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|The Fifth World|
Book 3: Doorways
March 17th, 2014
Korra gets her first taste of John's world, and makes a mysterious new ally.
Sounds, smells, and other strange things met her as Korra drifted in and out of conciseness. She heard bits of John talking, children laughing, and kinds of music that she had never heard before. That was from the outside. From deep inside her, Korra felt something else calling to her. In her mind's eye, she drifted deeper and deeper, following the call. Her view lit up, showing her that she was floating in space. Stars dotted the blackness, shining like diamonds.
Before her was a clear barrier, like that of a window or a thin sheet of ice. Beyond the barrier was something that both confused and terrified her. It was an exact copy of herself, starring at her from the other side of the barrier like she was looking into a mirror and glowing with a light blue aurora. Looking down at her hands, Korra realized that she was glowing as well, only her aurora was a violet color.
"What's going on?" she asked.
"One of many correct questions to be asking in a time such as this." The copy of her on the other side of the barrier didn't have her voice. Instead, this voice sounded much older and more commanding.
"Who are you?"
"I am you. Or to be more precise I am an extinction of you. I am Raava, the Spirit of Light, the Spirit of the Avatar."
"If you're the Avatar Spirit, why aren't you inside me? How are we talking like this?" Korra asked, reaching up and brushing her fingers against the barrier. The barrier rippled out from her touch like water, but otherwise remained intact.
"The Avatars were never meant to cross the boundaries of existence. We have been separated as a result of your physical body's crossing into the Fifth World. That is the reason why you lay in this current state while the Jumper is up and walking around."
"The one you refer to as John. I would answer more of your questions but our time grows short. Darkness is stirring, Harmonic Convergence is almost upon us. Forces of evil are working to collapse the foundation of our World. You must go to the Twin Trees and defeat Vaatu when Harmonic Convergence returns."
"Wait, slow down! Who's Vaatu? What's Harmonic Convergence? Where are the Trees?"
"All will be revealed in time, child. The one with Clear Sight will guide you. But for now, awaken."
Korra's eyes shot open. The stars and Raava were gone, replaced by a plain painted white ceiling. Wooden walls ran around what appeared to be a living room. She was lying on a couch, covered by a few blankets. In the corner sat a piano, the once white keys had faded into a pale yellow. Next to the piano sat a deep red chair, which was currently occupied by John. The firebender was flipping through the pages of the journal, a frustrated look on his face. The Device was resting on his knee cap. After a moment he looked up and noticed her.
"You're awake," he said, his look melting into that of relief. Standing, he sat the book to the side and knelt beside her, taking her hand in his.
"Where are we?" Korra asked, looking around the room.
"The Kyle Farm. Jacob and his buddies found us right after our Jump and insisted that they bring us here," John replied. Korra's look was that of puzzlement. But deep down she was repeating what Raava had said. They were in the Fifth World
"We're in the Fifth World?" she asked. John nodded, a small smile creeping onto his face.
"As near as I can tell, yes. I'm one of the few people in existence who gets to say the phrase 'welcome to my world' in it's literal meaning." Korra chucked softly at that. No matter the situation, he could find humor in it. At the foot of the couch, a short round woman entered the open doorway from the kitchen.
The woman was wearing a red knitted sweater, dark blue jeans, and house shoes. Her dirty blonde hair was dangling down from her head, stopping at her shoulders and matching the pale completion of her face and exposed arms. A pair of black rimmed reading glasses sat upon the bridge of her nose.
"Oh good, you're up. Are you hungry, dear?" the woman asked. Korra nodded and sat up. Her balance and senses had all returned to their full working capacity, allowing her to walk into the kitchen without any aid from John.
The kitchen was a simple square room with six doors leading off of it. One into the living room, one into a bathroom, two on opposite ends of the room led onto porches, one led into a den, and the last led into a bedroom. Opposite of Korra was a counter that ran the length of the room, stopping only when it reached a stove in the far right corner. Two windows sat above the sink, showing a scene of a farm beyond it.
Korra sat at a large round table in the middle of the room with John sitting next to her. The woman scooped up a brownish red liquid with vegetables in it into a bowl before she sat it in front of Korra along with a spoon. The food was steaming, and smelled delicious.
"Hope you don't mind to much if it's a little runny, the garden didn't yield as much as we would have liked this year."
"We can't thank you enough for this, Ms. Kyle," John said as Korra began to cautiously try the food. Ms. Kyle waved her hand before she turned back to the stove.
"Oh don't worry about it. Hell we'd never have contact with the outside world if my son 'n nephew weren't always dragging' people down here. How's the food, dear?"
"This is tasty," Korra said through a full mouth, pausing only long enough to speak before she began to dig in again, filling her empty stomach.
"I hope you don't mind to much if Jake doesn't talk to you all that much. He really is a sweet young man, but it takes a while for him to open up to someone," Ms. Kyle went on, acknowledging Korra's comment with a smile.
"Jake?" Korra asked, looking at John for an explanation.
"She means Jacob, the one who brought us here. Jake is short for Jacob, kinda like a nickname," he explained. Outside, the pounding of hooves on hard packed ground reached through the walls. Ms. Kyle looked up from the stove and leaned over so that she could see out of the window.
"Oh, speak of the devil," she said, taking off her reading glasses and turning to go out the closest door that led to a porch. John and Korra immediately stood and went to the windows. Outside, Korra saw Ellis and Jacob trot up on a pair of strong looking four legged beasts. The one that Ellis sat on had a splash of white on its long face. It turned on the spot like it was anxious, causing Ellis to constantly turn himself in the saddle so that he was looking at Ms. Kyle.
"What are those?" Korra asked, fascinated by the beauty of the creatures.
"You know what an ostrich horse is right? Well that's what it looks like when you take away the ostrich part."
"Did you find any strays along the south strip?" Ms. Kyle asked.
"Hell no we didn't find any strays. You could hide half of the state down there and you'd never find 'em even if you tried," Ellis replied.
"Looks like Bolxy 'n' Cosby's got a hold of 'em after they crossed under the old rail bridge. Water 'n' mud is too thick for us to follow by horseback, but some cattle definitely went through there," Jacob said, ignoring his cousin as he offered a better explanation to his mother.
"Well you boys did all you can for today. Come on down and come inside for a bit, your girlfriend in blue woke up not that long ago." Korra felt her cheeks flush slightly at the comment. She watched as the look on Jacob's face melted into that of annoyance.
"Her name is Korra, Ma. Can't you ever call someone by their real name?" he asked as he swung a leg over the saddle horn and slid down off of the horse. The young man was wearing a gray shirt, black overalls, tan work boots, and had his usual hat sitting on his head. Both he and Ellis tied the horses to a concrete bench before they followed Ms. Kyle back into the house.
John and Korra returned to their seats before the trio entered the kitchen. Both Jacob and Ellis took off their respective hats and hung them on a small hat rack by the door before they started for the pot of soup on the stove.
"Nice to see you back in the world of the living," Ellis said as he filled his bowl and sat across the table from the couple.
"We can't thank you enough for what you all have done for us," she replied. Jacob flicked his wrist absentmindedly as he filled a glass of water from the sink.
"Don't worry 'bout it," he said as he turned back toward the table. As he walked, John noticed the gun that was sitting on Jacob's left hip. The holster was facing forward in a cross draw position, forcing it's owner to reach across his body in order to draw it. From this angle, he couldn't tell exactly what it was, only that it was a revolver of some sort.
"So where y'all from?" Ellis asked, pulling John out of his thoughts.
"Rep..." Korra started
"New York City," John quickly cut in. He knew that they wouldn't believe or understand the truth if they told them. Jacob suddenly choked on his food, coughing and pounding on his chest with his fist in order to get some air back into his lungs.
"Bullshit!" he managed in between coughs.
"Jacob, language!" Ms. Kyle reprimanded her son.
"It's the truth. Neither one of 'em got a New York accent, that uniform ain't of any military on the planet, and she's from the frickin' Water Tribe!" Every eye in the room was on Jacob, but for different reasons. Korra looked at him with shock, John with a curiousness, Ellis with confusion, and Ms. Kyle had a look of patient annoyance. Jacob blinked once as he realized what he had said.
"Jacob, are you having another episode?" she asked. In all of their lives, neither Korra nor John had ever seen someone turn on their own mother with such rage.
"No I'm not having an episode! I've never had an episode! Both you and the therapist think that I'm crazy and I'm not!" he shouted, springing to his feet. Ms. Kyle grabbed her son's ear, dragging his six foot one frame down to her level as she led him into the nearest bedroom and closed the door.
"You'll have to excuse my little cousin. He hasn't quite been right since his dad left and that incident down in the old silo," Ellis said. John and Korra looked at each other before they returned to looking at Ellis, expecting an explanation.
"'Bout ten years ago or so, me 'n' Jake were playin' out in one of the fields. We stumbled across an old missile silo from the Cold War. I didn't want to go in but little Jake was always the curious one, and he went in alone. Don't know what he saw down there, but whatever it was, he hasn't been the same since," he explained. The door to the bedroom opened again as a few children, boys no older than the age of eight, ran past. Jacob and his mother walked out of the room as well, with Ms. Kyle looking a little paler then before.
"We need to talk," he said, motioning over his shoulder for the two to follow him. The couple looked at each other before standing and following him into through the living room, up a flight of stairs, and into a bedroom immediately next to the stair landing Jacob stood by the door, holding it open for the two before he followed them inside and closed it behind him.
Instantly John pounced on the nonbender, tackling him to the floor while drawing his pistol and pressing it between Jacob's eyes. Jacob made no effort to fight back, or even draw his own gun in defense. He simply lay on the floor, not making a single struggle.
"How do you know all of this? You know things that no one can possibly know, so how do you know?" John asked. Korra could tell that John was on edge. She knew that with Jacob knowing where she came from, John wanted answers. She wanted answers.
"Because I have seen it," Jacob replied, his voice strained with all of John's weight barring down on his chest.
"No one could see it, the Boundaries keep people from seeing other worlds. You have to have traveled in order to know this."
"Well I haven't traveled, I saw it with my own eyes without even leaving my bedroom." John cocked the hammer back on his pistol.
"Impossible. You're an agent sent by Alexander, you have to be."
"What does your father's journal say about the ones with Clear Sight?" Jacob asked. John blinked once, his training keeping him from showing a reaction. Korra's eyes, however, grew wide.
"John, let him up," she said.
"Korra, he's a danger, what makes you think he can be trusted?"
"Raava said that the one with Clear Sight would guide our way home," she said. John gave her a confused look, while Jacob smirked.
"Your girlfriend seems to trust me, mind getting off my chest now?"
"Shut up. Korra, who is Raava?" he asked.
"The Spirit of the Avatar," Jacob answered, earning pressure into his forehead as John bore down with his pistol. He winced out of pain and annoyance.
"He's right actually, Raava is the Spirit of the Avatar," Korra said. John narrowed his eyes, weighing his options. He removed the muzzle from Jacob's forehead and slowly stood, but kept the weapon aimed at the farm hand in case something happened. Jacob made a growling noise to clear his throat as he stood, rubbing his hand on his ribs.
"You have sixty seconds to explain yourself," John said in a monotone voice.
"I touched a Crack when I was eight, made direct physical contact with a tear in the fabric of reality. It damn near drove me insane, but as a result I gained the ability to see other worlds, other realities. I saw you, both of you, in varying time lines. Some where you never met, some where one or both of you didn't exist at all, and some like now where you did meet. I didn't know what to think when I found you two in that field, but I knew that it was my duty to get you back where you belong."
"And how exactly is that supposed to happen? I tried everything to get us back the way we came here but nothing worked," John said.
"There is a storm that rages at the heart of all Creation. The Eternal Storm, a timeless prison that guards the heart of existence. If I am not mistaken, you encountered it during the events of the Winter Solstice." John blinked in realization as he understood what Jacob was saying. His mind quickly flashed back to the blizzard with the frozen Legionaries. A storm containing things that weren't possible.
If this so-called Eternal Storm could trap the Ninth Spanish Legion, he shuttered to think about what else it contained.
"The Storm breaks through the boundaries of this world every year on the Wolf's Moon, you can use it to return to your home," Jacob continued.
"And just how are we supposed to do that? You said yourself that the storm is a prison, as soon as we enter it we'll be trapped and freeze to death." Jacob cringed and rubbed his temples like he had just received a massive migraine.
"I can't tell you that, there are too many times lines overlapping. Too many possibilities of collapse," he said, sinking to his knees. The pain was evident on the farm hand's face. Tears formed in the corners of his eyes as he fell to his side, the pain being to much for him. Korra quickly bent some water out of a glass on the nightstand and applied it to his head.
"Jacob, stay with me, what is going to collapse?" John asked, taking a knee next to the twisting form on the floor. For a moment, it seemed as if he wouldn't respond. But then his eyes snapped open.
"EVERYTHING! THE SPIRIT OF LIGHT AND THE SPIRIT OF DARKNESS SHALL BATTLE BENEATH THE TREES WHILE THEIR COUNTERPARTS FIGHT FOR COLUMBIA. UPON APRIL 15th, THE LIGHTS SHALL DANCE IN THE SKY AND THE MOON SHALL TURN BLOOD RED, AND THE FATE OF ALL UNDER HEAVEN SHALL BE DECIDED!" he cried at the top of his lungs, causing Korra to real back in shock. As water splashed down on his head, Jacob's eyes rolled backwards and he passed out.
Trivia & Notes
The Kyle Farm is based on a real location that the author spent his childhood at.
A Wolf's Moon is an old name for the January full moon.
The date April 15th is a reference to the Luner Eclipse scheduled to occur over North America on April 15th, 2014.
Jacob's statement about the Wolf's Moon combined with the given date of April 15th indicates that this chapter takes place sometime around January 15th, 2014 in our world
For the collective works of the author, go here.