|"It seems cousin Korra is under the impression we're saddened by our father's demise."|
"But I will not miss him at all. In the end, he became a deplorable man."
"Agreed. But how will we explain this to Mother?"
|— Eska and Desna discuss Unalaq's death.|
Desna and Eska are the twin son and daughter of Chief Unalaq, as well as his successors as leader of the Northern Water Tribe, and cousins of Avatar Korra. They were initially very loyal to their father, heeding his every order, until he used the energy of Harmonic Convergence to become the Dark Avatar. Realizing that their father was beyond salvation, they turned against him and helped Team Avatar to save the world from an era of darkness.
Desna and Eska were born in 155 AG to Unalaq and Malina. Growing up in the North, Desna and Eska developed little appreciation toward the Southern Water Tribe and its inhabitants, including their cousin, Korra.
As the children of the chief, Desna and Eska sat at the table of honor during the royal banquet that was thrown in honor of their father. There, they attentively listened to the conversation Unalaq was having with Korra, though remained silent the entire time. After dinner, they attended the festival carnival, where they stood solemnly, gazing with disinterest at the passersby, before Eska was approached by Bolin, who was trying to charm her. Eska intently stared at him, inhaling sharply, causing the earthbender to become unnerved, and Desna monotonously stated that he thought Bolin was trying to establish a bond with his sister. Amused by the idea of spending time with someone of a different cultural background, Eska promptly stated that he now belonged to her. When Bolin asked if she wanted him as a boyfriend or a slave, she remained ambiguous and instead ordered him to win her prizes.
Journey to the South Pole
Sometime later, the twins accompanied their father, Korra, Mako, Bolin, and Tonraq to the center of the South Pole, where Avatar Korra would open the Southern Water Tribe's dormant spirit portal to stop the dark spirit attacks. Desna and Eska were set to travel on a Arctic camel, though when Bolin arrived on a snowmobile with a sidecar, Eska inquired whether or not the sidecar had the capacity for two passengers. Bolin eagerly told her that it did, interpreting her question as Eska wanting to ride with him, though she had intended it as Bolin driving both her and her brother as passengers, much to Bolin's chagrin.
As the party later made their camp for the night, Korra asked Unalaq if he had a theory as to why the dark spirits were attacking. Bolin, growing frightened, scooted closer to Eska and put his head on her shoulder. She dryly stated that he did not need to worry as she would protect him, dubbing him her "feeble turtle duck".
As the group moved on again, they were ambushed by dark spirits, one of which entered the snowmobile's engine, causing the machine to go haywire, sending the twins and Bolin speeding toward a mountainside. Emotionless even with the prospect of certain death, the twins grabbed Bolin and hopped off the machine before it crashed. They let Bolin slide down the slope on his own, while they used their bending to create ice shoes and skate down the mountain in perfect control, stopping with the rest of the group. When Bolin came to a halt, his snowsuit entirely inflated, Eska helped him to deflate by puncturing his coat with three ice spikes. The twins rode the rest of the way on Mako's Arctic camel, dragging Bolin, who remained seated in the now wrecked snowmobile.
After Korra managed to restore the southern lights and emerged from the forest unscathed, Bolin was the first to hug her. However, Eska broke it up by waterbending an ice wall between the earthbender and the Avatar, sliding the former back to her, demanding to know why he was initiating physical contact with another woman. Bolin nervously smiled, and Eska released him, before walking away with her brother.
The Northern invasion
As the Northern forces began to occupy the South, Desna and Eska were traveling through town in a rickshaw pulled by Bolin. In an attempt to joke around, Eska stated that she would hate to leave the "quaint" Southern Water Tribe. When Desna inquired whether she was sincere, she immediately expressed her relief over leaving the South, as she immensely disliked it. As the twins started chuckling dryly, Eska commanded Bolin to laugh at her "humorous quip". As they halted before a building, Eska descended from the rickshaw on a makeshift stair that Bolin bent for her. When Bolin expressed how sad he would be when she left, she corrected him by stating that he would accompany her to the North to live out the remainder of their lives in "icy bliss".
From that moment on, Eska continually threatened to ice Bolin up and feed him to dolphin piranhas whenever the earthbender attempted to break up with her. That night, the twins accompanied Bolin, Mako, and Korra on a date.
After hearing the news about Varrick being the leader of the rebellion against their father, Desna and Eska set out on a search for the businessman in order to bring him to court. They stopped at the entrepreneur's house where Mako, Bolin, and Asami were waiting for him. The three soldiers that accompanied them searched the entire room while the twins explained to the gathered threesome what was going on. When the search proved futile, Eska proposed to her brother to continue their hunt elsewhere. He promptly left the room, though as Eska was about to do the same, she turned back to Bolin, snapping at him that he should, as her boyfriend, bow when she leaves a room. When the earthbender instantly complied, she affectionately commented that he was cute when he groveled.
During the trial of the Southern Water Tribe rebels, Eska was in a room somewhere in the courthouse. During the judge's recession, Bolin cautiously asked her whether or not they could talk. She granted him permission to talk freely and listened as he told her that he felt the spark between them had faded. She agreed to his assessment of their feelings, but failed to understand it as a sign that he wished to break up; instead, she took it as a reason to engage herself to him, seeing marriage as the only thing that could save their relationship. The princess promptly tied a betrothal necklace bearing a skull and spikes around Bolin's neck, announcing they would be wed at sunset that evening and that he had permission to express his joy through tears. She subsequently led him away, guiding him by the necklace, and gave him and Pabu a new attire and style that would match her own long regal robes of the Northern Water Tribe.
After Eska found herself stood up at her wedding by Bolin, she learned of his escape together with Korra, Mako, and Asami on Varrick's yacht. Enraged and hurt, she gave a chase, propelling herself through the water with a powerful wave in order to keep up with the fast-moving ship. As the boat sped away, however, she eventually gave up the pursuit.
Tracking the Avatar
After Team Avatar successfully managed to flee the South Pole, Desna and Eska, whose disheveled appearance startled a Northern officer, met with their father, who charged them with the task of retrieving Korra, informing his children that she was the only one able to open the Northern spirit portal. Desna asked Unalaq why he had told Korra her services as the Avatar were no longer required, to which Unalaq responded that he had lied to Korra, telling her what he "thought she needed to hear". Eska determinedly told Unalaq that she would find Korra, blaming her for "stealing" Bolin, and reluctantly agreed to her father's request that she be captured alive.
The twins managed to catch up with their cousin as she was traveling to the Fire Nation by speedboat and launched several attacks at her with their bending. Eska blamed Korra once again for ruining her wedding, and after dodging Korra's counterattack, they pulled up on either side of the speedboat. Eska jumped into the air and directed a stream of water at Korra's boat, causing it to break in two, and throwing Korra into the water. Korra rose into the air on a water spout and began firebending at the duo, but they were able to dodge her attacks and fired another stream of water at Korra, knocking her into the air. Korra subsequently formed a much larger water spout, which enveloped the two siblings. Desna and Eska attempted to defend themselves against the effect of Korra's bending, but after spotting a glowing green light below the water, they ceased their pursuit and pulled back. The light was revealed to be a massive dark spirit, which attacked Korra, eventually pushing her beneath the surface of the water. The twins watched from a distance as their cousin disappeared and subsequently fled the scene.
The twins returned to the South Pole, where they discovered their father emerging from the spirit portal. As Unalaq remained silent about what he had been doing in the Spirit World, the twins reported that they had failed to capture the Avatar, but assumed her to be dead.
A week later, they journeyed into the Spirit World with their father in an attempt to open the Northern spirit portal. As they neared the closed portal, Desna and Eska questioned their father's belief that there was another way to open the portal, considering that the spirits had failed to do so in the past ten thousand years. Unalaq explained to them that, by entering the Spirit World through the Southern spirit portal, they still had their bending, something the spirits never had. At their father's insistence, Desna and Eska waterbent at the portal, but the backlash of energetic friction generated by their attack injured Desna. Concerned about her brother's well-being, Eska tended to him, announcing to her father that Desna needed a healer immediately. Unalaq, however, ordered his daughter to disregard her injured brother and resume her assault. Eska refused her father's command and took her brother back into the physical world to be healed.
Routing the rebels
When the Southern Water Tribe rebels launched their attack on the Southern capital and managed to push back the Northern defenders, Desna and Eska led numerous dark spirits into battle, tipping the scales in their favor. With quick water strikes, they managed to push the rebels into a retreat. They were temporarily forced to go on the defensive by Tonraq, though when he charged their father, the twins thwarted his advance with an ice block to his side. Before they could proceed with a follow-up attack, however, they were ordered to leave Tonraq for their father to deal with, and they retreated to a nearby alley.
Several hours prior to Harmonic Convergence, Desna and Eska approached their father in his tent at their encampment surrounding the Southern spirit portal, questioning why they remained at the South Pole when they had defeated the rebels and opened both portals. Under the impression that balance had been restored, they outed their desire to return home. However, they were told that Unalaq's biggest achievement had yet to take place and were subsequently ordered to ready the troops for an incoming Avatar.
Desna and Eska participated in the defense, easily taking down the biplane Mako, Asami, and Bolin were on with their waterbending. They witnessed the shackled threesome being thrown into the tent where Tonraq, Korra, Kya, and Tenzin were already held captive. Although they were surprised to hear their father's plan of fusing with Vaatu during Harmonic Convergence, they did not object and obeyed his order of guarding them all, while he left for the Spirit World. As Korra attempted to convince them to help her instead of their father, Eska quickly silenced her by stating that they would never turn on their father. When their cousin continued her plea, Desna angrily stepped forward and announced his belief that Unalaq was the wisest man in the world and would, therefore, take him on his word.
Soon after, the twins were knocked off their feet by Bumi, who slid into the tent, intending to rescue his family and friends. Desna and Eska prepared to take on the new rival but were once more slammed to the floor, this time by Naga, which knocked them out cold. They regained consciousness later, only to discover that the others had escaped the tent, though before they could reach the Southern spirit portal, they were knocked down by the energy impulse released by the start of Harmonic Convergence.
After Unalaq was cast out of the Spirit World, Desna and Eska incapacitated Mako and Bolin, who were guarding the portal, in order to help their father reenter. As they dragged the brothers away from the portal, they were knocked back by the latter, who then managed to escape. However, they quickly recovered and chased the brothers down into the Spirit World, where Eska halted their escape by encasing them in blocks of ice.
With Unalaq merged with Vaatu and locked in battle with Korra, Mako pleaded with the twins to release them, though Desna deemed his persuasive effort pathetic. However, when Mako pointed out that their father did not care for them, Desna started to doubt their position, as he recalled Unalaq's indifference to his injuries sustained while trying to open the Northern portal. Eska firmly told him to ignore Mako, though was intrigued by Bolin's subsequent outburst of emotion in which he revealed he had always loved her and had merely been scared when he had left her at the altar. Desna exchanged a confused look with Mako, but Eska, moved by Bolin's declaration of love, kissed the earthbender while melting the brothers' icy prisons. While Eska watched them run off with a blissful smile on her face, thinking of spending eternal darkness with Bolin, Desna dryly commented that the brothers would certainly perish, though did nothing to stop them. When they exited the portal themselves, they witnessed their father take on enormous proportions as Vaatu manifested himself in their father's features, showing fear for the first time.
Desna and Eska returned to the Spirit World in time to save Bolin from a horde of dark spirits that were attempting to get to Korra's body inside the Tree of Time. When Bolin excitedly kissed Eska and claimed he loved her before announcing that they would meet the end of the world together, Eska found it very romantic. Declaring themselves to be "so done with spirits", the twins joined the defenders. However, being greatly outnumbered by the spirits, they were forced to retreat with the others inside the Tree of Time. On the verge of being overwhelmed by the spirits, they were saved by the return of Korra's astral projection, who dissipated all the dark spirits at once. They subsequently witnessed their cousin fuse with Raava, recreating the Avatar Spirit.
After the ensuing battle between Korra and Unalaq, which resulted in the latter's death, Korra approached the twins and apologized for being unable to save their father. Desna and Eska, however, were unmoved by that news, claiming that they would not miss him at all since he became a deplorable man in the end. However, Eska did express concern about how to break the news to their mother. Before they could dwell any longer on that comment, they were approached by Bolin, who asked Eska to move with him to Republic City. She declined his offer stating that she and her brother needed to return to the Northern Water Tribe. She explained to the earthbender that, with eternal darkness upon them, she had become caught up in the moment. Stating he would always have a special place in her heart, she said her goodbyes to Bolin, emphasizing that she would always think of him fondly.
Fighting the Red Lotus
After their father's demise, Desna and Eska succeeded him as the new chiefs of the Northern Water Tribe. Two weeks into their reign, they were already met with boredom though lit up with a visit from Lord Zuko and their Uncle Tonraq. The twins' interest was further piqued when Zuko informed them that they needed to check on a secret ice prison in the western tundra, and they agreed at once, eager to break their monotonous routine.
As they entered the prison, Eska wondered why they had not been informed of the prison's existence earlier, with Desna adding that if he had known, he would have imprisoned his tailor there for always messing up the sleeves of his robes. As they ventured deeper into the building, Zuko explained how the prison had been erected thirteen years prior to house the firebending criminal, P'Li, who was able to create explosions with her mind. As they rode the elevator into the bowels of the prison, Zuko quipped that he had once hired a similarly skilled firebender to kill the Avatar, without success. After a moment of silence and ignoring the fact that Tonraq was also present, Eska told him not to feel bad about it since she tried to kill Korra for ruining her wedding, adding that such things happen. While crossing the last hurdle to get to the prisoner, Desna dryly stated that there was no way anyone could break out, though Zuko refuted that statement by pointing out that they had thought the same about the prisons of three other notorious criminals, Zaheer, Ghazan, and Ming-Hua.
Desna and Eska stood with Tonraq as Zuko returned from his scouting mission on Druk, his dragon. Realizing the snowstorm coming their way was Zaheer creating a cover for his team, the twins charged the incoming Zaheer and Ming-Hua, together with Zuko and Tonraq. Bending in unison, they barraged Ming-Hua with ice bullets and tried to halt her advance by creating iceberg spikes. Their opponent managed to evade all their attacks, and managed to get behind them. Before Desna and Eska could react, they found themselves swept off their feet by Ming-Hua's tentacles and encased in two blocks of ice.
Following the anarchy in the Earth Kingdom, Desna and Eska, alongside the other world leaders, tasked Kuvira with restoring order to the chaos-ravaged nation, granting her the position of interim president until the Earth Kingdom was stabilized enough for Prince Wu's return and restoration to the Earth Kingdom throne.
Three years after the insurrection of the Red Lotus, Desna and Eska traveled to Republic City in their official capacity as the leaders of the Northern Water Tribe to attend Prince Wu's coronation as the new Earth King. As they were checking in to the Republic City Four Elements, Eska spotted Bolin and made her way over to him, congratulating him on his new, threatening-looking girlfriend, Kuvira. When she was corrected on the nature of Bolin's relationship with Kuvira, Eska commented that being someone's boss and girlfriend was the same thing. Their conversation was cut short by Cam, who apologized for the fact that Desna and Eska were reserved a room with only one bed. Eska replied that the reservation had not been a mistake since Desna slept in the tub.
After they checked into their rooms, Desna and Eska attended Prince Wu's coronation as the new Earth King and bore witness to Kuvira's declaration of usurping power in the Earth Kingdom, which she renamed the "Earth Empire". Following the ceremony, they discussed the matter with the other world leaders and they agreed to send Suyin Beifong to talk to Kuvira to ask her to reconsider her stance on the matter.
As chiefs, it is hard for some of their subjects to trust them, since they were very young leaders. Some even see them as children who betrayed their father, instead of two leaders who made the correct decision in a difficult situation. They are also not the most personable leaders, given their eccentricity and strange humor, often leading to tense political situations.
Desna and Eska have decreed that gender plays no role in who can and cannot marry one another, which challenges the traditional Water Tribe view of needing to keep same-sex relationships private. Whenever they receive pushback for their decree, they openly attend same-sex weddings to make their stance clear. It was rumored that they RSVP'ed to the big star-studded wedding that the mover star Akar was planning in the North after he came out as gay and announced his marriage to his long-term boyfriend, Jieren.
Desna and Eska show very little emotion except for boredom, which is attributable to their shared distaste for most people, places, and things. This distaste extends to Korra, whom they look down on due to her Southern Water Tribe heritage, despite her being the Avatar and their paternal first cousin. They speak in a very monotone and matter-of-fact fashion and seem to over-analyze whatever situation they are in. Whenever they do show humor, their laughs are awkward and choppy. Their acerbic wit made for some tense political situations, and they were not considered the most personable leaders as chiefs.
Despite their disinterest and apathy on most occasions, Desna and Eska have a close relationship with one another and share many sentiments, particularly in their dry sense of humor. Eska cares greatly for her brother and his well-being, enough to openly defy Unalaq's orders and desert him to ensure Desna's safety. Some also believe that the eccentric twins support certain policies as chiefs simply to amuse themselves, such as their open support of same-sex relationships, but those close to the chiefs knew that their support was in fact earnest.
As leaders of the Northern Water Tribe, the twins have little tolerance for insincere sycophants. If anyone wants to get on the good side of one, they must get on the good side of both.
Desna has shown himself to be occasionally sarcastic, such as when he mocked Mako during the investigation to find Varrick, as well as stoic and analytical, questioning his father about his lies and activities in the Spirit World, and even annoyed, commenting on the poorly stitched sleeves of his clothing. He also snapped at Korra when she claimed that Unalaq's merger with Vaatu would make him a monster; Desna vowed that he and Eska had complete faith in their father. However, after seeing Unalaq's complete lack of concern for human life after becoming the Dark Avatar, Desna readily accepted his father's ambitions as being monstrous and stated bluntly, after his father had died, that he would not miss him at all.
Eska has demonstrated herself as possessive, dragging Bolin away from Korra while the earthbender was embracing the Avatar. She also told him that he would come with her to the Northern Water Tribe, where they would live out their lives together in "icy bliss", and threatened to freeze him and feed him to dolphin piranhas whenever he tried breaking up with her. She tried to force Bolin to marry her and gave him a restyling so that he matched her more in appearance. After she was stood up, she broke her characteristic emotionless state by crying and tracking down Bolin in a fit of rage, as well as ruthlessly attacking Korra and blaming her for stealing her prospective husband away from her. While she subsequently returned to her general stoic attitude, Bolin remained dear to her, as he was able to beguile her to free both Mako and himself from an icy prison. Following Unalaq's defeat, she shared a heartfelt farewell with him as they parted ways.
Desna and Eska are powerful waterbenders who favor an unusually aggressive style. They are able to cooperatively accomplish incredible feats of waterbending, such as launching entire icebergs at their opponents, using ice tendrils, and creating fields of water spikes. Individually, they also possess immense prowess, as Eska displayed the ability to create a fast-moving wave that could easily propel her through the water to track down a fast-moving motorboat. Despite their well-oiled teamwork, they are not without weakness, as nimble fighters such as Ming-Hua can bypass their powerful attacks and sneak up on them.
Desna and Eska display a great deal of agility, as they were able to leap from a snowmobile and slide down a hill unscathed, as well as performing acrobatic flips and twists to avoid incoming objects while bending simultaneously.
The twins have also demonstrated that they are capable of driving jet skis. Desna is a skilled tailor, having designed and manufactured both Bolin's wedding gown and Pabu's accompanying outfit.
- Desna and Eska are the third pair of twins shown in either series, the first being Poi and Ping, the second being Lo and Li, the fourth being Wei and Wing, and the fifth being Hundun and his brother. However, they are the only set of twins to be of different genders.
- The twins seem to be able to communicate without saying a word to each other.
- While the clothes the twins wear are nearly identical, much like themselves, there are subtle differences: in addition to her hair accessories and eye makeup, Eska wears dark blue leggings and uses her belt to center her clothing around her waist, whereas Desna wears looser-fitting pants that bag out slightly and wears his belt on his hips.
- Eska is the only known female tribal chief from the Water Tribes.
- Eska is also the only known female waterbender from the Northern Water Tribe to freely use combative waterbending, as the tribe considered it taboo until 100 AG, limiting female waterbenders of the tribe to the practice of healing. Ironically, Eska herself is not a healer.
- Eska is also the only known female from the Water Tribe to present a male with a betrothal necklace, when it is usually customary for the female to receive a handcrafted necklace from a male admirer.
- Throughout the entirety of Book Two, each twin only spoke Korra's name once: Desna in "Peacekeepers" and Eska in "Light in the Dark", every other time referring to her as simply the Avatar.
- They are the only known chiefs to rule the Northern Water Tribe simultaneously as a pair.
- Upon seeing Eska's character design for the first time, Aubrey Plaza said that it was exactly what she thought it would look like.
- The creators joked about revealing that Desna and Eska were actually dark spirits under Unalaq's control during the finale of the second book.
Unknown, eventually Yue
|Tribal Princess (Eska)
155 AG – 171 AG
|Chief of the Northern Water Tribe
171 AG – present