Chapter 3: Glacial Cascade and Greater Threats
"I don't know how to say this but
was in Ba Sing Se about two hours ago."
Disbelief was written on his face as he backed up into the stone column. "B-But that's impossible! I thought I deliberately told Korra not to travel anywhere but the South Pole!"
Lin shrugged apathetically, her metal armor clanking as she strode past her ex. "Like I said, Avatar stuff isn't my domain. That's your area, Councilman."
Tenzin winced at that, but he knew he deserved it. After all, he was the one culpable for allowing Korra to take this silly hiatus in the first place. Her genuine responsibilities belonged right back here in Republic City. "She's a stubborn girl, though, Lin. I'm sure you gathered that by now." And his vain attempt to chortle in the austerity of the situation nearly made Lin's stomach fall out.
"Well I just wanted to inform you that she's writing from Ba Sing Se because of some surprising information she just discovered about the Dai Li
The airbending master simply stopped dead in his tracks of walking out of the building. His eyes whirled around again to gain eye contact with the severe emeralds of the Chief.
Lin appeared to bow apologetically before assuming her abrasive edge. "The Dai Li are Equalist conspirators."
Her voice was hushed, very toneless, but Tenzin detected an edge of fear there. Then, he noticed her bottom lip was quivering and her shoulders were trembling. He tenderly rested his hands on her shoulders. "Lin, I'm sure Korra will know what to do. If she is in Ba Sing Se, I am certain" with a confident stance, straightening his back "she will continue to resume her Avatar duties, even if outside the walls of Republic City. It's not a cause for strife, Lin."
She folded her hands together and nodded. Walking towards the crimson carpet in the nexus of the foyer, Lin looked up and shielded her eyes from the sun. "It's just so hard to believe that even after Amon's defeat, securing peace and balance is begrudgingly impossible."
He understood that the moment of critical decision came when Mako was about to lose his bending for good, that at that moment, Korra had reached her lowest point then. She managed to unlock an incredible power, one that had lain dormant within her for seventeen grueling years. It was that same power that blasted Amon out of the stainglass windows of the probending arena and into the sunlit waters of Yue Bay. If he hadn't exposed himself as a traitor to his supporters and a waterbender at that, Republic City would have still been under the despotism of the Equalists' arm and eventually slain by rioters in the Anti-Bending Revolution.
But even as Mako attempted to detonate the escaping Amon-revealed-as-Noatak off the face of the planet, he had escaped with a hair of his life. Now, could it be that Amon was still on the run, even after three months of supposed calm and stillness?
It doesn't make any sense, whichever way I look at it. He untangled his sleeve and scratched at his bald head. "Look, I think I'm going to take a walk for a little while. All this 'Equalist' news is weighing heavily on me."
Lin nodded in silent empathy. She strode off in the opposite direction as Tenzin made his leave. Leaning against an oak tree eclipsing a water fountain from the sun, was none other than Mako, the beads of sweat dripping down his forehead. He appeared to have been outside all day long, which was extremely dangerous and risky considering the nature of the sun at this time of year. The spring equinox was only a week away, but in the winter, the UV radiation was at its deadliest peak.
Surely he couldn't experience greater firebending even on a sunny winter day, could he? "Oh, Master Tenzin!" Mako shot up from his lanky position on the tree and bowed respectfully. "Good afternoon!"
Tenzin huffed and crossed his arms. "I see you're lounging around here again
" He raised a brow speculatively at the lone firebender. "Your brother isn't with you?"
Mako shifted slyly on one heel and turned away. "No, I actually came here to ask you something." He dug his nails into his hair and sighed. "Bolin and I have been antsy since Korra left on her 'trip'."
Tenzin faux-whistled and began to walk away, but Mako tugged sharply on the sleeve of his robe. "Tenzin, there's something you're not telling me." Tenzin was forced to witness the frightening grimace of the Avatar's boyfriend. "I overheard you and Lin discussing where Korra is."
With shifty eyes and quaky hands, Tenzin stumbled back . "U-Umm, it's not what you think-"
Mako rubbed his temples and pinched the bridge of his nose, a gesture he was familiarized with during his arguments with Korra. "I'm just frustrated that she didn't tell me she was going to the Earth Kingdom. Bolin and I haven't really traveled much outside of Republic City, alone the Probending Arena. She could have at least asked us to join her."
He shook his head firmly and plucked at his furled shirtsleeve, distancing himself a little from Mako. "I sympathize with your aggravation, Mako, but please understand that it is the Avatar's duty to keep peace and balance in this world, wherever such ventures may take her."
"Ugh, I know, I know, don't remind me, Arrowhead," Mako retorted dryly, making reference to a nickname Korra called Tenzin once. "Ever since she lost her bending, I've been constantly protective of her every night. Now that she's gone-"
Tenzin gruffly placed a hand on his shoulder. "Avatar Korra knows what she's doing." He slanted his eyes dangerously. "This discussion is over."
Amber eyes lidded over as a wide mouth yawned. It wasn't only Mako who was feeling the aftermath of Korra's absence lending to his exasperation. Tenzin's energy was enfeebled too, and so would anyone's, if they found out their last shot at hope disappeared on a quaint vacation thousands of miles away. He raked a calloused hand through his raven hair, completely unconvinced that Korra was really tending to Avatar business in Ba Sing Se. But he needed to confide in Tenzin's instincts, even when his own confidence at Korra coming back safely had been completely dismantled.
'It's really the only way we're going to get out of this mess, restoring the nonbenders' dignity.' But for now, Mako would have to harmonize sitting in the shade beneath the oak tree.
A boundless ocean of white, a never-ending landscape pillowed by snow, and a treacherous ground for amateur travelers greeted northbound winds. To remark on an anecdote of the past, that Master Katara once resided in this environment seventy years her senior was rather difficult to believe. How could people of the Southern Water Tribe still have tannish skin while living in a such a harsh climate?
The capricious wind nipped at Korra's skin through her heavy, fur-lined coat, but she was accustomed to this weather. Tahno, on the other hand, hailed from the mystical Foggy Swamp Tribe, so muggy, humid summers were what he was used to. Based on the look of his nearly frostbitten face, Tahno didn't seem as if he was fairing as well as his traveling accomplice.
Merely hours ago, the massive subterranean Earth Kingdom vessel pulled up to the incubated tunnels of the South Pole's vacant train station. Though nobody used the transit entrance here too much anymore and it was rather well concealed by Equalist soldiers during the Revolution the system was still in commission due to continued monetary contributions by the most famous waterbender in the South.
Kya. Korra only had to speak the name in her mind to know immediately who carved these channels. They were remarkably done with waterbending, initially with powerful water blasts and permanent freeze fixation by frosting thousands of layers of ice to hold the walls in place for several centuries at least.
Enough to withstand a thousand lifetimes worth of Avatars.
A sudden snow blast nearly barreled her over as Korra felt something human embrace her. That powerful waterbending tug had her encircled rather tightly in a vicious hug.
It was familiar too. "Master Katara!" Korra exclaimed, returning the embrace to her former instructor.
Katara bowed politely. "Please, Korra, just call me Katara." She giggled like she did in her youth. "I'm glad you finally arrived. Master Tenzin just told me all the good news about your bending!"
Korra violently exhaled into her hand to muffle her voice. "Ahem, please don't say that out loud
." She twitched and looked around for Tahno, but he seemed to have dived off to some unknown location. "I really don't want the Wolfbat finding out, Katara."
Katara shielded her eyes and forced the Avatar to shrink away from the desolateness that Tahno was greeted with. Korra gently pushed Katara's hand away and gasped inaudibly. Her blood ran cold, nearly congealing in response to frostbite at the sheer amount of devastation wrecked upon the mighty South Pole settlement. Piles of rubble were arrayed everywhere, from stolen campfires to eroding igloos that had been trampled on. The footprints were not the size of Fire Nation soldiers, but the tracks resembled the boots the Equalists wore on their suicide missions.
Not a single person seemed to make it out with their life intact amidst the scourge. Wait, suicide missions, espionage, ambushing
this all sounds like
Korra turned abruptly to Katara, whose face was struggling to retain its steel-cool composure. "Katara, you need to tell me exactly what happened. Or what you know, if not."
She was truly wrestling to keep her emotions stable, but then the alarming memory of her friends in her early life sharply jutted into her mind. In a few blistering seconds, Korra gathered Katara in her arms, the latter who was in a crumbled heap sobbing wretchedly in the snow, unintentionally bending the snow around her to form a slushy puddle.
Korra consolingly rubbed her back and stared out at Tahno. He was gripped beyond comprehension too. Someone must have been dear to him here in this former civilization. Someone of the same tribe and origin as Korra herself.
His eyes were misty, and he tenaciously glowered back at Korra embracing the debilitated Katara. "The Dai Li have been here."
Katara visibly shuddered in Korra's arms, ice spewing out her nostrils. Korra's veins nearly became paralyzed as Katara's spine stiffened. It was mind-numbing to hear about the deceased police squadron again as visions flooded her mind at the terrifying devastation they caused seventy years ago in Ba Sing Se.
"T-The D-Dai L-Li
they're supposed to be-"
Korra interrupted her, holding her close. "I know. Long gone. But they aren't." Her cerulean orbs met Tahno's and a silent understanding passed between them. "On my way here, I overheard the train passengers discussing the Dai Li's connection to the Equalists' movement in Republic City. But I know no further details regarding the case."
Katara swallowed her words that were on the tip of her tongue and once again tried to shield Korra's inquisitive eyes. Though the Avatar's own were shining with freshly bidden tears, Korra refused to cry in front of her superior, Master or not. Katara would always be a better waterbender than Korra, but more than that a beloved best friend despite the grave age difference. She deserved the highest respect regardless of any entitlement on her part.
She slapped a hand to her mouth and gulped down bile. "K-Kya
She clung fiercely to her supervisor and peered out at the decapitated body of the passed Kya, the waterbending daughter of the late Aang and Katara, but now no more. Blood doesn't dissipate rapidly from snow, and it was literally all over the place. She also noticed the chassis had become an amputee via cross slashes by sword. Scorch marks and arc-shaped burns were scattered across her body in several D-shaped formations.
Choking back her sobs, Korra winced against the bitter cold and sheltered Katara with her own body. "Dai Li conspirators. I knew they were behind this!"
Katara's tears soaked Korra's frigid jacket, but she didn't care. The helpless, elder waterbender simply remained rooted to Korra like her life depended on it. "My
My friends and I
defeated the Dai Li and Long F-Feng years a-ago
Korra coaxed Katara into sitting up and massaged her head. "Shh
" she pleaded with a finger to her icy lips. "Don't speak. You've exhausted a lot of energy, Katara." Her sapphires shifted to the devastated Tahno, who was just short of meltdown mode. "Tahno! Get over here and watch Master Katara! I need to send a message to Tenzin to let him know what happened!"
Tahno rolled his eyes and simply obeyed, no words needed. His eyes became more downcast and shoulders trembled from exertion and emotional turmoil as he crawled over to where Katara was huddled in a tightly woven ball.
A lone tear rolled down Korra's face as she burned the image of the eradicated icy village in her mind, the chilling sensation of seeing Kya's ghostly eyes locking onto hers and stalking her every move.
"I'm going to find help
" She glanced back halfway, readying her glider. "Please stay here until I find Tenzin
She weaved a vortex of wintry air into a ball and whisked away on a self-constructed cyclone out of the South Pole. Tahno smirked mischievously at her leave and allowed the smile to vanish as soon as Korra's back was turned. Tears replaced the pseudo dark mischief he had on his face, as the reality of the acute cataclysm finally dawned on him.
He caterwauled meekly, sighing in Katara's grizzled hair. "No
During their time, however, he had not realized that the travelers here merely hopped onboard the next train and vacated as soon as they saw the horror done.
A fluid inhalation from his pipe was all that it took to calm his frazzled nerves. Fists wrapped around his thin goatee and tugged at the long bundle of hair relentlessly. High, angulated cheek bones were shorn of facial hair except for the small mustache that curved above his lips. A sliver of breadcrumbs remained plastered to his cheek as he quickly dabbed at his mouth with a napkin.
One of his green-garbed agents mouthed something to the butler, who swiftly strode to the dining table. As the supposing servant leapt over, he nearly tripped over a fancy floor lamp.
"For fuck's sake, watch where you're going, peasant!" A female robed in a similar outfit glowered foully with amber eyes. Her eyes almost seemed to be peering into the servant's soul.
He bowed patiently and retreated into the kitchen, where the ovens were turned on uproariously. "Sorry!"
"Now, dear Commander, do tell me," she leered, the scathing tone to her voice returning as she leaned over in her seat, "why is there an Avatar from the Southern Water Tribe? I would have thought that pathetic air loser would have been assassinated years ago in his stupid Avatar State." She finished so matter-of-factly that everyone else merely bounced glances around the room in shock.
The Commander, who maintained his levelheadedness, rocked back in his chair and whiffed from his smoke pipe. His face fostered a sinister grin that could be read into multiple things. But he was only going to offer one answer to this maniacal woman, and that was the pleasure of seeing her cringe under his prevarication.
"Why, Brother Amon was sorely murdered by that water wench," he slurred, juggling both a pipe and his ale in one hand. "And Agni knows she hasn't quite mastered the Avatar State yet
The amber-eyed brunette looked at him strangely. "Just
what do you mean by that
He merely chortled at her sardonic behavior. The man simply got a kick out of this woman. She was a mad, bloodthirsty genius! "Hold on, hold on a second, Princess
That lustful gaze in her eyes deepened for a fraction of a second as he elaborated and laid his pipe on the table. "Just think, what did Amon fail to accomplish? What did he fail to include in his plan for the Revolution? There is really one important component here that isn't too hard to remember, Princess."
She rolled her eyes and scoffed, flicking a breadcrumb at him. "Yeah, yeah, I get that, oh Earth Genius. That waterbending imposter was nothing short of a bloodbending fool with no real leadership qualities. The first thing a true leader never does is forget the disposition of his pack. But that idiot forgot the nature of his so-called 'Equalists' and thought he could hide in the shadows!"
Then the Commander seemed to "break," as he became agitated at the memory of Amon's assault and defeat. "
I know. Don't remind me, Your Highness."
Her stomach grumbled, and she flipped up a hand. "Oh servant! Get your ass back here and refill my tea!"
Her middle finger warmed with the iridescent glow of blue fire as she heated it with her breath and made the blaze bloom. In sheer terror, the humble butler darted to the tableside and bowed apologetically. He gently retrieved the proffered cup and filled it to the brim with jasmine tea. Then, as quick as he came, the chef rocketed back into the kitchen to prepare more foodstuffs for tomorrow.
She cast a sidelong glance at her bodyguards stationed at the back door. "Looks like people are getting lazy around here." And the dry voice returned, much to the Commander's amusement.
"Well, if Amon had considered forcing the Avatar into the Avatar State and
She finished for him, seeing where he was going with this. "Killed her like I killed that blasted airbender
They arrived at the same conclusion. "Then Amon could have ruptured the cycle and prevented the end to the Revolution."
She tapped her foot impatiently against the legs of the table. "Well
I don't know if I would say that
Or if I agree with that last thing you said," she retorted smugly, a fractious grin stealing her lips before she shoved food into her mouth. "But, seeing that girl squeal and squirm" laughing cacophonously "would have been priceless!"
He swirled his scarlet ale, the beverage that had an odd russet hue since it hailed from the dragonfruit of the Fire Nation. But it was no less delectable! "Ah, I see the two of us are going to have a pleasant time capturing the Avatar once again." They clinked their glasses together, tea on alcohol. "It will be just like old times, my Royal Highness."
She jutted her bottom lip, pouting a bit. "I hate admitting this, but we probably should keep my history as a princess a secret, Feng. Just for good measure."
His face brightened and he joyfully nodded. "Of course! Not that I would want to see my Royal Highness flit over a century's worth of Fire Nation scumbags and delinquents." He glanced at her suspiciously, leaning on his forearm across the table. "I mean, because, you know
. age can transcend stuff
. and the master firebender-"
She swallowed deftly as she picked at the rest of her meal. Standing up, the princess slammed her seat against the table and scowled. "Don't ever mention that scoundrel in my presence, understand?!"
He gulped and nodded apprehensively. She sashayed to the entryway and into the underground foyer. She would be well on her way, if the blasted earthbenders didn't disrupt her plans with their insistent inquiries again. Having been of pure Fire Nation breed, this woman with dark brunette locks secured in a bun boasted a vehement attitude and was highly irascible. Sometimes her father would even back down at her wayward temper, which would go off the charts into underworld territory.
Ugh, I don't even want to think of that creepy place
Her stomach churned as she reeled on her heel and left the expensive cottage. Her fierce amber slits relaxed as they took in the breadth of the full moon in their highlights. Though they were barely nicking the southern corner of the Earth Kingdom, the tidal flows pushing and pulling were unbearably enchanting to watch. The frosted beaches here boasted some of the most breathtaking views of the seaside in the world, even if the climate was still a bit subarctic.
She felt an untraceable tinge of sadness creep up her spine, but then it assaulted her in the form of fear, nagging her to the point of guilt. What was there to be ashamed of? She was still as gorgeous as ever, even at the technical ripe age of eighty-six, yet not a single facial feature had changed in that period of time. She was eternally grateful to the one who bestowed her with the renewal of her youth.
"Removing someone's bending
" The idea left her with an imagination brimming with limitless possibilities. She hunched down lotus-style in the sand and watched the tumbling waves form the eerie cataracts of foam on the shoreline. "I suppose that is a clever trick, dear Amon, but how would you like if I took that one step further?"
The secluded silence stung her ears quite possibly more than the harshest, loudest pitch ever could. What use was there in talking to the sea? Nobody was bound to respond back, unless it was a mermaid or demonic life form or something
She collapsed backwards and made a sand angel in response to that latter thought. "Ahhh
just the one kind of guy I'd love to marry
Then the face of the reincarnated Avatar flashed through her mind. Hair pinned up in azure hair beads Water Tribe style with a flared ponytail tossed high in the back. Deep cerulean eyes that reflected not the nature of the southern climate, but of the most pristine seas in the world. Bronze skin very much resembling the color of flesh of the last Avatar's love interest, the esteemed master waterbender of the Southern Tribe.
It was no doubt, the firebending royalty would definitely want to maim the Water Tribe girl upon first sighting, but just the mere description of her made her sick. A lewd smile curled on her lips.
"You won't get away from me this time, Avatar. You're my prize, now!"
A masked silhouette rose on a tower of water invisible to the physical world and beamed with such ferocity that the princess's heart began to race.
I hope you guys enjoyed that chapter! You should be able to recognize who the villainous figurehead is. But how did she end up in Korra's time period? Hmm...
And yes, my dears, I had to massacre all of Korra's village. Looks like there are some terrible bloodthirsty monsters out there. Could it be the Dai Li?
I am having such a hard time with the html formatting on this site. I wish I could just add a doc file straight from Word, but that doesn't seem to be possible without uploading some sort of preview image.
Please, DA, fix your formatting constraints or I might just bloodbend myself to death! >:\
Please, DA, fix your formatting constraints or I might just bloodbend myself to death! >:\