This is the story that I learned from my grandfather, who, in turn, learned it from his grandfather, who also learned it from his grandfather, and so on a hundred such times, until our ancestor who heard it spoken from the Lady of Earth herself.
Before time began, there was chaos. Pure and unbridled, the chaos was bound by no known laws of this world, something could emerge from nothing, and something could return to nothing without warning. This chaos churned and roiled for eons, creating in one instant, and destroying in the next. The chaos had no will of its own, but it would, on occasion create beings with wills from it. Most lived short lives, brought into existence without reason or purpose, only to be extinguished by the same forces that created them.
Yet, the chaos would continue to churn, and wills would continue to be born. It was, perhaps, inevitable that a chaos with no will and no rules would eventually create its own. “I am!” One will said “And I will not be destroyed!” and the chaos obeyed, but continued to spin and seethe.
“I am!” another will called out “I am!” a third chimed in, “I am!” cried a forth, and another, and another, as countless such wills were born from the ripples of the chaos.
The wills would speak and the chaos would obey, but all such wills were born from chaos, and no consensus could be reached. Some sought to bring order to the chaos, while others desired nothing more than the destroy the creations of others.
Those that wished to create created and those that wished to destroy destroyed. Again and again, the creators saw their designs undone by the destroyers. Some of them gathered, seeking to combine their power to preserve what they wished to make. “Come,” said one, the first will to declare “I am” to the chaos “Let us shape our own space in the chaos, so that none of the others may interfere!” and thus did the wills did begin to carve out their own universe in the chaos.
However, even the creators could not agree on what they desired. Some desired perfect order, the opposite of the chaos from which they were born, others chaffed under the prospect of such rules, simply seeking a space where they could create to their whimsy. Many simply left the universe to return to the chaos and create spaces of their own. The First, however, would not.
“I am the First!” It declared “I conceived of this universe! It is mine to do with as I please!” But the remaining wills would not consent, “It is ours!” They declared “All of us made it together, we will not be ruled by you!” Angered, the First betrayed the remaining creators, and allowed destroyers into the universe. For the first time, the wills engaged in true battle, seeking not only to destroy the creations of others, but to destroy the other wills themselves.
The battle raged, shaking the universe to its core, and wills on both sides perished and returned to the chaos. In the end, only four creators remained standing against the First. The First knew that the Four would prevail, but refused to surrender the universe. “We will unmake it.” The First offered “Return it to the chaos and go our separate ways. The Four of you are strong enough to make a universe on your own, but I will not give you mine!”
The Four considered the First’s offer, but could not accept. Even with the destruction their battle had left, there was still much in the universe they loved. They engaged the First in a final battle, and barely managing to emerge victorious.
“I curse you!” The First spat “I curse your creation! All you have made shall fall to ruin! All shall come to an end! All life you have made shall suffer! They shall kill, hurt and maim each other! They shall inflict evil on each other! They will all experience misery and death! I carve this curse into the fabric of the universe itself, and shall exist until you return it to the chaos with your own hands!”
Using every ounce of remaining power, the First melded with the universe, refusing to be denied it. And thus, were the Four the only creators left, unrivaled in power within it, but unable to break the First’s curse. They looked to destruction that was caused by their battle, and the suffering caused by the First’s Curse, and wept.
“Shall we destroy it after all?” The eldest, born not long after the First, asked “All that exists shall rot, and all that lives suffers.” The Four sat in silence, until the youngest spoke:
“I shall give them a gift as the air, invisible, yet present. The knowledge that though they may suffer, and though they may rot, it shall not always be so.” And thus she gave us the gift of Hope, and came to be called Aura, the Lady of Air.
“I shall give them a gift as the water.” The second youngest agreed “Much as Water takes on a new shape when placed in a new container, so too shall they be able to adapt to new situations to overcome their suffering.” And thus she gave us the gift of Knowledge, and came to be called Unda, the Lady of Water.
“I will give them a gift as the flame.” The second eldest spoke “Powerful, warm, but one that must be tempered lest they be consumed by it. But it shall be a powerful blade that grants them the strength to cut through their suffering.” And thus she gave us the gift of Passion, and came to be called Ignia, the Lady of Fire.
The eldest paused, would such gifts be enough to overcome the curse of the First? “I will give them a gift as the earth.” She finally said “Solid and strong, and slow to rot, this shall be the power to endure suffering when the other gifts fail.” And thus she gave us the gift of Fortitude, and came to be called Terana, the Lady of Earth.
The Four then set out to repair the damage cause by the battle with the First, and then retired to their places of rest. To this day, do the Four stand watch over us, protecting us from the intrusions of the destroyers and granting us their blessings.