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Four people converged on a darkened street corner in Republic City. Three of them approached the other, an unspoken bond between them.
"Good to see you, Shen," Argho said as a smile grew on his face. "It's been awhile."
Shen returned the smile and placed his hand on Argho's shoulder. "That it has." He turned to the other two, a woman wearing green armor and a man with glasses and a massive blade strapped against his back. "Hizumi, Yari, it's good to see you."
Hizumi grinned. "Hey, Shen."
The swordsman nodded. "Airbender."
Shen chuckled. "Where did you find this guy, Argho?"
Argho shrugged. "Same place I always do. The bar."
"You owe me, by the way," Yari said, "That was a quality bottle of Fire Brandy I had to leave behind."
"Then I'll buy you a drink when we're done here, but this is probably going to require onikira."
Three heads glanced at the Avatar.
"What aren't you telling us, Argho?" Hizumi asked.
"Nothing," he replied. "But I have an odd feeling. Something powerful entered the physical world several hours ago, and I tracked it here."
Yari inclined his head and drew the massive blade. "Onikira is plenty able to kill whatever it is came from that portal, assuming it needs killing."
Argho frowned. "Oh, it'll need killing. A great darkness weighed me down when I felt it. Greater than anything I've ever dealt with before."
Shen stroked his black goatee, and his gaze fell on Argho's hair, which bore streaks of white through the black. "You sure we don't need more help?"
The Avatar shook his head. "I don't think so. Between the four of us, I don't see a problem; that's why I called you."
"Speaking of," Hizumi began, "Where's Rioku, Kuan Ti, and Moro?"
"Rioku opened an Earthbending academy just last year, so I didn't feel it necessary to bother him. Kuan Ti is still off on his sojourn, which will likely take time," Argho replied.
"And Moro's taken Lyre and Nana to visit their grandmother, as well as catch up with Turi and Rena. I would've gone with them, but—"
"You should've told me," Argho said. "Now I feel guilty for making you miss that."
The Airbender shrugged. "I'll just catch a flight over when we're done here. It's not too much trouble."
Argho nodded. "Fine then, let's get a move on. The presence I felt has holed up in the warehouse two down from us."
Yari scowled. "Let's finish this quickly, then."
As the four warriors approached the warehouse, Argho glanced at Shen. "Wait, how old are Lyre and Nana now, anyway?"
Shen smiled. "Nana is fifteen, and Lyre is fourteen."
Hizumi whistled. "They've grown up fast."
The Airbender chuckled. "You're telling me!"
Argho held up a hand as they reached the massive double door to the warehouse. "Be ready..."
"I'm ready," Yari said while his mouth formed into a slight grin, "Are you?"
The Avatar pushed open the door, and all four immediately noticed the figure cloaked in red that stood in the middle of the room. Yari visibly recoiled, and Argho frowned.
What is that thing? Shen wondered.
"I was wondering what it would take to get noticed by you, Avatar Argho," the spirit said. "Allow me to introduce myself; my name is Izanagi."
Argho's eyes widened. "You...you're the one—"
The spirit grinned as individual black locks of hair fell around his eyes. "So, Shikatsu told you about me after all. Did he say nice things?"
"The Shinigami..." Hizumi said.
"Yes, if that is what he's calling himself these days."
"He only told me that you gave him more trouble than Koh did," Argho replied.
Izanagi inclined his head. "Is that the name of the spirit they chose to replace me? Good, it gives me something to do after I'm done with you."
"So confident, spirit," Yari growled as he drew his blade. "Let's see how you like onikira."
"Stand back, Yari," Argho ordered, "I'll handle this."
Fire wrapped around his hands, and the Avatar plunged them into the earth, dredging up a massive boulder. He threw the earthen construct at Izanagi before lunging forward after it, using the stone for cover.
As he moved, Shen silently motioned for Hizumi and Yari to move in close to back him up. The Kyoshi Warrior gave him a look, but he simply shook his head.
Don't be stubborn, Argho...not this time.
Argho didn't even notice their movement, as he was preparing himself to strike as soon as Izanagi either broke the boulder or dodged. What he did not anticipate, however, was the spirit simply swatting the massive mound of earth aside with one hand. Once that happened, Argho stopped short and landed farther back than he'd intended.
"Well, that was a surprise," he said, eyes wide.
"It shouldn't be," Izanagi replied. "I was, after all, planning to kill you from the beginning."
A pocket of compressed air struck the spirit before he could react, and it managed to send him sliding back a few feet.
Hizumi lunged at him with a shoto in one hand and a metal fan in the other. She swung in a seemingly random and wild manner, but each stroke was precise. Each one made little cuts into Izanagi's body.
It was not to last, however. In an instant, the red-cloaked spirit ducked a quick stab and thrust his hand into Hizumi's stomach.
Or, he would have, if she hadn't twisted away at the last moment. As she retreated, Yari jumped in, swinging onikira so quickly that it sung. Izanagi eyed the blade carefully as he ducked and dodged.
"So, there's something special about this one..."
"Damn right, there is!" Yari cried. "It was forged to kill your kind millennia ago!"
"Hm..." Izanagi flipped over their heads and landed behind Argho, plunging his hand into the Avatar's back. "Then what is a drunk doing with such a weapon?"
Shen's eyes widened. No... "Argho!"
As the spirit pulled his hand from the Avatar's back, Argho jumped forward and twisted so that he faced Izanagi. His breath came in short gasps as his eyes began to glow.
"Not...going to be so easy..." He said between heavy breaths.
"Hm," Izanagi said as he glanced at the blood covering his hand. "It seems I missed your heart. I'm a little rusty."
A bolt of lightning tore through the air toward Izanagi, but he simply ducked around it and raced toward Argho. Shen landed in-between the two of them and summoned a swirling vortex. That kept the spirit at bay while Hizumi and Yari came at him from either side. Their simultaneous sword strikes came at him, attempting to cut him into three pieces. Not to be deterred, Izanagi tensed his legs and managed a sideways flip through the two blades. Once his feet touched the ground, he ran toward Shen and Argho, the latter of whom was clutching at his chest.
Upon reaching the wind barrier, Izanagi pressed his hand against it and released a pulse of energy that disrupted the flow and sent Shen flying backward. He slowly approached Argho, whose eyes were still glowing.
"Lightning hurts when it flows through a wounded body, doesn't it?" As Argho groaned, fire formed around his fist. However, the spirit simply wrapped his fingers around Argho's neck. "No...this won't do; I can't have you dying while in the Avatar State. That comes after."
With that, he thrust his left hand forward with a strong punch to the Avatar's stomach. Argho gasped as the air was knocked from his lungs, and his eyes returned to normal.
Izanagi nodded. "Good. I was afraid for a moment. Now...down to business." Argho's eyes narrowed, and the spirit shrugged as he held the Avatar up off of his feet. The other three could only watch as the powerful being held their friend hostage. "Nothing personal, Avatar Argho, but I need time."
With those words, Izanagi finished the job by shoving his hand through Argho's heart.
"Spirits..." Shen breathed.
Yari gritted his teeth. "You son of a—"
"You would do well to leave. You can take the body; I've no use for it." The spirit dropped the Avatar's corpse to the floor and wiped his hands together. "I have no doubt we'll meet again." He glanced back at them and smiled. "You should be proud; Shikatsu had to sacrifice everything to stand against me. You've got prowess."
The shadows seemed to slide off of the walls and wrap around Izanagi, who was gone in seconds. Shen immediately ran over to Argho's body, while Hizumi and Yari kept watch.
What have you done, Izanagi?
- I know I said this about IAE, but this really will be my last non-Vortex work on the Avatar Wiki. I'm a year away from graduating, so I need to focus on what I want to do once I'm out of college.
- Izanagi got a mention in IAE, and I realized he'd make a perfect antagonist.
- Onikira is a combination of the Japanese words for "spirit" and "killer" respectively, and Shikatsu is a mix of the Japanese words for "life" and "death."
For the collective works of the author, go here.