A dark ritual goes awry and now the great Spirit of the Dark walks the earth once more. His power is great, and he seeks only one thing: Vengeance upon the one who imprisoned him centuries ago.
When it was finished teaching, it tasked the Great Spirits with using the last of the chaos to forge for themselves thrones. These would be the seats of their power, and were to reflect their function and nature. All ten set to their task eagerly, and began collecting and shaping the chaos. When they were finished, ten thrones stood in a circle, facing towards the center.
Arventi's was carved of Light, and a thousand faces appeared and vanished in its surface every second. At the head of the throne was carved a balancing scale. Wan Shi Tong had formed his throne out of words, and at the head was an open book. It is said that if you could read the message written on the throne, an ancient mystery will be revealed. Basha formed her throne out of clouds, and at the head engraved a bird in flight. Tysha formed hers out of tangled vines. Tui formed hers out of transparent ice, while La created hers from churning sea foam. Ashin's took the form of a great bonfire, burning eternally. Gan's was formed out of solid eath, and was of a simple, unornamented design. Ilza's was formed of still-warm volcanic magma, formed into a great stature. And Shinbei's was formed of obsidian stone, and etched deeply with sinister-looking runes.
Seeing now that they understood how to use the chaos, the Creator took them by the hand and transported them to another plane. This was a place of complete formlessness, much like their world had been when they were born. Now, though, they were the masters of this place, and did not fear the chaos. The Creator showed them how to move between the worlds, and then left them, charging the shaping of this plane to his ten children.
"I'm looking for somebody, Hei-Bai. And I do believe that you know where he is."
Hei-Bai roared with pain and rage as Koh tightened his coils around the great panda, and began to squeeze. It wasn't as powerful a squeeze as it could have been, but that could come later. This was but a warning, an admonishment against lying or withholding information.
The forest spirit bellowed out denials, but Koh scoffed at them.
"Oh, please. Don't try to lie to /me/. I practically invented it. And, anyways, I know you were with him. I can still smell him all over you. So don't try to tell me that you haven't seen him."
Hei-Bai roared out threats and warnings. Koh would not get away with this, he would tell his mother of him, and then she would strike him down like the dog he was...
"Do not make me laugh, little nephew. Your mother sleeps, just like the rest of my brothers and sisters. Only one of my brothers is any threat to me, and I'm looking for him. And anyways," he said, coiling around Hei-Bai and whispering in his ear, "You know just as well as I do that she was always a little afraid of me."
The forest spirit snarled at Koh, but the Great Spirit slid around him and pressed his face right up against the panda's.
"He's your what?" Koh chuckled, "Your friend? Oh, isn't that nice. When I find him and defeat him, maybe I could come back here with his face and play with you! Would you like that-"
Koh was cut off as Hei-Bai shifted into his Spirit Form, opened his mouth, and blasted Koh with a burst of pale blue flame. Koh cried out and pulled away. His chitinous coils loosened just enough for Hei-Bai to break free.
A bear once more, Hei-Bai surged forward, trying to put as much distance as possible between him and Koh. He ran frantically through the forest, darting back and forth panickedly.
A tendril of darkness shot out from behind him and snagged him by the rear paw. Hai-Bei scrabbled on the ground, tyring to break free, but the tendril pulled him backwards through the undergrowth, leading all the way back to its source. The tendril, which emerged from Koh's mouth, suspended him in mid-air by his back right paw.
Koh spat out several more strands of darkness, attaching Hei-Bai to the surrounding trees like a fly at the center of a spider's web.
"Stupid, stupid little creature," Koh said, shaking with rage. "Did you actually think you could hurt me? I was one of the first beings pulled out of the raw stuff of creation! You are nothing more than my sister's bastard whelp. All you succeeded in doing is making me angry! Now, I will ask you one more time: /where is my brother?/"
Hei-Bai roared defiance.
"Oh, you will tell me. Sooner or later," Koh said as the strands of darkness suspending him in midair twisted, dislocating Hei-Bai's hind legs with a sickening /pop/, "You will tell me."
If Arventi harboured any illusions about the severity of his task, they were eradicated almost immediately. No sooner had the Ten Great Spirits began shaping their new world than disagreements arose between them.
The first was between the spirits of Earth and Ocean. They could not come to an agreement about how much of their new world would be land and how much of it water. Only the surface of the earth can be used,/ La argued,/ while in the ocean, things can live throughout the entire volume.
But earth is a far better environment for plant life,/ Gan argued,/ and without land on which to roost, there can be no birds and other creatures of the air! Far from making more space available, the ocean cuts off the entire sky!
Back and forth the argument went, and as it did the other siblings began to take sides. Tui immediately rushed to La's aid, as she always did. Ilza fell in with Gan, perhaps less out of agreement with Gan than out of disagreement with Tui. Basha, who found land far too restrictive, agreed with La, while Ashin supported Gan, fearing for the fate of his own area of dominion, should the world be covered in water.
Tysha, whose domain was being co-opted as figureheads by both sides of the argument, declared the whole issue silly and said she wanted nothing to do with it.
Wan Shi Tong said nothing, and recorded everything.
Arventi heard them all and listened to what they had to say. And then, when he could bear no more of their pleas, he made a decision. The world would be split into equal parts Earth and Water, and both would be intertwined with the other. There would be lakes and rivers running through Gan's earth, and underneath Tui's ocean there would be a layer of earth. It was not the solution that either of them desired, but they both agreed that it was fair. And so the shaping of the world was able to continue.
There were many other disputes amongst the Ten. Ilza and Tui had a minor feud over who would control the greater share of the skies, which was only resolved when Arventi declared that their dominion of the skies would wax and wane, so that Ilza would control the greater portion at one time, and then would gradually lose out to Tui's control, and then back again. Wan Shi Tong and Ashin quarrelled for a time. Wan Shi Tong was upset with Ashin for the wanton razing that his forest fires caused. Wan Shi Tong misliked the way the fires removed all it touched from the world, leaving nothing behind but ash, from which no information could be gained. Often these fires took objects that Wan Shi Tong had yet to record within his great library. Ashin insisted that the fires were a necessary part of the balance, that things had to be reduced to nothing so they could return again. And, as always, both of them were right.
Throughout all these conflicts, Arventi judged and ruled, and his rulings were backed up by his wisdom and his power. A balance was struck between the ten. Each of them in conflict with another, none gaining supremacy. La and Gan. Ashin and Basha. Tui and Ilza. Tysha and Wan Shi Tong. And Arventi and Shinbei.
The Shaping was a slow process. None of them had the Creator's power, and so instead of the casual ease with which It had drawn shape out of chaos, they had ages of backbreaking toil ahead of them. But it was good work, and at the end of the day they sat together making plans, still sore from the day's work.
All but one.
Shinbei, Great Spirit of Darkness and Destruction, took no part in the shaping of the world. He could not have if he wanted to. He was not a creature of creation, like the others, nor one of care and preservation, like his eldest brother. He was a creature of destruction, of entropy, the ticking clock at the center of the world. His was the most important task, but there was nothing for him to do in this still-new world. Even when the others were finished building, he would still be directionless, for death and decay is not the same thing as true Destruction. He served no purpose until the End Of All Days, when he would return what had been shaped to the Darkness from which it had been born, that it could be birthed anew.
They were but children when they first began shaping the world. By the time the first mortal man lifted his head and saw his creators, they were fully grown, and each of them had grown up in a different way.
Gan grew up reliable; A solid rock upon which one could depend, who would always be willing to give aid to those who ask and who would see whatever he began through to the end.
Tui grew up kind; A motherly figure to an infant people, who could be called upon in times of need to deliver mercy and grace.
Ashin grew up passionate; He cared so much about so many things. He gave his all to everything that he did, and with him by your side you could not hope to fail.
Wan Shi Tong grew up impatient; He knew so many things that those who knew little bored and irritated him. Only his circle of scholars could hold his interest.
Ilza grew up proud; He was a benevolent lord, and very loving to his subjects. But he was also wrathful, quick to anger and slow to forgive.
Tysha grew up playful; Of them all, she retained the most of her childhood. Although her tricks and games often seemed malicious, they served no other purpose but to amuse her, and was a small price to pay for the gifts that she brought to those who played them well.
La grew up capricious; Pulled one way and then the other, she could not be relied upon. Her attentions drifted any time their current subject appeared boring.
Basha grew up carefree; She was a free spirit, beholden to none and with none beholden to her. Wherever men and women lived free from tyranny, she was there.
Arventi grew up noble; His power was unmatched, and he had the wisdom to guide the other Spirits on their proper courses. He was in many ways the greatest of them, and certainly the one most worthy of his position.
And Shinbei grew up bored. Which is where the problems started.