*~I dedicate this fic to masksarehot. She is an amazing source of inspiration, a fantastic person and I owe her for helping me break my long, long, loooooong writer's block. Go check out her LoK fanfiction, it's awesome!
To be fair I also dedicate this to moni158, her LoK fanart is incredibly inspiring and entertaining. Please look her up on DA.
They were my muses for this. ~*
She stretched lazily, fisting her hands and reaching for the afternoon sky in slow sluggish movements of her standing body before relaxing fully.
Looking around, she noted there was not much to see- it was a beach like any other, though smaller and sheltered by cliffs via land and by spiky reefs via sea; the sand was fine and very white, marred here and there by the occasional polished pebble or broken shell; the troubled frothy waters spun in an inky blend of aquamarines, blues, indigos, teals and foamy whites in an almost otherworldly pallet of colors, as if the Spirits themselves were painting the landscape; the bright sunlight caressed her dark skin and danced over the water like blinding sparkling diamonds; the breeze carried a soft whistle through the cliffs along with the cry of lizard-gulls and the caw of eagle-hawks; the scent was an unique amalgamation of sea salt, fish scales and moisture with the distant undertones of eucalyptus and pine from the forest and even the far away wispy smells of smoke and ash from the city, though that did not ruin the scent, but made it reassuring instead.
She sat down, ignoring how the grains of powdery sand got everywhere, from the inside of her clothing to getting stuck in furs at her waist and under her fingernails, instead she rejoiced in the sensations of sand on her feet, burying the appendages into the warm gritty soil and relaxing further. Her boots were long since discarded by the cliffs, near where Naga slept lazily in the sun.
It was a beautiful place, both for the senses and for the soul. But despite all the beauty, it was not overwhelming or distracting. And distraction was the last thing she needed at the moment.
She sighed, breathing out the stress of the last three weeks. The war was over but Amon, Noatak she must remember to call him Noatak, had fled with Tarrlok, his bending still intact and neither of them had been heard of since. The Equalists had been defeated, many had been arrested and facing charges while many others were pardoned and some had even joined the volunteer efforts to rebuild the city. The gangs still skulked everywhere but more cautiously now, though luckily their heads had long since fled, leaving organized crime in the city crippled. The police force was back in the capable hands of Chief Beifong and the United Forces Navy and Army men that had been dispatched were given orders to stay indefinitely and help keep order in the city. The council was preparing to regroup and re-elect some members and the creation of a non-bending party was allowed.
But there were other more personal matters pressing on Korra's mind- she had finally managed to work out some of her feelings with Mako and they had become an unofficial couple, but now that she had him, despite all their chemistry, something felt off. Perhaps that old saying that "relationships started in times of unease were doomed to be uneasy themselves" had actually hit a mark somewhere; she had always wanted him and it was obvious that he had become attracted to her, but after all the traumatic incidents their kisses felt more like an old whim and an affectionate comfort than actual passion, he had been a stable rock when she needed him but she now felt selfish that she had used him that way, though she was sure he had even more confusion in his own mind, after all there was still Asami. She had loved him though, a sweet innocent and stubborn first love, and she would always love him but after all the trauma and grandeur she had gone through, she had grown from the sheltered teenager she used to be to a woman, an Avatar, and in turn her perspective on many things had tilted- love and relationships were a couple of those things.
Then there was the Avatar state that she could barely reach much less control. Despite having unlocked it at the cliff, she had never been able to enter it fully though she wasn't completely useless, after all returning people's bending was not easy but in itself did not demand a full Avatar state, only a foot in the doorway and the right frame of mind, so that much she had achieved. Worse than that was entering the Spirit World, she found it near impossible to contact any spirit with the exception of the brief, almost unexpected, visits from Avatar Aang's consciousness and the occasional glimpse at the spirits of the previous Avatars, but she craved the spiritual clarity to understand and enter that realm.
And then there were the more philosophical and ethereal discussion on right or wrong, of bender and non-bender, of tyranny versus chaos, of who had the right to decide whether one should lose or recover his or her bending, among many other gray area questions that proved far too difficult for Korra's straightforward and headstrong personality.
It was all exhausting. The rollercoaster of emotions after losing and then recovering her bending was bad enough, add to it the physical fatigue of all her responsibilities after the war and now all these stressful worries on her mind, and the result was a very lost and confused barely-realized Avatar.
So she had gotten sick of waiting, patience was certainly NOT her thing. She decided to ask guidance to the Spirits and to all the Avatars, guidance and advice about all these things and how to understand them, guidance on how to bring balance, guidance on how become peaceful and balanced herself, and a light to find the path of her own unique destiny as an Avatar, but the answer had been vague to say the least- for several days she had had flashes of images of that place, for several nights she had dreamed of that beach, of the exact spot where she now sat, currently folding her legs into the lotus position. She could take the hint- that is where she needed to be.
So she packed a bag and warned everyone that she needed some time for a spiritual search of sorts and that the Spirits were guiding her. It took some convincing and preparing but in the end nobody objected as she left, well maybe a couple of people had objected of her going alone, but she had made sure those wouldn't catch her before she left. She didn't know where that beach was or how far but somehow she was guided there by listening to the elements themselves and in little over two days she was there, surprised to discover that it was not so far from the city itself, though still fairly far from Yue Bay by foot, or in her case by riding Naga.
After her second night sleeping in the open she woke with her head swimming with dreams of the beach that had become far more insistent, allowing her the hope that she must be close; so she bathed in a nearby cave that she found had a spring of fresh water, then began walking along with Naga. She had been making way most of the morning and was eating her lunch, not really tired enough to stop for her food, when she walked out of the forest and nearly stumbled off a cliff. And there it was- the small inlet she searched for was right below her just a few earthbent stairs away.
Korra lay back under the sun, ignoring the sand in her hair and took a deep breath of that unique breeze. Now that she thought about it more deeply, the cove had been way too easy to find and though it was pretty there was really nothing so remarkable to be found there, so perhaps the dreams and flashes meant not that the place was important but rather what would happen to her there.
So what to do? Wait? Search? Train? Meditate? She wasn't quite sure and just waiting wasn't her style but she settled with meditation, hoping she could gleam some answers from it. It was an art she failed utterly at but her current location lacked the usual distractions so perhaps she could focus if she was stubborn enough.
Sitting up again, she shook the sand off her hair and assumed the lotus stance once more, closing her eyes and resting her palms on her lap.
She worked on her breathing as Tenzin had taught her; she cleared her mind and tried desperately to focus. Still, it took a long time, and many peeks around the beach, for her body to fully relax and for her mind to flutter off into a semi-meditative state.
She wasn't sure how long she lasted like that, but suddenly her mind's eye caught a flash of something at the very edge of the cove, it was… - she jerked up even before her eyes snapped open. She shook her head, stumbling a little and trying to steady herself, after all breaking a meditative state required calm and time, not a sudden jolt awake like a regular nap. She vaguely became aware that the sun was not far from setting.
She blinked and tried to focus on that flash, that image. She did not recall what it was but something made her look to her left, to the very edge of the cove where the tide was getting lower, opening a tiny arm of beach that led to another, even smaller, bay. It was as if that spot had a magnetic pull on her, making her march ahead slowly towards it, but at the same time she was terrified of what she might find and filled with excitement as well.
But when she reached the end of inlet, she saw nothing. She looked around but there was just sand and a few crabs and lots of dark seaweed washing up with the low tide all the way across a thin strip of beach to some marine caves up ahead. She sighed with disappointment watching the orange and gold hues of the late evening sun bathe the scenery around her.
«What was I expecting? A miracle answer to all my problems?» She thought bitterly, sitting over a barnacle encrusted rocks and laying her head in her hands, letting her fingers grip at her hair with frustration.
Some twinkled. Just a little flash of reflected sunlight. But it was angled in such a way that when Korra shifted a little to release her hair, it blinded her directly.
She stood, blinking furiously, and looked around for the source of the light. It took a few seconds but she thought she spotted something small and glittery and moved towards it slowly, curious but cautious. It seemed to come from a heap of seaweed up ahead. A very large heap of seaweed. Too large.
"Oh my Spirits…" Suddenly Korra was sprinting in the sand.
In a matter of seconds she was there. The source of the shine was nothing more than broken pocket watch. A pocket watch whose chain hung miraculously intact from the shredded scraps that were remains of black and brown clothing. Clothing that belonged to the man Korra found washed ashore in the tumbles of seaweed.