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Water... Earth... Fire... Air...
Long ago, the four Nations lived in harmony, but then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Only the Avatar, master of all four elements, could stop them, but when the world needed him most, he vanished.
One hundred years passed, and the next Avatar in the cycle was discovered by two siblings, Katara and Sokka. He was my great-great-grandfather, an Airbender named Aang, who tried to run away from his destiny.
But with the help of his discoverers and a myriad of friends, and even a few adversaries that he discovered along the way, Aang learned Waterbending, Earthbending, and Firebending, becoming a fully-realized Avatar and stopping the Fire Nation before they engulfed the world in flames.
Five hundred years later, the Airbenders slowly began to flourish again, and the nations once again knew peace... Until now.
Night had fallen over the Earth Kingdom city of Bure Ku, where not even the crickets found time to chirp. In the center of the city was a large stone sundial, where the entire flat plate of the stone clock was completely darkened, meaning that it was close to midnight, if it wasn't already.
The lush, leafy forest that lay just outside the village walls swallowed the moonlight like a black hole.
On the edge of the forest, there was movement. The slightest, microscopic movement, but movement it was. It was the movement of a shadow, a shadow that didn't belong to any tree. The shadow slowly crept out of the tree line. Following the shadow was a small group of only three people.
Two people on either side wore jet-black clothing and wore white cloths over their mouths and noses. Their eyes were hard and diluted, as if they had not seen any sunlight in years.
The man between them was obviously a Firebender. He wore red and burgundy garbs and had red star tattoos on the backs of his hands.
"Do you have the device?" the man on the far left asked the Firebender in a low, snarling voice.
The center man nodded and held up a glass vial filled with an oily purple liquid that was corked with cotton. There was a fuse that extended from the liquid to the outside of the vial.
"I can't see a thing." the Firebender said warily, raising a finger and lighting a small flame.
"Put that out, you idiot!" the man on the right hissed. "Are you trying to kill us?"
"N-No, sir! I-I was simply-"
"We don't care! Don't firebend again until we tell you to!"
"If you three are done bickering, the comet is about to arrive. If we don't do this now, we won't get another chance until the next century! Now, let's go," said the shadow, which was slowly slithering forward toward the wall.
The two men on either side of the Firebender grabbed his arms, then all three began to sink into the ground, becoming one, whole shadow, which slithered alongside the first shadow.
The two snaky apparitions sidled up the city wall, just out of the field of vision of the two Earthbending guards. Once they were safely inside the city, the three men rose from the ground, and the single shadow ahead of them rose also.
Surprisingly, it was a woman, with flowing white hair and black eyes that, like her two associates, were cold and diluted.
"Let's go. The location is just ahead," she said with a shockingly smooth voice, unlike the other two.
The other three followed the woman to the center of the city, in front of the sundial.
"Lady Reigo, look." one black-clothed man said, pointing at the sundial. A small, wire-thin shadow began to form, and the dim light surrounding it was a fiery shade of red.
Reigo looked to the sky and noticed a strange light that did not come from the sun. It took her only a moment to realize where the light came from.
"Sozin's Comet has arrived at last," she said. "It appears that we won't have time to go underground. Place the device on the sundial and light it."
"You heard her. Place it." one man barked lowly to the Firebender.
With knees like jelly, the Firebender walked up to the sundial and placed the vial, but hesitated to light the fuse.
"We don't have all day, you miserable wretch!" Reigo hissed, momentarily losing the cool demeanor that she had kept up until this point. She quickly gathered her composure and breathed in.
"Just light the fuse and let's go."
The Firebender nodded and created another small flame on his finger, which was much more powerful than the one he had made before, because of the power of the comet. He touched the flame to the comet and lit the fuse.
As soon as the fuse started burning down, the two other men quickly grabbed the Firebender and dove into shadow form again. Reigo did the same and the two shadows zipped quickly back to where they came, scaling the city wall without disturbing the Earthbenders, and diving back into the shadows.
Once again, all was silent as Sozin's Comet rose higher into the sky, followed slowly by the sun. But after only a minute of serenity,
A powerful, unexpected explosion engulfed the entire city and the surrounding forest, rising up so quickly that the hearts of the Earthbender guards didn't even have time to jump. As the white-hot flames rose higher in the air, they formed a huge cloud, that tipped at the peak of it, like a black, smoky, giant mushroom.
- This isn't the last time we'll see that man with the star tattoos.
- The technique that Reigo and her partners are using is called 'Shadow Swimming' It is explained slightly further in a later chapter.
- Meiya is the one narrating at the very start.
For the collective works of the author, go here.