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NOTE: This fanon is also a theory.
We have been told that Kyoshi lived to the incredible age of 230 however this doesn't seems to be right for several reasons listed below:
- According to some "Avatars have longer lifespan than non-Avatar" but the only known case where that's true is Kyoshi itself, Aang lived up to 66 years however the century he spent in the iceberg would probably be bad for his health and make him die younger than expected for an Avatar maybe. Roku died at the age of 70, however he died in a volcanic explosion making his death non-natural death. Kuruk died at the age of 33 or close apparently but we are never given any information about his cause of death, the only information about his life we have is that those were peaceful times and his only feud was with Koh but it's never stated that feud ended his life. The rest of Avatar's dying age is unknown except for Wan who looks rather old in his death but again, it's a violent death. Given this, it's not necessarily true that "Avatars have longer lifespan than non-Avatar".
- One thing I noted is that when past lives appear to Avatars, they appear the same age they were when they died. Kuruk always appeared pretty young like he died, Roku appeared old like he did as well and Aang looks pretty older to Korra than he looks in the Yakone's flashbacks that happened 25 years before Aang's death. Wan's special case only appeared to Korra during a "flashback" and was shown as young so Korra and the spectator can recognize him during him early years. Given this, even under make up, Kyoshi does not looks 230 years old nor close at all. She is always shown pretty young and strong like she was when she fought Chin being aged 32 at the time. This would mean that if Kyoshi appears to Aang and Korra like she was when she died, her death should have happen not long after Chin's.
- There are two well known cases of extremely old people that both lived (at least) for 150 years, King Bumi and Guru Pathik. Both of them looked extremely old even when both of them were in good (very good in Bumi's case) shape and not frail at all but still looked old with wrinkles all around. Avatars also develop wrinkles with age given that both Aang and Roku show wrinkles at the ages of 66 and 70, it would be expected for Avatars to age at the same rate than non-Avatars. Kyoshi should look old at least like Bumi when she died and a wrinkled face that even make up would not cover.
Now, if Kyoshi did not die at 230 but died not long after being 32 we have two questions: How come that there was no Avatar between Kyoshi's death not long after 270 BG and Roku's birth at 82BG? And why doesn't anybody notices this?
The answer to the first question is that there were at least four Avatars between Kyoshi and Roku that history has forgotten. Let's check first on what Kyoshi has done in her life:
- Kyoshi was a very active Avatar, between passive Avatars like Yangchen, Kuruk and Roku, she actively participated in armed conflicts.
- Against the Avatar's objective, Kyoshi clearly favored her nation and was not active (that we know) in any help to any other nation (not that we know any issue a nation had at the time). An Avatar is supposed to be nationless and help keep the balance between the four nations, a nation's internal issue that does not affects other nations should not necessarily interfere with the world's balance.
- Kyoshi gained herself a lot of enemies, not only on Chin Village they still burn her images two centuries after her death, she crushed the peasant's revolt but it's never stated how she did exactly. The revolt was about abolishing monarchy but it only became a constitutional monarchy so the peasants probably weren't very happy with how it ended and it probably ended because Kyoshi was too much for them. Knowing that both Chin's supporters and a probably considerable number of peasants were angry with Kyoshi, an anti-Kyoshi or even anti-Avatar organization would not be out of the table.
Given this, the next social sectors would not be happy with Kyoshi:
- Chin's supporters
- Earth Kingdom peasants
- Other nation's people with issues that the Avatar did not help
- Nationless philosophy supporters (Order of the White Lotus for example)
NOTE: for the next paragraph I want you to know I'm aware of Xai Bau's story given by Zaheer about the Red Lotus.
My theory is that this sectors confabulated to create not only a world without Kyoshi, but a world without Avatar at all. Following the peasant uprising, a group of member of the Order of the White Lotus felt angry with the Avatar promoting her nationalism and support in the Earth Kingdom's internal issues and decided to act against it, separating from the White Lotus and forming the Red Lotus, gathering support from the previously mentioned sectors to rally against Kyoshi, successfully assassinating her (maybe with poison) not long after 270 BG when she was roughly 40 years old. While a part of the Red Lotus felt their mission accomplished, another more extreme sector felt their mission was not to free the world from Kyoshi but from the Avatar Cycle starting a persecution of Avatars between Kyoshi's real death (260 BG) and Roku's birth (82BG) known as "The Time Without Avatars".
It's unknown how many Avatars lived in that time but it a multiple of four as the last Avatar was an earthbender and the one after that period was a firebender.
During this 178 years, the Red Lotus actively searched for the newborn Avatars and kidnapped them for the cycle to be stopped with an untrained and secluded Avatar while the White Lotus would search for them to keep them protected. At the same time, each nation would have an organization to search, protect and train their own Avatars these being the fire elders in the Fire Nation and the council of elders in the Air Nomads (the Water Tribe's and Earth Kingdom's organization are not known). Some of these Avatars would been taken as children and kept in prison until their death (probably suicide in most cases), others would been killed during the kidnappings by the Red Lotus or their escape attempts, there may have been infanticide committed by either the Red Lotus to avoid them getting to the Avatar and locking him for training and becoming old enough to fight or the White Lotus to avoid having the Avatar locked away until his death, giving both sides the chance to get to the new Avatar again. When the White Lotus or the respective organization for each nation would get the Avatar soon enough, they would hide them in plain view for their protection only revealing them their true identity when they became old enough to understand the danger they are but not too late so they can start the Avatar training, this would then became the tradition of revealing the Avatar's identity at the age of 16.
The White Lotus would eventually start a secret war, probably with help of some or all the nations against the Red Lotus, which would end with the apparent extinction of the Red Lotus few years after 82 BG.
Once the fire elders discovered that Roku was the Avatar, they decided to put him close to the royal family for his protection while the Red Lotus was disappearing.
Fearing the reappearance of the Red Lotus, a worldwide conspiracy was formed to wipe the Red Lotus' name from history and the The Time Without Avatars would become a myth. Eventually, the people would come to believe that Kyoshi indeed lived for that long and that Roku followed her as Avatar. Roku, being contemporary of people that knew the true, would probably know the true about his predecessor but being aware of the reason would help the conspiracy rise to protect himself and future Avatars. For the time Aang was born (12BG) Kyoshi's death would be taught as 82 BG everywhere and whoever thought otherwise would be looked like a fool believing child stories about Avatars being murdered in their cradles. Aang itself would be taught that Kyoshi was his past life before Roku.
After all this there is still a loose end that let's this theory falls apart: If there were indeed more Avatars between Kyoshi and Roku, every time Aang or Korra pictured or contacted their past lives, there should be appearances between them. One would say that because they are not known they would not be pictured but there is a big number of Avatars shown every time Aang or Korra pictured "all" of their past lives and they are (probably) not known by them but still show in the visions.
Maybe Roku, agreeing with the conspiracy, makes sure the knowledge of these lives would not pass down to the next Avatars and not reveal it to Aang while the knowledge of all the other lives was passed down by each consecutive Avatar, the only Avatar to be aware of these secret past lives would be Roku while the only other detail about the conspiracy would be known by Kyoshi, which would be the year of her death, which she would never see necessary to say to Aang as she would not be aware of the conspiracy itself.
The Red Lotus, however, was never completely extinct and it lived up to Xai Bau's time to leave the White Lotus and join the already existing Red Lotus, Zaheer would learn that Xai Bau did not revive the order but formed it.
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