Title: Of Spirits and Nomads
Author: fangirltothefullest (Tashi)
Rating: T [[For some swear words and darker themes ]]
Words in this chapter: 2,926
Summary: Rogue metalbenders have been kidnapping people and causing havoc. But when Team Avatar tries to stop them, Bolin is captured! Now, it’s up to Korra and her team to rescue him and discover the dark secrets the Nomads hidden in the mountains are keeping, and what they plan to do to Bolin, now that they have him alone……
[[ Favourite the image here: Link ]]
Part 3: Explanations
Hard soles clacked along the metal rim which circled the prison suspended in the air. The swaying had long-since stopped, but the prisoner still remained chained inside, trapped and incapable of escape. “So how is my prisoner doing?” Came the sarcastic voice of he who had clanked along the metal rim, down several hidden stairs to the dark depths below, seeking audience. “Are you ready to finally give in and accept the Ceremony for what it is? Right, just, and perfection in the making and the holy teachings of the Dark Spirits?”
Groaning in pain and hunger, the chains inside the prison jingled softly when the other looked up and let out a gruff, “Yes… ” It was clear, however, that though it was spoken coherently, the prisoner was not in their right mind. Starved and held captive within their own thoughts and terrorizing images, ‘yes’ would have been answered to any question.
From beyond the sight of the foot-thick glass, the Other looked at him with a dark twinkle in his devious eyes. “And what is your destiny in life, pitiful one?”
“T…..to…” Ragged, shallow breaths shocked his lungs when he tried to speak further, and he bent over, hacking and wheezing in pain. Stomach lurching in it’s starving, empty state, the prisoner cringed and whimpered pathetically. “T-to…… die…. for the…. n——- ” The words could not be heard clearly though…..
”Excellent.” He gestured to the guards, who lassoed forth the bridge, to bring the suspended prison closer to the walkway’s extended platform. “Begin the execution.”
Korra woke with a frightened start, shouting to no one in particular. “NO!!” She was in a soft bed, Tenzin, Mako, Asami, and Lin all staring down at her. The walls were white and a chill ran through the air.
“Korra, thank goodness.” Asami let out a breath of relief. “You’ve been out for days!”
She blinked. Days…? “What in the world…” She pressed a hand to her head. “Oh no, there were metalbenders, where are they? What happened? Where’s Bolin?” She demanded, seeing Pabu skittering up the bed and she let him climb into her arms.
“He was kidnapped by those psychotic rogues!” Mako snapped, back facing the others as he stood in the corner of the room, brooding. It was clear he had been pacing for a while, and he was extremely rigid. “No thanks to you….”
“Hey!” Asami snapped, seeing Korra’s eyes go wide in perpetual realization and guilt. Had she really been the cause of that?! “No, Bolin he… he’s really….”
“Leave Korra out of this Mako. It wasn’t her fault.” Asami defended and offered her hand. “Feeling better?”
“Yeah.” Kora nodded. “Where am I exactly? This decor looks like- Wait, we’re in the Water Tribe?! Tenzin, why on earth would you bring us here?! We have to go back t Republic City and look for clues as to where Bolin is!!”
“My team are already on it.” Lin explained. “Any more time and we might not have been able to track them at all. When we found you, that one,” She gestured her thumb at Mako, “was pounding on your earth prison like some rabid wolfmonkey.” She continued.
“You were too busy in the Avatar State to notice.” Mako hissed, still bitter about none of them being able to save Bolin.
“I couldn’t even see Mako from my ‘Samibot’s position, and by the time I got out, I saw Mako and went to get help. That’s when Lin came, but no matter what we did, we couldn’t wake you up.” Asami crossed her arms. “Tenzin couldn’t snap you out of it either, so we-“
“I had you brought to my mother.” Tenzin interrupted. ”As the best healer, I thought she could wake you, but it has been two days since we arrived, and you just now woke up.” He shook his head.
“I told my son and the others that this was natural, and that a journey into the spirit world for the Avatar, could leave you out for as long as several weeks if necessary.” This voice was new, and Korra turned to see Tenzin’s mother standing in the drapery covering the doorway.
“Master Katara.” She bowed gently, Pabu let out a bit of chittering. “Thank you, all of you, for taking care of me. I just wish I had done more, for Bolin’s sake.”
“Mako has told me you entered the Avatar State, seeking advice from Aang.” She stood beside the bed. “Were you able to contact him?”
She shook her head. “Not exactly.” she replied sheepishly, rubbing the back of her head. “Well, sort of…. kind of….” She sighed. “I saw a vision, but I don’t understand it.” She replied.
“Come into the sitting area.” Katara gestured. “and we will discuss this more.” Everyone followed her, and at, except Lin, who stood against the all, and Mako, who paced around the room off to the side, and out of the way. “Now tell me Korra, what did you see?”
“Well….” her eyes became glassy in remembrance. “First visions of Aang and some airbenders…. he was upset for some reason, and then I saw bit of the elements, you know, fire and water and rocks and stuff, and then a backwards clock exploded and I was falling- next thing I know, I’m seeing a vision of a man and a prisoner-“
“What did they look like?” Tenzin asked.
She shook her head and looked up. “I don’t remember. They were shaded, and it was dark- like a cellar or something. The man was going to” Her face contorted into one of misery. “Going to kill the prisoner for something….”
“For, as in he had something the other wanted, or for as in for a purpose?” Katara inquired. “It sounds to me like you were looking at a vision of some kind of ritual sacrifice.”
“Why should anyone die for a reason like that?!” Korra demanded.
“It’s sick…” Asami groaned.
“It’s LIFE.” Mako grunted. They turned to glare at him, Korra and Asami’s faces in utter shock. “What?” He demanded. “I grew up on the streets where cruel adults made innocent cockerelsquirrels fight it out until they killed each other and bet on who would die first. They made death a sport- why shouldn’t it surprise you that people did the same thing to each other ages ago? For all we know they might still be doing that.” His voice bore the sharp distain of worry and hate. He hated being away from Bolin, he hated not knowing where he was, and he hated, absolutely HATED knowing that he could have helped and was too distracted to.
“He has a point.” Tenzin declared.
“No use crying over spilt milk.” Lin added. “Though we may not like it, things like that have happened in the past.”
“If my father was showing you these visions,” Tenzin agreed, “then it was for a reason. Can you tell us any more about what you saw, Korra? Any details which might give us a clue as to who or what these events pertained to?”
“Well…. the only people in my visions were the airbenders, Aang, and the two shadowed people….” She replied.
“You said that Aang looked upset.” Katara thought a moment. “Did you see about what?”
“No, he was just with the airbenders and sad, okay? He was disappointed, but… wait…. they didn’t seem to be…” she nodded. “Yeah, I remember the airbenders actually looked angry- at HIM!”
Katara’s eyes widened. “No, it couldn’t be…”
Tenzin went rigid. “It’s can’t be what you’re thinking, mother.” He said. “Don’t even try. They disappeared- father made them stop their practices!”
“What practices?” Korra asked, her outburst sending Pabu’s tail frizzing. “What do you mean?”
“Long ago, when Tenzin was just a young boy, Aang took him to see the nomads of the hidden temple. Back then, there was a young man he came to know….. Thai was his name. He and Aang got along terribly well. They were good friends, and I think Aang was just pleased to have another younger nomad besides himself to talk with. But they had been isolated for a terribly long time…..” She explained. “And when Aang returned, he told me that he had seen strange things happening in the temple- spirits coming to life and wreaking vengeance on those who were not of the air.” She sighed. “They almost killed Tenzin because at that point he had not airbent yet.”
“What happened after that?” Mako was also curious.
“Aang forbid outsiders from going to the temple.” Tenzin said. “He bade the temple be left untouched to let the spirits rest and that was the end of it.”
“So why would he tell me this?” Korra asked. “Unless there are people in the temple again.”
“Could the metalbenders have taken Bolin there?” Asami asked. “I mean, you asked Aang about the metalbenders, so if that was where they are hiding, then Bolin might be there!” She exclaimed.
“It’s worth a shot, let’s try it!”
“Hold on there kid,” Lin stopped her. “You can’t just go wandering around until you find this place.”
“Lin is right.” Tenzin said. “You have to cross a large body of water, then search the mountains for the hidden pass.” Korra pouted and crossed her arms.
“I don’t care if we have to walk, swim or surf lava, I AM GOING TO GET MY BROTHER BACK.” Mako shouted. “and none of you will stop me!”
“That’s not what they meant, young firebender.” Katara stopped him. “You’re going to need more than just Naga to travel with. She can swim, yes, but you’ll need to take Oogie for the flying parts, and someone good at navigating the water.”
“Oh yeah?” Korra raised an eyebrow. “And who would that be?”
“No. No way in hell.” He replied, glaring with his hands firmly plastered to his hips. “Why on earth should I help Little Miss Uh-vatar travel through tons of water?”
Korra’s eyes were as big as saucers, her jaw dropped to the floor. “TAHNO?!” She hissed. He was dressed in thick water tribe furs, and passively watched her fume. “NO. No way! I’m not going to take that sassy princess with us! KORRA OUT.” And she turned and promptly slammed into Tenzin, who blocked her path.
“Korra, he’s navigated water as long as you have been training as the Avatar.” He said. “Tahno can help you.”
“Maybe, but he’s a pompus brat, who cheats, lies and bullies others.” Just because he was kicked in the pants by Amon before, didn’t mean that when his bending was returned, he’d become an angel. Pabu, sitting around her shoulders, let out a growl and a hiss.
“You wound me Korra.” Tahno gasped and feigned insult and hurt, but he knew Korra was in trouble, and had also been briefed on their situation. “Even after I vowed to not cheat in the Arena any more!” he humphed, but frowned.
“There, you see? Not a terrible person.” Tenzin turned Korra around and pushed her forward. “Now apologize and take him with you.”
Tahno, seeing her snarl like a feral raccooncat, frowned. “This is exactly why I’m not going.” He replied. “Her attitude is atrocious and she, and her little Uh-vatar friends are going to ridicule me the entire time. I might’ve done some things I’m not proud of, but I’d rather not be constantly reminded of them, thank you very much.”
Korra’s shoulders sagged. Tahno was turned to the side, arms crossed and glaring, and honestly, it was clear her words REALLY bothered him. Sure he cheated and bribed, but he just wanted the attention and praise, like a certain earthbender Korra was impossibly worried about. She heaved an exaggerated sigh and finally said, “All right…. you can come…”
“…” He looked up at her and rose an eyebrow skeptically. “And…?”
“And I promise not to let them make fun of you.” she grunted. “but no promises on any practical jokes or other such harassment!” She pointed a finger stubbornly at his face, but Tahno looked all but displeased.
“Thanks Uh-vatar.” He waved a hand. “I’ll navigate for you.”
“Good.” she trailed after him, seeing him walking off through the streets of the tribe. “Wait, where are you going?” Catching up, she paused and awkwardly said, ” So, uh… Tahno, why are you even here at the South Pole?”
“My relatives.” He groaned. “Don’t even get me started- on them. Half of my family is from the Northern Water Tribe, but, okay, the other half are a piece of work…. The Northerners are my grandparents. They moved down here recently though, and I’m supposed to be gathered at the stupid family reunion.”
“Oh?” She asked with a smirk, laughing on the inside at the face he was making.
“I live in Republic City with my thankfully ‘normal’ parents….” He gestured quotations in the air. “They’re okay, but it’s my other set of grandparents I dislike.”
“And the others? Who are they?” she pressed, seeing him arc like a trapped canarymouse.
“Th-the others…..?! They, uh…. They…..” He paused, obviously uncomfortable with the fact. “They are……………. s’m’b’dr’s…” He muttered hastily, too quiet to make out.
“I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you~” She held her hand to her ear and he glared, turning bright red.
“They’re SWAMP BENDERS. Okay?!” he hissed. “I’m stupidly related to swamp-dwelling grandparent freaks!”
Korra laughed and had to hold her stomach. “Oh it hurts- it hurts!”
He rolled his eyes and huffed stubbornly. “I know, it’s a stain on my bloodline!”
“Y-you know,” she said through gasping breaths, “you make everything far too much of a big deal than it actually it.” she smacked him in the back. “You’re a probender, apparently a good navigator, and have that whoopy thing going on with your hair. Sure they might be swamp hillbillies, but do you really think your grandparents define who YOU are?”
“No, but it makes interacting with them painful, and it makes people like YOU laugh their heads off!” He glared back at her harshly. “Now drop the subject and keep it hidden , because Uh-vatar or not, I WILL KILL YOU if you let anyone else know!”
She crossed her finger over her chest twice. “Avatar promise.” She replied. “………. Swamp Boy.” And before he could strangle her, she bolted. Tahno did watch her go and shook his head, knowing she was an Avatar of her word, but also knowing she would find all the ways she could to let it accidentally slip.
It did not take long for her to find herself alone… Asami was comforting Mako, and Korra was restless without Bolin there. Naga, as Tenzin had told her, was with Lin, as she and Tenzin suited her and Oogie for the trip. Well, that and she was sill worried for him. Korra had to agree with her best canine friend…. didn’t think she could ever be as worried about him as Mako… after all, Mako basically raised him. But she still really, really wanted to get him back. No one had ever seen the kidnapped once they had vanished….. and she was determined not to let that happen to Bolin.
And then Korra found herself staring out on he edge of a small cliffside, the snow falling beneath her feet off the cliff, and she couldn’t help but notice her stomach churn in knots. She missed him. She missed his charming smile and gentle eyes, missed his funny comments that cheered her up and the sad look he would give her when she flirted with other boys. She missed his naturally protective nature, and the way he liked to let Pabu ‘do the talking’ for him sometimes. She sat down on the ledge and the little fireferret, who refused to leave her side, crawled into her lap and looked up at her, almost questioning if she knew where he was. Petting his head, she fought back the swelling emotions inside her. Her dreams were disconcerting… her contact with Aang, hard to reach again. What had she done recently, that made her connection with him turn back to those visions? Why couldn’t he just tell her what she wanted to know.
“I know he’s busy or something, but he’s my Avatar-spirit guide…… right?” she asked Pabu, knowing he wouldn’t talk. It helped, it really did. “Isn’t he supposed to be there, giving me proper answers? Katara said Aang had proper, straightforward answers from Avatar Roku, why can’t I just get a decent one-on-one with them?” She paused. “Wait, I can access the other’s too?” She tipped her head back, and saw dark swirling clouds above them. A storm was coming in from the north. “But I don’t know how…… UHG!!!” she leaned back and fell into the snow, her eyes closing. It seemed that each time she closed her eyes, she saw glimpses of spirits now…. ever since talking to Katara and Tenzin earlier that day, she had closed her eyes, still recovering from not eating and being out so long, and yet all she could see were vengeful spirits. Angered and wanting to harm those who came near. If Bolin ended up being at this temple, he risked being harmed by those spirits. Why would Metalbenders even take him there?
But that wasn’t important. What meant everything was to see Bolin safe and sound and cheerful again. “I’m coming Bolin…” she promised, Pabu curling into her warmth. “And I promise I’ll do anything to see you safe again.”