I do not own Avatar, the Last Airbender, the Legend of Korra, or any of the associated characters or expanded universe. They belong Nickelodeon, Bryan Konietzko, Michael Dante DiMartino, and Studio Mir. Who made something special for us. I will, however, lay claim to the original characters and ideas found herein, however.
The Legend of Korra has come to an end, but every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end. Born amidst a loving family in the city of Zaofu, Ban Beifong discovers he is the Next Avatar. But with no idea how to control his gifts or access his spiritual abilities, he must undertake a journey to discover what that title truly means. Danger, however, looms on the horizon, as a new enemy rises up to ensure his tenure as Avatar is a short one. The cycle continues, and a new Legend begins.
"You will find that if you look for the light, you can often find it."
- Iroh, the Dragon of the West.
Fire. Air. Water. Earth.
Over ten thousand years ago, Wan merged with Raava, the Spirit of Light. They became the first Avatar, forever linking the human and spirit realms. Together, they worked to bring forth a new era for the world. A time of peace and harmony. The Age of the Avatar, and the Four Nations. Ten thousand years later, Harmonic Convergence came and went again, and the world continued to change and grow. Avatar Korra began an entirely new era, and people moved forward into the future, even as they remembered and honored their past.
But even the Legend of Korra had to one day come to an end. Surrounded by loved ones and peaceful in her old age, Korra gently slipped away in the middle of the night, her spirit departing her body. She'd more than earned her rest. Her work was finally done, and she could sleep.
The Avatar, however, lived on.
In that exact same moment, far across the globe in the city of Zaofu, an infant's wail pierced the darkness. A mother's exhausted sigh was followed by joyous celebration as the newest member of the Metal Clan was welcomed into the world. Once he'd been properly cleaned and bundled, the boy was presented to his mother, gazing up at her with astonishingly bright eyes. Unlike the majority of his family, whose eyes were a shade of green or greenish-brown, his were a bright golden color, shining like a pair of newly minted coins.
The little boy saw other people there as well, not just his mother. Their father was there as well, hugging his mother and watched with a proud grin on his face. Standing nearby was a gray-haired, distinguished gentleman with a kindly smile. This was Bolin, his grandfather. The gentle looking woman with silver streaks by his side was Opal, his grandmother. Many assorted cousins, uncles, aunts, and friends of the family were gathered around, talking in hushed but excited tones. Both mother and son were in excellent health. Almost supernaturally strong, in the case of the latter. They had been most blessed.
He didn't understand any of this yet. Nor could he comprehend yet the destiny that awaited him. For now, he was content, nestled into the warmth of his mother's embrace, hearing her voice.
"Welcome to the world, Ban," she said. "Our special little boy."
Sixteen Years Later.
Zaofu did not have formal schooling like a lot of the nations of the world, but that didn't meant it was content to let it's children simply run wild without an education. At least, not if their parents could afford it. So it was that another young generation were instructed in the basics of language, writing, mathematics and history by Master Cheng and a handful of others. From just after breakfast to a little after mid-day. In the afternoon, the master also taught basic earthbending to those who'd begun to display talent. All others were free to pursue other interests.
Among them, Ban Beifong.
Ban, who displayed no talent for earthbending despite his prestigious last name, was not included in these lessons. When class ended, he scooped up his books and threw his bookbag over his shoulder. He was just making his way for the doorway when someone bumped into Ban's shoulder hard, nearly knocking him off-balance.
"Oops, sorry Bon, didn't see you there," someone said, making Ban glance up in annoyance.
Wedge, nearly twice Ban's size and dumber than a handful of rocks, he took pride in pushing what he viewed as 'the rich kid' around whenever he got the chance.
Ban, however, never let the bully bother him. He was unshakable as the ground as he calmly straightened his pack and walked out of the room, exiting the class with a profound dignity despite the mocking laughter and taunts coming from the handful of earthbender kids who remained. Though there weren't many of them, they'd taken to lording it out over other children their age because of their bending. Feeling it somehow made them more special than everyone else. And though they looked down on everyone who wasn't part of their little clique, Ban was a particular target for their bullying, being a Beifong. It pleased them to see one so high brought down so low.
None of their taunting so much as ruffled his jet black hair. The years had been kind to the only son of Briar and Amber Beifong. Ban had grown up tall and strong, with a muscular yet slim physique that made him excel at non-bending sports, as well as his skateboarding hobby. He'd even taken some lessons in chi-blocking that he was doing well in. His skin was lightly tanned from his time in the sun, and his dark hair was slicked to one side in the same manner his grandfather had worn it as a kid. But it was in his face that truly drew attention, where nobility and strength shone most clearly. He had a clearly defined jaw and the bright pair of eyes. Eyes a most unnatural shade of gold. No one who ever met Ban could forget such eyes.
Today he'd thrown on a tannish-gray t-shirt over a white longsleeves, bearing a lotus logo from some brand company in Ba Sing See. His usual jeans hung loose from his hips, and a pair of shoes were fitted to his feet. Overall, he looked like any teenager youth in ths bustling city of Zaofu.
He stepped down from the classroom and into the streets of his home. Today there were no lessons in chi-blocking, and he obviously couldn't stay for the earthbending, so he was about to head to the library when a voice called out to him.
"Ban! Hey Ban!"
It was a young girl of the same age as he. Her hair was a vibrant and unforgettable shade of gold, bouncing in a ponytail drawn back behind her head, leaving her facial features clear for all to see. Bright blue eyes were set amongst a face that was undeniably beautiful, with a dainty nose and fine eyelashes of brilliant blonde. But her smile was what truly made her look adorably precocious, stretching almost all the way from ear to ear and showcasing perfectly white teeth set with in it.
She wore a light sweater of faded red and a short, scarlet skirt that descended down to her knees. Both served to emphasis her short but blossoming figure. A pair of dark sandals wrapped around her feet, the straps criss-crossing up her ankles almost to her knees. Like Ban, she held a bookbag slung over her shoulder.
"Ban! Hey come on, get a move on slowpoke!"
Ban displayed a rare, small smile of his own. Even when most of the other kids shunned or ignored him, finding his class or status intimidating, Meiling was never going to let something silly stand in the way of their friendship. The fact that she was something of an outsider herself probably had something to do with it. Meiling's mother had come to Zaofu ten years ago, and was originally from a town in the westernmost edge of the United Republic. She'd never known her father. He'd been serving in the military and died before she'd ever been born.
Meiling kept pace as Ban walked around the side of the building to pick up his skateboard, which he'd left lying against the bike rack. There they found the third member of their little party, lying protectively in front of his property, but hopping immediately to his feet when he saw Ban approaching, wagging his tail excitedly.
Little Jiao was an eel-hound pup that Ban had found a year ago, abandoned on the side of the road. Having just finished the better part of a sandwhich, Ban had let the little guy eat the rest, giving him a friendly scratch behind his ear where the scales were most sensitive. After that, he'd followed Ban home. And despite some misgivings from his parents, he'd been allowed to keep the little mutt. Thanks to a few months of loving care and warm food, he was soon shedding his skeletally thin image and putting on healthy weight again, as well as growing to be quite big.
He yapped once as Ban approached, who leaned over to pat the little eel-hound on his head, making his tail wag even harder. He could not have asked for a more loyal friend, save perhaps for Meiling, and he was always very careful not to make the comparison out loud.
"Good boy. Keeping my stuff safe?"
A short bark confirmed he had. Ban nodded, feeding him a treat he'd been saving all through class. He then picked up his skateboard from where it leaned against the wall, tossing it down onto the nearby sidewalk where Meiling was waiting, and hopped on. He kept his pace slow so Jiao and Meiling could keep up, but he needn't have bothered, Meiling was practically all over the place as she babbled a mile a minutea, and Jiao was doing much the same, though he kept his yipping to a minimum.
"... so I was like, no, that's not the plan. I wanted to hang out with you instead. I asked her to come along, but for some reason she didn't think she'd be welcome. Go figure. Still going to the library today?"
"That... was the plan," he said, catching her tone of voice.
"Ugh, boring! Come on, let's head downtown instead!"
He raised an eyebrow at her.
"Yes I know your mommy and daddy don't let you do that without supervision, but come on, it's just to the market. What trouble could we possibly get into? I could do it blind-folded!"
Ban had to admit she had a point. The market hadn't had trouble for years now, the metalbender guardians of the city were adept at keeping troublemakers from trying anything foolish. Mostly the reason he wasn't allowed downtown was because of shysters and con artists, not thieves and murderers. And Ban was tired of always having to go to his parents for every little thing. Plus, he knew they wouldn't be expecting him home anytime soon. He often spent two, sometimes three hours in the library after classes let out. They encouraged his reading habits because it was good for him and because it kept him out of trouble.
Today, however... maybe he could use a little trouble.
"Why not?" he said, angling his skateboard down the next road. Meiling followed, cheering in delight.
"Woohoo, that's the spirit!" she cheered, pumping her fist in the air. "We can hit that new clothing store I told you about on the way back! The one that has the Varridye in aqua-green."
"Don't most of them hold that color?"
"Most of them have blue-green," Meiling clarified, huffing. "Aqua-green is totally different. There's a subtlty to the shade that I think would go perfect for my highlights this weekend, when..."
Idly he tuned out some of her chatter. He enjoyed Meiling as a friend, but she could and would talk until she ran out of breath and likely not even stop then. He did enjoy their conversations sometimes, to say nothing of her company, but right now she was just chatting about anything that popped into her head, heedless of the brain to mouth filter.
"... I mean, we have a Jasmine Dragon across the street from a Jasmine Dragon! How does that make any sense?! Uhm... Ban... is this the right way?"
He glanced up to see the path they were going. They'd had to detour around some construction a few blocks back, but he was positive this was the way to the market. Unfortunately his instincts seemed to be off, they only found themselves down a dead end alleyway.
"Not the way to the market," Ban surmised, skidding to a halt before he ran into a dumpster, kicking up his skateboard into his hand.
Meiling rolled her eyes. "Brilliant deduction, Ban," she muttered sarcastically. "Oh well we'll just double back and make a left at the intersec-..."
Her voice trailed off as the two of them spotted a trio of rough looking men entering the alleyway, cutting off their exit. Their stance and expression did not look the slightest bit friendly. In fact they looked downright hostile. They were dressed in rough leathers and chains, probably thugs or triad low-lifes. Either way, they had them both outnumbered, outmuscled, and outsized.
This would not end well, Ban mused.
"Alright kids, not need to cause trouble. Just hand over your yuans, and we won't hurt you," the first one said.
"Much," the second one added. He was an uglier fellow with a brutish physique, bigger than Wedge by a clear foot and with a lot more muscle on his frame. He carried no weapon, which indicated he was either confident in his strength winning the fight or else had some sort of bending at his disposal.
"We may want to just do as they say," Ban said, shifting his body to stand protectively in front of Meiling.
"Should listen to your boyfriend, little girl," the tallest of the three said, nodding approvingly.
"I'm not her boyfriend/He's not my boyfriend," they both explained at once. Meiling and Ban shared a glance and shrugged. Why did everyone keep thinking they were a couple?
"Whatever, just shut up and give us your money. And no sudden moves or sounds. You call for the police... you're both dead meat," the first one said, again brandishing his knife.
Jiao snarled at him, angrily yipping up a storm as he stood protectively in front of Ban and Meiling. Ban, for his part, reached for his wallet, making sure to keep his movements slow and careful so everyone of the thugs could see what he was doing with his hands.
As well as distract them from what he was doing with his feet.
"Meiling...?" he said almost casually. "When I say run... run."
Evidently his words confused the thugs, the foremost of whom reached out to grab the wallet, taking a step forward. However, at the last moment Ban pushed his skateboard forward and under the man's foot. Unprepared, he quickly lost his balance, the board shooting out behind him as he came crashing down in front of the kids.
Ban threw his wallet at the face of the second hoodlum, momentarily cutting off his vision before throwing himself forward with a chi blocking move, trying to strike at his limbs. Alas, he was quick to recover and swung a fist around, cuffing Ban upside the head and slamming him into the far wall. He threw up his leg as the brute charged him, catching him in the midsection and kicking him back. It didn't hurt him much but it kept him at a distance, and right now, Ban was grateful for the breathing space.
He had a feeling this fight wouldn't go well.
Meiling shared a similar opinion. The blonde girl had run, as requested, but hadn't gone far. Seeing Ban wasn't able to escape, she decided she couldn't just abandon him to getting beat up or worse by a bunch of criminals. He was her best friend. It was time for her to act.
Cupping a hand in the open air, Meiling breathed in and out quickly, harnessing her chi and conjuring a tiny flame in the palm of her hand. It was nothing spectacular, but it was enough for the amateur firebender. Rearing back her arm she hurled it like a baseball at the nearest thug.
"Flaming Hand of Firey Doom!" she yelled as she threw it. She found it helped give 'oomph' to her firebending to give her attacks names. Alas, given its lack of mass, she miscalculated the proper angle, and it soared right over her targets head. It did singe his hair though, and she took comfort in that small victory.
The first brute, the one Ban had sent tumbling to the ground, had regained his feet just as his two partners seemed to decide discretion was the better part of valor. Apparently they weren't interested in fighting a firebender with no special abilities of their own. Not he. His pride has been wounded just as much as face (which he'd landed on) and he intended to make these two stuck up kids suffer for what they'd done.
First thing's first, he decided. Take out the real threat. The bender girl. He thrust out a foot, and the ground in front of her erupted in a blunt spike that slammed into Meiling's gut, knocking all the wind out of her. She fell flat on on her backside, and another pair of earthbending moves bent the stony ground into solid cuffs around her wrists and ankles, preventing her from moving. She was trapped.
Seeing her plight, Ban threw himself at the remaining thug, fist reared back to delight a chi-blocking strike. He missed as the thug shifted aside, throwing up his arms and raising a solid wall of concrete between them. Ban's next strike halted inches from the rock before he broke his knuckles. Isntead, he threw up his arms to hold the wall back as the thief threw his arms forward, shoving the stone wall at Ban, intent to crush him between the far wall of the alleyway.
He was quite literally between a rock and a hard place.
"When I'm done with you, there isn't going to be enough dust left to fill a thimble!" snarled the brute. Ban grimly held on, but physical strength against the power of an earthbender's rocks was useless, and the sheer weight of the concrete was steadily growing, threatening to crush him.
Meiling, trapped as she was, struggled more firmly, but the stones held her trapped too tightly.
"No, Ban!" she cried out. "Ban!"
Her best friend in the world seemed to vanish beneath the stones as the earthbender brute thrust his hands forward and let them slam into the far wall. A great cloud of dust rose up, and Meiling screamed.
From behind the stones, a blazing eldritch light came into being. So bright and terrible it seemed to draw in the light, darkening the alleyway. With an almost casual shift of his hands, Ban shattered the earthen wall to pieces, sending them raining down along the ground as he emerged from behind them like a force of nature.
"What... the...?!" gasped the mugger as he stumbled backwards.
The young man stood before him with glowing eyes and a grim expression. Very wisely, the two hoodlums turned and hightailed it out of the alleyway, running for their lives.
Meiling could only gape in awe, jaw hanging as for once in her life... she couldn't find the words.
"Ban?" she asked tentatively.
He turned his gaze on her, and she recoiled fearfully. Not from Ban per se, but from the look on his face, which conveyed such an incredible power and tranquil fury it seemed she stood inches away from the sun itself. One misstep and she would be burned. With a tensing of his hand, almost like making a fist, Ban earthbent her restraints, the rock holding her arms and legs shattering into pebbles. And then just like that, the glow faded from his eyes, and Ban slumped against the alley wall. The feelings of terror vanished, replaced instantly by concern. Meiling was at his side in seconds. Jiao padded over to Ban as well, resting his forepaws on his owners leg.
"What... what happened?" asked a woozy Ban.
"What did you...?" Meiling asked. "How... I thought you couldn't earthbend!" Concern was quickly replaced by her usual perkiness as she playfully smacked him on the arm. "You've been holding out on me this whole time?!"
"I can't..." he replied, confused. "You know that. I've never... had any talent..."
"Well you could've fooled me! That was awesome! You flicked that wall aside like it was made of cardboard!"
"I did?" he asked, still looking puzzled and out of sorts.
"Heck yeah you did! Spirits, that was awesome! I have never seen anything like it!"
"Meiling, keep it down!" he whispered harshly. "What if more of those trouble makers are around?"
"Oh pish-posh!" the blonde shook her hand dismissively. "They were running so far and fast they'll be halfway to the North Pole by n-!"
There was a clatter down the way as something disturbed a pile of debris. A can of Flamey-O noodles rolled down the way, and Meiling let loose an 'eep' as she and Ban went back-to-back. Something was moving in the shadows.
"More trouble?" he said, his body tensing, ready to fight again.
"It's alright, children... the menace has passed. They won't trouble you further."
Casting his gaze down the alleyway, Ban spotted the speaker in question. An elderly man wearing faded orange and yellow robes of an airbending master. A thin mustache and a pair of wispy eyebrows seemed to be the only hair on his otherwise bald head, and a distinctive arrow-shaped tattoo pointed down at his nose.
Ban, however, was more puzzled than relieved. He knew this man, after all. "Master Rohan?"
Master Rohan was an elderly airbender who often visited Zaofu as an emissary from the Air Temple in the far east, offering his wisdom to the Beifong family on any number of matters. Ban had known him ever since he'd been little, they'd become very good friends despite the generation gap. They even played the occasional game of pai sho together. But this was the first time he'd seen him look quite so... solemn.
"I was hoping to have a word with you, Ban Beifong," said the aged man as he stepped into the light. "Your mother informed me you were at the library, but when you could not be found there... well... I had to do some searching. Quite an interesting place I find you in, no less," he added with a knowing smile.
Ban tensed, well expecting the older man to tell his family where he'd been. He'd never hear the end of it. And yet, with everything strange that had happened today, that somehow seemed less of a concern than he'd thought it would be. Perhaps it was because of Rohan's sudden interest in him.
"What did you need to talk to Ban about?" asked Meiling.
"You two seem to have already found out," the airbender replied. "We of the Order have known for some time now, though I admit we were puzzled when young Ban here displayed no talent for earthbending in his youth."
The golden-eyed boy nodded, well remembering. "You told Mom and Dad I was probably just a late bloomer."
"Indeed you are. And in more ways than one."
"What's that supposed to mean?" asked Meiling, glancing between Ban and Rohan so quickly she was liable to crack her own neck if she kept it up.
"What do you two know of... Avatar Korra?"
"She's the... reincarnation of the spirit of the earth or something, isn't she?" asked Meiling. "Able to wield all four elements and charged with protecting the planet. She's retired two decades ago to stay at the Eastern Air Temple."
Rohan shook his head solemnly. "That is a falsehood we of the Order and the leaders of the world have been telling in order to keep the peace and prosperity she worked so hard to achieve. But the truth is that Avatar Korra passed away some time ago. Peaceful, of old age."
"The Avatar's dead?" Meiling asked, somewhat surprised. The momentous news seemed enough to shake her... for about two seconds. "Well that's super lame."
Rohan seemed amused by her assessment of the situation, a thin smile stretching the wrinkles of his face. "Not exactly. While it is true that Avatar Korra has passed on, she lives on in the new Avatar... the next Avatar..."
"Whose that?" asked Ban, confused.
A warm smile greeted his question as Rohan did his best to explain. "Ban, my boy... Avatar Korra passed away... sixteen years ago. To be more precise, sixteen years, three months and fourteen days ago."
Three months and fourteen days ago... had been Ban's birthday. His sixteenth birthday. He and Meiling shared a look, unable to believe what they were being told. The sheer concept of it baffled their young minds, refusing to be put into words. Rohan, however, spelled it out for them.
"Which means that... you, Ban Beifong... are the next Avatar."
Please review if you've enjoyed.
I've always liked the idea of the Next Avatar being a Beifong, and being named Ban for some reason. Badassery just runs naturally in that family. Plus, it seems each new Avatar of the same nation seems to be a different gender (Roku being a possible exception). With the revelation of Suyin's family in season three, the idea suddenly seemed much more realistic, and the story blossomed from there. It should be noted this book follows the continuity set forth in my previous Legend of Korra story, Book 5: Legends. It shouldn't unduly affect the reading of this story by itself, but there are a few things that'll be different if you skipped directly from the series to this story.
I'd cast Vincent Tong as Ban, and Tiffany Grant as his friend (possibly more) Meiling. Alex Hirsh as Rohan.
Next time: Seasons of Change.