PROLOGUE

Avatar Kuruk groaned as he felt the waters engulf him. Of all the myriad ways to die, drowning was a horrifically ironic way for a Waterbender. It was especially ironic when said Waterbender was the Avatar - and an Avatar who was born into the Northern Water Tribe to boot. After all, in normal circumstances it wouldn't even be a threat - instinct would kick in and he would bend himself out of the water. But these were NOT normal circumstances. No, they were about as abnormal as you could get. In fact, Kuruk was actually wondering if he would be the first Avatar to drown in the Spirit World.

Scratch that. He was hoping he would be. It would give his tenure as guardian of the world SOMETHING notable.

Kuruk had not, by his own admission, been a particularly good Avatar. Oh, he was fine at all the bending of the four elements - more than fine really - but at the actual duties part he'd been lacking. Fortunately for him, the two Avatars immediately proceeding him had been among the very best at that sort of thing. They had left a world which could stand having an Avatar whose response to problems he couldn't understand was to utter something vague and then go out for a brisk canoe ride.

Or so he had thought, when a problem that required actually doing something not only happened but took the life of the person Kuruk treasured most of all. And so Kuruk had decided to get his act together, starting with this problem.

It had not gone very well, and apparently, was going to end with him dying after years of running around, scouring the Spirit World for clues that would let him set things right.

Kuruk shut his eyes. How long had it been? Since he started this mad chase? He'd lost track somewhere along the way…

"Twelve years," answered a quiet female voice. "You've been seeking the Face Stealer for twelve years, Kuruk."

Kuruk opened his eyes to see the familiar form of his predecessor. "Avatar Yangchen," he said softly. "It's… been awhile." He coughed. "I'd - bow, if I weren't in this… predicament…" The female Airbender continued to stare at him bleakly. "I… really didn't think I'd see you again…"

"Come on, Kuruk," came another voice, one with heavy with scornful glee. The formally-clad Firebender leaned down, his expression rather contemptuous. "Did you imagine we'd miss seeing your new low?" He clicked his tongue. "And I thought you knew us."

"Avatar Toshiro," said Kuruk. He sighed. "So it's another one of those meetings." When he'd first made contact with his spiritual predecessors, his teachers had been excited when he had not only met with Avatar Yangchen, but her predecessor, Avatar Toshiro as well. At the time, they'd felt certain that this suggested that Kuruk possessed great spiritual gifts, even for an Avatar. These days, Kuruk chalked it up to Toshiro being that kind of guy.

The Firebender crossed his arms. "Well, Yangchen and I are a bit miffed about watching the two and a half centuries of peace we created collapse while you play at being a great tragic hero looking for revenge in the name of his lost love. So, really, you can't blame us, in… a moment like this… trying to get you to realize that you are blowing it. Big time."

Yangchen gave a single nod. "Discord spreads in both worlds, material and spiritual. All that we strived to create comes undone. The great task of the Avatar - is failing."

"In other words," said Avatar Toshiro. "It's a real mess."

Yangchen glared at her predecessor. "Stop 'helping' Toshiro." The Firebender pouted and looked away.

Kuruk sighed. "Look, I know I used to goof off, but after Koh took Omma I changed…"

"Right," said Toshiro. "You got worse. You used to be an obnoxious jerk who slacked off on his duties. Now, you're an obnoxious, reclusive jerk who completely ignores his duties." He shook his head. "Frankly, people are starting to forget that the Avatar is looking out for them. Largely because - well, you aren't."

Yangchen gave another nod. "You are absent from their lives and concerns. And an absent Avatar is like an absent weight on a scale, so that all balance is lost…"

Avatar Toshiro shook his head. "Must you always do that, Yangchen? Come up with some flowery way to state a simple situation…"

Yangchen glared at her predecessor. "You know, Toshiro, it's time like these it actively offends me that reincarnated from you…" She crossed her arms. "I sort of hoped that finally dying would make it better, and that you'd at last admit that I'd done a pretty good job, but no, you're the same critical loudmouth as always."

"I do admit that you did a good job," said Toshiro. "You were a terrific Avatar. Especially compared to this guy, who is, I think, a shoe-in for worst Avatar ever."

"Guys, still in mortal peril here," muttered Kuruk feeling the water creep up to his ears.

"Shush, the grown-ups are talking!" said Toshiro. He turned again to Yangchen. "My occasional criticisms are in no way a disparagement of your general excellence as an Avatar."

Yangchen turned away. "Oh, like I didn't hear that a thousand times. 'Not trying to offend you, Yangchen, but I would have handled that differently.' 'You are a great Avatar Yangchen, but…' 'You know I respect you, Yangchen, and that's why I have to say…'" Her eyes clenched shut. "It's all part of the never-ending declaration that nobody is as good as Avatar Toshiro. The only thing you've ever cared about is reminding everyone how fantastic you are."

"Now, that's just unfair, Yangchen!" said Toshiro. "I always cared deeply for you during your life as the Avatar - and I continue to care for you now. You're like the daughter I never had." He bit his lip. "Even if you are to an extent me. I've always found that aspect of our existence disconcerting, actually. Never quite been able to wrap my head around it."

"I think that's the first time I've heard you admit to a flaw," said Yangchen.

"Ummm… guys… still in mortal peril," muttered Kuruk. "I mean, are you going to stay focused on these ridiculous personal matters even as I…" Kuruk stopped when he realized that his predecessors were both grinning at him. "Oh. Right." He shut his eyes. "I hate you two."

"We only hurt you because we love you, Kuruk," said Toshiro. "But again, you're really messing things up."

"The borders between the Spirit World and the Material World have grown thin, due to your negligence," said Yangchen. "Things as bad as Koh the Face-Stealer - the great cause that you claim woke you up - have been breaking through."

"And let's not forget all those political decisions you've been avoiding," added Toshiro. "For example, that little Fire Lord succession issue you dodged out of…"

Kuruk sighed. "I gave them a bit of honest, simple advice…"

"You told them to look into their hearts for the answer to the succession," said Toshiro flatly. "That was not advice, Kuruk. It was babble."

"Look, didn't you tell me to try and avoid too heavy a hand in these matters?" muttered Kuruk, a deepening frown on his face.

Avatar Toshiro rolled his eyes. "That does not mean simply neglecting your duties. In this case, your telling them to simply look into their hearts caused them to do just that. Unfortunately their hearts did not agree, and there wound up being just a bit of a civil war."

Kuruk gulped. "Ahh. Yes. Sorry."

"Sorry, he says," muttered Toshiro. "Thousands dead, my home in chaos - but Kuruk is sorry. Well, that solves everything doesn't it?"

"Now, Toshiro," came another voice - older, calmer, and deeper. Another figure moved into view - one Kuruk had seen far less often than Yangchen and Toshiro - Avatar Yuan, the stately Earthbender who'd proceeded them. "No Avatar ever receives a clean slate. We have all played a part in this present situation. Why, it was my vow to kill Koh for the death of my wife that lead him to strike at Omma…"

"That and the fact that Koh is an immortal evil jerk," said Toshiro. "I really don't think he needs much of an excuse to mess with Avatars, Yuan. It's just Koh being Koh."

Yuan frowned at his successor. "I am merely trying to explain to young Kuruk that his condition is not solely his fault…"

Toshiro rolled his eyes. "Of course. The Avatar Spirit Pity Party." He shook his head. "Why don't you start by telling him how you didn't realize your nephew would turn out to be such a corrupt, power-hungry wretch? I always loved that one…"

Yuan sighed. "This is not the time to be having this discussion, Toshiro."

"Especially as I'm still in moral peril!" said Kuruk. He shut his eyes. "I know I'm failing as an Avatar. And I'll do what I can to fix it, but right now… I just need some help. Please. Help me."

"Kuruk," came a female voice he'd heard very seldom in his years as Avatar, "all you had to do was ask." And then an arm was reaching towards him in the pit. Kuruk grabbed the hand and was lifted out.

As soon as he was on solid ground, he turned and bowed to the elder Waterbender before him. "Avatar Nonna," he said. "Thank you for saving my…" And then suddenly, he realized something. "I'm dead, aren't I?"

"As soon as you fell," said Toshiro softly.

"The Face Stealer laid a subtle trap for you, Kuruk," said Nonna. "One that a stood a good chance of claiming not only your life - but your soul."

Yuan smiled at the young Water-Bender. "But you avoided that. In the end, Kuruk, when your pride stood in the way, you let it go. And doing that, passed your greatest test."

Kuruk frowned. "I… I'm not going to be able to fix all the things I… failed at am I?"

"Of course you will," said Yangchen. "You are the Avatar."

"But it won't be me," said Kuruk, wincing. "It will be… the next Avatar."

"What was that Yuan just mentioned about pride, Kuruk?" asked Toshiro, stepping forward, and placing a hand on the Waterbender's shoulder. "Do not demand the cosmos act as your personal redemption drama. Many tasks lie before the Avatar who follows you. She will need your guidance, more than you realize."

Yangchen smiled on him. "Now come with us. You have one last task to do…"

Kuruk fell behind his predecessors as they lead him through halls of radiant light. "Umm, I just have to say - the whole pretending to fight thing to break through to me was… really inspired," he noted.

Yuan, Toshiro and Yangchen all glanced at each other nervously. "Yes," said Yangchen. "That is exactly what we were doing the entire time."

Toshiro and Yuan nodded fervently. "A brilliant instruction method," noted Yuan.

"Genius," said Toshiro. "Pure genius."

"We are here," announced Nonna suddenly. Kuruk glanced around the small chamber, where a young woman was cradling a baby, a young man watching with a smile.

"That's… her, isn't it?" he said, staring at the baby. "My successor."

Toshiro was looking around the chamber. "I know this place… this… this is Koi Valley!" He blinked and shook his head. "Over two hundred years - and they haven't changed the décor. At all."

"Toshiro," grumbled Yangchen. "What is it now?"

Toshiro wrinkled his nose. "Well… it's just… Koi Valley is one of the most backward parts of the Earth Kingdom. Some people would say the only thing of worth that's come out of it are the elephant koi. And plenty of people would dispute that." He frowned to himself. "Damn things are almost inedible…"

Yuan glanced at his successor. "Toshiro, are you actually challenging the will of the cosmos?"

The Firebender glanced away. "Not… as such. But… well, we know it's not perfect, and what with all the problems the world's facing, perhaps it would have been better to have an Avatar… a little closer to the centers of power." Yangchen, Yuan, and Nonna all stared at him. "But of course, it's only my opinion. So… next Avatar's from Koi Valley." He glanced up at the ceiling, and gave it a thumb's up. "Got it, cosmos! We're going to trust you on this one!"

Yangchen turned to Kuruk. "This next part is up to you, Kuruk."

Kuruk winced. "I… I'll… try…" He took a deep breath, which he gathered was more out of habit than any need to breathe. "I… I wish you could help me."

Nonna smiled gently. "Kuruk - of course we will. Just as you are part of her, we are part of you." She faded from sight.

"We will always be with you, and you with us," said Yuan, fading as well.

"Our hopes, our dreams, our wishes, and our odd little personality quirks," said Toshiro, chuckling as he vanished.

"Always, Kuruk," said Yangchen. "Always." And then she was gone as well.

Kuruk stood there for awhile, then glanced at the child. "Hello… baby…" he said awkwardly, cursing the fact that he was never good with children. He gave a little wave.

"Awww, look," said the young woman. "She's smiling."

"I don't think they smile this young, Suki," said the man.

Suki frowned at her husband, then smiled at her baby. "It's okay, Kyoshi. Mommy will give you the love your sourpuss of a father won't."

Kuruk stared at the little child, and thought that perhaps - just perhaps - he could see a smile himself. He touched his hand to Kyoshi's forehead, and watched that familiar glow suffuse the infant. "Be seeing you in sixteen years, Kyoshi," said Kuruk smiling himself. "Take care until then, okay?"

And then he faded away himself.


Kyoshi knelt before the Hut of Warriors, and took a deep breath. She'd been counting the days, waiting for this. Oh, officially, you weren't supposed to know, but in her case, it was different. How could it not be? In fact, she figured everybody in the village knew by now it was coming. And so, when the sun peeked out over the horizon on her sixteenth birthday, it had found young Kyoshi waiting, expectant, and utterly unphased when her aunt Kaede arrived in full Warrior's Garb, and escorted her to the Hut.

She shut her eyes. Admittedly, the delay was strangely nerve-wracking, even if you knew what was coming, but she had the impression that was intentional.

"HAS THE INITIATE ARRIVED?" came a booming voice.

Her aunt bowed. "She has, Master Yi!"

A tall man clad in the same warrior's garb as her aunt exited the hut, flanked by two more warriors. Kyoshi recognized them as Kato and Emiko. "AND WHO SPEAKS FOR HER?" boomed Yi, who tended, as Master of Warriors, to operate on the assumption that loudness only increases impressiveness.

"I, Warrior Kaede," answered her aunt.

"VERY WELL," proclaimed Yi. He narrowed his gaze on Kyoshi. "DOES THE INTIATE UNDERSTAND THE SIGNAL HONOR DONE TO HER BY BEING ALLOWED IN THIS PLACE?"

Kyoshi touched her forehead to the ground. "Indeed, Master Yi."

Yi nodded. "THEN WE MAY BEGIN! NOW, INTIATE, YOU MUST PROVE YOUR WORTH, BY SHOWING YOU HAVE LEARNED THE SECRET WISDOM OF YOUR ELDERS!" He clapped his hands and nodded to his right.

Kato nodded. "Initiate, what is the meaning of the golden insignia of a Warrior?" he stated, raising his arm to show the badge there.

"It represents the honor in the Warrior's heart," replied Kyoshi. Kato gave another nod.

"Initiate," said Emiko, "what is the meaning of the silk thread from which the garb of a Warrior is made?"

"It represents the brave blood that flows through a Warrior's veins," said Kyoshi.

"INTIATE," said Yi, gesturing to his face, "WHAT IS THE MEANING OF A WARRIOR'S FACE PAINT?"

"It represents the spirits of our ancestors who guide and protect our brave Warriors," answered Kyoshi with a smile.

Yi nodded, and then suddenly twirled around. "AND WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS FEAST?" he shouted, revealing a table stacked high with food.

Kyoshi blinked. "It doesn't have one. It's just a thing you started four years ago because you were usually tired after all the rock-hurling at initiations."

Yi blinked, then glanced at Kaede. "Wow. You weren't kidding. She is good. And unflappable." He turned back to Kyoshi. "So, while you were correct about the feast being meaningless, if it did have a meaning, what would it be?"

Kyoshi tapped her fingers on the ground nervously. "Umm… a… reminder to live life to… the fullest… maybe?"

Yi thought it over, then nodded. "Yes. Exactly." He glanced at Kato. "Write that one down."

Kato chuckled. "With what? I don't exactly have a brush handy."

Yi glanced at Emiko. "What about you?"

"Sorry, brother, no," answered Emiko.

Yi frowned. "Okay then. I'll just… try and remember it." He turned to Kyoshi. "So… NOW, INITIATE, BEGINS THE ROCK-HURLING! WE SHALL HURL ROCKS YOU - AND YOU SHALL CATCH THEM!"

Kyoshi smiled to herself. Finally, they were on the fun part.


Half a world a way, a man was not enjoying having rocks hurled at him.

King Tsao stiffened into a defensive posture and did his best to bend the rock so that he didn't get crushed into goo.

He succeeded, causing the boulder to fly apart instead, but by a much thinner margin than he liked.

"Submit!" said his attacker, launching another boulder. Tsao rushed at it, kicking the heavy thing away. While he managed to keep it from crushing him, he lost his balance and fell on the ground. "Submit!" shouted his attacker, now raising a boulder over Tsao's head.

Tsao had always fancied himself a brave man, one who could withstand challenges. But the man he was fighting now was proving the most relentless thing he'd ever faced. And so he did something he never thought he'd do.

"I submit," he said quietly. "You, Chin, are now - King of Omashu."

The rather short young man standing opposite him smiled as Tsao said that. "Excellent," declared Chin. With a gesture the boulder hovering over Tsao's head fell lightly to his side. Chin turned to his men. "Kui! Jiang! Help Lord Tsao to his feet." A tall thin man and a short stout one, each dressed in rather plain green clothing stepped forward to follow the Chin's orders. Despite their rather unprepossessing appearances, Tsao realized these had to be Song Kui and Li Jiang, Chin's famous "East and West Generals". The pair gripped his arms and hoisted him up with surprising strength.

"Now, then, Lord Tsao," stated Chin, "despite what you might have heard, I am not a cruel man. Nor am I a man of limited ambitions. The crown of Omashu is to me nothing more than a means to an end. I am perfectly willing to restore you what I have taken." He strode forward and peered into Tsao's eyes. Tsao trembled despite himself. He tried to tell himself that he was being ridiculous - that this man making his knees shake was almost a dwarf. But he was still terrified. It wasn't just Chin's Earthbending skills, or the fact that he had men like Kui and Jiang working for him - it was some strange quality in the man himself, a sort of raw charisma that let you know this man would squash you if you got in his way. "All I would require from you for this - is your loyalty," stated Chin at last.

"An-and you have it," announced Tsao.

Chin grinned at that. "Excellent. Welcome to the service of Chin the Great Earth-Shaking Master, King Tsao," he stated, offering the King of Omashu his hand. "Now, General Kui and General Jiang will escort you to my quarters and… acquaint you with a certain matter I wish to discuss with you. As for me - I have a speech to make."

Li Jiang leaned over and whispered into Tsao's ear. "You handled that well. The Great Earth-Shaking Master can be a hard man to please, at times."

Tsao gulped, despite himself.


Chin smiled to himself on the pillar of earth he'd raised in the courtyard, as he stared at the crowd of loyal soldiers below. When he first began his campaign, his enemies had declared that "the little upstart" had finally proved how mad he was. Taking the city of Omashu was, declared the Earth King of Ba Sing Se's generals, an impossible goal. The Kings of Ba Sing Se had only defeated it by lengthy sieges - and even those had been close affairs, one reason why Omashu still had a king. The city was almost as impenetrable as Ba Sing Se.

And perhaps it was, to a large army that charged its front gates trying to get in. But to a small task force of skilled Earthbenders who climbed the steep mountain sides at night, it was quite penetrable. And once said task force had opened the way, even that aforementioned large army didn't find it that hard a job to get in.

On the whole it had been one for the textbooks Chin was going to make sure got written after he'd won.

The cheering that had begun as soon as Chin had shown himself had finally quieted. The diminutive conqueror raised one muscular arm. "You who have followed me so loyally - OMASHU IS OURS!" That cheering started again. Chin shut his eyes, and let it wash over him. At times like this, he wondered if it would feel this… glorious when he was finished, and the Earth Kingdom was his.

He certainly hoped so. Chin appraised his followers again, and decided they were ready to hear more. "Before the Earth Kings of Ba Sing Se ruled the Silver Earth Kings of Omashu! Before the Silver Earth Kings of Omashu ruled the Earth Kings of Anglat! Before the Earth Kings of Anglat ruled the Golden Earth Kings of Omashu! From this we learn the right to rule this land begins in Omashu." Chin pointed dramatically at his audience. "But we learn MORE from this! We learn that the right to rule this land is NOT absolute! The Spirits grant their favor, and the Spirits withdraw their favor! By this rule, dynasties rise and fall!" Chin began to pace on his pedestal. "The Earth Kings of Ba Sing Se have lost that favor! The gift of Earthbending has departed from their line! Wisdom has departed from their line! Righteousness has departed from their line! Strength has departed from their line! Can any one of you look at this line - foolish, wicked, weak, cut off from the Earth - and say it still holds the right to rule?"

"NO!" shouted a man in the crowd.

"CHIN IS OUR KING!" shouted a woman.

The shouts came quickly now. "HAIL CHIN!" "CHIN THE GREAT!" "CHIN THE MIGHTY!" "CHIN WHOSE BENDING SHAKES THE EARTH!"

Chin nodded. "YES!" he shouted. "I am he who the Spirits have chosen! As a child, they spoke to me, and said 'To you, Chin, we give strength! To you, Chin, we give righteousness! To you, Chin, we give wisdom! To you we give a bending so powerful, it can shake the very pillars of the Earth!'" Chin rammed his fist into the stony surface of the pillar on which he stood. A slight tremor traveled down it - and then suddenly the ground below his followers began to quiver and quake. They began to yelp in excitement. Chin laughed and clapped his hands together. "Can any doubt my gifts? Can any doubt my power? Can any doubt I am the man who the Spirits have chosen? Soon - soon, men will say 'the Earth Kings of Chin followed the Earth Kings of Ba Sing Se!'" Another round of cheering began. Chin smiled broadly. "And rest assured - when that day comes, all of you who have stood with me shall enjoy your rewards! We will forge a new Earth Kingdom together, and you - you will be my lords and ladies, my generals and admirals, my advisors and magistrates!"

Chin spread his arms and let the cheers and applause spread over him again.


The applause were still echoing through Omashu when Chin reached the rooms he'd had laid out for himself in the city. To his pleasure, he saw that his men had already gotten everything in place. Tsao was seated there, looking around in bafflement at the new décor, especially at the display of Chin's favorite pastime that had been carefully assembled at the southern wall. Really, Chin couldn't help but feel sorry for the man. Sitting there in that chair, Tsao looked exactly like what he really was - a grey-haired bureaucrat with a wispy beard, playing the warrior.

Chin bowed to the King of Omashu, then headed towards his collection. "I trust Kui and Jiang looked after you sufficiently."

Tsao nodded nervously, and watched as Chin picked up a small pair of cutters. "Oh yes," he gulped.

Chin snipped off a small branch from one of his bonsai. "And sufficiently explained the matter I was interested in?"

Tsao nodded. "The… Avatar."

"Correct," answered Chin, snipping off another branch, then carefully adjusting the pot. "I hope you don't mind my doing this as we talk. I simply find it incredibly… relaxing."

"Of course not," declared Tsao perhaps a bit too fervently. "What objection can I have to such a refined and noble pastime?" He blinked, then gulped. "None at all, of course. None at all." Tsao gulped once again, and shifted nervously in his seat. "So… regarding the Avatar… well, I'm afraid there's not much I can tell you."

To Tsao's surprise, Chin continued to calmly trim his bonsai. "That alone tells me a great deal already." He paused, and turned to regard Tsao. "You're the King of Omashu. One of the spiritual leaders of the Earth Kingdom. Traditionally, you're one of the few who always know the young Avatar's identity. Especially during an Earth cycle." A smile touched Chin's face. "So what happened?"

Tsao sighed. "I think you can guess most of the story. Sixteen years ago, the temple lights flared. By all rights, the search should have started then. But when the time came to assemble the searchers…" He shook his head. "Fire Lord Taizo was besieging the Fire Temples, so the Fire Sages couldn't send anyone. The Air Nomads…" He shrugged. "Holing up like recluses, just like now. And the Water Tribes… well, I won't even go into that horror show." The King of Omashu spread his hands. "With all those problems, some argued for delaying the search for more peaceful times. They'd have probably been ignored, if the grain riots hadn't started. And General Xueqin hadn't started his revolt. And then of course…"

Chin smiled as he carefully tilted one his pots. "Me." He chuckled to himself. "Tsao, am I to gather that there has been NO search for the Avatar? That even now, someone in the Earth Kingdom is the Bridge to the Spirit World - and doesn't know it?"

Tsao sighed. "It sounds ridiculous when you put it like that - but that's apparently how we stand." He shrugged. "It could be practically anyone." He peered at Chin curiously. "In fact, I've always been surprised you haven't claimed…"

"King Tsao, as I've no doubt you've come to realize," said Chin, grinning, "I don't make claims I can't back up. That's why I'm here right now. And I do that because I aim for the great things. Claiming to be the Avatar in times of trouble is the province of second-rate con artists. I am slightly insulted that you imagine I would do that." He shrugged. "Besides - I'm twenty-four. A bit too old, I'm afraid."

"My apologies then," said Tsao, coughing nervously. "I'm also sorry I can be of so little help…"

"On the contrary," said Chin, his attention returning to his bonsai, "you've been exceedingly helpful. I now know if I want to find the Avatar I must look for him or her myself."

"And what will you do when you find them?" asked Tsao.

Chin cut another branch from a bonsai. "I'll leave that to your imagination."


Kyoshi walked home from her initiation, grinning broadly. "That was fun!" she declared. She glanced at her aunt and uncle. "Also, great meal guys."

"Thank you," said Kato. "We'll get you fitted for your uniform tomorrow."

"And give you help getting used to the rest of it," said Kaede. She turned to her husband, smiling. "Your uncle is an expert on our makeup."

"You need a good foundation," said Kato. "Otherwise it winds up smearing. And then you look ridiculous." He worriedly narrowed his heavily-rouged lips.

Kyoshi suppressed a laugh, though not as well as she could have, to judge by the way Kaede and Kato both turned to look at her. She coughed and bowed. "I… better get home. See you… at practice." She turned and darted down the way to her house. As her feet skipped on the stones, she hummed to herself. She was a Warrior of Koi Valley now, just as she always knew she'd be. The first step on the road to her lifelong dream of being the greatest Koi Valley Warrior ever! And it had begun today!

"People of Koi Valley! Sleep easy knowing you are under the protection of - KYOSHI!" she declared striking a pose.

"Kyoshi!" groaned her mother from inside their house. "Could you keep it down? It's still very, very early in the morning…"

"Sorry, mom," said Kyoshi nervously. She quietly entered her house and made her way to her room. All right, she admitted some refinement was going to be necessary. But only some, and she was certain she could handle it. Kyoshi flopped down on her mattress, and stared at the ceiling, feeling the great contentment that only comes from knowing exactly how your life is going, and wanting it to head in no other direction.


AUTHOR'S NOTES

To begin with, the Avatar universe, Avatars Yangchen, Kuruk and Kyoshi, Koh the Face-Stealer, and Chin the Conqueror/Great are the creations and intellectual property of Michael Dante DiMartino and Brian Konietzko.

I'll be trying to stick close to canon with story, but thankfully, this is a fairly underdeveloped area in Avatar's backstory-just enough to give me a frame, but leaving me free to fill in the details. Hopefully, I do a good job.