Brothers of Peace
Chapter 1 - A Long Road
"Everything begins with the feet! Master Suzuki enforces the chi of the individual derives from the natural world around them," Master Kun instructs pointing out errors in Korra's forms, "Even your stance, feel the Earth!"
Korra tries, growls and stumbles when Master Kun's gaze falls discouragingly.
"Feeling the Earth would be easier without such a croak down my neck," she murmurs under her breath.
Master Kun refrained from rolling his eyes. "I have had Earthbenders master the first ten kata of Shito-ryu by the age of ten. You are now twelve and barely grasp the breathing and force required of the art style. You dishonour Master Suzuki and his pedagogy."
Master Kun is a short, impatient man that fancies his facial hair. Korra laughs every time he curls his finger around one of the short tassels that curve upward from his upper lip.
"Begin the warm-up again!"
Korra pouts dispiritedly; this man was obsessed with his old master – hey buddy leave the old days behind you and move on! "You're just a crummy teacher," Korra barks crossing her arms. She stomps and hurdles a pillar of stone from underneath Master Kun and sends him tripping over his own two feet. Korra heads for the gate entrance and leaves the grounds.
Outside she meets two alerted Acolytes – she was out earlier than the prescribed time. This meant: "Avatar I order you go back inside at once."
She looks at them smugly, and raises a tone of persuasion, "Saaay boys, you say you didn't see me pass here and I'll let you borrow my radio for another week to keep up with the season matches." She winks to seal the deal, and the Acolytes look at each other amused, they break out into a chuckle.
"Avatar, we are not that easy," one says profoundly.
"It would take something more to get us swayed," The other adds and is slapped by his partner.
"Don't encourage her, she has Earthbending class. What happened to Master Kun by the way Korra?"
"What if I added dessert to the bribe," Korra smiles eagerly, "Fruit pudding, Master Tenzin is bringing a shipment with him tonight when he visits."
"Hmmm…it's tempting-" the more lenient guard contemplates but is punched again by his partner to return his attention to the matter.
The partner crosses his arms concisely, "Avatar. No you may not leave the premises."
"Oh you're such a buzz kill." Korra groans and hunches. The guard leads her back in before someone calls Korra.
"That sounds like," Korra rises from her slump and nearly knocks out the guard in her excitement, "Tarrlok!"
She bolts it and Earthbends a lump of soil so she can climb on to his shoulder. She is clinging on to his back, arms wrapped excitingly around his neck. He is strained and chokes to tell off Korra.
"H-hey, you mind?" He comments, and she moves her hands to the side of his shoulder, now acquiring a solid grip.
"Let's have a spar!" She bellows into his ear, and he comically picks at it to emphasis the continuous list of injuries she has committed.
"A spar you say?" Tarrlok sways his head to the thought, a finger to his chin in contemplation. "I'm not sure…"
"Naww come on, I've been stuck on Kyoshi Island doing nothing but Earthbending for the past year with old Master Kun. He's so boring! I miss home! I miss waterbending."
"That does sound a little boring…that old coot if I remember was too obsessed with the ways of his master," Tarrlok adds doubtfully. He tries to look at Korra from his shoulder, but it is quite a stretch and sticks his head to being on a slight slant instead, less pain that way. "So anyway, what's new?"
Korra jumps off his back in a powerful leap, spins on her foot and looks up at Tarrlok giddily, "You're here! You came to visit me! Now we can play."
"As your Earthbending teacher I will have to decline that offer, you need to master the ways of Master Suzuki," Tarrlok imitates Master Kun, Korra giggles but holds it back in an attempt to play along.
"Oh master I am so sorry for disobeying your commands," she bows mockingly.
"Uuh-Avatar, I am happy you finally see the light. You make Master Suzuki very happy."
"I wouldn't dare to insult his oh-so-great methods," Korra shakes her head disbelievingly, fighting the laugh spurting from her gut by forcing a hand on it.
"Do not laugh! You dishonour Master Suzuki!"
"Yep oh-wise moustache sifu, I'm very sorry for sneaking out and tripping you" Korra adds nonchalantly. She rises and is silenced when she notices Tarrlok's grim face. Tarrlok was not the one who had spoken last. She hesitates to turn around as Tarrlok frowns worriedly in preparation of the red murder-ready face behind her.
"Master Kun" she sings nervously. Korra spins on a foot and braces for an attack or rage of some sorts, but is surprised when Master Kun is rather calm – scarily calm.
"Korra, I think you should apologise for whatever you did," Tarrlok muffles on a side note behind a callous hand.
"Ehe," Korra plays with her clothes nervously, "I didn't mean to –"
Master Kun traces his jaw with a whole hand in a slow fashion as he smiles disheartened, "Did not mean to insult my method of teaching, my wonderful master and the previous Avatar with such dishonesty. This is the second time this month. Do you not feel shame! You will fail as the Avatar if you continue on this undisciplined road."
"I just needed some fresh air…" Korra looks down guiltily, her feet digging into the soil.
"Master Kun, no need to scold such a harmless act. She has been forced to train from such a young age; she needs a break from time to time. If we want a good Avatar to protect the world, we need to allow her to enjoy her youth," Tarrlok persuades. There are his political traits winning over. Korra smiles sincerely at his aid. "Give her the rest of the day off and I'll take full responsibility for any disturbances in your routine."
Korra's face lights up even more. Master Kun looks down at her and notices the innocent and yearning look on her face he cannot help but give in. She had been working for hours prior to this 'break'.
"Oh alright," Master Kun sighs.
Korra is anxiously on her feet in a clear Southern Water Tribe stance. She is watching her sides for any sign of movement, nothing but the rushing of the downhill river beside her. She growls, "Tarrlok where are you hiding?"
A mist is beginning to form and surround Korra, she cannot see through the smog. Korra hears a rush of running footsteps, but cannot pinpoint their whereabouts so she settles for defending herself. A pair of arms crosses over her face defensively.
A stream of water is heard whipping past the mist and drenches Korra in a cold heap. She looks up to find her bangs covering her face. The mist dissolves and Tarrlok pops out, drawing closer to Korra. He lifts her head, unties her current wolf-tail and reties it so her bangs are not covering her face. She feels better, still damp and now sticky, but able to see. She was glad for her Waterbending master.
"You lose for the third time," Tarrlok notes and takes a seat by the green grass, "You are improving, but you're not as good as me yet."
Korra moves to his side and dries her hair on him; he cringes from the sudden cold and pulls Korra in to a tackle. She laughs whole-heartedly, for a twelve year old she is quite cheeky he muses.
"So, Mr.T…you didn't only come to the island to visit me did you?" Korra inquires taking a seat beside her master. Her blue eyes looking up earnestly at him, his eyes narrow sincerely.
"You were always pretty observant," Tarrlok comments, raising a hand to pat her head, "Why do you think I'm here?" His hand lowers to cover her eyes gently. There is a moment of silence and then Korra speaks.
"I heard some talk from the Air Acolytes that apparently Sokka the Great is having trouble in Republic City."
"I think you're the only person that calls him Sokka the Great…" Tarrlok chuckles and Korra's tiny hands wrap around his large arm. She pulls his hand off her face and pleads for her to tell her more.
"Is that why you're here?"
"Councilman Sokka runs the Southern Water Tribe Seat. And it seems sadly he's growing quite old, he's been pushing retirement…I've been nominated as a possible electorate for the Southern Water Tribe Seat in Republic City."
"Wait does that mean?"
"Sharp as ever kid."
"That I could be called to move to Republic City anyday now…I was told to come to Kyoshi Island to alert his wife of the circumstances."
"For how long?" Korra pads carefully. Tarrlok notices how her brow has risen and twists with concern.
"For now it's a year," Tarrlok partially lies, Chief Tonraq prescribed he move to Republic City for the year, build up his name and express his concerns for peace along with his prodigy brother. His teeth clench on thoughts of Noatak, "I'll try my best to see you sooner."
"Man, this really sucks," Korra collapses in a heap. She pouts, "I hardly get to see you to begin with."
"Is that code for you will miss me?" Tarrlok raises his tone teasingly poking Korra in the shoulder. She does not budge and turns away even more stubbornly. Tarrlok pouts thinking about how to make her crack. His face lights up briefly when he remembers the river beside them.
"I would never miss you," Korra spits confidently glaring holes into Tarrlok. He covers a smirk as he secretly bends an orb of water overhead of Korra. She feels a droplet of water, "Rain?"
Tarrlok laughs and Korra has little time to jump out of the way when the entire heap drenches her. For the second time she growls and now tackles Tarrlok to the ground. He shrieks in an unexpected manner and before he knows it Korra has him bended in earth up until his face.
Korra walks to his side, hands positively by her waist, and a glowering smirk planted on her face shows Tarrlok's been played by a twelve year-old, "Not laughing now are you?"
Tarrlok looks to the left and right, unable to see past the rock blocking his peripheral. Only a front-view vision and Korra's bobbing wolf tail in the distance, "That's playing dirty Korra. You know I can't Earthbend."
"You are the one that constantly tells me to use my surroundings in battle."
"In a life or death situation," he growls unhappily. Korra laughs further, she has her teacher frustrated – finally. "Now please let me go."
She does as told and helps him up willingly.
"You've gotten better at precision, I'll give you that," Tarrlok adds reluctantly, "Last time you tried it you buried yourself with me and had to call for help from Master Kun."
"Don't remind me," she laughs deeply. And then it seems silence calls for reminiscing the days when the two actively saw each other. The mischief Korra created, and the mess Tarrlok would have to clean up afterwards. He was the friend she could never have locked away at the compound. She bends a pillar of stone so she is eyelevel with Tarrlok. She looks him in the eyes and then hugs him tightly.
He briefly mistakes it for an attack but halts when he hears.
"I'm going to miss you," she grieves, and he can hear the sobs beginning. No he didn't want to make her sad. Little Korra never cried. He was a monster.
"I'm sorry kid," Tarrlok hesitates to place a hand on her head in comfort, "You'll see me again."
Tarrlok was down for the rest of the week. He was called into Southern Water Tribe City Hall, there at the round ice table sat his familiar Chief Tonraq, Korra's father, Arrluk, Sokka's aged son, Sura, Bato's grandson, and Northern Water Tribe representative Kya. They were here for the fortnightly council meeting.
He nods in their presence, and takes a seat beside the older members. He was not intimidated by the age gap, Chief Tonraq was only a few years older, but felt out of place sometimes. Arrluk, was sitting beside him, grey hair beginning at the roots and wrinkles beginning to define themselves along his jaw line. He was the current connection to his future awaiting position in Republic City and retiree Sokka.
Arrluk begins, "Many of you understand the critical situation of my father, and that aside from the great loss, there needs to be a strong and articulate young person to take over the role. We have nominated from our own council Tarrlok, brother to peacemaker Noatak to go up against other candidates from Republic City. The next election will be held a year from today. So I hope you understand what that means Tarrlok."
Tarrlok nods precociously, "There is no need for a reminder. I'm well aware and informed of the trials for this position."
Kya shifts uncomfortably beside Tonraq who is feeling just as uneasy. They both know Tarrlok and Arrluk share a rivalled history, even though separated by several years, Arrluk the older, their fight for respect of one another has never died. Often leading to quick snipes and jabs during council meetings, this time round it had started quite early in the meeting.
"I am merely prompting discussion Tarrlok," Arrluk adds robustly, "Tarrlok how do you propose you spread your campaign."
Tarrlok shakes his head irritatingly, "Are there not more serious matters to attend to, my campaign is my business. I will guarantee you the seat. Just leave it be." Tarrlok wants all talk of Republic City left behind, images of Korra flash his face and he scowls, in a world full of politics, her young face was a breath of fresh air. Tarrlok shifts to face Tonraq, rudely cutting off Arrluk in the process, "Chief Tonraq if you may please bring up the recent economic recession in Amaruq."
"Ah y-yes," Tonraq stutters, the spotlight suddenly turning on him. Kya holds back a giggle as she watches him shuffle the papers before him in a nervous manner. He coughs and begins, "Amaruq, our fishing capital has been suffering. Exports and Imports have dropped significantly due to some unknown mysterious source scaring the fish away from their usual hotspots. Kya brought to my attention that similar activity is occurring in the North. The fish have been scared away. Fishermen believe it is the result of a lack of cultural offerings to the spirits that has messed with the flow. With the large cultural shift, excel in technology and excited youth ignoring their culture and exploring the warmer lands, the fishermen believe the pride and sustenance of the tribes will crumble within a few decades."
Tarrlok, Kya and Sura look down in shame.
"It is sad what the fishermen say," Sura speaks defeated, "But true."
A hand combs through his white hair, evidence of the stress that easily enters his mind. He shakes off the anger and looks towards his fellow leaders. "We cannot let the Water Heritage fall to the other nations."
"Indeed, although we have been blessed with an era of peace, it will soon come to an end if the Tribes do not co-operate and contribute to the economy as much it used to," Kya notifies earnestly. Her hands firmly clasp before her on the ice table, "All the work my parents and their parents went through to balance the world, will go down with our next generation. As much as I love to live in the moment, it is time we shift the movement and be more concerned about our community."
"Kya is right, we need to send a marine biologist to Amaruq right away," Arrluk nods agreeing with Tonraq.
He pauses for a moment of thought, "If what the fisherman are saying is true, then a channeler may be helpful in identifying if there is supernatural activity involved."
"Hmm…" Tarrlok hums, a finger rises to his chin, "If activity has been occurring simultaneously in the North and South, may it be an electromagnetic force that we are dealing with?"
"Ideas can continuously be tossed, but if no one goes to collect facts, they will merely stay ideas. Words with no effect," Arrluk registers avoiding eye contact with Tarrlok. He was cut off once again.
Tarrlok sat back in his seat, would things be different in Republic City? He knew why Arrluk looked down on him at times, he was Yakone's son, he was afraid of the possibility of a passed on gene. Tarrlok ignored the prejudice he had to put up with to struggle through the ranks of politics, he was almost at the top which he was thankful for. He was to be the youngest Councilman in Republic City, setting a new record, what was not to be happy about?
That was right…Korra. Any trace of brief happiness disappeared. He would miss the kid. Tarrlok returned attention to the dragging meeting.
"May I bring our attention to the need for more roads," Sura speaks. Tarrlok groans. Please let this meeting end.
The end of the month arrived sooner than ever for Tarrlok.
"Tarrlok we wish you the best on your endeavours in Republic City. Say hello to my husband while there." Kya farewells pulling from a hug and returning her palm into Korra's tiny one. The young Avatar looks up at Tarrlok and forces down a sob, she stomps bravely in front of the aged man and arches for him to bend down to her level.
He listens obediently and suspiciously as he watches Korra wrap her arms in a weird fashion around his neck. His eyebrows rise when she cuts the hug off early and he feels something tickling his neck. It's a charm necklace, clearly made by Korra's own hands from refined animal bones and some weaved craft that seemed to be of Kya's skill. He traces his finger over the grooves and smiles graciously, "Thankyou Korra."
He bends down again and exchanges a warm thankyou by kissing her on her forehead. She is stunned by the genuine affection and crumbles back to Kya's side. The hippy laughs gladly to herself and takes note of Tarrlok's sincerity. She only ever saw him smile like that when Korra was around, it was sad they had to part…and a day before Korra's birthday too.
Tarrlok waves and has one foot on the ramp leading to the docked ship, when Korra awkwardly yells, "I'll defeat you next time I see you!"
"We'll see shorty," Tarrlok chuckles and walks the plank.
A/N: A lot is different to the original series, yet slightly similar. Tarrlok is Korra's waterbending teacher, all the history and lead up to the holes will be revealed in later chapters. It's the first so be patient.;) The chapters will progress fast, a little heads up.
Leave a review, it's a really nice gesture.:)