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Ronin Korra

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Asami is woken by the strangest of sounds, somewhere between a bear growling and a weird whining whistle. She opens one eye to find Korra splayed out, using up approximately eighty percent of the bed; Asami’s somehow managed to stay on the thin strip of space that’s left without falling off the edge.

Korra’s arms are splayed wide, and the snoring would wake the Gods themselves. She nuzzles herself close to the sleeping figure, “We’ll have to fix that if you’re going to be my wife,” she says, chuckling.

“Wha? Snnrrr.” Korra grunts.

“Wakey, wakey, my princess…” Asami grins, drawing a fingertip across the naked beauty’s torso.

Korra smacks her lips together, and opens her eyes, momentarily looking confused. She sits up and stretches out, yawning elaborately, “what time is it?” she asks, rubbing sleep from her eyes.

“Time we got washed and dressed. Kuvira and Bataar should be here by now...”

“I guess this is it then.” Korra says, smiling sadly.

Asami takes her hand, “Yes, this is it. It isn’t the end, remember? It’s the start of our new life.”

Korra grins at her, stealing glances her way the whole time that they get ready for the challenges that lay ahead.

::

“Ah, there you are. I was thinking of sending a rescue party,” Su says, chuckling as Korra and Asami walk into the bar.

“Korra.” Kuvira says, nodding her head in the Samurai’s direction.

“Ugh… Hello again.” Korra says, sitting at the bar, barely even able to meet Kuvira’s eyes, or Bataar’s. So far as she knows, they last time they saw her, she’d been transforming into some kind of monster.

“So, how is our little Youkai?” Bataar asks, smirking.

“Don’t call her that.” Asami warns, and Korra feels the tension in the air thicken.

“Asami, it’s fine. They were good to me, remember?” Korra tries to catch Asami’s gaze, and when she does, Korra smiles and tries to reassure her.

“I’m fine, Bataar. How about you? Had any Empire specials? I’ve heard the water is good,” Korra says, dryly. Bolin laughs awkwardly, clearly not understanding the context of the joke at all.

“Oh! You’ve developed a sense of humour since escaping. How delightful.” Bataar chuckles.

“Okay people, enough,” Su says, clapping her hands, “Asami, Korra – we have a plan, of sorts. Let’s board the wagon now, because time’s not on our side. I’ll explain on the way.

::

It’s not a particularly complex plan, Korra muses, as she’s once again rudely bumped around inside of a carriage. They’re to get to the unguarded side of the palace – the east side, the one with no entryway, and then force their own entrance. Now she understands why they needed Bolin.

“This is as far as I can take you without rousing suspicion,” The wagon driver shouts back, whilst drawing the carriage to a halt.

Korra’s relieved that it was a relatively small ride, and she doesn’t have to endure any more bruising on her rear. She wonders how on earth nobody else can be affected.

She hops out of the wagon, half limping. The group sprints towards their destination in a tight formation, sticking to the treeline, hiding behind the rocky outcrops and thick bushes. In a way, it reminds Korra of the mission she’d done so long ago, the one for Hiroshi. She feels suddenly bittersweet, reminiscing, remembering how she met Asami.

They pause behind a large boulder, and Korra catches her breath. “So, what do we do once we get in?”

Kuvira and Bataar exchange a glance, but she can’t read their expression.

“Well?” she asks, prompting them again.

“The fastest, least suspicious way in is through the pit, Korra.” Kuvira says.

Korra feels the colour drain from her face, “… what? Are you serious?

“We should have left her at Narv, I warned you about this, Mother,” Bataar says, scowling and folding his arms.

“Korra, nothing will happen. I need you to stay with us on this. We need you.” Su says, lifting Korra’s chin with her fingertip until their eyes meet.

Korra grimaces. They want her to return to that place, the place she was nearly killed at least a dozen times over. Korra wonders if it’s some kind of sick fucking joke, but she grits her teeth, and nods her head anyway. The sooner this is all over with, the better.

After a few more sprints, they find themselves close enough to the palace walls to run across the final, thin strip of field undetected. Kuvira starts to count across the bricks of the immense palace wall, moving from right to left. A minute later, she turns to face the group, “Okay, we dig here. Keep it narrow, and keep it quiet. Work slowly.”

Korra sits herself next to Asami as they watch the Earth benders go to work, and she looks up, astounded at just how high the walls reach. She doesn’t remember them being this tall, and she feels like she’s an ant.

Bolin, Toph, Su and Kuvira pull out brick by brick, working on a rota, painstakingly depositing each in a pile beside the new entrance that’s forming. Bataar leans against a wall, watching them work, and it’s then that Korra realises how odd it is that Kuvira has the talent, whereas Bataar doesn’t. He’s of Beifong blood… so where on earth is Kuvira from? Does her family also bend chi?

She distracts herself with these thoughts as brick after brick is pulled. What’s amazing is that there’s next to no sound being made, which is impressive considering that they’re effectively tearing a wall apart.

“I bet you never thought you’d see this,” she says, lightly nudging Asami.

“Yeah. I’ve seen a lot of… special things lately,” Asami says, turning and smirking, “but nothing quite as special as you.”

Korra grins at the words, kissing Asami quickly on the lips. But then she grimaces when Su whispers harshly, telling them to stop frolicking around and to keep an eye out for guards.

It’s a long piece of work, and now Korra understands why they had to get here so quickly. Finally, after about two hours of constant effort, an exit is revealed, presumably leading straight into the pit. Korra gulps as she looks down the newly-formed corridor, feeling that she should turn and run, feeling that this is a terrible, terrible idea.

“You there! What’s going on?” A guard shouts from above, and quickly barks orders to his comrades, causing a bluster of activity, and a flurry of footsteps, to head straight towards them.

“Run!” Su yells, sweeping her arms into the tunnel, “Come on, we’ll seal it behind. We can’t stop now!”

Korra grits her teeth, and she runs into the tunnel, despite every one of her senses screaming at her to do the exact opposite. It isn’t a lengthy tunnel, despite how long it took to create. They’re soon gathered at the other side, where Bolin deftly kicks into the ground, causing a massive pile of rocks to seal their exit. Their pursuers are stopped, for now.

“This is definitely the place,” Bataar says, striding around the sands within, “Korra, you recognise it, right?”

Korra nods mutely, wishing that she didn’t. It’s the pit. This is where she had to fight for her life, this is where she was first forced to discover the limit of her abilities.

“We’ll make the guards ahead change shift, wait here,” Kuvira says, as the two head beyond the thick wooden door at the end of the room. It closes behind them with an ominous slam, and Korra feels her stomach lurch.

“This… this isn’t right…” she whispers, suddenly fearful.

“It’s okay, Korra.” Su says.

They wait, for minute after agonising minute. To Korra, each feels like an hour. The walls, though far away, feel like they’re closing in. They’re impossibly tall, and the thin light streaming through the holes above is enough for her to make it out. Up there. The room where that bitch stood last time, laughing down at her.

“They are taking a long time…” Asami says eventually, and Korra’s glad she isn’t the only one feeling paranoid.

Suddenly, there’s a loud, slow clap, echoing across the room, and a rectangle of light floods down upon them from high above.

“Hello, my pet.” The empress’s voice rings out, “Thank you for bringing me such tasty morsels.”

“No…” Korra whispers, clutching at her chest.

“Bataar… why?” Su chokes the words, tears forming at her cheeks as she sees her son and Kuvira stood beside the Empress, their expression dark, emotionless.

“You should know better than to betray the Empress, mother,” Bataar’s voice echoes across the room.

“Oh my poor, sweet dear, they’ve been working for me for months! They’ve told me all about your holding, and your little chi benders.” The Empress chuckles.

Asami curses under her breath, “You’d better leave them out of this!” she shouts.

“I’ll do as I please. It suits me for Zuko to gather them in once place. I’ll take them once I need them.”

“You’ll do no such thing!” Asami yells, and Korra’s taken back by the ferocity of her tone. She’d forgotten, for a moment, just how strong Asami is.

“Won’t I? Let’s see how you feel after we play a little.”

Korra balks as she hears a portcullis open in the far wall, the rumble of stone against stone sending a shiver down her spine. She whimpers, and Asami turns to face her. She knows she looks weak, pathetic even, but she cowers anyway, and falls backwards into the sand.

“Korra… hey… it’s okay…” Asami surrounds her with a warm embrace, but she doesn’t feel comfort from the touch, not this time. Her gaze is fixated on the far wall, where sure enough, three gargantuan monsters prowl forth, growling deeply. They’re like the things she fought before, the scorpion-lions, but bigger – perhaps twice the size.

“No… No!” Korra scurries backwards against the sand, forcing herself into a corner. Her heart beats faster than should even be possible. She can’t go through this again, she can’t. Asami’s voice rings out, trying to calm her, but it’s muffled and she can’t make out the words. Things happen as though in slow motion. Korra’s eyes dart around, trying to take everything in, as she clutches at her chest, tries to calm her heart before it explodes. Am I going to die? She thinks, panic consuming her whole.

She sees Asami give her one last, despairing, and sympathetic look before turning on the spot, pulling a glove from her kimono and clicking it into her sword. Korra hugs her knees to her chest, unable to move as she watches complete chaos unfold, flashes of lightning streaking through the air, boulders rising from the ground and pounding against the ferocious animals, angering them further.

A giant claw swipes through the air, which Asami narrowly avoids with a deft roll. A stinger swoops down towards Bolin’s back, knocked back by the earthen barrier which Toph pulls forth. The four stand side by side, panting. Toph is looking especially tired, and Korra knows they won’t be able to hold out much longer.

She hears sounds escape her mouth that aren’t her own. They can’t be. There’s strange whimpers, and chattering teeth. She’s never felt this terrified, she can’t be back here, can’t be back. Why did I even come here. Why!? A tear rolls down her cheek as helplessness threatens to consume her, body and mind.

But suddenly, when she reaches her lowest point, a bright blue light flashes behind her eyes and a jolt of energy streaks through her, flooding her with warmth, with love.

You are not alone, Korra…

She squeezes her eyes tightly closed, feeling sure that she’s hearing things on top of everything else.

You have me. I have always been here. Have you truly forgotten?

The more she hears the voice, the more familiar it sounds, and the more her fears and her doubts ebb away. She shakily stands to her feet, gripping the hilt of her blades as she walks towards her friends. It’s not too late. She can save them.

We are one. Together, nothing can stand before us. Remember, Korra! Remember us!

Images flood through her mind, a blue dragon soaring through the air, the wind blowing through Korra’s hair as she rides atop, laughing. A temple, sacred, deep within the ocean. Endless lives flash before her eyes, in other realities, in other times. And yet, there is always one truth.

There is always an Avatar.

“Raava…” Korra whispers the name, her eyes glowing bright white as she feels imbued with a power like never before. She grits her teeth, and launches herself upon a gust of air, moving faster than she can ever remember. She draws her blades swiftly, arcing blades of air outward, slicing the first beast clean into two. Another gust of air propels her into the air, and she somersaults, spinning herself into a ball, fire trailing down her blades as she cuts a path clean through the second monster.

She lands, drawing her blades outward to her sides for balance, and turns to face the third monstrosity, which is aiming a paw straight at her. She stomps a single foot into the floor, drawing two massive slabs of earth up, encasing the giant. Korra bashes her forearms together, slamming the rocks closed, sealing them tightly, so that the monster has a quick, merciful death; none of them deserved this fate, after all.

She glances back at the group, sensing confusion, disbelief, and shock. But Asami… how typical. Asami is smiling at her. She smiles back, before turning to face the Empress up above, and pointing a blade directly at her.

“I am the protector of this world, and your tyranny shall end today!”

“Is that so? Well then, protector, it’s time for another game. Kuvira!” The Empress barks, and Korra watches as the shield surrounding their room disperses. Then the Empress, Bataar and Kuvira hop down a set of stairs that Kuvira bends into place from the wall as they rapidly descend.

“What are they doing?” Korra asks out loud, wondering why they’re headed to their obvious defeat so willingly.

“I don’t know… I’m getting a bad feeling about this.” Bolin says.

Korra feels her eyes shift back to blue. She turns to face the group, pleased to see that they’ve stopped gawping, for now. She supposes that she has quite a bit to explain to them later, although even then she can only tell them the parts she remembers. She quickly kisses Asami, finding comfort against the soft lips.

“Oh, isn’t that sweet?” The Empress says, and Korra is still confused by the confidence in her voice, “Guards, surround them. But don’t attack,” the Empress barks.

The area is quickly filled with soldiers, flowing in from the wooden doorway at the back of the room. The men stand in thick rows at either side of them, forming two walls of bodies, but keeping a path clear between them. They don’t stand before the empress, and she’s not defended at all. Korra figures it’s best to just strike now…

Or so she thinks, until she sees the Empress smirk, and open her fist. The relic is there. Korra frowns, wondering why she could care. But suddenly she’s grasping at her chest, feeling a very strange energy pound through her, resonating with every heartbeat. She hears the Empress cackling, like a mad woman.

“Now then, my pet. I could have my soldiers tear you all to pieces, but I feel this will be far more entertaining, don’t you?”

Korra lifts her head slowly, wondering why it’s so difficult to do so. It’s like there’s a fifty-tonne weight holding her down.

“Korra. Kill them.” The Empress says, in a stone-cold voice.

Korra’s body moves by itself, her waist twisting to face her friends, her blades pointed straight at them. Beads of sweat stream down her face as she fights the strange power coursing through her with every fibre of her being, but it isn’t enough.

Raava? She thinks, inwardly. But there’s no response.

Crystals of ice form in the air, until there are around twenty daggers floating all around, pointing straight towards the group. Korra frowns, and closes her eyes, willing the ice to disperse, yet it doesn’t. She glances at Bolin and Su, pleadingly, just moments before the daggers shoot forwards.

Thankfully, they understand her silent plea, and huge walls of earth shoot upwards just moments before impact.

“Oh, very cute. But I can see this will soon get boring. Now, my pet. How about you freeze their blood instead? That one was always my favourite trick.”

Korra’s eyes widen in horror as she sees the air near the group start to crystalize. She has seconds, perhaps less, to stop this. Each beat of her heart sends them closer to their death, each moment of time that slips by ensures that they’ll die, quickly, though painfully. Asami’s eyes bore into hers, and her heart aches. She would do anything to stop this, anything!

“No!” She yells, finding the one ounce of strength that she needs, and it’s just enough. She twists her wrist and rapidly plunges her own blade straight through her chest, immediately breaking the spell. She collapses to the floor.

“You fool! How dare you!” The Empress roars, backpedalling quickly whilst clutching the amulet to her chest.

The world starts to spin. Yet, Korra is vaguely aware of the Empress ordering her soldiers to attack. She holds a hand up, draws upon her rapidly draining energy, and her eyes flash white as she repels every single soldier, sweeping her arm wide with a massive gust of air. They slam against the surrounding walls, and Bolin and Su take care of the rest, quickly trapping the dazed enemies into thick columns of earth.

It hurts.

It hurts…

Korra can feel her life-force oozing out, literally dripping down her back, soaking into her kimono. She knows that she has to be quick, has to end this, end it now. And yet her thoughts are interrupted, and her vision flashes crimson. She’s hungry, and it’s just like it was in Narv… she senses energy from the other people in the room, feels that she can draw it into herself, heal herself, become stronger. She craves it. She needs it.

What are you waiting for? Fool!

The voice is familiar yet sinister, and fills her mind with greedy, hateful thoughts.

Feed on them, or today you shall die!

“No.” She whispers, suddenly remembering the voice. The pain in her chest prevents her from understanding fully, but what she does know is that he is Vaatu, the red serpent. The dark God.

Korra clutches the hilt of her sword, stopping it from sliding out of her chest. She can’t risk losing the blood, she has to hold out for just a little bit longer.

Feed! Feed on them now! Or you will cease to exist, you will fall!

 “No,” she says to the invisible God, wincing. She realises then that Asami’s holding onto her shoulders with clearly trembling hands, looking at her with terrified eyes.

Take her! Devour her!

“No!” Korra defies the dark God, for a third time.

Do not listen, Korra. There is always another way!

“I know.” Korra whispers to Raava, smiling whilst she stands and turns to face the Empress. She turns from Asami and walks forwards, slowly, building a wall of solid ice behind her, and blocking out the rest of the group, Asami included. She drowns out their pleas, the desperate calls. This has to be done.

The empress backs away from her as she approaches, her maddened eyes darting all around the room.

“Don’t be frightened.” Korra says, as she places a hand against the trembling woman’s forehead. Korra’s mind is immediately flooded with stark visions, memories that are not her own.

There’s darkness, despair, and misery. Hou-Ting was tortured and beaten as a child, and when she was old enough, she was raped, brutally, time after time. Her father used her in every conceivable way, and in the worse possible ways. He’d sold her body, used it for money, and even used it for himself.

When he finally passed away, Hou-Ting rose, and the first thing she did was to kill those who had defiled her. Fuelled with anger, bitterness and rage, she rose. She sought more power, she found it, and it was etched into her back with a ritual dagger; the mark of Vaatu. Yet, she couldn’t contain it, and it sent the madness that already lay within her spiralling quickly out of control.

Everyone is an enemy. Anyone is an enemy. Unless I control them, unless I control it all!

“You poor thing…” Korra says, whilst removing her hand from the terrified woman’s forehead. It’s strange that she feels sympathy for one who caused her such pain, but she feels like it doesn’t matter anymore. There’s only one thing left to do.

She takes the artefact from the Empress’s now-limp hand. Hou-Ting offers no resistance, instead, tears flood her eyes, and she falls to the ground.

“Kill me, please…” the Empress sobs, placing hands against her eyes.

“I won’t. You can help us fix this. You can atone for your crimes.”

“But… you don’t understand… they will… ack!” The empress chokes, puts a hand to her neck, and her eyes turn wide, white orbs flooding with red streaks. She collapses to the floor in a lifeless heap, and Korra sees movement in one corner of her eye, a red cowl, though it’s there for only a moment.

She’s far too tired to chase. She barely has the energy left for this one last act, let alone anything else.

The ice walls around her collapse as she sinks to her knees, clasping the amulet tightly into her fist with one hand, keeping the blade embedded into her chest with the other. She squeezes her eyes shut and concentrates as hard as she can. She barely even feels the arms that she falls backwards into.

A thousand-thousand minds fill her thoughts. They’re scared, lost, and alone. She reaches her mind out, and she speaks to them.

You were farmers. You were merchants, you were siblings, parents, daughters, sons. You were taken against your will, and you were controlled. Today I free your minds. Today you go home. Tomorrow, you return to help us rebuild that which the Empress has destroyed. Do not despair, we have each other. And together, we are strong.

Korra sighs, dropping the amulet from her suddenly-weakened grip.

“It’s done,” she says, looking up, gazing into Asami’s beautiful, green eyes. She reaches a hand up, caressing the side of Asami’s face, “finally, we can live in peace.” She says, smiling.

“Korra… don’t leave me. You can heal yourself, right? Do that thing, take whatever you need… take me!” Asami speaks between sobs, and she can hear the desperation in the voice, feel the warm tears dripping onto her face.

She reaches her hand around the back of Asami’s neck, and musters the last of her strength to lean upwards, pressing a kiss to her lips.

“I love you, Asami Sato.” She whispers the words, smiling, whilst watching as her own fingers fade bright white, flaking away, flowing like dust. It spreads, further and further down her arms, down her legs, until there’s nothing but light, and nothing but love in her heart.

Do not be afraid, Korra!

Korra smiles upon hearing Raava’s voice, and then she breathes her last, with a long, drawn-out sigh.

::

Asami kneels, her hands held out, her palms empty.

“Ko… Korra?” she chokes.

“Where is she? Where did she go?” Bolin asks, pacing the room, stretching fingers into his hair.

“She’s gone.” Toph says, and Asami grits her teeth, staring at her, “Don’t look at me like that, it’s what she wanted. She saved us. She saved everyone. You should be proud of her.”

“I don’t want to be proud of her! I want her to be here!” Asami yells, clutching her chest. It’s only then that she realises she has the amulet in her palm, and for just a second she considers throwing it away in disgust. But there’s something tugging at her, telling her to keep it.

“It’ll be okay, honey. It’ll be okay. Shh.” Su says, quickly walking over and pulling her into an embrace, stroking her back.

The soldiers around the edge of the room rub their heads in confusion, and begin to slowly file out, presumably headed home. Kuvira and Bataar look at each other with confused gazes, also holding their heads. They glance across at Su and Toph, and then look down to the floor, slowly sitting, awaiting their fate.

Strangely, one of the soldiers stops dead in his tracks, and Asami hears him gasp, though it’s muffled beneath the faceplate. She watches him tug at it, pulling it off and throwing it to the floor.

“Holy shit!” Toph says, and the group turns, looking in the same direction.

“What… how…” Su gasps, holding a hand to her mouth, and Asami watches as the man slowly approaches them. He has white stubble across his chin, and grey hair streaked back across his head. He looks a little like Bataar Junior. Actually, he looks a lot like him, and that’s when Asami realises who it is.

“Go to him. Go.” she urges Su, pushing her arms away, fighting off her own despair, even if only for a moment.

“Su… Suyin… darling, is it really you?”

“Bataar!” Su cries, rushing to her feet, and throwing herself into her husband’s arms, “How did you... I thought…”

“She saved me. I’d have surely died from my wounds, we both knew that. But she saved me. There was some strange potion… I don’t really remember much after that.”

“I don’t believe it…” Su sobs into his shoulder.

Asami’s smile is bittersweet. She’s so happy for Su, and yet-

Suddenly, there’s a strong gust of wind, blowing through her hair, and with it, she feels a new sense of determination. “Korra’s not dead,” she declares loudly, balling her fists and feeling better after speaking the words out loud.

“Are you sure?” Bolin asks, his lower lip wobbling.

“I’m positive. Do you see a body? I’m going to go and find her.”

And with that, Asami grabs Korra’s blades and clothes, then stands to her feet, ignoring Toph’s protests. She knows that her heart speaks the truth. She has to believe it, even if the others won’t. She dusts herself off, and sets her sights firmly on her new mission.

::

A week later – The Sato holding

“What do you mean she’s gone?” Lin demands, rolling her eyes.

“She thinks Korra is still alive. She’s our Daimyo, Lin. We have to trust in her.” Su says.

“And I’m to just lead in her absence? It’s… it’s so exhausting! I didn’t ask for this!” Lin exclaims, throwing her arms wide.

“Relax sister, I brought help,” Su grins.

“Oh? Who?”

“We’d like to help, if you don’t mind…” Kuvira steps out of the shadows, holding hands with Bataar Junior, “it’s the least we can do after allowing the Empress to control us.”

“Well I’ll be damned. Never thought I’d see you kids again,” Lin says, and Su notices that her sister’s struggling to hold back a few tears.

“Don’t forget me.” Toph grumbles, coming up the stairs behind, rubbing a hand up behind her back.

Mother? You too? What on earth is going on?!” Lin exclaims.

“Oh, I’m happy to see you too, kid. Anyway, damned if I’m going back to the swamp. My bones are getting too old for the damp.”

“And so, the Beifongs are reunited,” Su grins, “Although, I might be heading home soon, if we are able to reclaim our lands.”

“Do you think that’s even possible? I mean I know you have Bataar back, but…” Lin begins.

“He’s negotiating with Wu and the current Lord of the land right now. Given the circumstances of how we lost the place, there’s a good chance we’ll get it back. We’ll see, I suppose...”

::

Two weeks later – The Empire

Wu glances around at the guests of the room, twirling a leg idly as he sits upon the Empire’s throne. He coughs loudly, and stands, trying to hide his nervousness as he declares his plan of action.

“Thank you all, for coming here today. I cannot apologise enough for the actions of my great-Aunt. With that said, I do not wish to repeat her mistakes; thus I shall not rule as Emperor,” Wu ignores the gasps, and exclamations of surprise from around the room, “Instead, I shall build a council, and we shall guide the lands together, with representatives from each nation.”

“Aren’t you the wise one?” Toph says, chuckling, though Su can see that her mother is impressed.

“It’s a good plan, I approve,” Zuko says, nodding his head, “This way, the land can’t suffer due to one person making a mistake.”

“You mean one person falling off the rails, right?” Toph laughs.

“Mother!” Su jabs her in the ribs.

“I concur. It is a good direction to lead us towards, your highness,” Bataar says, bowing. Su smiles at her husband, happy to have him back. Happy to have their lands back.

“It is about time we had someone make such a wise decision,” Katara says, nodding.

“Good. I’m glad you all approve, since I want you to sit on the council, as well as Tenzin, Suyin and Asa-“ Wu looks around the room, “Wait, where is she?”

“Still searching, your highness,” Suyin replies, sighing. She hopes Asami is right, otherwise the poor girl is leading herself towards a world of heartache.

“Oh, stop calling me that. Please. Well, when she returns, I’ll have the seat warmed for her.” Wu says, smiling.

::

Two months later – The drunken Dragon

“Margaret, Han’s been up to no good again,” Mako says, scowling, as he points to the empty bottles on the bar.

“Oh, you know how boys get at that age. Please don’t be too angry?” Margaret says, smiling, as she continues to clean up the place.

“Fine. But it’s coming out of his wages,” Mako scowls, sitting at the bar, rubbing a hand across the stubble at his chin and pouring himself a sake. It’s been two months since the Empress fell, and two months since he’s seen Korra, or Asami. He sighs, scratching a thumb against the scar upon his back.

“Thinking of your friends again, dear? Of our beautiful Daimyo?” Margaret asks.

He quietly nods. In a way, Margaret is like the mother he never had. Asami’s plan to have her and Han help out here was a fantastic idea; he doesn’t know how he ever ran the place without them. “Yeah… I just hope they’re okay. Especially our Daimyo.”

“Oh? But what about Korra?”

“Well, we don’t even know if Korra’s-“

“Oh, nonsense. She’s just fine. You’ll see,” Margaret winks at him, and he frowns, wondering if there’s more to the old woman than anyone’s realised.

He doesn’t think any more on it, then hops off his stool and moves to open up the bar for the day. He’s almost bowled over when the door slams open, and Bolin tumbles inside.

“BRO! You gotta try this!” Bolin pants, “Opal said it’s amazing, best she’s had!”

Pabu jumps off his back, and immediately begins scratching at his favourite table leg.

“Welcome back, Bo, Pabu.” Mako chuckles, “Let’s see what you’ve got, then.”

::

Six months later – The great dunes of the West

Asami tightens her scarf over her face, adjusts her goggles, and spurs Naga further across the vast desert plains. She ignores the heat. She ignores her thirst. She takes better care of Naga than she does herself, but it doesn’t matter. They have to keep moving. This lead can’t be wrong... not this time, too.

She’s spent six months researching, delving into the oldest libraries. Wu’s been a great help, opening up new resources for her where he can. But it seems that everything that Korra actually is predates their known history. Eventually though, she does find a clue. From the same person who helped the empress find the very trinket she now holds in her pocket.

If what she’s heard is correct, Korra is an ancient protector of some kind, able to wield all of the elements of the world. But more importantly, Korra cannot die. Not the true death. It would explain why she simply faded away, and left no physical body. She has to be alive. Asami feels it in her very core, it’s why she can’t grieve. Surely you can only grieve if somebody is dead?

Suddenly, she hears Naga whinny, and squints her eyes, looking up ahead. There’s an oasis, with an aged, crumbling temple to the side. This is it! She rushes Naga forwards, slowing as they get closer.

The sands are calmer here, and she can remove her goggles safely. She dismounts Naga at the doors of the temple, and gasps when she spots fresh footprints leading away from the temple door, towards the oasis itself.

“Come on, girl,” She coaxes Naga forwards, leaving her beneath the shade of palm trees as she explores further.

She hears splashing, running water, and clears away a few thick bushes until she sees a beautiful pond ahead, waters glittering in the sun, with a waterfall bubbling against the water’s surface. Her breath catches in her throat when she sees a toned, bronze back, adorned with a large tattoo, facing away from her. She puts a hand to her mouth, forcing back sudden sobs.

She watches for a while as the woman sits in silence, slowly gesticulating her arms, swirling water into random, complex patterns.

“Korra…”