|“||I know everyone in the Four Nations who could possibly help you! I put out the message, and every law-man, every sage, every official will be tripping over their own feet to hunt you down on my behalf! Being the Avatar will not protect her from me!||„|
|~ Jianzhu's warning to Kyoshi and Kelsang|
Jianzhu is the main antagonist of the Avatar: Kyoshi series, serving as the main antagonist of The Rise of Kyoshi and the posthumous overarching antagonist of The Shadow of Kyoshi. He serves as the earthbending teacher and father figure to Yun, who was falsely identified as the Avatar, and archnemesis of Kyoshi, the true Avatar.
Origins and Past with Avatar Kuruk
Jianzhu was born to the Gan Jin tribe of the Earth Kingdom, growing up to form powerful connections with Earth Kingdom elites in Ba Sing Se, as well as becoming a powerful earthbender under the mentorship of Lu Beifong.
Later in life, Jianzhu met and formed a friendship with Avatar Kuruk during his earthbending training. Jianzhu accompanied Kuruk for the rest of his training, meeting the Air Nomad Kelsang (after attempting to sneak into a flying bison pen, with Kelsang being assigned as their "chaperone") and a firebender named Hei-Ran (who had rejected Kuruk's romantic advances, though not from lack of interest but rather a sense of duty to her nation). After the three of them succesfully helped Kuruk master all four elements, the Avatar proposed the four of them continue to travel and further their own bending skills, arguing that new challenges will allow them to continously learn and grow better. They agreed to go with Kuruk, essentially becoming Kuruk's "Team Avatar".
Afer several harrowing adventures, including Kuruk attempting to master the Avatar State and later finding him broken and defeated by dark spirits, Jianzhu eventually took on Kuruk's political responsiblities, which allowed him to further build his network of allies and become more powerful than several official Earth Kingdom nobles. By the time of Kuruk's early death, Jianzhu felt he had failed to properly guide Kuruk as an Avatar, and alongside the rest of his friends, promised Kuruk they would find his successor.
During their desperate search, the world fell into turmoil as criminals and rebels (many of whom were commonly referred to as daofei) began taking control of several aspects of civilization. With the Earth King and several officials declining to assist Jianzhu and his friends in their attempts to quelch the uprisings, Jianzhu became disillusioned with the power structure in the kingdom and decided to take matters into his own hands, slaughtering several members of the ruthless Yellow Necks and even his political rivals, expanding his influence.
In a desperate bid to find the Avatar, Kelsang and Jianzhu agreed that, rather than the traditional method of using the Earth Kingdom method for finding an Earth Kingdom Avatar, they would use the Air Nomad way. Stealing Air Nomad relics for the tests, the two friends had tried it on several people, including a younger Kyoshi, who had ended up stealing one of the relics rather than taking the test. While Jianzhu was angry with the girl and wanted to hunt her down, he still admired her strength.
At some point prior to falsely identifying Yun as the Avatar, Jianzhu went through Kuruk's journals and began learning more about the Spirit World, including meeting and making a shaky alliance with Father Glowworm, whom Kuruk had dealt with in the past.
Jianzhu and Kelsang eventually met Yun at Makapu Village. Despite not showing signs of inherently bending other elements, his masterful skills at earthbending led Jianzhu to name him the Avatar, setting him up to be trained and groomed as Kuruk's successor.
The True Avatar
Years later, Jianzhu continued training Yun, attempting several methods to invoke the other bending forms from his student, to no avail. Jianzhu had also taken in Kyoshi as a servant and Hei-Ran's daughter Rangi as a bodyguard, and the two of them became close friends with Yun.
Jianzhu accompanied Yun, Rangi, and Kyoshi, as well as his old friends Hei-Ran and Kelsang (and Yun's waterbending instructor Amak) to the Southern Water Tribe to meet with Tagaka, current leader of the Fifth Nation and daughter of the previous leader Tulok, to sign a treaty stating that the Fifth Nation would cease all raids in the Earth Kingdom. Jianzhu became angry when Yun, in his confidence, additionally demanded Tagaka release Earth Kingdom hostages in her captivity. However, Tagaka revealed the treaty signing was actually part of a planned ambush against them, with Tagaki killing Amok and her tribe attacking Jianzhu and Yun's allies. Jianzhu fought off Fifth Nation ships with his earthbending, dismantling Tagaka's numbers, but was shocked, alongside everyone else, at seeing Kyoshi using her true power to defeat Tagaka, leading him to suspect that she, not Yun, may be the real Avatar.
After they returned to his estate, Jianzhu and Hei-Ran gave Kyoshi the Fire Nation's version of the Avatar test, but Kyoshi failed to firebend, leading to further doubt of the Avatar's identity. In desperation, Jianzhu brought both Kyoshi and Yun to a remote cave in the mountains to meet Father Glowworm, who could properly and accurately identify the Avatar due to his ancient wisdom. Once Father Glowworm identified Kyoshi as the Avatar, Jianzhu, fearing Father Glowworm would make an attempt on Kyoshi's life due to his animosity towards Kuruk, rescued Kyoshi and left Yun to die, his former disciple being dragged away by the ancient spirit. Kyoshi blamed Jianzhu, believing he murdered Yun, but Jianzhu argues that Yun's "sacrifice" was necessary for Kyoshi to realize her destiny, and then attempts to persuade her to accept him as her master and make her into the Avatar he believed Kuruk should have been.
Kelsang had managed to arrive at their location after being suspicious of Jianzhu's intentions, learning from both of them that Kyoshi was the true Avatar and Yun was dead. Kelsang, having realized Jianzhu's true ambitions, vowed never to let him have anything to do with Kyoshi. Jianzhu declares that no matter where Kyoshi runs, his web of political allies would loyally serve him and turn her over to him if she did not comply. Kelsang attempted to attack Jianzhu in order to save Kyoshi, but Jianzhu managed to ruthlessly (but not without sadness) slice Kelsang in the neck with sharpened flint, killing him. The death of her father figure enraged Kyoshi and triggered the Avatar State, and although Jianzhu survived by burying himself underground, Kyoshi was gone by the time he recovered.
The Hunt for Kyoshi
Jianzhu returned to his estate to learn that Kyoshi and Rangi both fled the estate, the latter learning from Kyoshi about her true identity as well as Yun and Kelsang's deaths, both of which Jianzhu claimed to Hei-Ran was the fault of Father Glowworm. The two masters attended a formal party hosted by Hui, one of Jianzhu's rivals, to celebrate Yun's defeat of the Fifth Nation. Curious as to why the Avatar was not present, Jianzhu manipulated Hui into believing that Yun had merely been estranged from Jianzhu and not dead, which Hui spread across the Earth Kingdom, allowing Jianzhu to quietly continue his hunt for Kyoshi.
Jianzhu and his agent Saiful had tracked Kyoshi's trail down to the mountains where she was last spotted, learning she is currently with the Autumn Bloom Society. Jianzhu also learns Saiful had sent out a messanger hawk under the guise of asking for supplies, but was actually being sent to Hui informing him of Jianzhu's intentions and the truth behind the Avatar. Jianzhu coldly killed his traitorous servant.
Jianzhu was later approached at his estate by Hui and the other sages that sought to dismiss Jianzhu from his duties and powers for his lies and manipulation. Jianzhu angrily declared that Hui and the others had only cared about making profit and power for themselves while he was attempting to restore balance to the world. Secretly, though, he had poisoned the water used to make tea for everyone, and while Hui and the sages and servants died from the poison, Jianzhu and Hei-Ran survived due to their poison-resistance training from Amak, though Jianzhu was weakened and Hei-Ran was rendered comatose.
Final Battle and Death
Shortly after his recovery and having learned from his informant's letters that Kyoshi had been located due to her aiding and later killing Xu Ping An, Jianzhu traveled to Zigan Village where Kyoshi, Rangi, and Lek had been shopping. Jianzhu attacked with poison darts, killing Lek, incapacitating Kyoshi, and kidnapping Rangi and holding her captive back at his estate. Jianzhu left a note demanding Kyoshi meet him in the neighboring Qinchao Village if she wanted Rangi alive. Once they meet at the teahouse in the village, Jianzhu threatens to collapse the teahouse and kill everyone inside, and later Rangi, if she does not submit to him. Unwilling to accept his demands and accusing him of being no better than a daofei, Kyoshi and Jianzhu battled one another fiercely. During their battle, though, they were both shocked to see Yun approach them, having survived Father Glowworm but with a different and more malevolent aura around him. Yun took the stone used by Lek and pushed it straight through Jianzhu, killing him instantly.
Shortly before his fateful confrontation with Kyoshi at the teahouse, Jianzhu had dramatically changed his last will and testament, publicly identifying Kyoshi as the Avatar and bequething her his land and wealth. This was his last and arguably most successful attempt to shape Kyoshi into the Avatar he wanted her to be, as through reading his journals and being traumatized by his actions, Kyoshi came to adopt many of Jianzhu's brutal tactics when enacting justice throughout the world, though eventually, Kyoshi had abandoned many of Jianzhu's teachings. Jianzhu was also responsible for Yun's escape from the spirit world and quest for vengeance, forcing Kyoshi to confront and kill her former friend.