Into the Spirit World
“Earth. Fire. Air. Water. Only the Avatar can master all four elements, and bring balance to the world”
The Legend of Korra
The Avatar has restored balance to the physical world. After defeating Kuvira and saving Republic City from the Earth Empire, Avatar Korra and the rest of Team Avatar are due some well needed vacation. Thus it falls to Fire Lord Izumi, Airbending Master Tenzin, Water Tribe Chief Tonraq and President Raikou to keep the peace in the ever changing world. The final act of the Battle of Republic City left a third spirit portal open in the city’s spirit wilds. Now proclaimed lovers Korra and Asami have left for a trip through the portal and into the spiritual world leaving behind friends Mako and Bolin to watch over the city. Meanwhile the Airbenders are tasked once again with maintaining balance in the world. What will our heroes face next? And will Asami and the Avatar face serenity in the spirit world or danger?
Book Five - Return
Chapter 1 - Into the Spirit World
The scene is set as a perfect day in the spirit world, the ethereal sun is high in the sky with petals from the trees flowing in the light morning breeze. The small and large inhabitants of the world scatter around in their childlike patterns as the cosmic energy of the portal beams up from the ground, through comes the two lovers Korra and Asami, holding hands and carrying their bags. Asami gazes upon the beautiful surroundings, in awe of the spectral environment before, splattered on her eyes for the first time in her lifetime, her love and companion the Avatar standing beside her with eager anticipation as to what their first adventure will be.
Beginning their holiday quickly the couple find their first destination, a tall and ancient tree, slightly dark and much like the Tree of Time however painted in pink with blossom leaves. "This is amazing Korra, it's the most beautiful place I've ever seen." Asami exclaims as she leaves her companion, running for the tree and tossing her pack to the side of the ancient trunk. Korra smiles contently, her eyes smoldered with desire for the fair beauty. She slackens her grip on her supplies until it hits the ground.
"I'm glad you like it Asami. I've always wanted to show you this place, this part especially" the Avatar replies, blushing slightly in her tanned cheeks. The sight of Asami happy, content and in her presence fills her with butterflies, as if the feelings she' harboured for her three year recovery can finally be released, away from the prying eyes of Republic City and the inevitable judgements of the ignorant. Asami turns back to her companion, seeing the love in Korra's eyes. The two walk towards each other, the air already intensifying. They meet and Korra takes Asami's hands in hers as if holding their friendship and love like a fragile heirloom of a wealthy Earth Kingdom family. Asami's red lipstick glistens in the spirit sun as the two gaze into each other's eyes, Korra's blue looking back through Asami's green. Removing her right hand Korra bends a small air current in the grass. Slowly she raises a singular rose from the meadow before them and bends the current containing it over to Asami. Acting almost stunned Asami takes the token and smells it, blushing at the scent.
"Thank you for guiding me here Korra, it's absolutely exquisite". Korra smiles again, her mouth widening as Asami smells the roses fresh odor.
"I had a feeling you'd like it here. I always enjoy-" before she can finish Asami cuts her off with a kiss, smothering her mouth with her painted and plump lips, the most natural and exquisite kiss Korra could ever feel made all the more magical by accepting it from her now closest friend. Asami Sato, the daughter of the traitor Hiroshi, the new owner of Future Industries and the closest friend of Avatar Korra confesses her love for the Avatar. As they kiss Korra wraps her arms around Asami's waist as she in turn wraps hers around Korra's neck, their lips never parting as the spirits gather around the positive energy field created by the couples love.
Having had their moments of unrelenting love the two break apart, Korra still holding her lover's waist and Asami's arms remaining around Korra's neck, both of their eyes dwindling and twinkling as the sun shines overhead. "I thought that moment would never come" Asami says in barely a whisper as a small layer of tears form in her eyes. Korra runs a hand through the small tail of brunette hair dangling down the contour of Asami's face, holding her cheek with the palm of her tanned hand.
She brings herself in the closer, their bodies touching once more as Korra whispers in her ear. "I've waited more than three years for you to do that". Asami kisses her cheek instantly at the remark. Together they moves to sit down against the trunk, the spirits from all around gathering around the tremendous positive aura. The day could not be more perfect for the two.
It is night in Republic City, the sight from Air Temple Island is the portal of the ruined downtown, members of the rebuilding effort ignoring it to the spirits and focusing on the other parts of the city affected by the invasion of Kuvira. Tenzin looks out as the glowing lights hover and flutter above and around the straight beam of the third spirit portal. He pictures Korra and all they had done together; from the first day she arrived in Republic City almost four years ago and he saw her in the police station with Lin Beifong, the fight at the Stadium against Amon and the Equalists then the enormous battle against Unalaq and Vaatu for the fate of both the physical world and the spiritual one. The horrific strife with Zaheer and the Red Lotus and Korra's poisoning that would cripple and nearly kill her as well as the entire line of the Avatar and finally the Battle for Republic City against Kuvira's Colossus. So much fighting and conflict at the hands of a few. Now Republic City is at peace, the world following as the Earth Kingdom is restored and electing fair leaders to undo the damage Kuvira had done.
From behind he can sense footsteps, usually attached to a person, and these footsteps he knows all too well; Lin Beifong, eldest daughter of the legendary Toph, first of the metalbenders. "Wonderful night isn't it?" she asks from behind him; she is back into her police chief uniform, her hair done up and back as it usually is for her job. She joins him by the balcony overlooking the bay; the boats of the United Forces and the local fisherman scooting around the water.
"I see you're not sticking around for the rest of the celebrations" the wise airbender states, his beard rustling as his jaw moves, his eyes looks heavy for the first time in decades and his tone rather flat as if Korra's leaving took part of his spirit with her.
"Already missing Korra? It's only been a day" Lin barely looks at him, trying to shadow over her lack of emotion by noting his.
"We only had her for less than a week this time" he sighs "ever since that horrific attack by Zaheer she's been growing more and more distant from the world, I feel as if she's giving up on it."
"Korra giving up on the world, or are you?"
"What?" Tenzin asks almost appalled by the idea that he was lacking any kind of emotion, however his eyes soon settle back into the same state of disappointment. "You say that Zaheer changed Korra when he poisoned her but you saw the way she bounced back and defeated Kuvira"
"Yeah, after three years of recovery. And six months of that she spent alone, away from all who could help her."
Lin takes his arm, firm and authoritative. "That was her choice. You of all people should know that if the Avatar needs to figure something out, they do it how they damn well please Tenzin" he sighs now, realising the truth and intellect in her counsel. Lin relinquishes his arm, her expression turning to despair at his sadness. "Korra left with Asami. She hasn't given up on the world Tenzin, she found a new reason to care for it"
As if being shot by lightning Tenzin finally realises his mistake, seeing the truth in Lin's words and putting the pieces together in his vast mind he sees the reality of the world around him. He shelves his despair as Lin walks away, Suyin waiting for her near the main vista of the temple. "So you're leaving already?" the younger sister asks Lin, the same air of sadness about her as Tenzin had.
"You're not heading back to Zaofu to rebuild?" Lin returns the question. Having defeated Kuvira Zaofu would return to Su and her family and the domes would be in serious need of care and rebuilding.
"Baatar, Wei, Wing, Junior and Huan are heading back in the morning with the rest of the Earth Kingdom soldiers by airship. I thought I'd stay a few days while Opal is here, we haven't had any real time together for a while" Su explains, compassion and her usual tone of sweetness in her voice, the natural vocals of a mother or grandmother with the morality to match. Lin can't help but smile, the thought of a family whole again gives her joy and having her sister freed again is an added bonus to keep her happy. Looking over her sister's shoulder Lin can see Opal close and warm with Bolin, the two looking like a couple for the first time in almost three years, Bolin finally free from the prison he had volunteered himself in to under Kuvira and Baatar Jr.
The temple is still buzzing from the wedding of Varrick and Zhu Li, the couple still receiving gifts from visitors and resident airbenders, Varrick keeping up his sticky businessman and all around idiot persona and Zhu Li keeping him in balance with her new found sense of self confidence around her husband and her compassionate nature blooming now she has been elevated from his assistant. Bolin and Opal are content and surrounded with the same feeling of love and affection for one another as Korra and Asami in the spiritual world. Changed from her airbending flight suit Opal wears the green dress with the worked in metal as usually worn in Zaofu or in the proximity to the Beifong family Her wild lime green eyes dance in the nightlight of the temple hanging lamps as Bolin and she walk together, he in his brown suit tailored by the finest in Republic City years ago before his work with the Great Uniter began. After his busy life he is now content with Opal, happy and lucky to have her back from the brink during the last crisis. As Lin as Suyin happily look about the temple grounds Bolin and Opal steal a kiss under the lamps, savouring their time together.
"If you're staying until she leaves you'll have to fight the kid for her" Lin remarks as she spots the lovers smothering each other. Suyin's happy face soon turns to a targeting sight as she too spots it.
"Oh he won't last a single day with me around."
"Are you sure? I mean he can lavabend" Lin smirks at Su's disadvantage to Bo's ability.
"What use is lava against a mother's love for her daughter? Plus the fact that I earthbend circles around that kid. He can't even metalbend" Su contests, still not drawing attention to the sisters. Lin just laughs, with Su joining in, the pair shaking off the joke as a pair of sisters naturally do. They begin to walk around the temple grounds, the first they pass is Pema, the baby in her arms in air acolyte clothes on their way to talk to Tenzin at the balcony. As the sisters walk to the main vista Tenzin takes his wife in his arms and kisses her passionately, shocking her somewhat and pleasing her greatly. Lin and Suyin laugh like a pair of twelve year old school girls. Suyin looking deep into her sister, seeing the change and goodness in her over the hard shell she'd spent so long to erect. "It's good to see you like this Lin, really. I mean you used to be so harsh and cold but over the last few years you've become-"
"What? More like you Su? Tell me about it, it makes me sick" she counters with humour
"Sarcasm too? What happened Lin?" Su asks, locking her arm around her sister's, caringly and warmly.
"I guess I just looked at myself and what I had become, believe it or not it was when we came to Zaofu when Zaheer and the Red Lotus were after Korra" from behind comes another voice, old and frail yet warm and like water.
"The Avatar's changes are not just of the many. She brings people together and changes them for the better wouldn't you say?" Within and instant everyone looks to where the voice is coming from; the main courtyard and it's caster is none other than Katara, the old but living wife of Avatar Aang. The airbending children; Jinora, Ikki and Meelo smile the biggest smiles they have cast in a long while. Together the three run to their grandmother and all hug her gently, not hurting her. Tenzin smiles and begins to walk over with Pema as the rest of the guests move to meet with her. From the skies comes Bumi hanging from a glider still sharpening his airbending skills. He lands rather rough, trying to stabilise himself with a small air blast to keep himself afloat however he falls on his stomach and slides across the floor, stopping just before his mother. She smiles like a child, rubbing his head trying to subdue the pain.
"Hey mom" he says with his crazy expression and the wings of his wingsuit flapping as he rubs his head. Katara smiles at her eldest son, laughing at his childlike nature still in his aging years. Tenzin sighs again, rolling his eyes.
"It's so good to see you all, I would have come sooner but what with the Kuvira crisis. Anyway what is the latest with the new Air Nation?" she asks with a smile.
"The Air Nation is doing great mother, we're helping the ones who need it after Kuvira's attack. It's great to see you" Tenzin smiles at the sight of his aging mother. Bolin steps forward, shaking Katara's hand.
"Great to see you again Master Katara, allow me to take your bags" he says with his exaggerated bluster, Opal laughs quietly at his slight awkwardness. Katara notices her, and then Lin, smiling with closed eyes at the sight of her; the first in a long time.
"Good to see you again Suyin, it's been too long, who is this?" she refers to Opal with her lovely and innocent face. Opal steps forward to her mother and bows before the great woman.
"I'm Opal, Master Katara, Toph's granddaughter and acolyte of the Air Nation, it's such an honour to meet you" Katara simply smiles and turns back to Tenzin.
"I'll show you to a room mother" Tenzin steps forward
"There is much we need to discuss Tenzin" she replies, filling the crowd with a small amount of dread, mostly with Suyin and Lin. They look at each other and then Lin notices a lack of one character.
"Where is Mako?" she asks.
As the Air Temple is a ablaze with new found life and hope and Republic City rebuilds, the streets of the deserted downtown area are lifeless, except one soul this night; the lost and tormented Mako. He had thought he was fine without Korra, even without Asami, but his soul and heart is splintered, he is indeed lost without them. He almost breaks the throttle of his police bike as he floors his way down what is left of the streets, bobbing and weaving his way around the spirit vines. He feels nothing but negative emotion; loss, anger and even fear over his mistakes and his failures. Even though Kuvira had been defeated, the past still haunts him. What is it with you and sides? His memories echo in his mind, his relationships with Korra and Asami. Yeah well there may not be a relationship left. Under his goggles his eyes light up with anger. He slams the breaks as he approaches the coast line, drifting until the bike comes to a complete stop. Mako practically leaps off of the seat and rips the helmet from his head, throwing it into the sea like a possessed spirit. Korra's words from three years ago ring in his ears. Sometime I wonder whose side you're on. Enough is enough; Mako screams, a huge plume of fire coming from his lungs and shooting out into the sky. He crumbles to the floor, ashamed of himself for an unknown reason; to the rest of the physical world Korra and Asami left a day ago for their journey in the spiritual world. Mako sits there a moment, shuffling to move his legs into a cross shape and moping to himself over what could have been or what might be in the future.
Why did you leave Korra? he asks to himself rather than the world, his head still buried in himself. Another voice comes from behind, another old woman. "If the Avatar went somewhere then it usually means someone has to deal with it. Why are you moping about it then?" He turns to see the now ancient figure of Toph Beifong, blind and battered from here decades of of travelling the world. As Mako's face turns to one of amazement that the original metalbender is talking to him hers is less impressed and more of her usual crankiness. She sits beside him crossing her legs in a meditation stance. "You can quit with the bewildered look kid I'm just Toph Beifong and you're just a damn fire ferret, big whoop" she says without giving him a second look.
"How do you know that I'm moping over Korra leaving with Asami?"
"Because it's written all over your damn face". His face turns to confusion now at her remark.
"How do you now what my face looks like?"
"What? Just because I'm blind I can't see your stupid exclamations on your stupid face? Please kid who do you think you're talking to? I can sense every feeling in your body" Toph huffs still looking aimlessly out to sea with her blind eyes.
Mako sighs and looks back out as she does. "I'm sorry, I guess I'm not feeling my best right now."
"I'll say kid, that fire blast was the biggest 'I'm not feeling my best' I've seen since Aang flew into a storm after we lost Ba Sing Se. Men do the stupidest things sometimes". Her wise counsel somewhat penetrates Mako's outer shell, ringing with him inside.
"I just feel lost without them. Not just Korra and not just Asami, the pair of them. We spent so much time together and now I just feel like I have nothing left."
"Oh come on. Are you a firebender or a wimp? Are you really going to sit there and mope over two girls leaving you, even though you wasted your chances with both of them years ago?" Toph agitates him, he storms off in a firebender rage.
"You know what? I don't need this, even if you are Toph Beifong and my boss's mom. I'm outta here" he rages.
"Fine, go. You might as well leave Republic City while you're at it. Travel the world. Search for yourself because lord knows you're not hi right now kid even I can see, and I don't even know you"
"Maybe I will!" he leaves her proximity and back to his motorcycle, without his helmet. Toph remains sat there by the coast, tranquil and content as she is all of her days now. Kid doesn't know what he's missing. Men.
Korra and Asami lay back against the old oak, Asami lying in her lover's arms, her head buried deep in Korra's chest as the Avatar plays with the luscious curls in her hair. The two are at perfect peace with each other and the spirit world around them. Asami turns herself, holding herself up above Korra by placing her palms on the ground. She crawl upward a little, positioning her head just above Korra's and blocking out the sun. The Avatar smiles and blushes yet again in the presence of her girlfriend.
"You look so beautiful in that sun Asami" Korra edges out over her serene awkwardness. Asami slightly flutters her eyes, blushing also as they gaze once more into each other's eyes. She leans in for another kiss, Korra placing her left hand on her cheek and the right on her hip, holding her lovingly. They hold the sweet embrace for a second then break away, Asami's lipstick finally smudged. Korra cannot help but laugh sweetly at the sight and Asami's eyes pop at the sudden laugh. Korra points to her lover's mouth and Asami whips out a small mirror from her backpack, seeing the mudge she joins the laugh and the two soon sink back into a cuddle as the spirits dance in the daylight, the sun rays changing colour as they pass through the different coloured spirits.
"So where do you want to go first?" Korra asks with glee and enthusiasm to show Asami all of the wonders of this new world.
"As long as I'm with you, I'll go anywhere" Asami replies sweetly as she snuggles even deeper into Korra's chest. Korra things of the ideal first date and suddenly comes up short. For all her dealing in the spirit world she has only ever really visited one place; the Tree of Time where she first encountered Vaatu and where Unalaq became the Dark Avatar. However now the tree is empty having no one to imprison, the spirit portals are open on either side of the plain and the small, adorable spirits float about in the tranquil pass of seconds to millennia.
"How about the Tree of Time? I mean you've never been here before and that's like the hottest attraction the spirit world has to offer" Korra suggests, proud of herself for the idea.
"I'd love to go Korra, you're the expert here" Asami confirms. Korra's eyes widen again and she kisses Asami on the forehead. Her lover now initiates the playful interactions, rolling Korra over and returning the kiss however on the lips again. They laugh and Korra forms a small water blob from the moisture in the flowers with her bending. Lightly she sends the water into Asami's face, knocking her from the top and allowing Korra to pin her down in the meadow, the two laugh again and they kiss passionately again, Korra in the same position and blocking out the sun with her short bob of brunette hair, looking practically angelic before the other woman. Asami takes a breath. "I love you Korra" Asami proclaims on the exhale, catching Korra somewhat off guard after all these years. Korra blushes intensely, barely believing how this happened. She drops herself, wrapping her arms around Asami's neck and squeezing tightly as Asami wraps hers around Korra's chest. Korra whispers softly over a faint trace of joyous tears.
"You have no idea how long I've wanted to tell you. I love you too Asami" she smiles, a single tear flowing down her face. The two lean up on their knees still embracing.
By high noon the two are walking across the plain towards the spirit portals and their destination; the Tree of Time where Ravva and the first Avatar, Wan joined together to defeat and imprison Vaatu and bring balance to the world. Wan closed the spirit portals during Harmonic Convergence and split the two worlds apart, Korra opened them and joined the two again for the first time in ten thousand years, now she would show her new lover the location of so many exploits. As they walk together Asami clutches Korra's arm, hugging it as they pass through the grassy meadow together.
Tenzin and his mother are alone at a table in his study, two cups of tea still piping hot on either side of the table. Tenzin is standing by the open window gazing still at the remains of downtown and the new spirit portal. Nothing is said for a time until the siblings Bumi and Kya enter. Kya is pleased to see her mother again as is Bumi however they instantly sense a problem in the air of the room. Kya pulls a chair to her mother as Bumi sits in Tenzin's chair ready for the bad news.
"Okay, come on, spit it out. What happened?" Kya asks instantly inquisitively and a little worried. If her mother was here delivering bad news to only her children then the world would be in true danger indeed. Katara looks at Kya truly troubled and in agony. She hugs her daughter intently; Kya's expression turning evermore worried as does Bumi's.
"Tenzin. What happened?" Bumi asks his younger brother, dying to know the news. The airbender turns to his brother with a grave face indeed as his mother begins to weep.
"It seems Kuvira wasn't the end of the trouble" he starts, his tone matching his face. "The world could possibly face the most violent threat in almost a century and without Korra I have no idea how anyone could stop it" he states without looking at Bumi or Kya.
"Well come on then tell us. What is it?" Bumi asks again, standing from the chair. Tenzin looks up at his brother.
"Azula has escaped from Zuko's prison. She killed him" Tenzin says, looking at floor directly after it. Bumi's jaw hits the floor as dos Kya's as Katara maintains hold of her neck. The news hits them like a lightning bolt sent from the aforementioned lunatic. Tenzin turns back to the window and looks to the sky, dreading the near future with the now last surviving child of Fire Lord Ozai loose and free to roam the world.
Bumi slams his fist on the table. "So what if she's escaped, the woman is eighty five and crazy, let her come, we can handle anything after that giant mech" he blusters. Kya removes her mother from her neck and places an assuring hand over her back as she continues to weep. Tenzin moves over to talk with his brother, pulling up a chair with a quick waft of airbending. He sits.
"Bumi..." Kya begins.
"We have the United Forces, we have the Beifongs and we have the airbenders, not to mention us have you already forgotten that?" Bumi cuts her off.
"You think Azula is anything like what we've already faced? Azula could be three hundred and still have more power than all of us and every person on this island combined. She is the most powerful firebender in the world and she always will be, even worse since she's been contained in that prison for seventy one years" Tenzin explains. Katara subsides her tears over Zuko and speaks.
"It's not even that Azula is the worst of our worries. Zuko told me three days ago that when we searched for their mother Azula harboured a child; a daughter named Urszula who shares the same mental health as her mother. We can only guess that she too is a powerful firebender" Katara tells, still dreading the future.
"And with Korra gone, we may be all out of options" Tenzin sighs.
Zuko opens his eyes to see a cage around him, deep in the mountain side of the Fire Nation. There is a small fire in the middle of the camp being manipulated by a small and frail figure. The aged Zuko rubs his head and widely opens his eyes. Memories of the last few hours flood his mind, his injury was down to a trauma from an attacker. The attacker was a woman, old as he is. He remembers the voice. Good to see you again… Brother. "Azula!?" Zuko exclaims as he sits up
to see his aged and manic sister up close to the cage.
"Surprised to see me brother?" she asks, the look in her eyes to say she could anything.
Zuko backs up to the back of the cage, his head still hurting. Azula soon relaxes and backs up to sit overlooking her old brother. Zuko winces in pain. "How did you escape Azula? And what do you want?" he mutters in a sharp pain.
"There's only one thing I want Zu-zu" she leans in again, her eyes turning manic once more.
"Revenge. On Katara, you and on the Avatar" she fires at him.
"Maybe you haven't heard. Aang passed away years ago. You're too late to get revenge."
"While you're right the world has already supplied me with the solution. Although she isn't the airbending child the new Avatar still has a connection to him. But I'm leaving her for later. First I'll rid the world of that pathetic waterbender Katara. Isn't that right… Azulon?" she asks to the shadows. From them steps a tall slender woman no more than thirty years of age wearing thin glasses and her black hair done up in a small tail. She has the same crazy look on her face as Azula, ready to kill.