The episode opens with a messenger hawk approaching a Fire Nation fortress, Pohuai Stronghold. In the courtyard, several highly proficient archers practice their skill, while, above them on a parapet of the stronghold, Commander Zhao and ColonelShinu are observing them and vehemently arguing. Colonel Shinu has denied Zhao’s request to use the group of advanced bowmen, whom he identifies as the Yuyan Archers, in the commander’s quest to capture the Avatar, deeming it to be a “vanity project” of Zhao’s rather than a part of the Hundred Year War.
As they debate the use of the archers, a hawk arrives with news from Fire Lord Ozai that Zhao has been promoted to admiral. With his newfound authority, he informs Colonel Shinu that his request is now an order; Shinu bows in submission and leaves. Unbeknownst to Zhao, a figure clad in dark clothes and a blue mask is perched on the roof above him and has heard the entire conversation. Silently, the figure retreats into the shadows and disappears.
Meanwhile, in the ruins of Taku, Katara is caring for an ill and delirious Sokka; talking nonsense, he is convinced that Appa can talk and he himself can earthbend. According to Katara, this illness has resulted from his exposure to the storm that he was recently caught in. Aang comes back from an unsuccessful hunt for ginger root, but returns with a map to a herbalist institute on a nearby mountain.
Katara states that Sokka is not in any condition to go there, declaring that all he needs is some rest, just as she begins to cough herself. Despite Katara’s protests that she is fine, Aang realizes she has the same illness as Sokka and decides to travel to the herbalist alone. However, lightning flashes across the sky, so Aang decides to go by foot instead of using his glider and begins running very fast with the aid of his airbending.