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A 'fighting spirit' fights instead of the one summoning and controlling it, and may be visible or invisible but have.some connection to the user.

In X-Men Apocalypse (2016), before Jean Grey attacks Apocalypse, she releases a fire bird aura.

In My Hero Academia (2014) Tokoyami Fukage can create a black bird around him who fights in his behalf.

In Naruto (1999), Sasuke and other uchihas can create a giant samurai-like warrior around them who protects them and fights for them.

And in Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders (1989), certain humans can create "stands", which are 'personifications' of 'life energy' whose abilities are given visual form and fight for them.

But which was the first story to feature a fighting spirit?

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    Animal Battle Aura? Any Battle Aura? Actual independent beings attached to them?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Feb 28 at 20:07
  • An answer I posted was deleted because "it suggested that a religious work was fiction", which apparently is against the rules. I can accept that - but shouldn't the same then apply to the answer that mentions The Saga of Hrolf Kraki? Ásatrú is very much a living religion (I know several adherents, though I am not one myself). Ásatrú doesn't consider the Icelandic Sagas to be fiction. Or does the rule only apply to Biblical religious texts? That would be hypocritical. Mar 1 at 20:40
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    @KlausÆ.Mogensen not an expert on that, but here is a description in Wikipedia "The present consensus is that, although some of the sagas contain a small core which is not fiction, or are based on historical characters, the primary function of the legendary sagas was entertainment, and the aim of the sagas has not been to present a historically accurate tale"
    – Pablo
    Mar 1 at 20:51
  • Admittedly, it does get tricky. Do we include "Jason and the Argonauts" as fiction? The Last Temptation of Christ? Jesus Christ: Vampire Hunter? And what happens when someone lists Jedi as their religion, or you get mixed up with an FF7 Otaukin cult who insists they they are Jenovah reborn?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Mar 2 at 20:18
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    I think the main difference when refering to the bible, and other abrahamic religions texts, it's there is a worldwide consensus they are religions, when the difference between certain stories being mythology or fiction is blurry
    – Pablo
    Mar 2 at 20:38

3 Answers 3

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In The Saga of Hrolf Kraki, a 13th century Icelandic Legendary Saga about the legendary Danish king Hrolf Kraki, a giant bear who fights on the battlefield in support of the king is revealed to be the spirit of Bödvar Bjarki.

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Even limiting the answer to modern F&SF, obvious answers go back much further than 1989. Without any claim that it is a 'first use', I point to an example I happen to have at hand. In Andre Norton's Witch World story "Sorceress of the Witch World" (1968) Our Heroes summon a force of sendings to fight on their behalf.

So great was the hallucination that, had I not seen the spell in progress, I would have accepted the sudden appearance of a battle-ready force as fact [... W]e four got to our feet to follow the army our wills commanded. [...] Our advantage was a matter of time, as I knew well, and I struggled with my parents to hold fast the flow of energy which fed our illusions. For, if we faltered, or tired, they would fail.

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Queen of the Black Coast (1934)

In Robert E. Howard's 1934 Conan-story "Queen of the Black Coast", the titular pirate queen, Belit, is killed, but comes back as a spirit to save Conan (as shown in the picture below). A similar scene, most likely inspired by this story, is seen in the 1982 movie Conan The Barbarian where Valeria returns from the dead to battle alongside Conan.

(This is not nearly as old as the Hrolf Krafi saga, but definitely a work of fiction, not a myth or religious text).

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