A/N: Presenting a collaborated effort between The Red Swordsman (Mataras), Othniel (JoshthePoser), and Rebeeza (Matarasisbae).
In this newly reconstructed version of Korra's journey to become a great Avatar, we will be joined by many old friends, as well as many new ones. Some things will be the same as before, some will be vastly different, but all of it promises to be good. All four seasons will be covered, in addition to filling in a few blanks, so this story will be active for a very long time (so if you're looking for a lengthy adventure, you've come to the right place). I also recommend having at least read the Last Airbender comics The Promise and The Search, but it is not mandatory.
I wish a Happy New Year of 2017 to all of my old readers and friends, as well as all newcomers to my work- I welcome you with open arms, and I sincerely hope that you enjoy this story as much as I have enjoyed writing it.
The son of the age past
Seeks out the scion of light
Their lives are joined, intertwined
Fate is cast
Legacy of Aang
Earth. Fire. Air. Water.
When I was a boy, my father, the son of Avatar Aang, recounted the tale of how my grandfather and his friends heroically ended the Hundred-Year War.
The Fire Nation had declared war on the world, and they were intent on bringing every culture under their own banner. Only the Avatar, master of all four elements, could stop them. But when the world needed him most, he vanished.
A full century passed before my grandmother and her brother found my grandfather, the new avatar, frozen in an iceberg, where he had been for all of his self-imposed exile. When they first found him, he had no chance of stopping the Fire Nation. But my grandmother never gave up hope. From the very beginning, she believed that Aang would save the world.
And as it turned out- she was right.
With the help of the new Firelord Zuko, my grandfather and his friends transformed the Fire Nation Colonies into the United Republic of Nations. A place where people of all cultures could come together to thrive in peace and harmony.
Avatar Aang accomplished many great things in his life. But sadly, his time in this world came to an end. And like the cycle of the seasons, the cycle of the Avatar began anew.
"I feel him, Father," said a boy with dark hair and pale gray eyes that matched his father's. He was standing in a snowdrift, holding the hand of a tall, bearded man who wore a long yellow cloak to ward off the chill of the South Pole's winter winds. Like his father, the boy wore a combination of yellow and red, signifying his heritage as an Air Nomad, though he was not bald like the older airbender.
His gaze was directed at an igloo, a common home for many of those that lived in the Southern Water Tribe. There was absolutely nothing to distinguish the house from the others in the area, save for the presence that the child sensed within it.
"Well done, Gyatso," his father said as he followed his gaze.
"Tenzin, why are we following your son around in the snow?" The pair turned around to see a heavy-set man with a receding hairline dressed in blue-and-white robes scowling at the child. They were the representatives of the organization known as the White Lotus, a group that had been tasked by Aang to find his heir so that they could be protected and trained until they were ready to strike out on their own. So perhaps it was understandable that they would be upset about their search methods being upstaged by a boy that came up to waist-height. "You have no proof that this is going to work." The two men behind him said nothing, but Tenzin could tell that they shared in their leader's doubts.
"I'm here because my son has always displayed extraordinary gifts in connecting to the spiritual realm," Tenzin answered. "And because every lead that you have chased down so far has come to nothing. I thought it was time we tried something a little different." Gyatso said nothing, but he did notice the smile that his father hid by turning his back to the men behind them.
The balding man seemed insulted, but he held his tongue for the time being. He couldn't refute what Tenzin had said, and there was the unspoken fact that he was Aang's son. Out of any of them, he would know best what to look for in the Avatar's heir.
It still didn't make it any less bizarre that the only master Airbender in the entire world was acting on the words of a seven-year-old boy.
Gyatso was the oldest child of Pema and Tenzin, and their only child. Like his grandfather before him, he showed great talent in the art of airbending, and like his father, he took his studies of the ancient Air Nomads seriously. He spent much of his spare time buried in books and scrolls, trying to learn as much as he could about his ancestors in addition to the cycle of the Avatar. His mother, he treated with great respect, and his father, with the admiration worthy of a king.
His only great weakness was that he was painfully shy with new people, and he had severe difficulty connecting to the people around him. If anyone other than his parents tried to talk to him, he would usually clam up and give one-worded answers as much as he could. In truth, it was one of the reasons why Tenzin had decided to take his son with him on the quest to find the avatar. He hoped that being out of the comfort zone of Air Temple Island would force him to open up more to new people.
The events that had led to the two of them being in the South Pole in the first place were strange, even for Tenzin's son. The boy could only vaguely recall brief snippets of memories with his grandfather since he had been little more than a toddler when he passed away, but he still felt a strong connection to the man on a spiritual level.
Over the last few months, he would have a recurring dream every night where he would be flying across the night amidst the dark southern horizon with Aang, atop of Appa, his grandfather's sky bison. Sitting in the pilot's seat, his grandfather would reach up, touch the sky, and suddenly the evening would be ablaze with celestial spirit lights that matched the ones in the north. The light would blind the boy for a moment, but when it cleared, Aang did not look like his grandfather, but a twelve-year-old boy. The Avatar would then turn to Gyatso and say, "I think I'm lost. Can you tell me where I am?" The dream always ended after that.
It had taken some time, but eventually, Gyatso worked up the courage to tell his father about the strange dreams he was having. To his surprise, Tenzin became very interested in it, asking him many questions about what he had seen in the dream. Once he had finished asking everything that he could think of, Tenzin had leaned back in his chair and asked, "What do you think the dream means, Son?"
Gyatso had hesitated over his answer for some time before coming up with a reply. "I think Gramp-Gramp is lost," he said. "And I need to find him. Or at least, the new him." The boy knew of the reincarnation process from his studies, so of course he knew that he wouldn't actually find Aang, but rather his grandfather's heir.
Tenzin had pondered his son's words for some time before he asked the child, "If I took you to the South, do you think you could find him?"
"I… think so," Gyatso answered hesitantly. "I'll do my best, Father."
"Then I'll speak with your mother so we can leave as soon as possible," Tenzin said.
Pema had wished them well and asked them to give Tenzin's mother, Katara, her regards before they took off on their trip.
All of which led them to where they were now, the front door of an igloo in the South during the winter. "I'll be doing the talking," Tenzin said to the others, who scowled in disapproval. Seeing this, the tall airbender said, "Once we've finished with the introductions, we will discuss the particulars of my father's final will in private with the parents."
"You sound certain that this is where the new Avatar will be," the balding man objected again.
"I trust my son," Tenzin replied before he knocked on the wooden door, the only thing on the structure that didn't seem to be made of ice.
For a moment, there was only the sound of the howling blizzard winds, but then the door opened from within to reveal a powerfully built man that was just as tall as Tenzin. He was dark of skin, his hair was a deep brown that framed intelligent blue eyes, and he carried himself with an air of confidence. His clothes and boots were thick and lined with fur that helped ward off the cold, but even they could not hide the raw power of his frame. He shut the door behind him as he eyed the four men and child in front of him before he said with a deep, strong voice, "How may I help you, strangers?" His tone indicated that the greeting was only a formality, and nothing more.
"Good evening," Tenzin said with a respectful bow. "I am Tenzin, son of Avatar Aang. The men behind me are with the White Lotus." Recognition sparked in the Water Tribe man's eyes, so Tenzin added, "I assume you can guess why we're here?"
"You're Master Tenzin?" the man said with surprise. His restrained hostility vanished as he reached out to shake hands with the airbender and added, "The nephew of Chief Sokka if I'm not mistaken?"
"I am," Tenzin nodded. Gesturing down to indicate the boy beside him, he said, "This is my son, Gyatso. He led us here in the hopes of finding the next avatar."
"Hello, Gyatso," the man said as he knelt down in the snow to be level with the child. He extended his strong hand for the boy to shake as he smiled and added, "My name is Tonraq. It's nice to meet you."
"It's nice to meet you too," Gyatso said shyly, barely managing to force himself to shake hands with the big man. Still, Tonraq seemed friendly enough, he thought. Or at least, he seemed to like kids, if the smile he was receiving was anything to go by.
"You've got a polite young man there," Tonraq said as he stood up straight once again. "And you said he led you here?"
"My son has always had a strong affinity for spiritual matters," Tenzin replied with a slight smile of his own. "Recently, he gave me good reason to believe that his grandfather was calling him here."
"Well, I know that there was a pretty strong reason," Tonraq smiled as he opened up the door to his home. "I don't know if 'good' is the right word for it, though."
"What do you mean?" Tenzin asked as they all stepped into the house. Then his eyes widened as he saw the amount of things strewn about the interior of the home.
"Mother wouldn't like it if my room looked like this," Gyatso said mildly as the White Lotus men came in, followed by Tonraq, who shut the door, and blocking the wind from outside.
The home itself looked comfortable to live in, with a good-sized kitchen on one side of the room, the middle part serving as a dining area, and two doors that seemed to lead to the bedrooms. However, many of the decorations that looked like they were supposed to line the walls were scattered around the room, on the floor, some on the table, a wolf's head even being in the sink. There were also fragments of several broken plates scattered around the floor, leading Tenzin to remind his son to watch his step while inside.
And in the middle of it all was a young woman that looked very surprised to be having guests at the hour. Her hair was dark brown and her eyes were blue like sapphires. Her skin was a bit lighter than her husband's, but not by much. She looked over at the water tribe man as she said, "Tonraq, I thought I told you to let me know whenever you were planning on having friends over." She looked a little tired and scratched up, Gyatso thought.
"Sorry, Senna, but I didn't know that we would be having guests over tonight either," he said with another bright smile as he moved over to hug the woman. "These gentlemen are from the White Lotus, and they want to meet Korra."
"Korra?" Gyatso surprised everyone as he repeated the name. "Is that the name of the new Avatar?"
"That's our daughter's name, yes," Senna replied. "To be honest, I'm surprised that the White Lotus replied to our message so quickly. I thought it would be at least another few days."
"We didn't come in in response to a request," Tenzin said. "We came here on behalf of my son."
Senna cocked her head at the young boy with gray eyes, who immediately averted his gaze and shuffled his feet awkwardly. "What's your name, little one?" she asked.
"This is Gyatso," Tenzin said as he bowed to the lady of the house. "My name is Tenzin. His grandfather was Aang, and he sensed my father's presence, which is what led us here."
"Master Tenzin believes that your child is 'the one," the balding man said as he stepped out from behind the tall airbender, impatient to get things underway. "But we have investigated many claims, both here and in the northern tribe. Do you have any way to prove that-" He was silenced when Tonraq held up a single hand to indicate that he wanted quiet.
Then he and his wife shared a smile that left both Tenzin and Gyatso with sinking feelings in their guts. Senna drew in a breath before shouting, "Korra! Please come in here!"
One of the doors to the other rooms immediately flew off of its hinges, narrowly missing the leader of the White Lotus trio, and causing all of the guests' jaws to drop with shock.
"I'm the Avatar, you gotta deal with it!" The declaration came from a five-year-old girl dressed in the usual blue garb of the water tribes. Her skin was deeply tanned like her father and mother's, and her blue eyes shone with the brilliance of the noon sky. She was striking a ridiculous pose that showed her rounded potbelly, though she seemed to be taking herself quite seriously.
Moving quickly, she spammed several fire blasts before whipping up some water from a puddle that had gathered on the floor to smother a small fire she had started on one of the White Lotus men's cloak. Stamping her feet, she caused small parts of the ground to jut upwards until she decided that she had successfully demonstrated her abilities for long enough. With a final motion, she put all of the moved earth back so that the house's floor was level once again.
"Any doubts left?" Tenzin remarked to his colleague.
"All right, we won't doubt Gyatso again," the balding man sighed heavily. Looking down at the child somewhat begrudgingly, he said in a lowered voice, "Well done, young man."
But the boy wasn't paying attention to him. His entire focus was directed solely at Korra, who noticed his stare after a moment, and decided that she didn't like it. "What's your problem?" she demanded as she stood face-to-face with the airbender.
"My grandfather was reborn into you?" he said with disbelief. He'd always heard that his grandfather was a gentle, restrained man of honor, not a brash show-off like the girl in front of him.
"What'd your grandpa do?" the younger girl asked hotly.
"Korra, sweetie, be nice to this boy," Senna said firmly. "His friends came all this way just to find you, so I expect you to be kind to our guests."
"But he's staring at me!" she protested. "I don't like it!"
"Sorry if I made you mad," Gyatso said mildly. "You just… You're not what I expected. Not from the Avatar."
"Well I'm the Avatar now, so I decide what the Avatar is like," Korra said stubbornly.
"Korra…" Tonraq said warningly with a frown.
"Sorry, Dad," Korra mumbled, finally subsiding.
"Mister Tonraq, if you wouldn't mind, there a few matters that we would like to discuss in private," Tenzin said, interrupting the exchange. "Specifically concerning the will my late father in regards to the new Avatar."
"Of course," Tonraq nodded. "We expected as much." Turning to Korra, he said, "It's time for the grown-ups to talk, sweetie. Please go wait in your room, okay?"
"Aw…" she pouted.
"Gyatso, go with her," Tenzin instructed his son. "I'll come get you when we're done talking."
"Y-Yes, Father," Gyatso said nervously, eyeing the girl beside him with apprehension. It was clear that she didn't like him, and she definitely wasn't afraid of showing off her bending talents.
Seeing his nervous face, Tonraq guessed at the reason behind it, so he said, "Korra, no bending while you're in there with Gyatso, understand?"
"No buts!" he said sternly. "Now go on, we won't be very long."
"Okay…" she said glumly as she turned around and walked into her room through the hole in the wall that she had made.
As she did, Gyatso bowed to the big man and said with evident relief, "Thank you, Sir."
"Of course," Tonraq nodded. Then Gyatso walked into Korra's room, being careful to avoid the broken ice fragments around his feet. As soon as he stepped past the broken wall, Tonraq used his bending to repair the door's frame so that it was as though Korra's destructive rampage had never happened.
It was dark in the room with nothing but the dim glow of the crescent moon shining through the window. Still, there was enough light for Gyatso to see Korra sitting on her bed with a glum expression as she lightly kicked her heels against the bedframe in a back-and-forth pattern. On one of the walls was a shelf that held a number of different toys, and underneath it was a dresser that the boy assumed held clothing for the other child.
"So…" he said awkwardly. "I'm sorry I got us put in here." Korra stuck her tongue out at him in response, so he decided to be quiet as to avoid further antagonizing the girl.
After a few quiet moments, Korra perked up and asked, "Whaddya think they're talkin' about?"
"Grown-up stuff," Gyatso replied cautiously, afraid she might strike him if he gave her an answer she didn't like. "Father didn't tell me what they were going to talk about."
"Aw…" she pouted. Then she hopped off the bed as she said, "It's probably boring, though. Grown-ups are always talking about boring stuff."
"Like what?" Gyatso asked curiously, his fear beginning to reduce a bit.
"Like going fishing and work and houses," Korra answered. "I like it better when it's just me with Mommy and Daddy. They tell me lots of cool stories."
"So does my father," Gyatso remarked.
"Cool!" Korra chirped. "What kind of stories? Daddy always tells me stories about the spirits and heroes from the water tribe."
"My father tells me stories about spirits, too," Gyatso said. "He also tells me a lot of stories about the Avatar's past lives."
"I'm the Avatar, but I haven't done much," Korra said, her head cocked. "I didn't know that there were stories about me. Are there any good ones?"
"Well, they're not about you exactly," Gyatso said slowly, trying to think of how he could explain things to Korra. It was becoming apparent that she was unfamiliar with the reincarnation process of the Avatar Cycle. "See, my grandfather used to be the Avatar. But when he died, the world needed a new Avatar, so that's when you were born, I guess. It's your turn to be a hero like in the stories your dad tells you."
"So your grandpa was a hero like me?" Korra asked.
"Yes," Gyatso nodded, even though she wasn't entirely correct. "He was so cool… When he was only thirteen, he saved the whole world from the evil Firelord, Ozai. He saved a lot of people, he was nice to everyone, and he tried to do what was right every day."
"That sounds hard," Korra said with a slight frown. "Do I need to be like him?"
"You should try," Gyatso nodded. "Even if he wasn't the Avatar, Gramp-Gramp was a hero. Don't you want to be a hero?"
"Yeah!" Korra smiled. "Can you teach me how to be a hero, uh…?" She fumbled with her words, realizing that she had forgotten his name already.
"I'm Gyatso," the boy said as he reached out his hand for her to shake.
So he was surprised when Korra reached out quickly and grabbed his forearm in the traditional water tribe warrior's greeting and said, "Nice to meet 'cha, Gyatso. I'm Korra." The words barely registered with the boy, though. He was staring at their interlocked arms, surprise on his face. His great-uncle, Sokka, had shown him the gesture many times before, saying that it was a gesture of great respect and friendship to clasp arms in that manner.
"Are you okay, Gyatso?" Korra asked.
"Umm…" Gyatso said blankly. "You're holding my arm."
"So?" Korra asked. "Daddy does this with his friends from work all the time."
"But… I thought it was only something that friends do," Gyatso replied.
"Well, if you teach me how to be a hero, I'll be your friend," Korra said. "Is that okay? Will you be friends with me?"
"I thought you were mad at me," the boy said.
"That was forever ago," Korra replied, waving the matter aside. "You seem nice now, so I'll be friends with you."
"Okay…" Gyatso said slowly, his mind racing. Truth be told, he didn't have any friends. His entire social circle consisted of his family, and people that were much older than he was. Only the most devoted of Air Acolytes lived on Air Temple Island, so other than Gyatso, no children were present there. He'd never had the chance to interact with anyone even remotely close to his own age in a significant manner.
"What's wrong?" Korra asked. "Do you not like me?"
"No!" Gyatso said quickly. "It's just… I don't have any friends. I… don't know how to be a friend."
"That's okay, I don't either," Korra said with a bright smile. "But I always wanted to have a friend. And if I was your first friend, we could figure it out together, right?"
"I suppose so," Gyatso nodded. "All right, Korra. I'll be your friend." And he gripped her forearm, sealing the pact between them. "I'll tell you everything I know about my grandfather, and how he was a hero."
"Yay!" she laughed. "I have a friend!" Her declaration brought a smile to Gyatso's face, though he wasn't entirely certain why that was.
"So what should we start with?" he asked as they released each other.
"Umm…" Korra said while she thought. Then she got an idea, and she turned around and looked up at the shelf that held her toys. "I know! I've got something I wanna show you." She reached up to get ahold of one of the dolls resting on the wooden pane, but her reach was insignificant for the task. "Darn," she scowled. "I'll have to get Daddy."
"Hold on, the grown-ups are still talking," Gyatso said to stop her. "They won't like it if we interrupt them."
"But I can't use my earthbending to get up there," Korra pouted. "Daddy will get mad if I use my bending, cos he told me not to bend while you were here."
"Maybe, but nobody said I couldn't bend," Gyatso said with the ghost of a smile. Eyeing the shadowed object she had been reaching for, he raised his right hand and thrust it forward while making a small spiraling motion. A minute gust of wind swept through the room at his behest, plucking the doll from the shelf and depositing it on the bed next to Korra.
"That…" Korra said with wide eyes. "That was so cool!" she squealed. "What was that?"
"Airbending," Gyatso replied with a hint of pride in his voice. "My father and I are the only ones that know how to use it."
"Ooh! Can you teach me how to do that?!" Korra asked excitedly. "I've never seen anything like that!"
"Maybe someday," Gyatso nodded. "Since you're the Avatar, you can learn how to do it eventually."
"Awesome!" Korra giggled. "I can't wait!" She was bouncing on the balls of her feet from excitement.
"Was there something you wanted to show me?" the boy reminded the young Avatar.
"Oh, yeah!" Korra smiled. She picked up the doll and held it out for the boy to see. Gyatso moved a couple of paces closer, and he was surprised to see that Korra was holding a doll in the likeness of an airbending master, complete with blue tattoos and a bald head. "Doesn't he look like your dad?" Korra asked.
"Yeah," Gyatso said as he stared at the toy. "Do you mind if I hold it?"
"Okay, but be really careful," Korra warned him. "Daddy says that toy is really old."
"It is…" Gyatso said as he held the soft object. "This is very old… My people made it."
"Huh?" Korra asked.
"The old Air Nomads, the ones that my grandfather lived with," Gyatso explained. "They made this. I can tell from the fabric that was used and the way they put it together. It's ancient, made almost two hundred years ago."
"That's super-old!" Korra said with wide eyes. "A lot of my toys don't even last one year!"
"My people built their things to last a long time," Gyatso said, a bit of pride entering his voice again. "They travelled around the world, so they wanted to make sure that their things would survive the trips they took."
"Kinda like how you travelled a long way to come find me?" Korra asked.
"Yeah," Gyatso nodded. "But since this is really old, I wouldn't play with it too hard, or it might break."
"That's what Dad said," Korra replied. "I think it looks cool, so I just let it sit up on the shelf all the time."
"It is pretty cool," Gyatso said as he held out the toy for Korra to take it back.
To his shock, she pushed the toy back towards him and said, "I want you to have it."
"What?" he asked, blinking with surprise. "But it's yours, and you just said that you really like it."
"I know it's mine, so I can give it to you if I want," Korra insisted. "And I do like it, but you seem to like it a lot more than me. So I think you should have it instead."
"I…" Gyatso was at a loss for words. This was a relic of his grandfather's past, something that he couldn't have found, even if he tried. "Thank you, Korra."
"You're welcome," she said. "I'm glad you like it."
"Since you gave me a gift, I'll have to get you something in return," he said.
"It's okay, I have plenty of toys here," Korra said, dismissing his offer. "I just wanna hear about your grandpa, and how he was a hero, so I can be like all the people in my dad's stories."
"Okay," Gyatso said as he moved closer to the bed. "Can I sit with you?"
"Sure," the girl nodded as she jumped up on the mattress to sit cross-legged. "You sit there," she added as she pointed at the spot in front of her. Gyatso obliged her, careful not to damage the toy as he climbed up to sit across from her.
"Okay," he said once he was comfortable. "Ready?"
"Once upon a time, there was a boy asleep in an iceberg," he began. "There were two other children, a brother and a sister, who were out looking for something to eat…"
The adults ended up talking long into the night, but the two children hardly noticed the time passing. When one of them would finish telling a story, the other would have a tale of their own to tell.
Gyatso told Korra the story of how his grandfather and his friends made it into the Fire Nation in order to meet the spirit of Roku, the Avatar before Aang. She listened with rapt attention as he described the bravery of Chief Sokka, his sister, and their young airbending friend.
When he had concluded his tale, Korra told him a somewhat short version of how the moon and water spirit had come into the mortal realm to be a part of the world that they played so big a role in. According to her father, the moon and the water spirits were tired of listening to the great spirits bicker amongst themselves about the fate of those under their charge.
Some of the High Old Ones wanted the water spirit to retract his gift of liquid life to the humans so that they would leave both worlds open to the spirits alone, and others wanted the moon to cease shining in the night sky as to leave the night forever black, and forcing people to stay in hiding during the dark hours, so that the wild spirits could have control over the realm for at least part of the day.
But the water and moon spirits both loved humankind, and they refused to retract their gifts. Thus they chose to take matters into their own hands by leaving the spirit realm and becoming a permanent part of the human world. In this manner, they were no longer beholden to the commands of the great spirits, but in doing so, they gave up their immortality. Even so, they would live for a very long time, and their influence in the affairs of humans would be matched by very few.
In response, Gyatso recounted the story of when Aang and the exiled Prince Zuko first worked together to escape the watch of an evil Fire Nation Admiral. His new friend then told him about how the first waterbenders watched the moon's influence over the ocean in the form of the waves that crashed on the beach, and learned how to harness the technique themselves.
On and on they went, until the darkest point of the night had passed, and the sun began to peak out over the frozen tundra. And in those sleepless hours was formed a bond that would continue to grow in strength for many years to come.
The next afternoon, after Tenzin had gotten some much-needed sleep and visited with his mother, he and his son left the Southern Water Tribe on the back of Oogi, his massive sky bison. As they rose in the sky, the bald airbender noticed that Gyatso was looking back at the ground below, instead of sitting near the front of the saddle, as was his wont.
"Is everything all right, Son?" Tenzin asked him.
"Yes, Father," the boy nodded as he turned around to face the older man directly. "I was just wondering… Umm…" He hesitated.
"What is it?" Tenzin asked kindly. "You've done very well, you know. If you wanted to ask me for something, I think you've earned it."
"No, it's not that," Gyatso said quickly. "I meant… Well, I just wanted to know when we'll come back here."
"Hmm?" Tenzin asked with a raised brow. "Probably not for some time. Why do you ask?"
"Oh," the boy said, sounding disappointed. "I was hoping I could come and see Korra again soon."
"I thought she scared you," Tenzin teased his son.
To his surprise, however, Gyatso shook his head vehemently and replied, "Not anymore. She's my friend."
Tenzin was stunned into silence at those words. Gyatso… made a friend?
Since it quickly became apparent that Gyatso wouldn't be able to visit as often as they would have liked, the two young friends began a habit of writing each other letters whenever they could. At first, they both had their mothers write the letters for them, but as time passed, and they began to grow, they wrote the letters themselves.
Over the course of three years, Gyatso managed to visit Korra two or three times each year, though she never got the chance to leave the Southern Water Tribe, much to her chagrin. During this time, many significant events passed for them both.
Korra mastered Waterbending to the satisfaction of Katara, her instructor- and the former wife of Aang, Gyatso's grandmother. Gyatso was present for her final exam, much to her delight, as well as his grandmother's.
Korra also became the first person to befriend a polar bear-dog shortly after Gyatso visited her the first time in the company of the White Lotus. She named her Naga, after a Spirit Guardian from an old Water Tribe tale. The pup took a quick liking to Gyatso when the two of them first met, and the airbender boy found himself liking the white-furred animal very well himself.
On Gyatso's side of things, the boy was well on his way to mastering some of the most advanced airbending forms, his progress astounding his father, who had not attempted the final forms of airbending until he was fourteen. The boy quickly mastered the glider as well, finding himself at home in the sky more than he had expected. Normally he was a cautious, reserved individual, but when he soared through the sky, his daring maneuvers became the subject of awe for many acolytes that happened to spot him speeding through the air.
He also found himself the older brother to a new baby sister early on in the first of the three years, whom his parents christened 'Jinora'. She was a quiet and tame little girl, much like how Gyatso had been when he was a toddler himself. After meeting her new grandchild, Katara predicted that she would be a strong airbender like her brother. The news excited Tenzin greatly, and while Pema was happy that her husband's wish of bringing back the air nomads was coming true, she bemoaned the fact that she had yet to deliver a child without bending abilities- a child that would turn out like their mother, in other words.
But to the shock of Gyatso's family, and unlike most children presented with the prospect of being an older sibling, the boy became even more withdrawn into himself after the arrival of Jinora, excusing himself from spending time with the little girl by delving even deeper into his studies.
It troubled his parents deeply that he seemed to prefer time in his books than with his own sister. His studies and dedication to his learning were not bad things, but the way that he balanced his commitments were concerning, to say the least. Every time he was put in the nursery room with Jinora, he would stare blankly at the little child for some moments before looking up at his parents with a confused look, as if wondering what he was supposed to do with her.
He sensed that his parents were somehow disappointed in his actions, but he wasn't certain of how to deal with it, so he simply continued his studies, doing his best to impress them the way that he had before his baby sister showed up. His dedication to the air nomad culture's ways did at least show his parents that he wasn't being defiant for the sake of it- more that he had a specific difficulty that he would need to take time to conquer on his own.
Still, with Pema due to have another baby within the next few days, Tenzin knew that Gyatso needed some kind of push to get him used to the idea of having younger siblings, and that he couldn't just avoid them forever.
Eventually, Gyatso's father had the idea that if Korra took a liking to Jinora, perhaps his son would follow her lead. Thus he announced that the entire family would be taking a trip down to the South before Pema's third pregnancy came to term. She was nearly due, but Tenzin knew that if she were to deliver in the southern tribe, it would give his own mother a chance to spend time with all of her grandchildren.
This news excited Gyatso even more than it had in the past, because he knew that Korra had also celebrated a birthday recently, and he had something special to mark the occasion. As soon as the family was ready to travel, they took off on Oogi's back to make the trip to the south.
On the day that they could see the town where Korra lived in the distance, Gyatso moved closer to the front of the saddle, eager to speak with Tenzin.
"Father," he said as he sat behind the man. "I have a favor to ask."
"Oh?" Tenzin asked as he turned around to face his son. "What is it?"
"I would like to go ahead in order to visit Korra, if that's all right with you," he said with small smile. "I have something I wanted to give her."
"Can't it wait until after you've seen your grandmother and uncle?" Pema asked with a frown. "They're both looking forward to seeing you."
"I know, but I didn't tell Korra that we were coming," Gyatso replied. "I wanted to surprise her with that present you helped me make for her." He patted his cloak, where the object he had mentioned lay inside of his robes.
"Honey, I'm sure it can-"
"No, it's all right, Pema," Tenzin interrupted her. "Gyatso has been looking forward to this for some time, and he's been doing exceedingly well in his studies. I'd say that he's earned a favor from me."
"Well… Okay," Pema conceded, though it was clear that she still wasn't happy about the decision. "Just be careful, son."
"Yes, Mother," he bowed to her from his seated position. "I'll meet all of you for dinner, if that is agreeable?"
"That will be fine," Tenzin nodded. "Just don't be late. You'll miss your uncle's tall tales if you take too long."
"Bye!" Jinora waved her little hand at him from underneath the blankets she was using to keep warm.
"Aye," Gyatso nodded. "I'll be off, then." And with that, he grabbed his glider and leaped off the side of the saddle. He shut his eyes for a moment, simply enjoying the feeling of the fresh wind surrounding him, whistling its song as he dove at high speed towards the snow far below him.
When he deemed that he had been in free fall for long enough, he snapped his eyes open and twisted his body so that he was no longer falling in a vertical position, but in a somewhat slanted horizontal manner. Using his control over the brisk air surrounding him, he shot out of his descent with a powerful burst of wind before opening his glider to send him on a smooth gliding course right for the compound where Korra was now living.
He did this for two reasons. The first was that if he simply snapped open his glider without levelling out first, he was likely to damage it, or lose his grip on the instrument. The second reason was that he could seriously harm his body from the sudden change in direction.
He narrowed his eyes as he scanned the rapidly approaching compound to shield them from the wind. The place was built into a cliff that was part of the frozen mountain range of the Southern tundra and had three levels to it. From what the boy had learned from Korra's letters, she had been living on the second floor of the base.
Looking back, he remembered how angry Korra had been when she was forced to move into the compound so that the White Lotus could keep her under constant guard while she began her training. They said that it was a security measure against anyone that might want to harm the fledgling avatar, but that didn't make it any easier on the little girl.
Although Gyatso's winter garments were thick, he was starting to feel numb from the cold on his face and exposed hands, so the sooner he could get somewhere warm, the better it would be. Fortunately, it wasn't long before he found an open window that led into the compound directly, and he adjusted his flight path so that he would be able to fly straight in.
He grinned to himself as the narrow opening rushed up to meet him, and he closed his glider at the last possible second, just before he shot through the window and whirled his body to create a counter-current of air that slowed him enough so that he could land on the ground, roll in a summersault, then spring lightly to his feet.
"Glad I finally got the timing down on that descent," he muttered as he planted his staff firmly on the ice floor. All things considered, that was a smooth landing. He was about to turn around to shut the window, but then he was tackled to the ground by someone rather large.
"Who do you think you are, breaking into this compound?!" a rough-sounding voice demanded from above as the young airbender felt someone move to restrain him. "Do you have any idea how many years you could serve in prison just for being in here without permission?!"
"Thirty, if I'm not mistaken," Gyatso replied, his voice muffled by the cold ground that his face was being mashed against.
"Oh, so you're a smart-aleck, huh?" the voice growled as the grip on Gyatso's back grew tighter. "Let's see what the bosses have to say about your attitude, kid."
"I'm not generally known for being a troublemaker," Gyatso shrugged, although his movement was still somewhat impeded by the weight on his back. "I'm usually known as the son of Airbending Master Tenzin."
"Yeah, and I'm the Earth King," the man chuckled.
"Take a look at my staff if you need confirmation," the boy replied, keeping his voice calm and unprovocative. "Only airbenders carry them."
"Huh?" the man asked. Feeling a slight shift in the weight on his back, he guessed that his captor was looking over at the instrument, which Gyatso had dropped after being tackled. Then he heard the sound of his staff being opened, and he stiffened, saying, "Please be careful with that."
"Well, I'll be," the man said as he took his weight off of Gyatso. Then he felt someone helping him up by gripping under his arm and hoisting him to his feet. He turned around to see a deeply tanned man with long black hair and a well-built frame wearing a White Lotus uniform holding out his staff for him to take. "Sorry about that," he said with a grimace. "I guess I got a little carried away."
"It's perfectly all right," Gyatso said in understanding as he dusted himself off, suppressing the urge to shiver from the cold he had just been subjected to. "If anything, that's exactly the kind of reaction someone should have when the avatar's compound is invaded." The man seemed surprised to see that Gyatso bore no ill will towards him, so the boy added, "If anyone is to blame here, it's me. I have been given access to this compound at any time I choose, but I arrived here unannounced, through the window no less. Of course I would look suspicious."
"Still, I feel bad for pounding a kid," the man winced. "Are you gonna be all right?"
"I will be fine, thank you for asking," Gyatso said with a slight bow. "If you truly feel the need to repay me, please tell me how I can get to Avatar Korra's room from here."
"Sure thing, kid," the man nodded. "I'll take you myself- just let me close the window up real quick." He moved to put the window back in place, sealing it with a latch.
"Why was the window open, if you don't mind me asking?" he asked as the guard returned to stand in front of him.
"I don't like being cooped up for too long," the man answered. "Truth be told, even though I'm from the Earth Kingdom, having fresh air is worth the extra cold. I'm usually patrolling the top of the cliff, out in the open, but today I wound up getting hall duty."
"Ah," Gyatso said as they began walking down the hallway. "Do you need to get someone to cover your part of the compound, then? I can find my own way if I need to."
"No, it's all right, the shift change is about to go down anyways, so someone will be along any minute to relieve me of my post. Still, I guess we'd better hurry so I don't get busted for leaving my position."
They reached the room in less than a minute to find that it was closed. "Is she out right now?" Gyatso asked.
"I don't know kid, I just guard the place," the man shrugged. "I gotta get back to my post."
"Very well," Gyatso said as he bowed to the man. "Thank you for the escort. May I have your name before you go?"
"Name's Ghazan," the guard answered as he turned around and walked away. He waved in farewell over his shoulder as he said, "See you around, kid."
"Likewise, sir," Gyatso said before the man turned around a corner and was lost from sight. A good guard, the boy thought before he turned back to face the door.
Hesitating only for a moment, he knocked sharply on the door, hoping that his friend was indeed on the other side. I suppose if she isn't, I can wait here until she returns.
However, as if to contradict that thought, a familiar voice called from inside, "It's unlocked."
Smiling to himself with eager anticipation, the dark-haired airbender pushed on the door handle to let himself inside. He immediately noticed that it was warmer, so he closed the door behind him, not wanting to let in the cold air. His cheeks and hands immediately began to sting a little as they thawed out, though his left cheek, the one that had been pressed into the ground earlier, stung a little more so that the other.
He then noticed the young girl sitting at a desk next to her bed lit by candlelight, writing something with intense concentration. However, she did pause to say, "I'll be out in a minute, Master. I just want to finish writing this letter."
"If that letter happens to be going to Air Temple Island, I'd say that there isn't a need," Gyatso smiled broadly. "And I think I'm a little too young to be anyone's master."
Korra shot up straight in her chair and turned around to see her best friend standing next to the door, setting his staff against the wall, smiling brightly at her. "Gyatso!" she squealed, joy lighting up her face as she jumped out of her chair and ran over to hug the airbending boy. He spread his arms wide and encircled her in an embrace of his own as she laughed into his cloak. "It's so good to see you!" she smiled as she pulled back slightly.
"Surprise," he chuckled at the eight-year-old. He noticed that she was continuing to grow in height, and she looked much stronger than when he had first met her three years prior. She had definitely lost the pot belly that she'd been sporting at that time.
"I was just about to send you a letter," she grinned as she pulled out of his embrace. "But I guess I won't be needing to now."
"Oh yeah?" he asked. "What were you going to write me about?"
"I was gonna tell you that I finally started my earthbending training," Korra replied. "I wanted to start firebending, but the White Lotus says that I have to learn things in a certain order." She let a slight scowl creep into her expression at the last part.
Gyatso smiled patiently at his friend, knowing very well how she hated it when things didn't proceed how she thought they should. "They do have your best interests at heart," he said calmingly. "Besides, Earth is a strong element, just like you. I'd have thought that you would be more excited to advance your studies in that field."
"I am, but I still wanted to learn more firebending, like Firelord Zuko," Korra pouted. "Your stories about him are always fun, and I wanna be able to fight like him."
"Firelord Zuko had to go through a lot of suffering before he became the man that the others could respect, remember?" Gyatso cautioned her. "Also, don't you remember the story I told you of when my grandfather burned Gran-Gran?" Korra's eyes darted to the ground for a second, uncertainty in her expression. Seeing this, Gyatso pressed on, saying, "He too, was eager to learn firebending before he had reached the right stage in his training. If Gran-Gran wasn't a healer, she might have been scarred for life."
"Okay, I guess you're right," Korra sighed heavily. "It's still frustrating."
"I know," Gyatso said sympathetically.
"No you don't," Korra frowned. "You've been able to learn anything that you want about airbending, right? You don't have people telling you what you can and can't learn all the time."
Gyatso winced at the barbed comment, but he decided not to take offense. He knew that Korra did have it a lot harder than he did, with so many more expectations riding on her young shoulders than on his own. So instead of pursuing a fight, he said, "I know it's frustrating, Korra. But believe it or not, I don't just get to learn whatever I want, whenever I want."
"You don't?" Korra cocked her head. "Then how come every time I see you, you've done nothing but advance in your studies, and you seem so excited about it?"
"I'm excited to make progress at all," Gyatso said with a wry smile. "I suppose I haven't told you this before, but airbending is something that not every air nomad mastered. There are twenty-six forms, and each one is harder to master than the last one. In order to earn mastery arrows, one had to master the first twenty forms. Most of the monks only ever mastered ten or so."
"Really?" Korra asked, slightly wide-eyed. "That sounds hard."
"It is," Gyatso nodded gravely. "But I want to embrace every part of my culture possible, which is why I always commit myself fully to each lesson that I must learn. Sometimes they get frustrating, but anytime I feel like giving up, I remember that there are very few people in the world with the gifts that I have, so I need to count them as blessings and not annoyances."
Korra blinked her bright blue eyes at him before she said, "You know how to make anything sound good, don't you?"
"Only if I'm fond of it," he smiled. "In all seriousness, I hope that you grow to like your pursuit of earthbending mastery."
"Me too," Korra grinned a bit sheepishly. "Or else I'm gonna end up getting carried away one of these days and whack my teacher."
"I should hope not," Gyatso rolled his eyes. "The White Lotus goes out of its way to find the most capable masters in order to train you. It would be a waste if one of them happened to quit."
"Yeah, but they're all so boring," Korra sighed. "Except Master Katara. She was fun to train with."
"Did she show you how to heal like she does?" Gyatso asked.
"Yup, wanna see?" Korra asked as she moved to grab a cup that apparently had water in it.
"Doesn't someone have to be injured for you to heal them?" Gyatso asked. Then a thought struck him, and he took a step away from her as he said, "Before you even think about it, the answer is no- I am not going to be your punching bag."
"Hey, I wasn't going to hurt you," Korra frowned as she used her waterbending to coat her right hand in a liquid glove. "Your face just looks like you scraped it a little. What did you do, crash on your glider?"
"I resent that," Gyatso muttered as he reached up to touch his face as he realized that it was still stinging pretty badly. "I haven't crashed my glider since last year."
"Take your hand down so I can do this," Korra ordered him. He complied, lowering his hand while she cupped his cheek with the hand that was coated in water. Out of the corner of his eye, Gyatso noticed the water glowing with a soft light right before he felt his pain begin to drain out of his face.
"Wow," he said, impressed with her talent.
"Don't talk, it's harder to heal the area when you're moving it," she said, her brow furrowed in concentration. Again, he complied, remaining silent until she pulled her hand away and put the water back. "Okay, I'm done," she said. "How does it feel?"
"Like it never happened," Gyatso replied. "That was very impressive, Korra. Most waterbenders can't do that even after years and years of practice.
"Thanks," she said appreciatively. "That does mean a lot, hearing you say that."
"I'm glad to know that my friend values my opinion so much," he replied. Then he suddenly remembered one of the main reasons why he had come to see Korra early, and he exclaimed, "That's right! I nearly forgot."
"Forgot what?" Korra cocked her head at him again.
"Your birthday was a few days ago, right?" Gyatso asked.
"Yeah, it was last week," Korra nodded. "Why?"
"I wanted to give you this," Gyatso said as he reached into his cloak and pulled out an object that made Korra's eyes widen in surprise. It was a doll that resembled Korra, hand-made by Pema upon Gyatso's request. "I still have the doll that you gave me," Gyatso said as he held it out for her to take. "I know it's a few years late, but I wanted to return the favor."
"Wow…" Korra said as she reached out to take the toy from him. "Where did you get this?"
"Mother made it," Gyatso answered as she stroked the soft doll. "I asked her to once I had saved enough money to buy all the materials for it." He smiled brightly at her again and said, "Happy Birthday, Korra."
"Thanks, Gyatso," Korra said as she hugged him again. "This is really nice of you." And she moved to put it on her desk, next to her writing utensils. Turning back to him with a smile of her own, she said, "I guess we have a matching set now, huh?"
"That was kind of the idea, yes," the boy replied with another smile. "I'm glad you like it so much."
"I'll have to thank your mom, too," she said as an afterthought. "Is your dad here so I can give her a message?"
"Actually, everyone came this time," Gyatso said. "We're supposed to have dinner with them this afternoon. They're visiting Gran-Gran right now."
"Ooh, does that mean that Jinora is here?" Korra asked excitedly. She had yet to actually meet the little girl, since Katara had gone to Republic City to see her granddaughter, and not the other way around, thus denying Korra the chance to meet her.
"Yes…" Gyatso sighed, exasperated. "I don't see why Father insisted on her coming along, especially since she's barely three years old."
"Hey, at least you have a sister," Korra frowned. "I don't have anyone except for Mom and Dad."
"Maybe we can trade Jinora for you," Gyatso joked. Silently, he added, Although I don't know that it would be any more peaceful at home.
"That's mean," Korra said as she swatted his arm, causing him to yelp with surprise and rub the struck limb. "I should tell your mom."
"I'll tell Gran-Gran who really put the sea cucumbers in Father's soup last time we were here," Gyatso replied quickly.
"Okay, never mind," Korra said, paling slightly. Both of the young benders remembered how upset Tenzin had been when his five-flavored soup had been 'infested' with his mother's favorite vegetable. The elderly lady had passed it off as an error on her part, but the look that she had thrown the kids made them aware that she knew that they were somehow involved.
"So… what should we do while we wait for them to get here?" Korra asked.
"Hmm…" Gyatso mused as he picked up his staff. "How about we show each other what we've learned lately? I'd like to see your waterbending again, and whatever earthbending you've learned."
"Okay, that sounds good," Korra nodded eagerly. "I thought my earthbending master would be here by now, but I guess he's not coming."
"Let's at least leave a note for him in case he comes by so that he doesn't put the whole compound on high alert when he finds you missing without an explanation," Gyatso suggested.
"Do I have to?" Korra frowned.
"I was already tackled by one earthbender today, and I don't want it to happen again," Gyatso said flatly.
"Is that how you got hurt?" Korra asked as she bent over her desk, writing a quick note.
"He got me by surprise," the airbender shrugged.
The two youngsters spent the full afternoon together in the open field of ice that served as one of Korra's training areas. Most of this time was used to demonstrate the new bending techniques that they were learning, though every now and again, Korra would use her miniscule firebending talents to help keep Gyatso warm in the frigid air.
"I don't get it," she said during one of these breaks. "I thought you were one-quarter water tribe. Why are you having such a hard time in this weather? It's not even that late into the winter!"
"B-Because the half of me th-that is earth k-kingdom w-wasn't bred for c-cold like this," Gyatso shivered as he held his hands over the fire Korra was generating in her hands.
"Oh yeah," Korra realized aloud. "You're part water tribe, part earth kingdom, and part air nomad. The only thing you're missing is fire nation."
"Yeah, w-well…" Gyatso smiled a bit, despite the fresh gust of wind that made it feel like his body was freezing from the inside of his bones. "Maybe I should marry a fire nation girl. Then my kids c-could be any kind of b-bender."
"Ew, you already want to get married?" Korra said as she made a face.
"Not r-right now, obviously," Gyatso rolled his eyes as he continued to shake from the cold. "I need to be older b-before I can get married."
"Why would you want to get married though?" Korra asked. "I don't think I'd like if I had to share everything with someone all the time."
"Well, if you love that person, maybe it won't feel like sharing," Gyatso shrugged, his shivers beginning to ease from the warmth of the fire. "Mother and Father always seem to be happy to share what they have with one another. Don't your parents seem the same?"
"I dunno," Korra shrugged. "I don't get to see them every day like you do, so I can't really tell. All I know is what they tell me, and I just don't get it."
"Oh, right," Gyatso winced. "Sorry, that was a careless thought from me."
"No, it's okay," Korra shook her head. "I'm glad that you get to have a nice family, Gyatso. And I'm glad for the time that I get with my parents, too. But…"
Gyatso noticed that as her face fell, the power of her flames died down as well. He put a hand on her shoulder and said in as comforting of a tone as he could manage, "Being the avatar isn't everything you imagined it would be like, is it?"
"No," she admitted glumly. "I mean, having the power is awesome, and learning how to master it is great, even if my teachers are all boring, but sometimes I just want to be with my mom and dad." The fire in her cupped hands fizzled and went out.
"Korra, let me ask you something," Gyatso said firmly, prompting her to look him in the eye. Once she had, he asked, "Do you not want to be the avatar?"
"No," she shook her head immediately. "I've always wanted to be the Avatar, especially ever since you told me the stories about Aang. Someday, I want to be as strong and admired as he was."
"Then focus on that," Gyatso told her. "I know it's hard to make sacrifices, but as the avatar, someday you'll end up making decisions where you'll have to ask yourself if sacrificing one thing, or even several, is important enough to hold you back from taking action. It will be hard, but so long as you follow the example of those that have come before you, you will become an Avatar worthy of my grandfather's legacy."
Korra held his gaze for a moment before she asked, "Do you believe that I can do that?"
"As long as you don't break one of your mentors," he smiled. When she scowled at him, he sobered his expression and said, "But in all honesty, yes. I believe in you…" He allowed another small smile to work its way across his face as he added, "Avatar Korra."
The pair of children made their way to the dining area as soon as the sun began to descend below the horizon. They expected to see everyone as soon as they walked in, but instead were greeted by a single, surprise guest.
"Good evening, young Avatar," Zuko smiled down at the two children. "And to you as well, Gyatso."
"Firelord Zuko!" Gyatso exclaimed with wide eyes. Remembering his manners in spite of his initial shock, he bowed deeply from the waist to the elderly man. Seeing the action, Korra copied his bow, though a little less fluidly than her friend. "I had no idea that you would be visiting here," he added as he straightened himself.
"Hah hah, this is an informal visit, my young friend," the firebender replied as the two children straightened themselves. "And it's just Lord Zuko now." The change in his title took a moment for Gyatso to understand what had happened.
"You've abdicated from the throne, then?" Gyatso asked. When the former Firelord nodded his wizened head, he added, "A first in your nation's history, if I'm not mistaken."
"I see that you've been keeping up with your studies," Zuko's eyes twinkled as he smiled a bit wider at the grandson of his closest friend. "But yes, I have decided to leave my nation in the hands of my daughter, Izumi."
"So what will you do now, sir?" Korra asked the elderly firebender.
"I'm not entirely certain, but my sister Kiyi has asked me to come live with her in the village where my mother grew up," Zuko replied as he took his seat at the table in the dining hall. "I may decide to settle there for a little while."
"You won't stay in the capital, sir?" Gyatso prodded.
"No, it would undermine Izumi, me being there while she comes into her own as the Firelord," Zuko shook his head. "For now, I'm going to take it easy and take some time to reconnect with old friends."
"Is that why you came here?" Gyatso guessed. "To see Gran-Gran and Uncle Sokka?"
"Yes, but I was delighted to learn that your family was here as well," Zuko smiled fondly at the young man again. "This is turning out to be a good trip already."
"I wish I could travel like you guys," Korra pouted. "I never get to go anywhere."
"Someday, you'll get to travel the world to your heart's content, saving people and seeing new places like Aang and the others did," the former Firelord chuckled.
"Weren't you a part of that team?" Korra cocked her head. "Gyatso's told me a lot of stories about how you and Aang saved people everywhere."
"True, but your chief and his sister did it for much longer than I did," Zuko replied. "I didn't join 'Team Avatar' until it was nearly too late."
"Team Avatar?" Korra repeated.
"That's what Uncle Sokka called their group," Gyatso reminded her.
"Someone call my name?" a new voice said, accompanied by the sound of a door opening. Into the room stepped a man with white hair peppered with some remnants of brown that was tied back neatly in a warrior's wolf-tail. On his back was a boomerang, at his waist was a straight sword. His pale blue eyes were alight with laughter, fun, and energy that belied his age of seventy-nine.
"Chief Sokka," Korra said as she bowed to the old man respectfully.
"Uncle!" Gyatso smiled, formalities cast aside as he moved to hug his great-uncle. Despite the fact that the young airbender was mostly a calm, reserved individual, Sokka had a way of bringing out Aang's wild streak from of the boy. In fact, it had been his idea to put sea cucumbers in Tenzin's soup during their last visit- he had simply managed to convince Gyatso and Korra to play their parts in the endeavor.
As Korra's parents and the others of Sokka and Gyatso's family began to move in behind the southern chief, the eldest son of Tenzin smiled to himself. He might not have liked most social gatherings, but there was something to be said for being together with family every now and again.
The meal went on for some time, but the children hardly noticed the passing of the hours. They were too busy being entertained by the stories told by Sokka and Katara, with Zuko adding his own voice every now and again. Some they had heard before, but a new tale shared that night was that of Aang's misadventure in Ba Sing Se, where he tried his hand at zoo keeping. Despite the fact that the story was tinged by the sadness of Aang's death, the story sent more than one round of laughs across the dinner table.
However, as the moon began to reach its peak vantage point in the sky, it was clear that the younger attendants were becoming weary, especially Jinora, who was positively nodding off in her chair.
Seeing this, Tenzin decided that it would be best to resume the reunion in the morning. Scooping Jinora up in his arms, he bade his uncle and mother a good night and urged his family to head to their rooms as well.
Gyatso obeyed immediately without complaint, though secretly he wanted nothing more than to keep talking to his uncle and Korra. Nonetheless, he gently shook Korra's shoulder to wake her up before telling her that they were heading to bed.
"Okay…" she mumbled sleepily, standing up without opening her eyes all the way. "Can I just sleep here…?"
"I don't think sleeping in a chair is good for you back," Gyatso advised her patiently. "Come on- I'll help you up to our room."
"Okay…" the little girl repeated thickly. She got to her feet, leaning on her friend for support as they started to walk outside.
Once that cold hits us, waking up won't be a problem, Gyatso grimaced as he remembered the freezing temperatures of the South Pole.
Sure enough, as soon as they got outside, the cold struck them like a fist, jolting the children to full alertness. Even Korra shivered hard in the cold night air, so Gyatso pulled her closer to him, trying give her what little warmth he could offer. Korra saw the effort he was putting in to shield her from the elements despite his own discomfort, so she lit up a small flame to try and give off some extra heat.
Sokka saw this and smiled at him, glad to see that his nephew was continuing to grow into a fine young man. He's got a lot of his grandfather in him, he thought as he moved closer to the pair as they trudged through the snow in the direction of the compound's living area, where they would be spending the night.
"Nothing like a stroll in some fresh air, eh Gyatso?" he teased the boy.
"I d-don't r-remember it b-being this c-cold," the young airbender said through his chattering teeth.
"Well, we were expecting a storm, but it looks like it got here early," Sokka shrugged as a new blast of air swept through the open courtyard. "I guess it is a little cold."
"A l-little?" Gyatso said in disbelief.
Before Sokka could deliver a smart comeback, the ground in front of them began to roil, shifting and churning violently. The family immediately stopped walking forward and backed up a few paces, eyes wide, their fatigue forgotten.
In front of their very eyes, the ground burst into a pool of lava that radiated intense heat that sharply contrasted with the numbing cold of the South Pole. Steam billowed from the magma, obscuring their vision for a few moments.
"Sokka, what's going on?!" Zuko shouted above the wind, which still had not ceased.
"I was about to ask you the same thing!" Sokka shouted back as he furrowed his brow, his eyes scanning the evening surroundings as he sought the source of this bizarre phenomena. Drawing his black-bladed sword, he shouted into the night, "Intruder, identify yourself!"
It took a moment, but a few silhouettes appeared against the backdrop of the wintery tundra, their forms shadowed by the light casted off by the lava. There were three that they could see, one of them an immensely tall woman, another a broad-shouldered man, and the last being a slouched woman of middling height.
"We are the Red Lotus," the man said, speaking clearly and calmly, as though talking to strangers across a burning lava pit was an everyday occurrence for him. "My name is Zaheer, and we mean harm to none of you."
"Then why the theatrics?" Zuko challenged, his golden eyes hard.
"A precautionary measure," the other man replied evenly. "We mean you no harm, but we do expect that you yourselves will mean us plenty."
"Just being here without permission is a serious offense," Tonraq glowered. "Showing open hostility has only made things worse for you."
"As I said before, we mean none of you harm," the intruder said, unfazed by the threat. "We have, however, come to take the Avatar, regardless of your wishes. Hand her over, and we leave peacefully."
"And when we don't?!" Tonraq shouted, gathering water to his hands to form ice blades.
"Then we'll make you," Zaheer shrugged.
"Sorry, I couldn't Zaheer that," Sokka smiled coldly, his arm going behind his back. "Care to repeat it?"
"No," the other man said flatly, unamused. "We attempted to be civil. Now we will use force to do what we must." The lava began to churn, bubbling and hissing as it started to rise like a column of dripping liquid fire.
Gyatso shoved Korra away from himself before whipping his staff in a horizontal swipe, sending forth a violent gale that slammed into the lava, scattering it back at the three intruders, and forcing all of them to dodge the deadly heat. The pool of lava seemed to lose its vitality, dying down to embers as the boy glared at the intruders.
Tenzin looked at his son in shock to see that his young features were distorted by rage. "You'll have to get through me before you touch her!" he shouted, setting into a low forward stance. "None of you are going to get close enough to hurt my friend!"
"Gyatso!" Pema shouted, her eyes wide with concern. "Get away from them- your father and the others can handle this!"
"She's right, kiddo," Sokka said as he kept a close eye on the people calling themselves the Red Lotus. "Zuko, Katara, and I have dealt with people a lot worse than these clowns."
"Come, child," Katara said urgently as she began leading Pema and the children back into the compound's dining hall. "Everything will be all right."
"Your mother and I are in agreement, Gyatso," Tenzin said as he took a fighting stance of his own. "Go inside, where it's safe."
"They won't be able to hide from us," Zaheer interjected. "We will do what we came here to do."
Seeing that his son had not yet moved from where he stood, Tenzin frowned and said, "Gyatso, go!"
Gyatso tightened his grip on his staff before saying, "No."
No?! Tenzin repeated in his head. "No?!" he shouted out loud. "What do you mean, 'no?!" In all his life, Gyatso had never outright defied his father like this, not even once. It checked the master airbender like a physical blow.
"I said…" Gyatso growled, taking a sweeping step forward before whirling his staff to lash out with another wind blast at the Red Lotus, who were forced even further back in order to evade the attack. "No!"
"Looks like someone just hit his rebellious age," Sokka joked weakly, but even he was in shock.
"Gyatso, you have sworn a vow of non-aggression!" Tenzin tried to remind him as the air began to swirl around the boy, kicking up snow and obscuring him from view. "You cannot attack them like this! All that aside, I am your father, and I am telling you to get inside!"
"Grandfather was only two years older than I am now when he set out to save the world!" Gyatso shot back, the others barely able to hear him over the swirling winds. "If I'm going to be like him in any way, I have to fight for my friends and family!" The condensed wind shot forward like a cannonball, blasting a snowdrift to powder.
"You're real brave kid, but you've got a lot to learn!" a dry, female voice said as the snow around him transformed into water tentacles. "Starting with respect for your elders!"
Gyatso spun himself in rapid circles, forming a small tornado around him that elevated his body above the appendages before they could attack, and shredding them as they came close. Spotting one of the people as they came close, the boy slashed at them with another wind burst.
As he did, Tenzin turned to his wife and shouted, "Get the kids inside, and stay with Mother until I come to get you!"
"I'll keep Gyatso safe, don't worry!" Tenzin interrupted his wife. "Just go!" Turning back to the battle at hand, Tenzin fashioned an air scooter- a condensed sphere of air that an airbender could sit on in order to accelerate to incredible speeds- and shot into the fray.
"Go get your son, we'll hold them off!" Zuko grunted as he blasted the tallest member of the intruders with his firebending. To his surprise, she simply batted the flames away before staring at him with a level of concentration that was both disturbing and familiar somehow.
"Get down!" Sokka roared as he tacked his old friend to the side behind a large mound of snow, just before a concussion blast caused an explosion where he had been standing. "That crazy woman is a combustion-bender!"
Combustion benders were a select breed of firebenders that were capable of using their bending using only their minds, focusing their power through a tattooed third eye on their foreheads. What was more, they could set off an explosion on any target instantly, so long as they had a clear line of sight. This made them the perfect assassins, and many unexplained deaths in the Fire Nation- and elsewhere in the world- could likely have been explained by one such firebender.
"Fantastic," Zuko grunted as he and Sokka got to their feet. "Just what we needed."
"No, but I have just what she needs," the water tribe man grinned as he held up his boomerang. "Ready?"
"Why do I always have to be the one that makes the distraction?" Zuko complained, though he got ready to move on Sokka's mark.
"Hey, I'm the idea guy, you're the fire-and-fancy-swords guy," Sokka chuckled. He waited until he saw the woman moving to take a shot at Tenzin before he clenched his fist in a silent 'go' signal.
Zuko leaped atop the snow, his pointer and middle fingers already crackling with static. Extending them to point at the woman, he felt his chi separating and merging in his body, building in power until he was in the right position, and the lightning shot forth, right at the back of the woman, who was still focused on the master airbender.
"P'Li!" Zaheer shouted from the shadows even as Gyatso rushed at him.
The woman dodged just in the nick of time. She whirled around, anger etched into her brow as she glared at the former Firelord with blazing amber eyes. She inhaled deeply as her eyes widened, a sure sign that she was about to blow him to pieces.
Whang! Sokka's boomerang sliced through the air to strike her directly in the middle of her third eye, stunning her and rendering her powers useless for the time being.
Sokka stepped out from behind the snow bank with a confident smile as the faithful weapon returned to his hand. Zuko frowned at him as he bound the woman's wrists and hands with some thick ropes while muttering, "You cut that a little close."
"Hey, we're getting gray, my friend," Sokka chuckled. "We don't get to have fun like this very often anymore- gotta make the most of it."
"Well, if it's so much fun, maybe we should help Tenzin," Zuko replied gravely as he pointed at the other man, who was presently getting pummeled with water whips.
"I'm too old for this," Sokka groaned as they jogged over to help his nephew.
Gyatso whacked his opponent, the one calling himself Zaheer, with his staff, knocking him back a few paces with a solid blow to the ribs. He waited patiently for the older man to recover, not wanting to waste his own energy in pressing the attack unless his opponent decided to try and run.
But something told the boy that neither one of them was going to back down from this fight. Why do they want Korra? He wondered.
Their fight had taken them over to the base of the cliffs where the compound was built into, though the boy had managed to keep his agile foe from getting any closer to the entrance of the dining hall. The bald man was surprisingly nimble, having dodged most of Gyatso's attacks, both physical and aerokinetic.
"You fight well, young man," Zaheer said, gazing at the child with dark eyes. "You're a fine airbender, and I believe that you will go far in your path." Strangely enough, to Gyatso it sounded like the man was being honest.
"Why are you here?" Gyatso demanded, not interested in flattery, be it sincere or not.
"We need the Avatar," Zaheer replied. "We'll keep her alive and unharmed, if that's any comfort to you. I meant what I said- none of us are going to hurt her."
"I have no reason to believe you," Gyatso countered. "If you really didn't want to hurt her, why would you try to take her from this place, where she's safe?"
"Because she's not safe here," Zaheer answered. "The real threat are the people that call themselves her teachers, muddling her journey as the avatar with shallow, worldly concerns."
"These are the people that my grandfather entrusted her to," Gyatso shot back. "I think that he would know best who should train the avatar."
"Avatar Aang was a great man, but by no means was he a model avatar," Zaheer shook his head. "The Red Lotus has found the true path of the avatar, and we will enlighten her accordingly."
Gyatso held back his temper with a great deal of effort. "You have no right to question my grandfather's legacy," he said as he planted his staff firmly in the ground. "As a demonstration of my faith in him and his beliefs, I offer you a chance to leave. Escape while you can, and I will not pursue you."
"What?" Zaheer asked, completely caught off-guard by the offer.
"You heard me," Gyatso said, shaking with the effort it was taking not lash out at the man. "Aang… believed in second chances for everyone, even Firelord Ozai. I… have to… extend you the same mercy." The words tasted bitter in his mouth, but he knew that if he wanted to be like his grandfather, he had to swallow his pride.
"Just a minute ago, you were ready to fight me to the bitter end," Zaheer frowned. "What changed?"
"My grandfather fought many people many times in his life," Gyatso replied. "But he always offered second chances. My family will defeat your friends, I have no doubt. So this is my offer of mercy- go while you still can."
"A very noble gesture," Zaheer smiled kindly. "But I'm afraid I have to decl-" His words were cut off as Gyatso swung his staff with one arm, smacking him with a gust of wind that pounded him into the cliff side, followed by another current that mashed him into the frozen ground, and rendering him unconscious.
"I tried," the boy said heavily as he gazed at the downed intruder.
"Son!" Tenzin's voice surprised Gyatso, who started to look for the direction that it had come from, even as the other airbender shouted, "Duck!"
Duck? He thought just before he felt something crash into his head. A blinding pain stabbed into his skull and the world went dark.
He awoke- as he would later find out- two days after the battle with the Red Lotus. His senses came back to him slowly, first his hearing, followed by sensation that allowed him to feel his throbbing headache and the cold air around him. Next came his sight, giving him the ability to see a white ceiling illuminated by moonlight from a window, then his senses of taste and smell, the latter of which alerted him to the scent of dried blood.
Blinking his eyes painfully, he forced himself to sit up with an audible grunt of effort.
"Take it easy, Gyatso," an elderly, kind voice said from his left.
Turning to look at the speaker, he was not entirely surprised to see his grandmother sitting in a chair beside him, a look of concern on her wrinkled face. Her blue eyes were shadowed as she frowned at him, saying, "You should stay down for at least another day. You took a pretty bad hit."
"What happened?" Gyatso forced the words out through the pain in his head.
"Lie down, and we'll talk," Katara told him.
Nodding quietly, the boy eased himself back down onto the bed, careful not to slam his head on the pillows as he usually did when he jumped into bed. "Okay," he said once he was as comfortable as he could get. "What happened, Gran-Gran?"
"What do you remember?" the old woman asked.
"Hmm…" Gyatso muttered, trying to recall the events leading up to his unconscious state. The memories were hazy, and the blow to his head seemed to have scrambled them out of order. "I think… We were having dinner…?" He paused to look a question at his grandmother.
When she nodded the affirmative, he continued on to say, "Then… we started fighting those people. Er, no…" He scowled, the pain intensifying.
"Don't push yourself," Katara advised.
However, Gyatso simply waited for the pain to reduce before he pressed on, saying, "No… We were walking to our rooms… I was with Korra and the others… Then there was the lava… Then those people showed up. And… I attacked them?" He seemed uncertain at the end.
Seeing this, Katara told him, "They were the aggressors, but you did try to fight them, yes. You managed to stun their leader, the one calling himself Zaheer."
Gyatso nodded slowly- that sounded right. However… "Everything else is a blur," he muttered. "The last thing I remember is fighting the bald man. After that, nothing." He looked over directly at his grandmother as he asked, "Is Korra safe? I remember that they were trying to kidnap her."
"She's safe and sound, resting in the next room," Katara said with a wan smile. "They came very close to getting ahold of her, but Sokka and Tonraq managed to disable them before they could get away with her."
"Was she hurt?" Gyatso asked, concerned.
"She was knocked unconscious by an earthbender named Ghazan that had been posing as a White Lotus sentinel," Katara replied. "The same one that hurt you."
"So, a rock did this to me?" Gyatso inquired as he reached up and felt the bandages around his head, his fingers coming into contact with what felt like linen that had a dried liquid in it. As he took his fingers down, he realized that the substance was likely his own blood.
"Yes," Katara nodded, her face hardening a bit. "That monster didn't even hesitate to strike you, a child. What's worse, he…" She stopped talking and looked away. The manner in which she did so gave Gyatso a sinking feeling.
"Gran-Gran?" he asked. "What did he do?"
"Never mind, we don't have to talk about this," Katara tried to wave the manner aside.
But he son of Tenzin was not so easily dissuaded. "Grandmother," he said, the formal title indicating the extent of his determination to pursue the subject. "What did the earthbender do?"
"He…" Katara turned back to him, shocking the boy with the sight of tears of sorrow running down her face. "Sokka…"
Gyatso suddenly felt a chill colder than any ice could ever hope to create. "No…" he whispered. "Where is Uncle Sokka?"
Katara did not answer him straight away. Instead, she looked up at the full moon, which seemed to be shining dimmer than usual, despite the lack of any clouds in the air. And when she did answer, it was in little more than a whisper. "Sokka… is with Yue now." Turning back to her eldest grandchild, who had turned as white as a polar bear-dog, she said, "He did say to tell you… that he had never seen a braver child. That you do your family proud."
"But…" Gyatso said, eyes wide as his gaze drifted to the moon. "If I started the fight… then…" He couldn't finish.
"No, Gyatso, don't think like that," Katara tried to tell him. "This wasn't your fault, it was-"
"Gran-Gran," he said, his voice breaking. "I disobeyed Father… And now Uncle Sokka is dead. If I… I couldn't…" Again, words began to fail him, and he found it difficult to even swallow. Tears pooled in his eyes briefly before leaking out the sides of his closed lids, bitter and hot.
"I got my Uncle Sokka killed."
Aang: Monkeyfeathers, that was a dark ending!
Mataras: That's kind of my specialty. No worries, though. It'll get better by next chapter.
Roku: At what time may we expect the next installment in this epic of yours?
Mataras: Should be ready by about the beginning of February.
Aang: Double monkeyfeathers! We have to wait that long?!
Mataras: Hey, work like this takes time to produce, especially when it's a collaborated effort between three people with very different schedules.
Yangchen: All things must proceed in their own time, young one. Let us not rush the Red Swordsman.
Aang: Hey, I'm hardly the young avatar anymore. Think we can stop with calling me the young one? That's Korra now.
Roku: Oh no, my young friend. That doesn't stop until you've successfully mentored your heir. Just think- I had to deal with Kyoshi for one hundred years while you were in that iceberg.
Mataras: Do not say monkey-feathers again.
Mataras: Thought so. In any case, to my readers, I say once more- welcome to my latest work. I hope that you enjoyed it, and furthermore that you decide to check out my other works on this website. I bid you all a good 2017.
Legacy of Korra- As told by JoshthePoser
Gyatso was hurtling towards the window of the compound at top speed, eyes narrowed in concentration. Just like ski ball, he told himself. Just like ski ball, Just like ski ball, Just like ski ball, Just like ski ball...
He smashed through the window, sending glass everywhere down the hallway, narrowly avoiding cutting himself up in the process. As he got up and dusted himself off, he exclaimed, "Wow! Windex really does work!" He'd had no idea that the window was even closed.
"Hey kid, you can't skate here!" the voice of a cliche nineteen-forties police officer echoed from down the hall.
"You can't tell me what to do!" Gyatso shot back at the rapidly approaching guard.
"You can't reference outdated internet jokes!" Ghazan argued as he came to a stop.
"I am a Stegosaurus!" the boy said.
"Why are you here?!" Ghazan demanded.
"I'm here to see my friend."
"Weebs don't have friends, you otaku trash with your airbender cosplay!"
"Yes I do!" Gyatso told him. "She's my friend- we're pen pals!"
"There are no girls on the internet."
"Yes there are, we've be talking for three years," Gyatso said stubbornly. "She's my girlfriend- she lives in Canada!"
"Then... why are you in the Southern Water Tribe?" Ghazan inquired.
"The Southern Water Tribe is Canada," Gyatso said mildly.
"That makes a lot of sense."
"Yeah, so my friend's the Avatar," the airbending child said.
"The Avatar, master of all four elements. But when the world needed him most, he vani-"
"Stop it, we already did the monologue." Gyatso cut off Ghazan.
"A hundred years passed and my brother and I disc-"
"The new Avatar, an airbender named Aa-"
"And although his airbending skills are-"
"I said stop it."
"-he has a lot to learn before he's-"
"ready to save any-"
"I think we get it."
"But I believe-"
"Aang can save the world."
Gyatso waited for a few silent moments before he asked, "Are you done? You have it out of your system? You good?"
Ghazan said nothing in response.
Gystao sighed heavily and said, "Okay, where were we?"
Now presenting parodied segments for your entertainment, courtesy of JoshthePoser.