Kyoshi Explains It All (with Yangchen!)
Stuff and nonsense. Just for fun. I don't own Avatar.
Korra was nervous, and not feeling a bit like the Avatar. She had just entered the Spirit World for the first time. She tugged at the ponytails on the side of her face – and was perturbed further to realize that she shouldn't be able to do that if she wasn't physically present.
"Where are you, Avatar Aang?" she called out to the vast wasteland.
"Well," said a voice behind her. Korra jumped and turned around in an automatic Waterbending stance. The woman who was there was an Air Nomad, and evidently one of great respect, judging by the heavy beads around her neck. She raised an eyebrow at Korra, who meekly withdrew her arms and bowed. She suspected who was before her: the great Avatar Yangchen.
"To answer your question, young Avatar Korra," she said, and the sincere respect in her voice made Korra blush, "Avatar Aang is currently at a meeting with Hei Bei, the Forest Spirit."
"Oh!" Korra looked around the horizon. "Should I be joining him?"
"Your foresight is commendable, but no, you need not. However, since you are here, Avatar Kyoshi and I would like to talk to you."
"Come with me." Avatar Yangchen gave a whistle, and a sky-bison – a genuine one! Joined them in the Spirit World. "This is Bea. She is my spirit guide."
"But what do you wanna talk to me about?" Korra asked as she clambered up to the gentle beast's back.
"Kyoshi and I agree that, now that you are a young woman, and about to become an Avatar in your own right, it is time that you be taught about certain important things…"
"Whoa, whoa!" Korra cried. "You're not giving me 'The Talk,' are you? Because believe me, I already had that and I don't need it twice!"
To her surprise, Avatar Yangchen laughed.
"I never heard of you having a sense of humor," Korra said suspiciously.
"Of course I do, I'm an Air Nomad," Yangchen said, still chuckling. "It's just slightly… twisted."
Avatar Kyoshi was sitting in the hollow of a great tree. The hollow was the size of a small house, and in fact when Korra stepped inside she realized that Kyoshi had furnished it in the style of a Ba Sing Se teahouse.
"Greetings, Avatar Korra," she said formally. "Will you take some white jasmine tea with a humble acquaintance?"
"Um," Korra looked around; there was a small table, tatami mats, and a teapot and three cups. On the walls there were hanging scrolls of art and poetry, examples of celadon pottery, and tiny bonsai trees. "Sure. Question, if you don't mind. How did you get a complete teahouse full of human items in the Spirit World?"
"Being an Avatar has its perks," Kyoshi said simply. "Please, sit. As long as it's just us, we can be informal, but take it from me: it'll pay for you to learn the tea ceremony."
"Uh? Which one?" Korra asked as Yangchen drew a curtain over the door. "The Earth Kingdom, Fire Nation, Water Tribe?"
"All of them."
"Including the regional specialties of the Earth Kingdom. I don't like to repeat myself, young lady. The Avatar does much negotiation. Tea?"
"From what I hear," Korra grumbled, "You seemed to negotiate more by solid Earthbending than by pushing scones around."
Kyoshi paused. "True. Good times."
Korra sipped at her steaming hot tea and crossed her legs. "So, what do you want to tell me about?"
"Ah, the rugged spirit. I approve," Kyoshi nodded. "But as an Avatar, you must sit up straight and have correct posture at all times. Who do you think you are, a Swamp bender?"
"Hey! Some of those guys are family! In fact, most of them."
"The fact is, Korra," Yangchen said, not unkindly, "is that as an Avatar you must carry yourself at all times with respect. You must understand that you come from a very proud heritage – not least because you are a woman."
"Girl power and all that?" Korra pumped a fist, but was uncertain.
"Very vaguely. Korra, we are about to enter into abstract terms and concepts. They require an understanding of a world beyond any that we can access, and of concepts not easily applied to real life. Do you follow?"
"Yes. I'm not stupid, you know."
"Oh, we know," Yangchen nodded. Kyoshi didn't mind giving the abstract talk to her colleague. "Just be prepared to accept what may be slightly absurd, at first glance."
"What-ever. Try me!" Korra insisted.
"All right. You are aware of the concept of… Awesome?"
Kyoshi clarified, "It has ideas that stem from it, such as Cool, Sweet, Wicked, Kick-Ass, Whoop-Ass…"
"A closely related, but not identical phenomenon," added Yangchen.
"Jaw-Dropping, Death-Defying, and, of course, Pure Win."
"That most holy substance," agreed Yangchen.
"The fact of the matter is that, the Avatar State is strongly powered by all of these forces," Kyoshi went on, "but it is a curious fact that the female Avatars have a much greater ability to harness the powers of Whoop-Ass and et cetera."
"Take, for example, myself." Putting down her teacup, Avatar Yangchen pointed to herself. "I was such a crusader against war that, despite belonging to the 'sissy Air Nomads,' as some call us, I stopped all wars on the planet. And for an entire generation after my death, there was no war. And there's no need to explain Kyoshi," she nodded to her colleague. "She exudes Awesome with every movement."
"Is it true you once broke off a peninsula to make an island?" Korra asked.
"Well, you are Avatars. We're supposed to do that as a matter of course."
"Theoretically, yes. But notice the males of the species who come between us," Kyoshi pointed out.
"Avatar Kuruk…" Korra offered slowly.
"When he got over his arrogant prick phase, for which I rather blame myself…"
"Don't, Yangchen, you couldn't control how he ended up…" Kyoshi tried to soothe her.
"Suffering builds character, and he didn't get enough of it. He was so spoiled, when a calamity came along he overreacted and spent the rest of his life trying to make up for that mistake."
"And guess who had to pay for that one," Kyoshi nodded. "He wasn't the most attentive to trouble brewing in the Earth Kingdom. So remember, Korra, lesson number one: clean up after yourself. Try and make it a nice world for whoever's got to come after you."
"Should I be writing these down?"
"Don't worry about it." Yangchen sipped another cup of tea. "And Avatar Roku was good, but he managed to let an entire war develop under his very nose. It has been a consistent pattern, that female Avatars are in every way more awesome than male Avatars."
"Hey! Avatar Aang was kickass!" Korra insisted.
"Oh, yes, he was. We both recognize that. He was the exception that proves the rule – quite kickass. But people thought that he was female himself. Have you ever seen 'The Boy in the Iceberg,' by the Ember Island Players?"
"Pray you never do. But in that play, Avatar Aang was played by a woman."
"Though to be fair," Kyoshi raised a warning finger. "Crossdressing is a long and rich tradition in the theater. I myself have worn the britches on the boards."
Silence greeted this pronouncement.
Kyoshi, taking another drink, muttered, "Why does that always surprise people?"
"In other words," Yangchen set down her tea, "you have a reputation that must be earned of kicking ass and taking names – a heritage that must be recognized – a destiny to be fulfilled!"
Korra blinked. "I didn't realize you could be so… passionate."
"She keeps much secret about herself," Kyoshi said.
Yangchen nodded. "I'm a ninja."
"And that reminds us. There is another force that drives the audience – I mean the universe. It is the powerful force of Shipping." Yangchen shuddered as she said the words.
"Shipping?" Korra repeated.
"Romance. Ardor. Amour. Chemistry. A love song. A love story. A love ballad. An epic for the ages about eros. A threepenny melodrama. An affair. A fling. An attachment. A flirtation. An intrigue. A liason. A relationship."
"Hence, shipping," Kyoshi said.
Korra took another drink of tea. "So do you get a thesaurus upon becoming Avatar?"
"Korra, you shall meet many people on your road of life. Some will be your friends. They will help you and support you. Some will be enemies, and oppose you at every turn. Yet more will continually surprise you. A few may ignore you altogether. These people are your ties to the world – ties which, as the Avatar, you must honor and cherish. They are all unique and important parts of your journey. But in a vast world of which you can scarcely conceive – there are admirers of yours who think that you should bed every single one of those people."
"Well, not at the same time."
"Wouldn't put it past them," Kyoshi warned.
"Most fans prefer monogamy, haven't you noticed?"
"Oh, but of course. But the evil ex is a classic archetype."
"What are you talking about?" Korra found her voice at last.
"Fear not, my friend. All Avatars have faced this crisis. It is extremely common."
"You people are insane," Korra muttered, starting to get up.
"Please be seated, Korra," Yangchen said. "We are not trying to scare you. Only to warn you. Avatar Aang faced these problems himself."
"Not nearly so bad as his wife did," Kyoshi muttered into her cup.
"The only thing to do is to weather it, and bear it out. A vow of chastity might not have much effect, but if it makes you feel better, go for it." Yangchen nodded. "I know it certainly helped me.
"And don't ever enter into a relationship where you don't feel chemistry," Kyoshi held up one finger, then another, "that means don't just date because your friends say you should. And don't ever hook up with a guy who's ridiculously older or younger than you. I mean, yuck."
"As well," Yangchen held up a finger, " It has come to my attention that there are vast cosmic scales that need to be balanced. Righted."
"Is this what you were talking about earlier?" Korra asked, scrambling to get back to familiar ground. "Some great conflict that Avatar Aang left unresolved?"
"Oh, he resolved it, all right," Kyoshi said. "Just not to everyone's satisfaction. But sure, let's go with that for now."
"What sort of vast cosmic scales are we talking about?" Korra started to jiggle her foot nervously.
Yangchen opened her mouth, looked at Kyoshi, and then started to grin. Kyoshi began to grin, too, her white teeth showing up sharply against her red lip paint. "Let's just say," Yangchen said, still grinning, "the scales of fire and water."
"Against water and air," Kyoshi added.
"Let's just say that, should you meet a boy from the Fire Nation…" Yangchen started, but Kyoshi cut in,
"Doesn't have to be a bender,"
"Oh, no. In fact, you're dealing with an anti-bender uprising, aren't you?"
"So him not being a bender could work very well."
"Got that nice enmity thing going on."
"But we do think that he should be from the Fire Nation," Yangchen emphasized. "And a bit taller than you…"
"Oh, come on." Kyoshi rolled her eyes. "I've never needed petiteness to…"
"Pale skin, dark hair, are recommended," Yangchen went on.
"Scar. Gotta have a scar. It conveys angst."
"Oh, come on. That's pretty transparent."
"You think so?"
"It doesn't have to be on his face."
"It could be somewhere usually… covered."
"Oooh," Yangchen cooed, "I see what you mean."
"So the moral of the story, Korra, is, learn that whole healing-with-water art. It will come in… handy." Kyoshi said this with an entirely straight face as Yangchen burst out laughing.
"Wait, wait, I'm still hung up on this guy. Who is he? And how am I supposed to meet him? And how do you know about him?"
"This is all hypothetical, you understand," Kyoshi explained. Yangchen, when she was finished laughing, added, "So you start out as enemies, or at least as not very friendly…"
"But you're forced to work together at some point for the greater good."
"There's a tragic misunderstanding along the way…"
"And you think all your faith and feelings in him have been misguided."
"All we're saying is, give him a chance."
"A second chance."
"He'll prove worth your while."
Korra blinked. Then she stood up. "I don't know what's in this tea y'alls been drinking but I don't want any part of this… madness."
" 'Though this be madness, there be method to it,'" Kyoshi said gravely.
"Nice quote," Yangchen commented.
"Thanks. It's from this play I was in once."
Korra took a step backwards. "Do Avatars typically go insane after spending time in the spirit world?"
"Hey, there!" A man's voice boomed into the teahouse. "What are you doing, scaring my protégé?"
Avatar Aang, a tall, thin, and cleanshaven man in Airbender's robes, appeared in the door of the tea room. "Korra! Hei Bei and I have been looking all over for you. But when we heard that you were with Kyoshi and Yangchen, we were relieved. I'm pleased to meet you at last."
He bowed to her, and she returned the bow, but couldn't help pointing to the senior Avatars. "Avatar Aang, these two are – they're not making any sense, whatever they're talking about!"
"What have you been learning about?" Aang arched an eyebrow.
"The Transitive Property… something-something… girl power…"
"Ah. Girl stuff. Say no more." Aang waved a hand as if he honestly didn't want to hear about it.
"And they were talking about shipping, too."
"Shipping?" Aang started up. "Shipping? Are you two trying to send her into a nunnery?" he demanded of Yangchen and Kyoshi.
"Just warning her of the real world." Kyoshi said.
"She's so young!"
"She's older than you were when you became involved with Shipping, in case I need to remind you," Yangchen pointed out.
"Holy smoke," Aang buried his head in his hands, "I was hoping to introduce her to it gently…"
"There's no such thing as a gentle introduction to shipping," Kyoshi said bluntly.
"Actually, there might be," Yangchen cautioned, "but considering that Korra is already sixteen and a – thoroughly mature young lady –"
"Hey!" Korra crossed her arms over her chest defensively.
"There's not gonna be any holding back with her in the eyes of the fandom. I just know. She had best be prepared."
"You can't keep her sheltered forever," Kyoshi took out a fan and started to fan herself, staring into the air dreamily. "One minute they're just a little gaggle of barely trained Earthbenders, the next they're the most feared and elite squadron on the planet… they grow up so fast."
"Korra, really, I'm sorry about this." Aang patted her on the back. "If you like we can go and find the ghost of elephant koi to ride on. That always makes me feel better."
"We're not quite finished yet," Yangchen stopped him. Korra groaned, but Yangchen pressed on, "Actually, young Avatar, I believe you will rather like this."
She handed Korra a small white rectangle that may have been made out of porcelain, or very fine wood. Attached to the rectangle by a soft, white wire, were two little buds that reminded Korra of taiga-rose buds. "What's this?" Korra asked, marveling.
Kyoshi explained. "It is a little music box. It is only visible in the spirit world, but you can access it in the physical world." She showed Korra how the little buds went into her ears, and how at the press of a tiny arrow, music began to play. "I have – using my own vast knowledge of music and the arts – assembled a list of songs which I think you shall find most enlightening. Thanks to this, you shall be able to summon music at will. Take advantage of this, but do not over-use it: it shall best serve at the moments when supreme whoopass is necessary."
"If you say so." Korra began to read the song titles aloud. "Go the Distance… Eye of the Tiger… Bridge Over Troubled Water… Viva La Vida…"
"Good songs for angsting," Kyoshi added.
"Oh, come on," Aang rolled his eyes.
Korra kept reading, "Both Sides Now… Masters of War… Skullcrusher Mountain?"
"You never know."
"The Impossible Dream, good title… Bad Romance…"
Kyoshi cut in, "Be extremely careful when and where you use 'Bad Romance.'"
"You ladies are being completely…" Aang began, when Korra hesitantly read, "Be a Man?"
"Oh man I love that song!" Aang interrupted himself. "Turn it up!"
"Be a man, you must be swift as the coursing river!" Kyoshi sang, standing up.
"This is full of good advice, by the way, Korra!" Aang added.
"With all the strength of a great typhoon!"
"With all the force of a raging fire!" Yangchen and Aang joined in, "Mysterious as the dark side of the moon!"
The three old Avatars held out the last note in a united howl, and then broke. "Huh!" Aang punched the air. They all three laughed together, then Aang turned back to Korra. Somewhat apologetically, he said, "Sorry, Korra. I got a bit carried away."
"I've… I've heard of the Avatar state." Korra pointed. "Tell me that wasn't the Avatar State."
All three senior Avatars laughed, until Korra had to laugh, too. "No, no, Korra," Aang said, putting a hand on her shoulder. "It's just what happens when a few Avatars get together with some good music. Don't worry about it."
"And honestly," Yangchen was starting to put the tea implements away, "Don't fret too much over what we've said about 'shipping.' After all, you've already had 'the Talk.' I expect you know how to take care of yourself."
"However," Kyoshi took Korra's shoulder and turned her to the wall and spoke in an undertone, "We are very serious about the legacy of feminine badassery. You do have a lot to live up to."
Korra nodded. "I believe you. I take this seriously." She gave Kyoshi a look. "I wasn't kidding when I said 'Girl Power.'"
Kyoshi laughed. "I like you, kid. Anytime you need some down-to-earth advice, just call on me."
"And call on me," Yangchen added, "if you need a deep moral dilemma to be discussed."
"Hey, hey, who's the spiritual guide here?" Aang cut in. "If you'll excuse me… Korra, I think we best be getting on."
"Yeah… probably." She waved. "Hey, it was nice to meet you."
"It was good to meet you too," Yangchen bowed.
"Don't be a stranger," Kyoshi said, putting the teapot away.
Korra and Aang waved goodbye as they flew away on Appa. Aang began to say, conversationally, "Well, Korra, I expect you've got a lot of questions for me…"
Korra, fingering her new music box, could only think of one thing to ask. "How exactly did they set up a tea house in the spirit world?"
"I suspect a man named Iroh had something to do with that…"
Disclaimer: The songs I mention are 'Go the Distance,' from Disney's 'Hercules,' 'Eye of the Tiger' from 'Rocky.' 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' is by Simon & Garfunkel, while 'Viva La Vida' is done by Coldplay. 'Both Sides Now' was written by Jodi Mitchell, and 'Masters of War' by Bob Dylan. 'Skullcrusher Mountain' is done by the hilarious and bizarre Jonathan Coulton. I refer to 'The Impossible Dream' from 'Man Of La Mancha,' and if you don't know Lady Gaga's 'Bad Romance,' then how do you know about 'The Legend of Korra'? And 'Be A Man,' of course, is from Mulan.
And yes, I'm a horrible person for inserting such blatant product placement. I know. I know.