants to make it so that Jianzhu no longer walks this earth, bringing him to justice. Rangi asks why she so desperately needs to kill him, and Kyoshi screams that once he is dead she will not be afraid of him any longer.

Rangi begins to cry and Kyoshi asks her to open up. The firebender answers that things should not be the way they are, to which the Avatar agrees by starting to say that things would have been better if Yun was the Avatar. Rangi interrupts her, smacks her collar, and says that things should not be this way for Kyoshi, who remains silent and wraps her arms around Rangi. She explains how difficult it has been to watch Kyoshi punish herself and that she does not want to lose her. When Kyoshi pulls her closer, Rangi explains that she deserves the best masters, a palace, and an army. Kyoshi says that she does not need an army since she has her. Rangi brushes it off, wishing she was better at her job and could make Kyoshi feel loved. Kyoshi admits that she does in fact feel loved as she leans in to kiss her. Suddenly, Rangi pushes her away and Kyoshi closes her eyes in horror and shame, fearing she had ruined everything. However, Rangi starts laughing and asks Kyoshi to kiss her on the side of her face that is not injured.

Production notes

Series continuity

  • This chapter includes the first time that Kyoshi and Rangi kiss.
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