Of Shadows and Fire: Chapter Two

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The Last Shadowbender

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The Shadowbenders were not thought of again until one day, several centuries later, the world was thrown out of balance once again. The Avatar had vanished, and the airbenders were wiped out by the Fire Nation. The Southern Water Tribe lost nearly all its waterbenders, while the Northern tribe hid behind their walls. A rebel group called the Black Spirits plotted the Fire Nation’s downfall. 
Anei knew that a Shadowbender had to return. With the Council’s permission, she created one final Shadowbender. This child would be raised in the mortal world and would eventually help restore balance to it. 
This child was their last hope
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83 ASC
Earth Kingdom 
A lone figure hiked through the moonlit forest, boots crunching on dry leaves and icy ground. A light breeze blew through the snow-covered trees. The figure shuddered and pulled her cloak tighter around her body. Kai hated winter. She was about to head back to the camp when she heard a small whimper. Drawing closer to the sound, she discovered a small bundle, hidden in a hollow tree.

It was an infant girl, no more than a few days old, with black hair and pale skin, wrapped in a dark blanket. Her eyes were shut as she continued to cry.

Kai looked for anything that would tell her why the girl was left there, but she found nothing. She picked the baby up, comforting and warming her. As the baby calmed down, she opened her eyes. Kai gasped at their color. Her irises were a startling blue-purple, framed with dark lashes. A smile spread across the Earthbender’s face.

“Well, aren’t you a pretty little thing?” Kai whispered, smiling. “It’s alright, little one, I’ll take care of you.”

Holding the baby closer to her, Kai started the long walk back to the hideout, wondering how she was going to explain the unexpected addition to the Black Spirits to her father.

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Five Years Later
88 ASC 
“Mama, Mama, look what I can do!”
Kai turned at the sound of her adoptive daughter’s voice. Kurami ran towards her, dark braids flying, eyes alight with excitement.
“What is it, Kurami?” she asked, crouching down in front of her.
The five-year-old grinned, held out her hand and squinted. The shadows on the floor flew towards it, coalescing into a ball.
Kurami relaxed, and the ball dissipated. She looked up at her mother.

“Did you like it?”

Kai hid her shock quickly and smiled.

“It was wonderful, darling. Does anyone else know?” she asked.

Kurami shook her head. Kai internally sighed in relief and leaned in closer.

“Then can you keep it a secret? Just between you and Mama.”

“Okay!” Kurami said enthusiastically, then ran off, probably to go play with her friends, Ren and Miyu. Kai stood and stared worriedly after her. Her daughter had just bent shadows.

This was something no one else in the Black Spirits should know about. It would be too dangerous for Kurami, especially now, during the war.

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Four Years Later
92 ASC 
“But she’s only a child!” Kai protested.“She’s old enough to start training. The sooner she does, the sooner we have a new fighter,” said Jian. He was the leader of the Black Spirits and Kai’s father (generally in that order).
“She needs to grow more. She’s not even ten years old yet, and you think she can handle a weapon? Are you insane?
“Hold your tongue!” he snapped. “Remember who you are speaking to, Kai. Your attachment to her is weakening your judgment. Kurami will start her training tomorrow, and that is final. I will let you oversee it, but I will not see any coddling, do you understand?”
Kai sighed in defeat.“Yes, Father.”
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