Korra stood on the deck of the ship, emerald green sails billowing in the wind above her, Mikhail was stood nearby steering the mighty vessel on it’s course back towards her home, the Sapphire Islands, he had bought them worrying tales of the Sapphire Emperor joining the dark forces of the The Child that even now marched on the Kingdom; but the bards thoughts were far away, dwelling on the deal that she had made with Hel half-rotten, northland goddess of the dead when the boot of an orc-man had crushed her chest and the corpse-deity appeared before her with her damnable bargain. She had three days to send a soul of equal worth to the depths of Hel’s dark domain or her own would be forfeit; Korra didn’t want to die, no-one did (well maybe those berserking northlanders but no-one else), and for a moment she had entertained keeping her side of the bargain, she had even sized up a couple of people such as James, the vessel’s young chef, but how could she honestly live with herself knowing that someone languished in the underworld, condemned in her place?
Demanor meanwhile stood far away in the halls of the mountain dwelling elves, she was lead to where three ancient members of their tribe stood encased in thick white ice, the people of the floating fortress had gathered around, eager to catch a glimpse of one of the rare stangers to their kingdom; a small child darted from the crowd and handed the forest dwelling druidess a necklace crafted to look like a snowflake which she accepted gracefully. A soft but commanding voice in her head from one of the frozen figures informed her that they had felt the corruption of the twisted elven blashpemies that roamed the mountainside but that they had also sensed Demanor and her pure link with nature, Thalin had been sent to guide her to them; Demanor began to speak, to warn the ancient elves of the danger posed by the The Child, and felt the minds of those ancient elves join with her, as she spoke they walked through her memories seeing the visions that she had seen of The Child, his part in the burning of the ancient elven settlement and his initial meeting with the savage orc shaman known as the Rugorim.
Hesitantly Demanor asked the ancients whether they could sense The Child and told them that her friend was making for Ironholme, in return she saw a vision of a great force of orcs and humans besieging the city, Strike was camped nearby with the ragtag group of tribes that he had rallied to his banner.
Strikes scouts had returned with news of the orcs around the city, but they did not seem to be actually attacking it, they seemed to be waiting, undeterred the would-be king of the north strode through the horde almost daring anyone to meet his gaze and challenge him; a huge orc strode infront of him but, rather than lifting a weapon as Strike expected, he simply said “Azgog wants to see you.”
Allowing himself to be lead to a hide tent near the city, Strike met with the leader of the gathered orc tribes, a huge female orc known as Azgog, left behind as a lieutenant when Rugorim departed for the mainland to join The Child’s attack, taking most of his man-orcs with him; it seemed that, although Azgog had initially supported Rugorim, the old shaman’s pollution of orc bloodlines to create the man-orcs had soured her opinion of him, she had only been waiting for a sign to act with the man-orcs and the shaman himself gone, and here Strike was. The burly orc proposed that they join their tribes in marriage according to the ancient customs and that together they could take the northland and hold it against Rugorim’s forces should they attempt to return; realising that such a marriage would give him a huge force and almost uncontested rulership of the tribes not directly under Rugorim’s control Strike agreed and shortly afterwards the ceremony was held according to the ancient northlander customs.
“This isn’t right” shouted Captain Mikhail as the wind dropped to nothing and his ship fell becalmed, “there’s some devilry afoot here!”
Korra barely had time to look up, she had been composing an ode to Hel, hoping that her words might mollify the ancient deity somewhat, when a huge tentacled beast burst from the water, the body of the ancient goddess sprouting from the end of one of the tentacles like a rotting bloom; before anyone even had chance to shout or register surprise, Korra was snatched from the depth and pulled into the waters icy embrace, disappearing from view forever.
“The price has been paid” said the Hel-beast in a sombre funerary voice and the beast vanished back into the depths.
James the young chef rushed to the side of the ship, peering into the water, “She’s gone lad, no-one crosses the gods and lives, the winds coming up, we’ll all live longer if we get out of this damned place.”
Standing in the icy floating city Demanor gasped as she saw a vision of Korra’s death and somehow knew that what she had witnessed had happened and that she was too late to prevent it, startled voices filled the air and she realised that the ice containing the elders had started to darken and turn black; in her minds eye Demanor watched as the mainland burned and the dark forces of The Child destroyed all who did not surrender.