The sound of ragged breaths, crunching leaves, snapping sticks, and the thundering of her own heartbeat flooded her ear drums. The searing pain of another branch whipping across her face was left forgotten as she fell to the earth; the warm liquid running down her leg took to the forefront of her mind. ‘Just keep running,' She pushed the pain aside by continuing this mantra that she stuck to for the last hour of her escape.
Finally, at the brink of exhaustion, she fell to her knees in the middle of the forest, hair as dark as a midnight sky frayed by sweat and wind stuck to porcelain skin browned by mud, soot, and dirt, and piercing emerald eyes cast downwards, dulled by anguish. Huffing out air until breathing felt normal again, Asami Sato finally allowed the events of the past few hours to overtake her senses as she crumpled to the ground.
“Asami! Would you come here please darling?” A beautiful voice rang out through the castle.
“Yes, mother?” Yasuko turned as Asami had entered the room to answer her call. She smiled at Asami, beckoning the younger woman to her.
“Ah, my darling, you are ever so beautiful.” Yasuko smiled warmly at her daughter.
Asami rolled her eyes before retorting, “Oh mother, you know I look just like you, so you should be used to seeing the same beauty every day.”
Yasuko moved Asami to the bench in front of her, grabbing a hairbrush, and gently pulling it through the young Sato’s hair.
“Nonsense my dear. A mother could never get used to the beauty she sees in her own child,” her mother then began to hum.
This was a ritual the two shared each morning. Asami would be called into her mother’s room, receive a sweet smile with a compliment, and have her hair brushed as her mother beautifully sang or hummed a tune. As monotonous as it would seem, Asami cherished each morning with her kindhearted mother. Each day of her 25 years began with a smile because of this ritual.
“Mother, do you think we could go out to the country today to speak with some of our people on the farms? It’s been so long since we’ve made a visit, and all of our people should feel important to the kingdom.”
Yasuko smiled, she loved that her daughter took such a passion in taking care of the people in their kingdom. She is going to be a great queen for the United Republic.
“If your father has no plans for you already, then of course.”
An explosion rang out nearby, shaking the room and permeating the smell of burning oil through the air. Yasuko rushed to the window in the direction of the sound, gasping as she saw a portion of the castle in flames.
Whipping around from the window Yasuko swiftly grasped Asami’s hand as she rushed through the corridors.
“Father!” Asami called out to her mother. Yasuko remained silent, skillfully striding through the maze of hallways avoiding the staff rushing around in a panic. There was no time to slow down or explain things to her daughter. Based on the location of the infiltration, there was no telling how soon they would be here.
Tears profusely streaked her cheeks as she lay on the forest floor, succumbing to her sorrows for the first time since she left her mother behind. The time she spent weeping unknown, she glanced at the spaces of sky between the treetops.
Her resolve to survive pushed the sadness aside. She needed to keep moving and get to the next town before nightfall. Zaofu was too far to walk in any decent time, so she would need to procure a horse as well.
Assessing herself, she tore a piece of her crimson cloak to wrap the gash above her right knee. Her clothing, now tattered and dirty from her desperate escape, she deemed appropriate for blending in a crowd. Details of the attack on her castle were still unknown, and Asami would rather not risk being a target for potential hostiles. Pocketing the golden cog brooch representing her family and pulling her hood up, she trekked forward, certain that the small town she was looking for would appear in a few hours.
The sun was nearly set by the time the princess caught the scent of meat cooking on a fire, eliciting a groan from her stomach. She sighed a bit in relief while simultaneously raising her guard and senses. She knew it was awful to steal, but her stomach drove her feet to the fire with a delicious stew simmering above. Just as she thought she made up her mind to take the food, she turned and ran from the meal.
‘I won’t allow anything to turn me into something I am not. I am a princess. I am a Sato. And I will not become a petty thief.’
This mindset was great and all, but the girl couldn’t help laughing at herself. ‘Now how do I make money to get any supplies…’ A glint caught her eye from the shop across the road, bringing her attention to the weight in her pocket.
Her heart felt heavy. It was silly to think she could have such a keepsake from her home.
Walking up to the merchant, she glanced at the items littering the tables. Metals of all sorts crafted into different jewelry with various stones. The quality seemed to be lacking, but it was a good start for her to attempt to sell the golden brooch.
“Excuse me sir?”
“Yes, young lady, what can I help you with?” his voice came out rough and unfriendly despite the choice of pleasant words.
Holding the brooch out to him she asked, “How much would you offer for this?”
Eyebrows raised slightly, he took the brooch from her, examining it closely before glancing back at the stranger.
“Now then, where did you get something like this?” he asked skeptically.
“I have a friend that visited the United Republic and brought this back to me as a gift. Sadly, my family fell on hard times, forcing us to sell valuables for food.” Asami explained, it wasn't far from the truth, but she was grateful for her many years of practice in speaking with people and fielding difficult questions. Being groomed to rule a kingdom has proved useful in many interactions.
The shopkeeper’s eye lingered on her a moment longer than Asami deemed comfortable, so she spoke up again.
“Anyways, would you be willing to buy this from me?” she added a slight tilt of her head as she returned his gaze.
“I’ll give you 15 bronze pieces for it. That should be enough to feed you for a couple days.”
Asami had to physically force the scowl away from her face. This man was using her situation to his advantage.
“Pardon me sir, but that is gold, and I find it inappropriate to be offered bronze pieces in exchange for it.”
“Young lady, what I find inappropriate is you coming to my stall with an item you clearly shouldn’t have and expecting me to pay me good money for stolen goods based on a sob story.” The man fired back in his brusque tone.
Not wanting to make a scene, Asami decided on taking the brooch elsewhere, perhaps try trading it for a room and food. As she reached for it, the man pulled the item out of her reach. “Give that back.” She evenly stated, the honey-like tone from earlier now absent.
“Ah ah, I don’t think so. If anyone is going to benefit from the poor sucker you duped, it will be me.”
Punctuating his sentence was a sudden movement from the corner of Asami’s eye causing her to stiffen. Before she knew it, the shopkeeper was pushed into a nearby wall.
“Either you give this nice young lady her property back, or you answer to me, tough guy.” The voice threatened through a deep, yet distinctly feminine sound.
“Ah, okay okay,” he squealed in pain as his wrist was twisted by the mystery woman. She appeared to be a soldier from her kingdom. Rippling muscles coiled deliciously underneath smooth bronze skin as her savior turned to Asami. Oh dear, captivating blue eyes sharply contrasting her dark skin pulled Asami into their depths. It suddenly occurred to her that the woman was speaking. She felt heat rush up her neck, painting her cheeks red.
“Excuse me, miss? Hello?” she emphasized with a wave of her hand.
“Oh, I’m so sorry for that. Thank you kindly, Ms?”
“Captain Korra, it’s my honor to be of assistance and a pleasure to make your acquaintance uhm, pr-”
Before Korra could finish her sentence, Asami rushed forward and clasped her hand over Korra’s mouth, giving a quick shake of her head, hoping to convey her thoughts to the bronze warrior.
Korra furrowed her brow in confusion, but kept her mouth shut about it nonetheless. Remembering the shopkeeper was still in their presence, Korra demanded, “Now, you give this woman her brooch back.” As he was obliging, Korra added, “And what do you say?”
“Here you go ma’am, my apologies for giving you a hard time,” he pushed the words disdainfully through his teeth.
“Thank you,” and with that Asami made her way from the stall.
“Hey! Wait up!” Korra chased after the retreating figure, “I’m supposed to be protecting you, so can you please explain to me what just happened?”
Asami suspiciously eyed the soldier, ‘Word hasn’t traveled yet and I still have no idea why my castle was attacked, who was behind it, and how many people might want me dead. She may be a United Republic soldier, but it would undoubtedly be a risk. However, she already knows who I am…’
“Korra, take me somewhere we can speak privately,” the request came off as more of a demand which seemed to annoy Korra. Asami shoved the thought aside, she is the princess and this is a soldier she is talking to after all.
Korra straightened before replying, “Understood, please follow me, your grace .”
The princess caught the sarcastic ending to Korra’s statement, “Excuse me?”
“What? Did you fart or something?”
Asami gasped incredulously. What kind of unrefined solder is this that dares speak to her this way?
“No, and how dare you speak in such a way to me. You will do well to watch your tongue.”
Korra scoffed, “You’re the one that stopped me from addressing you properly. If you are playing ‘town girl’ for the day, then I’m just happily doing my job to make you feel like you fit right in,” she finished her response with a smile.
‘A smile? OH the audacity of this girl.’ And to think she found this brute attractive at first. Asami decided to stay quiet for the remainder of the trip, opting to just explain the circumstance to the captain at their destination, leaving out a few details of course.
Arriving at a small inn, they made their way to what Asami assumed was Korra’s room. Entering the space, the ravenette noticed three bags.
“There are others with you?” asked Asami.
Korra was removing her armor as she replied, “Mako, Bolin, and I were sent from our unit back to the kingdom. We are rotating in for royal guard duty at the castle, so we will escort you back, princess.”
Emerald eyes drifted downward, “I can’t go back.”
Korra snapped her head up with a response that never left her lips. Blue eyes scanned the princess as if taking her disheveled appearance in for the first time since their encounter.
“You aren’t out here playing villager for the day are you?”
Asami shook her head, “No, the castle was attacked this morning. Mother ordered that I flee to Zaofu. That the only people I should trust are the Beifongs.”
Korra sat at the news, “Did anyone else make it out?”
“I’m not sure. The castle was attacked and mother rushed me through the corridors to our escape route. It all happened so fast,” her green eyes remained on the ground while explaining.
“Well, since you apparently don’t know anything else, we need to gather information and assume there are people after you,” came the soldier’s cold response. Of course Korra was being unfairly cold to the princess, but her temper always seemed to get the better of her. That, and she didn’t have any good reason to blindly trust royals.
Asami was irate, thinking not for the first time since meeting her, ‘What in the hell is wrong with this girl?’ as she lifted her gaze, boring directly into those azures with her brows creased.
Before Asami could voice her dislike, Korra continued, “I have contacts within the kingdom that I can trust. They are as good of people as one can come by. We are closer to the United Republic than Zaofu, so it would be best to gather the information we can to move forward. My small group is better suited for this mission than an army anyhow. You will stay here-”
“Absolutely not,” Asami bit back, “I will not sit here uselessly and await your return from mystery contacts I have no trust in.”
Narrowing her eyes at the fair skinned woman, Korra responded, “My team has no use for a dainty maiden that will only slow us down. You are staying here and out of my way.”
The argument was interrupted as two men entered the room, one tall with sharp features and amber eyes, the other burly yet soft with equally gentle green eyes.
“Hey Korraaah- Korra, what is the princess doing in our room?” Bolin asked with one hand gesturing to the emerald eyed beauty and the other shielding one side of his mouth as if Asami couldn’t hear him.
Mako rolled his eyes, “Bo, she can hear you.”
The gentleman then awkwardly straightened before bowing exaggeratedly and blurting out, “My apologies, your highness!” Asami couldn’t help but inwardly smile at the antics of what would be an intimidating man less his childlike personality.
Korra cut in, “Bo, cut it out, we have serious matters to discuss.”
“Geez, Korra, when did you shove that stick up your ass?” Bolin quipped. Korra rolled her eyes and gestured for everyone to have a seat before explaining the situation to the brothers.
“Korra, we don’t know why the kingdom was attacked or who is involved. That said, the princess should not be left here alone, someone could have followed her,” Mako tried to reason with the stubborn female Captain. Mako always had a strong sense of duty to his job and protecting the crown, never straying from protocol. It irritated Korra.
“Mako, you only say that because of her stupid perfect face and beauty,” Korra accused.
“Stop being ridiculous,” Mako replied, growing with irritation. Scoffing, Korra crossed her arms and looked away indignantly.
Attempting to calm the situation Bolin spoke up, “Both of you, cut it out. We need to come up with a solid plan. I agree with Mako on this, I will not leave the princess unattended.”
Asami rolled her eyes, rose to her feet, and spoke with a commanding presence, “I am not some pathetic, defenseless girl, and I do have ears and my own voice. None of you shall speak for me. I am coming because this is MY kingdom and MY people are in danger. I will not stand back and allow others to fight my battles.” The room grew quiet as they glanced towards each other then towards Asami.
“Understood, your highness,” the brothers spoke in unison. Mako shouldered Korra.
“Yes, princess .”
“Thank you, Captain ,” Asami bit back, pointing the harsh stare of those emeralds directly into ocean blues. Korra was fast becoming the most irritating person Asami had ever met, but she felt some odd pleasure in being treated so differently compared to the typical grovelling subjects.
Asami continued speaking, proposing a plan to the team, as she came to learn they are “Team Avatar,” led by Captain Korra. ‘Of course she has to be the leader,’ Asami mentally groaned.
Their contact within the kingdom is a man known as Tenzin; he and his family are respected nobles that live on a large estate near the border. Korra apparently lives with them when she is home. Asami remembers her few encounters with the bald man, and he always came off to her as kind and wise. Not that she had much choice, it comforted her that she wasn't completely blind in trusting a stranger, even if just a little. The location of their home was ideal for sneaking in and out undetected.
"Now that the plan is set, I need to eat," Asami declared as she looked at the soldiers. "Please tell me one of you has food," she finished more softly.
Bolin chuckled, "No problem princess! We can go down to the tavern to get you something. What would you like?"
"Thank you Bolin. And please, call me Asami. There's no need to keep up with frivolities throughout this mission. Please just bring me whatever the house special is."
"You got it! I'll be right back," he replied with a smile.
"I'll go with you," Mako added as he stood.
"Wait, that's not fair," Korra began to argue before Asami interjected, "Actually, Korra, would you mind helping me to where I can clean up?" Asami hated asking for help, but swallowed her pride for the sake of safety and hygiene.
"Fine. Follow me," Korra gruffed out. Korra led Asami down a hallway in the inn to a public bath. Asami never needed to use a public bathing area before and the prospect made her skin crawl slightly. 'Beggars can't be choosers, and it seems that I'll have to get used to this.'
"I'm sure that you've never used one of these before so just keep your head down, be quick, and don't expect the water to be warm," the captain continued after a pause, "I'll make sure nobody gets close enough to recognize you."
Asami felt heat radiating to her cheeks when she realized Korra would be in the room as she bathed. She nodded to the muscular woman and entered the bathroom, Korra at her heel.
Blushing at the thought of Korra watching her undress, the princess opted to bath partially clothed. It was practical, she decided, because she needed to wash her clothes after all. She removed her crimson cloak, boots, and other outer garments, leaving only undergarments. Korra gave Asami a strange look.
Asami responded to the unasked question, "I need to get some of the blood and dirt out of these clothes too."
She entered the water and stopped suddenly with a jolt, 'not warm? This is fucking FREEZING!' Asami mentally screamed before proceeding to scrub her clothing and body as best she could. She heard Korra chuckle behind her.
"And what is so funny?" Asami snapped.
"Oh nothing… are you enjoying your bath, princess ?"
If looks could kill, the one that the princess just shot Korra would mean the soldier's end. Asami made quick work before exiting the water, wringing her clothing out as best she could.
Korra approached her with a large cloth that she offered while avoiding eye contact, "Here, we can bring this back to the room for you to dry off better. It's best that we not linger in here." Asami swore she saw some tint of pink to those dark cheeks.
Taking the offer, she grabbed her boots and the two made their way to the room. The boys weren't back yet, so Asami set to hanging her wet clothing anywhere she could find to dry. Her undergarments should dry on her body soon enough, but everything else would take some time. To save herself some semblance of decency, she wrapped the drying cloth around her lithe frame as well.
Bolin and Mako returned with enough food for the group. They proceeded to eat in relative silence before a concerning expression on Asami's face prompted Bolin to ask what was wrong.
"Well, I just noticed that there is one bed. And four of us.." she sheepishly pointed out, feeling dumb for not noticing sooner.
"Oh that, well we are used to sleeping on the ground so you can definitely take it," Bolin offered with a smile.
"Hey, it was my turn!" Korra complained.
"Korra, don't be like that. We have our packs to make our spots on the floor. Asami has clearly been through a lot today, so it's the least we can do," Mako said.
"Psh, whatever," Korra grunted with a pouty look.
Asami wanted to be petty and just take the offer without attempting to politely deny it. This Korra really knew how to get under her skin, but she reminded herself that is not how she should behave.
"I appreciate your kindness, but I don't mind taking a spot on the floor."
"No, it's fine," Korra grumbled. Maybe Mako's words got to her a little? Asami couldn't be sure, but she certainly wasn't expecting such a response from the woman.
Chapter 3 should be up within a week. I already have most of it written. I'm keeping chapters rather short for the sake of faster updates. Anyways, all reviews are appreciated!
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Got chapter 3 out before the weekend! Enjoy.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The four woke early the next morning, well aside from Korra. Mako took the liberty of rousing her from sleep, and she did not look happy.
"Not a morning person I see, captain?" Asami teased.
"Mornings are eviil ," Korra spoke as she rubbed her eyes and stretched her limbs.
Korra's sleep attire left little to the imagination, and Asami couldn't help but admire the muscled figure being pulled taut, pressing rather large, bound breasts outward slightly.
She shook the thoughts from her head, 'Get a hold of yourself, Asami. Now is not the time to be appreciating some soldier. Let alone one that hits every single one of your nerves.'
The group packed their belongings, Asami donned her slightly damp outer garments and all headed out. Coming to a trio of horses, Asami felt thankful once again for the fact that she was wearing pants before fleeing the castle.
"It's probably best that you ride with Korra," Mako told Asami.
Korra, who had already packed and mounted her horse, neared the two. A large white mare breathed outright at Asami's face.
"Absolutely not. This beast more closely resembles a polar bear than it's horse family," the princess claimed. Korra gave her a mocking smirk.
"I’d wager you two have a lot in common then but suit yourself, princess. Naga here is the best horse around," the captain proclaimed as she proudly patted the horse's strong neck.
Mako stepped in before Asami could counter the sly jab Korra threw at her, "You can ride with me then. Korra, can you take my pack?" He strapped his pack on the other side of Naga before mounting his own steed, then offered a hand to Asami.
"I got it," she waved him off, still peeved from the beast comparison Korra made moments ago.
Placing a boot into the stirrup, she grabbed the saddle and heaved her body into the air.
Air. Funny since that was all she felt before comically flipping to the ground with a loud thud on the other side of the horse she should be sitting on instead.
Loud laughter burst out from the blue-eyed woman next to her, “See, you would get along great, Naga loves playing in the dirt too!” Asami shot her another death glare, effectively quieting the bellows to a chortle.
Coming back to her feet and dusting off her clothes, Asami swiftly mounted the horse with ease her second try. 'So much for cleaning my clothes. And my pride.'
The trip back to the United Republic was short, thanks to the added horsepower. Within a click of the outer border, the group proceeded with increased caution, thankful for the wooded outskirts. Stopping in a thickly covered area, Korra dismounted Naga.
"You three wait here while I have a closer look. Even if I get caught, it won't be too suspicious since I live here." Nobody could argue with Korra on that, so they each nodded their heads.
Asami watched Korra's retreating figure, a vice-like grip seeming to still her heart and breath. It was only a day ago that she ran for her life from this very place, yet there Korra goes walking alone into the unknown.
"Don't worry; she'll be okay. We all will. Promise." Bolin smiled at her. It worked to ease some of
the tension in her chest, and she gave him a small smile and nod in return.
“Please forgive her rough personality too. She truly does have a good heart underneath it all. She just doesn’t know you yet.” Bolin explained. Mako nodded in agreement before adding, “Don’t worry, I didn’t like her much at first either.”
Bolin chuckled lightly before slapping a hand on his brother's back, "Oh, boy, if that isn't an understatement."
Minutes later leaves around them rustled quietly. Mako and Bolin brought their swords at the ready, and Asami gripped the dagger Mako gave her.
"Boo." The princess jumped a little before mentally slapping herself at her nerves.
"Just kidding, don't worry guys, it's only me," Korra appeared with her arms raised to chest level, palms facing out.
"That was fast," Mako pointed out.
"Heh, yeah, I saw Meelo not too far from here. Luckily he used to like playing soldier with me, so we have some code whistles. Didn't take long to get his attention and tell him we need to speak to his father," explained the captain as she rubbed the back of her neck with one hand and a natural smile on her face.
About 30 minutes passed before Korra heard the distinctive bird-like whistle and proceeded to return it. A small boy with short dark hair and a doofy look appeared shortly after.
"Korra, oh hey there pretty lady, can I touch your hair?" Meelo asked Asami as her mouth dropped, mildly shocked at the strange proposal.
Korra redirected his attention, "Meelo, focus."
"Right, yeah," the boy turned back to Korra, "Dad said it's not safe to meet right now. It's best to wait til dark so that you can move with the cover of the night. Take the horses somewhere they won't be found and return on foot." He performed some exaggerated stealth movements to emphasize his point.
"Understood, thank you general," Korra saluted. Despite the circumstances, Asami found the exchange quite endearing.
Once Meelo vanished, the group backtracked an acceptable distance before tying the horses off to nearby branches.
"They should be fine here before we return. Isn't that right, girl?" Korra spoke to her horse.
After feeding the horses and eating a snack, Team Avatar walked back in the direction of Tenzin's estate, taking extra care to remember the path.
As the final rays of light from the sun vacated the sky, Korra led them to the house. Using her key, she silently let them through the front door.
"Ah, Korra, thank the spirits Meelo actually relayed my message properly," came Tenzin's school teacher voice. It startled Asami but didn't seem to faze the others. 'Damn nerves again.'
He motioned for them all to follow, leading them to his study.
"Please, have a seat," he gestured to side chairs.
"Your highness, I am sorry to be seeing you again under these conditions.” He addressed before nodding his acknowledgment to Korra, Mako, and Bolin. “I’m afraid that we are in a grave predicament," he finished with a sad expression.
"What's going on, Tenzin?" Korra asked.
"I was getting to that Korra, be patient. As I was saying, we are in a grave predicament. A man who calls himself Amon has taken over the kingdom in the name of what he deems equality. His followers are being referred to as equalists, and they keep an eye on what's going on in the kingdom. This meeting is dangerous, but it's our best chance to get word out. Those of us who oppose this regime formed a counsel. Our first meeting is tomorrow, and we will discuss possible courses of action."
"What happened to my father?" Asami interrupted, unable to wait any longer. A desperate look hung in those beautiful green eyes. Tenzin took a deep breath, and Asami felt her heart begin to break. "No, please, no…" she trailed off.
"He is alive, princess," her eyes shot up with hope, "but he seems to be on the wrong side of things."
"What do you mean," Asami asked with her brows furrowed in deep confusion.
"He is working with Amon," Tenzin finished solemnly, eyes cast downward.
"What? No, this-this can't be…" images of her final escape from the castle flashed through her mind, "No, I won't believe it. There's no way he… but she…" the ravenette was in a momentary state of shock. How can the man she spent her entire life loving, turn everything into hell in one day? Everything she lived for, taken away in an instant. No, she wouldn't believe it.
Steeling her resolve, she spoke, "No, that can't be right. There has to be an explanation. My father cares about our people and our family. He must have seen no better option than to get closer to his enemy through deception."
"I'm not buying it," Korra answered quickly.
"I dunno Korra, it seems plausible to me. Maybe we should think about it," Mako counseled.
"Spirits, there you go again. Defending her like a lovesick puppy." Korra pointed an accusing finger, glaring into amber eyes.
"No, Korra, I'm just being rational, unlike you. Your temper is out of contr-"
"Enough." Tenzin sternly warned. "That is enough from the both of you. I lean towards an agreement with Korra, but I admit that the princess has a valid point. I said he only seems to be on the wrong side, but we still don't have enough information to make any brash decisions."
"If I can get to my father, we can clear this up. I know he won't hurt me."
"And how can we trust you? If your father is on their side, then how do I know this isn't all just an act?" Korra accused.
Asami glared at the infuriating brunette before spitting out, "Do you think I chose to be in that town ragged, hungry, without money, and need your help? That I somehow staged this master plan with you conveniently being there at that moment for some unknown gain related to my father in the future?" She paused before continuing, "When you stepped in to help me, I thought you were just a good citizen helping those you deemed deserved it. Now I see you're just a self-indulgent bully."
"Piss off. You know nothing about me," Korra spat before storming out of the room.
Asami felt a foreign rage bubble within her. What is this burning sensation in my chest? How does this woman break her usual calm demeanor and spark such intense emotion within her?
She was pulled from her reverie at the sound of a deep exhale in the room.
"I am terribly sorry for Korra's behavior, princess. For now, I believe you four should get going.
We can meet again at the same time tomorrow," Tenzin offered.
Asami wasn't quite ready to finish; she still had so many more questions. But she was no impatient fool. She understood safety was paramount, so she nodded her head in agreement before standing. Following suit, the others in the room stood and headed towards the door.
"Jinora, would you please go get Korra?" Tenzin spoke to a young woman that stood to the side of the study. 'Has she been here this whole time?' the princess pondered
"Yes, father," the brunette obliged with a small bow, sauntering away silently, her movements lighter than air.
"Before we go, I have one more thing to add," Mako stated, all eyes turning to him. "We need to draft possible plans tonight to discuss and act on tomorrow. The more secret rendezvous we have, the riskier it gets. I know it seems hasty, but I got a gut feeling on this."
"Hmm, you make a good point," spoke the nobleman as he stroked his beard in thought.
Asami's heart leapt with excitement at the idea of starting the mission to see her father sooner, but she knew she had too much emotion vested in the situation to make the best decision. She remembers some of the harder lessons with her father involved separating logic from emotions to make cold, calculated decisions deemed "the best for all." He explained it is the burden of those in charge. Understanding that she still struggles with this, she decides to stay quiet.
Tenzin took a soft look at Asami before speaking again. "Very well, use tonight to brainstorm ideas with the intention of executing them tomorrow evening. Whether we do or not, it is best to be prepared. And, please do your best to get Korra onboard. We all need to be on the same page for anything to work."
"You got it, sir," Bolin spoke as he slung his arm around Tenzin's neck. Tenzin huffed, used to Bolin's antics. "Good ol' Bolin here will smooth it all out." He finished with a velvet tone and gesture that Asami assumed he thought was "cool." If anything, at least one of her new companions was enjoyable to be around, 'unlike-'
"Ahem, uhm princess."
Asami turned to the familiar voice that sent an unpleasant cold chill through her. Cocking an eyebrow, the ravenette responded, "Yes, captain?"
"Jinora wanted me to tel- hey ow," Jinora sent s swift poke to the warrior's side.
"Hmph fine. Look, I'm justtryingtosaythatimsorry."
Asami's eyebrow remained raised but adopted a look of amusement to replace the disdain.
"I'm sorry, I didn't get that. What did you say, Korra?'
Korra sighed and rolled her eyes, breathing something under her breath that Asami didn't catch. She waited a beat more before Korra continued.
"I said that I'm sorry for how I acted. I still don't trust you, but I have no evidence to abandon my duty to serving or respecting you. Will you pardon my behavior for my outburst?" The soldier gave a curt bow and held it, awaiting the princess' reply.
Surprised by the apology and request, Asami took a moment to think. Thinking objectively on the actions of a human that riled her up proved to be complicated. Korra helped her, then insulted her, helped her despite apparently not liking Asami, offered protection despite, again, apparently not liking Asami, accused her family of betraying the kingdom, and is now pleading for a pardon. Asami recalled what Mako told her in the forest.
"Rise captain," the princess commanded. Emerald eyes pierced blue, holding the stare. "I will not pardon you, nor will I reward punishment." Korra's brow furrowed in confusion, Asami's gaze maintained its intensity. "You will carry on with this next mission as intended, and I will pass my judgment at its conclusion."
Understanding flashed through cerulean orbs, and Korra nodded.
Chapter 4 might take a little longer to release, because I am struggling to write the events leading to the next scene I've already written out. Feel free to drop suggestions to fill the time before our heroes embark on their next nightly rendezvous. Thanks for reading!
Leaving the estate, Team Avatar made their way back to their horses in the woods.
"We have enough time before sunrise to get a full night's sleep, but I doubt we will find a room at the inn at this hour," Mako spoke.
"Yeah, we should be fine camping out here for the night. Come daybreak, we will begin preparations for tomorrow evening," Korra agreed.
Asami curiously watched the soldiers as they gathered foliage into separate piles approximately a human's height and width before covering them with blankets. Realizing what they were doing, Asami proceeded to make a pile of her own.
Finishing, she turned at the feeling of a nearby presence, facing a sheepish and awkward looking Korra.
"Here, you're going to need these." She handed Asami two blankets.
"Thank you," Asami forced a small smile in appreciation at the kind gesture. "Are you sure you don't need these?"
Korra waved it off, "Yeah, one of those is an extra, and I stay pretty warm all the time, so I don't need mine. Besides, I don't need to hear you complaining all night, then none of us will get any sleep, princess."
“Better watch yourself captain, or I’ll add to the list of things you need to beg pardon for,” Asami countered.
It seemed a bit soon for Korra to playfully mock her after the outburst at Tenzin's, but Asami couldn't help finding some joy in the jesting. It was a nice break from the constant grim thoughts and conversations. Then she thought again of the profession of arms. Their everyday lives are like this, never knowing when their last day might be, if they will return home, or if they will see their loved ones again. Poking fun and crude jokes are one way to cope with military life she supposed.
"Well, look at you cap’n, you finally pulling that stick from your ass?" Bolin chuckled as he wrapped an arm around Korra's neck and wrestled her away. Asami shook her head in amusement at the childish behavior before finishing her makeshift bed.
The party settled into camp for the night before discussing plans for the mission that lay ahead. Korra was surprisingly receptive and helpful, the princess noted. ‘I suppose she is the group leader for a reason.’ Asami thought as she drifted into sleep.
“Mother!” Asami bolted upright, arm outstretched, pulse-pounding, and a sheen layer of sweat coating porcelain skin. Frantically looking around, she realized it was nothing but a dream. Nothingness would have been a great sleep to fall into, but instead, Asami was plagued with horrors of a tainted imagination polluted further by horribly vivid memories of her escape.
Further examining the makeshift campsite, she noted, thankfully, that her outburst failed to awaken the two, apparently male, sleeping forms. ‘It must be Korra’s turn to stand the watch.’ At that thought, she heard light footsteps and quickly resumed her sleeping position to avoid conversation with the female soldier. If Korra heard her abrupt awakening during her patrol of the immediate vicinity, Asami was grateful she didn’t say anything.
The next morning, the group awakened just as the sun met the horizon, painting the sky with beautifully blended hues of orange, red, and yellow. Asami was grateful for it and the break from her sleepless night. Mornings like this induced temporary amnesia of her problems and made it hard for her to believe that evil could exist in the world. Stretching, she felt a dizziness fog behind her brain and eyelids, begging her to sleep just a while longer.
“Uh oh, the princess didn’t get her beauty sleep.”
Oh, how quickly such a blissful feeling could turn sour. The ravenette snapped her head to the blue-eyed nuisance.
“This coming from the grump that called mornings evil,” she retorted.
Korra shrugged in response, “Eh, I am who I am.”
“We need to get moving into town to gather the supplies we need. The princess at least needs some leather armor and weapon more suitable than a dagger,” Mako supplied, reminding the group of the task at hand.
The group returned to the small town, dismounting their horses just outside the perimeter.
Mako was the first to speak, “Alright, just like we discussed last night. Korra and I will gather the supplies. Bolin and the princess will take care of the horses, and see about procuring one for her. Remember, keep a low profile.”
Asami pulled her hood up to obstruct her face as much as possible before she followed Bolin, guiding Mako's horse, Aka, along with her. The two arrived at the local stables to a young man cleaning out the stalls. Her jovial travel companion approached the stable keep to conduct their business while she stood with their three steeds, affectionately petting their long faces as she whispered soothing words.
Being surrounded by horses always brought her a serene sense of calm that would wash through her body. Such magnificent, pure creatures that she often felt humanity was undeserving of.
Asami was pulled from her reverie as Bolin spoke near her, "Well, they don't have any horses for sale or lease, but we can feed, trim, and shoe these three for a good price. You want me to teach you?"
Asami smiled, "Thank you for the offer, Bolin, but I got it."
"Awesome! Let's get to it then!"
The two chatted amicably while tending to Aka and Pabu. Naga happily ate her feed nearby. Finishing with his horse, Pabu, Bolin turned to the ravenette.
"I'm gonna try to take care of Naga now, I might need your help," he stated sheepishly. Asami stole a glance between the horse and him, wondering from where the nerves suddenly appeared.
"Very well," she finally spoke, watching him move to switch the horses' positions. Just as he approached Naga, the mare moved away from him. He sidestepped before stepping forward only to, again, be avoided by the horse.
"Oh come on, Naga, it's not that bad girl. Let's get this over with," green eyes pleaded with the animal. Her response was a snort and a whinny.
The princess couldn't help but laugh at the exchange. Naga was a horse with an attitude. It made sense, really, considering who the mare belongs to, she mused. Just as the princess finished her thought, the white horse jerked her hind quarter just enough to throw Bolin onto his behind with a thud.
"Here, let me try to help," she offered with a pale hand to bring him back to his feet. Emerald eyes then shifted focus to the beast of a steed. Reaching out, she gently stroked Naga's long nose and hummed a melodic tune. Shortly after, the horse's irritated movements ceased, and her breathing steadied.
"Wow, I've never seen someone other than Korra calm her so easily," Bolin remarked with astonishment.
"I've always been good with animals, especially horses. I didn't have many human friends growing up, so I spent a lot of my time in the stables," she explained.
"I guess things can get lonely for royals then too," Bolin responded.
The princess shifted her gaze to the soldier as she brushed the horse down. The pairs of green eyes met one another with understanding before Bolin spoke again.
"Our parents were killed when we were young, so life hasn't been the greatest. Even living on the streets though, Mako and I always had each other. Life wasn't great, we didn't have much, and, yeah, we were alone, but I never felt lonely. Seeing and talking to you makes me realize power and wealth isn't everything." He stopped abruptly, seemingly regretting his choice of words.
"I'm sorry princess, I didn't mean to offend you in any way," he finished.
Asami took a breath and responded as evenly as possible, "It's okay, Bolin, you aren't wrong. I didn't have any siblings, and I was prohibited from making friends with most people. I was always expected to be polite but never get too close. Besides, being groomed to lead a kingdom doesn't leave much time for a personal social life. It is okay, though. We all understand it as part of our role."
"Do you ever wish you weren't a princess?" He asked.
Asami put up the brush and moved on to reshoe Naga, using this transition time to think of her response.
"I suppose I thought about that at some point, but only when things were terribly difficult. There are three intense passions I have for life: to help others, exercise my mind, and work with my hands. I gain energy by fulfilling those passions, and ruling a kingdom allows me to pursue them. Still, as much as I feel I am capable and happy to lead, something is missing. I haven’t figured that part out yet, but I intend to before I ever take the throne.”
“Wow, you definitely have life figured out better than I do!” Bolin lightly laughed in response.
A small smile graced Asami’s lips as she finished her work with Naga. “You know, Bolin, talking to you is easy. I’ve never said all of that out loud. Thank you.”
Grinning proudly with a thumb pointing at his chest, he proclaimed, “Yup, that’s Bolin for you. Protector of the innocent, sage counselor, and hero to all.” Asami laughed at his boasting.
“So, what did you like to work with? You know, you said you like working with your hands and all,” he questioned.
“I love inventing, improving, and perfecting tools and weapons that people can use. Anything that can be helpful in life. Life is already hard enough, so why not create things that can make it easier and more enjoyable?” emerald eyes shined with mirth as she spoke.
Surprised, Bolin responded, “Wow, that’s cool! So you can like smith and stuff? I would never have guessed!”
“Haha, yes, I can,” she chuckled as they replaced used items in the stables. Once everything was in its rightful place, she spoke again, “Well, we are all done here, so we should meet up with Mako and Korra.” Bolin nodded in agreement before they guided the horses along the way back to the meeting point.
About half an hour later, Mako and Korra approached the waiting duo. Bolin was the first to speak.
“Did you guys get everything?”
Mako replied, “Mostly, now, let’s get moving. We don’t want to stay so close to people longer than we have to.” Loading the supplies onto the horses, the group mounted and set out towards United Republic.
Asami found herself lost in thought on the ride before they slowed to a stop in a wooded clearing well off the beaten path. She recognized it as the same area from the night before. After dismounting, emerald irises traced the movement of dark skin as Korra approached with an offering.
“It isn’t the best armor, but it’s better than nothing and was the best option,” the warrior spoke plainly.
A pale hand delicately reached out to receive the offering. It was a slightly worn leather breastplate, vambraces, and grieves. She explored the material, noting that the leather was at least above decent in quality. Before she could thank the captain, Korra spoke again, offering a sheathed sword and belt.
“And here is an actual sword. I did my best judging a size and length that would suit you. It’s also used, but the blacksmith insisted on sharpening it before selling it to me.”
Emerald eyes locked onto the steely blue gaze, “Thank you, captain, I’m sure these will make do.” Korra didn’t move, just watched expectantly. Asami got the hint when those intense blues glanced at the leather armor.
Removing her overcoat, the ravenette donned the breastplate. Surprised by the fitting she looked back up to Korra, “I didn’t expect it to fit so comfortably, how did you manage that?”
Bronzed shoulders lifted in a shrug as she fluidly moved to help Asami properly secure the breastplate and remaining pieces. “I have a good eye for sizing. It’s come in handy once or twice before.”
A sly grin flitted across crimson lips as the princess teased, “Oh, so you’ve been eyeing me, have you?”
The thought that Korra had taken a good enough look at her to approximate an appropriate size left a strange feeling in her stomach. She pushed the feeling aside, focusing instead on how it was even possible, considering that the warrior rarely spoke to or ever looked her way.
"Don't flatter yourself, princess. Having a good eye and eyeing are two different things," Korra retorted.
"I don't need to flatter myself when you're doing the work for me. Your choosing to call it a good eye still means I left a lasting impression that you could use for future references, like sizing,” Asami smugly countered.
Blue eyes rolled, and Asami smiled inwardly at her victory over the sarcastic brute. Korra finished adjusting the armor for Asami and stood back to assess the fit. Asami made movements to evaluate how it felt. Seemingly satisfied, the captain nodded and turned away, surveying the wooded ground.
Korra picked up two small tree branches before facing Asami again, “Whatever you need to tell yourself, your highness. Now let’s practice some basic swordplay. We need to make sure you can defend yourself if an enemy separates you from us.”
Just as the princess caught the small branch tossed her way, a flash of movement came at her. She quickly lowered her weapon to deflect the strike towards her chest. Blue met green, and she vaguely caught what Korra said before the captain pivoted and swung around for another blow, lower this time.
“Never expect the enemy to play fair.”
Another step, a swing, a parry, and before she knew it, she was on the ground, tripped by the soldier. Korra was pointing the stick at her throat with a cocky grin plastered on that stupid face.
‘Oh, so that’s how she wants to do this? Game on,’ she thought before finding her feet again, facing the arrogant captain.
This time she pushed in on Korra with a flurry of blows, forcing the bronzed woman to defend and take multiple steps backward. Spotting a tree root growing out of the ground, just behind Korra, she continued her combination of strikes. Two steps later, and the soldier felt flat to her ass, an undignified look of shock painting her features.
“Never forget your surroundings and use them to your advantage when possible,” the princess declared in a similar tone to the rule Korra pronounced moments ago, her weapon now aimed at the captain’s throat.
Korra swatted the stick away from her face and stood with a huff.
“Fine, I get it, you aren’t helpless or completely untrained. That doesn’t change the fact that you’ve probably never killed someone or been in a life or death battle,” Korra pointed out.
“You’re right, captain, so then let’s continue practicing and hope that I can handle that when the time comes,” Asami responded, assuming a high stance and straightened posture that exuded confidence.
Korra smiled, and the two continued their sparring.
This was a little challenging to write because it wasn't anything I had already envisioned for the main story, but I used it for some character development. If you have any feedback or suggestions, I'd love to hear it!
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
Life got crazy so this took a while. I hope you all enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"Damn, princess, you really gave the captain a run for her money!" Bolin exclaimed as he tore into his dried beef.
"I must agree. You've had some training, then haven't you?" Mako queried.
Asami fixed her gaze on the ground in an act of humility before responding, "My father never wanted me to be defenseless, so I've been training since the moment that I could throw a punch. Wasn't long before we moved onto weapons training."
In the corner of her eyes, she caught Korra shifting, arms crossed. The brunette focused a harsh stare into the dense wood.
"Though, the captain is right. I have never faced a battle for my life nor taken that of another. All I can do is hope that I will be able to fight in such conditions," the princess finished. She noted that the stone walled soldier softened slightly, and lightened her harsh blue gaze to focus on the group in conversation.
"It's okay because we are all going to stick together," Korra stated with conviction as she dared a glance towards Asami. The ravenette nodded with a smile, fueled by the confidence of the captain. She can do this. Together, they can all do this.
"Alright! Team Avatar!" Bolin cheered with his fists pumped in the air.
Mako rolled his eyes before speaking, "We should get going now. It's time to meet with Tenzin."
Before long, the group was back in Tenzin's study, thanks to Meelo. Jinora came along with him this time to make sure Team Avatar's horses got safely hidden at the estate. If a plan were to commence this night, it would be wise to have a quick escape available. Or so she explained in some way or another. Asami wasn't one to argue with sound logic; she just wished she had also thought of it instead of allowing her mind to be overrun with negativity.
Breathing out a sigh of frustration, she shut her eyes in an attempt to settle the tormenting thoughts.
"Hey," a warmth encompassed her hand as her eyelids fluttered open.
"It's gonna be okay." She stared at their hands before locking gazes with a smiling Mako.
"I know this must be hard for you, and I want you to know that no matter what happens, I'm on your side," he finished.
Raising her other arm from beneath the table, she enclosed his comforting hand within her grasp before responding.
"Thank you. It means a lot." And she even managed a smile of her own. At least she wasn't alone.
"Gross. Can we please get back to the mission now that lover boy is finished,” Korra stated with a roll of her eyes.
The room's attention briefly glanced over Mako, and the princess before focusing on the agitated captain. An awkward pause ensued before Tenzin spoke again.
“As I was saying, we have a point of contact within the castle that can let you in. He is a house servant and good friend of Jinora’s. He knows when and where Hiroshi should be, and he will do his best to avoid detection by roaming soldiers. You will not have the force to handle a big confrontation, so stealth is of the utmost importance in this mission,” Tenzin finished with his eyes on Korra.
Azures flicked across the members in the room, “What? I can do stealth!” She huffed before looking away indignantly.
“Korra, you just have a tendency to be brash. Please be careful,” the nobleman offered more gently. Korra softened her composure at the small gesture.
“That goes for you too, Bolin,” Mako added. Bolin exaggeratedly straightened his back and used his fingers to move a zippering action across his lips.
The animated mannerisms of the group elicited an inward smile from the ravenette. ‘This must be what it’s like to have friends,’ she thought. As great as it is being a princess, there are certainly downfalls to growing up in a sheltered environment. Well, actually, that was mostly due to her father.
“I think that Jinora should come with us,” Korra directed at Tenzin.
“What? Have you gone mad? She isn’t ready for such a task!” He argued.
“That’s nonsense, Tenzin, and you know it. Jinora is a young woman now, and she is wise beyond her years. This is a mission suited for her capabilities. The girl is so stealthy, you would think she is a spirit herself,” Korra responded.
“I hate to interrupt, but it’s about time to go. And, father, I agree with Korra. I can be useful, and they might need me. You need to believe in me,” Jinora spoke from the entryway of the study.
Jinora cut her father off before he could argue further, “Father, I can do this. You need to trust me. I’m not just your little girl anymore.”
Tenzin breathed in deeply and exhaled slowly through his contemplations.
Looking back at his daughter, Tenzin's shoulders loosened as he spoke, “I don’t like this at all, Jinora, but you are right that you aren’t my little girl anymore. It’s just so hard to believe how much you have grown up. I do believe in you, and I trust that you will undoubtedly be of help to Team Avatar in this mission.”
Jinora gave a slight smile and a small nod of gratitude towards him.
“Alright everyone, gather what you need and follow me,” Tenzin ordered as he rose from his chair.
The group silently complied as they gathered their things. A sense of dread threatened to overwhelm Asami before blue met green in a confident and reassuring look. That split second was all it took to gather herself and move to follow the group. ‘I can do this,’ she reminded herself.
Stopping at the stables, Tenzin spoke, “Alright, this is where I leave you all. Please be sure to take good care of my daughter.”
His hand landed heavily on a muscled, bronze shoulder as he leveled a sincere gaze to meet the soldier’s. The level of trust Asami witnessed in that exchange sent a fire of determination and icy resolve throughout her body as all apprehension just dissipated at that moment.
‘Regardless of what happens, we will set things right again. I won’t allow my people to suffer further because of my own distress,’ the black-haired beauty decided.
The trek to the castle along their decided route remained silent. Even the slight shuffle of their careful steps were muted by the breeze that rustled the trees. By nature’s standard, it was a perfect night, a night that should be spent in good company, carelessly enjoying one another in jovial activities. ‘Well, at least I have the good company part,’ Asami mused.
Arriving at a stone entrance at the base of the castle, the princess immediately recognized it as an entrance to the kitchen storage. Jinora pulled a key from her robes before quietly opening the door and ushering in the rest of the team.
The room was dark, cold, and unwelcoming before a faint candlelight offered some semblance of warmth. Asami immediately recognized the face of who held the candle.
“Kai?” she whispered. He was a versatile member of the house staff, and she enjoyed being in his company. She would dare say he is the closest thing she has to a friend other than her mother.
He smiled before waving at the princess and whispered back, “It’s good to see that you are okay, princess. We don’t have much time, though; your father will only be alone in his workshop for a little while. Please follow me and stay quiet.”
Kai moved down a hallway, and everyone silently followed. He motioned for everyone to stop just before the group crossed a corridor that ran perpendicular to their left. No guards were present, so they quickly moved along.
The familiar corridors taunted Asami as she snuck through what was supposed to be her home. At least before they went a direction, she wasn't expecting. Her father's workshop was in the back, so why are they heading towards the third library?
It was a dusty old hidden room with outdated or irrelevant books. Certainly, no place her father frequented.
Her heart drops with the deafening sound of the dropping wall that separates their group.
'They knew we were coming.' It is a thought that she is sure they all shared. Glancing around, she sees Mako and Bolin.
"Asami, we need to get in there, " Mako looks at her expectedly.
"I don't know anything about this space…" the princess trails off, taking a better look at her surroundings before moving towards crates filled with unfamiliar objects.
"It looks like my father was working on some new weaponry, but I'm not sure what it is," Asami explained to the two soldiers.
Examining the contents, she recognized the prototype fire starters Hiroshi had been developing, and suddenly a familiar scent invaded her nose…
Her heart sunk, and emerald eyes widened in shock at the realization of where she first experienced the acrid burning smell. 'So this is how they did it…'
"I think I know how we can get through the wall," she stated plainly as she took the firestarter in one hand and packed powder in another.
Stacking what she could only guess was enough powder against the wall, the princess finished her set up by attaching a long rope and trailing it to what she deemed a safe distance.
Hiding behind a wall outside of the room, Mako raised a questioning brow at the princess.
"When the castle was attacked, the smell in the air was the same as that powder I found. I'm only guessing, but I assume it can be ignited to cause fires that will breach walls," Asami explained.
Taking a moment to calm her nerves, the princes then lit the rope with the firestarter. As the flame traveled along the rope, she felt the grip around her heart proportionally strengthen. The moment it was a breath away from the powder, her heart stopped.
They all sat with bated breath in what felt like an eternity.
The deafening sound, blinding light, and suffocating smoke consumed their senses.
As the smoke cleared, the gaping hole in the wall appeared.
"I-it wo-khof-ack-ahem- it worked!" Bolin coughed out.
"Let's go!" Mako yelled as he surged towards the hole in the wall.
Entering the hidden workshop, Mako and Bolin are immediately engaged by equalist soldiers. Asami notices Korra and Jinora held to their knees by two others.
"Ah, Asami, I am so happy that you are here. I'm sorry that I had to keep this secret from you for so long, but at last, you can join me," Hiroshi declared with a smile.
Mortified, the princess responded, "But... H-how could you?"
Seemingly perplexed, the King answered, "What do you mean Asami, I did this for us and our kingdom. Don't you see that we can all be truly united now?"
It didn’t make any sense. Why would her father ally with terrorists and set fires within his own kingdom? What was there possibly to gain by potentially harming their people? And how could he… his own beloved… her mother... how could he….
"They killed mother!" She shouted, almost hysterically.
"Don't be ridiculous, Asami," Hiroshi chastised.
"I saw it with my own eyes-"
"You don't know what you saw! Now, take your place with me and finish this."
Is he delusional? Does he not know that she’s dead or does he not believe who killed her?
He held a dagger in an outstretched hand for the ravenette to take. Glancing around the room, taking in her surroundings, Asami makes the only decision she feels is possible. She hopes it’s the right one.
"Very well, father," she quietly answers with her head cast downwards.
The sound of Asami’s boots striking the ground echoes dramatically throughout the room with every step as she strides closer to him. She accepts the dagger with tear-filled eyes.
Korra's blue eyes grow wide in disbelief.
"Asami, NO!" She shouts.
Emeralds catch the King's gaze with a whisper, "I love you..."
Just as the dagger sinks into Hiroshi's flesh and the warm liquid covers her hand, Asami feels a violent sob wrack through her body.
"Ah-ahssmi-ghha," he coughed out with a spatter of blood and betrayal evident in those eyes that she never looked away from. Asami felt her heart shatter in that moment. She stopped the new flood of tears that threatened to fall before she let him fall to the floor.
"But-ack," Hiroshi managed before violent coughs consumed him.
Asami steeled herself to respond, "You chose a side that has no regard for humanity, and that took my mother. I will never forgive you."
“We need to get out of here!” Mako shouted as he helped Korra to her feet. The two soldiers that held them captive were now lying on the floor. Acting quickly, Asami strode to Korra’s other side and moved with Mako to the nearest exit.
Smoke filled her lungs, threatening to choke away all oxygen, and lapping flames seared her skin. ‘We need to hurry,’ she thought as she quickened her pace, and Mako seamlessly matched her stride.
Emerging from the underground warehouse, coughing, and gasping for fresh air, they stopped to regulate their breathing for a moment.
“It’s going to be a dash for our escape, but we need to continue using the dark of night to our advantage. Princess, you know these grounds better than anyone, so we need you to guide the way," Mako said.
Together, they move with Asami’s guidance, Korra still leaning against the two for support in walking.
At the edge of the castle grounds, the group stops when they see a large mass of soldiers most likely looking for the intruders.
Asami looks at the captain, “Can you run?”
Mako and Asami step away for Korra to test her strength. Stretching and bouncing on the balls of her feet, Korra winces but maintains her sturdiness.
“I can manage,” she nods.
Pinpointing the path furthest from any soldier, the princess guided their group in a sprint, consciously adjusting her pace to accommodate the injured captain. They were only a couple hundred yards from Tenzin’s stables before equalist soldiers detected them and were on their tail. Korra stopped suddenly.
“Korra! What are you doing?” Mako yelled as he and the rest of the group stopped with her.
“I’ll hold them off. I’m only slowing you down, and we won’t make it to Tenzin’s to get the horses before they catch up to us,” Korra breathed out.
“I’m staying with you,” Mako declared as he drew his sword. Korra nodded at him.
Asami took another look at the two before speaking, “We need to go now. We will be back for you both.”
Jinora and Bolin follow the princess in their final dash for Tenzin’s estate.
Tenzin is outside by one of his entrance gates. As they near him, he yells, “Where are Korra and Mako?”
“No time. We all need to leave now ,” Asami orders as she rushes past the nobleman with Bolin. Jinora stops to assist Tenzin with loading their family on the readied horses.
Rushing into the stables, Asami gracefully mounts Naga while Bolin climbs on Pabu. Without a word, they speed off to where they left the captain and Mako.
Despite Korra’s injuries, the two are putting up an exceptional fight against the overwhelming number of equalist soldiers on the battlefield. Regardless of how excellent, it’s clear that they are losing ground.
Charging in, the ravenette guides Naga with a finesse, unlike Korra has ever seen. She smoothly pulls the bronze soldier into the saddle, fitting snugly behind her, every inch of skin between them pressed firmly together.
Sprinting from the skirmish Korra comments, “I guess you have some skill at riding, after all, princess.” Asami turns her head enough to throw Korra a cocky look and smirk. Asami thought she caught a glimpse of pink on those cheeks again but decided it was from the rush of battle.
Bolin successfully collected Mako, and Team Avatar continued to run their horses at max speed away from the kingdom until they were confident their trail was cold. For good measure, they walked the horses along a riverbed for two kilometers before stopping to give the horses water and rest.
When they dismount, Korra turns to Asami, “So uh thanks. You were pretty great out there,” Korra complimented awkwardly while rubbing the back of her neck with one hand. Asami found the look absolutely adoring; it was a sharp contrast from her typically boisterous persona.
“Thank you, Captain. I am pretty great, huh?” Asami teased with a genuine smile. And there it was again, only this time Asami was sure she saw the blush grace Korra’s features. ‘So you don’t hate me so much after all.’
"Yeah, a great pain in the ass. Anyways, where'd you learn to ride like that? After your first display of mounting a horse, I figured you had no skill in it." Korra asked.
Asami flushed with embarrassment at the memory. "I'll have you know; I happen to have grown up training and racing."
"Could have fooled me. Or do you just like rolling around in the mud?"
Asami just rolled her eyes before the brothers approached.
“I think we can take a few minutes before we head out to the meeting spot with Tenzin. It’s not a good idea for us to linger around,” Mako spoke to the group.
They all nodded in agreement.
Kudos and comments encourage me to write faster, so please don't be shy about dropping either!
Chapter 6: On the Road
The beginning of Team Avatar's journey from the United Republic through Korra's POV
This chapter is from Korra's POV. I hope you enjoy taking a look into her side of things!
The past weeks for the captain have been frustrating, to say the least. The princess was such a pain in the ass to be around with her stupid perfect posture, articulate way of speaking, luscious hair that somehow fell in all the right ways no matter the time of day, smooth porcelain skin, stunning green eyes, alluring smell…
It was no secret that she was attracted to women and was often successful in her sexual exploitations. She figured the best way to live a life with no guarantee of a tomorrow was by enjoying every pleasure the world had to offer. This, though, lusting after royalty, was not okay.
So, naturally, Korra teased and lashed out at the beauty like an immature schoolboy picking on his crush. The princess took it in full stride, though; her sharp tongue and sassy demeanor always kept their banter interesting during their nightly sparring sessions on the road.
Korra lost more often than she‘d care to admit, especially in their hand-to-hand bouts, but she blames it on the distracting vixen and her mesmerizing dance-like fighting style. The teasing glint behind emeralds, smirking full lips, and lingering touches and holds. And even after weeks spent traveling horseback in the great outdoors, somehow, Asami still smelled so damn amazing.
‘She is intoxicating,’ Korra shook the thoughts away.
Since their escape from the United Republic, Team Avatar made their way to Zaofu as the princess had initially intended. Mako’s intelligence gathering within the small towns the team skirted by affording them the knowledge of two crucial details. First, word about the downfall of the Sato family spread the same night, meaning it was more than a day ahead of their team. Second, support for the equalists was farther spread than she thought but polar (as with all extremist groups). It wasn’t hard to pinpoint their opposition and supporters.
The equalists in towns closer to the main Kingdom were growing impatient and reckless, lashing out at townspeople and travelers unwilling to be recruited. However, the skirmishes involving Team Avatar were always small enough to resolve quickly. Korra assumed these were radical members of the party acting on their own because none of them possessed the fighting skills she witnessed just outside the castle.
After a few days of traveling, Team Avatar, now including Asami, decided to make their first town visit and stop. Skirting villages for reconnaissance and collecting scraps for supplies was difficult, and they’ve barely been able to gauge the risk in the outer laying towns through such precautions.
Korra was still uneasy about the entire situation and plan to seek help in Zaofu, as the princess adamantly insisted, but Asami did more than prove trustworthy. Guilt gripped the captain, not for the first time, since accusing Asami of betrayal.
Korra could only imagine the pain of witnessing her mother’s murder, learning her father had a hand in the bloodshed, and taking her own kin’s life. Despite her lack of memory before General Iroh took her, Korra had a deep feeling that she was close to her family, and it broke her heart to imagine dealing with what Asami has. Korra looked up at the focus of her thoughts and noticed another figure looming too close. She bristled immediately with worry and grasped the hilt of her sword, swiftly moving closer to the pair. Behind her, Mako and Bolin braced with the same concern.
“Down with the monarchy!” the figure shouted as he thrust his arms in the air, the glint of steel catching Korra’s eyes.
Asami reacted in time to sidestep the attack just as Korra dashed between them to block the blow. She rounded on the assailant in a fluid movement to attack. Quickly assessing multiple other enemies joining the attacker, Korra struck without mercy.
Spinning to dispatch another, she heard the clash of metal behind her, becoming aware of the engagement the rest of her group was handling. With no time to worry about how they were faring, Korra aimed to expeditiously finish her own fight and aid her friends as quickly as possible.
Sweat beaded across her brow as she squared off with another opponent. Korra was an excellent fighter and swordsman, but this equalist proved to be much more skillful than the others she felled already. Fortunately, as the battle waged, she managed to assess how the others were doing.
It didn’t matter that there was no time to worry about them earlier because worrying at all was unnecessary. Unsurprisingly, the brothers were easily handling their own, but Asami… Okay, a split-second glance was enough to see Asami fighting with a ferocity and finesse that made Korra question ever doubting that the princess could wield a sword.
Refocusing on her opponent, Korra lunged forward with an upward slash blocked at eye level before quickly flicking her wrists back to pivot her sword and roughly shove the hilt into the equalist’s gut. Before he could finish grunting in pain, Korra righted her wrists, quickly thrusting the blade into her enemy.
Breathing heavy from exertion, she pulled her weapon from the body as he fell to the ground. Standing straight, she surveyed her surroundings, noting that the battle was over. For now, anyway.
“It isn’t safe here. We need to saddle up and leave immediately,” Korra ordered gruffly with no care of being polite at the moment, given the circumstances.
Asami nodded, somehow maintaining her elegant and ethereal beauty despite fighting for her life. The only indication of her fatigue from fighting was the absence of a sarcastic comment about being ordered around.
Vacating the area without further discussion, they quickly made their way to the horses. Asami wordlessly mounted Naga after she and Korra found a sense of comfort in the warmth behind her. She may have groaned at having to ride together before, but Korra certainly had no further complaints about not having a fourth horse now.
Slowing to a trot following their rush out of town, she felt Asami’s grip tighten and body press flush against her in the saddle. Embracing Korra, Asami rested her cheek and the weight of her head against Korra’s shoulder. Korra felt Asami deeply inhale before she spoke.
“I am so sick of this shit.”
Korra had no idea what she was expecting the princess to say, but that certainly wasn’t it. She restrained the chuckle threatening to escape her before responding, “You really are full of surprises, Asami.”
The princess hummed in response behind her.
“Do you wanna talk about it?” Korra queried.
“No,” Asami responded in an echoing sound of her previous hum.
“That’s the first time you called me that,” came a few beats later as an afterthought.
“What?” the captain said, confused.
“That’s the first time you addressed me by my name. You must be going soft on me,” the ravenette teased lightly.
“Or I’m just too tired to remember how big of a pain in my ass you are, your highness,” Korra jabbed back with a smile before breaking out into full laughter as Asami poked fingers into her side.
“Hey! Stop that! We’ll fall!” Korra laughed out.
Stopping her tickle onslaught, Asami almost teased, “Oh? I thought Naga was the best horse in the Kingdom, and you’re too skilled of a rider ever to fall?”
Deciding that traveling in or too close to any villages wasn’t worth the risk after that, they stuck to the woods, camping with a watch at night, and gathering their own food. Hunting and fishing were activities Korra always enjoyed, so she didn’t mind.
Along their travels, the terrain continued twisting, falling, and mostly rising into the mountainous landscape cradling their destination. The sparkling rivers, lakes, and falls were a welcomed source of food, refreshment, and hygiene.
Korra breathed deeply through her nose and felt a calming sense of nostalgia wash over her with the fresh mountain scent. The mountains were the closest thing she could feel or perhaps remember being home.
“Let’s stop soon and get an early dinner and some extra rest. I think we deserve it with how hard we’ve been pushing,” Korra announced.
“Oh, thank Raava! I would love to wash some of this nastiness away! No offense, Pabu, but I don’t want to smell like you anymore,” Bolin spoke as his horse let a sharp breath out, seemingly understanding the insult, before stopping abruptly and jerking Bolin in his saddle.
“Hey!” he whined.
Korra felt and heard the musical notes of Asami’s laughter behind her before she let out a low chuckle herself.
“Bo, cut it out,” Mako, everso cheerfully said. Korra rolled her eyes at his uptight nature.
“It’s not my fault! Pabu, please be a good boy, and I’ll give you extra apples when I can,” Bolin reasoned with the colt. Their bond was undeniable, but there was definitely some additional training the young horse needed.
After surveying the area, they set up their small camp for the day. Dismounting Naga, Korra stretched her aching limbs and gathered her fishing line and hook. Simple enough and easy to pack.
“I’m gonna go see about catching some fish nearby for dinner.”
“Bo and I can gather the firewood,” Mako dutifully added.
“I’ll take care of getting drinking water,” Asami stated.
This was much how every other night went with the group, each falling into a role and fulfilling an essential survival function.
‘I am still so glad that the princess is nothing like what I thought. She has been handling this entire ordeal way better than expected.’
Roaming the area for a decent spot to catch their meal, Korra took her time enjoying the scenery and peace. Her life did not offer much time to enjoy taking things easy, so she always tried soaking up the small moments of peace she found in accomplishing her tasks. Listening for running water, Korra followed the sound.
Walking along a stony path through a thicker brush of foliage, thanks to the water source, no doubt, Korra pushed through the opening and froze. Mouth agape.
Golden rays of sunlight streaking through high trees glistened across a pool of clear water and flashed brilliant streaks of color through the splashing droplets of the short falls. The scene was breathtaking, but what captured her attention was glowing, ivory skin stretching over those perfectly toned yet distinctly feminine muscles and curves. And those legs… legs that just went on for miles, begging Korra to kiss every inch. Luscious black waves swayed deliciously over the soft skin of her back with a toss over her shoulder.
Korra’s mouth went dry, and she couldn’t look away. Was this heaven? Because surely, this woman must have been the angel sent to retrieve her.
No, not angel, Asami is a - The Goddess. There is no way she’s of Earthly descent.
Then captivating green eyes captured hers, the look of surprise quickly replaced with a smoky, dangerous gaze.
“Do you like what you see, Korra ?” Asami purred her name, only keeping her head turned enough to watch the captain while keeping the front of her body obscured from ocean blue eyes.
“Uh - I - Mmuh,” Korra attempted to speak through her thudding heart. She was sure she must have been drooling despite the dry clamp in her throat.
Asami smirked, and not that playful smirk she liked using while taunting. This, this smirk was pure fire and dared Korra to play with it. Usually, Korra was bold enough to play with fire at the risk of getting burned, but this time. Well…
“I’m sorry!” Korra blurted out before turning tail and running back through the thicket she came through, some branches painfully whipping her across her arms. Stopping a few minutes later, she bent over on her knees and panted.
‘I am so royally fucked,’ Korra thought as she realized this attraction was NOT going away anytime soon.
An hour or so later, Korra returned to their makeshift camp with her catch for the evening, one she was quite proud of at that. She prepared and cooked the fish using the fire, courtesy of her brothers in arms. Asami quietly gathered the water she’d boiled earlier, bagged, and let cool in the mountain river for a more pleasant consumption experience.
Everything seemed as usual per their travel customs of the prior weeks. ‘Hopefully, I can pretend like the princess never caught me ogling her trying to bathe.’
Finishing their meal, Bolin and Asami took to refilling and purifying their water supply for the following day’s journey. As the sun reached its point an hour from dipping below the horizon, Asami approached her.
“So, are we gonna go at it again tonight or no?” Green eyes glinted in mischief, an arm confidently braced upon a jutting hip in challenge.
Korra froze at the question, staring at the princess with a cocked eyebrow.
“I was thinking no weapons today,” Asami added, clearing the confusion overflowing those blue eyes.
Korra chastised herself for misunderstanding the situation. ‘Damn, I need to get my head on straight and out of the clouds. She is a princess, likely set up with a prince, and no way in hell would be interested. Get it together, Korra.’
“Yeah, good idea. Are you ready?” she asked Asami.
Asami smirked and assumed her fighting position, “You know I’m always ready for you, captain.”
Korra shook away any distracting thoughts threatening to overwhelm her at the comment and teasing grin. She won’t allow this magnetic draw to Asami distract her from winning this time.
As always, Korra rushed in for the first strike, which Asami dodged easily. Korra threw flurry upon flurry of jabs, planning to overcome the lithe fighter opposing her and land at least one or two blows.
Unfortunately for her, the princess was managing to evade each and every punch. Korra couldn’t sustain this barrage, so she slowed and changed up her tactics. Asami was quickly adaptable but not psychic. All Korra had to do was execute a combo she never tried. Korra had to fight, unlike herself, to throw off the infuriatingly gorgeous sparring partner.
Stepping a half step back out of those long arms’ reach, Korra thought of Asami’s preferred grappling techniques. Korra was never a fan of the technicality involved with grappling, preferring the punch, punch, kick, kick method, but she learned a few things in her tussles with the royal.
Asami would never see it coming.
Korra feinted closer in a fake right uppercut before pulling back to her starting position. As she hoped, Asami moved to strike the what should now be exposed right ribs of Korra, too quickly to recover. Korra swiftly grasped Asami’s forearm, pulled, twisted, and took the princess to the ground, pinning her successfully.
If executing the maneuver wasn’t satisfying enough, then being face to face and a breath away from Asasmi’s irresistible lips certainly was.
Emerald irises peered into her deep blues before darting down to Korra’s lips. The exchange felt like an eternity before Korra slightly dipped her head to give in and --
“OOOF, uhnn,” Korra let out in a huff and with blinking eyes. Above her was Asami and that snarky, satisfied, cocky grin. Mother fucker.
“Looks like I win again. I thought you were supposed to be educating me, captain. Or perhaps you meant to ask me for lessons?” Korra snarled, irritated that somehow the condescending statement still sounded so sexy coming from this woman.
Pushing Asami up, Korra stood with a growl, “Enough, let’s go again.”
“As you wish,” Asami responded with a grin.
“Korra, hellloooo,” Snapping out of her reverie, she glimpsed green orbs and nearly fell into another daze thinking of how much she would rather be looking into the emeralds of a particular princess. The same princess who was straddling and gripping her from behind, atop a walking Naga.
“What, Bo?” She huffed with more minor irritation in her voice than she felt for having her thoughts interrupted.
“Do you want to stop in the next town for the day so that we can have a real meal and comfortable space to sleep?”
All eyes in the group were watching her as she realized this must have been a topic of their conversation for quite some time, and they had been waiting on her decision.
Thinking for a moment, she responded, “That sounds like a good idea. We are close enough to Zaofu that it should be safe enough. It’ll give us more time to gather sympathizers than what we’ve been able to accomplish in the other towns. The more we have against the equalist regime, the easier it will be to reclaim the kingdom.”
Finishing her statement, Korra turned to lock eyes with Asami, willing her determination and reassurance to comfort the woman. When those emerald eyes softened under her azure gaze, Korra nearly melted. Damn, was she a lesbian disaster.
Cantering in view of the village, the group slowed to a trot.
“Ahhhh, I can smell fresh barbeque and mead already!” Bolin exclaimed.
“Bo, can you think about our predicament first. We cannot drink ourselves stupid and enjoy civilian life. We have a mission,” Mako dryly stated.
“Bro, you know if you lived a little, then you’d understand this is the best way to recruit sympathetic parties! Right Cap?” He beamed at Korra.
Korra sighed, “Bo, Mako is right that we can’t go off tonight and get drunk. A drink or two won’t hurt while we’re trying to find any friends, though.”
“Okaayyy, fine. Do we at least have enough coins so that we can all sleep in a real bed tonight?” Bolin’s focus went back to Mako with his question.
Mako shuffled through the coin purse attached to his belt before responding, “We can comfortably get two rooms, so we could share the beds.”
Korra felt heat creep up her neck; Mako and Bolin would, of course, share one room which meant…
She glanced back at Asami, who held her gaze and arched an eyebrow. Korra faced forward again. A moment later, she felt the princess press more firmly into her back as Asami leaned forward. A hot breath ran against her ear with Asami’s whispered, “You don’t have a problem with sharing, do you, captain ?”
And just as soon as the breath was there, Asami was back in her original position, the heat of her whisper lingering throughout Korra’s body.
Well, this could be a long night.
Entering town, they immediately found the tavern to replenish their energy with food and drink. With ample daylight remaining and no rush to make their way to the Inn, they began their search for allies at the tavern.
After sharing a few drinks with fellow patrons and listening in on the gossip, Korra noticed a pair sitting away from the cheerful activities, seemingly in a serious conversation. She swayed and staggered towards the table, appearing drunk as her drink sloshed slightly.
“...so don’t worry about Zaof-” one of the men cut off abruptly as he noticed Korra.
“Chee-hic-cherrs!!” She slurred a convincingly as possible before stumbling back to the crowd of drunks near the bar. She hadn’t heard enough to get solid intelligence, but she heard enough in the words and tone to understand Zaofu already is or may come into trouble soon.
Growing uneasy with her newfound knowledge, Korra glanced towards the princess still sitting by an outer edge of the bar, cloak, and hood donned to obscure her as much as possible. With such a widespread influence, an enemy here can recognize her. Korra kept a closer eye on the princess for the remainder of their time in the tavern.
Just after dinner time, Team Avatar left the now boisterous tavern. Korra was satisfied with her findings and eager to hear what the brothers discovered. She noticed during her observations throughout the evening that Asami decided to keep to herself. The princess undoubtedly shared Korra’s concerns, which was a relief.
Asami’s keen intellect and abilities continued to surprise her. She was used to noblewomen being the typical “damsel in distress.” The princess refused to fit into said stereotype. The realization only further increased her attraction to the siren.
‘Siren? Hmm... I guess of any woman I’ve met, she is most likely to lead me to my death. And here I am, willingly going along for the ride, or however, the legend goes.’ Korra chuckled lightly at her musings.
At the Inn, they gathered in Korra and Asami’s room to debrief for the night.
Korra cut straight to the chase, “I don’t think it’s as safe here or in Zaofu as we were hoping.”
Mako nodded, “I agree, but the equalists haven’t attacked this town or Zaofu yet. They might have dispatched a small team along the route to Zaofu to intercept the princess or scout the area to plan an attack.”
Asami interjected, “Why would they assume I went to Zaofu? My kingdom had many alliances, and surely the equalists wouldn’t spend the manpower scouring each road knowing there’s resistance to the coup within the walls of the United Republic.”
“I also doubt that they have the resources to waste on such a widespread search, so until we learn if they have other reasons for targeting Zaofu, we have to assume it is in pursuit of the princess,” Korra declared.
“Which means there is a potential spy or traitor close to my family or the Beifongs,” Asami concluded with a frown. Nodding, Korra cast the princess a sympathetic look.
“So, does that mean we shouldn’t stay here tonight then?” Bolin asked.
“It would be risky to rush anywhere right now. It could draw unwanted attention. This town has been quiet and at a low threat level. I think we should get a good night’s rest as planned, so we are better prepared to deal with heading into Zaofu, and any surprises that come with it, tomorrow,” Mako suggested.
Korra held her gaze on him for a few moments before looking at Bolin and Asami, taking in their tired faces.
“We do need the rest, and we would be safer in a locked tavern than drawing potential followers to an open campsite. I feel confident that we haven’t attracted any unwanted attention here as well,” Korra affirmed.
Sharing their final thoughts, the boys headed to their room for the night. Korra locked the door and turned to face Asami, her arms lightly hugging herself and green eyes cast downward in thought.
Softly, as not to startle her, Korra asked, “Are you okay?”
Following a pause and a deep breath, the princess responded, “I’m fine. Just need some sleep, is all. A hot bath would be nice too.”
Grimacing, Korra responded, “A bath would be nice, but I’m sorry that we can’t risk going into the bathhouse tonight.”
Asami rolled her green eyes with a huff before looking into Korra’s blue orbs, “I’m well aware of that captain.”
The black-haired beauty then began removing her boots and jacket before pulling down the hem of her pants. Korra whirled around quickly, feeling flush. She heard a shuffling of more clothing and linen before Asami spoke again.
“Well, are you going to sleep or stare at the door all night as my faithful guard?”
Clearing her throat, Korra turned back around to see the princess under the covers in bed.
“I can sleep on the floor,” she responded sheepishly while rubbing a hand on the back of her neck.
“Nonsense, you need a good night’s rest in a comfortable bed. We all do. So come on then,” Asami patted the bed beside her.
Korra shed her outer layers, put out the light, and joined Asami in bed.
Asami let out a contented sigh, “Thank you and goodnight, Korra.”
Relaxing, Korra returned, “Goodnight, Asami.” With the combined comfort in their shared presence, body heat, and exhaustion from previous weeks' compounding, the pair fell asleep within moments.
Korra woke with a start to thrashing and pained grunts beside her. As her senses came to, she realized that Asami was having a terrible nightmare affecting more than her dream world. Gently, she stroked a hand on the ravenette’s shoulder, attempting to calm her frenzied sleep state.
“Asami, Asami, shhh, shhhh, it’s okay.” Korra lightly hummed as she continued rubbing the woman’s shoulder. As the princess’ movements slowed, Korra called her name a bit louder, thoroughly disturbing her slumber.
Before Korra could glimpse emerald through fluttering eyelids, they filled with tears, and Asami slammed her eyes shut, turning away from Korra.
‘I can’t let her see me like this. Weak. Vulnerable.’ Was all the princess could think before Korra broke the silence again.
“Asami, it’s okay. I’m not going to hurt you. Let me help you.”
“And what can you, of all people, do to help me?” Asami bitterly spat out, immediately feeling remorse for her venom-filled tone. She knows it was unnecessary, but she has just been so angry for so long now, and the night terrors only served to further foul her attitude. Still, her resentment was reserved for one person, and Korra is not that person.
“I used to have terrible nightmares as well. I do better now, but there was a time I was experiencing them every single night.” Korra spoke softly as if Asami didn’t just angrily snap at her. The princess chanced a glance back at Korra, whose gaze was lightly fixed towards the sky.
“Why did you have them?” Asami questioned as she fully turned on her side to face Korra.
“I’m not sure. There are snapshots and clues in the dreams, but I don’t remember anything before I was 16. My entire life, or as far as I know, I have been in the army. I stumbled into a camp, luckily of soldiers from a kingdom like yours, or who knows what would have happened. All I knew was my name, but they fed me, gave me clean clothes, and offered to bring me back to the United Republic with them. A few days later, I went to the sparring ring to satisfy my curiosity and boredom, and it turned out that I had some combat skills.” Korra smiled at what seemed to be an entertaining memory.
“Well, what next?” Asami’s curiosity had gotten the better of her as she found herself enthralled in Korra’s story. Korra chuckled before continuing.
“Well, the commander took a liking to me and asked if I didn’t mind training with them for the duration of the trip. Then, he could decide if he would persuade the council to allow me to join your army if I chose to, of course. Iroh was a compassionate leader.”
“Iroh?” Asami interrupted.
“Ah, yes, you should probably know him quite well. I hear that he was a potential suitor for your hand in marriage.” Korra responded, looking at Asami for the first time since starting her story.
“He was, but my father would never have allowed it. He became too concerned with marrying a powerful man outside the kingdom for benefits. I should have seen it sooner… how corrupt he was becoming.” Emerald eyes cast downward as she furrowed her brow, feeling the anger resurface as acid rose in her chest.
Korra breathed out, “Asami, it isn’t your fault. You couldn’t have known. Your father alone is responsible for his actions, and you have nothing to do with his choices.”
“That’s a real turn of perspectives there, Captain. I thought you didn’t trust me?” Asami pointed out with a quizzical look on her face.
“I didn’t. We have been roaming these lands for weeks now, gathering people who will volunteer to fight for our cause, learning about each other in the process. I’m sorry that I quickly judged you to go along with what Hiroshi would, just because you are his daughter. You truly care about your people, the kingdom, justice, and doing the right thing,” Finished the brunette.
“Wow, that must have been pretty difficult, huh?” Asami smugly responded with a grin. Korra laid there with an incredulous look on her face, but before she could retort, the princess continued.
“You are a proud, strong, and caring warrior, Captain Korra, and I am lucky to have you not just in my army but to have personally made your acquaintance. It’s not been a complete pleasure getting to know you, but I’m glad that it was you that stepped into the stall to help me that day.” Asami felt her cheeks heat up at the admission. It was odd to Asami. Sure, she enjoyed their nightly sparring sessions and constantly teasing the soldier, but this was a genuine warmth that spread through her chest. The corners of her lips turned up ever so slightly.
Korra beamed at the porcelain figure in front of her, flexing the bicep on which arm she wasn’t leaning, boasting, “Strong. You got that right!” and finished the statement with a kiss to the bulging muscle. Asami lightly chuckled as she felt a flip in her stomach.
“Seriously, though, I am happy to have gotten to know you too, Asami. Now that we’ve established that we don’t hate each other anymore, do you want to tell me about your dreams?”
Asami hesitated, opting to stare at the ground as she spoke, “The night I ran from the kingdom, I watched my mother get struck down in front of me. She instructed me to hide and not reveal myself for any reason, even if her life was in danger. She said that it was likely for one of us to live, the other would risk her life, and it’s unnatural for a mother to lose a child. Therefore, if it came to that, I must be the one to survive,” she choked on her words, attempting to push the sobs down.
Strong arms wrapped around her, “Shhh, Asami, it’s okay, come here,” she heard Korra whisper. She had been so lost in her emotion while telling the story, that she hadn’t even noticed Korra move closer before being embraced. She pressed her forehead against Korra’s chest as heavy sobs racked through her body.
“I’ve got you. It’s okay, Asami.” Korra rubbed her hands rhythmically up and down Asami’s back to soothe the crying woman. For the first time, Korra truly felt sadness for the princess, having never understood the woman's hardships.
As the pain in her heart lessened, Asami regained the ability to think of more than her anguish at the loss of her mother. Thoughts like how embarrassing it is to cry in front of another person, to be broken in front of another, and for said person to be someone you supposedly disliked from the start.
Then the thoughts evolved to how much warmth this perso-, no Korra, how warm it felt to be held by Korra. How those strong arms that she’s seen cut down so many enemies can provide her with a secure feeling that she never knew existed. How comforting it was to be enveloped by the smoky yet oceanic scent that was so peculiarly Korra.
Her heart suddenly felt like it stopped as she let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding, a genuine smile forcing her lips to curve as she clutched the front of the shirt of the woman holding her. She let her eyelids close before falling into the most peaceful sleep since her life was turned upside down.