“Master,” Sokka said, bowing. “I lost my sword. I’m sorry.”
Piandao raised his eyebrow. “Your sword"” he asked.
Sokka nodded glumly. “I didn’t mean to,” he said. “I mean, Toph was falling, and I couldn’t just drop her, but… that sword is-- was-- a part of me, an extension of myself. It was the most precious thing you gave me, and I lost it. I’m sorry.”
He looked down.
“Sokka,” Piandao said, his rough voice kind. “That sword was not your most precious thing.”
Sokka looked up into his master’s eyes, a mute question within.
Piandao smiled. “Your friends are your more precious thing,” he said. “A sword does not matter - you can make another sword. Friends, however, are a different matter.”
Sokka smiled tentatively. Piandao grinned back.
“Where do you old guys get all of this sage wisdom"” Sokka cracked, his smile returning to his quirky grin. “I mean, Aang seems to have it too - did they just teach it a hundred years ago, and I missed out"”
Piandao chuckled lightly. “It’s something anybody can learn,” he said. “All it takes is patience and discipline.” He pressed something cool and smooth into Sokka’s palm. “Sokka - I took you as my student in the way of the sword, when even you had lost confidence in yourself, and you proved to me the man you truly are. Again, today, you have proved that worth. Now, it is my hope that you will allow me to take you as my student again, and my humble pleasure to confer upon you this honor.”
Sokka stared down at the flower-painted tile in his hand, awestruck.
“I ask you to become a member of the White Lotus Society,” Piandao said, words ringing with ritual and pride.
For a long moment, Sokka fought to speak, tears in his eyes. He composed himself, and bowed. “It would be my honor, master,” he said.
Piandao smiled and bowed.
Sokka looked at the pai sho tile in his hand. “Didn’t you already give me one of these"” he asked.
“What was that about"” Sokka asked, skeptically. “Some pre-member initiation, or something"”
“It was just to see if you figured it out,” he said, smiling mischievously. “Now, let’s go see your friends.”
Scowling at being bested, Sokka followed.
“So does this mean I have to learn how to play Pai Sho"” he asked.