"Dancing along the lonesome river."
Kui (夔, Kuí), more commonly regarded as Kagura (神楽, Kagura), is a former member of the Northern Water Tribe and a Waterbender of significant prowess who eventually defected from her tribe and took upon the occupation of a performer. As-of now, she is famous among all the nations for her beauty and exotic performances.
Kui was born within the Northern Tribe as the middle child in a family of three children. Her father was a notable military commander and her mother a notable healer. As a result, their children were given high expectations from the rest of the tribe. Her older sister showcased the potential to master the Healing Arts at an early age and her younger brother demonstrated rather notable Waterbending skills for his age. In contrast, Kui was mediocre at both aspects. As such, Kui was often neglected and left to her own devices. As a result, Kui often went to explore out of the boundaries available for the children. One of these ventures lead her to encounter an older woman of the tribe who was practicing her own form of Waterbending.
Kui was immediately enamored with the woman's Bending. The form wasn't nearly as militaristic as the one taught by his father. It incorporated the movement of the entire body, circular movement, almost as if the body and the water had become one-and-the-same. Kui's presence was noticed by the woman and, initially thinking she was an animal, the woman froze Kui in place, leaving the young girl in shock. When the woman realized Kui's identity, she immediately undid the freezing and applied first aid to the wounds she had given her. Kui, still in awe at the woman's abilities, begged that the woman train her. Eventually the woman revealed her name, Xia (夏, Xià). She said that she hailed from a family of female Waterbenders who were taught under the supervision of the legendary Katara of the Southern Tribe. Having observed Kui's passion, Xia agreed to teach the young girl all she knew about Bending.
Although Kui had grasped the basics of the aggressive Waterbending form, she would find that learning the older, classical method required her to completely revisit her bending from the ground-up. Before she could do so, Kui had to firstly become in-tune with the natural state of the water around her: its sound, tempo and nature of movement were all paramount to be able to employ the style. Her basic training took at least a month, until she finally managed to bend small volumes of water without any trouble at all, manipulating it with the entirety of her body rather than just her hands or legs. Her training went on for approximately a year, where she had become an expert on-par with the village's greatest students, though the source of her bending was always a mystery.
On one fateful day, her younger brother had followed her to her training. This is where he saw Kui and Xia's lessons being undertaken. Infuriated that Kui would dare break the tradition of the village, he reported the said actions to his father, who took the guidance of the village's council and exiled the two women from the village. Homeless, Kui and Xia knew no other option than to attempt to cross the distance to the Southern Water Tribe. They were incapable of boarding the ferry that would take them the whole distance due to a lack of funds. At an impasse while strolling through a small town in the West Earth Kingdom, Kui and Xia eventually noticed that a small troupe of performers known as Xuan (軒, Xuān; Literally meaning "Carriage") were looking for additional members. While not allowed to reveal their nature as Waterbenders for fear of attracting attention to themselves, Kui and Xia used their dance-like motions acquired from the nature of their Waterbending, leading the both to be recruited as a mother-daughter item. This experience, at only a meager 11 years of age, was the catalyst for changing Kui's entire life.
Kui and Xia were on-board Xuan for a number of months. They had learned the arts of acting, singing and performance underneath them. They were often displayed together as a mother-daughter duo, performing songs about family and women primarily. The grace at which they seized the stage led their popularity to top the charts, eventually allowing them to earn a considerable amount despite essentially being debuting performers, all things considered. As the troupe continued to wander around the Earth Kingdom, Kui would finally form bonds of friendship with others for the first time, while also gaining a valuable motherly bond in the form of Xia.
By the time Kui turned 15, at which point she had been with Xuan for nearly four years, Xuan had become a popular source of entertainment even among nobility. While preparing a show for Ba Sing Se, Xuan were sabotaged by a bandit attack orchestrated by the said performers. Incapable of standing by as their stage got destroyed, Xia used the full force of her Waterbending prowess to subdue the bandits. The royal performers used Xia's incredible demonstration of power as a means for the royals to consider the troupe as a terrorist organization, thus causing them to be pursued by the Dai Li with much fervor.
Most of the members of Xuan were imprisoned and the only known members left active were Xia and Kui, who had been on the run for several days. Knowing full well that the Dai Li would not rest until the both of them were either dead or surrendered, Xia did the only thing she could do: save Kui. She proposed that she'd send Kui into the intricate waterways of Ba Sing Se, while Kui used her bending to live. Kui was vehemently against the plan, not willing to lose yet another family. However, Xia knew that they didn't have the time to argue about this. With a tearful farewell, Xia threw Kui into the waterway and allowed herself to be imprisoned.
Screaming and panting, Kui barely managed to bend the water, where she lowered its height so that she enabled to breathe. However, as the tears flowed from her eyes, so did the waterways. Approximately an hour later, Kui ended up on the outskirts of Ba Sing Se on her lonesome. Wandering on her own for approximately a week, Kui managed to stave off death by dehydration through gathering water from the air: but this would not suffice and she would eventually collapse due to incredible starvation. At this point, she was found by a wandering member of a Sandbender Tribes named Chen, who took him to the nearby Shadi Village, where she was nurtured back to full health.
In gratitude to the village, Kui ended up staying there for a notable amount of time, building her relationship with Huang as she explained her circumstances to him. Huang and the villagers gave Kui the resources necessary to disguise and build herself up from the bottom. She began her career from the ground-up once again, using the village's strong merchant hub as a means to quickly grow her fame internationally. While apparently discarding the legacy of those who were arrested for her sake, Kui stated that she continues to perform with all her soul so-as-to become so renown that she possesses the influence to completely override any political machinations of the royalty's performance troupe, inevitably leading her to expose their dirty tricks, release her comrades from prison and bring Xuan into a golden era.
For the woman regarded as Kagura — the Divine Entertainer — it is no surprise that Kui is a woman of extraordinary beauty. Within the world, she stands out for an exotic appearance that has the natural effect of drawing attention to her. She embraces the attention, believing it a way to grace the highest stages in the least amount of time, even if it means that less-than-savory glances are taken towards Kui and her reputation.
Upon donning the persona of Kagura, it is clear that Kui's only intention is to draw the attention of everybody in her vicinity. The crowd, instantly stunned by her display, draws their gazes towards the incredible physique Kui has toned through years of dance: her ample bust, flat stomach, wide hips and voluptuous legs are not simply for show. They are a representation of the struggle and dedication that Kui has placed in every single one of her rehearsals, her bid to survive during the harshest, and her overwhelming desire to return to her true happiness. Whence the crowd chooses to move their eyes, they'll immediately be in awe of the vibrancy that is her color palette. After months of indecisiveness, purple was the color she chose: a color of majesty, ambition and secrets. As her body sways, her lengthy royal purple hair does so alongside her, its depth and movement as great as the oceans. However, there is but one aspect of Kagura that transcends everything else. The last, but by far the most eminent part of her being as a performer are her almost morose lavender eyes. While clearly not her true eyes, they reveal more of her truth than anything else. They do not shine like crystals, but they appear as wilted flowers: they are the beauty that exists in sorrow.
Despite her incomparable beauty as a performer, Kui's true identity to those of the Earth Kingdom is a deceased terrorist under the guise of a performer. For this reason, Kui has also changed her base appearance to conceal her true heritage as a member of the Northern Water Tribe, thereby retaining her characteristically exotic appearance despite having no intention of drawing attention from others. What truly stands out about Kui is her unorthodox white hair, a color that causes many to believe she has a connection to Yue. Her hair falls in waves down to her chest, though she often ties a portion of it with a simple blue ribbon to avoid any hassles during travelling. Her facial features do not change marginally, save for the strength of her deep blue eyes — another parallel to Yue. Whereas Kagura is noted for the diversity of her outfits and color scheme, Kui is remarkably bland in comparison. Given that she acts as a traveller, it is paramount to her that she maintains a level of practicality in all of her attire: albeit, the modernization of her clothing takes the seriousness of this resolve away. She is primarily seen wearing a long, dark brown mantle that she uses to cover her hair and face, embellished with only the smallest golden patterns. Underneath, she is noted to wear a stylistically altered white kimono that lacks fabric that covers the shoulders, instead using small traps to do so, at the same time exposing an ample amount of her cleavage. To ensure there isn't loose fabric, Kui has bound a corset of sorts across her abdomen, simultaneously highlighting her figure. Even as the fabric runs down her legs, it is noted that the fabric on the back and front of her legs are split in order to provide more comfort in travelling, though she is forced to wear thigh-length brown boots as a result.
"No matter the song, no matter the dance, her eyes never look towards her audience...and yet they captivate everyone."
When initially learning how to master the arts of Waterbending, Kui found it to be a rather difficult task due to not possessing the inherent level of aggression needed to suit the revolutionized style of the Northern Water Tribe. As such, her skills were considered rather mediocre for the majority of her childhood. However, upon meeting Xia and learning the Waterbending connected with the legendary Katara, her skill seemingly skyrocketed. After all, her bending is no longer attempting to dominate the water, but rather, flows along with it naturally, with each and every movement acting as if it were a rock in the rapids: a momentary diversion of flow, but ultimately reaching the goal known as the ocean.
While not formally classified as a Master, her skill is enough to be recognized as a potent threat in combat on her lonesome. What truly differentiates Kui's bending prowess from others is that every aspect of her body can be used as a means to redirect the water within the environment. Although most would make the assumption that this reorients her primary fighting style to utilize individual attacks with each body part, this is far from the truth. Rather, Kui performs her Waterbending in the same vein as she would her dancing: a coordinated expression of all her body that leads to a dramatic finale. More often than not, Kui's bending originates from her hips, a slow build up that travels in the direction of the accompanied limb, before being projected in the form of a dramatic, elegant finish that seemingly originates from her fingers and even toes. This build-up process is one that significantly enhances the innate attributes of every one of her offensive or defensive maneuvers, making conventional bending almost useless against her.
Kui's most significant trait as a Waterbender, however, lies in her ability to draw the moisture from virtually any surface imaginable. Having been forced to live in a desert environment for a lengthy period of time, as well as travelling with numerous Sandbenders, Kui had to develop this skill in order to make any practical use of her bending...
- Kui has stated that she went through at least six different colors before finally deciding on purple for her stage appearance.