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"Weakness" is the seventeenth chapter of The Shadow of Kyoshi.

Overview

Kyoshi sees Yun stabbing Hei-Ran in the neck and screams in horror. The wounded headmistress burns his shoulder before he runs away. The Avatar chooses to save Hei-Ran instead of catching the earthbender and, after Atuat heals her, Rangi is furious with Kyoshi, saying she used her mother as bait. The Avatar is devastated, thinking Rangi will leave her, and, as she talks to Hei-Ran, she thinks Yun is working with the Saowon. Shortly after, the young firebender brings her a bowl of noodles, showing her how much she loves her. Kyoshi eats her meal, shedding tears of joy.

Synopsis

Kyoshi screams in terror as Yun stabs Hei-Ran in the neck and smiles at her. As blood rushes from her wound and she chokes involuntarily, the former headmistress grabs Yun's wrist and pulls him closer. The dagger plunges deeper into her neck as he frowns in surprise, unsuccessfully trying to pull away from her grasp. With a nearly fatal effort, Hei-Ran firebends a ball of flame, launching it toward Yun. The earthbender breaks free and dodges the attack at the last moment, but his shoulder still gets burned. He shoves her to the floor as he quickly withdraws the weapon and runs up the stairs leading to the building's upper level.

Kyoshi makes saving Rangi's mother a priority over bringing Yun to justice as she rushes to her aid. The former headmistress stares angrily at her, telling her to follow the earthbender as she gurgles through her own blood. The Avatar knows she could catch him as he is wounded and made his escape through the second floor, but Hei-Ran would die until she returned to help her. Kyoshi does not want Rangi to lose her mother and she clamps her hands to the injury in her throat. She notices the pattern of a heartbeat in the waves of blood spilling through her fingers and she picks Hei-Ran off the floor as she protests, outraged, before passing out.

The Avatar considers there will eventually be consequences for putting her attachments first. Still, she concentrates on helping Hei-Ran as she runs to the other side of the town, carrying her to Atuat.

Kyoshi, Jinpa, and Nyahitha sit inside the Coral Urchin Noodle Shop, a restaurant whose owner they paid a lot of money to occupy. At the same time, Atuat treats Hei-Ran upstairs with Rangi next to her. Kyoshi considers that the airbender and the Fire Sage would have normally been her spiritual guides. Jinpa says the fighting between the Saowon and Keohso appears to have stopped and Nyahitha answers that the stalemate is only temporary as there are wounded people on both side. He also states that some young, brash fighters began a skirmish, breaking the rule of not using firebending in combat during holidays. He tells them that the two rival clans think they have just cause to attack each other and that the conflict will soon burst out of North Chung-Ling. The Air Nomad asks if there is something they can do and Nyahitha replies that this is how the beginnings of war look like in the Fire Nation, considering that Agni Kais and Avatar mediations will not settle the matter.

Kyoshi thinks that her presence in the country only aggravated the conflict between the enemy clans, that she did not keep her promise to Rangi to keep Hei-Ran safe and that she missed the chance to stop Yun. She inquires as to how much time they have left until the hostilities worsen. The sage responds that there will be a few days before the conflict resumes and suggests that it should be simple and quick if she had a plan.

Atuat enters the room and tells Kyoshi that both the headmistress and Rangi are furious with her and that she would not want to be in her place. The Avatar goes to the restaurant's sleeping quarters, seeing Hei-Ran propped up on a small bed with many bandages wrapped around her neck and a table with a piece of slate and lumps of chalk she uses to communicate as she cannot speak. Rangi stands at her bedside and states that Kyoshi used her mother as bait. She counters that she disagreed with the plan and the firebender continues to say that she just went along with it, sticking with neutral jing as she did not tell her anything. Rangi sarcastically inquires whether she would have mentioned the idea after Hei-Ran's death.

The Avatar deeply apologizes and Rangi replies that there is no need to say sorry as from this moment she means nothing to Kyoshi. She runs down the stairs and Kyoshi is hurt that her girlfriend called her "Avatar Kyoshi", never addressing her like that before. She heaves, taking great dry gulps as she is overwhelmed by an immense rush of pain, thinking she had only been concentrated on what outside dangers might separate Rangi and her, not imagining she herself could push her away. Kyoshi becomes unable to breathe and does not want to as living without Rangi is not a future she can face.

Hei-Ran throws a piece of chalk at her forehead, getting her attention. The former headmistress shows her the slate on which she wrote that Kyoshi should not panic as Rangi will not leave her. Kyoshi stutters as she tries to reply that the young firebender seemed like she would not want to do anything with her again. Hei-Ran writes that her daughter says many things and that she is indeed angry, but that she did not walk away forever. The Avatar asks her how she knows this and she replies that Rangi is her daughter, stating that she will come back, showing she still cares.

Kyoshi sniffles and wipes her tears, musing whether Hei-Ran is right, but the former headmistress proceeds to ask her about Yun. She says she searched the town with some locals and that he could be anywhere on the island or even have gotten away by the sea. Rangi's mother writes that Kyoshi missed the opportunity to take the earthbender down and the Avatar responds that she could not live her to die for her girlfriend's sake. Hei-Ran states that Yun is not the only cause for war as both the Saowon and the Keohso clans will use today's events as a just cause for battle.

Kyoshi stares at the characters written on the slate as they spur a recollection in her. She uses earthbending to sweep the chalk off it, trying to remember why the letters seem so familiar, before thinking how Yun could write with his element. She tells Hei-Ran that he is working for the Saowon as everything he has done in the Fire Nation had strengthened the clan's position and weakened Zoryu's, explaining that he must be helping them in exchange for shelter. The former headmistress responds that if this is true, then Huazo and Chaejin have been acting dishonorably this entire time and that they would be conspirators and traitors. She adds that the other clans would no longer support them as they facilitated a foreign attack on their nation.

The Avatar looks at Hei-Ran's cropped hair with admiration for her sacrifice and stillness after being insulted by Huazo. She says this is only a feeling and that she will gather some proof. Kyoshi is about to leave as Rangi storms inside, staring angrily at her and giving her a steaming bowl with noodles as she exclaims that she has not eaten since they arrived there. The firebender throws a pair of chopsticks on the floor before exiting again.

Kyoshi looks at the bowl, recalling no fuel in the kitchen and that Rangi must have cooked with her firebending. Hei-Ran glances at her with an expression close to smugness, writing that her daughter forgave Kyoshi even faster than she thought as she loves her deeply. The former headmistress states that this makes the Avatar her daughter and a member of the family as she smiles and prompts her to eat the food before it gets cold.

Kyoshi thinks that these are the best noodles she has ever eaten as she starts crying.

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