Of Shadows and Fire: Chapter One

Chapter One: Beginning of the End

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To understand my story, we must journey back in time. Long ago, two spirits spoke with each other…
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The Spirit Oasis, the North Pole
Winter Solstice
Midnight

Tui watched her friend complain with great amusement, floating in her semi-transparent human form above the small pond, which held her and La’s mortal forms, two koi fish. The goddess of darkness was pacing back and forth in mid-air in front of her, shadows trailing wherever she walked.

“I mean, everyone seems to have these benders now! You and La have them; so does Izanami. Even Agni has them,” she fumed. “They may be just mortals, but it is still unfair!”

Tui caught the emphasis on the Sun god’s name.

“Anei…are you…jealous of Agni?” The Moon goddess asked, brushing a loose strand of white hair behind her ear.

“No!” she answered defensively.

It was no secret Anei and Agni were together, but that didn’t mean they had a peaceful relationship. As complete opposites, dark and light, they had many differences. This was one of them.

Tui gasped. “You’re jealous of Agni, aren’t you? He has something you don’t.”

“I. Am. Not. Jealous!” Anei shouted the last word and shadows started to swirl around her, reacting to her anger.

“Okay, okay, calm down. I was only teasing. Maybe you could make your own benders, seeing as the four elements are already taken,” suggested Tui, trying to appease her temperamental friend. Something lit up inside the shadow goddess’s eyes.

“You know, that’s not such a bad idea.”

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So Anei eventually got her wish. She created the Shadowbenders, and gave them the ability to control darkness. However, no one was prepared for what would happen next…
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A Few Decades Later…
Winter Solstice
The Spirit World

The Council of Spirits had gathered for its annual solstice meeting in the large, round meeting hall. The council consisted of Ao, Tui, La, Agni, Izanami, Anei, and a few others. Amara, the current Avatar, was present as well. After learning that the Shadowbenders had started killing sprees all over the world, everyone was on edge.

“These Shadowbenders have gone out of control! This madness must stop!” Izanami barked, pacing the center of the room.

Anei had tried to stay calm throughout the Earth goddess’s lecture, but it was getting harder to keep her temper in check. Izanami had never liked her, and Anei returned that sentiment in kind.

“Soon, the world will be destroyed, and it will be your fault!” Izanami exclaimed, turning on Anei.

That was the last straw.

“Do you think I don’t know that?!” she finally burst, standing up. “They are my creations. I know I must take responsibility for this, but I will not kill them. I may have a plan, however.”

Anei was pulled back down by Agni, who was sitting beside her.

Ao asked, “What is this plan you propose, Anei?”

“I plan on trapping them in a pocket dimension, which can only be opened by either a bonded Shadowbender and Firebender or myself and Agni, which will be impossible. I have already discussed it with him.”

The spirit in question nodded in agreement. Tui spoke up.

“There is one year where Agni’s and Anei’s powers will be at their strongest, but their weakest as well. They will be able to open a portal into the pocket dimension at that time. This event will not happen again for thousands of years, so the Shadowbenders will be completely forgotten by then,” she explained.

“When is the closest time?”

“Midnight, tonight,” replied Agni.

“How will you get the Shadowbenders in one place?” Amara spoke up.

“Since it is the Winter Solstice, they are all drawn to my temple,” said Anei, turning towards her. “So they will all be there, whether they are sane or not.”

“Then, our problem is solved,” said Ao. “Anei and Agni will trap the Shadowbenders in this dimension tonight. Does the Council agree on this?”

The Spirits nodded at the question, as well as the Avatar.

“Then, this Council is adjourned.”

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And so, through Anei’s plan, the Shadowbenders were trapped in the Guangying Shijie, a place of darkness between the Spirit and mortal worlds. Peace came to the four nations once again.

And as humans tend to do, over time, they slowly began to forget the Shadowbenders ever existed. Only an old document hidden in Wan Shi Tong’s library held the truth. The Shadowbenders eventually faded from human memory altogether.
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Author’s Note: The Council was my idea. The main members of the Council of Spirits are: Ao, the Air spirit, who usually heads the meetings; Izanami, the stubborn Earth goddess who doesn’t like Anei; Tui and La, the Moon and Ocean spirits; Anei, the goddess of the Night and Shadows; and Agni, the Sun god, embodiment of fire and Anei’s on-and-off boyfriend (or something like that).

Amara is the current Avatar, born in the Water Tribe. The way I see it, the early Avatars were more spirit than human, so they could go to and from the Spirit World at will. As time passed and the Avatar became more human, they could only go to the Spirit World on the Solstices through deep meditation.

When Anei says “bonded”, I mean “soulmates” kind of bonded. That’s why only Anei and Agni can open it.

When I use the term “god/goddess” or “spirit”, it means the same thing, unless ghosts somehow make it into this story.

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