hideout; 2:01 am
I blinked, my finger slipping on the piano keys. The resulting note was jarringly loud, and we both winced. We were safe enough in this abandoned building, but patrols were everywhere. I carefully eased my hand from the instrument and turned, looking at Victor.
“Is it time?”
I still didn’t have my magic yet, but the last few days had been so busy, I surprisingly hadn’t had much time to think about it. Even now, when I was considering it, it was more of a dull ache than anything. I’d been more irritable, of course, but…I was surviving. I thought I’d die without magic, but it seemed life had other plans.
borderlands; 3:30 am
When we arrived at the borderlands over an hour later, we were both streaked from grime and panting from our journey across the barren plains.
“Those are the-” Victor began, pointing at a crop of glowing, crystalline flowers.
“I know,” I interrupted, staring at the flowers.
Victor paused. I could feel his gaze on me, but I couldn’t devote the time to regret my slip — if he suspected me, so what? He already had his suspicions.
When Victor reached out a hand, the flowers sparked an angry red, and he snatched his hand away with a strangled yell. We both flinched, looking for any robots who might have heard the sound. When nothing appeared, he shook out his hand and glared at the flowers. “They’re magic — I don’t know if we can harvest them, Korra.”
I looked at the flower, so perfect in its barbed cruelty. Raf and I had had no trouble harvesting it back home, but maybe that was because of the ghost’s acceptance, the time of day, the time of year, our own magic…
There were countless variables to contend with, and countless things that could go wrong, but what choice did I have? Raf depended on me.
I couldn’t let him down a second time. So, gritting my teeth, I thrust my hand forward and touched the closest bloom.
Nothing happened — no pain, no joy, nothing at all. Only the cool, waxen feel of the leaf. I slipped it between my fingers, marveling at the normality of it, and gently cupped the flower. It was just as I remembered — hard and icy cold.
“How-” Victor began, and I shook my head. “Maybe it knows I’m the one who needs it.”
“Magic is fickle,” I said and breathed a sigh of relief when he didn’t question further.
When I’d collected as much as I could carry, I felt a tug of — something — turn my head to the right. I stood, dirt falling from my pants, and stared at the half-buried structure looming at the horizon.
“I know this place,” I whispered, walking forward as if pulled by an invisible source.
“Korra-” Victor hissed.
“I was here before,” I said. “Ten years ago.”
I stared at the engraved entrance, my hand hovering inches from the corroded metal, and turned to Victor. “We were here before.”
Uncle Anakin had brought us here. This was where I’d caught my first glimpse of Kylo, although I hadn’t known who or what he was, then.
“Korra, don’t touch it. We need to return.”
“I-” my voice trailed off as I stared at the metal. Something in me was urging me to touch it. Unbidden, my hand pressed forward, and the tips of my fingers grazed the cool metal —
A flash of blue, and glowing letters began springing all around me. With them, I felt a heady rush sweeping from my head to my toes —
magic. It had returned.
I let out a laugh, barely resisting the urge to cast a barrage of spells. Magic was back. I was back.
“Korra!” Victor shouted, looking at the letters with fear in his violet eyes.
I turned, a laugh half-formed in my throat, and flinched —
“Robot!” I shouted.
The robot was, of all things, dressed neatly in a tux and a red bowtie. It looked at us unblinkingly, its glowing eyes blinding in the dull green-black of the night.
Victor cursed. “There will be more coming any second, now.”
He looked at me. “Get behind me, Korra. You’re not ready. You — you need to run.”
For once, I didn’t have a ready retort.
In an instant, I was remembering the boutique, helplessly watching my friend get destroyed by the robots. Now was different, though. Now I had magic.
I looked at Victor. He couldn’t know that I was a witch. I looked around frantically for a solution and, as the robot began blaring an alarm, I yanked the man towards me and hurled us both at the door.
He let out a strangled yell, and I hurriedly cast a transportation spell, hoping that he would think the door was responsible.