There’s darkness… nothing but darkness, and the sensation of falling very slowly through an endless, open space.
Am I dreaming?
Korra feels so very, very tired... she wants to sleep, close her eyes… let herself drift away, move on, and welcome whatever comes next. But… there’s a nagging sensation that she’s leaving something behind, tugging at her mind incessantly, like a twitch in a tired muscle.
Eventually, she learns to tune it out, and her tired eyes begin to close.
She’s about to surrender herself to the abyss completely, when a golden light flashes in her mind, giving her a brief moment of clarity and a sudden, violent jolt of energy.
Her eyes snap open and she finds herself floating, formless, in a never-ending expanse of pure, brilliant white. There’s nothing to focus her sight upon, just an endless, pale void.
Suddenly, movement draws her attention. She spots a tiny speck that’s appeared, from nowhere, and from nothing. The speck quickly grows into a mound, and a small, green sprout shoots out, curling itself upwards, growing into a thick brown shoot. It winds around and around itself until it’s at least a person high, and as thick as a lamppost, before opening up at the top into a canopy of beautiful, luminescent green.
It’s the tree of time. Korra doesn’t know why she knows this, but it’s a certainty, a fact.
There’s more movement… this time it’s a young girl with golden hair, feathered wings of white and a smile of innocence, gently gliding down, and resting beneath the shade. She seems content to lay there, staring up with brilliant blue eyes at the green, newly flourishing life at the top of the tree.
“Hello?” Korra tries to talk, but the words won’t form. She gets the feeling she’s only here to observe... and the thought doesn’t scare her.
A red ball bounces across the white ground slowly, coming to rest by the girl’s legs. Korra shifts her gaze to the right and there’s a raven-haired boy, with golden-orange eyes and black, velvety wings. He runs up to recover the lost toy, giggling all the way.
“Oh, hello!” the boy says, when he notices the girl.
The girl sits up and smiles, “Hello! Is this yours?” she holds out his ball and he gratefully takes it, a small blush forming at his cheeks.
He sits down, looking up at the tree with an expression of childlike innocence, and awe.
“It’s really pretty.” He says, running the ball around his hand, as though nervous.
“Yes, I like it too. I think it’s the beginning of… well, everything. It’s so beautiful,” she smiles at the boy, blushing slightly.
“Hey, wanna play?” He suddenly asks, flipping the ball up and catching it in both hands.
“Yes! Yes please!” she exclaims, clapping her hands.
“By the way, I’m Vaatu.” He says, holding out his hand and grinning widely.
“I’m Raava… pleasure to meet you,” she grins from ear to ear.
As they wander away, hand in hand, streaks of colour flood out from beneath the tree, spreading outwards, rapidly transforming the plain, white canvas into a beautiful oil painting, with golden meadows, sapphire steams, and endless fields of green. Further and further the new life spreads, and at the end of it all, the sky explodes into a startling streak of purple.
Korra’s overcome with emotion at the spectacle, and tears spill down her cheeks.
Suddenly, the scenery beneath her blurs, and she understands that she’s shifting forwards in time... Spirits are born unto the world, and roam the meadows. Lakes and rivers ebb and flow, constantly changing the landscape around them. Life flourishes.
A millennia passes.
Vaatu and Raava, now fully grown, hold each other in a tender embrace, gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes. They turn to face the vastness of the spirit world.
“It is beautiful.” Vaatu says.
“I knew it would be,” Raava sighs, contentedly.
They smile and turn to kiss one another, a golden light welling up within their chests… it spreads through their bodies, enveloping them completely and with such intensity that it’s painful to watch.
The light fades, and Korra sees a large, magnificently bright golden sphere, floating where the two spirits had stood moments ago. Tendrils of gold flicker all around the circumference, and droplets of blue and orange circle slowly at the centre.
They have converged. A spiritual merging of two souls, an occurrence only possible between two greater spirits. Why she knows all this, she still can’t fathom. The golden sphere rises into the black infinity above, where the two spirits can watch over the new world together.
Korra continues to watch the world blur forwards, constantly in awe.
Several millennia pass.
Mankind appears in the world, born, like everything else, from the tree of time. Mankind is curious, inquisitive and cunning. Their desire to know and learn everything, insatiable. Mankind lives in harmony with the spirits, living off the land.
But before long, it isn’t enough…
A millennia passes.
Mankind begins to take from the land with no regard to balance. Trees are cut, forests destroyed. Mankind builds comforts, homes and luxuries. It’s only when mankind resorts to hunting spirit animals for jewellery and pride rather than warmth, that Raava and Vaatu return to the world.
“We must stop this, mankind has become corrupt, greedy,” Vaatu speaks.
“They are still young, my love. They will make mistakes.” Raava reasons.
Vaatu pauses, as though in thought, “The spirits should not suffer due to their insatiable needs, we will form a new world for them to destroy, if that is their intent.”
Raava sighs, “Very well. But perhaps they will flourish, we should not judge so easily.”
Korra feels herself pulled to the centre of the spirit world, back towards the tree of time. She watches the converged spirits form a giant circle on the floor, engraving a pattern of two interlocked tears into the earth, from which pillars of blinding light shoot into the sky.
The golden form of Raava and Vaatu shimmers brightly as they bring forth what Korra knows as the world into existence, on another plane.
Korra senses the passing of time again, this time just a few hundred years, the golden sphere constantly shining brightly. Eventually, the light returns to a steady glow.
“It is done,” says Vaatu.
“It’s beautiful,” whispers Raava.
Korra is thrust into the new world, and her heart throbs at the raw beauty of it. The world is naked and pure, with vast ranges of mountains and rivers, beasts and birds, fish and insects… everything buzzing with life. She inhales deeply, amazed at how pure the air tastes.
Mankind follows its own natural curiosity and enters the portals. So vast and bountiful is the land beyond, mankind choses to stay there and flourish in a new world that they can call their own.
A millennia passes.
A new spirit child is born into existence, beneath the tree of life. One eye of golden orange, the other blue. She has soft, auburn hair, pale skin, and feathered, grey wings. She giggles as she runs in circles around the tree, playfully chasing a spirit.
Raava and Vaatu look down upon their child with nothing but unquestionable love. Korra understands that this is the eventual, gradual result of their convergence - a new greater spirit has been born.
Her name is Luna, and she is… beautiful.
Several millennia pass.
Luna is a young woman now, and intrigued by the world of man. She often spies on them, curious as to why they do the things that they do.
She feels the world is missing something, and one day, when she sees mankind trying to shut out the daylight to aid their slumber, the answer comes to her. She brings forth night and moonlight into the human world, to balance day. Because of this, new life flourishes, previously blinded by the day but able to thrive in the dark.
Raava and Vaatu are proud of their daughter’s decision. At night, basked in moonlight, the world looks more beautiful than ever… but at first, mankind fears the dark skies.
It takes only a few weeks more for them to embrace it, the cool darkness a welcome gift after the hot, bright days. Luna is impressed by mankind’s ability to adapt.
It’s about this time that a young man bumps into Luna, as she sits crouched on the tallest cliff, overlooking a meadow near his village.
“Oh, um… hello!” he says, nervously.
She’s shocked at first, but turns to him and smiles…
The boy is immediately entranced by her beauty.
Luna visits her new friend frequently, her natural curiosity replacing caution. She finds out that over the millennia, mankind have forgotten about the spirits and the spirit world… they’ve grown superstitious about the portals in the world, and the “ghosts” that linger near them.
“No, it is not like that at all! They are spirits, not ghosts,” Luna giggles, “and the spirit world is beautiful!” she smiles at the boy.
“Can I… can I see?” he asks hesitantly, fearful but inquisitive.
She nods, and leads him to a portal, walking through it with him, where tears immediately flood his eyes. He’s lost for words. Luna smiles at the raw, pure emotion.
Later that night, the boy finds himself unable to sleep. He convinces his friends to come and see the wonders he’s seen. Only two follow, the rest calling him insane. The next day, ten more follow him. Eventually, word spreads across the land. There’s nothing to fear, there is another bountiful land beyond the pillars of light!
Mankind creates machines to take into the spirit world, where they begin to ravage and plunder the land, basking in the new resources at their disposal. As they close upon the tree of life, Luna approaches them, furious, an army of spirits behind her.
“You must stop, and return home. This is not your world to take,” she warns them.
“An evil spirit!” one of the older humans shouts. “Kill her! Kill her!!” he screams, and the hundreds of men charge forwards, roaring, as Luna and her spirits hold fast, defending the tree with their very lives.
Luna clenches her teeth. Claws extend from her hand, and she tries to hold back her bitter tears of disappointment, of betrayal, as she rips into the assailants, shredding them to pieces. She hears herself screaming in despair as bloodshed and carnage flood her senses, and the battle seems to last forever…
Eventually, there’s silence, save for her ragged, panting breaths. Luna falls to her back, laying beneath the tree of time, gasping air into her punctured, bloody lungs. They’re all dead. She’d had to kill them all. Her heart breaks into two as she sees amongst the crowd of bodies a familiar face… the boy. She cries, chokes out the words “I’m so sorry,” before breathing her last, and dying beneath the tree.
Korra finds herself crying uncontrollably.
“ARRRGHHHH!” Vaatu roars, as he and Raava suddenly descend back into the spirit world.
“No… Luna…” Raava sobs.
“THEY WILL PAY. I WILL KILL THEM ALL!” Vaatu seethes, furious.
“No, my love… stay… I need you… now more than ever,” Raava begs him, though her heart is broken.
Vaatu tugs and pulls, his anger knowing no bounds, until he painfully and physically breaks away from Raava, splitting them back into two, although they no longer resemble their former selves in any way. His black, kite-shaped form soars as fast as the eye can see, straight through a portal and into the world of man.
Raava is paralysed with grief… she can do nothing. She despairs over not one, but two losses.
Korra feels herself tugged into the world of man. There she finds chaos, terror and destruction. Vaatu shreds through every human that he finds, often slicing them clean into two. Men, women, and children... none are spared from his gristly vengeance.
Thousands upon thousands die… Vaatu’s onslaught is endless, and Korra feels nauseous, sick to the pit of her stomach. He’s about to attack another large village, when Raava suddenly appears, a bright white light before him.
“STOP!” she yells, “Stop this madness, it won’t bring her back!”
“WE GAVE THEM EVERYTHING, A NEW WORLD, AND YET THEY TOOK FROM US ALL THAT WE HAD!” he roars the words. A flicker of understanding again enters Korra’s mind, and she knows that whilst converged spirits may produce a greater spirit offspring, they can only ever do so once.
“I WILL NOT STOP UNTIL THE FIELDS AND RIVERS RUN RED, UNTIL NO MAN IS LEFT ALIVE!” he screams.
“Then you leave me no choice!” Raava cries, as she darts towards him, latching and twisting her folded tail against his, tugging him to the ground and holding him in place. She swings him against the mountains, against the ground, beating him into submission. The very world shakes beneath her onslaught.
Once Vaatu grows still, Raava tugs him back into the spirit world, where the two will fight an endless war for countless millennia, eventually forgetting who, and what they ever were.
The letter opener clatters to the floor, glistening with blood. Korra’s blood.
Asami’s throat is raw from screaming, and her face is damp from nightmarish tears. She’s shaking, staring between her bloodied hand, and Korra’s lifeless form. She’s only been conscious for a minute, and in that time she’s experienced the purest joy, followed by the starkest horror.
She feels numb. There’s nothing left inside of her now. Her life is over. Everything is over. She sits in silence, unable to scream or cry any more, and she’s only vaguely aware of the golden tendrils of light flowing around the room.
A golden thread crosses over Korra’s forehead, then another appears at her side, and then countless more converge at the open wound beneath her heart. Asami gives it no pause for thought… her mind is blank, hey eyes vacant, her soul trapped in a deep recess of nothingness.
It’s only when an intense glow illuminates at Korra’s chest, and she suddenly chokes for air, gasping life back into her lungs, that Asami plunges out of her despair.
“KORRA!” Asami’s face creases from dismay into relief, and she throws herself against her love, pulling Korra into a tight embrace, tears spilling, pouring from her eyes onto Korra’s shoulder. She feels Korra’s hands slide up her back, thread into her hair, and it only causes her sobs of relief to deepen.
“Asami… I’m so glad you’re okay,” Korra mumbles, “I just had the weirdest dream...”
Asami inhales deeply into Korra’s hair, and holds her close, rocking gently. She doesn’t understand what just happened, but she doesn’t care… she’s elated that they’re both alive, and together again.